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.
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!
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.
I walked the wood line surrounding the clearing and found tons of bottles – all from the wartime era.
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.
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.
Early this year, when I relocated my NA Beverage, I stumbled across some old bottles and live ammunition from WW2.
For several months afterwards, I questioned myself, why there? When reading online and looking at old WW2 maps, I discovered why. On the night of 06 August 1944, during the Liberation of Guam, the 3rd Marine division had set up defensive positions along their line of advance. This line followed a path that passed through the area where my Beverage receive antennas are located. Better yet, the map even shows the unit: The 3rd Battalion of the 3rd Marine Division.
This explains perfectly why these bottles were here – as well as the M1 carbine ammunition I found. The map also showed a dirt path along this defensive line – meaning there could be a gold mine of relics just waiting to be found!
Starting from the location where I found the bottles, I headed in the general direction of the path according to the map. I quickly realized this would not be easy!
The ground was very rocky, certainly not conductive to a path that would have been used with carabao driven carts. Even if there was stuff here, I’d never find it.
I followed my compass until reaching a clearing that was used in the 1960s by the Navy for antennas, and knew that there was no path along the route I took. Then the light went on in my head – just south of where I had gone, was an area of jungle that was flat, with no rocks, and relatively clear. Could that have been the path?
I headed back along this route, but again, undergrowth hid anything underfoot. I did find a few bottles, but nothing much of interest.
I followed this path back to my antennas without finding anything of interest. Coincidentally, my EU Beverage follows along this path for some distance. I suspect, without proof, that I did find this path as it’s the only area clear of rocks, and because of some coconut trees I found along the route. It would make sense that the Marines would have set up camp north of this road on 6 August, to deny the Japanese from ambushing them the next morning as they crossed the road. The stuff I found was on a high spot in the surrounding terrain, so it was likely used as a scout camp after the liberation, as the Americans patrolled the area to clear out the 7-8 thousand Japanese troops that were still hiding out in the jungle.
Last week I was able to hike the abandoned road from what is now called FAA road (that was used to access the old FAA housing area) all the way south to Two Lovers Point. The further south I went, the more things I found dumped in the jungle. Not coincidentally, General LeMay’s HQ was supposedly near where Micronesia Mall is located today, so it would not be crazy to assume that trash generated from his HQ was dumped along this road.
The road itself is not very difficult to follow. In this area, it runs straight as an arrow in a heading of 030/210 degrees. Also, you can tell that the road was graded regularly following the liberation. There is a very obvious berm of rocks and dirt that can be seen in many locations that clearly mark where the road was located.
The further south I went, the more I began to find. It was not long until I found my first Japanese bottle for the day – a type I’d not found before!
A little further, and I stumbled across a large pile of Coco Cola bottles and some old truck tires. There are easily a couple hundred bottles here, and they are all dated 1944. I even found a couple green bottles marked San Francisco and Portland Ore. – but with the same 1944 date code.
I did not have to walk far to start finding Japanese Dai Nippon beer bottles
Eventually, I found where this abandoned road merged with a modern off road vehicle trail. I had now entered the area where the Air Force communications site was located. Here, dozens of acres of jungle were bulldozed, so nothing remains. Somewhat surprising, the merge point is close to a large dump site with bottles from WW2 up into the early 1950s. This dump is where i found some of my first Japanese beer bottles, far back into the jungle where the oldest bottles were located.
It turned out to be a very productive day! I still have additional sections of this road to explore, further north on NCTS property. I’m already trying to make time to get back out into the jungle. I am driven by not knowing what I might find around the next corner!
Following the CQWW DX CW contest, I was quite busy with work that prevented any trips back into the jungle. If you read back in my blog, in mid November I discovered an abandoned road that passed through the jungle to my west. This road was marked on WW2 maps showing the liberation of Guam, but mostly does not exist today.
This road was used before and during the war, but was abandoned shortly afterwards. During my last explorations in November, I found some more recent dumps with bottles from 1951, but nothing more recent than then. This coincides with the construction of the Air Force and Navy communication sites in Northwestern Guam. This was probably when the road was ultimately abandoned.
Sections of this road still exist. When driving to Two Lovers Point and Tanguissan Beach, you are following this road, until it bends sharply to the left just past the sewage treatment plant. There is an abandoned paved road that continues along the route for another 1/2 mile until it too turns, to the right. From here, the old road disappears, destroyed when the Air Force built large Rhombic antenna farms. Only further north, where undisturbed jungle remains, can you once again find this road.
I already explored the section of road in the northern part of the above image. I found a number of bottles, including a couple which were Japanese. What I wanted to do is to explore the southern section of this road, and follow it into the old Air Force antenna fields, which are overgrown with grass and scrub trees, along with numerous off-road vehicle paths.
This road actually continues north of NCTS all the way to Northwest Field on Andersen AFB. Here, the road is still visible, and is grass covered and mowed frequently. Communications cables are buried along the route. This is on military property, belonging to the Navy and Air Force.
It is easy to see that this road was used during the construction of Northwest Field, at least until Marine Corps Drive was completed.
I found a ton of stuff along the southern section of this road, but I will save that for my next post!
Last night, while reading about the Liberation of Guam on the internet, I stumbled across a Marine map of northern Guam, showing the lines of advance during 1944. One thing caught my eye – a road was shown on the map, along the northwestern side of Guam, in between my house and Hilaan point! Was this the old road I had found the other day? I looked on Google Earth and found a line of trees that looked larger and older than the rest – lined up generally N/S – this might be it!
I headed back into the jungle to explore. First, I went back to the dump I found next to the sink hole, to see if I could find any whole watch mugs. Unfortunately, they were all broken, but I found a few other things, including a US Navy fork.
I headed deeper into the jungle, to intersect the old 4WD path which I suspected was the old road. I soon came across it, and headed north. Not more than 50ft I started finding old bottles.
I walk a little further – and bingo! I find a Japanese beer bottle, sitting next to an old military truck tire.
In some places, it was very easy to follow the old road. Apparently, it had been graded, and you could still see the dirt piled on on either side. Other places it was impossible to follow, heavily overgrown. I continued north, portaging around these heavily overgrown areas.
I headed as far north as possible, until I lost track of the road in the overgrowth. I was near the old FAA property, which had been cleared in the 1950s. These areas are now heavily overgrown with low bushes and trees, unlike the old growth in the jungle that is generally more wide open under the canopy of leaves. I made it back to the house, where I cleaned up my finds. Next – to head south on this road, and see where it takes me…
Prior to the 2nd World War, northern Guam was sparsely inhabited. Most people lived further south, in Agana, Sumay, and elsewhere. Northern Guam, being on a plateau surrounded by 300ft high cliffs that drop to the sea, do not offer access to the ocean that is available further south on the island. There were a number of ranches and farms spread throughout the area.
Following the Liberation of Guam in 1944, many Japanese soldiers went into hiding in these northern tropical forests. Over the months that followed, Guam was transformed into a huge military base and became the hub for operations in Okinawa, and the planned invasion of the Japanese home islands that never occurred due to surrender. Japanese stragglers were hunted and captured in the months leading up to the end of the war in 1945.
Much of the area surrounding my housing area has been untouched since the early 1950s. Pre-war farms and copra plantations disappeared into the jungle. Wartime roads and camp areas also faded away. Several roads still exist, however these are primarily left from the former Naval Communications Station between 1948 and the early 1950s, when operations were consolidated further north.
I decided to head into the jungle to do some exploring, using a compass to leapfrog from coconut grove to coconut grove, knowing that these were former areas of habitation.
After only a few hundred feet of hiking, I stumbled across a real neat formation – an old sink hole, perhaps 35ft deep and 200 feet across. The ground here is mostly flat, so this was unexpected.
I decided to hike around the rim of the sink hole, knowing that Humans like to fill holes with garbage. About 3/4 of the way around, I proved myself right…
I found a large area with bottles scattered about. All were WW2 style American beer bottles and old Coca Cola bottles dated 1945. I also found a number of white ceramic shards, which I later determined were broken US Navy watch mugs – handle-less coffee cups.
The most recent datable objects were the coke and beer bottles dated 1945, and a liquor bottle dated 1943. Because of the 1945 dates, this was obviously post liberation. I found no Japanese bottles, and headed deeper into the jungle.
While I did not find any Japanese bottles today, I did find a few things of interest. First of all, I want to re-visit the dump site to see if I can find any whole Navy watch mugs. I didn’t know what they were until I researched them online, and they seem quite interesting, especially if I can find one whole. Also, I found an old aerial photograph from the very early 1950s that shows the trail I found was formerly a road – I would like to walk it in both directions to see if I can find something along it’s length.
