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During 1942, the mission was led by Bishop Wolfe with seventy missionaries including sisters who chose not to evacuate when the threat of Japanese invasion loomed.
Initially, the Japanese Army officer based in the area assured the Catholic missionaries were unharmed and allowed to go about their business but were guarded. Only one missionary, Father Joseph Kotrba was executed by the Japanese.
During their occupation, the cathedral was used to store munitions, possibly to protect them from Allied bombing, assuming the church building would be avoided as targets.
Due to Allied bombing and strafing, the mission and cathedral was destroyed and by the retreating Japanese. Also, the metal roofing was removed, either to use it for other purposes or camouflage the buildings. On September 1, 1943 the Catholic Cathedral at Alexishafen was destroyed by an American bombing raid.
They had stripped the mission building and destroyed many of the religious relics. On April 26, 1944 when the Australian Army liberated the area, all that remained was the mission's foundation and its cross.
missions against Alexishafen
75mm Anti-Aircraft Gun Battery
75mm Anti-Aircraft Gun Type 88 (No. 1)
75mm Anti-Aircraft Gun Type 88 (No. 2)
75mm Anti-Aircraft Gun Type 88 (No. 3)
75mm Anti-Aircraft Gun Type 88 (No. 4)
75mm Anti-Aircraft Gun Type 88 (No. 5)
By July 1944, the priest residence was repaired and used as by the 11th Casualty Clearing Station, including a surgery ward. By July 17, a new hospital ward for the 2/15th Field Hospital was built on the mission grounds.
US Navy Base at Alexishafen
After the Allied occupation of the area, the US Navy's 7th Amphibious Force was requested in May 1944 to provide logistical support for operations in the area. Beginning on June 13, 1944 a group of 200 men of the USN 91st Battalion arrived to begin construction with materials from Finschafen and Milne Bay to establish the base on Bostrem Bay on a peninsula off Alexishafen with additional facilities on Megas Island and Ulimal Island.
A camp was established for 400 men of command services were assigned to the base. A freshwater supply system for ships, capable of providing a half million gallons per day of untreated water was built. Boat repair facilities were built on floating dry docks. The completed base was commissioned on August 17, 1944.
On August 31, 1944 American singer and entertainer Frances Langford visited Alexishafen in conjunction with Bob Hope's USO tour.
By early November, the base was far behind the front lines and plans for disassembly went into effect by the end of December. The water supply was turned over to the Royal Australian Navy. Officially decommissioned as a US Naval base on January 28, 1945.
Alexishafen Mission Cemetery
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