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New Guinea-Papua Campaign Phase 2 file photo [15104]

New Guinea-Papua Campaign, Phase 2

8 Mar 1942 - 4 Mar 1943


ww2dbaseJapanese Landings at Lae and Salamaua
8 Mar 1942

ww2dbaseMerely three months after the start of the Pacific War, Japanese troops were already being disembarked at Lae and Salamaua on the northeastern coast of New Guinea island in the Australian Territory of New Guinea.

ww2dbaseFrom a western perspective, both Lae and Salamaua were towns built up as the result of the gold rush at Wau, further inland. Lae was the much larger of the two towns, with it featuring neighborhoods for westerners, a new hotel, and an airfield with a 3,000-foot runway that could accommodate larger passenger and cargo aircraft. In 1937, Lae was the location which Amelia Earhart had departed from before becoming missing in the Pacific Ocean.

ww2dbaseThe Japanese landings at Lae were conducted without any opposition, while the Salamaua landings were opposed by a small group of Australians from the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles and the Royal Australian Air Force. In the early morning of 10 Mar, US carrier aircraft of USS Lexington and USS Yorktown attacked the landing beaches by surprise, followed by horizontal bombing by larger aircraft; three Japanese transports were sunk, and a number of other ships were damaged.

ww2dbaseJapanese Landings at Buna, Gona, and Sananda
21-29 Jul 1942

ww2dbaseJapan's first attempt to take Port Moresby was an amphibious invasion, however, it was averted by the unfavorable outcome of the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway. The Japanese now had no choice but to mount an overland invasion against Port Moresby over New Guinea island's treacherous Owen Stanley Range. ww2dbasePort Moresby was the capital of the British Territory of Papua in southeastern New Guinea island. Aside from the bay being a good natural port, to the Japanese, Port Moresby could also serve as a defensive strongpoint on the eastern flank of the Japanese Co-Prosperity Sphere, and also potentially a gateway to Australia. US General Douglas MacArthur truly believed that if the Allies were to lose this city, Australia would soon see Japanese landings; thus, he gambled to hold Port Moresby.

ww2dbaseThe second Japanese attempt at Port Moresby began on 21 Jul 1942 when Japanese troops landed on the northern coast of the Papuan Peninsula in the Australian Territory of New Guinea and established beach heads at Buna, Gona, and Sananda. The 5th Sasebo Special Naval Landing Force, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Hatsuo Tsukamoto, conducted a combat-ready reconnaissance patrol toward the village of Kokoda. After exchanging hands a couple of times, the small Australian militia unit "Maroubra Force" under the command of Australian Basil Morris at the entrance of the Kokoda Trail was overwhelmed by the Japanese troops, and the entrance was captured on 29 Jul. Morris assumed that the Japanese troops were merely performing a reconnaissance mission in force. Much to his, and all Allied commanders', surprise, the Japanese began to march into the trail over the Owen Stanley mountain range.

ww2dbaseKokoda Track
30 Jul 1942-22 Jan 1943

ww2dbaseFrom the village of Kokoda, Major General Tomitaro Horii led an invasion force of 8,500 men of the battle-hardened 144th Regiment of the South Seas Detachment. In four weeks, the Japanese achieved what was deemed impossible, marching across the deadly jungles, disease-ridden swamps, and the deep gorges. "How many men succumbed in this heroic endeavor will never be known," wondered author William Manchester. In the treacherous environment where even blades of grass could slice skin right open, Manchester noted what he imagined the Japanese had likely gone through on this journey:

In places the winding trail, a foot wide at most, simply disappeared. It took an hour to cut through few yards of vegetation. The first man in a file would hack away with a machete until he collapsed of exhaustion; then the second man would pick up the machete and continue, and so on. In that climate the life expectancy of the men who lost consciousness and were left behind was often measured in minutes.

ww2dbaseThe captured diary of a Japanese soldier reflected what Manchester imagined:

The sun is fierce here.... Thirst for water, stomach empty. The pack on the back is heavy. My arm is numb like a stick. 'Water, water.' We reach for the canteens at our hips from a force of habit, but they do no contain a drop of water.

ww2dbaseThey made it across the Kokoda Trail, but it was then the jungle trekkers who were surprised: Allied troops under MacArthur were dug in there well beyond what they expected. Captain Toshikazu Ohmae of the Japanese Navy recalled after the war that "[t]he Japanese did not think General MacArthur would establish himself in New Guinea and defend Australia from that position.... [H]e did not have sufficient forces to maintain himself there", but he, like the Japanese officers, had forgotten MacArthur's unorthodox determination ("a lesser general might have considered the abandonment of Port Moresby", said Manchester) and the conviction of his troops to hold New Guinea island for Australia. MacArthur's troops, too, were suffering from the jungle as much as the Japanese. MacArthur himself recalled the humidity, the heat, and the terrible diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and dysentery that made the experience a hellish one for his soldiers. Insects and parasites, too, plagued them: hookworms, ringworms, mosquitoes, leeches, chiggers, ants, fleas, and others that the soldiers did not even know the names of. An Australian officer later noted:

