Lat 10° 10' 60S Long 148° 41' 60E Abau Island is a small island off the southern coast of New Guinea. Located approximately half way between Port Moresby and Milne Bay. Today located in Central Province in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
Abau Island was the administrative headquarters for the area with a jetty and was planted as a coconut plantation harvesting copra. As an administrative headquarters, Abau was frequented by small ships operating off the southern coast of New Guinea between Port Moresby and Milne Bay.
During 1942, Abau had an important role collecting Allied aviators lost in the vicinity and as a port of call for small ships. In the middle of 1942, Abau Airfield was constructed for light planes.
On March 27, 1942 MV Matoma arrived at Abau Island over night and departed by 10:15am traveling westward.
During April 1942, two Australian spotters David Marsh and Hannah from Robinson River station were moved to Abau Island. The U. S. Army code named Abau Island "Boston".
On April 28, 1942 MV Laurabada was east of Abau Island when A6M2 Zero 1575 attempted to strafe it but crashed into a nearby coconut plantation, the pilot PO3c Yoshimitsu Maeda survived and became a
Prisoner Of War (POW). In late April 1942, he and the wreckage of his Zero were transported to Abau Island. Joining him was 1st Lt. Paul G. Bown pilot P-39D 41-6982 that force landed April 30, 1942 in the same area. In early May 1942, both men and the wreckage of the Zero were transported aboard MV Matoma to Port Moresby.
Col. Hal Maull [3rd BG, 13th BS] memoir written 1992 via Edward Rogers:
"But we had to stop at Abau to pick up a Jap Zero which had landed on the beach. As it was [being] lightered out on two native canoes lashed together, I was saddened by the damage that had been done to it in moving it to the Matoma. I took some pictures nonetheless. Abau plantation looked like a set for a Dorothy Lamour movie. I wanted to see more of it but we had to move on."
In early May 1942, MV Matoma stopped at Abau Island while transporting surviving American airmen from three B-25 Mitchells that ditched or crashed on the south coast of New Guinea.
During August 1942,
Captain Frank P. Bender and TSgt Arnold M. Thompson crew members of B-25C "Aurora" 41-12792 crashed July 26, 1942 were aided by ANGAU and natives who took them to Abau Island for transport back to Port Moresby.
In late August 1942,
Michael, Haugland, Riley and Seffern were taken to Abau Island after bailing out of B-26 "Yankee Clipper" 4-1521 on August 7, 1942.
On December 12, 1942 Americans PFC Frank A. Thomas, Jr. and Pvt Duane R. Butler passengers aboard C-47 "Flying Dutchman" 41-18564 that crashed November 10, 1942 arrived at Abau Island and were transported to Port Moresby.
Built during 1942 and still in use today
A-24 Dive Bomber 41-15771
Suspected to be this aircraft crashed offshore
The Private War of the Spotters page 47
"A move was made from Robinson River station to Abau Island by spotters Hannah and Marsh. Hannah reported: 'It was about this time that we started making an air strip on the island suitable for use by small planes."
John Douglas adds:
"I talked to David Marsh. In April 1942 he was at Abau as a WO with ANGAU, Chased the Japanese Val crews at Table Bay, Rescued Bender twice [Mullins Harbor and again as Bender tramped over the ranges after he crashed near Kokoda] went hunting for the C-47 Flying Dutchman crew several times, rescued a P-39 pilot in the same area [near Imri] plus several others too. He's just started taping his memoirs, he's done 5 days last week talking to his old colonial typist from 1946. His memory is as clear as a bell."
Robert Piper adds:
"Abau is an interesting island, I've been there. Quite a few aviation stories connected with it. They built a small strip on one side and used to land Tiger moths and Piper Cubs. Also a U.S. dive bomber went in there during the war and the locals had to dive to get the bodies out. There was a U.S. radar station on the top. Two survivors of C-47 "Flying Dutchmen" 41-18564 walked into there from Mt Obree. The American writer Haugland who parachuted out of B-26 "Yankee Clipper" 40-1521 in 1942 was also brought into there after a month in the jungle."
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October 23, 2019