Australia in the War of 1939–1945: Series One: Army

Volume 6

The New Guinea Offensives

by David Dexter

Australian War Memorial



The writers of these volumes have been given full access to official documents, but they and the general editor are alone responsible for the statements and opinions which the volumes contain.

Table of Contents


List of Events from April 1943 to September 1944

Chapter 1: The Holding War

Chapter 2: Marking Time

Chapter 3: Defence of Lababia Ridge

Chapter 4: Rendezvous at Nassau Bay

Chapter 5: The Capture of Mubo

Chapter 6: The Struggle for the Ridges

Chapter 7: The Fight for Komiatum

Chapter 8: The Pacific Front

Chapter 9: Bena Bena and Tsili Tsili

Chapter 10: Before Lae

Chapter 11: The Salamaua Magnet

Chapter 12: Assault on Lae and Nadzab

Chapter 13: The Fall of Lae

Chapter 14: Pursuit

Chapter 15: From the Markham to the Ramu

Chapter 16: Scarlet Beach to the Bumi

Chapter 17: The Battle for Finschhafen

Chapter 18: Easy Street and the Sattelberg Road

Chapter 19: The Japanese Counter-Attack

Chapter 20: In the Ramu Valley

Chapter 21: Round Sattelberg and Pabu

Chapter 22: Torpy Sits on Sat

Chapter 23: The Wareo–Gusika Advance

Chapter 24: Toehold on Shaggy Ridge

Chapter 25: On to Sio

Chapter 26: Kankiryo Saddle

Chapter 27: The Pursuit to Madang

Chapter 28: To Morotai and the Palaus

Appendix: Abbreviations



Salamaua isthmus and the coastline to Nassau Bay – General Sir Thomas Blamey and Lieut-General Sir Iven Mackay – Major-General F. H. Berryman with Brigadier M. J. Moten – A “biscuit bomber” dropping supplies at Goodview – Natives gathering supplies at Goodview dropping ground – Looking towards Salamaua along the Francisco River – Looking north along Komiatum Ridge to the Francisco – The Francisco River and Arnold’s Crest – Native carriers crossing the Kunda bridge near New Bobdubi – A native carrier line setting out from Mubo area – A 2/3rd Independent Company machine-gun pit on Ambush Knoll – Sergeant G. R. C. Ayre and Private W. O. W. Johnson – Private F. W. McVicar, 2/5th Battalion, at Mount Tambu – The 2/5th Battalion in the Mount Tambu area – A three-man weapon pit manned by the 2/5th Battalion in the Mount Tambu area – Brigadier H. H. Hammer with officers of the 15th Brigade – Men of the 2/3rd Independent Company preparing for the attack on Timbered Knoll – The attack on Timbered Knoll – The 2/3rd Independent Company on Timbered Knoll – Major G. R. Warfe and officers of the 2/3rd Independent Company – Lieutenant R. H. Dawson firing a captured mountain gun – Major-General S. G. Savige and Brigadier M. J. Moten at a 2/6th Battalion observation post – Salamaua isthmus after its capture by the 5th Division – Brigadier W. J. V. Windeyer and Major B. V. Wilson at the embarkation of the 20th Brigade at Cairns – General Blamey, with Major-General Vasey and Brigadier Eather, inspecting the 2/33rd Battalion – The scene after the crash of a Liberator bomber into the marshalling area at Jackson’s airfield – Men of the 2/4th Field Regiment prepare for the parachute landing at Nadzab – Lieut-Colonel J. T. Lang’s force