Japanese missions against Milne Bay
August 4, 1942 - April 14, 1943
August 4, 1942 (Air Raid No. 1)
At mid-day, a Val and 4 Zeros attacked. No. 1 Strip is straffed by the Zeros and bombed by the Val. They destroyed a 75 Squadron Kittyhawk parked on the runway. Eight P-40s from 76 Squadron were airborne and attacked them. The Val was shot down by F/Sgt Bob Gray, crashing several miles to the west of airstrip, the first aerial victory over Milne Bay.
August 11, 1942 (Air Raid No. 2)
Six Zeros attack, intercepted by 22 P-40s of 75 and 76 Squadron, anti-aircraft fire. Japanese lost four Zeros, and Australian four pilots and planes: 75 Squadron: F/O Mark Sheldon, W/O Shelley. 76 Squadron: F/O Albert McLeod, F/Sgt Geoge Inkster.
August 23, 1942 (not classified as a raid officially, no bombs dropped)
16 Zeros from Buna take off at 8:10 attack Rabi at 9:15, finding only one P-40 in the air, no other planes take off. One P-40 is damaged, one Zero claimed shot down.
August 24, 1942 (Air Raids No.3 & No. 4)
(Air Raid No 3) Attacked by 15 Zeros from Buna. After several stafing runs, they set fire to a LB-30 Liberator AL515 that had force landed at No. 1 Strip and had already been stripped. Eight 76 Squadron P-40s were in the air, Five were claimed as aerial kills. Gunners claimed two or three.
(Air Raid No 4) At 2:45, a spotter at Porlock Harbor warned of another raid, that arrived at 3:30, Japanese bombed and strafed the area around No. 1 Strip. All planes returned, gunners and pilots claimed damage to some of the Zeros.
August 26, 1942 (Naval Bombardment)
At 2:00am, naval bombardment of Gili Gili.
August 27, 1942 (Air Raid No. 5)
As 22nd BG B-26s of 22nd BG finishing bombing Japanese forces in the area, at 8:15am eight Vals and 12 Zeros (infact, only seven: five from Tainan Kû and two from 2nd Kû) attacked No. 1 Strip (Gurney Field). Anti-aircraft gunners claim 12 enemy shot down. The Tainan Kokutai Zeros strafe LB-30 Liberator AL-818 already destroyed on the ground, and two are damaged by ground fire. Allied fighters shot down two dive bombers: D3A1 Koyamada and D3A1 Yoshinaga and four Zeros (all from Tainan Kokutai. Lost are A6M3 piloted by Yamashita, A6M3 piloted by Yamashita and A6M3 piloted by Ninomiya were shot down. A6M3 piloted by Kakimoto ditched and was later taken prisoner.
August 31, 1942 (Air Raid No. 6)
Before midday, 7 Mitsubishi bombers attacked No. 1 Strip from 15,000' and were hit by AA fire.
September 7, 1942 (Naval Bombardment)
Navy Bombardment covers withdrawal of Japanese troops.
September 8, 1942 (Air Raid No. 7)
9 Mitsubisihi Nell bombers and 5 Zeros attacked No. 1 Strip. Achived little damage, killed two RAAF guards. Americans lost 4 KIA and 7 WIA. This is the last air raid during the "Battle of Milne Bay".
January 17, 1943
(IJN) Twenty-four G4M1 Betty bombers escorted by 20 A6M Zeros arrive over Milne Bay at 12:40 local time. The bombers dropped 230-250 x 100kg bombs onto Turnbull Field (No. 3 Strip). Destroyed on the ground are B-17F "Fire Ball Mail" 41-24551, B-17F 41-24540, P-39D 41-38485, P-39D ??-????, B-24D "Aincha Sorry" 41-23824 and two C-47s all destroyed on the ground. Also, 6 vehicles and 6 fuel dumps. Damaged are Hudson A16-206, Hudson A16-239 and Hudson A16-185 had its ailerons and wireless transmitter damaged, but was later repaired. No one is killed, but eight are wounded from the 49th Serivce Squadron.
Norbert Ruff recalls in Ruff Stuff pages 95 - 99
"On January 17, 1943, we had our biggest air raid to date. They hit us with 24 bombers and Zeros. There was a mix up on the orders as to whether only the anti-aircraft guns were to be used or if our fighter I~,r planes would be scrambled. I counted only two bursts being fired. When the Japs saw no other firing and no enemy interception, the planes dropped so low that I remember standing dumbfounded, and I could see the bomb-bay doors opening and the bombs falling out. When they started hitting the ground, it sounded like some giant's footsteps coming at me. All hell broke loose. As there was no opposition, the lap planes kept coming in at us time and time again. The raid lasted over two hours or so. It was almost the last of me I thought, but I remember hitting a slit trench near me and fell on top of some other guys. I guess I was so fascinated about the whole event that I kept Fuel dump burning in background. standing there like a fool and watching the bombs falling.
I remember also something landing on top of me or another person falling on me, I never did know which. Whatever it was did not move. One guy was yelling, 'Let me get my A-in, let me get my A-in!' and I thought how comical it was. Afterwards I remember having a very painful backache.
"The Japs had made direct hits on and destroyed two B-17s, one B-24, one P-39, and two Lockheed Hudsons, over 10,000 gallons of gas. [Also gas trucks and command cars] Ammunition exploding like mad from the ammo dumps nearby that had been hit, and kept exploding for a long time afterwards. Runways were damaged and shrapnel was flying all over the place. When the metal mesh runways were hit, the pieces of the runway became like jagged pieces of shrapnel. They must have been using what we called Daisy Cutters. I remember seeing shrapnel go right through a truck engine, and saw that the piece of shrapnel had the words USA stamped on it. So I figured the J aps had got all our pre-war scrap metal and gave it back to us as bombs."
After the raid was over, we heard that one bomber was shot down. We also heard that the anti-aircraft gun crew was told not to fire as the fighter planes would intercept, but that the fighter planes were told that the anti-aircraft would fire and for them not to intercept. Thus confusion added to the events. I guess that is why only two bursts by the guns were heard. It was some experience laying there helpless. We had rifles, but had not yet been issued bullet clips. When we first arrived in New Guinea each man was issued a 45 caliber pistol, but later had to turn them in for use by the infantry.
After the air raid, we counted between 150-200 bombs that had dropped on our position. The camp was practically demolished and had to be rebuilt. I remember looking into the bomb craters and thinking that a 21 ton truck would easily fit into the hole." - Frank Cicerello (The 80th FS 'Headhunters' Squadron History)"
January 20, 1943
(IJN) First daylight raid: Six to nine G4M1 Betty bombers bomb Turnbull Airfield. Destroyed on the ground is previously damaged Hudson A16-239. Overnight, two raids target the Milne Bay area.
March 22, 1943
(IJN) Japanese air raid on Milne Bay
March 23, 1943
(IJN) Four G4M1 Betty bombers attack Rabi at Milne Bay.
March 24, 1943
(IJN) During the night, Japanese bombers conduct a night bombing mission against Milne Bay. On the ground a red alert is sounded. Two bombs land in an Australian Army camp area and two at Rabi
in a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) area.
April 14, 1943
100 Japanese aircraft (another account reports 40 bombers and 30 Zeros) attack No. 3 Strip (Turnbull) near Milne Bay. The Allies claim two bombers, two dive bombers and two zeros
destroyed, for the loss of one P-40, 2 crash landed and
four damaged. MS Van Heemskerk is sunk into Milne Bay.
August 9, 1943
Milne Bay bombed (?)