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Papua New Guinea Wreck Tec Updates – Early April 2001
by John Douglas

I've become exceptionally busy lately and things are a bit of a blur in retrospect. I normally keep a diary, but I've been so busy, that there are a lot of blank pages. My Grandfather kept a diary during World War I, with lots of notes for the quiet times, but when he was in battle, very little.

A recent highlight was the CILHI MIA Conference, Port Moresby. I know that you will get reports from others, so I won't dwell on it to much. Seems as if the U. S. Government is about to get serious about locating and recovering WWII remains, PNG is a place where a lot still exist and can be recovered. There are about 2,000 BNR [Bodies Not Recovered ] from the Vietnam conflict, and about 78,000 from WWII.

None has extracted numbers from PNG, but my rough guess is 10,000 plus, so you can begin to see the size of the task ahead. For example there are about 20 B-24s still missing around Port Moresby, each with about 10-12 crew on board. I enjoyed meeting other enthusiasts [and professionals], and gained a lot from the conference. I have been helping the recovery teams identify potential recovery sites including one B-24 site out of Port Moresby, and several more north of the Owen Stanley Ranges.

My involvement will probably continue, as I think the project is very worthwhile. But I also need to earn a bit of money [to feed the family] as I go. It will be a balancing exercise. I was especially impressed with details of a recovery by the RAAF of four practically complete sets of remains from a sea wreck. I guess we will see a lot more such recoveries in the years ahead.

You may recall in an earlier report, I spoke about 3 cameras sent out, one east of Port Moresby, one North Coast Oro Province and one East of the Murik lakes out of Wewak.

  • The Port Moresby camera revealed scattered debris, but no A/C.
  • The Murik camera revealed a Beaufort A9-518 and a mystery P-40.
  • The Oro camera turned up a P-38 MIA that is being checked out at present.

The search continues. I've been sent a reports of a fighter and a C-47 to the west of Port Moresby to check out, Plus a P-39 offshore Port Moresby.

- John Douglas

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