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. . . just enough to keep me in the game. Then my luck changed, and I won back all I'd lost, and when we quit at 11:00, I was $82 to the good. Then Brothers and I had to drive back to his quarters, where there was a cot for me.
I might mention that the only difference between the camp and the road, lay in the fact that the camp was wider and had shacks and tents on it. The shacks, in one of which I was quartered with Lt. Brothers and his four young junior officers, had been built by ex-cannibals, some of whom were attached to the Brothers' company. The walls were of vertical tree branches covered with the bark of the naiouli tree. The A roofs were thatched with grass. The floors were of loose sand. This type of flooring has several advantages. It obviates the necessity for ash trays, brooms, vacuum cleaners, or Johnson's floor wax. But can't help taking some of the floor into bed with you along with mosquitoes and fleas.
Jan. 27: The sweet strains of First Call aroused me at 4:45 AM, and then commenced a day during which I got all worn out watching other people work. Old age has many compensations, one of which is that it can't be drafted into the army. I spent the morning with Brothers on reconnaissance. We were driven about ten miles to the area where the exercise was to be held, returned to camp; and after the noon meal, the company moved out. It made an impressive cavalcade. Brothers and I had taken up a position by the gate leading onto the highway.
Seventeen tanks, a half-track, a kitchen truck and trailer, a supply truck and the other jeep came roaring down from camp. They made an imposing caravan and a lot of noise. I have ridden in tanks many they are hot, cramped, hideously noisy, and full of protuberances an gadgets wedged into a narrow seat with a machine gun between my legs and a most uncomfortable crash helmet jammed down over my ears. It took me minutes to get in and much longer to get out. Once I got doubled up somehow, like Snarleyow, "with 'is 'ead between 'is 'eels." I thought that they were going to have take either me or the tank apart to get us untangled.
The first time I got into a tank was at Schofield Barracks, Oahu. Colonel Rosebaum inflicted me on Warrant Officer Harold S. O'Dell of Corning, NY, who tried to show me how to enter a tank through the turret. He got stuck; so I crawled in through he front door, which, in itself, is no mean feat.
Well, to get back to the front. Eventually the column moved into a forest of naiouli trees, where we were to bivouac for the night. The tanks formed a large circle, well dispersed, with the Command Tank, kitchen, jeeps, and other vehicles with in it. And immediately the work of camouflage began. It was simple. The men cut down trees or tore off leafy branches an piled them around and over the vehicles. In a few minutes I could see no sign of any vehicle more than a few yards distant.
Next in order was the digging of slit trenches. Each man had to dig his own, and how they loved it! Two feet wide, six feet long, 20 to 24 inches deep. "Just right for my grave," remarked one chap. Shovels, mattocks, sweat, mosquitoes, profanity, and wise cracks! These enter into the digging of slit trenches. By the time they were dug, I was practically exhausted -- just watching.
Then cots were set up by those who had brought them, bed rolls were unrolled, mosquito bars were hung from lines rigged between trees. Those who didn't bring cots regretted it before morning, as the mosquitoes were bad, it rained, and there were ants and other crawling things on the ground.
Foto Stock Images of New Caledonia Indigenous
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