Bill Hillman's Monthly Military Tribute
2019.01 Edition

Wartime Journals of Correspondent Edgar Rice Burroughs :: December 1942-April 1943
PARTS 1 ~ 2 ~ 3
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

"Hulbert asked for it. So I shall set it down for my children, my children's children,
and any one else dumb enough to want to read it."
~ Ed Burroughs
Back in 2004, Danton Burroughs had his ERB, Inc. office staff photo copy his grandfather's 50-page Wartime Journal from 1942/43. 
Dan then shared this and many other rare and interesting documents with me to feature on the ERBzine Tribute Site.
My first step was to summarize the events from the journal and add relevant illustrations compiled from Web searches.
We then uploaded this timeline summary to ERBzine 1035 and ERBzine 1036.
Danton's untimely death disrupted many of the plans we had for ERB-related projects and Step 2 was put on hold. . .  until now:


Ed Burroughs with son Lt. Hulbert Burroughs - Combat Photographer
Leaving Hawaii: December 4 and 5
Hulbert asked for it. So I shall set it down for my children, my children's children, and any one else dumb enough to want to read it.

As to my trip: There was little about it that could not now be published, althou at the time there was much that I was not allowed to tell, including the names of places that I visited. Now there remain but two which cannot be divulged, both of which are well known to the Japs, who have bombed one of them several times.

After dinner on December 4th last, I was playing poker with Floye Garrison, "Duke" Willey, and Jack Jenkins in Jack's quarters in Icki Sue. Hulbert had come in to spend the night with me, but not caring to play poker, he had remained in my quarters to read. About 9:30 he phoned me to say that G-2 had just called to say that there was a seat on a plane leaving at 8:15 the next morning being reserved for me.

We were just in the midst of a pot: so I stayed long enough to win it, and then excused myself without explanations. I just got up and walked out of their lives for three months, taking their money with me.

I went to my quarters and packed my B-4 and musette bag under the supervision of Hulbert, who had been on several flights to the West, South, and South West Pacific. G-2 having told Hulbert that I would be allowed 55 pounds, many essentials had to be eliminated. At that, however, my gear weighed much more than fifty-five. The B-4 was jammed full; so was the musette bag. I also had a tin hat and a typewriter. Later on, during my travels, I acquired a large gas mask. When fully loaded, I could just stagger.

Hulbert and I ate in the Niumalu kitchen early the next morning (December 5), as the dining room is not blacked out. We reached the field at 8, but the plane didn't take off until 9:30. After all our care in packing, my gear was not weighed. Nor was it once weighed during nearly 7000 miles of air travel.

The C-87 (a converted B-24, four motored bomber) carried eleven passengers and stacks of baggage and freight that made it difficult to move around much. I went up to the pilots' compartment often during the trip. Had I still been carrying the thirty pounds I had recently shed, I could not have squeezed through the narrow aisle left between stacks of baggage and freight. As it was, I stuck a couple of times as the cargo shifted.

Besides myself, there were nine brand new 2nd lieutenant fighter pilots . . .

Niumalu Hotel

C-87 Liberator Express Transport -- A converted B-24 Bomber


Flying to the South Pacific: December 5
. . . on their way to the South Pacific and a civilian connected with a commercial airline. They were all nice chaps, and those you flyers were tops. One of them at least has since been killed, and doubtless others of whom I have not heard. I have all their autographs, as well as those of the members of the crew.
Incidentally, I have had a lot of fun autograph collecting since I started it last November. Knowing that I was going to be sent on an assignment by United Press and having practically no memory at all for names, I conceived the brilliant idea of carrying an autograph book with me and having all those whom I interviewed write their names and home towns in it. I just hand the book to a victim, opened at the fly leaf, on which is typed the following:
For more than a quarter of a century, I have been giving autographs.
Thousands of them.
And I have never asked for one.
The worm has turned.
He wants your autograph.
Edgar Rice Burroughs United Press Honolulu.

And it had never failed to work. I have filled two books and half of a third. I have autographs of soldiers of every grade and rank, and of Navy personnel up to captain. I haven't an admiral, as I haven't bumped into one yet at a psychologically correct moment for asking for an autograph. However, I have two governors and many pulchritudinous wahines.

The first day's flight was interesting to me as I had never flown so far before. It was otherwise monotonous as the scenery in one place looked just like the scenery of every other place. It was just the same damned scenery that Noah looked at for seven months. But Noah couldn't read detective stories and play contract, as I did.

