August 1, 1943, Sunday, steaming on base course 090° True, speed 15 knots in company with vessels of Task Unit 32.4.7 consisting of American Legion (OTC) Crescent City, George Clymer, John Penn, Libra, Hunter Liggett and Algorab, screened by Nicholas (ComDesRon 21), Preble, Conway and Farenholt.
1100 Half-masted colors during burial services aboard USS Crescent City.
I was notified this morning that I am to be examined again for chief petty officer. My fourth exam, the results of three others are in my record.
So, I gathered up some reference books . . . Got to review because the new Chief Engineer is putting this exam together. I saw him going forward with an armload of books from the Ship’s office and he laughed, and looked meaningfully at the stack.
August 2, 1943, Monday, steaming on base course 090° True, with vessels of Task Unit 32.4.7. On watch 08 to 1200.
I worked the whole day on a troublesome steam pressure regulator.
Slept the afternoon but it was extremely hot. Back on watch from 20 to 2400.
August 3, 1943, Tuesday, steaming on base course 350° True, with vessels of Task Unit 32.4.7.
We had several radar contacts, but all friendly.
Up at 0700 and on watch the forenoon. Studied and reviewed pumps, piping and turbines.
I had the second dogwatch, showered and went to bed.
August 4, 1943, Wednesday, steaming on base course 180° True, in company with vessels of Task Unit 32.4.7.
I had the 04 to 0800 watch. We made a New Caledonia landfall at 1100.
After noon chow, I took the exam for chief sitting next to the forward fueling trunk, and it took three hours. Lt. Reidler popped out frequently to see what I had completed. When I got to the bottom of the last page there was a note, “Last question to follow:” I looked up, and was going below to find out what that meant, but he had anticipated me. He stood there with a single piece of paper, which he handed to me.
“This is so you won’t make 4.0!”
He was right—the questions came from a chemistry text that I wouldn’t have understood if I owned one: the behavior of petroleum molecules under five different conditions.
I filled in the space with, “don’t know the answer.”
But I scored 3.86, and I’m sure the chemistry question wasn’t counted at all.
At 1545 we entered Great Roads, Nouméa, New Caledonia, and at 1630 we moored to USS Whitney, outboard of USS Dent.
I went below and opened No. 2 boiler for cleaning.
The film tonight was Random Harvest, I stayed up for it.
August 5, 1943, Thursday, moored in nest with Dent and Whitney to port in Berth A 6, Dumbea Bay, New Caledonia.
Started work on No. 2 boiler, and we continued all day and all night.
Southard and Ellet moored alongside to port in the afternoon.
Worked all day in the boiler. Clyde Hynes came aboard after chow and we had a good time talking about friends and events of the cruiser San Francisco, and in Squadron Forty Tare in Europe. Clyde was much better, stronger and healthy.
August 7, 1943, Saturday, moored in nest port side to Whitney in order: Dent, Nicholas, Southard, Ellet, Preble and Stanly.
0500 Fueled from Whitney.
0700 Underway from alongside Dent and moored starboard side to Stanly.
1043 Underway from alongside Whitney, and anchored independently.
We held a change of command in DesRon 21: Captain Ryan took over from Francis X. McInerney. We liked McInerney, except when he shut off the bread locker. We called him the Whiskey Commodore because of his appearance: “looks drunk while sober.” He resembled the comedian Hugh Herbert. Captain Ryan’s talk failed to impress me; he wanted to sound like a “tough guy,” and I know that tough guys don’t last.
I suppose there had been something going around of which I was the subject. Before noon the Chief Boatswain’s Mate Nick Carter came around and very formally invited me to move to the chiefs’ quarters. To my astonished question, he assured me that he had already cleared it with the Exec. I supposed that it meant there was some assurance that that I would get Halsey’s nod for a promotion “in excess of allowance.”
It didn’t take me long to get moved to much better food and in much more comfort, and a thick mattress.
At noon we sortied through Bulari Passage and patrolled while waiting for USS George Clymer and President Polk.
On watch 20 to 2400, then to bed on a comfortable pad!
