Jan. 28, 1942 (Wednesday)

Surabaya, Java

Past rather shallow entrance into Surabaya in afternoon. Saw following planes around harbor Koolhaven seaplane, Dorniers (17, 20, 24), PBY (4 & 5), B-24, B-17E, P-40, Curtis interceptor — these last two put on quite an exhibition — the interceptors (4) being flown by Dutchman and the P-40s by Americans.

Rode into town in Bantam taxi to Oranje Hotel — all open air — like something from Arabian Nights. Had dinner served by barefooted Javanese. Went to nightclub afterwards along with some Australian naval officers who came in, in a Short Empire boat as we were tying up to the dock. Ten men to every woman. Streets all blacked out. Rather clean town.

Talk to many officers from patrol squadrons. Morale seems a bit shot as the PBYs are cold meat for any Jap plane, even bombers. Most of the squadrons (3) (VP-101, -102 and -22) have lost most of their planes, though they’ve been extremely lucky in having pilots wander back after weeks in the jungle and long trips and native boats. Manila was a fiasco — nothing worked — P-40s couldn’t fire, shops were reduced to rubble on second day. Japs have complete air superiority wherever they want it with superb fighter (Type “Zero.”) Japs are extremely vicious, shooting at pilots long after they’ve hit the land or water. Heard stories of marine prisoners from Wake Island had index fingers chopped off and arches broken to render them unfit — they were from then cast off in boats — propaganda? No Hudsons, — I’ll have to take PBY-4s and like ‘em.

Had big battle with Jap convoy a few days ago in Straits of Macassar north of here. Bombers worked on it for a day, then the U.S. cans from here made a night attack and shot off ALL of their 48 torpedoes (none left now —helpless here). They say they sank 15 to 19 ships (?). No one hurt. They expect the Japs to bomb them hourly here. The PBYs have been going out regular suicide hops, scouting within 30 miles of Jap fighter bases. Met a bunch of pilots at nightclub — all under tension — a few actually twitchy. The twin float seaplanes we noticed on the way in were not Koolhavens but Fokker T.IVs.

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