Friday, August 28, 2009

It's Hotter'n Hell at Andimeshk

It’s Hotter’n Hell at Andimeshk

By Sgt. Burtt Evans

YANK Staff Correspondent

Desert District, IranA GI died at Andimeshk post here and went to hell. "Where were you last stationed?"

asked the Devil.

"Andimeshk," replied the GI.

“Oh," said the Devil sympathetically. “In that case you'd better rush over to the supply sergeant and draw your woolen underwear and winter overcoat."

They don't publish the temperature at Andi­meshk, but estimates of the summer heat range from 130 to 180 degrees, with most of the soldier vote favoring the higher figure. Worst thing is that it's almost that hot at night, making it hard to sleep. An old-time GI resident of this desert hot box will pour a canteen of water onto his mattress, then lie down in it and try to get to sleep before the water evaporates.

KPs fhave four meals a day to deal with at Andimeshk — the usual three, plus cold fruit juices and snacks at 0930. This breaks up the work day, which runs from 0530 to 1300 for most of the men; it's murder to work in the afternoon.

Metal subjected to this red-hot sun has caused many a flesh burn. Your dog tags will sear your chest in the short walk from barracks to mess hall. Yet the men here do heavy work, packing supplies for Russia. Most of them, like T/Sgt. Jo­seph E. Dionne, S/Sgt. Milton Kaplan, T-4 Peter Farkas, T-4 Edward A. Marusa, Cpl. Edward G. Rice and Pfc. Carl C. Miller, are spending their second summer here.

The occasional breeze hits you like a blast from a steel furnace, and the heat plays strange tricks. Some types of soap just melt away, vaseline turns to liquid and shaving-cream crumbles.

Andimeshk is practically in the suburbs of Dizful, "the City of the Blind," hottest inhabited spot on earth. Dizful is one Believe-It-or-Not place that lives up to its billing.

To avoid the heat, the people of this ancient city long ago went underground. All the mysteri­ous functions of a Persian city are performed in a labyrinth of caves many feet below the earth's surface. The wealthier the people are, the deeper they can afford to dig, and there is a saying in Dizful that "the robes of the rich rest on Noah's waters." Many of the inhabitants never come up into the daylight. More than half are at least partially blind—some because of disease, some because of their long stay below the earth.

Other Army posts in the Persian desert are almost as hot as Andimeshk. As one GI put it: “To my mind, when it gets over l50 degrees it doesn't make much difference.”

And nature kicks up other annoyances form these camps. Ahwaz has almost daily duststorms and the American soldiers who unload supply ships at the important port of Khorramshahr often labor through sandstorms that blot out the sun. At Bandur Shapur it's the humidity and stench that get you.

The summer heat is even too much for the flies. When the troops first hit this waste area "the natives greeted them with these heartening words: “InJuly the flies die; in August Johnny dies." But thanks to sun helmets, salt tablets and numerous heat-stroke centers, the medics have kept heat casualties at a minimum.

Andimeshk must be unique in one respect. It is probably the only place in the world where the American soldier is denied his one inaliena­ble privilege—the right to sweat it out.

At Andimeshk perspiration dries as it leaves the pores—you can't sweat,

YANK 25 Aug 1944

1 comment:

  1. My father, Sgt. Emory Turner, served in the Persian Gulf Command during WWII and often talked about the City of the Blind. He said the flies were so bad they would lay their eggs in the eyes of the children and hatch, leaving them permanently blind. He also witnessed those soldiers whose flesh was burned clean off their arms when they were careless. No one came out during the day, and they could only travel at night after the sun went down.