New Guinea and the Second World War

New Guinea is a large island in the South-West Pacific. The administration of the island was divided between two foreign countries, the Netherlands and Australia.

The Japanese Army made their first amphibious landings at Huon Gulf and Salamaua in March 1942. The main target of the invasion was Port Moresby but this was repulsed during the battle of the Coral Sea.

The Japanese offensive in New Guinea was not resumed until after the defeat at Midway. Fresh landings took place at Sanananda. The troops made their way to Port Moresby but were halted by the Australian 7th Division. With more troops needed in Guadalcana the Japanese began to retreat. A counter-offensive by General Thomas Blamey pushed them back to Kokoda.

General Robert Eichelberger and fresh troops from the United States arrived and by January 1943 the Allies managed to take Buna, Gona and Sanananda.

A fresh offensive under General Douglas MacArthur began in March 1943. He captured Lae before capturing Finschhafen, the largest port on the Huon Peninsula. While this was happening, the Australians advanced from south-west to trap the Japanese 18th Army.

Fighting continued for the next two years and the Japanese Army, reduced to 13,000 men, did not surrender until 13th September 1945.