By Way of Explanation
Monday, May 11, 1942
By Way of Explanation
My Diary ,with photos , covering the first 6 months of WW 2 has now been posted in full to the Mt Pleasant Pioneer and Relic home Blog and my Blog (leechristensen.blogspot.com). It was serialized so the last section starting with May ’42 comes up first but you can scroll to the first section starting Dec ’41 and then read it thru the four sections.
Some months down the line I’ll post my week long pass in Paris after stopping the Germans during the Bulge but I’ve posted this first so you won’t think my military service was all “wine, women and song”. lee
I started my diary 8th December 1941. Not because that is the day after Pearl Harbor, but because that was the day the 2nd Battalion 222 Field Artillery Regiment was scheduled to leave for the Oakland (California) Port of Embarkation and the Philippines Islands, code name “Plum.”
The attack on Pearl Harbor 7th December drastically altered the schedule but it was 3 days before new orders were issued. In the meantime, we left Camp San Luis Obispo on schedule, motored to San Francisco, crossed the Bay Bridge and spent 4 days at the Oakland Army Base waiting for new orders, unloading our equipment and moving out to a new assignment.
When this diary starts, I’m a gun Sgt in Btry “D”, 2nd Bn 222 FA Reg. 40th Division. When the army modernized the Infantry Division in early 1942 Btry “D” became Btry “A” 204 FA Bn-a separate FA battalion.
Btry “D” (which became Btry “A”) was a Utah National Guard unit federalized 3rd March 1941 and from Mt. Pleasant, Utah. It was still 65% men from in and around Mt. Pleasant on 8th December.
I don’t know how good an Army unit had to be to be sent to the Philippines fall of 1941. But I’ve always thought being selected to go 6 months after going on active duty was commendable recognition. However, after passing the GHQ tests and being selected, all our over age-in-grade officers were reassigned, one of whom was my father, Major Lee R. Christensen. We lost the officers’ who made us good.
The officers we lost went on to lead service units overseas. The Battalion, at the 204th, regrouped, lost many men to other services, OCS, Air Force, and Cadres but earned 5 battle stars in the ETO. (European Theatre of Operation.) By then they had modern equipment; radios, jeeps, machine guns and a 155 howitzer that was not a rusting relic of WWl.
Monday, May 11, 1942
They’ve gone and done it. The worse has come. We now inspect the trucks be the numbers. They’re (Duffin) is working on a method of removing dust from the howitzers by the numbers. God be good to those that cannot count.
The 2nd BN 204 F.A. found this dust haven in the hills today. After they reach a toughened state we’ll both go to Tennessee.
Sunday, May 17, 1942
Tuesday was to be a “gold bricks” holiday. Yes, I was going to relax and loaf cause it was moving day. I didn’t rush my bed to the new area and then., sweet dreams. That’s what I thought. It’s true I hurried my bed roll to the new dust bowl and just as soon lost it till late at night. The second section was assigned to constructing the fire pit and soakage sump. (where the men threw wet garbage and then threw dirt on it) The day was back breaking and hand callousing. Hell, the digging was tough.
Still in a digging mood we dug fox holes many and deep Wednesday. Leo Truscott sunk one into the ground four feet deep and five feet long. It would have taken a direct hit to neutralize him.
Thursday the week begins. I was called to appear before another Officers Candidate board. Waved my dusty hand at Camp Dust and was toward Naches pass by 10 am. Was calling Ft. Lewis home at 3 pm. “My Favorite Blonde” kept me entertained during the evening.
Some chain smoked. A few paced the floor. I chewed gum. All wondered. A couple crammed. Most thought it too late. Everyone hoped. That was the lobby scene of the exam room. It was our day. Opportunity was at our door.
“Sgt. Christensen A Btry 204 F.A. sir.”
“Be seated Sgt. and make yourself comfortable.”
For the next 15 minutes’ questions on gunnery, ballistics, history and current events were shot my way. Some I answered, some I didn’t. I think I got an average score. Average isn’t good enough.
Chris Madsen and I did the thumbing, Loyd Adams the talking. Result-- Seattle and the Ice Follies. The Follies are skaters ahead of anything I’ve seen in the entertainment field. Handball court No 2 Y.M.C.A. listened to my snores. *(we slept at the Y.M.C.A.)
McCord Field was visited by the three A Btry thumbers Saturday. Purpose was to investigate why Chris hadn’t been called to the air corps. Found nothing.
It was “thumb up” again to Yakima via Seattle, Washington Lake Bridge and Ellensburg.
Lloyd and I accepted Vernal Christensen’s hospitality and bedded down in Rex Hafen’s hotel room in Yakima. Early Sunday morning we were rolled out and made to sleep on the floor.
Now its home again. Home again for a long stay.
Monday, May 18, 1942
The first BN. 204th F.A. got extra duty tonight. Each and every one of us was marched over to our old camp site and made to police it up. The band played jolly airs while we crawled along looking for trash. Kennedy did a hot jitterbug number that kept us from breaking into tears. Duffin is sort of tough on us.
Wednesday, May 27, 1942
Sunlight minutes crawled hurriedly into Past canyon. The black hours follow closely. Time fly’s to my liking.
