July 12, 1943 (Monday)

“Cactus,” Carney Field, Guadalcanal

Spent the afternoon on the beach at Koli Point. Beautiful weather. Pete Kooy, Gris Forbes, Bob Ortwin and I were disgusted to find a 51,000 lb. tank landing craft washed up on the beach and left a rush just because no one gave a damn about it. In the engine room were two beautiful Gray Marine diesel engines in excellent shape. There was plenty of fuel aboard. She’s been sitting there for over a week now just resting and burying herself in the sand. On the same beach riding away are full drums sealed of fuel, between 1000 and 2000 feet of heavy anchor chain, rolls of barbed wire, and an amphibious tank. The waste practiced by U.S. Forces is horrible; food dumps are left to rot, gasoline is thrown about to heat laundry, wash down planes, and burn rubbish and leaves. Cigarettes are tossed away in cans of fifty, because the particular brand doesn’t please. Thrown about everywhere are gas masks, canteens, cots, Coleman lanterns, mosquito netting, blankets, ammunition, etc.

Finish Wendell Willikie’s “One World” last night and thought it one of the clearest and most idealistic solutions of the problems of the postwar world. Have long agreed heartily with his global philosophy and considered it the only hope for a unified and peaceful planet.

Koskinen heard a news broadcast this evening that told of the closing of 12 blast furnaces by Bethlehem Steel for lack of coal. This is all Roosevelt’s fault. If the nation doesn’t get rid of him soon we shall lose both the war and the peace! God, what an incredibly disgusting state of affairs.

Forgot to mention that “Charlie” was over last night three times, once dropping 6 – 200 lb.ers 200 yds. from the 9th Marines, who had just come ashore that afternoon. They’re located just across the field from us.

Edgar says the Jap airforce in the area has improved tremendously in the last day or so; that our fighters are barely getting one for one. To my way of reasoning this is indicative of the last gasp of the Jap airforce in the area, and possibly in all areas, as this particular campaign supposedly involves only the best Jap pilots. Their increasingly bad showing in this area is resulting in a panicky attempt to stop the gap with their few remaining top-notch pilots, probably drawn from Japan’s own home defenses. Also increasing numbers of Jap Army planes are appearing in the area. Two-engine fighters have also begun to appear; little is known of this new type as yet.

Approximately 900 survivors of the Helena have now been accounted for; 650 were picked up the night of the battle; 100 were picked up by DDs the next night (the three motor lunches I sighted) while my estimate of 150 men in the rafts off Kolombangara have almost all reached Vella Lavella and the Coastwatcher there is caring for the them. (He reported 150 men had drifted ashore.)

An F-5A (P-38 photographic) was shot down (or rather, an engine was shot out) by Jap AA over Kahili at 27,000 feet. The pilot crash landed safely near Vella Lavella. The Jap AA in daylight is damn good.

The Army Bombing squadrons have here at the field (two each B-24s and B-25s) have lost five planes in the last week. One crashed into Cape Esperance in bad weather the other night.

The news tonight says we have landed in Sicily. Wonder if Noje is in on that.

Dope has it that the commander of the forces on Rendova failed to order his men to dig in after their invasion. When Jap planes appeared flying low over the bivouac area they ran out to wave, and hundreds were killed by falling bombs. The cmdr. himself was critically wounded, a fate which only just prevented his court-martial.

Since July 30th the Japs have lost 180 planes (108 Zeros) in this area. The figure does not include a probable high operational loss. In the same period, we lost 53 planes, mostly operational.

The whole New Guinea-New Britain-Solomon area had only 404 Jap planes at the beginning of this push; 100 of these were in New Guinea. Thus, including operational losses (probably higher than ours) the Japs have lost well over half their available planes in the Southwest Pacific in ten or eleven days.

Have Kapingamarangi patrol tomorrow.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *