Guadalcanal Today...Part Two

There are still evidences of the war throughout the Solomon Islands. We live beside the Lunga River just to the west of Henderson Airfield on what used to be land owned by Levers -- a large British plantation and logging company that used to operate in the Solomons. The sight is called Betikama and is nowdays a High School operated by the SDA church. It is my understanding that this site was an ammunition dump during the war. This doesn't surprise me, as hand grenades, shells, bullets, bombs etc are constantly being found on the sight.

For instance, the Business Manager -- a fellow Australian -- recently found a sack full of grenades that one of the farm workers had placed in the fuel shed (of all places!). They also found an amount of shells and grenades that someone had stuffed into a drain pipe under the road -- for want of a better place to put them. Anyway, the Solomon Islands police have a special munitions disposal squad -- trained by the Australian Army -- who come in a large flat bed truck, in the back of which they place a layer of sand. They then place the munitions on the sand in the back of the truck and then take them to the point at the mouth of the Lunga River, where they detonate them every Wednesday morning at about 10am. My office is several miles away from the disposal sight, but when they detonate these munitions, the whole building shakes, and very nearly scares the life out of me!

Betikama High School also has several war relics on display -- including the wreckage of a Bell Aerocobra (P-39 I think) and a Japanese plane. They also have several small Japanese field guns on display. There is also a museum on the western side of Honiara that also has planes, tanks and other relics on display.

About 2 weeks ago, at team of forensic specialists from the four arms of the US armed forces were here to investigate a discovery of human remains found buried at the mouth of the Mataniko River. These remains were first thought to be of US servicemen -- however the experts from the US say that due to the type of bullets, helmets, coins, buttons etc that were also found with the bodies, that they are of Japanese soldiers. So they have handed the remains to the Japanese Embassy to care for them. Then last week some men were digging building foundations at Kakabona, west of Honiara, and found some more human remains. Once again these are thought to be Japanese, as apparently the Japanese had quite a large camp in this area during the Guadalcanal campaign.

The irony of the war in the Solomons is that today the Japanese government is the largest supplier of foreign aid to the Solomon Islands.


Tony Cooke

PO Box 930




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