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PAGE TWENTY-ONEThis was the way Romano's got around the five shilling ceiling on dinners. We had lobster thermidor (I can't spell it, nor find it in the dictionary) for dinner. The food at Romano's was excellent.
Australia to New Caledonia: January 10
1st Lt. Edgar V. Markley (B-26) of Jasper, Texas, came over and asked me to his table for a drink. There were three Air Force officers and three very pretty girls.
I said good night to Ham and Terry soon after, and went back to Usher's to pack again. Got to bed around eleven. Had I had good sense I should have gone to bed around seven. I "experienced the full realization" of this the following day.
Sunday, January 10 1943, saw me leap nimbly out of bed one foot at a time at 4:30. Several buses and trucks arrived at the Australia across the street from Usher's at 5:30. There was a lot of confusion and standing around while our gear was being loaded. There were the crews and passengers of twenty-one Marine Corps transport planes, and each pilot had to check to see that all his people were present.
As all had, undoubtedly, been on parties the night before, it ws a weary and sad eyed company. Some of the men had had not more than an hour or two sleep, if any. We were again driven to Mascot Field, where there was some delay in getting the twenty-one ships off.
Our ship, the "Chuggar", a C-45 (DC-3), got off at 8:00. Ham and I were the only passengers, and there was no freight other than two folding beach chairs. Schramm later came back and set one of them up for me., and Ham took the other; so we travelled comfortably as far as seating was concerned.
The navigator told me that he had practically no navigation instruments, and our objective was over a thousand miles away -- and no road signs. As a matter of fact, we came damn near missing it.
Part of the trip was quite rough, as we encountered a lot of cumulus clouds. At 9500 feet it was quite cold until they turned on the head. As there were auxiliary gas tanks in the plane, no smoking was allowed aft of the pilot's compartment; so I went up there occasionally for a smoke. This, a murder mystery, and sandwiches we had brought from the hotel helped to alleviate the boredom.
As we neared the position where New Caledonia should have been visible, the navigator and pilots were visibly apprehensive. So was I apprehensive. The island is two hundred and fifty miles long, and Tontouta is only about thirty miles from its southern extremity. We raised northern end of the island first. A few more miles to port, and we might have missed it entirely.
Flying down along the coast was intensely interesting as we were low over the lagoon and the reefs which are dotted with the skeletons of many ships that had come to grief. The coast line is deeply indented by many bays and estuaries, and numerous palm covered tropical isles along the shore give added beauty and mystery to the scene.
Our plane consumed 85 gallons of gas an hour. That is the basic allowance for eight and a half months for automobiles in Honolulu. This was food for much thought. There are several approaches to the problem. For instance. If I nobly refused to drive my car for eight and a half months, a C-47 could fly for one hour longer. But then it could go only . . .
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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