Prelude to the Pacific War in New Guinea

Prelude to the Pacific War in New Guinea

Imperial forces in China, 1937;

The New Guinea Campaign of WWII lasted from early 1942 until the Japanese surrender at Wewak in September 1945. During the initial phase, eighty years ago, Japan invaded the Australian-administered Mandated Territory of New Guinea on 23 January 1942, the Australian Territory of Papua on 21 July, and overran western New Guinea at the end of March. Many important historical events led up to the first assault.

Prelude to the Pacific War in New Guinea

1920–30: Japan’s imperialism and industrial development increased.

18 September 1931: Japan occupied Manchuria, in northeast China.

7 July 1937: Japan invaded China, starting the Second Sino-Japanese War.

2/10th Field Ambulance detachment in Rabaul, 1941;

1 August 1940: Japan announced the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, a self-sufficient bloc of Asian nations, led by Japan.

27 September 1940: Japan signed the Tripartite Pact with Germany & Italy.

April 1941: Australia sent 2/22nd Battalion Lark Force to Rabaul, and 1 Independent Company to Kavieng, New Guinea.

April/May 1941: Germans invaded island of Crete, 274 Australian soldiers from the 6th Division, AIF, killed, 507 wounded and 3,102 taken prisoner.

July 1941: Japan extended its control over the whole of French Indochina.

RAN’s HMAS Sydney II, 1941;

26 July 1941: US froze Japan’s assets, established an embargo on oil and iron.

19 November 1941: Loss of HMAS Sydney II and 645 lives in Australian waters—the worst naval disaster in the Royal Australian Navy’s history.

7 December 1941: Japanese military strike upon the US naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii—war was declared on Japan the next day by the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, The Netherlands & China.

8 December 1941: Japan invaded Malaya, which was defended by the British Indian Army, the 8th Australian Division and the RAAF. There was also a Japanese reconnaissance flight over Rabaul on this date.

10 December 1941: Japanese land and torpedo bombers sank Royal Navy ships, HMS Prince of Wales and HMS

USS Arizona topples over into the sea at Pearl Harbor, 1941;

Repulse, in the South China Sea.

4 January 1942: Rabaul came under bombing attack by large numbers of Japanese carrier-based aircraft.

23 February 1942: The Battle of Rabaul, was fought on the island of New Britain, with the Japanese invasion force quickly overwhelming the small Australian garrison, the majority of whom were either killed or captured.



John Egerton, Editor

2/9th Gurka Rifles in Malaya, 1941


Worked for Burns Philp in Popondetta and Port Moresby from 1980 through 1987

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