Physically, the pathetically young warriors... were in poor shape. Worn out by strenuous fighting and exhausting movement, and weakened by lack of food and sleep and shelter, many of them had literally come to a standstill.

ww2dbaseThe Japanese offensive over the Kokoda Trail saw Australian resistance at Isurava, outside of Port Moresby. With a tight timetable, Horii launched a series of brutal frontal attacks against the 400-strong Australian defenders. The defenders held on valiantly for four days, then they retreated towards Port Moresby. At a battle at the location that was later named Brigade Hill, the Japanese offensive's flanking maneuver separated the Australian forces into two groups, forcing troops to retreat through the thick jungle. Australian General Thomas Blamey, frustrated at the defeat and holding inaccurate intelligence noting a smaller Japanese force than what his men faced, replaced the commander Arnold Potts with Selwyn Porter. When he lectured the troops for the "failure" of letting the Japanese advance so close to Port Moresby, the troops jeered at the general right on the parade ground. In time, the Australian green troops' effort that stopped the Japanese offensive would be considered one of the greatest feats in Australian military history.

ww2dbaseAlthough the lights of Port Moresby were now in sight after the victory at Brigade Hill, Horii had no choice but to dig in for that his supplies line across the Kokoda Trail was breaking down. His troops, exhausted from fighting Allied forces and nature alike, were showing signs of advanced starvation. Some reports noted the Japanese had to resort to cannibalism in order to survive. Horii was relieved to receive orders from his superiors that he was to fall back to Buna due to the shift of the overall war situation. He knew it was no easy task to cross the Owen Stanley once again, but the food situation rendered him without choice even if he did not receive the fall-back order. He began to pull back his troops on 24 Sep. On 26 Sep, MacArthur called for a counterattack up the Kokoda Trail, not knowing that the Japanese had already started their retreat. Despite the lack of food, the Japanese army fought ferociously, even after Horii drowned late in Oct 1942 in the Kumusi River. As the Australian troops embarked onto the Kokoda Trail, Japanese corpses were found, death by diseases of the equatorial jungle.

ww2dbaseBattle of Milne Bay
25 Aug 1942-5 Sep 1942

ww2dbaseHorii's attack on Port Moresby over the Kokoda Trail was timed with a landing at Milne Bay at the eastern tip of New Guinea island. On 25 Aug, 2,400 men of the 5th Kure Special Naval Landing Force and the 5th Sasebo Special Naval Landing Force (non-combat) landed at Milne Bay under the command of Commander Shojiro Hayashi. The Japanese enjoyed initial success against Australian troops, having the advantage of light tanks. On 29 Aug, Commander Yano landed with an 800-men reinforcement group and took over tactical command. Seeing no progress, the Japanese retreated on 5 Sep.

ww2dbaseUnlike Blamey, British Field Marshal Sir William Slim was much more complimentary toward the Australian soldiers, commenting on the following inspiring words despite his misidentification of enemy units:

Australian troops had, at Milne Bay, inflicted on the Japanese their first undoubted defeat on land. Some of us may forget that, of all the allies, it was the Australians who first broke the invincibility of the Japanese army.

ww2dbaseBeyond the strategic gains for this victory, Allied forces gained a great boost in morale.

ww2dbaseBattle of Buna-Gona
16 Nov 1942-22 Jan 1943

ww2dbaseIn Jan 1943, after MacArthur's American contingents arrived, a joint American-Australian operation was launched to retake Buna and Gona. The first surprise went in favor of the Japanese; Allied intelligence underestimated the strength of the Japanese force in the area, estimating 1,500 to 2,000 soldiers when there were over 6,500, all well dug in. The battle quickly turned into a series of bitter struggles over each defensive position. Because the Owen Stanley Mountain did not allow vehicular traffic, all Allied supplies had to arrive by air, notably with converted Liberator bombers as transports. The supply situation was not any better for the Japanese, however. Despite control of the sea, Allied air power still took a heavy toll on transport vessels coming into the area. To instill new blood in the command structure, MacArthur brought in Robert Eichelberger, who arrived at the front on 2 Dec 1942. After a two-day break for reorganization, Eichelberger pushed on again on 5 Dec. On the following day, the Japanese finally broke at Gona. Buna fell to the Allies on 14 Dec. The last Japanese hold in the area was Sananda, which fell on 22 Jan 1943 after running out of food. Again, evidences of cannibalism were found among Japanese soldiers. With the region secured, the conclusion of the battle also ended Japanese resistance on and near the Kokoda Trail.

ww2dbaseSimilar to previous actions on New Guinea island, disease caused far more casualties to both sides than actual combat in the Battle of Buna-Gona.

