Solomon Islands; Life and politics of Gizo
WWII; Guadalcanal; Battle of Tenaru
WWII; Guadalcanal; Battle of Edson's Ridge; Bloody Ridge
NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
25 May 2002
- -8.11 156.84
- :11 - 18:26
- Battle of Tenaru
- -9.416667 160.05
- 18:37 - 1:03:19
- Battle of Edson's (Bloody) Ridge
- -9.444167 160.047222
- 1:03:20 - 1:30:39
- near Honiara; Japanese War Memorial
- -9.456 159.98
- 1:30:42 - 1:43:09
Two-Track Mono; Electrovoice RE50 Dynamic Omni Microphone
Show: Guadalcanal (PT-109)
Log of DAT #: 1
Engineer: Neal Conan
Date: May 25, 2002
DK = Danny Kennedy
JI = John Innes
NC = Neal Conan
Hello, testing, 1,2,3,4,5¿. Testing testing testing testing¿ etc
Danny Kennedy, right? And you call yourself?
Well I guess you call me the 'geezer of Gizo.'
and run the dive shop here, and associated other enterprises. First if you would help me on pronunciations. I know them now, but in two weeks I won't.
The capital of the country
the large volcanic island across Blackett strait
Choiseul is correct, just the way you've said it. Then there's Isabel, and then ronunga, and then Ken Island, otherwise known as cosola, and then olisana and naru - these are the islands they've been focusing on for the project.
the island near Guadalcanal whose immigrants have caused a problem on that island.
well, it's malaita, and the cap of malaita is algi
Gizo is the second largest in the Solomon's?
it used to be known as the second largest but unfortunately enora, a deep water port quite close by here has become the second largest in terms of rural development. Now gizo has been knocked down to the list to third, which makes it nicer because we keep working our way further down the later.
I have heard both bougainville and bougainville
Bougainville is the way that most people pronounce it in the area.
and so these wonderful flowering vines would be bougainvilia
yeah, that's correct, as we're sitting there looking we have quite a few different types of flowers here in front of us. Actually there are two types, that's a dendrovian, and these little small ones are small terrestrial orchids. Unfortunately they're not flower at the moment. The bougainvilia as you pointed out, and I think there's a frangipani tree just over there.
some of the fruits and vegetables that are on sale in the markets..
quite all of your typical tropical fruits - we have your bananas what we call here the pomelo. We have grapefruit, oranges, mandarins, pineapple, mangoes, and I think that's just about it.
guava, papaya, or as we call it here .. paupau, gosh.
The kinds of fish that would be on sale in the market..
Well I reckon on an average day you would see about at least 50 or 60 different varieties of different fish at the market that you get from your palaigics, what you call your dog-toothed tuna, Spanish mackeral, mahi mahi (dorado as they call it), yellow finned tuna, the skipjack that the local s like tot eat, then you get your whole range of frockhaud and squirrel fish. Unfortunately people here will eat just about anything and those bockfish as well right on the fire. Just toss it over and turn it, then open it up and eat it like a patte.
There's plenty of sweetlip at the market, that's another one, jobfish, it would take me hours to list them all.
I just want to be able to say at the market, 'on sale, here are..' Well, moving on to more serious subject, in terms that an outsider would understand, the genesis of the troubles that have plagued the solomens for the past few years?
um, well it's really a long-term standing issue unfortunately for the country and no previous government has made great steps to solve the problem. It came to a head on June 5, 2000, and the country is struggling very much tot try and recover form it all. Unfortunately, there are some people in some higher ranking offices that as far as I'm concerned aren't making rational, self-seeking decisions and I think that the country needs a lot of help in the development of tourism to kick-start, because it doesn't take much to get the tourism industry to go¿ and that's always one of the things that they've always lacked in funding.
But what was the cause of the problem, what got people upset in the first place??
What happened was, because malaita was so populated, you had a migration of people onto Guadalcanal where there is quite a bit of land. One house turned into a colony of houses, and then someone moved down the road and there was a another village, and basically what ha happened was that there started to be a lot of villages around Guadalcanal, and they were settlers there, squatters actually, squatting on the land and they just got to the point in time when the people had had enough and wanted their land back.
I've read reports that people have preferred to hire the Malatians because they were harder workers.
Yeah, they certainly have stretched their wings a bit further. If you need a good job done in terms of physical labor, you can hire some malatin guys and you'll get the job done, they'll work harder than anybody - they work like bulls here.
Just different cultures, different islands
Yeah, exactly right. Unfortunately one of the big things is the compensation dilemma here - where if you offend somebody, they should rightfully pay compensation. So now, unfortunately, that is completely out of context and in many ways is extortion.
so, blackmail, in other words
Exactly right. If I didn't like somebody.. if we had a little exchange of words in the bar, and I swore at you in the bar last night, you and your family could demand compensation from me and if I didn't pay it they could take out their retribution in their style.
What is the malaitian eagle force?
no, it's malaita, the malaita eagle force. It was a group that actually was a part¿ I should talk really quietly because security is right above us¿. The police were a part of the malatia eagle force, so basically it was a police coup backed by some guys from malaita, so they overthrew the olahfallah gov't, and then there was a stalemate of about 9 months, and then there was an election and all the old politicians that had all the money from the corruption in the previous government got back in because they basically bought their ways back into the election.
And in the process about 200 people lost their lives..
