Solomon Islands marking 80 years of WWII Battle of Guadalcanal

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Dawn breaks over Honiara for 80th anniversary of Battle of Guadalcanal celebrations
Dawn breaks over the Solomon Islands capital Honiara as international delegations gather at the US war memorial to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the WWII Battle of Guadalcanal. Image: Koroi Hawkins/FB/RNZ

RNZ Pacific

Senior government and military leaders from the United States, New Zealand, Australia and Japan are in Honiara to mark the 80th anniversary of the World War II Battle of Guadalcanal.

Minister of Defence Peeni Henare is leading the New Zealand delegation along with Secretary of Defence Andrew Bridgman and the Commander of the Joint Forces Rear Admiral James Gilmour.

The New Zealand High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Jonathan Schwass, said New Zealanders from the army, air force and navy “served with distinction in the Solomon Islands between 1942 and 1945”.

“As WWII starts to slip beyond living memory, it is important that we continue to honour people of all nationalities who served and who died here,” he said.

Schwass said the remembrance ceremonies being organised this weekend showed that they were not forgotten.

A series of commemoration events start today.

Schwass said they were a reminder that the ties between New Zealand and Solomon Islands went back far into the past.

Solomon Scouts and CoastWatchers Trust chair Sir Bruce Saunders said filming the stories of those who served the US Marine Forces when they landed on Guadalcanal on 7 August 1942 was under way.

He said Solomon Islands students did not know their own history and he hoped to change that.

Marines rest in the field on Guadalcanal.
Marines rest in the field on Guadalcanal. Image: WikiCommons/RNZ

More than 25,000 soldiers died in the battle including dozens of Solomon Islanders.

Sir Bruce said the stories of their grandfathers and their role in saving their country needed to be passed down.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

US Marines leave NZ for Guadalcanal 1943
Next Stop Advanced Base … US Marines leaving New Zealand for Guadalcanal. Sergeant James A. Mundell wrote: “No band plays as these Marines board their war-bound transport.” 30 June 1943. Image: Nga Taonga/RNZ
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