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Searching For The Past In The World War II Wrecks Of Papua New Guinea

"Lloyd Woo eases a motorboat through the clear blue waters of the Bismarck Sea in the southwestern Pacific, to the edge of a coral reef. When he sights a specific cluster of coconut palms on the shore of one of Papua New Guinea's smattering of northern islands, he cuts off the engine. He turns to a couple of visiting scuba divers, tugging on fins and fiddling with their masks, and explains how to find the World War II-era airplane below."

"'Everything's still intact, the propeller's still there, the double wings,' he explains. 'You get to about 25, 26 meters [85 feet], you'll meet the plane.'"

"The Second World War ended 73 years ago, but history can feel very much alive in this corner of the South Pacific. Invaded and used as a Japanese military base in 1942, the Bay of Rabaul, on the northern end of Papua New Guinea's New Britain island, saw one of the most intense, sustained Allied bombing campaigns of the war in the years that followed. That legacy now helps fuel a modest tourism industry, as visitors from all over the world come to scuba dive around the wrecks."

"Underground tunnels, hewn into the ground, were used for shelter in the war years. Husks of downed planes are still being discovered in farmers' fields and deep underwater, prompting efforts to match the aircraft with the names of soldiers missing in action."

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