ww2dbaseBattle of the Bismarck Sea
2-4 Mar 1943

ww2dbaseOn 23 Dec 1942, Japanese IGHQ (Imperial General Headquarters) gave the order to transfer 100,000 troops from Japan and China to New Guinea island as reinforcements. It was a large exercise in Japanese logistics, but a successful landing of these troops at Lae could possibly turn back the Australian and American offensive, and perhaps even take Port Moresby. On 28 Feb, a convoy of eight destroyers and eight troop transports set sail with 6,900 troops from Rabaul under the cover of about 100 aircraft. The convoy sailed undetected until 1500 hours on 1 Mar when a Liberator bomber spotted it north of Cape Hollman. The group of bombers sent to intercept the convoy did not find their target, but on the next day several flights of Flying Fortress bombers found and sank up to three transports. After a few unsuccessful attempts at attacking the convoy by Catalina and Beaufort aircraft, an attack by 13 Flying Fortress bombers at 1000 hours on 3 Mar scattered the convoy, making the ships vulnerable to follow-up attacks by Beaufighters and Mitchell bombers. The action was a near total loss for the Japanese. Only 800 out of the 6.900 soldiers made their way to Lae, at the cost of all eight transports, four of the eight destroyers, twenty aircraft, and over 2,000 lives.

Elliot Carlson, Joe Rochefort's War
Douglas MacArthur, Reminiscences
William Manchester, American Caesar
William Manchester, Goodbye, Darkness
Gordon Rottman, World War II US Cavalry Units
Dan van der Vat, The Pacific Campaign

Last Major Update: Mar 2012

New Guinea-Papua Campaign, Phase 2 Interactive Map


A-20 Havoc aircraft of US V Bombing Command targeting Japanese airfield of Ki-48 bombers, at Hollandia, New Guinea, 1942Australian Army engineers with a captured Daihatsu-class landing craft, Milne Bay, Sep 1942
See all 30 photographs of New Guinea-Papua Campaign, Phase 2

