Puruata Island is located in Empress Augusta Bay off the western coast of Bougainville Island. To the east is Torokina Island and Torokina (Cape Torokina).
During early 1942, occupied by the Japanese. On November 1, 1943 at 7:30am the 3rd Raider Battalion (less M Company) made an amphibious landing on the northeastern shore of Puruata Island, code named "Green 1". Opposing them was a Japanese platoon, that was firing machine guns against the American landing. The island was cleared of enemy by the afternoon of November 2. The Raiders moved onto the mainland by November 7 to join the 3rd Marine Division Perimeter around Torokina.
Private Elmer Mapes recalls:
"Puruata Island: It was my introduction to combat. Like all aboard the troopship, the USS George Clymer, I was excited and, of course, somewhat concerned about the unknown. We left Guadalcanal Oct. 30 and hit the beach at Empress Augusta Bay Nov.1, 1943. We encountered what the historians noted as " light opposition". We didn't actually lose very many men, but our C.O was killed there for one. My most vivid memory of getting to the beach was the strafing by 5 or 6 Jap Zeros where, as you might imagine, I 'climbed into my helmet', or at least as far as I could! Our first problem was the fact that we landed where the beach must have only been about 15 yards deep. Swampy ground behind it forced us to detour."
Torokina PT Boat Base (Torokina Base)
On the morning of November 3, Commander Henry Farrow arrived with eight PT-Boats to setup a base on Puruata Island, this base was also known as 'Torokina PT Boat Base' due to its proximity to Torokina. On November 5, PT-167 made one of the first missions from Torokina. By late November, the base was under the command of Lt. Commander LeRoy Taylor.
During the night of December 18-19, PT-124 and PT-187 were damaged by a bomb, but were repaired by the next night. PT boats from this base covered the western coast of Bougainville and as far north as Buka. This base was active between November 1943 - March 1944. References: At Close Quarters page 141, US Marine Raiders: Puruata Island.
Uninhabited, concrete bases, marston matting and remains of barges remains on the island. Only wild pigs to roam the island, until they are ready to be caught and eaten by their owners.
Justin Taylan visited the island [ Photo Archive ]:
"On November 1, 2007 MV Barbarian anchored off the island on the 63rd anniversary of the assault. Some locals visited us, and naturally we soon began talking about history and I asked them to show me around the island. They gave me a ride in their canoe and we landed at 'Green 1', just like the 2nd Raider Battalion. Since no one lives on the island, it was largely unchanged. Most of the wreckage was from the later base area, when the island served as a workshop for small ships."
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
June 15, 2019