from Tsili Tsili crossing the Markham River on the way to Nadzab – The landing of the 503rd American Parachute Regiment at Nadzab – Transport aircraft at Nadzab airfield on 21st September 1943 – Crossing at the mouth of the Buso River on 5th September – Troops of the 7th Division entering Lae on 16th September 1943 – Kaiapit village – Men of the 2/16th Battalion arrive by plane at Kaiapit – The Markham–Ramu divide – Brigadier I. N. Dougherty, commanding the 21st Brigade – Brigadier F. O. Chilton, commanding the 18th Brigade – Lieut-General Sir Edmund Herring, Lieut-General Sir Leslie Morshead, Major-General G. A. Vasey and Lieut-Colonel J. A. Bishop – Sappers of the 2/6th Field Company bridging the Gusap River – Troops of the 7th Division in the Ramu Valley – Chimbu and Bena Bena carriers – The 2/16th Battalion on Johns’ Knoll, 17th October 1943 – An LST landing troops of the 9th Division at Scarlet Beach – General Morshead with Major-General G. F. Wootten, Brigadier B. Evans and Colonel A. R. Garrett – A jeep negotiating mud and slush in the Finschhafen area – Men of the 2/24th Battalion and the Papuan Infantry in the Sattelberg area – The 2/48th Battalion moving forward to attack Coconut Ridge – The attack on Coconut Ridge, 17th November 1943 – Horace the Horse – The Sattelberg Road, 27th November 1943 – Shaggy Ridge – Troops of the 21st Brigade in the foothills of the Finisterres – Natives carrying food and ammunition through the Mosa Gorge – The 2/16th Battalion on the Pimple, Shaggy Ridge – A wounded man of the 2/16th Battalion – The 2/9th Battalion on Shaggy Ridge – Looking towards Madang from Shaggy Ridge, 22nd January 1944 – American marines boarding LSTs, bound for Cape Gloucester – The landing of the 126th US Regimental Combat Team at Saidor – Men of the 2/2nd Commando Squadron crossing the Ramu River after patrolling to Jappa – Australians climbing the muddy slopes of the Finisterres – Australian troops on the way to Japanese-held Bogadjim – A weary soldier rests on a track in the Finisterres – The road from Bogadjim to Yaula built by the Japanese – Lieut-General S. G. Savige, Major-General A. H. Ramsay and Brigadier C. E. Cameron at Alexishafen – Aerial view of Finschhafen Harbour – Hollandia airfield, April 1944 – The Allied invasion convoy in Humboldt Bay, April 1944 – Maps – Bobdubi Ridge area – The Territories of Papua and New Guinea, and Bougainville in the northern Solomons – Australian and Japanese dispositions Wau–Salamaua–Lae area, 30th April 1943 – The 17th Brigade’s attack on Mubo, 7th–13th July – Operations of the 29th Brigade and 162nd US Regiment, 26th August–10th September – The advance on Lae–Nadzab, 1st to 5th September – Huon Peninsula – Australian and enemy dispositions Finschhafen area, 16th–17th October – Australian and Japanese redispositions Finschhafen area, last light 18th October – The 4th Brigade’s advance to Fortification Point, 5th–20th December – Capture of Kankiryo Saddle by the 18th Brigade, 19th January–1st February 1944 – Across the Finisterres to Madang – The Allied offensive in the Pacific, April 1943 to September 1944

