Mono Island Battle Commemorated In Solomon Islands

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Retaking of Mono key to allied successes during WWII

By Ednal Palmer

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Oct. 29, 2013) – Solomon Islands Minister for Police, National Security and Correctional Services Chris Laore last Sunday accompanied representatives from the New Zealand High Commission, the New Zealand Defence Force, the United States and Japan to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the battle for Mono Island.

The battle for Mono Island was very significant to New Zealand and the people of Mono, who have since created a strong bond and relationship between the two parties.

Villagers of Falamai, a coastal village of more than 1000 people were well prepared for the visiting delegation who joined and made the commemorations a success.

Falamai is where New Zealand and American troops made landfall in an effort to eradicate Japanese soldiers who slowly transformed Mono and the nearby Stirling Islands into a stronghold.

The ceremony started with a ‘friendly’ welcome of the guests, followed by a service and laying of wreaths, a village tour and handing over of remains of soldiers believed to be casualties of the campaign.

Speaking during the commemoration service, Minister of Police and Member of Parliament for the Shortland Islands said every year on 27 October the local Mono community commemorate the sacrifice made by New Zealand soldiers in the campaign to liberate Mono by celebrating Mono-New Zealand Day.

"The Mono-New Zealand Day commemorations are part of the strong and enduring friendship between New Zealand and Solomon Islands.

"We are thankful for this opportunity to commemorate those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and to recall the long-standing commitment New Zealand has made to peace and security in the Solomon Islands," Mr. Laore said.

Acting New Zealand High Commissioner Sarah Wong who was also a member of the delegation said the service rendered by those who fought on Mono Island will always be remembered.

"We will always remember the service of the brave New Zealanders that fought and died here in Mono.

"They were committed to the values of freedom and liberty and sacrificed their lives for the peace and security we all enjoy today.

"At the same time we remember our own lost soldiers it is important we take the time to acknowledge the tragic loss of life that occurred on all sides of the conflict and to remember the young sons of the United States and Japan that are buried here on Mono too," Ms. Wong said.

Brigadier Timothy Gall represented the New Zealand Defence Force at the ceremony.

Brigadier Gall said the Mono landings are particularly significant for New Zealand as they represent the first opposed amphibious assault since the New Zealand landings at Gallipoli during World War I.

"Seventy years on, it is important we mark this day and recommit ourselves to ensuring the tragedy of war is never revisited upon this part of the world again."

A village representative Ruben Misi said the historical event is a pride for Mono people and is passed on from generation to generation.

"This historical event which did not only affect warring parties at that time but also locals, will remain for as long as they live."

During the bloody campaign for Mono and Stirling Islands known as the Treasury Islands, the New Zealanders and their allies worked hard to flush out the Japanese forces on Mono Island.

They eventually succeeded on the night of 2-3 November.

By 12 November, New Zealand casualties totalled 40 killed and 145 wounded. American casualties were 21 dead and 29 wounded.

The Japanese forces suffered 205 deaths and eight taken as prisoners of war. Small skirmishes with the Japanese continued until the end of November.

The Allied success in the capture of Mono Island helped pave the way for further success in the Solomon Islands Campaign and ultimately the Pacific War, with the Allies bypassing centres of resistance while slowly moving northwards towards Japan.

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