Here we come (lookin for someone to put-on-the-bum)
(Song: “The Armored Cruiser Squadron”)
July 1st to July 31st, 1943

July 1, 1943, steaming at various courses and speeds with Task Group 36.1, Honolulu (OTC), St. Louis and Helena, destroyers Nicholas, Chevalier, Strong and O’Bannon.

I had the morning watch, 04 to 0800, the dawn alert was a problem for others. After watch, I slept the forenoon away; the battle problem exercises began at 1330, and they lasted until I went back on watch at 1600.

Since we are never given a clue about upcoming operations, we speculate a lot. So our guesses are based upon nothing better than our geographic location, advance or retreat.

July 2, 1943, steaming on base course 090° True with vessels of Task Group 36.1, consisting of Honolulu (OTC), St. Louis and Helena and destroyers Nicholas, Chevalier, Strong and O’Bannon.

We held a fueling-at-sea exercise from USS Sabine at 0830 until noon.

One of our guns is under hasty repair for a faulty hydraulic system. The 5-inch battery has been getting all kinds of problems, unloaders, rammers; and due to excessive use, the accuracy has to be falling. But gun barrels ship easily, no need to return to Pearl for them.

When I went below before my watch I saw several men gathered around a sleeping sailor who had an erection. One guy had a long device rigged to tickle him with. A risky joke. I’m sure I wouldn’t wake up laughing.

I had the 16 to 2000 watch, and spent a nice six hours in the pad afterward.

July 3, 1943, Saturday, steaming on base course 295° True, speed 20 knots, with vessels of Task Group 36.1.

I had the 04 to 0800 watch.

At 1005 we entered Sealark Sound from the north, between Savo Island and Cape Esperance, Guadalcanal.

At 1100 cruisers entered Tulagi Harbor, and we followed them in. While we were anchored in Berth #4, a Condition Yellow sent us all to battle stations, but it only lasted 15 minutes. Time has changed the warning increments: before, the enemy air were close enough that attack was imminent, therefore the warning was Condition Red. Now there is time to plot them as they come in, making Condition Yellow (a threat) a preparatory step.

Two firemen, Joe Smith and Roach came to blows on the floor plates just after chow. They were separated at reddened cheek stage, maybe getting in one good one apiece.

1430 Underway up The Slot.

On watch 16 to 1800, the first dogwatch.

We went to full speed on two boilers, then lighted off and went to full power on four boilers.

All hands sounded over the 21MC at 2130: “We are out looking for whatever the enemy is leaving exposed . . . ”

General quarters sounded at 2200. From then on we scoured the straits and bays for enemy vessels for four hours.

July 4, 1943, Sunday, steaming on base course 233° True, speed 12 knots with all ships at general quarters.

0130 Secured from general quarters.

0250 General quarters sounded, and the ships formed up for battle. Contact turned out to be friendly LSTs. 0330 secured from battle stations. Chevalier detached to escort LSTs back to base.

We got several radar and one sound contact before morning, but the rousing out was delayed as long as possible.

At 1050 we entered Tulagi Harbor. The OD forgot about telling the plant he was about to reach a position to stop engines. We had full superheat, and we rushed to bleed-off the tubes for protection from radiating brickwork. Freeman woke up the Chief Engineer to complain.

After 1100 we came alongside Erskine M. Phelps (XYO 144) to fuel. My watch had been without sleep since the dogwatch of yesterday. I showered and hit the sack before taking the 16 to 2000 watch.

The bread locker is near to Squad Dog’s cabin, and the issuing of bread disturbs him: the evening meal was chipped beef and crackers.

Oh, for a topside battle station, for I am very tired!

Announcement: We are going to bombard New Georgia and land troops tonight.

1530 Underway for the foray.

Confidence: “If by chance you find yourself in the water, for crissakes let the marines go in first!”

I got off watch at 1945, and knowing where we were and soon would be, I hung around the Comm Platform waiting for general quarters and exchanging gossip with the guys in ordnance.

