Fiji Commandos moving up for the attack on Munda, New Georgia, Solomon Islands, July 1943.
Photo Source: Among Those Present.
One of the forgotten aspects of the Pacific War is the role played by South Pacific Islanders. Though caught up in a war they did not ask for on their doorstep, Melanesians played a vital and game-changing role in the Solomons Campaign. The war came with a fury to Melanesia in a multitude of ways and forever changed (both positively and negatively) this region of the world. (Japanese occupation; once peaceful idyllic islands turned into bloody battlegrounds; With the Japanese occupation of much of the South Pacific islands, Melanesians war scouts, and combat soldiers.
If you know where to look on Guadalcanal there are reminders of the Fijians who fought in the Solomons Campaign. On the western side of the island there are still surviving remnants of one of their camps. At Henderson Field there is a memorial marker that reads:
THE 1ST. & 2ND. COMMANDO, FIJI GUERRILLAS
- FIJIANS, NEW ZEALANDERS & TONGANS -
AND THE SOUTH PACIFIC SCOUTS
- BRITISH AND SOLOMON ISLANDERS -
IN WORLD WAR II
THOSE WHO RETURNED TO THEIR HOMES
REMEMBER THEIR FALLEN COMRADES,
SOME OF WHOM STILL REST, NEAR HERE,
IN THE SOLITUDE OF THE JUNGLE.
Five soldiers of the Fiji Infantry Regiment killed during the New Georgia Campaign and the Bougainville Campaign are interred on Guadalcanal at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Matanikau Cemetery. Their comrades who died in the 1st Commando Fiji Guerillas and who have no known grave are remembered by name on the Suva Memorial at Suva, Viti Levu, Fiji. Those who served in the local forces of the Solomon Islands are commemorated by name on the Bourail Memorial in New Caledonia.
Memorial marker at Henderson Field to Fijian military forces that fought in the Solomons Campaign.
Photo Credit: Bryan T. Stefancyk
Below are photographs and captions of Fiji Commandos from the 1946 published book, Among Those Present: The Official Story of the Pacific Islands at War Prepared for the Colonial Office by the Central Office of Information.
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'The very atmosphere of a battle defies description and eludes the imagination. Words cannot convey even a suggestion of the sounds heard and the emotions felt, when every faculty is heightened, when every nerve is tense.'
--- Charles Dowie, Great War veteran