1380th ENGINEER PETROLEUM DISTRIBUTION COMPANY



(Courtesy of Mr. Leo (Sapienza) Leonhart)


A History of 1380 Engineer Petroleum Distribution Co.

August 31, 1987

The Beginning

by Mr. Art Bowsher
Executive Officer, 1380th EPD

1380 Engineer Petroleum Distribution Company was activated for training at Camp Claiborne, LA. under WD MTR 5-101 A, 30 October 1943. The initial Morning report in November 1943 included one (1) officer, Capt. James Shaw, and twelve (12) enlisted men, assigned and present. All had been transferred from duty with Headquarters Company, Engr. Unit Training Co. "A", 6th Provisional Training Regiment, Camp Claiborne, La.; chiefly drawn from recently inducted men. The company was organized on 15 March 1944. The strength of the unit was 8 officers and 268 enlisted men on 31 March 1944. Processing and unit training were begun immediately. One contingent of assignees consisted of 32 soldiers who had been in service for more than two years. These personnel had been inducted in the very first draft call in 1941. They had been in barrage balloon battalions assigned about the perimeter of the United States to defend our shores from attack. The units had been recently disbanded and the personnel were reassigned to new units being formed for overseas duty. These personnel were well trained.

Just before the end of 1943, several new, colored Engineer General Service units were activated in Camp Claiborne. Units being formed were strictly segregated. At the time all wooden barracks in the training center were occupied. In order that the colored units might have facilities equal to or better than the white units, 1380 EPD Co was ordered to abandon barracks that they had occupied for about 4 weeks and were assigned to an open area where tent plat-forms had to be constructed and tents erected for living quarters, offices and supply facilities. It was a bitter cold winter in which to make such a change of facilities. Coal and coal stoves were not available. It was fortunate that we were extremely busy at unit training and had little time to spend in the tents, except into bed in exhaustion each night. The men suffered very much from the deeply penetrating cold so characteristic of the humid climate of Louisiana. Colds and flu took their toll.

Personnel were processed to fill out the T.O. & E. in the period from November 1942 to 13 August 1944. Many were unfit for overseas military duty. Most of these were released from the armed services by medical discharge. All were draftees. By 1 January, 1944 unit training was well underway; the six months of unit training was to be completed by mid-August. The unit was to be transferred to a POE for overseas shipment at the completion of training on mid-August. The company's strength was seven (7) officers and 214 enlisted men on 31 July 1944; T.O. and E. specification. Unit training was completed by mid-August and the company was prepared to leave for overseas duty. Training had included pipeline construction, operation of pipeline and pump stations, tank construction, special training in auto and engine mechanics, welding, demolition, water purification and other related skills required in our work of pipelining.

Overseas

The Company entrained on 14 August 1944 for Camp Anza, California from Camp Claiborne, La., where the unit had remained throughout its training (per Letter 0, Headquarters Army Service Forces, 8th SV C, Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, dated 9 August 1944). The unit arrived at Camp Anza, California, 17 August 1944 and departed on 28 August 1944 to proceed to final overseas destination on board the SS Randall, a General Class ship (per authority: Letter, WD 370.5. (10 July 1944) OB-S-E-M, dated 11 July 1944).

The ship traveled alone and without convoy most of the way, circling south of Australia en route to Karachi, India. The ship docked only for a few hours in Melbourne, Australia for provisions and water and in the Fiji Islands for a short time to reprovision. 1381 EPD Co. also traveled overseas on the SS Randall.

Arrival in CBI

The 1380 EPD Co. arrived at APO 433, Port of Bombay, India on 15 October 1944 and immediately departed for eastern India by train in company with 1381 EPD Co. After several hectic weeks on the train crossing India the company established its headquarters at Akhaura (Bengal) India, under the immediate command of Engineer District #11, SOS, IB, APO 465. D-Day for the IB campaign to drive the Japanese from the upper part of Burma was 15 October 1944. The unit began operating under TO & E 5-327, dated 14 May 1943. Later it operated under TO & E 5-327, dated 24 July 1944.

