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 .
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. "these things are not waterproof, never saw one that did