TSgt. Allan #11

Letter #11 "Our own Volcano"

Note: Pictures added for clarity. Pictures are not necessarily originals from TSgt. Allan

Jap Area 1943

 Area Under Japanese Control in 1943

Darwin: We did alright for awhile without many parts for P-40s, but there came a time when several ships were out of commission because of absence of major parts. Finally, a tech supply was set up by the Army. Our tech supply man went to the new place with a bushel of requests for desperately needed parts, only to find they were closed! Inquiring of a camp man, he was told this was the weekend -- the supply building would not be open until Monday! Our man almost went thru the roof. He returned to our base and informed the C. O. The major also almost went thru the roof. He got on the phone and called the appropriate general, who was furious. As I remember, he made haste to that tech supply outfit, raised the whole camp, and gave general Hell to the C.O. He wound up saying "As long as we are in a war, you will have this place open at all times -- understood?" We always had access to parts after that, day or night! We did much of our maintenance at night.

Did you ever see a man-made volcano? There was one at Darwin! For service of 100-octane gas to our aircraft we had a small tank wagon. It was old and decrepit with a capacity of no more than five or six hundred gallons. It had a one lunger Briggs and Stratton engine mounted on a catwalk on the side of the tank. It took a rope pull and wind up to get it started. The insert "my" craft was in contained three other P-40's. One day this old tanker drew up to a ship on one side of the circle and got ready to fuel. The one lunger threw a spark, and in less than an eye blink, the truck was on fire! Attempts by the driver to extinguish the blaze failed, and fumes from the open upper ten-inch hatch were ignited! We, the few men who were around, all decided at the same time that it was going to blow, making grease spots of the men and charred hulks of several aircraft. We took off thru the bush not even offering to help the driver. After a few minutes when there was no explosion, a thin black stream of burning gas was shooting up with a thunderous roar. The open hatch, for pressure relief, was presumably the only thing that kept it all from becoming a disaster. We came slowly came back, then stood and watched -- there was nothing else to do! The plume of flame was shooting probably two or three hundred feet straight up and was seen and heard all over the countryside. We had no fire truck, or safety vehicles of any kind – not even an ambulance! No damage was done -- other than the loss of the old truck, and the driver had a burn on his forearm. The loss turned out to be a good thing because a short time later (after hand pumping gas from drums brought on a truck) we received a spanking new ten thousand gallon semi-trailer, automatic pumper, which made everyone so much happier! They even supplied a permanent driver for it! The "Rainbow Plan" was twenty years of thinking, planing and keeping up with new technology. One would think, as I mentioned before, that the need for gas trucks would have been planned for from the beginning. In all fairness, I guess the fact that several of our supply ships were sunk by Jap subs should be taken into consideration -- maybe our first gas truck was on the bottom!

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