DREAM CRUISE: SOLDIERS TAKE A CRUISE WITH USO PERFORMERS

By Sgt. Georg Meyers

YANK Staff Correspondent

AN ENGLISH CHANNEL PORT—The troop transport tied up at the dock after nine days at sea, and none of the soldiers wanted to get off. There was no reason why they should. This voyage across the Atlantic was a GI’s dream cruise.



In the first place, there was shelf-space for several thousand troops in the ship’s hold, but there were only 303 soldiers aboard. Nobody had to climb into a bunk and curl up with his duffel bag, which was in itself something new.

The chow was good. There were the customary troughs of tallow and beans, slumgullion of lamb and breakfast eggs boiled to the point of unconditional surrender. But some rookie ship’s steward also sneaked in meals of turkey, chicken, roast beef and ice cream, and never once was the chow line so long that it had to form through the latrine.

Then there were the women.

They belonged to the casts of three USO troupes headed for the European Army camps: a streamlined version of Billy Rose’s Diamond Horsehoe, the comedy Kiss and Tell and the operetta Rosalinda. All of the women were nice numbers to look at. After land disappeared, they looked even better. Each carried a sweater as standard equipment.



uso

Bob Hope and Patty Thomas entertain troops during a USO performance

Also aboard were 28 Russians—all male—singers in one of the world’s most famous choral groups, the Don Cossacks Choir. They sang.

Almost every night there was a live show on deck. And every afternoon and every night the GIs and the girls got together for a jam and jitter session. The tallest girl was six or eight feet of blonde named Jo Ann Trebbe. Naturally her steady partner was T-4 Robert Diehl of Chambersburg, Pa. “Big Deal” towers five feet one in his combat boots.

There were a few dark moments in mid-passage. The troop commander got fretful and put the aft decks, where the girls lived, off limits. But the gals saved the day. They collared a lieutenant-colonel chaplain for a chaperone, to make it official, and marched up to the foredeck to join the GIs.

Looking back on the voyage, the doggies can’t get over the feeling that it was all some kind of mistake.

uso normandy

A USO troupe performs for GIs in Normandy, France



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