GREEN ISLAND IN WORLD WAR II 1944: BASE No.7

BLACK CAT PBY CATALINAS And PT BOAT TEAMS

 

Milton W. Bush, Jr., Esq., 205 Tri-Mountain Road, Durham, CT 06422:  860-349-1418

 

PrefaceJul  2006  6th Edition

 

Forty miles north of Bougainville is the large Nissan Island atoll, three small islands on its perimeter, and long and narrow Pinipel Island to the north, collectively known as the Green Islands. A part of Papua New Guinea, then, an Australian Trust Territory Protectorate.

 

On February 15, 1944, the Island was retaken from two years of Japanese Army occupation by Allied Forces, U.S., New Zealand and Australia, and became a significant air and PT Boat base for a year and a half. Supply, training and repairs were also major activities.

 

Archaeological evidence indicates that the island has been inhabited for at least 25,000 years. The islanders in 1944 lived essentially the same as from times immemorial. In 2001, many in the Solomon Islands and in upland New Guinea maintain a primitive tribal rain forest peoples’ existence, and may be quite happy to do so.

 

No outside telephone service on Green Island then, and none now.

 

In the summer of 1944 there were three Jeeps, the original open-air SUV’s. Milton Bush, Sr., Esq,, age 33, from Saginaw, Michigan  became the PATSU Navy officer for legal and personnel matters. He had one of the Jeeps.

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GREEN ISLAND  JUNE 1944 - JULY 1945

 

The Green Islands are eight islands, being part of two coral atolls on the north end of the Solomon Island chain, just four degrees South of the Equator. Nissan Island is the largest one and where the U.S. Navy / Marine Corps., New Zealand and Australian bases were located. One mile northwest is Pinipel Island, about ten miles long, and narrow. Rokus is the principal town on Pinipel. They are part of Papua New Guinea, about 40 miles north of Bougainville and Buka Islands, and 500 miles northwest of  Honirara (Henderson Field), Guadalcanal. Rabaul on New Britain Island, the major Japanese stronghold, lies 117 miles to the west, and Port Moresby, the capital of Papua, lies 500 miles to the southwest. North of Rabaul in the Bismark Archipelago are the Admiralty Islands group, target of many Green Island bomber operations during late 1944 and early 1945.

 

The Island.

Nissan Island, commonly known as Green Island, is horse-shoe shaped with three, quarter-mile wide channels (mostly shallow) from the lagoon to the sea on the northwest side,  the south channel is about 17 feet deep. The main lagoon entrance channel south of Barahun Island is about 120 feet wide, large enough for some cargo ships to enter and unload. The average depth of the lagoon is 70 feet. Some parts of the atoll are just a few hundred feet wide. The somewhat narrow part where the two airstrips and administration buildings were is about a half mile wide. The crushed coral road around the island is about 25 miles long. Nissan Island is 6725 acres, about 10.5 square miles. From Nissan, one can see Ambitle Island, part of the Feni Island Group, 60 km to the northwest. Its extinct volcano mountain top is 280 m. above sea level.

 

Spanish and French explorers sailed to the region in 1616 following earlier expeditions in the mid 1500’s. Dutch explorers returned in 1643. Cataret mapped the area in 1767. Missionaries came to settle in the 1880’s in sizeable numbers. Much of this is detailed by anthropologist, Matthew Spriggs in his 1997 work, The Island Melanesians, 317 pps. Spriggs spent two summers on Nissan excavating three main limestone rockshelter sites which had been dwelling places for thousands of years. Numerous layers of volcanic ash preserved ancient artifacts, mainly pottery pieces imported from New Britain, Buka, and other nearby islands. Nissan lacks the necessary clay deposits for pottery making.

 

The two islander villages known as Balil and Stor were on the northwest end. The Marist Order High School was at the future airbase area. A Catholic mission at Tongol Village was  situated on the lagoon side of the south end of the island. Pokonian Plantation on the west side, and Tangolan Plantation on the east side were former commercial copra operations. The light soil on top of the coral rock and sand supports some vegetation. The soil is mainly volcanic in origin, falling on the island during periodic eruptions and explosions of volcanoes in the region. Rain forest covered much of the island. The islanders had pigs (mainly wild boars), goats and chickens. They fished from outrigger canoes, trolling for tuna and bonito; trapped lobsters; caught turtles and sea cucumbers; planted taro, Spanish yams (kaukau), sweet potatoes, green vegetables; harvested mangoes, plantains,  10 pound breadfruits, bananas, coconuts and almonds; and caught birds and bats. The fruit bat, a/k/a flying fox is a rare treat, either boiled or roasted. The climate is tropical monsoonal, with the wettest seasons being from December to March and May to October. Rainfall is 120 to 140 inches.

 

“When war came to New Guinea, the separate territories of Papua, and of Mandated Territory of New Guinea, came (Feb 1942) under military administration: the Papuan Administrative Unit and the New Guinea Administrative Unit. These were combined on 10 April 1942 as the Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit [ANGAU], with HQ at Port Moresby. It had three functions: operational; administrative; and production.

 

“In the field, the key post of District Officer (with the usual rank of Major) was usually held by a person who had been a peace time Resident Magistrate of District Officer. Operational tasks included recruitment and management of native labour to carry supplies for the army, and other military work such as wharf labour, road building, airfield construction. Administrative tasks covered law and order, welfare and health. Production tasks included working/revitalizing abandoned plantations, mainly copra and rubber. ANGUA had powers of compulsion to recruit plantation labour and to keep it at work.” Provided by Wynnum Graham, Cairns, AU, 22 Nov 2001.

 

“In 1884 Germany gained possession of the northeastern part of New Guinea Island, along with adjacent islands such as New Britain, New Ireland, Bougainville, Feni, and the Green Island Group. Coconut plantations were started by the Germans, and burgeoned in the period of German control. I’ve not heard of any native controlled plantation developments in those times. After World War I. The German portion of New Guinea came under Australian control as the Mandated Territory of New Guinea – a League of Nations ruling. After that, the German plantations were expropriated and most were sold to Australian ex-servicemen by tender.

 

“Now, I don’t know who got control of the plantations on Nissan Is. It was probably someone similar to Mr F P Archer. Mr C C Jervis was a plantation manager at Nissan. This suggests the plantation was owned by an absentee owner or company with other interests. Mr Jrevis also operated a radio on coast guard duties at Nissan, until he was captured by the Japanese 23 Jan 1942. He was lost when Montevideo Maru was sunk 1 Jul 1942 en route to Japan.

 

“F P Archer. Born Melbourne, Australia 1890, had been an Australian soldier during World War I, then in the Aust. Flying Corps 1917-1919. He became a plantation owner, of Jame Island, Buka Passage, TNG. This is just southeast of Green Is, maybe 60-70 miles. In World War II. He signed up with ANGAU as Lt. F P Archer. It seemed Lt Archer knew Green Is well: he was chosen to guide an exploratory raiding party of 322 New Zealanders, including Survey Troup 4, who landed and examined Nissan Island on the night of 30-31 Jan 1942, prior to the landing proper in 15 Feb 1944.” (Wynnum Graham).

 

Taking the Island.

 Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr. (“Bull”) planned the project in early January, 1944. The mission code name was Square Peg. On January 30, 1944, U.S. Navy Task Force 31 was composed of four destroyers, three high speed transports and two PT Boats, 176 and 178 of Ron 11.. Rear Admiral Theodore S. Wilkinson was the commander. Covering support was provided the following week by Task Force 38, having four destroyers and two light cruisers, and Task Force 39 with two light cruisers and five destroyers. New Zealand Battalion 30 and U.S. Navy personnel, about 320 men, landed to pick out landing zones and airstrip sites, and to measure tides and water depths, being picked up the next day. Five men were killed and ten wounded during skirmishes with the enemy.The next day a Japanese ship was spotted and sunk. On February 4 some troops landed at Pakonian Plantation on the Lower West side of the island for further scouting. They learned about the local installations from the plantation workers. On the day before the invasion, Cruiser, St. Louis, was damaged by a bomb dropped by a Japanese dive bomber. As the convoy neared the island, dozens of destroyers formed a circle around the landing craft to protect against air attacks. Two of eight dive bombers were shot down and the others driven off by the rain of AA from the destroyers. Risks of naval attacks were minimal due to the abandonment of the Rabaul navy base by the Japanese on 10 Feb 1944 following several days of intense air strikes by carrier-based planes.

 

 On February 15, 1944, the New Zealand  3rd Infantry Division, 30th Battalion landed at the Pokonian Plantation (Beach Blue) with seven 3.7 inch howitzer guns from 144th Independent Battery and 208th LLA Battery. B Company of 30th Battery landed at Barahun Island. PT Boats 176, 178 (Ron 11), 247 and 249 (Ron 20) went after machine gun nests on the shore. Others continued across the lagoon and landed at Tangalan Plantation (Beach Red – north and Beach Green – south). A Japanese air counter-attack was fought off, though a tank landing ship, LST-486, was damaged. At least 11 Japanese fighter planes were shot down. A photo of landing craft unloading trucks and bulldozers on the beach taken on the second day of the invasion was on the cover of the New York Times Magazine on April 16, 1944. On February 18, a fierce battle erupted on the southeast end of the island. About 100 Japanese soldiers were killed. On February 20 a reinforcement convoy arrived. Other skirmishes occurred on Sirot Island, and on Sau Island in the Pinipel Bay. Roughly 6,000 troops were involved in the initial invasion activities, being 4242 NZ troops and 1564 US troops. By mid-March, 17,000 troops were working there. The New Zealand Army Division remained there until late April, then returned home.

 

On the day of the initial invasion, a large diversionary air strike was made on the big airbase at Kavieng, New Ireland, low level bombing and strafing by 124 planes, escorted by 61 P-38 Lightnings. Japanese AA fire downed eight planes. Lt Nathan G. Gordon in his PBY Catalina repeatedly alighted and rescued 15 men. He was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor for his rescue work. (Wynnum Graham).

 

On the morning of March 13, 1944 near the tiny village of Tanakeran on the southwest coast of the island, 60 Japanese soldiers hidden in the jungle about 150 yards from the low sea-side cliffs, opened up with sniper rifle fire, followed by fierce mortar shelling. During the day long battle, they were eventually surrounded. A number on NZ tanks blasted away at the trees, just firing in the general direction of the enemy troops. By dusk, 51 enemy troops were dead, the last one falling onto his own hand grenade. Several Third Division soldiers were killed and a small number were wounded. New Zealand Herald article. [http://au.geocities.com/third_div/herald3_44.html]

 

The Island missionary workers had fled several years before when the Japanese invaded. Shortly after the Island was retaken, nearly 1,150 islanders were evacuated to Guadalcanal, mostly for malaria treatment. One baby was born on the voyage. Navy medical personnel also treated 200 Pinipel Island residents for various illnesses. About 350 people, mostly young male workers, remained on the island

Seabees from the 93rd Construction Battalion constructed the first short fighter plane air strip in less than three weeks. The 33rd CB Battalion arrived Feb 15 and worked there to mid-July. The 37th CB Battalion arrived on March 6, and remained for seven months. These battalions included about 1,000 enlisted men and 33 officers, each. The second parallel strip, one thousand feet east, was built for the bomber squadrons two weeks later, about 4000 feet long. A PBY tender ship, Coos Bay AVP-25, arrived on May 11 to service the first PBY’s  and to provide quarters for the crews while the main base was being constructed. A second tender ship, Chincoteague AVP-24, replaced the first on June 16, 1944. These were about 300 feet long, a beam of 41 feet, draft of 13 feet, and 6000 hp, crew of 200 sailors, had large cranes, and were floating machine shops, providing everything for flying operations. VP-91 provided the first three PBY’s on 26 March, and five more on 27 May, 1944. On 15 June, Squadron VP-44 and PT Boat Squadron 27 arrived for regular operations. A water distilling ship operated in the lagoon to provide fresh water until land facilities could be built. 12 huge distiller-condensers were constructed, each producing 4,000 gallons per day. Large diesel generators were built and  25 or more 13,000 gallon gasoline tanks were installed. Tanker trucks carried the fuel to the airstrips, and to the lagoon beach area where the PBY’s were hauled out by tractors and serviced after each flight. On October 25, 1944 the 93rd Batt. went to Guiuan NAS to work for seven months.

 

An Olympic-size pool for collecting rainwater was build near the 93rd CB camp south of the airbase. A windowless brig with a metal roof was built, about 15 by 20 feet, out in the jungle. The sight of it was intended to deter misbehavior. Each unit’s living quarters camp had a movie theater and a ballfield, six in all. A saw mill was built in the jungle, about half a mile north of the base in the jungle, producing thousands of feet of lumber each day. An open air chapel was built on East Point, overlooking the ocean. The several chaplains took turns conducting services. The Baptist chaplain was said to be able to conduct a Jewish service in perfect Hebrew.

 

The Tactical Equipment.

PBY-5A’s. Catilina Flying Boats. The South Pacific Navy Command had about 12 squadrons, painted black for night operations. These were the Black Cats. Each squadron had about 16 planes. This model was new and improved in 1944. Retractable landing wheels and wing float gear; radar to locate ships; ID transponders. Wing bomb hangers for two 1,000 and two 500 pound bombs, or depth charge loads. Crate space for 40  20-pound fragmentation bombs, dropped by hand. Wing brackets to hold two torpedoes. A 3,000,000 candle power searchlight. Twin .30 cal. eyeball nose turret machine guns; two side blister .50 cal. machine guns; and one .50 cal. rear tunnel gun, down through the keel. Crew: pilot; copilot; navigator; radioman; radarman; bombardier; two mechanics/gunners, and two additional gunners.

The planes were built by Consolidated Aircraft Co. in San Diego. A total of 3,600 of various models were made. (1939 versions had no wheels or bomb racks). Engines were two 1,200 hp. Pratt & Whitney. 104 foot wing span; 61 feet long; 34,000 lbs./ 41,000 fully loaded. Cruising speed 117 mph., max. 180 mph. Ceiling 15.000 feet; patrol  range 2,550 miles / tactical range, 1,500 miles; fuel capacity about 1,800 gal. The three blade props had 12 foot diameters. Quarters for four bunks were in the center for sleeping during long flights. A small kitchen was also provided.

 

They were  manufactured by  Consolidated Aircraft. Consolidated Vultee became part of Convair in 1954, which later changed its name to General Dynamics Corp. “P’ indicates Patrol; “B” indicates Bomber; “Y” indicates Consolidated Aircraft Corp.; 5 is the model series, and “A” indicates Amphibious. Squadron designation “V” indicates Heavier Than Air, i.e. Airplane; “P” is Patrol. “B” was added in 1944 for Bomber capability. Harbor Drive facilities in San Diego are probably where most were assembled and launched. In 1945 some PBY’s were manufactured in New Orleans, and some in Canada.

 

VP-91  3 planes to Green  26 Mar 1944 and 5 more on 27 May, to 15 Jun 1944 when                        reassigned to Halavo Bay. LCDR E. L. Farrington. 45 officers and 146 enlisted men.             Squadron nicknames “The Stingers.” Part of FAW-1.

VP-44  16 planes June 15, 1944 to 11 April 1945. LCDR  Gerard S. Bogart  [Pebble Beach, CA]

VP-101 (became VPB 29 Oct 44) 5 planes 1 Jul to Sep 25,1944. Lauren Johnson and Dave Hanson   this squadron had PBY-5’s, pure seaplanes, no wheels.

VPB 33  1-30 Dec1944. F. P. Anderson

VPB 53 16 planes, 15 Apr 1945 to 18 June 1945 LCDR Gerald H. Duffy. Then went to Guiuan           NAS, Samar Island. Missions were mainly practice bombing and strafing Buka Island and     Rabaul areas, harassing the enemy, and air sea rescue searches.

 

B-25 Mitchell’s. 42nd Bomber Group (“Crusaders”) of the 13th U.S. Army Air Force (“Jungle Air Force”), and RNZAF. A squadron of about 12 planes. These planes were manufactured by North American Aircraft Co. / Boeing in Dallas and Kansas City. Two engine, twin-tailed bombers. 10,000 were built. Two 1,700 hp Wright Cyclone engines; speed 300 mph., range 3,000 miles with drop tanks. Empty weight 20,000 lbs.; payload 6,700 lbs. 13  .50 cal machine guns operated by the bombardier and a gunner. Operated by a pilot, copilot, radio operator, gunner and bombardier. Three blade 13 foot diameter propellers.

The Marine Corps and Navy versions of the B-25 bombers were called PBJ-1’s. Squadron VMB 433 was on Green July 16 to Aug 20, 1944. Bill Parks of San Jose flew 14 missions to Rabaul. Squadron VMB 423 “Seahorse Green Marines”  flew from Green, June 21, 1944  to May 26, 1945, per Ted Rundall, a radio-gunner in Linwood, NJ. The ability of the planes to glide is said to be the same as that of “a falling safe.” VMB 423 lost a plane and crew on April 20 and 22, 1944 at Espiritu Santo in training; plane and crew lost on June 22 (night crash near Rabaul) and June 29 (night crash in the trees, next to their squadron camp, near the lagoon); a plane lost October 3, 1944 off N. Ireland, crew rescued. A squadron would usually have a crew roster of about 550 Marines.

 

PV-1 Ventura medium bombers were operated by the RNZAF. These were Lend-Lease program aircraft. Twin 2000 hp Pratt & Whitney engines; twin tails; twin .50 cal nose guns; twin canopy .50’s; a lower tail gun. Two droppable 165 gal wing tanks. Built by Lockheed Vega Division at Burbank, CA. These were medium to low level bombers. They flew in conjunction with B-25’s in raids against Rabaul and New Ireland, often in 50 plane groups. They were hard to fly at low levels. 313 mph; 1790 mile range; 3000 pound bomb loads. Crews of four or five.