That is correct, and unfortunately untold numbers of business have closed their doors, because they can't operate any more and financial times any more, and you're only getting the fittest that are actually surviving
So you've got a gov't that's broke, an airline that is barely operational and had to sell off one of it's planes, a government which you and I, have to say other people, that they lack confidence in. What is the immediate future here?
Well I think some small steps need to be made. They're talking about bringing in in-line police officers from New Zealand to try and help the commanders, build a bit of morale I guess you could say. And again I think that the law and order issue has to be dealt with properly before we get any foreign investors. I would like to think that people like the Kennedy family, no namesake for me, who have invested in the hotel and think that the timing is right. And we just hope that there are other people along the way who feel the same way that the country is on a recovery period and we need to kind of move forward and keep it going.
you live here, you're a Solomon islander now, you ran for political office in the last elections, your wife and kids live here as well. Your life is here¿
yeah, there's no way that I'd go anywhere else, being born and raised in Florida. I mean, the environment here, I live here and I say this, and most people that the place where they live is the most beautiful part of this world. But I really have the most beautiful part of the world as far as I'm concerned.
what are the advantages of this area, particularly talking about eh western provinces.
other areas here?
you get 30 seconds to make a commercially for the western provinces of the Solomon islands
okay, game fishing, great diving, secluded beaches, great people, great food, terrible socializing with the local dive shop operator, but other than that that' what I would say, it's really an out of the way place but it's really untouched and it's really really beautiful.
one other question and that has to do with the gilbert islanders. When were they transferred here by the British?
the gilbartese were actually resettled here in the early 60's, they were from the gilbert or elise islands, they said it was because of overpopulation and drought but as usually they just wanted to move people around and colonize things and get what they wanted, and I think that's a part of it. so the glib. Have settled here, two of the largest pops are actually here in the west, one on south choecle, on a place named wagine, and titani here in gizo is the second largest. They basically have stayed pretty much in the west, there are quite a few in honiaria, but most of them have settled here in the western province.
but settled in no problems?
none at all, because that was during the colonial days and the government basically just put them where they wanted them. And in fact, like olisana island is owned by gilbartese people, where Kennedy was rescued from and naru, where he walked, is owned by gilbartese people, so they really gave them all the really prime real estate.
given the events of the 2nd world war, and the debt that the allies owe to the s. islanders to the victory here, a part that is often overlooked, do you feel that something is owed?
to the local people? Yeah of course¿ the scouts here were the biggest turning point tin the entire war. They assisted.. kennedy, evans, and all those martin clements, who orchestrated the rescues and in the end, the intelligence for the whole network. It's really nice to see a big group like this come in and spend some money on the community and let them see how important an event like this is to the country on the road to recovery.
there are reports of an agreement with Taiwan for garbage dumping, what's that about?
I wish that I knew, I'm trying to keep my head in the sand on that one. It sounds like they're calling it homus, a lead waste that they're planning on shipping, and there' supposed to be getting 30m$ per shipment, so if they're offering that much for each shipment you can imagine how dangerous it must be.
there are any number of example of 3rd world countries who traded their economy for hard currency, and this country is really in need of money.
well yeah that's the scary part about it. I know just about as much ¿ my thing's against it . most of the pubic outcry in the papers the only people that really want it are the few people who have to try and force the agriculture and quarantine to actually sign the permit because they're the one s that legally have to do it, but it's all the upper level of the government and some nasty people on the other end.
who are the interests that are controlling? You look at the industry in these islands and in terms of resources it would have to be mining, timber, and tourism.
well the mining company has shut down and has not reopened, but he logging industry is getting to the really destructive stage, because again they need the hard currency real quickly, they're allowing more logging licenses to come in, and that's detrimental to the tourism industry, silt killing the reefs and polluted rivers and things like that. Hopefully they can turn it around and see how important tourism is for the place.
at the moment, I've heard people, including shane kennedy who owns this hotel say, 'this is the south pacific we read about as kids, this is what james michener wrote about. This is our idea of what the south pacific is and hard to find in other parts of the south pacific any more.' Would you agree with that?
oh def. It's very very hard to get to and I'm sure that' why the tourism numbers are down. If you look at the quality of what you have here, it's second to none, really, and in some ways I guess that's good really, because being American, Americans can be a little bit demanding sometimes and people here are sometimes so shy and have no resistance or whatever, they don't show any thing like that. The people that come here are well-versed travelers and are pretty easy-going.
you also get the canoes that are ornamental elsewhere in the pacific, they're work-a-day boats here
yeah, it's like the family vehicle -engine on the back and kids and the family, quite a number of kids paddle across from nusbaruku to get to school in the morning so it's like a bicycle as such in the states
18:29 Track two Begins
marshy footsteps.. voices in the background
FX - vehicle door closes
¿he gives you tsetse, so watch out for him¿ no wait wrong country
sound of a vehicle driving up
low, dull voices
FX - vehicle drives off
mumbling¿ can't really understand what's being said¿¿¿ - 21:11
see the local people are following the trend of Americans during the war. This used to be the dump of the Americans. As you can see the locals are still using it. We're headed to the mouth of Alligator creek, what was known as the Tenaru river, the 21st of August 1942 there was a battle here called the Battle of Tenaru. In fact, they had the rivers incorrectly mapped. It's not the Tenaru; in fact it was the ilu. So the battle of Tenaru occurred at the ilu, not the Tenaru. It was the first attempt by the Japanese to take back the airfield. Here's a propeller¿.
footsteps through grass, twigs popping¿ footsteps slosh and then reach dry ground again, again, again¿
footsteps start going through higher grasses
the grass grows amazing fast here. 6 weeks ago this was quite flat. The jungle grows things quickly and as you see that' 4, 5 foot high that grass. There's no poisonous snakes here, not to us anyway, it would just give you a nasty sting. One of the ¿ things about having a hobby like this in Guadalcanal. If I was to do this in Australia, where I came from, I think Australia has 23 of the 25 most dangerous snakes in the world. So I can go about foxholes and not worry about snakes. Thing to worry about here, is I always do it when I ¿ around this place does have crocodiles.
