October 1944

October 1-4, 1944 – Sunday to Wednesday. FROM LUNGA POINT, GUADALCANAL TO RUSSELL ISLANDS.  After delivering the engineering troops to Lunga Point, we returned the next day to the Russell Islands where we took on supplies and provisions, awaiting our next assignment. Tuesday the paymaster came aboard and gave us our wages. Wednesday we moved out from the harbor into the beach where we took on fresh water, 4,444 gallons.

October 5, 1944 – Thursday – NEW EXECUTIVE OFFICER COME ABOARD. Today Ensign R.W. Corrigan (262 535 D-V(G)) was detached as Executive officer and we welcomed aboard Lt (gj) R. B. Cleland ((272615) D-V(S)).  Cleland is from Canyon Texas and has a great southern drawl. We changed the fresh water provisions in the life rafts and moved the ship to an anchorage in the harbor. Around midnight our ship made one complete turn around its anchor cable.

Robert Corrigian on the left here with unidentified man

Robert Corrigan in Jeep with Church in background on Guadalcanal

Robert Corrigan

October 6-10, 1944 – Friday to Tuesday.  Not much happened over the weekend. On Tuesday we performed some speed run-off drills from Blue Beach.  We anchored in Renard Sound for the night.

October 11, 1944 – Wednesday.  RUSSELL ISLANDS TO GUADALCANAL TO BOUGAINVILLE. At 4:30 am reveille roused us from a sweltering sleep in our bunks as we prepared the ship to head out for Guadalcanal.  We were underway  by about 6 am plying the waters Eastward.  By noon we were anchored in 10 fathoms of water off Lunga Point where about 2 years ago some 20,000 US troops landed when the invasion of this island began.

We took on a couple of hundred army “casuals” to deliver to Bougainville. At 4:00 pm we retracted and headed out to sea on a heading of 210•, a course we followed more or less through the night and well into the next day, arriving at Bougainville around 10 am.  We took on 142 army casuals, retracted from the beach and headed out to sea.

Admiral Yamamoto met his demise at Bougainville

This is a photo of me taken at Bougainville where Admiral Yamamoto was shot down with the planes that came out of Henderson Field.  I remember this picture very well.  There was gunfire on the shores as the photo was being taken.  I became a a very good signalman in the course of my time in the Navy.  When the shooting settled down, I went ashore.  I saw a group of wounded Japanese in a wire enclosure, being held like a bunk of animals.  I think the marines deliberately shot them in the arms and some in the legs to keep them from trying anything.  The pathetic soldiers were stripped down to their G strings.  The sight of it didn’t bother me at the time because these people were our enemies and they were trying to destroy us.  Later in life I came to feel differently about them.

This photo was taken of me in the Empress Agusta Bay March 1944. I sent to home to my mother in my letter dated 3/27/1945. It shows me at the signal light. As quartermaster I sent messages by Morse Code to other vessels.

Dale Kirkham - Signalman on LCI222, Bougainville

October 15, 1944 – Sunday.  COLLISION AT SEA WITH LCI549. As we were underway on our return to Guadalcanal, just past 12:30 am, a thunderous crash rocked our ship, pushing us with great force to one side, and scaring us all half to death.  We immediately assumed we had be hit by a torpedo or that perhaps an enemy shell had come out of nowhere and pierced our side.  The captain immediately took command and relieved the officer of the deck.  ICollision quarters were immediately sounded and all hands sprang to action furiously trying to assess exactly what had caused the crash.  All engines were immediately brought to a full stop. All eyes went towards the source of the impact.  To our amazement we discovered that we had been hit another ship, but not by the enemy.  Instead LCI(L)549 had veered off course due to a steering malfunction, circled around from a position ahead of us in the convoy and coming full circle collided with us mid ship on our port side, about 70 feet aft of the bow.  She left a gash in our side gaping three feet in width and two feet in height barely two feet above the waterline.  Establishing that the puncture would was not fatal, we took sounding and resumed course at 1/3 speed after 45 minutes.  Within an our we were full ahead two thirds as further soundings were taken to assure that no water was being taken on.  By 2:45 am we were full speed ahead and falling in again with our convoy.  The accident was a bit of a wakeup call that let me know that we are always vunarable and sometimes our own worst enemy is ourselves.  In spite of the gaping hole in our side we plied through the waters the rest of the day and disembarked our troops at about 12:30 the following day at Kukum beach.

