Bill Hillman's Monthly Military Tribute
AS YOU WERE . . .
WAR YEARS ECLECTICA :: OCTOBER 2019
2019.10 Edition


Wartime Journals of Correspondent Edgar Rice Burroughs :: December 1942-April 1943
PARTS 28 ~ 29 ~ 30
THE DIARY OF A CONFUSED OLD MAN
or Buck Burroughs Rides Again

Written April 1943 ~ Copyright ERB, Inc.
Shared by Danton Burroughs from his Burroughs Family Archive
Transcribed and Illustrated by Bill Hillman

PAGE TWENTY-EIGHT

Jan 29/30: Noumea Hotel ~ Spider Bites ~ Poker ~ Beer and Tap Water
Wrote Story ~ Bouncing Baby Stolen ~ Hospital Visit

When I got back to the hotel, wet, muddy, and looking forward to a shower, I found that the water had been turned off -- a common occurrence. So I did the best I could with pitcher and washbowl, and put on my last clean uniform.

When I took off my shirt, I found seven or eight big red welts on my back. These now accounted for the severe itching I had endured on the ride to Tontouta. Evidently a spider had crawled into my shirt. Incidentally, I never felt quite as peppy again as I had previous to this. Whether this was caused by the considerable amount of poison the spider must have injected into me, I don't know; but I shall always think so.

found a message on my bed making me to go to G-2, USAFISPA and see Major Gates. I went over as soon as I had changed, getting mud all over my clean pants as I crawled into my dirty jeep. Gates only wanted to ask me to a poker game -- another meeting of the Noumea Chowder and Marching Club to be held that evening.

I saw Lt. Col. Skaates and Colonel Sherman while I was there, and talked with the latter relative to my request for air transportation to Guadalcanal. He said that it had gone through channels to Admiral Halsey, which means I shall have to use surface ships.

Back in my room, Capt. Bowen came in and asked me if I'd like a cold bottle of beer. I thought he was kidding, as there has been no such thing around here for some time. But he wasn't. In his quarters, he introduced me to Col. Leroy E. Nelson, C.O, 132nd Inf., of Chicago, just back from fighting in Guadalcanal and on his way to the States. He was going by way of Honolulu, and promised to call Hulbert and tell him I was still alive. Hulbert told me afterward that he did so.

We drank four bottles of beer each before supper, and it tasted mighty good after drinking sewage and chlorine for so long. Which reminds me, I don't know but that I have mentioned it before, but for most of the time I was in Noumea I drank the unchlorinated tap water; because some one told me that the water supply was chlorinated at the source. It wasn't, and I should have contracted dysentery at least. But I didn't. Probably because of the pure life I have led. What?

So I went to Col. Hayward's room after supper and lost $16, thus ending a large day. I have neglected mentioning that Cmdr. Burroughs invited me to a party being given by his Air Group the following Thursday at a road house a few miles out of Noumea on the Colonial Highway, at 1930 (7:30 P.M.)

January 20. Found Bouncing Baby gone that morning. As the stealing of jeeps was one of the major outdoor sports on the island, I was not greatly surprised. My greatest surprise had been that it had not been stolen before. I always parked it against the curb across the street from the hotel where hundreds of servicemen passed all day and all night. I locked it, but that was only a futile gesture; as one jeep key unlocks the ignition of all other jeeps.

Wrote a story, and then got Lt. Minter to drive me to the Postoffice for stamps and to the hospital, where I inquired about my bites. A pleasant but ill informed Army doctor assured me that they were mosquito bites. I knew differently. I do not react so violently to mosquito bites. In fact there is little or no reaction. Most mosquitoes have to tell me when they bite me.


OFF-SITE REFERENCES
Poisonous Spiders
The General Hospital, New Caledonia, WWII
Censored Negative, Noumea, New Caledonia
Fleet Hospital Cruise Book - Noumea, New Caledonia
WWII Cultural Clash in New Caledonia
Tontouta in Wiki

PAGE TWENTY-NINE

Jan 20/21/22: Guadalcanal Casualties ~ Jeep Returned ~ Jap POW Interviews Planned
Flying Buddy Killed ~ Red Cross Area ~ Beautiful Island Exploited by French ~ To Meet Lt. Bulkley
Five hundred and twenty-one casualties had arrived that morning from Guadalcanal. A lot of them were hanging over the fence as I left the hospital, and I stopped to talk with some of them. There were a number from the 27th and 35th Inf., both recently from Honolulu. The five hundred and twenty-one had been removed from the ship that brought them in one hour and thirty-five minutes by small boats. Demonstrating excellent planning and efficient execution. Much more than can be said for the sentence in which I described it.

Jan. 21.  Walked to MP Hq and again reported theft of Bouncing Baby, after which I went to Signal Corps Photo Lab and got Pack Artillery blow-ups. While there, I phoned Provost Marshall at Tontouta to report theft of Bouncing Baby, which might have been driven into his district. When I got back to the hotel, an enlisted man told me that Bouncing Baby was parked across the street where I always leave her, thus closing the incident except for the necessity of reporting its return to a couple of Provost Marshalls; so that I wouldn't be picked up myself the next time I drove her.

Went to COMSOPAC to see Lt. Col. Harris, USMC, about interviewing Jap war prisoners. I had been told that Harris was a tough and irascible Marine, who would probably jump down my throat and tear me to pieces. I found him extremely cordial, pleasant, and co-operative. He promised to give me an interpreter in a few days. While I was there I visited with Gene Markey for a few minutes.

