Posted on December 16th, 2016 by:

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YANK Field Correspondent

WITH THE FIFTH ARMY IN ITALY—When it comes to making something take the place of something else—and in Italy that is often—men of the 34th (Red Bull) Division are experts.

Pfc. Michael Kochis, an infantryman, was faced with the problem of throwing a communications line across a swollen mountain stream. The stream was too wide for Kochis to peg the wire across by handpower. Kochis tied the wire to a rifle grenade, fixed the grenade pin so it would not explode and shot it across the stream.

34th infantry division

Insignia of the 34th Infantry Division

Cpl. Harold Winkleman of an artillery outfit had to do message-center work in a farmhouse ripped by shellfire. Winkleman could stand the rain dripping through on him only so long. Now he has festooned the message-center ceiling with shelter halves. It looks like an Arabian Nights dive, but it’s dry.

Another artilleryman, S/Sgt. Vernon McKnight, used ordinary white paper tags to identify his battalion telephone wires. Then the rains came and the tags fell to pieces. Unflurried, McKnight now tags his wires with metal cut-outs from old coffee tins and the rain does no harm.

Pfc. Alfred Seay worked with his father on a New Mexico ranch and never dreamed of using his harness-stitching abilities in the Army. Now in his spare time he makes watch bands, repairs shoe tops and turns out wallets with a selection of home-made awls and thread waxed with beeswax from Italian hives.

Sleeping bags are always a happy luxury, but Cpl. Alois Schreck has improved the original issie. Schreck’s special bag has legs cut in the bottom and slits for arm holes. When he gets a night call to work his telephone switch-board, he does it from bed.

The prize conversion, however, is that of Pvt. George F. Curth. Curth had no thought of becoming a doctor of any kind, but on the Fifth Army front he found himself acting as a midwife. When an Italian peasant woman was delivered of a baby near the battlefield, Curth helped officiate. His fee, happily contributed by the proud father of a boy, was a slug of seven-year-old whisky.

34th infantry division

Soldiers of the 34th Infantry Division move up in Pratella Italy, 1943.

For More on the 34th Infantry Division See:

Dogfaces Who Smiled Through Tears

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