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    Kolombangara Island Western Province Solomon Islands
Click For Enlargement
Solomon Airlines c1980
Location
Lat 7°59'S Long 157°04'E  Kolombangara Island is an extinct circular volcanic cone in the central Solomon Islands. The southeast coast includes Vila (Vila Point) and Disappointment Cove. Borders Blackett Strait, ArundeI Island, Wana Wana Island and New Georgia Island to the south and Kula Gulf to the east and Vella Gulf to the northwest and west. Beyond to the west is Ghizo Island. To the northwest is Vella Lavella. Prewar and during the Pacific War part of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate (BSIP). Today part of Western Province in the Solomon Islands.

Wartime History
During 1943 the Japanese "South-East Detachment" was established with their headquarters on Kolombangara, commanded by Major General Noboru Sasaki who arrived May 31, 1943. Units based on Kolombangara included the 13th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Battalion of 229th Infantry and Yokosuka 7th Special Naval Landing Force (Yokosuka 7th SNLF) commanded by Koshin Takeda.

During 1943, Australian coastwatcher, Arthur Reginald "Reg" Evans maintained an observation post atop the peak of the island and reported information on enemy movements.

Following the American landings on New Georgia during July 1943, the Japanese strengthened their defenses on Kolombangara in anticipation of an American landing on the island. The island was targeted by American aerial attacks and bombardment from ships for several months prior to the American landing on July 5, 1943 on northern New Georgia and later on August 27, 1943 on nearby Arundel Island.

On August 5, 1943 Japanese Army General Sasaki decided that he could no longer defend New Georgia and ordered the surviving Japanese personnel at Bairoko including the 13th Infantry and Kure 6th Special Naval Landing Force (Kure 6th SNLF) to withdraw to Kolombangara.

During October 1943, the Japanese Navy Japanese Navy begin the evacuation of the garrison on Kolombangara using destroyers, assault boats and barges as part of Operation "SE-Go" (Operation SE). The last Japanese were evacuated from the island by October 20, 1943.

On September 25, 1943 U.S. Army soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division "Tropic Lighting" with elements of the 27th Infantry made a landing on Kolombangara and established perimeter defense around Vila Airfield. On October 11, 1943 the American troops were relieved by the 1st Battalion, Fiji Infantry. During early 1944, an engineering detachment established vegetable gardens at Vila Airfield for the remainder of the Solomons campaign.

Vila
Located in the southeastern corner of Kolombangara Island. Vila Point is located on the southern coast.

Disappointment Cove (Vila Harbor, Hamberi Cove)
Located on the southeast corner of Kolombanga Island

Vanga Vanga (Vavanga)
Located on the coast of Kolombangara Island.

Pontoon Wreckage
Underwater at 15.7m, this pod still has some air in it. It is torpedo shaped, with only a hook at the front end for securing and a rudder fin at the back. Possibly, this is a pontoon from a Japanese seaplane.

A6M Zero
Intact at 50m

Japanese Tunnels
The Japanese dug a number of tunnels into the hills around Vilu. According to locals, one cave was a hospital area, another has a mountain gun emplaced outside the entrance.

70mm Battalion Gun Type 92 (1932)
Emplaced outside a Japanese tunnel entrance

Ropa Point
Located at the north of the island. On September 30, 1943 overnight, several Japanese barges were sunk at this location by PT-126 and the next morning damaged by friendly fire.

F4U-1 Corsair
Piloted by Alexander crashed September 30, 1943

Mbambare Harbor (Bambari Harbor, Jack Harbor)
Located on the southeastern of Kolombangara Island

Buki Harbor
Located on Kolombangara

Webster Cove
Located on Kolombangara

References
Pub. 126 Sailing Direction (Enroute) Pacific Islands pages 229 (Kolombangara), 316 (index Kolombangara)

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Last Updated
August 26, 2022

 

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