A group of unidentified Australian soldiers inspecting two disabled Type 95 Ha-Go Japanese light ...

Accession Number P05216.004
Collection type Photograph
Object type Negative
Maker Unknown
Place made New Guinea1: Papua New Guinea, Papua, Milne Bay
Date made August 1942
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


A group of unidentified Australian soldiers inspecting two disabled Type 95 Ha-Go Japanese light tanks, which were found bogged down and abandoned after the fighting around Milne Bay, New Guinea. During late August 1942 the Japanese attempted to capture the Milne Bay area, which was to be used as a staging point for their planned advance and capture of Port Moresby. Between 25 and 29 August 1942, these two Type 95 tanks, operating singly or together, were used to attack the Australian positions around Milne Bay. During the night of 25-26 August a small group of Australians from the 61st Battalion were attacked by one of these tanks with supporting Japanese Infantry. The Australians managed to kill the commander when he stuck his head out of the cupola whilst trying to negotiate his tank across a log bridge. The tank was abandoned and despite Australian attempts, it could not be salvaged. It was later reclaimed by the Japanese. On the night of 27 August, both tanks attacked Australian positions which were defended by elements of the 2/10 Infantry Battalion. The tanks were impervious to the small arms fire, and using their headlights to see and support each other, cruised among the Australian positions, machine gunning and attempting to run over individuals. Later that night the Japanese attacked other Australian positions also defended by the 2/10 Battalion. As the Japanese advanced, SX1603 Corporal (Cpl) J F P O'Brien engaged the tanks with his .55 calibre Boyes anti tank rifle. Before being wounded, Cpl O'Brien managed to put three shots into the vehicle (background right), killing the driver and halting the advance of the tank. The two remaining crew members kept firing into the Australian positions and with the help of supporting Japanese infantry, eventually forced the Australians to withdraw. Corporal O'Brien was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his actions. Another encounter was met by elements of the 25th Battalion who faced the tanks when the retreating 2/10 Battalion passed through their lines. The tanks pressed the advance, forcing the men from 25th Battalion to withdraw as well. Finally, on 29 August, patrolling Australians found both Japanese tanks bogged and abandoned at the side of a road. The 37 mm tank guns and 7.7 mm machine guns were removed by the Australians and their whereabouts or fate remains unknown. The tanks were sent to Australia as war relics and the vehicle (right) is now part of the National Collection held by the Australian War memorial.