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Port Moresby Air Raid –  May 26, 1942
Two Flying Boats bomb Port Moresby

Night time air raid believed to have been by two Type 97 (H6K Mavis) flying boats from Lae or Rabaul. Approximately 24 bombs were dropped over Port Moresby.

Statement by Flying Officer R. F. Munro (WOAG) RAAF 100 Squadron (Beaufort) from a loose typed document held in RAAF Historical Section (Department of Defence), Canberra, 1987

"26 May 1942 – Port Moresby New Guinea
That night we slept in an American transit camp and about midnight, I was awoken by three quick shots from a .303 which was the signal for an air raid. I had slept fully dressed and dragging on my flying boots, I raced through the bush followed by a group of about 20 Americans who jumped into a large slit trench covered by palm logs which left a narrow opening of about 2 feet.

The bombs began to drop quite close and the air was filled with fumes. Suddenly an American Officer, who was near to the entrance of the trench picked up a handful of dirt and on smelling it shouted “geraniums” – they are dropping mustard gas”. Everyone, except me, donned their masks – mine was back in Cairns. Before I had time to reflect on my predicament, pandemonium broke loose and there was a mad rush to get out of the trench and the Americans ran screaming into the bush. I stood for a moment and realising  that gas was heavier  than air, I decided that my only chance was to climb up a tree. I literally flew up a cocoanut palm for about 30 feet and hung on for dear life while the concussion from the bombs swayed the tree backwards and forwards. By now I noticed that blood was flowing down my legs into my flying boots because the bark of the cocoanut palm is razor sharp.

I was feeling exhausted and although the air raid was still on, I said to myself – “Death, where is thy sting. I will climb down and die as I can’t last much longer up here”. When I reached the ground, I saw an Australian NCO who in response to my concern about gas said “Rubbish, the smell is only cordite fumes and the fog is caused by dust from the bombs”. Although the bombs were still falling I made my way back to the camp and fell into bed exhausted.

References
Statement by Flying Officer R. F. Munro (WOAG) RAAF 100 Squadron (Beaufort) from a loose typed document held in RAAF Historical Section (Department of Defence), Canberra, 1987 via Robert Piper Military Aviation Research Services – Canberra 22 October 2005

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