Thursday, March 3, 2016

15) Dobodura Airfield

Dobodura Airfield- from: David Pennefather's WWII Collection--

Dobodura Airfield, was a complex of airfields located in Australian Papua in western New Guinea Island. Built by US Army Air Forces between Dec 1942 and early 1943 it had 15 airstrips in place at the height of the base's use during WWII. It was the home of several bomber and fighter squadrons, but was also used to receive war material, like heavy field guns, to support the Allied over-land campaign on New Guinea island. 

  • March 6, 1943---The headquarters of USAAF 49th Fighter Group was transferred from Port Moresby to Dobodura Airfield, Australian Papua.
  • October 9th, 1943---Japanese aircraft attacked the Dobodura Airfield in Australian Papua, setting oil dumps on fire.
  • October 17th, 1943---56  Mitsubishi A6M "Zero" fighters attacked Dobodura Airfield and Oro Bay in Australian Papua; 43 P-38 and 3 P-40 fighters rose to defend. The Japanese lost 8 A6M fighters and the Americans lost 4 P-38 and 1 P-40 fighters.
  • December 16, 1943---The 9th Fighter Squadron (flying P-47 aircraft) of the 49th Fighter Group was transferred out of Dobodura Airfield, Australian Papua.

WWII database Dobodura Airfield Link

Accommodations at the Dobodur Airfield.  from:"The Flying Knights - PHOTO HISTORY OF THE 9TH FIGHTER SQUADRON"- privately published.  Posted on

A photo of beer ration day at the Dobodura airfield.  A few cups were allowed on certain days per month.  Jack wasn’t a drinker, so he traded his beer and cigarette rations for chocolate. From the collection of George Alber.

Sign next to 9FS camp at Dobodura, urging everyone to take Atabrine: "DIRECTIONS: To use, remove cap. Turn bottom up.”  Photo from the collection of Ralph Wandry

Combating Malaria with Atabrine---During World War II the supply of quinine was cut off by Japanese military conquest. Malaria reached epidemic proportions among American troops fighting the Japanese on islands in the South Pacific. Early in the war a campaign in the prevention of malaria was initiated. A synthetic drug invented by a German researcher before the war was distributed to American troops stationed on the South Pacific islands. This drug was sold under the name of Atabrine. Complaints against the yellow pills became common. Atabrine was bitter, appeared to impart its own sickly hue to the skin. Some of its side effects were headaches, nausea, and vomiting, and in a few cases it produced a temporary psychosis. Yet Atabrine was effective, if only the men could be made to take it. A great part of the problem was that the proper dosage had not yet been worked out. In an effort to ensure that the Atabrine was actually swallowed by the soldiers, medics or Non Commissioned Officers from the combat units stood at the head of mess lines to carefully watch marines and soldiers take their little yellow tablets.

Dengue Fever--- Jack never contracted Malaria during his time in the South Pacific, but he did get dengue fever, although I'm not sure when.  I remember him telling me that he was quite ill with it but he does not mention this in any of his letters to Betty.

Richard I. Bong---The 9th Squadron's most famous pilot was Richard Bong.  You can read about him here: Link to: "Richard Ira Bong: American World War II Ace of Aces"  

Dobodura Airfield & Richard Bong Remembrances---Listen to this Wisconsin Public Radio piece about Richard Bong in which some of the others in the squadron are recorded giving remembrances of Bong and of the Dobodura Airfield.  I remember Ralph Wandry (interviewed here) as a regular participant in yearly Squadron Reunions that my Dad (Jack) took us to when we were growing up.  Link to WI Public Radio: Richard Bong Part 2- In the South Pacific 

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