PrefaceChapters 2-6Chapter 8


For the balance of June, the 69th and 390th swept around New Georgia for shipping, and on the 30th closed the month with a five-plane medium mission over Munda strip, dropping frag clusters.

June had another memorable feature--the 16th. Bettys, Hamps, Oscars, Tonys, and Zeros--125 of them--swept down the Slot. The coast-watcher had warned us and the ground gunners were ready. The fighters took off, and the most spectacular aerial battle of the Pacific filled the sky over the 'Canal and the Slot for two hours. Everything that could fly took to the air. A stupendous spectacle, it was also a rout for Tokyo. Only 27 of the challengers retired up The Slot; six of our fighters were lost.

July 6th was an eventful day for the 69th. On the night of the 5th-6th a big naval engagement took place in Kula Gulf, when the Japs made their last attempt in strength to reinforce their hard-pressed troops at Munda. During the fray in which we sank at least 2 capital ships, the Helena, one of our light cruisers, was sunk. The 69th was on "Alert" that day, with the boys lounging around in the pilot's lobby, actually a crude bamboo shack with an old canvas roof and scrap wire and cheesecloth screens. The navy spotters reported a crippled enemy DD somewhere along the southeast coast of Kolambandara four Mitchells loaded with 500-pounders were sent after her, but one blew a tire on take-off and didn't participate in the ensuing fray.

The crews consisted of:

"The Cactus Kid" Flight Leader Capt. Lloyd E. "Stone" Whitley, Pilot.

Lieut. Albert M. Burbank Jr., Co-pilot.

Lieut. Chalmer W. "Gus" Gustafson, Navigator.

S/Sgt. Louis C. Pells, Radio Operator.

Sgt. Robert H. "Packer" Parks, Rear Gunner.

"The Deacon" Lieut. Mathew W. "Gloss" Glessinger, Pilot.

Lieut. Thomas D. Allison, Co-Pilot.

S/Sgt. Donald G. Hammer, Engineer.

Lieut. William J. Mallory, Navigator.

T/Sgt. Leroy Stirewalt, Radio Operator.

S/Sgt. George A. McVay, Rear Gunner.

Plane No. 124 Lieut. Enders "Dick" Dickinson, Pilot. (Unnamed) Lieut. Arthur J. Cordell, Co-pilot.

Lieut. David "Danny" Kallman, Navigator.

S/Sgt. George 1. "Yix" LaRose, Engineer.

Pvt. Edward C. "Eddie" Canavan, Gunner.

The take-off was at 1255, with the flight rendezvousing over the Russell Islands with eight P-38s who were to furnish fighter cover. They then continued up The Slot to Kula Gulf, and sighted a destroyer near the shore further to the west. However, they went on and scoured the Kokovi region without success before they turned back, realizing that the destroyer they had previously sighted was their target.

About this time two Zeros were observed approaching from the West, and two of the escorting P-38s took out to tangle with them. When last seen the Japs were hightailing it toward Vila with the P-38s right on their tails.

The Jap tincan was lying partially beached in Surumuni Cove, so the planes turned inland and flew in a wide arc to approach the target from the landside. This maneuver with its element of surprise caught the Japs with their pants down.

Our ships came in at tree-top level in single ship formation, at ten-second intervals, dived at about 230 MPH indicated, to below deck level, released their bombs, poured in lead from their eight .50 caliber nose guns, then pulled up sharply to avoid hitting masts and superstructure.

Captain Whitley was first man in and his bombs hung up. Lieutenant Dickinson followed, dropped one 500-pound bomb which hit at the water line about midship. Lieutenant Glosinger came in last, dropped two bombs for direct hits on the deck in front of the superstructure. After pulling out they swung around and made a second pass which was almost a duplicate of the first. Captain Whitley's bombs still would not release, but he got in some good licks with his .50 caliber bursts. Lieutenant Dickinson strafed with his .50 calibers and dropped one bomb which was observed to shoot almost horizontally between superstructure and mast to land in the water about 50 feet away. Following, Lieutenant Glossinger dropped his one remaining 500-pound bomb for another direct hit amidship-score for "Gloss": two runs, three hits, and no errors.

