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    Long Island (Arop, Ahrup, Pono) Madang Province Papua New Guinea (PNG)

Long Island 1982


Long Island 1982
Location
Lat 5.36S Long 147.12E  Long Island a roughly hexagonal shaped island in the Bismarck Volcanic Arc in the Vitiaz Strait off the north coast of New Guinea. When view from sea level, it is an elongated island with volcanic peaks at the northern and southern ends. To the north is Crown Island and beyond the Bismarck Sea. Beyond to the west roughly 98 miles / 157 km away is Madang. Beyond to the southwest roughly 40 miles / 64 km away is Saidor on the north coast of New Guinea.

Long Island has a land area of roughly 126.6 square miles / 328 square kilometers with the widest portion of the island spanning 18 miles / 30km. At the northern end is Mount Reaumur with an elevation of 4,199' / 1,280m. Lake Wisdom at the center is a flooded volcanic caldera created by a volcanic eruption that exploded the center of the island and has an area of 33 square miles / 86 square kilometers. At the southern end is Cerisy Peak with an elevation 3,648' / 1,112m. The last major volcanic eruption happened sometime between 1630–1800 and devastated the island and destroyed most or all life. In 1968, a volcanic eruption created Momot a small island at the south center of Lake Wisdom that is the tip of a volcanic cone. During 1973-1974 the island grew in side from additional volcanic activity.

In 1700 named by British explorer William Dampier captain HMS Roebuck who sailed past the island. On the New Guinea mainland known as Arop or Ahrup. To the local inhabitants who speak the Arop language known as Pono. Prewar and during the Pacific War located in the Territory of New Guinea. In the modern era, Long Island has five main villages located on the coast including Matapun (Matafun), Bok, Kaut, Poin Kiau at Kiau Point and Biliau. Today located in Madang Province in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Wartime History
During 1943, Long Island was used as a staging area for barges operating along the north coast of New Guinea. A small contingent of Japanese were based on the island or were there temporarily.

On October 6, 1943 a PT Boat used a rubber boat to land Allied coastwatcher party including three Australians from Allied Intelligence Bureau (AIB) led by Lt. Hall with Sgt Lionel Veale and Frank Young plus three native police on the north coast of Long Island near Point Kiau. They reported two groups of Japanese on the island but they withdrew by November 1943.

On December 23, 1943 at 11:45pm another PT Boat led by Major Leonard Kaplan landed with two scouts landed on Long Island guided by the party ashore. After learning there were no enemy ashore, Major Kaplan returned to the PT Boat and left the scouts to patrol the island and setup lights to guide the upcoming amphibious landing force.

On December 25, 1943 at 2:15pm an Allied landing force of three LCVP and five LCMs departs Finschafen transporting the U.S. Army 592nd Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment (592nd EBSR), D Company and followed the north coast of New Guinea bound for Long Island. The rest of Company D embarked aboard three PT Boats that departed Finschafen at 6:00pm and caught up with the barges while underway. In total, the Allied invasion force included 185 Americans plus 35 Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) personnel from No. 338 Radar Station (338 RS) with LW/AW Mark IA radar plus technical personnel from No. 41 Wing. By 11:45pm the force reached northeast coast of Long Island off Malala.

On December 26, 1943 at 2:00am the first wave aboard the PT Boats landed by rubber rafts with two capsizing but no men or equipment was lost. At 5:20am the second wave of landing craft attempted to make a landing but the surf soaking some of the radar equipment and instead a better beach was selected south of Cape Reamur where the remainder of the force and equipment landed by 1:00pm. The force landed with two .50 caliber machine guns, two 37mm guns, four 60mm mortars and four bazookas for defense plus a TD9 bulldozer, two jeeps and a trailer water tank. Overnight, torrential rains caused Lake Wisdom to overflow and flooding again wet equipment.

On December 27, 1943 the radar equipment was moved onto a hilltop with an elevation of 150' on the east coast operated by two generators. Due to the wet season rains and humidity the radar station had many equipment failures and required two new generators and a new transmitter that arrived by January 27, 1944. Meanwhile, the garrison worked to build defenses, camp sites and supporting facilities. Over a five day period, they also cleared a small runway 1,500' x 50' for light aircraft. The garrison was resupplied by barges from Finschhafen in LCM and sometimes PT Boats.

