777th ENGINEER PETROLEUM DISTRIBUTION COMPANY



(Courtesy of Mr. James Casey, S/Sgt 777th EPD Co.)

It was very difficult to take any photos and get them successfully sent back home. I didn't get my circa 1930 small "bellows type" Kodak from my folks via mail until after I had been overseas for some time. The monsoon weather played havoc with any film and getting them printed in any local villages was a non event. The Army had an arrangement with who knows to print photos, but these were greatly delayed and often lost. Finally you had the Army Censor (your platoon lieutenant) who would not let any "sensitive" photos go through.


Re. the pipeline from Chittagong to Tinsukia (as mentioned in "Fuel For Freedom: The Story of the A-B-C Pipeline"):

"That line and its pump stations were built by the 777th Engineer Petroleum Distribution Co. We arrived at Jorhat Assam in January, 1944 and immediately commenced 12 hour days seven days a week, until it was determined that we could make just as much progress if we had half day Sundays off and then the same with all of Sunday off. We also completed several of the tanks in the Tinsukia depot. When we finished that Chittagong to Tinsukia line (as well as assisting in other pipeline work) we operated what we had completed constructing.

"We built the pipe in the low lands using standard weight pipe with dresser coupling and victaulic couplings. In the Khasi Hills we used spiral reinforced 6-inch (light weight) invasion pipe.

"I never see anything about the 777th in write-ups, but we worked our behinds off until the end of the war. Supposedly we were slated for a Presidential Citation, but I don't know if that ever occurred. We were bombed, but no other combat other than with leeches, snakes, malaria and the usual pleasantries that all CBI GI's enjoyed."


Khasi Hills in the Haflong area in Assam


From Chittagong to the Grand Trunk Rd in Assam, we used standard weight pipe and put it along the railroad.


This was really wild jungle in an area that Frank Buck made pictures in around the early 1930s. Unfortunately the picture does not do it justice.


When a pipeline leak occurred everything stopped until you could get out there and put on a leak clamp or replace damaged pipe sections. Natives often thought they could just loosen a coupling and get fuel for their kerosene lamps - all of which did not have a happy ending. The only practical way of getting rid of the fuel was to burn it. During the monsoons or when over a flooded rice paddy the high octane gas would float and endanger any nearby villages. In one instance we burned the spillage, melted the overhead signal lines and effectively cut off all communication between major Indian cities, as well as railroad communication between stations.


After the trace was cleared through the jungle in the Khasi Hills area, I was given the job of preparing a topography map of the pipe line route. I also measured some 150 miles with a 300 foot surveyors "chain" and transit using other GI as rear chainman - this was an adventure in the jungle and over medium size rivers.


When we finished the line and started operating we had time on our hands between shifts. We were all pipe liners, after all, so we constructed a hot and cold outdoor shower. We had plenty of diesel and constructed a diesel/air jet under the 250 gal tank which would send warm water up to our overhead holding tank.. This was the inspiration of one Sgt. Bill Gray.


The pump stations were constructed after the pipelines had been laid. For concrete bases and slabs we purchased cement from the British and then took our 6/6 trucks to the nearest river's sand bars and hand shovelled sand and aggregate to make a 1:2;3 mix of cement, sand and rock. We hand mixed on site. This was usually all done under monsoon rain, so we didn't ever really lack for mix water. These pump stations were generally about 30 miles apart and used Buda engines with double reciprocating pumps capable of 900 psi. Normal suction pressure was 30 psi and normal (operating) discharge pressure was 550 psi.


The 777th was only one of the companies that constructed the 10,000 barrel tanks at the Tinsukia tank farm.


Taking welded steel pipe to a bridge crossing. Another small flat car (not is sight) supported the rest of the pipe. A jeep was used for power with the regular rubber tired wheels removed and drums with rail disks used to keep it on the RR track. When no longer needed for rail use the regular wheels would be replaced and it was ready for the road.


Note it is the GI's that are down in the ditch!


US General Muir entering New York Harbor January 10, 1946. 777th EPD Co. returning 2 years and 2 hours after originally leaving Newport News on January 10, 1944 on the Empress of Scotland.


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