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Volume 6810
Wartime Journals of Correspondent Edgar Rice Burroughs :: December 1942-April 1943
or Buck Burroughs Rides Again

Written April 1943 ~ Copyright ERB, Inc.
Shared by Danton Burroughs from his Burroughs Family Archive
Transcribed and Illustrated for ERBzine by Bill Hillman

Noumea and Tontouta (Preparing to Fly to Australia): December 21-23
. . . the interstices between the flagstones forming the floor of the new mess hall his men were building. This mess hall, which was to accommodate both officers and enlisted men, was a typical South Sea structure with Hollywood trimmings that would have done credit to Cedric Gibbons. It is 24 ft. by 80 ft., has half walls of bamboo placed vertically and screened above to the eaves. Fuzzy haired Melanesians were thatching the roof with a special long grass.

The electric light fixtures of bamboo, practical an d ornamental, were designed by a soldier who was a bar tender in civilian life. Charlie Farrell would have loved them for his Palm Springs Racquet Club bar. Bamboo was being used for many purposes - soap dishes in the washroom, for furniture, even for sewer pipe.

Near the mess hall, they were completing a kitchen with brick floor and a massive brick oven. It is connected with the mess hall by a grass thatched pergola. Capt. Hines had already built a wash room with showers, a laundry, and a storeroom -- all of the same constructions. He plans barracks, recreation hall, and last of all an officers' club and quarters.

The whole plan sounded quite elaborate and expensive for war time camp; but it was not to cost the tax payer a cent, and the men work on it in what little leisure time they have, meantime carrying on their regular duties. When I was there, the material and native labor had so far cost one hundred packages of cigarettes, six mouse traps, and the promise of a second hand Ford rear axle -- if they can find one. The out—it paid for the cigarettes and the mouse traps themselves.

That evening the Noumea Chowder and Marching Club met in Cl. Hayward's quarters in the Grand Hotel du Pacifique. Somebody had achieved a bottle of Scotch. I lost about ten bucks. Got to bed about twelve. Had a swell time. Promised to bring the club a case of Scotch from Sydney.

After breakfast the next morning (December 22/24?), Capt. Fordham and Lts. Ramsey and Bergholz got me to pose for several silly pictures -- one with Ngatijem, my Javanese room girl. Fordham later told me that the films had all been either spoiled or lost.

Paid my mess bill preparatory to checking out. December 8 to 23 -- $13.60! That was for both room and board. Returning Bouncing Baby to Motor Salvage Pool. A sergeant drove me back to the hotel. H. Maurice Lancaster and Robert Alonzo Navarro of London office The March of Time came to say goodby. They were returning to London.

Army transportation picked me and my gear up at 3:15; then called for Capt. Freeman at Message Centre. At the last minute he had received orders to go to Sydney. I was pleased that some one I knew was gong along. We drove the twenty-eight miles to Tontouta. Supper there at 4:30. We had carried our gear to a big barracks for casuals. About forty or fifty cots in one room. After dark we went in and sat on our cots and got acquainted. There were five of us: Freeman, Lt. Col. Loren G. Windern? GSC, Hq. 37th Div., of Columbus, Ohio; 1st lt. Charles r. Hogberg, Signal Corps, of Springfield, Ills., and 1st Lt. William L. Whitehead, Air Corps, a navigator, of Charlotte, N.C. and O.B.

Presently, Hogberg produced a full bottle of Harper's (not the magazine). After that, acquaintance ripened rapidly. We had no glasses, but there were a couple of canteens of warm chlorinated water among us. Hogberg was to fly to Viti Levu the following day. I hope he had another bottle . . .

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.


Soldiers' Pocket Guide to New Caledonia


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