A most ungracious gesture

Million Dollar Point

At the conclusion of World War II, the roads, buildings, power, water and other support infrastructure built by the American army, were to be left in place as a gesture of goodwill for the people of Santo. However, all of the thousands of pieces of equipment, vehicles, clothing, furniture, stores, even crockery and cutlery and thousands of bottles of Coca-Cola were to be shipped back to the United States – but so did the troops. With transport ships in short supply at the end of the war, the decision was made to give priority to the troops and leave the equipment behind.

Additionally, the War Department felt that a flood of surplus military trucks, tractors, bulldozers and other vehicles arriving back in the US would do nothing to reinvigorate the economy, if everyone was buying up surplus used equipment from the army. So all the equipment was destined to stay on Santo.

The French, who were controlling this area of Vanuatu at the time, got wind of the decision and saw an opportunity to acquire the equipment for free.

The American’s offered everything at 6 cents in the dollar, but the French believing they would get it for nothing anyway following the American’s withdrawal, refused the offer.

A bizarre turn of events

The Americans weren’t too impressed with France’s rejection of what they considered a very generous offer. But they knew the French were looking to exploit the whole situation. So in a decision of pure spite and some would say complete madness, the American’s decided that if the French wouldn’t pay, then no one would have the equipment.

For two solid days, every piece of surplus equipment on Santo was transported down to the beach not far from Luganville and dumped into the sea.

What couldn’t be driven into the ocean under its own power, was pushed there by bulldozer, before the bulldozers themselves were driven in with rocks keeping the accelerators flat to the floor.

As a final gesture of goodwill, the Army engineers, blew up the temporary jetty Army Engineers had constructed that the trucks were driven off. Millions of dollars worth of equipment and stores were destroyed and a new name given to that area of the Santo coastline.

Seen to be believed

Million Dollar Point really does live up to its name. And today you can still see the junk left by US Forces strewn across the beaches and rocks just a short drive from the centre of Luganville. Of course if you enjoy snorkelling or scuba diving, what awaits visitors even just a few metres from shore, is a sight to behold.

More than a beach

Imagine a gigantic military junkyard full of every type of vehicle and piece of equipment you can imagine… under the water. That’s what awaits you at Million Dollar Point and it’s another of those amazing destinations that’ll be right on the doorstep of the new South Pacific World War II Museum.

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