The Japanese were now employing barges extensively to move troops and supplies among the Solomon Islands. There were many advantages to using these vessels, as opposed to large surface ships. First of all, they were of shallow draft and could move along the shore of an island, where their presence was likely to be obscured by the land mass and thus shielded from the searching eyes of Black Cat radar. Further they could quickly disgorge their contents directly onto the beach without un- due delay. And finally, they permitted the enemy to move his assets in small "packages" so that the loss of one was not catastrophic to the total effort.

The Black Cats offset this tactic by finding and attacking many. At about 0200 on the morning of September 23, Lieutenant (j.g.) Anderson’s Cat picked up two barges making their way carefully along the long coast-line of Choiseul Island. He made twelve strafing runs scoring many hits. The Japanese attempted to escape by beaching the craft. A coastwatcher later reported that upon reaching shore, the survivors "ran screaming and screeching into the jungle." Later that month Lieutenant Erhard and his crew located ten of these barges also moving dawn the coast of Choiseul. It was a rerun of Anderson’s experience. After repeated strafing, the barges were beached and those occupants who were able fled into the bush.

The barges were not completely unprotected and often responded with a barrage of machine-gun fire. Lieutenant J. T. Casey’s plane was hit several times by irate Japanese gunners on the night of October 6 before it drove two of these vessels ashore, killing and wounding a number of their occupants. About two weeks later Lieutenant Anderson found a group of twenty-eight barges which he strafed repeatedly, doing a considerable amount of damage. Then he proceeded up the coast of Choiseul until he came upon a large cargo vessel which he bombed and strafed, leaving it sinking by the stern.

(The above section of text was taken from "Black Cat Raiders of WWII" by Richard C. Knott, 1982)(now out of print)

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