The SS
President Coolidge

An exhibition of artefacts commemorating
the 80th anniversary of the ship’s sinking

October 26 - November 26 2022

South Pacific WWII Museum
Unity Park, Luganville
Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu

“S.S. President Coolidge at sea” from Los Angeles Times Photographic Archives, UCLA - Library Special Collections licensed under CC Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Welcome to

The South Pacific WWII Museum

From crystal clear seas where Tales of the South Pacific was born. Where three American President’s served their county – along with the with the First Lady of another. And the derring-do of young aviators, soldiers and sailors would become the thing of legends, comes a wartime history many have long forgotten and many more never knew existed.

Base Button on Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu, grew from nothing on a quiet, peaceful island – known more for its coconut plantations than bomber bases and stevedoring – into the largest military base in the South Pacific, playing host to over 500,000 service men and women.

We’re now sharing that history with the very descendants of those who supported the Allied war effort in the Pacific. With our plans to expand  into a new world class museum building, our dream is coming alive to commemorate, preserve and pass on the amazing history of what was then known as New Hebrides, to new generations of Ni-Vanuatu and visitors from around the world.

Honouring the many

Latest news from the Museum project.

VTO sponsors S.S. President Coolidge 80th

The Vanuatu Tourism Office throws its weight behind the Museum’s efforts. Read more…

News in brief

September 6 – The sound of the Coolidge is set to ring out for the first time in 80 years, thanks to the Museum’s restoration of one of the famous ship’s whistles. That’s our big lead story in this month’s newsletter, that’ll you find here.

August 5 – It’s our biggest newsletter to date and we unveil to the world the amazing aircraft found just weeks ago in the Segond Channel. Plus we cover the Museum’s plans for our Coolidge 80th anniversary commemorations and the Coolidge exhibition beginning on October 26. That and lots more in our July newsletter, that’ll you find here.

July 6 – Our June edition of the Museum newsletter is another cracker! Of particular interest are the three new collections acquired by the Museum. Two have come from the USA, while the third is an incredible find for Museum Chairman Bradley Wood – a jar of silver coins, buried since WWII. You’ll find it all in our latest newsletter here.

June 2 – The May edition of our Museum newsletter is live. And we probably don’t need to tell you what the lead story is. Yes, Stage 1 of the museum project is our feature bumper story. You’ll also find a great story on a new collection donated to the Museum just this week.  You’ll find it all in our latest newsletter here.

May 6 – The April edition of our Museum newsletter is another fascinating mix of history from throughout the South Pacific, including another dog tag that was found over near Million Dollar Point and the story of the Japanese pilot who crashed landed on an Hawaiian island after the Pearl Harbour attack and survived – what happened next was quite extraordinary.  You’ll find our latest newsletter here.

Apr 1 – Much happening again this month with a wonderful new collection of personal items arriving from the United States. There’s also a great story of the ‘bombing of Adelaide’ with oranges and Coca-Cola!, a B-17 that rose from the ashes named ‘Swoose’ and much more. You’ll find our latest newsletter here.

Mar 6 – Another big month at the Museum with a lot going on as we head towards what will be our busiest year ever. Some great stories this month about our bank vault – yes we have finally identified it. Some more on the ‘fifth airfield’ on Santo. James has a chat to some yachtties and much more. You’ll find the February issue here.

Feb 4 – 2022 kicks off with a fantastic edition of our monthly newsletter. Things are ramping up this year at the Museum, we take you on a trip up to northern Santo to a remote radar site, we catch aircraft in mid-air with a hook, ram a Japanese submarine and more! It’s all in this month’s newsletter you’ll find here.

Jan 4 – Our final newsletter for the year is out now. Our December issue features an initial report on a new airfield discovered on Santo. We have some new acquisitions to add to the Museum’s collection. Plus there’s a great story on the history of the Quonset hut, and more. You’ll find all this and more in our newsletter here.

Dec 3 – Our November Newsletter has just hit the shelves! We’ve got some great news regarding our new (old) bank vault door that’s now up! We’ve also got s new volunteer who has come on board from New Zealand. Plus a new book has hit Amazon’s catalogue from Museum friend, Dr John Anderson. You’ll find all this and more in our newsletter here.

November 1 – What a busy month it’s been at the Museum. But of course the big news was the Allan Power Estate donating Allan’s amazing collection of Coolidge artefacts to the Museum. We’ve got a special feature story on the Coolidge, Allan and his almost limitless energy as caretaker of ‘The Lady’. There’s lots more in this month’s newsletter here.

