Christmas Luncheon in Canberra – Battle to Capture Lae

Book now to attend the Christmas Luncheon in Canberra with a special speaker

Date: 9 December 2023
Where: Pavilion on Northbourne, 242 Northbourne Avenue, Dickson, ACT, 2602
Time: 12:00 pm for 12:30 pm start
Cost: $61.24 per person
Bookings:   via Eventbright 
Registration form is found  HERE
RSVP:  4 December 2023

A special speaker for this event is Ian Howie-Willis who will be releasing his new book ‘Operation Postern: The Battle to Capture Lae from the Japanese, 1943″.

Japanese troops seized and brutally occupied New Guinea’s capital, Lae, for 18 months – until 16 September 1943. That day Australian soldiers retook the town against fierce resistance. Defeated, and after suffering huge losses, 8000 Japanese soldiers fled across the formidable 4000-metre mountains behind the town; 2000 died on the nightmare trek.

‘Operation Postern’, the recapture of Lae from the Japanese, was a turning point in the Pacific War of 1941–1945. Until then, the Japanese believed they could retain the New Guinea mainland, yet after ‘Postern’ they retreated continually, making possible the success of all subsequent Allied campaigns in the South-West Pacific theatre.

The Allied victory came at a high price – over 2000 casualties within a fortnight. Japanese losses were almost four times that many. How many Papua New Guinean village people died during the fighting is unknown, but very many did.

Previous military histories have marginalised the Papua New Guineans, rarely referring to the horrific impact of the war on their villages. Typically, the campaign histories depict the Pacific War as a two-sided contest between the Allies and the Japanese. Dr Howie-Willis breaks new ground, amply demonstrating how the village communities on whose lands the campaign was fought were always an essential ‘third party’ to the conflict.

Eight decades later, Operation Postern retells and reinterprets the crucial battle that was codenamed ‘Operation Postern’.

Any queries please email John Reeves at


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

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