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    Remembering the Battle of Milne Bay

    Military Shop
    Posted by Military Shop on Sep 4, 2023 6:07:00 PM

    The Battle of Milne Bay in August and September 1942 was a turning point in Australia’s War in the Pacific, and a major morale boost for Allies fighting the seemingly unstoppable Japanese. For the first time, a Japanese amphibious invading force was forced to retreat.

    In May 1942, American General Douglas MacArthur selected Milne Bay as the site for a new airbase to provide air patrols over the eastern seaward approaches to Port Moresby and launch air raids against the Japanese at Rabaul. 

    The Japanese underestimated the island's defenses when they invaded, with the first wave of almost 2,000 marines landing 11kms to the east of the base on 26 August. The two light tanks in support were not enough to make up for the lack of knowledge of the island's layout. Nine thousand Allied troops, including two Australian infantry brigades, artillery, and two RAAF Squadrons with P-40 Kittyhawk fighter bombers, were awaiting them. American engineers were also present.


    At first, the Japanese troops were successful in pushing back the 61st and 2/10th Battalions of Australian troops. However, they soon began to suffer heavy casualties from bombing and strafing attacks by P-40s of No 75 and No 76 Squadrons. In spite of this, they continued to advance until 28 August. Around 800 more soldiers joined the ranks for the final assault. However, the waiting Allied troops were prepared with mortar, artillery, machine guns and manpower, which overwhelmed the Japanese. Despite several surges, the Japanese could not break through and on 31 August withdrew. The Australian forces pursued them.

    As the Japanese retreated, some made it to waiting Imperial Japanese Navy cruisers while many more attempted to cross the island to reach Japan's base at Buna. However, more than half were killed in the assault or while trying to reach Japanese lines. Australia lost 187 men in the battle, and America lost 14.

    Milne Bay remained an important Allied staging area into late 1943.

    Commemorate Milne Bay and honour our service men and women this Remembrance Day and everyday. 





    Topics: WW2, Remembrance Day

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