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, two RAAF Catalinas departed Port Moresby flying via Samarai. During the evening of January 22, 1942 the Catalinas landed at Wide Bay off Tol and rescued the 25 RAAF personnel plus 24 others including Australian Army signalers and civilians then departed at 7:22pm.
During early February 1942, Japanese soldiers landed at Tol. On February 4, 1942 four separate massacres of prisoners occurred at Tol and Waitavalo. In total, 141 Australians soldiers of "Lark Force" that retreated from Rabaul across New Britain were captured and executed, the majority at Tol Plantation. Stripped of their personal possessions, a group of 100 prisoners had their thumbs tied together with fishing line, then two or three tied together with rope. Each group was marched into the jungle in small groups where they were bayoneted to death or shot and their bodies left to rot. Afterwards, the Japanese departed. Several survived the massacre to report what happened. The killings became known as the Tol Plantation Massacre or Tol Massacre.
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 on the 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 at Tol and transported to Rabaul.
On November 8, 1943 MSgt Gordon Manuel traveled via Tol with friendly natives and reported:
"There was a radio station at Tol, on Henry Reid Bay, in front of the plantation house and next to the bay. This was bombed out of existence and a new station set up at Karolai which is believed to be a radar installation as well."
During late March 1945, Australian Army occupied Tol and immediately developed the area into a forward base for operations against Rabaul. They discovered and recovered the skeletal remains from the "Tol Massacre".
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.
Built by the Australian Army during 1945
A6M2 Model 21 Zero
Crashed or force landed at Tol
Tol Massacre Memorial
Dedicated during May 1987.
Japanese Observation Post Zungen (Tol)
During late 1942 or early 1943, the Japanese Navy maintain an observation post at Zungen Point (Tol). They were able to observe enemy aircraft from New Guinea approaching or departing Rabaul. By early November 1943, this post was abandoned by the Japanese.
Rabaul – 1942 pages 8-9, 49 - 60
Australian Army Campaigns in New Guinea - New Britain
E&E Report MSgt Gordon Manuel page 17, Appendix 1, page 3
"8 November 1943 - The next morning we followed the coast road through Tol Plantation and went on to a native village controlled by an ex-native police boy called Petros. This village was just off the trail from Open Bay to Wide Bay which had been made by Malcom English , an Australian Patrol Officer before the war and presently an AIB man.
There was a radio station at Tol, on Henry Reid Bay, in front of the plantation house and next to the bay. This was bombed out of existence and a new station set up at Karolai [?] which is believed to be a radar installation as well."
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October 22, 2013