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  MV Matoma (588)
Burns Philip / ANGAU
Schooner

89'
500 tons
.30 caliber MG

Click For Enlargement
RAN February 13, 1944
Ship History
MV Matoma was a two masted schooner of 500 tons. Owned and operated by Burns, Philp & Co, Limited. Prewar, this vessel operated as a cargo ship and trading vessel in the Territory of Papua.

Wartime History
During the Pacific War, requisitioned by Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit (ANGAU) as an auxiliary schooner used to transport personnel and cargo off the coast of New Guinea. Two of crew were engineers Bett Sewell and Roy Evenett. During April 1942, the skipper was Jack Howard.

Rescue of Eaton B-17 crew to Port Moresby
On March 25, 1942 arrives Oro Bay with Major Fife, Lt. Malory and a Bishop aboard to pick up a load of copra. Waiting for the ship were the nine Americans Eaton, Harlow, Munroe, Oliver, LeMieuz, Sorensen, Schwartz, Crawford and Hall from B-17E 41-2446 (aka "Swamp Ghost") that force landed February 23, 1942 and were waiting for transport to Port Moresby.

On March 26, 1942 at dawn departs Oro Bay and proceeds eastward via Samarai Island where the passengers disembarked to slept in the abandoned civilian buildings. After departing the vessel became stuck on a coral reef near Samarai but was freed by 6:00pm then proceeds overnight to Abau Island.

On March 27, 1942 at 10:15am departs Abau Island and proceeded along the southern coast of New Guinea via Isoma. On March 28, 1942 arrived at Kapa Kapa at 5:00pm with passengers Major Fife and Lt. Mallory departing for Rigo, and remained there for a day and took aboard a Japanese 20mm cannon and ammunition recovered from the crash site of G4M1 Betty pilot Itsuda shot down by RAAF P-40E Kittyhawks that same day. On March 30, 1942 departs Rigo on the last leg of the journey arrives April 1, 1942 at sunset in Fairfax Harbor off Port Moresby.

Rescue of Hayes B-26 crew
In late April 1942, Matoma arrived in the Kerma area to rescue three Americans Hayes, Beck and Siegel and parts from B-26 Maurader 40-1417 that force landed April 8, 1942. Afterwards, Matoma returned to Fairfax Harbor off Port Moresby on April 22, 1942.

Rescue of two B-25 crews and Japanese prisoner
On May 4, 1942 departs Milne Bay with Americans from three B-25 Mitchellss that ditched on April 24, 1942 into Mullins Harbor and Baibara Island and proceeds westward via Abau Island to pickup a Japanese Prisoner Of War (POW) PO3c Yoshimitsu Maeda pilot A6M2 Zero 1575 force landed April 28, 1942. He and the wreckage of his Zero were loaded aboard Matoma then departs for Fairfax Harbor off Port Moresby.

Rescue of Ford's B-26 crew, Hall's B-25 crew and P-39 pilot
On May 21, Matoma arrived at Ahioma village to the east of Milne Bay and took aboard the crew of B-26 40-1418: Ford, Disbro, Ashley, Long, Loranger and Oclis. Plus, the crew of Hall's B-25C "El Diablo 41-12511. Along the way, Matoma departed stopping at Abau to pickup American pilot 1st Lt. Paul G. Brown who had force landed P-39D 41-6982 and the wreckage of A6M2 Zero 1575 that had been cut into pieces and taken aboard as cargo then transported to Fairfax Harbor off Port Moresby arriving May 26, 1942 or May 27, 1942.

During February 1944, Matoma was at Port Kembla, NSW. Then assigned to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and classified as a Naval Auxiliary Patrol Vessel Matoma with hull number 588. Armed with a .303 Vickers machine guns above the forecastle and depth charges on the aft.

Sinking History
Matoma was sunk without trace in the Gulf of Papua due to unknown causes, date unknown.

References
Note in some sources, incorrectly spell this ship's name as Motoma [sic Matoma].
Frederick C. Eaton Diary entries for March 25 - 30, 1942 via The Swamp Ghost DVD
"Salvage of auxiliary schooner Matoma" pages 14-18
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional information

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Last Updated
April 6, 2021

 

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