October 22 – The South Pacific WWII Museum has partnered with the B-24 Liberator Memorial Australia to form the beginnings of a sister museum alliance.

B-24 Liberator Memorial Australia President Lyn Gorman said, “given our shared interests it makes a lot of sense to establish a link between the museums.”

South Pacific WWII Museum Project Manager James Carter agrees and said, “this exciting cooperation between our two museums could open up all sorts of new opportunities for us in Vanuatu and the guys in Melbourne.”

The B-24 Liberator Memorial Australia can be found at www.b24australia.org.au or on their Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/B24Werribee

October 5 – The September issue of the newsletter is a fascinating read this month. We examine the six bombing raids that took place on Santo in 1943. We cover the amazing story of the Lancaster bomber that flew under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Some new photos have been donated to the Museum. Plus a lot more. You’ll find the newsletter here.

September 30 – Australian researcher and author, Michael Claringbould and his publisher Avonmore books have very kindly donated three new books to the Museum.

The books, all related to the Pacific War, are meticulously researched and are a fascinating read for anyone with a passion for warbirds, military aviation or indeed scale modellers wanting exceptional reference. avonmorebooks.com.au

Aug 31 – A quieter month at the Museum but no shortage of fascinating stories in this month’s newsletter. Lengkon and Marina are assisting with the location and identification of WWII ordnance. There’s a humorous story about a priest, a ship’s captain and a missing piano. And what was the ugliest squadron patch ever created? Find out in our August newsletter here.

Aug 16 – The British Friends of Vanuatu and the editor of their magazine Norman J Shackley MBE, have donated a wonderful book to the Museum. ‘Task Force 9156 and III Island Command’, is regarded as one of the finest books about the establishment of the Advanced Naval Base on Efate during WWII. Thank you to Norman and the BFoV for your kind donation.

Aug 5 – Our July issue of the Museum newsletter has gone live. Another great issue featuring a wrap up of our annual Bigfala Sale fundraiser, a fascinating story about the B-17 bombers that kept landing with their wheels up, and much more. You’ll find the newsletter here.

Jul 6 – The June issue of our newsletter has been released. It’s a fascinating issue featuring some new donations to the Museum and guest author David Powers writing about the airfields on Efate. You’ll find the newsletter here.

Jun 28 – Our new website has just been released. While its content isn’t too different to the previous one, you’ll find the pages load much faster. The site has also been optimised for various devices from mobiles to PCs and laptops. We hope you enjoy it. 

May 5 –  We’ve just dropped the April edition of our newsletter into the Newsletter page on the website. More fascinating stories with links to the base on Espiritu Santo. And if you’re a Star Trek fan, you’ll enjoy the story about Gene Roddenberry and the B-17 crash that almost claimed his life, on Santo. You’ll find it here.

Apr 7 –  The March edition of our newsletter is now live on the website. It’s a bumper edition with two in-depth feature stories on the history of dog tags and a fascinating examination of the logistics behind Base Button on Santo. You’ll find it here.

Apr 2 –  The historynet.com website is running an in-depth story about the Museum and Santo’s WWII history following an interview with Museum Chairman Bradley Wood and Project Manager James Carter. You’ll find the interview here.

Mar 5 –  The February edition of our newsletter is now live on the website. This month’s edition features a second visit by the Japanese Ambassador to Vanuatu and our latest plans for the development of the museum. You’ll find it here.

Dec 29 –  Our last newsletter for 2020 is now live on our website. It features some fascinating articles about Santo, the Pacific Theatre along with the latest junior members to join the Museum family. You’ll find it here.

Dec 9 –  Great news this morning as Santo local David Epworth came in and donated a WWII Stokes Litter to the Museum’s collection.  You can find out more about it on our Facebook page here.

Dec 3 – The November edition of the Museum’s newsletter is out now. Lots of interesting stories and some new dioramas for the Museum You’ll find it on our ‘Newsletter’ page here.

Allan Power Estate makes significant donation

The Museum was honoured to receive Allan Power’s Coolidge collection. (story)

 
 

Museum & school mark 79th anniversary of the Coolidge.

The Museum and Banban school commemorate the ship’s sinking. (story)

 
 

A million thank yous to photographer Chris Hamilton

International photographer opens his stunning library to the Museum. (story)

 
 

Museum fundraiser a huge success in Unity Park

Luganville locals flocked to the Museum’s annual event in Unity Park. (story)

 
 

The South Pacific WWII Museum and Project Office is now open.
Visit us Monday – Friday from 8.00am – 12.00pm midday.