Iron gate open and close
Battle of Guadalcanal; WWII
NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
27 May 2002
- near Honiara; Guadalcanal American Memorial and The Gifu
- -9.433333 159.95
Two-Track Mono; Electrovoice RE50 Dynamic Omni Microphone
Log of DAT #: 2 (pt109)
Engineer: Neal Conan
Date: May 27 2002
JI = John Innes
NC = Neal Conan
:05 Mic test
This is the ferniculur
Colorful bird songs
Good morning. you going to take the ride down? I didn't realize we had another guest
What are you up to?
well I work for a radio station in the states, so I was trying to get the sound of it but I didn't' want to get in your way. There's plenty of time so just go ahead..
can I give you a hand with any of that?
birds chirping, several different birds
low rumbling noise
strange mechanical noise, low continuous, birds
mechanical noise "powers down"
birds, loud and clear¿ some squawk, some chirp
mechanical "airy" sound, like an air compressor
getting out of a vehicle, clanging/banging¿
LOUD rumbling, stops at 6:32, rusty car door swinging. Sounds like a drier with shoes in it.
Loud pounding is regular
joined by a rattling
sounds of voices in a foreign language in background
whistling, sound of a stool/chair being dragged across the ground
Rumbling, pouding starts again, with a small rattling.
footsteps approach, on a deck or wood
get further away
metal clanging, like playground equipment.
zipping/unzipping of bags
it's an impressive memorial, this one.
this one was built for the 50th anniversary, on 1992, 7th august '92 was the official opening. And as you can see it's got remarkable views.. Solomon islands, iron bottom sound, across to Tulagi, slightly hazy today but on a clear day very spectacular. All the shipping in the harbor here, on up to the hills and when they were excavating the site, quite after I suppose you could say, they found the remains of an American, and there's a plaque here for the unknown warrior. There's a further story to this. This was chosen for the sit of the memorial because it had outstanding views. It was the main reason, it was the only reason for it being chosen. But coincidentally, on the 19th of ..18th of august I'm sorry, it was chosen by another group of Americans because it had remarkable views. 5th batt., 1st marines were the first company to cross the Botanico river. They were going to camp on the other side, as a matter of fact they were bivouacking the other side of the river, and their executive officer, George Meade, who's the heir to the Meade fortune in America, the meade family, quite wealthy. He noticed this hill, and he crossed the river, forded the river, inspected the hill, and said 'now that's where we're going to stay the night,' so they came up , and the old company, 5 battalion, 5th marines stayed the night on this hill. The next morning the came under small arms fire from the Japanese from this hill over here where the red roof is, and sgt john Harold brannock was killed, and they moved on to complete their operation which was to move to the mouth of the river and in fact they wiped out a Japanese force there, they killed 65 of them, and indeed that's where they found the remains of the gechi patrol, and they were able to identify some of the members of the gechi.. now interesting when I was doing some investigation of the gehchi patrol, I had a sketch of their crossing of the botanico, and going onto a hill, and I said 'that's the hill where the memorial is,' and so the unknown warrior has to be john Harold brannock. Another bit of luck came my way, one of my tours here, I was telling people about the story of the unknown warrior and of him being found, he came to me later and said that this house-girls' brother was one of the guys excavating the site, and he found the remains for this America, but before he reported it to anybody, he took 5 coins, a compass, and a ring, from the body and then when sol hai came and did their investigations, he just watched them, didn't' say anything. That man thinks that ring is worth a million dollars, and he's going to hand it down to his son. It cost me a carton of beer and 80 bucks to just have a look at the ring. Well it brought it in, wrapped in cotton, looking at me suspiciously, and anyway a small class ring from his shag school, from 1936, it's got his high school name in the middle, ams, or ahs, I couldn't make it out, but scribed in the side of the ring was A H Brannock. So he is no longer the unknown warrior. The records indicate that, and the ring from the finger.. I asked him how close to the remains he found the ring and he said, on the finger¿ so he's John Howard Bannock, so every august 7th we say a few little things about jhb, no longer the unknown. And what we'd like to do is put a plaque here for jhb, just to complete that particular story. The coincidence too that this place was chosen just for the same reason that the place was chosen on the 18 of august 1942. We might walk over this way¿
