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I was detailed with the Orderly Officer to make his last rounds and ensure lights were out. Being a troopship, all other ranks were billeted in hammocks several tiers deep, with little room to maneuver. We were crowded! The Orderly Officer and myself made our way down to the lower sleeping quarters. There was a really big game in progress. About six or eight soldiers were on their knees on a blanket. We could see money shoved between their legs; they were virtually sitting on little gold mines. Many of these men had never before in their lives seen so much money, and it was all U.S. dollars!
The Orderly Officer called out, "Everyone to your hammocks and lights out."
An immediate call from the man with the dice, "Just one more roll, Sir."
"O.K., just one more, that's all."
Those in the game covered the large amount of money, and when it was all "Faded," out came the dice. "It's a natural," Cried the shooter and grabbed all four corners of the blanket, and the money tumbled to the middle. His next call was for one of his buddies to empty his kitbag of all his equipment. Now, a soldier's kitbag holds a multitude of clothing, and this fellow stuffed that bag full of money. To ensure his new-found wealth was secure, the Orderly Officer escorted him to the Ship's Purser, to ensure safekeeping.
It was rumored that within two days that soldier was broke and the battalion's money was redistributed! That's how soldier's fortunes are made and lost. That old saying, "A fool and his gold are soon parted." The weather as far as Hawaii was terrific.
As we neared Hawaii we were given the highlight of the voyage thus far. Many soldiers aboard had never been to sea before, had never seen Hawaii. What a view as we rounded the point at Diamond's Head, slowly sailing passed the beaches of Waikiki, and finally docking at Pearl Harbour. In order to shift gears from sea legs to land legs, we were allowed a route march for a couple of hours around Pearl Harbour, then back on board ship. No chances to fool around in Hawaii! We were not allowed to venture into Waikiki, as the ship was scheduled to sail on as quickly as possible.
Our entertainment was not overlooked. As the evening sun was setting, a group of hula-hula dancers accompanied by a tall blond male playing a ukulele, set up a program on the wharf. The troops lined the railings of the J.P. Martinez and enjoyed the concert as it progressed into the night. The only personnel off the ship were the Provost Sergeant and his assistant, who guarded the gangplank. I have a testimonial picture taken by our unit photographer as a souvenir. A Patricia attempted to carry a hula dancer up the gangplank, but we detained him and his captive. A good publicity picture for yours truly.
I can still remember the beautiful view of Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach and Pearl Harbour in my mind. My advice to any traveller going to Hawaii, take a ship, you will remember the trip forever.
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Following a devastating storm in mid-Pacific, we finally docked in Yokohama, Japan, on December 14, 1950. The Patricias were spit and polished and as disciplined as any old British Guard regiments that I had witnessed during WW 11, in jolly old England.