3° 21' 0S Long 143° 34' 0E Kairiru Island is located to the north of Wewak. Borders the Kairiru Strait and Mushu Island to the south. Borders Victoria Bay on the western edge. This island is 40km in circumference and is dominated by a dormant volcano, Mount Malangis in roughly the center of the island.
During December 1942, occupied by the Japanese. Used by the Japanese Navy for the duration of the Pacific War. Kairiru Island was attacked from the air by Allied aircraft and ships during 1943-1944.
Allied missions against Kairiru
April 10 1943 - August 27, 1944
The Imperial Japanese Navy garrison on Kairiru Island was responsible for the execution of many Allied personel. On May 31, 1944 2nd Lt. Robert E. Thorpe pilot of P-47D Thunderbolt 42-22661 was beheaded. Also, six American aviators were executed at this location. In 1945, two Australian Army commandos were executed.
On September 10, 1945 Rear-Admiral Sato boarded ML 805 in the Kairuru Strait and surrendered the remaining Japanese Navy forces under his command on Muschu and Kairuru by handed over his sword to Australian Army Major-General Robertson, commander of the 6th Division. Three days later, the Army
garrison surrendered at Cape Wom.
The first repatriation of the Japanese from Kairiru occurred on December 26, 1945 when the Koei Maru took several hundred Japanese from Kairiru back to Japan.
Saint John's Mission (Saint John's Mission, Barakam, Bagaram)
Catholic mission was built prior to the war, it faces southwards,
overlooking nearby Mushu Island. St. John's Mission was used as the Japanese Navy headquarters on Kairiru and also as the shore facilities for Kairiru Seaplane Base. On March 21, 1944 the mission was largely destroyed by
American bombing. Postwar, it was rebuilt and today, still functions
as a Catholic Mission. Also known as St. John's Mission.
Xaviar Mission / High School
Located halfway down the
island, on the southern coast. Prior to the war, this was a Catholic mission.
Today St. Xaviar High School is a high school for students on Kairiru Island. A Japanese Memorial is located at the school. Until at least 1969, the tail section of a Ki-43 Oscar remained near the school.
Kevin Fitzpatrick recalls:
"In 1969, there was a delegation from the Japanese Military, who came to Kairiru to exhume, and give a proper burial to Japanese soldiers who had died on the island during WWII. The sites where Japanese soldiers lay interred were remembered by the locals, and thus the remains were recovered."
A small Japanese
memorial with 13mm machine gun is located on the grounds of
the school. Its plaque reads in English and Japanese: "1942
to those men of the Japanese navy who died serving their country
Located on the southern coast of the island, towards the eastern
tip. There is a landing area here in a small sheltered cove. During
the war, the Japanese No. 4 Company was based at this location.
rusted hulk of a radar trailer are on the beach. Part of the metal frame
screen is used as a 'bridge' on the pathway above the beach. Reportedly,
this radar was mounted up on the hill above Yavik along with a search
light, It was partially recovered for scrapped by Emil Claus.
Several caves used by the Japanese, that were dug by local labor
with only hand tools. Tunnels, usually smaller L-shapes or with interconnecting
entrances are common around the south of the island.
Located on the southeastern tip of
Kairiru Island, surrounded by high cliffs
Deep water bay located at the western edge of
the island. Two shipwrecks sunk by air attack the bay including the Taisei Maru, an unidentified Japanese merchant ship.
P-47D Thunderbolt Serial
Pilot Thorpe ditched May 27, 1944 north of Kairiru Island, pilot captured and executed May 31, 1944
P-47D "Fiery Ginger III" Serial Number 42-75908
MIA October 22, 1943
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October 12, 2018