In the fall of 1943, I sent my mother a picture of myself-standing in front of my B-25 at Port Morseby's 17 Mile (Durand) Airdrome
Curiosity prompted me to make an immediate personal inspection and was surprised to note the skin had sunk down between them about 3/16 of an inch! Were everyones like that I wondered? As the ground crews got on the noon chow truck , I looked them over-everyones ribs showed! No wonder I had sub-consciousely though everyone's body was so ugly. We were on half rations, and without realizing it, we had gradually lost weight.
The next day I was in the orderly room. Captain Murphy, our squadron doctor was at adjutant Captain Carpenters desk. Scanning a ration report , he said "this can not possibly be our fair share. I am going to see the quartermaster tomorrow", and the Captain quickly volunteered, "I'll go with you".
"Oh boy" I thought, "at last we will get enough to eat" Alas, nothing happened. we were hungry and even dreamed of food-but now for the sequel.
"THE FAT CAT"
As I recall, we were on the island of Biak in the Dutch East Indies. Five of us were waiting on the taxi strip for the chow truck when Joe asked, "Whats for supper?" I said "steak" and Joe jerked his hat off, threw it on the griund in mock anger. "What again?" Another fat cat had come in loaded with fresh steak, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and several other vegtables. For four or five days we ate like kings.
How did this get started? One afternoon someone said the C.O. had remarked that if everyone would chip in ten pounds (Australian), he would strip down one of the B-25s and send it to Townsville, Australia where the crew could buy fresh meat and vegtables. I joined with the others in handing over ten pounds ($32 then-now over $250). All of the armament was stripped out of one of the planes. boards were placed across the bottom of the bamb bay. The bomb bay, and the crew heade south. They came back with the B-25 stuffed with food-front, back and bomb bay. It was lucious, but not unique-our sister squadrons were doing the same.
Why the name "Fat Cat"? The 822nd or 823rd had painted their plane with a cat dressed as a portly, elderly, prosperous looking business man leaning back comfortably in a swival chair-the name of our food planes seemed most appropriate.
One morning in Port Morseby, I walked into the mess hall for breakfast. There was a lucious steak dinner with tossed salad and all the trimmiings. An advanced ecelon was taking offthat morning for Dobodura to run air strikes against Rabaul, New Britain. The C.O. had said, "Those men will miss the steak for supper we're having for dinner. Serve it for breakfast"
Four or five more "Fat Cat" trips were made over the next six to eight months, but Biak was the last. When we moved to Morotai we were too far away and too busy running missions to spare the planes and crews for Fat Cats.
What happened to our ribs? They had disappeared and we were on full rations. But for those those Fat Cats-49 years later, they are still a pleasant memory!