We flew between 8000 and 9000 feet; and it was darned cold. Fortunately, I had a leather jacket along; but my hind legs shivered. Khaki is not so warm.

The captain invited me up to the pilots' compartment and even offered to let me fly the ship. Having got lost once while trying to fly from Clover field to Pomona, I thought it only patriotic to decline. After all, those C-87's cost a lot of money; and I'm a tax payer. I asked him when we would cross the Equator, and he said he would let me know. I had never crossed it before.

About noon, one of the fighter pilots stood about the center of the ship and tossed sandwiches around. I caught four. There are no attractive stewardesses to bring one dainty lunches with steaming cocoa or coffee. Nor a single serviette.

Late in the afternoon the ship began to buck and roll. It reminded me of the antics of those big, fat steers you've seen the cowboys riding at rodeos. I looked out, expecting to see that we were in the midst of a terrific tropical storm. But the air was clear and the sea smooth. It occurred to me that the pilot had lost control. I also considered the appalling fact that I had no Mae West nor any parachute. Then I remembered that the captain had promised to let me know when we crossed the Equator. I looked down, but was greatly disappointed. The Equator is either not what it has been cracked up to be, or it has been removed for . . .

The Flight: Hawaii to New Caledonia
Hawaii ~ Canton ~ Fiji ~ New Caledonia

Mae West and her Namesake



Hawaii to New Caledonia Flight via Canton Atoll and Fiji
 December 6/8
. . .  the duration. Scenically, it is a flop.

A little more than an hour later we sighted our Ararat (Canton Island). It reared its majestic heights some three or four feet above water level. Its tropical forest consists of a single tree. It has no women. But that lack is more than made up for by an excellent bar in the officers' club.

After landing, we were directed to the Officers' Quarters, where I dumped my gear onto a cot in a room with four others. For half a century or more I have been accustomed to privacy, but from this moment on I seldom slept in a room with less than two to twenty other men for three months.

There is a shortage of water on Ararat. The only fresh water is that distilled from sea water. This allows a gallon and a half per man for drinking and cooking. All washing and shaving is done with sea water, which is not as bad as it sounds. Anyway, my experience in the 7th Cavalry in Arizona and as a cowpuncher in Idaho had long since impressed me with the fact that washing may be reduced to a minimum or done away with entirely.

After supper, some of us hitch hiked to the Officers' Club, where we watched the poker and craps games for a while and read the signs on the bar: "Drinking from 4 P.M to 9 P.M. only"  Not more that four drinks per man." And so to bed.

Had a good night's sleep, as there was a cool breeze and no mosquitoes. Up at 5 A.M., and took off about 7:30. Yesterday, after we crossed the International Date Line, I was initiated in the Short Snorters, an organization which must have been conceived during the silly season - right at the height of it.

Our next stop (Nandi, Viti Levu, Fiji) was a really beautiful tropical island. Here we thumbed rides in army trucks and a native police car to two small towns. In the second town we found excellent Australian beer, and a girl on the street pinched my leg in passing - the old S.A. She was definitely brunette - all over. She had a bushy head of hair that stuck out in all directions. She might have been a hundred years old, although it is possible that she didn't look her age. She may have pinched me to ascertain if I were still edible, but I prefer to think otherwise.

We came darn near getting stranded there, sixteen miles from camp, with the possibility of having to walk back. An M.P. captain told us that there were no more trucks going back until 9:30 and that the chances were that there wouldn't be room in that for us. I kept thinking that if Stillwell had walked from Burma to India, I might be able to walk sixteen miles. But I knew doggone well it was wishful thinking.

So I went out to look for transportation. Englander, the airways man, went with me. We found a truck just starting back and got the driver to go around by the hotel, where we gathered up the rest of our crowd. I have seen many beautiful sights in my life, but nothing more beautiful than that truck.

We got back to camp in time to wash up and have couple of highballs before supper. After supper, Captain Johnson, the skipper of our ship invited me to have a highball. Of course he had to twist my arm, but he finally talked me into it. Rather than have my elbow dislocated, I had several more.

Up at 4:20 A.M. on December 8, December 7 having been lost in the shuffle . . .


Canton Atoll

Nandi (Nadi), Viti Levu, Fiji

A Native Family on Fiji and Ed's Lady Friend

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