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U.S. Army Sept 15, 1944
U.S. Army Sept 15, 1944
Robert Laessig 1944
Wonnacott Sept 9, 1945
Lat 2° 0N Long 129° 3' 0E Morotai Island is located in the Maluku Islands (Moluccas Islands). Also spelled Moratai. To the south is Halmahera Island. Prewar and during World War II located in the Netherlands East Indies (NEI). Today located in North Maluku Province in Indonesia.
During 1942, Japanese forces occupied Morotai during the occupation of the Netherlands East Indies (NEI). By September 1944, a Japanese garrison of only five hundred defended Morotai. Attacked by American bombers and fighters ahead of the planned landing in the middle of September 1944.
American missions against Morotai
July 22, 1944–September 15, 1944
On September 15, 1944 the U.S. Army 31st Infantry Division made an amphibious landing on Morotai meeting only light opposition. Both General Douglas MacArthur and Rear Admiral Barbey landed on the day of the invasion to make an inspection. Nearby Halmahera, which was heavily fortified was bypassed. The landing at Morotai was the final American amphibious landing in Dutch New Guinea prior to the liberation of the Philippines.
Afterwards, two parallel airfields were built on the southern coast of the island for American fighter and bomber aircraft: Wama Airfield (Guama) and Pitu Airfield (Pitoe). Both airfields were also known as Morotai or Morotai Airfield. Both were developed into major American bases in support of the liberation of the Philippines. During late 1944 and 1945 designated U.S. Army Post Office 926 (APO 926).
On September 9, 1945 Japanese Army Lt. General Fusataro Teshima was flown aboard a RAAF C-47 Dakota to Morotai. Meanwhile, the rest of the Japanese surrender delegation were flown aboard a Ki-49 Helen and Ki-21 Sally painted white with green crosses that landed at Pitu Airfield. Meanwhile. more than 10,000 Australian and Allied troops gathered for the official surrender ceremony of all Japanese in the eastern half of the Netherlands East Indies (NEI) on the 1st Australian Corps sports ground. Representing the Allies, Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Military Forces, General Thomas Blamey accepted the surrender of Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) 2nd Army Commander, Lt. General Fusataro Teshima and Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) Captain Toyama who together surrender approximately 126,000 Army and Navy personnel under their command. On September 11, 1945 the Japanese delegation flew back to Malimpoeng Airfield (Pinrang) on Celebes to put the surrender into effect.
Wama Airfield (Guama, Morotai, Moratai)
Built by the Americans primarily for fighter aircraft, disused today
Pitu Airfield (Pitoe, Morotai, Moratai)
Built by Americans primarily for bombers, still in use today
Allied war cemetery for personnel killed on Morotai and air crews postwar graves exhumed to other cemeteries.
After the war, Morotai was one of the largest 5th Air Force boneyards in the Pacific. A smelting operation was established, and aircraft from all over the region were flown here to be scrapped. Despite the scrapping, aircraft and vehicles until 1988 when it was cleared in a final scrap drive that went to Krakatau Steel Mill in Java.
Robert Dunn adds:
"We hired two locals push bikes to ride to Wama and Pitue Strip just out of town. on the way there we got followed by a motor bike, turned out to be local police and they showed us a hidden caved in cave were the WWII aircrews got there water, concrete pump stand and water stream still running. Everything has been cleaned up. It looks like everything has been buried as next to pitue strip the ground has sunk in places and we found some piles of Australian beer bottles with 1943/44 dates on them. we rode our bikes down pitue strip and were confronted with 2 armed military personnel. There is a small terminal there maybe used once a week by a light aircraft, ie mail run. The locals next day took us to where the americans dumped all their rubbish water cans etc and showed us a amphibious tank in amongst the bush. down town ( village ) there was a couple of propellers next to the beach ( propellers are hollow and made of light tin) never seen anything like it before. Walking around town we found a radial engine cowl on a vacant lot and a wing gun in front of a school as there display. the reason we came to Morotai was to inspect the aircraft wreckage dump that i had a photo of for years but we missed out as it was smelted in 1988. I was looking for a P-40, as many australian fighters were converted to components from Wama strip landings and i suspected there to be many airframe sections at the dump."
P-47D-23 Thunderbolt Serial Number 42-27631
Pilot Albert J. Newman MIA December 1, 1944 near Morotai MACR 12184
B-24J "Lady Jane" Serial Number 42-100271
Pilot Plunkett crashed January 14, 1945
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