Shipment of Supplies

Bowsher and Edward Werner departed Camp Claiborne 1 August 1944 for the Port of Los Angeles where they accepted and loaded the equipment and supplies of 1380 EPD Co onto a Dutch freighter for shipment to APO 433 (Calcutta, India). Rice and an assistant for 1381 EPD Co and Bowsher and Werner for 1380 EPD Co traveled separately from their companies to escort the equipment and supplies. They departed Port of Los Angeles on 28 August 1944 and arrived in Calcutta, India on 13 October 1944, two days before D-Day in upper Burma. They then arranged for shipment of the equipment and supplies to the company headquarters of 1380 EPD Co. at Akhaura, (Bengal) India. Rice arranged for shipment to Ledo where he joined his company. I do not know their next move.

The C-T line (Chittagong to Tinsukia)

Immediately on arrival in the Theater, the company was assigned to construction on the Chittagong-Tinsukia Pipeline. The 1380 EPD Co. was assigned construction of a segment of the pipeline running alongside the Bengal-Assam Railroad for a distance of approximately sixty-seven (67) miles from Akhaura (RR m. 125) to Shemshernaga, India (RR m. 192). Transportation of supplies and equipment from Calcutta to Akhaura required more than four (4) weeks, during which time the work of ditching and stringing pipe along the righ-of-way was accomplished. During this time the shoes of the men began to wear out from their work on the cinders of the railroad bed. Each man was issued two pairs of shoes on departure from the POE in the USA. The TO & E only authorized two pair. It took four weeks to have a pair repaired in Calcutta. SOS in Calcutta was sympathetic but there was nothing they could do; the TO & E only authorized two (2) pair of shoes per man and this is the way the entire theater was supplied. QM contended it would short the entire theater, if we were given exception because of the unusual circumstances. We were forced to work with only two pairs. Working along the railroad and walking on the cinders of the roadbed of the roadbed of the railroad cut off a set of soles in about two days. The problem was never resolved satisfactorily. Much innovation was required. The men were magnificent but underwent torture. We had to find local cobblers in each area where we worked. However, this did not work well.

The organizational equipment was en route, ever so slowly, from Calcutta to Akhaura via Dacca during the last of October and most of November 1944. Crews scoured the area for salvage yards and picked up equipment, particularly trucks and motorcycles. Some of the men occupied themselves with riding on DC-3's flying out from Akhaura Airfield to central Burma and helped to drop supplies to the US Army combat troops fighting the Japanese in upper Burma; from just south of Myitkyina to Bhama and the Namhkam Junction, and between Mogaung and Indaw (this was an illegal activity that could have been good for a courts-martial).

Pipelining Begins

Work on the first thirty (30) miles was started by the coupling crews On 27 November 1944. This portion of the line was completed and ready for testing on 31 December 1944. The major part of work on the remaining length of line, except for a small section of seven (7) miles near the northern end, just below Shemshernagar, also was finished by 31 December 1944.

The 777th EPD Co. established headquarters at Comilla about 30 miles south of Akhaura on the Bengal-Assam Railroad on 6 October 1944. The unit previously had head-quartered at Jorhat and constructed 180 miles of 6-inch line and "required pump stations from Silghat to Tinsukia. The 777th constructed pipeline from Chittagong (RR m. 0) to Comilla (RR M. 95), built pump stations, and the offshore unloading dock at Chittagong. A pump station crew composed of personnel from 777 and 1380 built pump station 40. Pump stations, 37, 38, and 39, assigned to 1380 for construction were nearing completion and reconnaissance had been conducted for future operations on the railroad. The work was finished, the line tested and the company moved to new headquarters at Bhadarpur, (Assam) India (RR m. 254) on 24 January 1945; under the immediate command of Headquarters, Engineer District #12.

Our bakers, AKA bricklayers, requested brick and mortar and built an outstanding camp. Many from Calcutta Headquarters found it necessary to spend a lot of time at inspection of this camp. We had brick ovens for baking, brick latrines, brick showers, brick walks, brick staircases, and all tents were on brick floors. It was a fine camp. These cooks had been drafted because the army needed bricklayers, but on arrival at the Induction Center were sent to Cooks and Bakers School to fill the then current needs of the Army. Their constant concern was to find bricks and mortar.

