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Photos and stories about the Chinon Depot Storage Company.
Norm Thomas shares his experiences with us.
Whats a tank retriever doing in Chinon?
After a Saturday night party, around 11:30 PM, the MP's came through the barracks looking for: " SP3 Thomas"!
It seems, a 30 ton crawler crane was coming to the Combined Maintenance Division from La Rochelle, for repairs.
It was on a 25 ton lowboy trailer, being pulled by a this medium tank retriever tractor, escorted by four GI's in two
jeeps. They had been on the road for 3 days. Due to the size and weight they had to travel a round about route;.which,
added many miles. I averaged 156 miles with the Dodge, they had gone nearly twice that far!
This tractor has a straight 8 cyl. Packard engine and I guess you measured gas consumption in gallons /mile, rather
than miles /gallon! One jeep had been kept busy,just hauling gasoline.
Between Azay and the Depot, there are two hills and a deep valley. We called them, Agony and Misery, named after
the hills at Ft. Knox, Ky.! The convoy got down Misery and when starting up Agony, the clutch went out and they
were sitting helplessly in the middle of the road!
We had a Caterpiller DW20 tractor, used for pulling trailers around the depot, so I got a couple guys from the barracks and the MP's took us to the Labor & Equipment motor pool. This was a big rubber tired tractor used for earthmoving. It is equiped with a D8 dozer engine which uses an electric starter on a 2 cyl. pony engine, to crank the diesel. Luckily the lights worked. We picked up a 40 foot sling to use as a tow cable and drove down the highway about 2 1/2 miles. We doubled the sling, I taped the horn and tried to pull the whole rig, all I did was spin the wheels! When we checked, the driver was asleep. We woke him and this time he released the air brakes and we moved up the hill effortlessly.
I shifted up 4 speeds going up the hill!
The MP's had opened the gate, ( across from the old tent city area) we planned to get everything inside the depot and
call it quits for the night. Just as I was beginning to swing left for the right turn through the gate, the driver blew his horn and locked up the brakes. He had run out of gas and had no steering! Took another 1/2 hr. to go after more gas and travel the last 150 yards! and that's why this medium tank retriever is in Chinon, It was still there when I left France!
Chinon Enlisted Men's Club
By Norm Thomas
I hauled supplies and worked with C. C., EM Club manager, occasionally, when there was an opening for a bartender, I got the job starting July 17, 1955.
I had worked 15 days when C.C. went AWOL with a french girl, $800 and a car belonging to one of the guys in the barracks.
There were reports that he had been seen in Paris and in Tours, A couple guys reported that he had asked them for money! On the 3rd of November, the gendarmes observed him breaking into the trunk of a car in Tours, he was still driving the stolen car. 3 days later he was picked up
by the French police in Paris. When caught, he had some narcotics. He was turned over to the MP's and brought back to Chinon. Since it had been over 90 days, he was charged
On the 6th of Nov. 1st Sgt Rizzo told me the Captain wanted to see me. I knocked on his door and presented myself! He said "Thomas, your going to jail!" Then he laughed and said, "get ready to take C.C.to Laleu tomorrow!"
The next morning after getting the mail, and taking the morning report to Headquarters,
I gased up, Picked up our supply Sgt. as a guard. He had a carbine and I had a 45. (but, no ammo)
We picked up C.C. from the MP lock up and about 10:45 AM, headed for Laleu which is 156 miles southwest of Chinon, at La Rrochelle, on the Atlantic coast. We returned to Chinon the next day. When I got back, at 1:30 PM, I found that I had to go back down tomorrow to pick up a man that
I had taken down three months ago. He is to come back to go before a 368 board to determine if he is fit to stay in the army or be discharged! This all came up after I left Laleu, and they couldn't contact me to bring him on my return trip. Left at 4:30 AM to make the round trip in one day!
C.C. was court- martialed and given 5 years in a prison in Germany and a dishonorable discharge
Go to Norman Thomas Memories to see more photos.