New Guinea campaign
|New Guinea Campaign|
|Part of the Pacific Theater of World War II|
Australian forces attack Japanese positions near Buna
|Empire of Japan|
|Commanders and leaders|
|George Vasey||Heisuke Abe †|
|Casualties and losses|
|42,000 total||127,600 dead|
The New Guinea campaign of the Pacific War lasted from January 1942 until the end of the war in August 1945. During the initial phase in early 1942, the Empire of Japan invaded the Australian-administered territories of the New Guinea Mandate (23 January) and Papua (8 March) and overran western New Guinea (beginning 29/30 March), which was a part of the Netherlands East Indies. During the second phase, lasting from late 1942 until the Japanese surrender, the Allies cleared the Japanese first from Papua, then the Mandate and finally from the Dutch colony.
The struggle for New Guinea began with the capture by the Japanese of the city of Rabaul at the northeastern tip of New Britain Island in January 1942 (the Allies responded with multiple bombing raids, of which the Action off Bougainville was one). Rabaul overlooks Simpson Harbor, a considerable natural anchorage, and was ideal for the construction of airfields. Over the next year, the Japanese built up the area into a major air and naval base.
The Japanese 8th Area Army, under General Hitoshi Imamura at Rabaul, was responsible for both the New Guinea and Solomon Islands campaigns. The Japanese 18th Army, under Lieut. General Hatazō Adachi, was responsible for Japanese operations on mainland New Guinea.
The colonial capital of Port Moresby on the south coast of Papua was the strategic key for the Japanese in this area of operations. Capturing it would both neutralize the Allies' principal forward base and serve as a springboard for the invasion of Australia. For the same reasons, General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander Allied Forces South West Pacific Area was determined to hold it. MacArthur was further determined to conquer all of New Guinea in his progress toward the eventual recapture of the Philippines.
Due north of Port Moresby, on the northeast coast of Papua, are Huon Gulf and the Huon Peninsula. The Japanese entered Lae and Salamaua, two locations on Huon Gulf, unopposed in early March 1942. MacArthur would have liked to deny this area to the Japanese, but he had neither sufficient air nor naval forces to undertake a counterlanding. The Japanese at Rabaul and other bases on New Britain would have easily overwhelmed any such effort (by mid-September, MacArthur's entire naval force under Vice Admiral Arthur S. Carpender consisted entirely of 5 cruisers, 8 destroyers, 20 submarines 7 small craft). The only Allied response was a bombing raid of Lae and Salamaua by aircraft flying over the Owen Stanley Range from the carriers USS Lexington and USS Yorktown, leading the Japanese to reinforce these sites.
Operation Mo was the designation given by the Japanese to their initial plan to take possession of Port Moresby. Their operation plan decreed a five-pronged attack: one task force to establish a seaplane base at Tulagi in the lower Solomons, one to establish a seaplane base in the Louisiade Archipelago off the eastern tip of New Guinea, one of transports to land troops near Port Moresby, one with a light carrier to cover the landing, and one with two fleet carriers to sink the Allied forces sent in response. In the resulting 4–8 May 1942 Battle of the Coral Sea, the Allies suffered higher losses in ships, but achieved a crucial strategic victory by turning the Japanese landing force back, thereby removing the threat to Port Moresby, at least for the time being.
After this failure, the Japanese decided on a longer term, two-pronged assault for their next attempt on Port Moresby. Forward positions would first be established at Milne Bay, located in the forked eastern end of the Papuan peninsula, and at Buna, a village on the northeast coast of Papua about halfway between Huon Gulf and Milne Bay. Simultaneous operations from these two locations, one amphibious and one overland, would converge on the target city.
Buna was easily taken as the Allies had no military presence there (MacArthur wisely chose not to attempt an occupation by paratroopers since any such force would have been easily wiped out by the Japanese). The Japanese occupied the village with an initial force of 1,500 on 21 July and by 22 August had 11,430 men under arms at Buna. Then began the grueling Kokoda Track campaign, a brutal experience for both the Japanese and Australian troops involved. On 17 September, the Japanese had reached the village of Ioribaiwa, just 20 miles from the Allied airdrome at Port Moresby. The Australians held firm and began their counterdrive on 26 September. "...the Japanese retreat down the Kokoda Trail had turned into a rout. Thousands perished from starvation and disease; the commanding general, Horii, was drowned." Thus was the overland threat to Port Moresby permanently removed.
While it was beyond MacArthur's capabilities to deny Buna to the Japanese, the same could not be said of Milne Bay, which was easily accessible by Allied naval forces. In early June, US Army engineers, Australian infantry and an anti-aircraft battery were landed near the Lever Brothers coconut plantation at Gili Gili, and work was begun on an airfield. By 22 August, about 8,500 Australians and 1,300 Americans were on site. The Japanese arrived and the 25 August – 7 September Battle of Milne Bay was underway. Historian Samuel Eliot Morison summed up the results this way:
...the enemy had shot his bolt; he never showed up again in these waters. The Battle for Milne Bay was a small one as World War II engagements went, but very important. Except for the initial assault on Wake Island, this was the first time that a Japanese amphibious operation had been thrown for a loss ... Furthermore, the Milne Bay affair demonstrated once again that an amphibious assault without air protection, and with an assault force inferior to that of the defenders, could not succeed.
