Buna / Gona / Sanananda - New Guinea November 1942 - January 1943 (see video link below)
Buna / Gona/ Sanananda began as a pursuit of beleagured Japanese forces retreating from Kokoda into their northern beachheads. However the arrival of Japanese reinforcements meant it became a knock-down drag-out clearance operation of the well-prepared and protected and heavily defended Japanese defensive positions, by a joint American and Australian force.
With their supply lines over extended, the tide of battle having turned against them, the Japanese retreated as the Australians pushed them back across the ranges, and into their heavily defended beach head areas.
With the war being directed from a headquarters totally remote from the fighting, in Brisbane, by US General Douglas MacArthur and General Sir Thomas Blamey, this campaign ranks with some of those from WW1, as the worst exemplars of military operations conducted in haste, applying frontal assaults on well defended and protected enemy positions in broad daylight over open ground, and expecting a result other than decimation of the attacking forces. It was a scanadalous waste of very experienced soldiers' lives, including many of the men who had been victorious against the Japanese in the Kokoda campaign, and many of whom had previously served in North Africa.
At Buna, after numerous attempts had been thwarted, it was the by now legendary 39th Battalion AMF (a Militia unit) that had held the line on its own during the initial Japanese advance across the Owen Stanleys, that executed a flanking attack right under supporting artillery fire, the intiative of its redoubtable CO Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Honner and showing a lot more imagination and initiative than the higher levels of command, that finally broke the position open and allowed its reduction. Shortly afterrwards in the ulitmate act of ignominy, the 39th Battalion was disbanded.