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The 72nd Anniversary of the Landings on Guadalcanal and the loss at Savo Island of HMAS Canberra

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The battle of Savo Island – Solomon Islands August 1942

On the 7th August 1942 the 1st USMC Division landed on Guadalcanal and the then capital of the British Protectorate of the Solomon Islands – Tulagi.

This was the first land battle for the Americans after their forced entry into WWII following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on the 7th December, 1941.

The Japanese had started to build an airstrip on Guadalcanal, the Americans wanted it………what followed was a long and bloody battle until February 1943.

On the evening of the 8th August 1942 the Japanese Imperial Navy was steaming undetected and almost on the doorstep of Guadalcanal. This battle group was under the command of Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa.  It began to approach to the south of Savo Island where the allied war ships were on station protecting the landing and the many transports unloading their much needed supplies in the support of the USMC, already ashore.

The Royal Australian Navy has three ships in this Force, HMAS Australia, Hobart  and Canberra.  In the night engagement that followed, come the next morning, four Heavy Cruisers were sunk, our “Canberra” along with three USN ships. It was a terrible naval defeat. Come the morning of the 9th August HMAS Canberra was still in the water, US Rear Admiral Turner gave the order that if Canberra couldn’t get underway she was to be sunk. Two US destroyers came along side and took off 84 dead and 109 wounded.  It then took another two destroyers 457 x 5” shell to send her to the bottom. Canberra was one of the first allied war ships to be sunk in what today is known as “Iron Bottom Sound”.

August 9th 2014, is the 72nd Anniversary of the battle and the loss of HMAS Canberra. If as a Navalman, you are interested in joining  my “Return to Savo” the proposed visit will be Wednesday 6th to Sunday 10th August, 2014. It will also include the USMC Memorial Service along with visits to the main land battle sites on Guadalcanal and Tulagi.

Honiara the capital of the Solomon Islands is a three hour flight ex Brisbane. For further details and costing contact – Dennis Weatherall (ex WO Seaman Rtd), These days Dennis is a qualified Military Historian & Battlefield Guide.

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Proposed Daily Itinerary & Programme

 Day 1: Wednesday 6th August 2014  (Dinner included)

Fly Sydney – Brisbane domestically to connect with Solomon Airlines scheduled service ex Brisbane – Honiara (Solomon Islands) . Current schedule and times:

Qantas (QF) or Virgin (VA) ETD 06:00 ETA 07:35 with a change of terminals

Solomon Airlines (IE) 700 ETD 09:30 ETA 13:45 local time a non stop service.

Flight times Sydney-Brisbane 1 hour 30 mins Brisbane-Honiara 3 hours 15 mins. On arriva,l visa is issued to Australian passport holders at the Immigration desk.

Transfer from airport to your hotel via Honiara town ship and the “Solomon Scouts & Coastwatchers” Memorial. Your next four nights will be at “The Heritage Park Hotel” a well located property on the site of the former Governor’s Residence and sitting on some 5 acres of waterfront land and beautiful tropical gardens, what’s more just a few minutes walk from the centre of Honiara. This evening dinner “on-board” to have the opportunity to meet your fellow travellers, and escort-guide, refreshments during dinner are your personal expense.

Day 2: Thursday 7th August 2014. (Breakfast included)

Early morning departure from your hotel lobby (approximately 06:00) to attend the 72nd Anniversary of the land of the US Marines on Guadalcanal. This is also Veterans Day in the Solomon Islands.  The service is conducted at the American Memorial overlooking today’s Honiara. It is a tribute to all those Americans and allies who participated in the Guadalcanal campaign between 7th August 42 through to 9th February 43. This memorial area was designated Hill 73.  Whilst building the memorial the remains of a US Marine were found, that story will be told on your day of visit.  After the official service and wreath laying you’ll return to your hotel for late breakfast.  Some leisure time before an afternoon visit to the land memorial to HMAS Canberra before heading west towards Cape Esperance and a visit to the outdoor private museum at Vilu en-route. This also is home to another memorial plaque for HMAS Canberra.  Return to Honiara via the wreck (what’s left of it) site of the Kinugawa Maru. Overnight – “The Heritage Park” hotel. Dinner this evening at own expense, either in-house or locally, such as the “Yacht Club” a few minutes’ walk towards town, and a chance to view the plaque to US Coast Guard’s man Doug Munro – Medal of Honour recipient.

Day 3: Friday 8th August 2014 (Breakfast included)

Breakfast in your hotel. Then we’ll depart the lobby at 08:00 for battle sites east of Honiara.  You’ll visit such sites as Red Beach where Allied troops first landed on Guadalcanal along with the “Amtrac” graveyard where we’ll find some 30 rusting relics of the amazing WWII amphibious tractors used to land the Marines.

