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    Deboyne Lagoon Louisiade Archipelago | Miline Bay Province Papua New Guinea
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IJN May 8, 1942

Location
Lat 10° 43' 0S Long 152° 22' 0E  Deboyne Lagoon is surrounded by the Deboyne Island Group (Deboyne Group) in the northwestern portion of the Louisiade Archipelago bordering the Coral Sea. Also known as the "Deboyne Group" or "Deboyne Islands". The Deboyne Island Group is comprised of Panapompom Island, Nivani Island, Panaeati Island (Panniet) and Panuwaiyayapuna Island. To the northeast is Misma Island. To the southeast are the Redlick Islets and to the west are the Torlesse Islands. Further to the west is Milne Bay on the eastern tip of New Guinea.

Wartime History
On May 6, 1942 ten Japanese ships entered Deboyne Lagoon including the Kamikawa Maru, a destroyer, cruiser, and transports occupied the Deboyne Island Group. The Japanese captured eight in the area (three Australian Army signalers and five natives) who became Prisoners Of War (POWs) and established Deboyne Seaplane Base as a forward seaplane operating area used during the Battle of the Coral Sea.

On May 7, 1942 a seaplane operating from Deboyne managed to located the U. S. Navy support Group (one battleship, two cruisers three destroyers) 78 miles south of Deboyne at 12:40pm. After the sinking of Shoho two of her aircraft ditched into Deboyne Lagoon near each other: one A6M2 Zero and one A5M4 Claude.

On May 8, 1942 one A6M2 Zero piloted by PO2c Okura Shigeru from the 14th Shotai from Zuikaku ditched into Deboyne Lagoon. Around 3:30pm, G4M1 Number 2271 Tail F-378 ditched into Deboyne Lagoon.

On May 10, 1942 the remaining Japanese withdrew from the Deboyne Lagoon. For nearly a week afterwards, American aircraft continued to bomb the area, unaware the Japanese had withdrawn.

American missions against Deboyne
April 10 - May 16, 1942

During late May 1942 and early June 1942, the area was visited Australian Army patrols aboard the MV Laurabada including Lt Mac Rich and Ivan Chapman. During July 1942, an Australian Technical Rece Party including photographer Lindsay Smooker visited the Deboyne area to inspect the remaining wreckage.

Deboyne Seaplane Base
Used by the Japanese between May 6-10, 1942 during the Battle of the Coral Sea

G4M1 Betty Manufacture Number 2271 Tail F-378
Pilot Misao ditched May 7, 1942 into shallow water off Panaeati, wreckage dragged ashore onto Panaeati

A6M2 Model 21 Zero
Ditched May 7 or 8, 1942 during the Battle of the Coral Sea off the northern tip of Nivani.

B-26 Marauder Serial Number 40-1402
Pilot Royall MIA May 10, 1942

References
The First Team pages 205, 207, 257, 268, 341
The number of aircraft the possibly ditched in the lagoon varies in several sources. The First Team page 262 states that four were lost (plus one ditched at Deboyne?).
The Campaigns of the Pacific War page 53 states ten of the torpedo aircraft were shot down, and quotes the war diary of 25th Air Flotilla as one of its sources.

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Last Updated
January 11, 2018

 

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