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23rd Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery
March 19, 1942
July 15, 1942
December 29, 1943
Justin Taylan 2007
3.7" Heavy Anti-Aircraft Guns (H1)
The battery was manned by the Australian Army, 23rd Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery, one section. The four guns were nicknamed: "Strawberry Blonde", "The Avenger", "Leader of the Opposition" and "Dorothea" (named after one of the gun sergeant's girlfriend).
Also several Lewis machine gun pits, to protect against low flying aircraft. Later an underground bunker was also constructed at the center of the installation.
On March 19, 1942 this battery reportedly fired firing 146 rounds. The hill was bombed with 60kg bombs but none of the guns sustained direct hits. Bombs impacted on one side of the hill, and came right over between the guns and down the other side and never hit the guns once.
At one point, the battery ran out of ammunition, as it was firing nearly every day at attacking Japanese bombers.
Once, a Japanese '500 pound' bomb was dropped and hit three meters from a machine gun pit. The crew was shell-shocked but unhurt, and were withdrawn from combat.
On March 21, 1942 RAAF P-40 Kittyhawks arrived to land at 7-Mile Drome, machine guns at this position accidentally fired on them, thinking they were Japanese. None of the batteries were alerted about the arrival of these friendly fighters.
The first set of barrels were worn out from firing, and sent back to Australia for evaluation.
As the first battery in action, its anti-aircraft fire contributed to the defense of Port Moresby helped to prevent more damage. In wartime news reports, the battery claimed 43 enemy aircraft. In reality, the damage to enemy bombers was far less. Japanese reports often indicate anti-aircraft fire as 'severe' during the period this battery was the only one in operation, from February - April 1942.
This battery was manned into late 1943, until the threat of air raids had sufficiently passed.
In 2006, a cell phone tower was built at this location, likely overtop one of the former 3.7" gun emplacements.
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