We crossed the Atlantic aboard the Military Sea Transport Service vessel, General William O. Darby, en route to Casablanca. After a brief tour of Casa, our next stop was Southampton where I received shore liberty. Well, I was a corporal along with being the assistant 1st Sergeant on board. It lent some privilege after all. We left port after some eight days and the last night in Southampton, the Brits showed my friends and me a good time at the Pub. Next stop was Bremerhaven.
That was interesting to say the least. Nobody knew what to do with me. Here I was a trained Electronics Countermeasures/Counter counter Measures Equipment Operator and there was none in the theatre. But as I had enlisted, the army could put me anywhere it wanted, as I was just a warm body. After a day or two of deliberation it was decided that I be sent to Berlin for an assignment with the Berlin Brigade. They were short on NCOs’ so the army said “tag, you’re it!”. Now the Commanding Officer of Headquarters Company Berlin Brigade was a Major. I reported in as directed. He had my file in front of him, not that it was all that thick, and “Hmm’d”. I was much puzzled but made no comment. Then enter my sergeant chevrons. He just said that I was to put them on and report back as he tried his NCOs’ before he promoted them. Well, being the stupid dumbjohn, I asked if the money went with them. Not a good question to ask of a Major. His response set me aback. “Corporal, there are two ranks that I have little use for, having held neither and that is corporal and 2nd lieutenant!!”. Again with the dumb question. “Sir, how did you manage to become a Major without having to become a 2nd lieutenant?”
“Soldier, I jumped out of an airplane over the island of Corregidor. I’m sure that you are familiar with its location. I went out of the door as a pfc and landed as a 1st lieutenant, company commander as all key echelon cadre had been killed on the way down!” Of course my response was, “Yes Sir!”. I did an about face and left his office.
The 1st sergeant had already opened my duffle bag and put a set of chevrons on my other jacket. He held it while I pulled of the other, helped me on with it, then shoved me back through the door to the Major’s office. I then reported, “Acting sergeant Kershaw reporting as ordered, Sir!”