Part XII – Replacement troops, and getting ready to go back

Notes from a son:
Dad didn’t record specific stories here about people he met in Auckland, but he said some of them would invite American servicemen right into their homes and feed them. He talked a lot about the green landscape and pretty houses, but he never went back for a visit. I suspect that’s because of all the other stuff he’d have remembered from that time. He didn’t get back to Auckland, but he did indeed master horseshoes.
As his World War II service journal continues, I learned that Dad knew how to type, at least well enough to keep him out of going on maneuvers.

April 1944

There are no American WACS here but plenty of nurses. All are officers, so the enlisted man is out of luck.
Wearing bars does make an officer superior to an enlisted man. Except up in the islands where bombs and bullets make no distinction. There, everything is palsy-walsy. But that’s life for you. We’re democratic alright, in some things.
Cpl. Davis is on his way to the states on an emergency furlough. To us he seems lucky, but maybe he’s not at that because his Dad is dying.
Since Capt. Dall left Capt. Hall is our C.O. but he has yet to get his two bars and methinks he is trying hard enough.
There are plenty of places to go in town for the enlisted man:
 The Catholic Services Club – very good.
 The Red Cross – too crowded.
 Government House – not bad.
 The YMCA – quiet.
 The YWCA – I’m not allowed to enter so I don’t know, but I know I’d like it.
The movies are plenty, and I was in all, but The Civic is tops. The interior is really beautiful and the roof resembles the sky at night, complete with stars, clouds that move and a moon. It’s very nice and could compete with any back in the states.
Our A.W.O.L. cases are not too bad, two are still out for quite some time now. Three are in the stockade for two months. They got a dirty deal. And there’s one awaiting courts martial. I hope he keeps his stripes because he’s a swell guy.
Last mail I heard Farmer is going overseas, I believe it’s England or France. Too bad, because he is too young to learn to kill.
Plenty of boys are low on money, so Cablegrams are going back home for more dough. I sent Mom flowers for Mother’s Day, and got a rosary from Violet for my birthday. She’s someone I aim to go home to.
I’ve been developing a lot of film for the fellows here. It’s getting so I can see like a cat in the dark. There are no rumors yet as to when we’re due to leave New Zealand.
I finally heard from Farmer, he crossed the Atlantic to England. I hope he’ll be as lucky in combat as I was in New Georgia.
A big push is expected any time now. England must be jammed with Americans. The papers say the casualties are expected to be very high.
I’m afraid my Brother Julius is coming here somewhere, especially if he goes to Virginia. I sure hope it’s not true.

May 1944
This may be the month of May, but it’s so damn cold it’s not funny. We have our kerosene stoves on all nite but even then I use 5 blankets, two issued, two I got from the 25th Recon boys and one I talked our supply sergeant out of. We’re having fun with our kerosene stoves. Some guys filled up with diesel and in the morning everything was lousey with soot. They looked like Amos & Andy.
I have a new job now for the past week, doing typing for Lt. Atkinson, the claims officer for the division. It’s pretty fair so far. I get out of a lot of work, and it’s pretty interesting, something new for a change.
We have two new officers, Cole and Israel. The rumor now is we’re going to the Philippines. If so, I doubt many of us will be alive when the rotation policy comes into effect next October, 24 months overseas.
We had a speech by General Wing. He says we’ll see action again before too long. Very encouraging. He said the rotation policy is even now in effect and boys are going back monthly.
All we have to do is stay alive and our turn will come.
We’re getting new men daily to replace the ones we lost. I hear rumors we’re to be mechanized and will have armored cars soon.
The Infantry is now on maneuvers, but Hall says we’re not going. Three men, Allen Anderson and Ames, are going to 502 New Caledonia soon. Big shake-up in the troop. Men are being busted all over the place. Anyone could wake up now and be a Cpl. or Sgt.

May 5, 1944
Effective May 5, Lamarre and I are Pfc.s, very touching for us two ex-corporals. Mike was busted to Pvt. LaJoie is still a private. Poor guy deserves new ratings. Now you don’t know who to cuss for fear he may be a Sgt., as if any of us give a damn.
Drivers are going to get new vehicles, so I guess our mechanization will become a reality.
I had to stand guard Sunday, and a nicer nite would be hard to find. I had a beautiful full moon, but no one around to share it with, only me and my dreams.
There were three auto accidents in Troop over the weekend. Passerelli hit four cows and wrecked his Ford. Billy hit one cow, and “Karescky” cracked his up too. Lefty had to be pulled out of a ditch too, so that alone proves there’s plenty of liquor yet.
We have a Troop party at Hamilton Friday nite. That will be one nite I want to see.

