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    Finschafen (Finschaven) Morobe Province Papua New Guinea (PNG)

Location
Lat 6° 35' 60S Long 147° 50' 60E  Finschafen is located 50 miles east of Lae. There are several variations in the spelling of this town on different historical maps and at different periods. During the German colonial era, spelled "Finschhafen". During the Pacific War, spelled "Finschafen".  Also known as "Finchhaven".

Pre-War History
Founded in 1885, the town was established by the Deutsch-Neuguinea Kompagnie (German New Guinea Company)
as their first settlement in New Guinea, which was unsuccessful due to malaria and tropical diseases. In 1892, many German colonists moved west to Stephansort (Bogadjim). Prior to the Pacific War, a Lutheran mission was established with 80 missionaries that ran several missions, schools, a port and a radio station.

Wartime History
On March 10, 1942 the Japanese Army occupied the area and used the Lutheran Mission buildings as their headquarters. The Allies thought the area was lightly defended, but in fact based the fresh Japanese 20th Division (less 78th Regiment) and a Special Naval Landing Force and Naval Base Unit occupied the area.

Allied and Japanese mission against Finschafen
December 21, 1942 - September 28, 1943

On September 22, 1943 at dawn US Navy's Rear Admiral Daniel E. Barbey's Task Force 76 landed Australian Brigadier J. V. Windeyer's 20th Brigade at Scarlet Beach. Simultaneously the 22nd Australian Militia approached from the coast.  After a week of hard fighting, the Australians captured the town and nearby airfield.   The town was declared liberated on October 2, 1943. The Japanese had lost 1,500 defenders. But the victory was, in a sense, a hollow one, for the bulk of the Japanese garrison, 4,000 men, had retreated to the 3,000-foot-high Sattleberg, a peak that dominated Finschhafen and the surrounding area.

Today
Post war, much of the wartime gear was abandoned, buried or otherwise disposed. Little of the prewar town, remains except for one old Lutheran building, used by missionaries to this day. After WWII the town was moved from its original site.  A Lutheran building is used by holidaying missionaries. Its tower was a WWII lookout.

Finschafen Airfield (Dreger Field)
Built by Americans, developed into an important fighter and transport base

Finschafen Airfield (Prewar Airstrip)
Built prior to the war by Lutheran Missionaries

Scarlet Beach
Located roughly six miles north of Finschhafen, site of the Australian Army landing on September 22, 1943 that liberated Finschafen

Kakakog (Kakakogwith)
Crest line overlooking Finschhafen and Scarlet Beach, battle between September 24-October 2, 1943.

Base F (Finschafen)
Finschafen became a large staging base (known as US Army Base F). It included the Finschafen Airfield and harbor facilities. Additionally, Dreger Haffen Harbor just to the south was part of this base.

119th Station Hospital
Built at Finschafen and was often swamped with malaria patients, just as the Germans had experienced during the colonial era.

Veteran Don Hubner, 1st Marine Division recalls:
"Evidently this unhealthy situation on Goodenough Island prompted those in authority to move the First Marine Division on over to New Guinea and under the jurisdiction of MacArthur's Sixth Army stationed around Finschafen."

American Cemetery at Finschafen (Finschaffen Cemetery)
The Finschafen cemetery was created by the US Army for American dead. It included five separate cemeteries: USAF Cemetery, Fischaffen #1, USAF Cemetery, Fischaffen #2, USAF Cemetery, Fischaffen #3, USAF Cemetery, Fischaffen #4, USAF Cemetery, Fischaffen #5. Post war, all graves were exhumed and the remains were transported to either Manila American Cemetery, Hawaii Memorial Cemetery (Punchbowl) or to the United States for permanent internment.

American units based in Finschafen
1st Marine Division - from Goodenough and Finschafen to Cape Gloucester
African-Americans service units

US Army Road Grater
A road grater is abandoned near the road to Sattleburg.

C-47A Dakota 43-30746
Crashed, circumstances unknown

P-38H Lightning 42-66547
Pilot Garrison MIA September 22, 1943

Unknown Wreck
Japanese shipwreck

Ume Maru
Sunk off Finschafen

Tami Island
Pair of small islands seven nautical miles SSE of Finschafen

References
WM "Development of Finschafen as a base" F07478 cine footage of Finschafen c1944

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Last Updated
August 27, 2014

 

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