As they pulled away for home the target was a mass of flames, black smoke, and steam. The smoke could still be seen when they were over Rendova 30 miles away. A Navy observation plane in the vicinity reported that after the B-25s left, there was a tremendous explosion and a column of smoke from the burning destroyer rose to 8000 feet.

The flight came across Carney Field in tight formation at about 150 feet in a victory gesture and landed at 1611, a tired but happy gang.

Not every sweep or search found a target-many returned to Carney with bombs and ammunition loads intact as Nippon became warier. The daylight sweeps became less productive, but night probing usually produced at least one lucrative target.

Picture Picture

A series of photos showing the attack on and the eventual fate of a Jap cargo ship west of Baga Island on July 14, 1943, Although the first photos show one ship under attack, the last one groups this and another attack, and shows two ships burning on the reef.

Picture Picture

A Jap destroyer, beached and afire, is shown off New Georgia after the devastating 6 July attack.

The 69th's mission of July 10th, a low altitude search for enemy shipping reported in the Kula Gulf, found and strafed a beached DD at Surumuni Cove and also strafed the village of Burl. Lieut. H. A. Schmidt and crew crashed into the sea 3000 yards off Koli Point in taking off for this mission. Lieut. H. F. Birlauf, co-pilot, was the sole survivor and furnished the information that the plane struck trees when pulling up and careened into the water out of control. He left the plane underwater and was saved by his Mae West.

A terse and vivid word picture of operations on July 20th survives in Group's official historical documents.

"In the early hours of July 20th, eight Mitchells of the 69th Squadron, standing by on all night shipping alert, were dispatched to intercept the Tokyo Express making its way down the Slot, presumably carrying supplies to the hard pressed defenders of the New Georgia Islands. The force, sighted by the PBY Black Cat patrol plane earlier in the evening, was estimated to consist of four destroyers, one light cruiser, and an unknown number of transports. The Mitchells homed on a signal transmitted by the Black Cat, which had tracked the enemy convoy since the first contact, and at 0330L, under a bright tropical moon which adequately illuminated the target, launched their attacks. Repeated skip-bombing attacks, with quarter-ton bombs driven into the face of a terrific barrage of automatic weapons fire from the warships, were observed by the Mitchell crews and the naval crews aboard the patrol plane to have accomplished the following results: Enemy losses-one light Cruiser left burning and dead in the water; two direct hits scored on a destroyer, causing large explosions and certain destruction; damaging hits or near misses on a 300-foot freighter. Our losses: one Mitchell shot down by antiaircraft. The entire crew of the lost plane, commanded by Capt. L. E. Whitley, after a skillful water landing, made their way by raft to a small island just off Ganongga Island, New Georgia Group., and 28 hours later were picked up by the Dumbo rescue plane.

"At 0720L eight Mitchells of the 390th Squadron found the cruiser damaged in the previous night's action creeping to friendly waters at a speed of 2 knots. Although sorely wounded, her defense was still vicious, pouring anti-aircraft fire from at least 30 stations. Feints at various quarters divided the fire and allowed individual planes to launch masthead attacks. Lieut. Schauffler ended the fray when one of his bombs exploded in the ship's magazine. Two minutes later she slipped into the depths, carrying with her at least 75% of her crew. Lt. Otto Kuhl made the first run from stern to bow, followed by Capt. Joe Wheeler. He was followed by Lieut. Laird, and Lieut. Holstein came boring in from the starboard beam, raking the ship in a daring, screaming, skidding run. Lieut. Schauffler followed Holstein.

List of crews participating in Shipping Strike in vicinity of Vella Gulf 20 July 1943:

   P   Rocks, Charles R., 2nd Lt.

