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5th AF c1943
5th AF March 10, 1943
5th AF Nov 18, 1943
312th BG c1944
Justin Taylan 2005
Justin Taylan 2005
Immediately, the Japanese developed the Wewak area into a major base area and expanded prewar airfields and built airfields including Wewak Airfield (Wirui, Wewak Central), Boram Airfield. Further to the west were Dagua Airfield (But East) and But Airfield (But West). Offshore was Kairiru Seaplane Base. These bases created an air bridge from Hollandia (190 miles to the west) and Hansa Bay and Madang (100 and 160 miles southeast). The Allied base at Port Moresby was roughly 468 miles to the southeast.
The Wewak area became the largest concentration of Japanese Army troops on the New Guinea mainland. Wewak Point was used as the headquarters of the Japanese Navy, until relocated to the offshore islands of Muschu Island and Kairuru Island.
Allied aircraft targeted Wewak with hundreds of missions by bomber and fighter aircraft. To escape the air rads, the Japanese dug extensive defensive fortifications including tunnels and bunkers.
missions against Wewak (Town and Wewak Airfield)
Wewak Point was used as the headquarters of the Japanese Navy, until relocated to offshore Kairiru Island. Bypassed by Allied forces during late April 1944, Wewak was bypassed by the Allied landings further to the west at Hollandia and Ataipe, and became cutoff from resupply or reinforcement.
During May 1945, Australian Army troops advancing from the west assaulted Wewak Point and defeated the Japanese defenders fighting from tunnel entrances to the death. Although starving and without hope of survival, the Japanese still fought vigorously from tunnel entrances until they were killed.
On September 11, 1945 Japanese Army General Adachi surrendered at Kiarivu. The formal Japanese surrender took place on September 13, 1945 at Wom Point to the west of Wewak. Of the 100,000 Japanese troops of the 18th Army, only 13,000 survived the war to surrender.
Japanese Tunnels on Wewak Point
A large Japanese bunker and tunnel is located near the Bunker on the Sumari residence. It is a large, concrete tunnel construction, with stair case leading upward. Filled in with sand from the stairs side, the only entrance is through the tunnel portion. This tunnel is empty. Locals reported that electrical lights and wiring was present inside it until the early 1970s.
Jack Renwick, RAAF PBY Flight Engineer recalls:
Japanese Bunker (Somare Residence)
Japanese Navy Hospital and Hospital Tunnel
Tetsuo Watanabe writes
in Naval Land Unit that Vanished
in the Jungle, page 59:
Today, one of the larger tunnels is known locally as the "Hospital Tunnel".
Jack Renwick, recalls post war disposal of the
contents of Wewak Point tunnels:
Worcester's Historic Center (Closed)
East Sepik Provincial Government Office
New Wewak Hotel
PNG / Japan Peace Park
The memorial plaque reads: "In Memory of all those who sacrificed their lives on land and at sea and around New Guinea during World War II and in dedication to world peace. Construction by the Japanese Government in cooperation with the Government of Papua New Guinea on September 16, 1981."
A plaque related to construction reads: "For the construction of this monument Japanese ex-service league for East New Guinea and Japan-Papua New Guinea Goodwill Society have given their cooperation for this rest house. The stage and open air theater and so on. Architect Supervisor Kiyonori Kiutake. Memorial Plate Designer Hiroshi Ogawa, Constructor Hakoneueki Landscape Construction, Ltd."
The park is built next to the location of a former Japanese mass grave, where the remains of Japanese defenders were buried by the Australian Army. The grave was excavated in 1955 and the remains returned to Japan. The Japanese mass grave marker indicates the position of the former grave site.
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