Giropa Point

On New Year's Day 1943, Giropa Point was the site of the culminating attack of the battle for Buna. In the preceding fortnight a series hard fought actions by troops of the 18th Australian Brigade and the United States 128th Infantry Regiment had cleared the Japanese from the two airstrips east of Buna leaving their remaining bastion a series of heavily fortified and well-sited positions in the coconut plantation around Giropa Point. These attacks had suffered from haste, and a lack of fire support, so care was taken ensure the capture of Giropa Point was properly planned.

The attack, made by the 2/12th Battalion, began at 8am following a 10-minute artillery barrage. Two companies, supported by tanks from the 2/4th Armoured Regiment, were employed to directly attack the Japanese bunkers, and each was supported by another company to deal with any smaller positions left behind by the advance. Each attacking section carried an explosive charge to throw into the bunkers and machine guns were used to rake the tops of the coconut palms to kill the snipers perched there.

The left of the attack proceeded steadily although the right ran into much heavier opposition requiring the battalion's reserve, drawn from its headquarters company, to be committed in an outflanking move. Nevertheless, by nightfall only isolated pockets of Japanese resistance remained. The battle was resumed at dawn the next day and by mid-morning the last post had been destroyed, although it took the 2/12th much of the afternoon to hunt down the last of the Japanese most of whom resisted until the last; only eight prisoners were taken on the first day of the battle, and only one on the second. The intensity of the fighting can be gauged by the 2/12th's casualties. It suffered 63 men killed and another 166 wounded.