On 19th May 1945 Norman embarked on H.M.S. Arbiter, an escort carrier, to start the 2000 mile journey to Ponam.
On June 1st they arrived at the island of Manus, the main base, before going on to Ponam. The next day Norman wrote:
Yesterday we weighed anchor in the morning and a few hours sailing brought us to Ponam, a small island just off the main one, two miles long by six hundred yards wide. Highest point above sea level 6 ft. About 12.00 we came ashore in the cutter and surveyed our new home.
To look at it is a typical desert island complete with lagoon, coral and wind swept palm trees. Vegetation found growing naturally appears to be coconut palms, wild orange trees, bread fruit with a few tropical flowers and grasses. The seasons appear to be two – wet and dry. (Now we are at the end of the wet). Rainstorms are fairly common. The main island of Manus lies about a mile across the straits and is fairly large. I judged it at some ten miles long; the ground rises to a range of hills between 2,000ft and 3,000 ft and the whole is covered with vegetation. Sea life so far seen consists of small fish, coral snakes, small octopus and hermit crabs. The latter are small crabs which find an empty shell and carry it around with them, discarding them at successive intervals.
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