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    Umboi Island (Rooke, Rook) Morobe Province Papua New Guinea

Australian Army
January 22, 1944
Lat 5° 35' 60S Long 148° 0' 0E  Umboi Island is located in the Vitiaz Strait and Dampier Strait to the east. To the west is western New Britain and to the northeast is Sakar Island. To the southeast is the Huon Peninsula on New Guinea. Named Rooke Island by Europeans. Also sometimes spelled Rook Island incorrectly in some sources. Today, located in Siassi District, Morobe Province in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Prewar, a Lutheran mission was established at Awelkon. Since 1936, led by Pastor A. P. H. Freund. During 1940, Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Lt. Commander Eric Feldt visited the island and recruited Freund as a coastwatcher and provided the mission with a Teleradio 3B radio designated station VLD6. At that time, the perceived threat was from German raiders operating in the Pacific but as the months past, also the threat of aggression from Japan. The work was voluntary without pay or compensation, aside from free use of the radio equipment.

Wartime History
On January 10, 1942 Freund made his first coastwatcher radio report when he observed a large Japanese flyingboat flying at roughly 1,000' and only a few hundred yards off the island. Every few days, more planes were observed culminating in the January 21, 1941 Japanese air strike against locations in New Guinea.

During 1943, occupied by five hundred troops from the Japanese Army 51st Reconnaissance Regiment, commanded by Col. Jiro Sato. During 1943, Allied bombers attacked shipping off Umboi and bombed the island.

In early December 1943, the Japanese withdrew to Cape Bushing. On February 12, 1944 the United States Marine Corps (USMC) Company B, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Division lands on Rooke Island, but found it unoccupied.

American missions against Umboi Island (Rooke)
September 19, 1942–February 12, 1944

Ki-61-II Tony Manufacture Number 3010
Crashed February 1944

Missionary Turns Spy (1989) by by A. P. H. Freund

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Last Updated
September 18, 2021


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