Based on the letters of Earl Philip Reinhalter (1922-1953). Edited by his son, Earl Philip Reinhalter (1950-).

<- PREVIOUS LETTER June 28, 1943
Brisbane, Australia

June 28, 1943
Hello Ma:
      Today I received a postcard dated May 14th and a letter dated May 30th from you. Also, a letter from Fred Roussey. This is the first overseas mail that I got so far. Well, we got paid in Australian money this month. Incidentally, your allotment will begin next payday. Well, guess what? I am sticking strictly to form and believe it or not have moved again to a new field. Yes, all of the mechanics and one lieutenant in charge have been put on detached service. That is, we are temporarily loaned out to another squadron. The new field is about 40 miles from the other. I am now working on U.S. bombers and some pursuit planes of the Jap fighting types. The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and the Women's Australian Air Force (WAAF) squadrons are based here. There are plenty English airplanes here, too. Since I have been at this new field, I have been going to bed rather early. In fact, a couple of nights I went to bed at 6:30 P.M., but mostly at about 7:30 P.M. When the time comes to quit work for the day, most of us feel too tired to go to the town which is close to us. Tomorrow night, I am going horseback riding, and Sunday night, I am going in to take a look at this new town - if I am not too tired. They say that there is a roller skating rink here. [See photo below. - Ed.] Well, so much for this new base and now about the other field at which I was stationed for a week or so -

      After I was there for a few days, all of the mechanics received wool sweaters, a heavy sheep-lined flying jacket (I use it for a pillow at night), and a tool box including about 20 or 30 dollars worth of aircraft tools. So, now at last, each mechanic has his own tools to work with, which is as it should be.

      While I was at the other field, I had a rather exciting experience. Three crews were selected, one of which I was a member, to remove from packing crates and to assemble small light airplanes. These were to be used for liaison work by the flying officers; that is, just for transportation to and from nearby fields. Well, after working a few days, we (there were four of us in my crew) got our airplane together all except adding hydraulic brake fluid. We reached this point of the assembling in the evening at about quitting time. So, we put blocks in front of the wheels and ran up the engine. The next day (we had planned) the airplane would be inspected and, if accepted, would be test flown. But that same night, all of the mechanics of my squadron, me included, were ordered to pack up and be ready to move the next day to a new field (the field where I am now). This meant that we would not go to work on the line that next day. But I was determined to go over and finish up on that airplane. So, that night, I packed up in order that I would not have to do it in the morning. Consequently, that morning when I was supposed to be packing, I was on the line.

      I took another private along to help me finish up the work. But we got over there too late in order to have time before having to leave to do the job. So, we just pushed the airplane out of the hangar onto the field. After putting blocks in front of the wheels and showing the other private how to work the throttle, switch, and primer; I proceeded to spin the propeller by hand. After a few turns, the engine started and then I got back inside of the plane. I was in the front seat and the other boy in the back. Well, after a while the engine warmed up so I got out again and removed the blocks in front of the wheels. I closed the door and window, after getting back in again. Well, then I proceeded to taxi the airplane all around the field. I could steer to some extent by using the tail wheel which is attached to foot pedals in the plane. As we did not add the required hydraulic fluid, we had no brakes. All went well until a wooden box (similar to an orange crate) appeared directly in our line of travel. I couldn't turn to the right because there were large airplane packing crates sitting there. I couldn't stop, as I had no brakes. Although there was deep mud to the left, I had to turn in that direction. This was a split-second decision. In my haste to "kick" the left pedal quickly, my hand hit the throttle and shoved it all the way forward into the "full on" position. The next thing I knew was that we were tearing down the field at about 30 or 40 miles per hour with the tail off of the ground and the front wheels touching the ground at intervals. They touched about every 15 feet. Well, I finally got the throttle back into "idle position" and the airplane once again settled back to the ground. These were the same conditions experienced in making a landing. It's a good thing that I knew something about flying because we could easily have "ground looped."

      Well, we came to rest in some deep mud. Then we rolled up our pants and got out. An emergency truck drove up and two boys helped us pull out. I was kind of surprised and began to wonder why these two boys kept saying "sir" in replying and addressing us. I was even more surprised when they began giving us directions in order to get our plane to the far end of the field. It was then that I realized that these two boys from the emergency crew thought that we, two privates, were officers and were trying to take off. Well, I didn't put the boys wise. It was after they had left that I realized just why they thought that we were officers. Do you remember me telling you about those new sheep-lined leather flying jackets which were given us? Well, we each had our jacket. I guess that is what baffled them. The plane now being out of the mud, I cautiously taxied back again to the hangar. Then we shut off the engine and pushed the plane again into the hangar. I told one of the lieutenants that the plane had been "ground tested" and was O.K. except for brake fluid. He seemed pleased, even though the plane was mud splattered. Later on, I found out that this little episode was witnessed by one of my own officers and about ten other boys from my squadron. So, you see, not only myself and the other private were surprised when the airplane began playing "leapfrog" around the field, but some spectators as well. Some of them wanted to know where I had learned to fly. Well, so much for that. I'll tell you something about Australia in my next letter. This letter was originally ten pages long, but the censors returned it for me to break down into two letters. So, you should get another letter along with this one.

      Well, that's all for this letter -


[Editor's note: Erased text under his name appears to say: “I hope that you can get the pages of this letter organized. I am not allowed to number them at the top like I used to do.” The pages were in fact numbered. So that rule was obviously rescinded.]

Victoria Bridge in Brisbane, Australia, 1943. According to his September 24, 1944 letter:
"If you will notice, you will see three little houses along the water edge next to the bridge. That basement
which is a floor of wood of these houses are all joined making the Brisbane Roller Rink."


The Kindle book includes the letters; all 23 issues of the unit’s wartime newsletter “The Squadron Pulse,” which was originally edited by Leonard Stringfield; all 12 issues of the “Pennant Parade” newsletter that Stringfield published while sailing home after the war; complete text of the U.S. government booklet “Pocket Guide to Australia,” which soldiers heading Down Under were given to read; more than 200 photos; pre-war and postwar family history; and over 700 explanatory endnotes.

High-Contrast View of Page 6 Erasure:

The erased text appears to say: “I hope that you can get the pages of this letter organized.
I am not allowed to number them at the top like I used to do.”
Obviously, this rule was rescinded.


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