The usual things took place.
Still no missions for me, other than the one with the 69th on April the 8th over Lukunai. A radio operator got sick and therefore Russell got in two. One on the 28th, the other today.
Lots of flak yesterday over Vunapope Supply Dump.1 Seehorn’s crew gave the boys quite a scare when they lost altitude after leaving the target and went like a rocket ship for Green Island, one of our advanced bases near New Britain and New Ireland. They were short on gas and didn’t think they could make it back to Stirling.
Haven’t gotten any mail lately but hit the jackpot yesterday when two from my wife arrived. Wonderful Bonnie, who writes everyday.
Have been doing the usual the past couple of days. Showering and shaving each day. Enjoying the extra good chow and seeing the show each night. We were treated to a USO show featuring Lou Lawrence, who sang some songs, very aptly, a beautiful voice. Paul Casanova who did a grand job on the accordion, and Pop Mayston or Mason a very good comedian, who gave a skit on Alexander, Alexander with the First World War AEF. Little Lon who was a dexterous juggler. A grand show and I hope they receive their just due in the way of contracts after this war. These boys have given unstintingly of their time, both in Africa, Middle East, Iceland and the Pacific areas. They were so eager to entertain the front line boys in Africa that they almost entertained Rommel.2
Last night we were to be given a show by local talent. It began with a bang. A good orchestra was present, a Navy boy was M.C. The orchestra played, “A long, long, way from home” and a “Cuban Love Song” which were sung by a Seabee. Another Seabee played a piano medley and then the rains came. The band and the troupe packed up and left. We sat in the rain and laughed ourselves silly laughing at the picture show, “The Magnificent Dope”.3
The day, of course, also had its tragedy. Major Yeoman, a grand CO, went down at sea while on a barge hunt. He will be missed plenty by all of us. Through this accident, I’ll probably be placed on a crew. What a hell of a way to get a job. The entire crew plus our squadron Flight Surgeon perished. They went down in the water just a mile offshore, so the plane will have to be bombed to prevent the Japs from getting it. Tough job, but war is full of these. But that is another story which I shall write and attach to this diary.4
That’s all for these days except for the fact that our forces in the past three days have taken Hollandia on New Guinea Island. This puts us within bombing distance of the Philippine Islands. MacArthur and Nimitz met today for the first time in this war.5 This meeting of the Commanders of the South and Central Pacific means just one thing to my mind, a drive on the Philippine islands. At last a fight for our own territory is in the offing, and I, for one, await the relish of reclaiming what is ours from the yellow Japanese.
Notes & Commentary
1 On April 28, 24 B-25s bombed the Vunapope supply area. Vunapope was the location of a Roman Catholic Mission. Civilian Christian missionaries were detained there in a concentration camp guarded by Kempi-tai, Japanese military police, during the war. See http://www.pacificwrecks.com/provinces/png_vunapope.html.
2 Between 1941 and 1945, USO Camp Shows presented 293,738 performances in 208,178 separate visits to military personnel. . . . 702 different USO troupes toured the world, some spending as much as six months at a time on the road. Holsinger, M. Paul. War and American Popular Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999. pp 320-321.
3 Henry Fonda and Don Ameche starred in the The Magnificent Dope, a comedy in which Ameche runs an unsuccessful “success” school. Produce by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, the movie was released in 1942.
4 Rather than attaching it, Wayne wrote an additional entry for April 29, 1944 and titled it “Ocean Death”.
5 Wayne cites the Nimitz-MacArther meeting as having occurred on April 29th. The Nimitz–MacArthur meeting, which presumably took place before the Hollandia invasion, was actually the subject of an early morning press release on April 29, 1944:
MacARTHUR AND NIMITZ CONFER
BIG BLOWS PLANNED
General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz will coordinate their activities for further hammer blows against the Japanese. This is the interpretation of a joint statement issued simultaneously at 6 a.m. today at General MacArthur’s New Guinea headquarters, and at Pearl Harbour.
The statement read: “General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz recently conferred regarding future operations in the Pacific of their two commands. Plans were completely integrated so that the maximum of cooperative effort might be exercised against the enemy.”
The meeting took place at General MacArthur’s headquarters, and the Hollandia-Aitape invasion was the first dividend of the deliberations. In this, elements of Admiral Nimitz’s Pacific fleet provided the carrier force which covered the invasion.
Morning Bulletin, Rockhampton, Queensland, 29 April 1944, p 1, col. 2; digital image, Trove, National Library of Australia (http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/56306462 : accessed 28 April 2014)