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Chris Cowx - Kolombangara
This is beautiful and dramatic volcanic cone shaped island that looms over the whole area. It was the site of another of the slogging jungle fighting battles that were typical of the New Georgia campaign. Highlights of this were a series of duels between Japanese and American artillery where with the aid of spotter planes they literally engaged in fire at individual gun batteries. Eventually the Marine "Long Tom" 155mm guns won out and the Japanese declined to continue. It was a very personal duel apparently. The gunners were aided by spotter planes that allowed pinpoint accuracy.

Vila
Also here was one of the places where airfields were closer to each other than at almost any time during the war. At Vila there was an airstrip that the Japanese used as a forward satellite field.It is only about twenty miles from the main field at Munda and it must have been a very short flight indeed to get into combat! There is still some guns in the bush there and I am told that there are still some aircraft bits left. I have seen wartime photos showing Zeros abandoned here being used as a background to GI's having souvenir photos taken. There is a underground hospital too.

Vella Lavella Island
At the end of the fighting on Kolombangara the Surviving Japanese evacuated to Vella Lavella to the north and that Island was the scene of the final fighting in the central Solomons. In the old TV series "Black Sheep Squadron" it was the basis for the VMF-214 squadron's base at "Vella LaCava" Though I sincerely doubt that it had so many gorgeous nurses and free time!

Last Updated
February 18, 2014

 

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