Sunday 4 April

94th Day, 271 Days to come

Much better this AM. Sent out what little laundry I had. Quinine makes ears ring, but feel much better, except back which aches constantly. Transferred U.S. Army Hospital #31.


From the VMF-213 WAR DIARY:

8 F4Us Alert 0530

0830 - 1020 Major Weissenberger Local Patrol 4 F4U
1000 - 1205 Captain Leary Local Patrol 3 F4U
1145 - 1340 Major Britt Local Patrol 6 F4U
1345 - 1435 Captain Peyton Test Hop 1 F4U
1500 - 1635Lieutenant Treffer Local Patrol 6 F4U

Relieved VMF-124 - 11 F4Us.

Flights designed mostly to familiarise squadron with general operational area.


NOTE: "Alert" is the group of pilots who are in the Ready Tent on standby in case there is an air raid before the Local Patrols have taken off, which would be after daylight.

Captain Peyton had just rejoined the squadron the day before; this was his first flight in the Corsair.

VMF-124 had left California in January with 24 F4Us, arriving at Cactus on 12 Feb 43. There are only 11 to pass on to VMF-213 after about 7 weeks. Most War Diary entries include a table as the one above. I will not include them in future War Diary entries unless there is something important in them.

Monday 5 April

95th Day, 270 Days to come

Still can't eat. Given intravenous injection 1 liter glucose sol'n. Decided not malaria but dengue fever.


From the VMF-213 WAR DIARY:

(Summary) Peyton and Treffer led Local Patrols in the morning, Leary and Weissenberger led Knucklehead Patrols over the Russell Islands in the afternoon.

Tuesday 6 April

96th Day, 269 Days to come

On liquid diet. Weaker today though stomach feels a little better. The army certainly takes good care of me. I am only marine here.


From the VMF-213 WAR DIARY:

(Summary) 8 F4Us escorted 2 PB4Ys on photo mission over New Georgia Island.


NOTE: The PB4Y is more commonly known as the B-24, the twin tailed 4 engine bomber. These bombers were either from VMD-254, which moved up to Henderson Field from Buttons in March or from Navy squadron VB-102 which also moved to Henderson in March or, just as likely, one from each. All aircraft on the Solomon Islands - Marine, Navy, Army, Australian or New Zealander - fell under the command of COMAIRSOLS, Commander, Aircraft, Solomons. R.Adm. Mason was the first COMAIRSOLS, followed by R.Adm. Mitscher in April, USAAF Gen Twining in July, USMC M.Gen. Mitchell in November.

Japanese fighter pilots had great respect for our big bombers, which were difficult to shoot down and had ample ability to defend themselves. A Navy PB4Y downed six Zeros in a single engagement. Throw in a top cover of Corsairs to prevent a surprise attack out of the sun, and a low cover to prevent head on belly straffing runs, and the slow bombers were quite a hard nut to crack.

On this day photo recon showed 114 Japanese aircraft at the Kahili complex of airfields, up from 40 the day before. These aircraft were flown in from the Japanese carriers to begin an offensive on Cactus.

Wednesday 7 April

97th Day, 268 Days to come

Still on liquids. Nothing solid will stay down. Awake only a little of the time. Feeling better though now that they are treating for dengue fever instead of malaria.


NOTE: The Japanese began Operation I-GO with 67 bombers and 117 Zero escorts, sinking a USN oiler and destroyer and a Royal New Zealand Corvette. They lost 12 bombers and 15 fighters, including the crews. We lost 7 aircraft but only 1 pilot. VMF-221 pilot Jim Swett downed seven of the bombers in a Wildcat before succumbing to Japanese hits and friendly AA fire. He won the Medal of Honor on this, his first, combat flight. After this all new pilots wanted to "do a Swett." This was the last day that Marines used the Wildcat in combat.


From the VMF-213 WAR DIARY:

...Lieutenant Hermann Spoede of Dallas, Texas, succeeded in shooting down the aforesaid Zero, first encountered by Flight I, and the Zero was seen by Major Britt, Lieutenant. Shaw and others to fall in flames into the water. There were 10 to 15 other Zeros observed above at about 32,000 feet, but these Zeros succeeded in diving into the clouds and escaping before they could be reached.

