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    Gona Oro Province Papua New Guinea (PNG)

Click For Enlargement
USAAF July 31, 1942

Click For Enlargement
Justin Taylan 2005






































Click For Enlargement
Justin Taylan 2005








Click For Enlargement
Justin Taylan 2005

Location
Lat 8° 35' 60S Long 148° 16' 0E  Located on the north coast of New Guinea, to the west of Sanananda and east of Haddy's Village and Buna.

Wartime History
During the night of July 21-22, 1942 Japanese ships arrived off Gona. On July 22, 1942 they began landing troops that advanced inland.

On July 22, 1942 a platoon of the Papuan Infantry Battalion (PIB) made up of Papuan soldiers, under the command of Australian Lt. John Chalk reported the Japanese landing. That night, the PIB took up positions on a hill overlooking the Gona to Sangara Road and ambushed the Japanese, then retreated.

The Japanese established a base area at Gona in support of their advance inland and landed additional supplies and reinforcements at this location. Following the defeat of the Japanese offensive over the Kokoda Trail, Allied forces advanced toward the Japanese beachhead area including Buna, Gona and Sanananda.

Prior to the battle, General Yokomata took command of Japanese forces and 800 reinforcements landed at Gona and Sanananda. The Japanese constructed a system of strong defenses in the area including coconut log bunkers, machine gun nest, rifle pits and snipers positions along a 20km beachhead spanning Gona, Sanananda and Buna.

Japanese and Allied missions against Gona
July 21, 1942 - February 3, 1942

Battle of Gona
By November 7, 1942 Australian Army troops began to arrive in the area and prepared for the Battle of Gona, to eliminate the remaining Japanese. Between November 19 - December 21,  1942 Australian Army troops from the 25th Brigade and 21st Brigade attacked with support from the 3rd Militia Battalion, 39th Militia Battalion and the 7th Division. Fighting in appalling conditions they slowly overwhelmed the Japanese defenders that refused to surrender. On December 9, 1942 Australian Battalion commander Lt. Col. Ralph Honner sent the famous signal: "Gona's Gone" indicating its capture, but fighting continued to the west near Haddy's Village. On December 28, 1942, the Battle of Gona ended when Japanese General Yokomata was ordered to withdraw his remaining forces to Sanananda.

Today
Gona is located at the terminus of the road that follows the wartime era track. PMV buses from Popondetta travel here daily and the memorial sites are often visited by trekkers who walked the Kokoda Trail or those interested in history.

Gona Anglican Mission Station
The site of a prewar Anglican Church (Church of England) built at Gona.  Three missionaries were at Gona, and declined urgings to leave the area due to the approaching war. When the Japanese landed at Gona the three staff remained: Father James Benson (Reverend), May Hayman (nurse) Mavis Parkins (school teacher). When the Japanese landed, all three surrendered. The two women missionaries and a six year old house boy who were beheaded on the beach.  Father Benson was taken prisoner and sent to Rabaul.  He was liberated in September 1945.  He kept a secret diary and after the war wrote the book Prisoner's Base and Home Again that includes an extensive account about the Gona mission, their escape and his capture.

Today, the cross from the old church, with bullet holes present is displayed in front of the overgrown site of the former church. Only the top part of the original cross remains, and has been attached to a new base portion. Several contemporary graves, including the graves of the Anglican martyrs are located in front of the cross.

P-400 Airacobra AP377
pilot Welker crashed July 6, 1942

St. Raphael's Gona Memorial Medical Center
This health center was funded by veterans of the battle of Gona and Rotary members in Australia. A dedication plaque to the two martyrs who were killed by the Japanese reads: "May Hayman & Mavis Parkins who faithfully worked for the benefit of the people of the Gona area and finally gave their lives to the cause of Christianity witness, August 1942."

Unknown Aircraft Wreck
Possibly RAAF DB-7 Boston

Ayutosen Maru  (The Gona Wreck)
Sunk July 22, 1942 offshore Gona

A-20G Havoc 43-9410
Pilot Wisdom MIA April 10, 1944

A-20G "A Touch of Texas" 43-9623
Pilot Palmer ditched March 12, 1944 offshore Gona

References
Buna-Gona-Sananada Time Line

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Last Updated
April 30, 2014

 

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