   CP   Saler, Frank J., 2nd Lt.

   N   Miller, Carl L., 1st Lt.

   E   Floyd, Robert E., S/Sgt.

   R   Beck, Paul R., T/Sgt..

   G   McCarter, William V., S/Sgt.


A Jap destroyer escort stops a packet and starts exploding. Note the B-25 racked up on its wing in the upper right corner.

   P   Laird, Charles E., 2nd Lt.

   CP   Brokate, William H. Jr., 2nd Lt.

   B   Elchenour, John M., 2nd Lt.

   E   Elchert, Gilbert E., S/Sgt.

   R      Roth, Elwood A., S/Sgt.

   G   Spina, Eugene A., S/Sgt,

   P   Holstein Eugene E., 1st Lt.

   CP   Bernasco, Carl L., 2nd Lt.

   N   Craig, Robert C. 2nd Lt.

   E   McCall, Richard T., S/Sgt.

   R      Harbor, Wayne L., Sgt.

   G   Stauer, David M., S/Sgt.

   P   Wheeler, Joe D., Capt.

   CP   Halstead, James R., 2nd Lt.

   N   Powell, William H., 1st Lt.

   E   Tague, Harold F., S/Sgt.

   R      Koppang, Victor L., T/Sgt.

   G   Merzlock, Arthur A., S/Sgt.

   P   Morrison, William T., 2nd Lt.

   CP Roderick, Edward N., 2nd Lt.

   BN Wooten, Clyde W., 2nd Lt.

   E Coffin, Howard, S/Sgt.

   R Coyner, Orville J., S/Sgt.

   G Armstrong, William I., S/Sgt.

   P   Kuhl, Otto F., 1st Lt.

   CP   Wattenbarger, Lloyd N., 2nd Lt.

   N   Brittian, Lloyd E., 2nd Lt.

   E   Houston, James C., S/Sgt.

   R      Keasler, John E., S/Sgt.

   G   Eads, John R., S/Sgt

   P   Vordahl, Oscar E., 1st Lt.

   CP   Workman, Rex L., 2nd Lt.

   N   Shinn, Clarence D., 2nd Lt.

   E   Rice, George, S/Sgt.

   R   Berens, Frederick W., S/Sgt.

   G   Stiles, Donald J., S/Sgt.

   P   Schauffler, William G., 2nd Lt.

   CP Lukich, Alexander R., 2nd Lt

   BN Deutsch, Jerome M., 2nd Lt.

   E Mitchell, John R., S/Sgt.

   R Mason, Allen G., S/Sgt.

   G Nicholas, Denzil G., S/Sgt.

Misfortune overtook this flight, however, for on the return to the 'Canal, three torpedo boats were discovered heading towards the southern tip of Rendova. In an attack that followed, Lieut. Schauffler was shot down, carrying with him in death Lieut. Lukich and Lieut. Deutsch. The three enlisted men were saved by a friendly vessel, after being covered from the air by Lieut. Vordahl and Lieut. Morrison and a flight of SBD's who relieved them.

Through July the drive on New Georgia mounted. First landings had been made on Rendova and at Viru Harbor and Wickham Anchorage, followed by Rice Anchorage to the north of Munda Point and Lambetti Plantation to the east. Each inch, each foot, each yard was won slowly, and naval guns and air power, such as they were then, were brought into play. On the 25th of July, two squadrons of 12 Mitchells each, led by Major Hardwick of the 390th and Major Spencer of the 75th, accompanied over 200 Liberators, Fortresses, SBD'S, and TBF's of the Navy, plus additional Army fighters, in a massed strike on the coveted Munda. Simultaneous and recurrent waves of planes made runs on the troop concentrations east of the runway while five destroyers and three PT's lobbed shells over for good measure. Sixty half-tonners and some 1200 20-pound daisy-cutters churned up a maelstrom of coconuts, coral, camouflaged planes and stores, tents and soldiery, while tracers flew through the turmoil.

