Part XIII: Back to the work of war

July 5, 1944

First Platoon is ready to leave at any time, going on advance. I hope we stay for last for a change.
I spent July 4th under better circumstances than last year. Most of the fellows were in Auckland, and most imbibed heavily. As a result, many a sick fellow woke up this morning.
First Platoon is guarding the equipment on the docks. The ship came in last nite, so maybe we are on our merry way again.
Aaron is going home because of jungle rot on his hands.

1st Platoon departed on a ship called “Sea Dog” or “Sea Devil,” destination unknown. Now we’re all packed and ready to go on short notice.
I’ve been kind of sick lately, temp around 95 degrees, too low for comfort. Our vehicles are on the dock now ready to load. I guess this is our last weekend here. I went to Auckland Saturday but it was too damn crowded and almost impossible to get into the movies. Everybody was stinkeroo.
I got a quart of whiskey as a gift for my work as typist. I gave it to Mike. He was so surprised his eyes bulged-out.
Second and third parts of the platoon got orders to pack up, so we really moved things fast. At 6:00 we started off for Auckland for the last time, for who knows where.

We got down O.K. and found we are to sail on an old Liberty Ship converted into a troop transport called the “U.S.S. Carlos Carrillo,” one of the worst ships we ever sailed on. To make matters worse, we found we were to have sailed on the “Matsonia,” but due to last –minute changes we ended up on this garbage scow. The food was lousey and we had lines a mile long before we could reach the hot box called a mess hall or galley.

The ship in 1944 was not old, but it did look the part. The S.S. Carlos Carillo, at least among my Dad's bunch,  won the 43rd Cavalry Recon Troop's vote for least favorite troop ship. U.S. NAVY PHOTO/SAN FRANCISCO BAY

The ship in 1944 was not old, but it did look the part. The S.S. Carlos Carillo, at least among my Dad’s bunch, won the 43rd Cavalry Recon Troop’s vote for least favorite troop ship. U.S. NAVY PHOTO/SAN FRANCISCO BAY

Everybody was sea-sick for the first three days, including myself. Later on we could eat, but the chow was so bad no one could eat it.
We knew we were heading or New Guinea, a place called Aitape. The Japs are trapped there, but fighting to break out. The first we saw of New Guinea was Moresby Bay, where we anchored all day and pulled out at nite. It’s very hilly and looks like hell. The next day we pulled in at French Haven. It was the same as the other place. I had K.P. here, had to haul garbage cans to the stern and leave them there to dump at nite. I never worked harder in all my life. Two days later we pulled in to Aitape, where we saw 16 ships anchored. We stayed onboard all day because other ships had priority on unloading.
We got off the Carillo and loaded onto an L.C.T. and pulled ashore. The beach was very sandy and we walked ¼ mile to camp (as set up by “”1st H-Q,” for us there were only two tents available. There were no cots, but the cooks were anticipating our arrival and had a swell dinner prepared.
I found we’re on the right flank of the front lines. It’s quiet in our sector, but on the left the 169 and the 172 have trouble, but so far the score is 272 Japs to 5 of us.
Marcotte and the 1st are on a three-day recon patrol now. The sun is so hot here it even gets in the shade. We’re digging-in the M-8s and M.G.s in case the Japs attack. We’re pretty well set up, 6 men to a tent and, best of all, we have cots to sleep on.
The 20th Jap division lost to our O.P.s. They’re probably going to try to hit us as an escape through the swamp.
The patrol is back. They report that the Japs are eating snakes, etc. in the swamp and, according to the natives, hanging themselves.
We have movies here every nite lites are on all over the place. One would never believe we are only 5 miles from thousands of Japs. We all look like (unreadable) and have out hair out to the bone and our mustaches are getting fuzzy.

August 1944:
The 3rd Platoon was ordered to relieve the 32nd Ran. We had to walk 6 days behind the Jap line to reach O.P.
1st Platoon headed back from an 8-day patrol. One man had malaria. I hope a news correspondent is along. They’ll probably have a story on us. Our 2nd Platoon reached its objective, the 32nd boys were on the way back when ambushed by the Japs. It seems the natives double-crossed them.
The natives are reportedly being held as prisoners, and will probably be shot for dead.
So far, 4 men from the 82nd. Recon have made their way back to camp. The rest are not accounted for.
We’re working our area now, plenty of work but getting on pretty fair. Movies all over the place. Can see one every nite.
Our artillery really is banging away. It’s sure nice to listen and not be on the receiving end.
I went to the airdrome today and saw a group of P-38s taking off. There was plenty of activity.
Rotation is now very much in doubt, according to plans now only two can leave per month. So I guess we’re here for the duration.
Mail won’t arrive, so I guess we’re sort of screwed-up.
The war in Europe is drawing to a climax and Japan is being hit 600 miles from home now. They lost lot of planes and ships last night when out task force hit them. I believe we’ll hit the Banin Isles and we, the 43rd, will hit some isle before long.
The boys are going pretty far past the Drinumor River. So far, 10,000 Japs are counted dead. This place should be cleaned out soon.
First Platoon is out on a 30-day recon. Now only the 2nd is here, plus H.Q. We’re reserves to relieve the 3rd. or, if needed, to use the M-8s. Rumor has us getting more vehicles.
I am now a gunner on a 37 in M-8 so maybe we’ll go somewhere yet on patrol.
Japan and the Philippines were bombed, the latter for the first time. Japan is due for some more headaches.
There’s still no place to set up my darkroom so chances are I’ll develop only my own film. There’s no chemicals here at all, so that’s another headache. This war is really provoking at times.
Mail comes once a week. Seems to me we deserve better service than that, very good for our morale.
I shot up plenty of .30 caliber slugs to try out my new rifle. It’s really a swell weapon. Too bad a few politicians weren’t lined up in the sights.
We swam in the ocean yesterday, but it’s not much fun when you have to keep an eye out for sharks.
I was up in a plane two days straight, dropped rations to the 1st Platoon. It’s really nice way above the clouds. Those were my first two rides, but they won’t be my last.
We’re building a ball field now, we named it Morrell Field in memory of Pap.


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