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Coffin Corner
by Stan Gajda, October 1998

Japanese Mass Grave
MapCoffin Corner is the nickname of the October 1942 battle area, south east of Edson Ridge. Large numbers of Japs were slaughtered about five large mass grave were dug by boring holes and blasting out craters with explosives.

The bodies were then buried in these holes. In the early 1970s the Jap war grave people came and excavated all these graves. They never filled in the holes after them. One hole in particular is about 20 ft across. All these holes are full of water. In the spoil from the big hole I found a Type 100 rifle grenade launcher that fires the smaller smooth-bodied grenades. Other small items are also in the earth around these grave holes. The US line was just inside the jungle line and the pits where the 37mm guns were and other holes are still there. There is still some barbed wire strung out in front of this line attached to pitons.

Click For EnlargementThe jungle line is still the same. The grassy field between the jungle and the river is now planted with coconuts. It is a very large grove. Walking about in the grassy field you can easily find bits and pieces of Jap gear on the ground. I did the place twice with a metal detector but cartridge cases are pretty rare.

Emergency Landing Strip
Peter Besi from the Gifu was with me and is standing on the Crash Strip that fronted the "Coffin Corner" October 1942 battle area.

Click For EnlargementI believe this is Crash Strip that the Japanese thought was the main field when they sent back the message 'Banzai' during the October Battle thinking they were attacking Henderson Field. As you can see the grass is now head high. This is because the cows that kept the grass down  between the more recently planted coconut trees have been eaten. Coffin Corner is in the background.

In one place we had a good reading from the metal detector and found a piece of aluminum from a Jap plane. In another place we found a US Jerry can full of bullet holes. In the jungle behind the lines here and the original access track can be discerned and followed. Searching in the jungle around this track reveals all sorts of junk hidden in the dripping wet undergrowth. I skewered my trouser pants on a short star picket in there. In the grassy field about mid way from the corner and the present road there is a very large hole which must be an excavation, it is not a bomb crater. This is full of water and also much junk.

Click For EnlargementThere were unused rolls of barbed wire, a jeep trailer and a water trailer and a reasonable 50 cal 200rd drum magazine that I can remember. There is a (modern) wire fence running east-west from the corner. If the fence is followed W for about a mile there is the wreck of a Betty right next the this fence. The Grassy Knoll is about one mile SW of the Corner. This is where the US troops had an OP anticipating the Jap attack.

When the Japanese came this knoll was in the middle of their drive to the corner and the US troops took off and ran back to the corner. The US artillery must have had this knoll registered because when the Japs set up two 70mm guns on top and began firing the US guns fired back immediately with their 155s. I have been up there and had a look around.

Click For EnlargementI saw an unexploded 155mm HE shell at the base of the hill. On top right in the place where one would place artillery I had two really big readings which outlined something about the size and shape of the 70 mils. We tried digging but the ground that day was rock-hard. I told my SI companions what was probably there and suggested that they have a dig some time.

Click For EnlargementLater my English friend informs me, he went to have a look and he found a dirty great hole up on that hill. No body wanted to say anything and the land is/was owned by an MP and he was most emphatic that he won't let any more visitors up on that hill!

The Grassy Knoll (Briggs Outpost)
Click For EnlargementI just parked nearby, put all my bush gear on and went for it. I pushed on through the kunai grass without stopping and when I did stop for a breather near top and turned around there were three young SI guys right behind me and I didn't even know! They followed me around all through my expedition to the Grassy Knoll. The other gun is probably still buried up there just like the one was buried at Hill 27.

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