September 1944

<AUGUST 1944   OCTOBER 1944> 

September 1, Friday  – We continue in the Russell Islands, stationed here like statues with no where to go.  They keep us busy chipping paint and rust off the ship and repainting.  Captain Thompson is from Hollywood and thinks our tin can is some kind of yacht.  He’s trying to make an impression on someone I guess.  Some of the guys have gotten sick, like Kissenger.  There is malaria here and I just hope I don’t get it.    Days seem to pass with barely anything to even write in the logs.  We use about 50 gallons of fuel a day running our generators and ventilators around the clock and we use about 175 gallons of fresh water every day.  The pay officer came aboard a 1:30 to pay everyone.  My basic pay is $60 and I get $6 more for being in a combat area.   There is no place to spend any money unless you are a gambler.  A lot of the guys gamble their money away in no time at all.  Within a few days someone will be after me for a loan, you can count on that.  What few card games I have been in I have won, however, because I only play aces, straights, and flushes.  Gambling doesn’t really interest me.  Generally I send the entire check home home to mother.  I tell her to pay my tithing and to use the rest as she sees fit.  Dad and mom are divorced and my paycheck helps to hold the farm together.  There is no safety net to take care of her.  She works for the school district as a cook. I miss her a lot.

September 2, Saturday – After morning colors we listed our ship to the port so we could get at some exhaust lines that need repair.  Sometimes the exhaust pipes will rot out and then exhaust fumes get into the engine room and the ship and foul the air pretty bad.  Several ships have come and gone but we remain here for some reason.  We can list, or tip the ship by shifting the fuel and water from one side of the ship to the other, thus exposing the exhaust pipes and allowing for repairs to be made.

September 3, Sunday – Welders came aboard today to do repairs.  All else was quiet.

September 4, Monday –  Dry provisions were brought on board and an outboard motor.

September 5, Tuesday – At 6:30 this morning we began taking on fresh water.  Our allotment was 3516 gallons.  I don’t know where they get the fresh water from.  We shower in salt water and we only use about 175 gallons a day for 24 of us who are on board at anyone time.

September 6, Wednesday – Nothing of note happened today.

September 7, Thursday – Peridodically scuba divers will come aboard to check our screws.  A lot of times as we approach the beaches the screws can be damaged by rocks and reefs.  Sometimes we have tangled the screw up with our anchor line.  If the screws become unbalanced, cracked or damaged in some way, they may fail when we are out to sea, which could be catestrophic.  Hence the need for the inspection.

A work party left the ship to go back to Tulagi on LCI(L)336 to get provisions and supplies.  They will be back tomorrow.

September 8, Friday – Plumbers came aboard ship today do some fitting.  Just after evening colors the work party returned from Tulagi. All hands were on deck to unload the supplies and provisions which took us about an hour.

September 9, Saturday  –  Today we had a captain’s inspection.  What happens when these Hollywood officers come on board, is that everything has to be ship shape.  Everything has to be polished, shined and ship-shape.  He would go from one end of the ship to the other accompanied by his assistant who took notes.  He goes into the crews quarters and sees how everyone is keeping their fart sacks.  I spent very little time in crews quarters because I was forced to pass most of my time in troop compartment with Cooper, the black steward’s mate.  There is a water tight hatch above the main deck that goes to the conning towner where I serve my duty.  I have to keep the pilot house clean.  I polish the brass constantly.  Its hard to keep the gleam on the brass in this salty sea conditions.  Under certain conditions, like combat or rough sea, we have to close the water-tight hatches leading to the conning tower to avoid taking on water.  One day I was on shore and got a bunch of bananas.  I hid the bananas on top of the hatch door at the top of the stairs leading to the conning tower where I spent most of my time.   Unfortunately for me the captain discovered the rotting fruit and he wanted to know who had put it there.  I got caught and was disciplined.

