LBJ's World War II Diary
Title:LBJ's World War II Diary
Collection:Lyndon Baines Johnson Archives Collection
Collection Description:Go to List of Holdings
Series:Subject Correspondence Files
See Also:See all scanned items from file unit "[Public activities-Biographical Information-Navy] Passport and Diary Travel, 1942"; See all scanned items from LBJA Box 74
Subject:World War II
Archivist's General Note:The unofficial, typescript copy of President Johnson’s World War II Diary (click "MORE") is incomplete and of unknown origin. The original typescript was transferred to the Archives Division from Dorothy Territo’s files in 1977.
Specific Item Type:Personal diary
Time Period:Pre-Presidential (Before Nov. 22, 1963)
Had a terrible night Wednesday Night. Fever. Night sweats. Headache. Young Ensign got aspirin at midnight. Dispatch saying we were deleting Bob Cat and -- Our 5:30 takeoff postponed until 8 then we left in rain. All wet in motor boat. Plane left water 9:03. Pollywog day. Crossed equator. Stood watch. Enjoyed Colonel Peck and Captain Callighan. Due to arrive at Canton at 2:30. Will spend night then to Suva then to Nouméa thence to New Zealand probably Sunday.
As soon as we arrived went to see Dr. Mobley from Little Rock, Ark. Nice visit. Sprayed throat, nose, gave me ice water and called Dr. Duval from Wichita Falls. Also met Dr. Crain from Air Corps. Interesting stories. Got pills tried to rest. Good dinner at 6:30. Enema at 8. Sleep at 9. Up at 5:30. 1100 soldiers on Island. No laundry -- inadequate water supply -- all above ground -- not a man on the island that wouldn’t leave in a moment. Army food lousy. Army management about as bad. Men bad show last night. Inadequate defense. No radio detector system. Spent most of time at Canton alone. Wrote Bird and left letter for Dr. Crain. Not a single plane (Fri. AM). Very little anti-aircraft defense en route. Plenty Medical supplies -- Hot as Hell. Everything nasty (room-chow) except hospital. Knives and forks for 10. No glasses or containers. Drink water out of bowl. No sickness. 1 back bruise – 2 piles – only 1 woman on island, wife 60 years old of Consular Officer. Few jeep cars. Only intercourse -- social -- 4 underground hospitals. All water in tanks above ground -- picture show -- poor mail service -- 3 times in 6 months – Rats galore (Egyptian rat). Improvised Rat traps. Garbage can broom and water. Request for Rat poison 60 days ago brought no results.
Blackout fair only -- not nearly as good as Palmyra. Pilots bitter. They say no planning and no action. Too much argument about who is going to pay for what.
3. Pan American-Gov’t.
1. We need a few top flight air pilots in executive positions in Washington and Honolulu.\
2. We need construction battalions in Palmyra and Canton now.
3. We need fighter planes: anti-aircraft guns and underground development of hangars, water, hospitals, etc.
4. Action: 24 hours per day -- now.
5. I'm ______ at Palmyra and Canton
Admiral McCain dozing
Captain reading Saturday Evening Post
Flag. Lt. – Look
Com. Off – going over materials
Arrived Suva: 1:45 Saturday, May 16. Lost one day en route. Very cool trip.
110,000 Fiji: 100,000 Indians: Whites 4,000.
Signal Corps 40, Ordnance 40, Pursuit Squadron 247; Aircraft Warning, 237. 638 Air Squadron. Nandy: Commanding Officer come out from Hon (?) where he has been for 3 years. 16 P39s now. In 10 days 50 pursuit planes. Squadron heavy bombers 8, squadron medium bombers 8. More shows – only one a week. Until last week no athletic equipment -- inadequate. Need Coco Cola and Beer. Can get syrup, but can’t bottle. Cigarettes rationed -- 2 packages a week.
11 cases of clap. syphilis very prevalent. R. E. Cobb. No hospital facilities now. Have requested authority for 100 bed. 638 boys have been here about 3 months – expect 800 more. No reading facilities. Strip planes of periodicals and newspapers. Need more games. Like Coco Cola Advertising. Need 100 sets. Only thing to do when work is over is talk to each other and drink ale. Have now: Boxing gloves, 4 footballs.
