Shipwrecked and starving.

Bitten by a deadly Black Mamba snake in the jungle - his life saved by an Army lieutenant who sucked the venom from his bloodied leg.

Face-to-face with a tiger.

Surviving on sugar cane, stagnant water and oranges as blisters and sores paralysed his feet from days and nights of endless walking.

The remarkable story of a young Naval officer's escape from Singapore the day it fell to Japanese forces during the Second World War can be revealed by the Manchester Evening News today as the nation observes the 75th anniversary of VJ Day.

Robert Gerrard Curry trekked across Sumatra, part of Indonesia, with a group of Army soldiers to the west coast, where he was picked up by an Australian ship and taken to Ceylon, now Sri Lanka.

He was 32 at the time in early 1942, three years before Japan surrendered, ending the war.

Robert Curry (centre) on deck

Mr Curry survived his ordeal and returned to work at the Admiralty to help with preparations for the D-Day landings of 1944.

He ended his navy career as a Lieutenant Commander.

After the war he worked at ICI in Blackley and lived in Whitefield and Cheadle Hulme before his death at 70 in 1980.

Though the memories endured, his family said he never spoke of what he went through.

But, before his death, he was encouraged to write down his experiences.

What followed is a fascinating memoir of one man's battle for life in the harshest of conditions.

His son Robin Curry, 71, from Congleton, Cheshire, said: "It is such a remarkable story that for years I have been sending it to friends and family, who all say I should have it published.

"Years later, just before he died, he visited hospital for cancer treatment and the consultant, who was from Sri Lanka, asked my dad what the two black marks were on the back of his leg.

Pictured after his return to Portsmouth

"My dad explained about the snake bite.

"The consultant looked really worried and said the poison sacs were still there. He was rushed across the hospital in a wheelchair and had a small operation to remove them.

"We encouraged him to write it all down - and I am glad he did.

"They are all his own words. He typed them up on a typewriter and we found some old photographs in a box he kept.

"His story will be passed down the family for generations to come and he will never be forgotten."

The M.E.N. picks up Mr Curry's recollections in late January, 1942. The allied armies had been driven out of Malaya, and all who survived were in Singapore.

"Well over one million people crammed on an island about the size of the Isle of Wight, separated from the mainland by the waters of the Jahore Strait," Mr Curry wrote.

At the time, he was attached to the RAF as a liaison officer, and with Singapore under continuous bombing raids by the Japanese, the RAF were preparing to evacuate his base.

"Being a naval man, they were not sure what to do with me," Mr Curry wrote.

War in the Far East formerly ended 75 years ago today

"They left, and I found myself alone. I located some bottles of Scotch, had a few drinks and considered my next move.

"Next morning I was woken by explosions and peeping out of a window, I could glimpse Japanese soldiers across the Jahore Strait, firing mortar shells at our airfield.

"I could see no future in this for me so packing a suitcase, I let myself out of the back door and set off to walk to Singapore City, followed by mortar shells."

Mr Curry writes of 'dodging bombs and shells' as he walked and 'hundreds of unburied dead' blocking the streets.

"A huge black pall of smoke from the blazing oil tanks on Pulau Bukum and the naval base hung over the city, and the rain drops were turning black as they reached the ground.

"Fires blazed everywhere, wrecked cars littered the streets.

"Armed soldiers were wandering about bewildered; what unbelievable chaos.

British forces in Burma

"I spoke to an Army sergeant who was manning a large anti-aircraft gun on the pavement and he told me they had only arrived from the UK a few days ago.

"He asked me for a fag. I gave him the packet.

"I eventually found a naval HQ in a sandbagged shack, reported what had happened, and was immediately drafted to a minesweeper - HMS Jarak.

"I literally fought my way to the docks, brushing aside armed and dazed soldiers trying to force their way on to anything that would float. I suppose being one of the few in naval uniform, they assumed that I would be most likely to know about ships leaving Singapore.

"Armed police and army officers controlled the gates, and on showing my papers through the bars, I was allowed in - alone."

He was taken out to HMS Jarak on a small wooden boat.

"From the ship's bridge I was horrified to see scores of children, and women, standing right up to the very edge of Clifford Pier, waiting desperately for rescue," he wrote.

"Japanese planes were slowly circling over the city.

"The captain told me that our job was to proceed to a minefield at dusk and guide escaping ships and craft through the minefield, then return to base at dawn."

Whilst on board and during a Japanese bombing raid, he recalled scrambling below deck and finding a makeshift shelter built entirely of large tins of corned beef.

"As I dived in, it was explained that the bomb splinters could slice through the sides of a ship, but could not penetrate the corned beef.

Mr Curry (left) with a navy friend

"As the bombs exploded all around us, I thought of those children standing on Clifford Pier unprotected.

"I have had the picture of those children in my mind's eye for years."

On one minefield clearing mission Mr Curry recalled his ship - the Jarak - being spotted at sea by a Japanese battle force comprising of destroyers and a carrier.

They were on course for a small island called Saya and came under fire. The order was given to abandon ship.

"As we rowed away towards the island, we could see in the dusk our ship listing badly and smoke belching from her.

"Between us we reached the islet about midnight, carrying our wounded up the rocky face to comparative safety. At dawn we found a sandy beach quite near and managed to get our wounded on the sands.

"We found coconut trees and our five Malayan ratings soon climbed them, providing us with food and drink to augment our lifeboat stores of 12 tins of sardines, one tin of biscuits, and a few pints of water."

His memoirs

Mr Curry told how they took cover in the jungle nearby as a Japanese plane appeared overhead.

"We decided to make for Palembang, in Sumatra, at crack of dawn next morning - February, 16, 1942.

"At dawn we had breakfast, one tin of sardines between four hungry men."

Singapore had fallen the following day and Palembang, the place they were headed, had also been captured.

"While we were talking, a Japanese plane appeared with machine guns blazing away. We rushed into the jungle carrying our wounded. The plane machine-gunned the Jarak, the beach, and the jungle.

"We had a meeting and decided we could not stay there.

"We could not make Palembang or Batavia so we decided to make for the Indragiri River on the east coast of Sumatra, and attempt to cross to the west side."

Barely afloat, they rowed the lifeboats back to HMS Jarak and managed to reach the island of Singkep in her.

There they scuttled the ship.

Pictured taking the salute at Manchester Town Hall in the 1960s

Trying to sleep in the jungle, Mr Curry recalled the snake attack.

He said: "I woke up as something was itching under my left knee and putting my hand down to scratch, I felt something wriggle, then a sharp pain - it was a snake about 18-inches long, black with white spots on it.

"I yelped and an Army lieutenant immediately kicked the snake away, slashed my leg with a knife, buried his teeth around the bite, and drew out the poisoned blood, calling for a tourniquet - all in a few seconds.

Both he - and the lieutenant - survived.

Mr Curry died in 1980 but typed out his memoirs for his family

Mr Curry told how they struck a deal with an Indonesian man to be taken across the Berhala Strait to the east coast of Sumatra, hiding under leaves in a small boat as they sailed.

"I do not think any of us knew exactly where we were, but we had a small compass and set off immediately to walk the 300 miles to Padang on the west coast of Sumatra," he wrote.

"All I had for this 300 mile trek were white canvas shoes, shorts, an open neck shirt and a small pillowcase containing a few odds and ends.

"I became aware of increasing screaming over our heads and we realised it came from scores of apes who had picked up our scent."

Pictured with his fleet during an inspection

Mr Curry recalled walking through endless mud and being 'covered by large black leeches'.

They were aided by Indonesians as they walked.

"We continued to the west, through prickly bamboo which tore at our clothes, the leeches were more determined than ever of getting their share of blood, and dysentery made progress very trying for me.

"What was left of my canvas shoes was tied up with string, and in the heavy rain and deep mud I lost one, then the other.

"Soon my bare feet were in a sorry state, with blisters, cuts and thorns and at each stop I became muscle bound.

"I had lost all sense of time and all we had eaten over the last 10 or 12 days was a few yams, a small amount of rice and sugar cane.

"I shall never forget small bushes full of fire flies which illuminated the whole scene like Christmas trees.

"During the night I was given a gentle nudge by one of the chaps and, looking up, saw in the undergrowth a large pair of murderous yellow eyes lit up by the fire flies.

A grainy view of HMS Jarak

"It was a tiger alright. After a while the tiger, perhaps confused by the conflicting smells and deciding that as a main course we had gone off and were not fit for inhuman consumption, gave an angry snarl which rattled our back teeth and sloped away.

"After several more days and nights of this trekking - and towards the end we were carrying each other - we arrived at a gravel road and hid in the jungle waiting to see what happened.

"Eventually a car appeared, which we held up highwaymen-style with our revolvers and we persuaded them to take an armed officer to the nearest town.

"Four hours later the resourceful officer returned with a small bus, driven by an Indonesian and, cheering like mad, we clambered aboard."

With the help of Dutch soldiers, Mr Curry recalled reaching the coast before a small British destroyer - HMS Tenedos - arrived at the beach.

They clambered on board and set out to sea, before being switched onto Australian cruiser HMAS Hobart and shipped to Colombo, Sri Lanka.

From there - via numerous other stops and convalescence - he finally returned to Portsmouth.

Mr Curry, who was awarded the Burma Star, said: "It was a hell of an ordeal.

"But when I heard later of the sadistic treatment of prisoners in Japanese prison camps, many of whom were my friends, and one a relative, I realised only too well how very fortunate indeed I was."