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    5 Mile Drome (Ward Drome) National Capital District Papua New Guinea
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US Army Nov 27, 1942

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8th PRS Dec 8, 1942

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USAAF August 1943
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US Army c1943

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US Army Nov 27, 1943

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Justin Taylan 2003

5 Mile Drome was located at Waigani roughly five miles from Port Moresby inland from the south coast of New Guinea. Also known as "Ward Drome", "5 Mile" or "5 Mile Drome". Code named "Maple". Often incorrectly spelled "Wards" (plural) or "Wards Field". Prewar and during the Pacific War located in the Central District in Territory of Papua. Today located in National Capital District (NCD) in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

During the middle of 1942, built by the Australian administration led by Australian Army Lt. Col. Kenneth H. Ward, C. O. of 53rd Infantry Battalion (Militia). The runways were surfaced with bitumen by U.S. Army engineers and further developed with two parallel runways measuring 6,000' x 100' runways, with extensive taxiways and revetment area to the east of the runways that interconnected to 7 Mile Drome (Jackson).

Naming Honors
5 Mile Drome was renamed "Ward Drome" in honor of Australian Army 53rd Battalion Lt. Col. Kenneth H. Ward, NX127633 who was involved with its construction of 5 Mile Drome and was Killed In Action (KIA) August 27, 1942 at Isurava on the Kokoda Trail. Also known as "Wards Drome" or "Ward's Drome".

Wartime History
During 1943, Wards was the busiest airfield in the entire Southern Hemisphere. It was mainly used by cargo and larger aircraft. Designated U.S. Army APO 929.

Allied units based at 5-Mile Drome (Wards)
United States Army Air Force (USAAF)
374th TCG, 22nd TCS (C-47) Garbutt arrives January 24, 1943–August 29, 1944 Finschafen
90th BG, 320th BS (B-24) Iron Range arrives February 10, 1943–December 1, 1943 Dobodura
90th BG, 321st BS (B-24) Iron Range arrives February 10, 1943–December 1, 1943 Dobodura
375th TCG, 57th TCS (C-47) US arrives June 30, 1943–August 19, 1943 Dobodura
375th TCG, HQ Brisbane arrives Jul 31–Aug 19, 1943 Dobodura returns Dec 19, 1943–Apr 22, 1944 dep Nadzab
375th TCG, HQ (C-47) Brisbane arrives July 31, 1943–August 19, 1943 Dobodura
348th FG, 341st FS (P-47) USA arrives June 23, 1943–December 17, 1943 Finschafen
348th FG, 342nd FS (P-47) USA arrives June 23 , 1943–December 17, 1943 Finschafen
Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)
9th Group, 22nd Squadron (Boston)
9th Group, 30th Squadron (Beaufighter) Bohl River September 12, 1942 - July 28, 1943 Vivigani

On April 12, 1943 during Operation I-Go, Wards Drome was attacked by nine Japanese bombers. Their bombs destroyed several aircraft including: Beaufighter A19-50 destroyed Beaufighter A19-11 converted to parts, Beaufighter A19-37 damaged, converted to parts, Beaufighter A19-5 damaged, repaired.

5 Mile Drome (Ward) was disused since the war. Postwar, the former runways were used as a raceway for vehicles known as "Racecourse Road" and later developed into "Waigani Drive" that runs atop the main runway. Most of the revetments were bulldozed flat and an scrap metal detail meted down the remaining aluminum from aircraft and parts abandoned in the area. Well into the 1950s, locals would siphon fuel from aircraft fuel tanks abandoned in the area for their own use.

The former airfield is located in the Waigani area of Port Moresby, where most of the Papua New Guinea Government buildings and foreign embassies are located.

5th Air Force Operations Headquarters
The U.S. Army Air Force 5th Air Force Operations Headquarters was located at Wards Drome. Reportedly, its cement slab foundations still remain today.

374th Troop Carrier Group Camp Area
Located in a small valley was the camp area for the 374th Troop Carrier Group. Today, the area is located straight ahead when the road bends towards the Port Moresby Golf Club.

27th Air Depot
Based between 5 Mile and 7 Mile, this group was responsible for assembling crated aircraft delivered by ship docked in Fairfax Harbor from the United States.  Brand new aircraft were delivered to Port Moresby assembled and then flown to other bases. Ships continued to dock at Port Moresby until mid-1945 when transports switched to Manila Bay. For pilots wishing to pick up a brand new plane, they would have to go all the way back to Port Moresby.

5th Air Force Operations Headquarters (5th AF Ops HQ)
Located on a hill behind Wards Drome. A large 5th Air Force insignia and USAAF star, drawn into the concrete.   Concrete steps, a garden and path that went up the ridge towards the HQ. In the 1980's traces of the paint still remained.  Today, both the 5th AF logo and USSAF are partially broken, and the area is overgrown, but it still offers commanding views and an impressive remnant of the American era at Ward's Drome. This marking is still present to this day, on a small ridge off the main hill and this overlooks the Chinese Embassy. To visit the slab, drive down Sir John Guise Drive, cross the intersection with Independence Way and Godwit Street and keep going in the direction of the golf club.  When that road begins to make a left turn, there is a hill on your right.

WW2 Nominal Roll - Kenneth Harry Ward NX127633 (N58643)
Engineers of the Southwest Pacific 1941-1945 Volume VI. Airfield and Base Development. By the Office of the Chief Engineer, General Headquarters Army Forces, Pacific. Major General Hugh J. Casey, Chief Engineer.
CWGC - Kenneth H. Ward, NX127633
FindAGrave - Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Harry Ward

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Last Updated
February 27, 2022


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