This was the most outstanding day, but not the total of the Group's part in taking New Georgia. The Mitchells flew more than a dozen ground support strikes, swooping in over the tree-tops with eight forward guns firing from each of six to twelve planes abreast and leaving delayed action demolition bombs in their wake.

In summing up the month of July we find some very interesting recapitulations, both from the standpoint of the Crusaders' successes as well as reflecting the terrific losses the Nippers were taking in a steady diet of ever increasing dosage. Jap air activity during the month was concentrated on efforts to delay and harass our troops on New Georgia and Rendova and to intercept our medium and heavy bombers in attacks in shipping in the South Bougainville area. The scale of their efforts did not fall


Bombs hit, straddle, and set afire two small cargo ships in Hunda Cove off Kolombangara Island on July 14, 1943. One sank; the other burned merrily.

below the high point set late in June, and although they suffered big losses during this thirty day period, the fury of their stand did not seem to have abated any appreciable amount. A new Japanese technique crept into the picture with the disclosure that dusk attacks had been carried out pretty regularly against our force in New Georgia and Rendova. This was a technique that was to follow us through our time overseas. The attacks were generally carried out by medium bombers covered by from 40 to 50 fighters and then followed by one-or two-plane harassing missions the balance of the night.

Another new enemy feature to us and to the South Pacific Theater of Operations was the greatly increased use of night fighters. Although at no time did the night fighter tactics of the Jap become so highly specialized as our own night-birds finally became, they were at this particular period a serious threat to our boys, for reports came in verifying the rumor we had heard of a B-24 and a B-17 having been shot down by Jap night-fighters.

To date interception had not been much of a problem to us, but we knew it was there, lurking in the clouds, watching and waiting for an unwary straggler. The Intelligence count of enemy planes made from photo-interpretation disclosed approximately 480 Jap planes in the South Pacific, with their main base located at Rabaul. In the Bougainville area, photographs, the latter two weeks of the month showed a 25% increase in planes at Kahili over the first half of the month--this despite the heavy toll taken by our Army and Navy Air Forces during the early part of the month, when 207 of the enemy were knocked out of the skies. Enemy fighters sweeps of 50 to 60 planes had been an almost daily occurrence over the New Georgia skies, and as fast as their planes were shot down they were replaced.

On the ground the Jap continued his determined resistance to our forces on New Georgia, hanging on to every yard of ground with a tenacity bordering on fanaticism. It was certain that reserves of men and supplies had been pouring into the Vila-Munda sector via the barge route, and efforts to cut his supply lines by knocking out his barges and small ships had not met with too high a degree of success although the attacks against the larger vessels had been most heartening. The battle for Munda had developed into another Buna Mission (the famous New Guinea battle conducted by Lieut. Gen. Robert L. Eichelberger in the first two months of 1943). The Japs had burrowed into the ground as a protection against air attack and only came out to fight when Allied advances began on the ground.

But, actions with Jap Naval units during the month of July proved beyond all doubt that this was no small scale affair in the Solomons as far as her grand strategy was concerned. As fast as her ships were sunk, or damaged, she bounced right back with more ships of all types and sizes. Her losses during the month were at least the following:

SUNK: 4 Destroyers, 1 Light Cruiser, 1 Destroyer beached and gutted by fire, 1 oil tanker, 1 seaplane tender, 7 small coastal vessels, and 9 barges. PROBABLY SUNK: 1 Destroyer. DAMAGED: 5 Destroyers, 1 Light Cruiser, 1 gunboat, 3 large cargo ships, 6 coastal vessels, and 4 barges.

Invariably her task force jaunts into the waters of The Slot were covered by fighter escort both at night and by day. Her shipping was by no means limited to the Vila Munda defense zone, for she continued building positions on islands where small bases had been established, and a regular night route of barge and small ship traffic had been established. These craft traveled by night, hiding out in the coves of the islands by day. It was an ingeniously established supply line which proved to be quite efficient for the enemy and most provoking to us, at least for a while.


