I was originally in Munda in 89 and stayed at the
Agnes lodge. My friend and I asked the manager Don (a new zealander)
if he knew any war equipment that might be lying around. He told mean
unusual story you might be familiar with, about an Australian businessman
who turned up at Munda in the seventies and promised the local people
a pile of money if they would help him gather all the aircraft wrecks
and brass shell casings for smelting. They swallowed his line and
did all the labouring for him. I have been told that the pile of aircraft
wrecks reached the tops of the palms, thats anywhere from 40 to 60
feet high, mixed jap and american.
This guy shipped all the scrap to Australia , told everyone he would
be back soon with the money and never showed his face again. Needless
to say the local people have never forgotten him or his name (and
Im damned if I can remember it ). This made the locals very edgy about
showing any tourist or traveller what was left, they even buried equipment.
To make matters worse one of the guys I was introduced to later found
a box of marine knives, new in greaseproof paper (this sounds rather
mythical but I think it might be true) and asked around with the idea
of selling them. The local police confiscated them and that settled
it, nothing they found or had in hiding was ever going to reach the
light of day.
Don said he would talk to some of the local men he knew had stuff
hidden, and he would let them know I wasnt interested in taking the
stuff, just photographs. This went down fairly well with one family,
the rest didnt want ot know about it. In the meantime my friend and
I were directed to "American Dump" to which the photos above
belong. Interesting site, its all thats left after the scrap drive.
Many guns great and small, engines, landing craft, amphibious vehicles
, landing gear, turrets etc, etc, etc. It was all still there when
I visited it.
There was a lot more junk in the scrub, mostly overgrown. I wanted
to clear it up a bit so I could get a good idea of what else might
be there but decided not to, considering what Don had told me. He
had arranged for me to meet the owner of the paymasters concrete hut
and the guy had agreed.
I have some other photos of this site if you are
interested. I also forgot to mention the prescence of Hellcat landing
gear with the wheels still attached and about four jeep bodies. Man,
I really wanted to root around that site for a week. The locals use
ailerons for bench seats believe it or not.
There is a lot of unexploded ordinance, the Australiam
army was there when I was, they were detonating a pair of 200lb aerial
bombs that a woman had built a set of stairs over to gain entry to
her hut. We couldnt believe this so went to photograph them but our
command of pidgin english was rather poor at the time and we couldnt
find the actual site. The locals knew of them when we asked but they
were either being coy or we couldnt make much sense to them. You should
have heard the blast.
The zero pictured is near the Tambea resort. Mr Tolling, the original
owner of the resort told me how it was confiscated from a group of
divers who had illegaly raised it from the ocean. It took about six
months or more for the court case to be heard and the aircraft sat
for the whole time where it was, rotting. A diver I met had seen it
before it was removed from its resting place and he said it was possibly
the most intact zero he had ever come across but after sitting exposed
without treatment it both fell apart and was stripped by locals and
souvenir hunters. The local kids finished it off.
Don had arranged for us to meet the owner of
the paymasters hut, and he warned us that the outcome of our meeting
would determine wether the other locals would show what they had hoarded
or not, so with this in mind we met the guy (paymaster 2.jpg) and
asked him what he wanted in fees to open the hut. He mumbled something
about $5.00 so we both paid $5.00 each which surprised him, he meant
$5.00 for both of us. Several others stood and watched the proceedings.
The huts contents werent that exciting , the pictures above are all
related to it. We asked if we could remove some of the items to photograph
them which he didnt mind . The problem was, as paymaster 5.jpg shows,
the hut was jam packed and I didnt get to see all that was in there.
After we took pictures and small talked with the guy his sons told
us to go up to their house and have a look at the gunpack.
One of them spoke to Don rapidly in pidgin and apparently he was excited
that we paid money to look at the items, all of $5.00 Australian ($10.00
solomons) . The outcome of all this was the locals decided to dig
up what they had buried and I explained to them that what they owned
was theirs and if any tourist insisted they hand it over they should
tell them to get lost. Don was rather pleased with all this, he had
been trying for years to get the locals to display anything at all.
He said this was a major break through.
Unfortunately we didnt have a long stay in Munda and on my next trip
to the Solomons I didnt get the chance to visit Munda again. Next
time, hopefully. Im quite interested in the aircraft that might still
exist in the Roviana Lagoon. There is also an Airacobra (at least
thats what they thought it was) inland from Munda, and again, I didnt
have the time to go and see it.
Japanese mortar shells on Guadalcanal
P-61B gun pack on Munda
I was in Munda in 1989 and 1993, so its been sometime
but I plan to go back in a year or so. There are quite a few undocumented
wrecks in the Roviana lagoon, which is the body of water Munda faces.
In Agnes lodge there is (or was) a wallmap of the lagoon on which
someone had painted little aircraft on. I asked the barman to show
me where the B-17 was on the map and e pointed to one of the little
aircraft. It appears the little aircraft represent actual wrecks he
has found. The unfortunate thing about Munda
is that the water becomes rather cloudy after 10 Am so visibilty is
Ditched off Munda