There are two things a sailor looks for in a tour of duty, chow and liberty. Unfortunately, for the first 3 months, Karouba had no liberty. It never had good chow.

In a way, the heavy work load was fortunate. It created good appetites. One needed it for the bland, repetitious menu.

Mornings we would get cereal with lumpy, chalky fasting powdered milk, or some tasteless powdered eggs. Once in a while there would be an orange or grapefruit, but most of the time just canned grapefruit juice, toast or bread and coffee. Noons we would have canned vegetables which all tasted the same, dehydrated potatoes, either Spam, Vienna sausage, corned beef hash or beef stew, bread and coffee. There was always that ever present GI can full of reconstituted lemonade at the entrance of the mess hall where the wind from off the compound covered the surface with particles. Nights we would usually get some of the noon leftovers with tomato sauce or some other deviation added, tea or lemonade and bread. Dysentery was a way of life.

Liberty came some time after Sicily. The powers that be decided we could have a day off every ten days. We had been allotted a German Opel 2-1/2 ton stake body truck from the booty of war. This was our transportation to Tunis, the only functioning town of any size in the vicinity.

m our dress whites we were quite a sharp looking Naval group as we sped along standing shoulder to shoulder in that stake body truck. Past the salt marshes around Fenyville we went to the fiercely contested hills around Mateur, to the flatland where the roadside was sprinkled with Maltese crosses and burned out tanks, across the Bailey bridge at Jedieda and finally past Carthage and into Tunis.

We would usually go along with one of the "guides" who met the truck or take a carriage to the center of town. Tunis like all cities in North Africa was divided into two parts, the European and Native (Casbah). The French section had elegant tree lined avenues bordered with fine shops, cinemas and restaurants much like any city on the continent. There was a Red Cross building where we could get coffee doughnuts and soda as well as check the register for hometown people. The Casbah was off limits to all servicemen, but most of us visited it at least once.

It seemed as if just as soon as things got rolling, it was time to go back to the truck. Coming back to the pickup point was quite a different looking group than that which left. The carriages of Tunis were not noted for their cleanliness, and the backs of many bore witness to that. Dust rose halfway to the knees. Many of Downey's boys had their share ofvin rouge. This product is not one of North Africa's finest. In addition to its foul taste, it turns everything it touches purple. With their lips, teeth and parts of their uniform stained purple, reeking of various perfumes, rumpled hair, lipstick marked collars, some with a watermelon under each arm and a wine bottle in their belt, the men dwindled back.

After counting heads, this noisy bunch started home. Glenn was just learning to drive but his inexperience just added to the excitement as we dodged potholes, donkey carts and Arabs. On the curve of almost every hill was a truck or car with its native driver out stoking the large boiler shaped charcoal gas generator which hung off the rear. These gasoline substitutes had a bad habit of failing at the slightest rise. With no hesitation Glenn swung around them and sped on.

It wasn't long before the yellow truck was recognized, and the same Arab who robbed the dead during the heat of battle, was running for cover when the Flotilla 10 liberty truck came careening down the road to Karouba. In addition to the threat of being run over was the danger of being brained by the various missiles emanating from it like empty bottles, watermelons etc. We roared along. Life was meant to be lived ... as long as you had it.


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