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Chris Merillat
U. S. Marine Corps Combat Correspondent
Interview by Peter Flahavin

Click For EnlargementGuadalcanal Journal One more entry from my journal in which Martin Clemens is mentioned.  This was written September 13 1942 , during the Battle of Bloody (or Edson's) Ridge.  The battle was going on 2-300 yards from the Command Post and a few Japanese were infiltrating the spur of the ridge on which the CP had been set up:

".. I watched the time closely, praying for dawn., when I knew the mess would be cleared up.   I lay there for an hour at least, then as it began to grow light I realized I was in full view of snipers on the opposite ridge.  Others about me had already begun to find other cover and though it was now so light that I knew I could be clearly seen & might draw fire from Marines as well as Japs I dashed up the slope into the D-2 tent & hit the deck.  Two others closely followed & just as we got inside a bullet pinged against a steel plate propped near the entrance - in a direct line with me, it seemed.

I ducked around behind the D-2 tent, saw Col. Buckley  [the D-2, chief Intelligence officer] who also seemed to be looking for cover, asked him where everyone was going  (no one was in sight), and he said I could hop in one of the D-2 shelters - which I did with alacrity, to find that I shared it with Capt. Clemens (who didn't recognize me in the dark and was inclined to dispute my entry), a wounded Raider, two British missionaries huddled in the far corner, & 2 Marines.  This was about 0500 and I stayed until the sky was bright."

Recently, for the first time in many years, I have been looking at the journals I kept during the campaign there. The entry for October 19 1942, during a lull after the most stressful few days of the whole show, includes the following.  Sadly ironical now

Monday, October 19, 1942
Last night I lay on a poncho outside the tent, looking up at a brilliant half moon, chatting with Cromie and Keyes and our 2 District officers - Martin  Clemens & Major Mathers.  Listening to their descriptions of Guadalcanal in peacetime, of its marvelous fertility, its pleasant places, I could scarcely remember there is a war on, that the Japs are making a major drive to annihilate us.  There had been an incredibly beautiful sunset - soft rosy glow over jagged blue mountains

1944 Book, "The Island"
Despite my careful avoidance of anything barred for security reasons -- not that I knew much of anything  at the time -- the Navy banned publication of the book for many  months, on so-called security grounds, until Gen. Vandegrift became USMC Commandant early in 1944 and got it released.  There could be no mention at that time, of course, of  coastwatcher work, and I had carefully avoided it in the book.  I suspect the main reason for holding the book up was public relations.

Mantanikau Sandbar
No, I didn't inspect the knocked out tanks at the Mantanikau sandbar.  I only wandered among the corpses at Alligator Creek and picked up, from an officer's bag, a bakelite - this was before plastics now familiar - toothbrush case that I use to this day when traveling.

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