I might add here that now there are no snipers, and the planes, although they do make raids, never get over the island. There are either knocked down or chased off by our interceptors. I’m safer here that I was in Bridgeport. There isn’t so much auto traffic here.
Now for the trip out here and accompanying anecdotes. I’m still restricted on what I can say on this subject so I’ll have to go easy and hope that none of it is cut out. We left Crowder, went to Seattle, then to Hawaii, that much I’ve already told you. From there we got on another ship and headed south east across the equator to Guadalcanal. I never could figure out why it took them so long to get that Solomons group, but now that I’ve seen it, I wonder that they ever did get it. Guadalcanal, Tulagi (Tulaghi) Harbor and Florida Island are very close to one another. We took small boats off the ship and went to Florida Island from Tulagi (Tulaghi) Harbor. On Florida island……..
I am unable to read any of the letter from this point on. I thought I would be able to work my way through it, but it isn’t possible. I will include Dave’s version of crossing the Equator, and other stories, recorded in my interview with Dave about his memories of Trumbull.
For some reason or other they decided to send an advance party so there were 12 of us plus 3 officers. We shipped out quickly – very short notice – and went up to Ft. Lewis outside Seattle. We went from there to Hawaii. We were on a different ship after we left Hawaii – and we went down across the equator. I got the full initiation when we crossed the equator. A tank of water was set up on deck. You would be dunked over and over again until you yelled “Shellback”. A Shellback is one who has crossed the equator. Now, I’ve always, even to this day, been afraid of the water. That was an ordeal for me. After the dunking, you had to run down a long line of Shellback’s that had paddles or rolled towels and they whipped you as you went by. I forgot to say you had nothing on but underpants. So that was my initiation into being a Shellback after having crossed the equator.
We got down to Ulithi, which was a weird-sounding name, and they started talking about some place called Okinawa. They said, “We’re going to Okinawa and were going to invade Okinawa.” At dawn they were going to send in a flotilla at the center of the island but the real invasion will be on the other end of the island, further up. I said to myself, ‘What kind of outfit would do something as stupid as this? Why did they think the feint would work?’
I was attached to Army headquarters at this point, at least our company would be when they got there. What happened was that the feint worked so well that we were supposed to go in, I think it was the third day, we were supposed to land. We didn’t land for 10 days because the Americans went through so fast that they left snipers behind and they couldn’t afford to have us valuable people in Army Headquarters get shot. So, we didn’t get in for some time.
Tomorrow, I’ll post more of Dave’s memories while he was in the Army. On Friday, a letter from Biss to Ced in Alaska.