The American Dentist at Bombay, India
Now we had to run the gauntlet from Ceylon all the way down the Indian Ocean and then on to Cape Town, South Africa. From Ceylon we went into Bombay, India. Dr. Callar and I left the ship together and saw a sign on a gorgeous building that said "American Dentist." He was a little perplexed and said, "Let's go see," and we both walked in and introduced ourselves. The so-called American dentist came out and he was a former Navy dental technician like myself. He said, "You've got to come here this evening.
"I've got a group of people coming and I'm having a dinner party." His building was four or more stories high and the top floor was all dining and formal living area. We agreed and came back and he had two maharajahs. And he had the highest clientele of Indian society there. We had Indian curry and rice and it was delectable. I'd never had anything like this before. They kept passing around a big flask, like a brandy flask. It was about 10 inches in diameter and it had a special beer in it. It kept going around the table all the time. You just took a swallow and passed it, and this kept going throughout the meal. The dentist had at least 14-16 servants and it was unreal. He had the best of everything. When he found out about me, he said, "When this war is over I want you to come back and I'll give you half my practice. You'll have no investment to make. It'll be yours. I'm a wealthy individual and it's been very good to me. To have someone to come in that I could talk to and that could help would be something I'd look forward to. When this war is over, you come back here and you'll have a Bombay practice with me."" We left and I've often wondered about that. I never did go back, but I have often thought what if?
We did leave Bombay after we got repairs of some sort on the bulkhead. They reinforced the side of the ship so they made it a little more seaworthy, and we finally made it down into Cape Town, South Africa. It seemed like it had taken us forever, and remember, all this time we were under censorship. I had no way of sending out letters. No one knew what was going on and my mother thought I was dead. I had a letter from Barbara's mother saying that she wanted me to write Barbara as she was having dreams about me and so forth. But I still couldn't write her because of censorship. In Cape Town the ship was further repaired and everyone was at wits end and anxious to get back. We finished our temporary repairs and finally were underway with no escort.
Back to the States
We made the long joumey from Cape Town and we went into Philadelphia. We ran aground in Philadelphia of all things. Finally tugs came out and got us off. We ended up
in the Philadelphia Navy Yard and got repairs. At that point I made my phone call to my mother. She was real pleased and said, "I've been expecting your cal1." I said, "I'll be coming home on leave pretty soon. I'm sure we'll be getting leave soon." We did, and I think it was two weeks. I came home for that time. This was quite an experience and I found out that Barbara had married. She married the pilot that had been teaching her. That was a real blow to me, and I'm sure it was to her too. She thought I was killed. It was a friendly conversation, but I was devastated. I got to see people at home. I returned back to the ship and now we were under a new endeavor. Before I left ship for leave, I was threatened with a court martial if I revealed any information about Task Force 14. I wanted to pay my respects to Paul Cronce's family, but I couldn't give them any facts regarding his death.