Make your own free website on Tripod.com
October '41
October 1, 1941                                                                                     Back at Sea

Wednesday -- Today welcomes a new month, all or most of which will be spent at sea.  We are 21 days out of Surabaya if we go directly, and more if we go by way of Melbourne, Australia.  The latter is directly possible if our fresh water supply runs low.  A plot is now afoot among the CAMCOers to take a series of daily baths with no regard for water conservation.  We all want to stop in Australia, and will probably get our way in the end.  No consciences, whatsoever.  Today will also go down in the log as the opening of the swimming pool, and the second inoculation for cholera, typhoid, etc.  We are starting a "Crow's Nest Watch" on two hour shifts during daylight hours tomorrow and for the rest of the trip.  It is to watch for raiders and is at the request of the ship's captain.

                                                                GTB

October 2, 1941                                                                                       At Sea

Thursday -- Heard by wireless tonight that the Dodgers squared the series by winning today.  This tickled me greatly to say nothing of winning back a buck from Cross.  The remainder of the day was quite uneventful except for winning 3 games of deck tennis from Bond (2) and Cross (1).  We all have entered the ship's tournament and my own prediction is that one of the three of us will win it.  Me, naturally.  Heard the rumor that the ship may stop in Balik - Papan, Borneo, instead of Surabaya.  Hope not, for we have set our minds on a tour of Bali, and a jaunt into the Java woods - jungle, in the neck of the country.  We come to the international date line soon and skip a day.  Great stuff.  Get paid for a day we don't have to work.

                                                         GTB

October 2, 1941                                                                                      At Sea

Thursday -- Heard by wireless tonight that the Dodgers squared the series by winning today.  This tickled me greatly to say nothing of winning back a buck from Cross.  The remainder of the day was quite uneventful except for winning 3 games of deck tennis from Bond (2) and Cross (1).  We all have entered the ship's tournament and my own prediction is that one of the three of us will win it.  Me, naturally.  Heard the rumor that the ship may stop in Balik - Papan, Borneo, instead of Surabaya.  Hope not, for we have set our minds on a tour of Bali, and a jaunt into the Java woods - jungle, in the neck of the country.  We come to the international date line soon and skip a day.  Great stuff.  Get paid for a day we don't have to work.

                                                         GTB

October 3, 1941                                                                                           At Sea

Friday -- As Bond shoots a quarter at me by remote control, and wins, it comes diary time again.  For absolute uselessness, today takes the cake.  I didn't even get any serious reading done, except for a short perusal of the Atlas.  Bond and I are going to get together and promote a program for the crossing of the equator some four days hence.  We hope to hold a court of King Neptune with all attendant nonsense.  Tomorrow morning I have a two hour watch duty on the Crow's Nest starting at 9:00 a.m.  With this rigorous prospect in view, I am retiring early to get in shape for the tour.  Boy, is this sea air killing my sense of humor.  Better luck tomorrow.  Nite "VV".

                                                       GTB

October 4, 1941                                                                                     Jim's Birthday

Saturday -- Stood a two hour watch in the Crow's Nest this morning and enjoyed the detail.  The height of the nest must be fully 100 feet above the deck and it affords an unusual view of the boat.  Saw a number of flying fish during the watch but that was about all.  Before dinner we had a chilled bottle of Sauterne, afterwards an S & S and a pleasant hour on the deck -- discussing the usual, women but getting nowhere in our conclusions.  They are having horse racing in the lounge, using dice as a motive means, but this too slow a way to lose your money.  I retired after a short interval.  "Borneo Bond" and "Jungle Jim" are still at it.  I have been tagged "Java Jorge".  Tomorrow is Sunday.  Not to mention today was Jim's birthday -- 24.

                                                                   GTB

October 5, 1941                                                                                             At Sea

Sunday -- The usual meaningless day passed smoothly with the only excitement being early this A.M. when we passed a small island.  Only the early risers saw it, so I heard of it by hearsay.  As the days go by it seems more and more evident, to me at least, that Bond is off the deep end over Doris.  Naturally, he denies a deep or lasting affection, but both Jim and I are inclined to think that it has caught up with him.  He does not stand to lose in the deal, for Doris is a fine gal.  Funny thing how the three of us stick up to the "Three Queens of the White Race".  Me with Veve, Bond with Doris and Jim with Joyce.  Into every life a little love must fall...and so to bed after this philosophic utterance.  Time 9:05.

