January 1995 / February
Flahavin / Rod Bellars
When I first went here in 1995,
I only had a basic idea of the battle, but I have read a lot
more since then. A lot of the surrounding jungle
has been cut back since 1975 and some huts have gone up there
In 1995-96 we walked the ground
and found cartridge cases, belt clips, a single .45 calibre
bullet, a US 2 cent piece and a Japanese helmet with a bullet
hole near Marine Para positions on the left flank of the ridge. We were offered a US Army dogtag
marked to “Edwin W. Geiger”.
In 1999 I received a letter from Florida letting
me know he was still alive and that he remembered losing his dogtag. He
was a member of the 247th Field Artillery Battalion, Americal
Division. He was a 2nd Lieutenant.
forward slope is still covered in barbed wire and stakes , so you had to
watch your step. The kids had empty cartridge cases, cutlery , mess tins,
US 37mm cases and canister round anti-personnel steel balls . The villagers
said after periodic burning off items come to light. One
guy showed us the remains of a Springfield rifle barrel bent
like a bow by the force of an explosion. On
this first ridge is a Japanese memorial dedicated to peace and
the soldiers of both nations who fought here.
In 1995 a 40 minute walk into the
jungle south of the ridge brought us to the tail section of
a shot down Betty bomber . As we walked back to the foot of the ridge there was the tail
fin with paint and markings intact lying against a tree - red
primer paint with two horizontal white stripes and the number
“3”...obviously carried out and on its way to being stolen
by parties unknown . We alerted the museum and they were back
there two hours later - but too late.
had been filched in the meantime by “two white men in truck.”, which really
did not impress them , especially after I had shown them the video footage I took
of it shortly before . They said that is a problem - aircraft parts etc being
stolen and shipped out of the country to overseas collectors. In
1996 a friend asked to be taken to the
tail section we had told him about, but when they got to
the site the whole tail was now gone, so somebody has been busy
- he was not impressed after the long walk! It would
have taken some effort to get it all out of there. Interestingly he showed me
a photo he had taken in the nearby bushes where a chunk of cut up metal with
a white “3” was lying... a bit of the tail we saw or another part of the plane?
found a few other smaller aircraft bits in grass near the ridge and some
well marked parts of US mortar ammunition containers. In 1996 the tall grass
that was in front of the final Marine positions in 1995 had been burnt off,
so we were able to have a look there. The trench indentations were visible
and the barbed wire stakes and wire still there too - one near full roll
was lying where it had been dumped partially strung - almost a frozen moment
walked down the slope and about 15 feet in front of the position there was the
remains of a jerrican and nearby a yellow painted US pineapple grenade lying half
buried in the dirt - very nice but live . I had read that the infantry disliked
the bright yellow paint on the early issue grenades, but I was glad it made this
one more visible!
villager then walked over with a mint (live) Japanese grenade that he had found
only the day before in his garden in the side of the hill , about 10 feet from
the crest . From this point it is only a 15 minute walk to the airfield - they
sure got close . The Japanese soldier who threw it must have been excited ,as
he had not activated it - it probably cost him his life to get it up there too.
Both these were handed in for disposal
. (Whenever we walked a battle site and were offered any relics we made
sure to warn the locals of the dangers of unexploded ordnance - the
Solomons bomb disposal squad periodically collect ordnance and blow
it at Lunga Point) . On this final defensive knoll there is an American
memorial near the site of Col. Edson’s command post.
Return to Peter Flahavin Main