Lot of gambling. One mail in last 3 months. I have an officer in How. My family writes. Bottleneck in San Francisco Post office. Combat crews: About 12 men have horses. Horses cost $15.00 a piece and saddles $15.00 -- we ride for our recreation. Men should be shifted every 6 months -- island to island.
Lt. Rivers. Ft. Worth near Electra. Capt. Woodstock, Torrence Creek.
1. American Beer
2. Coco Cola
4. More, newer and better shows
5. Liberty (Suva)
6. No second class mail gets thro.
7. Wings – bars etc. insigna.
Only had 2 good mails through since January.
After visit with High Commissioner had lunch with Gen. Patch then on inspection of Island. 300 miles long; 40 miles wide where are stationed 25,000 men. Population of island 30,000 of which 18,000 are white or approximately white. Main industry is mining. Here we have a large nickel plant. Export to Japan before Pearl Harbor. 800 Japs sent to Austrailia. 300 in internment Camp. Most men here from New England with scattering from Wisconsin, Nebraska and Kansas. Men go crazy for Portable Radio and Phonograph. Private in charge of supplies. 24 hour a day job. Plenty of prophylactics being used. No shows. Have athletic equipment, coca cola and Beer. Men arrived March 12. Have had 4 mails since then. Get periodicals, men get packages from home. Natives very much like negroes. Work only enough to eat. Get 50¢ per day for Army work.
Climate good. Some nice horses. French mission requisitioned good horses and cars paying little. Whites largely French who were disgusted with France and left to settle here. Have Red Cross Centers which provide:
1. Reading material
2. Send cables
3. Talent show
A place a man can go and plank his feet down. No arrangements were made before the Army moved in.
En route to Auckland -- the first excitement. Tanker sighted at 9:18. We dropped down from 6,000 ft. to 2,000. All aboard got to windows. I was reading. Flag Lt. Brought me binoculars. Pilot challenged but received no answer. Ship started zigzagging. Admiral got binoculars and carefully watched for 10 minutes while we circled ship about 3,000 yds. away. 5 in. gun aft sighted. Ship failed to reply. Ship estimated traveling 16 knots and of big tanker class. Apparently was friendly tanker since Japs unlikely to have lone tanker in this territory. Admiral blamed careless and uninformed merchant skipper for failure to reply and we got the hell out of the way. All engines roaring as we returned to our Auckland course at 9:31 and got back altitude. Army Colonel resumed card game. Admiral back to reading – New Yorker, and Captain and Pilot planning details of report (Longitude and Latitude and speed, size, etc.) Report of sighting will not be made until arrival in Auckland. Captain disgusted with tanker skipper but rather confident ship friendly but says, "better not monkey around -- get the hell out of the way.”
2:47 came down from 9,000 ft. 2° above outside. Squalls appear bad. Had to go to 700 ft. to get under – sighted first land in 8 hours at 2:47 PM. Large cliff -- appear to be about one hours out of Auckland. Will go back to my book. Bill looks out window. Colonel plays bridge. Colonel Peck and Lon sleep. 3:55 PM Thursday May 21, ceiling very low – circled for 15 minutes. Landed Auckland 3:55.
BS(?) 7- J-10-3?
C 20 20
D 64 100
Carriers 5 (2 laid up – Yorktown & Saratoga) 10 at least 3 damaged.
Subs 52 56
Read Black Chamber-Yardley.
Read Secret and Urgent.
Trip from Auckland to Sidney -- beautiful takeoff flew above clouds at 6 and 7 thousand feet all day. I read The Understable Country (?) given me by Admiral Nimitz – talked about New Caledonia to Col. Stevenson for about 1 hour and pitched in reserve and 1940 nomination. Dinner lousy. Rode in advanced seat and slept for 30 minutes. Because of heavy head winds we will likely not reach Sidney until 5:30 or later. May try to arrange transportation to Melbourne Sunday with Col. Anderson and Peterson. Thought of Miss Jesus all day as I traveled this long 1400 miles. Hope I have some word from home while I am in Australia. We are now (5:05) flying very low. At 5:50 we are circling Sidney. Plane appears – sight 2 ships.