At 2230 we went to general quarters.

July 5, 1943, Monday, steaming on base course 215° True, speed 20 knots in company with Task Group 36.1, Honolulu (OTC), St. Louis and Helena, cruisers in column; ComDesRon 21 in Nicholas with Strong in the van, Chevalier and O’Bannon in the rear.

Finally and this night, what I had agitated for, the 21MC (interior ship’s communication system) was patched into the tactical radio net. We could hear what was happening between ships, and could anticipate problems. It was a mental cool shower, and removed a tremendous burden from the battle situation. Now we were participants!

Immediately after midnight the Task Force moved in column to firing positions to bombard Bairoko Harbor. The cruisers opened fire at 022, and a bogey was spotted on radar immediately afterward. The column fired in turn as they came into position. Nicholas fired for seven minutes, then changed course; Strong immediately behind us was the location of a large eruption of water without sound over the gunfire noises.

We soon had a report that Strong was hit by a torpedo, and that the rear destroyers, Chevalier and O’Bannon were standing by her. We continued out of the Gulf for about forty minutes, then went back on orders to assist in rescue efforts. Chevalier and O’Bannon had taken aboard the Strong survivors, and we took station ahead of them to bend on some knots and rejoin the Task Force.

The troop transports were being protected by another task group of warships. We retired southward after the bombardment screening Helena. Chevalier had a gun mount blow up just like ours, she was detached to return to Tulagi. Presumably she took all the Strong survivors, for O’Bannon remained with us.

At 0630 Jenkins was sighted on another mission. We secured from battle stations and took two boilers off the line. It was time to get some rest before Tulagi and the refueling chores.

All day was slow movement southward until at 1615 when we got hurry-up orders and reversed course to 325° True (north-of-northwest). The watch was doubled with four boilers on the line.

While still twilight at 1940, Radford and Jenkins joined the formation. The word came down from good sources that both a Coast watcher and aircraft had reported lots of enemy ships around New Georgia.

The Task Group continued northward at high speed to intercept.

July, 6, 1943, Tuesday, steaming on base course 292° True, speed 30 knots, in company with Task Group 36.1 in cruising disposition, Honolulu (CTG 36.1), Helena, St. Louis in column in that order; destroyers in the van, Nicholas #1, O’Bannon #2; destroyers in the rear, Radford #3, Jenkins #4.

At 010 “All hands” was sounded by pipe, and “man your battle stations” by voice.

We settled down, cleaned burners and checked out pressures and temperatures. The tactical maneuvers were coming in and it calmed me when I heard codes for voice turns and speeds: the compass rose was segmented into quarters with names; speeds were segmented into thirds with names. “Baltimore & Ohio Railroad” was a speed code with a value of ten knots each, “Baltimore-plus-three” meant 13 knots. A United Services Automobile Association “United-plus-ten” meant 100 degrees True.

At 0140 we heard the first enemy contact on radar with range and bearing. Then the maneuvering orders began for battle formation giving maximum advantages. Orders came in unhurried stages for formation adjustment to enemy maneuvers . . .

At 0159 We heard, “Execute Dog! Execute Dog!” the attack order. Our guns opened in rapid-fire salvoes. For seven minutes we fired as fast as loading crews could feed the guns, the director crew following the targets.

When the initial firing ceased the maneuvers continued: “Come right to Automobile-plus-twenty, speed Railroad-plus-three.” This gave the engineers a few seconds lead on the speed change, too.

The target bearing reports and the Task Force maneuvers continued until we gained position on another enemy ship.

At 0242 we fired a salvo of five torpedoes and opened fire with the five-inch guns until the target disappeared from the radar scope.

With no more targets, we were ordered to make a sweep of Vella Gulf to look for enemy ships, and we went to 36 knots on that assignment; finding nothing we rejoined the Task Force.

At 0335 Radford reported sighting the bow of Helena (CL 50) protruding from the water. She had not responded to her call sign for some time. Radford was ordered to commence rescue operations and we were ordered to assist.