New Guinea-Papua Campaign, Phase 2 Timeline

3 Mar 1942 At Rabaul, New Britain, the Japanese South Seas Force began embarking transports Yokohama Maru and China Maru, while the Maizaru 2nd Special Naval Landing Force began embarking transports Kongo Maru, Tenyo Maru, and Kokai Maru for the invasion of Lae and Salamaua in the Australian Territory of New Guinea.
5 Mar 1942 Japanese troop transports Yokohama Maru, China Maru, Kongo Maru, Tenyo Maru, and Kokai Maru departed Rabaul, New Britain, Bismarck Islands for New Guinea; the transports were escorted by six cruisers and eight destroyers.
7 Mar 1942 RAAF Hudson aircraft detected Japanese transports 55 miles north of the coast of New Guinea.
8 Mar 1942 At dawn, Japanese warships bombarded the invasion beaches at Lae and Salamaua on eastern New Guinea island; the few defending Australian troops of the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles fled into the jungle without putting up an opposition to the subsequent troop landing. At 1200 hours, 5 Hudson bombers attacked Japanese shipping in Huon harbor, lightly damaging transport Yokohama Maru. Later on the same day, B-17 bombers from Horn Island at the tip of Queensland, Australia attacked Japanese positions at Lae and Salamaua, damaging two hangars at the airstrip at the latter location.
10 Mar 1942 USAAF B-17, B-24, B-25, and A-20 bombers, escorted by USAAF P-38 fighters, attacked a Japanese convoy unloading supplies near Lae, Australian Territory of New Guinea. In a separate effort, 104 carrier aircraft from USS Lexington and USS Yorktown attacked the Japanese invasion fleet in Huon Gulf to the north of the landing beaches, sinking armed merchant cruiser Kongo Maru, auxiliary minelayer Tenyo Maru, and transport Yokohama Maru while damaging several other ships; one Dauntless dive bomber was lost in the attack, while the Japanese lost 350 troops on the transports alone. On land, Japanese consolidated the beachhead with landings at Finschhafen, while Japanese engineers reported that the airstrips at Lae and Salamaua were now ready for action; later on the same day, aircraft of the Japanese 4th Air Group would begin to arrive at Lae and Salamaua.
15 Mar 1942 Nine Japanese bombers attacked Madang, Australian Territory of New Guinea.
22 Mar 1942 Nine US Kittyhawk fighters based in Port Moresby, Australian Papua attacked the airfield near Lae on the northern coast of New Guinea. Shortly after, two Hudson bombers conducted a follow-up attack, but all their bombs missed the target.
25 Mar 1942 Joseph Rochefort's cryptanalytic team in Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii intercepted a Japanese Navy message that mentioned a campaign against a location with code name RZP.
31 Mar 1942 Japanese troops occupied Ceram Island, Dutch East Indies.
1 Apr 1942 The newly arrived US squadron in Port Moresby, Australian Papua, flying A-24 Banshee aircraft, launched its first attack on Japanese positions. The primary target was Lae on the northern coast of New Guinea, but due to cloud cover, the secondary target of Salamaua was attacked; the attack caused only minor damage.
4 Apr 1942 In the morning, Australian pilot John Jackson alone flew over Lae on the northern coast of New Guinea and made a strafing run. In the afternoon, he led a group in attacking the same location, destroying several Japanese aircraft on the ground.
8 Apr 1942 Joseph Rochefort's cryptanalytic team in Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii intercepted a Japanese Navy message that assigned fleet carrier Kaga to the campaign against a location with code name RZP.
11 Apr 1942 US A-20 Havoc bombers attacked Japanese shipping in the Gulf of Huon off Lae, Australian New Guinea, damaging transport Taijun Maru.
12 Apr 1942 4,000 Japanese troops landed at Manokwari, Dutch New Guinea; 125 Dutch troops fled into the jungle.
17 Apr 1942 Chester Nimitz accepted Joseph Rochefort's hypothesis that Port Moresby, Australian Papua was likely the target of the suspected Japanese Navy operation against the location code named RZP.
28 Apr 1942 At 1100 hours, Coast Watchers reported incoming Japanese aircraft flying south from the Lae, New Guinea area. Shortly after, 8 Japanese Type 1 bombers and 11 Zero fighters attacked Port Moresby, Australian Papua. In the ensuing combat, two of the Kittyhawk fighters attempted to engage in dogfights with Zero fighters at a high altitude, which caused their engines to stall, leading to the two fighters' crash. After the attack, Port Moresby personnel discovered one of the Japanese bombers had delivered a bag containing 395 letters written by prisoners of war kept in Rabaul, New Britain; actually two khaki bags of mail were dropped, but one of them fell in the water.
2 May 1942 Japanese aircraft attacked Port Moresby, Australian Papua.
18 May 1942 Australian 14th Militia Brigade arrived at Port Moresby, British Territory of Papua on New Guinea island.
12 Jun 1942 The Japanese Imperial General Headquarters issued the Great Army Instruction No. 1 for a study on the possibility of an over-land invasion of Port Moresby, Australian Papua.
24 Jun 1942 Australian 39th Battalion and the British colonial Papua Infantry Battalion were deployed to defend the Kokoda Track, a rough jungle path that linked northeastern coast of the island of New Guinea with Port Moresby. On the same day, other Australian units departed from Port Moresby aboard Dutch ship Karsik and Bontekoe to construct new airfields on the coast of Milne Bay to the east.
27 Jun 1942 Two Australian Catalina flying-boats, on a night mission over the Lae-Salamaua area of Australian New Guinea lasting four hours, dropped eight 500-pound bombs, twenty 20-pound fragmentation bombs and four dozen empty beer bottles. The beer bottles falling through the air made a screeching sound which helped to terrorise the enemy and spoil his sleep.
28 Jun 1942 B-17 bombers of US 5th Air Force, based in Australia, attack Rabaul, New Britain and Lae, New Guinea.
17 Jul 1942 Troops of the Australian 3rd Division and US 41st Division marched from Nassau Bay toward Salamaua, New Guinea.
19 Jul 1942 While on a reconnaissance mission, a US B-17 bomber spotted a Japanese convoy departing Rabaul, New Britain toward the island of New Guinea.
20 Jul 1942 24 Japanese G4M bombers and 15 A6M fighters attacked Port Moresby, Papua on the island of New Guinea. Meanwhile, at Rabaul, New Britain, 5th Sasebo Special Naval Landing Force of the Japanese Navy and Yokoyama Detachment of the Japanese 17th Army departed on three transports.
