many planes had flown over going south; how many came back. They rescued downed fliers and kept them safe until they could be picked up. Especially, they were to give warning of ship movements up or down the Slot. They were very effective agents.
More coastwatchers were recruited as time went on and some of the original team had to be evacuated or were captured and killed. The IJN knew about the coastwatchers and tried every means of capturing them. They bribed and tortured the natives, combed the islands with patrols, even hunted the men down with dogs. 8 To discourage use of Munda and Vila (actually Vila-Stanmore) as air and surface way stations north and south, and to prepare for the next Allied move north, American surface forces had begun to raid them. Munda was shelled for the first time as early as January 4-5, by Rear Admiral Walden L. Ainsworth's light cruisers and destroyers (DDs). Vila across from Munda was also bombarded, on January 23-24 by Ainsworth. These were early harbingers of things to come.