battleground in the Pacific War
McLachlan's Battlefield Tours
sites to visit
4th Division storage tunnel, Guadalcanal.
2. Bloody Ridge, Guadalcanal.
3. Beach Red, Guadalcanal.
4. Gavutu Island, Central Province.
5. Beach Blue, Tulagi, Central Province.
6. Enogi Inlet, Munda
7. Fighter 1 and Fighter 2, Guadalcanal.
8. Cape Esperance, Guadalcanal.
9. Maruyama Trail, Kakabona.
10. Ichiki monument, Guadalcanal.
WAS hot, humid and the smell of rotting vegetation was
an obvious presence as we trekked along the jungle path.
branches and tree roots forced us to be careful where
we put our feet and to all sides the thick greenery
made seeing beyond their verdant edges near impossible.
a tough place to fight a war, I thought, with intense
admiration for the men in World War II who fought over
the Solomon Islands between 1942 and 1945.
It was regarded as a military hellhole where the Allies
and Japanese Imperial forces clashed in a brutal struggle
held the Solomons controlled the supply lines to the
South Pacific and a major gateway to Australia, a few
hours flying time to the south-west of the main island
fighting – on the ground, at sea and in the air – was
vicious and bloody.
The Allies lost as estimated 10,600 men killed, had
800 aircraft destroyed and more than 40 warships sunk.
Japanese losses were even more horrendous with more
than 50 ships sunk, 1500 planes shot down and 80,000
in the Solomon Islands today you see an extraordinary
number of war memorials and remnants.
the Honiara waterfront there is a statue to the courageous
Allied Coastwatchers who, together with local islanders,
monitored Japanese shipping movements.
the police headquarters is one honouring Sir
Jacob Vouza - a retired police officer whose
bravery saved an American force from a surprise Japanese
night attack and a skyline memorial to the US forces
who fought there.
is an extraordinary story of courage as he was tortured
then left tied up to a tree after being bayoneted many
times and despite nearly being dead from blood loss
managed to escape and get through enemy lines to warn
the capital’s airport is built on Henderson Field, the
focus of much fighting as both sides tried to control
it as the key to air supremacy in the area.
50 kilometres to the west of Honiara is the Vilu
War Museum, an amazing resting place for
a large number of wrecked aircraft and military weapons.
and operated by Anderson Diua, the war museum contains
the remains of a Grumman Wildcat, a Japanese “Betty”
bomber, a Lockheed P-38 Lightning, a Corsair as well
as Japanese artillery pieces and other weapons.
the east of Honiara lies Hell’s
Point – a major ammunition dump during WWII
– and a place that is off limits to visitors because
of the dangers of live ordnance that still lies there.
It is a shame because not far from the road are several
destroyed Japanese tanks.
down the main road from Hell’s Point we went across
country to get to the site of the Battle of Tenaru,
or Alligator Creek, where a Japanese night attack was
destroyed by US machinegun fire after Vouza’s warning.
far from the rivermouth is a memorial to the Japanese
dead called the Ichiki Memorial after the colonel of
few kilometres further east we pulled up to Beach Red
where the Allies first landed on Guadalcanal. There’s
not much to see there now, but a short drive away is
Beach WWII Museum that has a huge number
of US Amtracks within its grounds.
Amtracks were amphibious landing craft that could make
their way inland to better protect seaborne troops.
owner of the museum is Sammy Basoe, who is the grandson
of Sir Jacob Vouza.
and around New Georgia you can stumble across interesting
war-related sights just by asking locals or a guide.
the island’s capital of Munda
there are two fascinating places.
first is the Peter
Joseph WWII Museum, which is a trove of militaria
picked up on the many local battlefields, and then a
number of US landing craft now being covered by jungle
at the back of a house.
The Peter Joseph War Museum has an amazing number of
artifacts within its walls. Helmets, machineguns, bullet
casings, rifle remains, rusting waterbottles … all manner
of items to be found on battlefields.
owner is Barney Paulsen who has spent years creating
his museum, which is named after an American serviceman
Peter Joseph Palatini whose dogtags he uncovered.
short drive away behind a house is an astonishing resting
ground for US military equipment.
After they no longer needed landing craft and other
vehicles the Americans cut them in half and bulldozed
them off the beach to where they now lit being swallowed
by the encroaching jungle.
It is very eerie to see the mighty wreckage of war peeking
out through vines and branches – not to mention the
fact landing craft are so far from the water!
the way back to Gizo by longboat we stopped at two really
the island of Tahitu
we had an extraordinary find. We landed at a small inlet
and walked up a barely recognisable track to find our
guide waiting to take us to an abandoned WWII tank.
Clearing the track of overhanging vines with a machete,
Hudson led us to what turned out to be a US Stuart tank.
Stuarts were one of the best light tanks of the war,
but after almost 70 years out in the tropical climate
this one needs a bit of a spruce up.
our journey over the lagoon we stopped midway to Gizo
for a truly memorable spot of snorkeling.
seven metres below us was the near-intact remains of
an American Hellcat fighter, shot down in a dogfight
by its own side.
sky was dark and it was late afternoon but despite that
we hopped over the side with mask and fins and got to
see the wreck close up.
was a magnificent adventure and, for military history
buffs, a real buzz.
was another place we passed by – Kennedy
Island, the piece of land that saved Lt John
F Kennedy, later to be US president, from a watery death
after his PT-109 was sliced in two by the Japanese destroyer
Amagiri on August 2, 1943.
For people interested in the Pacific War – from all
sides - the Solomon Islands is a must-visit destination
for it really brings to life the vital struggle that
helped save Australia and New Zealand from Japanese
invasion during World War II.
Solomon Island Visitors Bureau website by clicking