Diary of Lt. Robert Watson

(Courtesy of Mr. Robert Watson)

Dad's Diary

08 Dec 1944:  In this book, received as a Christmas present this this date from my daughter, Sallie, I will attempt to record for her, as far as military security will permit, interesting incidents from my life in the service.

09 Dec:  Few drops of rain today - first during my two months stay here at Int Ord. Depot Fanahy (sic) India.

11 Dec:  Was out chasing Hyenas in the wee small hours this morning.

13 Dec:  Went to sleep last night in the baggage rack of a third (worst) class compartment on the train listening to Guy Lombardo over a radio the men have with them. Some combination. We found ourselves 10 miles from our starting point this morning. But we finally got under way and I managed to push myself into over crowded 1st class compartment. But late night tonight we were shoved on a sidetrack again to wait for a special military train to pick us up.

14 Dec:  Morning found us still on the siding where we stayed all day. Is there anything more discouraging than traveling in India? Nothing for the men to do but walk the platform. We are on "K" and "C" rations, but the men brought PX supplies to fill in. The special finally arrived tonight - Indian troops with British Officers and a Burmese hospital unit with six nurses.

15 Dec:  Late this morning we arrived at a transshipment point. My unit has two wagons (freight cars) of equipment. As the gage of the track changed here jib was necessary to transfer all the equipment to other wagons. We had lunch at a British rest camp. Late this afternoon we were ferried across the Ganges river. Our wagons have not come across yet and the men have no food or sleeping equipment.

16 Dec:  Our wagons didn't get across until 0400 this morning. Arrived at beginning of American controlled road this afternoon and have really begun to travel.

17 Dec:  Another transshipment by ferry across the Barahumpatura. Finally, got rid of the British here. We are spending the night at a British rest camp, at Pandu near Ganhati.

18 Dec:  The men had a good nights rest and hot food at the camp. We joined an American military train this afternoon and are on our way again.

19 Dec:  I am riding in the compartment with the train commander and his assistant. And as there are only two shelves, I slept on the floor and fought roaches all night. We reached our destination, Ledo, late tonight but will not detrain until morning.

20 Dec:  The men are safely in at last. Two of the officers in the company they reported to came over with me, so we've had quite a session. So glad I'm not traveling today as it gives me time to write Mommie on our 4th wedding anniversary. Lt. McKee took me on inspection of the installation around here. And hot food once again.

21 Dec:  Caught the train this morning and arrived at Chabua this afternoon at 1400. Have rejoined the 472nd Quartermaster Group. Colonel Ireland is away on a trip so will have to await his return for assignment.

22 Dec:  Spent today getting my things straightened out, eating and sleeping.

23 Dec:  Same today. Received a Christmas box today - fruit cake and candy from Mike Brownley's mother and dad.

24 Dec:  Moved over to the 1st Battalion, Col. Hopworth. Will be with C company for about a week. Boxes from mother and Marty today. Attended very impressive Christmas services at group tonight.

25 Dec:  Dreary, cold rainy Christmas day. First rate dinner tonight - roast duck and all the trimmings, ice cream, fruit cake. Mess hall beautifully decorated and a Santa Claus delivered presents swapped by the boys.

26 Dec:  Back to my old job of checking the sidings where the company unloads the incoming freight wagons.

27 Dec:  The company has volley ball court with flood lights. It is certainly a morale booster a they have no time for sports.

28 Dec:  Swell weather again - warm sunny days and chilly nights.

29 Dec:  I'm really missing Buddah, my old bearer at Fanah. He did about everything for me but breath and eat. He spoiled me good.

30 Dec:  Boxes today from mommie and mom and you.

31 Dec:  Big ball game this afternoon. Our group team, champion of their league, beat an Air Service team, champion of another Assam Valley league.

1 Jan 1945:  New Year orders sent me to the 3729th Q.M. truck company, which I joined this afternoon. It is located in Dibrugarh so I didn't have far to go. C.O. - Capt. Vespa.

2 Jan:  Think I've landed with a pretty good outfit. It has just been assigned to the 1st Battalion from the convoy maint. Three officers assigned Capt. Vespa, Lt.Gizzi, and myself.

3 Jan:  Duties were assigned today. I find myself 2nd platoon commander, motor officer, orientation officer and assistant fire marshal.

4 Jan:  Group officer's club "Shamrock Shanty" met tonight and elected new officers and decreased the dues from 15 to 10 rupees. Still to much as I hardly ever attend. But it's one of those things you can't stay out of.

5 Jan:  Spent the day in the motor pool getting things lined up. We're already dispatching 40 out of an available 48 trucks so it doesn't give us much chance to work on them.

6 Jan:  Cold, rainy, and miserable day. Lt. Gizzi and I went to stage show "Over and Back" put on by G.I.'s at the railway Bn. tonight - life of a group of GI's from the time they landed at Calcutta until they headed back for the good old USA.

7 Jan:  Just another cold wet Sunday in Assam.

8 Jan:  Last night and today have been the coldest yet. The fog, even more penetrating than rain, didn't lift until around noon. First mail from mommie in over a week and swell package from Bobbie.

9 Jan:  Was never more surprised than when I opened "The Coalwood Caretta News" tonight and bumped into extracts of some of my letters to mommie under the heading "Lt. Robert Watson writes of his experience in India". Wish she had touched up little as the grammar wasn't so good.

10 Jan:  My time has really been filled since I landed with this outfit. If I'm not down in the motor pool, I'm out bouncing up and down these rough roads in my jeep checking on our men unloading wagons at the sidings.

11 Jan:  I was reveille man this a.m. and greeted a crystal clear rosy dawn instead of the usual fog. What a difference it makes in the entire day. The group's dentist is her for a week to check all the men. They have found that teeth decay over here much more than they do at home.

12 Jan:  More Christmas boxes and lots of good eats today.

13 Jan:  The usual Saturday inspection today. Everything passed off pretty well.

14 Jan:  Sunday and a half day off for most of the men. They usually get back to the company by noon.

15 Jan:  Pounding the sidings and go downs again today. The men are used to pushing trucks up the convoy route, and they are a little careless in handling their trucks on this job.

16 Jan:  Mother tells me Al has left England, where he was enjoying teas and dances, and is now in France.

17 Jan:  We're dispatching a total of 45 trucks a day steady now. With only 55 available it's pretty tough especially if there are any dead lines.

18 Jan:  We've been having an epidemic of broken front springs. Our trucks have been sitting most of the time, and now that they're on the road constantly, the weak spots are showing up.

19 Jan:  The group doc was down tonight giving shots and a talk on malaria and hygiene.

20 Jan:  Spent today getting things together to paint up our truck bumpers. They put more emphasis on the decorations than they do on the truck operation. But if that's what they want, that's what they'll get.

21 Jan:  Big duck supper tonight - a little tough but very tasty. We kept them in a pond in the motor pool.

22 Jan:  Had my nose to the grind stone all day, so there was only the regular routine. A box of sugar wafers and cookies from mommie.

23 Jan:  Worked late tonight painting bumpers. What a way to fight a war.

24 Jan:  Nothing more today bumpers, bumpers and more bumpers.

25 Jan:  Inventoried our company PX today. We don't carry a very big stock, so there wasn't much to it. Capt. Vespa, Lt. Gizzi and I went into Dibrugarh for a British USO show. It was tops for entertainment.

26 Jan:  And more bumpers!

27 Jan:  Spent the day bumping around to all the sidings and go downs.

28 Jan:  A big company party tonight at the Planter's Club in Dibrugarh. We had a swell time GI orchestra, drinks (soft and hard), sandwiches, doughnuts, ice cream, but only six females. Red Cross girls. Everyone seemed to have a very enjoyable evening.

29 Jan:  Some sad looking fellows pulling out of the motor pool this morning at 6:30 - morning after the night before.

30 Jan:  Mommie really got the best of me in a letter today telling about how Bobby had been talking about his Daddy for three days.

