June 1944

June 1, 1944 – Thursday.

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Renard Sound looking North. Note the airfield under construction

We posted colors at 8:00 am sharp and at 9:37 we retracted from the beach at Renard Sound.  We tied up along our starboard side to a fuel barge named YOG-13.  YOG stands for a manned barge-gasoline.  For 2 hours and 41 minutes we took on fuel from the barge, a total of 9,489 gallons, topping us off at 12,037 gallons of diesel. After finishing our fueling, we tied up to a buoy and moored there for the rest of the day.  In the evening a party went ashore to watch a movie.

YOG-20, a manned fuel barge loaded with fuel. Note how low she sits in the water

June 2, 1944 – Friday.

We remained tied up at the buoy all night and this morning LCI(L)332 tied up along our port side at 9:05 am.  At 12:15 they cast off and departed.  About two hours later Ensign. R.L Wacker, our training officer, and Ensign Thomas S. Riherd, our executive officer, returned to the ship bringing supplies back aboard with them.  In the evening a movie party went ashore and returned just before 9 pm.

June 3, 1944 – Saturday.

We had our first Captain’s inspection today.  It took about an hour and 20 minutes. Oh yes, I almost forgot to mention, it was payday today! Most guys just blow their money gambling and betting.  As for me, well I sent most of my money home to my mother.  I always asked her to pay my tithing and to put the rest into savings.  I wrote to my mother and told her what to do with the money.

June 4, 1944 – Sunday.

We got some new crew members today.  The following men reported aboard on temporary duty awaiting permanent orders from Comm L.C.I. Group 15:  G.B. Hale – he was either an Electrician’s Mate or an Engine’s Mate Third Class [EM 3/c], E.H. McCaudless – Motor Machinist Second Class, and A.T. Phelps – also Motor Machinist Second Class. No sooner had Phelps come aboard and three hours later he was detached and departed from the ship.  The Navy is a funny place.

June 5, 1944 – Monday.

We are still moored in Renard Sound waiting for something to do.  More men were assigned to our ship.  They came on about 2:00 in the afternoon.  Their names are J.W. Champagne Ship’s Cook Second Class, and M.H. Willis Seaman Second Class.  I sure hope Champagne can cook!

THE CAPTAIN HOLDS A MAST

June 6, 1944 – Tuesday.

We are still moored in Renard Sound, and the crew is definitely getting restless.  At 9:30 am supplies and provisions were brought aboard from L.C.R.B #2 and then something happened that I haven’t seen happen before.  At 11:00 am the Captain held a mast. In naval tradition, a mast is a disciplinary hearing in which a commanding officer handles cases involving those in his command. Traditionally, the captain would stand at the main mast. The crew, who by custom did not speak with the captain, could speak to them directly at these times.  If convicted the offender would be punished by tying him to a mast and lashing him with a whip.  In a mast the captain must learn the facts surrounding whatever is alleged to have been committed.  He then holds a hearing and either dismisses the charges or imposes punishment.  He can also refer the case to a court-martial. A mastcan also refer to when a captain makes himself available to hear concerns, complaints or requests from the crew.[xii]

So at 11:00 the captain issued punishments as follows:  Carles Ross Wilson Seaman Second Class was punished for insubordination to acting Chief Petty Officer and was confined to the brig at L.C.R.B. #2 for a period of ten days.  His sentence was set to commence at 2:00 pm today and continue till 2:00 pm on June 16.  Wow.

June 7, 1944 – Wednesday.

We are still beached today on Russell Island with LCI(L)223 on our right side just like lining up in numerical order.  Welders came aboard and a work party left the ship to get provisions.  We brought 15 gallons of paint aboard along with some dry provisions.  At 2:05 in the afternoon, two radar repairmen, Sergeant Dreker and Sergeant Ward, came aboard to see if they could fix our radar.   They stayed about 3 hours and then left.  We retired the colors and a group went ashore to watch the evening movie.

