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Summer 1990 Issue

3842 QM Truck Holds 41st Reunion

By Tommy Waldron

October 12-14, 1990, a most unique group of CBIers will be gathering for its 41st annual reunion. This celebration and renewal of old and lasting friendships will take place midst bursting fall colors of the Blue Ridge Mountain country and in the friendly confines of Mill House Lodge, located in Flat Rock, North Carolina.

This group often reflects back to its roots and history. The 478th Quartermaster Truck Regiment was formed October 25, 1942, at Camp Clairborne, Louisiana, Col. Mullet, commanding officer. The First Battalion, under the direction of Lt. Col. Asher, Company "B" (3842nd) was commanded by Capt. Delwyn L. Johnson, with 2nd Lt. Edward H. Kuhlmann and 2nd Lt. Joseph A. Delanna as company officers. The company consisted of five enlisted men, headed by 1st Sgt. Richard Flynn. Fifty-two men from Fort Francis E. Warren arrived on October 29. From Dec. 1st to the 17th, 110 men joined the company from Camp Picket, Camp Barkley, Camp Lee, Fort McClellan, Camp Robinson and Camp Wheeler. Orders were received to train the men for arctic conditions.

The regiment moved to Camp Shelby, Miss., on Nov. 20,1942. The company was organized into three platoons, under the direction of S/Sgts. William Kreeger, Bernard Waterman and Anthony Saup. Motor Pool under S/Sgt. William Stagg; Supply Sargent was Louis Kammerer. The company had grown to 283 men. Directions came to reduce the company strength to 120 men and ready them for overseas service. The regiment moved by rail, arriving at Camp Anza, California. We boarded ship at Wilmington on January 19th. The USS Monticello set sail at 0800 January 20th; arrived at Wellington, New Zealand, on February 6th; weighed anchor on February 8th and arrived in Freeman tie, Australia, on February 17th; set sail on February 20th and arrived at Bombay, India, at 1300 hours March 3rd, 1943. March 5th we departed by rail and arrived at Mahuda Junction, Bihar, India.

This encampment allowed the men to regain the use of their "land legs" after having restricted use since January. On April 2nd, we were on the move again traveling by rail to Parbatipur where we changed to narrow gauge rail, traveling on to Dhubri, Assam. We then boarded the SS Goorka, a flat-bottomed, sidewheeler, river packet and sailed on up the Bhramaputra River, debarked at Pandu, Assam, continuing again by narrow gauge rail to Margherita, arriving April 9, 1943. The camp was set up in Base Section Three Staging Area. We again moved out by rail, arriving at Dikom Station, we were then transported by truck to Hazelbank, and began to make a new base camp.

The company was assigned 150 civilian-type vehicles, of which only eight to ten were in operational condition. Within 10 days, the motor pool had 50 to 60 available for dispatch.

Early in May our original 52 CMC 6 x 6's arrived. We continued to operate the civilian trucks with Chinese drivers.

Capt. Johnson was designated Advance Section Two Transportation Officer. Dispatching was done on a 24-hour basis, much of it handled by Cpl. Wilmer Anderson.

Upon receipt of our own equipment, maintenance schedules were inaugurated, with repair work being done in open fields under extreme weather conditions, being forced to change locations because of mud and water. The trucks were averaging 17 hours of operation per day, by working the units two shifts.

During this heavy work schedule, 34 men were assigned to the Air Freight Centers. We quickly learned to handle ordnance and high explosive, aircraft fuels, as well as all types of freight for loading on aircraft. Second Lt. John Holcomb joined the unit on May 13.

The 478th Battalion traveled over 300,000 combined miles in three and one-half months, moving over 31,500 tons of materiel. This involved unloading freight cars at 10 sidings, covering 50 miles on the Dibru-Sadiya Railway, classifying the materiel and delivering it to the proper godown. In October, we moved 6,160 tons of freight in spite of the worst possible conditions to roads and access to the godowns. We learned to direct large forces of native labor, Indian and Chinese, in a great many supply projects.

December 1st, the unit moved Staging Area, Base Section Three. December 30th, 22 trucks departed for Shingbwiyang moving a battalion of the 22nd Chinese Infantry Division. It was the first organized convoy to reach Shingbwiyang. January 12th, Company "B" was redesignated the 3842nd and the First Battalion became the 478th Quartermaster Battalion Mobile.

Capt. Johnson was promoted to Major, moving into battalion command. Lt. Kuhlmann commanded the company until Lt. Holcomb returned from Detached Service with the Remount Detachment, along with men from our company. We were relieved from Rail Unloading Section and moved into convoy duty. In September we drew the first Autocar tractor-trailer for use over the road. We took over the task of hauling fresh meat (flown into the area), then moved by insulated trucks to the forward areas.

The company continued to draw heavy equipment of four-ton capacity or more, including six-ton Corbitt Prime movers and 16 and 20-ton trailers. The company had the very tough task of transporting two 22-ton diesel locomotives from Dibrugarh to Mogaung. This was accomplished with two Autocar tractors, hooked in tandem to the 20-ton trailer, for each unit. Great skill and coordination was needed between the drivers of the rigs to negotiate dangerous grades, hairpin turns, crossing temporary bridges not constructed to withstand such weight.

Sgt. Irvil Walden and PFC Louis Smith were credited with saving the unit when a wooden culvert gave way on the mountain climb. After the success with the locomotives, the company moved 100-ton barges in sections for crossing the Irrawaddy River.

Capt. Clarence A. Todd assumed command on June 5,1945. The company continued to move heavy equipment from Ledo to Bhamo. Lt. Price and Lt. Christianson had joined the company. A number of the company men transferred to Company "A" for Air Drop duties and others would sign on for the air drop duty for diversion from daily tasks.

Rotation started with men returning to the States. Replacements continued to operate, moving ten tons on the trailers and and on reaching Shingbwiyang, would load up to twenty tons for the balance of the trip to Myitkyina.

On Sept. 22, 1945, the convoy departed from Moran Field and arrived October 7 at Kunming, China, an historic occasion. Jan. 16, 1946, 37 men of the 3842nd were assigned to 859th Ordnance Heavy Automotive Maintenance Company. Feb. 3, 1946, Capt. Todd was attached to the Replacement Depot, No. 3, Kanchrapara, India, and the Company inactivated per par. 3, General Order 38, Headquarters, United States Forces, India-Burma Theater.

Many of us returning to the States did so by the way of the Atlantic, thus completing our strange odyssey around the world. Thus, ended our final chapter of the 3842nd.

My thanks to Lt. Ed Kuhlmann for his detailed data and dates.

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