29 Oct 2007

Mono island campaign in Solomons commemorated

1:55 pm on 29 October 2007

A New Zealander whose grandfather helped liberate a tiny Pacific island from the Japanese in the Second World War says she feels hugely lucky to have stood on the ground where he fought.

Last weekend a memorial service was held to mark 64 years since New Zealand and US forces landed on remote Mono Island in the Solomons archipelago.

40 New Zealanders were killed in the battles that followed.

Police constable Margo Sollitt says her 88-year old grandfather Dave Morice asked her to take a photograph of the memorial stone on the island where he'd served in 1943.

She says it was very moving to be one of only a handful of New Zealanders at the commemorations.

"When I had to say my two speeches I had to hold my tears back a little bit and take a couple of deep breaths because I was thinking about my grandfather and how he was there and then I was thinking about all the Kiwi soldiers who had died there."

Margo Sollitt says hundreds of locals attended the commemorations.

The Mono Island campaign was the first opposed amphibious landing by New Zealand forces since Gallipoli.