Papua New Guinea - Milne Bay (World War 2, 25 August 1942 to 31 August 1942)

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About This Campaign

"Australian troops had, at Milne Bay, inflicted on the Japanese, their first undoubted defeat on land."

"Some of us may forget that of all the Allies, it was the Australians who first broke the spell of Japanese invincibility."

Field Marshal Sir William Slim

A strategically valuable harbour on the south-eastern end of Papua, Milne Bay saw the first terrestrial defeat of the Japanese. As a result, it became an Allied base in 1942, hosting three airstrips in addition to a sheltered harbour. On 25 August 1942, when the Japanese landed to take Milne Bay on the way to Port Moresby, the Bay also boasted two Australian infantry brigades as part of an Allied contingent of 9,000, along with two RAAF squadrons with bomber capability.

Japanese intelligence had seriously underestimated Allied strength in the region and, while they experienced initial success, moving through the 61st and the 2/10th Battalions, by the end of the month they suffered increasing losses. Between Allied artillery and bomber support, from 31 August 1942, the Japanese were forced into retreat, pursued by the 2/12th and later the 2/9th Australian infantry battalions.

From 4 to 7 September, less than half of the original Japanese landing force were evacuated. 167 Australians and 14 Americans had died during the Battle of Milne Bay.

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Showing 7 people of interest from campaign

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FRENCH, John Alexander

Service number QX1071
2nd/9th Infantry Battalion
2nd AIF WW 2
Born 15 Jul 1914

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RAFFERTY, Rupert Anstice

Service number TX2016
2nd/12th Infantry Battalion
2nd AIF WW 2
Born 2 Jan 1915

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HELGESON, Andrew Julius

Service number QX6093
2nd/2nd Tank Attack Regiment
2nd AIF WW 2
Born 4 Nov 1915

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BUSHELL, Robert Montgomery Ferguson

Service number S43973
16th Small Ship Company
2nd AIF WW 2
Born 25 Aug 1914

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CALDWELL, Murray Ross

Service number SX24011
13th Field Regiment
Citizen Military Forces (CMF) / Militia - WW2
Born 22 Feb 1918

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PAGLE, Edward

Service number QX39243
1 Advanced Ammunition Depot
2nd AIF WW 2
Born 9 Nov 1911

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KNOTT, Horace Vivian

Service number SX3113
2nd/27th Infantry Battalion
2nd AIF WW 2
Born 1 Nov 1919