 

Squadron No. 1 arrived in May 1944 at Ocean Field

Squadron No. 3 replaced them in April 1945. 14 planes.

 

Crew members mentioned were: Dunstan; Jack Register; Rolf Yates; Ron Fenton and West.

 

Marine Corp. / RNZAF  F4U Corsairs. Two squadrons, about 30 planes. High-powered fighter-bombers. They were manufactured in Stratford, CT by Vought-Sikorsky, a part of United Aircraft Co. 12,500 were built during the war. 1850 horsepower Pratt & Whitney engine, 18 cylinders. 415 miles per hour; ceiling 37,000 feet. Weight 10,000 pounds; range 1070 miles. Radar scope. 3 blade prop with a 13 foot diameter. Six .50 cal. wing machine guns, converging at 250 yards; 1600 rounds @ 5000 per minute. Eight five inch wing rockets or two 1,000 pound bombs. Often carrier-based. These planes were 100 mph faster than the Zeros; an enormous advantage.

Squadron VMF 531 downed a “Jake” off Green on Feb 15, 1944; two more on Feb 17; and one on Feb 19. Col. Frank Schwable; Lt Jack Plunkett; Lt Col John Harshberger.

 

Squadron VMF 114, Mar 13, 1944 to May 7.

 

Squadron VMF 221 Mar 1944 – Apr 1944.

 

Squadron VMF 223 (“Bulldogs”). May 7, 1944 to June 18, 1944, transferring to Espiritu Santo. Charles A. Lindbergh, tactical test pilot, flew with this group from Green Island, summer 1944 and downed one aircraft near Rabaul. Col. Bow, commander. The squadron was also briefly on Green mid-Mar 1944 when evacuated from Piva, Bougainville by artillery attack.

 

Squadron VMF 222  Aug - Oct 1944. Transferred to Guiuan, Samar Island Base Jan 1945. One pilot was Lt. Henry McCullough Turner.

 

RNZAF Corsair fighters squadrons:

No 20, S/L  G.M. Robertson  26 Oct – Nov 1944.

No. 18 S/L  G.H. Corbet 22 Nov - Dec 1944

No. 14  S/L D.W. Cocks 22 Nov for 10 days

No. 16  S/L  P.S. Green 21 Dec 1944 – Feb 1945

No. 17 S/L B.V. Le Pine  Jan – Mar 1945

No. 15 S/L M.R. Clarke  Feb – Apr 1945

No. 24              S/L A.G.S. George Mar – May 1945

No. 21 W.J. Macleod Apr – May 1945

All RNZAF planes left Green by May 21, 1945.

 

Marine Corps. SBD-3 and 5 Douglas Dauntless  dive bombers. Two squadrons, about 30 planes. A pilot and a bomber-gunner. Somewhat slow dive-bombers. 1,000 hp Wright engine; 250 mph maximum; 173 mph cruising speed; range 950 miles. One center 650 lb bomb; two 110 lb wing bombs. 10,200 lbs when loaded. 33 feet long; 41 foot wingspan. Two .50 cal nose guns; two .30 cal. rear seat flexible guns.

 

Squadron VMSB 341, April-May1944 and Sept-Oct 1944. Many dive bombing raids on Rabaul and Kavieng. Report of air strikes (57 missions) by Mel Clark, gunner, and article by Albert Black on 1944 operations out of Green.

 

TBM-3 Avengers made by Grumman Aircraft, carrier-based torpedo bombers, escorted and operated drone assault dive bombers from Green starting Sept 27, 1944, and also on Russell Island. Avengers were high-powered planes; 1700 hp Wright engines; range 1000 miles; 278 mph; 23,400 ceiling; 10,545 empty and 18,250 loaded; three man crews. The drones were two engine @ 150 hp. TDR-1’s. One 2,000 pound bomb; 1,000 mile range. Radio-controlled and television sighted – aimed at Rabaul targets. These were the first U.S. made cruise missiles, ancestor of the Tomahawk missile. Germany had somewhat similar drones as air-to-ship missiles, and sank three big ships.

 

PT Boat squadrons, about 12 boats. Most were built by Electric Boat Co. (Elco) or by Higgins. About 80 feet long and 21 feet wide. Fifty tons. Three Packard V-12 gas engines @ 1350 hp. Max 41 knots; 3000 gals fuel @ 474 gal per hour. At 35 knots, range was 518 miles; at 10 knots, about 1600 miles. Four 21 inch torpedo tubes; 8 tube 5-inch rocket launchers. 20 mm Oerlikon (Swiss) machine gun forward and aft; 37 mm cannon forward; 40 mm Bofors Gun (Swedish design) cannon aft; one .50 cal Browning machine gun on each side. The U.S.  PT Boat production was 531 units. Usually 15 to 17 man crews, including three officers.

 

Squadron  MTB Ron 10 16 boats (12 in service) Feb 16 to Apr 19, 1944. Elco 80’s. LCDR Jack Gibson. Nos. 108; 116; 124-5; 163-174. Boats lost in 1943 were 164; 165; 166 and 173.

 

Squadron  MTB Ron 5  21 boats (12 in service) periodically in Feb and March , 1944 Elco 80’s. CDR Henry Farrow. Nos. 62-65; 103-114; 314-19. Decommissioned Nov. 15 Feb 1945 (remaining boats transferred to Ron 10). Boats lost in 1943 were 109; 111; 112; 113; 117 and 118. Lost in 1944 were 63; 107 and 110. Reassigned in Mar 1944 to Emirau. PT 107 exploded in a gas dock fire on 18 June 1944, leaving only two survivors. Lt. Cdr. Alvin Cluster was JFK’s squadron commander. Annapolis, 1940. 1919-2004, Bend, Ore.

 

Squadron MTB Ron 28 12 boats Feb 17, 1944 to May 1944. And Sept 1 to Oct 18, 1944. Elco 80’s. LCDR G. A. Matteson, Jr. Nos. 378-383 and 546-551. Decommissioned Oct 21, 1945 at Samar Island. Boat nicknames provided by Will Day, Mar 2005:

378      Dracula

379      Scorpion / 79’er

380      Hellion

381      Shelly / George Matt

382      Bed Bug          

383      Knight Raider

546      Timber Wolf

547      Paoli Local / Ena Baby Come Seven II

548      Divil’s Dozen

549      Dracula

550      Queen Bee

551      Saphire

 

Squadron  MTB Ron 19  10 boats Mar to May 1944.  Higgins 78’s. LCDR Russell H. Smith. Nos. 235-244. Squadron was decommissioned May 15, 1944. Boats   241- 244 reassigned to Ron 23, and 235-240 to Ron 20. The 239 was lost on Vella La Vella on  14 Dec 1943 in a gas refueling explosion. The next day they moved up to Treasury; then to Green about 5 Mar 1944.

 

Squadron MTB  Ron 27  12 boats, June to Aug 24, 1944. Elco 80’s. CDR Clinton McKellar, Jr. Nos. 356-361 and 372-377. Decommissioned Oct 19, 1945 at Samar. In late August 1944 the squadron went to Biak Island in Dutch New Guinea with the tender, Varuna, and some Ron 28 boats. Boat nicknames provided by Will Day:

356      Honeysuckle Rose / Dynamite / Dynamite 6

357      Dinamite II

360      Coral Princess / Blanche Leahnita

372      Donna Faye / Miss Fortune

373      Hatches Janie

374      Torpedo Truk

375      Judy    

376      Spirit of 76

377      Miss Chatterbox

 

Squadron MTB  Ron 23  12 boats Apr 1944 to  Nov  10, 1944. Higgins 78’s. LCDR Ronald K. Irving and Lt. Donald F. Galloway, USNR. Decommissioned Nov 26, 1945 at Samar with the bare hulls being burned on the beach.

 

The PT Boats were supported in the lagoon at the Barahun Island base by USS Vanuna, AGP-5 on 1 Mar 1944 to 31 July 1944, a large PT Boat tender, 328 feet in length, 60 feet wide, shallow draft of 13.5 ‘. Crew of about 130 men. Originally built in 1942 as LST-14, it had one three inch gun, eight 40 mm cannons and eight 20 mm cannons. On the aft deck of an AGP was a heavy-duty crane, called “the A-Frame.” The stationary derrick was about 75 feet high, four sides, each about 20 feet at the base, triangle “A’s” going up to the top operating pulley mounts which connected to the top of the hoisting boom, about 90 feet long.. The lifting pulley rigs went just over the top of the boom and down to the main hoisting pulley rig, connected to four cables to haul the boat slings up. The crane engine platform was in the middle of the A-Frame. Could probably lift 75 tons. Other AGP cranes had a big solid post derrick and a deck-mounted boom. A third type had a V-shaped boom mounted at the side of the ship. Cable straps went under a boat for hoisting. This type most resembles an “A”.

 

A large three-bay floating dry dock was placed during the summer near the loading pier to facilitate hull and propeller maintenance work. A barge-mounted crane did some of the heavy lifting. The Floating Equipment Maintenance Unit (FEMU’s) barges were about 100 feet long and 50 feet wide. Two Chrysler 8 cyl engines; 2 or 3 knots at best.  Barahun Island is only 90 acres, about .14 square miles.

 

A map of Barahun Island from Tom Fitzgerald of Riverside, NJ, Ron 28, shows the base on the north half of the island, with T-shaped steel pontoon docks out into the lagoon. Nearby on the beach area were the administration quonsets and shops for torpedoes, electrical, engine repairs, etc. Back in from the quonsets were the generators, evaporators, pumps and fuel storage tanks. A crushed coral foot-path went north a few hundred yards to the little spit of land on the NE side of the island where the officers’ quarters and club were. The road turns west up to the mess hall on the NW side; then S to the EM’s tent quarters, a few hundred yards. Next to that, in the middle of the island on a bluff overlooking the ocean, were the US Army Coast Artillery Gun and Signal Corps. radar fire control stations. Gullies in the road made vehicle travel impossible.

 

By late 1944, all PT Boats had been sent to work in the Leyte area, preparing for the expected invasion of Japan. A big rescue crash boat remained at the Green Island  air base.

 

Japanese forces had more than a dozen types of planes. Six are of significance for this area:

 

Mitsubishi Zero A6M “Zeke” fighter planes. 1000 hp, 14 cylinders, cruising speed 200 mph, maximum 330 mph, 3700 lbs, 6000 lbs loaded. 30 feet long; wings 40 feet. 150 gal tank and one 94 gal drop tank. Range 2000 miles. Ceiling 32,000 feet. Two 7.7 mm machine guns @ 500 rounds; two 20 mm wing cannons @ 60 rounds; two 130 lb bombs. Light weight, but fragile; poor control at high altitudes.

 

Aichi D3A “Val” dive bomber, two seater. 8000 lbs loaded; 33 feet long, 242 mph, 1000 hp, 31,000 foot ceiling, range 1,100 miles. Two 66 lb bombs and one 551 lb bomb.

 

Nakajima B5N “Kate” torpedo bomber. 8000 lbs loaded. 34 feet long; 51 foot wingspan; 217 mph; 770 hp; 25,000 foot ceiling; range 688 miles. Two seater. Six 132 pound wing bombs and one torpedo or two 551 lb bombs.

 

Mitsubishi G4M “Betty” medium bomber. 61 feet long; wingspan 82 feet. 21,000 lbs loaded; two 1500 hp engines; 270 mph; 30,000 foot ceiling; 3000 mile range. 2200 lb bomb load or one 17 inch torpedo. One 7.7 mm nose gun; one dorsal; one ventral; one 20 mm tail cannon.

 

Kawanishi H8K “Emily” flying boat, similar in appearance to PBY’s. Four engine; 92 feet long; wingspan 124; 68,000 lb loaded. 280 mph max. 28,800 foot ceiling; range 3000 miles. Five 20 mm cannons; three 7.7 mm guns. 4,400 lb bomb load or two torpedoes under wings. Only 180 were built.

 

Aichi E13A1 “Jake” twin pontoon flying boat reconnaissance / dive bomber. One Mitsubishi Kinsei 143 engine, 1080 hp. Low wings; three man crew. 138 cruising speed; 233 max. 28,640 ceiling; range 1128 nm. Rear 7.7 mm machine gun; 20 mm cannon forward, downward-pointing. One 250 kg or four 60 kg bombs. 1350 units built 1940-44. Radar and sonar (poor) equipped by 1944.

 

Base Operations. South Pacific Base 7. (Repair, Supply, Staging and Training)

Following initial base construction, a specialized PATSU group was brought in to manage all ground administration and support operations. Patrol Aircraft Technical Support Unit. 16 officers and about 150 enlisted men. Lt. Kelly was the C/O. Personnel, medical, supply logistics, communications, aircraft maintenance and munitions supply, base maintenance, food and housing. Supply and fuel ships would steam into the lagoon every few weeks. Fuel requirements were obviously gigantic. Supplies and munitions would be  unloaded onto LCT’s and then ferried to the supply depot known as The Dump, located about one mile south of the airfields. The bomb and ammo dump was half a mile south of the supply depot, well-hidden in the jungle. Mail, personnel, and other supplies would come via PBY’s on return trips from larger bases. The ANGAU controlled an islander worker and police security force of about 500 men.

 

One of the regional Navy tanker ships delivering 100 octane aviation gasoline to the island bases was the USS Tappahannock AO-43. Built in 1942, scrapped in 1987. 21,750 tons; 520 feet long; beam, 68 feet; draft 30 feet; 12,800 hp; 17 knots max.; 7,425,000 gallon cargo capacity. The airbase had a gas tank farm hidden under the trees. The tanks were about 20 feet in diameter and 10 feet high, holding about 13,000 gallons each. The total capacity was about 340,000 gallons. Aircraft used about 20,000 gallons of fuel, and PT Boats used about 15,000 gallons per day.

 

Liberty Ships brought thousands of tons of everything. The USS Cassiopeia AK 75 was the first to call, on 6 Mar 1944; departed on the 10th. Returned 15 Mar 1945; left on 24th. Returned on 28th; left on 29th. Returned 8 Apr 1945; left on 12th. It was 441 feet long; 57 feet wide; draft of 27 feet. Eleven knot speed. Crew of 81. 1950 hp steam turbine; 4,000 tons dry; 11,000 tons loaded (about 300 box car loads or 2800 Jeeps). Carried four LCT’s (50’) for unloading and two LCJ’s (35’). Built in 45 days late 1942 at the Richmond, CA Todd-Kaiser Shipyard by Permanente Metals, Inc. Launch name was Melville W. Fuller. Renamed on delivery to US Navy. Sunk as a practice target in 1961. Had two twin .50 cal; two 40 mm’s; six 20 mm’s; and a rear five inch deck gun. Decorated for downing six Zero’s and one Betty Bomber at Leyte. Involved in Nov 1, 1943 dockside explosion in Noumea, New Caledonia. Also a whiskey heist Feb 23, 1944 of 94 cases of scotch which was labeled for delivery to Admiral Halsey on Guadalcanal. Cargo would be loaded at big supply depots south of the Solomons and then sent north on inter-island hops. Brisbane, AU was the main transshipment port.

 

Cargo aircraft were C-47’s. Unarmed transports, originally, DC-3’s. Known as “Gooney Birds.” The Japanese version was called the “Tabby”. Six man crew; 6,000 pound cargo capacity. About 9,500 U.S. planes were built 1940-1945. The aircraft were operated by Southern Command Air Transport, SCAT. In the spring of 1944, Richard M. Nixon ran the base air cargo office.

 

On one occasion a Jeep arrived wired under a PBY wing; the enlisted men wanted one of their own. The other two were kept by  PATSU officers.

 

The tactical squadron units each had their own command structure, usually headed by a Lt. Commander. The main command center was on Guadalcanal, known as Cactus Strategic Command. Aircraft from bases on Bougainville often joined in bombing runs against the many Rabaul army and air force installations. The command center was later moved a bit north to Munda.

 

Airbase Facilities.

The main air base units were set up near the middle of the airstrips. Quonset huts (a/k/a Nissan huts) served as office and shop facilities. Most of the several camp quarters were south of the base, hidden in the plantation trees. Tents of about 20 x 20 with peaked roofs were the crew quarters. Buckets and barrels were placed at the tent edges to collect rainwater during the afternoon rains. For a shower, you had to bring your own water with you. The cook shacks had  tent roofs over them. About 300 U.S. Navy personnel and 180 U.S. Marine Airmen  lived in the tent villages. Earlier, 13,000 Navy CB’s worked there constructing the base facilities. The RNZAF camp with about 150 New Zealand and Australian airmen was set up north of the airfields. Another NZ Army base was on the SW side of the island. The 29th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery crews were there. Each battery had four troops, with each troop having three Bofors 40 mm AA guns. Tea times for His Majesty’s troops were promptly at 10 AM and 2 PM.

 

Base Map of Facilities, drawn by 93rd CB circa April 1944, provided by Ken Bingham, NAVFAC, U.S. Navy, Port Hueneme, CA (CB Command Historian’s Office) in a chain of five photos. The map shows part of the east side of the island starting about half a mile north of the runways, then down the island about 3 miles to South Point. About half the area is solid jungle. Each of the facilities is numbered

 

Photo 3. North End of Base.

One half mile north of the airbase, on the lagoon, is a dock, the 37th CB camp, and inland is the MAG 14 camp, mess hall and recreation fields. Hospital area.

Just off the north end of the airbase, in the jungle, is the fuel tank farm, about 12 tanks, and 6 water storage tanks.

