Kameli Airfield was located to the west of Ibu and the "Kameli Outpost" in the center of Bougainville. Also known as Kameli Strip.
During January 1944, an runway was cleared by hand by members of the Fiji Infantry Battalion, 1st Battalion using a few axes dropped from the air and the garrison's entrenching tools and bayonets to clear an area 200 yards by 50 yards (600' by 150') on a hillside. The runway was so small, it was dwarfed by the surrounding forest and looked like a pencil from the air. Aircraft landed on the uphill slope and took off on the downhill slope.
Every available Fijian solider worked during the daylight hours. After three days, a small reconnaissance plane, likely a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Taylorcraft Auster landed and took off again without mishap. This runway was so small it appeared to be a pencil from the air, dwarfed by the surrounding forest.
This small runway was named "Kameli" in honor of Private Kameli Rokotuiloma of Tailevu on Fiji, service number 617 1st Battalion, Fiji Infantry Regiment Killed In Action (KIA) January 8, 1944, the first casualty of the Ibu expedition.
World War II Pacific Theatre History
During January 1944, a regular but hazardous air service began to this small runway to evacuate sick and wounded soldiers during the Ibu expedition.
Disused since the Pacific War.
NZ Battalions Move to the Solomons page 277-278
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
September 24, 2018