Even alligator creek is misnamed
yes, it's not an alligator, it's a crocodile - much bigger than alligators and quite vicious creatures. In fact after that battle that night of the 21st, on the night of the 21st -22nd , the Americans were talking about the crocodiles that were feasting on the Japanese bodies on the stretch here.
We're at the seam of the battle of Tenaru, they had the rivers mapped incorrectly on their maps, this is actually the Ilu River, and the Tenaru is one river back. This Americans in their maps had this one mapped as the Tenaru. They had it originally mapped correctly but they thought they were wrong and changed ilu to Tenaru, so this became known as the battle of Tenaru. The Americans originally landed - you can see this sweep of land here, just about half-way along that bay, is
Red beach. They then made their way along the beach, took them from 9 In the morning on the 7th until 4 in the afternoon on the next day to reach the airfield, and they took the airfield. They were anticipating being attacked by the Japanese at the flanks. They were anticipating up to 7000 Japanese defending the airfield and in fact there were only 257 armed Japanese including 2500 construction workers, so they were quite lucky.. So the marines were wondering 'where are the Japanese,' and they didn't' take the airfield until 4 in the afternoon on the 8th of august. A couple of mistakes were made by the defender, or the people that were constructing the airfield.. the commander, having seen the Americans and the ships there, so what is he going to do? he set up on the site of modern day Honiara, and he left everything - left all the field, his radio, trucks, all the quip that was needed to finish the airfield. Most importantly, they also left the food, the rice. The cashier left his safe open so the Americans wouldn't damage his safe, hoping it was just a safe so they could come back and finish the job. So a mistake there, a bloody piece of logic. If it is a raid, the Americans are going to destroy everything they laid their hands on. If it isn't, you better, because it's going to be used against you. The first marines division survived on that rice. They couldn't' have made it without that captures Japanese rice. But let's get back to where we are now. The Americans landed as I said on the 7th of august, made their way down, took eh airfield on the 8th and then set their perimeter. Where we are looking at now is the eastern perimeter of the marines. They set up facing the sea, good defensive position, and two shoulders going at about 200 yards and that was their defensive posture. Here they had their first marine regiment looking after this section here. The 1st battalion was in reserve, the 3rd battalion was facing the sea, and the 2nd battalion was facing the river here. The Japanese respond to their American field, which they called lunga field - so it did have a name before it was called Henderson. The Japs responded by sending down to get rid of these 2 and 3 thousand Americans, was the anticipated number of Americans, that was their intelligence. They didn't realize it was about 12 and a half thousand Americans, with a regiment of artillery and support in charge of the airfield. They landed at a place called tavu point on the 18th of august. They landed with 900 men, under the command of col. Ichiki, left 100 behind, set up a headquarters at tagu point about 20 miles east, and he's made his way down this position and he gets here very late on the night of the 20th of august. On the way he has bumped into Jacob voussa, now Jacob Voussa is the local war hero, the superstar for the second world war for this area. He worked with the coastwatechers, and before the war was a policeman working for the British. No he had been in the perimeter when the Americans had landed, and they gave him some presents, and he was taking these presents, including an American flag, back to his home. Which is about 10 miles to the east, and he walks slap-bang into the ichiki party, making their way this way. One of the people with the japs was ishimoto, he could speak English, and he had been here before the war. He came back as an intelligence officer, but before the war he had come out and down intelligence work. He recognized Voussa as he worked for the British, and said 'you used to work for the British,' so they searched him, found the American flag, he said he told them that he found it in the water, and they said they wouldn't buy that. The story is that they tortured him, he said nothing, they tied them to the tree, he bit his way through his bonds and made his way back to the Americans to warn them of this impending attack. Not quite true. He in fact was tortured by the japs, but in fact on the day he was capture the first American planes on the 20th of august flew in, a squad of wildcats and sbd's, silent but deadly dive bombers, they flew overhead when voussa was being interviewed by the Japanese, and they saw the stars and they panicked, and they were stabbing with him with the bayonets, saying "tell us, tell us." So he says, 'all right, I'll take you to where the Americans are,' so he led them to this spot. So he wasn't tied by a tree, that was put out by a coast watchers who assumed had happened but he has since he has given his story on what happened. But he led them knowing there were under 800 of them to some brothers of his that were a bit tougher than these boys. The Japanese have been brought here by Voussa, so the speculation is ¿ that's how close we are to the airfield!