1. Rotation of Men.
2. Good Air main depots and Living accommodations -- increase of equipment now.
3. Free French Situation.
a. Take hold
b. Give support
4. Signals between planes and ships
5. Centers for meeting for recreation, diversion, etc.
6. Better equipment for all units before departure from states.
7. Complete and Satisfactory schedule for replacement and replenishment
a. National Office should keep constant check of theatre supply set-up.
1. Concentrate forces.
2. More ships, planes and men -- why not Whip.
3. Perth defense.
Com. Rairdon, Liaison Officer.
Home Marton Hall.
Ensign Brown, Communications c/o Chicago.
Seward, re Priority and Transportation.
1. What fighting for (ideology)
2. Air Force USAFIA, GHQ, Australian -- all fighting each other.
3. Air Headquarters 3000 miles from action front.
4. No top young men barking orders.
5. Indecision, delay, procrastination.
6. No plans
7. Kids are inanimate objects
Ticket Office 9 o’clock
Left Sidney 10:05 AM, Sunday, May 24, en route Melbourne. Due to arrive Melbourne about l PM. Met Army Officers at breakfast -- carried boys to our office. Some trouble on priority -- thanks to Mr. Walker. Country hilly few streams – rare houses -- occasional roads -- looks like good cattle and sheep country – like Johnson City and San Angelo country. Hills and draws. Ride in Danglos Lines similar to Braniff. Had tea and fair lunch. Finished book -- reread cable. Thought of Miss Jesus much. Square 50 yd. with fence house in middle as we approached Melbourne at 12:59. We circled field. Muddy cow pasture field with green grass and a dozen B17’s and 24’s.
see Ed Weisl
Brother Eddie Schreiber
c/o Schreiber Furniture Co.
Galveston, Texas, Tel: 6688.
One of the best: General Aiken, signal corps: Cooperation and Coordination Exchange Liaison officers. Nimitz says next time plane left carrier -- called here because carrier would not wire (Yorktown). Sig. Melbourne called Townsville, Bombers went out after dark and could not find enemy -- returned Southwest Pacific knew nothing of task force -- theatres must exchange information.
1. 5 radar
2. Need 25 Radar
3. Will have 15
Plenty of wire to go North. Get letters of policy out air mail to GHQ. Fox example -- has provision been made for Allied decorations.
Gen. Vasey – Deputy Chief of Staff, Australia.
Gen. Blamey – Commanding General our of town
1. Discussion possible attack.
2. Relative value of Armament.
Only 250 trained officers – question wisdom own tank production. Impressed by lack of appreciation of reality.
Mandated 400 planes
New Britain 120
China Proper +400
Operation 350) per
Training 250) month
Japs have 6 maintenance crews for each aircraft
Wednesday, June 3, Up at 5. Breakfast at 5:45. Departed for Sidney, population 1,160,000, at 7:15. Can’t keep warm. 21 passenger plane mostly military passengers. Arrived Sidney 10:30. Met by Army car. Went to Army Hdq. and waited, got cigarettes, called on Ensign Seward, USN. Commander Riardon out -- his ensign out -- then on trip to Centennial Park, Hyde Park, etc. Also saw where ship sunk by 3 submarines. People still excited. Sidney beautiful. Saw Botany Bay where Capt. Cook landed 1770. Saw Freddie Smith, Lt. Col, (Adm. King’s son-in-law). Not enough planes -- untrained personnel -- take group crews and ship crews away. Big mess. Saw Dick Legge. Negro problem, ‘Hell’. He has 2 plane squadrons ready to fight and ready to go to front -- quite impressed with both Legge and Smith. Smith wants me to call Admiral King.
Thursday, June 4: Brisbane, Pop. 360,000. Left Sidney by Australian Airline 10:45AM. Arrived Brisbane 1:30 met by Army cars. Saw 25 American planes on field. To hotel and then to officials call upon Col. Donaldson, Commanding Officer – Brisbane. Northernmost and largest embarkation point. Must get ready to get men (corps) out of port on 2 hours notice. Relations with Australian Army very friendly and very good. Personnel being cleaned out. All new staff Officers coming -- Col. Donaldson says of this old outfit 2,000 men, 60% of men and 50% of officers have had Dengue – will always have until mosquito menace(?) cleaned up. You feel no good for 3 weeks – can unload 13 ships at one time -- good docks, good warehouse -- can unload quickly -- haul planes 2 miles to be assembled. Plenty 3,000 bed hospitals. Negro problem -- no hard liquor as order Lieutenant. Negroes and constables knife threat.
