Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Barge Tunnels

In 1942, Rabaul, newly restored after the devastating 1937 volcanic eruption, was invaded by Japanese forces. The Japanese turned Rabaul into their main army and naval base for the planned invasion into the Pacific and eventually down into Australia.

The heavy aerial bombardment of Rabaul by Allied Forces, forced the Japanese to dig in – literally!! Hundreds of prisoners of war, including a division of Indian troops from the Singapore campaign, were used to dig 400 kilometres of tunnels in the hills surrounding the town. These tunnels contained barracks and hospitals, storage for weapons and munitions and even barges, tanks and aircraft.

This is a photo of one of the many barge tunnels on the side of the road near Blue Lagoon on the Rabaul/Kokopo road. The barges were hidden in tunnels like this and they were pulled to and from the beach on tracks by prisoners.

One tunnel at Karavia village still contains the rusting bodies of five Japanese barges. I will show you that one next week.

Phone communications to The Islands (the mainland was ok) were reconnected last night - late - as you can see by the time on the bottom of my post. It has been in-and-out a couple of times today but seems ok now. Still at snail's pace though!!

18 comments:

dive said...

Cool, Jules!
I love all your historical posts. Unlike the sunsets and blue sea posts they don't make me bang my head on my desk for stupidly living in England.

oldmanlincoln said...

Wow. Wow. Wow.

I told you that I knew a Japanese who was stationed there himself during the war and survived. He had a bad back the rest of his life from the brutal labor all soldiers were put through. I assume that he is no longer with us as I have not heard from him in several years. This is absolutely amazing, to me, to see this and I look forward to seeing more.

maria elisa said...

great photo

:)

quintarantino said...

Now that's a great shot and splendid information.

M.Benaut said...

It is so validating for you, Jules to read M. Lincoln's response. To think that this post has a connection such as this, must make you feel it's just SO worthwile ! This is brilliant.
I too, had uncles in N.G. in the war, but they would never talk about it. It is only now, that I am learning what they went through.
Ripper.

Rich said...

Fascinating image and story...
Planet Earth Daily Photo
.

NorthBayPhoto said...

Very interesting story! Great information. Waiting to see the rusting barges!

Thanks for visiting my NorthBayPhoto blog.

Bergson said...

in the first glance, I believed that it was a tree which was dug.

On my photograph, it is not me which waits on the attachment; I like the horses but in photograph
; -)

Karlis Beinerts said...

Very interesting! Must have been hard times. Impressive image.

joy said...

I wonder if there are ghosts inside. What do you think?

Thanks for visiting Norwich Daily Photo.

joy
Your Love Coach

CaBaCuRl said...

Another amazing chapter in Rabaul's history...what an experience to live in a place like this for part of your life.

david mcmahon said...

Hi Jules,

I knew Old Man Lincoln would love this. I'm very familiar with this period in history, so loved the post.

Looking forward to the promised pictures.

Steve Buser said...

Very interesting stuff.

--steve buser
New Orleans Daily Photo

Old Wom Tigley said...

So sorry I'm late with my responce Jules...
This is stunning, the work would have been so hard, history history, I hated history as school now it seems I love, it is so interesting. I await more pictures and you wonderful words ..

Old Wom Tigley said...

P.S.
ha! there was me thinking that cave was a picture of you yawning.. ;0)

Kate said...

What an interesting bit of history about a terrible time period. The picture speaks volumes.

Old Wom Tigley said...

Just read your comments over on Wiggers World.. firstly I'm so sorry the pictures took so long to down load.. if I had posted just few the way the locks worked would not have shown up so good.
Secondly... I so glad you took my other comment so well... feel free now to shoot me a broadside.. :=)

Lothiane said...

Very interesting history!