The Proud 41st Quartermaster Company

By Dr. Hargis Westerfield, Division Historian

       The achievement of our 41st Division's Quartermaster Company in our three Pacific campaigns is a matter of honest pride for our QMs. These achievements are based on hard labor, inspiration, and adaptability. We learned to "expect the unexpected."

"Unexpected" indeed were our problems on beachheads in Papua New Guinea in 1943, in that muddy rainy wilderness. The Aussies lent us a fleet of fishing trawlers that dodged Japs' planes to support us. We had to paddle out to them in surf boats.

 

Our Navy gave us only limited time to unload their cargoes. Landing about 0900 and pulling out by 1700, they made us order our men to lift boxes from the holds in a hurry or shove them along a roller conveyor. We lacked enough men at the dump to sort, store and issue at the same time.

 

We lacked the men to unload quickly. We solved this problem partly by getting worn veterans partly crippled from combat - back from hospital or with sprains or newly healed broken bones or jungle rot. But their morale was good since their lives were now safe and their labor was important to the Army.

 

But there were no surfaced roads for even 2-1/2 ton trucks. We did have 38 extra jeeps with us, however. For 45 days, we hauled those jeeps - dug them out of the mud - until a road was finished. Staff Sergeant Nick Nelson headed this group; he got a direct commission for his achievement.

 

Our truckers supplying ammo to the front had to become paramedics. Wounded were loaded into our empty trucks with stretchers and blankets. If wounded men needed emergency treatment, we had to give it.

 

Before the Hollandia and Biak beaches, we had to carry 2,500 gallons of water in 5-gallon cans because we did not know where we could get supplies on the enemy shore. This was enough for a 10-hour supply until 116 Engineer Battalion could set up water points. Line Companies sent men to us to carry water back to thirsty fighters at the front.

      We also helped to control malaria. We issued bottles of atabrine tablets. Officers at the front could issue the bitter yellow pills to the men and be sure they took them.

Continued on Biak…

 

CREDIT: In four pages of the QM Training Journal (1 September 1945) Major Frank Moore describes the many varied works which QM performed.