Photo of LCI222 showing the damage sustained in the collision

LCI549 collided with LCI222

LCI549 collided with LCI222 on October 15, 1944

After unloading our troops we headed back to The Russell Islands where we took on fresh water while some of the crew took liberty and went ashore for a couple of hours before retiring for the night.

October 17-19, 1944 – Tuesday – Thursday. We remained beached at Landing Craft Repair Base (LCRB) #2 the duration of Tuesday and Wednesday before moving over port side to the the finger pier where repairs finally began at 7pm on Wednesday night.  Welders continued with their repairs throughout the night.  The following day Ensign R.L Wacker was detached from the ship and W.W. Kinnunen S2c reported to the dispensary because of illness. On Thursday we remained tied up alongside the pontoon barge as repairs continued.

October 20, 1944 – Friday. APPLES! We got a nice treat today.  Five cases of APPLES!  We get lots of bananas, and other tropical fruits but this was a nice treat for us.

October 21, 1944 – Saturday.  TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME. There isn’t a lot of recreation around here but we do occasionally play a little softball against teams from other Landing Craft.  Today we were matched up against LCI(L)336 .  A team is made up form the better part of the entire crew as there are only 13 of us to begin with.  Our team returned at 5:15 still unbeaten and untied.

Typical soft ball game like this one played at Torokina, Bougainville, July 4th

October 22 -26, 1944 – Sunday – Thursday.  REPAIRS CONTINUE.  Repairs continued all though this Wednesday.  The damage was extensive and required a lot work to repair but now we are as good as new and ready to launch off again.  Thursday the welders were gone and we had routine duties throughout the day.

October 27-28, 1944 – Friday – Saturday.  ESCORT TO NEW GEORGIA.  By 7am this morning we were underway for Guadalcanal. At 1:20 we beached but we didn’t take on any passengers.  Strangely, we turned right around and headed back toward The Russell Islands, but on the way we got orders to serve as escort to Munda in the New Georgia Islands.  Munda is the largest settlement on New Georgia but it only amounts to a bunch of native villages.  The history of the place is interesting.  Munda Point was originally the site of a coconut plantation originally established by Englishman Norman Wheatley, and then owned by Australian Lesley Gill. During World War II the Japanese built an airstrip to serve as a staging point to Guadalcanal. A convoy put in to Munda Point on 24 November 1942, and started construction under careful concealment from the air by means of rows of coconut palms suspended by cable. The airstrip was discovered by American planes on 3 December, and the first airstrikes were delivered by B-17 Flying Fortress bombers on 9 December. However, the Japanese were able to use Munda despite regular bombardment from both air and sea, and the Americans’ New Georgia Campaign spent July of 1943 closing in on Munda overland, capturing it on 6 August.

We sailed through the night and by 11:15 on Saturday we were anchored in Munda Harbor off Olsen’s Landing.  We tied alongside LCI332 and later in the evening a liberty party went ashore.

Munda Harbor, New Georgia, Solomon Islands

October 29, 1944 – Sunday.This morning we loaded up 181 troops and officers from the 14th Station Hosptial and by 9am we joined the convoy for Empress Agusta (Bougainville).

Casualties lying on stretchers on Munda Point

October 30, 1944 – Monday. PASSENGERS DISEMBARK.  We reached Torkina, Bougainville by 9 am and beached at 10:15 am.  Then we proceded to unload passengers. After disembarking the troops we anchored out in the bay until 4:00 until our convey was ready to head back for our return trip to the Russell Islands. We sailed all day Tuesday and arrived back at the Russell Islands early Wednesday morning.