The Jap cruiser or destroyer leader was caught at dawn. She sank within two minutes after a bomb was skipped into her vitals. Few, if any, of her crew escaped.

Allied aerial efforts during this period, in addition to the Crusaders' work, were devoted to the protection of Rendova, which we took early in the month and where we maintained a daily and constant air patrol of fighters for the protection of our New Georgia positions, sinking of Jap ships, and protection of our own fleet units, as well as attempting to destroy enemy ground installations at Munda, Vila, Ballale, Kahili, and similar targets throughout the South Pacific area. Although at this time our "availability of aircraft" in the Theater as a whole was about the size of two good Groups according to present day standards, we managed to start an air offensive in late June that continued throughout the month of July, and which late that month succeeded in wresting control of the air from the enemy. Especially is this true near the end of July, for during that time the largest air attacks of the South Pacific War were conducted. The Munda raid of July 25th was composed of 254 aircraft of all types, which rained 500,000 pounds of bombs on the Japs with the loss of but one B-24.

The month of July produced another notable asset in the form of strategic bases for our forces, when a fighter strip was established on the southeastern corner of New Georgia. It was at Segi Point and received the name of Segi Air Strip. Although only 3300 feet in length, C-47's were using it to haul supplies to our New Georgia ground forces, and it was later used by several Crusader crews that were hurting for a place to land.

The use of PT boats for the blocking of enemy barge traffic to Vila and Munda was inaugurated late in the month of July, when nine PT's began guarding the Ferguson Passage entrance to Blackett Straits, and the southern portion of Kula Gulf, just north of Vila and Munda. With the inauguration of this weapon the answer was finally found for successfully coping with the barge supply route, and which completely throttled the Jap bases once they had been by-passed. PT's were an integral part of the story of the war in the Pacific and their traditions established in the beat of battle will live forever.

To the Crusaders of that day, the unsung heroes of the war in the Solomons were the coast watchers. The latter were commissioned officers of the Australian Navy who at one time had been in the territory as planters and plantation owners. They knew the islands backward and forward, and threw their knowledge into the fray against the Jap invader. Working alone on some Jap infested island, they radioed news of impending raids, the results of our own raids, and new lucrative targets for our airplanes to bit, and were always on the watch for downed fliers. Once they got hold of fliers who had been forced down, they succored them, kept them, protected them from the enemy, and made arrangements for their eventual rescue either by Dumbo or submarine.

To wind up the month of July, the 390th and 69th combined score against enemy shipping is as follows: 9 ships and 3 barges for 390th, including a light cruiser; 3 destroyers, 1 transport, and 2 coastal cargo vessels for the 69th. Crediting a specific pilot with a victory over a ship was most difficult, and in many cases the official records could not give one credit over another.

In late July the 69th was relieved by the 75th, and the 70th arrived two weeks later to relieve the 390th. The 69th went to P. D. G. while the 390th still used Fiji as a rear area. The combat crews of the two squadrons just out of combat were sent to Auckland, New Zealand, on rest leave.

On July 21st, 1943, the 75th entered the combat picture with a mission to Bairoko Harbor on the northern coast of New Georgia, where some Japanese "Imperial Marines" had done a remarkably fine job of pinning down Colonel Liveredge's doughboys. Captain Wilmarth led the 75th six-plane formation in a bombing and strafing attack that was highly successful. On the 13th of August, 1943, the 70th bombed the Rekata Bay seaplane base from medium altitude in what was described by the coast watcher as "an excellent bit of bombing, causing much destruction."

