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

Volume 7

The Final Campaigns

by Gavin Long

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 September 1944 to September 1945

Chapter 1: The Final Phase Begins

Chapter 2: Plans and Problems

Chapter 3: The General, the Parliament and the Ministers

Chapter 4: Leaders and Men

Chapter 5: The Bougainville Campaign Takes Shape

Chapter 6: The Offensive Opens

Chapter 7: To Slater’s Knoll and Soraken

Chapter 8: Across the Hari: Porton Plantation

Chapter 9: The Floods and the Cease Fire

Chapter 10: Operations on New Britain

Chapter 11: Taking Over at Aitape

Chapter 12: Across the Danmap

Chapter 13: To Dagua: And Across the Amuk River

Chapter 14: Maprik and Wewak Taken

Chapter 15: Tazaki and Shiburangu

Chapter 16: Planning for Borneo – April to June 1945

Chapter 17: Tarakan: Town and Airfield Taken

Chapter 18: Tarakan: The Garrison Destroyed

Chapter 19: Oboe Six Opens

Chapter 20: Securing British Borneo

Chapter 21: The Seizure of Balikpapan

Chapter 22: Balikpapan Area Secured

Chapter 23: After the Cease Fire

Chapter 24: Looking Back


Appendix 1: Command Problems, SWPA 1942–1945

Appendix 2: Too Many Generals?

Appendix 3: General Blamey’s Appreciation of May 1945

Appendix 4: The Allied Intelligence Bureau

Appendix 5: The Prison Break at Cowra, August 1944

Appendix 6: Order of Battle of the 7th Division at Balikpapan

Appendix 7: Some Statistics

Appendix 8: Australian Army Unit Histories, War of 1939–45

Appendix 9: Abbreviations



The 25th Battalion advancing towards Little George, Bougainville – A patrol of the 42nd Battalion in the Motupena Point area – Men of the 42nd Battalion near Mawaraka, Bougainville – Aerial view of Japanese gardens in the Monoitu area – Headquarters of the 3rd Division at Toko, Bougainville – The 2nd Field Regiment disembarking at Toko – A patrol of the 24th Battalion searching for Japanese raiders – A tank of the 2/4th Armoured Regiment crossing the Puriata River – Troops of the New Guinea Infantry Battalion with Japanese prisoners – Men of the 24th Battalion advancing along the Buin Road – A tractor train on the Buin Road – Troops of the 26th Battalion landing on Torokori Island – A corduroyed road in northern Bougainville – Lieut-General V. A. H. Sturdee, Brigadier H. H. Hammer, Major-General – W. Bridgeford and Lieut-General S. G. Savige – The Buin Road at the Hongorai River – The 2/8th Commando Squadron in the Musaraka area, Bougainville – A muddy section of the Buin Road – A sodden camp of the 47th Battalion in southern Bougainville – The Japanese peace envoy on the bank of the Mivo River – Lieut-General Kanda surrenders to Lieut-General Savige – Japanese artillery assembled in southern Bougainville after the surrender – Sergeant D. E. Sloan giving instructions to a patrol of the 1st New Guinea Infantry Battalion on New Britain – A patrol in the Jacquinot Bay area – Major-General A. H. Ramsay, Lieut-General J. Northcott, Major-General C. S. Steele and Major-General J. H. Cannan with staff officers of the 5th Division at Jacquinot Bay – A wounded man of the 14th/32nd Battalion near Waitavalo, New Britain – The 2/11th Battalion advancing from the Danmap River, in the Aitape area of New Guinea – The leading company of the 2/11th crossing the Wakip River – The 2/11th Battalion in an action against Japanese positions east of Matapau – The 2/2nd Battalion near Dagua – Wrecked aircraft on Dagua airfield – Stretcher bearers of the 2/2nd Battalion on the 1410 Feature – Native carriers in the mountains south of Dagua – A carrier line taking supplies to the Wonginara Mission area – Major-General J. E. S. Stevens and Lieut-Colonel J. A. Bishop – Part of “Farida Force” landing east of Wewak – A private of the 2/8th Battalion using a flame-thrower – A weapon-pit of the 2/5th Battalion in the Torricellis – Carriers climbing Mount Shiburangu – Sketch of a Japanese bunker in the Shiburangu area – The Blot on the day of its capture by the 2/8th Battalion – A Vickers machine-gun crew supporting the 2/6th Battalion during the attack on Ulunkohoitu Ridge – Troops of the 2/7th Battalion pass a House Tamboran at Sigora – Weary men of the 2/7th resting on a muddy section of the track to Kiarivu – A “kai bomber” drops food near Kiarivu – The 2/7th Battalion approaching Kiarivu – Kiarivu, looking towards Mount Turu – Major-General H. C. H. Robertson taking the surrender of Lieut-General Adachi – Brigadier D. A. Whitehead, Lieut-General Sir Leslie Morshead and Lieut-Colonel S. J. Douglas – An LST carrying troops of the 26th Brigade for the assault on Tarakan – Engineers of the 2/13th Field Company demolishing underwater obstacles at Tarakan – Some 2/13th Field Company sappers after breaching underwater obstacles – The bombardment of Tarakan – Unloading in progress at Tarakan – A machine-gun crew of the 2/23rd firing at a Japanese position across the Glenelg Highway, Tarakan – Stretcher bearers of the 2/23rd Battalion bringing out a wounded man – Red Beach, Tarakan, on the day of the landing – Troops of the 2/24th Battalion approach a Japanese pill-box on Tarakan – Hill 105, Tarakan – Guns bombarding the Joyce feature, Tarakan – Snags Track and the Elbow feature, Tarakan – A 2/24th Battalion patrol in the Hill 90 area – The 24th Brigade’s landing on Labuan Island – Troops of the 20th Brigade land on Muara Island – Lieut-Colonel M. R. Jeanes with General MacArthur and General Morshead on Labuan – Men of the 2/43rd Battalion during the attack on Labuan airfield – Labuan Island: a jeep ambulance transporting a wounded Chinese girl – Questioning refugees on Labuan Island – Troops of the 2/17th Battalion patrolling Brunei town – Bren gun position of the 2/43rd Battalion north of Labuan airfield – Major-General G. F. Wootten and Air Commodore F. R. W. Scherger – Dyaks being questioned at 20th Brigade headquarters, Brunei – Burning oil wells at Seria, Borneo – Indian troops after release from captivity – A patrol of the 2/13th Battalion setting out from Miri, Borneo – Landing craft carrying troops of the 7th Division to the assault on Balikpapan – Men of the 2/14th Battalion landing from an LCI at Balikpapan on 1st July – An LCVP landing troops at Balikpapan – Infantrymen moving inland – A Matilda tank advancing through the Balikpapan port area – A patrol of the 2/9th Battalion entering Penadjam village – The control tower at Manggar airfield – General Sir Thomas Blamey with Major-General E. J. Milford and Lieut-General F. H. Berryman – Sketch of Waites’ Knoll area – Sappers of the 2/9th Field Company searching for mines at Balikpapan – Stretcher bearers bringing in a wounded man – A mortar crew of the 2/2nd Anti-Tank Regiment supporting the advance on Parramatta – Directing mortar fire on to Hill 87, Balikpapan – Infantry and artillery observers pinned down by fire from Hill 87 – Men of the 2/12th Battalion in action near Balikpapan – A flame-throwing tank with troops of the 2/10th Battalion attacking a Japanese bunker near the Tank Plateau – Troops of the 2/10th Battalion, supported by tanks, in action at Balikpapan – The surrender ceremony on the USS Missouri at Tokyo Bay, 2nd September 1945 – Japanese troops dumping ammunition in the sea after the surrender – Tokyo, April 1947. The 65th Battalion changing the guard at the Imperial Palace


