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417th BG c1944
Lat 3° 42' 37S 128° 5' 21E Laha Airfield is located at 33' above sea level at Laha (Raha) on Ambon Island in the Molucca Islands. Also known as "Laha Drome" or "Ambon West". Borders Ambon Bay (Bay of Ambon). To the east is Ambon. Prewar and during the Pacific War part of the Netherlands East Indies (NEI). Today located in Maluku Province (Provinsi Maluku) in Indonesia.
Built prewar by the Dutch as one of two airfields on Ambon Island. The second was at Liang Airfield. Laha Airfield had two diverging runways. No. 1 runway oriented 40° and No. 2 runway oriented 0°.
During late 1941, Allied forces at Laha Airfield included one Dutch bomber, two fighters and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Hudsons from No.13 Squadron.
On December 23, 1941 a force of B-17 Flying Fortresses from the 19th Bombardment Group (19th BG) that took off from Batchelor Field landed at Laha Airfield to refuel then took off again to fly a bombing mission against the Japanese forces landing at Lingayen Gulf, that was a 4,600 mile mission.
On the night January 6, 1942 seven Japanese flying boats dropped thirty-three bombs on three targets, two Hudson bombers, a Buffalo fighter and workshop facilities at the airfield sustained damaged with three native civilians killed.
Allied aircraft withdrew on January 16, 1942 in the face of the impending Japanese assault. Prior to the Japanese landings, Dutch & Australians destroyed naval oil reserves, bomb dumps, hangers and other equipment at Laha, and sought to make the airfield unusable. The airfield was defended by 1,100 Australians, 400 Dutchmen and about 5,000 native troops.
On February 1, 1942 Japanese Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) attacked and furious combat lasted nine hours. By mid-morning of February 2, 1942, the surviving Australian waved a white flag to surrender. After they gave up, the Japanese murdered by beheading the 200+ prisoners.
Occupied by the Japanese, they used the airfield for the rest of the war, including as a staging base for Japanese bombing missions against Australia.
Japanese and American missions against Laha Airfield
January 6, 1942–August 11, 1945
The No. 1 runway was extended to 6,070' and remained in use as a civilian airport.
Still in use today as Pattimura Airport. Airport codes: ICAO: WAPP IATA: AMQ. The single runway is oriented 22/04 measures 8,202' x 148' surfaced with asphalt.
The Carnage at Laha, February 1942 via Wayback Machine October 27, 2009
Pattimura Airport official website
View in Google Earth
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