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Families seeking closure from coastwatcher deaths in Kiribati

ABC RADIO AUSTRALIA - Pacific Beat Updated October 20, 2011 17:10:33

Attempts to identify bodies thought to possibly be New Zealand coastwatchers beheaded on Tarawa by the Japanese in World War Two may achieve a result by early next year.

The men volunteered during World War II to be coast-watchers, a chain of radio operators stationed on Pacific islands to look out for enemy fleet movements.

Some were postal telegraphists while others were unarmed soldiers.

The 17 New Zealand Post Office workers and five British and Australians were all executed by invading Japanese soldiers in 1942 and buried on Tarawa.

Last year though, a pit containing human remains was discovered which matches descriptions by eyewitnesses to what happened to the men.

Presenter: Bruce Hill
Speaker: Phil Bradshaw, New Zealand Defence Force says

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