“Cactus,” Carney Field, Guadalcanal
Have been having some good arguments lately on my favorite subject — a separate Air Force, and how the Navy is the curse of Naval Aviation – all very hot subjects considering whose mess the arguments take place in. My few months on the staff have convinced me that most of my original arguments were correct. The Navy not only makes a thorough muddle of its air administration, but persists in an attitude of the air being merely an adjunct of the fleet. ComSoPac staff has one inexperienced commander (Eldridge) as advisor on air operations against the opinions of about 16 Captains and 3 or 4 admirals — all battleship men of the rustiest variety. It was they who were responsible for cooking up that famous “blues in the night” imitation carrier strike at Rabaul in late January that lost us many planes (instrument conditions) and completely upset the normally planned strikes.
The supply and maintenance problem is completely fouled up in relation to aircraft, with the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps and all working against each other. The aviation units are lucky if they can get anything out of the Acorn units before the local naval bases, etc., have finished with them. Every movement is accompanied by thousands of tons of needless luxuries — Quonset huts, toilets, plumbing, lumber for mess halls, bars, conference rooms, trick bungalows, etc.
ComSoPac staff in Nouméa stays on despite the fact they are over thousand miles behind the lines — why? Because they like the weather, women, and wine. They find that the war fought from there assumes a more enjoyable tone.
We have just about reached the end (Kavieng) of the South Pacific campaign, but do we find our staffs preparing for rearrangement of areas with MacArthur and planning moves in the direction of the Philippines — hell no.
The air arm is winning the war in the South Pacific but Halsey sends his ships to shell Rabaul and Kavieng, implying it is a necessary move, while MacArthur states to the press of the war will not be won by air power or blockade, but by land troops locked in battle.