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Relics found on Guadalcanal

August 1942, The Solomon Islands.....
Allied forces were beginning to take the offensive in the Pacific War. The major Japanese stronghold at Rabaul, New Britain controlled supply routes between Australia and America and was a key position protecting Japan's southern front.
Located at the northwest end of the Solomon island chain, Rabaul was supported by a series of bases extending southeast to the island of Guadalcanal where the Japanese were constructing new a airbase at Lunga Point. In order to take Rabaul, these island bases would have to be eliminated one by one. The airfield on Guadalcanal, later named by the Americans as Henderson Field, became the focal point for a series of fierce battles lasting six months, but was only the beginning of a log series of bitterly contested  'island hopping' actions.

Here are a couple of interesting photos of ordnance recovered from Guadalcanal.
Notice the WWI vintage VB rifle grenades! Many people do not realize that at the beginning of WWII the United States was woefully behind in military capability. Largely due to isolationist positions on world politics, funding for the military after WWI was drastically reduced.
Keep in mind that the U.S. VB launcher (copied from the French design) was designed for the M1903 Springfield and M1917 Enfield bolt action rifles. The famous M1 Garand semi-automatic was newly developed and in extremely short supply, although was in use as evidenced by the ammo clips.
Also note the yellow paint still showing on some M9 and Mk.II grenades and the propellant increments still attached to an 81mm mortar round.

Thanks to Ewan Stevenson for the following photos and info, and Steve for passing the info along!
(Posted by permission)

Guadalcanal Relics

"...a couple fotos of some of my collection I had on canal. taken about 1989.....I got rather good at depowering all the munitions on canal. All the shells in the photo I have depowered.  I had one close call. With a rifle grenade I set fire to the main charge to burn it out (quite a good easy way to remove the main powder), but forgot it had a base fuze (with detonator) rather than a nose fuze. TNT and such powders burn slowly with an oily sooty smoke that has a distinctive smell. I pick up one end of the burning grenade and looked to see how it was progressing; place it back on the ground and it went "BOOM!". The BOOM was huge. I thought I was a goner, and my ear drums thought so too. Because of the way I happened to put the grenade on the ground,  the blast was directed towards the Servant Quarters. When I inspected the building wall, there was fragments stuck in it. ...."

"The human bones (Japs) I collected on Hill 66. The islanders dig up these bones all the time in their gardens and just throw them and scattered them away. Very sad. The locals have absolutely no appreciation of any of these relics. It is all just rubbish "trash" to them. They generally have very poor knowledge of the war and therefore have no respect or appreciation of it. It is not their fault, just that their education today is poor. It was a white man's war and something totally outside their realm. The trash & bones gets in the way of their gardens...and they discard it all into the nearest river, the tip or the local kids play with the relics and then they get broken or scattered. ..."

"It could be easily said that I was denuding the battlefield of the archaeological evidence by my collecting, but my collecting was probably less than 0.001% of what goes on in the whole of Honiara on a daily basis. Honiara is expanding at a huge rate and the building and native gardens have just eradicated so much. Particularly tragic is the eradication of fortified sites. Sites where US and Japanese faced off and you can see the barbed wire still strung up and how incredible the fighting pits and foxholes were dug in etc. With all the spent rounds and grenades and fragments and bones lying around some of these in 1999 when I saw them.  Amazing sites that I have just stood there and said "Wow! Look at this! Unbelievable!" and then the next year I have gone back and a new house or new village is sitting there, and the potential archaeological site is gone. Such sites are being bulldozed out everywhere on Guadalcanal (obviously much more so around Honiara) with not a single archaeological survey done first. ..."

"On Guadalcanal, both sides had good and poor weapons. In some areas, the japanese excelled such as the kneemorter whereas their heavy machine gun (Type 92 Juki kanju) was too heavy and light calibre. I have never seen any history book on Guadalcanal mention the "VB" grenades...just goes to show how important the archaeological evidence is in gaining a better understanding. Many of the VBs I had found "fired" but had not detonated. "

"There are no official (Gov't) WWII collections on Guadalcanal."

Ewan Stevenson
Guadalcanal, Honiara

Guadalcanal Relics