Later in May:
I went to Auckland again on Saturday and took in two movies with Joe, and stayed a while at the Catholic Club. I had fun listening to Baptists sing on the corner of Queens Street. They really go in for it here in a big way.
Mail is lousey, so bad, in fact, we’ve just about given up hope of receiving any.
We have new M-8s now, three to start with and one half-track. So I guess the word Mec. will finally be a literal fact.
I’m still doing a lot of typing for Lt. Atkinson, and it seems our boys are having plenty of accidents. Some of them are really lulus, these New Zealand people are really out for our money.
We had our troop party at Hamilton and beer flowed like water. We had a swell dance band, but being a non-dancer I just watched the capers of the gang. Everybody but Chuck and I was polluted but, strange as it sounds, there wasn’t one fight.
Lt. Hall (Now Capt. Hall) played the trumpet. Precusser was really good on the sax.
After the party about 5 kegs of beer was brought back to camp. All day Sunday and Saturday the few who stayed behind stayed by the kegs and really drank.
The Troop is scheduled for three weeks of maneuvers around Rotovia, they’ll really freeze nights up there. Being assistant to the claims officer is now paying off. I’m to stay behind.
I believe we’ll sail off some time after that, where nobody knows or ventures to guess.
Division called up and told us to stop putting our identifying number on crates. It could be we’ll finally move out of the South Pacific.
Cassin was finally taken by the Allies, sounds like they’re going great guns all over. I still believe we’ll be thru France before the year’s up.

June 1944:
The boys all left for maneuvers and, from the reports they’re sending back they’re having it tough. It’s not only cold, but our new Captain makes them stay out in it. They even had snow up there.
Our radios really sizzled with news that they opened-up the new, long-awaited front by invading France. The Germans were so surprised they haven’t recovered yet. It came on June 6. Now they have quite a foothold. The Russians are going after Finland, should knock them out by July.
Back to our party with the Japs, we hit the Marianas Isles 1,500 miles from Japan and 600 from the Philippines. We’re bombing Guam, so it looks like the climax is soon to come. New B-29 bombers hit Japan itself, and only lost four more thru Jap fire. So it looks like Tojo has something to worry about now that we’re in his back yard.
We have our worries, too. Our new rumor has us going to New Guinea to a staging point from there to take another rock from the Japs.
That’s something nice to look forward to, considering we have only three months to go to be eligible for furloughs home via the Rotation Plan.
I was to Hamilton both weekends the boys were on maneuvers. It was good to wake up in a hotel room and not have to get up unless I wanted to.
Rumor also has it that New Zealand will be given back to the New Zealanders. A lot of Kiwis ( New Zealand soldiers) are back for good to work at essential jobs. It seems funny, considering that there’s no indication that this war will end soon.
New Zealand’s servicemen resent the Yank’s popularity with the girls, but it’s their own fault. To see anyone duller one would have to go to a museum, and to their girls I guess we’re something new.
Anyway, some husbands came home too, and a few boys were sort of caught making themselves at home. Funny now, but some of us will probably fare the same.
Have only two A.W.O.L.s now if reports are true. Gray got caught. Wasn’t worth it if he’ll get three months in the stockade, losing chances for rotation.
The boys came back from maneuvers Friday night and a more disgusted bunch couldn’t be found anywhere.
Our outfit was the only one to stay three weeks as a whole group. Now we’re all looking forward to 5-day passes, but I have doubts we’ll get them. We were scheduled to stay in New Zealand for three months, and we’re on our way to the fourth now. We’ve got plenty of ‘recreational’ equipment, so civilization will probably be a memory soon. I’m still assistant to the Claims Officer. We had a new accident from Troop last nite. Halverson hit a 6X6 with a civilian car.
I had guard duty again Friday and Saturday as a quiet weekend was had by yours truly. Thursday was “Infantry Day,” so we all got off., but on passing the 169th Infantry we saw them drilling, so I wonder whose day it really was?
The mail finally made an appearance. I got 22 letters in two days, and none for the two weeks before. Everything’s O.K. on the home front, I hope.
Rumors as to an early departure are flying thick and fast. New Guinea lies ahead, by the consensus of our Troop; Port Moresby to Duna, to Wewak would be the main landing points, according to guesses.
Our outfits are packed and most everyone is ready to go, but leaving will be tough again. We had about six shots so far, I got the last four at once. Too bad we didn’t have bayonets to defend ourselves. By now we’re probably immune to any disease known to man plus a few yet undiscovered. Probably for our own good.

July 1944:
We had three-day passes, so Auckland had me for a guest. It was O.K. to sleep as long as I wanted to, and to top it off, chow in bed.
We have a 35-mile limit, so quite a few of the fellows were in town. I’m sure a few bartenders were taxed to their limit.
They have a funny system here. Bars are open 10 — 2 – 4 — 6 daily and closed Sunday. They’re losing plenty of pounds, but blue laws are enforced even over here.
Mike just came in from town, was to “church,” so he says.

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