21 Jul 1942 2,000 Japanese Army troops, Special Naval Landing Forces troops, and laborers, along with field guns and horses, landed at Gona on the northern coast of New Guinea. 10 kilometers to the east, another group of 1,000 Japanese landed at Buna.
22 Jul 1942 Troops of the Japanese South Seas Detachment began to march across the Kokoda Trail from Buna toward Port Moresby in Australian Papua. USAAF B-17, B-25, and B-26 bombers, escorted by P-39 and P-4000 fighters and supported by RAAF P-40 fighters, in five separate attacks, targeted Japanese shipping in the area, damaging transport Ayatosan Maru and killing 16 men aboard destroyer Uzuki. After dark, Australian Lieutenant John Chalk led a small contingent of natives in small engagements with Japanese soldiers before falling back.
23 Jul 1942 Japanese troops engaged troops of the Papuan Infantry Battalion at Awala, Australian Papua on the Kokoda Trail.
24 Jul 1942 Company B of Australian 39th Battalion ambushed 500 Japanese troops at Gorari Creek along the Kokoda Trail in Australian Papua; after killing 15, the company fell back two miles to Oivi.
25 Jul 1942 Japanese leadership paused the advance along the Kokoda Trail in Australian Papua as they overestimated the strength of defending Allied forces.
26 Jul 1942 Japanese troops attacked Oivi, Australian Papua at 1500 hours, capturing Captain Sam Templeton of the Papuan Infantry Battalion at about 1700 hours. The surviving forces at Oivi fell back into the jungle along the Kokoda Trail after dark. Earlier in the day, Japanese transports delivered 1,020 troops from Rabaul, New Britain to the northern coast of Australian Papua.
27 Jul 1942 Australian troops began preparing defenses at the Kokoda airfield in Australian Papua. Two transport aircraft carrying reinforcements for the airfield circled the airfield and headed back to Port Moresby without landing the troops, fearing that the airfield was about to be captured. Meanwhile, Australian Captain Sam Templeton, the commanding officer of the Papuan Infantry Battalion who had been captured on the previous day at Oivi, Australian Papua, was executed by sword.
29 Jul 1942 200 Japanese troops supported by a Type 92 light howitzer attacked Kokoda airfield in Australian Papua at 0230 hours; after suffering 7 killed, the remaining 70 Australian defenders fell back toward Deniki; the Japanese suffered 12 killed and 26 wounded in this engagement. To the north, a Japanese convoy landed troops at Buna; at 1445 hours, 8 US Dauntless dive bombers escorted by P-39 fighters from Port Moresby attacked the convoy at Buna, damaging troop ship Kotoku Maru.
31 Jul 1942 US aircraft located and attacked a Japanese convoy bringing reinforcements from Rabaul, New Britain to Buna, Australian Papua; the convoy was forced to return to Rabaul by this attack.
2 Aug 1942 5 B-17 bombers attacked Japanese shipping near Buna, Australian Papua; 9 Zero fighters of the Tainan Air Group intercepted the attackers, forcing the bombers to release their bombs before reaching their targets; 1 bomber was lost on this mission.
3 Aug 1942 The Japanese discovered that a new US airfield was being built on the coast of Milne Bay in Australian Papua.
8 Aug 1942 At Australian Papua, 3 companies of Australian 39th Battalion departed Deniki separately shortly after dawn to attack the Kokoda Track; Company A would recapture the airfield in the morning, but the other two companies' attacks would be repulsed.
9 Aug 1942 Japanese troops recaptured Kokoda airfield in Australian Papua from Australian troops.
12 Aug 1942 Japanese troops marched along the Kokoda Track in Australian Papua toward the Australian base at Deniki. Behind the front lines, three Japanese transports arrived after dark and disembarked troops at Buna.
13 Aug 1942 Japanese Army troops attacked Australian positions at Deniki, Australian Papua. Behind the front lines, Japanese transports landed additional troops at Buna after dark.
14 Aug 1942 Australian 39th Battalion fell back 4 miles from Deniki to Isurava in Australian Papua after learning Japanese troops had infiltrated its rear, which turned out to be faulty intelligence. To the north, 3,000 Japanese troops of the 14th Naval Construction Unit and 15th Naval Construction Unit arrived at Buna, tasked with building major naval facilities.
16 Aug 1942 Three Japanese transports arrived at Buna, Australian Papua and landed reinforcements.
18 Aug 1942 Two Japanese transports arrived at Buna, Australian Papua and disembarked reinforcements.
21 Aug 1942 Japanese 41st Infantry Regiment landed at Buna, Australian Papua; to the southeast, Australian 18th Infantry Brigade landed on the coast of Milne Bay.
24 Aug 1942 809 Japanese Special Naval Landing Force troops departed Rabaul, New Britain at 0700 hours aboard transports Nankai Maru and Kinai Maru, sailing for Milne Bay, Australian Papua. At about the same time, 450 Japanese Army troops departed Buna, Australian Papua aboard 7 barges, sailing for Goodenough Bay to support the Milne Bay invasion. The latter convoy was attacked by 12 Australian Kittyhawk fighters while stopped at Goodenough Island and all barges were destroyed.
25 Aug 1942 809 Japanese Special Naval Landing Force troops and 2 Type 95 Ha-Go tanks landed at Waga Waga, Australian Papua on Milne Bay at 2230 hours.
26 Aug 1942 Japanese Special Naval Landing Force troops that had landed at Waga Waga, Australian Papua late on the previous day began making contact with positions held by troops of Australian 25th Infantry Militia Battalion and 61st Infantry Militia Battalion. Behind them, Allied aircraft discovered the Waga Waga landing site and destroyed landing barges and other equipment. Japanese warships entered Milne Bay for support. Inland, 2,500 Japanese troops marched onto the Kokoda Track from Buna, along with a mountain gun and several mortars.
27 Aug 1942 8 Japanese dive bombers escorted by 12 Zero fighters attacked the Gili Gili airfield at Milne Bay, escorted by 12 Zero fighters, causing minimal damage; 1 Japanese aircraft was shot down by Australian Kittyhawk fighters. At 2000 hours, Japanese attacked Australian troops at Gama River on the Milne Bay coast, killing 43 and driving the Australians back. In land, along the Kokoda Track, Japanese troops made advances at Isurava and Australian 2/16th Battalion was dispatched from reserve to reinforce the defenses.