Work on this segment of the line along the Bengal-Assam Railroad extended from the end of the previously constructed segment of the line Shemshernagar (RR m. 192) to Jatinga (RR m. 294).

The construction of the pipeline and pump stations along the Bengal-Assam Railroad was accomplished by forming three pipeline crews. Each was relatively autonomous and had its own locomotive, sleeping and work cars. Lt. Clayton Creager served as S-3, operations officer and was responsible for the work of all construction crews. The work was done in record time. The organization of the work parties and Head-quarters of the company are an appendix.

Each crew was responsible for construction on the assigned segment of the pipeline. Crew #1, Lt. Robert Zimmerman, was responsible for pipeline construction from RR Mile 235, near Akhaura, to Chandranathpur, RR mile 265. Crew #: 2, Lt. Calhoun Umphlett, constructed pipeline from Chandranathpur, RR Mile 265, to Jatinga, RR mile 295. Crew #: 3, Lt. George Brown, built the line from Shemshernagar (RR m. 192) to a point just south of Karimganj near Akhaura (RR m. 235).

Construction of the line from Shemshernagar to Jatinga was completed and tested five days ahead of the target date of 1 April 1945. 779 EPD Co. began pumping gasoline from Chittagong toward Tinsukia on March 13, 1945.

There was no road alongside nor accessing the railroad from below Badarpur to Jatinga in the hill country. The mechanics and welders cut and welded wheels of jeeps and staff cars to make rail wheels for the jeeps to facilitate rapid travel in the hill country on the railroad. The innovation was important in getting the job done as it gave us much better communications along the isolated sections of the railroad.

On to China

On 19 April 1945 the company was assembled and moved by train to Tinsukia, India and staged for transit over the Ledo Road to Kunming, China; per Movement Order # 04, Headquarters Advance Section, IBT, under the immediate command of Advance Section, IBT.

The equipment was upgraded in preparation for the convoy movement. Two afternoons were devoted to training about 35 enlisted men to drive trucks. None of these men had ever driven or had a driver's license. However, we were to take about 35 more vehicles than we had drivers. They were then to drive the vehicles over 1024 miles of the worst road in the CBI Theater. This mountain road was kept open only by constant work of the road building crews."

Only now in the perspective of age, can I realize the utter magnificence of the American GI. We took those young men, most were just kids, and asked them to do the most fantastic tasks imaginable. Only one or two within the company had ever been in or around pipelining before becoming a part of the company. They made top notch pipeliners and operators of pump stations on the line. They got the job done and well. The drivers who had never before driven a vehicle did an excellent job of traversing one of the most difficult roads possible. At places on the steep mountains they must have been scared to death. I found the trip a bit exciting and I had been driving for more than 15 years. The young men were jerked out of civilian life and, in short order, made into soldiers. They were given herculean tasks that they completed magnificently. This was the experience of millions of GIs. I salute them. Capt. Barben, Hq. 12 Engr, Calcutta, writes on Jan. 6, 1945, "This is a new outfit and not very impressive. The officers make me think of boys from a rich man's fraternity, more like the dress-up soldiers of the Old South. A lot different from the oil field boys that are officers of our older companies. They need a lot more attention than I have time to give them so will have to send someone there with a pair of crutches." (India according to Barb, 1983 by Helen Barben). Nonetheless, Barben was wrong and it was a great outfit that completed all tasks assigned to it expeditiously and met all deadlines for missions.

The Stilwell Road

Prior to the outbreak of World War II a primitive road existed from Mandalay, Burma to Kunming, China, extending through Lashio, Burma, Wanting and Yunnanfu, China. The Ledo Road was built by Chinese and American troops from Ledo, India to the Lashio Junction in Burma. The Chinese first began clearing a road eastward from Myitkyina on 29 September 1944 to join the old Burma Road at Lungling after passing through Fort Harrison and Teng-Chung. No more than 65 vehicles traveled over the cut-off because it was rough and lacked fuel since there was no pipeline along it. Somewhat later the main road was built south from Myitkyina to Namkham and the junction near Lashio. When the first convey over the road arrived in Kunming the road that had been known to the CBI GIs as "Pick's Pike" or the Ledo Road was renamed the Stillwell Road in honor of General Stillwell at the suggestion of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. The first convoy over the road arrived in Kunming, China on 20 January 1945. It had used the Teng-Chung Cutoff. The first convoy to pass through Wanting on the China-Burma border via the Lashio Junction arrived in Kunming on 28 January 1945.

