Journey to the Sinking Lands

A witness to the world's first evacuation of an entire people due to climate change

Island Blong Wiley, or The internet is amazing

Amazing. I’ve received an email from a Californian, Ken Wiley, who read the blog and writes to say he too has been to the Carteret. “Long story short,” Ken writes, “my father was shot down Aug 1942 during WWII and floated 15 days in a raft before coming ashore on the Carteret Islands. He was nursed back to health by the islanders and spent about 7 months with them.”

island-blong-wiley2Ken’s father, Delmar, even wrote a book about it – ‘Wiley’s Island or island Blong Wiley’. 

“Book title is based on the fact that the Chief in 1943 gave my father a small island as a going away present,” Ken writes…

In the 1980s Delmar contacted Catholic missionary groups, who put him in touch with nuns who had been in the region before and after WWII. These, in turn, helped him re-contact some of the Islanders “and the relationship that started in 1942 was renewed”.

ken-wiley-small3Ken’s family even visited the Carteret – the photo here shows his daughter standing next to Ursula Rakova.

Sadly, this shot was taken on Han Island, which has now been entirely divided in half by the rising seas.

I’ll try to get hold of a copy of the book, and find out which of the islands was given to Delmar. When I get to the Carterets, I’ll see if anyone remembers the story of the strange white airman they found down on the beach.

In the meantime, anyone else who has been to the Carterets, please let me know.


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