Military History Tours On Tour - Guadalcanal (Solomon Islands) 2014 - 8 August 2014
What a day it was today. Up early again, we assembled 0800 to leave 0815 so we could arrive at the nearby wharf 0830 for our boat trip.
We first headed for the site where 800 metres below lays the wreck of HMAS Canberra. We paused at the site, said the ode and were silent for a minute in memory of those sailors who 72 years ago gave their lives so we could grow-up free.
Then on to Tulagi, pausing off the beach where US Marines from 2/2 Marine and 1 Raider Bns landed on 7 August 1942.
Leaving our craft at a wharf on the northern side of the island, we took a walking tour through the cutting to Tulagi Village. Walking south east along the shore we found two tunnel systems where the Japanese had sheltered from US bombardments, saw where 400 Japanese Naval Special Landing troops made their final fateful stand and most of the 42 US Marines died taking the island. Heading back through the village we came across a concrete cricket pitch that had been used by the British in the 1930s. On then to Tulagi Market we were fascinated by the market rules.
A steep ascent from the market found us at the site of the British Resident Commissioner’s residence. This site affords an excellent view over Tulagi village to the South and Florida Islands to the North. A little exhausted from the climb, we were readily able to imagine what it would have been like to sit out on the veranda sipping a G&T.
A descent followed, then back through the cutting and on to our luncheon venue where refreshed with sandwiches and passionfruit flavoured Fanta or Coca-Cola we returned to our boat. Our first pause was off the islands of Gaomi, Tanambago and Gavutu that in 1942 were linked by causeways. They were the site of a Japanese seaplane base defended by 500+ Japanese Naval aviators and construction staff, most of whom were neither trained nor equipped to fight as infantry. The fighting to take the islands was fierce. 70 Marines from 1 Para Bn, and the crew of a Stuart Tank from 1 Tank Coy were killed. 480 Japanese defenders died and 20 or so construction workers were taken prisoner. The Tank was stormed by some 40 Japs who set it on fire then dragged out the crew and beat them to death. You will note that later at the Gifu, the tank that successfully secured the site was provided with close infantry protection.
Our next stop was Port Purvis where we were able to approach the beached US Landing Ship Tank 342. This craft having served as a post office during the latter stages of the war before being beached when no longer required.
Our touring complete for the day, we traversed Iron Bottom Sound for a relaxing drink prior to the buffet dinner at our hotel.
Another fairly early rise tomorrow, we have to be at the RAMSI and Canberra Memorials at 0830 for a service to be conducted by the Australian High Commission.