My German friend Dete has just walked in with a WWII photography book covering the Solomon Islands and Bougainville. This has caused a lot of interest as the executive manager from the Torokina district, 3 hours south by boat, is grappling with the growing black market for WWII weapons.
Torokina was the launching site for the campaign to capture Bougainville (1 November 1943), which followed the hard won success in Guadalcanal. Although this took place 60 years ago, local communities are still dealing with the consequences: namely, the volume of live, dangerous rounds and explosives easily found around Torokina.
Many of these arms were dug up and put to use as part of the war with Papua New Guinea, and unfortunately, despite the signing of the peace agreement and the push for disarmament, many locals in Torokina are profiteering from a black trade in WWII weapons and munitions (e.g. mortar shells, machine gun belts, grenades). The consequence for Bougainville is the arming of trouble makers in the south, which is contributing to ongoing insecurity in the region.
To help with the issue Bougainville has sought assistance from the American Embassy in PNG, which recently visited to see the munitions for themselves. Hopefully they will be keen to lend a hand in solving an unintended consequence of their presence here over 60 years ago…