British Naval Heritage in Micronesia:
Tangible evidence of the armament trade from 1890 to 1937
by Dirk H.R. Spennemann

Chapter 5. Distinguishing British And Japanese Guns

In view of the limitations of the archival resources little can be advanced to differentiate between the guns of British manufacture and the guns of Japanese origin after they have been exposed to the elements and a certain amount of corrosion has set in. If the breech block is present, then this question can be answered readily. In its absence, however, other data need to be drawn. It appears that numbers have been stamped into various gun parts made from copper alloys. While some of the numbers may belong to the gun mount, others will belong to the gun barrel.


In the Marshall Islands, this gun was installed on Wotje (USSBS 1974a: 78;79;82-85; Yoshimi 1947:54), Taroa (USSBS 1974a: 161-163), Mile (USSBS 1947a), Jaluit (USSBS 1974a) and Eneen-Kio (USSBS 1947b). The records for Roi-Namur and Kwajalein are equivocal, but it would appear that the guns were also installed on these locations.

There were in total 8 such guns installed in two batteries, both on the western shore of Mile I. The north-western battery, comprises, from south to north, of three gun emplacements (USSBS 1947a:244-245), a 80mm AA (ibid.: 249) and a 1500mm searchlight (ibid.: 250 photo 14). The south-western battery, comprises, from south to north, of three gun emplacements, and a series of machine gun nests (ibid.: 246). Each of the gun batteries was flanked by concrete pill boxes, and occasional a German-style blockhouse. The archaeological survey could locate seven of the eight 150mm (6-inch) naval guns known to have been used as coastal defense guns on Mile. The 6-inch guns were set up in two batteries of three guns and one battery of two. Several of the guns have been thrown off their pedestals by close or direct bomb hits.

On Wotje the 150mm guns were set in two defense positions. One at the southeastern coast, set in a row with small arm pits protecting the rear, and one at the northeastern coast. While the guns at the southeastern battery are in their revetments, one gun of the northern battery has been blasted off its pedestal by a major direct bob hit and is now resting on the reef flat.

On Taroa the 6 inch guns were set at the eastern shore, protected by a German-style pillbox at the southern end, and a 80mm CD at the northern. the second battery was at the northeastern shore, close to the northeastern turning circle of runway "A". Again, the gun battery is flanked, on the western side, by a German-style pillbox. Minor sniper posts and concrete pill boxes defend the approaches to the batteries.

In all cases, Mile, Wotje, and Taroa the laying mechanism as well as other parts have been removed, either by the U.S. occupying forces or by scrap metal dealers two decades later. Photographs taken in 1946 by the United States Strategic Bombing Survey indicate that the guns were complete at the time of the survey, and that the cannibalising must have happened at a later date.

Coastal Defense Guns in Micronesia

The distribution of the British built and British designed guns reaches further than just the Marshall Islands. 200mm (8 inch) guns were emplaced on Betio, Tarawa, Kiribati (Bartsch 1977:17; 19); Chuuk (Denfeld 1981b:49; own observations) and Peleliu, Palau (Denfeld 1988:71). In other parts of Micronesia, six inch guns had been emplaced on Pohnpei (Denfeld 1981a:4), Chuuk (Denfeld 1981a:4; 1981b:67 [Mark H]), Guam (Denfeld 1981a:4; CinCPac-CinCPOA 1945:56), Saipan (CinCPac-CinCPOA 1945:56) and Tinian (CinCPac-CinCPOA 1945:56).

Extant of these are at least the guns on Pohnpei (Denfeld 1981a:4; own observations), Chuuk (Denfeld 1981a:4; 1981b:67 ; own observations) and Guam (Denfeld 1981a:4.). Beyond Micronesia these guns have been reported from Kiska in the Aleutian Islands (Verbeck 1943:17-18), where six 6-inch guns were emplaced, 4 Japanese barrels and two British ones.

Personally inspected were the several guns on Pohnpei (Sokeh's Rock; Madolenimwh Harbour) and Moen, Chuuk (Sapuk, Nefu Cave). Where identifiable, these guns were found to have been manufactured by W.G.Armstrongs (Madolenimwh), of Armstrong design (Sokeh's Rock), Armstrong Puzzuoli (200mm, Sapuk, Moen) and Vickers (Nefu, Moen).

British guns of other calibres were found at Kiska, namely the 4.7inch Q.F. made by Armstrong Whitworth & Co (Model 1905) and another 6-inch (?) gun made in 1900 with the breech block number 12699 (Verbeck 1943:19-21) as well as a 76mm coastal defense gun made by the British Yasu Manufacturing Co. (Model 1898, Dowell 1976:327-328; Verbeck 1943:19-21.) at Saipan, namely 120 and 140mm Vickers models (Denfeld 1981a:41); at Agingan Point, Saipan where 6-inch guns were encountered (CinCPac-CinCPOA 1945c) at Enewetak, where one 4.7 inch-gun stamped 1898 was found (MID 1945:25) and at Kwajalein, where an British-built 4.7 inch artillery piece was captured (CinCPac-CinCPOA 1945j:15 ) British-built three-inch guns were encountered at Tarawa/Kiribati (AIG 1945: 24), Kolombangara/Solomons (AIG 1945: 25), and Tinian/Marianas (AIG 1945: 25; all Vickers 1913 models) and Saipan/Marianas (AIG 1945: 25; Armstrong-Whitworth 1900 model). Japanese copies of these guns, made at the Sasebo Naval Arsenal, were found at Kolombangara (AIG 1945: 25) and Kiska (AIG 1945: 25).

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Bibliographic citation for this document

Spennemann, Dirk H.R. (2000). British Naval Heritage in Micronesia: Tangible evidence of the armament trade from 1890 to 1937. Albury:
URL: http:/

Dirk H.R. Spennemann, Institute of Land, Water and Society, Charles Sturt University, P.O.Box 789, Albury NSW 2640, Australia.

(c) Dirk H.R. Spennemann 1993-2000
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