OVER THE HUMP
Pvt. George Gardiner, 1346 BU, sends along a bit of verse written by a British artilleryman in tribute to ICD's men who fly the Hump.
China, to China, and what of the way?
Out of the shadow and into the day.
Turn of the river and stretch of the plain;
Shaft of the sunlight and threat of the rain.
Fallow and forest, and clearing and clump,
Also, you have to get over the Hump.
Follow the flats where the cloud-shadows fall;
Paddy and palm tree and swamp of Bengal;
On, to the land of the wild Assamese;
Nullahs and jungles, and tigers and teas.
Down to refuel your heart gave a thump;
Comb her and kiss her and over the Hump.
Lift her, oh lift her! The cold of the height
Stabs in the cloak of the gathering night;
Bellow of engines and quiver and start;
Catch in the breathing and thud of the heart.
Moisten your lips as we bucket and jump,
Hope for the best - when you're over the Hump.
Mountain on mountain; all cavern'd below
Beckons the wild panorama of snow;
See in the moonlight, untrammeled, untrod,
Rise up in glory the steeples of God;
So, do you feel you're a pretty poor lump?
That's the effect when you're over the Hump.
Steady her, steady her! Earthward she comes;
Clutch to the ache of your shattering drums;
Hark to the screws, how the howl of them droops
Into a hiss as she settles and stoops;
Gently, oh gently! And scarcely a bump;
Down, she is down - and you're OVER the HUMP.
- Eric Crant, Gunner, British Royal Artillery
The "Trojan" is a fast, high-priority daily air service from the Calcutta area to Kunming and back, cutting to less than five hours the time necessary to negotiate the distance non-stop.
On every trip it carries "more than 10,000 pounds" - so much more, in fact, that it takes five trucks to haul away its cargo when it gets to Kunming.
Designed by ICD to meet the need for transporting critical military items from Calcutta's seaport to China's aerial port of entry in a hurry, the Trojan run id flown by C-54 Skymasters. Only the most important items, most desperately needed, are aboard. Passengers whose travel is of greatest importance to the war are taken too.
Actually the Trojan is more than one flight daily. Just how many more, military security forbids telling. Aircraft engines and special parts, unusual ordnance requirements, photographic materials, or almost any item badly needed, are loaded at the airbase in the Calcutta area. It's no small job, packing the tons and tons of freight aboard, scientifically apportioning it to the space available so that proper aircraft balance is assured, then tying down the whole load.
Tie-down is essential, for even the four-engined giants which ply the route to China pitch and toss from time to time when they encounter crosswinds up to 75 miles an hour along the course.
Only selected crews fly these planes, pilots with long, trouble-free records of transport flying, for real ability is at a premium on this critical run.
Coming back from China, the Trojan brings out medical patients being evacuated to hospitals in India and the States, repairable aircraft engines, mail, and passengers, along with other assorted cargo.
Service on board to passengers is furnished by the flight clerk, who makes them comfortable with blankets and a cup of steaming coffee when high altitude chills the plane's interior despite its heaters.
Editor's note: This is the second in a series of articles on India by Dr. Vaswani, noted educator and writer. A comparable series on China is being planned.
It is now three years since American arrived in India, and it is natural that many of them desire to know how Indians feel about them.
The first stage in the whole history of Indian reactions to the "invasion" of India by American armies may be said to lie somewhere between a month and two before the actual arrival of Americans in our country. The city of Karachi was then agog with tales of terror, the result of the activities of the fifth columnists.
"Not a virgin, not a rupee would be safe in Karachi; banks and buses would be held up in mid-day at the point of the revolver by Wild West cowboys and New York gangsters; Americans are coming because in its dire need,
Most people expected, as they had seen it in the American films so popular in India, that when the Americans would land in India, every one of them would be found carrying two pistols, one in each hand, pointed right and left at every passerby, every American in a slouch hat swaggering in to fight in the streets or in the restaurants.
The Americans arrived sometime in March, 1942. Along the main artery of the town, the Bunder road, thousands of men in Karachi watched one truck after another crowded with white soldiers speeding towards Drigh road and Malir. Not an accident the whole day, and "These American soldiers are wearing Gandhi caps, imagine!" said many Indian onlookers.
Many stories centered 'round their democratic ways, the informality of their manners, the utter absence of snobbishness, the large baksheesh they were capable of doling out, and the fancy prices they paid at all shops on Elphinstone street.
But no girl would go to Elphinstone in those days, for the rumors about "no virgin would be safe," reinforced by the misdeeds of Australian soldiers in Bombay a few weeks earlier, were still current. I argued against all these rumors, and asked friends to trace them to their sources, but so many people took them for granted that it was no use arguing. So I said, "I am going to walk this evening on the footpaths of Elphinstone street with my daughter. Let me see if anything happens." I did it, and nothing did happen.