                                                                    GTB

October 6, 1941                                                                                           Nowhere At All

Monday -- This day's entry is a trifle hard to write -- for today is a day that isn't.  Sunday night we went to bed, and then woke up Tuesday morning.  The catch is that we crossed the international date line during the night.  One bright feature is the fact that we still get $20 pay for the day even though it doesn't exist.  Wish to goodness there could be about a half a dozen of these things each month.  The time seems to be passing so slowly as to be almost painful -- but this will probably be corrected once we get to Rangoon and start flying.  That can't be too soon to suit me.  And so good bye to the day that never was.

                                                               GTB

October 7,  1941                                                                                              At Sea

Tuesday -- Another one of those days, except for the small item that I got a hell of a sunburn this morning.  More productive than the average day because of this -- and I am writing two letters, Dr. Derr and CRS, my old boss, to boot.  Am going to get more ambitious with my camera from now on.  Today I took pictures of the fellows in our bunch, even including some of their haircuts.  From talk and picture folders, I gather that Java is not only a lovely climate, but highly modernized.  I have almost decided that KLM airlines in the East Indies will be my next job.  That or South America.  There are big wages to be had at both places and I am not adverse to that.

                                                                  GTB

October 8, 1941                                                                                            At Sea

Wednesday -- Between sunburn and a rash on my back, this day was one of the poorer ones of the trip.  In addition, we hit our first rough sea and have been going up and down like a busy elevator since around two A.M. this morning.  Tonight at dinner the Chef showed a burst or originality when he served a "Camco special" for desert.  It was a small airplane made out of wafers and a coconut macaroon.  Quite clever and original.  Tomorrow afternoon we get the last of our cholera shots, thank heavens.  The first two were pretty rough, but this one may not be so bad.  Can't get over wishing that this year was past.  Miss Butch more than I would like to admit to anyone.

                                                                   GTB

October 9, 1941                                                                                     Island of Santa Cruz

Thursday -- A tremendous variation in ship life today -- we saw land.  This restores my faith in sea travel.  The land was the island of Santa Cruz, and was about 30 miles long.  We passed to the south of it and from our position it appeared to be very mountainous and heavily timbered, although it was so hazy that the visibility was very poor.  The weather continued rough, and of all people, the ship's captain turned up seasick.  He was in the bar getting stewed tonight before supper.  He claims this is the best method of cure, and he should know.  We are bearing well southwest and heading into mined waters.  We pick up a pilot ship shortly to take us through the mined area between Australia and the eastern islands of the Dutch Indies.

                                                                    GTB

October 10, 1941                                                                                                 At Sea

Friday -- Today, friends, was Chinese Independence day so the Chinese element among the passengers are at the moment in the bar and liquidating themselves insofar as funds will permit.  It's all in fun, and the majority of the "Chinese" are pretty good eggs, so let `em celebrate.  I'd help if they wern't so blooming hard to understand.  Tomorrow morning King Neptune comes aboard to hold court and a goodly amount of fun should result.  Bond is to be Mrs. Neptune -- with all the trimmings.  I hope to get several good pictures of the activities.  Played deck tennis this afternoon and can now lay permanent claim to the ship's championship.  Bond, Overend and Cross are the only three threats and they haven't won a single game all week.

                                                                      GTB

October 11, 1941                                                                                                At Sea

Saturday -- Today is the anniversary of my first month since leaving the family and Veve at the Harrisburg Airport -- Quite a month it has been.  Would have liked to avoid the separation entirely, but common sense could show no alternative.  Money may not be everything but it is so damned close that there is a fine line between.  The scheduled induction of the CAMCO group into the kingdom of King Neptune was postponed until Monday due to foggy weather.  After doing a two hour watch in the Crow's Nest from 9:00 to 11:00 this morning, I killed the afternoon with a good nap.  The bar broke out a new kind of beer tonight.  Result -- half stewed.  So long to another week.

                                                                   GTB

October 12, 1941                                                                                         Coral Sea

Sunday -- One thing leads to another and tonight we are drifting free in the Coral Sea, about 20 miles of the coast of Australia, and about 15 miles east of the great coral reef which extends across the straits.  Tomorrow morning we will sail through the narrow passage in the coral reef, pick up a pilot boat and proceed to Java.  The waters all through the straits are mined heavily by the Dutch.  We could see the Australian shore late this afternoon when they cut the engines.  It is a mighty odd feeling, after 19 days to have the engines stop completely.  It seems as though there were something seriously wrong.  The latest rumor has it that we will be in Java only a few hours.  Hope this is wrong.

