The month commenced uneventfully with all the officers and men
industriously engaged in fixing up their living quarters. Slowly but surely the camp took
on an orderly appearance.
A brief description of Biak would possibly be in order at this
time. It is the larger of 2 main islands comprising the Schouten Group. The other island,
Soepiori, separated by a narrow channel, lies to the northwest. A number of islets lie off
the coasts of Soepiori, but are of no military importance. Off the southeast coast of Biak
are the Padaido Isles of which Owi island is occupied by us, with 2 large air force
installations in the progress of being completed. The eastern one-third of Biak island
where our Group is encamped, and where all three airfields (Mokmer, Sordio and Boeroke)
are situated, is drained entirely by filtration to underground streams. Since rivers are
non-existent, water presents more of a problem to the squadron than in the past. At low
tide, water seeps out of the coral along the shore, and the usual method of bathing is to
await low tide and use a bomb crater for a tub. One can also find a depression in which a
helmet can be dipped, and by pouring water over one's body, a bath may be had. The water
is brackish but cool enough to be refreshing; it contains, among other things a goodly
number of coral snakes!
Nothing of interest happened during the first few days except several red alerts at
night, especially during the early hours of the morning, but none materialized into raids.
The artillery was blasting away continuously at Japs who were ensconced in caves (called
the Ibdi pocket) on the steep cliffs overlooking our encampment. It was a common habit to
sit at the open-air mess hall and watch shell bursts a short distance away, meanwhile
counting mentally the seconds that elapsed between the flash of the burst and the sound of
the explosion. On the 5th the Japs were considered neutralized and our artillery show
During the month the infantry boys came around faithfully, offering fabulous bargains
in souvenirs to squadron personnel. With each souvenir came a hair-raising story of how it
was obtained, and the prices paid were in distinct ratio to the fertility of the seller's
imagination. Gin, at $60 a bottle, was a common barter medium, and the "snow
jobs" grew heavy as the liquor flowed more free!
On every side was evidence of the late Jap occupancy. Before such areas were declared
out of bounds, intelligence personnel and some of the officers made a survey of the
perimeter. A Jap warehouse yielded a large number of clamp-style Jap ice skates, much
baseball equipment, and some cases of Jap BEER! Many cans of the latter vanished into the
tents of the 9th before the commanding general put the place off limits and surrounded it
An examination of three wrecked Jap Naval guns was an impressive example of our air
attacks prior to the landing.
The blackout which had been enforced from the time of our arrival was lifted July 3rd,
and we had our first movie which was not cut off by enemy raids. On the 6th in the early
hours of the morning, a Jap plane made a run on the strip and dropped a few bombs, causing
no harm. Inasmuch as our camp is lined up with the length of the strip, it was unanimously
desired that the enemy not over-shoot! In the evening the movie was interrupted 3 times by
red alerts, and on one alert a plane appeared and was greeted by an impressive if not
effective anti-aircraft barrage. Later in the evening Owi Island was bombed, putting the
radio station temporarily out of commission.
An amphibious and paratrooper landing was made at Kamiri strip on Noemfoor Island
(about 90 miles west of Biak, halfway to the New Guinea mainland) on 2 July, and 5 days
later Namber strip there was captured. Kornasonren strip located there was also taken,
giving the allies possession of the entire island.
Until the 8th, the missions flown by the squadron were very prosaic patrols, but on
this date our planes escorted B-25's to Fac Fac. Upon completion of the bombing all the
flights strafed the target with fine results. Lt. H. Oglesby strafed a warehouse which
turned out to be an ammunition depot. The resultant explosion threw debris to a very
respectable height. Passing thru all the flying boxes and miscellaneous matter fouled up
the coolant system of his plane, and Lt. Oglesby came home on one engine with his right
prop feathered, a distance of 290 miles, landing safely. Pieces of ammunition boxes lodged
in his intercoolers bore mute testimony to the fate of the warehouse. This was an example
of good minimum altitude strafing.
Except for a few alerts at night, we pursued the even tenor of our ways, flying routine
patrols and escorting the air-sea rescue PBY's without incident until July 14th, when a
large strike was made on the famous Boela oil fields on Ceram. All of our flights strafed
when the bombers had finished, sinking a Jap-filled boat and firing a lugger moored to a
jetty. The strike was a huge success, with oil storage tanks flaming nicely when we left.
Once more came a period of monotony, and except for a one flight strafing mission to
Wardo (on Biak) with unobserved results, routine patrols were our lot. On the 27th our
planes escorted B-24's to the Halmahera Islands 600 miles distant, but weather intervened
and the mission was incomplete.
The following day, July 28th, the first combat since memorable 3rd June took place over
Ceram. The squadron escorted B-24's and '25's to the Boeroe-Ambon area. While over
Elpapoetih Bay, western Ceram, the squadron observed 2 enemy planes at 6,000 feet while
our planes were at 12,000. One Jap aircraft disappeared into the clouds as the 9th flights
closed in on the remaining plane, a Val type dive bomber. This plane also tried to evade
by using cloud cover, and finally after several planes had fired many rounds without
apparent result, Lt. J. Haislip scored on a perfect tail shot, causing the Val to plunge
into the sea and explode. This engagement comprised the sole aerial combat for the month.
On 30 July the squadron covered the amphibious landing at Cape Sansapor and Middleburg
Island in Northern New Guinea, and despite expectations, the enemy air force made no
appearance. The month ended with a fine search light and anti-aircraft display when Jap
bombers came over our area. No bombs fell in our vicinity, but Owi island was hit causing
a large fire which could be seen plainly from our camp.
During the month many things were accomplished toward making our camp as civilized as
possible. A screened mess hall was built, and after much difficulty a portable building
was obtained and erection began on a combination alert and Intelligence-Operations hut. It
is felt that all reasonable expectations had been fulfilled in the line of progress, and
all awaited the coming month with confidence.