28 Aug 1942 At dawn, Japanese troops attacked across the unfinished Turnbull airstrip near the coast of Milne Bay, Australian Papua, exposed to strafing by Australian Kittyhawk fighters and small arms fire, suffering heavy casualties that led to the attack being called off. Deeper in land, Japanese 144th Regiment surprised Australian 39th Battalion at Isurava, forcing the Australian troops back one mile to regroup. To the north, 769 Japanese Special Naval Landing Force troops departed Rabaul, New Britain to reinforce the operations on Milne Bay.
29 Aug 1942 During the day, Japanese 144th Regiment attacked Australian troops at Isurava along the Kokoda Track in Australian Papua. To the east, 769 Japanese Special Naval Landing Force troops landed at Waga Waga on the coast of Milne Bay; the Japanese cruiser and nine destroyers that covered the landing bombarded the Australian airfield at Gili Gili before returning to Rabaul, New Britain, causing little damage.
30 Aug 1942 Japanese 144th Regiment attacked Australians at Isurava along the Kokoda Track in Australian Papua; after holding the position for the past few days and sustaining 99 killed and 111 wounded, the Australians finally gave up Isurava and fell back toward Eora; the Japanese suffered 140 killed and 231 wounded during the Isurava engagement.
31 Aug 1942 During the day, Australian troops attacked from the unfinished Turnbull airstrip near the coast of Milne Bay, Australian Papua, pushing the Japanese back to the KB Mission; at dusk, the Australians captured KB Mission with a bayonet charge, killing 60 Japanese; overnight, a Japanese raid killed 90 Australians.
1 Sep 1942 Australian troops attacked from the KB Mission on the coast of Milne Bay in Australian Papua, pushing Japanese troops back toward Waga Waga. Further inland, Japanese 41st Regiment clashed with Australian 2/14th and 2/16th Battalions at Eora along the Kokoda Track, penetrating the Australian lines after sundown.
2 Sep 1942 On the coast of Milne Bay in Australian Papua, Australian troops halted their attack on the Japanese beachhead near Waga Waga. Further inland, Australians 2/14th and 2/16th Battalions fell back from Eora along the Kokoda Track.
3 Sep 1942 Australian 2/9th Battalion attacked Japanese positions on the Milne Bay coast in Australian Papua while Australian 2/14th and 2/16th Battalions fell back to Myola Ridge on the Kokoda Trail.
4 Sep 1942 Japanese defenses halted Australian 2/9th Battalion's attack at Goroni on the coast of Milne Bay, Australian Papua. Further inland, Japanese troops penetrated the lines set up by Australian 2/16th and 2/14th Battalions at Myola Ridge on the Kokoda Track. After dark, Japanese ships evacuated the surviving men of the failed 8 Aug 1942 amphibious attack at Milne Bay.
5 Sep 1942 Australian 2/16th and 2/14th Battalions fell back to Efogi along the Kokoda Track in Australian Papua on the southern side of the Owen Stanley Gap.
6 Sep 1942 Australian troops attacked the Japanese beachhead at Waga Waga on the coast of Milne Bay, Australian Papua, which the Japanese had already been evacuating. Further inland, Australian 2/27th Battalion arrived at Efogi along the Kokoda Track to reinforce the two battered battalions that had fled to this position recently; meanwhile, US aircraft bombed Japanese positions near Efogi. After dark, Japanese cruiser Tatsuta bombarded Gili Gili on the coast of Milne Bay, sinking Australian merchant ship Anshun.
7 Sep 1942 Troops of 3rd Battalion of Japanese 144th Regiment, supported by 6 mountain guns, attacked Australian positions at Efogi along the Kokoda Track in Australian Papua, causing heavy casualties among the Australian 2/27th Battalion; after sundown, 2nd Battalion of the same regiment infiltrated into the jungle in an attempt to flank the Australians. Under the cover of darkness, a Japanese cruiser and a destroyer bombarded Australian positions at Gili Gili on the coast of Milne Bay.
8 Sep 1942 Troops of the 2nd Battalion of Japanese 144th Regiment flanked Australian positions near Efogi on the Kokoda Track, Australian Papua, surrounding 3 battalions; after holding their positions through the day, the Australians escaped through the Japanese lines after sundown after suffering 87 killed and inflicting 60 killed on the Japanese side.
9 Sep 1942 Australian troops fell back 2 miles from Efogi to Menari on the Kokoda Track in Australian Papua while US aircraft from Port Moresby area airfields momentarily paused the Japnaese advance. At Port Moresby, Australian 25th Infantry Brigade arrived from Australia.
10 Sep 1942 Japanese destroyers Isokaze and Yayoi departed Rabaul, New Britain for Goodenough Island, Australian Papua with intention of evacuating the 353 troops of the Japanese 5th Sasebo Special Naval Landing Force there.
11 Sep 1942 US B-17 and B-25 bombers sank Japanese destroyer Yayoi (68 were killed, 83 survived) and damaged destroyer Isokaze 8 miles northwest of Vakuta, Trobriand Islands 120 miles north of Milne Bay, Australian Papua, where they intended to reach to evacuate the 353 troops of the Japanese 5th Sasebo Special Naval Landing Force stranded on Goodenough Island. Isokaze would turn back to Rabaul, New Britain, abandoning the evacuation mission.
14 Sep 1942 Japanese troops attacked the Australian line at Ioribaiwa Ridge along the Kokoda Track in Australian Papua; the ridge was 25 miles north of Port Moresby. To the east, the Gili Gili airfield on the coast of Milne Bay was renamed Gurney Field in memorial of RAAF Squadron Leader C. R. Gurney.
15 Sep 1942 Both the Japanese and the Australians brought up reserve units in the engagement at Ioribaiwa Ridge along the Kokoda Track in Australian Papua, 25 miles north of Port Moresby.
16 Sep 1942 Australian troops pulled back from the Ioribaiwa Ridge along the Kokoda Track in Australian Papua, 25 miles north of Port Moresby in preparation for a counterattack.
17 Sep 1942 Australian troops fell back from Ioribaiwa Ridge to Imita Ridge along the Kokoda Track in Australian Papua, 25 miles from Port Moresby; the Australians were surprised that the Japanese did not pursue in force.
18 Sep 1942 Japanese troops began retreating back along the Kokoda Track across the Owen Stanley Range in Australian Papua.
21 Sep 1942 Australian 16th Infantry Brigade arrived at Port Moresby, Australian Papua.
22 Oct 1942 Australian troops from Milne Bay, New Guinea made a night landing at Mud Bay on Goodenough Island. The Japanese garrison would pull out on 26 Oct 1942.
25 Oct 1942 With discipline declined, equipment abandoned and diarrhea and dysentery reaching epidemic proportions, the 2nd Battalion of US 126th Infantry Regiment arrived at Jaure, Australian Papua along the Kapa Kapa Trail in the Owen Stanley mountain range. The march had been so arduous that some men had wandered into the jungle never to be seen again.
