The Battle of Sio, fought between December 1943 and March 1944, was the break-out and pursuit phase of General Douglas MacArthur's Huon Peninsula campaign, part of the New Guinea campaign of World War II.
A breakout is a military operation to end a situation of investment, through offensive operations that achieve a breakthrough. It is used in contexts such as: "The British breakout attempt from Normandy". It is one of four possible outcomes of investment, the others being relief, surrender, or reduction.
A breakthrough occurs when an offensive force has broken or penetrated an opponent's defensive line, and rapidly exploits the gap.
In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, general is a four-star general officer rank, with the pay grade of O-10. General ranks above lieutenant general and below General of the Army or General of the Air Force; the Marine Corps does not have an established grade above general. General is equivalent to the rank of admiral in the other uniformed services. Since the grades of General of the Army and General of the Air Force are reserved for wartime use only, and since the Marine Corps has no five-star equivalent, the grade of general is currently considered to be the highest appointment an officer can achieve in these three services.
After the defeat of the Japanese in the Battle of Sattelberg, Australian Army forces broke through the Japanese positions around Finschhafen. Constant pressure from US Navy PT boats, Australian land forces and Allied aircraft brought the Japanese logistical system to the brink of collapse, resulting in disease, malnutrition, and privation for the Japanese soldiers. Meanwhile, the Allied supply system grappled with the problems of terrain and climate, particularly inclement weather and rough monsoonal seas that hampered and occasionally prevented delivery of supplies by sea.
The Imperial Japanese Army was the official ground-based armed force of the Empire of Japan from 1868 to 1945. It was controlled by the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office and the Ministry of the Army, both of which were nominally subordinate to the Emperor of Japan as supreme commander of the army and the navy. Later an Inspectorate General of Aviation became the third agency with oversight of the army. During wartime or national emergencies, the nominal command functions of the emperor would be centralized in an Imperial General Headquarters (IGHQ), an ad-hoc body consisting of the chief and vice chief of the Army General Staff, the Minister of the Army, the chief and vice chief of the Naval General Staff, the Inspector General of Aviation, and the Inspector General of Military Training.
The Battle of Sattelberg took place between 17 and 25 November 1943, during the Huon Peninsula campaign of the Second World War. Involving forces from Australia, the United States and Japan, the fighting centred on the Sattelberg mission station which was situated atop a hill about 900 metres (3,000 ft) above sea level, approximately 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) inland from Finschhafen, New Guinea. Following the Australian landing at Scarlet Beach, a large force of Japanese had retreated inland towards Sattelberg. Holding the high ground, the Japanese subsequently threatened the Australian lines of communication as they proceeded to advance south towards Finschhafen, and in order to neutralise this threat, the Australian 26th Brigade was tasked with capturing the mission. Over the course of 10 days they advanced west from Jivevaneng up the southern approaches to the mission, reducing the Japanese position with armour, artillery and air support, before the Japanese finally abandoned Sattelberg and withdrew north to Wareo, having suffered heavy casualties and running low on supplies.
The Australian Army is Australia's military land force. Formed in 1901 through the amalgamation of the Australian colonial forces following federation, it is part of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) along with the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. While the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) commands the ADF, the Army is commanded by the Chief of Army (CA). The CA is therefore subordinate to the CDF, but is also directly responsible to the Minister for Defence. Although Australian soldiers have been involved in a number of minor and major conflicts throughout Australia's history, only in Second World War has Australian territory come under direct attack.
Australian and Papuan troops advanced along the coast of the Huon Peninsula, using infantry, tanks, and air strikes against the Japanese positions, which were generally sited at creek crossings in the jungle. The advancing infantry kept strictly within range of the supporting artillery, which was liberally employed in the early stages of the operation. Using tactics that exploited the firepower of Australian artillery and armour, the Australian and Papuan troops inflicted heavy and disproportionate casualties on the Japanese as they advanced, ultimately linking up with the American forces at Saidor. Hundreds of Japanese soldiers were killed; thousands more died from disease, malnutrition, exhaustion and suicide. The Allies failed to seize the opportunity to completely destroy the Japanese forces.
Huon Peninsula is a large rugged peninsula on the island of New Guinea in Morobe Province, eastern Papua New Guinea. It is named after French explorer Jean-Michel Huon de Kermadec. The peninsula is dominated by the steep Saruwaged and Finisterre and Cromwell Mountains. The nearest large town is the Morobe provincial capital Lae to the south, while settlements on the north coast include the former German town of Finschhafen, the district capital of Wasu, Malalamai and Saidor with its World War II era Saidor Airport.
The Landing at Saidor was an Allied amphibious landing at Saidor, Papua New Guinea on 2 January 1944 as part of Operation Dexterity during World War II. In Allied hands, Saidor was a stepping stone towards Madang, the ultimate objective of General Douglas MacArthur's Huon Peninsula campaign. The capture of the airstrip at Saidor also allowed construction of an airbase to assist Allied air forces to conduct operations against Japanese bases at Wewak and Hollandia. But MacArthur's immediate objective was to cut off the 6,000 Imperial Japanese troops retreating from Sio in the face of the Australian advance from Finschhafen.
Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Mental disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse—including alcoholism and the use of benzodiazepines—are risk factors. Some suicides are impulsive acts due to stress, such as from financial difficulties, relationship breakups, or bullying. Those who have previously attempted suicide are at a higher risk for future attempts. Effective suicide prevention efforts include limiting access to methods of suicide—such as firearms, drugs, and poisons; treating mental disorders and substance misuse; careful media reporting about suicide; and improving economic conditions. Even though crisis hotlines are common, there is little evidence for their effectiveness.
During the advance, Australian troops captured Japanese cryptographic materials. This had an important effect on the subsequent course of the war against Japan in the South West Pacific, as it permitted codebreakers in Australia and the United States to read Japanese Army messages on a much greater scale than previously.
Cryptanalysis is the study of analyzing information systems in order to study the hidden aspects of the systems. Cryptanalysis is used to breach cryptographic security systems and gain access to the contents of encrypted messages, even if the cryptographic key is unknown.
General Douglas MacArthur's Operation Cartwheel began with spectacular victories in the landing at Lae and the landing at Nadzab but then faltered in the face of inclement weather, unfavourable terrain, and—above all—tenacious and aggressive Japanese opposition on land and in the air.The initiative passed to Major General Hatazō Adachi's Eighteenth Army which launched a series of counter-attacks against Major General George Wootten's 9th Division in the Battle of Finschhafen. At the Battle of Sattelberg, Wootten finally inflicted a crushing defeat on Adachi.
Operation Cartwheel (1943–1944) was a major military operation for the Allies in the Pacific theatre of World War II. Cartwheel was an operation aimed at neutralising the major Japanese base at Rabaul. The operation was directed by the Supreme Allied Commander in the South West Pacific Area (SWPA), General Douglas MacArthur, whose forces had advanced along the northeast coast of New Guinea and occupied nearby islands. Allied forces from the Pacific Ocean Areas command, under Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, advanced through the Solomon Islands toward Bougainville. The Allied forces involved were from Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the US and various Pacific Islands.
The Landing at Lae was an amphibious landing to the east of Lae and then the subsequent advance on the town during the Salamaua–Lae campaign of World War II. Part of Operation Postern, which was undertaken to capture the Japanese base at Lae, the landing was undertaken between 4 and 6 September 1943 by Australian troops from the 9th Division, supported by US naval forces from the VII Amphibious Force. The first major amphibious operation undertaken by the Australian Army since the failed Gallipoli Campaign, the Australians invested a significant amount of effort into planning the operation.
The Landing at Nadzab was an airborne landing on 5 September 1943 during the New Guinea campaign of World War II in conjunction with the landing at Lae. The Nadzab action began with a parachute drop at Lae Nadzab Airport, combined with an overland force.
Although beaten, the Japanese did not leave the area. Lieutenant General Shigeru Katagiri, the commander of the Japanese 20th Division, ordered the 80th Infantry Regiment to hold the Wareo area to protect the withdrawal of the 79th Infantry Regiment and other units. The 2nd Battalion, 238th Infantry Regiment was to act as a rearguard on the coast.Lieutenant General Frank Berryman, the commander of Australian II Corps, now urged Wootten to commence a coastal advance to cut the Japanese supply lines and force Adachi to retreat from the Huon Peninsula if he were not already doing so. Wootten took a more cautious approach. The Battle of Wareo proved that the Japanese intended to defend the area. After a fierce fight, Wootten managed to drive the Japanese from the high ground around Sattelberg and Gusika. In early December, Adachi ordered all his troops to withdraw to Sio. Wareo was captured by the Australians on 8 December and the last Japanese rearguards left the area on 15 December. Meanwhile, Berryman's coastal advance had commenced on 5 December.
Shigeru Katagiri was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army, commanding Japanese ground forces on New Guinea during the closing months of the war.
The 20th Division was an infantry division in the Imperial Japanese Army. Its tsūshōgō code name was the Morning Division. The 20th Division and the 19th Division were both raised as a garrison force for Korea. After Japan's victory in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, and subsequent occupation, and then annexation of Korea in 1910, the need was felt for a dedicated garrison force, raised from people with local knowledge. The 20th Division was stationed in central Korea, in what is now Yongsan District, Seoul. The division received its colors on 24 December 1915; however, the division was not considered combat-ready until 1918, and divisional headquarters were co-located with the division only from the 1 April 1919. The delay was due to limited funding available for the division to build its facilities in Korea and the need to recruit and train personnel from mainland Japan. The first commander of the 19th Division was Lieutenant General Tachibana Koichirō.
The 80th Infantry Regiment was an infantry regiment in the Imperial Japanese Army. The regiment was attached to the 40th Infantry Brigade of the 20th Division. The regiment participated during the Second Sino-Japanese War and during the later stages of World War II, the regiment was in New Guinea, as part of the Japanese Eighteenth Army.
Early in October 1943, a special staff was established at II Corps Headquarters to study the Japanese supply system. It did not include an officer with experience in maintaining a large force over a native carrier line, and therefore took time to realise that the Japanese force could not be maintained over an inland track, as was first assumed. Operations soon confirmed that the Japanese were dependent on a coastal supply line. During the Battle of Sattelberg, the Allies set out to cut this supply line.A three-pronged approach was taken:
By December, the pitiful condition of Japanese prisoners confirmed for the Australians that "the Japanese logistic system was in the final stages of breakdown".Between 9 and 13 December, PT boats sank 23 barges, most of them south of Sio. On 7 January, the PT boats also attacked a submarine. No less than twelve barges were destroyed on the night of 8 January, one of which was loaded with ammunition and another with around 70 troops. On 9 January, PT boats attacked a group of six barges, which attempted to fight back. One barge was seen to sink. Another patrol engaged eight barges and destroyed two. A third patrol found six barges on a beach and destroyed them. Then on 10 January, three PT boats sank three troop-carrying barges, taking one Japanese prisoner. The same night, two barges were also sunk north of Sio Island. When General Berryman saw Vice Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid, the commander of the Allied Naval Forces, on 14 December, he made a point of congratulating him on the work his PT boats were doing.
Lieutenant General Tsutomu Yoshihara, Chief of Staff of the Japanese Eighteenth Army recalled:
At this time the air at 20th Division H.Q. was one of fatigue. The troops, short of food and ammunition, were searching for vegetables left in the native gardens around them and were so hungry they were eating banana and pawpaw roots. Since these abandoned gardens were right in the front line or inside the enemy's positions, the troops penetrated the enemy positions to obtain vegetables. And they fought exposed to the enemy shells, committing their bodies to trenches in which the rain of days after days had accumulated.
So the fact that 20th Division was not able to fulfil the idea of its activities were not 20th Division's fault, but ours. With this poverty of supply it made no difference how brave they were; it was a case of "An army marches on its stomach".
Hereupon, as an emergency measure, the Army began to use auxiliary fishing boats from Hansa for transport round the coast of New Guinea; from Hansa, via Karka, Bagubagu, Long [Island...] the transport began and so a direct supply line to Sio was established.
This daring transport was conspicuously successful and brought great rejoicing to the officers and men of 20th Division. It was amazing the courageous deeds these fishing fleets did in the skilful hands of the shipping engineers. With no training, no equipment the captains and crews of these fishing boats braved the front line of the fighting and all the dangerous places, saying, "We are immortal. Bring on your arrows or your guns." When attacked by enemy aircraft, they bravely engaged them and miraculously shot them down. However, this secret transport did not long remain hidden from enemy eyes. With the passage of time they were spotted, and their bases were demolished by bombing and the transport unfortunately ceased.
The main Australian advance was by infantry-tank-engineer teams moving along the coastal tracks. 4,000 feet (1,200 m). Since the Japanese intent was to delay rather than fight to the death, a threat to their escape route usually prompted a withdrawal. When this did not occur, the position was reduced by a combination of manoeuvre and tank, mortar, and artillery fire. During the early part of the advance, 4,700 rounds were fired in one day; but during the entire 5th Division advance from Sio to Saidor, only 30 rounds were fired. The advance was made in a series of bounds, the objective of which was usually to secure sheltered beachheads.Japanese positions were generally sited at creek crossings in the jungle. The advancing infantry kept strictly within range of the supporting artillery, except for short periods during the latter stages of the operation when Japanese opposition was negligible and the difficulty of moving the artillery forward quickly was too great. A secondary outflanking movement was made inland, over the higher ground, which was usually coral cliffs covered by kunai grass and rising as high as
Allied supply was entirely by sea. Amphibian scouts from the US 532nd Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment (EBSR) of the US 2nd Engineer Special Brigade, wearing Australian uniforms,advanced with the infantry and reconnoitred beaches from the landward side as they were secured. If a beach looked suitable, a second reconnaissance was made from the sea. Once a beach was selected, a shore party was brought in by landing craft to set up an administrative area. Engineers improved the coastal track to enable supplies to units moving along it to be brought up by jeeps but supplies for units moving inland over the high ground had to be brought by native carriers. Artillery guns were brought forward over the tracks or else were moved by Landing Craft Mechanised (LCMs) of the 532nd EBSR. Tanks normally moved along the tracks but used LCMs to bypass obstacles. As the advance continued, new beachheads were opened up while rearward ones were closed. The advance was halted on occasion to allow for the guns to be brought forward or sufficient supplies to be accumulated at the forward beachhead.
The major problem was the weather. The monsoon caused rough seas that precluded the use of the small Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel (LCVPs) and restricted the operations of the larger LCMs. Because of the extremely rough seas—the most difficult that the 532nd EBSR had ever encountered—most supply missions were by night when tidal conditions were most favourable.Wootten insisted that at least seven days' supplies be available in forward areas in case the weather prevented the LCMs from running. II Corps made available two trawlers, manned by the 1st Water Transport Group, to deliver rations. The Australian Army also moved supplies by DUKWs.
Wootten designated Brigadier C. R. V. Edgar's 4th Infantry Brigade, a Militia formation, for the initial phase of the coastal advance, reserving his veteran Australian Imperial Force brigades for the Battle of Wareo. The brigade consisted of the 22nd and 29th/46th Infantry Battalions from Victoria and the 37th/52nd Infantry Battalion from Tasmania.Each battalion was allotted a team of advisors from the 9th Division. Under Edgar's command was C Squadron, 1st Tank Battalion, with seven Matilda tanks, 9th Platoon, C Company, Papuan Infantry Battalion, and detachments from the 532nd EBSR, Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit (ANGAU), Australian Army Service Corps (AASC) and Australian Army Medical Corps (AAMC). In support were the sappers of the 2/7th Field Company and the 24 25-pounders of the 2/6th Field Regiment. In case Edgar got into trouble, the 20th Infantry Brigade was in reserve, on six hours notice.
To support the advance, a beach maintenance area was prepared at a beach at the mouth of the Kalueng River, which involved removing underwater and landward obstacles. So that the tanks and jeeps could immediately support the advance, a bridge was required over the Kalueng River. A preliminary operation by the 22nd Infantry Battalion on 3 December 1943 secured a crossing area and a log bridge was constructed.The operation jumped off on 5 December, with the 29th/46th Infantry Battalion passing through the bridgehead established by the 22nd. It soon came under sporadic enemy fire, and a tank was disabled by a land mine. In the face of mounting opposition, the advance was halted near the lagoon. It resumed the next day, and the Japanese withdrew after an artillery bombardment, their orders being "while avoiding any decisive engagement" to "carry out successful resistance to try to delay the enemy advance". This became the pattern, with the Japanese preferring to withdraw rather than suffer heavy casualties. On 10 December, Edgar brought all three of his battalions into the line and by 14 December they were closing in on Lakona, a key position on the 20th Division's retreat route.
The tanks had difficulty keeping up with the advance. One obstacle was mines. On the first day, the 2/7th Field Company lifted fourteen mines but a tractor broke a track running over a mine. On 7 December, two more tanks were damaged by mines, one beyond repair. The sappers then cut a new track which they corduroyed. 4th Infantry Brigade reported 65 killed and 136 wounded. Japanese casualties were 420 killed and 136 found dead, victims of disease, malnutrition, and suicide. Only six Japanese prisoners were taken.To support the attack on Lakona, the tanks had to cross a creek with steep coral banks, swollen by a torrential downpour. While efforts were made to bring up a compressor, tanks fired into banks and holes were packed with explosives and detonated. On the evening of 16 December, the infantry were joined by five Matilda tanks and overran the Japanese positions. They counted 47 Japanese dead; and killed another 17 in mopping-up operations the next day. On 20 December, aided by four Matilda tanks and 750 rounds from the 25-pounders, the 4th Infantry Brigade occupied the Fortification Point area. Between 5 and 20 December, the
On 21 December 1943, the 20th Infantry Brigade passed through the 4th Infantry Brigade and initiated the second stage of the pursuit. Generals Blamey, Berryman and Wootten visited the acting brigade commander, Lieutenant Colonel N. W. Simpson, and emphasised that the brigade was to minimise casualties where possible by employing artillery and tanks. That afternoon, the lead company of the 2/13th Infantry Battalion reached Hubika.The battalion diarist recorded:
Hubika Creek was an indescribable scene. Naked enemy dead everywhere. Evidently used as a dressing station. Forty dead in one small cave. None had been buried. The area was foul and nauseating.
A halt was called for Christmas while supplies were brought up. Units had a rest day. Most dined on turkey, ham, roast potatoes and Christmas pudding, and Christmas services were held. General Blamey insisted that Christmas fare be available to all units, and extraordinary efforts were made to carry out his directive. In one instance, a Piper Cub of No. 4 Squadron RAAF dropped Christmas fare to a Papuan Company on a long-range patrol.The advance resumed on 27 December, preceded by air strikes by 18 B-25 Mitchell and 12 Boston bombers. The 2/15th Infantry Battalion and tanks of A Squadron, 1st Tank Battalion took the lead on 31 December; they reached Sialum on 2 January 1944. This had a sheltered beach which served as a maintenance area. That day, the American landing at Saidor placed a large force across the Japanese escape route.
Before moving over the mountains, the 20th Division headquarters elected to destroy its cryptographic materials rather than carry them. As the wet weather made burning them page by page a slow and difficult process, and a fire might attract the attention of the Allied Air Forces, someone decided to simply bury them in a steel trunk in a stream bed. An Australian sapper checking the stream bed for booby traps with a metal detector discovered it, and it was dug up in the belief that it was a mine. An intelligence officer recognised the contents as code books and soon it was on its way to the Central Bureau in Brisbane. There, the pages were carefully dried out and photographed. On 4 February 1944, Central Bureau codebreakers decrypted a thirteen-part message that laid out the decisions reached at a conference of high-ranking Japanese officers. Copies of the material were quickly sent to Arlington Hall. In January 1944, Arlington Hall had decrypted 1,846 Japanese army messages. In March 1944, with the Sio codebooks in hand, it decrypted 36,000 messages.
On 11 January a platoon of the 2/17th Infantry Battalion replaced a rope ladder, and after climbing it and two wooden ladders reached an area atop a cliff which had once been a Japanese headquarters. It would have been a formidable position if defended, but it was not. The main body of the battalion followed the next day. The Goaling River was crossed in small boats left behind by the Japanese on 13 January and it entered Nambariwa, where one prisoner was taken, six Japanese were shot, and nine found dead. On 15 January, Sio was taken. The Sio-Nambariwa area was found to have been the principal Japanese supply area, and a large number of fuel, supply, and stores dumps were found.During the advance from Fortification Point to Sio, 303 Japanese had been killed or found dead, and 22 captured. The 20th Infantry Brigade had lost 3 killed and 13 wounded, but 958 had been evacuated sick, mostly with malaria, and an epidemic of dengue had also taken its toll. Large quantities of Japanese equipment had been captured, including six 75 mm guns, three 37 mm guns and three 20 mm guns.
At 1800 on 20 January 1944, the headquarters of Major General A. H. Ramsay's 5th Division, which had come up from Lae, replaced that of the 9th Division. At the same time the 8th Infantry Brigade replaced the 20th.The 8th Infantry Brigade, which had spent much of the war on garrison duty in Western Australia, began departing Cairns on 10 January. The original intention had been for it to go to Lae to relieve the 29th Infantry Brigade, which had fought in the Salamaua-Lae campaign, but in December it was decided to ship it directly to Finschhafen. The brigade contained three infantry battalions, the 4th, 30th and 35th, all from New South Wales. It also still had the support of the 2/12th Field Regiment, 532nd EBSR, and A Company, Papuan Infantry Battalion. The brigade suffered its first casualties on the night of 21/22 January in a friendly fire incident, which was a common occurrence with units inexperienced in jungle warfare. Two Australians were killed and two wounded by their own comrades.
On 22 January a native reported seeing seven Japanese in the hills south-west of Sio and a patrol was sent out under Corporal Bengari to investigate. On arriving in the vicinity on 24 January, a local reported that another 22 Japanese had arrived. The next morning, Bengari and his five companions ambushed the Japanese and killed them all before they could fire a shot.Wirraway and Boomerang aircraft of No. 4 Squadron RAAF scouted ahead of the advance. Its aerial reconnaissance work let the Australians and Papuans know where opposition could be expected, thereby speeding up the advance. The pilots noted Japanese parachutes, signs that the Japanese were receiving supplies by air. On 4 February, the Australians were also forced onto air supply, as swollen rivers washed out a number of bridges.