FX - a plane flying very closely overhead¿
I organized that just for effect! But the Japanese, when you're reading what had happened, and speaking to some of the participants of that battle, there's a private John Joseph, he was at the far end of that 22 yard line ,and he noticed a Japanese swimming in the water - no shooting, nothing had happened, and as a Jap tired to get out of the water, he hit him with his rifle, no noise, let him slide away. He also noticed cigars being lit up on the other side of the river. Now, if the Japanese had known how close they were to the Americans there is no way they would be lighting up cigarettes¿ this is just a break. Well they reorganized what they were going to do next¿ in fact a company of men came walking across this sandspit to the barbed wire that the Americans had set up here, so that's when the shooting started. They really just walked into it. There was no recon and 'this is where the Americans are and this is what we're going to do.' If they had done any recon. At all, you move down about 400 yards and walked into the airfield because there was nobody defending it down that way. So shooting has now started, and that's when foussa broke away from the Japanese, and ducked for covered, ducked away, around the jap flank, through to the American lines, and at 2:30 in the morning he almost got himself shot by an American private Wilbur Bughly, who'll be here for the 60th on the 7th of august, he has noticed at half-past-two in the morning a figure walking towards, he should have been shooting, but instead he bothered to challenge him 'who goes there,' no answer, figure keeps coming towards him and he then yells out 'stop where you are or you're a dead son of a bitch,' and voussa called out 'me no Japanese.' So he pulled voussa in, and in fact he was badly wounded, and he was able to give the Americans about how many japs there were, how many armaments that they had, what sort of threat, or non-threat that it was, and that information was then used by the Americans. so it was a very heroic thing that he did and very cleverly he brought them to tone of the strongest points in the Americans lines leaving them very little room to maneuver. So armed with that information, the Americans then released the 1st battalion from reserved, end they cut around from behind the Japanese and through that night the Japanese were completely hemmed in and come the next morning there was only 14 prisoners taken, and those were not wounded, and so it was a total annihilation of Japanese forces. During that battle there was an icon standout even occurred here.. if you just walk over here I'll show you this tree¿
Ambi. Footsteps on what sounds like dry grass
Watch out for the crocodiles, we came across one the other day that seemed like it was about 100foot, though it was probably only about 20. Scared the living daylights out of us. And it was huge, so I'm a bit more cautious about wandering around the waterways here. Ok. The biggest tree you can see here, slightly to the other side, there was a machine gun position held by lee diamond, Johnny rivers, and al Schmidt. At the beginning of that battle, john joseph saw the cigarettes being lit up, then a machine gun burst go, then Wilbur bughly heard that go, and the whole 250 rounds were fired. And Wilbur said 'gee, we were taught not to do that, and what it was it was Johnny rivers, who had opened up because he was firing traces, he was immediately killed, his back was blown out, and his hands froze on the trigger which then fired the 250 rounds. His gun was then taken over by diamond and Schmidt. Schmidt during the fight was blinded by a Grenada and his story was made into a move the pride of the marines starring john Garfield. He kept manning his gun despite being blind, so between the two of them one was wounded in the hands, the other wounded in the eyes, were still able to man the gun and both were awarded the navy cross for that action. But that's where Johnny Rivers was killed and where al Schmidt kept firing his gun despite being blinded. I always wondered about this - his city donated him a car, I wondered how he would drive it. so the Japanese had been running across here in about 20 minutes he lost 3 companies of men. One company walked into the barbed wire, another company charged across here, and another across the water, so in 20 minutes, he's lost 3 companies. He's also lost the ability to maneuvers, because he can't back out of it. Another bit of mythology about that battle too. After the battle, many books will say that col. Ichiki say that he committed harikiri, burned the colors. The marines wouldn't have given him the time. I think it is just a noble sendoff that the Japanese historians gave him. High probably is that he was killed by a mortar round early in the fight, and there was a report that his body was put in a hole and covered up as to not spread bad morale amongst the troops. So come morning, jap are still holed out there, and the amer. Decide to send across a squadron of tanks, the tanks went across to the coconut grove, in order to prevent the japs from swimming up the sea. The tank commander assessed the situation and decided to send the tanks in there, and stirred up among the japs something awful. The general Vandergrift said the tank treads resembled all the meat on the; it was pretty gruesome what the Americans were doing with the tracks of the tanks, so between the aircraft that landed the previous day that were strafing them, and the tanks and the marines on either side of them, they just fought to annihilation. 14 prisoners were taken among 800 men. They were buried into two trenches, and in 1984 I believe, the bodies were disinterred and ceremonially burned and the ashes taken back to Japan. Col. Ichiki, you may have wondered why he did it.. well he was pretty headstrong. And all you could say as that maybe he was being spooked by the aircraft coming into land that afternoon, and he had his echelon the next afternoon, and he would have been keen to remove the threat to the shipping of his troops. So he had a timetable that he wanted to keep to, and the pressing even t of 'gee, the Americans have some planes there, I must do something about it.' so he has really blundered into the situation but he was very headstrong. In china 1937, he was in charge of the Japanese side of a bridge, they were at peace, however temp. that may have been w/the Chinese. One of his men went to relive himself, and he thought that the Chinese had captured him, so he attacked the Chinese across the bridge, and that so called 'Marco polo' bridge incident started the war between china and Japan in 1937. so he was a very headstrong you might say, but this is where he has met his demise. There is a reasonable chance that he is in fact still buried in these trees over here, and we are going to do a search, we're going to take some metal detectors to see if we can't find him. The speculation is that he wasn't some of those that was collected, he was one of those that had been buried early in the battle and in that case they would have left him where he was. So that'll be an interesting search
has this river changed location at all?
no, no, the route of the river is exactly the same as it was then. The only change is the foliage, this was s coconut grove on both sides. Well the coconuts are gone, and have been replaced by the scrubby nature that you see now.
well they had a fine field of fire, they had the airfield and the sandspit. The japs had no where to hide. There were just banzai charges into the fields and the guns. The Americans here had a 37mm canons, they were firing canister, they had artillery behind them in support. It really was a surprising lack of recon. Done by ichiki, he must have had no regard for the American ability to fight. If he had sussed out the situation he would have gone inland 500 yards and literally walked up the airfield, and done a lot of damage if he had just got to those planes and lost most of his men he had destroyed those planes, it's another couple of weeks before the amer. Could have gotten more planes in here. That's just another thing that went wrong for the Japanese. They were good fighters, but they just blundered into an ambush of their own making.
