or the Perils of being Kilroy

Yorlik's Messerschmitt

By Jerry Kilroy aka Yorlik

I served in the 97th Chemical Battalion during WWII in the European theater. In the States while training, I soon learned to use the name Yorlik (Kilroy spelled backwards) when calling for reservations. If I used my real name, they would laugh and hang up. So I became known as Yorlik. Now my Collie dog has taken over the name.

Once, while passing through a military camp for a new assignment, an irate Colonel summoned me to his office. He ordered me to go around and erase all that "Kilroy Was Here" graffiti. He was deadly serious until others in the office started laughing. It turned out that he had never been overseas where the graffiti was everywhere. When they explained, he accepted the fact that this Kilroy was not responsible for the graffiti (well maybe not ALL of it.)

My Messerschmitt

During the war, they knocked down a Me109 nearby. They gave me the honor of salvaging any and all parts from the downed plane. It was in pretty good shape. The first thing I took out was the batteries so some smart ass wouldn't try to start it up and blow themselves or it up. Shortly thereafter, my weapons carrier truck was full of electrical radio parts.

I got all the radios from the plane to work but they lasted only as long as their batteries did. We listened to their German frequencies but couldn't understand anything except dear old "Lille Marlene" who sang all the old romantic American songs. Like Tokyo Rose, she would tell us how our 4F friends were entertaining our wives and girlfriends. There were a lot of "Dear John" letters after those songs.

We used to have two backpack "Walkie Talkies" (large, heavy 2-way radios) per company. As the only one who knew anything about radios (or even electricity for that matter) all the batteries from USA supply were sent to me at Battalion Headquarters. I had no use for hundreds of them so I took resistance wire from the Me109's wing defrost system and wired it as foot warmers for the nights, and heaters for our tents or trenches. The nights were so cold that I wrapped the element around guys' stockings. We were one of the few outfits that didn't come back with many frostbitten toes.

I also built a crude ohmmeter from the aircraft parts and became the "hero" when I was able to tell the captain where the telephone line from our Headquarters Battalion to Regimental headquarters was broken. It wasn't safe to send troops out under fire scouting a 30-mile line for flaws. I remembered the old rule from radio school that says "one ohm of #10 wire 100 circular mills in diameter was 1000ft long." The rule also said that for every three gauges the resistance doubled, so for 10 times the size the resistance was 10 times. Luckily I knew the exact size of our wire so by going back and forth a few times we got the exact resistance per foot. I was lucky because the telephone pair had actually been cut. By measuring the loop resistance (out and back) we knew the location of the short within 10 feet. LUCKY HUH?

A crew went out and found that whoever laid the wire (reeling it off a jeep at high speeds) ran it right over a railroad track. They could see by the rusty rails that it was no longer in service. It got put back "in service" when some of the guys from Company C found an old hand powered rail car. Although it took four guys to pump it, they soon went sailing along the old unused track during lulls in shelling. Of course when they crossed the critical line, they cut it in two. Needless to say, they heard about their fun excursion from a very unhappy Colonel.

After the war when I went to Case Engineering college I was known as Yorlik because the "Kilroy Was Here" markings were already there. I didn't feel like taking more heat for all of them.


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