The battle for New Guinea

Discussion in 'War Against Japan' started by Harry Ree, Aug 12, 2007.

  1. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    No 137 After the Battle magazine has a good article on "The Kokoda Trail". It compliments Lida Mayo's detailed account of the campaign in "Bloody Buna".

    An example, as the South Pacific war progressed of the erosion of the invincibility of the Japanese soldier as a jungle fighter.
     
  2. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    This was the start of it: Unable to secure Kokoda the Japanese tried to land at Milne Bay.

    Milne Bay; the beginning of the end in the Pacific
    [​IMG] "Australian troops had, at Milne Bay, inflicted on the Japanese their first undoubted defeat on land.
    Some of us may forget that, of all the allies, it was the Australians who first broke the invincibility of the Japanese army".
    Field-marshal Sir William Slim, Defeat Into Victory
    In late August, unable to move further down the Kokoda Trail, the Japanese decided to make a second line of attack on Port Moresby. On 25-26 August they landed at Milne Bay on the extreme eastern tip of Papua, about 370 kilometres from Port Moresby. Although under great logistical stress with the fighting on the Kokoda Trail, Allied forces were ready for them. Unlike the protracted Kokoda campaign, the Battle of Milne Bay ended in just over ten days.
     
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  3. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Spidge,

    I was going to summarise the campaign as the beginning of the end for Japanese militarism.There is no doubt that this campaign illustrated that the Japanese would be marginalised by the long lines of their supply structure for men and material neccessary to maintain the thrust and delivery of their overall planning.
     
  4. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    Spidge,

    I was going to summarise the campaign as the beginning of the end for Japanese militarism.There is no doubt that this campaign illustrated that the Japanese would be marginalised by the long lines of their supply structure for men and material neccessary to maintain the thrust and delivery of their overall planning.


    Hi Harry,

    This as you so rightly stated, was the end of the easy landings and put them on the back foot for the rest of the war.

    I think by this time they were finding it difficult and possibly unusual that their normal modus operandi was not achieving them their desired victory at Kokoda and looked for another "soft spot" in the lines.

    It is interesting and a sore spot that Macarthur demanded victory although he was not familiar with the terrain and conditions (had not been there) that these young lads were fighting in New Guinea.

    Guadalcanal is thought to be (by most Americans) as the first defeat of the Japanese in the Pacific.
     
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  5. syscom_3

    syscom_3 Member

    ...Guadalcanal is thought to be (by most Americans) as the first defeat of the Japanese in the Pacific.

    The losses suffered by the IJA in NG was tolerable.

    The losses suffered by the IJN at Guadalcanal was irreplacable.
     
  6. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    "The losses suffered by the IJA in NG was tolerable.

    The losses suffered by the IJN at Guadalcanal was irreplacable."
    =====================================================

    I am not marginalising the effort of the Americans on Guadalcanal. The point of Milne Bay was it was the first landing where the Japanese were repelled.

    If the Japanese had been successful in New Guinea by taking Port Moresby, the situation for Guadalcanal would have been very different.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2018
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  7. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    I am not marginalising the effort of the Americans on Guadalcanal. The point of Milne Bay was it was the first landing where the Japanese were repelled.

    If the Japanese had been successful in New Guinea by taking Port Moresby, the situation for Guadalcanal would have been very different.

    Actually Wake Island was the first to repel Japanese landing on Dec 8, 1941, although the IJN eventually took the island on their second attempt two weeks later.

    The Australians inflicted the first land defeat of the Japanese at Milne Bay.
    "Australian troops had, at Milne Bay, inflicted on the Japanese their first undoubted defeat on land. Some of us may forget that, of all the allies, it was the Australians who first broke the invincibility of the Japanese army." Field Marshal William Slim.

    Good Show!
     
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  8. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

     
  9. machine shop tom

    machine shop tom Senior Member

    Actually Wake Island was the first to repel Japanese landing on Dec 8, 1941, although the IJN eventually took the island on their second attempt two weeks later.