Rattlesnakes have supplanted apple blossoms in Yakima valley. It’s a disappointing day if we don’t get five of the buzzing terrifiers. Nearly everyone can tell if a close strike, fortunately none have yet been better. The rattlers are not very large here and don’t give much warning. The rattles are retained and worn on the hat of the exterminator.
The second section was slightly reorganized Monday. Cpt. John Seely was shifted to the Signal detail while Cpl. Willis Madsen was assigned to the second gun crew.
Del Ray Sorensen has gone home on emergency furlough. Ralph Hill is pushing Prime Mover over hill and dale.
I seem to have Roy Smitier fixed. We bet on the Nova-Savold fight with my choice winning. This makes about the fourth time I’ve collected money from him on bets.
The rains have been present lately. They keep the dust settled adding a smile to the day.
I’m lonesome tonight—couldn’t get a newspaper.
Sunday, May 31, 1942
I was painting the worn places on Helens dress when the hint was first dropped. Captain Hatch strolled by and said, “Do a good job your going to be here only twenty more days.” I didn’t know what he meant tell later Friday evening.
The order read “Sgt. Lee R. Christensen Jr. has been accepted as a candidate for Officers School and he will report to Fort Sill, Oklahoma on or before June 23, 1942.” I had made one bar now to earn the other one. Work, fight, work, you will not fail.
The Japs continue to scare someone. Yesterday being a holiday no passes were issued. It seems that the Japs are going to attack only on holidays.
Tuesday, June 2, 1942
“Payday! Payday! What ya gona do with a drunken soldier “payday! Payday!” That was yesterday.
“What ya gonna to do with a killing headache day after! Day after!” That’s today.
Went into town last tonight to get John’s quart. Saw a show and helped Tiger back to camp.
Went into town today “goldbricking.” (goofing off) Bought me some dark glasses.
Sunset time found me on hands and knees talking to the “bones.” I must have been convincing as I won fifteen dollars.
Friday, June 5, 1942
Just finished a tour of guard duty. Nothing got out of the rut. Mother’s package reached me in non-com meeting. Nothing to do but open it and pass it around. The men surely liked the cookies. Second section has eaten all the rice balls.
(soldier ready for guard duty)
Spirits get lower and lower as the days hotter and hotter. No one gives a good hoot in hell for anything. Everyone is trying to get transferred. Duffin the man breaker. To hell with Duffin.
Monday, June 8, 1942
“Order Arms.” Shovels and picks were dropped to order arms in a very military manner. At that moment Co. Ward ordered Newel Nelson back to the Bty straight for his shovel. For once a noncom had soldiered too well with his men. Newel spent Sunday digging ditches.
Our fat covered muscles are being pounded into shape by the obstacle course. We run around it at a good lope four times a day. Look out 4 minute mile.
The O.C.S. men are starting to brush up on our work. A good thing. Just as well know all we can.
The sweet refrain of cowboy ballads is filling my wigwam. Tonight the mandolin and guitar players of the BTRY. are here playing. I prefer this music to any symphony outfit.
Saturday, June 13, 1942
I’m off. It’s been a man eating week but I made it. The airplane motors are humming, each turn of the prop taking me farther south. The pines, swamps and lakes of Washington are stretched and hollow. Rivers wind and twist still smiling in the otherwise black world.
I thumbed from Yakima Thursday a day ahead of the outlet. Spent Friday meandering at the Fort trying to get things in order so as to leave. Saturday, today. I made it.
Leaves BN 204th (great outfit) for OCS—class 30.
BATTERY OF JUNE 1942
Richard Atkenson ILL.
George Feck ILL.
Leonard Flavin ILL.
Joseph Deak ILL.
Creed McCormick Tenn.
Charles Dunn Calf.
Ralph Hill Idaho
Arkly Bilby ILL.
Walter Goodwin Utah
Carlton Iverson Minn.
Samuel Jones Mo.
Walfred Juntunen Mich.
Donald Kragskow Neb.
Tomas Kent Ohio
Estil Kittinger Mo.
Robert N. Kilgour Calf.
Lawrence Kime Calf.
Oliver Laubacher Ohio
Russ E. Lloyd Calf.
Melvin E. Link Missouri
Louis Seal Calf.
Marrion Modzeldwski Mich.
John Morrison Calf.
John L. Milner Ga.
Wesley Mc Shan Texas
Roy B. Nieker Calif.
Ernest Noble Calif.
Thomas Schwenke Mont.
Clyde Tucker Tenn.
Johnnie Thomas Tenn.
Vernon True Calf.
Mike J. Viola Calf.
Hugh Wiseman Tenn.
Garvice Williams Texas
Earl Williams Texas
William Vesselius Wash.
Sam H. Whitman N.C.
Bascum Westmoreland Texas
Armond W. Cowles Ill.
Charles D. Cahill Mont.
George E. Coles Or.
Lawrence A. Cooney Calf.
Garner Jensen Utah
Heber Bagley Utah
Del Ray Sorenson Utah
Jim Cloward Utah
Hayes Draper Utah
Wilber Baxter Utah
Spencer Thompson Utah
Vernan Christensen Utah
Larmar Barney Utah
MT. PLEASANT MEN