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Old 23-04-2006, 17:54   #1
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South Pacific WW2

Can't shake my curiosity about the war on the islands of the South Pacific. I intend to sail and visit various locations and step into the time capsule of that period. Can anyone recommend a good read? I am not looking for a dry historical chronicle but a good entertaining style with historical substance. I have read extensively on the European conflict as my father (tail end charlie in a Halifax) and uncle (spit fire pilot) RAFwere there but I would like to know more about the south pacific theatre.

Very truly... bc guy
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Old 23-04-2006, 21:25   #2
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South Pacific

They built a runway on a tiny island in the middle of the South Pacific as a refuelling stop. It is Canton Island. Years ago the commercial planes stopped there to refuel. We had a bunker / air raid shelter in the suburb of Auckland that I lived in. Eagles high is a good account of the battle of Britain and the pilots that flew the planes. British, Australian, New Zealand, Canadian, US and Poland. The history of Rolls Royce ( the engine department ) is also interesting reading as well as the airframe designers especially Mitchell. I new seven surviving guys from an NZ squadron that were in the war. We knew our school teachers by there rank. I may have a couple of those books here somewhere. Will be down for the Swiftsure race in late May.
Michael
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Old 23-04-2006, 23:44   #3
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BC Guy:

Given your interest both in the S Pacific, cruising and WWII, the book you probably need most is Landfalls in Paradise by Earl Hinz - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/082...lance&n=283155

This used to be the main cruising reference for those island groups, combining clearance and anchorage info with the history of these islands during the last global war. Earl's not cruised there for over a decade now, and so it's viewed as less current than other, more recently and more regionally-oreinted guides...but the book is timeless for the blending of the history with the cruising detail. Earl and Betty cruised SoPac waters for over a decade, as I recall - they know the area intimately.

Jack
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Old 25-04-2006, 20:08   #4
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Stop by Saipan, and I'll take you diving on a zero or two and snorkelling to a few US tanks in the lagoon. Also, some find interesting the bomb pits on Tinian.
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Old 25-04-2006, 20:20   #5
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Boy.

I wish I could be there where you're at Mike!!

I'm a big WW2 history buff!!

Wouldn't mind diving and checking that stuff out!!
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Old 26-04-2006, 04:40   #6
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BCMike,I also plan on doing the same trip.Local,around OZ,If ya just go to images on google and punch in Wapa Island and then go with whats there it might give you an idear of what was what.Its not all pretty though.But the Islands of Torres straights and the Islands east of Papua New Guinea are very well worth looking at.Much more down to earth than the Whitsundays.A few footballs"Rugby and not Gridiron" and things like T-shirts and fishing line are the best things to trade with,but dont sell these people short,they are kind genorouse and know a lot more about it all than most people.Go with an open heart but whatch ya back.
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Old 26-04-2006, 06:40   #7
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The adventure

Thanks all for the posts. N.M.I.ke...I look forward to meeting up with you somewhere down the line. There is a world of adventure out there to experience. This summer I will be exploring the remote BC coast and hope to find an old gunnery site I read about. I am sure it is overgrown and lost to time. I will head south late summer.

Regards... Gary
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Old 26-04-2006, 08:05   #8
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Hey Gary.

If you're going to a gunnery site. I might suggest to you. That you get a metal detector. So that you may avoid any unexploded ordinances (bombs) that hadn't exploded yet.

Very dangerous place to be, if you don't know what you're doing?

My uncle almost lost his leg to a unexploded 500 pound bomb. So you can imagine how far away it was when it exploded from him?

A deer they were chasing set the bomb off. Lucky for them. They had a deer there to save their lives!!

If the place you're going to is just "only" a place where they shoot guns. Then that's not a problem!!
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Old 26-04-2006, 17:55   #9
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Pacific WW II wrecks source

Pat Scannon (Chief Medical Officer of Xoma, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company in Berkeley, California) has spent many years in the South Pacific locating and discovering the history of aircraft wrecks on land and sea. Take a look at his website, http://www.pacificwrecks.com/people/visitors/scannon.html, it's fascinating stuff. Particularly his stories of finding US war planes never found before and working with the Navy to inform relatives of lost ones.
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Old 26-04-2006, 22:56   #10
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Sorry to not answer your question about books on WW2... but from personal experience I can say that if you're headed for the Pacific you can see:

- Saipan already mentioned by Mike. Hike the mountains and explore the tunnels dug by the Japanese (via slave labor of course). Banzai / suicide cliffs and the old command bunker. Be sure to snorkel / dive the Blue Lagoon. Kinda neat to drive down the shore road from the airport and see that Sherman tank about 100yds offshore... it sits where it stopped on invasion day.

