OCTOBER 1943

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10 to 16 OCTOBER 1943

 

 

10 OCTOBER 1943

 

 

 

  Seventeen men leave on cadre to Gordonvale.  Sixty-five men line up in front of the dispensary to take physical examinations for Flying Cadet.  They know there are 350 replacements in Gordonvale.  Capt. Lamar was instructed by his superiors to give no examinations and the men are sent back to their outfits.

 “I am now the new Lamar,” says the doctor, “I will assert myself.  My blood is coursing with male hormones.”

In truth, Lamar’s heart is broken because he is not chosen for the Gordonvale detail.  (There was a nurse down there named Swannie.  In later years he would marry her, and live out south in the Kansas City Missouri Country Club district.  I went there to see him about 1966.  The three of us, Lamar, wife Swannie, and I, went out for a fine dinner.  Then we took Swannie home, and Lamar was to take me back to the Convention Hotel.  First, though, we went to see some people he knew.  There were two girls and an unemployed auto salesman.  On the way back, I said, “Captain, I bet that unemployed used car salesman eats as much as a St. Bernard dog.”

"I wouldn’t be surprised,” he said, sadly.

Meantime, back in New Guinea, at Port Moresby near Jackson Strip, Lamar is at the officer’s table at the mess.  He wants to be sent to Australia and he doesn’t think  he is being treated fairly.  So, with all these officers looking on as sort of jury, Lamar being probably the most popular officer in the battalion, he puts his case to the Battalion Commander.  Rather an unfair thing to do.  It put Lt. Col. George M. Jones in the rather unpleasant spot of knowing that his officers know that Jones knows that Lamar’s treatment is not satisfactory to Lamar.  The Army is a crazy assed place.  Here is Jones, with four years at West Point, graduated near the bottom of his class.  And here is Lamar with about 10 years of University and Medical School.  Did Jones know that Lamar was probably the most loyal officer Jones had?  Lamar would never straight out disagree with Jones, even if he didn’t agree.

Capt. Greco’s death left us weak.  Capt. Lamar’s going would not make us any stronger.  Officers and men who had waited, knowing that Capt. Greco would stand to their good if they were any good, now squirmed a little at the “keep them bucking” policy.  The under current is getting stronger, and the feeling is that it is going to break wide open.  Pfc. Jones out of Co E is puzzled.  He wanted to be a flying cadet, and once passed pre-flight training.  So Pfc. Jones went to see the 5th Air Force Adjutant General who told him to apply to the Adjutant General.  (At Moresby the 503d was right next to the 5th Air Force.  It took the Army this long to figure out that, there being plenty of room, why not camp the parachute regiment next to the airstrip?)  At any rate, Pfc. Jones was like everyone else — he sent an information copy straight through.

Pvt. Kelly out of Co F, one of the three test-platooners in the outfit, told Lamar he wants to get out of the outfit.  Kelly, after three years, doesn’t want to be a corporal; he doesn’t even want to be a PFC.

 

The regimental moral is not good.  Some officers are running --  applying for transfer.  Fellow officers whose judgement they have always trusted are looking for a way out.  It is a general rout.  (Most influential, yet silent, applier for transfer is Capt. Snavely, Regtl S-2.  Many officers heard about his letter, and came to see him. 

Capt. Pratt apparently wrote the most effective letter.  He asked to be transferred to a parachute unit with competent leadership.  This was all directed, of course, at Colonel Kinsler, not at Lt. Col. Jones.  The 2d Bn (Jones' command ) has held its ground.  Not so the 1st and 3d Bns.

 

 

 

 
 

 

11 OCTOBER 1943

 

   

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12 OCTOBER 1943

 

 

 

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13 OCTOBER 1943

 

The treachery of Lt. X.  Capts. Y and Z brought back a couple of girls from Sydney while the regiment was at Gordonvale.  Sydney has some nice girls.  In the words of Lt. Bradbury, who had a leave down there, “Never before have I seen so many, so beautiful, so co-operative.”  When you figure out that a 2d Lt. with parachute pay drew more money than the Prime Minister of Queensland, it is not so strange.  Anyway Capts Y and Z installed them in a house they rented at Gordonvale, and arranged to have them hired as female parachute riggers.  These were civilian Australian women who packed our parachutes.  Time came that Capts Y and Z had to move forward to Moresby with the regiment.  But not Lt. X.  Lt. X had a football knee and could not go.  (This was a damn fool time for the Army to find out about it.  The nearer we got to combat, the more of these Saturday afternoon hero football players discovered they had bad knees.)  So Lt. X moved in on Capt. Y’s Sydney girlfriend.  (He had to give up command of a company to do it, but his enthusiasm for parachute warfare was not high.  Capt. Y’s girl did not respond.  She, at first, would have nothing to do with Lt. X.  I can see that.  X was not an easy guy to think much of.  But X was not going to give up.  He started a whispering campaign.  No results, she was still true to Y.  He spread the word that Y was telling everyone he had a couple of whores shacked up in Gordonvale.  He gets another officer to repeat it.  No success.  Lt. D-F-E and Lt. F-E-D (names omitted) are busted out of the outfit after J.  Dick has tipped off General Howell that they are here.  Returning to Gordonvale, D is used as one of X’s helpers.  The foundations of the former virgin’s faith in Y are shaken.  Next X has a returning enlisted man in the maintenance section go to help himself.  This is the last straw and Y’s girl gives in to X.  X, of course, is down there, because that is where the parachutes are kept, and folded.  This is the last straw.  The citadel falls.  Ah bitter life.

 

 

14 OCTOBER 1943

 

Lists are being turned in on a mass production basis.  The policy:  Any man who thinks he is officer material can appear before the board to be sent to OCS in Brisbane.  (No record of how many were sent.)

 

 

15 OCTOBER 1943

 

One Lt. Cataline (not his real name) is announced as Bn S-3.  This is not good.  Everyone calls him Johnnie Big Ears:  He was given the name by Capt. Greco.

   

(Note:  the rest of this entry, almost a full page, has been omitted.)

 
 

 

16 OCTOBER 1943

 

The 6th Army Inspector General arrives, unannounced.  (If you ask Capt. Pratt about it, he will tell you it happened after his letter went direct, as well as through channels.  His letter, please recall, asked to be transferred to a parachute unit with a capable regimental commander.)

  The IG starts through the outfit like a monkey searching for fleas.  He is using a random call roster system in addition to free for all complaint sessions.  First customer: Lt. Cataline.  Johnny Big Ears himself.  Total time consumed with him: 3 1/2 hours.  What did Cataline say?  Did he paint a rosy picture?  No one can say except the IG and his stenographer.  Good bet.  Whatever Johnnie Big Ears said it was for the benefit of 1st Lt. John R. Cataline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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