North of the runways are aircraft parking areas. Between the runways are the PATSU administration Quonsets for Units 1-3.; a windsock; a BAR station. Oceanside, are PATSU Air Operations; intelligence; mess hall; fuse tent; 13th Airdrome Squadron H.Q.; a loading dock and gas pump unit; repair shop; storage; mess hall; ammunition supply; hydraulic shop; electrical shop; prop metal shop; dispensary; stills; MAG 14 H.Q.;  mess hall; 22nd CB H.Q.

 

Photo 4. Center of Base.

Lagoon side are SCAT operations and storage; repair shops; tank farm by the beach. East side are torpedo unit; repair shop; storage; mess hall; ammunition supply; hydraulic shop; electrical shop; prop metal shop; dispensary; stills; MAG 14 H.Q.;  mess hall; 22nd CB H.Q.

Midfield are antenna; generators; radio operations; field operations; meteorology; parachute tents;

MAG 14 ordinance; repair shops; intelligence; fighter command; control tower between runways; mess hall; radio; radar; freight dock; 27th CB camp; big coral pit near lagoon.

South end of field, in the jungle are the bomb dumps, about 8 acres.

 

Photo 5. Narrow strip south of airbase.

Lagoon Road, Kiwi Camp; stills; water tanks; showers; laundry; generators; library, gas tanks; “Officers Country” near the lagoon beach, and EM camp inland. Acorn 10 area; well and 5,000 gal. tank.

On the Oceanside are Pilots’ Road; Pilots’ Camp, having about 80 tents; radar camp; laundry; generators; gun emplacements – BAT 208; transmitter; Comm. Building;

 

Photo 6. Near south end of island, below “Officers’Country”.

Island Services Command (probably the Aussie Administration H.Q.); FMAW; Argus 7 Road. The 93rd CB Camp is inland, theater, water tanks, showers, mess, laundry. Hospital is near lagoon beach, Wards A and B. Somewhere in the area was the water storage cistern, about 75 by 100 and 10 feet deep. Radar station; one 40 mm gun and five 50 mm guns., oceanside.

On south end is Service Command Road, the 33rd CB Camp, well and water tanks.

 

Photo 7

Lagoon Road; Halis village camp; three warehouses, cold storage building; food dump; big lagoon dock; hospital, garage, store room, mess hall and carpenter shop. Dock Road, Dump Road and Port Director’s Road.  NZ Camp. East side is main communications center, tower, generators.

 

Photo 8 shows South Point Road, South Point and NZ Camp.

 

The PT boat base and camp were across the lagoon on Barahun Island, about 5 miles away. That one mile long island also had an old overgrown copra plantation on it. Trees were planted in rows, 27 feet apart. About 450 sailors were stationed there (five squadrons, on and off), plus administration and land support staff of about100, with carpenters, welders, electricians, engine repairs, radio/radar repairs, machinists, gun repairs, quartermasters, cooks. The boats tied up to anchored float buoys and small boats took the sailors ashore. The AGP Varuna, tender ship maintained the boats until mid-July, when three floating dry docks were delivered. There was a fuel dock with a gasoline supply pipe coming from the storage tanks inland. There was a machine shop, cook house and a mess area. The main meal was about noon after the boats returned from the all-night missions. Little cooking was done on the boats. Sleeping quarters for most were on the boats. Some officers got Quonset hut quarters on shore. Many sailors specialized in hand grenade fishing off the end of the main dock. Intelligence briefings were about 3 PM, followed by patrol assignments. Boats were usually sent on patrol every third night, to allow for the constant boat repair and maintenance work to be done. The Army guns next door made huge booms when test fired on occasion. Ferry boat service was provided by a barge to the airbase twice a day transporting mail, supplies and personnel.

 

80 foot Elco Boat Layout at Battleship Cove, a 1945 model. Rear section, the lazerette / storage room and manual tiller; engine room; captain’s quarters (Port side); armory (Starboard side);head (P); radar room (S); galley (S); officers quarters (P); EM quarters; head near bow; chain locker. Above: day room; chart room. Upper deck: helm and guns; torpedoes; smoke generator can.

 

Limestone caves along the ocean shore were rumored to be special places where enlisted men with some spare time operated stills. Bags of potatoes were borrowed from storage, fermented and “cooked”. Apples were sometimes fermented, also. The caves had been used as burial places for many thousands of years.

 

Squadron 23 boat nicknames from United States PT Boats of World War II: The first four came from Ron 19 in May 1944.

PT  241            Snuffy                           Ken Conley and Norman Fluhr

      242            Celeste                         C.J. Willis and William Metcalf. C/O is Alpine W. McLane

      243            Tonde Leyo                                                                       C/O is Ray Robinson

      244            Werewolf                     William A. Raney Journal (C/O)

      277            Knightmare                   [Stuart Walsdorf accounts]

      278            Bottoms Up                  [Scott Blair accounts]

      279                                                 Sunk 11 Feb 1944 in collision with PT 282 in a                                                                                    violent storm. One man lost overboard.

      280            Scutter

      281            Midnite Swan               [Arnold and Greg Kamataris accounts]

      282            Mail Boat                     [Thomas A. Mohan, New Hampshire}

      283            Hero’s Haunt                Sunk 17 Mar 1944 by U.S. Destroyer Guest’s guns. [John R.                                                   Day account.]

      284            Gunboat Annie

      285            Scuttlebutt John            [John Day accounts] C/O Lt. A.W. Ferron

      286            Fighting Irish                 [Ralph Ceward Calvert]

      287            Pistol Packin’ Mama     [Robert Turner accounts]     C/O Lt. Leonard

      288

The squadron transferred to Palawan Island in Dec 1944, and later to Samar Island.

 

The Australians’ island administration group of about 100 had their own quarters in the villager area on the North end. The villagers may have done the food providing, cooking and the laundry, this being Australian governed territory for 25 years. That area was off limits to U.S. enlisted men. In the equatorial rainforest climate, most islanders had little need to wear more than a simple sarong about the waist, called a “lap-lap.”

 

The food staple for the base was bread, one loaf per person per day. Periodic food supplies might include 100  pound bags of dry materials: flour, sugar, rice, navy beans, potatoes, tapioca, powdered milk; and 10 pound tins of canned butter, fruit, jams, green beans, lima beans, peas, tomatoes, shredded chicken, the ever-present Spam, Vienna sausage (small steamed/canned hot dogs to most), peanut butter, despised powdered eggs, ketchup, pickles, dried beef (for “chipped beef on toast”), pudding mixes, cocoa and coffee. The official monthly food allotment was 26 pounds for base personnel and 52 pounds for sailors, meaning that a sailor could have a whole pound of SPAM per day. Industrial size food canning was essentially perfected during the Civil War for shipment to troops by 1862 by rail box car. Fresh foods might come when a PBY spotted a refrigerator ship or found a battleship and asked them for the good stuff, or from the larger bases frequently visited. Beer to help ward off malaria usually came from Australia in 100 case lots. Officers got all of the whiskey due to their rank.

 

Fresh fish could be provided by the villagers, by hook and line in the lagoon, or by the primative practice of dumping hand grenades off the dock and netting in the fragmented results. That practice was eventually banned. The cooks could do anything with fresh fish. In that era, the commissary staff were racially segregated.

 

Island defenses, lookouts and island perimeter patrols were provided by several companies of U.S. Marines. They were attached to Marine Air Group 14, previously based at Guadalcanal. Anti-aircraft batteries were on either side of the South Channel entrance and at the north and south ends of the island. These were manned by U.S. Army gun crews.

 

Malaria and Dengue Fever are endemic to all of the islands. Dengue is also known as “bone-break fever”. At Bougainville, it was reported that 85 percent of the forces contracted malaria. The medical test for flight duty was a temperature of 102 degrees or less. In 1941-42, many Nissan villagers were deathly ill from malaria, and were taken by boat to other islands where they could receive some treatment. The survivors were eventually returned to the inland in 1945. Quinine tablets were distributed daily to everyone on the base, but were largely ineffective in preventing the diseases. It is probable that many, if not most, of the 300 Japanese garrison troops there in February 1944 were down with malaria.

 

One of the six or more island Officers’ Clubs got a Steinway piano in 1945 via a PBY, hung from a bomb rack, flown in from the Espiritu Santo base (as it was being decommissioned) in the New Hebrides; a very long flight. Bob Hope & Co. visited on August 1 and 2, 1944 to put on big shows at the airbase and boat base.

 

Mission Objectives June 1944 for the Bismark Archipelago Campaign.

Guadalcanal had been mostly taken over by February 1943 after prolonged jungle battle campaigns. By March 1944 parts of the Bougainville/Buka air campaign had been completed and the airfields had been captured, but at least 80,000 enemy troops remained active in mountain jungle areas. A good part of New Guinea coastal areas had been retaken. Rabaul on New Britain still had 128,000 enemy troops at five army bases and five somewhat crippled airfields. Kavieng, on adjacent New Ireland was also a major enemy base. Efforts to cut off supply routes were continuing for those two islands and several dozen surrounding enemy-held islands. The bulk of the Japanese carriers had been sunk. Most of the enemy shipping was done at night by small motor barges. During the day, on main runs from Rabaul to Buka, they would hide in island coves. If the Green Island combined squadrons could cut off all Japanese shipping and aviation in the area, nearly 400,000 Japanese troops would be their virtual prisoners for the rest of the war.

 

By day, the Navy, Marines and RNZAF would conduct bombing runs on the islands, and search for ships. PBY’s would often accompany the main bombers for search and rescue missions. These were called “Dumbo Runs”. The slow PBY’s would leave about four hours before the bombers left, then circle target areas offshore until called by radio to fish downed crewmen out of the sea.

 

By night, the PBY’s and PT Boats would team up to go hunting about 9 PM for shipping, using radar and huge searchlights. The planes would illuminate the barges from a few miles away or drop flares over them, and the boats would go in and shell them with the 40 mm cannons until they sank. Usually, three planes would go out each night, and return the next morning. Three day rotating shifts. These night operations continued until late 1944 when the last of the PT squadrons departed.

 

By late Spring of 1944, Rabaul and Kavieng had been effectively blockaded, and airbases neutralized. The Japanese Navy actually abandoned Rabaul Harbor on Feb 1, 1944 after prolonged carrier-based attacks. At least 50 ships dot the harbor floor. The main efforts then shifted to bombing more northerly enemy-held island bases on a daily basis, about 17 in all. This was leading to the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October, 1944. A huge sea and air battle after the start of the Philippine Islands Campaign. The Japanese lost most of their remaining carriers and other big ships there. And the term “Kamikaze Attack” became infamous during the struggle.

 

By the end of October 1944 the CB battalions moved out to the Leyte area along with most of the PT Boat units. Army and Navy fighters and bombers were reassigned to more forward bases. This left Green with the PBY’s and the RNZAF fighters and bombers, and the Little Joe crash boat. So manpower was gradually reduced from 17,000 to about 450, making it a somewhat quiet place.

 

 In July 1945, most of the remaining Green Island  Navy forces were transferred to Guiuan NAS on the south end of Samar Inland in the southeastern Philippines. Guiuan was a collection of five big air and sea bases. The main cargo ship base was 15 miles south on Caliocan Island in the Leyte Gulf. CB’s built a causway to connect it with Samar. The PT boat base (Base 17) was about 12 miles north of Guiuan, west of the town of Salcedo in San Pedro Bay, commonly known as Bobon Point. Tiny Botic Island was just north of the Point. 212 PT Boats were docked there near the end of the war, including Rons 23, 27 and 28. Warships anchored west of Guiuan in the “Guiuan Roadstead”. The small island of Manicani in San Pedro Bay in mid 1945 housed 6000 sailors and a huge ship repair facility.

 

Fall 1945.

The war ended (in theory) on September 2, 1945, and the Green Island base was decommissioned late October. Many troops were not sent home for nine months, or more. On some mountainous jungle islands, isolated individual Japanese Army soldiers did not get the surrender news, and remained “on duty” in hiding for a decade or two. One soldier was rescued in 1979 and the last one in 1980.

 

“After the war a vast quantity of  Green Island Base supplies were dumped, and thousands of drums of fuel were sold to locals for $.13 a liter.” (www.pacificwrecks.com).

 

Some Missions.

Arthur P. Herin Jr. maintained a PBY – VP 44 squadron flight log on Green Island for a year, 1944-45. His nickname was “Speedy”. He was a radioman/gunner. He still has flare-ups of his island malaria at age 83 in 2001.

June     1944    9          Munda Pt., New Georgia to Green       3.0 hrs. LCDR Conroy

                        12        day patrol north                                    9.5       Lt Hunter

                        13        day patrol north                                    9.8       Conroy

                        17        day patrol N.W.                                   9.3       Conroy

                        21        day patrol north                                    9.4       Lt Hunter

                        25        day patrol N.W.                                   9.8       Hunter

                        28        day patrol north                                    9.2       Hunter

July                  5          night bounce                                         2.3       Hunter

                        7          day patrol north                                    9.8       Hunter

                        9          day patrol north                                    9.8       Hunter

                        11        anti-sub off New Ireland                       3.1       Hunter

                        13        day patrol N.E.                         9.7       Hunter

                        21        nite bombing New Ireland                     9.9       Hunter

                        26        nite bombing (snafu)                              2.3       Hunter

                        29        day patrol N.E.                         9.6       Hunter

Aug                  4          nite hop – Bougainville              4.8       Hunter

                        7          day patrol N.E.                         9.3       Hunter

                        10        day patrol N.E.                         9.5       Hunter

                        17        Green to Henderson                             4.5       Hunter

                                    Henderson to Halavo                              .3       Hunter

                        29        Halavo to Henderson                              .3       Hunter

                                    Henderson to Green                             3.9       Hunter  13 passengers

Sep                  3          Green to Emirau (W. of N. Ireland)       3.0       Lt Garrison

                        4          Patrol N.W.                                         8.7       Hunter

                        6          Patrol north                                          8.4       Hunter

                        8          Emirau to Green                                   3.1       Hunter

                        11        nite hop (bad weather)              1.9       Hunter

                        14        on leave at Sidney, two weeks              Navy transports

Oct                  7          nite bombing New Ireland                     6.2       Hunter

                        14        nite bombing channel                             7.0       Hunter

                        24        gunnery hop                                          2.3       Hunter

                        27        nite bombing New Ireland                     7.1       Hunter

Nov                 8          Green to Bougainville                            1.1       Hunter

                                    Bougainville to Russell Isl.                     3.2       Hunter W of  Honeria

                        10        Russels to Green                                   4.0       Hunter

                        15        nite bombing channel                             7.4       Hunter

                        23        nite hop (bad weather)              1.3       Hunter

                        28        sub searching Bougainville                     8.0       Hunter

Dec                  13        strafed Buka                                         2.0       Hunter

                        15        sub search (snafu)                                 3.3       Hunter

                        22        nite hop (snafu)                         2.0       Hunter

Jan 1945          2          nite hop Choiseul Isl. (E. of Bou.)          5.3       Hunter

                        7          Dumbo run Rabaul                                4.0       Hunter

12        trip to Hawaii                                       On transports  

Feb                  6          Dumbo run Bougainville                        3.7       Hunter

                        8          nite hop (bad weather)              2.6       Hunter

                        25        Dumbo run Rabaul                                3.2       Hunter

Mar                  1          Green to Emirau (Adm. Isl)                   3.0       Lt Davis 18 pass.

                                    Emirau to Manus (Adm. Isl.)                 1.4       Davis      18 pass.

                        3          SRB to Los Negros                                .4       Hunter

                        6          Manus to Hollandia (Jayapura)  7.3       Hunter

                        7          Hollandia to Biak Island, I.Jaya 2.8       Hunter

                        9          OWI to Biak    (a/k/a Wiak)                   .2       Hunter

                                    Biak to Hollandia                                  3.0       Hunter

                        10        Hollandia to Manus                               3.8       Hunter

                        12        SRB to Los Negros (Adm. Isl.)              .4       Hunter

                        14        Manus to Green                                    4.2       Hunter

                        16        Green to Manus                                    4.4       Hunter    12 pass.

                        17        Dumbo run                                           1.0       Hunter

                        19        bad weather-returned to base               2.5       Hunter 

                        20        Manus to Emirau                                  1.1       Hunter     4 pass.

                                    Emirau to Green                                   3.0       Hunter     4 pass.

Apr                  1          Green to Piva, Bougainville mail hop      1.0       Davis

                                    Piva to Green   mail                              1.2       Davis

                        4          Dumbo run Bougainville                        4.0       Hunter

                        13        Green to Manus                                    3.8       Lt Johnson 15 pass.

                        15        Manus to Emirau                                  1.9       Johnson      15 pass.

                                    Emirau to Green                                   2.8       Johnson

                        16        Green to Guadalcanal                           4.0       Hunter

                        18        Guadalcanal to Funa Futi                    10.2       Hunter         4 pass.

                        19        Funa Futi to Canton Island                    6.0       Hunter         4 pass.

                                    Canton to Palmyra                                7.7       Hunter

                        20        Palmyra to Kaneohe, HI                       8.1       Hunter

(This trip was mainly to return defective new PBY’s from Green to the factory. Hull rivets popped off everywhere and the ocean gushed in.)

 

 

12 Feb 1945 photo of NZ Corsair burning up at the airstrip. P/O  N. W. McCready was on a test flight when it caught fire. Returned to base quickly and escaped.

