November 1944

November 1, 1944 – Wednesday.

We are on our return trip from Bougainville where we delivered passengers, having traveled all day and all night to arrive not very far from our home base in the Russell Islands, when suddenly we receive orders from the U.S.S. Gendreau that we are to escort her in to Guadalcanal.  So leaving our convoy at 6:30 am we proceed to with her.

This is USS Gendreau (DE-639) which we accompanied November 1, 1944

The USS Gendreau (DE-639) is a brand new Buckley-class destroyer escort that commissioned earlier this year on 17 March.   Canadian-born Captain Elphege A. M. Gendreau (1888–1943) served as Force Surgeon of Battle Force and on the staff of Admiral Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, so Admiral Nimitz recommended that a ship be named in honor of the surgeon for his dedicated but unspectacular service, after Capt. Gendreau was killed on an LST just a year ago in a dive-bombing attack near Rendova while he was inspecting some medical facilities there.

By 11:30 am we reached Lunga Point, Guadalcanal where we anchored.  A liberty party went ashore for the evening, meanwhile the ship did one complete turn around the anchor cable.

November 2, 1944 – Thursday.  As noon rolled around we pulled up anchor and we headed North to the island Tulagi, crossing over Iron Bottom Sound and beaching at Green Beach, close to the place where I first came aboard the LCI222.  Mr. Cleland and Mr. Diers took a work party ashore to get supplies and provisions and after bringing them aboard we retracted from the beach and set a course back to the Russell Islands arriving there just before mid-night.

November 3-5, 1944 – Friday – Monday.  We spent the next few days beached at Renard Sound, Russell Islands. While there we brought some spare engine parts aboard and did some other minor repairs and maintenance, biding our time utill Sunday when about noon we once again got underway. This time our assignment was to move not very far over to Blue Beach where we took on 100 enlisted personnel and 10 officers of the Headquarter’s company, 3rd battalion, 24th Infantry, for to transport to Guadalcanal.  We didn’t get away from Blue Beach till nearly 10pm, so our passengers just made themselves as comfortable as they could for the night trip to Guadalcanal.  We arrived at Lunga Beach at about 4:00 am but we let the troops sleep till 5:45 am when reveille was sounded for officers and crew.  At 8:30 am we beached at Kukum beach where we disembarked our passengers.  Then we hightailed it back to the Russell Islands and tied up there at 4:30 in the afternoon next to LCI549 and a liberty party went ashore.

November 7, 1944 -Tuesday.  Back in Renard Sound, we used the day to make preparations such as maintenance of the life rafts, in case we go down.  The life rafts have a supply of fresh water in the breakers that needs to be changed periodically so we took care of that today and put a razor blade in each end of each raft, two to a raft.  We also refueled today, taking on 11,750 gallons of fuel.

November 8-9, 1944 – Wednesday-Thursday.  Just after 3pm today we took our ship out and headed for Lunga Beach on Guadalcanal where we anchored for the night in 18 fathoms of water.  The following morning at 7am we started loading passengers, 69 enlisted men and 3 officers of Torpedo Boat Squadron No. 31.  I sort of envy these guys.  They seem to have an exciting duty running those Patrol Torpedo Boats.  PT Boats, as we call them, are a small, fast vessels used to attack larger surface ships. These boat squadrons have the nickname “mosquito fleet” while the Japanese called them “Devil Boats.”  PT boats were actually built from plywood using the planing-type hull form developed for racing boats. They are small and can fly like the wind reaching speeds of 35-40 knots. They are designed to strike at larger warships with torpedoes, using relatively high speed to get close, and small size to avoid being spotted and hit by gunfire. They are much less expensive than large warships and PT boats are much faster, smaller, and cheaper than the conventional displacement hull types. These guys aren’t afraid to engage enemy destroyers or any other type of enemy surface craft, ranging from small boats to large supply ships.

Typical PT Boat

The last surviving motor torpedo boat PT-658 is moored in Portland Oregon

We sailed throughout the day and well into the next day headed for Blanche Harbor, a natural harbor between Mono and Stirling Islands of the Treasury IslandsSolomon Islands, at 7.4°S 155.55°E, arriving there at about 5pm. We unloaded our troops at the dock.  We moored at the dock overnight and the following day, Saturday, we set out on our return to the Russell Islands, arriving there the next day at about 11:00 am.  Total return time 16 hours.

November 12, 1944 – Sunday.  Back in Renard Sound, we beached at LCRB 2 alongside LCI329.  J.S. Parson, Motor Machinist third class, reported aboard for duty.  We refilled our water supply, taking on 2,256 gallons of fresh water before calling it a day.

November 13-19, 1944 – Monday-Sunday.  This morning our captain, Lt(jg) Henry S. Thompson, left the ship to turn into sick bay at LCRB #2.  We remained in port engaged in various routine duties throughout the day and so it continued until Wednesday when Ensign Charles M. Dotterrer (359415, E-V(G) USNR reported aboard for duty as a training officer.

Charles Dotterrer reports aboard LCI222

The week just drug on while we waited to see what was happening with our commanding officer.

November 20, 1944 – Monday.  Kesinger left the ship today to report for duty at LCRB #2.  He and I came on board together back in May and we’ve been together now for 7 months.  We’ve both been promoted to Seaman 1st Class.  I’m not sure what he will be doing.

November 21-25, 1944 – Tuesday – Saturday.  In the morning we made some routine preparations to pull away from the beach later today. We brought aboard some engine parts, took on 3,054 gallons of fresh water, then pulled out and anchored in the harbor.  We continued anchored in the harbor throughout the week, moving from time to time and tying of to various ships and barges.  On Saturday we had a captain’s inspection in preparation for sea duty tomorrow.  It will be good to be back at sea.

November 26-30, 1944 – Sunday – Thursday.  At 6 am we departed from our buoy in Renard Sound, headed for Kukum Beach on Guadal canal, a distance of about 60 miles but it takes us about 6 hours whenever we make the trip.  We picked up some 99 marines under the command of Captain Edward A. Hancock for transport to Bougainville.  We sailed all day Monday passing the islands of Vangunu, Rendova, and Simbo in route.  We arrived at Bougainville on Tuesday morning where we offloaded passengers and began taking on men from the Americal Division.  The Americal Divsion of the US Army is a rag tag bunch of jungle fighters who have been running their intensive reconnaissance patrols scouring of the jungles around the Torokina River. Americal is short for “American”and “New Caledonia” where the division was first formed and came into existence.  They are the only non-numbered division in the Army.  Last May they gained control of Bougainville as far inland as Mount Bagana, the island’s active volcano where a strong outpost line of resistance was formed in the hills near Mount Bagana. With this area secure, units from the Americal Division began moving up the Numa Numa Trail. Over the last few months combat operations have entered a new phase with the establishing of blocking positions along the trail. The object was to funnel the enemy toward the sea. Gaining confidence in themselves in this unusual type of warfare, the infantrymen of the Americal were fast becoming men to be feared in the dense, dark jungles of Bougainville.  Starting this month, the Australian 3rd Division is now moving into Bougainville to replace the Americal. On November 4, Brigadier General William H. Arnold assumed command of the Americal Division. He will now prepare the division for their next step in the island hopping campaign of the Pacific.

We picked up 87 men and 7 officers of this Americal Division at Empress Augusta Bay at noon and got under way for Guadalcanal.  We traveled through the rest of the day and through the rest of Wednesday, arriving back at Kukum Beach on Guadalcanal at 11:00 am Thursday morning. After unloading our army boys we retired to Tulagi and spent the night at Green Beach on Florida Island.

December 1, 1944 – Friday.

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