July 16, 1943 (Friday)

“Cactus,” Carney Field, Guadalcanal

Patrolled 700 miles north. Good weather. Negative results. Sighted one school of about 15 sperm whales, all lazily swimming on the surface and spouting like a steam calliope.

Turned off at Ontong Java on the way home and dropped a case of cigarettes (3600 cigarettes – Chelsea’s, in cans of 75) to the natives at King Vila’s village on the SE island of the atoll. Noticed a group of native canoes pulled up on the beach, their owners being engage in some sort of confab. Dropped the case just offshore of them on the lagoon side of their island. They immediately dropped everything, jumped into their canoes and paddled like madman for the spot where the cans were floating about amidst the wreckage of their box. Reaching the debris they jumped out of their canoes to grab up the cans. The water fairly boiled with their exertions. The fifteen or twenty sailboats at that end of the lagoon, seeing the commotion, all set the course for it and aided  the light breeze with their vigorous paddling. Up the beach a ways, sharp-eyed members of the King’s Village saw the commotion, and were soon leading a racing pack of village youngsters along the white sands toward the excitement.

The three most beautiful islands, or rather atolls, I’ve seen in the South seas are Ontong Java (the longest, comprising about 50 small islands) Stewart Islands, and the tiny island of Tikopia. This last is an incredibly beautiful and lonely little speck about 200 miles NE of Espiritu Santo. All three of these groups are populated by combination Melanesian-Polynesian strain.

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