The Bougainville Reports--by Jack Read, Paul Mason, and other coast watchers--are vivid accounts of the coast watching activities on Buka and Bougainville Islands in the Solomon Islands chain during World War II and describe in detail one of the most successful intelligence operations of the war. By the time war came to the South Pacific on December 8, 1941, an excellent intra-district communication network had already been established on Bougainville. A daily system of radio reporting was put into effect by Lieutenant Commander Eric Feldt, who later wrote: Few realized that when the first waves of United States Marines landed on the bitterly contested beaches of Guadalcanal, coast watchers on Bougainville, New Georgia, and other islands were sending warning signals of impending Japanese air raids almost two hours before enemy aircraft formations appeared over the island. Japanese shipping and aircraft activity was monitored and news of spottings was telegraphed to Guadalcanal Headquarters. Information on shipping was directly responsible for the American victory in November 1942, when 12 Japanese transports, loaded with reinforcements, were intercepted and destroyed. Jack Read summarized his activities as follows: Reviewing the course of our operations, we can see that coast watching on that most northerly peg of the Solomons had fulfilled its mission long before we were driven out--and to a far greater effect than even we realized. During the early and uncertain days of the American struggle to wrest Guadalcanal from the Japanese, the reports and timely warnings from Bougainville were directly responsible for the enemy's defeat. Admiral William Halsey praised the work of the coast watchers and said that the intelligence information from Bougainville saved Guadalcanal and that Guadalcanal saved the South Pacific. These edited reports tell the remarkable story of Read, Mason, and other coast watchers and depict their struggles for survival in the Japanese-patrolled jungles of Bougainville. They provide a fascinating account that will intrigue historians, World War II and espionage buffs, and students.
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