August 8, 1943, Sunday, steaming on base course 180° True, speed 17 knots in company with USS George Clymer (OTC) and President Polk.
Up at 0630, First Breakfast in the CPO mess.
We left the escort duties and took an independent course. We worked all day on No. 2 boiler. Then I had the watch 20 to 2400.
I’m reading Shirer’s Berlin Diary, and especially like his evocation of Paris before he left there... And my sentiments were the same.
August 9, 1943, Monday, Steaming singly on base course 344° True, speed 17 knots.
Up at 0700 and on watch 08 to 1200. Inspection by Commodore Ryan. Read in the sack until we entered Havannah Harbor, Éfaté Island. We moored starboard side to Chevalier outboard, alongside SS Western Sun. Fueled ship until 1900.
Showered and watched ‘a film. Lots of sea stories going around CPO quarters, stayed up for that until midnight.
August 11, 1943, Wednesday, moored in destroyer nest with Taylor to port at Buoy #22, Havannah Harbor, Éfaté Island, New Hebrides.
0550 Taylor got underway.
Worked all day repairing boiler refractories. Lavender had trained Treadway as a boilermaker striker, and the lad had gotten very competent.
Lighted off No. 1 boiler at 1115. Underway at 1300.
I landed in the sack at 1800, and was called for the midwatch at 2330.
August 12, Thursday, steaming on base course 323° True (west of north), in company with vessels of Task Group 36.5, O’Bannon and Chevalier. Taylor joined the formation in the morning watch.
I took myself a lazy morning since we’ve done all in the plant that can be done.
In the afternoon we went to full boiler power while I had the watch. Transfers without replacements have made the personnel numbers so tight that when we went to full boiler power I got one extra man instead of three.
Had a film in the CPO mess, Reville with Beverly, I watched the flesh in it. I read afterwards until time to on watch.
August 13, 1943, Friday, steaming on base course 310° True, speed 20 knots, in company with vessels of DesRon 21, Nicholas, O’Bannon, Taylor and Chevalier in that order.
Dawn alert was 0530 to 0630. 0710 O’Bannon and Chevalier sent to Tulagi to fuel.
0735 ComDesRon 21 left the ship to report to ComTask Force 31 at Koli Point, Guadalcanal. The Squad Dog returned at 1200, we proceeded to Purvis Bay and fueled from Erskine Phelps, then anchored in Berth #9.
I had the watch 12 to 1600, and again at 20 to 2400.
Then a fuel oil pump misbehaved on the steam end. I got to bed at 0230.
August 14, 1943, Saturday, anchored in Berth #9, Purvis Bay.
Up and on watch at 0800. A lot of movement in the channel, ships passing in and out.
We got underway at 1230, proceeded to Kokum Point on assigned anti-sub patrol. The Task Force formed up with six destroyer transports (APDs).
I tried to catch up on sleep in preparation for another all night at battle stations. It was too hot.
I went up on the foc’sle for the breeze of the ship’s movement. Doc Ramsey was up there taking the air and I sat alongside.
Doc wondered aloud why regulars would voluntarily commit themselves to this kind of life.
The answer, I thought I knew, so I rambled on this theme: when you are very young the romance catches your fancy, the sea, the majesty of the ships and the aura of the uniform, which comes from deeds not tailoring. One of the attractions is exclusivity, we few. If the Navy became popular the attraction for me would diminish. If easy it would become popular.
You discover and are confirmed by the history and tradition . . . And from somewhere: “the profession of arms is the profession of honor, wholly unselfish and the highest calling.” You read and remember Mahan’s Influence of Sea Power on History and Naval Customs, Traditions and Their Usage. So now you have a religion.
For yourself you seek responsibility; those spoils do not divide impartially. If you fail after investing twenty years you must swallow that lump of disappointment and chagrin, and go on to other things. And if you fail you are in good company, because John Paul Jones failed; and when superseded, he left the country and achieved fame if not fortune elsewhere.
Doc smiled often. “It works, I guess. Someone has got to do it!”
At 1615 we formed anti-sub screen around the APDs, and started northeastward.
It became dark just after we passed the Russell Islands to port. Just the right time to watch an air raid over the airfield. Our new night fighters splashed an enemy bomber in a spectacular score.
On watch eight to midnight, enroute to another all-nighter in enemy country.
August 15, 1943, Sunday, steaming on base course 283° True, speed 19 knots with Task Group 31.5 consisting of 7 APDs, anti-sub screen is ComDesRon 21 in Nicholas (OTC), O’Bannon, Cony, Taylor, Pringle and Chevalier.
I showered and hit the sack at 0130, slept until 0330. General quarters had been scheduled for 0400, and we got ready early rather than be pulled out by the alarm.
The transports began unloading troops off Barakoma at 0600. When they were unloaded, the destroyers took up anti-aircraft formation around them.
When the dive bombers came at 0800, they concentrated on ships in the unloading area, the ones that couldn’t maneuver.
The task force departed the New Georgia and rolled southward all day. We secured from battle stations only at 1930—something of a record, standing at battle stations for 16 hours.
Now the boiler division has to fuel ship.
At 2245 Condition Red over Tulagi. We went to general quarters and got ready to get underway, jacking over the main engines. All clear and secure from battle stations came at midnight.
Some day! To bed now.
August 16, 1943, Monday, steaming as before, jacking over main engines with two boilers on the line.
We maintained this stance all day, same watches as at sea. Destroyers moved in and out of the channel all day on brief assignments.
I had the second dogwatch 18 to 2000. General quarters sounded at 1930. We got a signal for full power and it took but five minutes to bring on the standby boiler from boosting status. We are getting pretty fancy in anticipating (due to knowing the tactical situation) and using imaginative engineering techniques.
We often go to battle stations on pretty slim evidence; however, it is slim evidence that is often very real. We don’t know, but De Haven may have discounted the warning.
August 19, 1943, Tuesday, steaming as before, patrolling between Cape Esperance and Russell Islands with units of DesDiv 41, DesRon 21 in Nicholas (OTC).
0002 Surface contact bearing 220° True, distant 200 yards. General quarters sounded; ship to full power. Contact identified as friendly. 014 secured from general quarters.
At daylight the squadron returned to Purvis Bay. I slept most of the day except when eating.
I had watched men get impatient and nervous trying to sleep in extreme heat. It takes patience. The trick is to lie on your back perfectly still until the sweat stops running into the ears. Relaxation then comes, and sleep.
Underway at 1530 and to full power. An enemy task force is reported to be en route to Vella Lavella.
My watch was 16 to 2000, I showered and waited for general quarters to sound or be announced.
In the thirties we often heard the doctrine that preparation for battle involved bathing and a clean uniform as an antiseptic precaution in the event of wounds. The thinking then, I suppose, was in terms of fleet action with hours of preparation and a one-time, win-or-lose battle.
We got a radar contact on a plane bearing 345° True, distant 25,000 yards. General quarters sounded at 2207.
The squadron formed a column astern of Nicholas, O’Bannon, Chevalier and Taylor at 500 yards.
At 2335 a “Black Cat” (the PBY reconnaissance aircraft) reported that an enemy force was on course 120° True, consisting of four destroyers and many barges.
August 18, 1943, Wednesday, steaming on base course 345° True, speed 30 knots, in company with DesDiv 41 in column astern of this vessel: O’Bannon, Taylor and Chevalier in that order at intervals of 500 yards. All ships at battle stations.
At 027 O’Bannon reported a surface contact 311° True, distant 23,000 yards. At 031 the enemy force was in sight from the bridge. Four minutes later a stick of bombs exploded off the starboard bow about 100 yards out.
We passed close aboard the enemy supply barges, and CIC reported the enemy destroyers retiring at high speed. Just as we changed course the enemy opened fire on us. The squadron opened fire on the enemy at a range of 11,350 yards. When we had to turn hard right to avoid torpedoes, we ceased firing. CIC tracked the enemy destroyers going away at 30 knots.
