JACK HEYN IN THE SOUTH WEST PACIFIC
(MEMBER OF THE 3RD BOMB GROUP)
Before we get into Doba Dura I think I should back up a bit and add a little personal and human interest to this account of one insignificant G.I.'s 4 years in WW II. The old adage 'all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy' holds forth in war time as well as peace time. In Aust. there was the little town of Charters Towers. It had 2 theaters, several pubs (gin-mills in our vernacular) and a little bakery. Being 18 when we arrived and 19 when we left, I was not of drinking age, hence didn't patronize the pubs. Altho they didn't "card" American military personnel, and my buddy, Tack, only a year older than myself frequented them, I just hadn't got into drinking at this point in my life. I did, on occasion, get into town and take in a movie. The one that sticks out in my mind was a Lana Turner movie in which she sang "You stepped out of a dream". Can't remember the name of the movie, but to this day I love that song, and have it on one of my audio tapes. The theaters were strange ones, they had no roofs and canvas, camp-type chairs. In case of rain, which was a rarity in that part of the country, movies were cancelled.
Then there were other diversions. When I was still in Gp. Operations with Tack, there were Harleys assigned to the Hq. offices. Since we never pulled any nite time missions the airstrips were never in use. In the evenings Tack and I used to take the Harleys out on the strips and race up and down, to see how fast we could go. When we saw the M.P. jeep coming thru the woods, we would head back home. After I was transferred to the 13th "Moose" Owens (don't ask me his first name, never did know it) a bombardier and I became good friends. He was an old army man and old enough to be my Dad, I expect. He was a T/Sgt. and he would provide the transportation, I the camera and we would go exploring the country side. Found a beautiful spot where the Burdekin River had a weir (dam) across it. There were many times in the 3 years over there I wished I had color film, and that was one of them. B.&W. just didn't do it justice. Moose had brought along the utensils and did a little panning for gold -- no luck. C.T. in its early days had been a gold mining town. In fact the 3rd in its 10 months there filled 3 mine shafts with garbage. I know because I pulled the garbage detail once and when the truck backed up to that shaft, it was a long way down. There was a back road off the base into town that didn't have a guard post. We used to slip off that at nite, head into the aforementioned bakery and buy pastry and meat pies. Especially on nites when the mess hall left a lot to be desired.
Port Moresby had different diversions. The town had no theaters and no pubs and no civilians, to my knowledge, so there wasn't anything to go to town for. By this time we were provided with movies from Special Services, and maybe a couple nites a week we would have a movie. Good, bad or indifferent they were greatly appreciated. Life can get tedious under these circumstances. Also there were some local sites to be visited when one could scare up the transportation. Marvin and I made several excursions, two of which worthy of mention. The first was a native village about 40 miles up the coast north of Moresby. It was quite an adventure just getting to it, as it was the roughest road, I think, I had ever been on. But it was a rather neat and well kept village, and very interesting to us Yanks who had never seen anything like it. If you are reading this my photo album is probably in the vicinity and you will find photos of it in the album.
A native village we visited about 40 miles up
coast from Moresby. This was a very neat, clean looking village.
The other site seeing trip worth mentioning was Ruana Falls. It is along the Kokoda Trail about 30 miles inland from Moresby. It was at about this point that the Aussie 7th or 9th Div. (don't remember which) and the Am. 32nd & later 41st Divs. stopped the Japs in their overland drive on Moresby and drove them back across the Owen Stanley Mts. The Jap effort to take Moresby by sea had been thwarted in the Coral Sea Battle in early 1942. The falls were in the foot hills of the Owen Stanleys and tho we could get pretty close by jeep, we had to make the final trek on foot. There were 4 of us that day, and all of us lacking a bit in physical shape and stamina. Needless to say we took a break or two along the way. Once again the lack of color film was felt. From Am military personnel New Guinea didn't get much praise. It was hot, it was humid and it was malarial mosquito ridden. As seen thru the view-finder of a camera there was much natural beauty. Unfortunately one couldn't really get a good angle to photograph the falls. And having to work with B.&W. film we didn't really capture the beauty of the place. Had we had color film we could have done better.
Jack Heyn in the South West Pacific during WW2 - The Full story
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"Australia @ War" Research Products
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 1 January 2001
This page last updated 08 December 2017