we will have to get a bit further forward to get round to what we're going to see. As you can see there's a spectacular view, we're at the eastern end of the memorial looking over the botanico river. The botanico river was effectively the dividing line between the forces. Many battles were fought over the botanico, 1,2,3,4,5.. if you look around the hills were exactly the same as they were during the war. There were no trees covering them, I can get the wartime maps and they're exactly the same. Very good for when you're doing any research or ___ about the ridges. Where it has changes is where we have all the houses and the palm trees down here - they look very nice, but in 1942 there were only 8 houses, huts a the mouth of the botanico the settlement we now see only occurred because of the Americans taking Guadalcanal and developing the huge base when the fighting had finished. You mentioned earlier you talked about this valley - the first book that john heresy every wrote was that small wonderful book called into the valley where he accompanies a heavy weapons company, the marines, that are ambushed and that's the evilly that he's talking about. And if you read the book, they criss-cross the little stream before they go to the main river, and that's the little stream down there. So if you get the book, you can relate to it because you've actually seen the valley that he wrote about. When he was here, he broke a rib, and he was in hospital for two weeks, so I'm glad he broke his rib. The roads that we do have in Honiara were built by the Americans in their time here, this particular road here was the marine trail. It was built for the attack of these series of hills to our right here. This is the 50's series, we are on hill 73. the American's numbered their hills, the Japanese gave them animal names. This is hill 53, opposite is 67, which is a very important hill number. The perimeter curled around that hill, so that was the depth of the American line is what point that you're looking at now.
The shoulder, as you say. Yes, so facing the sea. In fact the key terrain feature was pointed out by twining, in his book no bended knee, he was the operations officer - the botanico river.. whoever controlled that could get tanks and artillery across. No other spot you could do that apart from a direct landing. From the mouth to the botanicao to here was the shoulder facing west. So hill 67, then the valley, hill 65, then hill 49¿ the sequencing of the numbers still baffles me a bit. And the hills we see in the distance there, the cleared hills, the last ones there, are 43 and 44.. and that last one there looks like a seahorse, so the Americans called them seahorse. As you swing around slightly to the right, which is the other side of the botanico, is the 50's series of hills, and if you have a vivid imagination from the air it looks like a galloping horse. Of course galloping horse was spoken about in the thin red line, the book by james jones, when his unit leaves Hawaii, and came here, they in fact were fighting in that area there, in galloping horse. Looks quite gentle now, when we get closer you'll see how steep and impossible those hills can be. As we get back tot eh valley and look up, that mess you see in the background there is mt. Austin, and that hill to the right, the little pimple of a hill you can just see, there's a little white marker on it, the last of the cleared or grassy area, is hill 27. up at the top where the trees are, the Japanese had a stronghold there called the gifu, most of the people , the defenders were from an area of japan called the givu, and so the nickname was given to it. when the Americans took hill 27 they effectively had the gifu surrounded, and that's where we're going later.
birds lightly whistling..
poor sound quality¿ in a car?
the population here has been a result of an American base in Guadalcanal, after the war¿ none of this would have been here?
