The Rains

After the island was secured and things were pretty peaceful I remember that some of the guys during the leisure time, would go down to the river and throw hand grenades into the water, the grenades would go off and stun fish they would be flopping around on the surface of the water and everyone would have a fish fry. We got some orders later that the fish could be poisonous and the order was that if the fish looked at all exotic or different from the ones we were used to state side it was a good safeguard not to eat them. We were told that the reason we were there for such a long time was that we were waiting for transports, troop ships and Naval Vessels and these were all being used in the other areas of the Pacific. So we waited.

It was rather uncomfortable and we were getting agitated and then the rains came. They lasted for thirty days I mean, day and night constant rain. It would let up for maybe a half an hour and then it would start all over again. You would have to live in that environment to believe how irritable everyone gets so there was a lot of snapping and arguments, almost fisticuffs at times for very little reason.

The gun section #2 had somehow gotten hold of a Japanese Victorola with some records and one night we heard the strains of all these Japanese records being played during the early evening. One of the records was a haunting tune about cherry blossoms. I can still hear the tune in my head. I don’t know the name of it but it was a haunting interlude.

We had a fair galley set up and our cook was a big red headed guy, sort of chubby like you’d expect a cook to be. He was a whiz, a southern boy with a southern accent. We were a little short on some food due to a shipping problem; but he did have a lot of Argentine shredded corned beef and we had that for almost every meal. He used his artistry and made pies and hamburgers and every other thing out of corned beef. I’ll never forget the food and the fact that he did such a good job with the supplies he had.

Water was everywhere, in all of our clothing our shoes and socks everything was always wet during that period of time. It was impossible to keep any thing dry and as things got wet they got mildew on them and we had to wipe shoes and belts to get rid of the green mildew. At one point I remember taking my shoes and socks off to let the air get at my feet and they looked like white prunes. It was quite remarkable.

It was sometime in March of 1944,that we finally got the order that we were going to leave. We were very happy. The rains had just ceased and we finally saw the arrival of troop ships, cleared up our gear and waited to be told to embark. Took down everything, got everything ready to go. We did have a couple of tremors during this time and it sounded like there were some volcanoes on the island so we thought we’d get caught in something like that because of all that rain though it didn’t happen. Looking back later I could see that combat on that island was a piece of cake as far as we were concerned. It was a lot worse for the infantry; but it always is.

I don’t need to go into detail of the actual battles, they are all enumerated and very detailed in some of the books I have. If anyone were interested they could look up “The Battle of the River” that I mentioned earlier.

Another flash back: By now our guns were supplied with head phones and the Sgt in charge of the gun section had a head phone as did each gun section, they were all wired to the fire control center. In this way we got all our instructions thru the headphones and from the SGT verbally. The gun section #2 had somehow gotten hold of a Japanese Victorola with some records and one night we heard the strains of all these Japanese records being played during the early evening. One of the records was a haunting tune about cherry blossoms. I can still hear the tune in my head. I don’t know the name of it but it was a haunting interlude.

We embarked the troop ship and left New Britain, we were more than glad to get the heck out of there. Not too sadly, we waved goodbye to the island of New Britain, thinking we were bound for some very nice rest, relaxation and recuperation some place in the Pacific and that we would get some music and dancing girls etc.. We found out that we were headed for the island of Pavuvu.