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New Guinea Campaign. 1942-1945. Major Campaign of WWII. Before the war, the island of New Guinea was split between: Territory of New Guinea – north-eastern part controlled by Australia Territory of Papua – south-eastern part, an Australian colony Dutch New Guinea – western part

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major campaign of wwii
Major Campaign of WWII
  • Before the war, the island of New Guinea was split between:
  • Territory of New Guinea – north-eastern part controlled by Australia
  • Territory of Papua – south-eastern part, an Australian colony
  • Dutch New Guinea – western part
  • New Guinea was strategically important because it was a major landmass to the immediate north of Australia. Its large land area provided locations for large land, air and naval bases.
  • Fighting between Allied and Japanese forces commenced with the Japanese assault on Rabaul on January 23, 1942.
  • Rabaul became the forward base for the Japanese campaigns in mainland New Guinea.
  • Despite setbacks in the Coral Sea & Midway, the Japanese were determined to resume the offensive against the Allies.
  • 21st July, 1942 – Japanese troops land on the north coast near Buna and Gona.
  • They planned to use the Kokoda Track across the Owen Stanley Ranges to reach Port Moresby.
  • The track wound through thick jungle, over steep ridges and through deep ravines, with thick mud underfoot. By July 29, the Japanese had reached Kokoda, the midpoint of the track.
milne bay
Milne Bay
  • Australian troops were sent to stop the advance. Initially, they were forced to retire.
  • When the Japanese landed at Milne Bay, on the eastern tip of New Guinea in August, the prospect of retaining Port Moresby was slim.
  • However, a determined Allied defence saw Milne Bay recaptured by September.
milne bay key points
Milne Bay – Key Points
  • The climate was hot & humid; the terrain was difficult; torrential rains washed away roads as they were being constructed;
  • Aircraft played an important part in the final battle.
  • The Japanese underestimated Allied power in Milne Bay – only sent 2000 men.
  • Japanese cruisers would move into Milne Bay and bombard the Australian troops on the land.
  • August 31st – decisive battle around one of the airstrips: heavy losses to the Japanese.
  • This coupled with the Japanese suffering from disease and a lack of food and ammunition on the Kokoda Track and facing a stiffened Allied resistance, they really had little choice.
  • Sept 5, 1942 – Japanese troops withdraw from Milne Bay.
milne bay key points1
Milne Bay – Key Points
  • The victory was a huge morale boost for the Allies.
  • First time the Japanese had been turned back. The Japanese threat was halted.
  • Kokoda was retaken on Nov 2, 1942; Gona & Buna by early 1943.
  • 2900 US and 5700 Australian casualties.
  • 1st Wednesday of September – The Battle for Australia day.
strategies used by the allies against japan
Strategies Used by the Allies Against Japan
  • Leap Frogging or Island Hopping: bypass heavily fortified Japanese positions and instead concentrate on small islands that were not well defended, but that were capable of supporting the Allies as they drove back to the main island of Japan.
  • Strengths?

It would allow the United States forces to reach Japan more quickly and not expend the time, manpower, and supplies to capture every Japanese-held island on the way. It would give the Allies the advantage of surprise and keep the Japanese off balance.

leapfrogging or island hopping
Leapfrogging or Island Hopping
  • Strengths?

This strategy was possible in part because the Allies used submarine and air attacks to blockade and isolate Japanese bases, weakening their garrisons and reducing the Japanese ability to resupply and reinforce them. Thus troops on islands which had been bypassed, such as the major base at Rabaul, were useless to the Japanese war effort and left to "wither on the vine."