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    Tavurvur (Mount Tavurvur, Matupi Volcano) East New Britain Province Papua New Guinea
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Australian Army 1941

Location
Tavurvur is an active stratovolcano located on the southern edge of the Gazelle Peninsula in East New Britain Province in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Also known as Tavurvur volcano, Mount Tavurvur, Mt. Tavurvur or Matupi Volcano. Borders Matupi Harbor and Matupi Island to the west, Lakunai Airfield to the northwest and beyond Rabaul. To the east is Mount Turangunan (Mt. Turangunan, South Daughter). To the north is Mount Kombiu (Mt. Kambiu, Mother). To the east is Saint George's Channel. To the south is Blanche Bay. Between 1884–1914 part of Deutsch Neu Guinea (German New Guinea) until September 1914 at the start of World War I. Postwar and during the Pacific War part of the Territory of New Guinea. Today located in East New Britain Province in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Prewar
During 1937, Tavurvur had a major eruption that destroyed Rabaul. In 1941, another large eruption happened causing a large ash plume. Prewar, Dr. Fisher was the volcanologist based at the Observatory Ridge (Volcano Observatory).

Wartime History
During the night of January 22-23, 1942 the Japanese landing at Rabaul, an eruption illuminated the night sky, helping to guide the Japanese landing force ashore. During the Japanese occupation of Rabaul 1942-1945, minor eruptions from Tavurvur sometimes interfered with flight operations at Lakunai Airfield and Rabaul or coated aircraft with ash.

During World War II, volcanologist Dr. Fisher was consulted by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) about the possibility of triggering an eruption by dropping aerial bombs into the volcano.

In the middle of March 1943, the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF), 43rd Bombardment Group (43rd BG) headquarters conceived an idea to bomb the crater of Tavurvur in hopes of triggering an eruption that would impact the Japanese.

On March 23, 1943 between midnight and one o'clcok, during a night bombing mission, B-17E "Monkey Bizz-Ness" 41-2417 dropped two 2,000 pound bombs into the crater of Tavurvur, but failed to cause any eruption. This was a special mission conceived by 43rd Bombardment Group headquarters to bomb the crater of Tavurvur (Matupi Volcano) in hopes of triggering an explosion that would impact the Japanese. Although both bombs landed inside the crater it failed to trigger anything.

Today
During 1994, Tavurvur had another major eruption that covered Rabaul and the entire area in ash. Today, Tavurvur is quite without eruptions. Adventurous people can trek to the summit to look into the crater. Seismic and volcano monitoring equipment is situated in the vicinity to monitor volcanic activity at the Volcano Observatory and worldwide.

References
Volcano Town
SMH "Qantas reroutes flights as PNG's Rabaul Volcano erupts" August 29, 2014
Ken's Men Against The Empire Volume 1 page 157 (March 22-23, 1943 mission)

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Last Updated
March 22, 2020

 

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