Somewhere in New Guinea - Aug 26 - (Delayed) - UP - Legrand Kneeskern of Kirkville, N.Y., missing since July 31, won his battle with the jungle single handed in spite of injuries and returned to base this week to discover he had been promoted to the rank of captain. Kneeskern bailed out of his Lightning fighter over the mountains of central New Guinea after running out of fuel. He wrote this account of his experience: "Evidently I pulled the ripcord of my parachute too soon for I received a terrific wrench to my back, violent enough to break the knife in jungle kit in half."
"Floating down I noticed blood dripping from my face, my scalp had been cut on my forehead and above the left ear. I must have hit the antenna in bailing out."
Landed in a Tree
"I landed in a tree. Cutting my jungle kit loose from the chute, I shinnied down to the ground and dusted sulfanilamide powder over my wounds. Then I wrapped them in a gauze dressing. My back was paining me, so I injected a third of the morphine with which we were provided. I was so weak that after putting on gloves and head net. I lay down and slept.
"It rained from 2 to 4 a.m. that night as it did every night thereafter. I remained at the base of the tree all the next day and night. To ease the pain I injected the remainder of the morphine. On the third day, Aug. 2, I was able to move to a near-by stream. Although I last had eaten on the morning of July 31, it wasn't until the fifth day, Aug. 4, that I got hungry. I ate what was left of my D ration - two-thirds of which had melted or washed away."
"On two occasions I saw crocodiles and several wild boar. I couldn't remove the gun from my shoulder holster because the leather had shrunk. Even the matches in my waterproof container were wet."
Lost One of Boots
"When the parachute opened I lost one of my Australian flying boots. At first I put both socks on my shoeless foot, but they were soon wore out. Then I cut off the top of my one boot with a razor blade and strapped it on the foot, but I lost it crossing a stream. Next I cut off part of my Mae West (life preserver) and used it for a shoe. This wore out too so I cut off a sleeve of my jacket. It proved the most satisfactory show of all."
"I followed the river downstream for five days, often having to climb up and down mountains. I nearly drowned crossing the swift current on that fifth day of my journey."
"On the sixth day I found a fresh grave with a large bunch of bananas beside it. I didn't touch them because I thought the natives were near by. But I didn't find the natives for another five days."
Found Eight Natives
"Aug. 10, I found eight natives on a fishing trip. None spoke English and my Papuan wordsheet (pidgin dictionary) was so wet it was intelligible so I just asked for kai-kai (food)."
"They brought me hot water and lemons, then took me to a village in their canoe. Later I was taken to two Australians who fed me, dressed my wounds, gave me a hot shower and had my clothes washed."
"The rest of my journey was made in comfort with native guides escorting me from one plantation to another until I reached the Allied base."
It was on his arrival at base that Kneeskern found a message from the war department notifying him of promotion.