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    Mono Island Western Province Solomon Islands

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USN October 27, 1943

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USN October 27, 1943

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Solomon Airlines 1994

Location
Lat 7° 20' 60S Long 155° 34' 0E  Part of the Treasury Island Group, Mono Island is a large, circular island four miles north to south and six mies wide east to west. To the south is Blanche Harbor and and Stirling Island. Heavily forested, with higher ground in the southern portion. Located roughly seventeen miles south of Shortland Island.

Wartime History
Occupied by the Japanese during early 1942. During 1943 the Japanese developed a supply depot on Mono. On June 30, 1943 when American forces landed on nearby Rendova Island the majority of the Japanese withdrew from Mono, leaving only a small spotting station on the island manned by seventeen men.

Three American aircraft ditched off the Treasury Islands and seven aircrew reached on Mono Island were they where aided by the local people who hid them from the Japanese. The first to arrive on June 22, 1943 were Peck, Teft and Scott of TBF Avenger 47448 ditched offshore and were hidden by locals. Next, on July 22, they were joined by King, pilot of P-38G 43-2206. On July 23, they were joined by Mitchell, Estep, Dahl of TBF Avenger 05923. The seven aviators were hidden by native people. After nearly three months, Peck, Teft, Mitchell and King planned to sail to the south and bring help. On September 13, 1943 the four departed southward aboard one of their life rafts. Five days later, they were spotted and rescued by a PBY Catalina on September 18.

During the night of October 18, 1943 (other sources state the landing was the night of October 21-22) a U. S. Navy PT Boat landed a coastwatcher scouting party on Mono Island. The group paddled ashore in a native canoe the group including Frank Nash, Sgt Bert Cowan, Frank Wickham and Sgt Ilala (Fijian) landed at Lua Point on the east coast of the island. After spending the night on the beach, they made contact with villagers, who told them about the three remaining aviators (Scott, Estep and Dahl) still hiding on the island. After locating the aviators, they were evacuated with the Coastwatcher party on October 21, 1943 by PT Boat (other sources say night of 22-23). Their scouting mission determined there were only about 235 Japanese on Mono Island.

On the night of October 25-26 before the Allied invasion, PT boats landed an advance party of New Zealand soldiers and native guides whose mission was to cut Japanese communication lines, prior to the assault. The next morning, at 6:30am on October 27, 1943 Allied forces made an amphibious landing on Stirling Island and Soanotalu on the northern end of Mono Island. After a failed Japanese counter attack and sporatic fighting, the last resistance was overcome on November 7, 1943. In total, 40 New Zealanders and 12 Americans were KIA, with 174 WIA.

Falamai (Falami)
Small triangular peninsula on the south coast of Mono Island bordering Blanche Harbor, across from Stirling Island, near the Saveke River. Prewar village, site of Allied landing.

Soanotalu (Purple Beach)
On October 27, 1943 at 6:30am, The "Logan Force" commanded by Major Logan landed on the northern end of Mono at Soanotalu on "Purple beach" mouth of the Soanotalu River. This force consisted of New Zealand troops plus some U. S. Navy Seabees. On October 29, an attack by roughly 20 Japanese was made on their perimeter, leaving five dead an no Allied casualties. Afterwards, the Japanese probed the line and counterattack during the night of November 1 by roughly 70-100 Japanese that concentrated a blockhouse command post on the beach.

Radar Station
Located on high ground on the northeast coast coast of Mono, near Soanotalu. On October 27, 1943 an LCM landing craft with a bulldozer aboard was landed with Ensign John R. Bovyer and his crew. Operators Joe Canada and Grady Thompson cut a road though solid jungle at a 45 degree angle. Afterwards, an Allied radar station was established at this location.

References
Lonely Vigil page 279- 284
PT Boaters page 139-140
The Earthmovers pages 55-60
NEITC Chapter 11 - Story of Soanotalu

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Last Updated
January 8, 2014

 

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