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Volume 6839

Wartime Journals of Correspondent Edgar Rice Burroughs
THE DIARY OF A CONFUSED OLD MAN
or Buck Burroughs Rides Again

Written April 1943 ~ Copyright ERB, Inc.
Transcribed for ERBzine by Bill Hillman

PAGE THIRTY-NINE

Click for full-size collage
Feb 2/3: Great Navy Chow ~ Suva, Capital of Fiji, on the Island of Viti Levu
Natives Paddle Out to Sell Souvenirs ~ Grand Pacific Hotel ~ Cricket
. . . leisure time allowed them. They are probably too tired to fight.

Croft showed me the ship's three large refrigerating compartments filled with fresh meat, vegetables, fruits, and chickens. Enough, normally, for six weeks. The Navy can feed its men better at sea than the army is fed in the field, because of ample refrigeration, which the army seldom if ever has. So the Army eats mostly out of cans; but it, too, eats well  -- and plenty.

Taylor, a Navy Gunner, was the only other passenger. He has had seven years sea duty, but he was seasick the first three days out. That made me feel sort of superior. Lt. Mervyn Shoor, the ship's doctor, kept a furtive eye on me the first few days -- hopefully. Finally he gave up, saying I was too salty.

Feb. 3. About 2:00 AM I was awakened by a quartermaster who reported to me that there was a light off the port bow. Awakened from deep sleep, I didn't just catch the drift of his remarks. I thought I had overslept and was late for breakfast. So I jumped out of bed and said, "Thank you!" Then I realized that the report had been intended for Lt. Croft; so I collapsed on my bed and went to sleep again. Presently the quartermaster returned and reported the light to me again. When he came back the third time, he woke Croft. After that, I was addressed as the navigating officer. Life on shipboard is usually so monotonous that even a little occurrence like that afforded amusement to the officers, most of whom were very young. With the exception of the skipper, Lt. Cmdr. G.P. Biggs of Neosho, Mo., an Annapolis man, the other thirteen officers had seen little service. They averaged but a year and a half in the Navy. Croft, also a graduate of Annapolis, was said to be the youngest executive officer in the Navy on a ship the size if the Shaw.

At 8:41 that morning we dropped anchor in the harbour at Suva, capital of Fiji, on the island of Viti Levu. Natives paddled alongside in outrigger canoes, with coral, fruit, war clubs, and other articles. I went down to the fantail to see what they had. The sailors were crowed so thick along the rail that I couldn't get up to it. But I saw a war club I thought Mike might like, and managed to get a sailor to buy it for me. No one knew whether we would get shore leave or not, as the Captain had sent an officer ashore for orders and he had not returned.

Fearing disease, the Captain ordered the natives away right after I got the war club; and a sailor offered me $5 for it, although he knew that I had paid but one dollar for it. The saying "spending money like a drunken sailor" is way out of date. They throw it away just as fast sober.

Just before noon, we moved in and tied up alongside the McKean at the dock, where we took on fuel and water. Shore leave was given the entire crew in three shifts, from 1:00 to 10:00 PM. After dinner, Capt. Biggs, Lt. Croft, and I walked up town. The stores were closed until 2 PM, as they had been in Noumea, a custom in the tropics. So we walked onto the Grand Pacific Hotel. On the way, we passed Government House beside which is a large playing field where about a hundred Britishers were playing cricket in the hot sun, reminding me of that old saying in the tropics that "only mad dogs and Englishmen are outdoors at noon."

The grand Pacific is beautifully situated on the shore of the bay. It is typically South sea, surrounded by flowering shrubs, strange trees, with the ubiquitous palms beside the beach We found a table in the comfortable lounge and had a few highballs. Later we were joined by several other officers of the shaw. Then Capt. Ramey of the McKean and . . .


OFF-SITE REFERENCES
AUTOGRAPHS TAKEN WHILE ON THE USS SHAW

USS SHAW: A Ship too tough to die

Lt. Cmdr. G.P. Biggs
Annapolis

Grand Pacific Hotel
War Club
McKean

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