This has been the first week in recent months where it’s been dry, making for a perfect opportunity to hike through the jungle, exploring. I live on Northern Guam, with quite a bit of former military land just to my north and west. As a result, these areas have largely been untouched and undeveloped since the war. During the liberation of Guam in 1944, most of the heaviest fighting occurred on the landing beaches, Orote Point, and surrounding mountains. This fighting broke the back of the Japanese defense, so operations on Northern Guam were mostly limited to small skirmishes and rounding up of the thousands of Japanese soldiers who went into hiding in the jungle. In my area, I’ve found just a few areas with WW2 artifacts, generally in camp areas where patrols would be sent out to search for Japanese stragglers in the jungle.
I’ve explored the Japanese anti-aircraft site on Hilaan Point before, however never found much of anything. The site is located in an open area, covered with very tall grasses 6-8ft tall. It is easy to spot the actual emplacements, with rock filled barrels surrounding the gun positions, but I’ve been able to find nothing else in the area. I’ve looked in the jungle around the clearing, looking for signs of a Japanese encampment area, but without success. I figured the Japanese would have had a bivouac area out of the clearing area, for protection against US aircraft attack and naval barrage.
I’ve since learned a trick – Coconut trees don’t move uphill. Coconuts float, which allows the tree to populate island shores, however there is no way for the nuts to make it to the Northern Guam plateau 400ft above sea level without the help of people. There have been coconut trees located everywhere I’ve found stuff on Northern Guam. These were likely ranches before the war, where the trees were grown for copra. It would make sense that these areas should be where I looked first.
Armed with this theory, I went back to Hilaan and spotted a couple coconut trees on the edge of the clearing, not far from the gun emplacements. It did not take long to start spotting stuff.
Very little remains from the war – anything interesting was surely scooped up by American troops for souvenirs. Wood has long since rotted away, and steel has rusted away. Most of what I find are bottles, some ammunition, and a few tougher materials such as boot soles. American stuff is everywhere – the jungle is littered with American beer bottles, Coca Cola bottles, and other glassware such as medicine, talcum powder, liqueur, and other containers. Many these bottles are dated, which confirms WW2 authenticity. The coke bottles in the above image are all dated 1944, and are clear, not green. Clear glass was used during wartime, supposedly due to the shortage of copper used for coloring. There are so many of these “wartime coke” bottles laying around that I don’t even bother picking them up. Same with the beer bottles. I instead look for Japanese bottles, which are much rarer.
In addition to the coke bottles, I find a stainless steel serving tray, which struck me odd as I was not expecting to find such a thing. Thinking it was post war, left by hunters, I went to look deeper into the jungle.
There are lots of spider webs around, so I reached for a branch to use to clear my path. At the last minute, I spotted something just a few inches from my hand which made me yell out “oh snap!” and jump back…
I dispatched the wasp nest with my handy can of raid, and walked deeper into the jungle. Bingo! I find two Japanese Dai Nippon beer bottles, laying on the ground under a large hardwood tree that probably provided shade 65 years ago. These are clearly from the Japanese occupation; the Dai Nippon beer company was dissolved in 1949.
I gather up my things and head for home. While walking around, I noticed some earth piles and depressions that were probably foxholes during the war. It looks like the coconut trees led me to the right place!
When I got home, I was able to clean up the bottles and tray. The bottles are a type commonly found on islands occupied by Japanese soldiers during the war, however these are the first two I’ve found – a new one! I still have yet to find any Japanese soda bottles. I’ve found pieces, not none whole – so I need to keep looking.
The tray turned out to be very interesting! It is actually a US military serving tray used during and after the war. The date stamped on the underside confirms the age. Apparently, some GI didn’t want to be bothered with cleaning it, so it got thrown away into the jungle where it sat for 67 years. Amazingly, it cleaned up perfectly – you can even see knife marks in the tray!
I have had an opportunity to poke around some more in the site where I previously found WW2 era bottles. My NA Beverage passes directly over this area, and I never would have found it otherwise.
After spending some time at the location, I’ve located some shallow depressions from what probably were foxholes. I was not able to find any more bottles with marks, however several matched the Japanese style of manufacturing (very thick glass, not precision made).
With a metal detector, I located a large number of live .30 rifle rounds. All were stamped “43″ (1943) which were used with the M1 Carbine, a rifle used extensively during the liberation of Guam. Even more interesting was a fully loaded carbine magazine I found.
