Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia
Ran into Exmouth Gulf this morning and found the Holland, Black Hawk, Heron, Preston, two other DDs, and three S-type subs — a meeting of the clan. The Preston was badly banged up from her bombing at Darwin. Heard that the USS Langley was bombed by nine Jap bombers 40 miles south of Tjilatjap, Java, late yesterday afternoon. She was abandoned in sinking condition, leaving the 32 P-40s aboard her (replacements for the boys that came out to Australia with us on the Polk) to Davy Jones. Also heard that Hank Harris’s DD, the Stewart, was bombed in drydock at Surabaya, and turned over — a total loss.
Left the USS Childs after lunch for the submarine tender, USS Holland. The Childs was a damn nice ship — due mostly to her damn fine captain, Lt.Cmdr. “Doc” Pratt. The Holland is jammed with gold braid. We’re sleeping out on the boat deck in cots — for once I won’t be wallowing in sweat all night. Just like a cruise ship — such luxuries.
Up anchor after supper and started south — two subs acting as escorts on the way out.
Have never forgotten the dazzling luminescence of the water when it was agitated by the props of the Dutch motorboats, at Morokrembangan, as they brought the men out to the planes in the early mornings before a “cold turkey run.”
The exec of the Langley is typical of some of the asses out here. Up till the time of the sinking (from which he was unfortunately saved) he insisted on rigid adherence to uniform regulations — whites ashore — despite the fact that many of the personnel aboard have lost all their clothing in ship sinkings and bombings. He plagued us on our whole return trip to the states on the Mount Vernon. It seemed to make him miserable to see any aviation personnel getting any rest. He put us all on watches, despite the outspoken insistence of the ships personnel that we were not needed and would only be on the way. He’s not an aviator! Oh God, give us that separate Air Force before it’s too late!