Iron Bottom Bay

Chit booklet for use at the Iron Bottom Bay Club at Port Purvis on Florida Island in the Solomon Islands. Iron Bottom Bay or Iron Bottom Sound lies between Florida Island and Guadalcanal.

Iron Bottom Bay or Iron Bottom Sound lies between Florida Island, Savo Island and Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. Prior to the war it was known as Savo Sound. The new name was adopted by Allied sailors as the bottom of the sound became littered with the hulks of sunken Japanese and Allied warships.

Map showing the locations of shipwrecks in Iron Bottom Bay. Purvis Bay is the inlet
where USS LST-342 is shown in the upper right corner of the map.

Between August 1942 and April 1943 five separate naval engagements took place within the sound as the ground campaign on Guadalcanal dragged on. Sixteen Allied and eight Japanese ships were sunk during those battles. Seventeen Allied and nine Japanese ships went to the bottom in other action in the sound before the end of the war.

Page from the unit history of the 1008 Seabee Detachment showing the dedication of the Iron
Bottom Bay Club. The Detachment was stationed on Florida Island and built the Club.

After the Japanese withdrawal from Guadalcanal in February 1943, the Allies turned the islands around Iron Bottom Sound into a major port and logistics facility. Recreational facilities were among the improvements made. On Florida Island the 1008 Seabee Detachment constructed the Iron Bottom Bay Club as the primary officer’s club to serve the area.

Ten cent and five cent chits from the Iron Bottom Bay Club.

Most of the military clubs operated on a chit or coupon system. Club chits were sold in booklets usually by deducting the amount directly from pay.

Using chits instead of regular money allowed for greater currency control and accountability. It also kept money out of the local economy helping to keep down inflation. There was also an added benefit to the club when a member left without redeeming all their coupons.

The booklet pictured above was issued by the Iron Bottom Bay Club on Florida Island. The booklet originally held $3.00 in chits but this example was surcharged down to $1.00. It had 5 x $.10 and 10 x $.05 chits.

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