                                                                          GTB

October 13, 1941                                                                                           Cairns, Australia

Monday -- A day not soon to be forgotten!  Entered the straits this morning and anchored of the coast of Australia at Cairns to wait for a pilot to take us through the mined area.  Cruised along close to the Australian coast all day and thoroughly enjoyed the sight of land.  Starting at 11:00 this morning we held "King Neptune's Court" on the after deck.  It was a shindig that will long be remembered.  CRB was Mrs. Neptune and everyone from the court on down, was near or completely plastered.  Highlights included Gunvordahl whipping Prescott, Bond almost whipping Croft and Boyington and Keeton nearly tangling.  I took approximately 30 feet of color film during the show, and certainly hope it turns out well!

                                                                  GTB

October 14, 1941                                                                                     Thousand Island, Australia

Tuesday -- 0.D. today, so up early and on the job.  Tough -- it required me to make all formations five minutes early.  What a laugh.  A lot of good exercise this afternoon and tonight very tired.  Late this afternoon we anchored off Thousand Island, at the northern tip if Australia, where we left off the pilot.  There was a large coastal emplacement of heavy guns on the island but it was too late to take pictures.  The current reckoning is that we will reach Surabaya on Sunday.  The length of our stop there is still indefinite.  Tonight the three of us sat on deck and talked about airplane engines and performance for nearly two hours.  Also -- a little about women.

                                                                          GTB

October 15, 1941                                                                                          Arafura Sea

Wednesday -- Back to blackouts tonight as we left the coast of Australia and headed for Java and the open sea.  The day was dull except for a session in the bar this morning, the aftermath which found Cross and myself tucked in our bunks this afternoon sleeping it off.  Have completed a survey of finances and was pleased to note that as of Nov. 1, I will have cleared all existing obligations and have about $125 in the bank -- exclusive of the funds on hand in cash, which will be in the vicinity of $150.  Life indeed looks rosier without the prospect of a single bank note or obligation of any kind to plague me henceforth.  Never again in debt -- historic last words.

                                                                       GTB

October 16, 1941                                                                                              Arafura Sea

Thursday -- Got to thinking about things in general today and wound up by admitting to myself that I'm taking on weight like a prize hog.  The realization was so startling that I worked out twice as long as usual this afternoon.  This ship life with lots of food and no action will soon add to your avoirdupois.  Started peeling somewhat on the shoulders which is rather odd for I am browner than ever before in my life.  It must be the effect of the salt air, because there is no soreness connected.  The Purser called all cameras today because tomorrow we begin to pass several Dutch Islands on which heavy coastal artillery emplacements have been made.  Due in Surabaya Sunday afternoon at 3:00.

                                                                        GTB

October 17, 1941                                                                                         Arafura Sea

Friday -- This day will be noted chiefly as the one on which CRB, JDC and self drew deeply from the bowl of Bacchus and wound up with the merriest time of the trip.  It lasted well into the night and we stuck to ourselves in the process -- but what a circus.  We passed within viewing range of a spouting whale this morning and also circumnavigated one or two fairly large islands.  Docking time in Surabaya will still be 3:00 unless something unforeseen happens.  Jim and Michelson have paired up in deck tennis and beat Bond and I 2 out of 3 this afternoon.  We must get a grip on ourselves.

                                                                     GTB

October 18, 1941                                                                                   Captain's Dinner

Saturday -- Last evening, which was the final one at sea, the Captain's dinner was held.  It was the highlight of the social season.  Not only was the meal excellent, but there was much good wine.  Was in my first fight in years later in the evening.  Adkins was at the bar blowing off at his usual rate.  In my brilliantly tactless manner, I finally shut him up.  After the usual baloney I invited him outside but Boyington pulled us apart.  About ten minutes later we went out by separate doors and soon went at it.  I broke my watch and tore the hell out of my new pants, but seemed like a cinch to win.  Smith came along and busted it up, collecting a cut lip for his trouble.  Claims I gave it to him.  Tain't so.

