758th RAILWAY SHOP BATTALION



Ex-CBI Roundup
December 1996 Issue

By Andy Brydon

When I read the account of the camp at Misamari, in the July (1986) Roundup, I felt that our camp paled in comparison. Other readers felt much different about their experience in Misamari. I would like to submit our camp at Dibrugarh, Assam, as an example of what could be accomplished with good ideas and hard work. We had the standard issue bashas and tents. In time tents were modified by building a bamboo frame, a British issue tent was suspended over our regular pyramid style tent thus providing an air space between the two units. The sides were screened to keep out unwanted insects. Bricks were laid to improve the floor. Three electric generators provided twenty four hour electricity.

Our unit operated the railroad shops. The men in Co. B rebuilt a surplus locomotive boiler. It was installed as a stationary unit to supply hot running water for showers and the mess halls. Used boiler tubing was salvaged and laid to transport the water. A well was dug to supply the water for the boiler and camp. A 24,000 gallon tank installed on a tower to provide a constant supply of water with pressure. Between boiler at the shop and camp there was a constant supply of klinkers, from burned coal, that could be spread on the roads and paths to give footing during the monsoon season.

With other salvaged materials our "Broadway Theater" was built that could seat several hundred men at a time. It provided protection from both sun and rain. Pat O'Brien and his group performed on our stage. A very enjoyable evening was had by all.

A separate basha was built and the interior was lined. It served as a chapel where religious services could be held.

The men in the shop made a mechanical potato peeler that could handle the peewee Indian potatoes! The men in our Saidpur unit fabricated a hand cranked ice cream freezer. When ice became available, in Dibrugarh, we in the motor pool made ice cream for ourselves. It wasn't large enough to supply the whole battalion. In the winter time, we would shiver like a dog with a peach seed but we would continue to eat all we had made!

Our camp was far from being the Waldorf Astoria but considering our Assam location, it was a pretty good camp.


CAMP AT DIBRUGARH looking north from the master tank. The cook house is the dark building at
center right. The mess halls are on each side. Photo by Andy Brydon.


ANOTHER VIEW OF THE AREA. Just behind the flagpole is the "Broadway Theatre"
put together with salvaged materials. Photo by Andy Brydon.


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