The Matoma was a 500 ton, two masted schooner. Owned and operated by M. V. Burns, Philp & Co., Limited. This vessel operated in New Guinea prewar.
During the war, this ship was requisitioned by ANGAU. Two of the engineers were Bett Sewell and Roy Evenett. The skipper was Jack Howard [during April 1942].
This vessel was used extensively along the northern and southern coasts of New Guinea, and on several occasions to transport aviators back to Port Moresby.
Rescue of Eaton's B-17 crew to Port Moresby
On March 25, 1942 Matoma arrived at Oro Bay with Major Fife, Lt. Malory and a Bishop aboard to pick up a load of copra. Waiting for the ship were the crew of B-17E 41-2446 Eaton, Harlow, Munroe, Oliver, LeMieuz, Sorensen, Schwartz, Crawford and Hall were waiting at Oro Bay for transport to Port Moresby. Taking aboard the nine Americans, they departing at dawn on March 26 proceeding eastward along the north coast New Guinea.
Traveling along the north coast of New Guinea, the ship traveled via Samarai Island and the passengers slept in the abandoned civilian buildings. Departing along the southern coast of New Guinea, the ship became stuck on a reef near Samarai, and was freed around 6pm then proceeded overnight to Abau Island.
On March 27, departed Abau Island at 10:15am and proceeded along the coast via Isoma. On March 28 arrived at Kapa Kapa at 5pm, with passengers Major Fife and Lt. Mallory departing for Rigo, and remained there for a day. Before departing Rigo on March 30, the vessel took aboard a Japanese 20mm cannon and ammunition recovered from the crash site of G4M1 Betty piloted by Itsuda shot down by RAAF P-40s that same day. Finally, on March 30, Matoma departed on the last leg of the journey arriving at sunset at Fairfax Harbor off Port Moresby.
Rescue of Hayes' B-26 crew
In late April, Matoma visited Kerma area to rescue the crew (Hayes, Beck and Siegel) and parts from B-26 Maurader 40-1417 that force landed on April 8, 1942. Afterwards, the ship returned to Port Moresby on April 22, 1942.
Rescue of two B-25 crews and Japanese prisoner
On May 4, 1942 departed Milne Bay with the surviving crew members from two B-25s that had ditched in Mullins Harbor then proceeded westward and stopped at Abau Island where the vessel picked up Japanese Prisoner Of War (POW) PO3c Yoshimitsu Maeda that force landed A6M2 Zero 1575 on April 28, 1942 and taken prisoner. He and the wreckage of his Zero were loaded aboard MV Matoma and transported to Port Moresby.
Rescue of Ford's B-26 crew, Hall's B-25 crew and P-39 pilot
On May 21, Matoma arrived at Ahioma village to the east of Milne Bay and took aboard the crew of B-26 40-1418: Ford, Disbro, Ashley, Long, Loranger and Oclis.
Plus, the crew of Hall's B-25C "El Diablo 41-12511. Along the way, Matoma departed stopping at Abau to pickup American pilot 1st Lt. Paul G. Brown who had force landed P-39D 41-6982 and the wreckage of A6M2 Zero 1575 that had been cut up and was moved and was taken aboard as cargo, and were transported to Port Moresby, arriving May 26 or 27.
During February 1944, this ship was at Port Kembla, NSW. Then assigned to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and classified as a Naval Auxiliary Patrol Vessel Matoma with hull number 588. Armed with a .303 Vickers machine guns above the forecastle and depth charges on the aft.
Matoma was sunk without trace in the Gulf of Papua due to unknown causes, date unknown.
Note in some sources, incorrectly spell this ship's name as "Motoma".
Eaton Diary entries for March 25 - 30, 1942 via The Swamp Ghost DVD
"Salvage of auxiliary schooner Matoma" p14-18
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional information
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November 8, 2018