Combat Is The Mother of Necessity

A friend of ours, who?s with an infantry division on the northern end of the Western Front, wrote in here the other day to tell us where we could stick some of the “luxury items” we advertise. In our pigeonhole, he said. We are doing things in maintenance over here, he said, that would make the hair stand up on your head. Well okay, nothing wrong with that?-so long as he doesn?t do anything that?ll run him or anybody else any deeper into mechanical trouble. Everybody expects a man to use his noggin. The newspapers call it Yankee ingenuity.

The only kick we got is that he thinks combat maintenance would make the hair stand up on our heads. Why, about sixty or seventy percent of the stuff we print every month comes from the field. And we don?t know how many times GMC or Chrysler corporation have braked their assembly lines to a screaming halt because we got a letter from Pfc. Pontchartrain Schultz in New Guinea saying that such-and-such a bolt should better have more threads on it because the old one is stripping out.
We admire very much to hear such things. Take this morning?s mail, for instance: Here?s a letter from S/Sgt. Wayne Roberts in Naziland who?s got lots of tires with shrapnel and bullet holes in them, and a shortage of hot and cold patches. So what does he do? He gets some rubber insulating tape from the wire section. He puts a strip of the rubber tape under an old hot-patch tin which he has saved from way back when. Then he pours a little German artillery gunpower in the tin, lights it, and lets it do the job of heating the rubber on. Not as good as the good old Shaler hot patches, he admits, but better than tying up vehicles. Then there?s Captain William Leach in Italy who suffers from a lack of Jeep mufflers. Captain Leach manufactures replacement jeep mufflers out of used German 88mm shell cases, of which he reports there are aplenty, and they work fine. Lt. W. L. McCarty, in the South Pacific, works up 100-lb. practice bombs as jeep mufflers. “Smoky and Duke,” somewhere in the Pacific, can?t find any penetrating oil to ease up their sticking jeep brake and clutch-pedal bushings. But there?s always plenty of rifIe~bore cleaner around. They pump some in, let it stand for an hour or so, follow up with grease?and no more sticking bushings. From the four corners of this fighting world, wherever there are men with vehicles, we get letters showing foster, better, and substitute ways of doing things?all discovered under fire or damn close to fire. Sure, we often print “drug-store remedies,” or pipe-dream modifications requiring special parts and tools and equipment. But these are usually the “official” ways of fixing things that can?t be permanently fixed any other way. You can?t just keep on welding a bastard design over and over again. But we?d damn well rather print combat maintenance?nothing but combat maintenance?the maintenance that counts when the chips are down. You write it, we?ll print it. Hair stand upon our head, indeed! Besides, we ain?t got no hair. Billiard-bald. From Army Motors, February 1945