The squadron maneuvered to intercept the supply barges at 0120; when they were located we opened fire with the main battery. All were sunk but one. The Squad Dog ordered the squadron to sweep Vella Gulf for more enemy, and Nicholas was directed to destroy the last barge. Using the machine gun battery, we set it afire.
The squadron reassembled having found no more enemy in the gulf, and at 0440 we started southward and speeded up to 34 knots. At 0446 a string of bombs dropped astern of the formation.
As we passed Savo Island to port, two boilers were taken off the line. We entered Tulagi Harbor at 1130, going alongside Erskine M. Phelps to fuel; from there to another recent acquisition, an ammunition barge, to load ammunition.
I slept two hours. Then, because we sortied, I was back on watch. The ship returned to Berth #19 and anchored at 2130.
One half hour later, Condition Red was signaled, so we went to battle stations for an hour.
The plant is under 10 minutes notice—so the regular at sea watches and jacking over the main engines.
The Old Man calculated that we have been at full power and at plus 30 knots this day for 20 hours! I remember!
August 19, 1943, Thursday, at anchor in Berth #19, Purvis Bay.
Standing by on 10 minutes notice to get underway.
Funny, that 10 minutes . . . If you get the order to go it would be now, not in 10 minutes nor in 5 minutes.
1200 Underway to sortie on orders from Commander Task Force 31. At 12337 set base course 265° True, OTC in Nicholas, followed by O’Bannon, Chevalier and Taylor.
Twice between 2200 and 2400 we went to battle stations on false contacts. O’Bannon depth charged a sonar contact.
August 20, 1943, Friday, steaming on base course 335° True, speed 26 knots. Making a sweep of north coast of Vella Lavella Island in search for enemy barges, in company with DesDiv 41 in this vessel (OTC), O’Bannon, Taylor and Chevalier formed on scouting line.
Our first contact was a radar bearing 197° True. The ship fired star shells and identified two landing barges. We changed course to attack, fired more star shells, then fired for effect on the barges as did the other vessels of the squadron.
We executed an emergency turn when two bombs exploded 400 yards astern. The enemy air dropped several marking flares. At 0234 two more bombs exploded on our starboard beam, and we took the plane under fire without result.
The number of planes on radar and the more accurate bombing forced us to speed up and take evasive action. At first we retired southward in formation, but the more aggressive and persistent attacks forced the squadron to maneuver independently.
During two hours there was not one minute in which we were not firing on a plane or dodging a bomb run. The enemy were out in large numbers and very determined. We expended 190 rounds of 5-inch AA projectiles.
Then at 0630 came sunrise. Relax your puckering strings—if we can see them we can kill them.
At 0733 secured from general quarters.
We arrived off Cape Esperance about noon and commenced patrolling off Koli Point.
I got two hours sleep on the way down from Vella, and then took the 12 to 1600 watch. We moved into Tulagi Harbor at four; then alongside Erskine Phelps to fuel; completed fueling at 1800. The ammo barge followed the fueling, and we took aboard 167 rounds of 5-inch AA common.
At 1840 anchored in Berth #5. All night, I hope.
I was so tired that my sleep was fitful. Just as well, for I had the midwatch. Got out of the sack at 2330.
August 21, 1943, Saturday, anchored as before in Berth #5, Tulagi Harbor, in 26 fathoms of water.
Engineering Department standing by on 10 minutes notice; engines jacking over, two boilers on the line.
I had the midwatch, then slept from 04 to 0800.
At 0800 the ship moved to Berth #21, Purvis Bay.
Chief William V. Itzin left the ship with orders to Philly Navy Yard. Another Bath plankowner gone.
I took the 12 to 1600 watch, and afterwards played quoits with some chiefs on the foc’sle. It begins to feel like some kind of holiday. To bed after evening chow.
August 22, 1943, Sunday, anchored in Berth 21, Purvis Bay, on watch 00 to 0400.
I slept after watch until 0830, then read and slept the morning away.