Each day the Papuans killed 12 to 15 Japanese,but not until 8 February was the Japanese rearguard encountered at Weber Point and a formal attack made. Five Japanese were killed. In all, 53 Japanese were killed and four captured that day. Two Australians were wounded. The next day another 61 Japanese were killed and 9 captured, this time without any Australian casualties. On 10 February, the 30th Infantry Battalion encountered two American soldiers at Yagomai, thereby linking up with the American force at Saidor.
The 8th Infantry Brigade now began to mop up the area. On 18 February, the 35th Infantry Battalion attacked a Japanese force near Gabutamon, killing 40. Finding a force of about 100 Japanese at nearby Tapen, they attacked, killing another 52 Japanese for the loss of one man wounded, while the Papuans on their flanks killed another 51, of whom 43 were accounted for by Corporal Bengari and two other Papuans. The next day, the Papuans found and killed another 39 Japanese in the vicinity. At Tapen, the Australians and Papuans also found evidence that the Japanese had resorted to cannibalism.In the period of 20 January – 1 March 1944, 734 Japanese were killed, 1,775 found dead and 48 were captured. Australian casualties came to four killed and six wounded.
Both sides managed to accomplish their objectives; the Japanese withdrew, while the Australians exacted a terrible toll. The balance of losses was overwhelmingly against the Japanese, both in terms of men and equipment. It seems that only about 4,300 of the 7,000 troops under the command of the Japanese 20th Division who had originally been forward of Sio survived the withdrawal, and many of them were rendered ineffective through wounds, sickness, malnutrition and exhaustion.The opportunity to destroy the Japanese 51st Division was not seized. These troops lived to fight the Americans at the Battle of Driniumor River later in the year, and the Australians in the Aitape–Wewak campaign in 1945. On the other hand, the new base at Finschhafen was no longer threatened by the Japanese and became an important staging point for the Western New Guinea campaign. The capture of the Japanese ciphers at Sio allowed General MacArthur to carry out Operations Reckless and Persecution with a plan based upon sound intelligence rather than just his own intuition.
The 2/7th Battalion was an infantry battalion of the Australian Army raised for service during World War II. Formed as part of the 6th Division shortly after the outbreak of the war as part of the all-volunteer Second Australian Imperial Force, the 2/7th Battalion's initial personnel were recruited primarily from the state of Victoria, although later reinforcements were drawn from most other Australian states. Basic training was completed in Australia, after which the battalion embarked for the Middle East as part of the first batch of Australian troops to deploy overseas. Further training was undertaken in Palestine before the battalion went into action against the Italians in January 1941. After participating in the successful capture of Bardia and Tobruk, it was committed to the disastrous Battles of Greece and Crete, where the battalion was essentially destroyed after the majority of its personnel were captured.
The Markham and Ramu Valley – Finisterre Range campaign, was a series of actions in the New Guinea campaign of World War II. The campaign began with an Allied offensive in the Ramu Valley, from 19 September 1943, and concluded when Allied troops entered Madang on 24 April 1944. During the campaign, Australian forces – supported by Australian and US aircraft – advanced through the Markham and Ramu Valleys during which there were minor clashes with Japanese forces, which withdrew towards their main defensive line in the Finisterre Range. The central geographical and strategic feature of the campaign was the imposing Shaggy Ridge, running north-south in the Finisterres; this was the scene of a climactic battle during which the Australians assaulted the Japanese positions in December 1943 and January 1944. Following the fighting around Shaggy Ridge, the Japanese withdrew towards the northern coast of New Guinea, where they were pursued by Australian and US forces advancing through the Finisterres and along the coast from Saidor. Following the capture of Madang, the Japanese eventually withdrew to Wewak where further fighting took place in 1944 and 1945.
The Huon Peninsula campaign was a series of battles fought in north-eastern Papua New Guinea in 1943–1944 during the Second World War. The campaign formed the initial part of an offensive that the Allies launched in the Pacific in late 1943 and resulted in the Japanese being pushed north from Lae to Sio on the northern coast of New Guinea over the course of a four-month period. For the Australians, a significant advantage was gained through the technological edge that Allied industry had achieved over the Japanese by this phase of the war, while the Japanese were hampered by a lack of supplies and reinforcements due to Allied interdiction efforts at sea and in the air.
Lieutenant General Sir Frank Horton Berryman, was an Australian Army officer who served as a general during the Second World War. The son of an engine driver, he entered Duntroon in 1913. His class graduated early after the First World War broke out, and he served on the Western Front with the field artillery. After the war, he spent nearly twenty years as a major.
