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Battlefield tours remember bloody past

For travellers who enjoy history, Pacific Island countries like Kiribati, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands offer a trove of wartime remnants and are stark reminders that even in paradise, lives are lost to the global reach of world wars.

In fact, warpath tours, sunken wrecks, memorabilia, and museums of wartime artefacts, weapons and tankers provide a range of tour activities for visitors and history buffs of WW2, and they can opt to trek, dive, or simply visit and offer up a prayer for the lives lost.

And many were certainly lost between the Allied Forces, the Imperial Japanese Army and of course the innocent lives taken in the crossfires.

The Battle of Tarawa’s 79th anniversary was commemorated in South Tarawa this week. Picture: Tourism Authority of Kiribati.
The Battle of Tarawa’s 79th anniversary was commemorated in South Tarawa this week. Picture: Tourism Authority of Kiribati.

In the Kiribati capital, the Battle of Tarawa’s 79th anniversary was commemorated this week at the WW2 memorial monument in Betio and in the solemn words of the country’s President, Taneti Maamau, men and women bravely fought for peace and harmony.

“While history cannot be changed, the bravery, courage and selfless determination of the fallen and of the survivors must forever be recognized and honoured,” he remarked.

“By remembering, by telling our stories, we hope that their legacy becomes a source of inspiration for nations to forge peace with one another.”

Battleground tours are available in Kiribati, where 6,400 people were killed during WW2. Picture: Tourism Authority of Kiribati.
Battleground tours are available in Kiribati, where 6,400 people were killed during WW2. Picture: Tourism Authority of Kiribati.

As the Tourism Authority of Kiribati explained, the Battle of Tarawa was one of the first in the Pacific War during WW2 and lasted from November 20-23 in 1943.

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“By the end of this campaign, nearly 6,400 Japanese, Koreans and Americans died on the tiny island of Betio in the 76 hours of fighting earned its name as the bloodiest battles during World War 2.”

Operators on the tiny island state offer battleground tours on the reefs were troops clashed, and aside from the relics and bunkers in fortification sites, visitors can also view the shrines erected in memory of lives lost.

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