86 Squadron Merauke Dutch New Guinea 1943
Lewis was posted to 86 Squadron, which was formed in Gawler South Australia, in March of 1943. The Squadron began preparing to become "Operational" and after two months of hectic activity they relocated to Ross River Airstrip, near Townsville.
Squadron commenced its active service when it left Australia for, the Capital of Dutch New Guinea on the 28th June 1943. It was felt at the time by General Thomas Blamey that it was possible for Japanese forces from the Netherlands East Indies to occupy the
Merauke area and so threaten Northern Australia and the left flank of General MacArthur's advance in the Eastern sector of New Guinea. As a result of this 86 Squadron became responsible for the defence of the Merauke area.
Whilst Merauke was not
a very nice place and the climate was most opressive, it had one redeeming feature, many of the Indonesian population were charming. It was like a small native village that was flat and swampy for 60 miles inland the highest point was 11 feet above sea level.
The airstrip was completely overlaid with American interlocking steel mesh, which provided an effective footing for the aircraft.