1380 EPD company, consisting of 6 officers and 187 enlisted men with 134 vehicles departed from Ledo, Assam at 0800 hrs on 25 April 1945. The surface of the road at this time was in fair shape even though the maintenance units were working on it constantly. Each convoy followed only a few hours on the heels of the preceding one. Bivouac camps were located along the road at intervals of a days drive. Each convoy was expected to reach its bivouac at the end of each days travel. Shower and latrine facilities were available at the bivouacs but each convoy did its own cooking and fed the members of its convoy. Gasoline and oil for the vehicles were available at POLs (Point of Lubrication) near each bivouac.

Joe E. Brown, on a trip over the road, said, "The Ledo Road is the best damn tasting road I have ever traveled." The multitude of vehicles that had moved forward to China left the road with a layer of dust that rose up and enveloped everything that traveled along the road. Bamboo and tropical plants abounded all along the first part of the trip.

Traveling southeast from Ledo, that lies in the upper end of the Brahmaputra River Valley, the road to Burma climbed about 550 feet to go over Pangsam Pass (4,500 ft at mile 38) of the Patkai Mountains, the northeastern end of the Naga Hills. The Naga Hills are high mountain ridges that form the border between India and Burma. We traveled along or across sharp ridges and valleys. The road was pitched steeply and with many switchbacks.

The Japanese were turned back at Tagap Hill (mile 79, 4,600 feet in elevation). The road from here abruptly dropped into the upper reaches of the Chindwin River of upper Burma. The road crossed from Shinbwiyang (mile 133) on the Chindwin River to the headwaters of the Irrawaddy River. 706 EPD Co, Capt Bynn, was just below Shinbwiyang near Jambu Bum Pass (mile 178). The road had been finished to Shinbwiyang in December 1943.

A decisive battle with the Japanese was fought at the pass just prior to the battle for Myitkyina. The road extended southward along the low-lying, rolling river bottom lands of wide river valleys of the Hukawng and the Irrawaddy Rivers to Mogaung (m. 268) and to Myitkyina (m. 297). One two mile long stretch of the road in the Hukawng valley was a causeway of logs. The bridge across the Irrawaddy at Myitkyina was a military pontoon bridge.

Myitkyina had been leveled in the fight to take it away from the Japanese during the last part of 1944. The railway station looked as if all Hell had broken loose around it. Rolling stock and locomotives were strewn about. Bomb craters were everywhere. Everything in sight was riddled by machine gun and light artillery fire.

Approximately 7,000 Japanese soldiers were in the upper part of the Hukawng valley in October 1943. All were driven to below the Lashio Junction by January 1945. The road extended south along the foot of the east valley wall of the Irrawaddy River from Myitkyina to near Bhamo (m. 382). Near Namkham (10. 464) the road that had extended south turned abruptly northeast toward Wanting, China. The road continued northeast to the Lashio Junction (m. 470) near Mong Yu. There the road to China ran straight ahead and the right fork toward Rangoon led to the Japanese forces not too far away. At Wanting (m. 488) we crossed the border of Burma into China. The road became a steep mountain road beyond Wanting. This road made all previous hill or mountain roads tame by comparison. All along the road, incised into the terrain, were myriads of fox holes, trenches, machine gun emplacements and the like. Even though one realized that combat had passed on south, it was startling to enter the lower end of a valley and see dark holes staring at you from all the hillsides. You couldn't help but shudder a wee bit and remember the hundreds that died here.

The road above Wanting was kept open through many stretches only by continuous effort of the Engineers. Landslides were commonplace. The climb from Wanting was beautiful beyond all imagination. The higher you climbed, and climb we did, the farther you could see and the higher, grander, more rugged and more beautiful grew the mountains and valleys. This was some of the most awe inspiring scenery I have seen. One had the impression that of having scaled the side of the world and of beginning to climb onto the roof, but still knowing that there stretched before us even higher mountains. It was if the top of the world lay before us. Our path lay rapidly upward to heights of over 8,000 ft above sea level.

