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May 18, 1944
Justin Taylan 1993
Walt Deas 2001
Lat 5° 10' 0S Long 145° 45' 0E Amron is a hilltop high ground near the north coast of New Guinea. Borders Alexishafen to the north, the North Coast Road to the east and further to the south is Madang. Also known as" Amron Hill" or "Nob Nob" or "Nobanob". The Japanese referred to this location as "Moto Zan" or "Motozan". Today located in Madang Province in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
Amron hilltop was developed by the Yelbeck Catholic mission with a church and mission buildings. From this location there are excellent views of the north coast and offshore islands including Alexishafen to the north.
On December 26, 1942 Amron was occupied by the Japanese Army as a lookout point. By March 27, 1943, the Japanese Army 18th Army Headquarters and the Kempeitai (Military Police) occupied the mission buildings.
Allied Prisoners Of War (POW) captured in the Madang-Alexishafen and north coast of New Guinea were transported to this location where the Japanese Army Kempeitai (Military Police) detained, interrogated, tortured and executed the prisoners.
According to postwar interrogations with Japanese prisoners, on least five occasions between June 1943 until April 1944, Prisoners were blindfolded and executed by bayoneting to death or beheading "down the mountain to the execution ground" then buried in a mass grave.
During June 1943, a number of American prisoners were executed. During postwar war crimes investigations, information available was considered insufficient to determine if this was the case. Likely, this execution included at least two Americans. Those executed likely include:
1) 1st Lt. Harlan L. Reid, pilot B-25C "Geronimo" 41-12980 ditched June 21, 1943 POW to Madang, missing
2) Captain Raymond A. Tabb co-pilot B-25C "Geronimo" 41-12980 ditched June 21, 1943 POW to Madang, missing
On August 31, 1943 five aviators who were taken prisoner and interrogated were blindfolded and led down from Amron by the Japanese and executed. Four crew members from B-25D 41-30118: Koscelnak, Ritacco, Anderson and Herry were tied between two posts and bayoneted to death. Also, Salvage the sole survivor of B-25D 41-30221 was executed.
The five executed on August 31, 1943 were:
1) 2nd Lt. Owen H. Salvage, co-pilot B-25D 41-30221 ditched August 2, 1943
2) Captain Robert L. Herry, pilot B-25D "Green Dragon" 41-30118 ditched August 5, 1943
3) 2nd Lt Robert J. Koscelnak, co-pilot B-25D "Green Dragon" 41-30118 ditched August 5, 1943
4) 1st Lt Louis J. Ritacco, navigator B-25D "Green Dragon" 41-30118 ditched August 5, 1943
5) T/Sgt Hugh W. Anderson, radio B-25D "Green Dragon" 41-30118 ditched August 5, 1943
Post war affidavit L/Cpl Yasukuni Tani. (clerk at Amron for the Kempei Tai) states:
“The actual execution was to be three prisoners by Kempei Tai and two by headquarters Sentry Guard Unit. However, 1st Lt. Matsumoto’s Kempei Tai members said, “We will execute the three prisoners for the revenge of the death of our comrade, Cpl Nakano. This Matsumoto’s Unit had a conflict several weeks ago at Kesa village, which is located at the head of the Ramu River. The three prisoners were blindfolded and escorted down the mountain to the execution ground by the Kempei Tai members and Sgt Major Kawawa, Cpl Ishikawa and S. Pvt Ozawa. After about 20 minutes had elapsed, Matsumoto’s Kempei Tai group came back and said, 'The execution is over now, we will proceed back immediately” and walked towards Kempei Tai Headquarters."
Another execution happened sometime between late November 1943 - March 1944 when at least three crew members from B-25D 41-30522 were executed by rifle. Conscripted natives dug them graves and buried their bodies. Postwar, the remains of Gullette, Mahan, and Lamb were recovered and identified.
The three confirmed executed included:
1st Lt. Frank E. Gullette, Jr. pilot B-25D 41-30522
T/Sgt Charles H. Mahan radio B-25D 41-30522
SSgt Glen A. Lamb engineer B-25D 41-30522
During the middle of March 1944, two Australians were executed: F/Sgt Frank Graeme McDonald pilot Vengeance A27-276 and F/Sgt Leslie Stewart navigator Vengeance A27-82. Possibly, the date of this execution was March 31, 1944.
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