Papua New Guinea has a history of fierce fighting between the Japanese and Allied forces during World War II.Today many war relics remain scattered throughout the provinces of New Britain, Oro, East Sepik, Sandaun and Morobe. There are also sunken war ships and aircraft to explore in the waters around Madang and Rabaul.Port Moresby – Bomana War Cemetery; Thousands of young Australian and Papua New Guinean soldiers are buried in this carefully tended World War II cemetery, a heart-wrenching reminder of the horrific campaigns in the region. Located on the Sogeri Road not far from the Sir Hubert Murray Highway.Oro – Popondetta War Memorial; The provincial capital has a war memorial with a map of key battle sites. Most war relics are scattered around Popondetta, and Buna and Gona on the coast, you will need a guide.
Morobe – Lae War Cemetery; Most of the 2363 graves in this peaceful, well-kept cemetery are of young Australians. Located within the Botanic Gardens, it\’s a short walk from town along Coronation Drive to Memorial Avenue. A map is available.
– Salamaua District; Important during the war, this pretty area has war relics, as well as fishing, swimming, snorkeling, and walking to Coast watchers Ridge and Mount Tambu for spectacular views. Boats leave from Voco Point in Lae.East Sepik – Cape Wom Memorial; The wartime airstrip and memorial where the Japanese signed surrender documents on 13 September 1945 are located 14km west of Wewak. Many of those who were killed are buried in Bomana War Memorial Cemetery. Bomb craters are still visible around Boram Airport runway and the disused airport near town. The rusting remains of Japanese landing barges lie on the beach between Kreer market and the hospital.Sandaun – Aitape; Reached by boat from Vanimo or rough road from Wewak, Aitape was once a German station and later used by the Japanese during World War II. Tadji Airstrip still has aircraft wreckage from the war. A B-24 bomber stands outside Aitape High School between the airstrip and town.East New Britain – Bitapaka War Cemetery; The graves of more than 1000 Allied war dead are in these well-kept grounds and gardens. Located several kilometres inland, on a turning off the coast road past Vunapope. Japanese Barge Tunnels:
At Karavia Bay between Kaluana Point and Vulcan are a network of tunnels and tracks connecting barges and buildings dating back to the war. In the main tunnel are five barges lined up end to end. Take a torch for exploring.
– Tunnels/Submarine Base; – Some of the 580km of tunnels built by the Japanese are still open and aircraft wreckage can be seen beyond the old airport. At Tavui Point is Submarine Base, where Japanese subs once pulled right up to the edge of the reef to set down soldiers. It\’s also superb for snorkeling and diving.
West New Britain – Talasea/Lombrum; Wrecks of two US bombers, one of them a B-24 Liberator, lie in the hills behind Talasea. Many rusting relics are also visible at Lombrum, which served as a huge US naval base during the war. Others can be seen from the bridge across Loniu Passage.
As the war turned in favor of the Allies in mid-1943, more replacement aircraft were available and supplies plentiful. More wrecks were abandoned, or left at growing bone yards.The pace of daily combat operations and accidents meant that more aircraft were written off due to operational causes instead of enemy action. Since there were plenty of brand new aircraft available, fewer of these aircraft were salvaged if beyond the borders of air airbase.
With its significance to Papua New Guinea, it would only be fair to shy a topic of the War in the Pacific to the outside world, therefore, Post PNG has chosen War Relics of Papua New Guinea as its 14th stamp issue topic for this year.
K1.05 – AMERICAN B-17E
41-2446 (aka \”The Swamp Ghost\”) – The aircraft was until illegally salvaged in 2006 PNG\’s best intact aircraft wreck, unique to the world.
K1.05 – JAPANESE Ki-21 Sally
– Survived the war and the eruption and remains one of the most accessible wrecks at former Lakunai Airport, Rabaul.
K5.00 – AMERICAN P-38F-42-12647 5-LO
– Sometime in January 1944, the pilot cut both engines, was unable to restart them and force landed on the salt flats near Lea Lea. The pilot and exact date of this force landing is unknown. Abandoned, the wreckage remained in situ until late in 1978.
K7.00 – AMERICAN B-17E 41-9234
– Force landed at Black Cap Pass, after Swamp Ghost the next best wreck on land in PNG.