Guardians of Port Moresby
High up the hill on the eastern end of Idler’s Bay lies the remnants of once the largest Coastal Batteries in Port Moresby. The Basilisk Battery was built by the 8th Arm Troops Coy, Royal Australian Engineers in July 1944.
Basilisk was the largest of the five costal batteries protecting the Port Moresby area. Others were the Gemo Island Battery, Boera Battery, Bootless Battery and Paga Hill Battery which is the most famous amongst them in Port Moresby.
The Paga Hill Battery was planned in the early 19th century, when the threats of Russians invasion swept across the Pacific and the need for defence of strategic Australia coastal cities were imminent. Naturally, Port Moresby were also chosen to be defended and Paga Hill posed an excellent vintage point overlooking the Basilisk Passage and the Coral Seas.
The batteries were eventually built in early 1939’s when the Germans went to war in Europe and the Japanese decided to take on the Pacific. They had more military intelligence on the Pacific due to their workers working as plantation owners across German New Guinea.
The 38 men of 13th Heavy Battery of the Royal Australian Artillery began the construction of the Allied harbour defences consisting of several army batteries and a naval anti-submarine indicator loop installation as harbour protection. They were joined by the Papuan Infantry Battalion in 1940 when Australia approved the recruitment of locals to join the military.
The Batteries were completed in record time, however, they never fired a single shot as the Japanese were prevented from coming to Port Moresby by the American’s in Manus. The US after defeating the Japanese arrived in 1945, and in 1946 the batteries were decommissioned and the guns were removed.
The concrete structures of the batteries however remains, reminding us of who are the true Guardians of Port Moresby.