Guadalcanal Today...

Greetings Jim,

Thank you very much for your reply. I imagine Guadalcanal was quite different back in 1942 than it is now. Henderson is now the international airport for the Solomon Islands with a 2,200m strip capable of handling large jets. Honiara has a population of over 40,000 people, with many more living in surrounding villages.

I think I know the general area where your father's battery was located. What used to be Fighter Strip One is now largely covered in a coconut plantation. Also the SIBC (Solomon Island Broadcasting Authority) has its transmitter towers situated in this area also. It is however easy to tell that it used to be an aircraft landing strip, as the area is still very flat, and amongst the coconuts one can still find large concrete pads, quonset (I can't spell!) huts and even ammunition. One of the concrete pads has even been utilised as a basketball court!

The area of Bloody Ridge has a village on it, however there is a monument at the highest point of the ridge which briefly outlines the battle and the efforts of Mike Edson (the ridge is also called Edsons Ridge). There are also several other memorials in the Honiara area. There is a large Japanese memorial on Mount Austin, looking over Honiara and Iron Bottom Sound. There is an American memorial on Skyline Ridge, overlooking the Mataniko River. There are also several memorials situated outside the terminal at Henderson as well as several plaques inside the terminal building. Also, the original control tower used during the war at Henderson still stands, and has been restored so that people may climb to the top of it.

A memorial is situated at this sight, mainly concerned with the fighting at Bloody Ridge. The original concrete bunker still lies here also, although it is filled with foul smelling water and rubbish. Just near the control tower, off into the long grass there are some low hills, in which there are tunnels dug they say by the Japanese. One is still able to explore these tunnels.

If you wish to let me know your postal address, I will be more than happy to send you some photographs of the areas I have mentioned above.

The Solomon Island Tourist Authority apparently run tours of battlefield sites etc, and they may have some brouchures etc re this type of info. I shall check with them and see what they have. However if you wish to get in contact with them their address is: PO Box 321, HONIARA.

Unfortunately the Solomon Islands weren't ready, in general, for independence when it arrived 18 years ago, and as such services, especially those supplied by the government, have deteriorated considerably when compared with the level of service that we from developed countries have come to expect. So in essence what I am trying to say is that you may not have much success in writing to the SITA but then I could be wrong! Anyway, I shall see what I can find out for you!

In general terms, the war doesn't mean a whole lot to Solomon Island people. The general attitude is that it was the white man's and yellow man's problem. The biggest concern when you talk to people about the war, especially those less educated, is that it never comes back. Author Paul Theroux (Paddling the Happy Isles of Oceania) visited Savo during the time of the Gulf War, and there was geniune concern expressed by the people there to him, that the Gulf War may come to Savo, just as the 'big pella fight' came back in 1942.

Anyway, this is just a short note for now. I shall sit down sometime soon and write a more detailed description on how the battle sights etc look today, and am am more than happy to send you some photographs etc.

Hope this helps!



Tony Cooke

PO Box 930




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