Metal detecting in the jungle

I finally had a chance to take my metal detector back into the jungle. One of my receive antennas transects a WW2 era site where I’ve found Japanese and American bottles, GI boot soles, and even a fully loaded M1 carbine magazine. This time, I brought my son with me.

I have an inexpensive metal detector I bought from Harbor Freight. It does the trick, but soon after we got into the jungle, I snapped the plastic piece that holds the coil to the rest of the unit. It’s something I can easily fix, however it made searching for things difficult, so we didn’t spend much time looking.

Justin holding our metal detector. He’s dressed for the jungle – not for rain but to keep the mosquitoes and thorns away.
Justin holding our metal detector. He’s dressed for the jungle – not for rain but to keep the mosquitoes and thorns away.

It did not take long to start finding stuff. We uncovered a lot of random iron pieces, as well as some rock breaking tools – a heavy chisel and a breaker bar. Shortly later, we dug up a silver plated fork. I am pretty sure this site was a ranch during the prewar years.

We found a few more M1 carbine rounds – live. These are all definitively from WW2. Just before we left, Justin found the most interesting thing – a 7.7mm shell casing. This is a Japanese rifle round, fired in an Arisaka type 99 rifle. Wow! This is the first Japanese rifle shell casing I’ve ever found – was there a skirmish here during the war? Who knows – but I will definitely have to dig around some more!

Silver plated fork, rusted knife, live M1 carbine rounds, and a Japanese arisaka type 99 rifle cartridge casing.


Two Lovers Point area

Several times a week, I ride my bike along the road that provides access to Two Lover’s Point and Tanguisson Beach. I know that this road is the only section of the WW2 road I’ve explored that is still in use. Until recently, I never even thought to look for war remnants along it’s length. The whole area was called the “Harmon Annex”, used by the Army Air Corps as a base following the liberation of Guam in 1944. I have read that General LeMay’s headquarters was in this area. Today, however, the whole area is overgrown with tall grases, formerly abandoned clearings from the 50’s and 60’s when the Air Force occupied the site.

Along both sides of the road is an easement for utilities. There are underground fuel and power lines running from the Tanguisson power plant to the distribution station along Marine Drive. As a result of all these disturbances, I figured it was pointless to look for anything remaining from the war along this stretch of road.

A couple months ago, the power company did some maintenance along the easement, pushing the grass and scrub growth back into the jungle with a bulldozer. Following this work, I noticed some bottles laying in the clearing. Figuring they were modern trash, I disregarded them.

Recently, I got a flat tire on my bike in this area, so I pulled off the road to change the tube. It was an opportunity to look closer at the bottles laying in the new clearing, literally within sight of the Two Lover’s Point sign. Amazingly, one of the first bottles I find is a WW2 Japanese Kirin Beer Bottle!

The next weekend, my youngest son and I decided to explore the area more closely.

My Son, Justin, runs ahead looking for stuff in the dirt bank, pushed there by a bulldozer to clear the easement.
We find broken Japanese beer bottles everywhere – obviously broken while clearing the area. This is the base of a smaller WW2 Kirin beer bottle.
Amazingly, the bulldozer did not break this WW2 Japanese DaiNippon beer bottle.
Justin with a Kirin beer bottle he pulled out of the dirt in one piece.
Patio soda bottle – Pepsi’s first diet soda, produced in 1963 and 1964 until they changed the name to Diet Pepsi.
Two clear WW2 coke bottles dated 1945, sitting next to a more recent whiskey bottle, probably from the 50’s.
Shards of DaiNippon beer bottles are laying everywhere, Japanese war remnants sitting within sight of the Two Lovers Point entrance, one of the most popular destination for tourists from Japan.
Justin did really well, finding two more Japanese beer bottles, next to a shard of a broken DaiNippon bottle.
Justin holds a piece of DaiNippon beer bottle he picked up just a few feet from the Two Lovers Point entrance.

When we were done exploring, we had rescued seven WW2 era Japanese beer bottles from sure breakage by lawn mowers. There is no telling how many bottles remain buried in the dirt banks. Time will tell as the rain washes away the soil. It is apparent that this was a roadside dump site following the liberation in 1944. Scattered amongst recent trash and beer bottles from the 1950’s until today are countless fragments of broken beer and soda bottles dated 1944 and 1945.

My son had a great time also and he has started a WW2 botttle collection of his own. Usually, I can’t bring him with me into the jungle because of the growth – sharp plant spines, rocks, spiders, and mosquitoes. This was a great opportunity to take him somewhere safe and to show him some history first hand.

More WW2 stuff

I’ve been really too busy to update the blog until now, but I’ve still had a couple opportunities to head back into the jungle for some exploration. A couple weeks ago I was able to explore the stretch of abandoned WW2 road from the FAA property up to NCTS. I was not expecting to find much, but I was surprised to stumble across some nice stuff from the war.

What is called “FAA property” is a parcel land that bisects NCTS to the north and the South Finegayan housing area to the south. There was a Federal Aviation Administration facility here until about 10-15 years ago, when the buildings were taken down. I knew my abandoned road had to pass through this area, however the edges of the jungle are heavily overgrown with dense brush and Google Maps didn’t show much of anything where I thought the road should be. I wrote down some coordinates, grabbed my GPS, and headed off into the jungle.

