or the Perils of being Kilroy
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.)
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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