This stop was of such short notice we struggled to control the superheater problem by blowing off the end headers. The vapor filled the operating space with thick, stifling steam. That improvisation was all we could do. If a tube melted, so be it.

I stood on the throttle platform with the roar of the headers in my ears and the steam like a fog obscuring the gage board and affecting our breath. I was sure the battle was over because CIC had reported no targets. The CIC talker was reporting topside activity and the rescue operations. We had placed both our boats in the water, and volunteer swimmers were going out to haul in exhausted Helena survivors.

The sudden beeping of the general alarm jarred me; there was a hurried, “man-your-battle stations!” We hadn’t gone off battle stations but the sound electrified all hands. Flank Speed rang up on the Engine Order, meanwhile we began to hear CIC again, “Target bearing 221° True, range 16,000 yards.”

I briefly thought of the men in the water near to the screws as we surged ahead in the direction of the contact. Radford reported two contacts proceeding out of Kula Gulf. With Radford we chased but couldn’t gain on the targets as they sped northwest.

We returned to the rescue area and resumed loading survivors.

At 0518 CIC got another surface radar contact at 13,000 yards. The Engine Order went to Flank Speed; close the header drains, light the superheater burners. We went quickly up to speed and heeled over to the strong smell of gunpowder from a torpedo launching charge. The five-inch opened fire, and Radford was firing, on two targets. Our torpedoes were heard to detonate, and the starshells revealed the silhouette of a Sendai-class light cruiser and destroyer, both disabled and burning.

At 0540 we ceased firing and returned to the survivor area. It was dawn, and the volunteer boat crews were assigned to pick up the remaining survivors and get them ashore and await a rescue mission. To defend an air attack among so many men in the water and on deck of the destroyers would be folly.

Surface contact! 0605. Bearing 178° True, range 12,000 yards heading out of Kula Gulf.

0610 The enemy ship opened fire on us. Nicholas and Radford opened fire, and went to full power on course 110 True.

From the JV talker, “Make smoke!” We threw in the smoke barrels within ten seconds and the periscope blacked out with the dense black smoke. “Sonofabitch is aground and he’s firing on us!” The JV talker gave it as a message.

I was thinking air attack, for the time told me it was light outside.

The bridge asked for whatever extra turns were safely available—I went to 610 pounds-per-square inch of steam and 400 p.s.i. in fuel pressure. The Helena sailors were ordered below because their very number topside made us unstable (291 x body weight, at least 26 tons). Most had thrown away their dungarees, but were black with clinging fuel oil except for the eyes. They crowded into every corner, and they wanted to help.

“Hey, Chief, let me handle that throttle. I’m a first class!”

“You don’t look like a first class—you look like a coonhound after he fell in the slough!”

Euphoria set in. Helena sailors trying to take over the watch, and the Nicholas sailors, fatigue gone, were resisting. Helena men monitored the machinery so often that if the observations had been recorded we didn’t have enough paper. Jokes and laughter—still at battle stations but as yet no air attack . . . The bridge contributed to the feeling, announcing our success in achieving extra turns by readings from the pitlog at intervals, “33.5 knots” . . . “34” . . . “35” . . . “35.8!”

There was hilarity and relief at what we had gotten away with, but there remained an undercurrent of certainty that we’d be hit by dive bombers very shortly.

Some of my battle watch began assembly-line cleaning up of Helena men, using kerosene and rags, one man cleaned ears, another cleaned eyes, then two or more on hair roots. The floor plates looked like an assembly of monkeys grooming. We had been standing down the slot at a steady 36 knots and some tenths, and the bridge announced our air cover had arrived overhead. It brought cheers!

It was a profound relief. Dive bombers could still get through but in reduced numbers and with a shaky aim—if they dared. Now a partial standdown was authorized, two men at a time topside for air. As we passed Savo Island to port, we secured from general quarters, only twelve miles to Purvis Bay—a haven with daylight air cover.