August opened in good style for, by the 5th, the Munda strip was in Allied hands. A paragraph from a Crusaders' mission report wrote the obituary of Munda as a Jap airfield; "four small fires and one large fire were observed in that part of the target area jutting out into the water. One large fire was seen on the Coast line at the extreme north end of the target. Gurasai was left smoking very heavily with one big explosion seen in this area sending dense heavy black smoke to 3000 feet. During the strafing attack hundreds of men were observed splashing around in the water off of Haivo Wharf, also under attack. A TBF was seen to burst into flame and crash in the water 2000 feet south of Munda Point. Another wrecked plane was seen in the water about 600 feet southwest of Munda Point. Five Higgins boats heading towards Rendova on a heading of about 145 degrees with one of the boats burning was observed at 0800 from 300 feet altitude. One barge, unidentified, and one other unidentified boat about 160 feet in length were seen passing between Rendova and Munda in an easterly direction during the attack."

This was action in every sense of the word. Flying through the skies in the Solomons in those days was something that made any man's blood race a bit wilder, for at any moment all hell could break loose. The above strike was one of the early ground support missions flown by the Crusaders, and at that time air support of ground forces gave heart to many a jungle-soaked infantryman inching his way along the treacherous trails. Months after the campaign had receded into history, officers and men of the ground forces involved never encountered a Mitchell crew member of the Group without expressing thanks for the aid and appreciation for the daring skill with which the aerial feats bad been accomplished. It was a pattern that was to become familiar as the battle for the islands progressed and went ever north and westward. In all, the Munda air campaign, coupled with the final offensive to capture the Jap base, lasted 37 days and included the protection of our convoys, the covering of the landings, numerous bombing missions-many of which were on a large scale for this area in support of our troops ashore as well as attacks on the nearby Jap bases of Vila, Ballale, and Kahili. During this period, Allied forces of all types reported the destruction of 358 Jap planes, while Jap shipping listed 21 ships sunk and 19 damaged. In approximately 30 strikes against the Munda strip, more than 900 tons of bombs were dropped. A total of 100 more strikes of all types also were flown against other enemy targets. From a defensive standpoint, Allied planes flew about 22,000 miles daily on routine searches. During the 37-day period, 33 fighter pilots were recovered of 81 forced down in combat or operational accidents. Many of these were picked up by Dumbos, who were also used to evacuate casualties from the combat area. For the first time in this campaign, transport planes were used to drop supplies and needed materiel, including ammunition and water, to our combat troops on the ground. No Dumbos or transport planes were lost during the entire operation. Air power was beginning to assert itself in the South Pacific Theatre, and with a vengeance.

The high standards of work and the truly great record for maintenance which the squadron's ground crews had already begun was reflected by the remarks of Maj. Gen. Nathan Twining, Commanding General, 13th AAF, on the occasion of the first presentation of awards to personnel of the 42nd Bomb Group, in August, 1943. General Twining spoke at some length on the unprecedented record for "In Commission" aircraft which the group had set in its nightly status reports, congratulating the maintenance crews for their splendid work.

However just as "The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley" a few things would go wrong, and an amusing tale of one Snafu that happened found its way into print.

From the Milwaukee Sentinel, August 14, 1943
By JACK MAHON, INS Staff Correspondent

GUADALCANAL-(INS)-Life is a bowl of sour cherries these days for Capt. Lloyd E. Whitley, of the Highpoint, N. C., Whitleys.

Whitley is a pilot of the 42nd Bombardment Group here and if things keep happening the way they have, he'll sue for a separate peace. For the Captain is an eager young man. He flies a bomber sardonically christened "The Fickle Finger" and it seems the digit of fate has marked him for her choicest bits of scorn.

To begin with: Captain Whitley got the bright idea not so long ago of killing two Japs with one bomb. To be more specific, he was assigned to a "snooper mission", in which his bomber flew into enemy territory by the light of the moon to search for enemy shipping.

There is a certain technique for such night flights and very valuable and fuses for the bombs used. This night Captain Whitley's bomb racks were heavily loaded.

