The Wayback Machine -
Reflections on the War in the Pacific

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Perhaps a reflection on the War in the Pacific after the bombing of Pearl Harbour will provide us all with a chance to remember this most terrible war and the short term and long term consequences of this war on the Pacific region and our Pacific Island people.

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Betio Islet, Tarawa, Republic of Kiribati.

The earliest history of our people tell of many great wars and invasions that took place throughout Oceania. There were wars between nations, between the strong and the weak, not to mention the many civil and religious wars that sadly were a feature of Oceanic life. By the turn of the century however most of this was behind us when some form of law and order became a feature of the life of Pacific people.

The Second World War came to the South Pacific and shattered this peaceful existence. The battling armies created bleak infernos of our beloved islands and laid them to waste. The relatively small campaigns fought by our ancestors had left no scars on the sun-blessed beauty of our islands, however the great powers of the Northern Hemisphere invested these tiny strongholds with strategic importance and fought for them.

Some images of the remnants from the war are reproduced below:

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Iron Bottom Sound, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.

Attackers and defenders alike poured in their armies, transporting more material in more ships of greater tonnages than had ever crossed the sub-equatorial oceans before. The armies eventually passed on but the discarded remnants of war remained: aircraft, tanks, cannons, landing-craft, warships, transporters, trucks, bulldozers, graders, jeeps, hospitals, canteens, beach defences, communication lines--everything that could possibly advance the attack, retard the enemy, or repair the damage.

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A rusting landing barge on Red Beach,
Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.

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The wreck of the Coolidge, Vanuatu.

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Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.

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Betio Islet, Tarawa, Republic of Kiribati.

After sixty years, Nature is toning down the raw impact of the relics of war, and the slow disintegration often produces beauty, provocative of sorrows and regrets, and memories, some of them proud. Sometimes by its contrasts it emphasises the vivid surroundings and the basically happy life of our people. Indeed it would often seem that so many of the chronicles of this war make little mention of our people - we are only mentioned as if we are part of the scenery along with the sandy beaches and the palm trees.  Yet the theatre for this war was our beloved islands and the battle ground our homes. Virtually no family was left unscathed

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Betio Islet, Tarawa, Republic of Kiribati.

On the beach at Tarawa a weapon of war still points out to sea as if waiting for another invasion. Looking very picturesque in the evening sunset it serves as a constant reminder of the terrible battle that took place on this beautiful atoll. But this weapon is of no use in stemming the present invasion - that of rising sea levels, something that puts at risk the long term future of many of the islands of the atoll nations.

It is perhaps a strange world where old enemies can now be counted as friends of Oceania and old friends often don't seem to care any more. Most certainly we need to look ahead with the support of the many friends of Oceania while at the same time not forgetting this terrible war - one that was never of our making and the many loved ones who were taken from us during this terrible time.

Lest we forget...

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Jane Resture
(E-mail: -- Rev. 3rd July 2003)