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Solomon Islands: Peter Joseph WW II museum

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Peter Joseph WW II museum | Solomon Islands | Oceania

[Visited: November 2012]

The primary reason for me to come to Munda, was to dive, but while on the surface, I also wanted to see something of interest. One afternoon, I headed east along the dirt track lined by traditional houses, until i reached the soccer field, I crossed it while youngsters were playing, and arrived at the house of Barney. My plan was to see the small museum, and then explore the neighborhood; it was still a couple of hours before sunset. But things would unfold differently. A welcoming owner, Barney himself, introduced himself to me, and before I knew it, he was guiding me through his small museum with all kinds of objects he found in the jungle surrounding Munda. Some were simply abandoned when the war was over, some were recovered from bodies he found, or aircraft that had crashed during the war.

Picture of Peter Joseph WW II museum (Solomon Islands): Bullets lying on top of a helmet

Housed under a palm-tree leaf hut which is choke-full with items from the Second World War, the museum extends on either side where you can find many, mostly bigger, items on display as well. There are in fact so many things on display, and there is so much information, that it could easily fill a modest building. Barney showed me Japanese and American helmets, drinking bottles (and the unmistakeable shape of Coca Cola bottles), cutlery, watches, shavers, guns, ammunition and many more items. Moreover, he was able to explain what he was showing with a profound knowledge and enthusiasm that soon convinced me that this was much more than just a hobby. We walked through the museum over and over again, and each time, he would take out something else to show me, and would talk about it with the same zeal.

Picture of Peter Joseph WW II museum (Solomon Islands): Helmet, drinking bottles, cutlery, and other items carried by soldiers

While I was still browsing at the museum, Barney went to his house to fetch the Box. It appeared to be a collection of yet more items, like hand grenades, Japanese knives, dog tags from both the American and Japanese army, and the family shell money used to settle disputes and get the permission to marry out a son. The dog tags explained the name of the museum: the first tag found by Barney had belonged to Peter Joseph. Some of the more amazing items are outside: take for example the landing gear of Japanese and American fighter planes, or the engine of one of the American aircraft, or a rusting Japanese cannon. Both sides of the museum are lined by helmets on poles; American helmets next to Japanese ones - once fighting each other in a brutal war, their head wear has been next to each other for a longer time than the war ever lasted.

Picture of Peter Joseph WW II museum (Solomon Islands): Japanese cannon with the engine of one of the many downed aircraft near Munda
Picture of Peter Joseph WW II museum (Solomon Islands): Overview of the Peter Joseph WW II museum
Picture of Peter Joseph WW II museum (Solomon Islands): Drinking bottles used by the US army in World War II
Picture of Peter Joseph WW II museum (Solomon Islands): Barrels of guns with bottles of Coca Cola behind them
Picture of Peter Joseph WW II museum (Solomon Islands): Shavers used by US soldiers in World War II
Picture of Peter Joseph WW II museum (Solomon Islands): Knives, dog tags, hand grenades, old coins, as well as shell money in the Box
Picture of Peter Joseph WW II museum (Solomon Islands): Variety of items like bottles and scissors on display in the museum
Picture of Peter Joseph WW II museum (Solomon Islands): Row of helmets used by the US and Japanese soldiers just beside the museum building
Picture of Peter Joseph WW II museum (Solomon Islands): The aircraft engine on display at the small museum
Picture of Peter Joseph WW II museum (Solomon Islands): Meal-boxes, bottles, and other items on display
Picture of Peter Joseph WW II museum (Solomon Islands): Tag of one of the aircraft on display in the museum
Picture of Peter Joseph WW II museum (Solomon Islands): Row of landing gears of different aircraft next to the museum
Picture of Peter Joseph WW II museum (Solomon Islands): Bomb hanging in the museum

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