We now have correspondence courses established by an organization called U. S. Armed Forces Institute. Everything in it resembles the old Marine Corps Institute correspondence courses of the thirties. I wrote the Marine Corps Institute around ‘35 and was told that only Marines were eligible to take courses. This new organization gives them away, like free.
Last mail brought me two lessons, but I haven’t gotten started yet. There’s some lassitude going around.
1400 Quarters for all hands. The Squad Dog, Captain Ryan (ComDesRon 21) presented the Navy Cross to Captain Hill. The Old Man’s brief remarks, “this is presented to all hands in Nicholas.”
Again we have scuttlebutt of Stateside availability “soon.” I’d guess that the same rumors prevail in all the combat ships out here.
The old transport Henderson showed up in Purvis Bay today. She came in and left within four hours, here then gone. My first sea voyage was in Henderson, packed into the troop compartment from San Diego to Mare Island, for the pre-commissioning detail for San Francisco (December 1933). With the other naval transport then in commission, Chaumont, there were regular and alternate voyages between New York and China via the Panama Canal.
Personnel transfers got scheduled on the sailing dates of these two ships. Unlike the infested combat four pipers, the transports got a total fumigation on each roundtrip.
The boatswain’s mate of the watch couldn’t mask the urgency in his voice if he had tried. “Set the special sea detail . . . All hands make preparations for getting underway!”
We got underway at 1500 on orders from Commander Task Force 31 to intercept enemy task force. As we steamed north, Saufley, Cony and Renshaw joined up.
All boilers were put on the line as soon as the pressure and superheat could be equalized: we had gotten to 27 knots by 1630, and by 1800 had achieved 34 knots in small increments.
The three other destroyers were an element of DesRon 22 (Command broad-pennant in Saufley. We rocked northwestward into the setting sun and a strong running swell.
At 2200 all ships were ordered to battle stations by the OTC. Chevalier reported a surface contact bearing 340° True at 5,000 yards around 2300. The contact disappeared before any ship could close in.
August 23, 1943, Monday, steaming on base course 270° True, speed 30 knots in company with destroyers of Task Group 31.2, DesDiv 41 formed in column astern of this vessel (ComDesRon 21, ComTG 31.2) in the following order: O’Bannon, Taylor, Chevalier at 500 yard intervals. Saufley (ComDesRon 22), Cony and Renshaw in second formation five miles astern of this group. Material Condition Able set, all ships at battle stations.
At 008 radar contact on aircraft 075° True, distant 9 miles. We slowed to 20 knots at 015 and opened column intervals to 2000 yards.
A plane closed to 5000 yards at 037, and then opened out—a closer look, then escape?
We slowed further to 18 knots, continuing to patrol Vella Gulf.
Aircraft flares were dropped over our Second Group at 0230. Immediately afterward came a strange development: a plane was sighted flying low over the water flashing a recognition signal. Maybe he was hoping for a response to guide some dive bombers just behind him. The recognition signal was not ours.
At 0245 we reversed course and OTC ordered Second Group to return to base.
The starboard shaft spring bearing started overheating; it was reported to the captain and we lowered the speed of that engine then compensated by speeding up the port shaft and engine. While this was going on, one of the ever-present enemy aircraft took a run in, and he missed by 200 yards ahead of Nicholas.
The bridge sent a “make smoke” order, and immediately afterward another bomb hit the water astern.
The spring bearing turned out to be “wiped” having lost its babbit liner. We have to maintain speed but we risk a bent propeller shaft, or maybe worse.
Smoke burners were pulled and cleaned on orders and put into standby. Lots of aircraft radar contacts. We went again to 30 knots and made smoke, the column doing a conventional zigzag course.
Just before 0500 another bomb, this time off the port bow by a half-mile. Daylight was near and the enemy disappeared.
They have become adept at harassment of our night forays, and could find a way to get some hits unless we keep adjusting—like make smoke more often.
We secured from battle stations at 0845.
I slept until 1130, then went on the regular steaming watch. We reduced boiler power by two, and at 1400 entered Tulagi Harbor, then alongside Erskine M. Phelps to fuel ship. We took on a lot of fuel . . . Moved to the anchorage in Berth 115 at 1820.
