The action at Bita Paka, 11 September 1914

Following a request from the British government, the Australian Naval & Military Expeditionary Force (ANMEF) was formed on 6 August 1914. Its sole purpose was to destroy German wireless stations, operating in the Caroline Islands at Nauru and New Britain, which were communicating with the German East Asian Cruiser squadron operating in Pacific waters. The ANMEF was raised separately from the Australian Imperial Force, and comprised 1,500 militia infantry and 500 naval reservists and ex-sailors. On 11 September 1914 shore parties landed unopposed at Rabaul and nearby Kabakaul, where a patrol of 25 Australian naval reservists pushed inland to the wireless station at Bita Paka. There they were engaged by a composite force of German reservists and Melanesian police. In this action Australia suffered six dead and five wounded, and took possession of the wireless station. It was the first Australian action of the First World War. Those Australians killed at Bita Paka were the first of more than 60,000 killed in the four-year conflict.

 

Further reading:

Michael Kelly, “First to Fight: At the battle of Bita Paka the AN & MEF was the First Australian Combat”, Wartime, no. 67 2014