The Coastwatchers were a network of observers monitoring Australia's coast in case of invasion. By the start of WWII, the organization had expanded to cover the islands north of Australia as well - including Guadalcanal. The Coastwatchers were an all-volunteer network, a motley crew of government workers, planters, missionaries and traders. Though they started off as civilians, during the war many were commissioned in the Navy Reserve in an attempt to protect them in case they were captured. In spite of this, a good number were found out an executed by the Japanese.

When Japan began taking over islands in the Pacific, these observers soon found themselves operating behind enemy lines. Many took to the hills. Using native scouts and short range radios, they eluded the Japanese and observed enemy troop, plane and ship movements. They also assisted downed airmen and sailors - including at one point rescuing future President John F Kennedy after his PT Boat was sunk.

During Guadalcanal, the Coastwatchers provided essential information about Japanese strengths leading up to the American invasion. The watchers stationed on Bougainville, to the northwest, also proved to be an effective early warning system for Japanese bombers heading for Henderson Field. One such warning, "40 bombers headed yours" became a sort of catch-phrase on Guadalcanal, "a dry summation of impending peril."

One notable Coastwatcher was Martin Clemens. A District Officer with the Colonial Service, he was the last remaining British official on Guadalcanal after most everyone else had evacuated. After hiding out in the bush since May, he received word that the Americans had landed in force. He decided to go and join them.

Worried that he would be inadvertently shot by Marine sentries, and with no identification or password, Clemens decided to make as flashy an entrance as possible. He and his native scouts put on a proud display, marching right up to the lines. One of his scouts, former constable Jacob Vouza, came to the Marine lines wrapped in a Union Jack. The strategy worked. Clemens soon became a fixture at Henderson Field, aiding the marines with his native scouts and vast network of contacts.

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