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    Tanambogo Island (Tanombago) Central Province Solomon Islands
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USN August 7, 1942
Location
Tanambogo Island is located in Gavutu Harbor in the Florida Island Group (Florida Islands). Also spelled Tanombago or Tanambolo. To the southeast is Gavutu Island. To the northeast is Palm Island (Gaomi) and beyond to the north is Florida Island (Nggela Sule, Big Gela). Beyond to the west is Tulagi Island. Prewar and during the Pacific War part of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate (BSIP). Prewar, a causeway at the southeast corner of Tanambogo Island connected to the northwest of Gavutu Island. Today located in Central Province in the Solomon Islands.

Wartime History
On May 3, 1942 occupied by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) 3rd Kure Special Naval Landing Force (3rd Kure SNLF). This island was also a part of the seaplane base that spanned Gavutu Island, also known as Tulagi Seaplane Base (Gavutu, Tanambogo). Most of the personnel based on Tanambogo were aircrew and maintenance personnel from the Yokohama Kokutai.

On August 7, 1942 attacking US Navy aircraft claimed seven large flying boats (H6K Mavis) "burned". US Navy ships and aircraft bombarded the island and landed at Gavutu. Japanese defenders on Tanambogo fired at the Marines, that were within range of machine guns.

After dark on August 7, 1942, one company of Marines from the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment that had landed on Florida Island landed, believing it was lightly defended. The five landing craft carrying the Marines were hit by heavy fire as they approached the shore, with many of the U.S. Navy boat crews being killed or wounded, as well as heavily damaging three of the boats, which departed and the Marines that landed crossed the causeway back to Gavutu, and some Japanese attacked during the night.

The next day, August 8 the 3rd Battalion 2nd Marines (3/2), still aboard ships off Guadalcanal, landed at Gavutu at 10:00am and helped secure Gavutu, then prepared to attack Tanambogo. US Navy bombardment USS San Juan and SBDs dive bombed. Twice, SBD's accidentally dropped bombs on Marines on Gavutu, killing four and further close air support was canceled.

The Marine landing began at 4:15, both by landing craft and across the causeway, including support from two M3 Stuart tanks. One tank was caught on a stump and attacked by a group of 50 Japanese, and 42 died setting the tank on fire, killing two of its crew and severely beat the other two crew members before most of them were killed by Marine rifle fire. By 9:00pm, the island was secured, but isolated Japanese continued to fight during the night. Finally, the island was secured by noon on August 9, 1942. In the battle for Gavutu and Tanambogo, 476 Japanese defenders and 70 Americans died. Of the 20 prisoners taken most were Korean laborers.

Japanese Wrecks Surveyed on Tanambogo
After the island was secured, American forces surveyed the following wrecks: A6M2-N Rufe (Type 2 seaplane fighters) captured: A6M2-N Rufe 821, 822, 826, 913, 914, 915 and 916.

Jim Long adds:
"I'm skeptical about the numbers in the list. I have those same numbers listed in JICPOA Bulletin No. 51-43, 16 November 1943, entitled "Notes on Production Rate of Japanese Float Fighter Rufe Type Zero Mark 1 and Type 2." All but one number are from component nameplates, thus we cannot be sure about how many Rufes were there. The only airplane manufacture number sure of is 821. It comes from a photo of the fuselage stencil. Four of the component nameplates were from Part No. 4341, which weighed 5 kg. That would indicate that at least four Rufes were at the Tanambogo anchorage if only one Part 4341 were on each plane. But we don't even know that for sure. So I say that the complement of Rufes at Tanambogo is unknown, but at least one was there and its manufacture number was 821.

American Base Area
During December 1943, a large tank farm area was established on the island by the US Navy.

Hill 121
Highest elevation on Tanambogo.

Sunken Mavis Wrecks
To the north of Tanambogo Island are several H6K Mavis wrecks sunk August 7, 1942 near their mooring buoys: H6K Mavis (M1), H6K Mavis (M3), H6K Mavis (M5), H6K Mavis (M6), H6K Mavis (M11). Also H6K Mavis (M12) sunk off Gavutu.

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Last Updated
April 27, 2021

 

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