2486TH Q.M. TRUCK COMPANY
15TH AIR DEPOT GROUP, 5TH AIR FORCE
APO 922, BASE SECTION 2, TOWNSVILLE
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WWII
On 16 April 1942 an order was issued to form Det. Hq, and 2nd Plat, 819th QM Co. (Trk) at Duncan Field, Texas and for it to be attached to the 15th Air Depot Group.
It was formed from the 819th QM Co. (Trk), 13 Air Depot Group at Duncan Field which was split into two platoons on 7 May 1942, one of which became Det. Hq, and 2nd Plat, 819th QM Co. (Trk) attached to the 15th Air Depot Group. The other Platoon became the 1st Plat. Less Det. 2nd Plat. and HQ, 819th QM Co. (Trk).
Det. Hq, and 2nd Plat, 819th QM Co. (Trk) initially comprised 27 men under the command of Captain Harriman until 2 June 1942 when 2nd Lieutenant Joseph F. McWilliams took over as commanding officer. Williams was then replaced by 2nd Lieutenant Bixler on 6 June 1942 who was relieved of his command and Lt. J.F. McWilliams was reassigned as commanding officer on 11 June 1942. He was assisted by 1st Lieutenant J.H. Bennet.
The Company had a name change when it was redesignated to the 731st QM Platoon (Trk) (Sep) on 25 July 1942. A new General Order dated 12 January 1943 ordered the redesignation and re-organisation of the Platoon to the 2486th QM Trk Co. (Avn) or 2486th Quartermaster Truck Company (Aviation). Lt. J.F. McWilliams was still the commanding officer and he was assisted by 1st Lt. J.H. Bennett, 2nd Lt. D.A. Scruggs, 2nd Lt Dorman and 2nd Lt. G.M. Powell.
1st Lt. J.F. McWilliams was relieved as commanding officer on 1 February 1943 and 2nd Lt. E.J. Mantani took over. McWilliams was transferred to the 1963rd QM Trk. Co. (Avn), at Barksdale Field, Shreveport, Louisiana.
On 24 March 1943, 1st Lt. J.H. Bennet assumed command of the company and 2nd Lt. Mantani resumed his former duties as company officer. On 1 April 1943, 1st Lt. J.H. Bennett transferred to the 453rd QM Platoon at Kelly Field, Texas and 2nd Lt. E.J. Mantani reassumed command.
On 6 May 1943, the Company left Kelly Field by train for New York where they arrived at Camp Shanks at 0630 hours on 10 May 1943. They left Camp Shanks by train on 14 May 1943 with the 15th Air Depot Group and several other units. They boarded a ferry boat at Union City, New Jersey and sailed down the Hudson River and docked at Pier 13, Staten Island, New York. They then boarded U.S.A.T. Uraquay which left its berth at 0600 hours the following day. They sailed for Australia via the Panama Canal and arrived at Bora Bora a French possession on 4 June 1943. They left Bora Bora the following day.
They docked in Brisbane, Australia at 1800 hours on 14 June 1943. They disembarked at 0715 hours the next morning and they marched to Camp Doomben, a distance of 4 miles. They had a mail call and a brief rest at Camp Doomben and boarded a north bound train on the evening of 16 June 1943. On the 18 June 1943, they arrived at their destination Camp Mount Louisa near Garbutt Airfield in Townsvillein north Queensland.
They occupied existing tents and spent the next few weeks improving their camp area. Sixty men from the Company were selected to work on construction of the new Air Depot know as Depot #2 or the Townsville Air Depot. They laid concrete, built hangars, warehouses and various other installations.
The built maintenance and repair shops for their own motor pool, but did not have any of their own vehicles at that point in time. Their vehicles had been taken from them in Brisbane and shipped North to fill the demands of combat units. They finally managed to scrounge 15 vehicles and the rest of their quota had to be filled from old discarded trucks for a Quartermaster's "Grave Yard". After overhauling and reconditioning these vehicles they started their task of hauling supplies and personnel, both on and off the post.
They moved into newly completed barracks in November 1943.
Furloughs of seven days and travelling time had been initiated late in December 1943 allowing 5% of the Company to be on leave at one time. Locations for leave included Ingham, Sydney and Melbourne.
In 1944 they started to report the tonnage hauled as well as the mileage, hours and passengers on the trip tickets. This was introduced by Lt. E.J. Mantani who also improved the convoy system used in hauling depot personnel. Convoy Formation had initially been only used on leaving the depot. Mantani introduced a change that required for Convoy Formation to be also used on the return journey. This reduced the tendency for speeding and reckless driving with resultant savings on tyres and vehicle maintenance.
