1° 51' 0S Long 137° 54' E Lake Rombebai is located along the Mamberamo River, inland from the north coast of New Guinea. To the north is Teba and to the west is Sarmi.
During the middle of 1944, the Allies established a small outpost near Lake Rombebai. On July 31, 1944, they were attacked by aproximately fifty Japanese soldiers. Fifteen of the enemy were claimed as KIA, but seven of the Allies were wounded from Japanese sabres, knives, and bayonets.
A PBY Catalina piloted by Captain Gerard F. Wientjes from the 2 Emergency Rescue Squadron was ordered to evacuate wounded men from within enemy-held territory near Lake Rombebai. The PBY landed on the lake and taxied within 100yd of the shore. A dinghy was launched and ten Allied soldiers were picked up together with a Japanese POW.
After attention by a medical officer, the soldiers were taken by dinghy to the Catalina. The amphibian was taxied into deep water, seaweed was removed from the landing gear, heavy equipment was jettisoned together with 500 gallons of fuel and after three attempts at take-off, they were airborne. This was in sight of the enemy on the shore a thousand yards away, but no shots were exchanged. The survivors were taken to Owi before transfer to the 92nd General Hospital. The survivors stated: "We prayed for daylight and a PBY, and if heaven looks anything like a PBY we are going to change our ways."
Flying Cats by Andrew Hendrie, page 181
Papua Jin Mandol by Akira Tokuno
2nd Emergency Rescue Squadron | Mission Report July 31, 1944
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
January 11, 2018