                                                                    GTB

October 19, 1941                                                                                Surabaya - Java

Sunday -- Arrived at Surabaya this afternoon, and what an experience.  I could write a million words without difficulty.  It was actually my first foreign post and any one of the thousands of strange sights to be seen seemed to me to be tremendous.  Of primary importance in the Javanese mode of life is the ability to haggle.  One can buy anything at 30 to 50 percent of the stated price.  It is so difficult to talk to the natives when you speak only a few words of Malay.  Met several Americans who are over here on contract with the Dutch Navy as instructors.  Wonderful cordiality.  Ate at the Shanghai Club, a lovely outdoor place, and visited at one of the American homes.  Wonderful setups.  This has been a day which, at best, I can but partially describe.

                                                                          GTB

October 20, 1941                                                                                     Surabaya

Monday -- Spent the day in Surabaya gawking at the combined modern magnificence and medieval primitiveness.  From one extreme to another in adjoining blocks.  During the afternoon met eight Dutch Navy officers, fine gents, and helped one of them, Commander Karl Hold, celebrate a brand new promotion.  CAMCO boys chipped together and bought him a fine bunch of presents.  The party was at Hollendoorn, but later adjourned to Holt's house.  CRB and I met two pilots on their way back to the states from the Burma Road and listened to their stories -- which seemed pretty thin.  We do not place much credence in them.  Planning to take off tomorrow in the morning for Bali, if things go well.

                                                                   GTB

October 21, 1941                                                                 From Surabaya to Kuta Beach, Bali

Tuesday -- The wildest day in my memory.  We left at 9:00 A.M. by car for Bali and drove 75 km. through native villages, around hairpin curves, and like a maniac all the way.  Luckily all we killed were two goats, a few chickens, etc., saving our own necks at least.  Drove to Banjoewangi, and took a 15 foot sailboat across the Java sea at night and in rough weather, then drove the remaining distance to Danpasar at night. An American named Koke runs the Kuta Beach Hotel where we are staying, and boy is it a paradise.  Lies on the famous beach of Bali-Bali, and is darned near the perfect spot.  After a good drink we buzzed off to bed.  I was so worn out after the wild ride that I could hardly stand.

                                                                      GTB

October 22, 1941                                                                                          Island of Bali

Wednesday -- Started off the day with a bang by witnessing a "tooth-filling" in a Balinese Kampong.  It was sickening, but a representative phase of Balinese life.  Rode around on bicycles all morning, swam on the beach and thoroughly enjoyed the lovely surroundings.  This afternoon we witnessed cockfights, natives, gambling and shopped around.  Late in the afternoon we took cars and went back in the mountains to see the Sacred Springs and then were spectators at "The Monkey Dance" put on by natives in the Kampong.  We bought some native handiwork and then went back to the hotel for a glorious dinner put on the lawn.  I could write chapters.  And so to bed.

                                                                     GTB

October 23, 1941                                                                                           Bali to Surabaya

Thursday -- A full day of traveling back from Bali.  Due to a delay in waiting for the wind to change so the ferry could sail the trip took 12 hours.  We took the mountain route back from Banjoewangi and saw much lovely scenery.  However, Bali is much the more fascinating of the two islands, although greatly more primitive.  Imagine our surprise on reaching the harbor at Surabaya to find that the Boschfontein had sailed without us that afternoon.  Having no alternative, we pooled our money and checked in at the Hotel Sarkies for the night after having arranged to catch the morning train for Samarang where we expect to catch the boat.  A US Army transport is in the harbor and we met three officers from it at the hotel beer garden.  All were stinko.

                                                                       GTB

October 24, 1941                                                                              Surabaya to Samarang

Friday -- Up at five bells and off via train to Samarang.  We rode "klas tiga" or third class to conserve our dwindling supply of money in case we did not get the boat at Samarang.  The train was small but good and fast.  Third class proved right good and we arrived there about  11 and found the Boschfontein in the harbor unloading.  We spent the morning and afternoon looking around in Samarang before we went to the boat.  The place is quite modern and has two fine hotels, a couple of movies, and nice homes.  I have been working on my Malay and am beginning to get somewhere with it.  In another week I shall be able to get along.  We sail for Batavia sometime tonight but as yet are still unloading cargo.

                                                                       GTB

October 25, 1941                                                                                              Batavia

Saturday -- Spent an excellent night in this pretty place during which we greatly amused the Dutch patrons at the local hot spot by teaching the orchestra to play the Hut Sut song and shouting out "God Bless America" every time it was played.  We were at a lovely outdoor garden called the "Capital".  During the evening we were joined by a Dutch Naval cadet and three Australians from the Air Corps.  The Aussies were a riot and mighty fine boys.  They were frankly of the same opinion of the British as we Americans.  The Aussies consider the English as slow and dull -- "bloody rotten".  Ten Aussies are considered the equivalent of 15 British, according to these boys.  Charlie and I were pretty well stewed, but Jim stayed right sober.