Lt D.A. Scruggs, the Maintenance Officer, organised a remodelling and addition of more structures to the repair and maintenance section of the Motor Pool in anticipation of the rainy season. The trucks and one ton trailers were all given a fresh coat of paint with S/Sgt R.G. McFarland and Tec. 4 F. M. Gulley doing most of the painting. The Parachute Section of the Depot did repair work on their tarpaulins and made canvas covers for the winch trucks.
S/Sgt L.B. Van obtained a ration of 30 blocks of ice daily for cooling drinking water throughout the post. A regular driver and assistant were assigned to distributing the ice to the areas of the Depot.
The water supply at the Depot dwindled rapidly in December 1943 and by January 1944 it had reached a critical stage. Drinking water was available but water for personal hygiene was embarrassingly in short supply. Lt. Mantani managed to procure two obsolete 550 gallon aircraft fuel tanks and Coprorals A.C. Lindsay and H.L. Buffum modified them for use as water tanks, using 1 ton trailers as carriers. They were refilled from a nearby river. When water supplies returned to normal after the rainy season, these tankers were used for washing vehicles.
Private L.E. Young was tried in a Summary Court and found guilty of illegal use of a government vehicle off the post. He was sentenced to confinement at hard labour for 30 days.
The Company installed a new roof on the Dispatcher's building during stoppages in the rain in February 1944. Its previous roof was a leaky tarpaulin. They also added another entrance to the Motor Pool on the opposite side of the Dispatcher's building thus reducing traffic congestion in and out of the area.
Lt. Col. J.D. Cape was in charge of adding Fire Fighting equipment to the Motor Pool in February 1944. Tec. 5 G.E. Martin was appointed to care for and service the Fire Fighting equipment on the post. Four men from the Company were assigned each night as an Alert Crew in case of a fire on the post. The four men initially slept at the Motor Pool but then they were allowed to park the Fire Engines in the barracks area so that they could still sleep in their barracks. During teh day, the Fire Trucks were stationed at the Motor Pool.
On 15 February 1944, Lt. E.J. Mantani was appointed Group Transportation Officer replacing Lt. L.A. Krauthoff who was sent North as a construction engineer. Lt. D.A. Scruggs was appointed Historical Officer on 19 February 1944.
On the 1 March 1944, Lt. D.A. Scruggs and Tec. 5 G.E. Martin accompanied a small party of men from the post, headed by Lt. Col. Denison to Innisfail north of Townsville. They went to search for the survivors, or any possible evidence of the wreckage of a B-24 Liberator. A freighter had picked up three bodies in the ocean near Innisfail, but the land searching party did not find anything. They returned to camp on 3 March 1944.
With the addition of the 43rd Service Squadron and the 93rd Repair Squadron to the 15th Air Depot Group, business was hot and heavy at the Motor Pool. Personnel from the two new units were assigned to the Motor Pool to meet the work load. The additional vehicles from the 43rd Service Squadron were a welcome arrival and lessened the load on the Company's vehicles. Men from the two new units also shared duties for the fire alert crews
The American-Australian Show known as the "50-50 Show" was held on the post and gave an excellent performance and was well received. It was followed a week later by an all depot show at Helton Hall. S/Sgt James Pallarino and Pfc Maxwell Kravitz form the Company had prominent roles in the presentation and performed very creditably.
During February 1944 the Company performed its regular duties of:-
1. Hauling rations for the 15th ADG Consolidated Mess from the 1158th QM Co. S.G. Avn
2. Supplies transportation for approximately 1,900 Officers and Enlisted Men of the 15th ADG and attached units
3. Hauling supplies for FASAC Depot No. 2
4. General Hauling for 5th AACS
The rainy weather finished by April 1944. Buildings and tents that had suffered from the winds and rains were repaired by Sgt. A.J. Sungaila and Cpl. A.C. Lindsay. Trucks and other vehicles that needed touching up after the wet weather were painted and the bows and tarpaulins were taken off and stored away.
The Second Platoon NCO's, S/SGt R.G. McFarland, Sgt. A.J. Sungaila and Cpl's A.C. Lindsay and H.L. Buffum gave a party on the beach for the men of the 2nd Platoon in appreciation of their fine cooperation, and good work. Refreshments included 27 gallons of beer, 25 pounds of pork chops, french fries, cheese and buns. Guest included Lt. J.W. Ward, Lt. E.J. Mantani, Lt. G.M. Powell, Lt. D.A. Scruggs, S/Sgt. Morawski, S/Sgt. Mills, Cpl, Spencer, Tec 5 Hayes and S/Sgt Van who contributed a box of cigars and two cartons of cigarettes to the party.
With the consolidation of all vehicles within the 15th ADG, the Company was then under the direct supervision of Lt. D.A. Scruggs and the Company's Motor Sergeant, S/Sgt. J.T. Mills, performing the maintenance of all medium cargo vehicles and servicing the Group's lighter motor vehicles.