"The Fickle Finger" searched and searched, but the Nip ships were hiding and soon it was time to turn for home. Whitley did not like this, but was prepared. He had carried along some other type fuses. He turned the ship over to the co-pilot and clambered back to the bomb bay.

"I had made up my mind if we didn't find any ships we could at least bomb a Jap base on the way home" explained the captain, "So I crawled down the catwalk and let myself down into the bomb bay. We had the doors open so we wouldn't waste any time if we spotted a target.

"My troubles started immediately. The damned doors jammed and I couldn't shut them. I could do nothing but sit on the top bomb, prop my feet on the far side of the bomb bay and start changing the fuses. All this time we were flying around over enemy territory and the boys didn't think it a very smart idea.

"I changed the fuses, leaving one as it was in case we ran into shipping. Then I went back to the cockpit and took over the plane again. After I'd been seated my navigator, Lieut. Chalmer Gustafson, Duluth, Minn., rigged up a rope from my arm to his.

"He reversed his drift meter and used it as a sight. We headed for the Jap air base at Vila, on Kolombangara, and came over it at 3000 feet. When Gus got the target in the center of his sight he gave the rope a jerk, I pressed the release and we laid two eggs. I think at least one of them landed smack in the middle of the camp. We got out without getting shot at."

Whitley was very happy at his little stunt the next day when he was called in to see his superiors. They talked quietly for a while of his ingenuity and his spirit-they then literally bawled hell out of him.

It seems a bomber and its crew are very valuable, that Whitley himself was very valuable; too valuable to be sitting over open bomb bay doors in the backyard of the Jap, changing fuses so he can wage some strictly private North Carolina war.

Whitley was very apologetic and, we suspect, more than a little bewildered.

On July 6th, however, came his big chance. There had been a battle in the Kula Gulf, north of New Georgia, and our Navy had cut at least seven Jap ships to pieces. Whitley was told to lead a flight of three Mitchell bombers north to do a job on some crippled Nip ships reported stumbling around the sea.

Up the boys went and there, its nose on the beach, was a Jap destroyer. It was in trouble but not outwardly scarred. The trio flew over. It was time to drop the bombs and Flight Leader Whitley soared over the target with his fingers itching.

He pressed the release. Nothing happened.

He pressed again. Still no action. "The Fickle Finger" was on him again--his bomb racks had jammed and be couldn't drop a single egg.

Over and over they flew, the other two Mitchells dropping five bombs, scoring four hits, and watching the destroyer break in two.

In the lead plane the boys reported Captain Whitley was one breath away from apoplexy. They thought he was going to try and throw the bombs down with his bare hands.

*   *   *

As a ground engagement, Guadalcanal has passed into American military history, a blood-stained and immortal chapter. Our portion of its story as an American air and supply base is told herein, within the necessary limits. Of actual living on the 'Canal, as our national habit of abbreviation later made it, the narrators can at best give only a few highlights and illustrative incidents as this record goes into print. Those who were there can supply the rest. Those who were not and to whom Guadalcanal was a supply or a fueling stop on a flight, a week of backbreaking labor in a casual camp while awaiting transportation on up, will find in Limit of Darkness by one-time Navy flier and later AAF field correspondent Howard Hunt, a portrayal of the physical and natural aspects of life in the Solomons so vivid that the colors, sounds, and smells leap from the printed page, and the reader breathes the very sultriness of the tropics.

Even long afterward, when we had become hardened jungle hands of the first cut ourselves, the heavy humid heat and the extraordinarily miry mud, the highly variable food, the rats, the creeping, crawling, buzzing, burrowing, flying insects--all constantly recurred in conversation. When another hackneyed phrase, later to be abused to the point of meaninglessness, was first used, is not known, but it is probable that the ubiquitous "You should-have-been-here-when-it-was-rough" first passed the lips of an old Guadalcanaler.

PrefaceChapters 2-6Chapter 8