Education Activity: Milne Bay

Read the story of Fighter Squadron Doctor - Dr William Deane-Butcher then choose one of the activities.

Classroom activities

Memorial Box

To learn more about the Battle of Milne Bay borrow the Memorial Box, Our war in the Pacific, 1942. This box includes a detailed case study on the battle, genuine Australian and Japanese uniform items, badges, primary documents, photographs and film footage from this critical year. Booking a Memorial Box by contacting your state or territory agent.


  • As Dr Deane-Butcher found, malaria was one of the deadliest enemies at Milne Bay. Malaria is a disease caused through mosquito bites. How would you control the spread of malaria? What "anti-malarial instructions" does this poster order men to follow?

    Design an "anti-malarial" poster with your own slogan and cartoon character. What approach would you use to encourage people to fight malaria?

Tojo and the mosquito
Tojo and the mosquito, Poster [PDF]

  • William Dargie painted RAAF Kittyhawk Squadron at Milne Bay, August-September 1942 in 1969. He was able to capture both the feeling and the physical details of the campaign. The painting can be found in Bradbury Aircraft Hall, beside a Kittyhawk aircraft that was flown during the Battle of Milne Bay.

    ART27628William Dargie, RAAF Kittyhawk Squadron at Milne Bay, August-September 1942
    AWM ART27628

    Use these questions to guide a discussion about the painting and the battle:
    1. Looking at the painting, identify some of the obstacles faced by the pilots at Milne Bay.
    2. Why is it important to keep clear records during war? What do you think the pilot and intelligence officer at the front are talking about?
    3. One of the Kittyhawks in the painting is called Peter's Revenge, named after fighter ace Peter Turnbull. Use the Memorial's photograph and biographical databases to find out more about Turnbull.
    4. Why would the pilot ask a man to sit on the wing of the Kittyhawk while it was being parked?
    5. What would be needed to keep these planes in good condition during the battle?
    6. How does the artist convey the desperate activity and conditions of the battle?


Just for fun …

  • Allied airmen often had trouble keeping track of the elaborate naming system of Japanese aircraft – its little wonder with titles like Aichi Navy Type 99 Carrier Bomber Model 11! To quickly identify Japanese aircraft code names were devised. Soon Japanese bomber and fighter planes were known as Fred, Rita, Peggy and Randy. Inspiration was taken from many sources including the airmen themselves, their girlfriends, children and mothers.

    Japanese Aircraft Code Names activity sheet (PDF, 180 Kb): use the clues to match the codenames with the plane silhouettes. Once you finished, check the answers (PDF, 180 Kb) here.

  • One for older students – read the Roll of Honour talk on the Battle of Milne Bay and then complete the Milne Bay crossword. The answers are in the story.