Friday, June 5, 1942: Up at flight headquarters. Saw operations of board where plot is made of all air travel. Got fluid and lighters. Bought camera and took 8 pictures in front of city hall. Lunch and off to see Admiral Rockwall (formerly in Philippines) and now head of Submarine group of 11 based at Brisbane. Spent one hour with Rockwall -- discussed Sidney Subs -- anti aircraft defense. He is based on griffin sub tender. Subs can stay cut only 30 days and now not so long -- 26 or 27. Back to Hotel. Nap -- then saw Capt. Roberts of Air Corps who has been flying to Moresby.
1. Need Co-pilots – replacements – better bombs – heavier guns, better direction and command – 600 miles over water with 2 motors on same side Bl7. Sailor drunk. Lt’s have pretty girls Sat. night in S.A.
Saturday, June 6: Up at 4:30. Left Brisbane 6:20 AM en route Townsville. Arrived Rockhampton 8:35. Departed Rockhampton 8:50 AM June 6. At Rockhampton people wearing shorts. Soldiers guarding plane B17s in shorts. Stubby cut over country. Little vegetation. River circles thro -- arrived MacKay -- small shook (city population 50,000) says guard in shorts. 10:00 left MacKay. 10:15 won ½L from Steve pitching dollars. 1:30 near Townsville. See our planes shooting at target ships in water. 11:40 circling airport, Townsville. See many of our big planes -- airport only few yards from water -- long level runways -- hills around water -- new construction. Hot now. We are at warm north having come from cold South. Arrived Townsville Airport 1l:45 AM. Dummy planes all over field. Met by army cars.
Sunday, June 7: Waited all AM for plane. Left at 1PM. Saw ant hill strips, Charters Towers landed at 3PM. At Torrence Creek. Com. Off. Woodstock of Ft. Worth sent for Walter B. King -- he has 700 to treat, learned more medicine in last 2 months. Dengue, flies, etc. Aussies know nothing of sanitation. Takes 6 hours to get to hospital. Last mail I got was in March. Think I will go to Moresby. Glad to see plane -- first we have seen. No town, group of perhaps 300. Bushy country 150 miles northwest of Townsville. Made my own hospital. Runway made of steel mat -- cut like biscuits. Walter B, big, fat, blonde, good sun -- looked fine -- had just treated boy from Waco -- negro on elm st Arrive Charter Tower. Saw plane land on belly. Toured post -- excellent. Morale, cam¬ouflage, etc. Air repair depot 1,300 men.
Monday, June 8: Met Lt. Comdr. Mumma -- liaison officer Townsville. Asked about Bull Wright.
Tuesday, June 9: Got up at 2AM. Left for airport at 2AM after having tea and toast. Got in air at 3:15. Generals Marquart, Royce, Colonel Anderson, (Francis) Stevens. Arrived Moresby. 7 of 8 pursuit on 1st mission says Wagner. Almost froze for 3 hours. Stood up beat my legs, stomped my feet, put on windbreak sweater, fur coat, etc. -- to no avail. Hit 7 mi. -- immediately left on mission to attack Lae. .Andy with Prell. Marquart with Hatch, Steve with Lt. Bench and me with Greer. After we were off field with Prell and Greer leading, Greer’s generator went out: Crew begged him to go on. For next 30 minutes we flew on one generator. Due to drop bombs at 10:10 having supposedly sucked zeroes up to 17,000 and 12,000 by B17 and B25 respectively. Plan did not work. At 9:55 we turned. At 9:58 Zeroes intercepted – Andy leader got 3 and probably another. B25 got 2 more and fighters (p39) got 4. Total 9 zeroes. One B26 shot down. I lost my friend Steve– One fighter down. Another p39 lands with wind and only 2 gallons gas. Devine brings B26 down on belly wonderful – Boys unshaven, breath smells, they haven’t bathed but Crockett, Bowie, Bonham and Travis had nothing on them in guts. Buzz Wagner takes me to 3-mile field in jeep. He should design our new fighters. He knows what it takes. To bed at 8:30 after bath and shave and scotch. Couldn’t get my mind off Steve, Lt. Bench and other fine boys.