Sketch Maps and Diagrams

Extent of Japanese conquest to April 1943, and Allied Areas of Command – Australian dispositions and area of Militia Bill – Lababia Ridge–Pimple–Green Hill area – Encirclement of Tatterson’s company, 2/7th Battalion, 9th–11th May – Hote–Cissembob area – 2/6th Battalion patrols to Nassau Bay, 2nd–9th June – Lower Markham River Valley area – Hogan’s patrol to Nadzab, 14th–18th June – Defence of Lababia Ridge, 20th–23rd June – Morobe to Duali – Nassau Bay landing, 29th–30th June – 58th/59th Battalion attack, 30th June – Ambush Knoll, 6th–7th July – The 2/3rd Independent Company at Goodview Junction, 8th–10th July – Tambu Bay area – The 2/5th Battalion’s toehold on Mount Tambu, 16th–19th July – Action at Buang River mouth, 21st July – Capture of Old Vickers by 58th/59th Battalion, 28th July – Defence of Old Vickers by 2/7th Battalion, 2nd–4th August – The capture of Roosevelt Ridge, 13th August – The 2/7th Battalion’s attack on Coconuts, 14th August – Allied and enemy dispositions, Salamaua area, 15th August – The capture of Komiatum and Mount Tambu by 17th Brigade, 16th–19th August – The attacks by 2/7th Battalion and 2/3rd Independent Company on Bench – Cut–Bobdubi track junctions, 17th–18th August – Japanese raids on Allied artillery positions, August 1943 – Burma–China – The Solomons – The Central Highlands – Maululi–Wesa–Waimeriba area – Tsili Tsili–Nadzab area – 24th Battalion patrol from Sunshine to Markham River, 7th–26th May – Area of Mosstroops’ operations – Mosstroops’ staging camps on the Sepik and Yellow Rivers – Some Allied landing craft – Australian and American dispositions, Salamaua area, 25th–26th August – Whitelaw’s company of the 24th Battalion on the Hote–Malolo track – Operations of the 15th Brigade north of the Francisco River, 26th August–10th September – Arnold’s Crest, 27th August – The fall of Salamaua, 11th–13th September – Landing diagram, Red Beach – Landing diagram, Yellow Beach – Initial objectives of the 9th Division, 4th September – The landing of the 503rd Parachute Regiment at Nadzab, 5th September – Battalion emplaning procedure diagram – The 24th Battalion at Markham Point, 4th September – The 2/23rd Battalion action in the Singaua Plantation area, 6th September – The 9th Division’s advance to the Busu River, 8th September – Crossing of the Busu River by 2/28th Battalion, 9th September – Last opposition before Lae to the 9th Division, 14th September – The 7th Division’s advance to Heath’s, 13th September – Last opposition before Lae to the 7th Division, 15th September – The fall of Lae, 11.30 a.m., 16th September – Routes of withdrawal of the 51st Japanese Division across the Huon Peninsula – The attack on Kaiapit by 2/6th Independent Company, 19th September – The capture and defence of Kaiapit, 20th September – Key points and route as set out in Nakai Force operation order – The upper Ramu and Markham River Valleys – The 2/14th Battalion action near Wampun, 4th October – The landing at Scarlet Beach, 22nd September – Scarlet Beach–Bumi River area – Hopoi to Scarlet Beach coastline – From the Bumi to Finschhafen – The 2/13th Battalion’s attack on Kakakog to 3 p.m. 1st October – Approaches to Jivevaneng and Kumawa – Tami Islands – Japanese seaborne attack on Scarlet Beach, 17th October – Dumpu–Shaggy Ridge area – The holding of Guy’s Post, 7th–8th October – The capture of Pallier’s Hill by 2/14th Battalion, 11th October – Defence of Trevor’s Ridge and Johns’ Knoll by 2/27th Battalion, 12th October – Reproduction of sketch of Shaggy Ridge in war diary of 2/16th Battalion for October 1943 – Dumpu–Bogadjim area – Clearing the track to Jivevaneng, 2nd November – 26th Brigade offensive, 17th–21st November – The 2/32nd Battalion on Pabu, 20th November – The Japanese counter-attack on the 24th Brigade, 22nd–23rd November – The capture of Sattelberg, 16th–25th November – Sattelberg, 24th November – Capture of Wareo–Gusika position, 27th November–15th December – Western patrol area – Dispositions 2/6th Commando Squadron and “B” Company, Papuan Battalion, in the Kesawai area, 8th December – Attack on “A” Company, 2/25th Battalion, night 12th–13th December – The 2/16th Battalion assault on Shaggy Ridge, 27th–28th December – Shaggy Ridge area – The 20th Brigade pursuit to Sio, 21st December 1943 to 15th January 1944 – The American landing at Saidor – Sio to Bogadjim – Capture of Spendlove Spur by 24th Battalion, 24th January – The 57th/60th Battalion in the Orgoruna–Kesa area, 30th January – The 8th Brigade’s pursuit along the Rai Coast, 20th January–4th February – The 8th Brigade’s advance to Saidor, 4th–10th February – The 57th/60th Battalion’s attack on Bridge 6, 10th–11th April – American operations in the northern Solomons, New Britain and the Admiralty – Islands, December 1943–March 1944 – The attack on Los Negros, 29th February to 4th March – Operations along the north coast of New Guinea – Aitape–Babiang – Madang–Wewak – Area of Merauke Force operations.