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Lat : -6°56'30" Long 155°22'0.01" Antarara Island is a small island located off the southwestern Bougainville Island in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (Bougainville Province) in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The island is roughly 300 yards in diameter. Located roughly 20 miles west southwest from Moila Point on southern Bougainville and roughly 20 miles northwest of Shortland Island.
On January 4, 1944 at 1:30pm a life raft with Ens Louis A. Shepard and AMM2c Charles D. Nesbitt arrived on Antarara Island after forty-three hours at sea following the ditching of SBD-5 Dauntless 35935 on January 2, 1944. The pair explored the island and the only trace of the war they found was a single bomb crater at the center of the small island.
On January 5, 1944 both were rescued by PBY Catalina piloted by Lt. R. E. McAllister from VP-14. Later that same afternoon, PBY-5 Catalina 08377 also landed to investigate a life raft an what they believed was a body, but found it was a roll of canvas. During take off in bad weather and rough seas, the Catalina was damaged and sank in deep water offshore.
PBY-5 Catalina Bureau Number 08377
Pilot Marlin sunk January 5, 1944
NARA "Bombing Squadron Ninety-Eight War Diary January 1944" page 20-24
(Page 20-24) "Survival report on Ensign Louis A. Shepard, A-V(N), USNR and Nesbitt, Charles D. AMM2c, USNR, both of VB-98, for the period January 2, to January 5, 1944"
NARA "War Diary Patrol Squadron Fourteen (From January 1 to 31, 1944) pages 2-3
(Page 1) "4. On 5 January , Lieut. R. E. McAllister, in a PBY-5 of this command, while standing-by at Torokina, received instructions from the Fighter Command to proceed to the Shortland Islands and there search for two SBD pilots [sic, SBD-5 Dauntless 35935 pilot and gunner lost January 2, 1944] who had been sighted the previous afternoon [January 4, 1944]. Take-off was made at 0800 (L) and course set for the reported sighting. Four F4U's escorted the Dumbo plane at the start of the mission but, due to bad weather, two were compelled to return to base. At 0820 (L) on Antarara Island, just northwest of Shortland, the two downed fliers were located and, after dragging the area, the Dumbo plane landed. The sea was extremely rough with large swells and the rescue was further complicated by a tropical downpour. The two survivors, Ensign [Shepard] Shepherd and Nesbitt, ARM1c, were taken aboard..."
(Page 2) "... in good condition and the plane was airborne at 0835 (L) arriving at Torokina at 0900 (L). Further difficulty accompanied the landing at Torokina where a front had kept the area closed-in during the morning. Three LST's and numerous barges in the only protected landing area necessitated the Dumbo plane again making an open-sea landing outside the protected area under conditions similar to those at Antarara. The rescue plane suffered considerable structural damage although a safe landing was made.
5. On 5 January, Lt(jg) K. L. Marlin in a PBY-5 of this command bureau number 08377 took off at 1010 (L) to rescue two survivors of a plane crash at Antarara Island (bearing 275° - 22 miles from Komaliai Pt., Shortland Islands). Lt(jg) K. L. Marlin flew directly to Antarara Island and there sighted a life raft and what appeared to be an unconscious person or dead body in a green uniform beside it on the beach. He landed 1110 (L) and a search party was sent ashore. They found the life raft on the beach with a piece of rolled up green canvas beside it (which resembled a man in uniform from the air) and a .45 cal Colt automatic, loaded and on 'fire' position nearby. The search party too the pistol and dragged the raft and canvas inshore under the trees, so that it could not be seen from the air, and left emergency rations and supplies in the raft, for the benefit of any survivors still in the vicinity. Take off was then attempted at 1150 (L), into an 18-20 knot skid, first shearing-off the port flat, then the starboard float and then smashing in the bow. Water began pouring in at a dangerous rate and the plane was abandoned in a sinking condition, the crew making their way to Antarara Island in life rafts. The plane sank at 1250 (L). The crew was picked up by a PT boat and brought back to the USS Coos Bay at Treasury Island. The only injures sustained was a superficial head injury to an enlisted crew member. All confidential gear was recovered but the bomb sight, radar and IFF equipment sank with the plane in about 300 fathoms of water."
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