New Guinea Force was a military command unit for Australian and native troops from the Territories of Papua and New Guinea serving in the New Guinea campaign during World War II. Formed in April 1942, when the Australian First Army was formed from the Australian I Corps after it returned from the Middle East, it was responsible for planning and directing all operations within the territory up until October 1944. General Headquarters Southwest Pacific Area Operational Instruction No.7 of 25 May 1942, issued by Commander-Allied-Forces, General Douglas MacArthur, placed all Australian and US Army, Air Force and Navy Forces in the Port Moresby Area under the control of New Guinea Force. Over the course of its existence, New Guinea Force was commanded by some of the Australian Army's most notable commanders, including Sydney Rowell, Sir Edmund Herring and Sir Leslie Morshead.
The 18th Brigade was an infantry brigade of the Australian Army. The brigade briefly existed as a Militia formation prior to the First World War, but this was short lived. During the Second World War, the brigade was raised on 13 October 1939 and was one of the first three infantry brigades of the Second Australian Imperial Force to be formed. Initially commanded by Brigadier Leslie Morshead, it served in the United Kingdom in 1940–1941, where it helped bolster the British garrison in anticipation of a possible German invasion following the Fall of France. In early 1941, the brigade was transferred to the Middle East where it later took part in fighting against the Italians in Libya and then helped to defend the besieged port of Tobruk before fighting against the Vichy French in the Syria–Lebanon campaign. The 18th Brigade was withdrawn to Australia in early 1942, and it later took part in the fighting against the Japanese in Pacific fighting several campaigns in New Guinea between late 1942 and early 1944. Its final involvement of the war came in mid-1945 when it took part in re-taking Balikpapan. Following the end of hostilities, the 18th Brigade was disbanded on 3 January 1946.
The Papuan Infantry Battalion (PIB) was a unit of the Australian Army raised in the Territory of Papua for service during the Second World War. Formed in early 1940 in Port Moresby to help defend the territory in the event of a Japanese invasion, its soldiers were primarily Papuan natives led by Australian officers and non-commissioned officers. Following the outbreak of the Pacific War, the PIB served in many of the Allied campaigns in New Guinea; however, due to the nature of its role its sub-units mainly operated separately, attached to larger Australian and US Army units and formations. Slow in forming, the first members of the PIB were not officially posted in until March 1941. By 1942 it consisted of only three companies, all of which were under-strength and poorly equipped. It was subsequently employed on scouting, reconnaissance and surveillance patrols against the Japanese, where the natural bushcraft of its native soldiers could be used to their advantage. The PIB was sent forward in June 1942 to patrol the northern coast of Papua and was dispersed over a wide area. These small parties were the first to make contact with the Imperial Japanese forces upon their landing in Papua, before participating in the Kokoda Track campaign. As part of Maroubra Force, the PIB fought alongside the Australian 39th Battalion at Kokoda, Deniki, and Isurava as the Japanese forced them back along the Kokoda track, but was withdrawn before the campaign finally turned in favour of the Australians.
The 24th Brigade was a brigade-sized infantry unit of the Australian Army. Formed on 1 July 1940 as part of the Second Australian Imperial Force, the unit was raised for service during World War II. Originally formed as part of the 8th Australian Division the brigade was subsequently transferred to the newly created 9th Australian Division in December. The brigade served during the Western Desert Campaign, forming part of the Allied garrison during the Siege of Tobruk. Later, the brigade was withdrawn to Syria for occupation duties, but then later took part in the First and Second Battles of El Alamein. In early 1943, the brigade was returned to Australia to fight against the Japanese in the Pacific. In 1943–1944, the brigade fought in New Guinea, taking part in the landing at Lae and the Huon Peninsula campaign. Its final campaign came late in the war, when it took part in the Labuan landings and the Battle of North Borneo in mid-1945. After the war, the brigade was disbanded in early 1946.
The Battle of Wide Bay–Open Bay was a battle during the New Britain campaign of the Second World War. Following the arrival of the Australians on New Britain in late 1944, replacing the US garrison on the island, they began a limited offensive against the Japanese forces on the island. Pushing east from the positions previously captured by the US troops earlier in the year, after landing at Jacquinot Bay on the southern coast in November, the Australians began advancing across the island towards the Gazelle Peninsula, where they sought to isolate the numerically superior Japanese garrison. This advance was effected along two axes: Cape Hoskins to Open Bay on the northern coast, and Jacquinot Bay to Wide Bay on the southern. Once the Australians had secured a line across the island between Wide Bay and Open Bay in March and April 1945, the fighting on New Britain died down as the Australians sought to contain the larger Japanese garrison while limiting their own casualties. This situation lasted until the end of the war in August 1945.