- Guam: In Apra Harbor there are numerous shipwrecks from both WW1 & 2. Actually an underwater national park now. At 90ft you can extend your arms and simultaneously touch the hulls of the Tokai Maru sunk in WW2 and the Corinthian (name may not be correct) sunk in WW1. Easy dives in good visibility. Tokai Maru still has depth charges aboard - the Navy survey deemed them too dangerous to remove and recommended they be left in place. Too deep within the ship for most divers to find them. Also another wreck the Kizogawa Maru sits upright in about 130ft. Deck gun intact w/ammunition cases sitting where they were during the battle. Tricky dive due to currents and depth, but worth the effort. Orote point has a few old bunkers and the remains of a Corsair fighter. Further south there is a Japanese bomber in 60ft of water.
- Truk: The legendary wrecks of Truk Lagoon... I hope to dive them one day myself. A must-dive for the enthusiast.

- Manus, Papua New Guinea still has a military base that we visited in the late 80s. Huge lagoon where the invasion fleet was staged for the invasion of the Phillipines. This was the place from which Gen MacArthur fulfilled his "I shall return" promise. Reportedly was a larger invasion force than was used for D-Day in Europe. Only saw a few remnants from the war... but is a friendly, interesting place to explore.

My personal favorite: The island of Corrigedor in Manilla Bay!! Take a bonca boat over from the mainland (or anchor your sailboat in the cove near the Malinta Tunnel). If you want WW2 history, this is the place!! Bring a strong flashlight to explore the Malinta side tunnels - and imagine the US forces holed up there during the 30-day siege of the island. Impressive gun batteries - just an amazing site to see! If you sail there, also go a bit further north to Subic Bay. The old US Navy facilities are now nationalized and I'm told boat repairs can be very inexpensive.

Sorry for the ramble... you can probably tell I loved exploring the history of the Pacific ... take me back !!
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Old 26-04-2006, 23:02   #11
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Nooooo, Mark.

You're not rambling. You're saying the exact things I wanted to hear about.

This is my most favorite subject on history. And that's World War Two!!
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Old 28-04-2006, 01:38   #12
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WW2 Relics

Both Vanuatu and Solomon Islands have many WW2 relics to discover on both land and by diving. They were used by US and Japan as bases.

Good luck in your search

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Old 28-04-2006, 16:33   #13
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If you are a diver, you really gotta go to CHUUK (what most of you would call TRUK). I live in paradise (CNMI), and diving CHUUK is on my "things to do before I die or move away from here" list.

I have heard that the Solomons were nice.

If you make it to Manila, you really ought to see the American Cemetary. I've been to Pearl Harbor, and I've been to Arlington National, and neither did too much for me (though I was a younger punk then) but I must say that the cemetary in Manila actually made me cry for men who died about 30 years before I was born. A very sad beautiful place. Something about them being so friggin far from home really made me sad, whereas Pearl and Arlington were more curiosities. The Manila cemetary is a quiet, beautiful place in a hectic and, in places, dirty and disgusting (but fun!) city.

About the CNMI, we suck a lot of tax dollars, I suppose, but you really won't find more patriotic people. I get sick of hearing/reading about many in the states crying that America sucks, America is Imperialist, etc.

Here, the people were treated like dirt by the spanish for about 350 years, taken by the Germans, traded to the Japanese, and freed by the US of A. And then we left them alone. And they chose, voluntarily, to join America (sort of).

People here still remember the treatment of the Japanese, and still love the GI's for freeing them. Here, the 4th of July is not called Independence Day. It is called LIBERATION Day. Ponder that for awhile, and then try and call America an Imperial nation.

The war stuff here is ok; I can show you tons of UXO, sunken jap planes (zeros and bombers), shore cannons (I'm sure that's not the real name for them) and bunkers, command posts, tanks, etc. BUT, the CNMI is not the "time Capsule" you're looking for. It's fairly cosmopolitan as far as tiny islands in the middle of the ocean go.

But the best stuff you'll find are the stories from the old people who remember what it was like. Brig.Gen Tibbets (the pilot who flew the Enola Gay) came out here a year or so with the remainder of his flight crew. That was a GREAT evening.

Plenty to see in the Pacific, and none of us will have enough time to see it all.

So, getting back to your question.... Don't read anything about anything. Get on your boat and just sail around. You'll bump into a ton of neat stuff.
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Old 30-04-2006, 12:55   #14
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Although not pertaining to the Pacific war one of the best books I have read in years is titled Shadow Divers. Don't remember the author but it is a recently written book. The book tells the story of a group of wreck divers who discover a sunken U-boat off the coast of New Jersey where no records indicate one should be. It provides a fascinating look into the world of deep wreck diving and it's hazards. The divers struggle to identify the U-boat that is at a depth of 250 feet. Much of the story takes place before the use of Tri-Mix so it was quite dangerous. The story also weaves together the story of the crew of the U-boat with information and photos from surviving family members and German archives. It is a touching portrait of a mostly young 18-21 year old crew on their first mission at a time in 1945 that going to sea in a U-boat was almost a suicide mission.
For anyone interested in the history of the U-boat War check out the website http://www.uboat.net One of the best sites dealing with WWII that I have seen with daily updates and new information constantly being added.
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Old 30-04-2006, 13:11   #15
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Nice website Steve.

For a World War II history buff like me. I really like it!!
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