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3rd BG February 28, 1943
90th BG August 10, 1943
Ian Williams 1998
Lat 7° 1' 60S Long 147° 4' 0E Salamaua is located on an isthmus on the north coast of New Guinea, south of Lae. to the south is Bayern Bay and north is Samoa Harbor both inside Huon Gulf. On the mainland of New Guinea is Kela and to the south is Logui the location of Salamaua Airfield (Logui Strip No 2). Prewar located in the Territory of New Guinea. Today located in Morobe Province in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
Salamaua town was developed as a hub for coastal shipping and to supporting gold mining operations inland at Wau. Buildings and facilities were constructed on the isthmus forming the town.
On January 21, 1942, Japanese aircraft attack Salamaua, including A6M2 Zeros from Shōkaku strafing the town and five Zeros flew inland to strafe Bulolo. The next day, the Australians evacuated the town, fearing further attacks. During early March 1942, Captain Allan Cameron arrived at Salamaua and was stationed at Salamaua Airfield.
Japanese missions against Salamaua
January 21, 1942
On March 8, 1942 before dawn, the Imperial Japanese Army, (IJA) "South Seas Detachment" 144th Infantry Regiment landed at Salamaua. The few New Guinea Volunteer Rifles (NGVR) and civilian residents fled into the bush and began spying. Meanwhile, the Japanese developed the area into a base and anchorage.
On March 10, 1942 U.S. Navy (USN) TBD-1 Devastator strike Japanese shipping off Salamaua, the first Allied air raid against Salamaua. For the next year and a half, Salamaua was targeted by Allied bombers and fighters until September 1943 when the Australian Army captured the area.
American missions against Salamaua
March 10, 1942–September 13, 1943
Robert Manning adds:
"Salamaua was the target of a raid by 75 Australian commandos on June 29, 1942 and another raid a few days later. There was intense interest by Allied intelligence in reconnaissance photos of the Salamaua peninsula from about the 28 June to about the first week in July 1942. I have yet to find any aerial photos of this period. The interest is over a house that sat high up of the seaward end of the peninsula above the tennis courts that can be seen in prewar photos. The house belonged to Mr O'Dea a prewar pilot and it was the target for a raid by several Australians." The Salamaua area was turned over to the Japanese Army on November 15.
After the fall of Buna and Gona, the Allies began to attack Salamaua as a diversionary effort designed to divert enemy attention from the Allied attack on the Nadzab and Lae. By early September 1943, the Japanese were ordered to prepare to fall back to Lae in face of the approaching Australian Army 5th Division and 5,000 were transported by barge to Lae, an additional 600 escaped by submarine to Rabaul while 200 walked overland to Lae. On September 12 , 1943, Salamaua was liberated by the Australian 5 Division, 42nd Infantry.
Japanese Gun Emplacements & Tunnel
Located on a hill top inland from Salamaua. A steep path leads up to four Japanese guns with commanding views of the harbor. Near the start of the path is an entrance to a Japanese tunnel.
Type 3 (1914) 76.2 mm Naval Gun (No 1)
Remains in situ
Type 3 (1914) 76.2 mm Naval Gun (No 2)
Remains in situ
Type 3 (1914) 76.2 mm Naval Gun (No 3)
Remains in situ, the barrel pointed at a horizontal angle
Type 3 (1914) 76.2 mm Naval Gun (No 4)
Salvaged by the Japanese in 1969, donated to Yasukuni Jinja
B-17 pilot 2nd Lt George Munroe recalled:
"I had an experience once, we were on a flight over Lae and Salamaua looking for a destroyer, reportedly up a creek. We knew there was no creek there, but were told to look at the area. We were flying along, fat dumb and happy and all of a sudden, all hell broke loose with anti-aircraft fire was all around us. We could see it we could hear it, I did a quick wing over and got out of there but we weren't touched."
Location where Australian Coastwatcher was stationed to report Japanese shipping and troop movements.
A full days walk to the Mount with spectacular views of huge battlefield where Australians met the Japanese advance towards Wau. Also known as "Mt. Tambu". Local guides are available for those who want to make this trek. By August 20, Japanese abandoned their defensive positions on Mount Tambu and Komiatum Ridge and are manning last-ditch defensive position at Salamaua.
Sunk March 10, 1942 by USN carrier aircraft
P-40E Kittyhawk Serial Number A29-38
Pilot Brown force landed April 11, 1942 wreckage sunk during 1980s failed salvage attempt
Kotoku Maru (Kotoko Maru)
Damaged by bombs and grounded off Salamaua July 30, 1942
DB-7B Mark III Boston A28-3 Tail DU-Y
Pilot Newton ditched March 18, 1943
F-4 Lightning 41-2177 Tail 77
Pilot Blackard MIA May 21, 1943
B-25D Mitchell 41-30313
Pilot Webster ditched July 9, 1943
The Battle For Wau page 2
Hell's Battlefield page 24-26
Thanks to Phil Bradley and Robert Manning for additional information
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