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    Finschhafen (Finschafen, Finschaven) Morobe Province Papua New Guinea (PNG)

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20th PRS April 1, 1944

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U. S. Army c1944

Location
Lat 6° 35' 60S Long 147° 50' 60E  Finschafen is located on the north coast of New Guinea, bordering Dregerhaffen Harbor (Dreger Haffen Harbor) to the south. Located 50 miles east of Lae. There are several variations in the spelling of this Finschafen during different historical periods. During the German colonial era, spelled "Finschhafen". During the Pacific War, spelled Finschafen, Finschaffen or Finchhaven. Today, known as "Finschhafen".

Prewar History
Founded in 1885, the town was established by the Deutsch-Neuguinea Kompagnie (German New Guinea Company)
as their first settlement in New Guinea, which was unsuccessful due to malaria and tropical diseases. In 1892, many German colonists moved west to Stephansort (Bogadjim). Prior to the Pacific War, a Lutheran mission was established with 80 missionaries that ran several missions, schools, a port and a radio station.

Wartime History
On March 10, 1942 the Japanese Army occupied the area and used the Lutheran Mission buildings as their headquarters. The Allies thought the area was lightly defended, but in fact based the fresh Japanese 20th Division (less 78th Regiment) and a Special Naval Landing Force and Naval Base Unit occupied the area.

Allied and Japanese mission against Finschafen
December 21, 1942 - January 5, 1944

On September 22, 1943 at dawn U. S. Navy (USN) Rear Admiral Daniel E. Barbey's Task Force 76 (TF-76) landed the Australian Army, 20th Brigade under the command of Brigadier J. V. Windeyer at Scarlet Beach near Finschhafen. Simultaneously the 22nd Australian Militia approached from the coast.  After a week of hard fighting, the Australians captured the town of Finschhafen and Finschafen Airfield (Prewar) by October 2, 1943. During the battle, the Japanese lost roughly 1,500 troops. But the victory was, in a sense, a hollow one, for the bulk of the Japanese garrison, 4,000 men retreated Sattleberg, a peak that dominated Finschhafen and the surrounding area.

Afterwards, Finschafen was developed into a major Allied base known by the U. S. Army as "Base F (Finschafen)". The U. S. Army built Finschafen Airfield (Dreger Field) and developed the facilities at Dreger Haffen Harbor. Finschafen became an important base to support Allied island hopping operations and for training and support.

Black GIs African American (Negro) soldiers at Finschafen
2026th, 466th Quartermaster
467th, 469th Quartermaster
466th Antiaircraft Artillery AW Battalion
742nd Antiaircraft Artillery Gun Battalion
49th Coast Artillery Battalion, 155mm Howitzer
772nd Engineer Dump Truck
579th Motor Ambulance Co.
637th 638th, 639th Port Co.
248th Quartermaster Depot Co.
437th Aviation Squadron
97th Engineer Service Regiment
570th, 557th Quartermaster Battalion
986th, 985th Quartermaster Co

Today
Post war, much of the wartime gear was abandoned, buried or otherwise disposed. Little of the prewar town, remains except for one old Lutheran building, used by missionaries to this day. After WWII the town was moved from its original site.  A Lutheran building is used by holidaying missionaries. Its tower was a WWII lookout.

Finschafen Airfield (Dreger Field)
Built by Americans, developed into an important fighter and transport base

Finschafen Airfield (Prewar Airstrip)
Built prior to the war by Lutheran Missionaries

Scarlet Beach
Located roughly six miles north of Finschhafen, site of the Australian Army landing on September 22, 1943 that liberated Finschafen

Kakakog (Kakakogwith)
Crest line overlooking Finschhafen and Scarlet Beach, battle between September 24-October 2, 1943.

119th Station Hospital
Built at Finschafen and was often swamped with malaria patients, just as the Germans had experienced during the colonial era.

Veteran Don Hubner, 1st Marine Division recalls:
"Evidently this unhealthy situation on Goodenough Island prompted those in authority to move the First Marine Division on over to New Guinea and under the jurisdiction of MacArthur's Sixth Army stationed around Finschafen."

American Cemetery at Finschafen (Finschaffen Cemetery)
Finschafen Cemetery was created by the U. S. Army for American dead. It included five separate cemeteries: USAF Cemetery, Fischaffen #1, USAF Cemetery, Fischaffen #2, USAF Cemetery, Fischaffen #3, USAF Cemetery, Fischaffen #4, USAF Cemetery, Fischaffen #5. Post war, all graves were exhumed and the remains were transported to either Manila American Cemetery, Hawaii Memorial Cemetery (Punchbowl) or to the United States for permanent internment.

American units based in Finschafen
1st Marine Division - from Goodenough and Finschafen to Cape Gloucester
African-Americans service units

U. S. Army Road Grater
Abandoned near the road to Sattleburg.

C-47A Dakota 43-30746
Crashed, circumstances unknown

P-38H Lightning 42-66547
Pilot Garrison MIA September 22, 1943

Unknown Shipwreck at Finschafen
Japanese shipwreck of 150 tons

Ume Maru
Sunk off Finschafen

References
WM "Development of Finschafen as a base" F07478 cine footage of Finschafen c1944

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Last Updated
October 21, 2017

 

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