After the inspection we brought 1500 feet of  3 1/2  line and then moved the ship out to the sound where we moored to the dolphins.  A dolphin is like a long telephone pole that is jammed into the sand below where we tie off or moore our vessel to keep it from moving due to wind and wave. Mooring dolphins are single structures designed to take care of the tension on a mooring line. In most cases these are provided to take care of the longitudinal load due to slight surge of the vessel while moored.

September 10, Sunday – Nothing of note happened today.

September 11, Monday – Nothing of note happened today.

September 12, Tuesday – Nothing of note happened today.

September 13, 1944 – Wednesday. FLAG HOIST DRILL.  Today we held a flag-hoist drill.  A flag-hoist drill is an exercise in identifying and displaying various flags that have aphabetic meaning for the purpose of sending messages.  We refer to them like this: alpha, baker, charlie, dog etc.  Individual flags also have independent meaning as well.  For example, a baker flag raised to the mast means ‘DANGER’ and stay clear.  If had a spill or fire we might raise a baker flag. We also have a large round flag called an anchor ball approximately 2 feet in diameter that is made of canvass.  We raise it to the mast when we are at anchor so that other ships will know that the ship is anchored, has its anchor line out and can’t move.  The flags when displayed are called ‘bunting’

September 14, 1944 – Thursday.  After lunch today my friend, Kissenger, reported back aboard ship from the dispensary or medical infirmary today. He has been ill.  We came on board together back in May.  After he came aboard a working party brought other supplies up.  After that we moved away from the dolphins and out to Renard Sound where we let out 50 fathoms of anchor cable.  We did about 20 minutes more flag-hoist drills to round out the afternoon.  In the evening a liberty party went ashore.

September 15, 1944 – Friday.  We remained at anchor today in Renard Sound.  We drained and filled the life-raft water breakers.  In the afternoon we started dragging anchor so we got underway for a nearby fuel barge where we moored with our port side to her.  I wrote a letter home to mother today to tell my mother that I made the rank of quartermaster.  This new rank will really change the future for me while I am in the Navy.  I now get to read maps, stand watch in the conning tower, and help steer the ship.  I don’t know what I was thinking when I thought I wanted to be a machinist mate.  I guess we all want to do what we are naturally good at and I’m awful good with making things run.

Lettert home to Mother 9/15/1944 (click to read entire letter)

September 16, 1944 – Saturday.  We had another captain’s inspection and a fire drill today. Nothing else of note happened.

September 17, 1944 – Sunday.  We took on 5,187 gallons of fuel today.  Looks like we are finally getting ready to take this raft out to sea.

September 18, 1944 – Monday.  Nothing of note happened today except that we got some mail from home.  Mom asked if she could send me some candy or anything, but its useless to send stuff like that because the bugs just get to it.  What I really need is a dictionary and some tools to study with.  I’ve watched these officers and the fellows that get a little training out here and I’ve decided that when I get home I will go to college.  Thats the only wat to get ahead.  I wrote some letters home to tell my mother so.  I hope she won’t be disappointed that I’m not interested in running the farm any more.

Letter home to Mother dated 9/18/1944

 

September 19, 1944 – Tuesday.  We are still moored along side the fuel barge.  Divers came aboard again today to make more underwater inspections.  Late this evening we took on 4200 gallons of fresh water.  I wonder if tomorrow we will get out of here.

September 20, 1944 – Wednesday.  Having completed repairs to the ship we took it out for a very short test run today.  Supplies continue to arrive.

September 21, 1944 – Thursday.  Preparations continue.  More supplies were brought aboard.

September 22, 1944 – Friday.  BACK TO SEA AFTER 52 DAYS! At 7:20 this morning we finally got underway.  Using all eight engines we are heading out for Guadalcanal!  There we will pick up passengers, no doubt, and from then, who knows where we will go?  It took us about 4 hours to make the trip.  We anchored in 11 fathoms of water at Lunga Point.  A liberty party got to go ashore.  Lucky dogs!

September 23, 1944 – Saturday.

