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    Kairiru Island East Sepik Province Papua New Guinea (PNG)

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Justin Taylan 2003

Location
Lat 3° 21' 0S Long 143° 34' 0E  Kairiru Island is located to the north of Wewak. Borders the Kairiru Strait and Mushu Island to the south. Borders Victoria Bay on the western edge. This island is 40km in circumference and is dominated by a dormant volcano, Mount Malangis in roughly the center of the island.

Wartime History
During December 1942, occupied by the Japanese. Used by the Japanese Navy for the duration of the Pacific War. Kairiru Island was attacked from the air by Allied aircraft and ships during 1943-1944.

Allied missions against Kairiru
April 10 1943 - August 27, 1944

The Navy garrison was responsible for the execution of many Allied personel. On May 31, 1944 2nd Lt. Robert E. Thorpe pilot of P-47D Thunderbolt 42-22661 was beheaded. Also, six American aviators were executed at this location. In 1945, two Australian Army commandos were executed.

On September 10, 1945 Rear-Admiral Sato boarded ML 805 in the Kairuru Strait and surrendered the remaining Japanese Navy forces under his command on Muschu and Kairuru by handed over his sword to Australian Army Major-General Robertson, commander of the 6th Division. Three days later, the Army garrison surrendered at Cape Wom.

Postwar
The first repatriation of the Japanese from Kairiru occurred on December 26, 1945 when the Koei Maru took several hundred Japanese from Kairiru back to Japan.

Saint John's Mission (Saint John's Mission, Barakam, Bagaram)
This Catholic mission was built prior to the war, it faces southwards, overlooking nearby Mushu Island. St. John's Mission was used as the Japanese Navy headquarters on Kairiru and also as the shore facilities for Kairiru Seaplane Base. On March 21, 1944 the mission was largely destroyed by American bombing. Postwar, it was rebuilt and today, still functions as a Catholic Mission. Also known as St. John's Mission.

St. Xaviar Mission / High School
Located halfway down the island, on the southern coast. Prior to the war, this was a Catholic mission. Today St. Xaviar High School is a high school for students on Kairiru Island. A Japanese Memorial is located at the school. Until at least 1969, the tail section of a Ki-43 Oscar remained near the school.

Kevin Fitzpatrick recalls:
"In 1969, there was a delegation from the Japanese Military, who came to Kairiru to exhume, and give a proper burial to Japanese soldiers who had died on the island during WWII. The sites where Japanese soldiers lay interred were remembered by the locals, and thus the remains were recovered."

Japanese Memorial
A small Japanese memorial with 13mm machine gun is located on the grounds of the school. Its plaque reads in English and Japanese: "1942 - 1945 Dedicated to those men of the Japanese navy who died serving their country in New Guinea."

Yuwun
Located on the southern coast of the island, towards the eastern tip. There is a landing area here in a small sheltered cove. During the war, the Japanese No. 4 Company was based at this location.

Mobile Radar Unit
The rusted hulk of a radar trailer are on the beach. Part of the metal frame screen is used as a 'bridge' on the pathway above the beach. Reportedly, this radar was mounted up on the hill above Yavik along with a search light, It was partially recovered for scrapped by Emil Claus.

Tunnels
Several caves used by the Japanese, that were dug by local labor with only hand tools. Tunnels, usually smaller L-shapes or with interconnecting entrances are common around the south of the island.

Yavik (Yarin)
Located on the southeastern tip of Kairiru Island, surrounded by high cliffs

Victoria Bay
Deep water bay located at the western edge of the island. Two shipwrecks sunk by air attack the bay including the Taisei Maru, an unidentified Japanese merchant ship.

P-47D Thunderbolt Serial Number 42-22661
Pilot Thorpe ditched May 27, 1944 north of Kairiru Island, pilot captured and executed May 31, 1944

P-47D "Fiery Ginger III" Serial Number 42-75908
Pilot Ness MIA October 22, 1943

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Last Updated
May 22, 2017

 

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