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The Shelling of Nawiliwili Harbor

The Shelling of Nawiliwili Harbor, Kauai, Hawaii
© Hank Soboleski.
The above picture shows where the Shannon house was hit by Japanese shells.

At around 1:30 a.m. on the moonlit night of December 30, 1941, an enemy Japanese submarine estimated to be about 4 miles offshore shelled Nawiliwili Harbor with least 15 three-inch shells in what was the only attack on Kauai during WWII.

The shrapnel from one shell riddled every room in the home of C. L. Shannon, which was located over the Kauai Marine & Machine Works, Shannon's business, then situated along the stretch of harbor between what are today the Matson and Young Brothers terminals.

Fortunately for the Shannons, they had taken cover downstairs in the machine works after being awakened by the first shell, so none were wounded.

And on the bluff above the harbor, where the bulk sugar storage warehouse stands today, a star shell started a small cane field fire that Joseph (Black) Souza and Kelii Afat and their families and neighbors, who lived nearby, were fighting when another shell landed close by, prompting them to dive into a ditch for safety.

Yet most of the shells were duds. One punctured a Shell Oil Company gasoline storage tank, others created water plumes in the bay, and another was run over by a vehicle traveling on the harbor road later in the morning.

And some time later, when the burned cane field was harvested, the harvesting luna discovered another shell that he dutifully took to Grove Farm manager William Patterson Alexander's house (which still stands, albeit decrepitly, between the Puakea Golf Course and Nawiliwili Rd.) and laid on Alexander's doorstep. When Alexander noticed it afterwards, he was astonished, to say the least.

During the attack, Lihue resident Holbrook 'Hobie' Goodale and his grandfather, Charles Rice, watched the action from their vantage point at Mr. Rice's home, where the Marriott pool is now located.