The Solomons Campaigns
From Guadalcanal to Bougainville
A new book by William L. McGee
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1942-1943, From Guadalcanal to Bougainville— Pacific War Turning Point, Volume II By WilliamL. McGee
Review by John Cummer
Editor, The Elsie ItemLCI (Landing Craft, Infantry) National Assn.
Our friend. Bill McGee, who did such a fine job of telling the story of the early days of Flotilla Five in The Amphibians Are Coming!, has produced another impressive, interesting and highly readable account. This time, broadening his scope to include all services, he has produced a meticulously researched history that anyone interested in this early and decisive campaign will treasure. It could well become the definitive work on the campaigns.
With this broader perspective,LCL veterans will see more clearly their particular roles. It gives one a sense of, "Ah, now I see how what we did fit into the whole picture!"
The LCI veteran will need to exercise some patience when first opening the book looking specifically for what it has to say aboutLCIs. The prelude to the war, strategic decisions relating to Guadalcanal/Bougainville, and the story of the six-month struggle for Guadalcanal all are dealt with before specifics of amphibious operations involving LCIs, as well as LCTs and LSTs, are introduced.
The shore-to-shore Landing Craft story begins to unfold in McGee's fifth chapter with the account of the formation of a most formidable sounding organization:
ComLanCraFlotSoPac (Commander, Landing Craft Flotillas, South Pacific) and its commander. Rear Admiral George H. Fort. This organization became necessary with the arrival, in significant numbers, of the first LCIs, LCTs and LSTs in the South Pacific. From that point forward in McGee's book, prominence is given to the roles of each of these types.
If you have read McGee's Volume I, The Amphibians Are Coming!, you know that it
, as far as LCIs are concerned, on the war diary of
LCI-334, as provided by LT(jg) Al Ormston, skipper of the 334. In this volume, McGee continues this literary device of illustrating the general by the particular and it works well for it would have been a formidable task, indeed, to trace the involvement of all the LCIs. He is not, however, slavishly limited to the 334 alone. Time and again accounts of incidents involving other LCIs are woven into the story. All 26 LCIs in LCI Flotilla Five, commanded by Commander Chester L. Walton, are included in the narrative and several are pictured as well.
I was particularly interested to leam the name of the man responsible for me idea of converting LCIs into gunboats. McGee tells us that it was Captain Roy T. "Slim" Cowdrey, a ship repair officer on the staff of Admiral Halsey, who came up with the idea and directed, first, the changes of LCIs 22 and 23 and eventually by December of 1943, the 21, 24, 67, 68, 69 and 70 into gunboats.
It is such details, as well as the entertaining and enlightening anecdotes that McGee includes, that make this book such a good read. Get yourself a copy; get into your favorite chair; tell the family not to bother you; and settle down for a great evening of reading and remembering. You'll be glad you did
For more information on The Amphibians Are Coming! Click here
Also check out Mr. McGee's other book Bluejacket Odyssey.
A added bonus for us is if you order the book using our order form that is linked below before December 31,2001 we will receive 20% from each sale to help support our web site. Click here and print out our order form.
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