Naval campaigns outline (Overview text)
Module name: Campaign history (All groups perspective)
This page was contributed by Dr David Stevens (Sea Powers Study Centre)
The war in New Guinea began as a maritime conflict with the Japanese amphibious landings at Finschhafen, Lae, and Salamaua, followed by their abortive assault on Port Moresby. The Japanese aim was to consolidate their defensive perimeter, while still providing a springboard for operations against New Caledonia, Fiji and Samoa. In a strategic sense the war's end came after the Allies had completed their own series of amphibious assaults along the north-east coast of New Guinea. Having neutralised the island as a base for enemy operations, General MacArthur had at the same time secured bases for his own advance to the Philippines.
The geographic features of the theatre shaped the nature of the war. A great, mountainous, and undeveloped island, New Guinea had virtually no land routes of communication and very few airfields. Since the military activities of both sides depended upon the existence of adequate sea-lift and a reliable logistics chain, it followed that the maintenance of sea lines of communication remained of fundamental importance to the prosecution of the war. The naval task was to protect the shipping that used these lines, furthering friendly military operations ashore, while simultaneously hindering the enemy's through a campaign of sea denial.
AWM Journal article
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