As we passed through the anti-torpedo net up channel to the fleet anchorage, we could see the ships’ companies crowding topside in the uniform of the times: dungarees and dyed—blue-white—hats. The Task Force, now 36.1 and had been 18, 67 and maybe two or three additional numbers, was anchored on both sides of the channel.

Beginning with the first cruiser we passed, there was spontaneous manning-of-the-rail, cheers, applause; someone on a loudspeaker was trying to lead an Old Navy three-cheers, “hip-hip, hip-hip, hip-hip, hooray!” It continued down the long line of the Task Force, each cruiser and each destroyer initiated passing honors in a noisy, wholehearted display of esteem. I saw some nose-thumbing in O’Bannon, but knowing your brother, that gesture was one grade higher than a cheer . . . we were deeply aware that “whence-it-comes” had elevated the event to the highest possible honor.

We went alongside Honolulu to transfer Helena men, many of whom were on stretchers. We then moved to refuel from Erskine Phelps.

1630 Underway and stood out of the harbor channel, taking up anti-submarine position and patrol awaiting the cruiser sortie. At 1740 the Task Force was steaming southward through Lengo Channel toward Santos. For once I was too keyed up to sleep readily.

July 7, 1943, Wednesday, steaming on base course 090° True, with Task Group 36.1, consisting of Honolulu (OTC), St. Louis in column; screen destroyers Nicholas (ComDesRon 21), Jenkins, Chevalier, Radford & O’Bannon.

I had the midwatch. Reveille went at 0600 but I stayed in the sack.

During the forenoon the Force half-masted colors for funeral services that were held in Honolulu .

O’Bannon was sent to stand by a patrol plane down in the water about fifty miles away.

On watch 12 to 1600. Due to dogging the watches, I caught a watch again, 20 to 2400. I stayed down in the plant and listened to sea stories.

Our two whaleboats were up somewhere near Kolombangara. I hoped that they could tow the life rafts to some safe jungle hideaway . . .

July 8, 1943, Thursday, steaming on base course 140° True at 16 knots in company with vessels of Task Group 36.1, Honolulu (OTC), St. Louis, and screened by Nicholas (ComDesRon 21), Radford, Jenkins and Chevalier.

0730 We entered Segond Channel and anchored in Berth #25, in 29 fathoms of water. At 0830 YO 20 came alongside to furnish fuel. At 1530 we moved alongside USS Ballard which was moored to Dixie, which means we have some availability—a short one. I hit the sack at 8 p.m., to read a bit and to sleep.

July 9, 1943, Friday, moored alongside Dixie.

Quarters for all hands: The Captain read several dispatches from the high command and our sister ships of the Task Force, and from ex-Captain Brown, all with appropriate commendations of our July 5–6 battle in Kula Gulf.

Andy Hill’s own remarks as I remembered them that day to write in my diary: “Your actions to your shipmates are not glamorous or heroic, for they do the same thing every day. The value they attach to our little private battle was shown by the ovation we received upon entering Tulagi. That is much greater than any medal bestowed by outsiders who do not know us, our work, and difficulties—and our very human limitations.”

A “beer-bottle-cap” is nice to have, but his point is one well understood, and would never forget.

We worked all day in the plant making repairs to No. 2 boiler. We got a cold water hydrostatic test pressure on it at the end of the day. Now we wait for the answer, success or failure, or by operational exigencies, half way between.

In the evening I felt weak and listless, but stayed up to see the film, Yankee Doodle Dandy, for I like musicals. Heard at the movie, someone had been ashore and chanced to see a road show playing to the shore-duty echelon. The band had dedicated a song to Task Force 18, Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen. A many faceted joke on them and on us, we hear about them hearing about us. A legend in our time?

July 10, 1943, Saturday, moored in nest with Ballard to starboard and Radford to port, alongside Dixie in Segond Channel, Espiritu Santo, N. H.