The road ran northeast to Lungling (m. 540) and Paoshan (m. 595). At last we slowly wound our way to the crest of the mountains to suddenly break out over a great crevice in this, The Roof of the World. At the bottom of the valley a fine shimmering line like a strand of a spider web marked The Salween River. The Salween was a disappointment from this observation paint. One was awed to look down the valley wall at the great switchbacks as the road went dawn to the river, nearly 6,000 feet below. Then began the descent into the Salween River Valley. The sharp turns of the switchbacks had been laboriously surfaced by hand by multitudes of Chinese farmers from rock chips that they break out with hammers.

The Japanese had driven up through Burma and reached the Salween River before they were halted by the Chinese troops. Sunshine Hill overlooking the Salween above the crossing was the scene of the bloodiest fighting in China. Day after day the two great armies struggled back and forth while the blood of two nations flowed to stain red the waters of the great river.

When we reached the bridge over the Salween River (m. 588) the spider web had turned into a wide and swiftly-flowing river. This part of the trip required traveling from elevations of about 3,000 feet over ridges more than 8,000 feet above sea level. The route into and out of the Salween River valley required negotiating ridges with relief of over 6,000 feet. 775 EPD Co., Capt. Hugh Adams, built and operated the pipeline from Shamo (m. 357) to La Meng (m. 588). The road beyond Paoshan (m. 618) continued to negotiate ridges of 4-5,000 of relief. Each time you topped a range of mountains you hoped it was the last, only to find another still higher but maybe not seeming so majestic now. The road crossed the Mekong River (m. 700) and extended eastward toward central Yunnan. The road from Paoshan continued to negotiate ridges of 5-6,000 feet of relief as we crossed almost at right angles to the great ridges coming out of the Himalaya Mountains. From Yangpi (m. 795), the road climbed up a narrow valley from 3,000 feet in elevation to about 6,000 feet where the road emerged from a very narrow and precipitous pass onto the alluvial plains near Tali (m. 800); at the south end of ERH HA1 or Tali Lake. The road extended eastward from Tali to Yunannyi (m. 858), Tsuyung (m. 954) and Kunming (m. 1079).

779 EPD Co. built and operated the pipeline from La Meng (m. 588) to Yungping (m. 758). They had river crossings to construct over both the Salween and the Mekong Rivers. 1381 EPD Co, Capt. Persons, built and operated from Youngping to Yunnani, where they had headquarters. 780 EPD Co. built and operated the pipeline from Yunnani to Kunming with headquarters at the tank farm and terminal at Kunming.

Between Tali and Kunming are many wide fertile valleys surrounded by ranges of hills. One of the most striking features was the absence of trees. All trees in the valleys had been cut for firewood long ago and there had been no reforestation. Continual cutting of brush and small trees kept the forests from effectively regenerating.

The road extended east from Kunming to Kutsinq (88 m.) and Chanyi (96 m.). The total length of the pipeline from Tinsukia, India to Chanyi, China was 1175 miles.

A six (6) inch and two four (4) inch victaulic invasion pipelines extended from Tinsukia, India to Myitkyina, Burma. A 6 inch line extended from Dudhkundi to Calcutta and on to Ledo. A 4 inch line also extended from Chittagong to Tinsukia. The two four inch lines ran from Myitkyina to Bhamo and one four inch line extended on to Kunming from Myitkyina by May 1945. Avigas and mogas was deliveed to the terminal in Tinsukia by the 4 inch line from Chittagong to Tinsukia, 575 miles and the line from Calcutta to Tinsukia, 760 miles.

The line touched three countries and ran from sea level to heights of 9,000 ft.

From December 1944 to VJ day Allied troops in Assam, North and Central Burma, and China received more that 150,000,000 gallons of fuel through the pipelines. In addition, other deliveries were made to points between Tinsukia and the southern pipeline stations at Calcutta and Chittagong. The 1380 EPD Co. convoy arrived in Kunming withbut mishap at 1900 hrs 8 May. 1945 after traveling 1079 miles from Ledo. The company, under the command of Capt. James C. Shaw, established a headquarters camp on the highway between Kunming and Kutsing near the village of Malung, about 10 miles west of Kutsing.

