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    Kolombangara Island Western Province Solomon Islands

Click For Enlargement
Solomon Airlines c1980

Location
Lat 8° 0' 0S Long 157° 4' 60E  Kolombangara Island is a circular volcanic cone in the Solomon Island chain, to the north of ArundeI Island and Wana Wana Island, to the northwest of New Georgia Island and Kula Gulf.

Wartime History
During 1943, the Japanese 'South-East Detachment' headquarters were based on Kolombangara, commanded by Major General Noboru Sasaki who arrived on May 31, 1943. Units based on Kolombangara included the 13th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Battalion of 229th Infantry and Yokosuka 7th Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) commanded by Koshin Takeda.

During 1943, Australian coastwatcher, Arthur Reginald "Reg" Evans maintained an observation post atop the peak of the island and reported information on enemy movements.

Following the American landings on New Georgia during July 1943, the Japanese strengthened their defenses on Kolombangara in anticipation of an American landing on the island. The island was targeted by American aerial attacks and bombardment from ships for several months prior to the American landings on northern New Georgia during July 1943 and nearby Arundel Island on August 27, 1943.

During October 1943, the Japanese Navy Japanese Navy begin the evacuation of the garrison on Kolombangara using destroyers, assault boats and barges as part of Operation "SE-Go" (Operation SE). The last Japanese were evacuated from the island by October 20, 1943.

On September 25, 1943 US Army soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division with elements of the 27th Infantry made a landing on Kolombangara and established perimeter defense around Vila Airfield. On October 11, 1943 the American troops were relieved by the 1st Battalion, Fiji Infantry. During early 1944, an engineering detachment established vegetable gardens at Vila Airfield for the remainder of the Solomons campaign.

Vila
Vila is located in the southeastern corner of Kolombangara Island. Vila Point is located on the southern coast.

Vila Airfield
Japanese airfield neutralized from the air, later occupied by Allied forces.

F4F Wildcat Bureau Number 11983
Pilot Feliton crashed January 31, 1943

Disappointment Cove (Vila Harbor, Hamberi Cove)
Known locally as Disappointment Cove, this is where the Japanese maintained a supply depot for the Tokyo Express when it was resupplying Guadalcanal.

Pontoon Wreckage (?)
Underwater at 15.7m, this pod still has some air in it. It is torpedo shaped, with only a hook at the front end for securing, and a rudder fin at the back.

A6M Zero
Intact at 50m

Japanese Tunnels
The Japanese dug a number of tunnels into the hills around Vilu. According to locals, one cave was a hospital area, another has a mountain gun enplaned outside the entrance.

37mm Infantry Gun Type 11 (1922)
Emplaced outside tunnel entrance

Ropa Point
Located at the north of the island. Several Japanese barges were sunk here by PT-126,the next morning, this PT Boat was damaged by friendly fire.

F4U-1 Corsair
Piloted by Alexander crashed September 30, 1943

Jack Harbor
Located on the south eastern coast of the island.

Nagatsuki
Beached and abandoned July 6, 1943

Buki Harbor
Located on Kolombangara

Webster Cove
Located on Kolombangara

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Last Updated
August 8, 2016

 

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