Arrival on Majuro
Arrived about mid-day in Majuro via Kosrae with Air Nauru on Monday
the 25th April 1988 and spent the rest of that day frantically running
around seeing the right people to get permission to stay in Maloelap
on Taroa island. It is impossible to stay there without permission.
Landed on Taroa on Tuesday the 26th via Wotje atoll. After a bit of
familiarisation established a base with the UN representative Rueben
Rinon, a Philipine. No transport on this island whatsoever not even
pushbikes so all sightseeing was done on foot.
Other relics to be seen around the island are
many 150mm coastal defence guns and several sets of twin mounted 127mm
semi automatic anti aircraft guns. All these guns are located near
the sea and have now reached an advanced state of corrosion and would
now be totally unsalvageable. There are many concrete bunkers, observation
posts and bomb proof shelters. On the rim of one crater that marked
the position of a destroyed O.P. I found the handset of a field telephone.
In another bunker were many empty fuse contaners the Jap writing still
legible. There was a lot of radio gear here as well. In araher place
which was probably a maintenance workshop judging by the machinery
scattered around was a lathe, the brass job unfinished still clamped
in the chuck. There were many torpedoes scattered about as well as
aircraft engines of several different kinds some still in shipping
frames and with protective plugs and ' sleeves still in place.
In the lagoon is a very large sunken Jap transport
ship with the masts still protruding out of the water. A dive on this
ship was most interesting. The hull is still largely intact but shows
evidence of bomb strikes and near misses. Some brass portholes still
remain and in the bathroom ceramic tiles are still in place. All the
holds are empty and the port side of the bow is missing where a quantity
of bombs was detonated in the early 1970s by divers from Majuro.
Taroa is about three miles long and one mile
wide. Taroa was a major air base and was the most eastern air base
of the Japanese Empire. I saw many Zero wrecks on this island. There
was also Val stuff there, and A6M5 Claude wreckage. I even found a
Claude wreck out on the reef at low tide here. This is the place where
they reckon Amelia Erhart landed. Heavily bombed during the war, it
was a favourite target for bombers from Makin, Tarawa and Abemama.
Only place I've been to where there are continuous overlapping bomb
Discovered that there were two very long and
originally very excellent runways aligned aprox. NW-SE NE-SW that
were bitumenised and had concrete channels around the entire perimeter
that drained water into vast underground storage tanks from the runway
The Mavis and Emily seaplanes used to operate
from here to the French Frigate Shoals and to Hawaii. There are planes
in the water here too.
Near the NW area of the island is an area that
was probably the Japanese spare parts and aircraft junk yard. There
is a lot of heavy vegetation here now but after carefully searching
and burrowing through vines etc I was able to locate the wrecks and
remains of zeros, Betty bombers and large sections of a Nell bomber.
Rear canopy frames from a Val was identified as well as a pair of undercarts
off a rare A5M Claude fighter. Four hundred yards away near the centre
of the island is another small gathering of planes there being three
Bettys and a Zero all victims of bombing and straffing.
Near the SE end of the island and where the AMI
plane taxis in to load up can be seen the wrecks of three more Zeros.
One is an early type 21 and the others are later type 32s with long
reduction casings on the engines. The 20mm wing mounted cannons are
still in these wrecks which are all totally destroyed. Bombed straffed
and burnt they still retain, the outlines and shapes of their original
profiles but everything is mouldering. There are very large bomb craters
all over the island and in the "airport" area there can
be found at least two wrecks comprising of little else than an engine
a tail and wingtips scattered around the perimeter of a crater.
Near here I found a wreck inside an overgrown revetment.
This plane had been hit by a bomb about midway between cockpit and
tail and was upside down. After chopping away 45 years of trees vines
and creepers I found that the cockpit was unpillaged and contained
all equipment and.instrumentation although everything was in an advanced
state of decay. There were all instruments,ammunition in belts and
the two 7.7mm cockpit guns these being completely rusted. The swivelling
cockpit light and the face off a cylinder head temp gauge were salvaged
and the rest laid out off the ground to slow down the final disintegration
of these relics. A 20mm gun poking out of the ground alongside the
cockpit fell apart when an attempt was made to excavate it. One wing
section from a Zero It still contained the 20mm gun, the 60 round
magazine and a live round which was still partially chambered in the
breech of the gun.
The Zero at Duxford,
England which came from Maloeplap atoll in the Marshall islands.