"Here is American democracy in action," said I, and as I felt in this matter, so did a large number of other Indians. That a white man could sit on the footsteps of a shop front like any laborer in the land, and was not ready to kick a poor destitute for daring to approach him for alms, that he would even hold a little wandering kid in his arms and send him away with some baksheesh was a revelation to many an Indian.
What'll They Do Next, Build Beauty Salons?
1309 BU, Bangalore - Pretty soon they will have beauty salons.
They haven't gone that far here yet but transient service has, perhaps hopefully, built first-class accommodations for women transients.
The quarters have everything the female heart could desire. Screened-in plexiglass windows are hung with pastel green drapes, and gay-colored rugs and cushions finish off the color scheme. A three-way mirrored vanity dresser and a radio are among the room's furniture. On the more intimate side, there is a Stateside bathroom.
Now everyone is waiting for the women to arrive.
Banner to Wallahs Of ICD from China General and Staff
1354 BU, China - Chinese Army officials presented the detachment of ATC men here with a banner in appreciation for the expeditious handling of China troop movements.
A literal translation of the banner reads:
"Keep it to remember . . . co-operation between the American Air Transport Command and the Chinese . . . army to beat the enemy."
Gen. Fan, commander of the unit, and his staff, presented the banner to the handful of men who overcame countless obstacles to make troop movements a success.
Zaslow, Psycho Student, Has PG Course By Self
Hq., Assam Wing - Cpl. Robert W. Zaslow, a psychology student before the war, has found a way to continue his studies here in Assam, after learning the local language.
"I saw a great deal of interesting specimens when I first came to India," Zaslow explained, "but it was impossible to make any kind of study without knowing the language."
The industrious student obtained a book on elementary Hindustani and studied until he acquired enough of a vocabulary to engage any Indian in conversation.
His procedure in psychoanalyzing an Indian laborer is to approach his subject with an air of mystery with his long cigaret holder dangling from the side of his mouth. Standing close, he fires away with impertinent questions and watches the reactions.
"They usually look at me as if I'm crazy," Zaslow continued. "I'll have a lot to talk about during classes."
Drum Factory For Transport of Gasoline
Three Steel Barrels Per Minute Roll Off Production Line of the
Most Modern Factory Overseas, Alleviating Former Shortage
1346 BU, India - Steel gasoline drums, this theater's new "weapons," are rolling off the production line here at the rate of three every minute.
Called the "Fighting Fifty-five," the new lightweight gas drums are turned out by the joint efforts of the ATC and Services of Supply troops at a factory known as the QM Large Drum Manufacturing detachment.
In a space less than half the size of a city block, which 90 days ago was jungleland, this inter-command effort has alleviated the existing shortage of gasoline barrels.
Off In Few Minutes
Now in an eight-hour day, 1,440 barrels come off the line, with the goal for May set at more than 50,000.
Not far from the production line, the barrels are filled with gasoline.
Within a few minutes after they are filled, many are aboard C-54s of ICD's fleet, on their way over the Hump where the much needed fuel goes to the 14th Air Force for the battle against the Japanese. ICD uses only pilots with long, trouble-free records of transport flying to deliver the important fuel cargo.
Construction of the barrel plant was started last December by the engineers, in co-operation with the quartermaster, when the need for "drums by the thousands" appeared imminent.
Modern production Line
machinery for the intricate setup was flown and shipped from the U.S. on a high priority and assembled, some of it in Calcutta, but most of it on the site of the plant. Army engineers and technical representatives were rushed here from the Middle East. Among them was Capt. Robert McCreery who represented the QM department on similar projects in Egypt and other places.
According to tech reps and the CO of the unit, Capt. Frank B. Vance, the machinery rolling the drums off the production line is probably the most modern ever used by the U.S. Army in such an effort, certainly the most modern in a foreign theater of operations. Success of the venture is without parallel in the Army's manufacturing experiences.
Six diesel generators were required to furnish the power for the project, three large Chicago Pneumatics and three small Cummins plants. They were taken to the site by barge and 20-ton trailers.
Made of Sheet Steel
Metal for the light drums, 16-gauge steel in bundles of 90 sheets, is shipped directly from the U.S. One bundle of metal requires only about 100th of the shipping space which would be required for 90 drums, saving
Processing of the metal plates from storage rooms to the end of the production line requires less than a minute. The first stop is the squaring shear, where three sides of the sheets are trimmed. Next step is the body former, which shapes the sheet into a barrel-like cylinder.
Then they slide into the flash welder, which binds the ends of the steel. A flanger makes cuffs on the ends of the barrel, a process which prepares the drum for the hoop expander. The expander neatly attaches two rolling hoops. The next stop is the double reamer, which seals both ends. Finally, two chime bands are placed on each end of the barrel as reinforcements. Prefabricated ends and chime bands are being used temporarily.