On February 17, 1944 the 592nd EBSR withdrew aboard a LCVP and seven LCMs and earned praise from U.S. Army General Kruger for "by a display of aggressiveness and superior seamanship, accomplished its mission in the face of unusual odds." In early April 1944, as the threat of Japanese was now only to the west, the radar station was disassembled and over a one week period moved to Matafuna Point on the west coast. On April 11, 1944 at 7:00pm the radar resumed operation until January 28, 1945. Afterwards, a small Allied garrison remained until March 1945.

Malala
Lat 5° 16' 10S Long 147° 10' 24E  Malala located on the west coast of Long Island at an elevation of 3' above sea level on the northeast coast of Long Island.

Matapun (Matafun)
Lat 5° 21' 54S Long 147° 1' 15E  Matapan (Matafum) is located at an elevation of 3' above sea level near Matafuna Point on the west coast of Long Island.

Long Island Cub Strip
During early 1944 built by the U.S. Army as a single runway 1,500' x 50' for light aircraft.

Long Island Airport
Built postwar at the southwest coast as a small airport for light aircraft.

Ki-43-II Oscar Manufacture Number 5653
Force landed during January 1944

References
NAA "Long Island & S. East portion of Sub Division 7 - Rai Coast. Aug. - Sept. 1932. Madang District. A. Nurton" (NAA: NAA: A7034, 28)
(Page 3) On 16th August [1932] I left Gumbi base camp in the launch MV Pahi together with four members of native police. Mr. Murphy, the owner of the launch, accompanying... At 11.30 same night we left for Long Island shortly after midnight a strong S. E. gale sprang up & the vessel battled through it until 3 P. M. the next day, on the 17th, at which our we reached N.W. coast of Long Island. To gain the S. E. coast, where the villagers are, was impossible owing to the severity of the seas. The next day [18 August, 1932] the gale had slightly abated, & Murphy decided to run before it & return to pick me up about 10 days later. For five days, until the 22nd., while awaiting carriers from Malala, I spent exploring that entirely uninhabited locality... In this humanless land it was interesting to note the fearlessness of birds, iguanas, crocodiles, turtles & pigs: all of these being exceedingly plentifully..."
(Page 4) "On the 22nd [August 1932] the patrol left [walking], proceeding N. round point Keo... thence south to the village of Malala, a distance of not far short of 20 miles. The patrol reached Malala at dusk..."
(Page 5) "I was informed by the natives, whose ancestors, three generations ago, came from one of the Siassi Islands about 20 miles to the S. E., that all of Long Island and Crown Island, was originally thickly populated with villages all round the coast... I estimate by native lore that the eruption occurred about 300 years ago (certainly not more remote than that). The explosion blew the centre of the island out, leaving an elevated crater, now a lake, of about 20 square miles in extent."
[RAAF formation and unit records:] No.s 334-338 Radar Station (August 1943 - January 1946) (NAA 638252)
Put 'em Across: A History of the 2d Engineer Special Brigade, 1942-1945 (1946) page 65
At Close Quarters (1962) page 198
"The liberation of Huon Gulf forced the PT's to extend their patrols further up the coast of the Huon Peninsula; to the islands to the north, Long Island"
The Australian Museum "Long Island, Papua New Guinea: Introduction (1982) by Specht, Jim; Ball, Eldon E.; Blong, R. J.; Egloff, B. J.; Hughes, Ian M.; McKee, C. O.; Pain, C. F.
Pub. 164 Sailing Direction (Enroute) New Guinea (1994) pages 214-215 (9.50 Long Island), 268 (index Long Island)
Beyond Pongani Mission (2001) pages 248-251
Radar Yarns (1991 revised October 2007) pages ii (Table of Contents), 34-36 (338 RS Long Island), 169 (338RS), 194 (appendix A radar stations) [PDF]
Radar Returns - Unit 338 RS
Long Island Coastwatchers at War in New Guinea... the 2nd Mission (2002) by Lionel Veale
Pub. 164 Sailing Direction (Enroute) New Guinea (2018) pages 219, 268 (index Long Island)
Pub. 164 Sailing Direction (Enroute) New Guinea (2020) pages 219, 268 (index Long Island)

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October 1, 2021

 

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