Type 95 Ha Go Light Tank, Milne Bay

Place Oceania: New Guinea, Papua New Guinea, Papua, Milne Bay
Accession Number REL32684
Collection type Technology
Object type Vehicle
Physical description Rubber, Steel
Place made Japan
Date made c 1935-1942
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Japanese Type 95 Ha Go light tank. Produced in Japan between 1935 and 1942. The turret is offset to the port side and there is a prominent front machine gun compartment in the front hull with provision to mount a ball mounted 7.7mm Type 97 machine gun. A second machine gun is fitted in the turret rear. There are two rounded bulges in the centre sides of the superstructure which overhang the tracks and provide a little more room inside the fighting compartment for the crew members. The hull and turret are constructed from rolled steel plates which have been bolted and rivetted over an angle iron frame. Reinforcing backing plates are fitted at the joints. There are a small number of welded plates and fittings. Armour thickness varies from 6-12mm. It has suffered battle damage and the armour has been perforated in several places by a Boys .55inch anti-tank rifle. Some of the armoured side plates are cracked and some of the running gear, such as road wheels, bogies and idler wheel were incomplete when recieved or were damaged. The original Type 94, 37mm tank gun was removed from the tank in the 1940s. It has been replaced by a modern replica.

This particular Type 95 tank had a crew of four (usually reported as three) : commander, gunner, driver, and hull gunner. Radio communications were not usually carried. It was powered by an air cooled, six cylinder, inline diesel engine which developed 110-115 horse power at two thousand RPM. It has a four forward and one reverse speed gearbox, producing a top speed of 28mph and which gave a combat range of about one hundred miles. The tank has been camouflaged in the Japanese three colour scheme of yellow, green and red brown.

Conservation work on this tank has revealed names and service numbers scratched into the original paint on the right side of the main hull, just below the turret. Some are illegible, but the following can be discerned:

N B PEARCE QX24341 NG AIF 9-10-42
PT I BATES 9.10.42 ??LNE BAY
C.M. LLOYD Q28409 61ST MILNE BAY AIF 9-10-42
Q 8062
Q108041 PTE B.C. Schlieff B Coy 61st AUST INF BATT Australia MILNE BAY 42
Herman ??LNE ?AY

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History / Summary

During August 1942 the Japanese attempted to capture the Milne Bay area in New Guinea, which was to be used as a staging point for their planned advance and capture of Port Moresby. Between 25-29 August 1942, two Type 95 tanks, singly or in pairs, were used to attack the Australian positions around Milne Bay. During the night of 25-26 August a small group of Australians from 61 Battalion (AMF) were attacked by one Type 95 tank with infantry support. The Australians managed to kill the commander when he stuck his head out of the cupola whilst negotiating a log bridge.

On the night of 27 August, two Type 95 tanks attacked Australian positions which were defended by elements of 2/10 Infantry Battalion. The tanks were seemingly impervious to Australian small arms fire, and using their headlights to see and support each other, cruised among the positions, machine gunning and attempting to run over individuals. This action caused the Australians to retreat to Homo Creek and later to Gama. Later that night the Japanese attacked other Australian positions defended by 2/10 Battalion. As the Japanese advanced, Corporal JFP O'Brien engaged this tank with his .55 calibre Boys anti- tank rifle.

Corporal O'Brien was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his actions. Another encounter was met by elements of 25 Battalion (AMF) who faced the tanks when the retreating 2/10 Battalion passed through them. The tanks pressed the advance, forcing 25 Battalion to withdraw as well. Finally, on 29 August, patrolling Australians found both Japanese tanks bogged and abandoned. They were sent to Australia for scientific assessment.

The tank's gun was also recovered and brought back to Australia.

The names scratched into the hull have been identified as:

W.P Taylor - not found
QX3642 - Lance Corporal Henry Vernon Boland, 2/12 Battalion, enlisted 3 November 1939, discharged 21 September 1945; a resident of Gordonvale, Queensland.
QX24341 - Private Jesse Spencer Pearce, 2/6 Australian Army Service Corps, enlisted 20 September 1941, discharged 28 May 1943 as medically unfit; a station hand of St Lucia, Brisbane.
QX1385 - Private James McDonald Diamond Rapson, 2/12 Battalion, enlisted 19 November 1939, discharged 15 September 1945, a resident of Toowoomba, Queensland.
Q114013 - Private Douglas Alexandra Harmsworth, 42 Australian Infantry Battalion, enlisted 24 November 1941, discharged 13 June 1946, a resident of Rockhampton, Queensland. NOTE: this does not appear to match the partial name (Poc ?hick) taken from the tank, but matches the service number.
Q28384 - Private John Bates, 61 Australian Infantry Battalion, enlisted 18 January 1940, discharged 17 December 1945, a resident of Wooloowin, Queensland
Q28837 - Private Beresford George Mossop, 61 Australian Infantry Battalion, enlisted 10 September 1940, discharged 4 May 1943, a resident of Wynnum Central, Queensland.
Q28409 - Private Cecil Melrose Lloyd, 61 Australian Infantry Battalion, enlisted 30 August 1940, discharged 17 December 1945, a resident of Clayfield, Queensland.
POSSIBLY QX19298 - Thomas Henry Wilfred Sanderson, 2/33 General Transport Company, enlisted 19 May 1941, discharged 7 January 1946, a resident of Tweed Heads, NSW.
QX8062 - Private Leslie Burke, 17 Australian Advanced Ordnance Depot, enlisted 23 May 1940, discharged 26 May 1945, a resident of Rockhampton, Queensland.
Q108041 - Private Bert Clifton Schlieff, 61 Australian Infantry Battalion, enlisted 17 May 1941, discharged 4 April 1946, a resident of Boonah, Queensland.