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Australian Army Oct 1942
Lat 9° 20' 15S Long 149° 9' 20E Wanigela Airfield is located near the Anglican mission at Waigela (Waingela). Also spelled "Wanigela" or "Wanigela Mission Aerodrome". Prewar and during the Pacific War located in the Territory of Papua. Today located in Oro Province in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
During July 1942, Australian authorities cleared a single grass runway. It was then barricaded so Japanese aircraft could land at the airfield. Until late September 1942, the runway was not deemed safe by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) for landings.
World War II Pacific Theatre History
On October 5-6, 1942 the Australian Army 2/10 Battalion of the 18th Brigade and U. S. Army engineers and anti-aircraft gunners were flown from Milne Bay to Waigela by C-47 Dakotas from the 21st and 22nd Troop Carrier Squadron. These advance troops further developed the airfield to support the Allied advance to Buna-Gona-Sananada.
Between October 14-18, 1942 C-47 Dakotas and Lockheed Hudsons loaded with troops and equipment from the U. S. Army 32nd Infantry Division, 128th Infantry Regiment's 2nd and 3rd Battalions plus the the Australian Army 2/6 Independent Company were flown from Port Moresby to Waigela Airfield. In total, roughly 3,000 troops were safely transported to Wanigela Airfield before severe rain storms caused the runway to become unusable, leaving the 128th's Infantry Regimental band, anti-tank company and two companies of the 1st Battalion stuck at Port Moresby.
On October 29, 1942 at 2:55pm a B-25 Mitchell piloted by Robert D. Chatt from the 3rd Bomb Group, 90th Bombardment Squadron landed with one engine out at Wanigela Airfield. Repaired on the ground and departed for Port Moresby at October 30, 1942 at 2:00pm.
By late November 1942, after Dobodura Airfield was constructed by the Allies, Wanigela became an emergency strip and was disused as an airfield.
The grass runway is still in use today for regional flights by light aircraft only. Airport code AGL.
HyperWar US Army in WWII - Victory in Papua pages 105-108, 124
AWM "2nd Australian Imperial Force and Commonwealth Military Forces unit war diaries, 1939-45 war - 2/10 Infantry battalion July - December 1942 (AWM: AWM52 8/3/10/24 - July - December 1942)
NAA "Wanigela Mission Aerodrome" (NAA: A9695, 23)
NAA "[Milne Bay - Reports:] Reports from Capt Black PRO Hatforce, regarding Wanigela Force, 2/10 Battalion (Oct-Nov 1942)" (NAA: Australian War Memorial Item barcode: 467683)
Thanks to Edward Rogers for information and research
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