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Australian Army c1945
Australian Army c1945
August 2, 1945
Brian Bennett 1988
Justin Taylan 2012
Tol is located on Zungen Spitze (Zungen Point), German for "Tounge Point", on the southern coast of New Britain bordering Henry Reid Harbor inside Wide Bay, roughly 50km south of Rabaul. Located due west is Waitavalo. Prewar, Tol Plantation was planted with coconut palms harvesting copra.
By late January 1942, Australians that had evacuated Rabaul had reached Tol and the Wide Bay area, including a group of 25 RAAF personnel that found a yacht at Sum Sum and sailed to Tol.
On January 21, 1942 two Australian flying boats S.23 "Calypso" A18-11 and S.23 "Coogee" A18-12 took off form Port Moresby flying via Samarai and on January 22, 1942 at dusk landed in Henry Reid Harbor in Wide Bay off Tol rescue Australians assembled in the area including 25 Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) personnel plus 24 others including W/O Stanley McCosker and Australian Army signalers and civilians. After four hours loading, both boats departed safely at 7:22pm. Afterwards, S.23 "Coogee" A18-12 returned and rescued another 49 personnel.
Pte William Cook was captured near Tol on February 3. Tied to Pte R. M. Cantwell, the pair were bayoneted. Cook was stabbed six times initially, then four times more times to make sure he was dead (other sources state he was stabbed eleven times). He feigned death and waited until the Japanese departed then freed himself from the rope and fishing line. Afterwards, he washed his wounds and traveled three miles over ten hours and found a party of Australians led by Col J. J. Scanlan and traveled for six more days to avoid the Japanese until finally reaching a medic named Palmer who commented "Cook, you're a tough old Bastard", dressed his wounds and allowed him to rest. Despite his wounds and a bout of malaria, reached Pal Mal Mal and was later evacuated aboard MV Laurabada from Jacquinot Bay to Port Moresby.
Gnr Hazegrove was captured at Tol, had his hands tied behind his back and was marched into kunai grass and shot without warning and hit in the back and the Japanese threw palm fronds over the bodies then departed. After freeing himself, he reached the beach and found two others who cared for him.
Collins was shot from behind in the shoulder, wrists and back. When alone, he fled and wandered the bush for three days then returned to Tol finding other Australians including Major Palmer and joined a group led by Frank Holland that crossed to the north coast and was able to escape on the MV Lakatoi. Another survivor was Robinson escaped before the massacre and was part of the party to escape aboard MV Lakatoi.
The Japanese landed in the Tol area again on February 8, 1942 with a group going inland to Mavelo River to Kasalea where they massacred more Australians. They landed again on February 12 to pickup troops from the Wuluwat and Mavelo Rivers. Japanese Army officer, Colonel Masao Kusunose, 3rd Battalion Commander, 144th Infantry Regiment, 55th Division was deemed largely responsibility for the massacres at Tol and Waitavalo. He survived the war and was detained postwar but committed suicide before facing justice.
On January 5, 1943 Captain Daniel and Major Bleasdale bailed out of B-17F "San Antonio Rose" Serial Number 41-24458, wandered the jungle for two weeks and were captured then brought to Tol then transported to Rabaul.
On November 8, 1943 MSgt Gordon Manuel traveled via Tol with friendly natives and reported:
During June 1945, the situation was generally quiet throughout as the Australians established their perimeters in the area and engineers widened and surfaced the roads around Tol and Waitavalo. On June 5, 1945, the 2/2nd Commando Squadron arrived at Wide Bay and established headquarters at Lamarien near Henry Reid River.
A6M2 Model 21 Zero
Tol Massacre Memorial
Japanese Observation Post Zungen (Tol)
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