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  King John
US Army
Small Ships Section

? Tons
70' x ? x ?

Ship History
King John was a 70' wooden trawler operating in New Guinea used a small cargo vessel.

Wartime History
During 1942, this vessel was assigned to the U.S. Army Services of Supply, Small Ships Section. Used to transport soldiers and supplies along the north coast of New Guinea, in support of the Battle of Buna.

Sinking History
On October 18, 1942 in the morning one of two luggers that departed Wanigela bound for Pongani. Aboard were 102 soldiers from the 32nd Infantry Division, 128th Infantry Regiment plus passengers including war correspondent from the New York Times Byron "Barney" Darnton and Lt. Adam Bruce Fahnestock.

While off the north coast of New Guinea near Pongani this vessel was mistaken for an enemy ship bombed and strafed by a friendly B-25 Mitchell from the 3rd Bombardment Group. During the attack, Darton was fatally wounded by shrapnel in his head and died in a boat on the way to shore. Also, Lt. Adam Bruce Fahnestock, head of the Small Ships Section was hit in the spine, died when he reached the shore. Several others were wounded.

Recovery of Remains
Afterwards, the bodies of Darton and Fahnestock were transported to Waingela and flown from Waingela Airfield to Port Moresby for burial.

Small Ships Section, Southwest Pacific Area of World War II PDF File
The Sydney Morning Herald "Seven War Correspondents Killed in SWPA" December 29, 1943
"The seven other war correspondents killed in the South-West Pacific Area were: Byron Darnton ('New York Times")"
New York Times Magazine "In the Name of the Father" by John Darnton October 16, 2005
Almost A Family (2011) by John Darnton details this loss
FindAGrave - Byron “Barney” Darnton (photos)
Thanks to John Darnton and Edward Rogers for additional research and analysis

Contribute Information
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?

Last Updated
October 23, 2019


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