Catholic Church c1937
90th BG c1943
5th AF Sept 9, 1943
5th AF Nov 18, 1943
AWM Aug 13, 1945
Justin Taylan 2000
Justin Taylan 2003
Wewak Airfield is located at Wirui to the southeast of Wewak Town (Wewak Point), parallel to Wirui Beach. To the east are Mission Point and northeast is Wewak Harbor. Also known as"Wirui Drome", "Wewak Drome" or "Wewak Central".
During 1937, a small airfield was built at this location by the Australian administration and Catholic church,
to provide air service for the Wewak area. By early 1942, the airfield was described as a 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.
World War II Pacific Theatre History
On December 18, 1942 four Japanese ships landed unopposed between 8pm and 2am and unloaded about 2,000 Japanese Army troops and supplies onto Wirui beach and occupied Wewak and Wewak Airfield. Immediately, the Japanese 117th Airfield Survey and Construction
Battalion began upgrading the airfield for use by military aircraft.
On January 17, 1943 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 and 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. Under the control of the Japanese Army 4th Air Intel Unit. Operational orders of 248th Sentai showed they scrambled based on radar intelligence. 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."
During May 1945, the Australian Army occupied the Wewak area. This airfield was repaired and used by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) until the end of the war.
On September 13, 1945 Japanese Army Lt General Hatazo Adachi, commander of the 18th Army with Captain Iwama, civilian interpreter and three officers were flown aboard C-47 Dakota from 36 Squadron from Hayfield Airfield to Wewak Airfield. Next, the Japanese were transported by jeep to Cape Wom for the official surrender ceremony at 10am at Cape Wom Airfield. Adachi signed the instrument of surrender and handed over his sword in the presence of 3,000 troops drawn from various units of the Australian Army 6th Division. Afterwards, he attended meetings with Australian Army staff to discuss arrangements related to the surrender.
Wewak Airfield was abandoned since the war as an airfield. Since this airfield is located nearest to
Wewak town, it has been heavily picked over in the decades
and the few traces of the war remain. A road
runs atop the former runway. Bomb craters are still visible in the area and a few bits of aircraft wreckage
remain in the area, that have not been scrapped in the
decades since the war.
The Catholic publication "A Brief History
of Wewak" describes the construction of the airfield
Notes about New Guinea airfields, recorded circa May - July, 1942 by Oliver C. Doan via Jean Doan research Edward Rogers
Thank to Richard Dunn for additional information.
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
August 7, 2015
Topographic Map July 1944
View on Google Earth