Numfor

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Numfor
Schouten Islands (IN) Topography.png
Geography
Location Melanesia; South East Asia
Archipelago Biak Islands
Area 335 km2 (129 sq mi)
Country
Province Papua
Demographics
Population 9,336 (as of 2010)

Numfor (also Numfoor, Noemfoor, Noemfoer) is one of the Biak Islands (formerly Schouten Islands) in Papua province, Indonesia. It was the site of conflict between Japanese and the Allied forces during World War II, and was major airbase for both sides.

Geography[edit]

The island is situated just north of the large Cenderawasih Bay (formerly Geelvink Bay). Approximately oval shaped, it has an area of 335 square kilometres (129 sq mi). It is mostly surrounded by coral reefs, with the exception of some points on the southeastern coast. Also found on the southeastern coast are low, steep cliffs. Most of the interior is composed of forest.[1] It has a population of 9,336 people in 2010 census covering 5 kecamatan.[2]


World War II[edit]

Main article: Battle of Noemfoor

During World War II, Numfor was occupied by Japanese military forces in December 1943.[3] The indigenous population at the time numbered about 5,000 people, most of whom lived a subsistence lifestyle in coastal villages.[4]

The island was also hosting about 1,100 laborers taken to Numfor by the Japanese: 600 members of a Formosan (Taiwanese) auxiliary labor unit and 500 Indonesian civilian forced laborers. These were the survivors of more than 4,000 laborers taken to Numfor by the Japanese.[5]

The Japanese built three airfields on the island, turning it into a significant air base.[3][6]

  • Kornasoren Airfield/Yebrurro Airfield, located toward the northern end of the island
  • Kamiri Airfield, on the northwestern edge of the island
  • Namber Airfield, on the west coast of the island.

Bombing of the island by United States and Australian aircraft began as early as April 1944.[7]

Allied units landed on the island,[3] from July 2, 1944.[7][8] Although the island is surrounded by "an almost solid ring" of coral, newspapers reported "almost no loss" of troops in reaching the shore. Troops initially landed around Kamiri Airfield on the northwest edge of the island. Although there were extensive Japanese defensive preparations in the Kamiri area,[9] there was little resistance at Kamiri Airfield.[10] In the words of the US Navy official history: "Japanese encountered around the airfield were so stunned from the effects of the bombardment that all the fight was taken out of them."[9][11]

The following day, as a precaution against Japanese resistance elsewhere, 2,000 US paratroopers from the 503 Parachute Infantry Regiment were dropped onto the island. The second base captured by US forces, Yebrurro Airfield, was secured by 4 July 1944.

On July 5, there was an unsuccessful Japanese counter-attack. That same day, a detachment of US forces from Numfor also secured the smaller neighboring island of Manim. Namber Airfield came under Allied control, without resistance, on July 6. The island was officially declared secure on July 7. However, individual Japanese soldiers continued guerrilla activities, and it was August 31 before all fighting had ceased.[12]

By August 31, the Allies had lost 66 killed or missing and 343 wounded.[12] It had killed approximately 1,714 Japanese and taken 186 prisoners.[13]

According to the US Army official history, only 403 of the original 3,000 Javanese civilian laborers were alive by August 31.[5] About 10-15 were reported to have been killed accidentally by Allied forces. The rest had died from maltreatment before the invasion.[5]

About 300 Formosan labor troops had died before the invasion.[5] Others fought the Allies, allegedly as a result of Japanese coercion. Over 550 surrendered; more than half of these were suffering from starvation and tropical diseases.[5] Less than 20 were reported killed by Allied action.

According to the US Army historian, Allied personnel found evidence that human bodies, of Japanese, Formosan and Allied personnel, had been partly eaten by starving Japanese and Formosans.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ KLUCKHOHN, FRANK L. (1944-07-04). "Doughboys Land on Numfor, Swiftly Win Main Airfield". New York Times. unknown ID: 1504727. Retrieved 2007-12-26. 
  2. ^ http://sp2010.bps.go.id/files/ebook/9409.pdf
  3. ^ a b c "Numfor (Noemfoer) Island". Pacific Wreck Database. Retrieved 2007-12-26. 
  4. ^ Smith, Robert Ross. "Operations on Numfor Island". United States Army in World War II: The War in the Pacific; The Approach to the Philippines. Chapter XVII. Washington, D.C.: United States Army Center of Military History. p. 397. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Smith, Robert Ross. "Operations on Numfor Island". United States Army in World War II: The War in the Pacific; The Approach to the Philippines. Chapter XVII. Washington, D.C.: Center Of Military History, United States Army. pp. 421–2. 
  6. ^ "Last Numfor Air Base Seized". Chicago Daily Tribune. 1944-07-08. unknown ID: 6033702. Retrieved 2007-12-26. 
  7. ^ a b "American Missions Against Numfor Island [General References]". Pacific Wreck Database. Retrieved 2007-12-26. [dead link]
  8. ^ Chen, Peter C. "WW2DB: New Guinea Campaign". World War II Database. Retrieved 2007-12-26. 
  9. ^ a b Smith, Robert Ross. "Operations on Numfor Island". United States Army in World War II: The War in the Pacific; The Approach to the Philippines. Chapter XVII. Washington, D.C.: Center Of Military History, United States Army. p. 411. 
  10. ^ Smith, Robert Ross. "Operations on Numfor Island". United States Army in World War II: The War in the Pacific; The Approach to the Philippines. Chapter XVII. Washington, D.C.: Center Of Military History, United States Army. p. 408. 
  11. ^ Morison, Samuel Eliot (2002). "New Guinea and the Marianas, March 1944 - August 1944". History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Volume Eight. University of Illinois Press. p. 138. ISBN 978-0-252-07038-9. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  12. ^ a b Gill, G. Hermon. "Chapter 14—The Assault Armadas Strike". Royal Australian Navy, 1942–1945 (1st edition). Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Canberra: Australian War Memorial. p. 443. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  13. ^ Gill, G. Hermon. "Chapter 14—The Assault Armadas Strike". Royal Australian Navy, 1942–1945 (1st edition). Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Canberra: Australian War Memorial. p. 442. 

Coordinates: 1°0′S 134°52′E / 1.000°S 134.867°E / -1.000; 134.867