"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.
For more information, see https://www.awm.gov.au/military-event/E345/ (www.awm.gov.au)