The Proud 41 Quartermaster Company

By Dr. Hargis Westerfield, Division Historian

       

Continued from Salamaua and Biak …

 

When we got to Mindoro in the Philippines, 41 Quartermaster was ordered to operate the task force casual camp. QM had to receive, feed, quarter, and equip all stragglers, replacements, and hospital returnees.

G-I gave us a Captain and two Lieutenants on Detached Service with us. A provisional unit from infantry and field artillery was formed to handle the casual camp. We set up this camp a mile and a half inland near the Class 1 dump so that we could detail transients to work there. Often men awaiting rotation were sent here as guards.

Since we had heavy clerical work for our many operations, we had a crying need for typewriters. There were no replacements, parts, nor repair shops nearby.

We searched Form 20 - sometimes called "rare bird files" - throughout the Division. We found a knowing repairman in the infantry and placed him on Detached Service with us. His workshop was a pyramidal tent. Our Company artificer made him a rough work bench.

We still had few tools and no spare parts. We cannibalized old machines worn beyond repair, which made things a little easier. Since some parts were not interchangeable, we still needed repair tools. The small arms repair section of 741 Ordnance Company made tools for us. They fabricated them from scrap with files and hacksaws as we needed them. For this favor, we gave Ordnance repairmen a few cigars (when we had them) or a few extra pounds of coffee or midnight snacks.

All personnel and operations sections in the Division were thus kept in a happy state of mind. Of course we might have had our repair jobs shipped 750 miles off to Finschafen and Hollandia. But by the time the machine had been risked in rough handling, it could have been in worse condition than before. Our repair system was indeed a good idea.

      For our final campaign in our southwest Pacific war, we Quartermasters had our first problem with a population deprived of food and clothing. In most task force operations, besides carrying 30 days' supplies of all needs for the troops, we had to supply as much for the civilians.

For feeding civilian laborers, we found out that a separate kitchen under Company Headquarters supervision was satisfactory.

Their diet was mainly fish and rice served on banana leaves. (Our corned beef and hash always made them ill.)

But we had to see to it that the natives did not camp close to our kitchens or ration dumps. We would have a constant sanitation headache.

To control the amount of perishable foods the Division consumed, we Quartermasters were put in charge of all purchasing. This buying was for beef or carabao, fresh fish, corn, eggs, fruit, chickens, and pigs. We had to be careful in our buying. Natives gladly sold anything they had. Then they would turn up for handouts. They had sold all their food!

We gave them any salvaged clothing they could use. Our MPs had orders to strip looted clothes from natives. So for natives' protection, we stenciled IC for Inspected and Condemned on the clothing we gave them.

Our Yanks also gave us trouble about their clothing. The normally kind-hearted Yank coming out of the line would strip the shirt off his back. We had to put out an order to prohibit GIs from direct gifts to civilians. Otherwise, Quartermasters would have to replace 90 percent of a unit's clothing and equipment when they were pulled back from the front instead of the usual 20-30 percent. And if we donated clothing too easily, it would lower their incentive to work for us.

Such is the fascinating account of how our 41st Quartermaster Commanding Officer efficiently worked for our Division and solved crucial problems.

 Continued on Palawan…

P.S. Only Quartermaster names mentioned are Staff Sergeant Nick Nelson, Major Frank Moore, who was seriously wounded by bomb fragments in fire caused by Jap planes and had 30 days in hospital on his stomach, and Colonel Clarence Reid who received many medals and was promoted to Captain.

 

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