Ambi. Waves on the shore..
footsteps accompanied by louder waves, sound of sand being dragged back into the water. (wave sounds here make it sound like "water" not white noise)
waves getting quieter/softer¿
sound of water hitting something else. Something wooden? A dock/peer?
iron bottom sound, washing ashore, the mouth of the Ilu River.
sound reduces to near nothing
footsteps through grass and leaves, scratchy sounds.
footsteps start up again.
good sounds of the sea?
as good as they get!
well I've got to tell you my Wilbur bughly story. Wilbur bughly was the marine who didn't shoot voussa when he came through the lines. But he was telling me that when.. That morning after the battle amongst all the stench and death and Japanese body everywhere he picked up a pretty little shell from the beach there. He took it home to America and set hit on his mantelpiece and every time he had a visitor and they discussed it all, or whenever it was discussed,, he said "One day I will go back to Guadalcanal an I will replaced that seashell on alligator creek, at the battle of Tenaru, I will replace that seashell." Last year he brought it back, and he came down here and he went to flick it into the sea, and I said "hang on, wilby, did you find it into the sea, or did you find it in the sand?" and he said "well, in the sand" and "well, put it back in the sand," so he put it on the ground and we took a picture of him doing that. So I said "do you feel good, did you accomplish your mission?" and he said "yes," and I said "good," so then I picked up the shell and I've got it now, even the deputy prime minister said he was glad I did that. It was just too good a story to throw away. I have it in my silver box of treasures.
the importance of this battles was it was the first time these recruits and volunteers from pearl harbor, these young kids 18, 19, had been in action and were going against these supermen who had swept all before them and the morale boost to the marines was enormous, you know they were saying, 'what kind of goddam soldiers were these?' that was dumb what they did¿ so the morale boost was most important, apart form the fat that it was important to win the battle which goes without marines. The myth of the Japanese soldier was immediately broken at this battle.
he wasn't ten feet tall any longer.
no, that's right. He was no superman. He had no disdain, no disregard for the japanese any more. Not by the marine anyway, not after Tenaru.
that wasn't exactly right either
(laughter) that's right
there's a spiral shell, like that?
yeah, but it had spikes on it, it was spiral like that. I've gone looking for it just to see if I could get another one like it.
to get another one?
well you find bullets here. I did find a knee mortar, and it had a round up the spout. I speculate that the guys tried ot fire it, so it didn't' go off, and he goes 'oh, damn' with the sand kinda jamming it up. So I very carefully put it in the back of my car - and you noticed how good d the roads here are, so every time I went over a pothole I was waiting for it to go 'bang'
for two days this was the hq of the 1st marine division. Any roads here at that time were really a government trail, a and most roads followed the coastline, so that when they came to the river they could potentially drive across the sandpit, so they didn't have too many brides on Guadalcanal. The road is right where we are now.
about what? 20 yards inland?
yeah, that's all¿ (question) well these are different trees. In those days they were coconut trees
walking through tall grasses, stumbling¿ cracking of twigs. 54:29 - lots of twigs.
the barbed wire.. the big iron that held up the barbed wire. This is the front line, and here's your proof. These airings are very rusty here because they're so close to the water. But these irons were strung along and these were set up in august 1942. still there, but I've guess you've seen better days, but here you go, it's history. The Japanese were climbing out of the water, and this was the next barrier. Of course there were problems more than the water and the barbed wire; they had more problems marines shooting at them. Great Japanese biology of died realism. ??
start walking again, voices mumbling
(gasp) going through that grass is no fun!
yeah, that's right, even though it's fairly flat it trips you up. And believe it or not, that barbed wire is still around and sometimes you'll be walking through and think 'that's bloody tough grass,' and you look down and your leg is bleeding. That wasn't grass - that was barbed wire. Back in December that happened to me, and I had gone to catch a plane to Australia to have Christmas with the family, and I thought 'I'm' not feeling too good,' and I ended up spending a week in the hospital all over Christmas from that bloody American barbed wire.
was it tetanus?
no it wasn't tetanus, but it was a poisoned leg from it. it wasn't fun. (chuckles)
footsteps through the grass
I believe the cure was that I was In the hospital with the antibiotics dripping and on the 24th of December ewe had a 7.3 Richter scale earthquake, everyone screaming, running out of the hospital, and all I could do is hang on to my drip. Antibiotics going to every part of my body But it cured my dandruff and ingrown toenails, too.