The Japanese drive to conquer all of New Guinea had been decisively stopped. MacArthur was now determined to liberate the island as a stepping-stone to the reconquest of the Philippines. MacArthur's rollback began with the 16 November 1942 – 22 January 1943 Battle of Buna-Gona. The experience of the green US 32nd Infantry Division, just out of training camp and utterly unschooled in jungle warfare, was nearly disastrous. Instances were noted of officers completely out of their depth, of men eating meals when they should have been on the firing line, even of cowardice. MacArthur relieved the division commander and on 30 November instructed Lieut. Gen. Robert L. Eichelberger, commander of the US I Corps, to go to the front personally with the charge "to remove all officers who won't fight ... if necessary, put sergeants in charge of battalions ... I want you to take Buna, or not come back alive."
The Australian 7th Division under the command of Maj. Gen. George Alan Vasey, along with the revitalized US 32nd Division, restarted the Allied offensive. Gona fell to the Australians on 9 December 1942, Buna to the 32nd on 2 January 1943, and Sanananda, located between the two larger villages, fell to the Australians on 22 January.
- Battle of Wau (29–31 Jan 1943)
- Battle of the Bismarck Sea (2–4 Mar 1943)
- Operation Cartwheel (30 Jun 1943 – 20 Mar 1944)
- Salamaua-Lae campaign (22 Apr – 16 Sep 1943)
- Bombing of Wewak (17–21 Aug 1943)
- Finisterre Range campaign (1943–1944: Including a series of actions known as the Battle of Shaggy Ridge)
- Huon Peninsula campaign (22 Sep 1943 – 1 Mar 1944)
- Bombing of Rabaul (November 1943)
- Bougainville campaign (1 Nov 1943 – 21 Aug 1945)
- New Britain campaign (15 Dec 1943 – 21 Aug 1945)
- Admiralty Islands campaign (1944)
- Western New Guinea campaign (1944–1945)
- Biography of Lieutenant-General Heisuke Abe
- 1886–1943, Died after suffering from Dracunculiasis.
- New Guinea: The US Army Campaigns of World War II. 8,500 prior to January 1943, 24,000 between January 1943 and April 1944, and 9,500 from April 1944 to the end of the war. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
- 大東亜戦争に於ける地域別兵員数及び戦没者概数 Ministry of Health and Welfare, 1964. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
- Morison 1949, p. 10
- Morison 1950, pp. 31–33
- Morison 1950, p. 31
- Morison 1950, p. 32
- Morison 1950, p. 31
- Morison 1949, pp. 10–11
- Morison 1949, p. 63
- Morison 1950, p. 33
- Morison 1950, p. 43
- Morison 1950, pp. 33–34
- Morison 1950, pp. 36–37
- Morison 1950, p. 39
- Vader, p. 90
- Vader, p. 102
- "Biography of Lieutenant-General Heisuke Abe – (阿部平輔) – (あべ へいすけ) (1886–1943), Japan". Generals.dk. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
- Morison, Samuel Eliot (1949). Coral Sea, Midway and Submarine Actions, vol. 4 of History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Boston: Little, Brown and Co. ISBN 0-316-58304-9.
- Morison, Samuel Eliot (1950). Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, vol. 6 of History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Edison, New Jersey: Castle Books. ISBN 0-7858-1307-1.
- Vader, John (1971). New Guinea: The Tide Is Stemmed. New York: Ballantine Books.
- Anderson, Charles R. Papua. World War II Campaign Brochures. Washington D.C.: United States Army Center of Military History. CMH Pub 72-7.
- Dexter, David (1961). Volume VI – The New Guinea Offensives. Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Canberra: Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 2006-12-16.
- Drea, Edward J. (1998). In the Service of the Emperor: Essays on the Imperial Japanese Army. Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-1708-0.
- Drea, Edward J. Papua. World War II Campaign Brochures. Washington D.C.: United States Army Center of Military History. CMH Pub 72-9.
- Gailey, Harry A. (2004). MacArthur's Victory: The War In New Guinea 1943–1944. New York: Random House. ISBN.
- Hungerford, T.A.G. (1952). The Ridge and the River. Sydney: Angus & Robertson; Republished by Penguin, 1992. ISBN 0-14-300174-4.
- Japanese Research Division (1950). Sumatra Invasion and Southwest Area Naval Mopping-Up Operations, January 1942 – May 1942. Japanese Monographs, No. 79A. General Headquarters Far East Command, Foreign Histories Division.
- Leary, William M. (2004). We Shall Return!: MacArthur's Commanders and the Defeat of Japan, 1942–1945. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-9105-X.
- McCarthy, Dudley (1959). Volume V – South–West Pacific Area – First Year: Kokoda to Wau. Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Canberra: Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 2006-12-16.
- Taafe, Stephen R. (2006). MacArthur's Jungle War: The 1944 New Guinea Campaign. Lawrence, Kansas, U.S.A.: University Press Of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-0870-2.
- Zaloga, Stephen J. (2007). Japanese Tanks 1939–45. Osprey. ISBN 978-1-84603-091-8.
- I.C.B. Dear; M.R.D. Foot, eds. (2001). "New Guinea campaign". The Oxford Companion to World War II. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19860-446-4.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to New Guinea campaign.|
- Nelson, Hank. "Report on Historical Sources on Australia and Japan at war in Papua and New Guinea, 1942–45". Retrieved 2006-12-13.
- "The Campaigns of MacArthur in the Pacific, Volume I". Reports of General MacArthur. United States Army Center of Military History. Retrieved 2006-12-08.
- "Japanese Operations in the Southwest Pacific Area, Volume II – Part I". Reports of General MacArthur. United States Army Center of Military History. Retrieved 2006-12-08.
- Translation of the official record by the Japanese Demobilization Bureaux detailing the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy's participation in the Southwest Pacific area of the Pacific War.
- National Archive Video of Hollandia Bay, New Guinea Invasion
- A film clip ALLIES STUDY POST-WAR SECURITY ETC. (1944) is available for free download at the Internet Archive