One of the legendary figures to come out of the Guadalcanal Campaign was Snowy "Killer" Rhoades. Commander Eric Feldt (the man who concieved and implemented the idea of the Coastwatchers in 1939) in his classic 1946 work, The Coast Watchers, described Rhoades as: '...a dour, silent man who, alone of all our coastwatchers, really looked the part. His unruly hair, deeply lined face, cold blue eyes peering out beneath bushy brows, and a mannerism of hanging his head like a prizefighter protecting his chin made him almost a caricature of the complete jungle fighter. He was as tough as he looked and, where Japanese were concerned, bloodthirsty. He had been appointed a coastwatcher in the early days, and when civilians had been evacuated had chosen to remain. His post was at Lavoro, a company-owned plantation of which he was manager, on the western end of Guadalcanal.'  James Michener based his coastwatcher character, the Remittance Man, in Tales of the South Pacific on the legendary Rhoades.  Rhoades published his coastwatcher diary which documented his experiences in the Solomons, chiefly to serve as a rebuttal to a pamphlet published in 1946 by the British High Commission to the Western Pacific Territories on the role of coastwatchers during the war.
Birth Name: Frederick Ashton Rhoades Nicknames: "Snowy", "Snow", "Killer" Hometown: North Sydney, New South Wales, Australia Born: 26 June 1895 Died: September 1976 Wars: WW1, WW2 Awards: Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star Author:Diary of a Coastwatcher in the Solomons
Feldt, Eric A. The Coastwatchers: Operation Ferdinand and the Fight for the South Pacific. Uncommon Valor Press, 2014. (pp.70-71).
It should go without saying, but Michener's tales are based on real life experiences, observations, anecdotes, and people. In his writings Michener speaks with authority about the South Pacific during WW2. Regarding Guadalcanal, in Return to Paradise (1950) he states: ‘I was stationed there during the war, and I have walked the trails Americans crawled along, flown in their fiery skies and followed the furrows of the sea where their small boats went out to fight battleships.’
This article was written by:
Bryan T. Stefancyk
Founder/Owner War Historian, LLC Battlefield Expeditions