The 20th Brigade was a brigade-sized infantry unit of the Australian Army. First raised in 1912 as a Militia formation to provide training under the compulsory training scheme, the brigade was later re-raised on 7 May 1940 as part of the all volunteer Second Australian Imperial Force for service during the World War II. The brigade was initially assigned to the 7th Division, but was later transferred to the 9th Division in early 1941. They subsequently took part in the Siege of Tobruk that year, and then the First and Second Battles of El Alamein in 1942. In early 1943, the brigade was returned to Australia to join the fighting against the Japanese in the Pacific. In late 1943, the brigade took part in the capture of Lae and then the Huon Peninsula campaign. Withdrawn to Australia in early 1944, its final campaign came during the Battle of North Borneo in the final months of the war. It was disbanded in February 1946.
The 29th/46th Battalion was an infantry battalion of the Australian Army. It was formed in August 1942 by the amalgamation of two previously existing Militia battalions, the 29th and 46th, which were merged following a decision by the Australian government to release manpower from the military back into industry to meet the nation's increased production requirements. Initially the 29th/46th, serving as part of the 4th Brigade, undertook garrison duties in Australia, however, in 1943 the battalion was deployed to New Guinea where it garrisoned Milne Bay before subsequently taking part in the Huon Peninsula campaign in support of the 9th Division. In late 1944, after being deployed for over a year and a half, the battalion returned to Australia for a brief period of leave and reorganisation. In early 1945, however, they were again deployed overseas, this time to the island of New Britain where they undertook a campaign to contain the large Japanese garrison. Following the end of the war the battalion was disbanded in June 1946.
The Landing at Scarlet Beach took place in New Guinea during the Huon Peninsula campaign of the Second World War, involving forces from Australia, the United States and Japan. Allied forces landed at Scarlet Beach, north of Siki Cove and south of the Song River, to the east of Katika and about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) north of Finschhafen. The capture of Finschhafen allowed the construction of air base and naval facilities to assist Allied air and naval forces to conduct operations against Japanese bases in New Guinea and New Britain.
The Battle of Finschhafen was part of the Huon Peninsula campaign during World War II and was fought between Australian and Japanese forces. The fighting took place between 22 September and 24 October 1943 following the landing at Scarlet Beach, which was followed by a two-pronged advance on Finschhafen as the Australian 20th Infantry Brigade advanced on the town from the north, while the 22nd Infantry Battalion drove from the south, having advanced from the landing beaches east of Lae. After the capture of Finschhafen, the Japanese forces in the area withdrew towards Sattelberg where they sought to hold the Australians before launching a counteroffensive, which subsequently threatened the landing beach. This attack was repelled by American and Australian forces, with heavy casualties being inflicted on the Japanese. In the aftermath, the Australians went on the offensive, capturing Sattelberg, and then advancing towards the Wareo plateau.
The Battle of Wareo was fought by Australian and Japanese forces in New Guinea during the Huon Peninsula campaign of World War II in the later part of 1943. Coming after the capture of Sattelberg by the Allies, the battle took place amidst the Australian advance north towards Sio. The Australians committed elements from four infantry brigades from the Australian 9th Division with supporting elements including artillery, engineers and tank support, while the Japanese force consisted primarily of two depleted infantry regiments from the 20th Division, with limited artillery support.
The Battle of Madang, fought between early February and late April 1944, was the break-out and pursuit phase of the Markham and Ramu Valley – Finisterre Range and Huon Peninsula campaigns, which were part of the wider New Guinea campaign of World War II. After overcoming the Japanese defences around Shaggy Ridge, the Australian forces descended the steep slopes of the Finisterre Range and pursued the withdrawing Japanese towards Bogadjim and then Madang on the north coast of New Guinea. There they linked up with US and Australian forces that had advanced along the coast from the Huon Peninsula, while the remnants of three Japanese divisions withdrew towards Wewak, where further fighting would take place throughout late 1944 and into 1945.
The Landing on Long Island in the Territory of New Guinea was part of the Huon Peninsula campaign, a series of operations that made up Operation Cartwheel, General Douglas MacArthur's campaign to encircle the major Japanese base at Rabaul. Located at the northern end of the Vitiaz Strait, Long Island was an important staging point for Japanese barges moving between Rabaul and Wewak until 26 December 1943, when a force of 220 Australian and American soldiers landed on the island. It was not occupied by the Japanese at the time, and there was no fighting. At the time, it represented the furthest Allied advance into Japanese-held territory. It was developed into a radar station.