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    Popondetta Oro Province Papua New Guinea (PNG)

Frank Anderson 1971


















Click For Enlargement

Click For Enlargement
Justin Taylan 2007

Location
Lat 8° 46' 0S Long 148° 13' 60E  Popondetta is an inland town in New Guinea. Also known as simply "Town" by the nickname "Pop". Borders the east-west road (Kokoda Highway). To the west is Sangara. To the southwest was Popondetta Airfield and beyond Mount Lamington. Prewar and during the Pacific War located in the Territory of New Guinea. Postwar, part of the "Northern District" or "Northern Province". Today located in Popondetta Urban LLG in Ijivitari District in Oro Province in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Popondetta is the provincial capital of Oro Province.

Prewar
Popondetta was established as a small agricultural station.

Wartime History
During 1942, occupied by the Japanese. During the Battle of Buna, Gona and Sanananda, Popondetta became strategically important location. After the battle of the beachheads, the entire area was developed into a Allied base area.

American missions against Popondetta
September 20, 1942–October 15, 1942

September 20, 1942
A-20s bomb and strafe troops and installations along the Popondetta-Andemba Road.

October 15, 1942
(5th AF) A-20s and P-40s pound forces south of Popondetta.

Postwar
Popondetta was rebuilt postwar and became the provincial headquarters for Northern Province. Between January 18-21, 1951 nearby Mount Lamington erupted killing an estimated 3,000 people and destroyed Popondetta. Afterward, Popondetta became the center of recovery efforts.

Today
Today known as Popondetta Town or simply "Town". Popondetta is the provincial capital of Oro Province and the center of commerce for the area. The Popondetta market table tops are made from Marston Matt (PSP) recovered from the nearby airfields and dump areas. An American propeller is display outside one of the buildings in town.

Popondetta War Memorial (New War Memorial)
There is a war memorial in the center of town, built in 1962. It includes plaques and relief map commemorating the Australian and American units that fought in the Buna, Gona and Kokoda areas. Two Japanese Type 88 75mm Anti-Aircraft guns are displayed near the monument, both were recovered from the Buna battlefield in 1962.

The memorial was refurbished with funds from the Australian government, rededicating it in November 2002. The new memorial includes new descriptive plaques with photos a shelter and circular rotunda for bronze battlefield plaques.

75mm Type 88 Anti-Aircraft Gun
Recovered from Buna displayed in Popondetta at the war memorial

75mm Type 88 Anti-Aircraft Gun
Recovered from Buna displayed in Popondetta at the war memorial

Popondetta Airfield
Built by the Allies and used to support the battle in the area.

House of Kokichi Nishamura
Former Japanese soldier Kokichi Nishamura served in Oro province during the war.  He left his family and life in Japan to move to Popondetta to devote himself to finding the remains of his comrades and sending their bones back to Japan. Also he works with local villagers and makes donations to their infrastructure.


References
Field Guide to the Kokoda Track by Bill James (2006) pages 395 (map), 410, 412 (map), 417-418

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Last Updated
July 2, 2019

 

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