 

Norman A. Schneidewind, AMM 1st Cl, Pensacola, FL was in Patrol Squadron 44, also. He was a PBY flight mechanic, responsible for starting the engines and monitoring them, raising and lowering the floats, and operates the port 50 cal machine gun. He also trained to fly PBY’s. N.A. is age 77 in 2001. Most of his log entries are stamped by Lt. Cmdr. G.S. Bogart. The plane commander was Lt. Jasper Martin of Dallas. The nickname was “Ruthie Belle” for his bride. BUNO 48278.

 

June 1944        2          Convoy coverage                                 6.1       Lt. Martin

                        4          Naussori to Tonga Tabu                       3.2       Martin

                        5          Tonga Tabu to Nausori             3.3       Martin

                        6          Nausori to Espiritu                                5.6       Martin  17 pass.

                        13        Espiratu to Green                                10.0       Martin

                        14        Hunted for floating mines                       5.8       Martin

                        16        Routine out of Green                             9.3       Martin

                        19        Routine out of Green                             8.0       Martin

                        23        Routine out of Green                             2.0       Martin

                        24        Routine out of Green                             8.9       Martin

                        29        Routine out of Green                             9.1       Martin

July                  1          Practice with P.T. Boats                       1.4       Martin

                        4          Routine out of Green                             9.5       Martin

                        8          Hunted for sub off Kavieng                   9.0       Martin

                        12        Routine out of Green                             9.5       Martin

                        18        To Russells, Guadal., Bougainville         7.8       Martin

                        19        Bougainville to Green                            1.2       Martin

                        20        Hunted for Barges – neg.                      5.8       Martin

                        25        Routine out of Green                             8.8       Martin

                        29        Routine out of Green                             9.2       Martin

Aug                  2          Nite patrol to St George Channel          2.1       Martin

                        5          Routine out of Green                             9.1       Martin 

                        9          Bombed Supply Dump, New Ireland    8.6       Martin

                        11        Routine out of Green                             7.0       Martin

                        14        Routine out of Green                             8.6       Martin

                        18        Dropped Bombs on Boug. AA Nest     5.6       Martin

                        24        Bounce Hop                                           .9       Martin

                        25        Nite Patrol – Radar Out                        1.1       Martin

                        25        Bombed and Strafed Near Rabaul        5.8       Martin

                        30        Bombed and Strafed Near Boug.          4.7       Martin

Sep                  1          Circled Field and Landed                        .2       Martin

                        1          Torokina (Boug.) and Return.               2.6       Martin

                        3          Green to Emirau (N of Kavieng)           3.1       Martin                         

                        5          Routine out of Emirau                           8.7       Martin

                        7          Routine out of Emirau                           8.2       Martin

                        8          Emirau to Green                                   3.0       Martin

                        10        Jettisoned Bombs                                   .7       Martin

                        12        Dumbo – Negative                               4.9       Martin

                        13        Nite Hop to Bougainville                       1.4       Martin

                        16        Nite Hop                                              2.1       Martin

                        16        Test                                                      1.2       Ens. Kirtley

                        20        Test                                                      1.7       Lt. Moore

                        23        to  Oct             12 Transports to Sydney, R&R, and Return

Oct                  14        Bounce                                     2.7       Martin 

                        16        Nite Hop                                              5.5       Martin

                        20        Nite Hop                                              1.8       Martin

                        28        Nite Hop                                              4.9       Martin

                        31        Green to Russell Island             3.7       Martin

Nov                 1          Russell to Guadalcanal & Return           1.1       Martin 16 pass.

                        2          Russell to Guadalcanal & Return           1.1       Martin 22 pass.

                        4          Russell to Green                                   3.8       Martin

                        8          Nite Hop                                              1.4       Martin

                        15        Test                                                      1.9       Martin

                        19        Nite Hop                                              1.6       Martin

                        23        Nite Hop                                              4.6       Martin

                        26        Sub Hunting – Bougainville                    7.4       Martin

Dec                  3          Bombed New Britain                            2.7       Martin

Bombed and Strafed Floating

Dry Dock                                             2.1       Martin

                        11        Bombed and Strafed  Buka Island         1.5       Martin

                        13        Bombed and Straffed Buka                   2.4       Martin

                        16        Practiced Bombing                               1.9       Martin

                        20        Nite Patrol                                            5.7       Martin

                        27        Nite Patrol                                            1.6       Martin

                        30        Bounce                                     3.2       Martin

Jan 1945          2          Green to Hollandia, I Jaya                     8.4       Martin

                        3          Hollandia to Palau                                 6.7       Martin

                        4          Palau to Leyte                                      5.6       Martin

                        4          Leyte to Mindoro                                 3.3       Martin

                        5          Mindoro to Leyte                                 3.1       Martin

                        6          Leyte to Palau                                      5.2       Martin

                        7          Palau to Hollandia                                 6.4       Martin

                        8          Hollandia to Manus Island                     4.2       Martin

                        9          Manus to Owi                                      6.5       Martin

                        10        Owi to Hollandia                                  2.3       Martin

                        11        Hollandia to Los Negros                       3.7       Martin

                        12        Los Negros to Green                            4.2       Martin

                        21        Rabaul – Dumbo                                  3.0       Martin

                        27        Green to Emirau                                   3.1       Lt. Hayden

Feb                  1          Emirau to Manus and Return                 2.9       Lt. Pacey

                        2          Dumbo                                     3.4       Pacey

                        8          Emirau to Momote & Return                 4.0       Lt. Richards

                        11        Dumbo                                     3.9       Richards

                        12        Bounce – Emirau                                  1.0       Richards

                        14        Dumbo                                     3.0       Richards

                        16        Emirau to Momote & Return                 2.8       Richards

                        21        Dumbo                                     2.1       Richards

Mar                  3          Emirau to Green                                   3.1       Lt. Vaughn

                        13        Green to Emirau                                   4.2       Richards

                        14        Emirau to Momote                                1.4       Richards

                        19        Search for Tug – Positive                      3.4       Richards

                        20        Search for Barge – Positive                   6.6       Richards

                        22        Momote to Palau                                  9.7       Richards

                        27        Test                                                        .8       Richards

                        29        Palau to Hollandia                                 9.7       Richards

                        30        Momote to Emirau                                1.8       Richards

                        31        Emirau to Green                                   2.8       Richards

Apr                  5          Test Hop                                                .4       Richards

                        12        Green to Emirau                                   2.7       Richards

                        14        Dumbo                                     3.2       Richards

                        15        Emirau to Momote to Green                 5.6       Richards

                        16        Green to Guadalcanal                           4.0       Lt. Hunter

                        18        And back to Hawaii on Herin Flight

 

Personal Accounts.

 

Milton W. Bush, Lt.(jg) was a 33 year old attorney from Saginaw, MI working as a legal claims manager for Michigan Mutual Insurance Company. Wife, Eunice; son, Jeffrey age 4; daughter, Diana, age 3 and Milton Jr. age 1. Enlisted U.S. Navy Dec 1943. Green Island PATSU legal/personnel officer from June 1944 to July 1945, when reassigned to the Guiuan NAS, Samar Island. After the Japanese surrender, Operation Magic Carpet commenced, sending troops home in a constant parade of ship. Personnel officers made up the priority lists, saw a ship at a pier, got the troops onboard, and said farewell. Took a year to dismantle the base and send everything stateside. He was sent back to the Seattle port in March 1946 on a battle cruiser, then, by train to Detroit. The heavy cruiser was likely USS Baltimore (CA 68), or USS Boston (CA 69). Going up the Sound toward Seattle at flank speed, it destroyed most of the boat docks for 40 miles. The captain was in a hurry to get back for his wedding.

 

“I remember that the cooks sometimes put egg shells in the powdered-scrambled eggs to suggest the eggs were local. Never ate SPAM again after I got out. Every afternoon, about 2, there was a downpour for an hour or two, and everything turned to mud. I put 100,000 miles on my Jeep on that tiny island. One morning I had to deliver a formal note of apology from my commander to the RNZAF commander for unfortunate remarks he delivered the night before (a wee bit under the influence) at the Officers Club.

 

Each operating unit had its own space, with a Quonset mess shed, “club tents” for socializing, living areas, etc. The PATSU’s had one camp; the CB’s another, PBY’s the next; RNZAF the next, USAAF, Aussies (recently back from the North Africa / Rommel Campaign), to the north. And the PT Boat base across the Lagoon. With little free time and some lack of similar interests, one group did not visit much with the others. Pilots socialized with pilots and mechanics with mechanics…

 

Photos show the tent he and Wilbur Larson shared, just a few yards from the lagoon beach and about 500 yards south of the airbase and Quonset HQ buildings. Larson had a radio-phonograph. Hon Island is in the background about five degrees to the north.

 

Photos from Oct 1944 and March 1945 at the Officers Club tent a crude bar, one hexagonal poker table, a dozen wood chairs and a parachute silk ceiling.

Lt. Gordon Kelley, C/O, followed by Lt.(jg’s):

Gene Eisenberg

Harvey Newcomb

Wilbur Larson – base radio, radar and photography operations officer

Ed Doré

Jack Schuster

Frank Hubbard – supply officer

            Dr. Martin, flight surgeon [This may be Webster Churchill Martin, MD of Duluth / St. Paul]

            Russell

            Hagen

Beaman – chief machinist operations officer/

Neumer

Donnelley

J.G. Vincent Spagerelli

Milton Bush

[Not pictured was Lt. Richard M. Nixon, air cargo officer who transferred out in mid July to go to another unit, then stateside a few months later.]

 

A photo of the cemetery shows 43 white wood crosses. Many are for Australians.

 

Photos of Little Joe, the AVR Crash Boat, 63 feet long and 15 feet wide. Villager huts, about 9 by 14 feet; thatched roofs. The Aussie island administration thatched hut.

The PATSU Quonset hut office interiors, tables, chairs, filing cabinets, five typewriters; three light bulbs. About 400 feet beyond is the Lagoon Field air control tower (halfway down the runway).

An Aussie administrative officer on the crash boat deck at nearby Feni Island, July 1945, having been an island field agent for 30 years. Also on the boat were eight shirtless “police boys,” and  six young girls about nine or ten years old, nicknamed “Marys.”  [Meri; meri blouses were worn by some women.]

A POW July 1945 roped to local militiamen.

The photographer’s lab shed, March 1945.

MWB seated on a six foot long hollowed out log  drum. Nearly three foot diameter; slit through the upper side. Known as a “Garamut” or a slit gong. Played over thousands of years in sacred rituals for marriage or death by the Big Men by inserting a stick into the slit and rubbing it up and down. It is also used for sending messages for up to twenty miles. The usual cost of a new Garamut was a fee of  three pigs.

Stacks of 500 pound bombs in the jungle clearing ammo dump.

Thatched roof open air chapel near the East Point Beach.

The movie theater, and ball field behind.

Airbase machine shops (5) about 30 by 40, metal roofs. Small fire engine truck.

 

Lt. Bush passed away peacefully in Port Huron, MI on 24 Sep 2003 at age 92.

 

2.         Robert B. Turner of Macomb/Watertown, New York was on Squadron 23 PT Boat 287, a motor machinist and occasional 20 mm deck gunner. Lt. Leonard was the boat commander. Groups of two or three boats would leave after sunset to go hunting, sometimes north toward Rabaul and sometimes south toward Bougainville. They usually returned late the next morning. The boat sank about eight or so barges. Several times the boat was strafed by enemy planes causing a number of injuries. He suffered repeated illnesses from bad water, food, or bugs. He recalls it really rained for part of the Bob Hope performance, but it was a great show. That was August 2, 1944.

 

 

3.         John Mills of Macon, GA was a sailor on LST 741. In his letter of 12 Nov 2001 he recalls: “A short stay at Green Island across from Rabaul, New Britain, late February 1945. We were ordered to Green Island to receive a load of 2000 lb. death (sic) charges to be delivered to Leyte, Philippine Islands. We entered a small bay at Green Island that was on the side facing New Britain. We entered the bay thru a small opening in the land surrounding the bay. On the left at the beach where we placed our bow, there was a Jap gunboat that had a shell hole in the starboard side. The bow doors & ramps on the LST were large enough for tanks & other vehicles to pass on or off the LST. Some of the sailors on the ship met a soldier who drove us to the village where we welcomed by the chief. We gave the guard at the entrance to the village 2 cigarettes to let us pass. The guard had a Rifle & guardhouse the same as the Queens Guards’ have in England. The chief got 2 packs of cigarettes. The chief had Elephantiasis [a parasitic infection of the lymphatic system] in one of his legs & it was about 3 times its normal size. Two of the sailors bought a well-used jeep from a soldier for 30 dollars, & we had the use of it for about 2 weeks. We traded a native 2 cigarettes for a small stalk of bananas; we did not get fresh fruit on the ship.

 

“While on the Island, we found out that the Australians were in charge of the natives, & would give them 2 packs of cigarettes for every Jap head they brought in. The bay was a fishing paradise; we found a screen wire minnow net that we used to catch bait to fish from the stern of the ship in the evenings.

 

“The Australians came on board with dump trucks & dumped the depth charges on our tank deck. A large part of the crew were back on the stern, expressing their views of the Australians. We sailed from Green Island to Leyte P.I. and sailed through a typhoon. The depth charges had to be secured with cargo nets to keep them from damaging the ship. The load was with us & we made the trip all right.”

 

4.         Susannah Conner writes on 11 Nov 2001: “ It was the 93rd Construction Battalion that  built the airstrips and other facilities on Green Island. One of the memorable sites was the replica of Hollywood and Vine. My father worked ‘the dump’ where supplies were dropped off. He kept a diary of his experience which I have transcribed along with his letters to my Mom. They may join a group of veterans and relatives in returning to the island next summer.” Bob devised his own test for middle of the night cot shaking: you put your hand under the cot; if you touched something hot and hairy, it was a pig. Otherwise, it was just the occasional earthquake.

 

            The Bob Connor collection of letters is 46 pages. Sailed from the States 14 Oct 1943 on an Army transport to New Caledonia. 25 Feb 1944 his LST from Banika, Russell Islands, entered the Green Island Lagoon and began unloading materials and equipment to build the airfields and tent cities. He collected many snail shells and shipped them back to North Carolina where his wife, Florence, was a university biologist. In mid November, his group moved to Leyte for a few weeks, then to Guiuan to start work building the big airbase out of a swamp. This was just a few weeks after the gigantic Battle of Leyte Gulf, and while control of western Leyte Island was being hotly contested. One year later, 23 Oct 1945, he was on a train in Spokane headed back to North Carolina. The Conner website has a large collection of Green Island 1944 information: www.seabees 93.net.

 

The 33rd CB’s arrived a week before Conner on Feb 21 at Beach Red, the north part of Tangolan Plantation. Transported on USS Ward, DD 139, a converted 1918 “4 piper”. Very shallow draft, 9.5’. Four LCT’s on board for unloading.

 

5.         Norman A. Schneidewind  (VP 44) of Pensacola on 24 Nov 2001 recalls: “Here is a copy of the Shellback Certificate given to us when we crossed the equator. I do not recall the exact location of the PT boat base, but we had operations with them on a regular basis interdicting Japanese troop movements at night.  On one occasion during August of 1944, we swapped crews and we went aboard a PT boat during a night attack. I believe on that night a Japanese plane flew down moon and strafed one of the three boats, causing a number of casualties. A PT boat crew flew with us on the night of July 1, 1944 to observe how we operated. I don’t know which crew was most apprehensive.

 

“I recall seeing the Bob Hope show but I can’t tell you which month it was. I remember Hope made all the officers move to the rear of the audience before he would begin the show. Bet your dad recalls the ‘jamade’ they served for drinks at mess. It was made by filling a garbage can with warm water and dumping gallon cans of jam into them. Everyone went by and dipped their cups in.

 

“Our squadron office was in a Quonset hut located close to the air strip and each air crew took turns cleaning the latrines. They consisted of a large hole dug in the coral with a wooden frame covered with mosquito netting. There were about six or eight holes in them. Flies would occasionally get into the enclosure and we had to pour fuel into the hole to kill the flies and eliminate the odor. On one occasion my second mech named Ricker became over enthusiastic and poured too much 100 octane gasoline into the hole. When we lit it off there was one hell of a fire that caught the seats on fire and made the holes substantially larger, rimmed with charcoal. Our captain was not amused.

 

“We would occasionally shower by scooping water from 55 gallon drums outside our tents after pushing the mosquito wigglers aside. The water was always hot and we poured it through empty oxygen cylinders equipped with a little shut off valve.”

 

6.         Tragedy at Green Island, Jan 15, 1945. By Padre Roland Hart. [www.nzfpm.co.nz/fragments/fot_isle.htm]  In an attack on Rabaul, 36 RNZAF Corsairs were hit by flack and one was soon forced down onto the sea. Soon thereafter, the planes flew into a jet-black tropical storm. Six more planes went down and were lost. Four of the pilots were from Squadron 14: Hay; Saward; Munro and McArthur. From No. 16 were Johnson; Randell and Albrecht. The first downed flyer was F. G. Keefe who was captured and died 10 days later south of Rabaul.

 

7.         Rick Thomas in Winston-Salem, North Carolina has been in contact with Fr. Lepping, age 92, a retired Marist priest now living in Washington D.C. near Catholic University. He was on the island in 1942 when the Japanese captured it. He was placed on a POW camp for the rest of the war. He returned to the island and worked there until his retirement in 1992. The islanders have cut down much of the jungle and planted coconut trees, resulting in considerable ecological concern.