I've read accounts of the battle of alligator creek, and I've seen the maps.. and it's so much smaller than I would have thought!
yes, it is, I get surprised as well. You're looking for something more grand that the battles were really fought on. They were fought on a very small bit of ground.
a very personal war
very, very personal¿ oops
FX - mud sloshing
Ambi - sounds like a swarm of swampy bugs¿ locusts?
insects die down¿
insects get noisy again
footsteps on rocks/dirt
crunching noises, vegetation on the ground
1:03:35 Start of Track 3
right, we're on Bloody Ridge. Bloody Ridge extends from that hill to the runway, and it continues along this hill to these trees over there. The Japanese in fact called this rukide, centipede, for it resembled a centipede with the spurs resembling the legs of a centipede. Americans numbered the hills while Japanese called hill by animal names, hakuna, or 'bear,' whatever. This was the centipede, and Americans numbered their hills and this is where the numbering sequence started - as you can see out to the east it is flat. This is where the hills started. Where those trees are, inland, the southern part of bloody ridge, that' shill #1, #2, and it went on until the 200 series up when you get towards cape ______, and this is where it all started , 1, and 2. this is the most famous battle, bloody ridge, and it was really a closely run thing. You can see how close we are to the runway in Henderson. And to our right, where these masts are, is fighter 1, it was the 2nd airstrip built, and this was a cow pasture, it was afiled. In fact it really did save Guadalcanal - Henderson was knocked out after the night of the battleships, but they could still operate out of fighter 1, so the sbd's still took off. So they were deadly, they were faster than a ship and they caused a lot of damage to the shipping. Now the story of the ridge. The first ___ battalion, and the firs parachute bat., had been over fighting in Tulagi and bokotu tamnenbogo, there was 2 days of heavy fighting and Tulagi was finished with. They were brought back in late august, to support in Guadalcanal. Since they were raiders they were looking to do raiding type operations. Their first action was that they had a raid on sado island, which because of the haze we cannot see, and on the 3rd of December they went over to shore transports, and they spent a day on sabo island. Exploring it for a few days, no japs, they came back. They were going to stay on board, they exec of, I think It was Sam Griffith, who said, no, we don't want them to stay on board because they were going to go down to the west, tessa-farunga, and we're going to do another raid the next day and they said 'no, we'll re-embark tomorrow, let them get off,' so they came ashore, came down the slot and they sank both of those destroyers. So another bit of luck that went the American's way. How terrible it would have been I those raiders would have been on that ship. So the tessa-farunga raid was put off, however there was another report of a Japanese landing in tasemboko, in the east, so they loaded them up in smaller craft, and they had had a raid on tasemboko, and sure enough they found the rear guard of a quite large Japanese force, in fact it was gen Kawaguchi's 3500 who had landed and ere on their way to the airfield. They determined it was a sizable force, and they captured his personal effects, from a chest that he had and they knew a sizable force was on its wad. Edson, who was in command of the raiders, came back and was communicated with gen Vandergrift about how they should disperse their forces best of all and just where the attack would come from. Now bearing in mind that alligator creek had happened in august, gen. Vandergrift was adamant that the attack was going to take place at alligator creek. And he said it can't happen.. you can't maneuver in the jungle, they'll have to move around the beach. So fierce was his conviction that he moved his hq from the lunga river to over there, where those trees are.. and that became the first marines hq, and he set that up on the 10th of September. Now gen Thomas and Colonel Edson, how they got around this face-saving exercise that was needed, they said that the raiders and the parachute battalion. Were tired from all this activity and the need to go to a rest area, so this was then called the rest area, knowing full well that this wasn't going to be much of a rest. But the raiders and the parachute battalion did not move into this area until the 11th of sep. the disposition of how he would set up his troops in the end.. he had the raiders to the right, and the parachute battalion in the left - what was left by the parachute battalion, it was down to about 300 men. And the initial defensive position were to the front and very thinly held - parachute battalion to the left, and two companies to the right, and we're going to have ea look at those positions. And if you take an aerial view of bloody ridge, it's like a castle wall, and another wall, and another wall. Each of these positions is a natural position you can always go back to. But being an expert after the event is what I'm appearing to be, but Edson had his men very very strung out, a and they were very fortunate because when the attack occurred, the japs attacked only with two companies of men, to the right of bloody bridge, in the jungle area, and almost immediately pierced the American line, but was so jungly that Kawaguchi was losing control of his forces and the only effect that that had was truly to alert the Americans that they were there, they were knocking on their back door, and they were a serious threat now he quickly then reacted by pulling his men that he had in the 4 defensive positions back, he abandoned those positions, strengthened the secondary defensive positions, which is that burnt ridge we're seeing there, the secondary def. Positions, that where he set them up fort the 13th September attack, and to the right, this ridge you're looking up there, that' where the raiders were sitting there. He also turned around and look up here, the 11th marines art. The 12th of September was pointing somewhere else come the night of the 13th they had the battery turned around and they were zeroing in on this particular area, so it was very fortuitous, for a start that they were here in the first place because the first thing that happened on the 12th - gen. Vandergrift has been taken prisoner. And they've got control of that hill, and however controls the hill controls both airfields and all the japs had to do was neutralize both airfields. By having control of that hill you can spray machine gun fire, you can put your artillery on both fields so easily, that is the final position for that. Very fortunate that the head man there, and the initial jap attack was quite feeble, but they did attack in force by the 13th, but by then the American positions were far better at that point. The Japanese pressed on, and the parachutes and the raiders still had to fall back from this interim position, and where we are now is the final defensive position. If you look to our right, you can see the clearing of the grass - that was where the parachute boys were protecting that area there - Japanese in the jungle, a dn that was the final defensive position, and the boys were holding on to that.. and if we just walk over here for a little bit¿
FX - footsteps in dry sounding grasses.. clicks, twigs
you see this ridge down here?