At 0445 I lighted off the main plant. 0625 Underway from Dixie, and standing out Segond Channel in company with Task Group 36.1, composed of Honolulu (OTC), St. Louis, Nicholas (ComDesRon 21), Radford, Jenkins and O’Bannon, under orders from ComSoPac, or ComThirdFleet.

At sea the course was changed to 350 True, west-of-north—up The Slot.

We exercised at battle stations all afternoon. I had the watch 12 to 1600, so the exercises were not any extra work.

July 11, 1943, steaming on base course 317° True, in company with vessels of Task Group 36.1. I had the midwatch and stayed up for the dawn alert. At the end of dawn alert at 0600, hit the sack for the hours allowed me until 1130.

At 1430 we entered Sealark Sound via Lengo Channel, HMNZS Leander joined the formation off Tulagi, taking station astern of St. Louis.

I lighted off the idle boiler before going off watch at 1545—it will be another all-nighter.

At 2200 we went to general quarters, and we are holding speed at 25 knots. The story is: we are patrolling The Slot while Task Force 19 bombards targets on New Georgia.

July 12, 1943, steaming on various courses and speeds in company with vessels of Task Group 36.1, ships at general quarters. There were lots of aircraft contacts on radar, friendly “Black Cats” (Catalinas) doing spotting for the bombardment, and enemy snoopers trying for an easy target.

At 0300 Task Force 19 took Munda Airfield under fire for the usual supply and equipment destruction, then retired. When they were clear, we steamed southward at high speed and secured from battle stations at 0400.

We entered Tulagi Harbor at 0930, and we fueled ship until 1130. We moved to anchorage in Berth #18, Tulagi Harbor.

I crapped out on deck right after chow at noon. When I awoke we were nearing Savo Island to starboard, we were on our way north again. Behind us in column were Taylor, O’Bannon, Jenkins, Honolulu, St. Louis and Leander.

I went on watch at 1945. We were nearing the arena and went to battle stations at 2200.

July 13, 1943, Tuesday, steaming on various courses and speeds in company with vessels of Task Group 36.1, all ships at battle stations.

We are told that there are lots of enemy ships in the area, and that we are looking for them. I reflected that it was exactly one week to the hour since our last surface engagement.

Search planes made the first contact, six enemy ships bearing 310 True, distant 20 miles. We heard the order to form the battle formation, and we increased speed to Full, just under 30 knots.

Then just after 0100 we got the enemy on radar at 24,000 yards (12 miles) 6 ships in column. We held fire until the range was 8,000 yards and fired torpedoes.

The enemy illuminated us with searchlights and opened fire. Then the cruisers opened fire with Nicholas opening fire shortly afterward with the 5-inch battery.

The four destroyers of DesRon 21 were detached to finish up the cripples of the enemy, and fired three more torpedoes at a contact at 8,000 yards with unknown results. Our expenditure of ammunition was 8 torpedoes and 376 five-inch projectiles. At 0300 we rejoined the Task Group, Leander and Gwin were missing. We steered towards Tulagi, on base course 120 True, speed 15 knots.

At daylight our air cover arrived, and the air was filled with vector orders from the “fighter director” ship. The communicators passed the word that Gwin was sunk, and that St. Louis and Leander were badly damaged by torpedoes. We could see St. Louis and Leander limping along with destroyers circling around them.

We didn’t secure from battle stations until 1315. We patrolled while the cruisers were entering Tulagi Harbor, then we entered to fuel ship after 1600 from Erskine Phelps.

At 1730 we anchored in Berth #6, O’Bannon alongside to starboard. At this point I had been up and around for 24 hours.

But more, I had the 1730 to 2000, the second dogwatch. I got a shower and to the pad at 2030.

July 14, 1943, Wednesday, anchored in Berth #6 with O’Bannon alongside to starboard with 30 minutes notice to get underway, engines jacking over—the same watches as at sea.

In the afternoon we received 8 torpedoes from Patterson. I had an irreverent thought: Wouldn’t it be simpler for Patterson to make the delivery to the targets?

It being Bastille Day, I remembered some fondly from the past.

