WHO OWN MOUNTAIN
ON SOUTH SEA ISLAND
Tank Outfit Gets Enough 'Camping Out' For
Honolulu Advertiser ~ February 14, 1943
By Edgar Rice Burroughs
(United Press Special Correspondent)
SOUTH PACIFIC BASE (Delayed) -- A selectee whose outfit has been stationed
on this island for some time wrote to his wife back in the States "Honey,
I can't hardly wait to get home again, and I've got it all planned out
just what we'll do the very first thing.
"We'll get a tent and a couple of cots and bed rolls and
mosquito bars and head nets. And we'll load 'em into the back of the car
with kitchen utensils and provisions, and we'll drive way back into the
hills somewhere, just you and me, and we'll camp out for a month.
"Like hell we will."
Traveled with Tanks
I know how that bird felt, as I have just returned from a
couple of days in the field with a tank outfit. Sure, I had plenty of fun;
but then I don't have to camp out for the duration, I hope.
It came about through a story I heard, of a tank outfit
that had chipped in and bought a mountain full of some kind of ore. It
sounded like a good story to me, so I hopped into "Bouncing Baby" and started
out to get it. Twenty-eight miles later I came to a side road marked by
a sign I have passed many times: "Little Old New York," with a picture
of a hansom cab in silhouette.
Over 'Liquid Road'
It had rained hard the night before, and Bouncing Baby and
I slid and skidded over two miles of winding liquid road to the headquarters
of Maj. J. F. Hart. Major Hart hadn't bought a mountain. He hadn't even
heard the story. But h had enough bourbon left for a couple of highballs
and he invited me to come back the next day and go out with a tank company.
So neither Bouncing Baby nor I felt that our time had been wasted.
I was there the following noon in time for chow. Somehow
I always seem to arrive places in time for chow. Major Hart then wished
me onto First Lt. Benjamin M. Brothers of Rocky Mount, N.C., with whose
company I was to go out the following day.
We slithered back over the two miles of impossible road
I had just covered, and then over two miles of absolutely indescribable
road to Lt. Brothers' camp.
The only difference between the camp and the road lies
in the fact that the camp is wider and has shacks and tents on it. I was
glad that I was wearing high shoes and leggings.
They Want Girls
Brothers' camp is more or less typical of these South Sea
island camps where your menfolks are learning what a swell place America
is. In a shack occupied by four non-coms there is a radio and a phonograph
connected with loud speakers in the officers' quarters and the mess hall.
They get the short wave broadcasts from the States. A couple of times a
week they have an outdoor picture show and they have baseball. But they'd
like some cuties from Hollywood. They say "They send 'em to Iceland, they
send 'em to Alaska, they send 'em to North Africa. Why in hell can't they
send 'em here?" That is a $64 question that I couldn't answer.
Brothers took me out in his command tank for a little
target practice. We covered a different terrain where the roads were worse.
But a tank rides smoothly over rough roads.
A 'Burroughs Bull's-Eye'
When we got on the range, Brothers let me fire the gun. Sighted
mountain. Hit same. I equalled the world's record I made with a three-inch
antiaircraft gun on Oahu, when I hit the sky right in the center.
The next morning the sweet strains of a bugle aroused
me at 4:45 a.m., sounding first call. And then commenced a day in which
I got tired watching other people work.
The morning was spent with Lt. Brothers in reconnaissance.
After the noon meal, the unit moved out. I can't tell you how many tanks
as censors are allergic to figures; but there were plenty. They made an
imposing caravan and a lot of noise.
Eventually the column moved into a wood where the work
of camouflage began, and in a few minutes I could see no sign of any vehicle
except those within a few yards of me. From the air, nothing could have
Next in order were the slit trenches. Each man had to
dig his, and how they loved it! By the time they were dug, I was practically
Hot for Sleeping
Then cots were set up by those who had brought them. They
are hot and uncomfortable, and a mouthful of green mosquito netting every
time you take a draw on the cigaret helps not at all.
I can't recall all that we had for chow, but there was
corn, string beans, bread, coffee, and spam. My advice to Mr. Hormel is
to invent something new for when this war is over and the boys come home,
whoever serves them spam will be inviting murder. There's a limit to all
At 3:30 the next morning a sergeant awoke us --much too
early -- and at 4 a.m. we had breakfast. Slit trenches had to be filled
up, bedding and other camp gear packed and loaded, radios and motors warmed
up. And tonight and the morning after they will go through the same things
all over again.
All Necessary Work
It is all necessary -- all this work that millions of men
all over the world are doing day in and day out -- so that they may be
better fitted to destroy. If it could be intelligently geared to peaceful
production what a swell war we could have 25 years from now!
Standing on t he summit of a hill, I watched the tanks
move into position and attack. It was interesting. It was thrilling . I
should like to describe it to you. But I have a hunch it wouldn't get by.
What I hope does get by is this brief description of how
your men are living and working way down here to hellengone from home.
They are cheerful. Their health is excellent on this island. They want
letters -- cheerful letters. They don't like V-mail, the psychological
effect of which is similar to that induced by a circular letter from a
Honeys, write your boy friends. When you don't, their
buddies tell them you have fallen for some rejectee.