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War History World War II in Papua New Guinea. Australian and Japanese soldier who fought the battle, died and buried in Bomana (Port Moresby), Lae cemetary, Wewak, Relics and Wreckages.

 
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Old 18-04-2003, 11:58 AM
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Port Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetery & Listings of all people who are buried there.

This war cemetery, which was commenced in 1942 by the Army lies 19 kilometres north of Port Moresby on the road to Nine Mile, and is approached from the main road by a short side road called Pilgrims Way.

Simple wrought iron gates open on to a grass forecourt enclosed by a bank of colourful tropical shrubs and trees. From this forecourt a short flight of steps rises to the Stone of Remembrance, which is of pink freestone richly grained.
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Old 18-04-2003, 12:02 PM
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Beyond this, on gently rising ground, lie the graves, marked by white marble headstones; and from a mound beyond the graves, and dominating them, rises the cross of Sacrifice, made of the same stone as the Stone of Remembrance.

There are two grassed avenues of rain trees stretching from the front to the back of the cemetery, and between every few rows of graves are tropical shrubs and trees.

The total number of burials is 3,779, and these are classified on the following page. The 438 unidentified soldiers of the United Kingdom forces were all from the Royal Artillery and captured by the Japanese at the fall of Singapore; they died in captivity and were buried on the island of Ballale in the Solomons. These men were later re-buried in a temporary war cemetery at Torokina on Bougainville Island before being transferred to their permanent resting place at Port Moresby.
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Old 18-04-2003, 12:05 PM
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On a hill above and behind the cemetery, to the right of the centre, stands a rotunda of cylindrical pillars which is the memorial to those men of the Australian Army (including Papua and New Guinea local forces), the Australian Merchant Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force who lost their lives in the operations in Papua and who have no known graves.
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Old 18-04-2003, 12:10 PM
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Men of the Royal Australian Navy who lost their lives in the south-west Pacific region, and have no grave but the sea, are commemorated on Plymouth Naval Memorial in England, along with many of their comrades of the Royal Navy and of other Commonwealth Naval Forces.

Bougainville casualties who have no known graves (eight only) are commemorated on a memorial at Suva.
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Old 18-04-2003, 12:13 PM
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Port Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetery :
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Old 18-04-2003, 12:24 PM
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THE Territory of Papua, which comprises the south-eastern portion of the island of New Guinea and some groups of small islands, is separated from the Australian mainland only by the 145 kilometres wide Torres Straits. Port Moresby, the most important centre, has a good harbour on the Gulf of Papua and its situation so close to the mainland makes it eminently suitable as a naval and military base for operations in the south-west Pacific. It became a vital point to hold when the Japanese invaded New Guinea.

After the landings at Lae and Salamaua, Port Moresby was the chief Japanese objective. They decided to attack by sea, and assembled an amphibious expedition for the purpose, which set out early in May 1942. They were, however, intercepted and heavily defeated by American air and naval forces in the Coral Sea, and what remained of the Japanese expedition returned to Rabaul. After this defeat they decided to advance 'on Port Moresby overland and the attack was launched from Buna and Gona in September 1942.

On Bougainville, the largest and most northerly of the Solomon Islands, the enemy, early in 1942, established a considerable force ahnost without resistance and developed a useful base. This they held until Americans and Australians commenced offensive operations towards the end of 1943, when Bougainville was the only one of these islands remaining in Japanese hands. By August 1945, when the Japanese surrendered, most of the island had been recovered.

Those who died in the fighting in Papua and on Bougainville are buried in Port Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetery, where they were brought by the Australian Army Graves Service from burial grounds in the areas where the fighting had taken place.
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Old 18-04-2003, 12:32 PM
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Operations in Papua

SOON after the capture of Rabaul on the island of New Britain in January 1942, the Japanese commanders decided to thrust westward to the mainland of New Guinea. They planned to take Lae and Salamaua in the Huon Gulf, and then Port Moresby, the capital of the Territory of Papua; at the same time Tulagi in the Solomons was to be occupied. They intended later to take New Caledonia, Fiji and Samoa and thus sever the supply line connecting the United States with Australia and New Zealand.

