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    Tulagi Island Central Province Solomon Islands

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USN August 7, 1942

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Justin Taylan 2003

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IJN February 14, 1942


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Justin Taylan 2003

PacificWrecks.com
Justin Taylan 2003

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Justin Taylan 2003

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Justin Taylan 2003

Location
Lat 9° 5' 60S Long 160° 9' 0E  Tulagi Island is part of the Florida Island Group in Central Province in Solomon Islands. The Japanese referred to this location as "Tsuragi".

Borders Tulagi Harbor and Florida Island (Nggela Sule, Big Gela) to the north. To the east is Macambo Island (Makambo) and Tulagi Seaplane Base located at Gavutu Island and Tanambogo Island (Tanombago). To the south are Mbangai Island, Kokomtambu Island and Songonangona Island and across Iron Bottom Sound is Guadalcanal.

Wartime History
The British colonial government was based here prior to WWII, fleeing before the Japanese arrived. A small number of Japanese worked on Tulagi prior to the war, in Marine industries. Therse was a strong suspicion of Japanese "yellow peril" leading up to the war and what the Japanese were doing in the mandated islands so the British watched them fairly closely. A coast watcher Gordon Train (married to Vera Atkinson) stayed behind on Tulagi and was lost on a flight to the Shortland Island to warn of the imminent invasion.

On January 22, 1942 Japanese aircraft first bombed Tulagi then again during early May 1942. On May 3, 1942 as part of "Operation MO", the invasion of Tulagi and Port Moresby, the invasion force arrives at Tuglagi Harbor and Okinoshima disembarks the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) 3rd Kure Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) without opposition on Tulagi to establish a seaplane base there (on the adjacent islands of Gavutu and Tanambogo) without resistance on May 3, 1942 and garrisoned it, and established Tulagi Seaplane Base at nearby Gavutu Island and Tanambogo Island (Tanombago).

During May-August, 1942 American aircraft bombed Tulagi. On August 7, 1942 during the first phase of the Guadalcanal campaign, U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) landed at Blue Beach on Tulagi Island and met fierce resistance from the Japanese defenders. By August 8, 1942 at nightfall, Tulagi was declared secure, but for several days, individual Japanese and small groups continued to be flushed from hiding places and hunted down by patrolling Marines.

Americans killed on Tulagi were buried in three U.S. Cemeteries were established on Tulagi: USN & USMC Cemetery No. 1 (White Beach), USN & USMC Cemetery No. 2 (Police Barracks) and USN & USMC Cemetery No. 3 (Chinese Barracks). Later, these graves were exhumed and transported to American Cemetery Guadalcanal then postwar transported overseas for permenant burial.

After the battle, Tulagi was developed into an American base area supporting future operations in the Solomon Islands and U. S. Navy vessels and PT Boats. Tulagi was targeted by Japanese aircraft during 1942-1943.

Today
After the war, the of colonial government moved to Honiara to utilize the infrastructure left by American forces. Tulagi again became the provincial capital. The facilities left in the area by the U. S. Navy are still used to this day, with pontoons and overhaul areas on the island still used for small craft.

Blue Beach
Located on the western coast of Tulagi. On August 7, 1942 the U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) landed at this location.

Sesapi
Located on the northeastern tip of Tulagi Island. During World War II, U. S. Navy base and PT Boat base.

District Residence House on Tulagi Island
Located on one of the higher ridges on the island prewar. This house was built prewar as the home of the British district residence. Today, only the original staircase and stair posts remain. The house was rebuilt post war then abandoned in 2003.

Hill 281
Located at the center of Tulagi Island. This high ground was the main Japanese defensive position and headquarters on Tulagi, with tunnels and fighting positions built in the area. After the battle, Americans also defended this hill with machine guns for anti-aircraft defense.

Hill 280
Located in the southeast center of Tulagi Island.

Roadcut (The Cutting)
This prewar roadcut into one of the ridges was heavily defended by the Japanese, who built cover into its side walls, most of these are covered with sediment. Also known as "The Cutting".

Japanese Tunnels
The Japanese built tunnels on Tulagi for defense. One entrance is located on an overgrown hillside. It opens into a deceivingly large tunnel inside. Another is located on the Catholic church property with two entrances, the second entrance is partially filled.

References
Thanks to Ewan Stevenson, Peter Flahavin and John Innes for additional information.

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Last Updated
August 13, 2017

 

Map
Map 1943
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