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 Author  Topic: Bill Clements' (BM2C on PT548) Letter Home
Dan C

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Dan C  Posted on: Sep 16, 2015 - 6:47pm
Below is a transcript of the only surviving letter sent from Bill Clements to his family in Ozone Park (Queens), NY. While we dont know the exact location from where this letter was sent, from his service records, it was likely somewhere in the Solomon Islands. His records indicate that he participated in MTB operations during the Northern and Central Solomons Campaigns from 18 April 1944 to August 18 1944. Patrols were made to New Britain, New Ireland and Bougainville during this time. As the letter is dated the day before the commencement of these campaigns, we assume that his location at the time must have been in close proximity to the Central Solomons.


April 17, 1944
Dear Mom,
Well, this happens to be one of those times I was telling you about in previous letters. Quite some time has passed since you have heard from me. It was just impossible for me to write. I know youll understand. We have really been covering a lot of water in this Honey Barge lately. But enough of that for now.

First I must say that I hope all is well at home. Weve been moving so fast that mail still hasnt caught up with us. The last letter I have received from you was dated March 14th. I think this is my third note to you since receiving that one. But, it looks like we are really settled here for some time now, and the mail will start pouring in. I know I said I thought we were settled before; but this time it looks like we really are. Im only anxious to know if everyone is well and happy.

As for myself, well you know me. As long as things keep happening, so it doesnt get monotonous, and I can growl at these monkeys and act like a Bosns Mate, Im happy. All along the line the chow and living conditions have been swell. I never expected those things to be as they are. Im fit as a fiddle in body and mind and never tire of seeing all that surrounds me. It would cost a rich man plenty to travel and see, as I have. I guess this will only happen once and Im making the most of it.

At one of the places we were stationed, we really got what might be called a rough deal. When we arrived there, we were told to pick a spot on the shore for our permanent mooring. Let me tell you that shore was trees right down to the water. All hands turned to at the job of clearing the place and building a dock. Mind you this was our crew alone. In eight days we had accomplished wonders, considering that we operated several nights on patrol. (And I mean all night.) In those eight days everyone worked like blazes to get that dock and our house built. The dock itself was about 10 x 20 and elevated about five feet above the water. All of it stood in 3 to 4 of water and we had a cat-walk leading to it from the beach. Over it (the dock) we built a framing and covered the whole business with canvas. And that dock was solid. The boat was moored partly to the dock and partly to over-hanging trees. We also had a permanent canvas fly hanging from the trees just about where the focsl of the boat would be under it.

As for the house you wouldnt believe it if you saw it. Several of the boys turned out to be real carpenters. To start with it was built about three feet off the ground. Most of the lumber was supplied by chopping down all the straight trees we could find. We had a few guys draw some midnight small-stores and therefore acquired enough plywood (sheets of it) to make a neat looking deck. The overhead was gabled and covered with canvas. All the sides were enclosed with green and white mosquito netting. We even stole a screen door for it. We also lifted a thousand-pound generator and put it on our dock. This supplied all the electricity for lights that we needed. The day we left that place (the ninth day) we were about to move a refrigerator into the house. All the tools and supplies were begged, borrowed, or stolen (mostly the latter) and we worked like dogs to get it finished in a hurry. We even had double bunks in the house. Then Bang!!! We were told to get going elsewhere. To leave all that to some other jerks was really what hurt. But if we ever get back to that place you can bet your bottom dollar well move right in again, no matter who is living there. Oh Well! Things are tough all over I guess.

From time to time I have met several fellows who were at Melville with me and it was good to see em all. I also met a guy who lives in Jamaica and worked in the Bank with me. I know him very well and had a good many swell times with him working for N.C.B.

As I said before when we operate its at night and that means from dusk till dawn. However we dont go out every night so we get plenty of rest and time to clean up, etc, etc, in between patrols. Everything has been working out all right so far and I think we have a pretty good crew.

Well Ive made enough noise for now so Ill knock it off until the next time. Ill write more often now that I can but dont be alarmed if theres a delay. Anything can happen in the Navy (as Ive learned). Slong for a while Mom, and take care of yourself and our family.

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Deep Vee Forever

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message   Posted on: Sep 18, 2015 - 7:46pm
Dear Dan-

I see by your profile, that like me, you're a relatively new forum member, so please accept my warmest welcome to you to the forum.

Thank you so much for sharing this letter with all of us! Nothing enhances our understanding of such a long-ago time than a missive back to the home front, written in the moment, to loved ones far away, that captures so perfectly what it really meant to to be a PT man. Innovation, ingenuity, resourcefulness, a little larceny, and a lot of hard work, only to be dashed by the exigencies of combat. And yet, a certain resilience, with never-say-die spirit, that exemplifies just why these young men truly were "the greatest generation.

Again, my thanks, sir.




Randy

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CJ Willis

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of CJ Willis  Posted on: Sep 19, 2015 - 8:53am
Hi Dan: Enjoyed reading Bill Clements letter home. I am sure from his description that the base where they tied up to overhanging trees was Treasury. During my 13 months on 242 from Nov 1st,1943 until Nov 1944. I was at one time or other at all the bases in the Solomons from Tulagi to Green. Only at Treasury did we tie up to the shore under huge overhanging trees. It was the only base where each individual boat crew cooked and ate where we tied up. The other bases we ate at the base mess hall. We never built a house but we built a walkway from the boat to shore. We had a propane stove for our cook and cut a 55 gal drum in two for a wood fire. We put up a tent for the crew to eat in on shore. We were only on Treasury for about 2 weeks when we got shot up a little and had to go back down to Tulagi for repairs.
His letter is dated April 17,.1944. By then the Solomons were secure. The last island taken was Green Island the first week of March 1944. We moved in right after it was taken and patrolled New Britain, New Ireland, Northern Bougainville and Buka ferom Green Island until my crew was relieved and given 30days leave and R and R back in the U.S.A.

C. J. Willis

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