Photo at right shows Lt. Herman Spoede, the first HellHawk to "draw blood".

Thursday 8 April

98th Day, Jewish Passover, 267 Days to come

Fever broke today. Finally able to take a little food, though still largely on liquids.


From the VMF-213 WAR DIARY:

(Summary) 8 F4Us on continuous alert. Capt. Peyton led 4 F4Us on morning Knucklehead patrol, Lt. Treffer let 4 on the afternoon Knucklehead.

Friday 9 April

99th Day, 266 Days to come

First day with no fever. Made it to head, but staggered all the way. Practically have to learn to walk again. Lost about 20 lbs in past week.


From the VMF-213 WAR DIARY:

Summary: 12 F4Us on morning alert, Lt. Treffer, Capt. Humberd and Maj. Weissenberger led sequential Knuckleheads of 4 planes each, Capt. Leary flew Task Unit Cover with 3.

Saturday 10 April

100th Day, 265 Days to come

Second day with no fever. Moving around more but still pretty weak.

Sunday 11 April

101st Day, Passion Sunday, 264 Days to come

Went to Mass and Holy Communion this AM. Third day with no fever. Will leave tomorrow.

Monday 12 April

102nd Day, 263 Days to come

Discharged this AM. Reported to MAOS-1 for travel orders to Buttons. Set up very comfortably. Notations for last week filled in diary.

Tuesday 13 April

103rd Day, Thomas Jefferson born 1743, 262 Days to come

Took and after delay passed physical exam for active flying duty. Spent greater part of day ashore. My French is becoming more usable. Came home and received word I leave at 0930 for Tontouta for DC-3 transportation to Buttons. Big drunk tonight which I am carefully avoiding.


From the VMF-213 WAR DIARY:

...but due to misjudgement of the runway or some unknown reason his (the C.O., Major Britt's) plane ran off the runway and crashed into two F4Us that were parked on the taxiway, and were completely destroyed. A daring attempt was made by Captain Henry Milles of VMF-214 to rescue the Major and remove him from his burning plane, but he was caught in the cockpit and their efforts were in vain.

The Squadron is fortunate in having Major Weissenberger, an able and experienced succesor to Major Britt. a point Northeast of New Georgia Island, Staff Sergeant W.I. Coffeen's plane developed engine trouble and he was last seen at about 3,000 feet going in the direction of the Southwestern coast of Choiseul Island. We have hopes of his return.

Results of the day:

Major Wade H. BRITT Jr. Killed in action.
Staff Sergeant W.I. COFFEEN Missing in action.
Four F4Us destroyed.

Wednesday 14 April

104th Day, Lincoln Assassinated 1865, 261 Days to come

Left 0930 for Tontouta. Left Tontouta by DC-3 at 1300. AR Buttons 1630. Met by Stewart and Paradise 1730 & drove to fighter strip. Had a quick chow & after perfunctory check of gear. Retired to ordinance tent with Stewart & a bottle of Bacardi Rum & two letters, both written 17 March. One happily from V.J.. The other from Kit with news of Bob's death. He was my best friend, now dead with Kit expecting on the last of August.


NOTE: The Lt. is non-fraternizing with Sgt. Stewart again, at least it is in the Ordnance tent.

An assumption I make, drawn from the margin note earlier about his sister's birthday, is that Kit is his sister. It would not be a long assumption, since he refers to her husband as his best friend.

Thursday 15 April

105th Day, 260 Days to come

Got my gear. Met Col. Clifford, He fixed me with transportation to Cactus for 8 AM tomorrow. Wrote Kit, trying to show her a little hope. At 1730 Stewart took me to SCAT operations & I was quartered there for the night. Stewart & I had quite a long talk today. He is returning to the U.S. since he can't get into action with the squadron. He will contact mother who I hope will write V.J.. Learned today that Maj. Britt was lost.


C.O. VMF 213 - KILLED IN ACTION APR 13, 1943


~ ~ LT. BROWN.

Placed on a plaque on his prop over the grave.

Photo at right: The cemetery at Cactus

Flying Strikes against Munda

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