Return via Henderson Field today’s International airport.  Then to downtown Honiara for lunch (own expense). This PM you’ll visit the Japanese Memorial on Hill 34 and the Japanese stronghold known as Gifu on the slopes of Mount Austen, “Alligator Creek” (Tenaru) scene of the first major battle on Guadalcanal.  Also visit “Bloody Ridge” (AKA the “Rest Area” sarcastically by those that fought there), where a small band of Marines held off a strong Japanese attack on the 12-13th September 42. Return to your hotel late afternoon, own arrangements for dinner this evening.

Day 4: Saturday 9th August 2014 (Breakfast included)

Breakfast in your hotel. Then we take a short walk to the Yacht Club to join our transport (a little sea time) across Sealark Channel or what’s today known as “Iron Bottom Sound” the final resting place to some 30 plus warships from both sides of the Battle for Guadalcanal.  The crossing is some 20 nautical miles to the Florida Islands to what in 1942 was the Capital of the British Protectorate of the Solomon Island – Tulagi. En-route we’ll stop off Savo Island to lay a wreath to the men of HMAS Canberra (84) that were Killed in Action on the night of the 8-9th August 1942. The journey direct will take 50-60 minutes subject to the sea state but today with the short stop I’d expect it to take an hour 30 minutes. On arrival on the leeward side of the island we’ll take a walk to see some of the sites that made history 72 years ago. Tulagi was taken by elements of the 1st Marine Div. & 1st Marine Raider Btln. The 1st Btln 2nd USMC Div. made two landings to cover the flanks on Blue Beach on the 7th August 42. meanwhile the 1st Marine Parachute Btln. attacked the two smaller islands to the east – Gavutu & Tanambogo. Lunch will be included today at a local eatery…..there’s not much choice but it’ll be local fare ! After lunch you’ll visit Purvis Bay where the wreck of the US Landing Ship LST 342 can still be (half) seen, with bow section, high and dry. Then onto “Tokyo Bay” where the sunken wreck of the Japanese destroyer “Kikutsuki” can be viewed. This vessel was part of the original Japanese landing on the 3rd May 42, but was sunk by US carrier based aircraft on the following day. Return back across “Iron Bottom Sound” to Honiara. Dinner own arrangements, maybe a refreshment at the Yacht Club before heading back to the hotel ?

Day 5: Sunday 10th August 2014 (Breakfast is included)

Breakfast in your hotel. Check out this morning will be by 10:00 am, ample time to do any last minute shopping or take a final swim in the hotel pool, or enjoy a sleep in. Your choice !  The National Museum is just across the road from the hotel exit and has a great little curio shop at very reasonable prices. Also on weekends there is an arts and craft market next door just turn left at the exit, but from experience the local stall holders seem to come and go at no set times, but you may be lucky to purchase a local handicraft item to take home before we leave the lobby at 10:15 for Henderson Field International airport to connect with

Solomon Airlines (IE) 700 Honiara-Brisbane ETD 12:15 ETA 14:30 (local time). On arrival and having cleared Immigration and Customs, proceed with your baggage to the special domestic check-in counters on the ground floor of the terminal to connect with your onward flight – if to Sydney either Qantas (QF) 541 ETD 16:25 ETA 18:00 or Virgin (VA) 966 ETD 16:30 ETA 18:00. There is a shuttle bus supplied to make the return transfer to your selected flight. Coach stop is directly outside the check in area, all you do is show your boarding pass and the ride is free.

This journey is for all ex Naval men or family members that wish to remember our WWII sailors that went down to the sea in ships and didn’t come home.

 

Lest we forget, Lest we forget.
The LAND ONLY COST: AUD 1,995.00 per person share twin.
Whilst a single room if you required is an extra AUD 657.00

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NB: Outbound to connect with the Solomon Airlines flight on Day 1 (6th) in Brisbane there is the rail link between terminals. Just follow the signage, cost was recently AUD 5.00, it is one stop and you are on an elevated track and get to see the airport as you loop between terminals. Otherwise there are taxis.

For further information or reservation call the Tour Co-ordinator  and Escort direct, Dennis Weatherall details appear below. The minimum number of travellers on this journey will be ten and maximum travellers twelve.

Battlefields Of The World
Web
: www.battlefieldsoftheworld.com.au   E-mail: dweatherall_eng@bigpond.com.au
Telephone / Facsimile: (02) 95206023  Mobile: 0428280536
International telephone dial: (61 2) 95206023 Mobile: (61) 428280536

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1 Comment

  1. […] The 72nd Anniversary of the Landings on Guadalcanal and the loss at Savo Island of HMAS Canberra […]

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