Al Paul Remembers

Al Paul Remembers

Albert PaulEditor’s Note
Albert Paul was the ubiquitous head of the 100th’s Post Exchange. No combat unit in the ETO’s Post Exchange ever approached the services offered by Paul. Only a few of his ventures and adventures would have received the stamp of approval of higher headquarters. This never affected Al, and he became one of the most loved personalities in the group. Some of his "Remembrances" may have been corrected to protect the "innocent."… pw

The Last Shall Be First
Another experience with the English Derby involved, innocent, naive Bob Rosenthal. At New Market, where the race was run, there were 29 horses in the big event and I suggested to Rosie that he could not pick the horse that would run last. After all, anyone can (though infrequently does) pick the winner. He accepted my offer graciously and I graciously gave him odds of 10 to 1, instead of the 50 to 1 he was entitled to. The sad, unforgettable result: his horse ran dead last. Shocking! I never bet Rosie again.

Who Set the Throne on Fire
Dave Lyster, 350th Commanding Officer, and Charlie (Hong Kong) Wilson, 350th pilot, were sometimes at odds. Lyster went to the john everyday at 1700 hours and invariably occupied the third throne (he was the King and it was his very own) from the entrance. At Charlie’s request, I supplied a case of (48 cans) lighter fluid which was poured on the concrete floor from our BOQ to the john and then encircled the throne several times. At 1702 Charlie dropped a match at the far end. It blazed its way to Lyster, who at 1702½ hours rushed into the BOQ, pants askew and mustache aquiver. He glared at all – some shaving, some sleeping – then pronounced a curse on the guilty, knowing it was Charlie. Charlie’s promotion, due about that time, did not come through for many months. Present were, Clouter, Tenken, McMahon, Seibert and the rest of the 350th ground officers, me included.
(Accompanying this data from Al was a diagram showing the connected path exactly 14 inches wide. This corroborating evidence, obviously, attest to the authenticity of this account – Ed.)

The Next One Has my Number
When the 100th flew to Russia on a shuttle-mission, Butch Rovegno was a passenger. The plane was hit by flak and one the pieces of flak that landed inside the plane had a number on it, let’s say it was 23457. Rovegno picked it, shook his head, and called to the pilot, "let’s get the hell out of here, the next one has my number on it." Believe it or not Revengo’s serial number was 23458.

Bourbon and Ice Cream
When Rosie got shot down and went of Russia, and returned to base, he was drinking with Colonel Jeff. Rosie mentioned that he could get a bottle of bourbon and called me. Naturally I donated a bottle my brother in the states had sent me concealed in a loaf of bread. At that time bourbon was selling in London at $50 a bottle and up. The second time Rosie got shot down he wound up in the hospital at Cambridge. (The editor, who went along, distinctly remembers it was Oxford.) Colonel Jeff accompanied by me and several others, flew down to say hello and I brought a five gallon can of ice cream which we had made on the base. (Al forgets to mention his thriving soda fountain on the base.) I had to fight off several other patients to even get it to Rosie. He accepted it calmly, almost as a right!

Damn the Torpedoes
After, Lt. Colonel Dungan (100th Ground Exec) was transferred to France, he came back for a visit. Then he loaded Ev Blakely and me in his C-47, cut phoney orders, and we were off to Gay Paree for a couple of days. We tried to use the Red Ball Highway (General Patton’s private road), and were bucked off several times by the MP’s. En-route we passed some signs – brand new – saying, "Cleared to the hedgerows," or words to that effect. As to exactly where we encountered these sights, time dims my memory. But, years later, while attending a meeting of the Parkville (Baltimore suburb) Kiwanis Club, I was telling Jim Smith, a fellow Kiwanian, about this trip. We pinpointed both the date and town, suddenly his face turned white! It seems that the sign crews were ahead of the Engineers who were removing the mines. Jim would know; he was the Engineering Officer in charge. We had barreled over a heavily mined road for miles. Interesting?
(Ed. As this account indicates, Al’s duties as Post Exchange Officer required extensive travel, frequently of a hazardous nature, throughout the United Kingdom and the Continent for purposes of inventory requisition and in-depth study of Post Exchange procedures,)

Don’t Salute Me – I’ll Salute You
I organized a softball league in the 350th with eight teams: Ordnance, Armament, Flying Officers, etc. I played on the non-flying team. To get a playing field we knocked down a bomb shelter, concerning which I took much abuse for Utley and Varian. For a grandstand I used 500 pound bomb boxes and for a backstop, the steel mesh that’s used for emergency landing. The winning team received a barrel of beer (British Imperial gallons.), the barrel weighed about 700 pounds. During the playoff I hit a double in the last inning to beat Armament. The losing pitcher, a Corporal, was furious and from that day on would not salute me, claiming – and he was right – that it was more luck than ability. I told him – I don’t remember his name now -- that in any other Air Force of Army he would be court-martialed. This fell on deaf ears and until our last day in England he refused to acknowledge my existence.

Inescapable Logic
"There’s a fire in Colonel Bouchard’s quarters!"
From his customary station at the Officer’s Club bar, Lt. Sangro, roused from his stupor, answering, "I am the fire-marshal. If there was a fire, I would be there." The building was totally destroyed.

What Jeep?
The English Derby .. wartime .. held at New Market, a short hop from Thorpe Abbotts. In support of this worthy tradition, I , along with several 350th officer, drove to New Market. As we were parking the jeep, an English M.P., major approached us shouting and screaming about using petrol on unofficial business and demanded our names, rank, and serial numbers. I claimed to be the senior officer present and declined to give the requested information, claiming it was classified. The M.P. Major took the jeep number and we went in and had a great time. Several months later a letter came from 8th Air Force to Ed Walton, the motor pool officer, and a friend and fellow-Baltimorean. At my suggestion Ed wrote back that no such vehicle was registered at our base. As happened so often, this simple statement closed the case and the 8th Air Force was not heard from again….Al Paul Remembers.

Chain-of Command
At the conclusion of a not-altogether-happy inspection of the 350th by General LeMay, Major Cleven having taken to the woods, Louis Hays careened into the squadron area with a weapons carrier, went into one the ever-present puddles, throwing up a wall of mud to within a foot of the General. In violation of regulations, there were at least a dozen Armorers clinging to the vehicle. With fine military and in keeping with the chain-of command and order went from General to acting CO to Exec to Adjutant and finally to the 1st Sgt: "Get that man."

Hazards of R & R
The editor was one of a group, including Al Paul, that flew to Belfast for a little informal R & R. Soon after dark, while some of us were sightseeing or pub-crawling. Al became acquainted with an Irish lass and the only place in which to be alone with her was one of those small, shallow opening between the brick row houses. It did not disturb Al that his feet protruded a few inches onto the sidewalk. An innocent bicyclist, flying blind in the blackout, ran over Al’s legs, inflicting painful, but superficial wounds. Al’s demands for a Purple Heart were, in the interest of propriety, declined…

At Any Price
And then there was the price war the year Chaplain Teska and the PX’s Al Paul BOTH had 3,000 Mother’s Day cards printed. There being only so many mothers, sales languished. During the final week, ONE of these fine officers was heard to remark, "The bastard is cutting prices!"