The 45 Times


May 27, 1945


Radios Planes and Men!!


    May, 1944 Bosnek beach head was the site of the first landing of AACS men on  this island.  Three days after D-Day, an AACS weather team of three radio operators and a radio mechanic hit the beach.  Several hours later the voice of AACS floated through the ether.


    A six by six truck was used as the detachment’s first operations base, for mobility was needed so that communications could continue uninterrupted, regardless of enemy activity.  Frequent counter-attacks brought the Nips uncomfortably close to our small station, but whether standing or on the move the detachment’s broadcasts were sent out.  Nevertheless, in the latter part of June, enemy action forced the outfit to move.  A small island off the coast was selected for our new location.  Being better established, the radio station then began to function more as an AACS station should.  1st Lt. Robert A. Timm became commanding officer.  More radio operators, control tower operators and radio mechanics were added.  Although heavy fighting continued on the main island, Detachment 45 was preparing to become the major communication center of the SWPA.


    Soon, a complete radio station and control tower unit adjoined the new airstrip on the small island.  In those days, the men of Detachment 45 experienced the meaning of “rough”.  Many a fox-hole was dug in the sharp coral.  Heavy tropical rains poured down incessantly.  Supplies were limited.  Radio mechanics produced makeshifts to keep the patched-up equipment operating.  The all-too-frequent bombings and strafings endangered the operation of this tiny unit of the AAF, but the dauntless courage and determination of the men kept the airways communications coming and going, despite all obstacles.


    By July 1st, the battle of Mokmer Ridge had been won, and the infantry had the situation on the main island well in hand.  Air strips were cropping up and the AACS was needed there.  Skillfully, as the need grew, the detachment transferred its men and equipment to the main island.  This move brought it face to face with the task of setting up a larger camp area and a central communication system to link the chain of airstrips undergoing completion with the outside world.


    Through the foresight of the pioneers of Detachment 45, as well as by their backbreaking efforts, a somewhat healthy camp area was built, but it was free of the dreaded scrub typhus which at one time had as much as 30% of nearby outfits immobilized.  Most of the time was spent, however, in setting up the station, while only spare time was used to make a place to live.


    Work on the station had continued through August, and the receiver and transmitter sites were cleared the latter part of that month.  During September and October, more personnel arrived to relieve the men who had worked practically day and night installing, operating, and maintaining the station and building a more livable place.  During this time, the Detachment suffered its first casualty.  T/Sgt. Moore, a radio maintenance mechanic, sustained injuries that were fatal when a P-4-(sic) skidded of the runway and crashed into the D. A. T. tent.


    During October, D/F and radar facilities were added.  The station had shifted almost all its personnel and equipment to its present site.  During this not a single circuit went off the air.


    On through November and December, our outfit busied itself in setting up housekeeping.  Messing facilities were afforded us by the 41st infantry, our neighbors.  Although our personnel doubled and tripled, the infantry handled our messing cheerfully.  It was their efforts that gave us a Thanksgiving dinner that will be long remembered by those who partook of fresh turkey and cranberries instead of the usual canned, dehydrated, and vitamin-lacking foods.


    By the end of November, the young detachment was fairly well established as being the largest and busiest Army Airways Communication System center of the SWPA.  Social life and entertainment was limited.  The Bob Hope show appeared when the outfit was in its growing pains.  But on 8 November, at the infantry theatre, the detachment’s wolves had their fill of the feminine form divine as offered by a USO troupe.  It was a night of strange howling for the men who saw their first leg show in ages. 


    December was a busy month for added improvements to the detachment area.  As the 41st infantry prepared itself for further glory at the expense of the Nips, Detachment 45 opened its own mess hall.  Cpl. Papadokis, the big little man from Pittsburgh, was the mess “Sergeant”.


    December 2nd was not just another day for detachment 45 for it brought ye olde beere rations of 18 cans issued in series of 3 cans every other day.  A lapping good time was had by all.  Also during December, a not too heartily appreciated convenience was added, namely the “squawk box”.  The abhorred drone of “report to the orderly room immediately” roused many a bleary eyed sackster.  Our heartiest good cheer to Sgt Entrkin(sic),  “The Voice”, and long may he screech the air with ---- “news casts!”


    For our Guinea Christmas, the prodigious efforts of our cooks and bakers turned out an almost-like-home Christmas dinner.  Served by the aristocratic first three—graders, the bird and all its trimmings were consumed ravenously and the evening found a well fed and beered bunch or sack artists slumbering with bloated joy.


    The end of 1944 found the detachment with a large complement of men and officers.  The radio station facilities including receiving station, transmitting station, control towers, radio range, D/F, radar beacons, homing and weather were generally conceded to be the largest and most comprehensive in the SWPA.   The efforts of radio operators, radio maintenance mechanics, cryptographers, teletype, and weather men resulted in handling more radio groups and crypto groups than any AACS station in the SWPA, if not the world.  Not bad for a bunch whose home alternated between a six by six truck and a fox-hole.


    The new year came in the bangs of all sorts of firearms.  It was during January that the detachment was aroused in the middle of the night to answer a call for a task force needed to install a station elsewhere.  Detachment 45, now used to rugged living, within 24 hours hustled a group out to dig in again on strange and unknown beaches.


    About this time, the 41st infantry pulled out to scorch their name (the Nips had unwarrantedly given them their name “The Bloody Butchers”) across points northward.  That meant the end of after-mess delicacies.  But T/Sgt. Travis joined our outfit solely for the purpose of changing our “Greasy Spoon” kitchen to the nearest thing resembling a SWPA Waldorf Astoria.  The quantity and quality of our victuals was immediately improved by the Sgt. who prefers doing to talking.


   The history of Detachment 45 would not be complete without giving credit to the ACS outfit attached to us which did an efficient job of installing much of our equipment.


    The “Coral Coffee Corner”, supervised by the “Red Cross” and ruled with an iron hand by the capable and competent Marie, was a Godsend to boredom with its games, books, ping-pong, bingo checkers, and cards.  Here a cup of coffee each night and an occasional afternoon cut of battery juice could be enjoyed.


    Each Sunday the nearby chapel was available for the services of all faiths, and our personnel used the opportunity afforded them to worship their creator.


   March and April found the detachment resembling an octopus.  Through the combined efforts of all, an impressive and unprecedented amount of traffic was handled, consisting of an unforeseen number of radio groups and crypto groups which marked an all time high.


  New wings were now added to the receiver station.  It was then that the other members of the outfit believed that the cryp section was in its true character of “Toppblowers”(sic) when it was enclosed by a barbed wire fence.  More radio teletype was installed along with a switchboard to handle land line traffic.


  The followers of the cinema were not forgotten.  With the combined efforts of several of our teletype operators and our detachment carpenter, our indispensable theater sprang up.  A note of appreciation is due Sgts. Main and Lloyd for their handling of the projection end and to Cpl. Tucker for the construction of the screen and projection booth, not to forget the men of the detachment who pitched in to make those, nice, soft, and comfortable wooden seats.


    One of the highlights of this period was the work of our D/F unit.  Instrumental in saving a plane and occupants, praise was bestowed upon the unit for its aid.


    As for recreation facilities for the men, a newly formed enlisted man’s club, the “Club 45”, has opened its doors (it really has no doors) and the unbelievable is now true—ice cold Coca Cola and beer are here to stay!


    The first of May brought back our old CO, Capt. Robert A. Timm, who, during his absence, acquired another bar.  He is one of the few officers who can well note the progress of the six by six truck detachment 45 to the station today that ranks with the top organization s of its kind throughout the world