It was really hard going for the first couple hundred yards. I just had to push my way through the growth and cut the vines that would otherwise trip me. I find it easier to traverse the jungle this way as opposed to hacking a path with a machete. It is less tiring and is much less obtrusive. I wear heavy long sleeve coveralls with gloves so it’s not too difficult to push through this way.

I was not too far from my GPS location when I started finding bottles and other old trash.

An old Delco-Remy battery case laying next to a beer bottle dated 1944.
The logo looks identical to online images of advertisements from the WW2 era
It was only the case – the guts of the battery are long gone

I finally broke through the heavy growth and into the primary forest. The area was absolutely beautiful and looked almost Jurassic. I chose my GPS coordinates wisely – they put me right on the old road and a WW2 era dump site – bottles and other trash was everywhere!

Into the primary forest jungle
The can at the bottom of the photo was obviously recently left by hunters who were oblivious to the WW2 history around them
The road itself can be seen here – the border between the road (bottom left) and rocky jungle (top right) is easily seen in this photo
Old bottles were scattered everywhere along the old road bed. It was impossible to take a photo of the area, because the road itself was heavily overgrown with brush and visibility was only a few feet.
Two old coke bottles and an enameled steel dinner plate
The plate is dated 194? – the last number in the date is no longer readable
Here is a Japanese Dai Nippon beer bottle, sitting where it was dropped more than 60 years ago
More Japanese beer bottles and a US GI’s canteen that I found that was mostly buried in dirt
The aluminum canteen, badly wasted away, is dated 1943.

There is no telling how much I overlooked due to the heavy tropical growth. The area was obviously a bivouac area due to the number of bottles and other metal trash. The most recent datable objects found were 1945 bottles, so this is most definitely a WW2 dump.

I followed the road north, trying to intersect Haputo Beach road on NCTS, however the road disappeared into a dense jungle area I could not push or cut my way through.

Dense jungle growth – this is as far as I can go without a bulldozer!

So, now I have explored this abandoned road almost in it’s entirety. I’ve walked almost the entire length, from where the road is first abandoned just north of Two Lover’s Point, all the way to Northwest Field. There are only a few areas I’ve not yet explored, on NCTS just east of Haputo Beach, and a few areas that are all but impenetrable. All along this road I have found literally thousands of bottles and other relics left along the road as debris from the time during and following the liberation of Guam in August, 1944.

WW2 American Anti-Aircraft site

The other day I was riding north of the NCTS antenna field. Here, cut through the jungle, as a wide path that’s kept mowed. This is actually the northern end of the old abandoned road that I have been spending so much time exploring. Here, the path was used for buried cables between the WW2 airfield (Northwest Field) and NCTS, so it is maintained today.

Looking south toward the NASA tracking facility at NCTS. The mowed trail heads south, in the right of the photo

I certainly was not expecting to go exploring – I was actually looking for a safe off-road access to Ritidian Point where I could go cycling. At the northern end of the path, not far from Northwest Field, I noticed an overgrown clearing off to the side of the path, with some rusty oil drums. After taking a closer look, it turns out that I stumbled across an old American anti aircraft position!

These rusted drums make up a circular gun position

The ground on Northern Guam is made up of limestone, and is impossible to dig into without heavy equipment. It was much easier to fill drums, which were plentiful, with rocks to provide protection. This is the same thing that was done at the other anti aircraft site located at Hilaan Point.

This was definitely an American position. The drums are marked “US” and I found quite a few American shell casings lying around.

50 caliber shell casings laying in one of the gun pits. These were all stamped “42” (1942)
50 caliber shell casing
Another gun pit where you can still see some barrels and how they were lined up to provide protection

I walked the wood line surrounding the clearing and found tons of bottles – all from the wartime era.

Old “hobbleskirt” coke bottles, both colored and clear, are laying all over the place
Interestingly, I also found some M14 blank cartridges dated 1962. This site must have been re-used for training during the Vietnam era (Northwest Field was used as a training site)

Ultimately, I ended up finding only one Japanese beer bottle, but it was one of the rare smaller, green Dai-Nippon type. More interestingly, in an old burn pit filled with melted bottles, I found a Japanese 47mm anti-tank shell casing that had been apparently cut down into an ash tray.

Japanese Dai-Nippon beer bottle, a small Listerine bottle (1944), two small medicine bottles, and the Japanese 47mm shell casing that had been cut short into an ash tray
When soaked in vinegar, the casing cleaned up nicely. The circle symbol indicates the shell was manufactured by the Nagoya armory. The smaller “X” on the primer is actually crossed cannons – signifying Osaka armory. The other marks signify the date of manufacture – 1941 for the shell, 1943 for the primer.
When soaked in vinegar, the casing cleaned up nicely. The circle symbol indicates the shell was manufactured by the Nagoya armory. The smaller “X” on the primer is actually crossed cannons – signifying Osaka armory. The other marks signify the date of manufacture – 1941 for the shell, 1943 for the primer.

It turned out to be a fun exploration! The jungle is very beautiful in this area, due to the restricted access being on military property. Unfortunately, other areas of Guam accessible to anyone have turned into dumping grounds for people who either can not afford trash service or are otherwise culturally un-bothered by littering.

The view from the cliff line along NW Guam.