I also dug up a number of artillery fuses, likely still live. The purpose of this site is clear. Due to the thick overgrowth and limited number of people living on the northern end of the island, it became almost impossible to maintain a solid front line as the Americans pushed northward. Units quickly became separated in the jungle. Since Japanese resistance was focused along the few roads, this is where the GIs focused their efforts. This was either the stopping point along the front lines during the liberation, or a post-liberation base camps where patrols would be sent out to search for Japanese stragglers hiding in the jungle.
When installing my new NA Beverage, I found a couple bottles along the way. The area where my RX antennas are located has been mostly untouched since the 2nd World War. A 1953 topographic map shows no roads or residences in the area. When I first enter the jungle, the stuff I find first is recent: trash cans, roofing materials, outdoor light fixture pieces. These are all remnants from Typhoon Pongsona which in 2002 heavily damaged my housing area with 140+ MPH winds. Deeper in the woods, however, I seem to find lots of bottles lying around. Most are nondescript American beer bottles from the war time era. These bottles can be dated to 1943-1945 from the markings on the bottom.
Today, I walked my NA Beverage and poked around further in the area where I found some bottles when installing the antenna. Everywhere I looked, I found more and more. I placed my finds in an old concrete sink I found in the area which was apparently used as a dumping ground.
Also found were fragments of a ceramic bowl, which quite possibly could have been left behind by the occupying Japanese forces. I would hesitate to say this, however some of the bottles I found were quite interesting as I should explain further. Yes – at the top right of the photo is a live round. It is a .30 caliber bullet for a M1 Carbine, one of the rifles used by American troops during the liberation of Guam. I found it while digging around under the leaves and moss.
I am still attempting to identify the large bottle in the photo above. As far as I can tell, it has no markings aside from a manufacturers mark on the bottom which consists of a triangle with a dot in the middle. [December 2020 update: I later learned that these large, green glass unmarked bottles once held Japanese sake.]
I brought several bottles home for cleaning. It was only when I cleaned them up did I realize what I had found.
The two smaller Coca Cola bottles are “Wartime Cokes”. These are clear bottles, without a city mark on the bottom, but with an Owens-Corning mark dating them to 1944. These were manufactured for the American troops during the 2nd World War. The bottles aren’t green because of a shortage of copper used in the manufacturing process.
More interesting was the green bottle located in the bottom right of the top photo. Once I cleaned it up, I discovered Japanese script. It turns out that this is a Dai Nippon beer bottle, and was most certainly brought here by the Japanese occupying forces during WW2. This is the very first Japanese war relic I have found on Guam. Everything else I have found in the past was American. Additionally, I was able to piece together some bottle fragments to determine it too was a Japanese beer bottle.
How did these Japanese bottles come to be found sitting next to American coke bottles? I suspect that American troops found a Japanese cache of beer during the liberation and enjoyed a brew or two. These bottles were found in a slight rise in the terrain, which was likely used as an American encampment during and immediately following the liberation when patrols were sent out to locate the thousands of hiding Japanese scattered throughout the island.
I recently explored a World War Two remnant located on Hilaan Point on the northwest coast of Guam. This site holds a Japanese AAA (Anti Aircraft Artillery) position, with several gun pits remaining. The fortifications mostly consist of drums filled with limestone rock, stacked on top of each other with additional rocks piled up to form a defensive position. It is very difficult to see anything as you can see in this 360 degree panoramic shot, taken from atop one of the berms:
(warning – large photo!)
You really have to look close to see anything in the grass. In this photo, there appears to be nothing. But, if you look closely, you will see that the ferns in the center of the photo fill up a depression in the ground which is in fact one of the positions.
Look even closer, and you can see two barrels filled with rock on either side of the original entrance into the position.
I was able to find four such positions. Other than the drums and berms themselves, nothing else appears to remain. With the high grass and overgrowth, it would take a grass fire or typhoon to knock back the vegetation enough to see exactly what remains.
I have been able to find almost no information on the site. What type of AAA guns were located here? Was the site attacked by American aircraft or ships before or during the retaking of the island in 1944? Did any land battles take place here as the 3rd Marines moved north to secure the island? unfortunately, I have not been able to answer any of these questions yet. [December 2020 update: There appears to have been a Japanese airstrip under construction just northeast of these defensive positions, at the time of the US landings in June 1944]
I did find a photo of a similar Japanese AAA site taken in October 1944, located on Orote Point further south. This gives an idea of what this site would have looked like then, as both seem to have been similarly constructed.