28 Oct 1942 Australian troops captured Kokoda airfield in New Guinea.
16 Nov 1942 The US 128th Infantry Regiment began an attack on Japanese positions south of Buna, Australian Papua. The 1st Battalion (Colonel McCoy) attacked along the coast from Embogo and crossed the Samboga River, while the 3rd Battalion (Colonel Miller) attacked inland from Simemi. Their objectives were the air strips at the centre of the Japanese eastern defences. On the first day opposition was minor but their sole supply line, consisting of six barges ferrying supplies from the airstrip at Ponondetta further to the east, was destroyed when Japanese Zero fighters strafed the barges, destroying their loads of ammunition, medicine and critically, the artillery and mortars. With the loss of the barges further movement was delayed until 19 Nov 1942 as troops and stores had to come by foot.
17 Nov 1942 Allied troops advanced in Australian Papua towards Buna and Gona. Meanwhile, the 3rd Battalion of Japanese 229th Infantry Regiment and 300 reinforcements landed near Gona.
18 Nov 1942 After an arduous march over rugged mountainous terrain, during which the Commanding Officer had suffered a heart attack, 2nd Battalion of US 126th Infantry Regiment reached Pongani, southeast of Buna, Australian Papua. Less than half the battalion were still fit for action.
21 Nov 1942 Lieutenant General Hitoshi Imamura met with the staff of the Combined Fleet at Truk, Caroline Islands and decided to give up Buna, Australian Papua.
30 Nov 1942 Angry at the slow progress in Australian Papua, General Douglas MacArthur dismissed the commander of US 32nd Infantry Division, Major General Harding, and replaced him with his corps commander, Lieutenant General Robert Eichelberger, who he instructed "to take Buna or not come back alive".
1 Dec 1942 US Army Lieutenant General Eichelberger was ordered to Papau, New Guinea, to capture Buna.
13 Dec 1942 American troops captured Buna, New Guinea.
14 Dec 1942 Australian troops captured Gona, New Guinea.
26 Dec 1942 Japanese aircraft from Rabaul, New Britain attacked Dobodura Airfield in Australian Papua, causing minimal damage.
29 Dec 1942 After dark, Japanese submarines delivered 20 tons of supplies to Buna, Australian Papua.
2 Jan 1943 US I Corps recaptured Buna on New Guinea.
5 Jan 1943 Despite George Kenney's orders for an all-out attack on Rabaul, New Britain at dawn, Kenneth Walker launched a limited (without 63rd Bomb Squadron, whose commander William Benn disagreed with the timing of the attack) mid-day attack. Bad weather in Australia prevented some of the B-24 bombers from launching, thus ultimately only 6 B-24 bombers and 6 B-17 bombers took off for the attack. Two B-17 bombers attacked Lakunai and Vunakanau airfields near Rabaul between 0900 and 0930 hours. At 1200 hours, 6 B-24 bombers and 3 B-17 bombers (one of which carried Walker) attacked, sinking army transport Keifuku Maru, damaging two merchant ships, and damaging destroyer Tachikaze; 3 Ki-43 fighters were shot down during the raid. At 1317 hours, B-17 bomber San Antonio Rose was shot down; Walker and the entire crew were reported as missing, and none of them would be found.
6 Jan 1943 USAAF B-17 and B-24 bombers attacked Japanese shipping at Rabaul, New Britain.
7 Jan 1943 USAAF B-17, B-24, B-25, and A-20 bombers, escorted by USAAF P-38 fighters and RAF Catalina flying boats, attacked a Japanese convoy en route to Lae, New Guinea, sinking transport Nichiryu Maru off Gasmata, New Britain.
8 Jan 1943 Allied aircraft sank Myoko Maru in Huon Gulf off Australian New Guinea.
19 Jan 1943 Japanese troops landed at Wewak, New Guinea.
20 Jan 1943 A US B-24 bomber on a routine reconnaissance mission over Wewak on the island of New Guinea surprisingly found a large concentration of Japanese shipping and a newly arrived contingent of Zero fighters. Six of the fighters arose and shot down the bomber, killing 2; 6 of the crew survived.
22 Jan 1943 Allied forces won the battle at Sanananda, New Guinea.
26 Feb 1943 Juzan Maru, Shinkyo Maru, and Aratama Maru arrived at Wewak, Australian New Guinea at 1130 hours with Yugure, Satsuki, and Fumizuki in escort.
22 Mar 1943 The Japanese Army and Navy staffs in Tokyo, Japan issued a new directive for operations in the Rabaul area, emphasizing the importance of the defense of New Guinea.
28 Mar 1943 The US Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a directive canceling the orders issued on 2 Jul 1942. Replacing it, the Offensive Operations in the South and Southwest Pacific Areas During 1943 aimed to establish airfields on Kiriwina and Woodlark Islands, to capture northern coast of New Guinea island, to capture western New Britain, and to capture key locations in the Solomon Islands.
31 Mar 1943 American troops under Colonel Archibald MacKechnie landed at the mouth of Waria River in New Guinea.
12 Apr 1943 Isoroku Yamamoto personally observed the launch of a strike at Vunakanau field near Rabaul, New Britain, which ultimately consisted of 17 G4M bombers of 751 Air Group and 26 G4M bombers of 705 Air Group with 130 fighters in escort. At 0945 hours, the attack was detected by the radar station at Dona on the coast of Australian Papua. The attack destroyed 3 B-25 bombers and 1 Beaufighter at Schwimmer Airfield near Port Moresby, Australian Papua; nearby Berry Airfield suffered destroyed buildings and Ward's Airfield suffered 5,000 drums of gasoline destroyed. The Japanese lost 6 bombers and 2 fighters in combat; 2 additional bombers were lost after making crash landings.
22 Jun 1943 US Army troops invaded Japanese-held Woodlark Island, Trobriand Islands.
29 Jun 1943 The US 158th Regimental Combat Team and the US 6th Engineer Combat Company landed unopposed at Kiriwini Island, Trobriand Islands.
30 Jun 1943 In Operation Chronicle, US Army troops and the US Navy 12th Defense Battalion secured Woodlark Island of the Trobriand Islands, while other troops landed on Woodlark Island to the west. Meanwhile, the 1st Battalion of the US Army 162nd Infantry Regiment, supported by other US and Australian units, landed at Nassau Bay, Australian Papua.
15 Jul 1943 Allied leadership completed the plans for the invasion and occupation of New Britain, which was scheduled for 15 Nov 1943.
19 Jul 1943 Australian and American troops defended against repeated Japanese counterattacks at Mount Tambu, Australian New Guinea.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Anonymous says:
25 Jul 2014 04:49:31 PM

