January 29, 1943 (Friday)

“Buttons,” Espiritu Santo

“Standbye day.” Layed around most of the day and listened to a few stories.

When the first Navy PBYs moved in here, stories begin to get back to Pearl of an old tubercular French plantation owner who had two very pretty young daughters about 20 years of age. In this godforsaken country, where a white woman is only something you dream about, their indiscriminate bestowing of favors upon Navy men brought them almost legendary fame throughout the Pacific. As more and more of the Navy moved in, the two girls began to realize that they were being foolishly philanthropic with their favors and that they could not only make themselves a good deal of money but that they could obtain for themselves those little vanity aids which every woman throughout the world desires, and which they were unable to get in this isolated bit of the Pacific. Consequently the latest word has their price at $65! And they are raking in the money!

A Navy doctor was in this afternoon visiting the skipper and told us all about the famed Rennell Island, which lies about 300 miles due south of Guadalcanal. The natives there are Polynesian, rather than Melanesian like the surrounding islands. The women, who are rather good-looking, as are most Polynesians, far outnumber the men upon the island. The men do most of the work, while the women enjoy life. The men, according to this doctor, who has visited the place in a PBY, are currently undersexed, while the women are mild nymphomaniacs, and readily place themselves at the disposal of all visiting males. Behind the village, among the trees, are countless small lean-tos, for the express purpose of entertaining visitors. Venereal diseases are nonexistent — to date.

A small detachment of Marines has been stationed on the island for quite a while. They’re the envy of the South Pacific. Each of them has, for some small sum ($5), bought himself a “wife.” While not necessary, this action has at least assured them of legal possession. Rennell Island has become everyone’s dream of a forced landing.

Fisler, when he had heard all this, propose to the skipper that he be allowed to take VJ-2’s PBY towplane up to Rennell for a “familiarization” flight. To this the captain replied, “Dammit Fuzzy, you’ve only been here two weeks and you’re already thinking of something to eat! The answer is no — not yet anyway.”

The doctor also told us of Stewart Island, lying about 300 miles N.East of Malaita, on which the same essential situation as on Rennell exists. He stated that the native women on Stewart Island were positively quite pretty, or rather, beautiful, by our standards! He told of a PBY which was investigating the island and noticed a very light-skinned figure among the natives on the beach. Planning to investigate, he found a fighter pilot marooned on the island, after his injured plane had given up the ghost following a Solomon Islands battle. When asked why he had made no distress signals to the frequently passing PBYs, he stated that it had “never occurred to him!”

Sam Glover, while returning from patrol yesterday, passed low over Anuda, or Cherry Island, and dropped cigarettes to the waving natives. The women pulled off their red sarongs and waved them violently, while the men scrambled like mad for the cigarettes. Written on the sand beach in very large letters were the words, “The Allies Ourr Friends!”

Patrol again tomorrow. Hope the weather is good and that we see a Jap.

Marines are finally getting the F4Us in commission and this evening after dinner we watch them at “play,” diving, zooming, slow rolls, etc. They’ll really tear hell out of the Japs when they show up in the Solomons with those.

The natives around here are pretty cagey. One of their favorite tricks on the small outlying islands is to save the parachute of some rescued aviator and wave it at passing planes, to make them land and investigate, whereupon they explained that the owner of the chute has long since departed, but that they are all out of cigarettes! The pilot usually gives them all he has as insurance against the future and goes on. After a few weeks the trick will be pulled again. One PBY pilot, after being caught twice by the same island, tried to trade a flashlight for the chute. The chief examined the flashlight, then returned it with a shake of the head, saying, “More batteries!”

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