".. I watched the time closely, praying
for dawn., when I knew the mess would be cleared up. I lay
there for an hour at least, then as it began to grow light I realized
I was in full view of snipers on the opposite ridge. Others about
me had already begun to find other cover and though it was now so light
that I knew I could be clearly seen & might draw fire from Marines
as well as Japs I dashed up the slope into the D-2 tent & hit the
deck. Two others closely followed & just as we got inside
a bullet pinged against a steel plate propped near the entrance - in
a direct line with me, it seemed.
I ducked around behind the D-2 tent, saw Col. Buckley
[the D-2, chief Intelligence officer] who also seemed to be looking
for cover, asked him where everyone was going (no one was in sight),
and he said I could hop in one of the D-2 shelters - which I did with
alacrity, to find that I shared it with Capt. Clemens (who didn't recognize
me in the dark and was inclined to dispute my entry), a wounded Raider,
two British missionaries huddled in the far corner, & 2 Marines.
This was about 0500 and I stayed until the sky was bright.
Recently, for the first time in many years, I have
been looking at the journals I kept during the campaign there. The
entry for October 19 1942, during a lull after the most stressful few
days of the whole show, includes the following. Sadly ironical
Monday, October 19, 1942
Last night I lay on a poncho outside the tent, looking up at a brilliant
half moon, chatting with Cromie and Keyes and our 2 District officers
- Martin Clemens & Major Mathers. Listening to their
descriptions of Guadalcanal in peacetime, of its marvellous fertilitiy,
its pleasant places, I could scarcely remember there is a war on, that
the Japs are making a major drive to annihilate us. There had
been an incredibly beautiful sunset - soft rosy glow over jagged blue
1944 Book, "The Island"
Despite my careful avoidance of anything barred for security reasons
-- not that I knew much of anything at the time -- the Navy banned
publication of the book for many months, on so-called security
grounds, until Gen. Vandegrift became USMC Commandant early in 1944
and got it released. There could be no mention at that time, of
course, of coastwatcher work, and I had carefuly avoided it in
the book. I suspect the main reason for holding the book up was
No, I didn't inspect the knocked out tanks at the Mantanikau sandbar.
I only wandered among the corpses at Alligator Creek and picked up,
from an officer's bag, a bakelite - this was before plastics now familiar
- toothbrush case that I use to this day when traveling.