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War Wreckages in Papua New Guinea A collection of wrecks found in Papua New Guinea

 
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Old 24-04-2003, 12:34 AM
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MV MacDhui - Port Moresby - Papua New Guinea

History :

The harbour was well establised prior to WWII, including the seaplane base. During the war several ships were important to history, including the sinking of the MV MacDhui by Japanese air raids, and the use of the SS Pruth for straffing practice by many 5th AF and RAAF aircraft on training flights.

Sunk June 18, 1942

MV MacDhui was built in 1931 and could accommodate 167 First-Class passengers with a gross weight of 4,560 tons. Her maiden voyage took place in March of that year and she sailed for Suva, Fiji, via the Azores, Jamaica, and the Panama Canal, with a load of coal.

On 20 June 1931 a fire broke out on another voyage between Madang and Lae, but the passengers were safely taken ashore in lifeboats. MacDhui herself was safely towed to Salamaua, New Guinea’s then administrative capital, by Neptuna, another Burns Philp & Co vessel. After patching at Salamaua, MacDhui was sailed to Sydney for six weeks of repairs. With the onset of war the ship was used to evacuate civilians from New Guinea, then carrying Australian troops back to Port Moresby.
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Old 24-04-2003, 12:36 AM
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Sunk by Japanese Air Raid :

On 17 June 1942 she tried to avoid bombs in Fairfax Harbor, Port Moresby, but had to dock that night after sustaining bomb damage from a Japanese air-raid. The next day the bombers returned, and her captain tried to avoid the bombs by more maneuvers in Fairfax Harbor. Unfortunately she was hit directly amidships, and lost rudder control. She hit the reef central in the harbor, and rolled on her side. Her captain was killed in the attack, along with ten crew. The rest took to lifeboats in calm water and, although shaken, easily made shore.

Japanese Side of the Story :

One never hears the Japanese side of the story - which unit sank the MacDhui for example ? The answer is that it was a total of twenty-seven Mitsubishi G4M1 Bettys of the 4th Kokutai led by Navy Lt Renpei Egawa, based at Vunakanau at Rabaul. It was Egawa who would later lead the first Japanese air-raid on Guadalcanal. The dramatic sinking was captured on a black and white movie film shot by the infamous Australian cameraman Damien Parer.
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Old 24-04-2003, 12:39 AM
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Today :

To this day the wreck remains on the reef and has become a common landmark of the town. The main mast was salvaged in the 1960s and is the flag mast for the Papuan Yacht Club, whilst the bell is the one used at St John's church which overlooks Ela Beach.

For years after the war, the colonial Australian town of Port Moresby carried the rumor that the ship had been carrying the Christmas beer for the Australian troops occupying the town. Nothing could have been further from the truth - the ship had docked at Port Moresby on the evening of 12 June 1942 to unload her cargo - aviation fuel from Brisbane stored in 44-gallon drums.

Even though an icon of history, rumors and distortions about MacDhui's fate persisted for years in Port Moresby's postwar colonial climate. It has taken more than sixty years for the Japanese side of the story to be connected by Aerothentic Publications.
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Old 24-04-2003, 01:00 AM
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Lat 9° 28' 60S Long 147° 10' 60E

Port Moresby is the modern capital of Papua New Guinea. Prior to WWII it was the administrative center of the Australian territory of Papua New Guinea. During the war it was the strategic objective of the Japanese forces during the Battle of Coral Sea and the overland through the infamous Kakoda Trail. Although Japanese invasion attempts were unsuccessful, the area was subjected to many air attacks. After the treat of invasion passed, the area became a major staging area and airfield for further operations.

The airfields around the city were important bases during the war that were often attacked by Japanese fighter and bombers sweeping down from the north during the early stages of the war. The city's first air raid was on February 3, 1942. Jackson's (Seven Mile) was the main American base which is now in use by Air Nugini, the nation's airline. The last daylight raid against the city took place on April 12, 1943 by dozens of G4M Bettys. Nighttime harassment by single bombers also went on after that date.

Port Moresby Area Aerodromes :

By 1944 Port Moresby had six airfields. Jackson was the largest. Wartime airfields in the area included the following:

Jackson Airport - Fighter and medium bomber base, used by Air Nugini
Kila Drome - Abandoned. Fighter and medium bomber base
Durand Airstrip - Abandoned. Fighter and medium bomber base
Berry Drome - Abandoned. Fighter and medium bomber base
Schwimmer 17 Mile - Abandoned. Fighter and medium bomber base
Ward Drome - Abandoned. For heavy bombers and transport planes.
Bulldog - Emergency landing strip

PNG National Museum, War Museum :

Contains a number of relics, archives and aircraft in storage outside. Artifacts on load to foreign museums are Yamamoto's Seat from the Betty he was killed, and the door from C-47 "Flying Dutchmen" (reproduction at museum, original at Wright-Patterson USAF Museum, Ohio, USA). There are several rooms of relics, photographs and firearms. Outside in the museum's yard are many aircraft. In addition, there is a storage area usually not part of the public tour.
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Old 24-04-2003, 01:04 AM
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The WWII photograph is dated April 1, 1943 and is captioned:
"Troops Gather at new club in Port Moresby operated by the US Canteen Services"
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Old 24-04-2003, 01:09 AM
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Everywhere you look, there are pieces of Marston Matting, or PSP (Pierced Steel Planking). To pick them up, they are quite heavy and bulky. It is used as fences, sidewalks and animal pens! Most of the piece have the side tabs unbent, indicating they were probably never used. Tons of these planks followed the USAAC where ever they set up operations.
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Old 24-04-2003, 01:12 AM
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Bomana War Cemetery ;

This war cemetery, which was commenced in 1942 by the Army lies 19 kilometres north of Port Moresby on the road to Nine Mile, and is approached from the main road by a short side road called Pilgrims Way.

Simple wrought iron gates open on to a grass forecourt enclosed by a bank of colourful tropical shrubs and trees. From this forecourt a short flight of steps rises to the Stone of Remembrance, which is of pink freestone richly grained.

Beyond this, on gently rising ground, lie the graves, marked by white marble headstones; and from a mound beyond the graves, and dominating them, rises the cross of Sacrifice, made of the same stone as the Stone of Remembrance.

There are two grassed avenues of rain trees stretching from the front to the back of the cemetery, and between every few rows of graves are tropical shrubs and trees.

The total number of burials is 3,779, and these are classified on the following page. The 438 unidentified soldiers of the United Kingdom forces were all from the Royal Artillery and captured by the Japanese at the fall of Singapore; they died in captivity and were buried on the island of Ballale in the Solomons. These men were later re-buried in a temporary war cemetery at Torokina on Bougainville Island before being transferred to their permanent resting place at Port Moresby.
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Old 24-04-2003, 01:19 AM
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Port Moresby Yacht Club :

A mast from the MV MacDhui was recovered, and erected opposite the club in 1971. Prior to WWII, this location was also site of the Qantas flying boat base at Port Moresby. This base was also used during WWII by flying boats.
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Old 24-04-2003, 01:24 AM
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Fairfax Harbor :

Port Moresby's Harbor. Was the site of a flying boat base used by Qantas before the war, and signifigant today for several wartime ship and aircraft wrecks.

With permission from :
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