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There are trees there and a fountain, but the settees and tables are rusty and filthy, and the ground as barren of lawn as a horse corral. Possibly the war accounts for the dilapidated appearance of Noumea, but I have an idea that the French are not an orderly nor cleanly people. There was excellent music, furnished by an army band. General Lincoln and his staff attended the dance and remained for some time.
At dinner on Monday I met Commander Sherman Everett Burroughs Jr., USN. He said that his wife had met me in Honolulu.
Today I became an "Assimilated 2nd Lieutenant"! The first one certified in this area, according to Col. Skaates. All it means to me is that I have one more item of identification to lug around.
Ran into Jack Rice yesterday. He is the photographer with whom I had my first flight in a Fortress several months ago from Hickam Field. He said he had seen Hulbert two weeks before. Everybody seems to get here eventually.
About 2:00 PM I picked Ramsey up, and we drove out across the causeway and around a long, winding road to Dumbea Bay. In one place, where they were widening the road, we had to wait while a bulldozer made a road for us. All the road work here is being done by our own forces. When we pull out of New Caledonia, it will have a road system the French would never have attained in a thousand years. But we need 'em. The island is dotted with army and navy posts, hospitals, and air fields; and at the time I was there there were five thousand military vehicles hell-whooping all over the landscape day and night.
In places, the road, winding up and around hills, was steep and narrow with a drop of a hundred feet and more straight down to the bay. In such a place we met a big Army truck coming down, and I had to back down a long way until it could pass us. The road ended at the top of a promontory at the north entrance to Noumea harbour. There was an old, abandoned French fort there with a battery of four rusty 14 cm guns overlooking the harbour entrance. Their breech blocks had been removed. One of the guns bore the date 1849, one in the 50's. They may have been there since the time of Napoleon III. They were huge (5 1/2 bore) and cumbersome. It must have been a terrific job getting them up there in those days.
There was a beautiful view of the harbour, which is quite large. (When I was taken out to the Shaw later, which lay just outside the submarine net at the mouth of the inner harbour, I had a trip of five miles.) There were many fighting ships and merchant men in the inner harbour -- battleships, flat tops, cruisers, destroyers; and more merchant men in the outer harbour. It used to worry me to see such a great concentrations of shipping so close to the front as were often assembled there. I could not but recall Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941.
New Caledonia is in some respects one of the most beautiful islands imaginable, especially the deeply indented coast along which are many fine harbours, and all backdropped by rolling hills and lofty mountains clothed in the green of forest and jungle. With its potentialities for peacetime hunting, fishing, hiking, riding, and boating, it could be made a wonderful playground after the war is over. And not the least of its attractions lies in its pleasant all-year climate and its freedom from malaria.
A Commander Atkinson, USN, out for a hike, joined us at the old fort; and I gave him a lift down the hill. On the way home, we passed close to the leper colony, a very pretty, well kept establishment, with nice barracks, . . .
Commander Sherman Everett Burroughs Jr., USN.
Jack Rice: AP Wartime Photographer
New Caledonia in Wiki
New Caledonia Info
Noumea in Wikipedia
Warfare History Network: Pacific Theater
Warfare History: New Caledonia
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