The day wound up quietly in Condition of Readiness II Mike, standby to fight or run.

July 15, 1943, Thursday, at anchor in Berth #6, Tulagi Harbor, O’Bannon alongside to starboard. We are jacking over engines on five-minutes notice to get underway.

I read, slept and recuperated while off watch.

The story is we are going up again tonight to rescue the rest of Helena survivors who have gotten ashore, boats still intact. Aircraft have them precisely located.

Ward came alongside to give us some replenishment ammunition, for we are getting very low. The nearest ammo supply is Santos.

We sortied, at 1500, DesRon 21 as a separate Task Unit, 36.1.4, formed as, Nicholas (ComDesRon 21) O’Bannon, Jenkins and Radford. I had the first dogwatch. But no matter, we’ll be up all night. The Column was north of Russell Islands at sunset with the peaks of Santa Isabel on the horizon due north.

All hands to battle stations at 2130. We put all boilers on the line as soon as I got on the floor plates. We waited to hear whatever information the Squad Dog would give us of his plan.

There were lots of radar and visual contacts, flares are appearing that are dropped from aircraft as though to track our course. We passed a life raft close aboard that contained men but we couldn’t slow down due to the enemy aircraft. Their position was recorded for a later pick up.

July 16, 1943, Friday, steaming on base course 287° True, in company with Task Unit 36.1.4 consisting of O’Bannon, Jenkins and Radford, astern of this vessel in column in that order, distant 600 yards, Condition of Readiness I, all boilers in use.

We were on station off Vella Lavella just before 0100, and a line of patrol was set. Enemy air was still shadowing and dropping flares. We dodged a torpedo wake shortly after, perhaps from a plane. Shortly after that, a stick of bombs exploded astern of O’Bannon.

The rescue Task Unit arrived, and was closing the beach at this time.

At 0624 we sighted a floating object and stood over to investigate, and about the same time Task Unit 31.2 reappeared with APOs astern of them with Helena survivors on board, with Nicholas and Radford boat crews. The object floating in the water was a boat containing two Japs. Jenkins and Nicholas screened while Radford rescued/captured the two enemy.

Now it was daylight for our air cover had arrived overhead. Modified battle stations was announced, two men up for fresh air. I took that privilege for myself for a change.

I wasn’t close enough to see the prisoners Radford took aboard—doubtless survivors of the surface action of July 13th, thus three days in the water. The Jap survivor we found was floating on some planks that resembled very much the old cellar door. He was naked except for a contrived loincloth, and he was emaciated in the extreme. There was a lot of fight left in him, for he dove under his planks until he was exhausted, then clung to them face down panting.

The staff interpreter tried to persuade him to come aboard. No way. He wouldn’t raise his eyes to deck level.

A seaman had been stationed on the bridge wing with a Thompson submachine gun should the Jap try for a weapon. The seaman kept asking the Captain for permission to shoot. I guess the Old Man had been preoccupied while the interpreter tried to coax the man aboard. Andy heard the seaman one more time, then he turned to him and said coldly: “You may go below!”

We left the man to survive if he could. I got a new and better appreciation of Andrew J. Hill.

At 1030 we secured from battle stations, the Force was moving south. But, due to enemy air, we went right back to battle stations for another hour.

At 1340 we entered Tulagi Harbor, then moored alongside Erskine Phelps to fuel, anchoring in Berth #6 after fueling. Radford moored to port.

From 2000 to midnight enemy air harassed us in the area by keeping us ready to shoot. They didn’t drop anything into Tulagi Harbor, though.

July 17, 1943, Saturday, anchored as before in Berth #6, Tulagi Harbor, with Radford moored alongside to port.

I had the 04 to 0800 watch, then found a spot on deck to sleep. But the sleep had to wait while we took aboard two torpedoes loaned by the Motor Torpedo Boat Base.

As a measure of our progress in the pacification of the Solomon Islands, the Artie Shaw Band was in Tulagi to give a concert. Although I never cared for jazz, I went just to stretch my legs. The location was 100 yards from the boat landing, so no exercise worth the name. But what was worth the trip, a demonstration of Shaw’s character.

