Monday, February 22, 2010

half a notion

New Caledonia

Nov. 12, 1942

Today is Nov. 11 back in the States and I have officially been in a year. Went on guard at 4 AM as usual. There were 20 men sent in to help us, because some of our fellows have already left for the Solomons. I was in the hosp. when they were picked, otherwise I might have went, too. Rec'd a letter from Mom today dated on Oct 25. Tonight (or rather at 4 PM)

"Gig" & Kruse had a fight over the gun. I think "Gig" got the best of the deal. Now we have no pistol. Heard tonight at chow that "Vicky" France has declared War agaist Germany and that Tokyo was bombed for 11 hrs. Gosh, that's wonderful news. Sure hope it continues.

Sat. Nov. 14, 1942

"Skull" came up around 8:30 & told "Gig", Frank & I to pack our things, that we were going to leave with the bunch from camp. So, I finished my ring in a hurry (50% piece) and now I won't be able to have it engraved. So, we said "goodbye" to our horses "Duke", "Jim" & "Bob" and said farewell to the corral. We sure hate to leave them.

I sure am going to have a load to carry with my full field pack: rifle, barracks boy, etc. "Gig" and I went swimming before we changed into our uniforms of green pants (tweed) etc. We stand around all evening. Just before supper Harry Falgo said we might be here 3 or 4 days yet. I understand there's a big naval battle going on at the Solomons and we have to wait until it's over. So, I guess that is where we are going.

Sun. Nov. 15, 1942

Well, today is my birthday and I'm not so very happy happy. I hope to have many more. I hear our boat is in the harbor, so I guess we will be shoving off any minute. I can hardly write this morning because I hit the bottom of the creek while diving. My finger has become infected, it's swollen twice it's size. I suppose I should go to the hospital with it. It's paining me now something awful. My hand is shaking terribly. Think I will close for now and see if I can get some iodine.

Mon. Nov. 16, 1942

This afternoon at 11:00 A.M. we were told to be ready to leave in an hour, so at 2 P.M. we got on the trucks with our new **** helmets, heavy packs, guns and barracks bag and headed for Noumea and the docks. We boarded a Navy transport (the P-11) which is sure a beautiful boat inside. Much, Much better than the one we came over on. We have nice bunks and don't even have to use our mess kits to eat out of.

Well, honey...this may be my last voyage because a battle is going on just a ways from here, but I'm trusting to God we get through. The sailors heard today that we sunk two airplane carriers and also that Noumea was bombed (Japanese Propagnada) with the loss of 11,000 American soliders. We have the same type boats that the Marines used in landing on the Solomons (Higgins boat) also small motor boats.

Tues. Nov. 17, 1942

We pulled away from the docks at 8 A.M. and pulled out into the harbor next to a tanker to take on 1,000 barrels of diesel oil. Was talking to some of the fellows on the tanker, they said the airplane carrier "Enterprise" was our only aircraft carrier left in the the Pacific. She is now opposite us in the harbor. They also said the troopship "Coolidge" was sunk off the Hebrides when she ran into one of her mines a few days ago.

Just made an announcement over the loud speaker that in the Solomons Battle (which is now going on) we sunk 30 of their ships, and we lost 8 (2 light cruisers & 6 destroyers) It looks pretty bad for us, I sure hope our P-11 isn't sunk. The tanker that we are alongside now has to return to the States because she has 60,000 barrels of aviation gas onboard and no aircraft carriers to give it to. They have been here in the harbor 47 days. I have half a notion to jump aboard the tanker and go home, but I'll see this through, if it costs my life in doing so. I hear our other fellows have landed safely at Guadalcanal. The real name of this ship is the USS Barnette but has the Navy name of the P-11.

Wed. Nov. 18, 1942

Was just on a detail at 8 A.M. this morning carrying rations up from the hold, up one deck to the kitchen. Ten of us have it permanently and it has to be done twice a day. I understand this ship has made one trip to the Solomons. The gun crew has shot down a number of Jap planes. One they shot down, the Jap pilot aimed it at the bridge tearing it to pieces and killing the Captain. Had my hair cut by frost this morning and bought some Futch shampoo and Vaseline hair tonic at the PX.

Late yesterday evening a cruiser and a battleship came in from the Solomons battle. We are still anchored in the harbor. Harry Falgo, our 1st Sgt, was operated on this morning for hemorroids. Was issued a little package of Sulfanilamide (sterilized) 5 grams for Tropical use, and a small box (like an aspirin box) of the sulfanilamide tablets (12). We are to take 2 tablets every 5 minutes if we are injured or wounded. This is to prevent infection.

We have just had an "Abandon ship" drill. The Capt. told us (if we had an abandon ship call) we would all jump overboard and "Good luck to you". We also had a boat drill today. After the Captain finished talking, he said "lay aft" and everyone stood there with a blank look on their faces. Finally he said "Dammit, move back".

Thurs. Nov. 19, 1942

We are still in the harbor. The Marines are pulling the guard duty on the boat, because there is more of them than Army. "Gig" was put on the same detail with me today. The news on today's commisque was very encouraging towards the Solomon Battle. They are expecting a 2nd attack, however it said that 14,000 Japs were drowned from 6 destroyer transports.


This is Harry's War Diary

Harry's buddies argue over their Army issued pistol, and as a result, the sidearm is taken away from them. Harry must have been working on making a ring as a memento, and is disappointed when he wont' be able to finish it. They go through a cycle of hurry-up-and-wait but they're certain that their time on New Caledonia is over.

Harry is pleased with the interior of their transport ship, and the flow of mis-information begins immediately. Up until now, their 'news' is filtered down and not much information actually makes it to their camp. But onboard the Navy ship, they hear rumors that travel fast.

The Abandon Ship Drill entry is my favorite story so far.

As for some actual accounts of the Solomon Battle: Nov 13th a Japanese cruiser force attempts to obliterate Henderson Airfield on Guadalcanal. The cruisers are attacked offshore, resulting in 12 out of the 13 American ships involved sunk. However, not one shell hit Henderson Field.

Nov 14th Jap troop vessels attempting to land on Guadalcanal are sitting ducks for the Cactus Air Force. Out of the fully loaded landing vessels, only 2,000 Japanese soliders make it onto the island alive.

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