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Everyone was anxious to get off the old J.P. Martinez after nineteen days and stretch their legs. The Commanding Officer gave orders for the battalion to take a route march. We were to march from the dock area into the city outskirts and return. Halfway there, the battalion halted. The company commanders fell out for an "O" group. After a quick discussion they decided to give the rank and file a half hour break, providing they gave their assurance that they would be ready to march back to the ship at the end of that time.
A big yell of assurance came from the men. The order came to fall out, and the battalion vanished.
Now one half hour is only thirty minutes, and those precious minutes ticked away pretty fast. When twenty-five minutes had passed, there was a sense of alarm amongst the officers. Where the hell was the battalion? Suddenly like rats returning to their dens, soldiers started appearing. As Provost Sergeant I couldn't believe my eyes; that fine looking battalion was one hell-of-a-sight. How could anyone, let alone a battalion, get drunk inside of half an hour?
About ninety percent returned on time and were dressed in good enough order to march back to the ship. The balance were brought back by the American Military Police, who were bringing them back by the jeep load. Everyone had to be searched before going aboard. I was the key man on the gangplank again, searching everyone for liquor. When I found bottles of liquor during the search, I had to break them against the side of the ship. Almost everyone had a mickey, about the size of a small perfume bottle, some had two. I'm sure we got most of the bottles before they got on board to create more havoc. By the time we were ready to ship out we were still two Patricias short.
Captain Karputz and his medical staff were busy in the mess hall with the usual "Inspection" line up. I heard questions like, "Did you or didn't you?" If they weren't sure what the answer was, they got the needle anyway! The J.P. Martinez sailed out of Yokohama with our full complement on board, less two, heading south to Kobe, then Sasebo. Wisdom from the Yokohama incident kept every one on board in Kobe and Sasebo. We did not need a recurrence of the Yokohama promise of good conduct in another port. But when you consider these troops were cooped up at least three hammocks deep on the J.P., lived through one hell of a Pacific storm, who in their right mind wouldn't take advantage of thirty minutes liberty? After all there was a war on and these Patricias were all young, red-blooded Canadians, ready and willing to do battle.
I had previously mentioned that we had retrieved all Patricias at Yokohama, except two. Approximately a month or so later, two soldiers in American uniforms appeared at the Patricias' line in Korea and were promptly placed under close arrest, as being Absent Without Official Leave. If my memory serves me right, one of these individuals became a constant visitor to my Crowbar Hotel, and it appeared he would rather do time than fight in the war. I finally devised a plan to change his mind, but I will make that another story of my memories with the Patricias.
William O. Larson is a veteran of the Second World War. He served with the Canadian Provost Corps in England and Continental Europe and remained in the Canadian Armed Forces upon return to Canada in 1946. In 1950 he went to Korea as Provost Sergeant assigned to 2 PPCLI. Bill and his wife, Esther live in Surrey, B.C.