Through gritty eyes, Kato peers through the water streaked screens
Once, once I was able to sleep but a half hour, and awaken instantly ready to go.
No age takes me, and I need to kick my mind into gear…
But I live to see the dawn, what we can make of it.
The weather has worsened, and they steam through dark rolling seas.
A viscous wind again whips at them, and water streams from her flight deck.
But they must do what they must do.
Over a tension, anxious hour, Zuiho launches her Kates, Okura again leading them aloft.
Orders are orders. ASW patrol, maximum effort.
Zuiho fulfills hers.
Other ships struggle to comply with theirs. Am Cootumundra, she of the unknown contact of last night, has grown from a small patrol vessel, to a battleship at least in the minds of the carrier men over night. Now four of the big carriers steam with fish on their bombers bellies, eager to strike.
They will be disappointed.
No enemy ships will be sighted today, not in this muck.
Diogawa laughs. “Your master calls!’ Hidaka chucks a withering glance his way. Tiredness is taking its toll “ Just get your Arse in the air!”
Diogawa grins. ‘I think, my friend, you take this war business far too seriously. Alright, I’m going, I am going!”
Grabbing the inevitable soft roll, Diogawa goes to work, seemingly unconcerned with the weather, the pitching, or the chance of encountering the enemy.
But ignorance is bliss. Unknown to him, the chances of that, have risen dramatically.
Kato hands the signal to Hidaka. ‘it seems, Hidaka, that standards are slipping since we left naval college”
Due to heavy weather, and very poor visibility, regret that planned
Bombardment of narua island delayed.
We will shortly make another attempt
“ Who commands?”
“I have no idea. I hope we have enough birds aloft, if they find us in this………”
Seven zeros weave through the towering valleys of the storm and squall clouds.
All seven are from Hiyo, carrier nearest to the almost indiscernible rock below
Things are not going to plan, the expected bomber strike is missing, not surprisingly in this crap.
Unsure of what to do next, they are circling over the island, instinctively seeking the clearer patches of sky.
All but one of them, are rookies
Rookies. Rookies are men, who fundamentally have to think about their flying. Who have to think…….to turn, bank: stick, rudder, stick back, keep the nose up, .
Thought that takes an eternity up here.
Rookies don’t look out. Oh, they see the sky, they see the clouds, the planes with them.
They remain ever concentrated on the ground –a ground that to a fighter pilot is usually meaningless
They don’t look.. They never see that tiny cross that is the enemy fighter, or that glint of aluminum that would save a ace
The P39 is not a good plane.
But in this valley of clouds, it does not have to be.
One pass, one swift chatter of guns
And five rookies fall………..
Those torpedoes remain strapped to bellies.
The weather does not help.
Thus, a mere 17 kate, and 22 zero go with the strike
The p39’s wait, and attempt to intercept –if chasing shadows is an attempt.
The bombing is equally useless.
Diogawa licks his lips.
It is an unconscious action. He would be amused to know, that under great concentration, that tongue of his sticks out ever so slightly.
It sticks out now, as he makes his attack.
It is a quick, flashing head on attack, the bomber looming larger, larger, his tracer stretching out, touching, striking, dancing on the Liberators flank.
And then he is in the white blankness of the cloud again,.
Bombers are so bloody hard to shoot down.
The cruisers arrive of narau island at last. It has been a hard journey. But now, finally, it seems, luck is with them. The seas are calming here, and the rain, so heavy these last hours, clears.
They are old, these ships. Classified as light cruisers, these ships are no match for modern kin. Two of them, Oi, Kitikama, really should not be here, those multiple torpedo tubes should be with the main body.
But Yamamoto has looked at their AA, and found it wanting .
But even these old guns, with crews exposed on the decks, are good enough for this.
The term, “shot up’ does not justify this bombardment.
They are late. 12 hours late. They have failed to meet a sailing. They will atone
The guns bark, and bark, and bark, until the lockers, the magazines, the men hauling the shells, are done.
Narau island neutralized
Am retiring to Truk
‘A poor beginning”
“yes. But tomorrow we will do better”