August 1944

August 1, 1944 – Tuesday.

Just after midnight we lost one of our engines on the port side but we managed to get to Guadalcanal without further incident.  We disembarked our passengers at Kukham Beach and then just after noon we retracted and laid in a course for the Russell Islands.   We arrived at Renard Sound, our destination, just after 6pm.  Soon thereafter a liberty party went ashore.

August 2 & 3, 1944 – Wednesday & Thursday.

Wednesday came and went without much happening but on Thursday we took the ship out to refuel.  We pulled up along side the fuel barge and took on 10,382 gallons of fuel.  But that’s not all we took on.  After returning to our assigned place on the beach we moored along side LCI(L)336 and promptly started taking on water!  Of course its fresh water so nothing to worry about.  It took us about 2 hours for the ship to get its fill.

August 4, 1944 – Friday.

We resupplied our ship today.  We took on fresh and dry provisions and 1200’ of 4” line.  That’s a pretty good size piece of rope!  I also got a chance to use the ship’s typewriter and I knocked out a letter home to Mother.

‘Typed’ letter home to Mother 8/4/1944

August 5, 1944 – Saturday.

This morning we changed out the starboard inboard engine that we lost on Tuesday while coming back from Bougainville.  A new one was brought on board.  The captain also conducted an inspection of the ship.  In the evening a movie party went ashore.

August 6, 1944 – Sunday.

Today was quiet.  The only non-routine thing that happed was that a tug boat, YT-316, moored along our starboard side.

August 7, 1944 – Monday.

We remained still today.  Ships log records that we brought 795 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition on board.  I hope I get a chance to shoot that .50 caliber some time!

50 mm guns on LCI 561. This ship was converted to a gun boat but the 50mm shone here on the deck are similar to those on LCI222

 

left: 50mm shell casing. Center: Grandson Aaron putting on asbestos gloves. Right: Gun placement on LCI713

BOB HOPE COMES TO THE RUSSELL ISLANDS

USO Show Map

One of the most pleasant memories for most of the Marines and others of us on the Russell Islands today was a visit from Hollywood entertainer Bob Hope.  He has come clear out here in the middle of nowhere with his USO show.  What an incredible guy!  In addition to the entertaining they have been doing here on Banika Island, where I am stationed, they also put on a special event on the other island about 7 miles from here. That show was held today.  Mr. Hope was advised against doing the show, but he decided to do it anyway because so many of the marines here have had a pretty bad time of it and have had no entertainment for months.  Frankly, it is not likely to get much better for them either as they are training to be shipped out for the invasion of Peleliu next week.

With the advantage of hindsight, I will include the following excerpt, written by Bob Hope’s own words.  He describes the show he gave to the 1st Marine Division not far from where we are moored today:

Bob Hope lands on Russell Islands in a Piper Cub

I tried not to play favorites with any one outfit. But in spite of myself, I found myself carrying a torch for the First Marine Division. In 1944 I was in Banika in the Russell Islands in the Southwest Pacific with a USO unit.

 

A Special Service marine officer came to see me. “We’ve got the First Marine Division stashed on a little island called Pavuvu, about 20 miles from here,” he said. “They’re training for the invasion of Peleliu. Nobody knows this but the men themselves. They haven’t had any entertainment for nine months. If you would come over with your troupe, it would be wonderful.” “How do we get there?” I asked. “I think you ought to know there’re no runways on Pavuvu,” he said. You’ll have to go in Cubs; one of you to each Cub. You land on a road.” “We’ll be ready tomorrow,” I said. “I’ll check with my people, but I’m sure they’ll want to go.” Frances Langford, Jerry Colonna, Patty Thomas, Bill Goodwin, and the rest of the gang had never turned down a show anywhere. The next day we took off. Each of us was in a Cub with a pilot. When we reached Pavuvu, more than 15,000 guys were standing on the baseball field, waiting for us. Looking down, I realized that 15,000 faces pointed at the sky is a lot of faces. As we flew over, they let out a yell. It felt as if it lifted our Cubs up into the air. We did a show for them. While we were doing it, we knew that many of the men we were entertaining would never see the States again. If we hadn’t felt the drama in that thought, we’d have been pretty thick-skinned. We weren’t that thick-skinned.

 

When we got into the Cubs to go back to Banika, all 15,000 of those marines lined each side of the road and cheered each Cub as it took off. If I never get another thrill in my life, that one will last me.

 

BOOSTING MORALE: Film actress Frances Langford gladdens Marines at a South Pacific base with warm renditions of their favorite songs. August 7, 1944 – Pavuvu, Russell Island

 

 

The First Marines went on to take Peleliu. Our USO unit finished its South Pacific trip and went back to California. Four months later I was asked to bring some entertainers to dedicate a new surgical amphitheater at Oak Knoll Hospital in Oakland, California. We did a show for the people they packed into that amphitheater. Afterward the colonel doctor in charge said, “I hope you’ll go through the wards and say hello.” In the first ward, a kid in bed stuck out his hand. He said, “Pavuvu!” “First Marine Division?” I asked. “Yes,” he said. “Every kid in this ward is from the First Marines.” It ought to be clear by now that I’m a softie about such things. My feeling about these matters was underscored when I talked with a boy in Espiritu Santo, an island in the New Hebrides group. The boy was badly injured. He was mighty weak. They were giving him a transfusion. Walking up to his bed, I said, “I see they’re giving you a little pick-me-up?” His eyes went to the transfusion tube and he gasped, “It’s only raspberry soda, but it feels pretty good.” Two hours later a doctor walked up to me in the officers’ club. “Remember that boy who was joking with you?” he asked. “He just died.” I thought about how, in his last moments, he grinned and tried to say something light, and I couldn’t stand it. I had to go off and pull myself together. It turned out that over 60% of the marines who were there for the show in Pavuvu died on the assault on Peleliu. That affected him so deeply that he was never quite the same afterwards. [14]

Bob hope at the USO show on the Russell Islands (Pavuvu)

August 8, 1944 – Tuesday.

