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World War II in Solomon Islands



US Stuart Tank on Tahitu Island


Tank images

Stuart tank, Tahitu Island, Solomon IslandsBy Richard Moore

On the way back to Gizo by longboat we stopped at two really interesting sites.

On the island of Tahitu we had an extraordinary find. We landed at a small inlet and walked up a barely recognisable track to find our guide waiting to take us to an abandoned WWII tank.

Clearing the track of overhanging vines with a machete, Hudson led us to what turned out to be a US Stuart tank.

The Stuarts were one of the best light tanks of the war, but after almost 70 years out in the tropical climate this one needs a bit of a spruce up.

Continuing our journey over the lagoon we stopped midway to Gizo for a truly memorable spot of snorkeling.

Sunken WW2 Hellcat, Solomon IslandsAbout seven metres below us was the near-intact remains of an American Hellcat fighter, shot down in a dogfight by its own side.

The sky was dark and it was late afternoon but despite that we hopped over the side with mask and fins and got to see the wreck close up.

It was a magnificent adventure and, for military history buffs, a real buzz.

So was another place we passed by Kennedy Island, the piece of land that saved Lt John F Kennedy, later to be US president, from a watery death after his PT-109 was sliced in two by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri on August 2, 1943.


Copyright 2014 RICHARD MOORE