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    Nila Poporang Island | Western Province Solomon Islands
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USN October 11, 1943

Click For Enlargement
Click For Enlargement

Click For Enlargement
Click For Enlargment
Justin Taylan 2003

Location
Lat 7° 5' 29S Long 155° 51' 57E  Nila is located on the north coast of Poporang Island in the Shortland Island Group (Shortland Islands) in Western Province in the Solomon Islands. Borders Tuha Channel to the north and Shortland Harbor to the northeast.

Prewar
In 1899, the Catholic Church established a mission at Nila and built a church and hospital at this location. Also, Nila Plantation was established at this location planted with coconut palms for copra and spanned the northeastern portion of the island. Buildings for copra storage, a hospital and church were located at Nila. Also, there was a small Chinese community at Nila.

At the start of the Pacific War, the British government ordered all European inhabitants to be evacuated by boat from the Solomon Islands. Remaining behind were Chinese who were not evacuated by the government. The Catholic Priests at Nila declined to evacuate in favor of staying with their congregations and (falsely) believing they would be treated as non-combatants.

During 1942, three Catholic priests remained at Nila: Father Maurice Bock (French), Father Binos (French) and Father George Lepping (American).

Wartime History
On March 30, 1942 at 2:00am, Japanese forces occupied the area without resistance. The Japanese captured the three Catholic priests and later transported them to Rabaul where they were detained at Vunapope for the remainder of the Pacific War.

During the Japanese occupation, Nila and Poporang Island were developed into a base area to support Shortland Harbor anchorage and Shortland Harbor Seaplane Base. The area was defended with bunkers, fortifications, shore guns, anti-aircraft guns, searchlights and radar.

Targeted by American bombers and fighters and bombarded by U. S. Navy warships, the area was heavily bombed and shelled during 1943. Bypassed by the American landing at Torokina on November 1, 1943. Nila continued to be a target until the end of 1944.

American missions against Poporang
March 28, 1943 - October 1, 1944

Until the end of the Pacific War, Nila and Poporang Island were occupied by the Japanese until the official surrender of Japan on September 2, 1945.

Postwar
After the war, the Catholic church was rebuilt at Nila. The alter is made from the base of a Japanese searchlight and the mission used abandoned Japanese equipment and infrastructure. Postwar in th 1950s, the priest based at Nila was Father Wally Finkleton (Australian).

Today
Nila is the largest settlement on Poporang Island.

E13A1 Jake Manufacture Number 5155
Salvaged from shallow water in 1968 abandoned at Nila

Seaplane Ramp and Servicing Area
On the shore at Nila, overgrown by bush is a servicing area for F1M2 Pete seaplanes. The fuselages of several Pete seaplanes were abandoned at this location. In November 2007, one of these fuselages was removed by Craig Turner / Solomon Islands National Museum Project on November 8, 2007 aboard transport "Tina".

F1M2 Pete Manufacture Number 2265 Tail PO-16

F1M2 Pete Constructors Number 1250 Tail L-215
Salvaged by Craig Turner / SI Museum Project November 8, 2007

A path has been built over the swamp made from the wings of F1M2 Pete biplanes, presumably from the nearby Dump area. Chris Cowx adds: "I actually wiped away the mud and you could see the meatball insignia on the wings. Nearby is a collection of Japanese beer and sake bottles."

Generator Bunker Blockhouse
Nila was powered by the original generator used by the Japanese during the war. The lights which used to illuminate the base still operate when the generator is turned over, and this was in the late 1970's.

Fortifications
The area is zigzagged with trenches, tunnels, cement bunkers and the foundations of wooden buildings. On higher ground is located an anti- aircraft complex comprising several antiaircraft and coastal guns.

Japanese Truck
Located next to the Japanese built freshwater well, that still flows today. The cab section only of this truck. The engine, radiator, steering wheel and instruments have all been salvaged or otherwise removed.

Search Light
A medium sized searchlight, with intact shutters.  It has been broken since the early 1970s and is thrown from its U shaped mount and lying in an earthen bunker area

Type 3 (1914) 76.2mm Anti-Aircraft Gun (No 1)
This gun has shrapnel damage on the barrel and is facing at a slightly elevated angle.

Type 3 (1914) 76.2mm Anti-Aircraft Gun (No 2)
This gun has shrapnel damage on the barrel and is facing at a slightly elevated angle.

Type 3 (1914) 76.2mm Anti-Aircraft Gun (No 3)
This gun is broken into several components, and mostly buried in its emplacement.  The barrel is separated laying to the side, and gun buried near the base.

Type 3 (1914) 140mm Naval Gun (No 1)
Located on the eastern portion of the island, facing Shortland Island. Gun turret with shield.  A box of ammunition is lying nearby, and a dud shell behind the gun.  The breech is removed and missing.

Type 3 (1914) 140mm Naval Gun (No 2)
Gun turret with shield.  One of the gun's view ports in the shield is in the closed position. One of the recoil springs is lying to the side.

Type 2, Mark 1 Model 2 Radar (No 1)
Japanese Navy trailer mounted radar.  Today, the radar still rotates 360 degrees.

Type 2, Mark 1 Model 2 Radar (No 2)
Japanese Navy trailer mounted radar with 100-120km search range.

Interstate TDR Attack Drone
Crashed October 1, 1944

References
Shortland Islands Target Study December 1942
Solomon Islands Government Topographic Map 1:50,000 "Nuhu, Solomon Islands 0715504 X715 Edition 1-SI50K" information as of 2003, printed 2007

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

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April 11, 1943

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