Allied missions against Milne Bay
August 26, 1942–September 7, 1942
August 26, 1942
(5th AF & RAAF) P-40s, B-25s, B-26s and B-17s plus RAAF Hudsons,
pound Japanese forces in Milne Bay.
August 27, 1942
(5th AF) During the morning, 22nd Bomb Group B-26 Mauraders bombed Japanese forces in the in Milne Bay area.
September 1, 1942
(5th AF) P-40s hit a Japanese HQ at Wagga Wagga.
September 4, 1942
(5th AF) P-40s bomb and
strafe forces in the Milne Bay area at Goroni, Wagga Wagga, Ahioma, and north of Lilihoa.
September 7, 1942
(5th AF & RAAF) P-40s and RAAF Hudsons, Beauforts, and Beaufighters
attack a cruiser and destroyer 17 miles ENE of Cape Karitahua; organized
Japanese resistance in the Milne
Bay sector ends.
Japanese missions against Milne Bay
August 4, 1942–August 9, 1943
August 4, 1942 (Air Raid No. 1)
At mid-day, a D3A1 Val and four Zeros attack Gurney Airfield (No. 1 Strip) with the Zeros strafing and the Val dive bombing. On the ground they destroyed a P-40E Kittyhawk A29-98 from No. 75 Squadron parked on the runway. During the attack, eight P-40s from No. 76 Squadron were airborne and intercepted them. The Val was shot down by F/Sgt Bob Gray and crash several miles to the west of the runway. This was the first aerial victory over Milne Bay.
August 11, 1942 (Air Raid No. 2)
Six A6M Zeros attacking Milne Bay are intercepted by 22 P-40s of 75 and 76 Squadron and are targeted by anti-aircraft fire. The Japanese lost four Zeros. The RAAF lost four pilots and planes including P-40E Kittyhawk A29-123 pilot F/O Mark Sheldon (KIA) and P-40E Kittyhawk A29-100 piloted by W/O Shelley (MIA), P-40E Kittyhawk A29-93 piloted F/O Albert McLeod (KIA) and P-40E Kittyhawk A29-84 pilot F/Sgt Geoge Inkster (KIA).
August 23, 1942 (not classified as a raid officially, no bombs dropped)
(IJN) 16 Zeros from Buna take off at 8:10 attack Rabi at 9:15, finding only one P-40 in the air, no other planes take off. One P-40 is damaged, one Zero is claimed as shot down.
August 24, 1942 (Air Raids No.3 & No. 4)
(Air Raid No 3) Attacked by 15 Zeros from Buna. After several strafing runs, they set fire to a LB-30 Liberator AL515 that had force landed at No. 1 Strip and had already been stripped. Eight 76 Squadron P-40s were in the air, Five were claimed as aerial kills. Gunners claimed two or three.
(Air Raid No 4) At 2:45, a spotter at Porlock Harbor warned of another raid, that arrived at 3:30, Japanese bombed and strafed the area around No. 1 Strip. All planes returned, gunners and pilots claimed damage to some of the Zeros.
August 26, 1942
(IJN) At 2:00am Japanese warships bombard the Gili Gili area.
August 27, 1942 (Air Raid No. 5)
At 8:15am eight Vals and 12 Zeros (in fact, only seven: five from Tainan Kokutai and two from 2nd Kokutai) attack No. 1 Strip (Gurney Field). Anti-aircraft gunners claim 12 enemy shot down. The Tainan Kokutai Zeros strafe LB-30 Liberator AL-818 already destroyed on the ground, and two are damaged by ground fire. Allied fighters shot down two dive bombers: D3A1 pilot Koyamada and D3A1 pilot Yoshinaga and four Zeros (all from Tainan Kokutai) including A6M3 pilot Joji Yamashita (KIA), A6M3 pilot Sadao Yamashita (KIA) and A6M3 pilot Ninomiya (KIA). A6M3 pilot Kakimoto ditched and was later taken prisoner.
August 31, 1942 (Air Raid No. 6)
Before midday, 7 Mitsubishi bombers attacked Gurney Field (No. 1 Strip) from 15,000' and were hit by AA fire.
September 7, 1942 (Naval Bombardment)
(IJN) Japanese warships bombard Milne Bay to cover the withdrawal of Japanese troops from the area.
September 8, 1942 (Air Raid No. 7)
(IJN) Nine G3M Nell bombers escorted by 5 A6M Zeros attack Gurney Field (No. 1 Strip). The raid achived little damage, killed two RAAF guards. Americans lost 4 KIA and 7 WIA. This is the last air raid during the "Battle of Milne Bay".
