June 29, 1943 (Tuesday)

“Cactus,” Carney Field, Guadalcanal

Patrolled 800 miles toward Ponape in the Marshalls. Results negative. Weather bad throughout area south of Marshalls.

Zoomed the Southwesternmost Island in the Ontong Java group. A large native village with gardens. Most of the population ran out on the beach to wave at us as we passed over a treetop level. The natives are darker than the Stewart Islanders, despite their legendary Polynesian background (Tahiti). Only a very few wore any clothing, the rest being completely naked.

The weather in the northern Solomons was (and is) very bad, and Bestwick, returning from the “Zero Sector” (Rabaul-Karieng) tried to cut through Manning Strait. In the bad weather he mistook the many small islands in the Strait for ships and jumped to the conclusion that he had blundered into Rekata Bay. He veered offshore, then in again, to follow the coastline south. Five minutes later, he glanced down on the spit of beach below him (700 feet) and was amazed to see a Jap float biplane on the shore. Three more were lined up further down the beach. This time it was Renata Bay! The Japs and the plane crew opened up on each other together. The Japs put two .60 caliber holes in Beswick’s plane while his waist and tail gun put about 200 rounds into the Japs and their planes. Both Japs and planecrew were thoroughly surprised.

Got back to Cactus in time to see “the big push” heading up the slot. So tomorrow is the big day. Heading NW were six heavily laden transports covered by 10 destroyers. They are striking Wickham Anchorage, Viru Harbor, Rendova, and Roviana Is, and occupying the area around Blanche Channel to provide bases of supply for the taking of New Georgia proper.

Somewhere in the area are three President liners (C-3P class — Polk)and one other large transport. They comprise Army and Marine units who will attempt to gain complete control of the river running NW toward by Bairoco Harbor from Roiviana Lagoon, thus cutting off any retreat of the Japs from Munda. The Roiviana Lagoon end of the line will be the pivot for westward swing to jam the Japs down toward Munda Point. The pivot point will be under the protection of artillery on Roiviana and Sasavele Island, supported by the Marines in the south New Georgia and Blanche Channel area. Between the northern force and the southern force, the 5-6,000 Japs in the area should be eliminated.

The plans for the elimination of the 10,000 Japs on Kolombangara are still unknown to me, but judging from my March reconnaissance work the landing will be made on SE Kolombangara (east of Avila Field). The air support available should prevent this becoming another Guadalcanal. Our landing forces are described as overwhelming, which in view of the estimated 16,000 Japs on New Georgia and Kolombangara, must mean between 30,000 and 50,000 men.

The new battleships Massachusetts, South Dakota, and North Carolina, plus the carrier Saratoga and Victorious, plus the two modernized battleships Maryland and Colorado, plus three ACVs, plus miscellaneous cruisers and destroyers, constitute a supporting force, in the event of any Japanese fleet movements.

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