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Volume 6833

Wartime Journals of Correspondent Edgar Rice Burroughs
or Buck Burroughs Rides Again

Written April 1943 ~ Copyright ERB, Inc.
Transcribed for ERBzine by Bill Hillman


Jan 25/26: Gear from QM Preparing to Join Tank Co. ~ Fired Tank Guns
Primitive Latrines, Roads, Tents, etc. ~ Rain and Poker
. . . suggested that I remain the following night and go out with a tank company, which was to hold field maneuvers for several days. Got back to Noumea in time for supper, after having driven Bouncing Baby about sixty miles, which is the equivalent to driving a good car on California roads three hundred miles or more.

Jan. 26. Went to QM and got order for leggins, raincoat, and head net, which I expected to need while out with the tank company. You never get any thing from the QM Dept at the same place you get the order. You always have to go somewhere else; so I drove to warehouse 10 and picked up the stuff. And at 10 o'clock I took off for Little Old New York. There is a nicely painted sign at the gate on Colonial Highway with Little Old New York painted on it and the silhouette of a handsome cab. Arrived at Maj. Hart's CP about 11: 30. The cavalry hadn't shown up, for some reason which I cannot now recall. After dinner, Capt. Charles Webb of Louisville Ky drove me to the CP of Lt. Benjamin M. Brothers of Rocky Mount, N.C., commanding "B" Co. . . the outfit with which I was going out the following day.

Brothers and a sergeant took me out in Brothers' command tank to the firing range. He let me sight and fire the 37 mm gun. Sighted mountain. Hit same (I think). While Brothers fired a few more rounds to zero the piece, I stood on top of the tank beside the turret. The concussion was much more violent there than inside the tank. I brought back the casing of the 37 mm shell I fired to prove that I hit the mountain.

Had supper with Brothers and his officers, Lt. Theodore Eiben, Albion, N.Y., Lt. William Nagengast, Troy, N.Y., Lt. Andrew A. Labash, Passaic, N.J., and lt. Gerald P. Young, Los Angeles. All the buildings at that post were native built and without flooring. As it rained hard last night and has been raining all day, everything is a mess. (There go my tenses again -- all shot to hell.) Was might thankful for my high GI shoes and my leggins -- also rain coat. On my wanderings I found many uncomfortable and embarrassing latrines; but none to compare with the officers' latrine of B Co. It was in an open tent facing a main path and only a few feet from it. It was a two holer, and had recently been on fire. One hole was only a cinder. The supports seemed to have been burned out, and one expected to crash down into the stink at any moment. It had one advantage, no one ever lingered there unnecessarily.

They were nice boys in that outfit, and I certainly felt sorry for them. They lived constantly in dirt. It was either as dust when it was not raining, or mud when it was. And the mud was ankle deep. It is difficult for many outfits to get materials to improve their living conditions. lumber is especially scarce in New Caledonia. The Engineers and the CB's have all the best of it; and some of them live, by comparison, in palaces.

After supper, Brothers drove me over to the Bn CP, which was about the same distance above the highway that B Co was below it -- a matter of four miles in all, I should say. The road (but there was no road) was a broad ocean of mud and water. The black out lights of the jeep illuminated nothing. We skidded to right and left. Most of the time we were going sideways, but we managed to dodge ditches and trees, mostly by the grace of God, and finally arrived. All roads in that tank area, beaten up by the grinding, skidding treads of tanks, are indescribable.

The officers were sitting around the mess table, and pretty soon a poker game was under way. They play good poker -- straight stud or draw, and table stakes -- no limit. I had rotten luck the first part of the evening. Lost all but a few chips five times; then I'd win a measly little pot -- . . .

Military Latrines
Video: US Troops Guard New Caledonia
Video: US Troops in New Caledonia
Training Troops in New Caledonia


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