March 22

Battle of Port Moresby

The aerial defence of Port Moresby began on 21 March 1942, 72 years ago.

On that day four Kittyhawk aircraft from 75 Squadron RAAF under the command of Squadron Leader Peter Jeffery landed at the Seven Mile Strip, Port Moresby.

The Squadron had only been formed at Townsville, Queensland, on 4 March 1942.

 During the afternoon of the day of their arrival, Flying Officer Barry Cox and Flight Lieutenant John Piper shot down a Japanese reconnaissance aircraft.

 Two hours later Squadron Leader J.F. Jackson, the newly appointed commanding officer, led the remainder of the squadron to the Seven Mile Strip.

The squadron was the sole fighter defence of Port Moresby during its 44-day deployment from 21 March to 3 May 1942. Thirty-nine enemy aircraft were destroyed in the air or on the ground, and 54 damaged, for the loss of 12 pilots and 24 aircraft.

The squadron returned to Townsville, and then moved to Kingaroy and Lowood to complete re-equipment and recuperation. Aircrew strength was supplemented by pilots who had seen service with Spitfire squadrons over Europe.

The photograph is of a Kittyhawk in the later operation at Milne Bay.


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