While we were beached at LCRB#2 some welders came aboard and PGM-6 tied up along side. PGM-6 is a motor gun boat and a fine looking ship.

PGM-6 Gunboat tied up alongside today

PGM6

August 9, 1944 – Wednesday.

At 4:00 today we got liberty to go ashore.  I stole a trumpet from a storage shack.  I haven’t played one since high school and it felt good to put that beautiful horn up to my lips again! Hope I don’t get caught!  We got back to the ship about 8pm and I smuggled my contraband on board ship.

It’s my sisters 24th birthday today so I sent her home a V-Mail birthday card.

V-Mail birthday wish to my Sister, Dona

August 10, 1944 – Thursday.

Today both ships on either side of us pulled out.  LCT-924 set out from our starboard side at 6:55 am then about 8:10 am APC-32 took off from our port side.  Later in the afternoon a small mine sweeper, YMS-243, moored on our starboard side for about 4 hours and then it pulled out too. I’m glad I’m not on one of those.  Mine sweeping can be dangerous.   YMS-516 met a horrible fate during a mine sweep operation some years after the war.  Another liberty party went ashore this evening for a couple of hours.

Minesweeper explodes

August 11, 1944 – Friday.

More ships came and went today and we were one of them. We pulled away from the beach at about 2 pm after some welders came aboard to do some work.  We tied up alongside of T371.  We brought on some fresh provisions and some of the fellows went ashore to see a movie.

August 12, 1944 – Saturday.

Much like yesterday we mostly say ships coming and going.  YMS-1 came along side for a couple of hours and the garbage barge also came along side so we could put out the trash.  After that we pulled into the beach.   At 3 pm LCIs 78 and 81 pulled in and moored along side us.  Another liberty party went ashore in the evening.  I got a letter from my Mother and one from my Dad today. So I wrote a letter home letting mom know that I’ve been a little under the weather this past week or so. I also told her about my advancement in rank to Seaman First Class.  Thats a pay raise.

Letter home to Mother 8/14/1944

August 13, 1944 – Sunday.

All quiet today.  Its nice to have a peaceful Sunday.

August 14, 1944 – Monday.

This morning after colors we started receiving some deliveries from shore.  Beverages were brought aboard along with several cases of rations for the Group 15 flotilla.  This is just a temporary stowing of supplies probably to feed marines in some upcoming operation.  We also got a new range for our kitchen.  Aside from that all else was routine.

August 15, 1944 – Tuesday.

The only thing that really happened today was that the radar men came aboard and worked on our radar for about 4 hours.  That thing may be the future of warfare but so far it has been nothing but fragile.

August 16, 1944 – Wednesday.

LCI(G)78 pulled out from our port side this morning.  After it pulled out we put lines over to LCI(G)452.  LCI(G)78 is an older ship than ours and has seen a lot of action so far in the war.  Originally commissioned as a landing craft, LCI(L)-78  was later refitted with four 20 mm guns instead of one, and two 40 mm guns along with ten MK7 rocket launchers.  LCI(G)-78 received six battle stars for World War II service in addition to the Navy Unit Commendation as a member of LCI(G) Flotilla 3 (31 January to 28 July 1944) for Occupation of Kwajalein and Eniwetok Atolls in the Marshall Islands and Capture and occupation of Saipan, Guam and Tinian in the Marianas.

One of our jobs today was to grease the stern anchor cable.  We heaved it in and then secured it so the greasing could take place.  In the late morning we started taking on a supply of fresh water.  This continued on and off throughout the day. In the afternoon we got a little present from the freight office – a new electric washing machine!  In the evening a liberty party went ashore.

August 17, 1944 – Thursday.

The morning was fairly routine.  LCI(L)452 pull away from our port side just after morning colors.  A submarine chaser, SC726,  took her spot after she left.  At about 11:00 am a radar crew came back aboard to make some more adjustments.  After lunch our ship pulled out into Renard Sound and we anchored in about 45 fathoms of water and tied off to a bouy.  We will remain here for the next 10 days.

August 18-28, 1944.

We are playing a sit-and-wait game right now while the powers that be make preparations for troop movements that should be shipping out shortly.  The morning of the 18th we hauled in our stern anhor and found it was fouled. A work crew had to come on board to make the repairs which took most of the day.  We also brought some small stores supplies on board. One of my duties is to manage a portion of the small stores.  I keep a few sundries like soap and toothpaste in my sea chest and crewmen rely on me to have those things when they need them.

Small Stores sea chest from the LCI222

On the 19th we remained moored to bouy #4 and an inspection was held today.

August 29, 1944 – Tuesday.

Today we made a quick run back to Guadalcanal to transport troops.

August 30, 1944 – Wednesday.

 <JULY 1944    SEPTEMBER 1944>