War Stories

Fresh Meat

by Mel Oldham


Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 35th RCT was stationed at the south end of Vella LaVella on the opposite side of the island from the landing strip. The location was next to a small lagoon connected through an inlet to the ocean at one end and a fair sized fresh water stream flowing into the other end. By mid September 1943 most of the hostilities on the island were over and the location was probably as close to a tropical paradise as you could want.

Although things were quiet, patrols were sent out up stream and along the coast as a precaution. During one patrol along the stream a large Holstein bull was discovered hiding in a thicket. Since no one had had any fresh meat for weeks they thought here's our chance, and with permission from the CO they shot it.

Having little or no butchering experience or adequate tools they resorted to an axe from camp and hacked off some sizable chunks of beef for the cooks to cook as roast beef. The flavor was excellent if you chewed long enough, but the meat was so tough you could hardly stick a fork in the gravy. With no refrigeration the company had "fresh" meat for only a couple of meals.

The next day the CO sent the squad back to bury the remains of the carcass.

Mel Oldham,
HQ Company,
2nd Battalion, 35th RGT.