DOBA DURA PART 1

JACK HEYN IN THE SOUTH WEST PACIFIC DURING WW2
(MEMBER OF THE 3RD BOMB GROUP)

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visits since 1 January 2001

In May of '43 we loaded up on LST's and moved to the north side of the Island of New Guinea to Doba Dura. This was an airstrip in the Buna-Gona area, from which the Japs were ousted after almost a year of nasty jungle fighting by the infantry - both ours and Aussies. Our camp area was pretty much in jungle area and the humidity was really bad, so everything had to be up off the ground. After building platforms to get all the various offices off the ground (after first digging the mandatory slit trenches) we were able to start on our own tent. This involved trips into the jungle to gather bamboo-like trees, splitting them and a building a platform about 4 feet off the ground. Also built a frame for the tent and then closed it in with hessian cloth around the bottom and screen around the upper area. Compared to some of the abodes we had had, these was strictly up-town -- even had electric lights in it.

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At Doba Dura we were virtually in the jungle, and every thing had to be up off the ground
due to wetness and humidity. In the above photo we are hauling a bamboo-like tree out
of the jungle. We used them to frame our tents, and split them for the floors.

 

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The "Jungle Plaza" is under construction.

Marvin and I finally got the photo shack back in action and the powers that be decided we should have photos of all the sections. So we went to work with the 8x10 view camera. Included at the time was a photo of the orignal guys that came over on the USS Ancon. It consisted of 64 guys, myself included, out of about 200 that had made the trip. Most of the missing ones were combat crews - they had flown off in those 'maginficent flying machines' and never returned. And some of them had completed their 50 missions and been sent home. All of our bombardiers had been transfered to the heavy groups after we had completed the modification of our A-20's and B-25's.

As we settled into the usual routine we did find some time to do some exploring and site seeing. We toured the Buna Beach area where there had been heavy fighting. There was a coconut palm plantation in the area owned, I believe by Palmolive, and about all that was standing was the trunks of the palm trees. All foliage had been torn off by shell fire, or bombs. At Sanananda point there were abandoned landing craft, a small tank and a few skulls. Strangely enough we never did find any bones except the skulls. Sanananda had seen some particularly bloody fighting, and if my memory serves me right had made Life or Time magazine, showing a couple G.I.'s floating in the surf. On another excursion we went to Gona Village. This was a native village in the area. It was the second native village we had seen, but it wasn't nearly as neat and orderly as the one north of Moresby. We took the usual photographs and bid the place a fond farewell. To each his own, but these people were not too far removed from the stone ages. In fact there were tribes in the interior of New Guinea, even in the mid 20th century who had never seen white men.

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A native village we visited in the Buna-Gona area.

The Photo Section that handled our mission work was part of the 35th Air Base Gp. which traveled with us from Savannah Army Air Base. I had visited it a time or two both in Savannah and after we got overseas. During the summer of '43 it had been transferred into the 3rd Bomb. Gp, and I had been trying to get a transfer back to Hq. Sq. and the Photo Section. The only was it could be done was a mutual transfer. fortunately there was a guy, can't remember his name, who was wanting out of the section and the Sq.. So in August '43 I was transfered back to Hq. Sq. and the Photo Section. Finally, after two years, I was where I had joined this man's army to be.

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Sight-seeing excursion to Buna Beach and Sanananda Point, sites of some pretty bloody fighting in the not too distant past.

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Pop Eason, Joe Haley and Jack Heyn with an abandoned Jap landing craft at Buna Beach

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Jack Heyn making enlargements in the 13th Sq. Photo Shack (Note the decorations on the wall)

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Jack Heyn photographing some formal groups of the 13th Squadron

This involved a whole new situation for me and a new cast of characters. Jimmy Humphries was the Section Chief, M/Sgt., and a fine fellow. There always seemed to be a shortage of photo-techs and with my experience I was welcomed aboard, and assigned one of the two mobile labs. Our cameras were all mounted in the tail of the airplanes and operated electrically. When they started the bomb run the gunner would hit the switch and the camera would make an exposure every 3 to 4 seconds on a 150 ft. roll of 9 inch film. We would pick up the magazines when the planes returned, process the film and deliver film and prints to 5th Bomber Command -- usually in the wee small hours of the morning. There were just three photographers on flying status, and only flew on special recon missions and such. About the time I joined them, there was an opening and Jimmy asked me did I want it. I had already been over there a year and half, had lost three tent mates, and I couldn't count the number of mess mates -- my answer? "not no but hell no, I've been here too long. Mrs. Heyn didn't raise any heros, just a survivor". We had an eager beaver who had only been over there a month or so who thought that 20% increase in pay would come in handy, since he had a wife at home. When I left the outfit in Jan. '45 he was still with us, I hope he survived.

 

Jack Heyn in the South West Pacific during WW2 - The Full story

 

Jack Heyn and Peter Dunn 2001
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This page first produced 1 January 2001

This page last updated 02 April 2002