No matter how peaceful Yap may look, it has had its share of warfare, as it was one of the many islands that saw heavy fighting between the Japanese and Americans in the Second World War. Part of our day tour of the island of Yap includes visits to various silent witnesses of this war. We drive south from Colonia, and just out of town, see the concrete German towers that were badly damaged, but not destroyed by heavy bombing. We pass the current international airport of Yap, to arrive at the old one. Built by the Japanese, it lies lower than the current one, making it more difficult to use for pilots. In the vicinity of the airport, our guide takes us to several reminders of the war.
The first one are two Japanese Zero planes, destroyed by the Americans while they were taxiing out. For this reason, the wrecks are remarkably intact: the wings are very recognizable, and so are the cockpits. The propellor engines are destroyed, and the wrecks are now slowly rusting away, surrounded by high grass. Nearby, several anti-aircraft guns stand in the field; they apparently were not able to protect the planes. We listen to our guide explain about the events on that day, and how the Japanese tried to hide their planes from the Americans who bombed Yap extensively. We drive to the tiny airport building and cross the old runway, which is now partly covered by grass. One of them still has a very recognizable cockpit, another has several fire fighting bottles lying around. What is remarkable is that many movable parts of the wrecks can still be moved.
Our guide takes us for a walk through the forest, where we see several more wrecks. There are deep holes in the ground: bomb craters caused by the intensive bombing that took place here. Then, there is another wreck, much bigger, which actually is of a much later date: a Continental Micronesia Boeing 727 which crashed upon landing and ended up here in the forest. The aircraft livery is still partly visible. It seems amazing that all those flying on that plane survived. The accident triggered the building of the current airport. Nature is recovering all of this, the wrecks and the bomb craters, step by step, until one day, they will be out of sight. Back in town, we see a small monument with the wreck of an American Hellcat fighter plane which collided with another US fighter plane in September 1944. Our thoughts go out to all those combatants who died here, but also the Yapese who had to endure a brutal war that was not theirs, with all the destruction it brings.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Yap Second World War wrecks (Federated States of Micronesia). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Yap Second World War wrecks. Read more about this site.