Memorial Ave, LAE, Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea.
Lae is a town and port at the mouth of the Markham River on the Huon Gulf.
LAE WAR CEMETERY & LAE MEMORIAL are located adjacent to the Botanical Gardens in the centre of Lae.
There is a RAAF DC3 Aircraft mounted in the LAE Botanic Gardens (shown on map).
In the early months of 1942, Japan enjoyed a crushing superiority in the air, and it was Lae and its neighbouring airfields that were the objects of the first Japanese attack on New Guinea.
Lae and Salamaua were bombed on 21 January 1942 by 100 planes, but the land forces did not enter the territory until 7 March, when 3,000 Japanese landed at Lae.
There were landings too at Salamaua, followed on 21 July by further landings at Buna and Gona on the east coast in preparation for a drive through the Owen Stanley Mountains across the Papuan peninsula to Port Moresby. The vital stage of the New Guinea campaign dates from that time. Lae became one of the bases from which the southward drive was launched and maintained until it was stopped at Ioribaiwa Ridge, a point within 60 kilometres of Port Moresby.
The cemetery also contains two VICTORIA CROSS recipients
748 Flight Lieutenant WILLIAM ELLIS NEWTON VC, awarded the VC on 19 October 1943 for his actions on 16–18 March, becoming the only Australian airman to earn the decoration in the South West Pacific theatre of WWII, and the only one while flying with an RAAF squadron;
He was captured by the Japanese along with Flight Sergeant J. Lyon. Both men were sent to Lae where Lyon was later executed. Newton was returned to Salamaua and on 29 March 1943 he too was executed. His death became linked with that of another Australian, Len Siffleet, a special operations sergeant who had also been captured in New Guinea.
NX24405 Lieutenant ALBERT CHOWNE VC, MM of the 2/2 Infantry Battalion, who died on 25th March 1945.
On 25 March 1945, Chowne, seeing the leading platoon in his company's attack on Japanese positions run into trouble, left cover and charged the enemy. He managed to knock out two machine guns before being killed. Chowne's actions enabled the attack to continue and, according to his citation, paved the way for the 6th Division's advance on Wewak. (courtesy of AWM).
LAE WAR CEMETERY
Commenced in 1944 by the Australian Army Graves Service and handed over to the Commission in 1947.
The cemetery contains the graves of men who lost their lives during the New Guinea campaign whose graves were brought here from the temporary military cemeteries in areas where the fighting took place. The Indian casualties were soldiers of the army of undivided India who had been taken prisoner during the fighting in Malaya and Hong Kong.
The great majority of the unidentified were recovered between But airfield and Wewak, where they had died while employed in working parties. Of the two men belonging to the army of the United Kingdom, one was attached to 2/9th Australian Infantry Battalion and the other was a member of the Hong Kong-Singapore Royal Artillery.
The naval casualties were killed, or died of injuries received, on H.M. Ships King George V, Glenearn and Empire Arquebus, and the 4 men of the Merchant Navy were killed when the S.S. Gorgon was bombed and damaged in Milne Bay in April 1943.
The cemetery contains 2,818 Commonwealth burials of WWII, 444 of them unidentified.
Prior to WWI, north-eastern New Guinea and certain adjacent islands were German possessions, and were occupied by Australian Forces on 12 September 1914.
Several cemeteries in New Guinea contain the graves of men who died during that war. There is one such grave in Lae War Cemetery, brought in from a burial ground where permanent maintenance could not be assured.
The memorial stands in the entrance to the cemetery. It has '8' bronze tablets fixed to walls linking the end columns of the building, upon which are engraved the names of members of the Australian Armed Forces.
It commemorates more than 300 officers, men and women of the Australian Army, the Australian Merchant Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force who lost their lives in these operations and have no known grave.
Casualties of the Royal Australian Navy who lost their lives in the south-western Pacific region, and have no known grave but the sea, are commemorated on Plymouth Naval Memorial in England along with many of their comrades of the Royal Navy and of other Commonwealth Naval Forces.
The Japanese attack on New Guinea, a necesary preliminary to the projected invasion of Australia, commenced with heavy air raids on Lae and Salamaua, followed by the landings of troops. At Lae, a town and port at the mouth of the Markham River on the Huon Gulf, 3,000 Japanese landed on the 7th March, 1942.
There were landings, too, at Salamaua. The enemy did not however immediately attempt the conquest of the island, but on the 21st July he landed troops at Buna and Bona on the east coast in preparation for a drive through the Owen Stanley Moutnains across the Papuan peninsula to Port Moresby.
The vital stage of the New Guinea campaign dates from that time. Lae and Salamaua became bases from which this southward drive was launched until it was stopped at Ioribaiwa Ridge, a point within 35 miles of Port Moresby.
When in January 1943, the Japanese renewed their attempts to reach Port Moresby, this time by the Markham and Bulolo valleys, their first objective was Wau, with its airfield. With reinforcements landing on the airfield only 800 yards from the enemy, the attack was held and the Japanese withdrew in February. Thereafter the initiative passed to the Australian troops who steadfastly forced the Japanese back.
On the 11th September, 1943, Salamaua was captured and on the 16th September, after attack by seaborne and airborne forces, Lae was taken.
Sourced and submitted by Julianne T Ryan. 27/3/2015. Lest we forget.