Consequently on the 8th March, Japanese troops landed at Lae and Salamaua which were virtually undefended, and, early in May, an expedition set out from Rabaul towards Port Moresby.

The American naval staff had learnt in advance of this movement and sent a naval force including two carriers into the south-west Pacific. During the Battle of the Coral Sea between this force and the Australian cruiser squadron on the one hand and a Japanese force of similar strength on the other, the Japanese troop convoy turned back.

The Japanese leaders then decided to advance overland against Port. Moresby and at the same time send seaborne expeditions against New Caledonia, Fiji and Samoa. The defeat of the Japanese carrier fleet at the Battle of Midway in June caused an abandonment of the seaborne expeditions but on 21st July a Japanese force was landed at Gona and nuna with the intention of advancing across the Owen Stanley mountains to Port Moresby. These mountains presented an immense obstacle.

They were crossed by a seldom-travelled track which climbed over steep ridges to nearly 2,134 metres above sea level. For most of the distance the mountains were covered with dense rain-forest but at the highest points only moss and stunted trees would grow.

When the Japanese landed only a few hundred Australian troops were on the north side of the range. The Japanese rapidly advanced, taking Kokoda on the 29th July. In August the 7th Australian Division, which had recently returned from the Middle East, was hurried to New Guinea. Its 21st Brigade was sent forward into the mountains to reinforce the militia battalions fighting there, but during two weeks of hard fighting the defenders were pressed back to Ioribaiwa, 51 kilometres from Port Moresby.
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Old 18-04-2003, 12:39 PM
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Meanwhile the Japanese on 25th August had landed a seaborne force at Milne Bay, near the eastern tip of Papua. They did not realize that it was defended by a considerably stronger force than they had sent against it: two brigades of infantry, the 7th and 18th, and two locally-based fighter squadrons of the R.A.A.F., apart from. the American and Australian squadrons based at Port Moresby and in North Queensland. The Japanese fought their way about sixteen kilometres to the edge of the defenders' airstrip but were thrust back and on the nights of the 4th and 5th September the Japanese embarked most of the survivors.

By the second half of September a force equivalent to three divisions had been assembled in New Guinea, and the 7th Australian Division was concentrated against the Japanese who were deployed near Port Moresby. The 25th Brigade joined the depleted 21 st Brigade in the forward area but on 17th September fell back to Imita Ridge.

Nine days later a general advance opened and it was discovered that the Japanese, hampered by the difficulty of maintaining supplies across the mountains, had abandoned their offensive and were withdrawing. The 25th Brigade followed up but did not make contact with a Japanese rearguard until the 8th October at Templeton's Crossing.

Bruce, Rodney & Hamish at Templeton's Crossing seen here in this picture retracing the steps of soliders during World War II :
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Old 18-04-2003, 12:45 PM
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A few days earlier an Australian battalion, forerunner of a larger force, had been flown across the mountains and landed at Wanigela, east of the Japanese base in the Buna-Gona area.

The 7th Division pressed back the Japanese rearguards, taking Templeton's Crossing on the 16th October, Eora Creek after a hard fight on the 28th October, and Kokoda on the 2nd November.

On 9th-11th November, the 16th and 25th Brigades routed the main Japanese force remaining in the mountains at Oivi and Gorari, and aircraft pursued the fugitives. In the four months' battle in the Owen Stanleys the four Australian brigades engaged had lost 625 killed 'and 1,055 wounded.

Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels carrying a wounded soldier on the Kokoda Trail :

Many a mother in Australia when the busy day is done
Sends a prayer to the Almighty for the keeping of her son
Asking that an angel guide him and bring him safely back
Now we see those prayers are answered on the Owen Stanley Track.

