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Add To Cart. Wish Lists. Enter your name: optional Save My Review. Related Products. Despite Australian fears, the Japanese never intended to invade the Australian mainland. While an invasion was considered by the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters in February , it was judged to be beyond the Japanese military's capabilities and no planning or other preparations were undertaken.
The collapse of British power in the Pacific also led Australia to reorient its foreign and military policy towards the United States. Curtin stated in December "that Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the United Kingdom. All of the Australian military's combat units in this area were placed under MacArthur's command, and MacArthur replaced the Australian Chiefs of Staff as the Australian Government's main source of military advice until the end of the war. Nevertheless, the partnership between Curtin and MacArthur proved beneficial for Australia between and as MacArthur was able to communicate Australian requests for assistance to the US Government.
Large numbers of United States military personnel were based in Australia during the first years of the Pacific War. Many US military bases were constructed in northern Australia during and , and Australia remained an important source of supplies to US forces in the Pacific until the end of the war.
Though relations between Australians and Americans were generally good, there was some conflict between US and Australian soldiers, such as the Battle of Brisbane ,  and the Australian Government only reluctantly accepted the presence of African American troops. Japanese forces first landed on the mainland of New Guinea on 8 March when they invaded Lae and Salamaua to secure bases for the defence of the important base they were developing at Rabaul.
After the Battle of the Coral Sea frustrated the Japanese plan to capture Port Morseby via an amphibious landing, the Japanese attempted to capture the town by landing the South Seas Force at Buna on the north coast of Papua and advancing overland using the Kokoda Track to cross the rugged Owen Stanley Range.
This force was successful in delaying the South Seas Force but was unable to halt it. Australian forces also defeated an attempt to capture the strategic Milne Bay area in August This was the first notable Japanese land defeat and raised Allied morale across the Pacific Theatre. Australian and US forces attacked the Japanese bridgehead in Papua in late November but did not capture it until January The Allied force comprised the exhausted 7th Division and the inexperienced and ill-trained US 32nd Infantry Division and was short of artillery and supplies.
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Due to a lack of supporting weapons and MacArthur and Blamey's insistence on a rapid advance the Allied tactics during the battle were centred around infantry assaults on the Japanese fortifications. These resulted in heavy casualties and the area was not secured until 22 January In response, Australian soldiers aggressively sought to kill their Japanese opponents for the remainder of the war. The Australians generally did not attempt to capture Japanese personnel, and some prisoners of war were murdered. Following the defeats in Papua and Guadalcanal the Japanese withdrew to a defensive perimeter in the Territory of New Guinea.
In order to secure their important bases at Lae and Salamaua they attempted to capture Wau in January Reinforcements were flown into the town and defeated the Japanese force in its outskirts following heavy fighting. The Japanese force began to withdraw towards the coast on 4 February. Following their defeat at Wau the Japanese attempted to reinforce Lae in preparation for an expected Allied offensive in the area. The Papuan campaign led to a significant reform in the composition of the Australian Army.
In late and early Curtin overcame opposition within the Labor Party to extending the geographic boundaries in which conscripts could serve to include most of the South West Pacific and the necessary legislation was passed in January The Japanese efforts to secure New Guinea included a prolonged submarine offensive against the Allied lines of communication between the United States and Australia and Australia and New Guinea.
These were not the first Axis naval attacks on Australia; during and five German surface raiders operated in Australian waters at various times. Following the defeat of the Japanese surface fleet the IJN deployed submarines to disrupt Allied supply lines by attacking shipping off the Australian east coast. This campaign began with an unsuccessful midget submarine raid on Sydney Harbour on the night of 31 May Following this attack, Japanese submarines operated along the Australian east coast until August , sinking eight merchant ships. It sank two ships in Australian waters before returning to Batavia.
Considerable Australian and other Allied military resources were devoted to protecting shipping and ports from Axis submarines and warships. Australian forces played a key role throughout this offensive, which was designated Operation Cartwheel. In particular, General Blamey oversaw a highly successful series of operations around the north-east tip of New Guinea which "was the high point of Australia's experience of operational level command" during the war.
After the successful defence of Wau the 3rd Division began advancing towards Salamaua in April This advance was mounted to divert attention from Lae, which was one of the main objectives of Operation Cartwheel, and proceeded slowly. The town was eventually captured on 11 September In early September Australian-led forces mounted a pincer movement to capture Lae. On 4 September 9 Division made an amphibious landing to the east of the town and began advancing to the west. Once the airborne forces secured Nadzab Airfield the 7th Division was flown in and began advancing to the east in a race with the 9th Division to capture Lae.
This race was won by the 7th Division, which captured the town on 15 September. The Japanese forces at Salamaua and Lae suffered heavy losses during this campaign, but were able to escape to the north.
