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    Bena Bena Airfield (Benabena) East Highlands Province Papua New Guinea

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AWM July 1942

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AWM January 17, 1943

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AWM c1944

Location
Lat 6° 7' S Long 145° 36' E  Located near Bena Bena in the Highlands between the Finisterre Range and Bismark Range, inland from Madang and roughly five nautical miles to the northeast of Goroka. Wartime spelling "Bena Bena". Today known as "Benabena". To the southwest is Mount Kalabiga.

Construction
During the 1930s, built by Michael "Mick" Leahy while searching the Highlands for gold using local labor. Bena Bena Airfield became the first landing ground in the Highlands and was contracted to New Guinea Goldfields Limited.

During the middle of 1942 the airfield had a hard dry surface, 1,100 x 75 x 5,300 yards with approaches from the southwest to northeast and a 5% grade. Facilities were described as one house and native houses, food and water. It was noted that it could be further lengthened 300 yards.

Richard Leahy adds:
"Bena Bena Airfield was built by my father when he was searching the highlands of New Guinea for gold and contracted to New Guinea Goldfields Limited. He built it during the 1930s and it was the first airstrip in the Highlands. It is located near Bena Bena and is approx. five N.M. to the northeast of Goroka."

World War II Pacific Theatre History
During the war, Bena Bena was expanded and improved for use by C-47 Dakotas to support the Australian Army "Bena Force" operating in the Highlands.

During May 1943, the Australian 2/7 Independent Company was flown to Bena Bena Airfield in to prevent the Japanese from capturing the Bena Bena area.

In June 1943 the 2/2nd was flown to Bena Bena Airfield to support the 2/7th Independent Company in patrolling the Ramu River area. In the second week of July the 2/2nd moved into position, with its headquarters at Bena Bena.

Observing extensive activity at Bena Bena Airfield, the Japanese incorrectly believed the airfield was a an important combat airfield and launched several air raids against it. In fact, Bena Bena Airfield was not developed beyond July 1943 and had no aircraft permanently based at the airfield.

Japanese missions against Bena Bena
July 24, 1943

Today
Disused since the war.

Richard Leahy adds:
"If you fly over it today and know where to look it is possible to see the outline of this strip even today. I do not think it was used postwar."

References
Notes about New Guinea airfields, recorded circa May - July, 1942 by Oliver C. Doan via Jean Doan research Edward Rogers
4th Kokugun Takes Charge by Richard Dunn
Thanks to Richard Leahy for additional information

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Last Updated
April 16, 2016

 

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