Lat 7° 34' 0S Long 158° 43' 60E Rekata Bay is located on the northwestern coast of Santa Isabel Island. The Japanese referred to the location as "Re-ka-ta" using those three katakana characters. Rekata Bay encompasses Suavanao Point (Suavanau). Directly to the east across Rekata Bay is Papatura Island (Papatura Fa). This location is exactly 135 miles northeast of Lunga
Point (Henderson Field) on Guadalcanal. Also incorrectly spelled "Rakata Bay" on some maps. Today, located in Santa Isabel Province (Isabel Province) in the Solomon Islands.
On May 2, 1942 Japanese occupied Rekata Bay and developed the area into a base area to support seaplane operations. Attacked by Allied aircraft between August 7, 1942 until August 16, 1943.
Allied missions against Rekata Bay
August 7, 1942 - August 16, 1943
Point bordering Rekata Bay. Defenses and facilities were located at this location.
Bay Seaplane Base
Japanese forward seaplane base, located
along to the west of Suavanau Point.
Airfield built in the early 1990s by the logging company for operations in the area.
During early May 1942, two Japanese seaplane tenders: Kamikawa Maru and Kiyokawa Maru arrived at Rekata Bay to support the landings at Tulagi. The Rekata Bay area was developed by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) into a forward operating base for seaplanes and flying boats with limited shore facilities and moorings to support operations. The area was defended by light anti-aircraft guns emplaced on Suavanao Point.
During the Guadalcanal campaign, the "R Area Air Force" operated from this location as a forward seaplane base for missions over Tulagi, Guadalcanal and the southern Solomon Islands. Rekata Bay was also used as a ditching location for damaged Japanese aircraft and their pilots and air crews could be quickly returned to their units.
By September 12, 1942 the "R Area Air Force" has nine E13A1 plus F1M2 and A6M2-N aircraft. By October 8, 1942, The R Area Air Force's strength was then 12 F1M2 Petes from the Kunikawa Maru, Sanuki Maru and Sanyo Maru. Plus, the Chitose Air Group of five A6M2-N Rufes from the Kamikawa Maru Air Group and nine E13A1 Jakes from the Chitose Maru Air Group and Sanyo Maru Air Group. Other ships provide two more F1M2s, two E13A1s and nine E7K2 Alfs.
On October 13, 1942, a G4M1 Betty of the 751 Kokutai ditched at Rekata Bay.
Between August 1943 to September 1943 the area was evacuated by the Japanese using barges following the American landing on Villa Lavella and Japanese defeat on New Georgia Island.
Japanese aircraft abandoned at Rekata Bay
After the Japanese withdrew from Rekata, American survey teams reviewed aircraft wrecks left in the area in late 1943. It is unclear if any of the wrecks were removed, most likely they were only studied. Crashed Enemy Aircraft Report (CEAR) No. 17 dated February 15, 1944, from the Office of the Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Intelligence, Washington D.C., reports the aircraft found in the Rekata Bay area by Allied crash intelligence survey parties. Found were 7 x F1M2 Pete, 2 x Zeros, 3 x G4M1 Betty, 2 x E7K Alf and a single E13 Jake all in wrecked condition or crash sites.
On August 5, 1945, RNZAF Catalina from 6 Squadron landed at Rekata Bay and investigated the crash of Hudson NZ2054 that was presumed to have crashed in the area.
On August 28, 1945, a RNZAF Catalina from 6 Squadron went
to Rekata Bay for a picnic and to inspect the former Rekata Bay Seaplane Base. On this visit, one member of the group LAC Leslie Angus Ellen, NZ441559 went missing. It was believed he drown or was taken by a saltwater crocodile. He is memorialized on the tablet of the missing, panel 7 at Borail Memorial.
Jenny Anthea adds:
"My father was on that trip and I have confirmed from several sources including my father that LAC Leslie Angus Ellen, NZ441559 age 21 was taken by a croc on the return swim to the PBY. He was reported missing at 15:00. According to my father’s account aircraft returned to Rekata Bay for several days afterwards and dropped depth charges in the belief a croc would have stored his body under a log or ledge they dropped depth charges but Ellen’s body was never recovered."
It was abandoned after the war. During the 1990's a logging operation
began operations nearby, and developed a Suavanao Airstrip and camp area. Logging ceased during the 1990s and resumed more recently by the company 'Earthmovers' in 2003 and continues to this day.
Papatura Island (Papatura Fa)
Large, flat island to the north of Rekata Bay and Suavanao with a mangrove cover shore. Prewar, there was a Burns Phillips copra plantation at this location, known as Papatura Plantation. Japanese maintained some limited facilities on the south-western shore, nearest to Rekata Bay.
Small island to the west of Papatura, due north of Rekata Bay. Japanese maintained some limited wartime facilities on the island.
Lockheed Hudson NZ2054
Pilot Newall crashed December 18, 1942 three died in crash, two survived, one prisoner
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November 16, 2018