In May 1944 Lt. E.J. Mantani arranged for the Group Ordnance Officer, Lt. D.C. Clouse and two of his NCO's to teach the Company the fundamentals of the fire and maintenance of the .50 caliber HB, Flexible Machine Gun. The course was divided into three lessons with each lesson being given one hour a night for five nights. The lessons were (1) Nomenclature and operation; (2) Field stripping and assembly; (3) Stoppages and malfunctions.
Each man had the opportunity to field-strip and assemble the Machine Gun before the course was completed. The invaluable technical knowledge imparted by Lt. Clouse and his men was received with keen interest and appreciation as very few of the men had ever had the opportunity of working on a .50 Cal. Machine Gun.
For some unknown reason, on 8 May 1944 their APO Number was changed from APO 922 to APO 710 and then back to APO 922 on 15 May 1944.
The first part of June 1944 was spent in small improvements in the Motor Pool, such as a new drainage ditch in the back of their steam rack, fencing in the back of the area to keep livestock out, building some new racks for oil and kerosene drums and general sprucing up by painting the fixtures around the maintenance structures. They also cleaned their barracks. All the beds, clothing and equipment were moved out and both barracks were rinsed out thoroughly by using one of the Motor Pool's fire trucks. The floors were then scrubbed with a solution of lye and antiseptic solution and well rinsed again. It was the first real cleaning that the barracks were subjected to since they had moved into them.
The Company held its anniversary party on 15 June 1944. It was a gala occasion. The Day Room was bedecked with gay crepe streamers, giving it a true Mardi Gras atmosphere. An eight foot bar trimmed with split bamboo was built in one corner of the room by Sgt. A.J. Sungaila and Tec. 5 W.D. Saylor to facilitate dispensing the liquor which consisted of beer and "Tom Collins". Grilled steaks, cheese and buns completed the refreshments. A pleasant surprise was provided by Sgt. Sungaila and S/Sgt. Van when they bought in a huge, beautifully decorated birthday cake. The rumoured dancing girls never materialised, but the burlesque gyrations and songs of Captain Schulter C. Morgan far outshone any of Minsky's terpsichorean performers. The highlight of the evening was provided by Pfc D.A. Moody who, after getting the floor and attention of all the party, which included Lt. Col. H.C. Denison and Lt. Col. J.D. Cape, our guests of honour, toasted, "To the best damn Colonel on the post and in the whole damn Air Force ------- Colonel Bertrandias!!!!!" S/Sgt. J. Pallarino and Captain Morgan sang some duets and then led the party in community singing. A good time was held by all.
The remainder of the month of June 1944 was devoted to routine daily duties.
The month of July 1944 brought a few changes and a record number of Courts- martials. Aside from these few incidents the month was one of routine daily work.
The month of August 1944 brought a few changes and promotions in the Company. Cpl's Peter J. Coviello and Gus A. Despotakis attended a Chemical Warfare School located on the Depot for a period of one week.
Tec 5's Willie M. Turner and John Starzetski, Pfc. Ernest E. Stevenson and Pvt. Thomas A. Morawski added a new page in the hauling activities for the Company in August 1944 by driving to Ingham and bringing back sixteen wild horses for a planned GI Rodeo. Special sideboards were built for the trucks to keep the horses from jumping out. The trip was made without incident or injury to the horses, which shows the versatility and skill of the drivers.
In August 1944 Cpl's Lawrence Marotta and Gus A. Despotakis with a small detail of drivers again demonstrated the versatility of the Company when they moved two wooden buildings 20 feet by 50 feet a distance of approximately 2 1/2 miles and placed them on foundations built in advance and are now remodelling the buildings for use as an Officers Mess Hall.
In August 1944, Pfc. Robert E. Rose with the assistance of Tec. 5 Leroy Bowling constructed a horizontal exercise bar, a large and small size punching bag, arm and chest exercisers and a horseshow pitching course. They were all located between the volley ball court and the Day Room. S/Sgt. Leonard B. Van and Sgt. Anton J. Sungaila packed and stored in teh group warehouse, supplies and equipment not being used at that time, in anticipation of an early change of station.
On 1 September 1944, the Company Strength in the Morning Report was 98 Enlisted Men and 3 Officers. On 5 September 1944, Sgt. A.J. Sungaila, assisted by Pfc. F.J. Korbel and Cpl. G.A. Despotakis, assisted by Cpl. E.J. Nichols, gave a lecture and demonstration to the Company on the care and proper usage of the new gas mask that had been issued.
Sgt. H.G. Best and Cpl. G.A. Despotakis added to the comfort and beauty of the Day Room by installing three coloured parachutes. Pvt's W.D. Byrom and J.A. Kortlang imparted a final touch of festive aura by painting the furniture and fixtures in various resplendent colours.
The Maintenance Section of the Motor Pool was bolstered by the addition of another large air compressor, so the Maintenance Officer, Lt. D.A. Scruggs, had the old compressor set up by the fuel trucks, enabling vehicles to be serviced with petrol and air at the one stop, and the new compressor was put to use in the Maintenance buildings.