 

Rick’s father was Richard Thomas who enlisted as a Navy Seabee at age 15. He passed away two years ago. On 13 Feb 1944, the 93rd and 33rd CB Battalions and the NZ 3rd Division left Banika Island in the Russell Island group and sailed up to Green Island. He had just had his 16th birthday. They landed along side the New Zealanders and started cutting down jungle and starting roads. He operated a jack hammer to drill blast holes for dynamite charges. There was no Japanese resistance until the third day when about 100 enemy soldiers were killed by the NZ forces on the south side of the island. He mentions that Lt jg. Richard Nixon was the PATSU air cargo duty officer there. [That was from Mar to July 22, 1944, when R.M.N. returned stateside for the duration of the war]. In Oct 1944 his group moved to Samar Island to build an airfield over a swamp, remaining there until the war ended. He mentions a prop storefront being built by Ocean Field, the “Owl Drug Store” at the corner of Hollywood and Vine. Everyone had photos taken there, and sent back to hometown newspapers. One photo shows Frances Langford, Jerry Collona, Bob Hope, Tony Roamno, Patty Thomas, and Barney Dean in front of the store. He has viewed the videotape showing the Seabee activity around the island, filmed in 1944. The standard ration of beer for enlisted men was two bottles per day. That was ignored after V-J Day.

 

“More than one Seabee told me that PT boat crews came to them asking for fuel because the Navy did not keep them well supplied. The 93rd Seabees were known as ‘Commander Lynn and his band of a Thousand Thieves.’ They had plenty of everything because they stole it from other groups. Guess that’s why the PT crews went to them. They once stole a steam shovel.”

 

8.         Fred Henning of Venetia, PA was a VP53 pilot at the Green Island Base in April, May, and June 1945, later going to  Emirau, Manus and then, Samar. Daily PBY practice bombing and strafing raids were made on Buka Island. Night harassing raids were made on the Rabaul airbases. On Pinipel Island, several Japanese soldiers were alerting the Rabaul forces by radio whenever bombers took off in that direction. A force of Australians was dispatched to stop them. The new VP53 PBY’s leaked badly on arrival at Green and were sent back to Hawaii. Squadron 44 planes, nearly worn out, were kept in service until replacements were sent to them on Samar a few months later. His squadron action reports cover 35 pps and are very detailed.

 

     “We did not do gourmet cooking on PBY flights. We always had coffee on the stove. That was the first thing we did when we reached cruising altitude. Most of the time we had sandwiches and such, although the crew cooked a few times. A few times we had K-Rations – that was the worst. Sometimes, we had cartons of C-Rations, especially for extended missions, more than one day. When we went to Japan, we had C-Rations.”

 

            The PBY crew base was about a mile south of the airfield, west of the main north-south road, down a driveway to the Lagoon. There was a small officers’ boat  dock at the end, and the Officers’ Club 50 feet from that. The officers’ small Quonset huts were north of the driveway, as were the officers’ and enlisted men’s mess tents. Just beyond was the movie theater with coconut log seating. Enlisted men’s quarters were south of the drive. The PBY’s were parked near the north end of  Ocean Field behind a strip of trees. The taxi route to the usual takeoff area was about 100 yards.

 

9.   Scott Blair provides 4 June 2001 [RON 23]:

            “United States Fleet

            Flagship of the Commander-in-Chief

The Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet takes pleasure in commending

LIEUTENANT WALTER S. BLAIR, UNITED STATES NAVAL RESERVE

For service as set forth in the following

CITATION:

‘For meritorious and effective performance of duty as Boat Captain and Section Leader of a motor torpedo boat division operating in the Solomon Islands and Bismarck Archipelago areas from March to June 15, 1944. During this period, Lieutenant BLAIR led his section in numerous patrols in Japanese controlled waters and succeeded in destroying three barges and damaging several others. Through his courageous leadership and aggressive fighting spirit, he contributed materially to the successful interruption of enemy barge traffic attempting to reinforce their troops on Bougainville Island. His conduct throughout was in keeping with the highest traditions of the naval service.’

C.W. NIMITZ,

Admiral, U.S. Navy

Commendation Ribbon Authorized”

 

10.       PBY Squadron 91 report 04 May 1944: “On 22 May 1944 (sic) Lieut. R. C. WOOLERY, patrol plane commander of PBY Squadron Ninety One was ordered to take off and search for the TBF crew downed at POINT SASS off NEW IRELAND. Lieut. WOOLERY was off at 1025 with instructions to follow his escort, who had been with the downed TBF, to the scene of the craft.  At 1130, a life raft containing three men was sighted about three miles off shore, northeast of POINT SASS, with two planes circling high above it. A full stall landing was made and the three men taken aboard. They were Capt. C. V. BERDEL, T/S James GREATHOUSE and Pfc. P. P. ENTERLINE of VATB 232. They had been in their raft about an hour; all were in good condition. The rescue required 10 minutes on the water during which time the Dumbo was shelled by shore batteries, some shots dropping as close as 100 yards astern.       

 

            Immediately following the takeoff at 1150, Lieut WOOLERY’s escort, 1st Lt. J. H. LEVINE of VMF 222, informed him that he has been hit while strafing the shore batteries and was going down. He swung under Dumbo’s wing and pancaked, getting out of his plane and into his raft without injury. Lieut. WOOLERY landed again. Picked him up and at 1215 took off to return to base. Dumbo was out of range of the enemy shore guns when the second pickup was made.

 

            With Lieut. WOOLERY on this rescue mission were:

                        LT.(jg) J. A. Hayes, co-pilot

                        Ensign H. J. McKibben, 2nd pilot

                        ROBINSON, S. J., AMM2c

                        ALLEN, E., AMM3c

                        WALDEEN, E. H., ARM1c

                        SHERRINGTON, P.W. ARM3c

                        Jackson, R., AOM3c.”

            From VP-91 Up-Float Page

 

11.       Joe Pastorino of Long Island was 22 in the summer of 1944. Assigned to Ron 27 on Green Island. Not much going on at the time. Routine night patrols. He shared a six cot tent. Most afternoons he fished for barracuda in the crystal clear lagoon waters. The cook would trade a loaf of bread for each one he brought over. The sailors did not get invited to go over to the airbase. Bob Hope, and later, Jack Benny, put on separate shows at the boat base. Anti-aircraft twin 40mm batteries were on either side of the main lagoon entrance. One Japanese two-engine bomber, perhaps lost, flew near the boat base. About 60 deck gunners opened up on it at the same moment, bringing it down at the far end of the island. (2001).

 

12.       PBY Squadron 53 Monthly summary of events, LTCR Gerald H. Duffy, March 31 to Oct 31, 1945. Arrived Green Island April 15, 1945 to replace Squadron 44. The new PBY’s had badly drilled/oversized rivet holes and leaked badly. Planes sent back and the old 44 planes were kept in service. 12 planes on Green and 8 on Manus. Pilots: Duffy; Conrad; Kennedy; Watson; Calhoun; Good; Ackerman; Broocke; Mullane; Potter; Myers; Adair; Chandler; Wehrli; Crumpler; Battle; Gillie; and Macdonald. 59 officers and 130 enlisted men. Bombed and strafed Buka by day, and New Britain by night. Many air search missions. One successful rescue by Lt. Broocke. Squadron transferred to Samar June 18, 1945 for weather/typhoon recon. activities and anti-sub patrols. Late July, replacement planes arrive Samar. War ended Sept. 2, 1945. [Records provided by pilot, Fred Henning.]

 

13.       Earl Richmond was a cook on PT 108, Ron 5 during 1944. In January they were on Stirling Island in the Treasurys, just south of Bougainville. They had air raids every night. They went to Green Island with the invasion and ran missions from Green for several weeks. Then went to Emirau Island, a former AU-operated cocoanut plantation, covering the entire island. Home on leave Nov. 1944; then to Bobon Point, Samar and on to Ormoc Bay, Leyte, in January. He writes on 13 Sep 2002:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

 

            “When I went to draw rations for patrols I tried to avoid Spam and substitute other items for it. When I had to have Spam I fried it plain; floured it and fried. Sometimes I made a tomato sauce to go with it. I tried fixing it with bacon strips on top; sometimes made a white gravy to go with it. Sometimes chopped it up and mixed with dehydrated eggs and /or potato/ and /or onions. Anything to try and cancel the flavor. The guys liked the way I fixed hot dogs with a tomato sauce with pimientos in it. They liked to sop up the sauce with bread. We only got one fresh egg all the time we were on the boat and we had to go to the base galley to get it. It had to be fixed, any way we wanted, right there. I still don’t like Spam. We also had little fresh meat. Corned beef was an alternative..”

 

            “My galley on the 108 had a cupboard over the stove, a hand rail from the overhead, an electric stove, an electric refrigerator, an oven, a sink, all on a small scale. We had a loose cover over the bilges in the deck. Sometimes we stored canned goods there, on a board over the keel ribs. The electric was supplied by the generator. We had no running hot water. We had to heat it on the stove. All the above were to one side of the galley. Just opposite this was a door leading into the officers’ room, and just aft of the galley was a hatch leading into the crew quarters. To exit from the galley was a ladder to topside. We had pots and pans and a coffee pot that was always in use. There was a red light we used when the hatch was open at night. We could see above without having at accustom our eyes to the darkness.” 11 Feb 2003.

 

            Field kitchens on Green and the shore galley on Barahun featured gasoline-fuelled ranges, big black rectangles. Oven below, burners above, and a griddle which could go over the burners. Gas tanks had about 20 pounds of pressure provided by a hand pump. Somewhat complicated to start up and heat the burner tube to vaporize the gas. Refrigerators were electric. One range was specified for each group of about 50 troops, or three for 200. Larger camp groups also eventually got big grill-top stoves, and were fuelled from a central gas tank. Some camps had wood-burning brick baking ovens with a chimney at the back. The outside walls were plastered with mud. Military manuals for field kitchens covered hundreds of pages. The Navy Cookbook usually had recipes for batches of 100 servings. Bread making usually started about one AM and continued for six hours. Earl says one of the problems in island camp cooking was that Japanese soldiers were always sneaking around the kitchens in the dark looking for unattended food.

 

            Phil Cossentino “Blackie” was also on PT 108 in Feb and Mar 1944. While there was a big boat tender ship off shore, meals were provided on shore in the mess tent. Tent sleeping quarters were a bit crowded and it was hard to sleep in the daytime due to the heat and humidity. He has compiled several hundred still photos into a video tape. Several show jungle trails on Green Island.

 

14.       Charles Norrod of Nashua, NH was a cook on Ron 28. The squadron arrived on Green on 17 Feb 1944, two days after the invasion began. They maintained day and night lagoon patrols supporting the U.S. Marines and the N.Z. Army for several weeks. They were supplied and refueled at the air base dock. One operation took three boats into the Rabaul Harbor at night. A Japanese gunboat later blocked the harbor entrance. One of the PT Boats went to the far end of the harbor and started shooting tracers randomly, while the two others slipped out, hugging the shoreline. Charles’ boat then turned and fired all four torpedoes, blowing the gunboat skyward and allowing the third to escape. The boat skipper was Arthur Bedrosian from IL.

 

            Once, the skipper begged for food from a tender ship and got two gallons of raw oysters. No one else would eat them, so he gobbled them up during the next two weeks; roughly 20 pounds. Boat night patrol mission food was usually boxes of sandwiches from the base kitchens and Thermos bottles of coffee. “Cooking” was just a figure of speech on that boat.

 

            On one evening patrol the skipper radioed a PBY above: “nice to see your planes up there.” The pilot said “what do you mean, planes; there’s just me?” A Zero was three hundred yards behind him, looking the plane over ( Japanese float planes looked just like PBY’s.) The pilots both turned and went home, without a shot being fired.

 

            Engine gearshifts were clutchs and levers operated in the engine room. The throttle controls were operated on the upper deck. One night going full speed forward, Charles heard a bell sound and saw the signal to change from full forward to full astern. He hauled on the levers to reverse the gears while still going full speed, 41 knots, thereby avoiding a collision. Got many thanks later from the captain. [PT 109 was sunk in part in August 1943 because two engines were in neutral and could not get into gear in time; and part due to no radar on the boat.]

 

            In March of 1944 the boat was the “ready boat”, on call at its mooring station. Oddly, only three men were on board at the time. The other men, including the three officers, were on shore. They got a blinker message from the dock and went over to see what was up. One man got on and told them  he had a top secret mission, and to shove off that minute and go to XYZ coordinates, about 50 miles away. The quartermaster said he could do that, so off they went, with Charles running the engines. They met a waiting submarine and transferred the passenger, whose job was to photograph Tokyo Bay a few days later. Upon their return, the captain was upset over his missing boat. The Squadron Commander was probably upset over the lack of officers on the ready boat.

 

            On a Barahun Island base jungle perimeter patrol, he was startled and horrified to see the shooting of a terribly wounded Japanese soldier who was lying off the path and moaning for help. Never spoke to the other sailor again. Ron 28 left Green mid-May, being replaced by Ron 19.

 

15.       PT Boats, 346 and 347 were destroyed by friendly fire on 27 Apr 1944 at a reef off New Britain. These were Ron 25 boats. A Navy patrol plane never came close enough to see the U.S. markings and big U.S. flags on the decks, before calling in a big air strike from Green. Radio messages to the base were not heeded. There were 19 fatalities. The PT’s shot down two planes out of desperation. Squadrons VMF 215 and VMSB 236 were involved, as well as several PBY’s from Green. The Fleet Commander declined to file any charges over the innumerable mistakes.

 

16.       Dive Bomber Squadron VMSB 341 Action Report 7 April 1944 from gunner, Mel Clark 30 dive bombers,  15 TBF’s and 12 F4U’s left Green at 0930, attacked Kavieng at 1130, returned to Green, 1330. “Rendezvousing at 4000’ off Feni Island, flight proceeds up NE coast New Ireland, cutting across the island just S of Bulgai Field (because of weather conditions), making 200 knot high-speed approach from South at 12,000’, pushing over to the right at about 9,000’, and withdrawing to the NE for rally 5 miles off Maiom Point…. AA in general meager and ineffective. Only three positions seemed to be firing; 3 autos off East end of R/W (the autos and SE Heavies ceasing to fire during the SBD dives). New light AA or M/G position (firing) spotted halfway between east end of R/W and shore.” One plane (TBF) hit on glide (about 3000’) pulled up and then burst into flame. Runway generally out of commission. 5 to 10 Betty’s seen, probably most out of commission. No ships sighted around Kavieng. One  250’ AK beached on reef.. Clark’s plane was no. 106, Blackburn was the pilot.

The squadron was quartered a mile or so north of the field to avoid the risk of enemy air attacks. Trucks would ferry them back and forth.

While flying from Munda, Jan 3, 1944, Clark saw Pappy Boyington from the Black Sheep Squadron shot down in Simpson Harbor in Rabual. He was picked up by a Japanese sub and was a POW for the duration. Early on at Green, there were frequent Japanese bomber raids on the base, leaving many bomb craters for the pilots to dodge. This was difficult for many planes which taxied with the nose high up and no forward vision. The rear gunners sometimes jumped out on a wing to give directions. There were lots of ground accidents. Clark says many planes came back from Rabaul during early encounters shot full of holes.

 

17.       This is a dictation from my father-in-law Leonard Lewis who served with Ron 28 in the Pacific. Battle of the Philippines started Oct 20, 1944 at Leyte Gulf.  I estimated that we left Green Island somewhere around the 18th of October.  Our squadron arrived at Green Island, many other PT boats were already there.  We spent sometime (approximately 1 month) overhauling the boat. We changed engines and other essentials.  The cover over the engine compartment was taken off, which exposed the engine.  The engine would be disconnected and lifted out and all of the engine compartment would be cleaned and repainted before we received our new engine. There was a floating dry dock off of the beach which would lift the PT Boat out of the water and we would scrape the bottom of the boat off and repaint it. We did any repairs to the propeller and shaft as needed.  My guessing, as to the date that we arrived at Green Island, must have been sometime around the first part of Sept 1944.

 

When we left Green Island, our squadron was assigned a position in a convoy that was headed for the invasion of the Philippines.  I have a picture that was taken when we entered  the Leyte Gulf and there were a number of heavy war ships doing a lot of firing at enemy planes.  At Green Island, I never got a chance to do much exploring, as we were kept busy on the overhaul of the boat. I remember there was a machine shop, a chow hall, a big electric generator that supplied power to the base and a small sick bay.  All of the boats from our squadron and others were tied up at the dock along the beach. 

 

The PT Base boat dock had several mobile cranes which would be moved about to hoist up engines, torpedoes, ammo boxes, etc. [Letter, Jan 2003].

 

18.       Lt.  Robert Ankers was on PT  241  and 237 in Ron 19, then Ron 23, at Barahun Island, March-Aug 1944, then rotated back to the States. A senior radar officer. His boat went hunting with the Black Cats at night, usually toward Rabaul. They had pyramid tents to sleep in by day; 8 cots per tent. Some of the tents had wood floors; they were called “hotels.” He recalls friends, Bob Helsby and William Raney of Ron 19, and Ed Parker of Ron 23. One day he hitched a ride on a Black Cat to Guadalcanal to visit his brother. Finally located him a few minutes before he shipped off to another location.

 

19.       Two Feb 1944 accounts by Jack Duncan, Master Chief Gunners Mate on Ron 5, PT 103, joined by PT 107. Travel from Green to Feni. Shot up Japanese beach supply camp, four 47 foot barges, and all of the fuel drums. Exhausted their ammo. Almost attacked by a Green Island plane for leaving Feni very late after dawn. Second account, Feb 29, entering Rabaul Harbor at midnight, nearly getting trapped inside.