that little low-lying ridge?
that little low lying ridge was the final defensive position. That horseshoe shape like that, that was the final defensive position. Some Japanese got through- some got to the headquarters. One got into the headquarters - there is a famous story of sgt. Banter, who was telling off a private, and a Japanese guy an in yelling and carrying a sword taking out his revolver he shot the Japanese and continued telling off the private, revolver in his hand. 60 of them made it behind Vandergrift's headquarters and made it through to what and they thought was the sea. But behind gen van hq there was a lake, a swamp¿ so they thought 'gee, I think we've made it all the way through tot the sea..' and they reported that, and in books people have said that 'that can't be true, there's no sea there,' but in all eh maps you see of bloody ridge, it's interesting, they don't have the lake in there, and they have in fact made it through to the water okay, it just wasn't the sea.
so that's when they sent the incorrect signal when they had broken through?
no no, good questions, that's the October battle, this is September battle. And I have an explanation. Well let me come back to that a bit later¿ yes.. the banzai did take the airfield in October. The marines that I've talked to just said how gutsy the Japanese were. There was one that had his entrails going back 20 feet, but he was still trying to get to the American lines despite his obviously mortal wound that he was suffering from. But the colossal advantage that Edson had was the artillery. He had the observers in the front line with him. And they were just slaughtering the Japanese. The japs would fire a flare, to say, 'okay, lets do this, assemble here' and the artillery would just hone in on that, and they were just slaughtering the Japanese. I remember a marine raider called Smith, who was saying 'we held our positions but it was the artillery that was doing the killing. The artillery saved ours souls, but you're on hallowed grounds here - this is bloody ridge. So after the 2 days of fighting, the japs withdrew licking their wounds. In fact their artillery, they had different forms of artillery - they had 5 destroyers from the sea - they were firing at the positions but in fact they weren't very accurate and really it was one of their diversionary tactics because they had more artillery in the east and it as a diversion to their true intentions of what they were going to do. the Americans thought it was coming form the sea anyway. But the japs did manage to get one artillery piece up here in these trees that we're looking at, and after the battle the artillery was still there with a pile of shells beside it, with just a faint mark on the end of it, where the firing pin was just touching it, and wasn't setting off the shell, which must have been very frustrating. So there's lots of happen chances .. all the luck seemed to go the American way. If if if, if they had attacked and this had not been defended by the raiders, the rest area hadn't been chosen, they would have swamped gen. Vandergrift., and taken command of the hq, and a commandeering position , a dominating position of both airfields. If they had attacked even when the raiders and the parachutes battalion were here, on the 13th without their preliminary attack on the 12th, which just gave away their positions¿ I believe, because of their tissue-thin defenses, they would have been quickly overrun. And the artillery wasn't in position to assist.. so¿ we were sure lucky with that one! And just a little bit of a story, we're going to go shortly and I'll show you some more barbed wire¿ col. John Sweeney was awarded the naval cross for his actions here. I phoned him on a cell phone from bloody ridge, and he said, "are you on Guadalcanal? And I said "yes, I'm on bloody ridge, and I'm on your position!" I believe he's coming on the 60th, he's trying to work it, that'd be magic to have someone like John Sweeney come. He'd been on Tulagi, he'd been on the raids with the raiders.. and on bloody ridge and it was here that he was awarded the naval cross.
where is he from, in the states?
oh.. the united states. Come on, I'm Australian!
I'll give you his phone number!
and the code will tell you where he's from¿ I do apologize I have forgotten where he is from.
no it's okay I was just going to get in touch with him when I get back
all these people that I meet are so friendly and easy to talk to. It's interesting the superheroes that I've read about and met, are so.. ordinary is the wrong word. Average? They've done extraordinary things, but they're just typical people. They're not john Wayne types, a and talk with deep voices and are seven feet high. They're just so average. But they did more than average things. One of them, Adam Dallier, I doubt he's more than 5 foot! He did heroic things here.. when the first marine division left here, a bit of trivia for you - I bet you don't know this one! They went to Australia for retraining and regrouping, and all that, and they went down to Melbourne and stayed 7 months yet. And each one of them was adopted by a family.. not to live with.. well they loved Australia so much that the official theme song of the 1st division is "waltzing matilda." They stand up for three songs, the national anthem, the marine hymn, and waltzing matilda. And when I went over to lv to the first marine division in '95, I was most impressed, they played my song and they were standing up! So that's when I found out about their official song. ____- was in their victory parade they had in December, in Christmas, of '42, and he's proudly marching down the street and there's two women on the corner, and they're obviously looking at him, and one said to another "they're only babies!" as he says. So there he is, 5 foot, and of course 18, and so he is a baby. I often speculate too, and 18 year old would walk in and we'd ignore him because we wouldn't worry about him. But battle of Britain: average age 18. so what we're going to do, we're going to press on, in fact the incident that you're talking about - the October attack, really on bloody bridge you could say that there were two occasions in October when the Japanese attacked with the force of about 6500 men, they cut their way behind mt. Austin.. in the distance here - it's okay , they're ours.
what are those??
