August 15, 1943 (Sunday)

“Cactus,” Carney Field, Guadalcanal

Yes, Vella Lavella. A force was landed there this morning. About 4,600 troops landed on SE Vella Lavella undercover of a 30-40 plane fighter cover. That just about cuts the Japs on Kolombangara off from further aid.

Charlie was over last night, about 30 strong, on an anti-shipping prowl. A few were shot down, but the majority returned to Kahili after accomplishing nothing due to our ships being hidden down the coast at Bernande.

Went to Mass this morning at the 307th Bomb church in the “Wildwood.” No sign of VB-104 yet. Today means our 200th day of operating in the area. We flew 198 of those days.

Japs are using a new in-line engine fighter in this area. Known as the 03, or “Tony,” it made its first appearance about a week ago. It resembles a P-40 in many ways. The Japs are definitely known to have the following captured planes in flyable condition: P-40, F2A, P-36, Hurricane, B-10, B-17C, Hudson, Blenheim.

Munda went into operation for us today with 24 F4Us taking up station there. A new strip is to be built in SE Vella Lavella which we took this morning. That’ll put us a stones throw from Kahili.

The Malaita man, John, was over this evening to trade a grass skirt for a sheet. As usual Pete Kooy got him into conversation, the gist as follows: The natives do not like the British too well because of the low pay and rigid law-enforcement. “One fellow push-push one fellow Navy. One fella make (cutting motion at neck) dead. British come, make (hanging motions) no good.”

He worked as a gun carrier for the Marines, on whom, in his mind, the sun rises and sets. He has killed “ten” Japs himself and was wounded in the leg (scar). Got a medal from ‘big chief who sit in hut all day, no fight, just tk-kk-tk-tk” (typewriter motions). “Murky gun shoot eight bullet fast, Dyap gun shoot five. No good. Me shoot Dyap  (pointing to forehead) Bullet go in. Little hole. Bullet come out. Big, big hole.”

He wants to go to Bougainville and kill more Japs. Maybe die for Americans. (!) Says war will last three more years (shows more sense than Halsey). Asked why he killed Japs, he said the Japs told him Americans hate natives and to kill Americans, which they didn’t want to do, so the Japs killed some of them, which made them angry and they started fighting the Japs.

He declined offer of ride in one of our planes, saying, “too cold, too high” and explained by motions how a friend of his got sick to his stomach in a plane ride. P-38 (splitting fingers) “two fella, one fellow b’long here (pilot in the middle).

He had $37 in his money belt, and wants to go home and buy a wife. Bracelet from “Sina.” Saw my drawings on wall — “Ahhh, womeeeen!”