 

20.       By late 1943, the Japanese supply route from Rabaul, south, down “The Slot,” had so many sunken ships that the area east of Guadalcanal became known as “Iron Bottom Sound.” The Japanese campaign to invade Australia had been defeated. Cargo and war ships could be quickly spotted be aerial radar and bombed within minutes, so the only means to re-supply enemy island bases was by thousands of  steel hulled motor transport barges, operating in the dark and hugging coastlines. Small types ( Model A, for Army) were about 48 feet long and 11 feet wide; draft of  30 inches;  Daihatsu diesel power, 8 knot speed; two 7.7 mm machine guns or two 25 mm cannons. Some barges were powered by outboard motors. Long pointed bow; drop down bow ramp. Could carry a Type 89 Medium Tank, 70 soldiers or about 12 tons of cargo, depending upon weather. Weighed 9.5 tons. 6000 were built. A larger version was the steel hull Tokubetsu Daihatsu,  60 feet by 12 feet, twin diesels, 10 knots. Carried 120 troops or 16 tons of cargo. 200 were built. When these were all sunk, the garrison troops in the Solomons had to become jungle subsistence farmers for the duration. Walter Kundis, Gunners Mate 1st Class of PT 524, Ron 36 says his boat destroyed 14 wood barges.

 

21.       Journal of Walter A. Raney, Lt. USNR, Ron 19 and 23 at Green Island, 1944, 60 pps. Provided by Susan E, Conner. Raney was from Cary, MS, graduated from MS State University at Starkville, attended Midshipman school at Columbia Univ., and recently married. Went to the Higgins Boat works in New Orleans where Ron 19 was formed and trained there for six months. Boats then hauled on a tanker deck to the S. Pacific. The Green part begins at p 83.

 

Mar     12  1944, Ensign Raney is the Second Officer on PT 242. Arrives at Green from Torokina. Night patrol to New Britain, 25 miles south of Rabaul with 236 and 238. 110 miles from Green. Tarbaby is the PBY spotter plane overhead. 50 yards from shore, shot up a camp.

            15 To Feni Island, 45 miles north. Went round and round, looking for reported 15 barges with PBY’s Tarbaby, Charcoal, and 8-Ball.

            16 Tanker unloading gas in the harbor. Got from a LST a whole lamb, case of fruit juice, can of cocoa and powdered milk. Repairs done by AGP-5  Varuna, the PT tender ship. Got 12 doz eggs from a tin can (DD).

            18 To S. New Ireland, 500 yards out, up to Rabaul, with 241, 243 and 244.

            20 To E. coast of N. Brit 4 boats, with 235, 241 and 244.

22 To E coast of N. Ire. with 235, 241, and 244. 10 foot seas. Engine water tank leak.  No refueling; tanker unloading. Ron 6 and 11 are visiting the base. Intelligence says 5 battleships are off Kavenig doing shore target practice.

25 To Feni with 235, 243, and 244. Target practice on some beach huts. Still no regular dock at Green.

28 To Cape St George at New Ireland with 238, and 163 of Ron 10.

29 Raney named skipper of 244. To Feni; shot up the same huts.

30 Third night out, with 235 and 238, and Bob Ankers, radar engineer. Everyone very tired.

Apr      1   To Feni. Hank Parzyck is his new exec. With 241. E. side of the island.

3   To Tanga Islands Group [Tabar?] with 241. Heaps of rain.

6   To Buka with 243. Shot at 4 miles out by 3 shore batteries. Went out 4 more miles.

9        To west side of N. Ireland. Liberator bomber groups of 24 now fly to Truk in the Carolines.

11  Varuna dry dock crew fixes leak and rudders. Cleaned out half an inch of bilge grease and scum with lye. Repainted.

13    To Buka with 240, 241 and 242. Hard rain all night. Raced back.

15  Promoted to Lt jg.

17  Rons 6 and 10 leaving for the Admiralties. Went to NE Bougainville with 241, 242 and 235. Hard rain. One boat had radar out. Raced back.  Ron 28 to arrive.

19    Clean bilges. To Area Fox, E side of N Ireland near Kavenig. Shot at by 4.6” shore gun half mile away. Both radios out.

20    To Buka with 235, 240, 242 and 243. VHF (boat to boat) radio out. Skipper of 235 falls overboard.

23    To Feni with 240 which had no radio or compass. Huge seas.

27    To Buka for sub hunt with 242 and 243, following earlier search by 6 boats during daylight. VHF out. Lots of rain. Raced back and won.

28    In dry dock for 5 days of repairs and painting. Boat next door in drydock, 187, had some bottles of rum; got wet, then got sick.

May     4   Clothes got washed. To Area Fox, half way up E New Ireland. Four inch and 90 mm shore guns opened up on them. Laid down puffs of smoke and left. 10 miles further, Jap plane drops 2  100 pound bombs and more shore fire.. Firing at plane, misses. “guess we are slipping.”

6        Radar out. To E coast of N Britain. Shot at attacking Jap plane. Its bombs missed. Saw a Moon Bow, red, yellow and green.

8   To N Ireland, past Rabaul. Very rough seas; one of the crew got  banged up chest and knee. Blood shot eyes.

10    Monthly maintenance of torpedoes.

11    To E coast of N Britain. A base night fighter gets mixed up and flies at the boat; gets shot at. Jap plane drops bombs at the group. Missed by only 100 yards. Fighter can’t find it.

13  To Buka. Aux generator fails. Saw an 80 foot whale. Cook makes French toast and coffee – no beans served.

14    Squadron splits up: half to Ron 20 in Treasuries and half to Ron 23, staying at Green. Farewell party, 15 bottles for 20 men.

15    Generator repair fails. Joe Berry of Ron 6 hit in head by bomb shrapnel. Died before Dr. arrived. He was radar officer in the charthouse. Burial at airbase cem.

18    Took Dr out to a Ron 28 boat. Varuna crew installs new torpedo release gear.

20  Search for plane down six miles from the strip, with two crash boats. Nothing found. Then to Treasury and Rendova.

23    Got groceries from reefer ship: 1200 pounds of fresh meat; 1000 pounds of potatoes; apples and milk. Next, some target practice. Cdr. Snuffy Smith to join them at Green.

26    Engines removed to fix oil leaks. Repairs. Painting; new generator.

Jun       3   Reconditioned engines installed. More repair work

            10 Returned to Green with Ron 23’s leave passengers and 40 cases of beer. Seven boats.

            13 To N coast of N Ireland. One plane on radar at a distance. Last patrol with Black Cat  Squadron VP 91. 150 miles each way.

            15  To Area Uncle 200 miles away. One plane radar contact. Had to fix exhaust manifold. In St George’s Channel, blew up a big mine with .30 cal fire. The blast cracked a gun mount.

            18  To Area Fox up E coast of N Ireland. Radio and compass out. Hit a log; bent a screw. 242 also hit a log., as did a Ron 28 boat.

            20  To dry dock to fix screw and some holes. Dry dock starts sinking; boat tilts way up; abandon ship; boat floats up ok.

            24  Got four new .50’s installed. To Area Victor, west side of N Ireland from S end up to opposite Rabaul. With 242 and 284. Raced home –slowly.

26    To Area Fish on NW Bougainville with 280 and 242.

27    On as the Ready Boat at the dock (alternating daily with Ron 28 boats.) New PBY squadron arriving is VP 44.

28    To Area Orange, E coast of N Ireland, 200 miles away. Then to Bougainville to look for a derelict ship.

29    To Area Fox, S of Orange, N Ireland with 277. Straffed the river mouth at dawn.

Jul        1    Fix hole in bow.

2        To Area Fish

3        Beer is supplied. Craps game on 242

5    To Area Fish with 287. Raced back.

6    Four days in dry dock to replace struts. Saw My Friend Flicka on the 9th.

            13  To E coast of N Ireland. Aux generator would not start. No radar or radio.

16    To E coast of N Britain, 9 boats in St George Channel. Visiting PBY pilot on board fires a deck gun which blew up and severed his leg artery. The 287, while searching for a downed plane, was bombed by a two engine bomber  and straffed. Bomb hit the cockpit. Major injuries. Dr came and treated them onboard, then 3 airlifted to Guadalcanal Hospital.

17    Got BN radar interrogator to identify friendly plane signals.

19  Got gun turrets repaired. To Area Uncle. 285 burned up an engine. Got back 5 hours late.

22  To Area Orange with 277 and 281. 277 sent to look for a downed pilot. Saw huge fire near Cape Reis – Jap supply area.

24  Removed engine with water leak and got an overhauled one.

28  To W Bougainville with 243. Saw huge fire by Buka Passage. Replaced two gun mounts.

Aug      2    Bob Hope at the Mosquito Bowl with Frances Langford, Patty Thomas and Jerry Collona. Six shows at the various island camps. Patrol with 282. Moves ashore to tent with Bob Ankers, freeing up boat space.

            3   Huge storm for two days; lost two mooring lines and anchor. Everyone drenched.

            5   To Area Victor, E half of area between N Ireland and N Britain with 282 and 287. 287 had no radio. Very rough. Dragged the mooring bouy into deeper water.

            9   To Area Uncle with 282 and 288; a long haul. Bob Ankers got radio spares across the lagoon.

            13  To Area Uncle with 282 and 286. Heavy rain. Later, a Black Cat lit up the area; nothing spotted.

            17  Squadron Cdr. Al Farren very mad. Three officers had gotten drunk, shooting craps and hanging out at a beach hut which became a pig sty.

20  Radar got fixed.. To E coast of N Britain with 278 and 282. Rain squalls. Huge red glow over Rabaul. Downpour all the way back; could only see 100 yards.

            23  To upper W coast of N Ireland with 243 and 282. A Cat lit up the channel like Times Square with 40 flares, and bombed some beach houses.

            26  Got refrigerator fixed. To Area Uncle with 242 and 287. 242 had radio out and a water line break. Cook had been a chef at an Italian restaurant. Fixed a fancy Italian dinner. Straffed the beach.

            28  Patrol with 277 and 288. Had steak dinner. Black Cat shot down a Jap plane in the Channel. Other Rons had left Green base  for the time being.

31    Got torpedo fixed. To Simpson Harbor by Rabaul. Rain and strong swells. Bar opened up at the base: really swanky.

Sep      3    Up the Channel with 243 and 284. Rain and heavy seas. Boyd, a gunner on 243, badly injured when gun went off while he was removing the gun cover.

            5   A friend on a DE, escorting a tanker, invited Raney and Hank over for dinner. Gave them a turkey, 25 pounds of hamburger and five dozen eggs. By dawn, only two eggs were left for Raney.

            6  Rescue mission for downed Corsair in the Channel. PBY there cracked a float. Another PBY made the combined rescue.

            7   Galley range got fixed. Roasted the turkey, carrots and potatoes.

            9  Up N Ireland and down N Britain with 278 and 281, up one wave and under the next.

            13 Up the Channel. Sec leader quite ill. Less rain.

            17 Outside Rabaul the group blew up three barges and damaged a fourth. The 287 got quite shot up. The 188 had a 3 inch hole through a gas tank, flooding the bilge with gas.

            21 To E coast of N Britain and down W coast of N Ireland with 241 and 277. One ship bombed in Simpson Harbor.

            22 USO show after cleaning guns and fueling.

            24 To Section Peter on E coast of N Britain with Blair – 287. Rained all night. The other boat section had a bad hand injury from a gun misfire.

            26  To Duke of York Islands area (S.  N Ireland) with 242, 200 miles up. Big seas and rain. Had the 20 mm stern gun mount replaced. Had six toasted cheese sandwiches in the hut.

            29 Repair a torpedo and a broken hatch.

            30 Repair refrigerator and another hatch. Too rough to patrol.

Oct      1   Seas look terrible from the bluff above the base. One ramp lighter nearly swamped. Another lighter took the crew in for chow; all got soaked.

            2 Calmer water in the Channel

4        Promoted to Section Leader. Up W coast of N Ireland and St George Channel with 241. Broke a drive shaft a foot in front of the screw. A gunner fumbled a mortar shell; went off; lost a finger. PBY sent over a pharmacist mate to look after him. Also, provided him with brandy and water.  

5        Movie: Marriage is a Private Affair, Lana Turner.

6        10 foot seas; a constant wall of water coming in. Went back after an hour.

7        Up the Channel with 243, 280 and 281. Huge seas. Crashed all the gear in the boat

9    Cleaned everything. Went to the bar for 9 drinks; went to the movie; left early. Next morning, had aspirins.

10  241 on fire at the main dock. Engine fire. Two burn injuries; very bad. To Area Uncle. Rough seas. One gun boat broke both its 40 mm guns. Mortared the coast. Fuel dock closed for repairs.

12  Got fuel and ammo. Went to S Peter Area. Shot up a barge by the beach, and fired 100 mortar shells and straffing at a target area.

14 Six hull frames found broken. Crane barge removes engines. Dock crane removed torpedoes and generators.

26 Overhaul completed. To Area Peter.

21 Out on patrol

Nov     1   Some Ron 19 officers go home. Dinner with Crd Smith. Lousy movie.

4  Leave Green on SCAT Air, heading home from island to island , and then by ship, over the next three weeks.

 

22.       Account by Tom Fitzgerald of Riverside, NJ, Ron 28, PT 381 gunner. “The first half of Ron 28 got to Green (as we all called Barahun) island mid April, ’44 and immediately began combat patrols against Buka Island and northern Bougainville, eastern New Britain, Rabaul and New Ireland.

Green is a circular atoll about 4-miles across its inner harbor, with a U. S. airstrip on the main island of Nissan, Barahun, where the PT boat rons headquartered, has a deep harbor with two entrances / exits. I recall the PTs only used the South Channel.

Rons 6 and 9 were operating (April ’44) out of Barahun when the second section of 28 (in which I was aboard PT 381) arrived. PT crews were beefed up with two or three more sailors being added to the crews. I was one of these. Limited bunking aboard caused us to sleep ashore, though we were now crewmen.

Entering the harbor via the South Channel had this 6’ by 8’ sign: “Kill Japs / Kill Japs / Kill more Japs / Adm. Wm. Halsey.

The PT s would tie up at “T” – shaped piers made of steel pontoons. These were still visible in 1976, though a few feet underwater, when a Ron 28 sailor revisited Green.

There was a single main road on Barahun made of crushed coral and highly crowned. It ran from soft sand of the Barahun harbor beach where the administrative offices and workshops (torpedo, electrical, etc.) were,  past the piers, then winding  its now crushed coral back through the jungle to the mess hall and on almost to the enlisted mens’ pyramid tent area on the island’s west (sea) side where it petered out. The coral gullies there made it impossible for Jeeps and trucks to travel, but the sailors traversed it. It was razor-sharp, and collected rain for adding to the insect population.

The mess hall was screened against insects, but steamy and moist, holding in the heat. Its roof was several tent tops sewn together. Rats on the island were the size of well-fed kittens. Other wildlife included land crabs, monkeys and koalas and huge sea turtles.

Ice was reserved for the officers, but enlisted men (EMs) had access to Lyster bags [35 qts.] and hung in the trees and so warmed to the temperature. EMs also managed to drink torpedo juice, raisin-jack (fermented in PT’s wooden water casks from life rafts) and pilfered officers’ liquors, plus beer allotments received by the U.S. Army’s Coast Artillerymen stationed there.

Fresh water was scarce. The mess hall used water produced by large evaporators hauled into position by the Seabees (who built the place). EMs collected rainwater for bathing and showering in 50-gallon drums positioned at tent corners. The water was also used by EMs for laundry.

The USS Varuna, an LST converted into a PT boat tender, anchored off Barahun and used it’s A-frames to lift PTs out of the water for hull work and on screws and shafts.

Cmd. C. C. Miller was Barahun’s commanding officer.

Night of June 6, 1944, PT 381 (Lt jg G. Mort, USNR) and PT 285 of Ron 23 (Lt A.W. Ferron, USNR), with Lt F.B. Gass, USNR as section leader, while patrolling off southeastern New Ireland lost a man to Jake bombs. While in a position about two miles east of the Nubai River the boats made visual  and radar contact with a plane approaching from the direction of  Cape Namaroda. The plane, identified as a Jake, circled the boats and then commenced a bombing run on PT 381 which opened fire and got at least one 20 mm hit. The plane then banked sharply, turned toward shore and dropped his bomb as PT 285 opened fire. The bomb landed 20 feet off the starboard beam of PT 285 and bomb fragments pierced the hull, fatally injuring Charles Wesley Christianson, MoMM2c, USNR. The plane retired inshore and contact was lost. The gunner with at least one hit was Charlie Lalamondier, our cook from Missouri. The 285 was ‘Scuttlebutt John’.”

 

23.       Account by Lt. Kenneth G. Myers, provided by Ted Rundall (radio-gunner). USMC B-25’s, known in the Navy and Marines as the PBJ bombers. Squadron VMB – 423. On 3 Oct 1944, Myers’ plane and two other bombers were on a flat hat patrol and bombing mission over central N Ireland, near the Namatanai Harbor base. Intense flack at 500 feet blew up the port engine and a gas tank; fire everywhere. Too low to bail out. Barely glided to water. Smooth ditching before plane went under a wave. All six got out with only one 4 man raft. Shore batteries opened up from less than a mile away; shells everywhere; they ducked under water and constantly repaired bullet holes in the raft. Drifted closer to shore; then further out. A B-25 stayed overhead; dropped 4 one man life rafts; later joined by a PBY. After dark, the PBY flew over at 500 feet. Myers shot a revolver tracer bullet 20 feet off the plane’s wing and was spotted. Soon, a PT Boat hauled them in. All had burn, gunshot, or fragmentation wounds. The boat ride back to Green also banged them up a bit. Boat medicinal whiskey helped, Camp LeJeune brand..

