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    Deboyne Seaplane Base Miline Bay Province Papua New Guinea (PNG)

Location
Located at Deboyne Lagoon bordering Panaeati Island (Panniet). The Japanese code for Debonye was "RXE".

World War II Pacific Theatre History
During 1942, a small force of eight: three Australian Army signalers (radio operators) supported by five natives arrived at Deboyne Lagoon to establish a radio post.

On May 6, 1942 a force of ten Japanese ships entered Deboyne Lagoon including the Kamikawa Maru, a destroyer, cruiser, and transports. The Japanese capture eight Prisoners Of War (POWs) in the area: three Australian Army Signalers and five natives and established as a forward seaplane operating area.

The Deboyne Seaplane base was located off Panaeati Island (Panniet). There were no shore facilities as the Japanese operated off the seaplane tender. Deboyne was under the commanded by Lt. Minematsu Hideo. During the Battle of the Coral Sea between May 7-8, 1942 Japanese seaplanes from Deboyne searched for enemy ships and during the battle, aircraft ditch in the area and their crews were rescued. At the conclusion of the battle, the Japanese withdrew from the area on May 10, 1942.

Japanese units based at Deboyne
Yokusuka Kokutai Detachment (F1M2) May 6-10, 42

On May 7, 1942 during the Battle of the Coral Sea several floatplanes departed at 06:30 for a search. At 08:20 one spots enemy cruisers 150 miles SSW of Deboyne. Later, a Deboyne based seaplane located the American support Group (one battleship, two cruisers three destroyers), 78 miles south of Deboyne at 12:40. After the sinking of Shoho, four A6M2 Zeros led by Lt. Notomi ditched at Deboyne.

On May 8, 1942 A6M2 Zero piloted by PO2c Okura Shigeru from Zuikaku 14th Shotai successfully ditched at Deboyne after combat with four F4F Wildcats from VF-42.

On May 10, 1942 Kamikawa Maru departed, abandoning Deboyne Seaplane Base. The Japanese abandoned several aircraft wrecks in the area including F1M2 Pete Tail RI-6 and G4M1 Betty 2271. American aircraft continued to bomb the area until May 16, 1942 unaware the Japanese had departed.

American missions against Deboyne
April 10 - May 16, 1942

During late May to early June 1942, MV Laurabada arrived at Deboyn including Lt Mac Rich and Ivan Chapman. During July 1942, an Australian Technical Rece Party investigated the Deboyne area, including: Lindsay Smooker who photographed the remaining wreckage.

References
The First Team, pages 181, 205, 207-208, 210, 221, 249, 257, 268, 341

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

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