Volume VI – The New Guinea Offensives (1st edition, 1961)

Author: Dexter, David Saint Alban

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This volume relates how the Australian Army, supported by Allied naval and air forces, and with the help of some American regiments, drove the Japanese out of most of the mainland of Australian New Guinea in 1943 and early 1944. It also describes the concurrent operations of the American Army and amphibious forces in the Pacific.

When the history opens in April 1943 the only infantry in contact with the Japanese in the Pacific area is the incomplete 3rd Australian Division (mainly the 17th Brigade). There appears to be a jungle stalemate in the tangle of mountains overlooking the Japanese base at Salamaua. But the Allies are preparing and in September 1943 the offensive opens in which the Australian Army drives the Japanese from Lae and Salamaua, and later from the Huon Peninsula and the Ramu Valley. Finally the defeated and starving XVIII Japanese Army is in full retreat across the Sepik River towards Wewak. In the New Guinea operations described in this volume about 35,000 Japanese perished; the Australians who were killed in action or died of illness numbered fewer than 1,300.

Throughout the campaigns four Australian divisions were employed. By mid–1944 Australia’s military strength was, for the time being, almost spent, having borne the main burden of the fighting on land in the South–West Pacific from the outset. Early in 1944 the Sixth American Army had begum to take over the main tasks and by September, in successive amphibious strides, had reached as far as Morotai.