At 6:50 am we were off to Aola Bay about 40 miles east of Henderson Field.  They call this the weather side of the island and there are beautiful mountains that frame the scarred beaches that are beginning to heal along this coast. When we landed I found out we were picking up some unusual cargo – 152 natives to deliver to Green Island, a distance of nearly 600 miles Northwest of here!  This will be the furthest point West that I have ever been.  The natives of these Islands have been shuffled around and displaced by the fighting that has been going on.  Back in February the Allied forces evacuated these people from their tiny little island in order to spare them from getting hurt in the cross fire.  Hopefully we will help them get their lives back and that things won’t be too torn up for them at home.  In addition to the natives we also picked up some rations and by 3:30 pm we were retracting from the beach and headed back to Kukum beach where we anchored for the night.

September 24, 1944 – Sunday.  We were roused for reveille at 5:30 so that we could be on our way to Green Island by 6 am.  Once on course we cruised with 6 main engines, making good time for our destination.

September 25, 1944 – Monday.  We continued our course throughout the day.

Green Island lies 600 miles Northeast of Guadalcanal just 2 degrees South of the equater

September 26, 1944 – Tuesday.  At 11:25 this morning we arrived at Sau Island where we beached and unloaded the natives along with their gear.

Green Island

The Battle of the Green Islands was fought from January 29 to February 27, 1944, between Japan and Allied forces from the New Zealand 3rd Division and the United States (U.S.). The Green Islands, located between Bougainville and New Ireland. The Allied forces invaded several islands and recaptured them from heavily outnumbered Japanese forces.  Once secured, the Green Islands became a forward base for the U.S. South Pacific Combat Air Transport Command (SCAT), which supplied material and mail to combat soldiers and evacuated the wounded. It also became home toUnited States Marine Corps fighters and bombers which participated in the allied effort to isolate the Japanese bases on Rabaul and Kavieng. The base’s first commander was Lt. Richard M. Nixon, who later became President of the United States.

The bomber field on Green Island has a landing strip about 7,300 feet in length and a PT base was built there earlier this year as well.  The purpose of all this was to establish an Naval Advance Base for moving into New Ireland and New Britain. The did that last February then a couple of months ago, in June and July, a sea plane base and support facilities were established there.  Now that the island is secured, we can take the original inhabitants back.  Its amazing how small some of these islands are.  They actually measure the width of this island in yards, not miles.

With no time to waste, we beached at Green Island in the afternoon and loaded cargo, including 16 tons of bomb fuses.  Shortly after 2 pm we retracted and scampered out to rejoin our convoy.  We fell into column with LCIs 539, 336, 330, 327, and 332.  By 5pm we were underway heading almost due South, a course we maintained throughout the night.

September 27, 1944 – Wednesday.  At sunrise we changed course to 133• and maintained that heading until noon when we pulled out and left our convoy to head for the Treasury Islands.  We pulled into Blanche Harbor at 3:45 and dropped anchor to wait for a place at the dock.  When we finally got into the dock we quickly unloaded our bomb fuses and then hit the road again, heading out again to the East.

September 28, 1944 – Thursday.  We sailed through the night, continuing our Easterly course.  By 2pm we were in sight of Murray Island, just a few miles further to The Russell Islands. We made Renard Sound by 4pm and moored along side the fuel barge.  A liberty party went ashore for the evening. This has been a very interesting week.

September 29, 1944 – Friday.  We refueled today, taking on 7000 gallons of diesel.

September 30, 1944 – Saturday.  Early this morning we took the ship into Green Beach where we started to load troops for transport.  Thirty one men and one officer from the 431st Engineer DP TRK Company were taken aboard.  We pulled out at 8:30 and by mid afternoon we delivered them to Guadalcanal.  We came in at Lunga Point and then moved them to Koli Point where we beached and unloaded the men.  Another engineering group came aboard, taking their place. This time there were 171 troops and 3 officers.  We moved them back to Lunga Point where we anchored for the night.

 

<AUGUST 1944   OCTOBER 1944>