Remembering the war in New Guinea - How many died?

Remembering the war in New Guinea
How many died? (QnA)
Module name: Unknown theme (All groups perspective)
This page was contributed by Mr Damien Fenton (Australian War Memorial)


Approximately 202,100 Japanese soldiers, sailors and airmen died during the New Guinea campaign.

The largest number of deaths, 127,600, occurred in Papua and New Guinea with a further 44,000 dying on Bougainville and the remaining 30,500 dying on New Britain, New Ireland, and the Admiralty Islands.

Source: Japanese Ministry for Health and Welfare, compiled in 1964; Harry A. Gailey, Bougainville 1943-45, (Lexington, KA: University Press of Kansas, 1991): 211.


Approximately 7,000 Australian soldiers, sailors and airmen died during the New Guinea Campaign.

A total of 5,770 Australian soldiers are known to have died in Papua and New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago and Bougainville. The Royal Australian Navy suffered a total of 1,094 deaths in operations throughout the Pacific and Indian oceans against Japan. Just how many of these lives were lost in direct support of the Allied New Guinea operations as defined by this website is hard to determine. For example, HMAS Canberra was sunk on 9 August 1942 during the Battle of Savo Island with the loss of 84 lives, yet as this action was in direct support of American operations on Guadacanal as opposed to American operations on Bougainville the battle belongs to the Solomon Islands campaign rather than the New Guinea campaign (even though both islands are in the same geographical group). Similarly a total of 3,342 Royal Australian Air Force personnel died in the South West Pacific Theatre during the Second World War and while this includes New Guinea it also includes losses suffered in Indonesia and Australia itse
lf (e.g. in the defence of Darwin). Again there is no specific breakdown of losses solely related to New Guinea. Thus by a process of elimination of confirmed figures from other campaigns or operations it would appear that at least 1,200 Australian airmen and 100 Australian sailors died in the New Guinea campaign.

Sources: AMF Battle Casualties SWPA Operations 1942-45, AWM54, 267/4/7; Operations 8th Div and Attached Units AMF Battle Casualties 1941-42, AWM54, 267/4/7; Casualties and Miscellaneous RAAF, RAN and Army Part II, AWM54, 171/2/53.

United States

Approximately 7,000 American soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen were killed in the New Guinea campaign.

This figure includes the 2,102 US Marines killed during the landings at Cape Gloucester on New Britain and the fighting on Bougainville. It does not include those Americans who otherwise died during the Solomons campaign in actions such as the Battle for Guadalcanal or the fierce naval battles that took place in New Georgia Sound and the surrounding Solomon Sea.

Source: Frank A. Reister, Medical Statistics in World War II, Official History of the Medical Department of the US Army in World War II, (Washington DC: Historical Unit, US Army Medical Department, 1975).

Printed on 06/03/2023 03:16:45 PM