    The Australians inflicted the first land defeat of the Japanese at Milne Bay.
    "Australian troops had, at Milne Bay, inflicted on the Japanese their first undoubted defeat on land. Some of us may forget that, of all the allies, it was the Australians who first broke the invincibility of the Japanese army." Field Marshal William Slim.

    Good Show!

    If I remember correctly the Aussies paid dearly for their victory and were given short-shrift on the credit they deserved for it from MacArthur.

    tom
     
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  10. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    Don't even get me started on Lord MacArthur.
     
  11. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    If I remember correctly the Aussies paid dearly for their victory and were given short-shrift on the credit they deserved for it from MacArthur.
    tom

    Macarthur played the political game.

    American victories were reported to Washington as such.

    Australian victories were reported as allied.

    Milne Bay was not a major victory in the scheme of Pacific battles but it was significant. The first where a Japanese force had been repelled once it had established a beachhead.

    The significance of denying the Japanese passage to Port Moresby through places like Kokoda and Milne Bay are often spoken of in the numbers of Japanese killed in ratio to Guadalcanal.

    If Port Moresby had been taken by the Japanese, the Americans on Guadalcanal would have suffered the same fate that the Japanese did in respect to supply.

    The attached map highlights the importance of New Guinea and Port Moresby and the catastrophe that would have ensued on Guadalcanal from Japanese Naval and Air Forces.

    Don't forget also, that on September 16th after Wasp was sunk, USS Hornet was the only Aircraft Carrier in the Pacific for over a month.

    Japanese conquests Pacific 1942.jpg
     
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  12. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    You'll get no argument from me.

    By then the Japanese were vainly attempting reagain the initiative. I don't think they fully realized the rising tide coming from the east as the fought the doggedly tough Australians.

    There are generals I am fond of, Terry Allen, T Roosevelt, Jr., Anthony McAuliffe, just to name a few (American that is, there are others of different nationalities).

    Doug MacArthur is not one of them.
     
  13. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    There are generals I am fond of, Terry Allen, T Roosevelt, Jr., Anthony McAuliffe, just to name a few (American that is, there are others of different nationalities).

    Doug MacArthur is not one of them.

    Macarthur was as popular as a f**t in a spacesuit with Australian officers in the field because he did not have a clue what the conditions were like in New Guinea.
     
  14. A Potts

    A Potts Member

    From my understanding it was the Australians who were very particular, as to how the war was fought by the Americans.

    The Australians at the time always tried to play down the American effort in the SW Pacific. There were many reasons for this:

    1. We have fought longer and know the war better.

    2. You have had great time living it up in Australia and now you should come and face the music.

    3. We are Aussies, lets see you fight better than me.

    My grandfather fought in a militia unit in the battle of Gona, Buna & Sananada. They had taken terrible losses trying to take the positions, with may I add, very experienced Papuan veterans.

    When the US soldiers turned up, they were lead to believe quite innocently that they would relieve the Australians and they would take care of 'business'. They commented to the Australians as such and the Australians stood back and watched the horror unfold.

    My grandfather was very critical, but also quite praise worthy of the Americans. He thought that many were extremely brave, but very inexperienced. With what they had, they did a fair job; unfortunatly that was not enough.

    I feel that the Australian view is somewhat skewed, given the attitude of many Australians.
     
  15. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

     
  16. syscom_3

    syscom_3 Member

    ......If Port Moresby had been taken by the Japanese, the Americans on Guadalcanal would have suffered the same fate that the Japanese did in respect to supply.

    The attached map highlights the importance of New Guinea and Port Moresby and the catastrophe that would have ensued on Guadalcanal from Japanese Naval and Air Forces.

    Don't forget also, that on September 16th after Wasp was sunk, USS Hornet was the only Aircraft Carrier in the Pacific for over a month.

    View attachment 6516

    Not so fast. The fall of NG would not really effect the outcome of Guadalcanal. In fact, the allies might have been in a better position by diverting resources to that campaign instead of to NG.

    Guadalcanal was foremost a sea battle. NG a land battle.
     
  17. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    Not so fast. The fall of NG would not really effect the outcome of Guadalcanal. In fact, the allies might have been in a better position by diverting resources to that campaign instead of to NG.