 

24.       Account by  Ralph L. Harvey, pharmacist’s mate 3rd class, US Navy. The Marine Corp. bomber squadron camp was close to the sickbay tents and the ground crew quarters. They had heard that some Japanese were holed up in some small caves. At 2 AM one night, he heard rustling sounds in the brush by his tent. Could not rouse his snoring tent mate. Peaked under the back tent flap – to find a wild boar with six boarlets peering at him and grubbing around for roots.

He traded 190 proof alcohol with the cook who made them raisin jack. Also, mixed the alcohol with grapefruit juice during movie time. Dr. Bozic started missing the alcohol from the five gallon tins, so he spiked them with quinine. The lads resorted to filtering the quinine out by straining it through a loaf of bread. Eventually, they reduced the pilferage so the Doc wouldn’t notice.

 

25.       Pigs on Green. Paul H. Watling, US Army radar technician on Barahun, says for Christmas 1944 dinner, they had roast wild boar; tough, but tasty. The cook may have gotten too drunk on whiskey while preparing it. An adult wild boar may be about four feet long; weigh up to 700 pounds; may be very aggressive; has four sharp tusks. Long, black bristly hair. Will eat nearly anything.

A B-25 was halfway down the runway when a family of pigs ran across the runway 100 yards ahead. The pilot, Capt. Tom Waller, pulled up, missing them by a yard, then bounced down beyond them; not yet up to takeoff speed. Followed by three more bounces.

Air crews also liked to go lobster fishing after finishing long missions. On a full moon night at low tide, go to one of the lagoon basins with a forked stick. Nab the lobsters; put them in a burlap bag , and head for the kitchen before dawn. Boil water and eat 15 minutes later. No spam, today. Per Lt. Michael Bozak

 

26.       Ted Rundall of VMB 423 B-25’s /PBJ’s says his bomber group in 1948 started collecting squadron stories in 1948. These are published in two volumes, out of print. Many of the crew went on to be career Marine Air Corps Officers, colonels, generals, and all. They have regular reunions and print quarterly newsletters. At the Oct 8, 1998 reunion at Quantico, squadron members provided action letter accounts and taped interviews. Many flew 50 or more combat missions from Green. Lt Norman J. Anderson flew 104 Green missions. Later, became USMC Major General. Stories from Harold C. Bauer; Lee Bender; Joseph Mack; Michael Bosak; Sam Carlson; Peter (Red) F. Dunne, Jr.; Ted Eckhardt; Sid Gross; Harry Grimac; Chuck Gardner (Lagoon bomb fishing with corned beef bait). Diary of Elvin Krumsee,  mechanic, 20 pps details many Green events. Account by Paul White, tail gunner, 20 pps, tells of jungle survival methods for duty on Green. Every other week his CO sent a PBJ to Townsland, about 800 miles S.E. for materials such as steak, milk, eggs, veggies, and refreshments; a few tons each trip. Top secret missions.

The Marine Corps squadron’s camps were about half a mile north of the airfields, by the lagoon. Once, a bomber at night overshot the runway, ripped through the trees in the camp, and crashed in the lagoon. The entire crew was lost. The RNZAF bomber crew camps were next door, inland.

 

27.       Larry Katz was a PBY radioman in VP 101 (later named VPB 29) age 26 on Green. Their crew survived the Pearl Harbor attack. Their model 5 planes had no landing gear. From July 1944, for four months, they lived in their planes and on the tender ship in the lagoon. The squadron commander was Capt.. Steve Johnson, now of Bothell, WA. His plane pilot was Bill Lankford. On occasion, they would go to a village for trading. They took razor blades, sheets, pillow cases (used for lap-laps) to trade for shell bracelets, necklaces, wood carvings, or bananas. One villager admired his silver I.D. bracelet which had Navy wings on one side and “Mother” on the back. For a  barter, the man brought out a comely 15 year old girl. Other airmen offered him $20 for the bracelet – which Larry still has today. Lobster and clam gathering were good on Green. He did grenade fishing in Australia, but not in the lagoon.

From his logbook:

 

28.       C.J. Willis lives in Stillwater, OK. He was 19 when he arrived on Green on PT 242 (Celeste), a gunner and torpedoman. This was early March 1944. The boat was still part of Ron 19, having been on Vella La Vella and Treasury for four months. On Vella on 14 Dec 1943, he had seen the boat fuel dock blow up with many casualties. On arrival at Green, their fuel dock was at the airbase. Early patrols to New Britain and New Ireland often drew aircraft attacks. Barges spotted on radar often escaped into coves for cover. Mortars were used to shell them for a few seconds before the boat headed out to sea, and out of range of the shore guns.

Once, they tried Buka Passage with two other boats, but the shore fire was terrific, blasting at them for two miles straight. Near the airbase dock, one day they rescued an SBD which had to ditch in the lagoon – wheels up. They grabbed them from the wing before the plane sank five minutes later.

The USS Varuna was stationed at the boat base. Made lots of ice cream for them. On 15 May, PT’s 241-244 joined Ron 23. Bigger engines (1550 hp) were installed. They learned how to ferment apple jack in five gallon kegs; not too good. They were allowed 10 quarts of fresh water from the distillers for washing every day. On 1 Nov 1944 a new crew arrived, and their crew left for home ten days later. They went home on an escort carrier. He married Sue of Miami, OK 31 Dec 1944 in Kansas City. In March, 1945, he went to Samar where he had shore base duty, loading and unloading and trucking. The beer ration there was only two cans a week – until the war ended. He left for good on 15 Nov 1945 on a troop ship for Portland. The 1944 crew roster is:

Alpine W. McLane       C/O

Donald R. Hana            X/O

R.C. Pratt                     Q/M

Kenneth R. Cooper      Gm                   W.J. Trosclair               MoMM

Lee Utter                      MoMM            William Metcalf            Gm

John Grace                   Tm                   Charles McIntosh         MoMM

J.F. Cawley                  Rm                   R.J. Terry                     Rm

Louis Bernik                 Tm                   C.J. Willis                     Gm

W.M. Myers                MoMM            Aubrey S. Hatlow, Jr   

Leonard O. Vanderpool MoMM          Hiland Bicknell Knapp Cook

 

In a June 2004 note, he mentions that McLane, Raney and  Hana died a few years ago.

 

29.       Harland Warren on Feb 14, 1944 was XO of Communications Unit 39, with 9 officers and 25 enlisted radio specialists. They boarded 14 LCI’s in Guadalcanal; stopped in Vella Lavella to collect 420 New Zealand infantry. Landed at 5 AM Feb 15 at Pokonian Plantation after 9 Betty Bombers flew over the ships. Bougainville Corsairs downed 6 of them. No casualties. First three nights slept in jungle hammocks, next to foxholes. Nightly raids by Washing Machine Charlie. C and K rations were served. After three weeks of work, Wire Platoon went to Noumea to organize another unit, then sent (prematurely) toward Kavieng, but diverted to Los Negros, then to Hollandria. Soon, sent to Charleston, SC for Courts Martial defense duty for a year. Three Green Island photos of an LST; the guys and a head. (Apr 2006).

 

30.       William D. Moloney was a 19 year old RNZAF Sgt. in the meteorological section on Green Island Sept-Dec 1944. May 2006, he is in Henderson, Auckland City, age 81. He and two others were in the advance unit which would assume island meteorological operations from the U.S. Navy. They often flew as weather observers on combat missions in Mitchell bombers and PBY’s. One PBY night patrol saw a PT boat engage a target on a near by-coast. The plane search light lit up the target – a fuel dump. The explosion was spectacular. They finished it off by tossing a dozen fragmentation bombs out of the starboard gun-blister, ker-whump. On one ride in a Harvard trainer they hit a tractor and ended nose down, tail up. Gasoline all over them, bit it did not ignite. A long way to get to the ground. His quarters were lagoon-side. No showers; bathing in the lagoon with salt-water soap. The Navy mess provided their Spam. (May 2006).

 

31.       NZ Third Division private, Fred Wilkinson, is in the same retirement complex with Bill Moloney in Henderson, Auk. He relates the second pre-landing recon excursion, two casualties; and the initial invasion. Heavy jungle fighting; many Japanese casualties; cave searching with hand grenades; and mopping up operations. (May 2006).

 

32.       Lampton Williams, Esq. lives in Poplarville, MS May 2006. He operated a LCVP, small landing craft during the Green Island invasion. After things quieted down, he operated the boat as the lagoon ferry from the main airbase H.Q, down to the crew quarters dock, then over to the PT Boat base dock. The boat had a crew of three and could carry 36 troops or a few Jeeps. They were Higgins boats, built in MS. The design was taken from Japanese landing craft. 250 hp. The bow draft was two feet, and three feet, aft. Lampton is now about 83.

 

33.       Anne Leydon of Jacksonville, FL has a 1944 photo, “The first plane lands on Green.” A B-24J Liberator, twin-tail big bomber. Cdr John B. Anderson; Col Koonta, SCAT; Lt Col O’Neil and four crewmembers. A Navy censor’s stamp reads 3/7 (but could be 1944 or 1945). She purchased it at a Jacksonville estate sale Jun 2006.

 

34.       Ken Bingham, Port Hueneme, CA Seabee’s Museum, has provided excerpts from the published cruise books for the 9th CB Bat, 33rd, and 37th, with accounts of early operations on Green, landing craft operations, building the runways, and 15 early photos. The coral quarry big steam shovel loading stone at midnight. The first squadrons were Corsairs and B-24 Liberators. In March and April, the B-24’s did follow-up bombing on Truk (Chuuck) Island and destroyed about 120 planes and lots of ships. This was after the main Battle of Truk, 18-19 Feb 1944 by a huge U.S. Navy carrier fleet. The atoll was a well-fortified main Japanese Navy  and air base. (Jul 2006).

 

Contemporary Nissan Island Area 2001.

Papua New Guinea has been independent since 1975. It had been an Australian protectorate since 1902. The Western half of New Guinea (Irian Jaya) is part of Indonesia, the former Dutch East Indies,  15 percent Islamic culture in some coastal areas, but not in the mountains. The Solomon Island Nation to the south is a former British/Australian territory, independent since 1978. It has had large-scale ethnic wars between the Melanesians and the Papuans, 1992-1999 in the Guadalcanal region. The Solomon Island region continues to be highly tribal-village based, and the society continues to be matrilineal as to tribal leadership, land ownership, lineage and  inheritances. Chiefdoms are held by older males, designated by a consensus of the villagers.

 

Papua New Guinea was at war with its Bougainville North Solomon Island Provincial District (including Nissan) for 9 years. In 1990 Bougainville declared its independence from Papua New Guinea. PNG responded by declaring an economic and communications blockade of the area, and periodic gun battles. Helicopter gunships would occasionally strafe entire villages. About 20,000 people have been killed in the struggle. A nominal truce was declared in 1998. The 160,000 residents of Bougainville, Buka and Nissan wanted to be independent from Papua, and they feel a closer kinship with the Solomon Island Nation, ethnically, linguistically, and racially, being black-skinned Melanesians. The civil war shut down/dismantled the big Bougainville low-grade copper ore mine. Most schools, hospitals, and other facilities have been closed for years for lack of any governmental support. The islands recently have received foreign aid assistance from Australia and New Zealand, their traditional protectors. On August 30, 2001 a new peace accord was reached and approved by clan leaders, providing for increasing autonomy over a five-year period.

 

95 percent of PNG people live in non-urban areas following traditional ways of subsistence living. Nearly 25 percent of PNG mainland folks in the highland rain forest areas live more than one day’s walk from the nearest road. Many people have never seen a school or an electric light bulb. Tribal warfare in the Western Highlands is reported in 2003 with one group shooting up the neighborhood, and others shooting back. The few local police duck away so as not to be caught in the crossfire.

 

There is a 1975 Australian governmental map, based on aerial photography and some ground inquiries. Other islands in the Nissan lagoon are Hon, in the lagoon center; Barahun in the reef center channels; and Sirot/Bion, in the North channel. The Nissan Lagoon is about 10 miles long and four to five miles wide in most parts. About 100 permanent buildings are shown, and about 20 small villages. No power line, phone or church symbols appear on the map. There is a lighthouse symbol at Bion Island and at the abandoned Lagoon Airstrip. Many parts are about 20 m. above sea level. The numerous plantations, cultivated areas, rain forests and Mangrove swamps are marked. Pinipel has Sentinel and Sau Islands on the N.W. side. Archaeological digs on Nissan and Biak have recently found pottery remnants dating back 25,000 years.

 

The population of Nissan Island in 2000 was about 6,000. The local Melanesian dialect is Bougno, (a/k/a Nihan) one of 800 regional dialects.

 

New school additions to Nissan Island Holy Cross High School at the former Lagoon Field base were recently completed. “The island had been a safe haven for Bougainville children, resulting in severe overcrowding. Several new dormitories, classrooms and administrative buildings were built, and water and electricity services improved. There are now 11 school dorms and 18 teachers’ houses. The island also has the Balil Community School on the North end, which recently got a new library.” Tongul Mission and School is on the south side of the island, headed in 2001 by Fr. Edmond Duffy, an Irishman. Holy Cross, headed by Fr. Aloysius Kyoto,  now has about 450 students. [SMEC Newsletter, May 2001]. The District Office, police station and medical clinic are at the former Pokonian Plantation. The local spoken language is the Austronesian/Melanesian Nihan dialect.

 

The Carteret Islands are about 45 miles east, and slightly south of Green Island, coral atolls. Tulun Island, also known as Kilinailau Atoll, is a reef island. The south side is covered with trees. Jangaini, Yecola, Yava and Puli are part of the atoll group in the central lagoon. The lagoon is about 30 km from north to south. The islands are so small, they don’t appear on most maps. During the past 10 years, they have been subject to ocean flooding during typhoons, ruining the vegetable crops. In October 1999, there being no food, except fish, most of the islanders were to be relocated to Bougainville. [As of May 12, 2003, 2,000 islanders remain isolated there as the PNG government provides no services or assistance to the North Solomon Islands. Coconut shoots are the only remaining vegetation; all the coconuts have been eaten.. There is no transportation to or from Bougainville.]

 

September 18-20, 1994 Rabaul (pop. about 30,000) was destroyed by three days of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and explosions, covering the city in three meter deep layers of ash. The weight of the ash after rains, collapsed all the building roofs. The government inaction leaves it essentially abandoned. Feni Island, north of the Green Islands, is the site of a large mining operation for precious metals.

 

The News Corp. chain publishes the Port Moresby PNG Post Courier daily paper, and three regional weekly supplemental editions. Main stories and photos can be seen online. Common themes are crime, corruption, endemic poverty, mayhem and prostitution. The Independent is a local rival paper. And there is one published in a local dialect. The population of Port Moresby is about 250,000.

 

Communication with the outside world can be done via satellite phone (expensive), as well as via short-wave radio. Mail comes by plane from Buka about once a month.

 

Prof. Spriggs says communication by Garamut drum still works. A common 1990’s Nissan Island morning message by a Big Man is, “We’ve got lots of juicy breadfruit, suckers.” Breadfruit trees used for the drums are three to four feet in diameter, grow about 60 feet tall and have a canopy of about 60 feet. The leaves are one to three feet tall. Red hot stones are placed in the end of the drum under construction to soften up the wood before hollowing it out with a knife or chisel. The 10 pound round, bumpy-skinned breadfruits are pealed, then cooked like a potato. They are harvested somewhat green. When fully-ripe, they are too sweet and become mushy. They are a staple food, like the taro. Seedless varieties are cultivated in Jamaica, South America and Central Africa. Export breadfruits are often canned as the raw product shelf-life is only seven days.

 

Josh Mcdade, AU Army medic, reported from a September 1999 visit to the Island, that there is a somewhat damaged Japanese light tank hulk a bit off the main road, a reminder of the Feb 1944 takeover battle. Samuel Frankel from Ron 23 reported his visit to the island in 1995, a big pile of 500 bombs there. The islanders don’t use cash money at all. They are very friendly and kind.

 

The Australian Government is developing a financial program for the Bougainville Territory, there being essentially no financial institutions in the region. There is an outline for the “Nissan Island Microfinance Structure” to create a local savings and loan project in 2002. This would be a new concept for the islanders, and village committees are being formed to develop it. The “Nehan Finance Cooperative” and individual Village Savings Clubs.

 

Rick Thomas advises Dec 2001 that there is a guest house for about 15 visitors on the north side of the island, mainly used by PNG officials, and a smaller one at Lagoon Field. He is in contact with a travel agent, Dianne Matthews in Wisconsin [www.seniorluxurytours.com], who specializes in island tours in the region for WW II vets and their families.

 

The harvesting of Sea Cucumbers from the sea floor by younger divers is considered to be a good cash crop. Two feet long; prickly tough skin; bottom sand-feeders. They are cleaned and dried. Exported to China where they are considered to be a festive holiday treat. Re-hydrated, skinned, then sliced up and put into soups, or cubed and put into salads, or braised and fried. Mystical healing properties; essentially flavorless. Can be grounded up into a powder and sold as a folk medicine to “help the innards”.

 

March 1979 to Dec 1981 Sr. Sharon Becker, CSJ was the sole resident medical clinician on Nissan. Opened a clinic overlooking a high bluff by the Ocean airfield, with assistance by a Bougainville doctor. Established 12 nurse-midwife clinics. Trained many “doctor-boys”. Vaccinated a few thousand kids on area islands through age 14. Resided at Tongol Mission main house, formerly the residence of the NZ Army chief, and the former Japanese island commander, and Fr. Lepping. Quite a few bullet holes in the place.

