Mount Tambu

Mount Tambu was the highest point on the track that ran between Salamaua and Mubo in south-eastern New Guinea. Rising to a height of 280 metres above sea level, it had several steep, almost sheer, faces and the summit could only be approached along several razorback ridges. As such, it was a strong natural defensive position and was occupied by the Japanese during the Allied offensive toward Salamaua in mid 1943. A Company of the 2/5th Battalion began the attack on Mount Tambu on 16 July, advancing up a ridge to the south and capturing two knolls upon which Japanese outposts were sited. The Japanese, realising their mistake in letting the Australians gain a foothold on Mount Tambu, counter-attacked relentlessly. Reinforced by D Company, the Australian positions resisted until the Japanese finally broke off contact on 19 July. Patrols in subsequent days found the Japanese to be reinforcing their positions on the main feature and Brigadier Murray Moten, commanding the 2/5th's parent formation, the 17th Brigade, was ordered not to conduct any further attacks until artillery support became available. Another attack was launched by A and D Companies of the 2/5th on 24 July after a short artillery and mortar bombardment. Given inadequate time for reconnaissance, and attacking straight up widely separated razor back ridges, the companies could make little progress. One small group from D Company fought its way through three rings of Japanese bunkers to reach the summit of Mount Tambu, but, unsupported, it was forced to withdraw. On 30 July a company of the 1st Battalion, 162nd United States Infantry Regiment, made a similarly unsuccessful attempt to seize the summit. Ultimately, Mount Tambu was only occupied after Allied operations had captured the main ridgelines to the west and north, thereby encircling the Japanese and forcing them to withdraw on 19 August.