An excerpt from my book Kurofune:
“The sun was getting higher and higher off the eastern horizon. The beautiful orange, yellow and reddish glow of the sunrise was tarnished by the thick, black, brown and grayish pall and smoke plumes covering Betio and the immediate vicinity due to the high explosive nature of the Naval Gunfire Support and the air strikes. The air was becoming heavier and heavier and thick with the smell of detonation, destruction, explosions and cordite. It was the smell of death. These thick, black plumes of smoke rose out from under the coconut palms and the fields of the island then up and over the lagoon like a dark impervious blanket of terror. Rows and rows upon rows of coconut palm trees were scarred, naked and pitted; their ragged palm fronds hanging down, vertically limp, as if the life had suddenly been snuffed out of them by some horrendous outer worldly force. No tree escaped the carnage of the shelling that swept across the entire length and breadth of the island. Collectively the palm trees just stood there, motionless, ragged or naked in the light tropical breeze, as if standing upright in a desolate, mysterious landscape, like sentinels to hell itself. The landscape was pockmarked with deep and shallow craters, like the surface of the moon. And like the surface of the moon the island was lifeless. On top of all of that a light grey mist hung in the air like dust particles suspended, coagulating into and onto everything within this maelstrom of terror. Nature’s colour palette of tropical hues and shades of blue, green and turquoise surrendered to this monochromatic nightmare. It was an eerie sight to behold.
The Naval Gunfire barrage continued raining death and destruction among the Japanese defenders. A 16 inch shell found its mark on one of the Vicker’s Guns ammunition dumps. The subsequent explosion of the ammo dump sent shells, debris and shockwaves from one end of Betio to the other and across the lagoon.
“Head’s down,” somebody screamed. Was Armageddon that far behind? Ted thought of this cataclysmic detonation? It was horrendous. His whole world shook.
The naval bombardment had gone on now for almost three hours. Sooner or later it would be time for the Marines to turn to and head directly for the beach. The Marines of wave one held back in the lagoon at the departure line in their Alligators, LCT (Tanks), LCMs (Mechanized) and their Higgin’s Boats, but it would soon be time for the landing. In the meantime they were getting anxious and sick of the tumultuous movement of the landing craft. Sea worthy they were not. Even Ted was anxious to go. Not really seasick, he was becoming nauseous watching his colleagues retch from the motion of the Higgins. The sea sickness and the dry heaving was horrific, as everything that had been in their stomachs from breakfast was now awash in the boat’s bilge. A sour, bitter and slightly acidic, pungent odor permeated the air among them. That combined with the nauseating diesel fumes and individual sweat was enough to turn anyone pale.
Ted was nervous, but not really scared, as he just wanted to go and get on with it. Lou and the Reverend remained silent, even as they looked at one another for mutual encouragement, as if to say everything is going to be okay. The Reverend clutched his bible for his own spiritual support and emotional fortitude. Lou was a non believer yet one could see the abject fear in his eyes. Ted kissed the crucifix of his Rosary one last time. He also stole one more peak at the picture of Ruth that he had in his shirt top pocket, protected as it was from the seawater by a plastic sheath.”
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Cheers and have a great weekend.
Second song of the day: