LST 794 at Guadalcanal
The LST 794 was at Guadalcanal, in the Solomon Islands, in January / February 1945. George Gross writes:
We spent about two months at Guadalcanal waiting for the invasion of Okinawa to be mounted. It was a tropical vacation at government expense. Our duty was to provide a sort of ferry service from Savo Island to a beach on Guadalcanal named (are you ready for this?) TASSAFARONGA.
Every few days we would make the round trip to deliver some jeeps or supplies for the Marine Commander. Sometimes we would play baseball on the beach. Our captain made sure that the Marine commander ( who was technically our boss) didn't interfere with our vacation. He'd just say we were making engine repairs until he felt like making a trip.We had our carpenters mate make a aquaplane board to tow behind one of our LCVP's. We'd take turns riding it and falling off into the warm, clear, tropical water. For shark protection we posted a gunners mate with a rifle in one of the 40mm gun tubs.
There was a local Marine radio station which had a disc jockey with a great sense of humor. Every evening at six he would start his program to the poor marines who had to live in tents on the hot sweaty island and take atabrin every day to prevent malaria with this spiel:
"Welcome to the Atabrin Cocktail Hour, brought to you directly from beautiful downtown, metropolitan Guadalcanal. The lights are low, the music soft, ice is tinkling in the glasses, beautiful ladies are dressed in evening dresses. Your waiter is ready to take your order for your gourmet dinner ."
You have to know that atabrin turns your skin orange. The deeper the orange, the longer you had been on Guadalcanal. And as for ice, those bastards didn't have any. Only the guys on the LST had ice, ice cream, and steaks from time to time. And when we had a movie on deck we could enjoy cool evening breezes.
It was high living, but we knew that it would only last for a few weeks until we headed for Okinawa. We enjoyed it while we could.
These are some of the things that the crew saw while there (click on the thumbnails to see the full image):
The Wreck of the Kyusyu Maru
My Dad took this photograph of the wrecked Japanese freighter the Kyusyu Maru. The Kyusyu Maru (disp 8,666 ton; length 467 ft.; width 62 ft.) was a twin screw diesel powered cargo vessel built in 1937 by Mitsubishi for Harada Kisen. She was requisitioned by the Japanese military for their war effort. On 15 October 1942, while attempting to land supplies for the Japanese on Guadalcanal, the Kyusyu Maru was attacked and fatally damaged by US planes. The crew ran the vessel aground in an attempt to save the cargo.
Believe it or not, the Kyusyu Maru now has her own Web Page ! Now lying about 18 kilometres west of Honiara, she is a popular spot for scuba diving. (Thanks to Michael McFadyen - Devilfish Diving Services for the ship's history).
Meet the Local Residents
Here are some of the locals that the crew met in the Solomons.
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