June 8, 1944 – Thursday.

This morning K.G. McDonald, Fireman 2nd Class, left the ship.  He has gone to receive training at diesel school.  Then about mid morning the ship’s laundry was brought on board.  E.R. Legge, Fireman 1st class is ill and left the ship to go to the hospital.  L.B. Parrish, Steward’s Mate First Class, reported aboard for transport to Carter City.  By 1:40 we were on our way back to Tulagi.  We arrived at 7:10 in the evening and of course the sun was already down and we had a hard time seeing where we were going.  Darkness and bad weather can present the worst of circumstances for a ship, especially when maneuvering near land because you can easily encounter one of the worst threats – a reef.   Unfortunately for us, we ended up running up on the reef as we moved into the channel. We were really stuck and couldn’t move ourselves off.  We ended up having to stay there for three and a half hours until finally at 10:30 pm help arrived.  A tugboat came to our rescue.  Another small boat came up alongside and took our anchor cable out to a tug boat.  In 20 minutes the tug had us off the reef and we resumed our maneuvers to where we anchored for the night in 25 fathoms of water.

June 9, 1944 – Friday.

The morning was routine.  Parrish was transferred to LCI(L)21 for further transport and we brought aboard 30 more gallons of paint from the supply depot at Carter City.  By 11:15 we were again underway, this time for Lunga Point.  So back across Ironbottom Sound we went and arrived there at 1:40.  We beached but it was immediately decided that we should pull back out and anchor instead off Lunga Point.  So we retracted from the beach.  By 6:20 the coast was clear and we headed back for the beach where we are picking up a crew of 110 army casuals and 5 officers for rotation of duty.  By the looks of the men coming on board, there are fellows from all pieces and parts of the army: Weather squadron, cavalry company, fighter squadron, bomber group, signal corps, fighter group, airdrome squadron, and officers of all kinds. They probably arrived here earlier by plane and are headed over to the Treasury Islands to give the poor marines a break.  Those guys have been slugging it out over there for the last few months.

 

We finally got everyone loaded on board by 8:40 pm, long after dark, and we retracted back off the beach and again anchored off Lunga Point, and that’s where we spent the night.

June 10, 1944 – Saturday.

LCI222 loading NZ troops up her ramps on Mono Island (2nd ship from bottom, center of photo)

This is the first time since I have been on ship that we have had this large group on board.  With the ship full of soldiers we are just waiting now for the convoy to assemble and get our orders to be dispatched.  While we were waiting, G.B. Hale EM3c (Electrician’s mate) became ill and had to be transferred to the base hospital at Lunga Point.  At noon we finally got underway for Treasury Island (Mono Island), a distance of about 350 miles northwest from Guadalcanal.  At our standard speed when we travel in convoy is about 8 knots and it will take us about 38 hours to arrive.  At least the weather is nice.  The temperature started out this morning at 80º and by noon it was up to about 90º.  We have a constant slight headwind of about 1 knot coming from the Northwest.  I feel sorry for the poor slugs we are transporting.  A lot of them get sea sick and have to heave it over the side.  We stayed on course all day and turned lights out at 10 pm, just like normal.

USS LCI(L)-222 beached at Mono Island after disembarking her New Zealand troop

USS LCI(L)-222 beached at Mono Island after disembarking her New Zealand troop

June 11, 1944 – Sunday.

We continued on course throughout the night.  At 2:30 am we sighted Vangunu Island, which is just a few miles North of Montegomery Island where we came last month on a recon mission.   This trip will take me the furthest distance west that I have ever been in my life.  Throughout the day we continued our course, running the two main engines.  At 1:00 we reduced our speed to 7 knots, and at 6 pm we again reduced our speed to 6 knots.  Over the course of a 24 hours period we will burn somewhere between 500 and 600 gallons a day.  At that rate we carry enough fuel to last us for at least 15 or 20 days.

