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Published: 6:34PM Sunday May 23, 2010 Source: ONE News Kabunare Koura - Source: ONE News
Two hundred men were killed by Japanese forces after being bayoneted and thrown off a cliff on Kiribati's remote Ocean Island.
But one man managed to escape the bloodbath.
The rare images buried in a time vault tell a story of horror and survival.
New Zealand army major Elliot Lloyd photographed Kabunare Koura when he was found after a terrifying ordeal. He had been part of a group of 200 men rounded up by the Japanese just days after the war ended.
Author Michael Field says that the Japanese decided Kiribati workers knew too much about the fortifications on the island, so they simply took them to the edge of the cliff.
"They tied the men's hands behind their backs with wire and thrust bayonets into them."
Kabunare survived the fall and was saved as the bodies of his friends protected him from a rain of bullets. He hid for three months in a cave, creeping out at night to catch fish and find coconuts, until the island was liberated.
Field's book, Swimming with the Sharks, is about to be released and includes Kabunare's story told to him by Kabunare himself 11-years-ago.
"These great heroic battles of Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Helilio were not fought on blank fields ... there were Islanders there. We shouldn't forget who these people were," he says.
The family want the photos archived.
Kabunare Koura,83, the sole survivor of a massacre by Japanese troops on Banaba at the end of World War II, in Tarawa, June 1999. Kabunare, who was wounded by Japanese Imperial troops and pushed off a cliff left for dead, survived to eventually identify to Allied troops the Japanese soldiers responsible.
Kabunare Koura, the sole survivor of a 1945 Japanese massacre on Banaba Island in what is now Kiribati
Map of Banaba (Ocean Island) used during Wartime
These pictures are of Kabunare taken after he was liberated:
Banaba Massacre cliffs at Tabiang. Kabunare Koura standing at base of the cliffs showing where he hid from Japanese troops after being bayoneted and thrown over the cliff to die.
Kabunare re-enacting how he survived the massacre
Kabunare sitting on top of the cliff at Tabiang show where he was thrown off the top of the cliff by Japanese troops
Kabunare showing the entrance to the cave where he hid from the Japanese after the massacre
Kabunare showing inside the cave where he hid from the Japanese for 2 months until Banaba was liberated by Australian troops.
More details on Kabunare's story and all the names of all those Banabans, I-Kiribati and Tuvaluans killed by the Japanese during the war is listed in the Banaban History book - Te Rii ni Banaba - The backbone of Banaba.
Banaban War History Under Japanese Occupation is now available at: http://www.banaban.com/contents/en-us/d266_japanese-occupation-bana...
Mauri ngkami ni bane,
Thanks for the true story of Kabunare. You know I was born on Banaba and raised there during the BPC in the 1960s. The cave you mentioned is true I sometimes went there to play hide and seek in that cave. Honestly speaking my father and mother worked on that island by the end of 1950s.
However, my home island is Arorae but I was not raised there I used to regard Banaba as my own island due to the fact I was brought up there and knew every parts of it.
Ko rabwa riki but my mind used to remember Banaba as it was in the 1970s .But I really want to go back there to my father`s brother KAINO and TAWIRI and to take a look and refresh my mind again.
Thank you again.
Mauri regards from Japan
Stacey said I have VTR Tape about Mr,Kabunare
Yes I have
Mr.Kabunare is so gentle and explain about his memory during WWII.
I took VTR about 15years back on Tarawa.
He is so nice man.