2° 0N Long 129° 3' 0E Island to the north of Halmahera. Wartime spelling "Moratai".
Occupied by the Japanese. In September 1944, a garrison of only five hundred Japanese defended Morotai.
On September 15, 1944 the U. S. Army 31st Infantry Division
made an amphibous landing on Morotai meeting only light opposition. General MacArthur and Rear Admiral Barbey landed on the day of the invasion to make an inspection. Nearby Halmahera,
which was heavily fortified was bypassed. The landing at Morotai
was the final American amphibious landing in Dutch New Guinea prior to the liberation
of the Philippines.
Afterwards, two parallel airfields were built on the southern coast of the island for American fighter and bomber aircraft: Wama Airfield (Guama) and Pitu Airfield (Pitoe). Both airfields were also known as Morotai or Morotai Airfield. Both were developed into major American bases in support of the liberation of the Philippines.
On September 9, 1945 the formal surrender
of all Japanese in the eastern half of the Netherlands East Indies happened on Morotai. More than 10,000 Australian and Allied
troops gathered as Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Military
Forces, General Blamey accepted Japanese Second Army Commander, General Lt. General Teshima surrender of approximately 126,000.
Wama Airfield (Guama, Morotai, Moratai)
Built by the Americans primarily for fighter aircraft, disused today
Pitu Airfield (Pitoe, Morotai, Moratai)
Built by Americans primarily for bombers, still in use today
After the war, Morotai was one of the
largest 5th Air Force boneyards
in the Pacific. A smelting
operation was established, and aircraft from all over
were flown here to be scrapped. Despite the scrapping, aircraft and vehicles until 1988
was cleared in a final scrap drive that went to Krakatau
Steel Mill in Java.
Robert Dunn adds:
"We hired two locals push bikes
to ride to Wama and Pitue strip just out of town. on the way there
we got followed by a motor bike, turned out to be local police and
they showed us a hidden caved in cave were the WWII aircrews got there
water, concrete pump stand and water stream still running. Everything has been cleaned up. It looks like
everything has been buried as next to pitue strip the ground has
sunk in places and we found some piles of Australian beer bottles
with 1943/44 dates on them. we rode our bikes down pitue strip and
were confronted with 2 armed military personnel. There is a small
terminal there maybe used once a week by a light aircraft, ie mail
run. The locals next day took us to where the americans dumped
all their rubbish water cans etc and showed us a amphibious tank
in amongst the bush. down town ( village ) there was a couple of
propellers next to the beach ( propellers are hollow and made of
light tin ) never seen anything like it before. Walking around town
we found a radial engine cowl on a vacant lot and
a wing gun in front of a school as there display. the reason we
came to Morotai was to inspect the aircraft wreckage dump that
i had a photo of for years but we missed out as it was smelted
in 1988. I was looking for a P-40, as many australian fighters
were converted to components from wama strip landings and i suspected
there to be many airframe sections at the dump."
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
July 26, 2015