Located at south-east of Wewak (Wewak Point), parallel to Wirui Beach and Mission Point further to the east and Wewak Harbor ofshore. This area was also known as "Wirui". Also known as "Wewak Drome" or "Wewak Central".
A small airfield was built at this location in
1937 by the Australian administration and Catholic church,
to provide air service to the Wewak area. Prewar, the single runway was 1400 x 100 x 10 yards with prevailing winds NW-SE and good approaches. European houses, food and water were available. W. O. Jones was based at the airfield.
Occupied by the Japanese Army on December 18, 1942. Four ships landed unopposed between 8pm and 2am and unloaded about 2,000 troops and supplies onto the beach at Wewak to Wirui.
The first Japanese aircraft to arrive at the
airfield was a detachment of A6M2 Zeros from the Junyō,
commanded by Lt Cdr Takashi Hashiguch.
They used the strip while it was still in its civilian
configuration. While based in Wewak for convoy protection. They left on January 25, 1943.
And another Zero detachment from the Zuiho arrived in
February 1943, then departed for Rabaul.
Meanwhile, the 117th Airfield Construction Battalion
worked on expanding and improving the airfield to become 4,000' long (as
of October 19, 1943). Over a hundred revetments were built,
fifteen for bombers to the NW towards the Wewak peninsula and 88 revetments to the SE for fighters (as of October 19, 1943)
Missions Against Wewak (Town & Airfield)
December 30, 1942 - September 8, 1944
Japanese Navy Units Based
117th Airfield Survey & Construction
Battalion Dec 18, 1942 - ?
Junyō detachment (25 x A6M2, 7 x B5N2 )
January 17 - February 28, 1943 Kavieng
Zuihō detachment (20 x A6M2) January 19 - 26, 1943 Rabaul
Japanese Army Units Based
45th Sentai (Ki-48)
14th Sentai (Ki-21)
Two 50Kw radar sets, range 200km located at Wewak, in the Wirui vicinity. Und the control of the Japanese Army 4th Air Intel Unit. Operational orders of 248th Sentai showed they scrambled based on radar intel. Reference: Japanese Mono. #127 via Richard Dunn.
Tetsuo Watanabe Naval
Land Unit, page 56:
"May 4, 1944 The Wewak Airfield was a frightful spectacle. It was totally
destroyed by bombardment. Similarly countless remains
of out ships were lying in the harbor."
When the Australian Army occupied the Wewak area, they rehabilitated this airfield and used it until the end of the war.
capitulation of Japan, the Japanese 18th Army Commander Lt. General Adachi an interpreter and three officers were flown from Hayfield Airfield to Wewak Airstrip for the official surrender ceremony on September 13, 1945 at 10am at Cape Wom Airfield. Lt. General Adachi signed the surrender and handed over his sword in the presence of 3,000 troops drawn from various units of the Australian division.
The field is abandoned since the war. A road
runs overtop the former runway. Some bomb craters still
pot marked the area and a few bits of aircraft wreckage
are in the area, that have not been scrapped over the
decades since the war. Since it is located nearest to
town, it has been heavily picked over in the decades
and the few traces of the war remain.
The Catholic church publication "A Brief History
of Wewak" talks about the construction of this
strip pre-war. Thank to Richard Dunn for additional information.
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
January 24, 2012