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Human face of war
South Seas Force retreat
By mid-September 1942, Japanese forces had pursued the Australian defenders in the Owen Stanley Range to the line of Imita Ridge. Many Japanese troops felt that reaching Port Moresby was within their grasp. However, fresh Australian troops had recently arrived from Port Moresby.

The commander of the 17th Army officially ordered the withdrawal of HORII’s South Seas Force on 23 September owing to unfavourable developments elsewhere in the region. It was planned that a second attempt at occupying Port Moresby would be undertaken after Guadalcanal had been retaken and secured.

The Japanese force faced a bitter and demoralising retreat, compounded by a worsening supply situation and mounting casualties. The Australian pursuit was met with stubborn resistance at a series of well defended positions. The Japanese troops, however, were comprehensively pressed and eventually forced into a general withdrawal to the coast.

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South Seas Force retreat
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