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  Paga Hill Battery (Paga Battery, Paga Fortress)
Australian Army

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Late 1942
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Frances Lasker 1947

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Bruce Adams 1970

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Justin Taylan 2000

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Justin Taylan 2006

Location
Located at Paga Hill. Paga Hill Battery overlooks the Basilisk Passage, Fairfax Harbor and Port Moresby. One of the Port Moresby Gun Batteries. Also known as Paga Hill Battery, Paga Battery, Paga Fortress or Paga Gun Fortress.

Construction
During 1939, the Royal Australian Engineers (RAE) began construction of defenses atop Paga Hill to defend Port Moresby and Fairfax Harbor. Two 6" Mark XI guns (former Naval Guns) were emplaced in two batteries. Also installed were two 6 Pounder 10 CWT [ 'D. E. Lights']. During the war, supporting infrastructure and defenses were added to the hilltop.

Paga Battery
With the start of Japanese air raids against Port Moresby in February 1942, the concrete gun mounts were still drying, forcing the gunners to wait until mid-February before the battery went into action. It never fired at surface targets.

The Australian Army Engineers 19th Fortress Company directed the Paga Hill defenses. During the war, a radio station an transmitter were added. Paga Hill was the the 67th Anti-Aircraft Searchlight Battery headquarters. Offshore was an anti-submarine net guarding the entrance to Fairfax Harbor.

Radar Set RS 412
A US Army Radar RS 412 was setup at the summit of Paga Hill. This radar provided coverage over 104 miles around Port Moresby, with less coverage directly to the north over the Owen Stanley Mountains.

Postwar
In 1946, the Paga Hill Battery was decommissioned and the guns removed.

Today
The concrete of the batteries and bunkers still remain today. The structures at Paga Hill have to some extent been filled in with dirt and other debris. Graffiti is to be found widely here and some of the structures are in use as dwellings by villagers or for storage. The service tunnel that runs from the top of Paga Hill, forward to the gun structures is sealed.

Mike Boyd recalls in 1964-66:
"When I first started working in the Commonwealth Public Service, I was working with the Public Works Department and lived in Paga Point in 1964-66. I fact I used to park the car on top of the upper gun emplacement. The lower gun was about 30-40 yards away and a little lower down the hill. They would have been 2 or 3 hundred feet up and right on the crown of the hill at the point. About 100 yards or so must have been a control center, as the timers called it the 'radio town'. There was a 8 inch gun emplacement further down the hill, to the right of these two emplacements. The star pickets and even some of the wire were still in place and there were no trees."

The area was also declared a conservation reserve and zoned as open space. In the middle 1990s a property developer seemingly acquired the land title to Paga Hill, and was all set to develop it for high value real estate, but no development happened until 2014 with the construction of a ring road around Paga Hill.

References
The 'Letter' Batteries by Reg Kidd & Ray Neal details the history of this gun battery
The Coastal Gun Batteries of Port Moresby - Then & Now by John Douglas
Post Courier "War memorial under threat" by Konopa Kana December 15, 2010

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

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