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    Lae Morobe Province Papua New Guinea (PNG)
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USN March 10, 1942

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22nd BG Jan 8, 1943

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8th PRS c1943

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Australian Army
September 1943

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Justin Taylan 2003
Location
Lat 6° 43' 60S Long 147° 0' 0E  Lae is located at the southwest corner of the Huon Peninsula on the north coast of New Guinea bordering the western edge of the Huon Gulf. To the west is the mouth of the Markham River where it empties into Huon Gulf. Also known as "Lae Town" or "Lae City".

Prewar and during World War II located in the Territory of New Guinea. Today located in Lae Urban LLG, Lae District of Morobe Province in Papua New Guinea.

Wartime History
On January 21, 1942 Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) carrier aircraft attacked Lae. On January 22, 1942 Australian forces evacuated the Lae area. On March 8, 1942 the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA), Nankai Shitai (South Seas Detachment) 144th Infantry Regiment lands at Malahang then advances to Lae while others land at Salamaua. During the Japanese occupation, RZM was the three letter code designator for Lae.

Japanese missions against Lae
February 5, 1942–September 28, 1943

The Lae area was targeted by Allied aircraft for a year and a half. On March 10, 1942 U.S. Navy (USN) carrier aircraft strike Japanese shipping at Lae. For the remainder of 1942, targeted by Allied bombers and fighters to neutralize the area as a base and target Lae Airfield. In early March 1943 Allied aircraft target a Japanese convoy bound for Lae during the Battle of the Bismarck Sea. Afterwards, the Lae area was bombed until September 1943 when the Australian Army landed in the area although support missions continued until November 1943.

Allied missions against Lae
March 10, 1942–November 20, 1943

On September 4, 1943 "Operation "Postern" Task Force 76 (TF-76) under the command of Rear Admiral Daniel E. Barbey landed the Australian 9th Division at Red Beach and Yellow Beach to the east of Lae. On September 16, 1943 the Australian 7th and 9th Divisions advanced towards Lae and found the Japanese defenders weakened from lack of food and short of ammunition, and abandoned many positions. The 9th Division lost 77 killed and the 7th Division 38 killed in the advancing towards Lae. After liberation, Lae was developed into an Allied base area, and used until the end of the war.

Postwar
After the war, the U.S. Army maintained a small presence at Lae until at least 1948. There was an American 'holdout' in the Lae area until 1946 or 1947 named "Sticklefield" who was charged with desertion. Anyone with additional information about this, email me.

Lae Airfield (Lae Drome)
Prewar airfield built by the Australians. Occupied by the Japanese in early 1942 and used until liberation by the Allies in September 1943.

Igam Barracks
PNGDF Barracks in Lae.

C-47B Dakota Serial Number A65-122 (DC-3)
Displayed at the Lae Botanical Gardens

Lae War Cemetery
Cemetery and botanical gardens with Australian and Commonwealth graves.

Mount Lunaman
Is a feature located at the center of Lae town with an elevation of 96 meters. Prewar during the colonial era, used as a lookout point by Germans. During World War II, used as a lookout point by the Japanese that also dug tunnels tunnels into the hillside and had an underground hospital inside. Also known as known as "Hospital Hill" or "Fortress Hill". In late September 1943, after the Australian Army liberated the area, the tunnel entrances were sealed with explosives. Today known to locals as Lo' Wamung (First Hill) with a radio tower and navigation lights at the summit.

Richard Leahy adds:
"I have heard that some brave souls have penetrated some of the tunnels and found very little. Mt. Lunaman consists of gravel, not rock and is unstable. Thus nobody has been game enough to go in too far."

Scrap Yard
A scrap yard in Lae. Some wartime scrap has been melted unnoticed. Other relics, like the cockpit area of a Ki-61 Tony fighter was discovered and exported by Classic Jet Museum in the early 1990's.

Lae Yacht Club
Located on the Huon Gulf north of Lae Airfield, the club is built onto the site of the major dock area during the war. The bell of the s'Jacob is displayed near the bar.

References
The Advertiser "Odd Deal At Lae Sales: S. A. Men Buy Japanese Tomb" November 26, 1946 page 7

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Last Updated
March 10, 2021

 

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