Towards the end of September 1944, the Supply Sergeant, L.B. Van, arranged with Lt. E.J. Mantani to have a detail of men sent daily to the 15th ADG storage warehouse at Camp Stuart, to build boxes and crates for Company equipment and property not prepared for shipping, as "red hot" rumours indicated their change of station would take place shortly. Sgt. A.J. Sungaila was put in charge of the detail and he selected Cpl. W.D. Saylor, Tec. 5 Leroy Bowling, Pfc's R.E. Ross and F.J. Korbel, and Pvt. C.D. Schwartz to assist him.
The 1 October 1944 Morning Report Strength for the Company was 99 Enlisted Men and 3 Officers. The Company was issued with forty new air-borne 6x6 SWB GMC's, six new Weapons Carriers and two new Dump Trucks in September 1944. All of the new trucks had to be thoroughly checked and prepared for overseas shipment. The old vehicles with the exception of the wrecker and four GMC's, which they kept in lieu of new vehicles due to them, had to be checked and turned over to Depot Ordnance.
S/Sgt. L.B. Van started packing the rest of the Company property. This was facilitated by the fact that he already had a crew at the warehouse building boxes and all that was necessary was to haul out the property, pack it, and identify the boxes. Having anticipated their moving orders, their shipping was ready days ahead of the deadline set by Lt. Col. H.C. Denison. They also managed to pack some extra supplies, such as pipe, water tank, lumber, nails and bolts, that they thought they might need at their new station.
Pfc Lawrence E. Moore, Jr. (A.S.N. 33393773) was a truck driver in the 2486th Quartermaster Truck Company, Aviation attached to the 15th Air Depot Group of the 5th Air Force.
Pfc Lawrence E. Moore, Jr. was also the Company Barber. Lawrence's son, Terry L. Moore, has a photo of his father cutting hair and also has a copy of the form used to turn in the money collected in the barber shop. Terry also has his original father's Motor Vehicle Operator's Permit.
Lawrence E. Moore passed away on 11 November 2007 on Veteran's Day.
Pfc Lawrence Moore, Jr. Company Barber at
at Depot No 2, near Mount Louisa, Townsville
via Terry L. Moore
Barber Shop Cash Sheet.
For the month of August 1944,
Pfc Lawrence E. Moore, Jr. performed 156 haircuts for Officers
and Enlisted Men in the unit collecting 3 Pounds 18 Shillings.
The Company stopped their regularly assigned Depot Work on 23 October 1944, and prepared diligently for their move, making final checks and last minute packing of property that they had been using in their final operations.
On 26 October 1944, they started loading the ill-fated S.S. Hobart Baker. They provided a Day Crew and a Night Crew to assist in the holds and on the dock. All the vehicles they were to take from the 15th ADG Motor Pool were driven to the docks and chains were mounted before they were loaded. It appeared to them that a beach landing was being planned for.
From the 26 October 1944, to the final day, confusion and excitement reigned at the docks but out of the chaos seemed to come a never ending line of supplies and equipment smoothly flowing into the holds. Quite a few of the large boxes and heavy equipment vehicles were stored on the deck and only a couple of boxes were left behind as the close of the loading. They were to follow later on another ship. The last couple of days of the month were spent in rechecking personal equipment and filling last minute shortages.
The 1 November 1944, Morning Report Strength for the Company was 99 Enlisted Men and 3 Officers. The Company left Camp Mt. Louisa by truck at 1600 hours on 2 November 1944 head for the Townsville wharves. The ship was loaded by 1800 hours and ready to go and at 1850 hours they left for an unknown destination.
The Company was located in No. 4 Hold but many of the men fixed sleeping quarters on the deck between the boxes, in vehicles and on top of equipment. They entered Milne Bay, New Guinea at 0930 hours on 5 November 1944 but kept sailing along the New Guinea coast and arrived at Finschafen at about 1530 hours on 6 November 1944. It rained all day and visibility was poor. They passed Wewak at approximately 1400 hours on 7 November 1944 and expected to reach Hollandia the next day.
They sailed in Humboldt Bay at 1000 hours on 8 November 1944. They stayed on the ship and at 1630 hours on 12 November 1944 they sailed out of the harbour and joined a convoy. On 18 November 1944 they entered a bay in the Philippine Island of Leyte. They started disembarking at 1335 hours on 19 November 1944 after an Air Alert at 1255 hours. They setup their new camp. They moved camp a few times whilst they were at Leyte.
History of the 2486th Quartermaster Truck Company, 15th Air Depot Group
I'd like to thank Terry L. Moore for his assistance with this web page.
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© Peter Dunn 2006
This page first produced 5 June 2009
This page last updated 10 January 2015