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5th AF c1944
Lat 1° 3' 0S Long 134° 54' 0E Noemfoor Island is an oval shaped island that is part of the Schouten Island Group. To the east is Biak Island. Also spelled: Numfoor, Numfor and Noemfoer. Most of Noemfoor is surrounded by a fringing coral reef. Borders Bree Bay to the east and Reamber Bay to the west. Prewar and during the Pacific War, located in Dutch New Guinea (DNG) in the Netherlands East Indies (NEI). Today located in Biak Numfor Regency in Papua Province in Indonesia.
In December 1943, occupied by the Japanese and three airfields were constructed on the island: Kornasoren Airfield (Yebrurro), Kamiri Airfield and Namber Airfield. To aid with construction, the Japanese imported Formosan labors plus approximately 3,000 Indonesians men, women and children from cities including Soerabaja. The laborers were given little food, clothing or tools and no medical treatment. Many suffered starvation, disease or were tortured or executed by the Japanese for attempting to steal food. Dead were buried in mass graves and some weak were buried alive.
American missions against Noemfoor Island
April 20, 1944–July 28, 1944
On July 2, 1944 at dawn a U. S. Navy shore bombardment and aerial bombing proceeded the amphibious landing at 5:00am by LCT and LCM on "Yellow Beach" by the U. S. Army 158th Regimental Combat Team (158th RCT) "Bushmasters" an Arizona National Guard unit lands at Kamiri parallel to the western end of Kamiri Airfield and occupy an area of 800 yards by 8:00am. As the landing progressed, Japanese mortar and artillery fire from further inland happened sporadically for two hours, destroying a DUKW and an ammunition truck.
On July 3, 1944 the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment (503rd PIR) made a combat jump over Kamiri Airfield. The Japanese garrison was largely defeated after a suicidal counterattack on July 5, 1944. Officially, the island was declared secure on August 31, 1944.
Veteran Glenn Shankle adds:
"I waded ashore from the reef as part of the third battalion, 158th RCT. We landed directly on the beach parallel to Kamiri. With the help of tanks, we crossed the runway and cleared the bunkers on the opposite side of the runway. My regiment occupied the entire airfield before the 503rd paratroops landed. The 503rd landed late that same day. Because of an onshore wind, they made a low altitude jump onto the airfield after we had secured it. They suffered numerous casualties from the low jump, but proceeded to secure our right flank. Both units dug in for the night with the airport secure in our possession. The next morning, engineers marked the mines along the roadway, but did not remove them until later. We successfully drove our jeeps and weapons carriers through the mine field without hitting a single one. The mines were actually aircraft bombs with sensitive four pound detonators. We later used the bomb casings for ash trays."
Denver B. Northrip adds:
I was with 487th Anti Aircraft Artillery Battalion. We had quad .50 caliber machine guns and 40mm Bofors. No big guns. One time, the B-24s and B-25s had a long mission north, it was raining really bad. Some of the B-25s were directed to land at our airfield because of the "low on fuel" and stack up at the bomber airfield. One B-25 landed, blew a tire and ended up sideways on the landing strip. Rain was so bad that the next bomber to land T-boned the first."
Russ Nelson adds:
"My father (Russell E Nelson, 403rd TCG, 64th TGS) flight log shows these flights to and from Noemfoor. Too many to transcribe, but they start 11-4-1944 and continue through 1-3-1945. Most of his flights were to/from Biak. On August 19th 1945 he moved to the Philippines, on September 15th, he landed on Okinawa, and on September 19th he landed in Yokohama."
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