Biography of Lester Hindle

S/Sgt, Chief Engineer, 349th Harbor Craft Co., USA

     Lester Hindle, born in 1911, joined the Army in Falls River, Massachussetts on August 2, 1943. His unit was the 349th Harbor Craft Company.  He was the member of a Tug crew, being a Staff Sargeant, Marine Engineer. He was chief engineer aboard a 120-foot, seagoing Army tugboat based in New Guinea during 1944 to 1945. Two of his crew mates were Anderson Johns, and Jewell Estes.

   They were stationed at one time in New Guinea. The men set out to New Guinea on a big ship "Japara", but another ship crashed into it...No one was killed. One of the men, James Paines, wrote a poem about this collision;

SAILOR'S GAMBLE

by James Paines

On the 25th of July

That's what it would have been at home

But we'd crossed the International Date Line

Destination unknown.

The time was close to midnight

Everything was going right

I'd just drawn a king hight club flush

In a poker game that night.

When we heard the Japaro's whistle

Then another, and another call

The call to general quarters

And we started one and all,.

It was a liberty we were meeting

Or some ship of the sort

And she made a starboard turn

When she should have made a port.

Then came the awful crash

About side ship it seemed

And everyone was startled

As though awakening from a dream.

The libert ship had rammed us

And or ship was sinking fast

We wondered if she's stay afloat

Or was this to be our last.

Every man was at his station

And everything was quiet

We were waiting for the order

To abandon ship that night

Most everyone was praying

Their sailor prayers were heard

Our Maker was there to guide us

For the order wasn't heard

Eighteen hundred men aboard

And we didn't lose a man

So you can bet your life

That our Savior was at hand

He must have been two Gods

To where we are today

We're safe and being repaired

And we'll soon be underway

Some say that life's a gamble

I'm inclined to believe they're right

For we played a lot of poker

With our lives at stake that night

I have played a lot of poker

On sea and on the land

And that's the only game I know

Where each man had a winning hand.

    As a result of his posting on this site and the efforts of his neighbor and a son of a fellow unit member named Franks, Mr. Hindle recently was able to receive a Meritorious Service Unit plaque, with ribbon and medal, which he should have received in 1946. The citation reads "Throughout the period 30 August 1944 to 11 July 1945, the 349th Transportation Corps Harbor Craft Company was in support of Base "G," United States Army services of Supply, as a port operating and maintenance unit. With the expansion of the port, this organization's functions developed into a major operation in handling a large variety of floating equipment in such volume as to overburden severely its strength and facilities. In order to keep their equipment in operation under all conditions, the personnel of this unit enthusiastically accepted and efficiently discharged responsibilities far beyond their expected performance of duty."

   He had some contact with the local natives during his service. The New Guinea chief was going to give him a thatched hut up on pilings over water if he would stay after the war was over.

  He was discharged on April 9, 1946 from Fort Devens, Massachussetts. He would love to hear from any men he served with.

----- sunshine@sunline.net

LINKS

Sailor's Gamble, James Paines, 349th Harbor Craft, USA

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