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Keeping Warm



How did most you you guys stay warm over there. I got to the 450th Gp in June 44. Thanks to some of the crews who were already there ahead of us they had constructed a "day room" from Tufa Block. I don't know if that's the correct spelling but that's the way it sounded. It was a soft rock which was volcano deposits which the "gooks" dug out about the size of cement blocks. (pardon the expression I know it's not politically correct but that's what we called them.) Where they got the wood for the roof, roofing etc. I have know idea but we all know young Americans are very resourceful. To heat this room some of the crew members had made a stove. It consisted of half of a 55 gallon drum with the lid welded in. They laid it on its side and made legs for it and used a 6 inch steel pipe for a chimney. We had a 55 gallon drum outside to hold 100 octane gasoline. A 1/4 inch copper pipe came through the wall with a valve just inside the wall to regulate the flow then we had a steel 1/4 inch pipe to go to the drum. The bottom of the drum contained sand and we would burn the fuel in the sand. At first they had a copper pipe from the valve to the drum but found out it got so hot it would melt the copper tubing. Boy could we get that baby hot . Sometimes the steel flue would be red hot 4 or 5 feet from the drum. Someone in authority decided that was to dangerous. We didn't consider it a tenth as dangerous as going to Ploesti or Vienna and having 500 88's shooting at us. Bu...uu...t they were in Authority and said they would have the Engineers build us a stove. After a few weeks they brought it to us with great pride. It consisted of a 55 gallon drum sitting on its end on short legs. They had a pot welded on the bottom about 8 inches in diameter with a bunch of 1 inch holes around the sides and they would run fuel oil into it and burn it. They had a 4 inch steel pipe through the roof for a flue. The first day it would work pretty good then each day got worse because it really wouldn't get hot enough to vaporize the fuel and the chimney wasn't big enough to draw enough air to get good combustion. After about a week the pipe was completely plugged with fine black....black soot. We must have been standing down on this particular day for weather because we had two big poker games going on. The darn stove started smoking out the bottom and I said I'll clean that damn chimney out. I went around the back of the barracks and got up on the roof with a tomato can full of rocks and a long piece of string. The tomato can just fit into the flue and I started to lower the can down the pipe to push the soot out . INGENIOUS HUH? How the hell did I know the string was going to break? The can full of rocks fell and hit the bottom of the drum but not before it acted like a plunger and forced all that soot out the holes in the bottom of the drum and all over the day room. Every one thought the stove blew up. They upset the tables getting out of there with money flying everywhere and when I looked down from the roof those flak happy guys were coming out of doors and every window in the room. I started laughing like hell. I couldn't understand it. Not a one of those guys thought it was funny. I hope they didn't mean all the names they were calling me. I was afraid to come down off the roof for at least an hour. We did get the stove fixed pretty good. We talked the Engineers into putting a 6 inch flue on it and that helped a lot.

Everett Frank - 721st Squadron




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