The farther forward you are in the field, the more uncomfortable you are, especially in mobile operations. The infantry get used to sleeping in trenches but given a few days in the same place, they create bunkers, which are improved day by day. Field hospitals, such as MASHs, located in the Corps administrative areas could make themselves and their patients reasonably comfortable. My circumstances with the MLBU were far better than the poor bloody infantry, but not necessarily lavish. As the lone officer, I often bunked with my senior NCOs in a squad tent, which served as an office, living quarters and mess. My sergeant major and the other NCOs tolerated me but valued their privacy when they could get it.
At one time, during the winter of 1951/52, I had an Arctic tent to myself. It had a little kerosene-fueled stove, which kept me warm at night. The tent was too small to use as an office, so I used it for sleeping only. at least I did until the night I was nearly asphyxiated. On a cold morning, I came slowly awake sensing that there was something wrong. Forcing my eyes open, I found the air filled with floating black specks, the result of improper kerosene combustion. Everything in the tent was contaminated with oily soot. I stood in the shower for a long time, trying to get clean, and coughed up black crap for a couple of days. That was the end of my adventure in that little home away from home.
Hal Murphy, a Provost Corps lieutenant, and friend from Vancouver, lived across the Imjin River from me at one point. Hal’s stove and tent were different from mine. His problem occurred when he got a new batman who was instructed to start the day by turning up the stove in Murphy’s tent to heat shaving water in a basin. During his first morning on the job, he filled the washbasin with water from a jerry can. The trouble was, the “water” came from the kerosene can. In addition, he also turned the stove up too high with the result that the tent roof caught fire. He took the pan of water off the stove and threw it on the flames. Not surprisingly a dandy fire ensued but fortunately no one lost their life, only their eyebrows.