June 12, 1944 – Monday.

Stirling Island

We continued our westerly course until 3:45 this morning when we changed course and started heading Northeast at 3 knots.    At 5:05 we came around and headed North at 10º and 40 minutes later we came around some more to a heading of 355º.  As the sky was starting to get light we left the convoy to proceed to make a beach landing in Blanche Harbor at Stirling Island.

Stirling Island as seen from Mono Island

Stirling Island is a tiny coral island about 3 miles long just south of Mono Island.  In times gone by Stirling was nothing more than a reef that protected the main island.  Our guys have been building and airbase on this tiny speck of an island for the past several months as our pilots continue their northern assault along the Solomon Chain.

Map of course from Guadalcanal to Mono Island

At 6:31 am we slipped through the nets that surround the harbor.  The nets are placed there to trap any enemy submarines that might try to venture in.  We hit the beach sixteen minutes later.  Once we were on the beach it only took us 22 minutes to disgorge some of our weary passengers who had spent now 42 hours at sea and were truly ready to be on dry land.  We made our hasty ‘drop and run’ and at 7:25 am we passed back through the nets at Blanche Harbor.  Soon we were back underway to join our convoy.

The Japanese had occupied Mono during their invasion of the Solomons. On October 27, 1943 the U.S. 87th Navy Construction Battalion and the 8th Brigade of the Third New Zealand Division landed at two locations: at Falamai (site of the Japanese HQ on the island) in the south, and at Purple Beach at Soanotalu in the north. By November 7th the island was under Allied control. Twelve Americans and forty New Zealanders were killed during the campaign. For the Kiwis, it was the first opposed amphibious operation since Gallipoli.

At 8:30 am we had caught back up with our convoy and fell in, traveling at a speed of 9 knots. For the next 10 hours we continued traveling nearly north between 20º and 30º all day.  Our destination was Empress Agusta Bay.

Loading for Bouganville, Kukum Beach Guadal Canal, photo by Charles Dotterrer of LCI222

We arrived there at 6:05 and anchored off of Torkina at 6:25 pm.  At 8:25 pm we were directed to head on into the beach at Puiato Island where we took 200 men and 8 officers aboard.  After about an hour of loading in the darkness of the night, we got under way at 9:55 pm and at 10:30 pm with nearly 225 of us on board, we laid anchor for the night.

EMPRESS AUGUSTA BAY

Map of Empress Augusta Bay

The Battle of Empress Augusta Bay took place on 1–2 November 1943 about seven months before I arrived in the Solomons.  The naval battle was a result of Allied landings on nearby Bougainville.  The battle was significant as part of a broader Allied strategy — known as Operation Cartwheel — aimed at isolating and surrounding the major Japanese base at Rabaul. The intention was to establish a beachhead on Bougainville, within which an airfield could be built.  On 1 November 1943 the US 3rd Marine Division landed at Cape Torokina in Empress Augusta Bay. The bay had been chosen because it was at the outer limit of Allied fighter plane range, and because the numerically-superior Japanese 17th Army was concentrated at other, more strategic sites in the north and the south.

New Zealand Troops waiting to leave Stirling for New Caledonia

The Japanese responded with air attacks from Rabaul and dispatched a powerful naval force from Rabaul.  We evacuated most of our landing craft and troop transports and lay in wait. We had an advantage over the Japanese because we had radar and they did not. We made radar contact at 02:30 am on 2 November 1943 and Merrill dispatched his destroyers forward for a torpedo attack, after which his cruisers opened fire from a safe distance. Unfortunately the destroyers were seen by the Japanese, who dodged the torpedoes, but their evasive maneuvers threw them completely out of formation.  At around 02:50 am, our cruisers opened fire and disabled the Sendai. The destroyer Samidare launched a torpedo attack in return but in doing so they collided with their own destroyer, Hatsukaze, slicing off her bows. The Japanese deficiency in radar meant that they had a great deal of difficulty finding our cruisers, but at 03:13 am they made contact and opened fire.  Merrill turned away under cover of smoke, and Omori, believing that he had sunk our cruiser, considered that he had done enough and turned away to the east. The damaged Sendai and Hatsukaze were later found and sunk by gunfire. After the Japanese ships returned to Rabaul, they were joined by four large cruisers and more destroyers from Truk in order to reattack the Allied landing forces at Bougainville. However, on November 5th, two U.S. aircraft carriers raided Rabaul, heavily damaging four heavy Japanese cruisers, forcing them to retreat back to Truk.  This ended the Japanese warship threat to the Allied landing forces at Bougainville.