Wednesday, June 10: Frank Hewlett, Up at 5:30. Leaving Moresby 7:10 AM. General Royce puts me in pilot compartment. He takes controls. Pass over Horn and Thursday Island. 8:55AM flying at 5,000 ft. Heavy overcast -- we try out guns. Very comfortable flying...still trying guns. Land at Bachelor at 12:30. Bachelor is 40 miles from Darwin. Men live in tents, dirt, flies, mosquitoes. Excellent dispensary (?). Johnson of Washington takes us around. Has plane named peanuts “that’s what I call my wife and I always have her by my side.” Lunch with a million flies. Good bread and meat. Boys all youngsters. Pitching baseball -- laughing with each other. Several say, “wish you would take me back with you.” I’m terribly tired. Drink a gallon of water then to Australian Hdq for bath and clothes. Then to American HDQ for food, fine meal. Meet Jack Randolph (of Schertz) wants m to call Uncle Fielding Hammond. Stayed 17 hours behind trunk in P ship – escaped by boat – flew to Java before we knew it had been taken. Ran into thousands of Japs – met Herndon of La. And wife – only woman in Darwin. She is nurse from NY. Looked good to everybody but had taken beating. Men want P47 hurried. All want leave. Need transports at least 100 now.
Thursday, June 11: Up at 5:30 after hot night with mosquitoes. Left Darwin at 7:05. Beautiful takeoff. Lovely sunrise. Thought of Miss Jesus plenty. Now over desert. It’s 10:10 the time our bombs were to crop on Lae. We are going through middle of Australia en route to Charleyville – At 11:00 we discover that we are lost due to arrive Gondurry buy can’t find it. Then 4 hours of roaming -- from 2:30 to 3:30 very tense. 3 Generals in pilot’s cabin. Andy and I looking at each other. We circle pasture and take bearing we climb and circle. Now we are looking at parachutes -- now place to land -- select windmill and pasture. Kurtz _____. Then moves all to tail -- down we come bump bomb bum. We made it. All out doors. Flies by the million, beer, maps natives and then a telephone. 5 hours wait, wrecks pick us up. Terrible ride 48 long miles to Wenton -- North Gregory Hotel (Adams Hotel) Ham and Eggs & drink -- to bed at 12. Up at 6. What a day. General says he is very _______ navigator. Tough shaving -- no bath -- plenty mosquitoes. Off to Longreach -- Hope this better day.
Friday, June 12: Up at 6. Shaved, breakfast and off to plane which had gotten gas at 5. Off to Longreach at 8. Fine flying still desert. Talk to Commodore Blayden about Australia and Congress. Land at Longreach. Meet Clifton boy, Major Helton(?) Inspected barracks, mess, etc. – best I have seen. Milk and eggs to eat. Took pictures. Boys like Longreach. Morale better than before they left the States. Show a week. Poor mail service. Good food -- lots of guts -- give us more B17s and P47s. Glad Congressman went on mission. Give us the planes and we will be home Xmas. General Royce leaves us at 11. We are off to Melbourne and civilization. Due Melbourne at 5:30. Still El Paso desert country. Bright Sun – hot riding with Courtney in pilots seat. We have 1600 gallons of gas – yesterday taught us – had good tail wind arrived Melbourne 4:00. Early to bathe and bed – no cables – no letters.
Saturday, June 13: First restful day -- took some pictures. Stayed in room most of day working on notes and reading. Went to Tess’s party. Good food not very interesting people. Left at 10 after a couple of dames. Went to Mrs. McNeill -- very uneventful and boring evening. Home
Late -- slept late Sunday. Luxurious living -- coffee in room -- called Tess. No answer -- went by and saw Elaine for few minutes back to Book and bed. Had sent cables to Miss Jesus. Hope and pray for answer.
Sunday, June 14: Nothing exciting.
Monday, June 15: Talk of raid: Lunch with General Brett.
Met Dick Carmichael and agreed to call his wife in N.Y.
Nothing else of interest.
Tuesday, June 16: Plan to leave -- saw Tess -- had tea and drinks with Marquart and Van -- TO pictures to see Robert Montgomery and Red Skelton -- to bed.
