December 1944

December 1-2, 1944 – Friday-Saturday.  7:00 am.  Beached at Green Beach, Tulagi, Florida Islands, Solomon Islands, South Pacific.  Reveille.  We welcomed R.C. Ross (FnM1c) aboard ship today. LCT1131 came alongside at about 10 am and we began taking on fuel.  3,605 gallons total.  For us, thats just topping off the tank.  With fuel secured, we pulled out from the beach, left Tulagi, and headed back to the Russell Islands where we tied off to a fuel barge in Russell Sound for the night. The next morning, W.W. Kinnunen S2c, who I came on board with back in May, left the ship for the base dispensary.  We received our pay today and we said good bye to several guys who are being reassigned.  They are T Coopman BN2c, E.R. Woodford ChPM, A.J. Peterson, BM2c they all were transferred to ComL?? ?? ??  In the afternoon we moved the ship to the shore and beached at LCRB #2 where we took on fresh water, sent a liberty party to shore, and called it a day.

December 3-10, 1944 – Sunday-Sunday.  We remained beached almost this entire week, awaiting orders for further duty.  On Thursday we moved the ship into dry dock at LCRB #2 where we remained until Saturday morning when maintenance and repairs were complete and we took the ship back out and beached her.  We then filled our fresh water tank, taking on 7005 gallons of water.  It takes all day to fill the water tanks.  A liberty party went ashore and returned.  We remained beached all day Sunday as well.

December 11, 1944 – Monday.  Early today at 7am we pulled the ship off the beach, took it out into the harbor, and tied along side the fuel barge, and remained there for the duration.  We changed the emergency water in the life raft kegs, and in the evening a liberty party went ashore.

December 12, 1944 – Tuesday.  Ensign Gerald E. McNeill, DV(G) 384575 reported aboard for duty.  A “DV” is a US Navy designation for “deck officer” and includes commissioned and warrant officers, boatswains, gunners, and torpedomen, qualified for general detail afloat or ashore.

December 13-16, 1944 – Wednesday-Saturday.  We remained in port at LCRB #2 Russell Islands until Thursday evening at 6pm when we proceeded on orders to head out to Guadalcanal.  We arrived at Kukum Beach at midnight and anchored in 90 fathoms of water where we spent the night.

LSTs at Kukum Beach, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands

At 10am, Friday morning, we welcomed aboard the officers and crew of Marine Wing Squadron No. 2 consisting of 13 officers and 183 enlisted men.  The New Georgia Campaign saw the first real close air support provided to Marine ground forces by Marine Air, the Bougainville Campaign and the campaign to retake the Philippines saw the establishment of air liaison parties to coordinate air support with the Marines fighting on the ground.  During the course of the war, Marine Aviators were credited with shooting down 2,355 Japanese aircraft while losing 573 of their own aircraft in combat, they had 120 aces and earned 11 Medals of Honor.  By 10:30 am we were underway, headed for Green Island.  We carried on course through the evening passing Murray (Mary) Island just after 6pm and reaching Simbo Island by 6am the following day.  By 2:30pm Friday afternoon, we had Treasury Island in site and we seemed to be making good time.  Then at 6pm we spotted an object in the water that seemed unusual.  Suspecting the object to be a crashed plane, war debris, or even a fallen sailor, we reversed course to inspect the floating object.  To our relief the inspection revealed only a floating tree stump and we were able to resume our course of 307 degrees for Green Island, a course we followed the rest of the night.

December 17-18, 1944 – Sunday-Monday.  Just before sunrise we sighted land.  We beached at 2pm and unloaded our troops ashore and then began to load new troops.  Eight officers and 196 enlisted men came back aboard with our assignment to take them on to Bougainville.  At 5:30 pm we retracted from the beach and set course for Bougainville. At 11:16 pm the sky on our port beam lit up from the sight of a flare that had gone off.  We never did find out the source of that problem and we continued on through the night.  My mind went over the purpose of the flare.  There was a ‘no lights’ rule after dark and a flare could only mean distress, decoy, or someone in search of a fight with someone else. We continued on through the night, arriving at Torokina by 11:00 am and landed at Beach #4.  68 of the men and 8 of the officers left the ship.  We then retracted from the beach and anchored off shore in four fathoms of water.  We waited it 4:00 pm when 6 men came aboard from ID W/198th AAA Gr. APO 706-1.  These are the guys of the automatic weapons batallion that actually do the shooting and fighting.   Once aboard we sailed out of Bougainville turning our radar on for brief intervals as we began our return trip to Guadalcanal.

December 19, 1944 – Tuesday.  We traveled back to Guadalcanal today, passing Puriata (Parara?) Island at about 1:00 pm and and Vangunu Island about 5:30 pm and then just after sunset we passed Gatukai Island where we turned on our radar for 15 minutes.  We only turn the radar on for 15 minutes at a time as it is used primarily to determine bearing and measure distance to other ships and land.  At 10 pm we sited Murray Island which means we should have these guys back to Guadalcanal before breakfast.

December 20, 1944 – Wednesday.  At 4 am we passed Savo Island and reached Kukum Beach just before 6am.

All the troops left the ship and afterwards we retracted from the beach and headed across Iron Bottom Sound to Tulagi where we tied off to a buoy in the beautiful little harbor there.  LCI(L)336 tied up along side of us.  Today we welcomed aboard 4 new crewmen.  Their names are Nelson W. Allen, a Coxswain although I have no idea why we would need a coxswain as I did all of the steering of the ship  (Cox 835 86 80 USNR), Maurice W. Laws seaman third class, (SM3c, 894 81 11 UNSR), Warren A McAllister, fireman 2nd class, (F2c 923 21 19 USNR), and motor machinest mate Charles S. Smith (MoMM 3c 812 61 28 USNR). Around 6pm a liberty party went ashore and the rest of us took the ship on into Green Beach where we stayed the night.

December 21, 1944 – Thursday.  Bright and early this morning we pulled off of Green Beach and set course for the Russell Islands.  When we arrived we took on 8,214 gallons of fuel.  We stayed there for the night.  A few guys went ashore on liberty and then returned.  On Friday we were still moored along side the fuel barge so we started to maneuver into the beach. But unfortunately we broke our stern anchor and lost it.  We were thus obliged to anchor by the bow in 25 fathoms of water out in Renard Sound. On Saturday we manuevered to Landing Craft Repair Base #2 where we beached stern and remained there till Sunday where we spent Christmas Eve.  I sent a letter home to Mother today for Christmas.  I included in the letter some Japanese Money and an Italian coin that Myrt sent to me from the part of the world where he is fighting.  This is the only letter I wrote during the month of December that I know of.

Here is the Christmas Card I sent home to my Mother

Here is the Christmas Card I sent home to my Mother

December 25, 1944 – Monday.  CHRISTMAS DAY.  We spent the day in port.  There were a few maneuvers but our ship stayed put.  A liberty party went ashore.

December 26 -31, 1944 – Tuesday – Sunday.  R.B. Cleland Lt(jg) (D), 272615, was detached from our ship today.  Nothing else of note took place.  Wednesday we retracted from the beach today, our stern anchor having been replaced, and moved to a new location on  the beach.  On Thursday a working party brought supplies aboard and some welders also came aboard to make some repairs.  Friday came and went, as did Saturday with nothing particular worth noting.  On Sunday the welders came back and did some repairs on the ventilation system.