    Guadalcanal was foremost a sea battle. NG a land battle.


    As it turned out yes, however the loss of New Guinea would have altered much of what occurred from then on.

    The loss of New Guinea and more importantly Port Moresby was critical as a refuelling area for long range allied bombers from Australia (Townsville) which allowed the bombing of other wise unreachable Japanese shipping and airfields as well as being one of the finest harbours.

    This in turn opened to attack the Australian mainland bases which supplied allied shipping.

    The Guadalcanal (land) situation even up until the end of October/November 1942 was grave to say the least. They only had (84?) fighters at best however they did not have enough fuel to supply the bombers and what they did have had to be hand pumped from 44 gallon drums. Henderson Field was continually bombed and harassed by long range bombers from the Japanese held territories to the north.

    The bases then south of Guadalcanal such as Samoa, New Hebrides etc would then be under threat. The well known intentions of the Japanese to cut the communication and supply lines between America and Australia could have been realised.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2018
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  18. syscom_3

    syscom_3 Member

    Should Port Moresby had fallen in the summer of 1942, there is little the IJA/IJN could have done to exploit the situation. The Japanese were way over extended as it was, and would have needed time to build up their forces, which would have taken weeks, if not months.

    I would predict the following to occur:
    1) Allied forces would build up in Northern Australia keeping the Japanese on their toes in NG.
    2) The campaign for Guadalcanal would unfold as it did, perhaps even more to the advantage of the allies by not diverting resources to NG.
    3) In 1943, the allies would still move up the Solomons as it happened.
    4) The USN would still invade the Gilberts and Marshalls as happened, eventually cutting off NG by summer of 1944.
    5) It doesnt matter how many planes or men the Japanese had in 1943 and 1944, because they didnt have the shipping to support huge numbers of troops anywhere in the central Pacific.
     
  19. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    Should Port Moresby had fallen in the summer of 1942, there is little the IJA/IJN could have done to exploit the situation.The Japanese were way over extended as it was, and would have needed time to build up their forces, which would have taken weeks, if not months.


    The Japanese already held the rest of New Guinea so their need for build up to Port Moresby would be negligible. The only reason the Japanese were restricted to their Naval base at Rabaul was the threat of Port Moresby.
    Losing New Guinea in this theatre at this time would have been likened to losing Britain in the European Theatre. Not as a stepping stone for invasion but as a strategic land mass.

    I would predict the following to occur:
    1) Allied forces would build up in Northern Australia keeping the Japanese on their toes in NG.

    While the Japanese were keeping us on our toes in Australia. Remember also that there was virtually no powerful allied naval force between Darwin and the Japanese held territory to the north. The Japanese did have total control of these waters through to the Indian ocean.

    To the east, on the Coral Sea, the most northerly base of Australia was at Cairns. From there to Port Moresby is a similar distance of London to Berlin.

    2) The campaign for Guadalcanal would unfold as it did, perhaps even more to the advantage of the allies by not diverting resources to NG.

    The allied forces were also at a great disadvantage at that time by not having sufficient shipping transport for their needs, and as I stated previously, had only one Aircraft carrier (Hornet) in the Pacific.

    3) In 1943, the allies would still move up the Solomons as it happened.

    We are skipping 14 months into the future with this statement.
    This becomes a crystal ball statement as the Guadalcanal campaign was still in its infancy in September 1942 and in a most precarious position. Guadalcanal, both land and sea was so precarious that the reporting of a few Coastwatchers made the difference between victory and defeat in those early days and more importantly when moving forward.

    4) The USN would still invade the Gilberts and Marshalls as happened, eventually cutting off NG by summer of 1944.

    The Gilberts and the Marshalls would have been invaded and taken no doubt however Betio on Tarawa was not even 2 square kilometres and cost a 1,000 marines in three days.

    The only reason Rabaul was able to be isolated and bypassed on the push to the Philippines was that New Guinea was not in enemy hands.

