World War II

TROUBLE IN PARADISE

THESE MARINES had never been in combat. Their landing on little Tulagi island in the Solomons would begin the first American land offensive of World War II. Tulagi, 20 miles north of Guadalcanal in the shadow of the larger Florida Islands (now the Nggela Islands), had been the British capital of the Solomons before Japanese troops occupied it in March 1942. The island’s small harbor and nearby seaplane base had to be taken so that the invasion of Guadalcanal and its airstrip could proceed. On August 7, 1942, the 1st Marine Division landed on Beach Blue at dawn. The Americans conquered Tulagi and the nearby islets of Gavutu and Tanambogho in three days, while the horrific fight for Guadalcanal was not won for six months. The U.S. Navy then utilized Tulagi throughout the war as a base for PT boats, a repair harbor, and a 20-bed hospital site.

Tulagi is today a slow-moving place of 1,200 souls with one unpaved road around its shoreline. The PT base

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