William Strong  140th Naval Construction Battalion (SeaBees)
 


Pitylou Airstrip
The chores on Pitylou were mostly maintenance type stuff
This strip was not a fighter base as such. It was more or less a support strip. The navy used it for a brief period while we were there to practice carrier landings.. These mostly in early eve and after dark . One other time it accepted some large number of aircraft which stopped for service. I presume they were replacement aircraft. The planes were the Grumman TBF. type - some F6's. Other aircraft were 2 engine planes . B-25's I think . Not numerous but they did fly patrols in the Area. I went on one of these flights as a "guest" Pretty boring as visibility from within was not good. The crew occupied their spots.. Flight of about one half hour.. I recall a crew member having me and several others moved forward as we made the landing approach. The tenure on Pitylou was very short - The facilities were shut down and the war moved north .

Managing the "Grease Rack" on Manus
Our company was sent back to the main Island and I was assigned to Transportation. I and one other managed the "grease rack" as it was called, actually a service station.. All vehicles carried a service schedule stenciled on the dash and the drivers brought them in as scheduled.,Jeeps 4 X4's Trucks - the works. The platform was built into a hillside which allowed free access to the underchassis. Our equipment consisted of aircompressor, barrels of oil and grease.
When a vehicle came for service one person would do all the top side stuff - the other ,below, would take care of those items . We could service a jeep in 10 minutes or less- A complete gas station service stop.. Water, oil, lube, battery and tires.. The forerunner of the after war "JIFFY LUBE" emporiums. My working partner was a fellow , last name Cermak from Texas. We both had worked service stations before the war. Duty hours started at 4 PM and we generally secured by 8 PM . Never did see the gas pump area.. must have been one! Mechanical repairs were performed at the big shop- they could and did perform all the things that went bad. I remember the Valves on the GM trucks were not so good- This was a big item of breakdown .

Good Eating
The shop was located near the beach. Some enterprising guys with assist from the boaters placed a big pole off shore in about 20 feet of water. A pulley was attached and a cable passed thru it to the shore line where it was attached to another pulley on another post. The welders made a large rectangular basket approx 4 feet by 10 feet and 3 foot high . It was attached to the cable and could be winched out and dropped. Winches from trucks were used for this .
These cages were baited with scraps from the galley, obtained after eve chow, winched out dropped and recovered in the early morning.. Full of Lobsters and or Crabs! A 55 gallon barrel with top cut off was the pot- heated by welders torches . For a period this "feast" was private to the transportation gang and a few from the Galley.
As word grew about this it was not long before the order came down that the catch was to go to the galley and most of the goodies were diverted to the officers mess. Naturally ALL of the catch never made it to the cook house. . I had plenty of lobster and crab at that time and do not care much for it now.

Seaplane Base at Manus
There was a seaplane base at Manus also, never got down there. PBY's mainly in for repair or whatever A comment from a user-- " these things are not waterproof , never saw one that did not leak"

 

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