Solomon Islands: Memories of a dark time

By Emma Kemp

When it comes to World War II history, the Solomon Islands offer one of the most hands-on experiences in the world. Emma Kemp recommends a few of the best sites.
Explore World War II military history in the Solomon Islands.  Photo / Solomon Island Visitors Bureau
Explore World War II military history in the Solomon Islands. Photo / Solomon Island Visitors Bureau

US WAR MEMORIAL

Outside Honiara, atop a hill with a spectacular view, the US memorial features large plaques that give a good overview of key events and battles from the Guadalcanal campaign.

GAVUTU, CENTRAL PROVINCE

This tiny island played a key role in the Battle of Tulagi and Gavutu-Tanambogo. During the battle from August 7-9, 1942, the Allies captured these three islands, where the Japanese had built a naval and seaplane base. It was developed into an American base. On Gavutu are the remains of buildings, storage tanks and underground bomb shelters.

VILU WAR MUSEUM, GUADALCANAL

About 20km west of Honiara, this open-air museum houses an impressive collection of wrecks. Walled by coconut palms are the near-complete skeletons of Japanese and US vehicles.

RED BEACH, GUADALCANAL

Just east of Honiara is the unspoiled if slightly overgrown dark, sandy beach that hosted the first Allied steps on Guadalcanal. Code-named Red Beach by the Americans, this spot was the Marines' landing site on August 7, 1942. No Japanese opposition was waiting on the beach, and therefore there were no casualties.

ICHIKI MONUMENT, GUADALCANAL

This monument commemorates the Japanese men who fought and fell under Colonel Kiyonao Ichiki. Machine guns mowed down 800 members of the 900-strong Ichiki Regiment's First Element here in the Battle of Tenaru on August 21, 1942.

- AAP

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