1380 EPD Co. began construction of a four-inch pipeline from Kunming tank farm, operated by 1381 EPD Co, to Chenyi Airbase (Km. 480) and a branch line from Kutsing, China (km. 494) to Luliang Air Base, a distance of 42 miles south of Kutsing. Tank farms were constructed at each of the distribution point; Kutsing, Luliang and Chenyi. The company began operation of the line from Kunming to Chanyi on 12 July 1945 and operated the storage and POL facilities at Chanyi and Kutsing and Luliang until it was relieved of duty and returned to India in mid-September 1945, after cessation of hostilities. Headquarters of the company remained near Ma-lung (km. 520) throughout the stay in China.

Although the cessation of hostilities came on August 14, 1946, the company contiued operations at a reduced pace. Soon Theater Headquarters began hasty evacuation of U. S. military personnel from Yunnan and other places in the southwestern part of the China Theater. The company began inventory of equipment and supplies for disposal before departure of the unit from the China Theater. However, US military personnel in China were being sent through India for processing. Now that troops were homeward bound, the personnel and the Theater Headquarters began to place greater emphasis on service points. Points were based on the number of months of military service credited to each person. Highest-point personnel were to return to the U. S. first. While line officers were going over 201 files to determine the point count of personnel, the Chinese began to get a bit nasty. Nationalist China had begun to lose ground to the local government troops and to the Communist Red Chinese. They no longer had the Japanese as serious enemy, so they began to fight among themselves for control of the country. The Nationalist forces under Chiang Kai Shek began the retreat to Tiawan, to fight another day. Anarchy was growing over China, especially in the southwest in Yunnan where the local governor desired to become autonomous. Pitched gun battles became daily occurrences around and in Kunming.

Exodus From China

The units were ordered in September 1945 to complete their inventory as quickly as possible. We were to strip the unit of all T.O. & E. items, retaining only a minimum of personal clothing. Each unit was told the following day to turn all equipment and supplies to the Ordnance Depot east of Kunming. I made a trip there the next day and learned that the warehouses were in the hands of Armed Nationalist, Chinese and off limits to personnel of the U. S. Army. The following day we had orders and began the move to India by air as expedicously as possible. Each flight was met on arrival at an airfield near Calcutta by 4x4 trucks with tarps over the bed and carried in them to Camp Kanchapara, about 20 miles north of Calcutta. During the next several days the large contingent in the camp discovered that no one was to be allowed out of the camp. It was an old B-29 base that had been shut down in July 1945 as the B-29s moved on to bases taken from the Japanese in south China. It had only the most primitive facilities, barracks, showers, mess halls and a scattering of recreation buildings remaining to be opened. Each unit was expected to review the points of personnel. Those with points below certain level were reassigned to units in India to stay on a while. Each day low-point men from the units were siphoned off for reassignment. Many reassignments were to duties in India but fairly large numbers were sent to Shanghai for rehabilitation of tank farms and pipelines of preexisting facilities, many of which had belonged to commercial ventures prior to the war.

Although we did not know it at first they were comparing the points to those of personnel who were in India when we arrived. High point personnel of India Area units were being shipped to the United States. Personnel from the units in Kanchapara with points below a specific level were reassigned to units. Each day the point count level rose as the low-point personnel were withdrawn from the units. Personnel in Kanchapara were not sent to the U. S. until they had been compared point-wise with those in India. As the time dragged on, feeling in the camp became very ugly. All wanted to go home. All wanted to go out to Calcutta while they were been reviewed. They could do neither. They could read books from the hastily constituted libraries, play football, baseball, basketball, soccer, tennis, etc. But they only wanted to go home. The bulk of the soldiers who came back from China in the exodus were at Kanchapara for 90 days. Each day they became angrier. It was frightening in the camp because of the angry mood everywhere. Even movies of Rita Hayworth did not hold their interest. In early December word passed through the camp like wild fire that a General was to speak in the evening at the movie. Almost the entire camp turned out. It was spine-chilling to see so many GIs packed into the small outdoor theater. Promptly the General, whom I no longer remember by name, was bought to the platform and introduced. There was an angry roar of boos. His staff tried to get the crowd of GIs to quiet down so he could speak. However, the more earnestly he tried, the louder and angrier the crowd became. They began to crowd in toward the platform with angry muttering. The General and his staff, all white as a sheet, were whisked out via the back of the stage and the session Was over. The executives in charge of the camp tried to calm the group but gave up and departed. The crowd slowly quieted down and melted away to the barracks with angry mutterings. A riot had been narrowly averted. Nothing was mentioned of the incident on the following day. Life in the camp went on as ever in days that followed.