He had recently married a famous beauty, and there were a lot suggestive remarks and questions. He handled them so deftly that I thought the questioners carried self-inflicted wounds backs to wherever they came from.

Back to the ship at 1530, underway to sea at 1645. Ships formed a column astern of Nicholas (OTC and guide), O’Bannon, Jenkins and Radford, speed 21 knots.

I had the 16 to 2000 watch, to bed, thankfully, at 2030.

July 18, 1943, Sunday, steaming on base course 145° True in company with vessels of Task Unit 36.1.4 in line of bearing, Nicholas (OTC), O’Bannon, Jenkins and Radford, speed 21 knots.

I was on watch 04 to 0800, dawn alert was for free.

At 0730 we rendezvoused with Task Force 74, consisting of HMAS Australia, HMAS Hobart, USS Lamson, HMAS Arunta, HAMAS Warramunga. DesRon 21 reported for duty to the TF Commander in Australia.

Lamson, Arunta and Warramunga left the formation on assignment.

TF 74 had mail for us, and I got a letter from brother Tom.

Tom has marked his sixteenth month in the Navy by making boatswain’s mate first class from seaman second class. He has averaged four months per grade. I’m sure he wonders why I find promotion so difficult.

Read and slept while off watch, then had the first dogwatch.

We are in one of those bright moonlight nights, perfect for air-surface action, in favor of air.

July 19, 1943, Monday, steaming as before in company with Task Force 74, HMAS Australia (OTC).

I had the midwatch and stayed up for dawn alert 0545 to 0645. I slept through the forenoon, back on watch at 1145.

All the day uneventful, and I didn’t know where we were so there was no speculation. I guess that I speculate only when un-tired . . . Read and slept.

July 20, 1943, Tuesday, steaming as before in company with vessels of Task Force 74, HMAS Australia (OTC), Hobart, Nicholas, Radford and O’Bannon.

I had the midwatch, and at dawn alert I got a copy of the radio press releases. We had made the news in the action of July 6th.

Slept the forenoon, had the afternoon watch, and went right back to the pad since it has become cool enough to lie on a mattress. But I wasn’t there for long . . .

General quarters sounded, and by the time I reached my station on the floor plates the reason was announced. Hobart was torpedoed but still afloat.

We circled her at high speed while O’Bannon and Australia proceeded on base course. By 2000 Hobart could make 7 knots, which is slow enough that the sub could follow and make another try.

We secured from battle stations at the very moment my regular midwatch began, 2345. Nothing free today.

July 21, 1943, Wednesday, steaming as before in company with damaged HMAS Hobart.

I had the midwatch and stayed up for the dawn alert. I missed chow in favor of sleep.

Saufley joined the screen, and at 1000 Vireo joined up in case a tow is needed. At 1600 Hobart held burial services for her men killed by the torpedo hit. Fleet tug Sioux arrived, and along with Vireo took Hobart in tow.

Our general mess cooking has reached a new low . . . Same cooks but Chief Haggerty is gone.

July 22,1943, entering Segond Channel behind Hobart and our fleet tugs. Anchored in Berth Dog 11.

At 0700 YO 20 came alongside to give us fuel.

O’Bannon and Chevalier sortied on assignment.

I hit the floor plates to work after we fueled ship . . .

Two fine fellows, chief machinists’ mates Braga and Wesson left the ship for new construction Stateside today. They are fairly senior chiefs and very well liked. That will make two vacancies for some lucky first class.

More mail: I got some letters and books.

July 23, 1943, Friday, anchored in Berth Dog 11, Segond Channel, Espiritu Santo Island.

Engineering is on two-hour notice to get underway, i.e., disable no equipment and keep the people handy.

We worked all day on No. 1 boiler. I went to bed early and began reading Secret Agent of Japan.

July 24, 1943, Saturday, anchored in Berth Dog 11, Segond Channel.

