Unlike the American and Japanese memorials in Honiara, the Solomon Scouts’ & Coastwatchers’ Memorial on Commonwealth Street, is discreet and recognises the role of the local people in World War II in a more human way. The plaques reads ‘Pride of our Nation.’ There are two citations. The first is from the hard-hittng US Navy Admiral William ‘Bull’ Halsey (1882-1959), wartime Commander, South Pacific Area, and reads: ‘The Coastwatchers saved Guadalcanal and Guadacanal saved the Pacific.’ The other is from John Keenan, DSC, a coastwatcher in the Royal Australian Navy: ‘Without local help I don’t know what we would have done, we wouldn’t have lasted ten minutes.’ The memorial is topped by a composite statue of three Solomon scouts, surrounding a European coastwatcher, the sculpture designed by Frank Haikiu. It was built between 2009 and 2011 on the initiative of Sir Bruce Saunders, KBE (born 1941), a former Vice-Chairman of the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce.
The Solomon Islanders risked their lives to support the Allies and many stayed behind Japanese lines to get important information. They were also instrumental in the rescue of President John F. Kennedy (1917-63), then a lieutenant commanding PT-109, part of Motor Torpedo Squadron TWO, which was sunk in August 1943, by a Japanese destroyer, Kennedy and his surviving crew swimming to safety on Olasana Island, a swim of 3.75 miles. The bravery of the islanders should never be forgotten and this monument keeps their story alive. For this reason, this site is a very important location to visit.
The Prince of Wales laid a wreath here in memory of the many Solomon Islanders who died in the Second World War, as did the Duke of Cambridge on his visit.
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