31 Jan:  Payday again. The captain and I paid the men off tonight.

1 Feb 1945:  Corp. Linsey and I labored over the monthly operations report all day more of the paper work.

2 Feb:  Everyone writes wants to know what I do. When I say haul supplies it doesn't mean much. But here are some figures on our operations for the month of January. A total of 1,313 trucks dispatched they traveled a total of app. 63,000 miles and hauled 12,300 tons of supplies.

3 Feb:  Eleven new 2nd Lt. assigned to the group today. One was sent to us Lt. Revis fresh from the states - Waco, Texas. p>

4 Feb:  Changed my program today and hit the sack this afternoon. Really a luxury.

5 Feb:  Cold, rainy, miserable weather. Anyone who thinks it's always hot in India just ought to be here now.

6 Feb:  Gizzi left to escort Chinese troops to Rajputana. I don't envy him as they're surely a headache. No discipline what ever. They lose between 5 and 10 of them on every trip.

7 Feb:  I got extravagant, went to Dibrugarh and bought a cotton mattress and pillow. Probably take me a week to get used to it after sleeping on a couple of blankets for so long.

8 Feb:  These cold wet days are about to finish me at least the monsoons are warm.

9 Feb:  About time to mention the chow we have. It's the best army mess I've hit. We have an excellent baker - all kinds of cakes, apple turnovers, biscuits and what-nots. We bought about a hundred ducks and have been feasting off them. No, there is no complaint on the food.

10 Feb:  Regular Saturday inspection today, but everything went off OK. Capt. Vespa and Lt. Ed Henry took their nurse friends for a motor boat ride on the river this afternoon and brought them back to company for supper.

11 Feb:  Everyone got half day off for a change, so we had a big company softball game.

12 Feb:  Very cold and threatening rain all day. I spent all afternoon tightening up my poor little jeep trying to get some rattles out. The pill-a-day atabrine treatment was started all over this area today. This outfit has been here twenty months with out taking it and now that they're almost ready to go home, they start. But that's the army way.

13 Feb:  I have been feeling pretty low today. This atabrine has really knocked some of us out. It lasts for three or four days.

14 Feb:  Still not feeling too good. All the officers are getting set for the big dance tomorrow night to celebrate the second birthday of the 472nd QM group.

15 Feb:  The dance to night was a big success. The orchestra was swell and the food plentiful - sandwiches, deviled eggs, pickles, nuts, ice cream, cake, coffee, and cokes. I even danced a couple of times.

16 Feb:  And I hear today that quite a brawl took place - a warrant officer flattened a major so I hear. I was due to go to a rest camp at Shillong for duty today. But Lt. Gizzi, who got back from his trip yesterday, got the bid and is leaving in the morning.

17 Feb:  Capt. Vespa had to attend a court marshal this morning, so I had to escort Major Horton, executive office for battalion, on the regular Saturday inspections. He falls hard for pin-up girls though, so if you have plenty of those around to show him you get by O.K. I saw a nice head-on collision between a freight train and an engine on the branch line from Tinswkiq to Dibrugarh. The engines didn't jump the track but about eight wagons piled up. They're so light and flimsy you can almost blow them off the track.

18 Feb:  Another Sunday with half day off. Lt Reese and I shopped around Dibrugarh for a while and then indulged in one of my favorite sports - taking off on a road I know nothing about. We did have a nice ride and stopped for a while to watch some Indians fishing in one of the numerous mud holes with throw nets.

19 Feb:  I found my jeep bone dry of gas. We must have just made it in yesterday. That's really judging it close isn't it? Slam, bam, I'm off again. I'm transferred to Group Hdg. effective in the morning - and just when I thought I was settled for a spell. I certainly don't relish headquarters work but - this is the Army Mister Jones!

20 Feb:  I am now Detachment C.O. in Headquarters, but I don't like it, trying to satisfy the whims of all the brass, almost an impossibility. Ten officers and twenty men here, I met all the men tonight at an hour first aid training program. Seem to be a nice bunch.