I had the 20 to 2400 watch, engine (one) jacking over, under 10 minutes notice for getting underway.
Sharkshit Scott is leading the bearing change operation in the after fireroom—he’s a very competent mechanic.
August 24, 1943, Tuesday, anchored in Berth 115, Tulagi Harbor, Florida Island in 28 fathoms of water.
1300 Underway to test new spring bearing. Lighted off stand-by boilers and monitored the bearing under various speeds. At 1512 we were up to 38 knots.
1600 General quarters, enemy planes over Tulagi. 1620 Joined by units; of DesDiv 41 plus minecraft, Pringle, Breese, Montgomery and Preble. At 1645 Secured from general quarters.
We are off on a mine-laying operation, escorting the destroyer minecraft.
At 2219 all ships were ordered to battle stations. We arrived off Kolombangara at 2300, and the minelayers began their work.
August 26, 1943, Wednesday, steaming on base course 270° True at 26 knots, patrolling Vella Gulf, covering mining operations of Task Group 34.9, composed of Pringle, Preble, Montgomery and Breese. Covering group in DesDiv 41, Nicholas (ComDesRon 21 and ComTGroup 34.9), O’Bannon, Chevalier and Taylor. All ships at general quarters and in Material Condition Able.
The first enemy contact was at 010, an aircraft closing on bearing 025° True.
We maneuvered by column course changes, and then resorted to evasive tactics and smoke burners. They are using flares and flare-floats to mark our observed course, presumably.
At 057 the mining group completed operations, and a couple of minutes later Montgomery and Preble collided, the damage permitted only slow speed for both vessels.
A few minutes later bombs fell, one on the starboard quarter, another on the starboard bow, two to three hundred yards distant.
At 0120 we began to make smoke again, then simultaneous turns. The float lights and flares are appearing often, the pattern makes sense only if looked upon as inaccurate placement.
Then at 0300 the squadron went to a box formation, interval distance 2000 yards. We dropped to 18 knots, maneuvering by simultaneous turns. That was maintained until daylight.
At 0613 secured boilers #2 and #4, changed speed to 15 knots. The squadron went to anti-sub screen around the mining group in order: Nicholas, Taylor, O’Bannon and Pringle.
0740 Enemy planes reported near Munda Island; we formed anti-aircraft screen. Began boosting boilers #2 and #4.
0836 Secured from battle stations.
A ship was sighted bearing 195° True, distant 10 miles. Pringle sent to investigate; she brought USS Pawnee (fleet tug) back to the formation. Pawnee took Montgomery in tow.
Lavender’s battle station is Midship Repair, and it is a relaxed station most of the time. This morning he volunteered to take my forenoon watch. I was grateful, for I had hung on the blower throttle for 12 hours straight.
I hit the sack and stayed until 1600. I took Lavender’s watch at 1700.
Nicholas had to fall out of formation during the afternoon to repair an oil distribution “flinger ring” in the starboard shaft spring bearing. Got it working properly in about 30 minutes.
At 1833 the squadron turned around and started back to Vella Gulf at 25 knots, full power available.
The Squad Dog ordered all ships to battle stations at 2130.
We got our first enemy contact at 2156, radar bearing 054° True on an enemy aircraft. We went to column formation at 2205 as, Nicholas, O’Bannon, Pringle, Chevalier and Taylor; interval was 1000 yards.
A closing radar contact came at 2318, we changed course and made smoke; ships maneuvered by sections.
August 26, 1943, Thursday, steaming on base course 125° True, speed 20 knots in company with destroyers of Task Group 31.2, DesDiv 41 plus Pringle: Section 1, O’Bannon, Pringle in column astern of this vessel, Section 2, Chevalier and Taylor. OTC is ComDesRon 21 in Nicholas.
0236 Radar surface contact bearing 155° True, distant 6 miles. Chevalier made the identification on a friendly craft.
At 0350 secured from battle stations.
Coming off battle stations was a difference to me, that, now I was on a regular steaming watch. Stay put. I pushed the JV talker off the rag can so I could sit down.