After the fall of Lae the 9th Division was given the task of capturing the Huon Peninsula. The 20th Brigade landed near the strategic harbour of Finschhafen on 22 September and secured the area. The Japanese responded by dispatching the 20th Division overland to the area and the remainder of the 9th Division was gradually brought in to reinforce the 20th Brigade against the expected counter-attack. The Japanese mounted a strong attack in mid-October which was defeated by the 9th Division after heavy fighting.
During the second half of November the 9th Division captured the hills inland of Finschhafen from well dug in Japanese forces. Following its defeat the 20th Division retreated along the coast with the 9th Division and 4th Brigade in pursuit. These documents led to a code breaking breakthrough which enabled MacArthur to accelerate the Allied advance by bypassing Japanese defences. While the 9th Division secured the coastal region of the Huon Peninsula the 7th Division drove the Japanese from the inland Finisterre Range. The company defeated a larger Japanese force at Kaiapit and secured an airstrip which was used to fly the Division's 21st and 25th Brigades in.
Through aggressive patrolling the Australians forced the Japanese out of positions in extremely rugged terrain and in January the division began its attack on the key Shaggy Ridge position. Following this success the Japanese withdrew from the Finisterre Range and Australian troops linked up with American patrols from Saidor on 21 April and secured Madang on 24 April. The attack on Darwin in February marked the start of a prolonged aerial campaign over northern Australia and the Japanese-occupied Netherlands East Indies. Following the first attack on Darwin the Allies rapidly deployed fighter squadrons and reinforced the Army's Northern Territory Force to protect the town from a feared invasion.
These raids were opposed by US, Australian and British fighters and suffered increasingly heavy casualties as Darwin's defences were improved.
While the Japanese raids on northern Australia ceased in late , the Allied air offensive continued until the end of the war. During late Allied aircraft conducted attacks on Timor in support of the Australian guerrillas operating there.
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These attacks continued until the end of the war, with the US heavy bombers being replaced by Australian B Liberator -equipped squadrons in late The Australian military's role in the South-West Pacific decreased during In the latter half of the Australian Government decided, with MacArthur's agreement, that the size of the military would be reduced to release manpower for war-related industries which were important to supplying Britain and the US forces in the Pacific.
Australia's main role in the Allied war effort from this point forward was supplying the other Allied countries with food, materials and manufactured goods needed for the defeat of Japan.
The size of the RAAF was set at 53 squadrons and the RAN was limited to the ships which were in service or planned to be built at the time. These troops had seen action alongside Australian units throughout the New Guinea campaign. Australian warships and the fighter, bomber and airfield construction squadrons of No. The losses incurred whilst performing these relatively unimportant roles led to a decline in morale, and contributed to the ' Morotai Mutiny ' in April Four Australian warships and the assault transports Kanimbla , Manoora and Westralia —along with a number of smaller warships and support ships—took part in the US landing at Leyte on 20 October Australian sources state that Australia became the first Allied ship to be struck by a kamikaze when she was attacked during this operation on 21 October, though this claim was disputed by US historian Samuel Eliot Morison.
The Australian naval force took part in the Invasion of Lingayen Gulf in January ; during this operation Australia was struck by a further five Kamikazes which killed 44 of her crew and forced her to withdraw for major repairs. While the US units had largely conducted a static defence of their positions, their Australian replacements mounted offensive operations designed to destroy the remaining Japanese forces in these areas. The Australian Government authorised these operations for primarily political reasons. It was believed that keeping the Army involved in the war would give Australia greater influence in any post-war peace conferences and that liberating Australian territories would enhance Australia's influence in its region.
By April the Japanese had been confined to their fortified positions in the Gazelle Peninsula by the Australian force's aggressive patrolling. After the war it was found that the Japanese force was 93, strong, which was much higher than the 38, which Allied intelligence had estimated remained on New Britain. The main focus was against the Japanese base at Buin in the south, and the offensives in the north and centre of the island were largely suspended from May While Australian operations on Bougainville continued until the end of the war, large Japanese forces remained at Buin and in the north of the island.
The 6th Division was assigned responsibility for completing the destruction of the Japanese Eighteenth Army , which was the last large Japanese force remaining in the Australian portion of New Guinea. The 17th Brigade advanced through the inland Torricelli Mountains while the remainder of the division moved along the coast.
Although the Eighteenth Army had suffered heavy casualties from previous fighting and disease, it mounted a strong resistance and inflicted significant casualties. The 6th Division's advance was also hampered by supply difficulties and bad weather. The Australians secured the coastal area by early May, with Wewak being captured on 10 May after a small force was landed to the east of the town. By the end of the war the Eighteenth Army had been forced into what it had designated its 'last stand' area which was under attack from the 6th Division.