My uncle, Sgt. Leonard Bailess Redding, was on New Guinea for 18 months and while there was wounded in combat.
2. Anonymous says:
15 Aug 2014 06:20:04 AM

My Father was killed in Feb 1945 Rex Cater & is buried in the Lae Cemetery. I will be travelling in the area in October & will be visiting Tuam Island, Tufi, Dei Dei Hot Springs & Dobo Island Are any of these near Lae & is there any way I could visit Lae from any of these islands?
3. Anonymous says:
24 Jul 2019 06:16:25 AM

Most AUSSIE'S involved in this action referred it as the Track not trail as we have tracks in Australia The Americans have Trails.
4. Anonymous says:
24 Jul 2019 06:21:05 AM

Kokoda Track not trail if you please. The Yanks have Trails and we Aussies have Tracks.
5. Anonymous says:
30 May 2023 05:11:21 PM

I’m pretty sure we didn’t land on Biak on May 27, 1943. I’m pretty sure we landed there in 1944.
6. Commenter identity confirmed C. Peter Chen says:
30 May 2023 06:41:15 PM

Thanks, Anonymous of 30 May 2023. The particular timeline entry in question had been erroneously linked to this article. The link has been changed to point to New Guinea-Papua Campaign, Phase 3.

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More on New Guinea-Papua Campaign, Phase 2
» Adler, Julius
» Eichelberger, Robert
» Herring, Edmund
» Horii, Tomitaro
» Kenney, George
» Kiefer, Dixie

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New Guinea-Papua Campaign, Phase 2 Photo Gallery
A-20 Havoc aircraft of US V Bombing Command targeting Japanese airfield of Ki-48 bombers, at Hollandia, New Guinea, 1942Australian Army engineers with a captured Daihatsu-class landing craft, Milne Bay, Sep 1942
See all 30 photographs of New Guinea-Papua Campaign, Phase 2

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