The New Guinea campaign was one of the Pacific War’s theaters of operations during the Second World War . It ran parallel to the Solomon Islands campaign ; some operations were common to both campaigns because of the proximity of the territories. She saw mainly opposing Australian and American armies to Japanese armies.

The territory of New Guinea , with a large surface area suitable for large land, air and naval bases, was also strategically important because of its very position between the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean . The western part of the island, the Netherlands New Guinea , was a territory of the Netherlands part of the Dutch East Indies referred to the attacks of the Empire of Japan in early 1942 . The eastern part, under Australian mandate, was divided between the Territory of Papua and the Territory of New Guinea. If the Japanese did not envisage in the immediate future or never really planned to invade Australia, the annexation of these territories would not only have made it possible to isolate this country, but also to considerably Allies in the Southwest Pacific.

Japanese advances

  • Invasion of Rabaul
  • Battle of the Coral Sea
  • Invasion of Salamaua-Lae
  • Invasion of Buna-Gona

The fighting began with the assault on Rabaul , New Britain , on January 23, 1942 . Rabaul fell in February and became the bridgehead of the Japanese army for their campaigns in New Guinea. The United States Army Air Forces and the Royal Australian Air Force then launched bombing campaigns on Rabaul, immediately after its fall, and again in 1943 until the end of the war.

On March 8, the Japanese landed without any real opposition to Salamaua and Lae , investing the Papua territory , while the New Guinea Armed Volunteers took the maquis to carry out guerrilla actions .

In May 1942, however, the Battle of the Coral Sea saw Americans and Australians curb the advance of the Imperial troops who had to give up their plans for an amphibious assault for the capture of Port Moresby by choosing instead to lead an assault. from the areas north of the city, which invaded the Buna and Gona area for the purpose of establishing bridgeheads and disembarking troops, equipment and supplies necessary for this campaign.

First allied successes stop the Japanese progression

  • Kokoda Trail Campaign
  • Battle of Milne Bay
  • Battle of Goodenough
  • Battle of Buna-Gona-Sanananda
  • Battle of Wau
  • Battle of the Bismarck Sea
  • Salamaua-Lae countryside
    • Landing in Nassau Bay
    • Landing on Lae
    • Battle of Nadzab

After the Australians managed to contain Japan’s assault on Port Moresby during the Kokoda runway campaign , and then again to repel Japanese troops at the Battle of Milne Bay in August / September 1942, the reconquest of the Territory of Papua and the Territory of New Guinea begins with the extreme east of New Guinea . It follows the battle of Buna-Gona-Sanananda from November 1942 to January 1943 when Australians helped by the first American units recently arrived in New Guinea took control of the crucial heads of bridges established by the Japanese in this area, ThenSalamaua-Lae campaign from April to September 1943 during which the Japanese lost two major military, logistical and air bases on the island. After these successes, the Allies definitely took the initiative of operations in New Guinea.

Landings allies on the Bismarck Sea Islands

  • Bougainville Campaign
  • New Britain Campaign
    • Battle of Arawe
    • Battle of Cape Gloucester
    • Battle of Talasea
    • Battle of Gasmata
    • Battle of Wide Bay
    • Landing on Jacquinot Bay
    • Battle of the Open Bay
  • Campaign of the Admiralty Islands
  • Landing on Emirau

In order to isolate the main Japanese base at Rabaul, but also to cut the supply lines of all Japanese troops in New Guinea, the reconquest of the Solomon Islands took place from June 30, 1943 to March 25, 1944 during the Operation Cartwheel .

Successive landings took place on the islands of New Georgia, New Britain and the Admiralty Islands, where Japanese troops were neutralized, though some will remain hidden and entrenched deep in the jungle until the end of the war. .

Successive Progress of the Allies from East to West

Landing of the US Army in July 1944 on Noemfoor
  • Huon Peninsula Campaign
    • Landing on Scarlet Beach
    • Battle of Finschhafen
    • Battle of Sattelberg
    • Battle of Jivevaneng
    • Battle of Wareo
    • Battle of Sio
  • Monts Finisterre countryside
  • Landing on Saidor
  • Landing on Aitape
  • Battle of Hollandia
  • Battle of Wakde
  • Battle of Wakde-Sarmi (Lone Tree Hill)
  • Battle of Biak
  • Battle of Noemfoor
  • Battle of Aitape (Driniumor)
  • Battle of Sansapor
  • Battle of Morotai

With the massive arrival of American soldiers who organized successive landings from early 1944, by flea jumping from eastern New Guinea to its far west, the Allied troops recaptured all the northern coastal areas. of the island and the main ports and aerodromes during operations from September 1943 to September 1944.

In many cases, the US staff deliberately decided not to fight, to avoid and ignore Japanese garrisons whose neutralization was not of real strategic importance. These garrisons, cut off from all supplies in hostile terrain, were forced to retreat into the mountainous jungle and inland swamps, where they survived until the end of the war, severely hungry. and sickness but also allied air raids.

Aitape-Wewak campaign

  • Aitape-Wewak Campaign

After completing this sequence of operations, US troops in the north of the island were called upon to continue fighting in other areas of the Pacific War Theater , including the Philippines . The entire pursuit of operations in New Guinea thus fell to the Australian army , which resumed the offensive in the northwestern territory of New Guinea that the Americans had put in brackets after capturing their main objectives.

From November 1944, the th Australian Infantry Division was tasked to confront the remaining elements, estimated at 30,000 men from three Japanese infantry divisions decimated, scattered, very isolated and suffering from a cruel lack of supplies in food and equipment around the region of Aitape and Wewak .

On very difficult terrain and in harsh climatic conditions for the belligerents, the Japanese troops were stalked and pushed further by Australian units specially trained for jungle fighting until the end of the war.

Notes and references

  1. ↑ a and b in ) Damien Fenton, ” Remembering the war in New Guinea ”  [ archive ]

Sources and Bibliography

  • In ) Robert Ross Smith , The Approach to the Philippines: The War in the Pacific , University Press of the Pacific ;,reprinted 2005), 644 p. ( read online  [ archive ] )
  • In ) United States Strategic Bombing Survey , The Campaigns of the Pacific War , United States Government Printing Office ;,reprinted 1969), 404 p. ( read online  [ archive ] ) , “Chapter VIII: The New Guinea Campaign”
  • In ) Douglas MacArthur , Reports of General MacArthur: The Campaigns of MacArthur in the Pacific-Volume I , United States Army Center of Military History,, 466 p. ( read online  [ archive ] )
  • In ) Douglas MacArthur , Reports of General MacArthur: Japanese operations in the South West Pacific Area, Volume II, Part I , United States Army Center of Military History,, 363 p. ( read online  [ archive ] )
  • In ) David Dexter , Volume VI, The New Guinea Offensives , Australian War Memorial, al.  “Australia in the War of 1939-1945”,, 851 p. ( read online  [ archive ] )
  • Charles R. Anderson , Papua , Washington, United States Army Center of Military History ( read online  [ archive ] ).
  • Edward J. Drea , New Guinea , Washington, United States Army Center of Military History ( read online  [ archive ] ).
  • In ) Harry A. Gailey , MacArthur’s Victory: The War In New Guinea from 1943 to 1944 , Random House,, 304 p. ( ISBN  978-0345463869 )
  • In ) Stephen R. Taaffe , MacArthur’s Jungle War: The 1944 New Guinea Campaign , University Press of Kansas,, 328 p. ( ISBN  978-0700608706 )