Parrots. But I'm not up on my ecology. The japs attacked in October - they had to trail and each man had to carry an artillery shell in his pack, and by the time they got into position, which is to the far right of where we're looking, there's a far-flung - the last bit of the hill in the background there - in October there was a sgt. Brigg's there, with 46 men, and that's brigg's outpost. And he noticed, on the 26th of October, all these japs streaming past, and so he got on the field telephone, with, I understand, got in touch with chesty puller, and chesty asked him "how many Japanese do you estimate there are," and you can edit this, he said "the whole fuckin' Japanese army" (laughs) so chesty puller said, all right, I'll give you five minutes to pull out as best you can, I'm going to call up the artillery. And in fact I've spoken to a Japanese soldier who was on that attack, and he said 'when we got close to the airfield, a flare went up, and they said ' is that our flare, or is that their flare?'" so there's two conversations within five minutes. Chesty pullers saying you've got five minutes to get out, and we're calling the artillery, and the first thing the artillery would have done is light the place up, started lobbing some serious stuff. So two conversations in five minutes, and that is brigg's outpost, quite a famous spot there. I've been on it and I've found some Springfield rounds, which make sit all legitimate, springfields and not the garand, not the army's weapon - it was a marines weapon - so it was A company, 1st battalion, second marines. So chesty puller, you've heard of chesty puller. He won about 70 navy crosses didn't he? Never won the medal of honor, but did more heroic things than Macarthur, I think. Shouldn't get on with that¿
So let's move on, and we'll get a fuller picture of the front line.. and also that oct. attack as well as the talk of the sept one.
again I'm just going to record for a minute as you guys back out.
Ambi, long grasses being stomped on
ambience on bloody ridge
light light steps through grasses
grass, mic noise¿ plane flying over head
I'm getting on the other side of bloody ridge
plane noise continues
wind through the grass, sand
wind rustling through the grass, just as a jet comes over
walking through the grass
the translation.. his English is not the best. Constelaction in ad 1985¿
Japanese memorial says memorial tower of the Guadalcanal War dead person in ad 1942, 2nd div. Isamu society, constelaction in ad 1985. I guess the translation leaves a little bit to be desired.
rustling grass, footsteps
this is a Japanese memorial, on the far southern end of bloody ridge, which you might call the Japanese end, they did in fact take this position, at least for on day, and this is the Kawaguchi memorial, and this is the Honiara Fukawoka association that has put this up. As you an see tin February there was 22 Japanese that were here, and they have paid their respects to those souls that have departed. They have different memorials than the American memorials. The Americans are like the brit and Australian ones, they have more storytelling, they tell the details there. The Japanese ones are more reflective. They go on too much about the war, I guess that's the difference if you win or lose. I shouldn't have said that, never mind. The Japanese do come back and this time they bring with them a traditional flute player, and they'll go to a place they know one of them have lost a particular relative, and they'll play music from that time for the souls of those people, and they'll bring presents - a pack of cards, beer, whiskey, anything.. fruit.. for the spirits, then when the ceremony is over, they'll give a nod to the local people and they'll allow them to take the presents but they symbolically offer it to the departed. This is a tasteful memorial.
they sure picked a beautiful spot
and of course overlooking the scene of the action - that's the lunga river, that's mt. Austen, and the Japanese did in fact have an observation post as a small cave there, and they set up on the 22nd of September up there, and they were watching everything that was going on around the airfield. They've got a wonderful panorama - we were there this morning. But this spot is a beautiful spot, very reflective.
This society has put up a marker at the back here - unfortunately it's fallen off and I've got it in the back of my car. But this particular - just trying to think of the detachment they call themselves - the Kawaguchi detachment, 3179 lost on Guadalcanal, so you get many of their relatives coming back and there was a particular moment we went to a swamp - a Japanese plane to a swamp about 40 minutes from here. There were 5 Japanese ladies, and 4 men, and a traditional flute player, and you had the sound of the canopy, the jungle, the bird noises, and you had the sound of the crickets, and the frogs, the swamp noises, and the traditional Japanese flute music, and the sound of 5 Japanese ladies crying. It was a very touching moment¿
that translator, in broken English, he told the story, when I get from my car we'll read it out. It's quite touching. If it was in perfect English it wouldn't' have the same impact as in the broken English. Sometimes when you're here, lightning and thunder, it'll be like the sounds of the guns. It's quite spooky when it happens, you could swear it's gunfire. But we'll keep going, we've got more to see.
nailing something to a wooden post
just have to get someone to translate it, that's what I would suspect.
did you say there was a bell on here, john?
yes, there was a peace bell, and the jap would go really well into it, bang bang bang, summoning all the spirits, we're here, we're here¿ unfortunately with all the troubles that has happened here, a samurai helmet there, the figurines, chain right around it, and the bell¿ but the drunks have come in and if you leave anything out in the open, in America or Australia, the vandals will inevitably reap their damage. I think this is the best Japanese memorial there is, this is quite nice. I was here for the inauguration for .. the priest and general Kawaguchi's daughter came here, with about 105 people, and I was present for that, and I was filming them and they were filming me and I was invited to their dinner that night and I sat next to Miss Kawaguchi. All right, walk this way.
footsteps, snapping sticks
a bird chirping, high-pitched
heavy footsteps in the grass..
heavy sticks snapping,etc.
voices in the background, panting
We're going off to the right
well I'm following you
they're up ahead - I see them
john's voice in background
panting, clothes tearing?