the Briitsh in 1947 opted to shift from tanaki to Honiara, then because ______ it attracted people from the other provinces, majorly malaita. Basically they stayed where they had villages, and just became the living place for all the provinces. There became a friction between malatians and Guadalcanal people, everybody has a turn at everybody else. Even from renolds and malainard, people from the west, people from Isabel. They all have their own ¿. Where we're stopping here, on the 25th of October there was a machine gun platoon under the command of mitch page, and mitch page was under attack by Japanese from this side, from inland, and all through the night, one by one, all of mitch page's men were wounded, and come morning he was the only one that was not wounded, and he was reinforced by two or three extra men, but he was so angry at the situation, he was so revved up, that he picked up his machine gun, an d30 calibur machine gun, wraps some cloth around his arm, cradled it around his arm, and ran down here towards the Japanese in full view of everybody and succeeded in that action and he was awarded the medal of honor in that action, and he will be back, on the 7th of august in 2002. A nice little story I have, I went to San Diego for the 1st marine division reunion in 2002. We went to camp Pendleton, which is huge, and the marines put on a battle for us, so we all sat on this hill, all the 1st marine division and friends, and the veterans, and we watched gun ships and helicopters and tanks do battle and at the end of it wall we were bussed back to the convention center. I went on board with my two marines I was with, bob hutch and wilbur bughly, and there was one spare seat in front of us and me and wilbour got into the seat behind and he got into the one in front. And as he's being driven away, and he stat talking to this man and asks 'were you here in Guadalcanal," and he says "yes, I was," and I looked at the tag and it said Mitch Page. So I had my photo taken with mitch page, so it would be tremendous to have him back. I can't even pick up a 30 calibur machine gun,a nd he was operating it. absolutely amazing. I physically can't pick one up.
car rattling, bouncing on the road, engine¿ seats squeaking.
29:11 - 29:25
really bumpy road¿ seats bouncing, loudly
29:40 - 29:45
turn signal?? Clicking?
opening and closing of doors, cars passing by
voices in the background, doors opening and closing, cars passing
car moving again, rattling of windows, low rumble
doors closing/opening, footsteps, helicopter/plane??, cars passing by
plane noise stops, birds chirping, cars passing by
voice in background,
car honking as it flies by, other cars pass by with different tones
doors open/close. Slapping of people getting ready to go somewhere, equipment, etc.
I want to get us going through this puddle if you don't mind.
splashing, squealing¿ rumbling of the vehicle, then revving up.. the sound of the tires negotiating with larger stones, the engine struggles
vehicle going a higher speed, jumping/waving with the bumps in the ground, speeding up on a smooth part of the road, etc¿
hits a bump¿ voices in the car speak lowly
It signifies an army operation¿ turn right here it will take us into the gifu area proper, we will go on from there, we'll continue on this trail. If this was a marine operation that we were going to, this trail was used aby a famous group of Americans, in December 1942¿ those marines were the second raider battalion. There were of course two raider battalions. The first were under command of col. Edson, the second under command of col. Carlson. Col. Carlson was given responsibility of doing a 30 day march behind enemy lines, it lasted from the 4 of November to the 4 of December, and in that chase, they killed 452 Japanese and only lost 14 of their own men. Carlson was a personal favorite of president Roosevelt. See, when Roosevelt wanted to form the raiders, he wanted to form a unit similar to the british commandos. The british establishment didn't really want to, but he got his way, in fact, they were going to be called the commandos, but the establishment said it sounds too british, and they said to call them the raiders instead. Many of the raiders went to Scotland and trained under lord Lovett, and in fact had to take part in __ raid¿ but that was the third time that the Americans could have gone that way before going back to America. The first was given to col edson of bloody ridge fame, and the other was given to col Carlson. Now Carlson had fought in china before the war, before America entered the war, observing Chinese tactics against the japanese, and came back with quite revolutionary left-wing ideas he had picked up from communists he was fighting with, brought back the idea of the open door policy, if anybody down to a private wanted to see the colonel, he had an open door. He'd give them the big pictures, brought back quite revolutionary ideas contrary to the dogma of the time, and he also brought with him a catch-cry, who he gave just to his second raider battalion, it was a Chinese term for working together, which is of course Gung Ho, gung for work, Ho for harmony. It has a slightly different meaning today, it's usually someone with a redneck, head down going trough a brick wall, but it was "working together, working in harmony," and that's how we'll win.
car ambi continues for 5 seconds or so