January 21, 1942
Five A6M2 Zeros from Shōkaku strafe Bulolo, pilots include: WO Abe Yasujirō, PO3c Tanaka Yoshifuji, Sea1c Horiguchi Shunji, PO1c Hayashi Fujo, Sea1c Komachi Sadamu. At Bulolo Airfield, their strafing sets fire to three Junkers
G 31 trimotors on the ground: G 31 "Pat" VH-URQ, G 31 "Bulolo I Paul" VH-UOU and G 31 "Bulolo 2 Peter" VH-UOV. Gold dredging work ceased
as most of the men employed entered military service with the NGVR.
The New Guinea Volunteer Rifles NGVR 1939-1943 by Ian Down:
Buster H. Mills NGVR recalled: "Being not on sentry duty at the time, I sounded the air-raid alarm and for those on gold dredges their power was switched off as their warning. Strangely, with twenty minutes warning only Captain Simpson, the manager of Bulolo Gold Dredging, was to be seen trying to organise a defense. None of the battle-hardened veterans of the parade ground officers or NCOs could be found. Weapon pits and defensive positions were left to fed for themselves [...].
Obstructions were quickly placed across the airstrip to prevent unauthorised landings and the seven of us jammed into our weapons pit on the edge of the runway between two large Junker cargo planes [G 31 "Bulolo I Paul" VH-UOUand G 31 "Bulolo 2 Peter" VH-UOV] and waited to die for our various countries from which we had come.
When a plane flew over the hill at the northern end of the runway a great deal of shin kicking went on us each of us sought the favoured position at the bottom. All for nothing..... the plane was another Junker cargo plane [G 31 "Pat" VH-URQ] carrying three tonnes of Foster's Lager flown up from Lae and piloted by Bertie Heath. Panic set in as we waved him away while we cleared the obstructions, then after the landing two of our members started replacing them again. Before this could happen, five Japanese Zeros arrived hedge hopping with the sound of angry bees. We were now between three large cargo planes or should I say targets and for the next fifteen minutes we were treated to a magnificent display of flying as they swept back and forth over our heads. By this time, our effect and of course the three burning cargo planes no longer needed our protection.... As for the beer from Heath's plane, the top layers had burst from the heat of the burning Junker but a good supply of refreshment was still useable from the bottom [...]".
February 5, 1942
At 11am, Bulolo is bombed by five twin-engine bombers.
Thanks to Luke Ruffato for additional information