Remembering the war in New Guinea
Aitape–Wewak, 1944–45 (Photographs)
Module name: Campaign history (All groups perspective)
This page was contributed by Mr Damien Fenton (Australian War Memorial)
AWM 017013 (Australian War Memorial)
American infantry march out of camp to board their transports for the amphibious invasion of Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea, 16 April 1944. The Americans landed at Hollandia and Aitape simultaneously on 22 April with the aim of bypassing the Japanese stronghold at Wewak and thus leaving the Japanese 18th Army isolated and cut off there. The Japanese (who had expected the Allies to attack Wewak next) were taken by surprise and by the end of June the Americans had secured Aitape and Hollandia for minimal casualties. At that point Aitape and the job of containing the Japanese 18th Army were handed over to the Australians while General MacArthur concentrated on developing Hollandia as the main American base for his planned invasion of the Philippines.
AWM 078218 (Australian War Memorial)
Australian troops of the pioneer platoon of the 2/8th Infantry Battalion building a temporary coconut log bridge over a tributary of the Danmap River, 6 January 1945. Eleven men of 19th Brigade were drowned when the worst flash flood in a hundred years struck the river system on 27 January. This loss represented almost a third of the total number of fatalities suffered by the Brigade in its advance to the Danmap River line.
AWM 079792 (Australian War Memorial)
A badly wounded soldier of the Australian 2/2nd Battalion is helped into a jeep ambulance after having to walk five miles to reach the Advanced Dressing Station. The wounded often had no choice but to endure such hardships thanks to the inhospitable terrain encountered, particularly in the mountains. The Japanese faced even greater difficulties than the Australians in this regard and their wounded and sick had only the smallest chance of surviving their ordeal.
AWM OG2338 (Australian War Memorial)
A load of 250-lb bombs being ferried out to a row of Beaufort bombers belonging to 100 Squadron RAAF, prior to a raid on Japanese positions in the Torricelli Mountains, March 1945. While the RAAF air support was invaluable to the Australian troops on the ground, air operations were hampered by fuel and ammunition shortages. These shortages reflected the low priority of the campaign compared to other Allied operations when it came to the allocation of supplies and shipping in the final months of the Pacific War.
AWM 090571 (Australian War Memorial)
Gunners of the Australian 2/2nd Field Regiment prepare to carry signalling wire up to a forward artillery observation post during the fighting in the Torricelli Ranges, 7 April 1945.
AWM 091249 (Australian War Memorial)
Matilda tanks of the Australian 2/4th Armoured Regiment rumble along the beach en route to Karawop Plantation during the Australian advance on Wewak, 21 May 1945. The tanks provided the infantry with vital direct fire support and their ability to destroy Japanese machine gun nests and bunkers with impunity was greatly appreciated by the Australian infantry. Lacking adequate anti-tank weapons the Japanese could do little to defend themselves against heavily armoured tanks like the Matilda. Unfortunately for the Australians the further inland from the coast the more unsuitable the terrain became for tank operations.
AWM 091265 (Australian War Memorial)
Australian infantry of the 2/3rd Battalion check a Japanese pillbox destroyed by an accompanying Matilda tank, Kalimboa, April 1945. For ten months the 6th Division’s advance was dominated by small unit actions to find and eliminate well-camouflaged and constructed Japanese defences like this. With the remnants of the Japanese 18th Army literally fighting to the death in their bunkers, the Australians had no choice but to clear them out, one by one. It was an unglamourous and exhausting final campaign the very necessity of which was open to question.
AWM 092600 (Australian War Memorial)
Indian ex-prisoners of war line up for a meal near the headquarters of the 2/8th Battalion, Wewak area, May 1945. These men, originally captured in Singapore, had been sent by the Japanese to work as slave labourers in New Guinea.
AWM OG2945 (Australian War Memorial)
Units of the Australian 6th Division charge out of their landing craft and onto the beach at Dove Bay east of Wewak in the last stages of the Australian effort to capture the town, 11 May 1945.
AWM 093451 (Australian War Memorial)
A soldier of the 2/8th Battalion provides covering fire with his Bren gun during the Australian assault on Mount Shiburangu, Wewak area, 27 June 1945. Preceded by both an airstrike and a twenty-minute artillery barrage the attack was successful. The Japanese bunker-complex was destroyed after three hours of fighting. Two Australians were killed and four wounded while forty-four of the estimated sixty-strong Japanese garrison died trying to defend the position. Small actions like this were typical of the final months of the War in New Guinea.
AWM 093418 (Australian War Memorial)
New Guinean carriers bring up food to the infantrymen of the Australian 2/8th Battalion in the forward area, Wewak, June 1945. As with the first battles so it was in the last – rugged terrain, especially the conditions confronting the Australian 17th Brigade’s advance through the mountains, meant that the use of carrier lines to bring up supplies and evacuate the wounded was as essential as ever.
AWM 096225 (Australian War Memorial)
Lieutenant General ADACHI Hatazô, commander of the Japanese 18th Army, hands over his sword to Major General Horace Robertson, commander of the Australian 6th Division during the official surrender ceremony at Cape Wom, 13 September 1945. In the three and a half years of the 18th Army's existence approximately 100,000 Japanese soldiers had fought under its command of whom nearly 90,000 had died by the end of the war. After being convicted as a war criminal and sentenced to life imprisonment in July 1947, ADACHI committed suicide two months later.
AWM ART22151 (Australian War Memorial)
Geoffrey Mainwaring, Tanks and infantry, Aitape, New Guinea, 1945, oil on canvas on plywood, 45.4 x 40.5 cm, Australian War Memorial, ART22151.
AWM ART21614 (Australian War Memorial)
Geoffrey Mainwaring, Wounded native carrier (Kanjingai), 1944, crayon, 45.8 x 39.6 cm, Australian War Memorial, ART21614.
AWM ART26677 (Australian War Memorial)
Geoffrey Mainwaring, Patrol searching dead Japanese in kunai grass, 1948, oil on canvas, 61.6 x 76.4 cm, Australian War Memorial, ART26677.
AWM ART23493 (Australian War Memorial)
William Dargie, Landing of 62 Works Wing RAAF at Karako, New Guinea, 1944, watercolour over pencil, 28 x 38.8 cm, Australian War Memorial, ART23493.
AWM ART22150 (Australian War Memorial)
Geoffrey Mainwaring, Burial service, Aitape, New Guinea, 1944, oil on canvas board, 40.4 x 45.4 cm, Australian War Memorial, ART22150.
Printed on 01/16/2019 08:05:06 PM