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PAGE EIGHTCame December 17! A day memorable for nothing at all. But I am one of those guys who adores statistical minutiae of no importance. A small mind -- and shrinking. Picked up Cpl. Wold after breakfast and drove out to Dumbea Valley to get a story on Pvt. John Templeton, 112th Cavalry, recently a lieutenant in the Royal Navy. He was currying his horse with an Oxford accent.
Dumbea Valley, Leper Colony, Tontourta, Noumea: December 17-20
Wold snapped many pictures, not only of Templeton but of a troop in close order drill and of officers and men jumping their mounts. We were tickled to death with the wonderful shots we had gotten through the whole hearted co-operation of the 112th.
We got back to Noumea just before noon, and Maj. Romlein (since made lt. col.) went with me to Hqs ___th CA(AA), where I was dinner guest (luncheon to you) of Lt. Col. H.R. Handsen, C.O. He served beer, and after dinner drove me to a couple of his batteries. Had wonderful views of the harbour and surrounding country from a couple of hilltops, Quentaros and Ducos, I think they are called. Also passed the leper colony, a rather attractive place.
There is considerable leprosy on the island among both Melanesians and whites. The former are confined in the leper colony, but there is evidently much laxity in the enforcement of segregation, as I have seen t hem along the road outside the colony. The whites are supposed to be confined to their homes, on which are posted OFF LIMITS signs. But I was told that they move about rather freely in public, going to shops and attending movies. One of our boys who had been sleeping with a girl for some time, discovered that she was a leper. The doctors told him it might be anywhere from ten to twenty years before the disease showed up on him if he had contracted it. I understand that the poor kid nearly went crazy.
December 18 1942. Wold forgot to push some gadget on his camera yesterday, and didn't get a picture! A message came for Douglas Gardner that he could get a boat for New Zealand at three. But he couldn't be located; so he is still with me. (I'm getting my tenses all balled up. But don't mind) There was a rumor in the evening that there was a hurricane in the vicinity. This was the hurricane season.
Under date of December 19, my diary notes: "Started out about 8 AM for L." I think that means La Foa, a town up the island. Before I got to Tontourta, I picked up a negro solder who was going to the Tontouta River to bathe. I had heard that there was a parachute outfit in the vicinity, and asked him. He directed me to it. I introduced myself to Capt. George R. Stallings of Augusta, Ga., and interviewed a number of the men. Had dinner at the officers' mess.
That First Parachute Battalion, USMC, had seen action -- and plenty! But as raiders rather than parachutists. They suffered about 50% casualties, and were back here in New Caledonia training replacements. Stallings invited me to come back some day that they were jumping.
Gardner left for Tontouta in the afternoon. Is flying to Auckland tomorrow. So I am alone again.
The next morning (December 20) I got Lt. Ramsey to go with me for a drive of exploration. We drove to the east side of the island. The scenery was quite different from any that I had seen. A combination of jungle and bare volcanic hills.
Commanding officer of troops talking with his men in New Caledonia, 1942.
Rare Edgar Rice Burroughs WWII Photos
Col. David Taylor shares eight photos of ERB as a WWII correspondent
from the National Archives in Washington, DC.
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