A Research Guide for Students by I Lee

Autobiography of Carl Kaas

A Member of the Dutch Underground in World War II

Chapter 105: The Rescue

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Back home, the camp had to be made ready as usual: boats, motors, etc. It took us three weeks before Doc said, "I don't think there is much hope, but if you want to try to get the truck out, go ahead." I got Harvey, a young fellow to help. We took a boat with two 8 hp outboard motors, saws, chains, ropes and pulley, enough equipment to lift a ton. Off we went, the Indian chief who operated the portage service took us across the reserve, now we were on our own.

The truck was still hanging, or maybe sitting on the tail gate. We moved around the island until we found a smooth rock, sloping into the lake like a boat ramp. This was it. Back to the raft, tied it behind the boat and tow it to the natural boat ramp. Yes, the truck was coming too.

Getting there I turned the shiny head lights toward the landing spot, now we pushed as far as we could, then the truck hit bottom. Next, we tied block and tackle to a tree and to the rope of the bumper. Pull, heave, pull, heave, it took a while but slowly the old Ford walked on shore, soaking wet after twenty-one days under water. We let him drip while we cut several more trees to reinforce our raft. That done, we winched the truck back on and tied it down.

Now the trip to the outpost camp, which I had given the name of Caribou Lodge, and was recognized by that name in the community. On the water again, we travelled with a splashing speed of maybe 3 km per hour. Five hundred meters before our destination, we had to go through the narrows, it was barely wide enough to go through with our flotilla - the problem, not enough power. Harvey was at the controls, both motors wide open. He got through alright, but with the raft half under and cross logs across the strong current, we did not move any more. What were we gonna do? "Keep going Harvey, at least we're not going back." Both throttles at the maximum, we just sat. I got the idea, maybe we were moving, so I lined up a couple of trees in the bush and watched very closely.

After about five minutes, I hollered to Harvey, "If you don't run out of gas, we're gonna get through." Indeed, in another 15 to 20 minutes, we were visibly moved and landed soon after.

On solid ground again, we took the drain plugs out of the engine, transmission and rear end, and let it dry. Took the battery out and drained the gas tank. The trip home we did pretty fast, having twice the power of a normal fishing craft.

"Believe it or not, Doc, your truck is safely at Caribou Lodge." He was kind of flabbergasted that we pulled it off, but very happy, needless to say. Ten days later we went back with oil, gasoline, a battery and tools. Everything was nicely dried up by now. We poured in some gas, filled up with oil, cleaned the carburator and points. It started and ran again as if nothing had happened. The tires were still full of old winter air. We had them put on when we built the first raft. This summer we used it to portage fishermen and boats to another lake, two miles over an old logging road - the only possible way to get there.

In September, when most tourists left for home, Doc said, "Are you interested in becoming a partner with me in buying a tractor? You can use it in the winter and I can use it in the summer on the portage, instead of the truck, which I can use here." I did not have to think this one over for very long. "Let us do it. If I don't need the tractor any more, will you then buy my half?" Doc agreed to that. We had a deal. In his pick-up truck we travelled to a farm community in Manitoba. We looked around at some farm tractor dealers and found what suited us both, a Case Model VAC. It had a power take-off, but no hydraulics, exactly the size we were looking for. We got it delivered too.

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