Relics of World War II
Local Sightseeing, All
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Approximately 2 hours
World War II ended more than 70 years ago but remnants and reminders are still found in and around Luganville town.
Departing the pier by non-air-conditioned minibus, you’ll visit a jail (concrete blockhouse). It was built in 1942 to house Japanese prisoners of war from two patrol boats that were sunk by the USS San Juan.
A high vantage point offers excellent photo opportunities over the surrounding islands, the location of an old submarine net and the minefield that sank the SS President Coolidge. Traveling along an unsealed road you’ll stop to visit the site of the sinking of this troopship in 1942 -- it hit two friendly mines which resulted in the loss of only two lives.
Continue on to Million Dollar Point, where the Americans dumped valuable equipment into the ocean at the end of the war. You’ll see old truck parts and paraphernalia lying all over the foreshore. Underwater there are bulldozers, trucks, forklifts, etc. The amount of equipment that is visible varies with the tide.
After a drive through the bush, past some isolated homes and an organic coconut oil mill, you’ll visit a small museum located on the concrete foundations of one of the many American hospitals that were constructed in the area during the war. The museum contains numerous interesting items including the famous coca cola bottles, chow trays, a stokes basket (early metal stretcher), shell casings and many of the day-to-day implements used by the troops.
Driving back towards Luganville town, your driver will show you the old Bomber 2 Airfield -- now the international airport. Luganville was built by American troops in 1942 and you’ll notice that the road is very wide. Admiral Halsey, the base commander, insisted the main street be wide enough to accommodate four trucks.
You’ll visit an old World War II jetty, the BP (Burns Philp) wharf which is still in use and has a Quonset hut still in use today. Driving through town, you’ll pass the Municipal Headquarters and the produce markets, and cross the Sarakata River before stopping at a local resort. On display here are some photographs of the location during the war -- they are quite interesting.
A cool, refreshing beverage will be waiting for you before you return to the ship.
Bring insect repellent, a hat and sunscreen. Sighting of some memorabilia is dependent on the tide. Wear comfortable walking shoes and breathable clothing, sunscreen, insect repellent and a hat.