For they haven't any halos, only holes slashed in their ears
And their faces worked by tattoos with scratch pins in their hair
Bringing back the badly wounded just as steady as a horse
Using leaves to keep the rain off and as gentle as a nurse

Slow and careful in the bad places on the awful mountain track
The look upon their faces would make you think Christ was black
Not a move to hurt the wounded as they treat him like a saint
It's a picture worth recording that an artist's yet to paint

Many a lad will see his mother and husbands see their wives
Just because the fuzzy wuzzy carried them to save their lives
From mortar bombs and machine gun fire or chance surprise attacks
To the safety and the care of doctors at the bottom of the track

May the mothers of Australia when they offer up a prayer
Mention those impromptu angels with their fuzzy wuzzy hair.

- Bert Beros
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Old 18-04-2003, 02:11 PM
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The advancing Australians and Americans-the column moving from the Owen Stanleys'and an airborne force being assembled about Wanigela-now faced a strong Japanese force firmly dug in along about nineteen kilometres of the flat swampy coastal plain from Gona to Cape Endaiadere.

The Allies, with eleven American and seven Australian air squadrons based in New Guinea and others able to give support from bases on the mainland, made it difficult for the Japanese to bring in reinforcements.

Four columns now advanced against the Japanese positions: one towards Cape Endaiadere, one against Buna, one towards Sanananda and one towards Gona. From 18th November until 23rd January six Australian brigades and three American regiments, of the 32nd Division, made a series of costly attacks against the Japanese fortress, reducing the sections of it one by one.

On the 9th December Australians took Gona. On the 18th December the 18th Brigade, brought from Milne Bay, renewed the attacks in the Buna area. By the first week of the new year the Japanese fortifications round Buna had been overcome. By 23rd January, 1943, after bitter fighting round Sanananda all organised resistance by the Japanese had been broken.

In the operations in Papua up to this time 2,379 Australians and 671 Americans had been killed in action. In addition practically the whole force was infected with malaria with the result that some battalions could muster fewer than one hundred men, none of them really fit.

In February the Japanese commander at Rabaul, having lost his base in Papua, decided to reinforce Lae with some 7,000 troops. On 1 st March these set sail in light transports and eight destroyers, but in a series of attacks American and Australian aircraft sank all the transports and four of the destroyers.

Port Moresby was the headquarters of the New Guinea Naval Survey Party which was operating there before war broke out in 1939. As soon as it was evident that the outbreak of war was imminent that year, a naval base staff was established away from the Australian mainland. Before Japan's entry into the war this staff was built up to the necessary proportions of thai of a defended port; and the R.A.N. escorted military reinforcements to Port Moresby.

When the Japanese tried to assault Port Morseby from the sea in May 1942 the Australian Naval Squadron formed the covering force for Port Moresby (under the command of Rear Admiral J. G. Crace in the flagship Australia), while the main naval-air action was fought betWeen the American and Japanese carrier forces.

Later-and now without losses-the ships of the Royal Australian Navy gradually extended their activities from Port Moresby, via Milne Bay, to the northern side of New Guinea in joint operations with the Australian land and air forces, in the Buna- Gona campaigns of December 1942- January 1943, and later.

The Navy Survey Group was responsible for charting channels through the reefs, and the escort vessels ( corvettes) for the escorting of supply ships, including those carrying tanks, round to Cape Endaiadere in December 1942 and transporting reinforcements from Milne Bay to the Buna area.


Battle of Buna :

During the Second World War. On 15 November 1942 MG Harding issued Field Order No. 1 for the operation. On 16 November the advance commenced according to plan. On 19 November the attack commenced.

History :

The Japanese had 16,000 troops in this region alone. Their mission was to capture Port Moresby was met by Australian and American forces in the jungles. Only 700 survived. The 18th Australian Brigade, commanded by Brigadier Wootten, and a squadron of the 2/6th Australian Armoured Regiment equipped with eight American M3 tanks, fast 14-ton vehicles but only lightly armored) were brought forward to Buna to reinforce the Americans. Artillery support was also available.

