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    Kavieng (Kawieng) New Ireland Province Papua New Guinea (PNG)
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AWM 1914

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5th AF Feb 15, 1944

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David Paulley 1982

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Claude Gibson 2001

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Harumi Sakaguchi 2003

Lat 2° 34' 0S Long 150° 48' 0E  Kavieng is located at the northwestern tip of New Ireland. Borders Kavieng Harbor, Nusa Harbor, Nusa Island and Nusalik Island. Also known as "Kawieng" or "Kaewieng". In Japanese, the kanji for Kavieng, Ka-bi-en means "excellent-beautiful-garden".

Kavieng was settled by the Germans who built a government station, developed Kavieng Harbor and constructed a network of roads and copra plantations on New Ireland. During World War I, occupied by Australian forces and afterwards administered by Australia.

Wartime History
During July 1941, a small Australian Imperial Force from No. 3 Section and a force of 250 commandos of the 1st Independent Company arrived at Kavieng and began construction of Kavieng Airfield. On December 25, 1941, as the threat of the Pacific War became imminent, white women and children were evacuated by the administration.

On January 21, 1942 over sixty Japanese carrier aircraft attacked Kavieng without opposition. During the night of January 21-22 most Australians were evacuated from Kavieng by 10:30pm. A few opted to stay behind to destroy installations then planned to escape aboard two small ships Navanor and Shamrock.

During the night of January 23-24, 1942, a Japanese force from Truk landed at Kavieng and found virtually no opposition. Afterwards the Mai No 2 Special Infantry (SNLF) was transported to New Hanover, Mussau and Emirau looking for Allied soldiers but found no opposition then returned to Rabaul during mid-January. Many Japanese veterans recalled the area as "that it is a beautiful place as the heaven." the kanji for Kavieng, Ka-bi-en means "excellent-beautiful-garden".

During late 1942, American aircraft began bombing Kavieng, culminating in heavy aerial attacks in early 1944 that neutralized the area. Bombing neutralized Kavieng and cut it off from the resupply by sea or air. During early 1944, Japanese Navy Rear Admiral Ryukichi Tamura, commander at Kavieng ordered all prisoners killed if an imminent invasion was expected. At least 25 Australian civilians were executed at Kavieng Wharf.

Japanese and American missions against Kavieng
January 21, 1942 - April 8, 1944

Allied plans originally called for the invasion of Kavieng. On March 12, 1944 the Joint Chiefs canceled the invasion, in favor of landings at Hollandia and Emirau. Although bypassed, Japanese forces occupied Kavieng until the surrender of Japan in September 1945.

Since the war, Kavieng was rebuilt, but many wartime reminders remain including bomb craters, bunkers, pillboxes, Naval guns and fortifications from the war.

Don Fetterly adds:
"There are still bomb craters in Kavieng township itself and one can look and imagine the B-25 staffers coming along the sea front and pounding away at anything that moves. I have with me some very good war time maps of Kavieng and these will help me to trace the gun pits and taxi ways along the airfield."

Kavieng Airfield
Built by the Australians prior to the war, occupied by the Japanese until the end of the war.

Kavieng Wharf (Main Wharf)
Built prewar, the Kavieng Wharf extends from Kavieng into Kavieng Harbor. During early 1944, (possibly late February or the middle of March 1944) at least 25 Australian civilians were murdered on Kavieng wharf. At dusk they were led, blindfold, one at a time, from the road to the edge of the wharf and garroted with wire. The bodies were put in two small barges, with concrete blocks tied to their feet, and thrown overboard between Nago Island and Edmago Island. The exact number of civilians killed or all their names is unknown. Among those executed was David Topal who was age 14. Postwar in 1947, Admiral Tamura went on trial with five of subordinates in Hong Kong. At the time the law for war crimes permitted only British deaths to be prosecuted and German priests and other non-British civilians were not mentioned in the prosecution.

The Chinatown area is located at the northern end of Kavieng, to the northwest of Kavieng Airfield. Established prewar as the Chinese living quarter for Kavieng.

B-25G Mitchell 42-64873
Pilot Difilippo crashed February 15, 1944

The Japanese Invasion of New Ireland by Jim Ridges

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Last Updated
August 25, 2018


Map 1944


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