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    Kamiri Airfield Biak Numfor Regency | Papua Province Indonesia
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U. S. Army 1944

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3rd BG May 24, 1944

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US Army July 3, 1944
Location
Lat 0° 58' 17S Long 134° 48' 32E  Kamiri Airfield was located at 5' above sea level to the north of Kamiri (Kamirt, Kamiri) and the Kamiri River on the northwest coast of Noemfoor Island (Noemfoer, Noemfor). Also known as Kamiri Drome. Prewar and during the Pacific War, located in Dutch New Guinea (DNG) in the Netherlands East Indies (NEI). Today located in Biak Numfor Regency in Papua Province in Indonesia.

Construction
Kamiri Airfield was built by the Japanese using Formosan and Indonesian laborers and completed in early 1944.

Wartime History
Used by Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) twin engine aircraft including Ki-21 Sallys, Ki-48 Lilys and Ki-46 Dinahs. The Japanese built strong defenses on the beach bordering the airfield to defend against any Allied landing at this location, but many were not manned when the U. S. Army landed.

American missions against Kamiri Airfield
May 24, 1944–July 4, 1944

On July 2, 1944 at dawn a Naval and aerial bombardment the U. S. Army 158th Regimental Combat Team (158th RCT) "Bushmasters" an Arizona National Guard unit began landing from LCT and LCM landing craft at 5:00am on "Yellow beach" parallel to the western end of Kamiri Airfield and occupy an area of 800 yards by 8:00am. As the landing progressed, Japanese mortar and artillery fire from further inland happened sporadically for two hours, destroying a DUKW and an ammunition truck.

At the eastern end of the runway, the 2nd Battalion encountered the first Japanese resistance 500 yards from the eastern end of Kamiri Drome, when roughly forty Japanese ran out of a cave and were killed by rifle fire and support fire from LVT(A). In the same area, lightly manned caves and positions were mopped up. Tanks from the 603d Tank Company assisted the troops.

At the western end of the runway, the 1st Battalion encountered little opposition and secured the area including a low hill to the southwest and reached the Kamiri River. The 3rd Battalion joined in mopping up operations. Many positions were found unmanned. By the end of the day the perimeter secured was 3,000 yards x 800 yards, short of their objective due to the difficult jungle terrain. On the first day, the U. S. suffered 3 KIA (1 accidentally), 19 wounded and 2 injured.

On July 3, 1944, the U. S. Army 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment (503rd PIR) made a paratrooper jump and landed unopposed at the Kamiri Airfield and occupy Kamiri village. The same day, the first Allied aircraft landed at the captured airfield was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P-40N Kittyhawk from 78 Squadron piloted by Wing Commander L. D. Jackson and the second plane to land was his wingman, P-40 Kittyhawk piloted by F/L Roger Kimpton.

As soon as U. S. Army captured the airfield, construction began to repair the runway for use by the Allies. Immediately on July 2, 1944 elements of the 27th Engineers used improvised rollers towed by 6x6 trucks to regrade the runway. At the airfield, at least four wrecked Japanese aircraft were captured and evaluated by intelligence: Ki-21 Sally 6233, Ki-21 Sally 6519, Ki-48 Lily 2094 and Ki-46 Dinah 2793.

Repair and expansion of Kamiri Airfield was overseen by Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Group Captain W. A. C. Dale. Kamiri Airfield was deemed ready to received a limited number of aircraft by July 4, 1944 but bad weather and scheduled paratrooper jumps delayed the first Allied use until July 6, 1944 when RAAF P-40 Kittyhawks arrived. By July 16, 1944 facilities were completed to support an entire fighter group.

Meanwhile, the U. S. Army 1874th Engineer Aviation Battalion and RAAF No. 5 Mobile Works Squadron from the No. 62 Works Wing extended the runway to 5,400' and built taxiways and revetments for two fighter groups. By September 9, 1944 the airfield was completed with only ongoing maintenance work to be done.

Allied units based at Kamiri
Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)
No. 75 Squadron (P-40) July 22, 1944
No. 76 Squadron (P-40) July 1944
No. 78 Squadron (P-40) Hollandia July 20, 1944 - December 1944 Morotai
No. 80 Squadron (P-40) Biak July 22, 1944 - January 1945 Morotai
No. 22 Squadron (A-20) August 1944
No. 37 Squadron (Lodestar) August 1944
No. 82 Squadron (P-40) Ward (5 Mile) September 18, 1944 - March 3, 1945 Morotai

By July 1945, Kamiri Airfield was listed as abandoned.

Today
Disused since the war.

References
U. S. Army in World War II - The Approach to the Philippines Chapter XVII - Operations on Noemfoor Island pages 398-400, 405, 407-408, 410-420
Drop Zone - Noemfoor Island by Charles Rambo
"As we approached the drop zone, I noticed that the plane was dangerously low to the ground, but I assumed that we would climb to the standard jump altitude of 300 feet. This didn't happen, the green light went on and we jumped at the unsafe jump altitude of 150 feet. Those of us at the rear jumped even lower. I landed on the airstrip that was made from crushed compacted coral and broke my ankle. That day we had quite a few casualties. In our plane alone, Lane (doctor), Donovan (S-3) and I all broke our ankles. The three of us along with many other members of the Regiment were evacuated by LST to a hospital at Finchaven."

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Last Updated
June 30, 2019

 

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