 

1993 and 1994 David L. and Laura Bond were Peace Corps teachers at the Holy Cross High School, together with other teachers from Buka, Bougainville and PNG. Half of the students were refugees from the south. The school had a truck for getting about. The school had a small motorboat. Attempted to have a garden plot. Started a family. Their house was at the PBY tent camp area on the lagoon. Fr Duffy was there in 1993, but was then transferred to Fiji; had an obscure sense of humor.

They arrived by plane from Rabaul in January 1993 with some pots, pans, dishes, and canned goods. The house had nothing in it; just four walls and a roof. No kitchen; no nothing. They got an old Aussie table made from scraps of wood, and a few months later, a two burner kerosene stove. Food ran out quickly. Can one survive on bananas and fish? An oil drum was made into an oven to cook big fish. Every three or four months a provincial coastal trader supply ship would come with groceries, kerosene, propane and other wares. It docked at Lihon Village, half a mile north of the high school and airstrip. That service was halted several years ago by the PNG embargo.

Laurie taught English and math and was the first librarian. David taught English and science and was the school nurse. Enrollment was about 500, 7th through 10th grades. One 24 year old student, Elias Butteria, the self-proclaimed “King of the Boys”,a former soldier and bushman, got provoked at the Ag teacher who poked him with an umbrella. He was a known headhunter/ canibal from NE Bougainville, near Buka, who liked his dinner fare, rare. The headmaster worked out a settlement and he left school. Then, many boys became very disruptive, nearly rioting. The headmaster hired Sirak the Sorcerer from Tanamalit, down the road; the scariest dude ever seen, reputed to be 300 years old, descended from a clan of giants from another island. His power was so great that anyone walking behind him would drop dead. He and his brother and their apprentices sat down by the Administration Building. Some wet leaves were waived about the property; the school demons were promptly exorcised, and order was fully restored. David says Sirak actually appeared to be about 80, 5-8”, very thin, cataract-clouded eyes, white bushy hair. Later, a teacher took his dog to the sorcerer. It had a mange infection and all the hair was falling out. Two weeks later, the dog came back, all fuzzy with new hair growing very nicely.

The school cooking and dining area was at the north end of the school buildings. A bamboo enclosure with two big cooking pots over a wood fire grate, for rice, the food staple. Six students would cook the rice. Sometimes a cook would make something to put on top of it. Girls and boys ate in the dining hall at separate shifts, the local custom. “Meris” would bring gathered food stuffs for sale to the school, fruits and some vegetables. The Bonds ate at home, which was behind the girls’ dormitories. Rice, oatmeal, coconuts, Yellow Spinefoot fish, pamalos [big pear-shaped grapefruits], mulis [Mandarin oranges], and pau nuts [bunches of green and purple seed husks with a white nut inside, good for snacks.] Pau and galip nuts grow in the jungle. Kalau, green coconuts, are a main source of water.

“One student, Leadly Saher’s father raised lobsters. He would bring them on his bicycle to my house and leave then on the veranda. Some were huge and would scare my cats. We also ate parrotfish, rainbow runners, sweetlips, tuna, tangs, surgeonfish, trevallys, sea urchins, octopods, seaweed, giant clams, papayas, and Cadbury chocolate. We tried to introduce several students to our food – pasta, burritos, pizza. They hated everything involving tomato sauce or beans. They liked most of the pop music we brought.

“Our second year was much easier in terms of food because we all got furniture, stoves and refrigerators. More and more, people realized there was money to be made off the school, so local commerce increased. The students constructed a store, which also drew folks to Holy Cross. School became the focus of all things human…. The chow hall was equipped with a modern kitchen, but it was rarely used. We had to be extremely conservative with all our resources.”

The Pacific Trident Snails lived on the reefs. After capture and cleaning, a quarter-size hole could be punched in the shell, then it could be played like a French Horn. He can play “Stairway to Heaven” on it, as well as “Fanfare to a Common Snail.” He had a dug out canoe carved at a cost of 50 Kina; painted Cardinal red.. The only motorboat belonged to the school, 14 feet long, 30 hp engine. Gasoline was a very rare commodity. The school had a small flatbed truck; the copra guy had an old small truck; an old one on the south end of the island, and the clinic had an ambulance. All were rarely used.

Pigs were rounded up for feasts. Maybe 30 for a big wedding or a funeral. Each had its own ear-mark for ownership. All would be roasted and eaten for days on end. Villagers commonly married in their mid-twenties after the groom had enough pigs to pay the bride price – probably five pigs. Roundups were dangerous. Pigs will bite and gore anyone close by.

Sea snails and big clams can be tasty when fresh from the lagoon, usually, sautéed. Snail pieces need some pounding with a mallet, similar to Abalone preparation. David was once given a piece of a giant clam to cook for dinner. The chunk was the size of a football.

Toads are everywhere on the island. They have no natural predators. They were imported by the Japanese in 1942 to eat the “mossies” (mosquitos).

David and Laurie live in St. James, in the Ozarks of Missouri where they have taught for six years. Children are ages 3 and 6 in 2003.

Oct 2003 correspondence.

 

July 30, 2004 PNG Post-Courier news story on educating PNG girl students. Fewer than half of all girls finish primary school, for many reasons. In rural areas, many families have no money, at all. School fees are about $10 per year, plus a uniform. In higher grades, the fees are $40 per year. Grants for fees never get through. One textbook per three students; boys hog them. Teachers take all of the availably rain water, leaving none for the students. Most girls are sold off for the “bride price” at puberty and go to live in the husband’s village. Girls walking several miles to school are afraid of attacks and abductions by enemy tribes in the area. Education for boys is valued more than for girls.

 

Source Materials.

1.         Article and Green Island photos, The Black Cats of Green Island, by Capt Gerard S. Bogart, UNS (Ret), c 1978, 15 pps. Photos of the officers’ tent cluster; a fish fry; Officers Club and the flying piano. Aerial photo showing airfields, PT Boat base and village settlements.

 

2.         Squadron daily flight log  book of Arthur P. Herin, Jr. ARM/2C, radioman/gunner.   VP 44. Jun 44 to 20 Apr 1945, partially on Green Island, and several photos. Air navigation map to and from Green Island with compass headings and distances. 1947 Navy Citation for Meritorious Combat Action. 5394 Bloomfield Rd., Macon, GA, 31206.  age 83 in 2001.

 

3.         “Black Cats of Green Island VP 44” reunion newsletter 8 May 1989 and member address list, 107 active names.

 

4.         Royal Australian Survey Topographical Map 1975 Green Islands, Sheet 9789, inserted below.

 

5.         “Official Chronology of the U.S. Navy in World War II (1944)”. Online website. Chapter VI covers significant daily events. 131 pps. http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/USN-Chron/USN-Chron-1944.html                                                                                                                      

 

6.         Charles A. Lindbergh, Thoughts of a Combat Pilot. Saturday Evening Post 2 Oct 1954.  5 pps. Online.

 

7.         MacArthur and the Admiralties, John Miller, jr. 1959 16 pps. Online  HYPERLINK "http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/books/70-711.htm" www.army.mil/cmh-pg/books/70-711.htm, Cartwheel: The Reduction Rabaul.

 

8.         The Black Cats Squadrons. Catalina Flying Boats. Online

 

9.         Milton W. Bush, age 90, conversations recalled by Milton Bush, Jr. from eons ago. The writer was one year old when MWB arrived at Green.

 

10.       Encyclopedia Britannica, 1976 ed. World War II., and 2001 Online ed.

 

11.       The numerous aircraft manufacturers indexed under model names/types. Online.

 

12.       Matthew Spriggs, Chair Dept. of Archeology, Australia National University, Canberra, The Island Melanesians, 1997, 313 pps., maps and illustrations. Oxford: Blackwells. $77 at Amazon,com. Correspondence, 2001, on Nissan Island observations, 1985-87 research project in archeology (carbon dating pre-history pottery shards), and related fields of anthropology and linguistics.

 

13.       Wynnum Graham, Cairns, AU, a Black Cat Squadron military campaign historian.  HYPERLINK "mailto:wbg@bigpond.com" wbg@bigpond.com.

 

14.       John W. Mills 3652 Pine Forest Rd. Macon, GA 31206

 

15.       Norman Arthur Schneidewind 3108 E. Blount St. Pensacola FL 32503.

 

16.       Websites for “The Black Cats of World War II”, and “PBY’s – The Flying Boats”, with photos, aircraft drawings, squadron data, stories, message boards,            reunion listings. U.S. Army and Navy WW II historical websites with vast             military operations data.  Visit vpnavy.com.;   pacificwrecks.com.;   pt boats.org/.

 

17.       Blocking Rabaul By Air, by Capt. Lawrence P. Bachmann, May 1944 Air Force Journal. Details the eventual elimination of nearly 1,000 planes at the five airbases at Rabaul. 5 pps. Photo of Rabaul Harbor from 10,000 feet.  HYPERLINK "http://www.enter.net/~rocketeer/13thrabaul.html" http://www.enter.net/~rocketeer/13thrabaul.html                         

 

18.       Descriptions and histories of the anti-aircraft guns, the 40mm Swedish-design Bofors “Pom-Pom Guns”,  and the heavy 20 mm machine guns, see DE USS Slater,  HYPERLINK "http://www.dmna.state.ny.us/slater/weapons" http://www.dmna.state.ny.us/slater/weapons.  The 40’s used a seven man crew for twin guns, 160 rounds per minute/barrel if the loaders could keep up (one clip dropped in every 1.5 seconds). Large ships used them in quad units. Two pound shells in four round clips. The clips were 9-1/2 inches long. Shells were 2-3/8” dia. brass and 12-1/4 inches long, and got recycled. Seven foot barrels. Range 3000 yards. Optical sights, electrically-controlled gun director/lead calculator. Firing would start when the gun director, crew chief and  gun pointer all pulled triggers at the same time. Made by Chrysler Corp. and York Lock & Safe Co.,1941-. Contemporary land anti-tank models are laser guided, have automatic programmable projectiles, and pinpoint accuracy at three miles.

 

The PT Boat fore deck AA gun was the 37 mm SK-C/30 light flack cannon. Commonly used by Germany, Russia, British, Italians, etc. Developed in 1930 and in service by 1934. 37 mm equals 1.46 inches. 9 foot barrel. Gun weight, 536 pounds. Average firing rate, 40 rounds per minute. 5 round shell clips. Shell length, 20.3 inches; weight, 4.63 pounds. Projectile length, 6.4 inches. Bursting explosive, .8 pounds. Range – flat, 3000 yards; at 45 degrees, 9,300 yards.

 

19.       Most of Samar Island remains very impoverished. The Eastern Province has a population of about 250,000 residents. Guiuan has a population of 35,000; Salcedo, about 15,000. The soil in the southern area is mainly too poor for farming. About 38% of the population is engaged in small boat fishing. Over-fishing by illegal means – dynamite and cyanide is rampant. The area was a hotbed of rebel Communist activity in the 1980’s. Annual August and September major typhoons frequently cause much damage. Most areas have no public water, electricity or telephones. Illiteracy in rural areas is the norm. Rats devour much of the copra harvests.

 

20.       PT BOAT BASE No. 17, Bobon Point, Samar, 1997, 531 pps. History, personal accounts, maps, photos, at PT Boats, Inc., Memphis, TN.

 

21.       PBY Catalinas in World War II. A one hour film broadcast on The History Channel, May 2002.

 

22.       At Close Quarters, PT Boats in the Unites States Navy, 1962, Cpt. Robert J. Bulkley Jr., Part III, Sec. 25 and 26, on PT Boats on day of Green Island invasion, and Feb 11 44 boat collision.

 

23.       New York Times Magazine cover 16 Apr 1944, photo of LCT 139 off loading trucks at the future Lagoon Field beach on the second day of the Green Island invasion, two months earlier. www.navsource.org /amphibians. Provided by Rick Thomas. LCT’s were 114 feet long and 32 feet wide; three diesel engines; four deck machine guns.

 

24.       Invasion of Green Islands February 1944, by Ray Monoro, New Zealand Army,    14 pps.  HYPERLINK "http://au.geocities.com/third_div/green.html" http://au.geocities.com/third_div/green.html. This website was organized by Warwick Hughes, son of a Third Div. soldier. He said 6 Mar 1944 was the first RNZAF landing on Green, 16 bombers, enroute from Bougainville to Rabaul. Soon after, three SCAT planes landed, one Navy nurse aboard.

 

25.       Action report PT 103, Ron 5 Feb 29, 1944 from Green to Rabaul by Jack H. Duncan.  HYPERLINK "http://members.cox.net/jduncan161/rabaul.htm" http://members.cox.net/jduncan161/rabaul.htm. 4pps.

 

26.       Island topo map about Feb 5, 1944, pre-invasion details. Inlet soundings; 3 knot current. Three chapels; two wells; hospital on N side and at the Tangalon Plantation. Three village areas. Beaches and cliffs marked. Copra plantation facilities, sheds, storehouses, copra drier, dwellings, jetty.

 

27.       Island topo Mar 15, 1944 shows airfield runways and taxiways. U.S. Navy Av Eng Bn. Provided by Sr. Susannah Conner. A later Navy map is annotated, showing: Tungol Mission on the S end of the lagoon as the HQ 3 NZ Army Div. It had been the Japanese HQ office. At South Point on the ocean was the Japanese supply base, lookout station. Half a mile NE is the ravine which blocked the NZ tank column, requiring them to take the beach route around. 200 feet N of East Point is the Japanese gunboat wreck on the beach, often photographed. To the North on the lagoon is Sigon Mission, Chapel Point and the Allied Cemetery. Sirot Island in the N Channel is 240 acres. The shoal area of the S Channel at Barahun is called Washington Point. On the other side is Wellington Point. The Channel entrance is 40 yards wide and 16 feet deep. The S end of the Pokonian Plantation, lagoon side, is called Hospital Point. Tanaheran Village, SW, ocean side, opposite the long inlet, is where 50 enemy soldiers were cornered at the cliffs by NZ tanks. Four sunken barges are there. Extensive caves. See www.seabees93.net.

 

28.       2001 Marist Newsletter article on Rev. George M. Lepping and his 3 years of captivity at Rabaul prison camp. He recently retired after 53 years of service in the North Solomons, mainly, Bougainville. He resides at  the Marist Center, Washington D.C. 2002 phone interview by Susannah Conner.

 

29.       Photo of the NZ 144th Battery, 8 howitzers being calibrated in a clearing on Green; and photo of  a 29th AA Regiment Bofers gun crew, 11 soldiers, at the lagoon.

 

30.       Photo of Green Islands Boat Base camp entrance by the beach in PT Boats, Inc. ALL HANDS, May 2003, Vol 58, No. 2. Shows a raised platform with a big search light; billboard says “Motor Torpedo Squadrons, Green Islands. Wood sign says “ CAMP TENRON.” Coconut palms in the sandy background. Submitted by Raphael Frongella, Ron 10, PT 164-171.

 

31.       Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939-45, The Pacific. 359 pps, 1952 ed. By Lt. Col. O.A. Gillespie. Green Island invasion planning starts at p. 180. Some photos. Online at www. NZETC.ORG / Collections. A very detailed account. 13 Allied forces were killed in the invasion and 23 were wounded.

 

32.       Port Huron, MI native, Frederick E. Ludwig, MD account as surgeon on AGP-1  Niagara, PT Tender, in 1942 and 43, near Guadalcanal until the Niagara was blown up by bombs on May 24, 1943. 139 officers and men on board, no injuries. Lost his bird guns. He and others developed a new burn treatment anti-bacterial dressing, which soon became standard. Dr Fred was a neighbor on Military St. on the St Clair River. That area was formerly used as a steamboat shipyard, 1850-1910. Remnants of docks and big piling sets extended out 50 feet.  “The Life and Times of a Country Doctor – Dr. Fred” by Robin Harris, 1995. He details 30 Navy Cook Book meal recipes. The official term for Spam was GUHM, ground up ham meat. “D Rations” are noted as 6 one inch squares of chocolate. The Niagara was a 1929 steel hull yacht built at Bath Iron Works. Converted to a gunboat in 1940, and to an AGP in 1942.

Dr. Fred was born on  8 Apr 1908 and died on 2 Mar 2002. His boat was painted in the garish colors of the University of Michigan, maize and blue. He and his brother, Dr. Claud, operated a private poverty medical clinic in Port Huron for more than 35 years, and a large apple orchard business near Jeddo. He was an expert ornithologist, as is one of his two sons.

 

33.       LT(jg) Harland D. Warren, Esq. 633 LaSalle St., Ottawa, IL 61350, 815-433-0141, age 89.

 

34.       Richard M. Nixon Memoirs: transcript of seven hour interview by Frank Gannon, 9 Feb. 1983. His stint as a SCAT operations officer. About four months on Green Island, spring, 1944. Making burgers for the boys; passing out Aussie beers; the poker games; arrival of first female nurse, Mar 1944. Find at Yahoo: “Nixon-Gannon Tapes,” See name index for Augie Kontz. Nixon had the SCAT crew use the Seabee’s mess. The USMC food was terrible, and the Army was about the same. The Seabee cooks would “liberate” hamburger from other areas, and Nixon could get some and grill it for incoming SCAT crews; made them all very happy.

 

            It was obvious to Lt.jg Nixon that the CB’s would have the best chow: they unloaded the infrequent reefer ships; they manned the cold storage warehouse – with armed guards; and they delivered the daily provisions to the many camp kitchens. The CB food & beer supply chief probably had higher status that an admiral.

 

            Nixon and JFK were on Vella Lavella at the same time, and Nixon recalls meeting most of the PT Boat guys. Neither of them recalled meeting the other several decades later.