                                                               GTB

October 26, 1941                                                                                              Batavia

Sunday -- Had a full day starting with a couple of pleasant hours at the Tsi Tkin, a local Dutch spot where they swim, dance, drink and make merry every Sunday morning.  The Dutch gals, of whom we saw plenty, are far below par for an American girl.  I turned down a proposed date with one of the local Toots, even though she looked pretty good.  I had just finished mailing a letter to Veve and the comparison that entered my mind was far too vivid.  CRB and JDC dressed in summer trixes this evening so I put on my whites without insignia.  Three snappy lads.  It turned out to be a swell evening.  At about two A.M. we found a little place called the Cozy Corner and by 3 A.M. the three piece band was playing Maria Elena as a result of my teaching.  Good night

                                                                  GTB

October 27, 1941                                                                                        Batavia

Monday -- Confidentially, journal, three nights in a row are too many.  I am signing off for a while -- casting the bright lights from me.  A celibate of a sort.  We are off in the morning for Surabaya.  Two or three days there and then to Singapore.  I am well fed up with the East Indies, to say nothing of the Dutch.  The sooner we cast off the better I'll like it.  Tonight we went to a show "Comrade X" which I had seen previously in the states.  It proved thoroughly enjoyable, but was still a far cry from the excellent theaters in the states.  Afterwards we sat in the outdoor beer garden of the Capitol and went through a pile of Heinekens.  Enough is enough.

                                                                   GTB

October 28, 1941                                                                                   Batavia to Surabaya

Tuesday --  This is a hell of a time for recapitulation of the days events.  My thoughts are far away -- in Tampa at 801 S. Blvd., and Sunbury, -- and I'm blue as hell. Tisk, such language!  We left Batavia early this morning and should reach Surabaya in the morning sometime.  How long we will be there is problematical, but it is rumored that Rangoon is on the schedule for Nov. 9.  Wouldn't it be a coincidence if it were Nov. 11 -- then we could celebrate the Armistice and conclusion of our year in the Orient at the same time.  Much lies before us until we get to see the loved ones in the states again.  This is mush and sentimental drivel perhaps, but it's my ticket tonight.

                                                                    GTB

October 29, 1941                                                                                           Surabaya

Wednesday -- Back again, this time with prospects of staying until Saturday.  Went shopping this morning and finally joined the union by buying a sun helmet.  A bunch of Frank Buck disciples, this outfit.  Picked up several items for the folks at home and got a couple of serving pieces that may find their way into my future home.  Met a glass company engineer from Pittsburgh who is here to advise the Dutch on the building of a factory.  He was a good fellow and after a couple of beers we all lunched together.  Being out of money I stayed aboard tonight and plan to again tomorrow night.  Singapore, however, will be a different story.  Wrote a letter to the folks but have decided not to mail it until we reach Singapore and thus miss the censors.

                                                                      GTB

October 30, 1941                                                                                           Surabaya

Thursday -- Not off the ship all day -- a continuance of my good behavior policy inaugurated yesterday when I ran out of money.  CRB and I played three stiff games of deck tennis in blazing heat and I am seriously cutting down on my eating in order to get in good shape before we reach Rangoon.  These long days with nothing to do, sap all your ambitions. Showing how just a small thing can become a big diversion to all of us, we got a tremendous kick out of it this afternoon when one of the Americans instructing the Dutch Navy gave us a big buzz in his Ryan Trainer.  Made us all homesick for an airplane.  Tomorrow is Halloween and I'd sure like to be home to celebrate.

                                                                     GTB

October 31, 1941                                                                                              Surabaya

Friday -- Three days of saintly behavior -- all in a row.  We were scheduled to sail in the morning, but the loading has been going so slowly that it has been set back until Sunday Morning.  At the rate we are going it will be Christmas before we reach the durned place.  Jim has been gone all the time for the past three days, but Charlie and myself have worked out every day and stayed aboard except for brief excursions to town to buy something.  Today I bought a couple more krisses for presents.  If the Chief will do it, I'm going to send them back to the states with him and have him mail them from Frisco.  This beautiful quietude is sure to get me in the end.  Wait until we hit Singapore.

                                                                    GTB