Lat 6° 7' 60S Long 149° 7' 0E Arawe Airfield is located near Lupin inland from Cape Ainto on the coast of New Britain. To the northeast is Aivalo and to the southwest is Meselia. Located about 4-5 miles east of Arawe (Cape Merkus). Pronounced "Ara-wee". Also known as "Lupin" or "Lupon".
Prewar, a landing ground was cleared at this location as a civilian emergency landing strip for aircraft flying from Lae bound for Rabaul. It is unknown if any aircraft landed at this strip, or if it was simply built as a precaution for any flight emergencies. By 1942, the runway was overgrown and unservicable.
World War II Pacific Theatre History
During 1943, occupied by the Japanese. Fuel was barged to this location, possibly in preparation for use as an airfield. Possibly, this strip was used by Japanese aircraft as an emergency strip or for very limited operations, if at all.
Richard Dunn adds:
"By mid-1943 Gasmata was already untenable due to Allied raids. If there ever was any thought of developing Merkus as an operational airfield, it was no doubt abandoned by that time."
After the US Army landing at Arawe on December 15, 1943, the
Japanese incorrectly believed Arawe Airfield was their objective. When reinforcements including tanks were landed, the defending Japanese were ordered to retreat to the vicinity of the airfield until US Army 112th Calvary troops attacked and occupied the area. Afterwards, Arawe Airfield was never developed by the Allies or used by Allied aircraft.
There is a new airstrip built by a timber company at a different angle in the same general area, known as "Lupon Airfield". Also spelled "Lupin Airfield". This runway runs roughly east-north-east to west-south-west direction, parallel to the coastline, and in a different location than the prewar built landing ground.
Mark Reichman adds:
"I got a story from a guy from Pililo Island in the Arawes across from Amalut where the landing was. He said there was an airstrip called "Kasauna" which is by the village of Meselia which is on the coast west of the Pulie River. There is a timber company airstrip there now but the new airstrip is at a different angle from the WWII strip and only touches the tip of the old airstrip. He said the Japanese built it. It sounds like the same one. The report says the strip was some 4 miles to the east of defense area (Amalut) and they called it, Lupin Airdrome. I have a map that shows a village some 4 miles away from the landing at Amalut called Lupon. My informant said Kasauna is the name of the area the strip was at close by Lupon Village so it must be the same."
Tuluvu's Air War: Chapter IX: Landing in Western New Britain by Richard Dunn
Thanks to Brian Bennett for additional information
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September 24, 2018