Pacific Wrecks
Pacific Wrecks    
  Missing In Action (MIA) Prisoners Of War (POW) Unexploded Ordnance (UXO)  
Chronology Locations Aircraft Ships Submit Info How You Can Help Donate
    Popondetta Oro Province Papua New Guinea (PNG)

Frank Anderson 1971

Click For Enlargement

Click For Enlargement
Justin Taylan 2007
Lat 8° 46' 0S Long 148° 13' 60E  Popondetta is an inland town in New Guinea. Also known as simply "Pop" or "Town" to locals. Borders the Kokoda-Buna Road (Kokoda Highway). To the west is Sangara. To the southwest was Popondetta Airfield and beyond Mount Lamington. Prewar and during the Pacific War located in Northern District (Northern Province) in the Territory of Papua. Today located Popondetta Urban LLG in Ijivitari District in Oro Province in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Popondetta is the provincial capital of Oro Province.

Popondetta was established as a small agricultural station.

Wartime History
During 1942, occupied by the Japanese. During the Battle of Buna, Gona and Sanananda, Popondetta became strategically important location. After the battle of the beachheads, the entire area was developed into a Allied base area. Attacked by Allied aircraft until October 1942. Occupied by the Allies for the remainder of the Pacific War.

American missions against Popondetta
September 20, 1942–October 15, 1942

After 1945, Popondetta was rebuilt and became the provincial headquarters for Northern Province during the colonial era. Between January 18-21, 1951 nearby Mount Lamington erupted killing an estimated 3,000 people and destroyed the rebuilt town. Afterward, Popondetta became the center of recovery efforts and to distribute aid.

Today Popondetta is the provincial capital of Oro Province and the center of commerce for the area. Also known as simply "Pop" or "Town" to locals. The Popondetta market table tops are made from Marston Matt (PSP) recovered from the nearby airfields and dump areas. An American propeller is display outside one of the buildings in town.

Popondetta War Memorial (New War Memorial)
There is a war memorial in the center of town, built in 1962. It includes plaques and relief map commemorating the Australian and American units that fought in the Buna, Gona and Kokoda areas. Two Japanese Type 88 75mm Anti-Aircraft guns displayed near the monument that were recovered from the Buna battlefield in 1962. In the early 2000s, the memorial was refurbished with Australian Government funding and rededicated in November 2002. The new memorial includes descriptive plaques under a partial shelter and circular rotunda for the old bronze battlefield plaques.

75mm Type 88 Anti-Aircraft Gun
Recovered from Buna displayed in Popondetta at the war memorial.

75mm Type 88 Anti-Aircraft Gun
Recovered from Buna displayed in Popondetta at the war memorial.

Popondetta Airfield
Built by the Allies and used to support the battle in the area.

House of Kokichi Nishamura
The residence of Kokichi Nishamura who served in the Japanese Army 144th Infantry Regiment in Oro Province and survived the war. After retirement, he left his family and life in Japan and relocated to Popondetta to devote himself to finding the remains of his comrades and sending them back to Japan. Also he works with locals and made donations for infrastructure improvements.

Field Guide to the Kokoda Track by Bill James (2006) pages 395 (map), 410, 412 (map), 417-418

Contribute Information
Do you have photos or additional information to add?

Last Updated
May 18, 2021


Map 1971

Map 1976

Map 2006

  Discussion Forum Daily Updates Reviews Museums Interviews & Oral Histories  
Pacific Wrecks Inc. All rights reserved.
Donate Now Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram