The Jeepney and the Marsden Mat — World War II Legacies in Iloilo

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By 1943, the wartime American industrial powerhouse was churning out unbelievable quantities of war material in preparation for the invasion of Japan, much of it stockpiled in the Philippines. When the war ended much of this stockpiled material was unneeded.  Some was dumped in the ocean, but much was recycled by Filipinos, giving us the iconic jeepney.  I’m not sure if there are any jeepneys in Iloilo City still based on WW II jeeps, but  almost seventy years after the end of the war,MARSDEN MATTING  is still seen just about everywhere in Iloilo.

Marston Mat

Laying Marsden matting

marsden_matting_WWII

Marsden matting landing strip – Papua, New Guinea

“Marsden Matting was extensively used during World War II by Seabees (Construction Battalions – CB’s) and other front line construction personnel to build runways and other readily usable surfaces over all kinds of terrain in the Pacific Theatre of Operations.

On Pacific islands the matting was typically covered with crushed and rolled coral or soil to form a level surface. The perforated and channelled design of the matting created strength and rigidity and facilitated drainage. A runway two hundred feet (60 metres) wide and 5,000 feet (1500 metres) long could be created within two days by a small team of engineers. (that’s about 79,000 sheets of Marsden matting, weighing 2,370 tonnes.”   http://www.austradesecure.com/

Because Marsden matting was made  from steel with a high manganese content, the matting was also highly resistant to corrosion.  Compare the seventy year old Marsden matting fences of Iloilo with the rapidly corroding steelwork elsewhere.

marsden_matting

Marsdon matting stockpiled

Marsden matting along General Luna Street

Marsden matting along General Luna Street

Marsden matting, General Luna Street

Marsden matting, General Luna Street

So, next time you see one of fences in Iloilo City made of leftover Marsden matting, you’ll see it with a new appreciation!  More info at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marsden_Matting

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