Shortly afterward, Headquarters informed me that the company was to receive a large number of replacements. Our strength was way down; less than 30 percent of T.O. & E. The following day they began to deliver the replacements. We were to process them; relieve them of weapons, issue new uniforms, review and update their 201 file, and to prepare a payroll for them. These soldiers were just returning from Prisoner of War camps scattered across China, Indo-China, Manchuria, and elsewhere. They were all volunteers for hazardous duty. They had received special combat training and parachute training. They had been parachuted, to coincide with the announcement of the cessation of hostilities between the Allies and Japan, into the vicinity of Japanese POW camps for American soldiers. Each group's mission was to capture, as expeditiously as possible, the POW camp to which they were assigned. Their signal to overrun and secure their objective was sent by coded radio signal. Thus, it was planned to prevent massacre of the American prisoners by the Japanese at the announcement of Japan's surrender. All missions were successful. They did a great job. Massacres were averted.

These soldiers were a tough, taciturn bunch. Rumor had it that some of them were earning reprieves by this volunteer duty. The weapons turned in by them were of a great variety. Many had automatic rifles, numerous pistols of many varieties and all kinds of combat knives. They had been given their own choice of weapons for the mission and they were not to be responsible for the weapons. After they were processed they were to be returned to the United States. None of their names were retained.

All remaining personnel of 1380 EPD Co., including those casuals recently assigned to the company, had been processed for shipment to the United States by mid January, 1946.

The 1380 EPD Co. was officially deactivated in mid-January, 1946 and all personnel were placed on casual status and assigned to shipment to the United States. Most of the remaining former members of 1380 EPD Co. departed Calcutta, India on the General Class ship, "Marine Panther" on 29 January 1946 and arrived in Seattle, Washington on 27 February 1946. We were traveling as casuals, consequently I saw none of the former members of the company after disembarkation at the Port of Seattle.

Bowsher was sent by train from Seattle, Washington to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas where he was placed on Terminal Leave from 6 Mar to 4 May 1946. He returned to the University of Kansas to work on an M.S. in geology in the Graduate School.

Clayton Creager and Sherman Hutchison with a contingent made up of were tranferred from 1380 EPD Co. and were placed on duty in Shanghai, China.

Robert Zimmerman was reassigned at the Calcutta docks along with others whose job was to load ammunition onboard ships for disposal into the Bay of Bengal.

And Recent Developments

The first reunion of 1380th Engr. Petrol. Dist. Co. was held in Roswell on 13-14 September, 1986. A. L. Bowsher, C. L. Creager, Sherman Hutchison, James Norris, Sharkey Spieles, Calhoun Umphlet, and Robert Zimmerman along with their wives attended.

The 1987 Reunion, Clayton L. and Ruth Creager hosts, will be held 18-20 September 1987 at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, about 55 miles northwest of Denver.

A list of the former 1380 EPD Co members that we have been able to locate is attached. A reproduction of a company picture taken in early 1944 is also attached. Identifications that we have been able to make are indicated on the picture.

(Ed. NOTE:  Unfortunately I have not yet been able to obtain the above-mentioned list and photo. If I can obtain them, they will be posted here.)

Interesting books about the CBI and that mention the pipeline are:

Anonymous, 1945, The longest pipeline in the world: Yank, The Army Weekly, CBI edition, vol. 3, no. 19 p. 2-7, Dec. 8.

Anders, Leslie, 1965, The Ledo Road, The University of Oklahoma Press.


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