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    Aitape West Sepik Province Papua New Guinea (PNG)
90th BG April 22, 1944

US Army April 22, 1944
US Army April 1944
AWM April 11, 1945
Lat 3° 7' 60S Long 142° 20' 60E  Aitape is a small coastal town located on the north coast of New Guinea. To the west is Vanimo and Hollandia (Jayapura). To the east is Tadji and Wewak. Borders Aitape Harbor to the north. Prewar and during the Pacific War located in the Territory of New Guinea. Today located in the Aitape-Lumi District of West Sepik Province in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Aitape was a small town with an assistant district office, sub district office, native jail, administration store, Patrol Officer (Kiap) office and native hospital. A coastal road spanned from east to west.

Wartime History
During early 1943, occupied by the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) and developed into a base area between Hollandia to the west and Wewak to the east. Starting in the middle of January 1944, targeted by Allied bombers and fighters ahead of the landing at this location. Occupied by the Japanese until late April 1944.

American missions against Aitape
January 19, 1944–August 10, 1944

Aitape was the objective of "Operation Persecution" the U. S. Army amphibious landing under the command of Brigadier General Jens A. Doe to occupy the Aitape area to secure the flank for the landing at Hollandia further to the west. The objective of this operation was to capture Tadji Airfield, and secure the eastern flank of the operations to prevent any counter attack from the Japanese forces at Wewak. Also, to establish light naval facilities at Aitape to support further operations.

On April 22, 1944 the U. S. Army 32nd Division landed without opposition at Aitape in conjunction with the main landing at Hollandia. During July 3-6, 1944 the 124th Regimental Combat Team (124th RCT) landed at Aitape. During July 9-10, 1944 the Japanese Army counter attacked at Driniumor River to the east.

During late October 1944, the Australian Army 6th Division, commanded by Maj-General J E S Stevens began relieved the Americans and continued to defend Tadji Airfield, Aitape Harbor and patrolling the area. The advance units arrived late in October 1944 including the 2/6th Cavalry Commando Regiment comprising the 2/7th, 2/9th and 2/10th Commando Squadron guarded Babiang and occupied outpost positions at Aiterap, Kanti and Palauru.

P-38J Lightning Serial Number 42-103987
Pilot Lynch crashed March 8, 1944 one mile SSW of Aitape

P-40N Warhawk Serial Number 42-105738
Pilot Cash crashed March 22, 1944

Aitape High School
Since the 1974 recoveries at Tadji, one wreck this B-25 was selected for display at the school as a WWII Memorial for the town, and represents one of the last complete American wrecks in the Aitape area. It is a well known 'landmark' of the school and town. Over the decades, outsiders have asked the school to purchase the wreck and remove it, to which they have declined.

B-25C "Feather Merchant" 41-12442
Recovered from Tadji in 1974 for a memorial at Aitape High School

Australian Army Campaign Aitape-Wewak

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Last Updated
February 23, 2021



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