American bombing of Onepusu Mission

Figure 1
The surprise Allied landings on nearby Guadalcanal and Tulagi Areas on early Friday morning of August 7th, 1942, was the beginning of another very bad day for Malaita and the South Sea Evangelical Mission (SSEM). On the previous day, the Japanese had bombed the SSEM station at Fo’ondo killing five people. On D-day, an American Catalina PBY-5 flying boat, evidently from U.S. Navy Patrol Squadron 23 (VP-23) at the newly set up base at Maramasike just down the coast, dropped a bomb on the head SSEM station at Onepusu. The mission leader, Dr. Northcote Deck, three years later would naturally write it was God’s providence that the bomb did not explode. The archaeological evidence for this episode probably still survives, as Melanesian converts later dumped the dud bomb in the sea to get rid of it. [As published p.  6, “South from Guadalcanal: The Romance of Rennell Island” by Northcote Deck, 1945].

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