Peter Flahavin  Guadalcanal Revisited

January 1995 / February 1996  Peter Flahavin / Rod Bellars

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Poha River Gun Tractors
On the West bank of the Poha there is a pig farm down the road as you turn off to the left after crossing the bridge. Their security officer took us through high grass to near the river where six more Japanese gun tractors were lying (together with swarms of mosquitos) . They must have been abandoned here for lack of fuel. It looked like they had been disabled by the Japanese with grenades.

The taxi driver we had in 1996 said that when he first came to live in Honiara in 1968 you could still find helmets, complete rifles etc in the bushes on the edges of town. As Honiara has grown new roads and housing construction have destroyed many battle area positions and relics .

Everyone knows where stuff is of course, but not so much why it is there, and is very interested when you tell then what happened near their hut etc and are always ready to help you find relics.

I think some of them got a good laugh out of humouring the crazy , sweaty white men looking for rusty metal, but they were all very friendly.

We brought our own reference material - the Tourist Bureau only had two very small scale coastal maps printed for the 1992 fifty year anniversary and that is about it . I gave them a pile of reference material, which they were very pleased to get.

I took along a lot of 1942/43 comparison photos etc and gave most of them away to interested Islanders , kids on Bloody Ridge and a teacher who teaches the kids WWII history .

In 1996 I was talking to a staff member at the waterside Kitano Mendana Hotel near Point Cruz. As we watched a dozen laughing young Japanese having a drink near the sea. I remarked that I wondered if any of them realised that their countrymen had been bayonet charged by the 5th Marines on the beach behind them - probably none.

He said " that it why some old Japanese go down to the beach sometimes and look like they are praying..". They said at Gifu that some older Japanese still cry on the spot , but younger ones almost never come there - they have probably never heard of it . The feel of the history that was made on Guadalcanal is still very strong.

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