I had been observing how calm and methodical the sailors have become. A lot of elements go into it, and I think I could lecture on the subject. As in Joe, the Wounded Tennis Player “ . . . There’s a limit to the amount of carrying on the average mortal can manage, even when someone is looking.”
They have shaken down into a competent, gutsy ship’s company.
The ship arrived in Tulagi at 0900. After my watch I flaked out until 1500.
On watch 16 to 2000, main engines on standby at 10 minutes notice.
Some good news: We are to be relieved by DesRon 23. I’d say we need medicine like beer and athletics at Santos, plus a couple of all-nights-in. The new destroyer squadron can use some practice and shaking-down on the real thing.
August 27, 1943, Friday, at anchor in Berth #21 in 17 fathoms of water.
At 0650 Condition Red over Tulagi, and we went to battle stations. Condition Green came at 0719.
0950 Underway. We went alongside the ammo barge, and we unloaded 500 rounds of 5-inch AA common.
We sortied at 1400, cutting in full boiler power and proceeded to Lunga Point, Guadalcanal. At 1500 stood toward and lay to near USS Charles L. Ausburne.
ComDesRon 21 left the ship to confer with ComDesRon 23 in Ausburne. Nicholas maneuvered in the sound while waiting for our Squad Dog. The commodore returned aboard at 1618.
The ship moved to Koli Point and the commodore went to the President Jackson in a whaleboat to confer again; he returned to the ship at 1745. We patrolled the Koli Point area until the APAs got underway at 1940, President Jackson, President Hayes and President Adams. We formed an anti-submarine screen with O’Bannon and Chevalier passing through Lengo Channel southward.
August 28, 1943, Saturday, steaming in company with Task Unit 32.4.2, President Jackson OTC, President Hayes, President Adams, Nicholas ComDesRon 21 Screen Commander, Chevalier, O’Bannon, base course 128° True, speed 16.5 knots.
I had the 04 to 0800 watch, and I did nothing all day until the first dogwatch 16 to 1800.
Read awhile after watch, then in trying to write a letter I was unable to concentrate. That was a strange sensation to have your mind wander in spite of real effort to fix on something. Whew! I hit the sack as soon as I could, for I had the midwatch coming up.
August 29, 1943, Sunday, steaming on base course 188° True, speed 16.5 knots in company with Task Unit 32.4.2.
Chevalier left the formation on an assignment.
I had the midwatch, slept the morning and took the afternoon watch. While in the shower after my watch, general quarters sounded and lasted an hour—a false contact.
I saw a film in the CPO mess, then to bed for two hours sleep.
August 30, 1943, Monday, steaming on base course 145° True, speed 16.5 knots in company with Task Unit 32.4.2.
I had the midwatch and stayed up for dawn alert. I napped in the forenoon, and again I have gotten some kind of a bug, weakness and discomfort.
On watch from 12 to 1600. Just as I came off watch we made a landfall on New Caledonia. We passed through Bulari Passage, then moored to USS Attascosa to fuel ship. At 1830 we moved to anchorage on two-hours notice.
O’Bannon came alongside to starboard. I went to bed at nine.
August 31, 1943, Tuesday, anchored as before in Berth A 6, Great Roads, New Caledonia.
In the afternoon I got a boat to the hospital ship, Relief to see a dentist. All I got was an appointment. If we stay long enough . . .
At 1600 we got underway to go alongside the destroyer tender Whitney.
Nels Granzella, Chief Quartermaster, was on the ship alongside the tender, and old friend and shipmate of Omaha days. He came over for a visit. Nels had more information on what was happening than our yeomen, or maybe, more than was imparted to us—I hardly had the means or time to read what came from the Navy Department. The landing craft construction program was beating the bushes for officers, and he had declined a commission more than once lest he be assigned to the amphibious vessels. I told him that I’d take a landing craft without a promotion just to break out of specialization.
We talked until midnight on days past on Omaha. The Squad: Ralph Auten, Bobbie Platt, Horse Pablos, Sam French . . . too many good guys to list.