The Allied front in the Far East, December 1944 – Dutch New Guinea, Borneo and the Philippines – Australian and Japanese dispositions in the First Army area, January 1945 – Bougainville Island – New Britain – Australian and Japanese formations in Aitape–Wewak area – 20th Brigade operations – Balikpapan operations to 5th July

Sketch Maps and Diagrams

The South-West and Central Pacific Areas – The Solomon Islands – The take-over at Torokina – The Numa Numa trail and Sisivie – The attack on Little George – The attack on Arty Hill – Torokina to Numa Numa – Pearl Ridge – The operations of 31st/51st Battalion towards Soraken – Tsimba Ridge – Northern Bougainville – Operations of the 29th Brigade, January 1945 – Pagana River area, showing corrections to original map – Sipuru–Kieta area – The 7th Brigade’s advance to the Puriata – Slater’s Knoll – Buin area – The 26th Battalion’s advance to Soraken – The advance from the Puriata to Hiru Hiru – 15th Brigade, May–June – 15th Brigade’s advance from the Hongorai to the Hari – 23rd Brigade on the Numa Numa trail – Soraken and Porton Plantations – Ogorata River to the Porror River – Wide Bay area – Open Bay area – Operations in central New Britain – Bacon Hill area – Aitape to Madang – To Yambes and the Danmap – 2/5th Battalion’s advance to Bulamita and Amam – From the Danmap to the Ninahau – 19th Brigade’s advance to Malin and Abau – 16th Brigade’s advance to the Anumb River – 17th Brigade’s advance from Balif towards Maprik – Nilu–Screw River area – 16th Brigade’s advance to the Ninahau River – From the Anumb River to But – Ninahau River to Kofi – 16th Brigade’s advance to Wonginara Mission and Kofi – 17th Brigade’s advance through Maprik – 16th Brigade’s advance to the Hawain River – Wewak area – 19th Brigade’s advance from Boiken to Cape Wom – The capture of Wewak – Wewak to Madang – Hansa Bay to the Sepik River – Kalabu to Ilipem – 17th Brigade’s advance to Kiarivu – Wewak to Rindogim – Japanese last-stand area – Borneo and the Philippines – operations of Australian and American forces – Diagram – Chain of Command, Tarakan – Tarakan Island – Japanese dispositions Tarakan, 1st May 1945 – Advance of the 26th Brigade to 5th May – Tarakan, central area, from 6th May onwards – Tarakan, South-eastern area, from 6th May – North Tarakan – Areas of responsibility on Tarakan – Borneo – Northern Borneo and Sarawak area – Landings in Brunei Bay – Brunei area – Labuan Island – “The Pocket”, Labuan Island – The capture of Beaufort-26th–29th June – North Borneo – Beaufort operations – Balikpapan area – 2/10th Battalion at Parramatta, Balikpapan – Stalkudo to Manggar – The 2/14th Battalion at Manggar – Milford Highway – 18th Brigade operations, Balikpapan Bay – Balikpapan to Sambodja – Areas of responsibility of II Japanese Army and Allied force commanders – Japan