F. Malcolm Benitz Page last modified:

Pre-WW2 in Argentina
Malcolm – Pepe
1938 – 1940

Malcolm returned to Argentina, from the US, at the end of September, 1938.  He most likely stayed home, at La California, for the rest of the year.

1939:  He did his obligatory Argentine military service January 4 to March 31 (3 months - the minimum), as a conscript in the Regimiento No. 3 de Infanteria “General Belgrano”, in Buenos Aires.  Per his notes in the Libreta Coopers (see below), during September and October he was monitoring the health of the livestock at La California.  He almost certainly spent Christmas of 1939 in the Córdoba hills.

It was probably that Christmas when he got into trouble with Auntie Olga.  He was with a group from El Rincón returning late one night from partying in La Cumbre.  It was raining hard and the Crúz Grande river was in flood, their car crossed the vado (ford) but another had stalled half-way across.  The water was rising so Malcolm and others went back on foot and managed to convince the passengers of that car to abandon it before the inevitable creciente (flash-flood) washed it and them away.  Later, after arriving back at the Rincon, Malcolm needed to relieve his bladder, which he did, from the front veranda aiming out into the rain.  A window was suddenly flung open behind him, and Auntie Olga angrily banished him from the Rincon, to never come back!  He had made the unfortunate mistake of relieving himself right in front of her bedroom. 

1940:  Per his Cash Ledger (see below), he attended a dance in Rosario over New Year.  On January 2nd he took the train to B.A., staying just one night at the Hotel City.  He then rented a room (breakfast included) at Esmeralda 1394, 6º Piso A., and joined the local YMCA.  His daily recurring expenses are fairly mundane: colectivo (bus), subway, trains, tram, ice-cream, meals, flicks, laundry, etc.  His larger expenses included: room & board, a trip to Uruguay, pen & ink (?), and sundry (?).  We presume he had a job because why else would he stay in B.A. during January and February, two of its hottest and most miserable months.  He did spend a long weekend in Uruguay (February 1 - 6), presumably in Punta del Este.  Names mentioned (with surnames added): Gertie Traill, Moyra Benitz, Frankie Bell, Gerry Pryor, Wyndham Lacey, & George (Daly or Cadmus).

The record of Malcolm’s expenses in B.A. ends abruptly on March 29 with no indication of where he went nor what he did after that.  We presume he returned to La California.  We have a photo of him with Frankie Bell and Gerry Pryor taken at polo in Las Rosas, SFé (see below) – polo was played in the cooler months, April through October.

During the last ten days of May, Malcolm partook in a duck-shoot in southeastern Córdoba, at Los Algarrobos and two other estancias along the Rio Saladillo.  According to an account of that duckshoot, he had already volunteered to join up.  According to a letter on August 20 from the British consulate in Rosario, he still needed to register with the British authorities in B.A.  In late September, he was one of a dozen or more volunteers who left B.A. aboard the SS Uruguay, bound for Canada.  The entire group enlisted in the RCAF(VR) in Ottowa on October 17th, 1940.

Malcolm’s Notebooks:

Cash Ledger

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Libreta Cooper

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Cash Ledger, 1937-1940 – US & Arg. (Source: P. Benitz)
Pages   5-23 & 186-188: Cash receipts & expenditures while at the University of Illinois (1937-1938).
Pages 24-41 & 179-185: Cash receipts & expenditures while in B.A. January - February, 1940.
Libreta Cooper, 1939 – La California (Source: P. Benitz)
Except for some notes at the beginning (2 remates / cattle auctions, fields of maize/corn sown, John Raymond’s mares served, & another list of mares), the notebook is filled with counts by field (P.# = Potrero.#) of cattle & pigs tested, vaccinated, or treated for tuberculosis (TB), brucelosis (Bangs), and scabies (sarna).
Broodmares, 1939 – La California (Source: P. Benitz)
4 lists of brood mares with dates when served and foals born.  At the other end of the botebook is a list of I.O.U.'s, and a count of the pigs in Potrero 19 & 19E.  Inserted is an invoice from Lacey & Sons (for a military saddle), another invoice, a livestock gestation calendar, and the livestock census of 1930.

Letters Received by Malcolm

Ed Haywood, 27 Oct. 1938; Chicago, IL.   (original & typed transcription)
Describes his, & other fraternity brothers, activities after leaving Illinois.  Asks about Malcolm’s trip by car to California & his carreer in the army (i.e. conscription).  Names mentioned: Beardsley, Al Grossath, Ray Keil.


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Certificado de Conducta – “Muy Buena”
Regimiento No. 3 de Infanteria
“General Belgrano”
4 de Enero al 31 de Marzo, 1939
(Source: P. Benitz)


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Libreta de Tiro
15 de Diciembre, 1939
(Source: P. Benitz)



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Los 3 Amigos
Frank Bell, Malcolm, Gerry Pryor

Las Rosas Polo Club, 1940
(See them as RCAF trainees)
(Source: James Bell)


© Peter Benitz (Benitz Family)