On 18 December the Australians attacked towards Cape Endaiadere with the Americans on their left in support. At 7 am the 2/9th Battalion, supported by seven tanks, aircraft, artillery and American mortars, advanced north through the Americans, on a front of about 600 yards and with the sea on their right.

On the right one post after another was shelled or bombed into silence and the leading men reached Cape Endaiadere. However, the left company, attacking without tanks lost more than half its eighty-seven men in an advance of only about 100 yards and was pinned down. The attack did not resume until after the arrival of three tanks in the afternoon. The battalion lost 171 officers and men, about half the strength of the attacking companies. Two tanks were burnt out.

Coconut Plantation :

At 7 am on 20 December the 2/9th Battalion reinforced by a company of the 2/10th Battalion on the right with an American battalion on the left continued the advance. With air support and four tanks spaced among the Australian infantry they moved through the coconut plantation without great opposition and by 10 am were advancing into the bush and kunai grass clothing the marshy country beyond the plantation. The tanks bogged down and were only able to travel along the beach.The attackers came under heavy mortar and machine-gun fire. The advance ended on the general line along the Simemi Creek.

Simemi Creek :

On 23 December, the 2/9th Battalion again attacked to take the tongue of land between the creek and the sea, losing fifty eight men killed or wounded. In six days of hard fighting the Japanese had been cleared from east of the Simemi Creek. The Simemi Creek was a formidable obstacle to the Australians and Americans. Tanks could not negotiate the shallows and attempts to have troops attack in the area would cost many lives.

After three days of searching for a safe crossing, the 2/10th battalion found a crossing downstream and the battalion moved across on 22 December. The Japanese were bewildered that the Australians had managed to cross the creek in the area they did and abandoned the adjacent positions on 23 December.

Fighting at the Buna Airstrip :

By nightfall the 2/10th held about one third of the Old Strip. The 2/10th was ordered to continue the advance along the Old Strip next day and was supported by four tanks. The attack opened at 9.30 am with the tanks spaced at intervals of fifty yards, the Australians on and astride the Old Strip and an American battalion on the left flank. Tanks and infantry advanced steadily for half an hour. Then a concealed Japanese anti-aircraft gun opened fire at short range and knocked out the four tanks in quick succession.

The infantry came under heavy fire but at the end of the day some 500 to 700 yards had been gained. Little progress was made on the next two days. The companies of the 2/10th were then no stronger than platoons and the desperate Japanese frequently counter-attacked. On the evening of 29 December, the 2/10th, strengthened by a company of the 2/9th and four newly arrived tanks, attacked the area between Giropa Point and the mouth of Simemi Creek, but gained nothing. On 31 December, the 2/12th Battalion relieved the 2/9th Battalion.

Advance to the Mission :

The Americans under General Eichelberger had made some gains on the left flank had captured the Government gardens and had isolated Buna Mission from Giropa Point. At 8 am on 1 January 1943 two Australian battalions, the 2/10th and the 2/12th with six tanks and two American battalions continued the attack on the Japanese positions east of Giropa Point.

The tanks, working with precision, rolled close to the enemy's bunkers and lashed them with fire while the infantry rushed forward and hurled charges. The strong-posts when overcome were found to contain from ten to seventy bodies. At the end of the long day, few Japanese posts east of Giropa Point held out. These remaining posts were reduced on 2 January, the same day the Americans captured Buna Mission.

Casualties :

There were 1400 Japanese buried at Buna, 500 in the American area west of Giropa Point and 900 east of Giropa Point. The US 32nd Division sustained 1,954 casualties; 466 killed and 1508 wounded. In sixteen days the 18th Brigade had lost 55 officers and 808 men, including 22 officers and 284 others killed.
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