Places - New Britain | New Ireland - Coast Watching Organisation

The Coast Watching Organisation was developed by the Naval Intelligence Division of the Royal Australian Navy to provide information of any enemy activity in or near Australia.

In the forward to the 1946 edition of Eric Feldt's The Coastwatchers, Lieutenant Commander Gill writes:-

In its broad outline, the scheme provided for the appointment of selected personnel, adjacent to or on the coast, and with the means of instant communication with Navy Office, who would, in time of war, report instantly any unusual or suspicious happenings in their area, sightings of strange ships or aircraft, floating mines, and other matters of defence interest. Appointees included reliable persons such as Postmasters, Police and other Government servants; missionaries at mission stations on little-frequented parts of the coast; pilots of civil airlines on or near coastal routes; and, in the Territories of Papua, New Guinea and the British Solomon Islands, Patrol Officers and District Officers and other officials, besides planters.

At the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, Eric Feldt was appointed to 'extend the existing Coast Watching Organisation in the Territories and Solomon Islands, select and appoint personnel, and place teleradios at strategic points so as to establish a reporting screen and communications network effectively covering the northern and north-eastern approaches to Australia, giving warning of any possible impending attack and protecting the country against surprise of any sort in its most vulnerable quarter.'

In 1942, as the islands were overrun by the Japanese, coastwatchers remained and reported Japanese activity from behind enemy lines. Some were captured and executed by the Japanese, some were successfully evacuated and as the war progressed other parties were sent into occupied areas to establish coast watching posts.

Related Entries



  • Eric A. Feldt, The Coastwatchers, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1946, 264 pp.
  • Mary Murray, Hunted A Coastwatcher's Story, Rigby, Adelaide, 1967, 240 pp.
  • Malcolm Wright, If I die. Coastwatching and Guerilla Warfare Behind Japanese Lines, Lansdowne Press Pty Ltd, Melbourne, 1965, 192 pp.

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Created by Joanne and Jenny Evans, July 2002. Updated 29 May 2011