Worked in the plant until noon. Then I got ashore on a recreation party in the afternoon. No beer tickets available. So I played football all afternoon and became so tired I creaked. Came back to the ship bruised and happy.

After a shower and a sandwich I hit the sack.

July 25, 1943, Sunday, anchored as before in Berth Dog 11, Segond Channel.

Up at 0606 to work in the plant.

I am told another letter has gone out, this time to Halsey, requesting my promotion “in excess of allowance.” I don’t know where the other letters were addressed.

I saw a very handsome Capehart phonograph and record changer in a magazine. I wrote them for a price, but even if it’s free it won’t fit into my locker.

Tonight’s film was Edge of Darkness, and I enjoyed it.

July 26, 1943, Monday, anchored as before in Berth Dog 11, Segond Channel, Espiritu Santo Island.

I lighted off the main plant at 0500. We were underway at 0630.

During the forenoon an experienced fireman made an error in the sequence of starting the feed pump: broken valves and leaking flanges. We went into an emergency repair condition—the worst kind of excuse for not being ready is ineptitude.

Work until it is finished. The repair job took until 2000. I then had the 20 to 2400 watch.

One of the reasons I fall asleep whenever time permits is the conditioning to take-it-when-you-can.

July 27, 1943, Tuesday, steaming on base course 250° True, speed 20 knots, ComDesRon 21 in this vessel en route to rendezvous with Task Unit 32.4.2.

I had the 04 to 0800 watch. The forenoon was battle problem exercises, plus machine gun practice.

Sighted seven ships at 1115 of the Task Unit we were looking for, they were four merchant cargo vessels escorted by USS Crater, Adroit and Advent. ComDesRon 21 assumed command of the Task Unit.

The weather has turned cold enough to believe we are in Australia; it is great sleeping below in a bunk.

July 28, 1943, Wednesday, steaming as before with vessels of Task Unit 32.4.2, ComDesRon 21 in this vessel (OTC), on base course 350° True, speed 10 knots.

1100 USS Swallow joined the formation and passed mail.

I had the 04 to 0800 watch then the first dogwatch, and I went to bed early at 2030.

July 29, 1943, Thursday, steaming company with vessels of Task Unit 32.4.2. ComDesRon 21 in Nicholas (OTC), on base course 035° True.

The escorts sniff submarines often, and we got lots of false contacts, and that is wearying.

I had the midwatch, and I stayed up for the dawn alert 0530 to 0630, then slept until nine.

My watch from 12 to 1600 included the battle problem exercises.

At 1615 we went to battle stations again on a false submarine contact. Inexperience. But that is how to live long enough to acquire experience.

Showered and to bed at 1830, and up again at 2330 for my watch.

July 30, 1943, Friday, steaming in company with vessels of Task Unit 32.4.2. ComDesRon 21 in Nicholas (OTC).

I had the midwatch and stayed up for the dawn alert from 0530 to 0630. Embarrassing! I found an officer asleep during the dawn alert.

After the dawn alert I read in my sack until I fell asleep.

July 31, 1943, Saturday, steaming as before with vessels of Task Unit 32.4.2 on various courses and speeds entering Lengo Channel.

I had the midwatch and dawn alert came from 0445 to 0545.

I slept in my bunk for two hours, then we went alongside USS Cache at Koli Point, Guadalcanal to take on fuel.

This is the first time to my knowledge that merchantmen have been brought to Guadalcanal.

At 1130 ComDesRon 21 reported to Commander Task Unit 32.4.7 in USS American Legion for duty.

At 1600 proceeding as screen for Task Unit 32.4.7 consisting of American Legion (OTC), George Clymer, John Penn, Hunter Liggett, Crescent City, Algorab and Libra, moving southward from Sealark Sound through Lengo Channel.

Mad rumor time again: Stateside overhaul or a recreation port. I’ll not pump myself up listening to rumors—expect the worst and there is never a disappointment.

My two watches today: 12 to 1600 and 20 to 2400.