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PAGE ELEVEN. . . for we certainly ruined that one before we turned in.
Flight from Tontouta to Australia: December 24
Was called at 3:30 the following morning (December 24). Saw the Southern Cross again. It can't compare with our Big Dipper. It was to early for breakfast, but we went to the kitchen and the cook opened several cans of tomato juice for us. A truck took us to the plane a little before five o'clock. Plane was a DC3 Marine transport. There were 12 passengers -- all service men. We took off about 5:15 and arrived at Sydney about 1:00 New Caledonia time (12:00 Australian time). It was a rotten trip, unspeakably tiresome. We had had no breakfast, and as there were large auxiliary fuel tanks in the forward part of the fuselage, we could not smoke. The seats in those transport planes are hideously uncomfortable, each seat resembling a shallow aluminum wash bowl There were not enough seats, and the more fortunate ones who had something to spread out, lay on the floor.
2nd Lt. D. William Hubbard, USMC of Minot, N. Dak., was the pilot. Two of the passengers whom I afterward saw something of in Sydney were CApt. Ronald F. Adams of Jesup, Ga., and Lt. Ray T. Smith of West Hartford, Conn. Both were of the USMC 1st Parachute Battalion. Nice kids on leave. Going to have a swell time for themselves after seeing half their buddies killed or wounded. Adams said he had brought along $300 and was going to buy #300 worth of Scotch.
At Mascot air field we were loaded into a navy bus -- fifteen of us -- and our baggage was piled on top. As soon as the bus started most of the baggage fell off, including all of mine. My brand new portable typewriter fell about eight feet onto a cement pavement. I didn't dare take the slip cover off of it and look at the poor thing until the following day.
We were driven up town to the Australia Hotel. No rooms! Freeman and I hunted up the billeting officer and were darned lucky -- we each got a single room at Usher's Hotel across the street from the Australia. My room had a bath and lavatory, but no w.c. Freeman's just had a lavatory. Sydney's hotels are packed.
Freeman came down to my room, and I ordered a couple of Scotches. They were 1/ each, about 16 cents US money. I then went to report to the Public Relations Officer - Col. Leo Duprez. He was very nice, and telegraphed General MacArthur's Hqs to ask if there was any mail there for me. I expected a letter from Ralph relative to some blocked funds in some Australian bank. I didn't know what bank nor in what city. There was no letter.
While I was waiting for the lift after leaving Col. Durez's office, he came along and asked me to go with him and have a drink. I seem to be drinking my way through this war, and I don't know of any better way of getting through a war. Most of other correspondents and officers and men seem to feel the same way about it. We went to the office of a Mr. Alexander, where there were large quantities of beer, Scotch, and food. You've heard of tables groaning with food. The table in that room was shrieking. Turkey, ham, roast beef, and God only knows what else. I art Scotch. There were several Australian army officers and civilians in the party. I didn't stay long.
Back at Usher's the "housekeeper" on my floor came in and introduced herself. Said her name was Sis and that she had been on the job there for twenty-five years. I learned later that she is quite a character. She was fat and good natured. She told me that I could get no laundry . . .
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