January 17, 1943
(IJN) At 12:40pm local time, twenty-four G4M1 Betty bombers escorted by 20 A6M Zeros strike Milne Bay. Over Turnbull Field (No. 3 Strip), the Bettys dropped between 230-250 x 100 kg bombs. Destroyed on the ground are B-17F "Fire Ball Mail" 41-24551, B-17F 41-24540, B-17E 41-2639, P-39D 41-38499, P-39D 41-38515, P-39D 41-????, B-24D "Aincha Sorry" 41-23824 and two C-47s all destroyed on the ground. Also, 6 vehicles and 6 fuel dumps. Damaged are Hudson A16-185, Hudson A16-206, Hudson A16-239 (destroyed three days later in another air raid). No one is killed, but eight are wounded from the 49th Serivce Squadron.
Norbert Ruff recalls in Ruff Stuff pages 95–99
"On January 17, 1943, we had our biggest air raid to date. They hit us with 24 bombers and Zeros. There was a mix up on the orders as to whether only the anti-aircraft guns were to be used or if our fighter planes would be scrambled. I counted only two bursts being fired. When the Japs saw no other firing and no enemy interception, the planes dropped so low that I remember standing dumbfounded, and I could see the bomb-bay doors opening and the bombs falling out. When they started hitting the ground, it sounded like some giant's footsteps coming at me. All hell broke loose. As there was no opposition, the lap planes kept coming in at us time and time again. The raid lasted over two hours or so. It was almost the last of me I thought, but I remember hitting a slit trench near me and fell on top of some other guys. I guess I was so fascinated about the whole event that I kept Fuel dump burning in background. standing there like a fool and watching the bombs falling.
I remember also something landing on top of me or another person falling on me, I never did know which. Whatever it was did not move. One guy was yelling, 'Let me get my A-in, let me get my A-in!' and I thought how comical it was. Afterwards I remember having a very painful backache.
The Japs had made direct hits on and destroyed two B-17s, one B-24, one P-39, and two Lockheed Hudsons, over 10,000 gallons of gas. [Also gas trucks and command cars] Ammunition exploding like mad from the ammo dumps nearby that had been hit, and kept exploding for a long time afterwards. Runways were damaged and shrapnel was flying all over the place. When the metal mesh runways were hit, the pieces of the runway became like jagged pieces of shrapnel. They must have been using what we called Daisy Cutters. I remember seeing shrapnel go right through a truck engine, and saw that the piece of shrapnel had the words USA stamped on it. So I figured the Japs had got all our pre-war scrap metal and gave it back to us as bombs.
After the raid was over, we heard that one bomber was shot down. We also heard that the anti-aircraft gun crew was told not to fire as the fighter planes would intercept, but that the fighter planes were told that the anti-aircraft would fire and for them not to intercept. Thus confusion added to the events. I guess that is why only two bursts by the guns were heard. It was some experience laying there helpless. We had rifles, but had not yet been issued bullet clips. When we first arrived in New Guinea each man was issued a 45 caliber pistol, but later had to turn them in for use by the infantry.
After the air raid, we counted between 150-200 bombs that had dropped on our position. The camp was practically demolished and had to be rebuilt. I remember looking into the bomb craters and thinking that a 21 ton truck would easily fit into the hole." - Frank Cicerello (The 80th FS 'Headhunters' Squadron History)"
January 20, 1943
(IJN) Six to nine G4M1 Betty bombers bomb Turnbull Field. Destroyed on the ground is previously damaged Hudson A16-239. Overnight, two raids target the Milne Bay area.
March 22, 1943
(IJN) Japanese air raid on Milne Bay.
March 23, 1943
(IJN) Four G4M1 Betty bombers attack Rabi at Milne Bay.
March 24, 1943
(IJN) During the night, Japanese bombers conduct a night bombing mission against Milne Bay. On the ground a red alert is sounded. Two bombs land in an Australian Army camp area and two at Rabi
in a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) area.
April 14, 1943
100 Japanese aircraft (another account reports 40 bombers and 30 Zeros) attack Milne Bay. G4M1 Betty bombers from 705 Kokutai bombed the eastern end of Gurney Field (No. 1 Strip). One bomb hit the center of the runway and others fell along the north and south edges of the runway. On the ground, shrapnel hit tents and vehicles but damage was minimal. Nearby a fuel dump caught fire and roughly 80 barrels of fuel were set on fire. Other bombers hit Turnbull Field (No. 3 Strip). The Allies claim two bombers, two dive bombers and two zeros
destroyed, for the loss of one P-40 plus two others crash landed and
four more were damaged. MS Van Heemskerk is sunk into Milne Bay. References: Operation A by Richard Dunn
August 9, 1943
Japanese aircraft bomb Milne Bay.