Jim wallace

Jim Wallace's service record has not, at time of going to press, been located, but the evidence of his diary is that he was a key man in a Fire Direction Centre, using mathematical techniques to direct artillery fire at enemy targets.

Jim's diary deals with the immediate aftermath of the capture of Tulagi where he was involved in the "mopping-up" operations against surviving defenders hiding in caves. There was constant tension every night from Japanese raids, with the outcome very much in doubt. Jim reports on the shortage of food and shelter, the miseries and exhaustion of mud, dysentery and malaria. He was an eyewitness to the decisive naval battle in November that consolidated the US grip on Guadalcanal.

Not surprisingly, he repeatedly expresses hatred for the enemy and is callous in describing incidents in the fighting. New Zealanders old enough to remember World War II will recall that most people shared his racist hatred for Japan even more strongly than for Germany. Our nightmares were haunted by imaginings of New Zealand towns occupied by strange and ruthless troops. Our schoolbook covers were decorated with drawings and words not much different from Jim's words: "To Hell with the Japs!" This was the madness of war. Today, both Americans and New Zealanders think of Japan as the source of reliable cars and electronic goods and of friendly tourists.

Whatever the discomforts for Allied servicemen, the Guadalcanal campaign drained so many Japanese men, ships and equipment that their plans to take Port Moresby had to be abandoned. It was the beginning of their retreat from the southwest Pacific. Nevertheless they kept a toehold on the northern Solomons where Australian and New Zealanders (the NZ 3rd Division) fought to dislodge them.

Jim refers several times to the Solomon Islanders who assisted the Allies so vitally, bringing intelligence reports and assisting downed airmen to return to their units, as Jim relates. They were motivated by hatred of the invader that outweighed any resentment of their colonial overlords, by personal loyalties, and by a sense of adventure that appealed to a warrior people.

When the diary closes Jim Wallace's unit is on the brink of being relieved by units of the US Army. He became one of thousands of young Americans who were repartiated, not to California as he had hoped, but to Camp Mackay. Here they found hospitality, food, rest and recuperation that led many to say that they had come from Hell to Heaven.

OFFICERS POSE WITH NATIVES - Brig. Ge. William H. Rupertus (left) and Colonel Robert C. Kilmartin of the U.S. Marine Corps pose with friendly natives at Tulagi, Solomon Islands, after Leathernecks captured the important islands from the Japanese. There are a lot of police boys who helped them. And that's Florida Island in the background. Source: Thayer Soule Collection (COLL/2266) at the Archives Branch, Marine Corps History Division