Jan. 22.  At breakfast, 2nd Lt. Frank Clark, 70th Fighter Squadron, came over and spoke to me. He is one of the boys who were on the transport with me flying down. There were two other officers of the 70th with him: 2nd Lt. Robert M. Decker of Lake Mohawk, N.J., and 2nd Lt. Davy Crockett of Bradenton, Fla. Clark told me that Henderson had been killed in a crash on the island about ten days before. He was 2nd Lt. M.G. Henderson of Shreveport, La., one of the boys with whom I played bridge on the way down. Poor kid! After all his training and enthusiasm and eagerness, he never got a single crack at the Japs.

Ramsey was leaving for Espiritu Santo; so I had to drive out to American Red Cross Officers' Rest Area Alone. I wanted to interview Coletta Ryan, who was in charge. It was located across the lower end of the island -- a long drive, much of it through an uninhabited area of swamp and jungle. On the way out, I picked up six CB men; and took them several miles past St. Louis, where they wanted to go. So turned around and drove them back. Finally found the area. There were only a Frenchman and a donkey there. No Coletta, no officers.

In the afternoon, I took a long, beautiful drive along bay and seashore. The scenery here is lovely (Excuse my tenses. I am writing from notes made at the time. At the same time, excuse my adverbs.)  One could spend months driving about the island, enjoying a constant change of scene. It is too bad the island is French rather than American. They have exploited it for a few resident families and for stockholders in Paris. Enormous wealth has been taken out of the island, practically none of it having been spent in road building or other improvements. And it has been governed by officials sent from France, who had no other interest in the island than what they personally could get out of it. It is a monument to the absolute low in colonization.

At supper I was told that an officer was anxious to meet me. Well, he wasn't half as anxious to meet me as I was to meet him when I discovered he was Lt. Cmdr. John D. Bulkley, hero of The Expendables. With him . . .


OFF-SITE REFERENCES
Guadalcanal Campaign
WW2 American Red Cross Rest Camp, New Caledonia

PAGE THIRTY

Jan 23: More Autographs ~ Hospital Medicine ~ Interview Casualties
Bravery of the "Pill Rollers" ~ Heroic Stories of the Wounded
. . .  was another PT Boat officer, Lt. Robert J. Bulkley, Jr. USNR, of New York City. They are not related, and spell their names differently. The other Bulkely is from San Antonio, Texas. Had a long talk with them. Have certainly met a lot of interesting people since I left Oahu. My three autograph books contain the autographs of most of them.

Jan. 23.  Went to 27th Hospital again today. Capt. Shapiro gave me 100 sulfadiazine tablets. In Honolulu, I have paid as high as $20 for that number, though they have since dropped to 10 cents apiece. Correspondents are entitled to the same medical services as an officer. Infact, have all the privileges of an officer. According to an order signed by the Secretary of War in January 1942, these privileges specifically included transportation. It is a little difficult to under stand on what authority an admiral countermands the orders of the Secretary of War.

While at the hospital, a major doctor game me permission to interview casualties. He even let me examine the records of admission, showing the causes of disability. Malaria topped everything else. I picked out several shrapnel and bullet wound cases and talked with them.

Tales of courage, of loyalty, of miracles. Tales of the cunning, the ruthlessness, the fanaticism of the Japs. These I heard that day from men recently wounded by gunfire or shrapnel on the jungle front, as I sat beside their hospital beds.

When they found that I was a correspondent, I was soon surrounded. Men with bandaged arms, or legs, or chests gathered about me, all talking a once, eager to tell me their experiences. Dominant was the pride of each in his particular outfit. But without exception they gave the "Pill Rollers" credit for the highest courage and indefatigable performance of duty under fire.

Pill Rollers is the soldier's name for the men of the Medical Corps. Some of those bandaged boys waxed almost inarticulate in attempting to express their admiration and gratitude for the officers and men of the M.C. Under the fire of Jap snipers and machine gunners, where the wounded receive first aid; in dressing station and Base Hospital gallant men minister to gallant men.

One man told me of seeing a seventeen year old soldier lying in the open under Jap fire with a ghastly abdominal wound. Entirely unarmed and defenseless, a man of the Medical Corps crawled to him to administer first aid and attempt to bring him out. He was shot. Unhesitatingly, another followed. He, too, was shot.

A 2nd lieutenant, on the edge of whose bed I was sitting, had received a present from Hirohito on January 12th, his twenty-fourth birthday. It was a bullet that had passed entirely through his body, missing his heart by half an inch. He was a handsome, clean-cut fellow with a most engaging smile. After being wounded, he had lain on his back under the hot, equatorial sun for four hours before they found him around noon. The litter bearers carried him up and down one hill after another until dark before they got him in. He was Champ Jones of Davisville (?), So. Car.

When the Japs cut off a patrol, they take the arms and ammunition from the bodies of our men and use them against us. A single bullet from one of our own rifles in the hands of a Jap inflicted three wounds on a twenty-two year old enlisted man with whom I talked. It hit him in the right hand, chest, and shoulder. A sniper got him from a Jap foxhole, but after he was hit he got the sniper -- his third. Then a Marine crawled. . .


OFF-SITE REFERENCES
 Veteran’s Testimony – Lena R. Gelott 48th Station Hospital
World War 2 Casualties and Caring for the Wounded
Pacific Theatre WWII Military Hospitals
WWII US Medical Research
 

 
 
 



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