At the end of the line the barrels are given their test. Twelve pounds air pressure is then pumped into them, while the drums are submerged in soapy water. If there is a flaw, bubbles will arise. After the test is made, the barrels are sprayed with oil and painted.
Superintendent of the factory is Lt. R. W. Marten, assisted by Lt. J. F. Jack. Both men praise the enlisted men engaged in the job, including M/Sgt. Lloyd Smith, the plant's master mechanic.
Golden Grail of Magicians
1305 BU, Calcutta - For many years people have been hearing about the famous Hindu rope trick. This "trick" has baffled magicians and laymen for centuries, but two soldiers at 1305 have discovered the hidden secret. They can perform the trick.
Sgt. Lazar E. Levinthal and Cpl. Harold I. Silver, both of New York state, finally, after many tedious months of practice with Hindu fakirs, have mastered the famous illusion.
According to Levinthal, the trick works something like this:
"First you must have a good Indian rope. The American style doesn't seem to work as well.
After you have the rope, then you must have your usual flute. Again, the American type doesn't work, but the Indian reed-flute seems to be all right. You see, when blowing the flute, you must produce a very definite number of vibrations in each tone, and each tone must follow a particular pattern.
Now after you have obtained the right kind of Indian rope and are sure you know exactly what to play on your flute - and how to play it - you are ready to proceed with the feature.
Now if you sit directly in front of the rope, or slightly to the left, and have your rope loosely coiled, without any knots or tangles, the chances of making the rope dance are much better. Like the cobra, the rope does not actually dance. Rather, the weird vibrations from the flute seem to agitate the sensitive fibers within the rope and make the entire affair move slowly back and forth, rising higher and higher, into the air all the time.
Oh yes, there is one more point," he added reflectively, "a good stiff wire running through the center of the rope seems to help a lot."
'Let's Have Light,' Says Chaplain, and Lights There Are!
1330 BU, Assam - "Let there be light," and there was light.
A recent bulb shortage had afflicted living quarters, day rooms, latrines and showers. It was almost getting rough enough to make a man think he was in upper Assam.
Then a Man of God stepped into the picture - Chaplain Capt. William P. McMullen. In just a few hours the place was aglow again.
Some wonder what powers were brought to bear, and some just wonder where he got the bulbs. But to credulous and skeptical alike, the chaplain has one answer: He refuses to sing.
Dishes' Turnaround Time Slashed with Dishwashing Outfit
1342 BU, China - "Turnaround" time for this base's mess hall dishes and tableware has been cut considerably by the construction of a dishwashing machine.
There are no figures in statistical control but according to Lt. Roland K. Lee, mess officer, the device is a great time-saver.
Besides solving the problem of tableware shortage, the machine also insures thorough sterilization. Constructed by the engineering department, the washer has the blessing of the flight surgeon and the CO - and the KPs.
The Reunion Never Takes Place
1340 BU, China - Here's a story that didn't turn out to be a reunion.
From the beginning, the thing had all the earmarks of the good old reunion yarn. Sgt. Lewis A. Johnson casually mentioned that he heard his brother, whom he hadn't seen for 15 years, was stationed less than 20 miles away.
Everyone began co-ordinating to get the brothers together. After much shouting into the phone and checking of records, it was finally established that Sgt. Johnson's brother, Harry, had left for Uncle Sugar.
I & E Men Comb Bashas, Tents,
Get 2,000 Books In Hunt
1328 BU, Assam - Combing every basha and tent on the base, the I & E department has come up with a library containing almost 2,000 books.
Sgt. Joseph Nappi and Pvt. Joseph Masini did the collecting and salvaged 1,500 pocket books and several hundred clothbound jobs. Now the GIs can go to the central library and borrow a book saving the trouble of kicking over improvised book stands in their Quest for reading material.
Personnel of the base were notified that the men would be around for books and were asked to leave contributions in a conspicuous place for the "baksheesh wallahs." Nobody as yet reported any missing cans of beer.
HUMP EXPRESS is the official newspaper of the India-China Division, Air Transport Command, APO 192, c/o Postmaster, New York, N.Y., and is published by its Public Relations office. Camp Newspaper Service and Army Newspaper Service features are used, reproduction of which is prohibited without permission of CNS and ANS, 205 East 42nd St., New York, 17, N.Y. Other material is submitted by staff members, ICD-ATC base Public Relations sections and other soldier correspondents. Printed weekly by the Hindusthan Standard, 3 Burman St., Calcutta, India, and distributed each Thursday. Passed by U.S. Press Censor for mailing.
APRIL 12, 1945
Original issue of HUMP EXPRESS shared by CBI veteran Grover P. Fike
Copyright © 2008 Carl Warren Weidenburner
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