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.  However, he had made the unfortunate mistake of doing so right in front of Auntie Olga’s bedroom window.  That window was suddenly flung open and Auntie banished him from the Rincon, “to never come back!” (Malcolm enjoyed telling the story, imitating her high pitched voice.)

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 – jokes have been made about his typing skills.  There is no indication of where he went nor what he did after that.  We presume he returned to La California.

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.

Polo:  It is played in the cooler months, April through October.  We have a photo of Malcolm with Frankie Bell and Gerry Pryor taken at polo, and two others of Malcolm & Frankie as members of “Las Rosas Polo Club” teams – apparently at a tournament, we don't know where.  All these photos were almost certainly taken in 1940.  At that time, the club’s polo grounds were at estancia Las Taperitas, just north of the town of El Trebol (about 30km. north of Las Rosas).  Polo has been played in the region from Las Rosas to San Jorge since the 1890’s, with team names (in approx. date sequence): San Jorge, North Santa Fé, Las Rosas, & Los Laureles (then back to Las Rosas).

SS Uruguay: In late September, 1940, Malcolm was one of fifteen 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. [Royal Canadian Air Force (Volunteer Reserve)]

Malcolm’s Notebooks:

Cash Ledger

Missing image.

Libreta Cooper

Missing image.


Missing image.
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:



Missing image.

(Source: P. Benitz)

Letter from Ed Haywood
27 Oct. 1938 - Champaign, Illinois

Ed was a fraternity brother of Malcolm’s
at Phi Delta Theta.  He mentions:
Beardsley, Al Grossath, Ray Keil.

In the US, Malcolm was known as
Scrappy or Frank.


Argentine Military Service, 1939 (January 4 to March 31):



Missing image.

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


Missing image.

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


Polo, 1940:


Missing image.

Los 3 Amigos
Frank Bell - Malcolm - Gerry Pryor

Likely at estancia
“Las Taperitas” (see text above), 1940.
(See them as RCAF trainees)
(Source: James Bell)


Missing image.

Las Rosas Polo Club team - 1940
Malcolm Benitz
“Rujo” Southam
Roberto Astegiano
“Puró” Southam

The photo was taken at a tournament somewhere
for they are wearing the club’s colours:
(red) shirts with a badge of roses.
(Source: Christopher Le Bas)



Missing image.

Las Rosas Polo Club Teams - 1940
NN1 - Tom Willans - John Miles - NN2 -
Malcolm Benitz - Rujo Southam - Frank Bell - Puró Southam

The photo was taken at a tournament somewhere for
they are wearing the club’s colours:
(red) shirts with a badge of roses.
(Source: Christopher Le Bas from Eileen Frend/Bz photo album.)


© Peter Benitz (Benitz Family)