View of Empress Agusta Bay

June 13, 1944 – Tuesday.

We got an early start out of Empress Augusta Bay heading out at 6:50 am bound for Lunga Point back on Guadalcanal.  We were on the water all day long.

Delivering troops to Empress Agusta

June 14, 1944 – Wednesday.

At 3:30 am we sighted Simbo (Narovo) Island.  Simbo is a small island with a volcano.  This island is one of the many beautiful tropical jewels that make up the Solomon Island chain although there isn’t much to see at 3:30 in the morning, which is when we passed by.  The island is populated by a few natives. We traveled all rest of the day across the open water.  We finally sighted Murray Island by 8:15 in the evening, having been on the open water all day long. We will be at Guadalcanal by morning.

Simbo Island (today Narovo)

ATTENDING SIGNAL SCHOOL

Logbook entry showing my leave for signal school

June 15, 1944 – Thursday.

At 7:15 am in the morning our ship arrived back at Lunga Point on Guadalcanal where we weighed anchor awaiting further orders.  An hour later we pulled up anchor and headed on into the army beach where I was put off along with Harold Kisenger for signal school instruction.  Seems that our ship will be undergoing some repairs for the rest of the month so I will make better use of my time in school.  I am looking forward to this opportunity because it will help me get a higher rank and better pay.

IN DRY DOCK

June 16-19, 1944 – Friday-Monday.

While I was in school our ship underwent some needed maintenance.  The ship went back to Carter City and beached at Govanna Inlet the rest of the day and on Saturday.  Carter City is located on a peninsula at the southern tip of Florida Island west of Purvis Bay (today known as Tokio Bay).  In 1943, US Navy Seabees built workshops and a marine railway and landing craft repair base at this location.  While the ship was there some painters came aboard and worked and then on Sunday they took the ship into dry dock .  After the repairs were completed the ship prepared to head back to the Russell Islands.

Tuesday – Thursday, June 20-29, 1944

While I was still in school on Guadalcanal, our ship pulled out and went to The Russell Islands where they picked up a couple of new crewmen.  Eldon Otto Marshal, MoMM 2/c came aboard for temporary duty and we picked up Charlie Wilson who, having served his sentence passed at Captain’s Mast on the 6th rejoined the ship.

The ship remained at the Russell Islands for 9 days.  During this time my friend Donald D. Diers USNR, DV-(6) reported aboard for duty. Don and I have stayed in contact through the years since the war.  Even though he was an officer and I was an enlisted man we always got along very well.

Email from Don Diers, 2008. We have stayed in touch through the years.

Our ship remained in Renard Sound until June 29.  Thats when we were commanded to move out to Green Beach, on the Russell Islands, where just after midnight we took on 161 men who were assigned to construction duties on New Georgia Island. This group was about half of the men in the contingency that needed transport.  Here is a copy of our orders:

Orders to move to Green Beach, Rendova Harbor, on New Georgia Island

June 30, 1944 – Friday.

Today we transported the men to Rendova Harbor, on New Georgia Island.  The ship was underway for about 18 hours.  At 10 pm we off loaded 50 of the men onto a barge and then we headed on to a nearby beach called Sassairville on New Georgia Island.

NEXT > JULY 1944