    To say that New Guinea could have been bypassed shows no understanding of the importance of this strategic island mass. Please look at the map of Japanese held territory, change the yellow in New Guinea to red and the only clear land mass besides Australia in total allied hands is what? You are again making the assumption that Guadalcanal was a win.

    Japanese conquests Pacific 1942.jpg

    I do not doubt that Guadalanal would have eventually fallen however it would not have been as straightforward as you would like to make out. The Japanese in the long term could not fight a battle of attrition with America.

    5) It doesnt matter how many planes or men the Japanese had in 1943 and 1944, because they didnt have the shipping to support huge numbers of troops anywhere in the central Pacific.

    Quite true, however those islands were to protect the allied flank and rear on the push to retake the Dutch East Indies and the Philippines on their way to Japan. New Guinea would never have been bypassed.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2018
  20. syscom_3

    syscom_3 Member

    The Japanese already held the rest of New Guinea so their need for build up to Port Moresby would be negligible. The only reason the Japanese were restricted to their Naval base at Rabaul was the threat of Port Moresby.
    Losing New Guinea in this theatre at this time would have been likened to losing Britain in the European Theatre. Not as a stepping stone for invasion but as a strategic land mass.

    The IJN developed a string of bases along the Solomons regardless of what was happening in NG.

    And then again, the question is could have the IJN supported both a buildup in NG and sustained operations in the Solomons. I seriously doubt the IJN could do both.

    While the Japanese were keeping us on our toes in Australia. Remember also that there was virtually no powerful allied naval force between Darwin and the Japanese held territory to the north. The Japanese did have total control of these waters through to the Indian ocean.

    I will agree that politically, having the Japanese on your doorstep would be an extremely important thing to take care of. But the fact remains that the Japanese never did have the logistics and strategic bombing capability that was capable of threatening Australia beyond the far northern reaches.

    To the east, on the Coral Sea, the most northerly base of Australia was at Cairns. From there to Port Moresby is a similar distance of London to Berlin.

    And if Port Moresby was lost, then the allies would regroup at Cairns.

    But also remember that the distance from Guadalcanal to Rabaul was only a few hundred miles.

    The allied forces were also at a great disadvantage at that time by not having sufficient shipping transport for their needs, and as I stated previously, had only one Aircraft carrier (Hornet) in the Pacific.

    What time frame are you talking about?

    We are skipping 14 months into the future with this statement.
    This becomes a crystal ball statement as the Guadalcanal campaign was still in its infancy in September 1942 and in a most precarious position. Guadalcanal, both land and sea was so precarious that the reporting of a few Coastwatchers made the difference between victory and defeat in those early days and more importantly when moving forward.

    Not really. Anything the Japanese could do in NG and the Solomons became irrelevant by late 1943 when the USN had the amphib capability to bypass and isolate the area.

    The Gilberts and the Marshalls would have been invaded and taken no doubt however Betio on Tarawa was not even 2 square kilometres and cost a 1,000 marines in three days.

    Eniwetok and Kwajelein were invaded with minimal loss's due tot he lessons learned at Betio. And by March 1944, the USN was even more powerfull than Nov 1943.

    The only reason Rabaul was able to be isolated and bypassed on the push to the Philippines was that New Guinea was not in enemy hands.

    Like I said, even if Rabaul was in untouched condition, once the USN rolled through the central pacific, Rabaul was going to be isolated.

    To say that New Guinea could have been bypassed shows no understanding of the importance of this strategic island mass. Please look at the map of Japanese held territory, change the yellow in New Guinea to red and the only clear land mass besides Australia in total allied hands is what? You are again making the assumption that Guadalcanal was a win.


    Admiral King had the simplest strategy of going through the central pacific to the mariana's and then isolating Japan through advanced naval and air bases, even if no B29's existed.

    The war in the Pacific was a naval war, not a land war.

    Quite true, however those islands were to protect the allied flank and rear on the push to retake the Dutch East Indies and the Philippines on their way to Japan. New Guinea would never have been bypassed.

    Could you imagine a B24 and Lancaster offensive against the Japanese oil fields in the NEI in middle 1943?
     
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