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    Matupi Island (Matupit) East New Britain Province Papua New Guinea (PNG)
Click For Enlargement
January 5, 1943

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5th AF November 2, 1943

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Justin Taylan 2007
Location
Lat 4° 15' 0S Long 152° 10' 60E  Matupi Island is located to the south of Rabaul. Borders Simpson Harbor to the west and Matupi Harbor to the east and Lakunai Airfield to the north. At the northern tip of Matupi Island was a causeway bridge that connected the island to the southern tip of the Gazelle peninsula. Also spelled "Matupit".

Wartime History
On January 23, 1942 occupied by the Japanese and developed into a supply area to support the adjacent Matupi Seaplane Base and Lakunai Airfield. During 1944, targeted by Allied bombers. Occupied by the Japanese for the duration of the Pacific War until the official surrender of Japan in September 1945.

Allied mission against Matupi Harbor
January 23, 1944–October 15, 1944

Today
Postwar, volcanic eruptions have deposited substantial ash that has added landmass to Matupi Island connecting it to the mainland and changing the shoreline and shape slightly since the war.

Matupi Seaplane Base
Seaplane mooring area used by the Japanese during the war

H6K5 Mavis
Sunk in shallow water off Matupi Island

A6M5 Model 52 Zero Manufacture Number 4323
Salvaged in 1971 from the water, destroyed in fire in San Diego

B-25D "Fifi" 41-30311
Pilot Wilkins crashed November 2, 1943

Matupi Island Massacre / Matupi Mass Grave
Between May 1942 until January 1944 at least three separate executions of Allied personnel happened on Matupi Island with their remains buried in a mass grave on the island.

On May 26, 1942 Sgt David Stuart Brown was executed on Matupi Island and his body placed into a mass grave.

On November 25, 1943 several POWs were taken from Keibitai Headquarters at Rabaul and executed on Matupi Island and their bodies buried in a mass grave.

On January 14, 1944 a group of seventeen POWs were taken from Keibitai Headquarters at Rabaul and executed on Matupi Island and their bodies buried in a mass grave. One of those executed was RAAF F/O Ross B. O'Loghlen.

Postwar
Between May to June 1947 a RAAF Searcher Team led by S/L Keith Rundle investigated and exhumed a mass grave on Matupi and recovered remains. Between June to July 1950 the team returned and recovered more remains. In total, the remains of 30 aviators were recovered including 15 Australians. Some had been beheaded others had gunshot wounds.

Matupi mass grave remains recovered and identified:

  1. Sgt David Stuart Brown pilot P-40E A29-38 POW April 11, 1942 executed May 26, 1942
  2. 2nd Lt Henry A. Keel pilot B-25C Mitchell 41-12462 POW May 23, 1942 executed circa 1942 dog tag found
  3. 1st Lt. David S. Hunter pilot P-400 Airacobra POW July 22, 1942 executed on or around August 31, 1942
  4. LAC Ernest John McDonald armour Catalina A24-18 POW May 4, 1942 executed November 4, 1942
  5. LAC John Joseph Burns rigger Catalina A24-18 POW May 4, 1942 executed November 4, 1942
  6. Corporal Alfred R. Hocking asst engineer Catalina A24-18 POW May 4, 1942 executed Nov 4, 1942
  7. F/O Allan L. Norman pilot Catalina A24-18 POW May 4, 1942 executed November 4, 1942
  8. F/O Francis O. Anderson navigator Catalina A24-18 POW May 4, 1942 executed November 4, 1942
  9. Cpl Alfred H. Lanagan engineer Catalina A24-18 POW May 4, 1942 executed November 4, 1942
  10. LAC William M. Parker radio Catalina A24-18 POW May 4, 1942 executed November 4, 1942
  11. LAC Vernon Holloway Hardwick asst radio Catalina A24-18 POW May 4, 1942 executed November 4, 1942
  12. F/O Frederick Arthur Donald Dierecks co-pilot Catalina A24-18 POW May 4, 1942 executed Nov 4, 1942
  13. Flight Lt Geoffrey Hubert Vincent pilot Beaufort A9-244 executed November 25, 1943
  14. Warrant-Officer John Pretty Bailey navigator Beaufort A9-244 executed November 25, 1943
  15. F/O Ross B. O'Loghlen navigator Beaufort A9-262 executed January 14, 1944

Today
During 1984, five youths from Matupit island were killed when they tried to tamper with a 1,000 kilogram (2,000 pound) aerial bomb unexploded on the island.

References
Advocate "Murdered Servicemen's Bodies Found Near Rabaul" July 15, 1950
Hostages To Freedom The Fall of Rabaul (1995) by Peter Stone pages 294-295
The National "Papua New Guinea Warning on Live Bombs" April 4, 2001

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Last Updated
February 26, 2019

 

Map
Map
March 18, 1943
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