Jacob Vouza escapes to warn the U.S. Marines

Sergeant Major Jacob Vousa of British Solomon Islands Constabulary, as he first appeared to U.S. Marines. He volunteered to assist them when they landed on the 7th August.

During the Solomons Islands campaign a number of native islanders volunteered to help the US forces evict the Japanese. They became known as ‘Coastwatchers’ and were to play an important role in assisting with reconnaissance as well as rescuing downed pilots.

It was a very hazardous role. The Japanese had no hesitation in torturing those islanders who were suspected of aiding the Allies. Jacob Vousa described what happened to him after he was caught in possession of a small U.S. flag – probably on the 18th August.

Well, I was caughted by the Japs and one of the Japanese Naval Officer questioned me but I was refuse to answer & I was bayoneted by a long sword twice on my chest, through my throught, a cutted the side of my tongue & I was got up from the enemies & walked through the American front line & there my Officer Mr. Clemens who D.C. at Guadalcanal during the War, later he is Major & his Clerk a native from New Georgia he was Staff Sgt his name was Daniel Pule.

Both got the reports information from the Marine Division at the Front Line by one of the Colonial of the American Marine Div, his name was Col. Buckley that I was wounded.

So then boths Major Clemens & Staff Sgt. Daniel Pule [of the British Solomons Island Police] they came up to the front line & took me to the American Hospital at Lunga Guadalcanal & there they done the treatment and the wounded was healthed up, only 12 days I was in Hospital.

After I wad discharged from the Hospital I wad do my fighting with the Japs & paid back all what they have done with me & now, here I’m I, still alive today.

Quoted in The Guadalcanal Campaign

It is a modest account which does not fully reflect what happened to him. The Japanese had tied him to a tree and had tortured him for hours during which he was bayoneted in both of his arms, throat, shoulder, face, and stomach. He refused to give any information so eventually the Japanese left him tied to the tree, presuming that he was dying.

Vouza had just enough strength left to chew through his ropes and make an escape back to the lines of the U.S. Marines.

Major Clemens was subsequently to recall:

He was in an awful mess. I could hardly bear to look at him. After he chewed free of his bonds, he set off to try to contact the Marines, but after a bit, he became so weak that he had to crawl on all fours. He must have crawled nearly three miles, right through the whole battle [area].

As if this wasn’t enough, he also insisted in spluttering out a very valuable description of what the Japanese forces had consisted, its numbers and weapons. All of this was passed on immediately.

Vouza arrived just before an expected Japanese assault on the Marine positions and was to provide valuable confirmation of the direction and strength of the attack.

He was taken to the Marines Hospital near the Lunga airfield where he was to receive sixteen pints of blood during 12 days of treatment. He subsequently made such a recovery that he became Chief Scout for the 2nd Raider Battalion – ‘Carlson’s Raiders’.

Sir Jacob Vouza was awarded the George Medal by the British and the Silver Star and Legion of Merit by the U.S.. He carried on serving his country after the war and was Knighted in 1979. He continued to wear his Marine Corps uniform until his death in 1984.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

sam e. coleman, II November 24, 2014 at 8:46 pm

My father’s favorite movie was “No Man is an Island” starring Jeffrey Hunter, and since I now know more about the events of Bouganiville, and Guadalcanal I can see why he liked this movie since it shows the value of a Coastwatcher on Guam. I only wish my father was still alive to tell me the details. When I was younger I didn’t show enough interest in getting down on paper exactly what took place, and when and where. Naturlly his favorite plane was the F4U Chance-Vought Corsair. It could fly at 437 mph straight and level with its 1,800 hp Pratt and Whitney radial engine with 18 cylinders.

Jeff Wendling November 10, 2014 at 7:18 pm

My father, Ralph E. Wendling fought at Guadalcanal and although I never met Vouza, I certainly remember all the high praise my father expressed of this true hero. I did have the great honor to actually meet Martin Clemens during my visit to Australia in 2000. What a great man he was as well.

sam e. coleman, II September 25, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Buck, I read your comment about Mr. Jacob Vouza (sp. Vousa ?) My father, US Marine, the late Sammy Coleman, fought in the Battle of Guadalcanal and Bouganville. For awhile he saw Pappy Boyington every week.

He told me of a native coastwatcher named Marcus Pepse (or Pepsi) that befriended him in 1943 on either Guadalcanal or Bougainville, or possibly another one of the Solomon islands. I would like to get in touch with any of the surviving members of Marcus’ family and talk with them and thank them. Possibly Jacob Vouza’s family would be a start. PS I’d like to see a copy of the picture.

buck jones January 25, 2014 at 1:57 am

I have an original photo of jacob vouza holding japanese head on guadalcanal

Leave a Comment

Earlier in the war:

Later in the war: