|Unit||2/8th Australian Infantry Battalion|
Second World War, 1939-1945
Capture of Mount Shiburangu
Mount Shiburangu, approximately 490 metres above sea level, is the highest feature in the Prince Alexander Ranges. In June 1945 the Prince Alexanders were the last significant Japanese bastion in the Aitape-Wewak area. At the time the 17th Brigade was advancing east through the mountains, while the 19th, having advanced along the coast to capture Wewak, was swung around to advance up into from the north. On 10 June the 2/8th Battalion was ordered to capture two features - Hills 1 and 2 - on the approaches to Mount Shiburangu, and then seize the mountain itself.
Hill 1 was captured by an attack launched by A and B Companies, following both aerial and artillery bombardment, on 11 June. A period of patrolling followed and then on 16 June B and A Companies advanced once more following the usual preparatory bombardment. Their objectives, respectively, were Hill 2 and another feature behind it known as the Pocket. The Pocket was captured without opposition but progress against the positions on Hill 2 was slower. Further artillery fire and flamethrowers had to be employed before the infantry could close with the Japanese bunkers and grenade them one by one. The last knoll before the summit was cleared by an attack made by D Company on 22 June and then the 2/8th prepared for their final assault.
Several days of planning and reconnaissance ensued before C Company attacked the summit of Mount Shiburangu at 9am on 27 June. The preparatory bombardment included over 3,000 rounds of artillery but the infantry still met with tough resistance - several of the Japanese positions were equipped with heavy calibre machine-guns salvaged from abandoned aircraft at Wewak. Further artillery fire was called for, and a platoon was dispatched to outflank the main Japanese positions. This movement required it to climb 400 metres up an exposed slope with a gradient of 60 degrees, but it was eventually able to get onto the summit behind the Japanese left flank. This surprise attack enabled the frontal assault to be successfully pressed home; C Company reported Mount Shiburangu secure at 1pm. Fifty bunkers had been destroyed and 44 Japanese dead counted, although it was estimated close to 70 had been killed. The 2/8th had lost three killed and seven wounded.