Bear and the Cannons
We Visit the World War Two Cannons of Bora Bora
On the 27th of January 1942, a real armada of two cruisers, two destroyers, two cargo boats, two troop ships and a tanker left Charleston Harbour, South Carolina for Bora Bora. On board the vessels were four thousand, four hundred and fifty troops and one hundred and seventy eight officers, under the command of Admiral Turner. The mission was called “Operation Bob Cat”.
On the 17th of February 1942, the armada arrived on Bora Bora. Without knowing who was aboard the ships the population went to warmly welcome their visitors in outrigger canoes. Twenty thousand tons of material was landed on float stages and small craft. The Americans found everything had to be done. There was not enough drinking water and no useable roads for their heavy equipment. They began to build a road all the way around the island and set up water supplies. On the 9th of June 1942, the first gas tank was in operation, twenty three feet high and fifty two feet across, it was able to hold one hundred and fifty thousand liters of petrol. By July there were twenty others of a similar size and ten that were able to hold ten thousand barrels of heavy oil. The whole lot covered with coconut trees not far from the beach.
The two pictures above, we had seen in tourist magazines, and wanted to get them for ourselves. Our last day on Bora Bora was a ‘must try’ to satiate the skippers trigger finger, so after lunch, off we went in Baby Beez. Our old friend Arctic is the only boat in shot.
After a false start, we finally found the track and up we went.
Nice views on the way up.
Just before we reached the cannons, we spotted Beez (nearest in) sitting quietly.
Pure bliss to watch himself mount the first chap.
Yes, I did too.........
The Americans fixed eight 7-inch hill cannons, three inch anti-aircraft batteries. Eight seaplanes were in charge of air cover during the building of the runway. The small Motu Mute was chosen and construction began on the 16th of December 1942. The whole air base was operational by the 15th of April 1943. The airstrip measured one and a quarter miles and one hundred and forty five feet wide. In the meantime the battlefront on the Philippines settled down.
The base was officially closed on the 2nd of June 1946. Only one former US serviceman, Fred Giles, returned to the island. The World War II airstrip, which was never able to accommodate large aircraft, was French Polynesia's only international airport until Faa'a International Airport was opened in Papeete, Tahiti, in 1960.
During World War I and World War II, Bethlehem Steel was a major supplier of armour plate and ordnance to the U.S. armed forces, including armour plate and large-caliber guns for the Navy.
In the 1930’s, the company made the steel sections and parts for the Golden Gate Bridge and built for Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales (YPF), a new oil refinery in La Plata City, Argentina, which was the tenth largest in the world. During World War II, as much as seventy percent of airplane cylinder forgings, one-quarter of the armour plate for warships, and one-third of the big cannon forgings for the U.S armed forces were turned out by Bethlehem Steel.
Bethlehem Steel ranked seventh among United States corporations in the value of wartime production contracts. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation's fifteen shipyards produced a total of 1,121 ships, more than any other builder during the war and nearly one-fifth of the U.S. Navy's two-ocean fleet. It employed as many as 180,000 persons, the bulk of the company's total employment of 300,000.
Eugene Grace was president of Bethlehem Steel from 1916 to 1945, and chairman of the board from 1945 until his retirement in 1957. Eugene Grace orchestrated Bethlehem Steel's wartime efforts. In 1943 he promised President Roosevelt one ship per day, and exceeded the commitment by fifteen ships.
The war effort drained Bethlehem of much of its male workforce. The company hired female employees to guard and work on the factory floor or in the company offices. After the war, the female workers were promptly fired in favour of their male counterparts.
On Liberty Fleet Day, the 27th of September 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was present at the launching of the first Liberty ship SS Patrick Henry at Bethlehem’s Fairfield (Baltimore) yard. Also launched that same day was the Liberty SS James McKay at Sparrows Point and the Emergency vessel SS Sinclair Superflame at Fore River in Quincy, MA.
In 2001, Bethlehem Steel filed for bankruptcy. In 2003, the company's assets, including its six massive plants, were acquired by the International Steel Group.
In 2007, the Bethlehem property was sold to Sands BethWorks, and plans to build a casino where the plant once stood were drafted. Construction began in fall 2007; the casino was completed in 2009. The casino had difficulty finding structural steel for construction due to a global steel shortage and pressure to build Pennsylvania's tax-generating casinos. 16,000 tons of steel were needed to build the $600 million complex.
ALL IN ALL WHAT A FIND
VERY MODERN, VERY NEW