Wednesday, Jure 17: Dinner for Joe, Tess, Elaine, Perren and Bob Sherrod. Enjoyed Sherrod. Had supper with Marquart, Van, North, Kurtz and Vance -- nice evening serving and waiting on people. Didn’t go to bed until 2:30 on account cribbage. Tomorrow to see Gen. MacArthur. Saw Sutherland. Did you see what you had hoped to see? Yes in most instances.
Bob Sherrod: “Too much jealousy among brass hats.”
MacArthur great speaker.
Thursday, June 18: Saw MacArthur at 11:45 AM. Very bad. Head down. Low voice. “Glad to see you two fellows here where three were last.” “It was a mistake of the head to go on combat mission but it did justice to your heart.” “It was just what I would have done. I’m giving you the Silver Star. Gave Stevens DSC because he was your leader and gave his life -- such is war.”
We should attack – we should attack if we win – we should attack if we suffer a tactical defeat. I’ve so recommended:
1. Moving headquarters.
2. Putting Brett under my roof.
3. No good except for administration and social.
4. Royce “Scatterbrain.” We need amphibious Dir. and Air coverage. New Zealand line(?) terrible.
5. Training poor soldiers cot ready for combat.
Friday, June 19: Fine men and fine officers, but organization and equipment -- Brett says material no good.
In Sidney with flu.
Saturday, June 20: In bed with flu.
Sunday, June 21: Mother’s birthday. Leave Sidney Rose Bay at 6:50. Up at 5. Chills all night. Tablets won’t put me to sleep. Chest and hand hurt. Want Coffee -- am constipated. At 7:05 AM we are 3000 ft. up en route to Nouméa, New Caledonia. It is supposed to be 8½ air hours which means we will be at Tangier at 4PM. I’m going to bunk and try to rest. Feel terrible. Sidney harbor from here very beautiful -- sun just coming up. Goodbye Australia. Poor Steve. Arrived Nouméa 4:30 went to ship. Had dinner with Capt. and Admiral McCain. Matt Gardiner. He says “Give me 300 planes and I’ll stop any more ______ in South Pacific.” He has nothing now. Saw Doctor. He gave me codeine pills. No sleep again. Up at 5 -- another chill. Boat at 6.
Monday, June 22: Left Nouméa 6:30. Arrived Suva 1:20 PM -- high fever. Went to New Zealand hospital. Saw Dr. Witsett. Got insulted. Went to Navy doctor then hotel. Brought back to N. Z. hospital at 10:00 PM in American ambulance with fever 103.6. Plenty of Sulphalhyzol -- vomiting. Next day better. Andy left.
Tuesday, June 23: In bed all day. Miserable – cough -- no sleep.
Noise – whistling.
Wednesday, June 23: Still in bed. Hope out Thursday.
Thursday, June 24: Up at 10 and out for 30 min. Sun. May get discharged from hospital tomorrow.
1. Do we want our politicians to _______us or do we want Hitler?
2. Can we closely coordinate dive bombers, tanks, ships, military strategy, domestic politics, Army and Navy, propaganda and will of people?
Friday, June 24: Went to town at noon. Had lunch at McDonald Hotel with Major Dr. Harris of Birmingham. At 3PM heard Pickering was in town.. Went back and got discharge from hospital. Saw Commander Holmes at supper. Asked to be remembered to Carl Vinson and Dick Russell.
1. No aviation gas.
2. Jap plane over Suva 80 miles out but Army would not go after them.
3. No harbor defense -- no nets etc. at least 3 boats tied up most of time yet Japs could make a kill.
4. Only 12 planes left at Nandi, and they are in bad shape.
5. No transportation.
a. New Zealand buys and charges to Lend-Lease.
6. Ensign washed ashore after 23 days in rubber boat.
To bed at ll:30 after talk with Pickering.
Saturday, June 25. Left hotel 5:50 up at 4:50. Take off delayed waiting for Japanese beetles. Cleared water at 6:50 for Palmyria. Two Navy men aboard. Lt. Coms. Submarine skipper.
1. Life belts
2. Concentrated vitamins (instead pork and beans)
Arrived Palmyria – got in shorts – sunburn. Time, papers, bath, good beer, rest, etc.
Excellent dinner – pitched dollars to bed. 1AM to sleep. Up at 5:30
Sunday, June 26: Due to get to Pearl today.