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    Tol (Zungen Point) East New Britain Province Papua New Guinea (PNG)
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Australian Army c1945

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Australian Army c1945

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Australian Army
August 2, 1945

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Brian Bennett 1988

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Justin Taylan 2012
Location
Tol is located on Zungen Spitze (Zungen Point), German for "Tounge Point", on the southern coast of New Britain bordering Henry Reid Harbor inside Wide Bay. Located to the west is Waitavalo and the mouth of the Henry Reid River. Beyond to the northeast is Rabaul. Prewar and during the Pacific War located in the Territory of New Guinea. Today located in East New Britain Province in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Prewar
Tol Plantation was established at this location planted with coconut palms for the harvest of copra.

Wartime History
By late January 1942, the Australian Army "Lark Force" personnel that evacuated from Rabaul had reached Tol and the Wide Bay area, including a group of 25 RAAF personnel that found a yacht at Sum Sum and sailed to Tol.

On January 21, 1942 two Australian flying boats S.23 "Calypso" A18-11 and S.23 "Coogee" A18-12 took off form Port Moresby flying via Samarai and on January 22, 1942 at dusk landed in Henry Reid Harbor in Wide Bay off Tol rescue Australians assembled in the area including 25 Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) personnel plus 24 others including W/O Stanley McCosker and Australian Army signalers and civilians. After four hours loading, both boats departed safely by 7:22pm. Afterwards, S.23 "Coogee" A18-12 returned and rescued another 49 personnel.

Tol Massacre
In early February 1942 the Japanese Army soldiers landing at Tol. On February 4, 1942 four separate massacres of prisoners occurred at Tol and Waitavalo. A total of 141 Australians Army soldiers were captured, stripped of their personal possessions, tied up and executed in groups. Roughly 100 prisoners had their thumbs tied together with fishing line, then two or three tied together with rope. Each smaller group was marched into the jungle then e bayoneted to death or shot. Their bodies left unburied to rot in the open leaving their skeletons behind. Afterwards, the Japanese departed. Several survived the massacre to report what happened. The killings became known as the Tol Plantation Massacre or Tol Massacre.

On February 3, 1942 Australian Army Pte William Cook was captured near Tol and tied to Pte R. M. Cantwell, and the pair bayoneted. Cook was stabbed six times initially, then four times more times to make sure he was dead (other sources state he was stabbed eleven times). He feigned death and waited until the Japanese departed then freed himself from the rope and fishing line. Afterwards, he washed his wounds and traveled three miles over ten hours and found a party of Australians led by Col J. J. Scanlan and traveled for six more days to avoid the Japanese until finally reaching a medic named Palmer who commented "Cook, you're a tough old Bastard", dressed his wounds and allowed him to rest. Despite his wounds and a bout of malaria, reached Pal Mal Mal and was later evacuated aboard MV Laurabada from Jacquinot Bay to Port Moresby.

Gnr Hazegrove was captured at Tol, had his hands tied behind his back and was marched into kunai grass and shot without warning and hit in the back and the Japanese threw palm fronds over the bodies then departed. After freeing himself, he reached the beach and found two others who cared for him.

Collins was shot from behind in the shoulder, wrists and back. When alone, he fled and wandered the bush for three days then returned to Tol finding other Australians including Major Palmer and joined a group led by Frank Holland that crossed to the north coast and was able to escape on the MV Lakatoi. Another survivor was Robinson escaped before the massacre and was part of the party to escape aboard MV Lakatoi.

On February 8, 1942 the Japanese returned to land at Tol with a group moving inland to the Mavelo River to Kasalea where they captured and massacred more Australian soldiers. On February 12, 1942 the Japanese again landed to pickup soldiers from the Wuluwat River and Mavelo River area. Postwar, Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) Colonel Masao Kusunose, 3rd Battalion Commander, 144th Infantry Regiment, 55th Infantry Division was deemed largely responsible for the massacres at Tol and Waitavalo. Colonel Kusunose survived the Pacific War and was detained postwar but committed suicide before his war crimes trail.

In the middle of January 1943 two American Prisoners Of War (POWs) Captain Benton H. Daniel and Major Jack W. Bleasdale who both bailed out of damaged B-17F "San Antonio Rose" 41-24458 on January 5, 1943 and landed in the jungle and wandered for two weeks before they were captured by the Japanese and taken to Tol then Rabaul.

Australian Occupation
In late March 1945, Australian Army occupied Tol and immediately developed the area into a forward base for operations against Rabaul. They discovered and recovered the skeletal remains from the "Tol Massacre".

During June 1945, the situation was generally quiet throughout as the Australians established their perimeters in the area and engineers widened and surfaced roads around Tol and Waitavalo.

Tol Airfield
Built by the Australian Army during 1945.

A6M2 Model 21 Zero
Crashed or force landed at Tol.

Tol Massacre Memorial
Dedicated during May 1987.

Japanese Observation Post Zungen (Tol)
During late 1942 or early 1943, the Imperial Japanese Navy maintain an observation post at Zungen Point (Tol). They were able to observe enemy aircraft from New Guinea approaching or departing Rabaul. By early November 1943, this post was abandoned by the Japanese. On November 8, 1943 American MSgt Gordon Manuel who was behind enemy lines past Tol with friendly natives and reported: "There was a radio station at Tol, on Henry Reid Bay, in front of the plantation house and next to the bay. This was bombed out of existence and a new station set up at Karolai which is believed to be a radar installation as well."

References
Rabaul – 1942 (1980) pages 8-9, 49 - 60
Australian Army Campaigns in New Guinea - New Britain
E&E Report MSgt Gordon Manuel page 17, Appendix 1, page 3
"8 November 1943 - The next morning we followed the coast road through Tol Plantation and went on to a native village controlled by an ex-native police boy called Petros. This village was just off the trail from Open Bay to Wide Bay which had been made by Malcom English, an Australian Patrol Officer before the war and presently an AIB man.
There was a radio station at Tol, on Henry Reid Bay, in front of the plantation house and next to the bay. This was bombed out of existence and a new station set up at Karolai [?] which is believed to be a radar installation as well."
Papua New Guinea Association of Australia (PNGAA) Lark Force trek: Tol memorial: Frazer Harr
"In 1987 a group of survivors of the 2/22 Battalion, along with 21 then current members of the 3rd Brigade Australian Army, based at Lavarack Barracks in Townsville, conducted an exercise called “Rabaul Walkabout”. It was in part a training exercise, following the escape route taken by many of the soldiers who eventually made it to Tol (and beyond if lucky). At Tol, a new Memorial Cairn was erected, beside the airstrip, with a bronze plaque honoring those killed."

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Last Updated
February 11, 2021

 

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