In 1942 and 1943 one of the largest American campaigns of WW2 and was fought in the Solomon Islands. The Guadalcanal Campaign marked the first time the United States went on the offensive against the Empire of Japan (the Battle of Midway was defensive). This was a resource-intensive war that claimed innumerable ships and materials.

There are many reasons why one should visit the Solomon Islands - not least because they are forgotten tropical paradises. If one would like to explore a whole sunken fleet, consider visiting the Japanese sunken fleet at Chuuk (Truk) Lagoon - where American vengeance for Pearl Harbor was metered out.

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The Background of The Guadalcanal Campaign

The Japanese wanted a decisive battle, but what they got in the Guadalcanal was a war of attrition that they couldn't sustain. The Solomon Islands Campaign was part of a much largest strategic goal of the Allies to stop Japan from cutting off Australia and New Zealand.

  • Duration: The Guadalcanal Lasted 6 Months
  • Outcome: Allied Victory

Besides the enormous loss of life, the Solomon Islands Campaign cost the Allies around 29 ships, 615 aircraft, and many more destroyed and abandoned equipment like tanks and trackers. The Japanese lost 38 ships and 683 aircraft - these continue to litter the region.

  • Aircraft: Around 1300 Aircraft Were Lost in the Campaign
  • Ships: Around 67 Ships Were Lost

One can see the remains of one of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific. This battle of attrition was fought on land, in the sea, and in the air. Now that wreckage remains scattered in the area as sunken ships in the seas and buried relics of downed aircraft and abandoned tanks in the jungles.

Related: How To Get The Most Out Of A Historical Visit To The Pearl Harbor Museum & Memorial

Visiting The Solomon Islands And Its World War Two Relics

Today as one visits the idyllic Solomon Islands, one will be taken back by its lush forests, friendly people, and stunning beaches. These 6 major islands (and 900 smaller ones) are incredibly diverse. Although home to only 680,000 people (90,000 in 1950), the Solomon Islands are home to around 70 languages.

  • Languages: There Are Around 70 Languages Spoken On The Solomon Islands

For those with an interest in history, these islands are strewn with amazing war relics from World War 2.

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Explorers today can find American Stuart Tanks, Japanese cannons, and American fighter planes. Many are the homes of fish and crustaceans or have been claimed by the jungle.

The stretch of water at the southern end of Guadalcanal is called the Iron Bottom Sound according to Fly Solomons. It was given this name by the Allied sailors of the campaign to describe Savo Sound where dozens of sunken ships and planes lined the bottom.

  • Iron Bottom Sound: Named In WW2 For The Number of Sunken Ships In The Sound

Related: What You Need to Know About Visiting The D-Day Normandy Landings At Omaha Beach Today

Notable WW2 Attractions In The Solomons

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Some of the most famous of the old war equipment in the Solomon Islands are:

  • Moa: A New Zealand Bird-Class Corvette. It Rests in 135 Feet of Water And Remains Largely Intact In Tulagi Harbour
  • Hirokawa Maru: A Japanese Military Transport Vessel Just Beneath the Surface and Can Be Accessed By Both Snorkeling and Diving
  • Kinguawa Maru: Another Japanese Military Transport Beached off Tassafaronga Beach. The Remains of the Hull Are Now A Cathedral Seascape Of Colorful Soft Corals
  • USS Aaron Ward: A US Gleaves-Class Destroyer Sitting Upright in 230 Feet of Water. The Guns are Still Standing in Action Stations As Though It Remains Ready For Battle

A small museum of war memorabilia can be found in Munda on the Island of New Georgia called the Peter Joseph WWII Museum.

There are also numerous plaques around the archipelago - including one commemorating the HMAS Canberra.

In the jungles remain many undiscovered wrecked planes, amphibious tractors, stranded tanks, and other long-abandoned war relics. The jungles of the Solomons have long claimed these instruments of war and explorers seek to discover what the jungles have claimed.

The Vilu War Museum

There is also the open-air Vilu War Museum. It is a great place for visitors to see Japanese and Allied cannons, wrecks, and fighter planes close up. One reviewer on Tripadvisor stated of the Museum:

"The museum doesn’t have any information for the vehicles and aircraft. They’re awesome to see how they’ve been re-assembled, or in some cases stockpiled and overgrown by the trees. The plaques are very moving just wish there was more background"

Equipment includes a Wildcat, a Corsair, a P-38F Lightning, a Dauntless dive bomber, and Mitsubishi G4M1 Model 11, and some other remains of aircraft. Artillery includes four 15 cm howitzers, a Type 88 75 mm AA gun, and the turret of a Japanese medium tank.

Next: You Can Now Visit The Churchill War Rooms, A Secret Meeting Space During WWII