21 Feb:  Well, my hard work started, signing a few papers and sitting trying to look busy. Is there anything harder than that? Major Stoltz, the executive office told me everything was running smoothly and he didn't want any changes, so I'll sit around and take the rap if anything happens not to run smoothly.

22 Feb:  Sitting - sitting trying to look busy. Oh, for those good old company days.

23 Feb:  I find that I'm also P. X. officer today - more papers to sign is about all.

24 Feb:  Nice game of tennis this afternoon - two courts just across the road from us. My first tennis in over three years but I did not do too badly.

25 Feb:  A quiet Sunday with the afternoon off. Hell of a fried chicken tonight for supper. Oh, yes, I did inventory the P.X. this morning but it was a short job as the stocks are pretty low.

26 Feb:  The weather has been beautiful but each day is getting warmer and cloudier.

27 Feb:  I gave a training talk tonight on "Field Sanitation" to these men who've been practicing it for 20 months. That was about the hardest talk I've ever made.

28 Feb:  Today is the day the eagle flies so I strapped on the old 45. And flew down to the finance office for the payroll. Every man got his share and it came out right, not even an anna left over.

1 March:  My name went in on Capt. Vespa's payroll so he brought my money up to me today. One of his platoon, Lt. Riess, moved in to their new area across the road. I was glad to see the familiar face's around again.

2 March:  The 472nd Group has received a citation from the I.G. of the I.B. theater - a plaque for meritorious service. Tennis again this afternoon.

3 March:  Saturday and formal retreat - no bugle but we go through all the motions. An excellent U.S.O. show tonight "Isle of Songs." It was along classical lines, a soprano, contra alto, tenor, violinist, and pianist. Surprising how well it was received by the men.

4 March:  The normal dull Sunday, no business and the afternoon off of course - more tennis. A plane crash at Ledo last night, about 35 officers and nurses killed. They had flown down to a dance at Mohanbari airfield. Unauthorized, unscheduled trip and attempting to land on a closed field against orders. Pretty bad.

5 March:  We have a G.I. laundry unit near here now. Life is really getting to be easy. However I spent the afternoon washing socks, which are the only items they won't take.

6 March:  Major Thomas, my basha mate and group 5-3, started white washing the inside of our basha today. It's lined with Ineesiam cloth - material similar to burlap sacks.

7 March:  We spent another afternoon white washing. And are our quarters a mess.

8 March:  Finished the painting today, and it really looks nice.

9 March:  Amsler, detachment C.O. returned from leave at Palentte, so I spent the day taking over property, company records, and so forth.

10 March:  A new T.O. came out for headquarters today which increases both officers and men assigned. It beats me, as we have more personnel now than we know what to do with.

11 March:  Had a letter from Al today. He is out of the hospital in England and expects to be going back to Europe soon. Lt. Riass and I visited down at the 3729th tonight. Everything seems to be rocking along about as usual there.

12 March:  Colonel Ireland got a horse today from the remount station. He's a Texan, so he's in his glory, built a corral. Rough war. He's also an old Calvary man.

13 March:  The prospects for promotions on the new T.O. has really raised the men's morale. Cool, cloudy and very windy today.

14 March:  I put in recommendations for the promotions to fill the new T.O. But the colonel will probably hold them up until the first of the month.

15 March:  The effects of being in India so long is beginning to show up in illnesses - several eye diseases and dysentery. This climate brings out all kinds of aches and pains.

16 March:  Very good stage show tonight at our Shamrock Theater - "The Good Old Days" - a burlesque based on the old Negro minstrel show - all G.I. cast.

17 March:  Retreat as usual this afternoon.

18 March:  A wet dreary Sunday. Spent the afternoon in the sack reading and sleeping. Went to church services tonight conducted by Chaplain Shepard.

19 March:  The Colonel went down the road today. With illness and things we won't have any officers around headquarters before long.

20 March:  Rain has been coming down in torrents today. And with the weather so cool, it's really miserable.

21 March:  Our generator was acting up last night, so I spent the morning getting that into shape. War news very encouraging-Germans out off west of the Rhine, Mandalay falls.

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