“Cactus,” Carney Field, Guadalcanal
Patrolled 810 nautical miles toward Ponape in the Marshalls (This represents a nonstop flight of 2,000 statute miles, consuming 10 1/2 to 11 hours, an average of 2000 gallons of 100-octane gasoline. Ten patrols a day gives the consumption of 20,000 gallons a day for the comparatively small group of Navy PBYs operating out of this area. Other patrols search east, west, and south, plus the X-Ray search twice-daily of the Solomons area.)
The New Georgia campaign is being seriously hampered by the weather. We had counted heavily on air support, and the heavy rain and clouds have now practically eliminated it.
The big air battle over Rendova on June 30th cut quite a swath in the local Jap Air Force. The late returns from the Marine fighter squadrons in the Russells up the final score of Japs shot down to 101 against 17 of our own fighters. Of the 17, seven pilots were recovered.
Part of the Jap attacking force (one of three separate waves) consisted of approximately 30 Mitsubishi 01s carrying torpedoes and protected by Zeros. As they came sweeping and low over the mountains of central New Georgia toward our shipping in Blanche Channel they were met by F4Fs, which in turn were covered by F4Us. This system proved extremely successful and not a single Mitsubishi escaped from the area. They didn’t even reach the torpedo launching point. Those are the Japs’ best bombers and their loss must be quite serious.
The six SBDs (plus one F4U) who got lost in the weather on the 30th, all crash landed in the lagoon of Rennell Island, where they were picked up unharmed by a PBY on the following day after royal treatment from the natives.
Off the record dope has it that the McCauley, our only large ship casualty in the landing, was sunk by one of our own MTBs that night as she steamed SE into Blanche Channel from Rendova Harbor. This sounds reasonable as those waters are quite impractical for a sub to operate in. (This was verified later.)
My original idea of the landing was faulty and that the main push is running N and NE from Rendova and Roviana Lagoon, with no landings on North New Georgia as I had first thought. Otherwise the essential push is the same. Our skipper, Moffett, attacked Kapingamarangi Island (about 350 miles SE of Truk) today on patrol and destroyed the Jap radio and weather station with 3 direct hits.