Our unit, the 593rd Engineer Boat & Shore Regiment
went over in late 1943, we were thirty five days aboard an unescorted
liberty ship from California to Noumea, New Caledonia where the shop
pulled in for three days of repair and then we were on our way to Milne
Bay, New Guinea.
The cadre of our our regiment were men from a Brooklyn National Guard
from Piktin Avenue to Far Rockaway, my being from Alabama took me several
months to learn their dialect, and yes they had a time with the funny
way I talked also. Campstonemen was something else - it rained every
day and we went for long hikes over those hills every day. We rode the
ferry down to Fort Mason then to the transport. We left San Francisco
on a very rainy night and it sure hurt to pass under the Golden Gate
bridge and start wonder when and if we would ever return through that
Bunkspace sure was close on those
troop transports and I tried to stay on deck as much as possible. We only had
two meals a day, you would get in line for breakfast, finally get a bite to eat,
wash your mess gear and get back in line for supper. When the seas got really
rough the mess line was much shorter.
When we arrived at Mine Bay, New Guinea, we dropped off part of the regiment and
the remainder of us went straight to Goodenough Island My stay on the island was
only two weeks and my company pulled out for Finschafen. Our next assignment was
Arawe, New Britain, then Hollanida, Aitape, Wakde Island, Biak and Noemfoor Island.
Noemfoor our first battalion, which was the boat battalion moved out to stage
on Morotai Island for the three landings with the Australians. The first landing
was on Tarakan Island in the McKassar Straits in northeast Borneo. Then came the
landings at Labuan Island and Brunei Bay and the last and final landing at Balikpapan,
in Dutch Borneo.
From Borneo I went
to Batangas in the Philippines, where we made preparations for the landings on
Japan, but the bomb made a combat landing unnecessary, thank the Good Lord. Then
when the war was over I had to make the landing in the north island of Hokkaido
with the 77th Division as they became the occupation troops for that portion of
Japan. Finally, I was able to get home with a hundred and five points just in
time form Christmas.
We arrived on Goodenough with both woolen and kakhi uniforms, the
woolens were promptly buried and forgotten. I was fortunate enough to get to Australia
a couple of times and I remember "OP" rum, in fact the first that I
had was called "Red Lion", bottle in an old rusty looking glass bottle
that looked as if had been buried for a hundred years.
buddy Moe, offered me a taste, saying have one, its good stuff, I had a small
snort, swallowed in down, and after I finally got my breath I managed to ask what
the hell that stuff was. Our landing craft would first be used to take troops
and material into the beaches for D-Day and then they were assigned unloading
duties. You can imagine what good stuff came in for was GI alcohol, nearly every
boat crew had a small container tucked away some place on the boat, usually in
the double bottoms.
We didn't have "Little Orphan
Annie" we had "Tokyo Rose" the day we landed on Goodenough Island
she came out with the name of the unit and our regimental commanders name. I have
often wondered where she got her information. Was it from Japs the remained behind
and radioed this information in, if so hoe did they get the specifics? The atabrine
[Malaria treatment] story how troops thought it would ruin the family jewels and
all the sort of rot. I always took the little yellow pills but then when we moved
up to Japan in the cold weather, I still had malaria with chills and fever.
and Return to the Front
My operations Sergeant
and I got wounded on one of the D-Day landings, two Jap five inch shells hit our
landing craft, just fortunate that they both hit in the engine room. They picked
us up out of the water and sent us back to the 47th Field Hospital at Milne Bay
that sat way up on a hill at the end of the harbor. When we were discharged, they
put is on a troop ship on our way back to our outfit and we disembarked at Hollandia
and were promptly ushered to a "repple depot".
next morning I was called out and told that I would remain there on extended TDY
in order to assist in the construction of a camp sewer and water system. The next
morning I had a confab with my sergeant "Doc" and we made plans to desert
back to our outfit. Doc went out and found a jeep that seemed unattached at the
time and took off for Sentani airfield, from here we managed to get back to our
unit. I reported to the battalion commander and he said don't worry they won't
come up to the front to find me.
Washing Machine Charlie
Old "Washing Machine Charlie" was an aggravating jackass.
If we were lucky enough to get a movie going he would always come over and stop
the show. I don't know how many times I saw a portion of the movie "Wuthering
Heights" and never did get to see the whole thing. Yes I saw the "Pirates
of Penzance" while I was in Brisbane. Never! Accept a ride in a canoe that
doesn't have outriggers. Those leeches were something else, in only a few minutes
your feet and legs could be covered with them.
Finschafen I saw a native sitting on a large bomb working on the fuse ring with
a hammer and a screwdriver. I have often wondered if he made it. I didn't stop
to explain to him why he shouldn't be doing that sort of thing.
natives were paid for killing Japs and I am so glad that you did. I too had the
opportunity to be privy to an exchange of ears for money and materials thought
it strange that the only took the ear. They brought the ears in pinned down to
a large piece of bark and they were salted, to preserve them to suppose, so their
investment would not fall apart before they could cash them in for money. I went
to the little island of Romberporn, in the northwest section Geevlink Bay, southwest
of Noemfoor Island to help the natives on the island defend themselves from the
marauding Japs and I witnessed an exchange of ears for money.