The Relic Search
OK, back to my search for WW2 relics on Bougainville.
After I unearthed that Japanese helmet, I was all about finding more stuff. I went way off the trail and just struck out randomly into the jungle. (Well, not completely randomly. I knew I was in the general action zone.)
It wasn’t until mid-day that I found something else, but this was a great find. It was a boot.
Well, black by the time I found it but obviously originally green. I had to scrape off a thick layer of mold to see the true color underneath.
I couldn’t tell which side–Allied or Japanese–it belonged to, but I figured I could deduce that when I had a chance to get it cleaned up.
After that came the best find of the trip: a rusted out gun. It was mounted on a stand and was completely obliterated by vines. The only reason I found it is that in my random movements around the jungle, I walked right into it.
My guide was beside me, swinging his machete to clear away vines so we could move forward. Good thing he was beside me and not in front of me or his machete would’ve hit the gun.
I let out a yell of triumph and started pulling off all the vines. My guide helped and we quickly had the whole gun exposed.
It was incredibly cool to see it. Since most of it was metal, it was largely intact, but rusty. It was a big gun that (on its stand) came up to my waist.
It was too big to move–which is probably why a relic that size was still there. I bet other relic-hunters have stumbled into it over the years and left it in peace for the same reason.
I took a ton of pictures of the gun but didn’t try to take any pieces off it. Didn’t much see the point of that. There weren’t any casing on the ground that I could find, which indicated to me that others had also found the gun and taken casings.
We kept looking for more relics after the gun find. The rest of the day went by with no more finds. But I was ok with that.
We camped in that area that third night and then walked out the next day. I wanted to get to the Buka cliffs before I had to leave Bougainville.
On Day 5 my guide and I went to the cliffs of Buka that overlook the Buka Passage–the area of ocean that goes between the baby island of Buka and the mama island of Bougainville.
The cliffs are full of caves, and I think I went into every last one. I did find remnants of relics but nothing worth keeping, and we came across several big mounted guns like the one we found in the jungle.
I was totally excited about the remnants and the guns. I went back to Vanuatu a happy man.