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;
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
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.
Sailor's Gamble, James Paines, 349th Harbor Craft, USA
BACK TO JUSTIN ORAL HISTORY ARMY BIOGRAPHIES HISTORY PAGE
Please Share your Stories! E-mail the Curator to share or discuss or with any questions!
The URL of this page is
Copyright 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 John Justin