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Milne Bay

Discussion in 'War Against Japan' started by Warlord, Oct 17, 2007.

  1. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    Chritos,
    You say you have no battlefields near you in Australia.
    What is travel like between Oz & PNG?
    Is there much to see up there regards a battlefield tour?
    Geoff,
    You've been up there haven't you?

    There are tours to Kakoda and Buna etc however there is not a lot of "evidence" that I saw and you don't travel off the beaten track in PNG as it is very dangerous.

    I have been to Port Moresby, Wewak, Lae, Madang where there are mostly shipwrecks for the divers at the latter two places.

    Rabaul is completely different with the huge caves high up and coastal Artillery (reminded me of Guns of Navarone) that was there waiting for the seaborne invasion that never came as expected in 44-45. 100,000 Japanese were sitting on their thumbs until the surrender.

    Many memorials and cemeteries in PNG.

    The Solomons (Guadalcanal) has aircraft remnants all over the island and a huge diving business for aircraft etc, some only 200 metres off shore.
     
  2. Christos

    Christos Discharged

    Well...the people of Australia have a real liking at the moment for walking the Kokoda track....there are still old rusting relics scattered up and down the trail...and, terrain features like "The Golden Staircase" (4,000 steps hacked into clay) are still there....it's one of the most unspoilt battlefields around....

    Darwin has a nice museum, even if it is a little small and greatly underfunded.....they still have Coastal Artillery positions on a Darwin Foreshore area called East Point...The Northern Territory itself is probably the best place of all, not only for archeaology (we have a lake where lots of stuff was simply dumped..when they drained it, they had one marvellous collection of WWII aircraft turrets, machine guns, small arms of every calibre.)..

    Other people get permits to dig up aircraft that were buried when the Yanks picked up their gear and departed....there is a "Bombing of Darwin Ceremony" every year (Japanese diplomats and veterans don't seem to make a practice of attending.)..this seems to dovetail very nicely with the local attitude towards the Japanese, still stuck as it is back in 1942....

    The level of historical coverage of Darwin's role in the air-war is not very good at all....one year, in association with the local paper, two amatuers (I won't give you their names, but they were husband and wife), came up with a booklet of facts and figures, together with a collection of photographs...one of which purported to be a Japanese Zero meeting it's end over Darwin....I went to see both of these people to tell them, straight to their faces, that the picture they published was NOT taken over Darwin (it was, in fact, a US NAVY photo that had been thrown in to the collection as an 'action' shot)....Disgraceful performance from people who purport themselves as 'historians'....nobody acknowledged their mistake (they even had a 'still' shot from newsreel footage the Japanese took on their very first raid....I identified that for them as well, and the reaction I got was one of disbelief..(Who IS this guy?)...anyway, they backed down, but refused to issue a correction in the same newspaper that got up on it's hind legs and endorsed the silly booklet in the first place...

    Nobody likes to be told, to their faces, that their research is faulty...but I say, "if the shoe fits......."

    Australians only really became aware of just how desperate the Kokoda situation was very recently...It gave birth to all sorts of ill-concieved comments about "What it would have been like under a Japanese occupation". It was all a lot of conjecture. I pointed out to them that Darwin was NOT on their list of potential amphibious targets...Sydney and Brisbane were, and, that they were over-extended to start with, andfdid not have a bulls roar of a chance to get ashore here. (look at the planning, massive equipment buildup and two years of training that it took for OVERLORD to succeed, and that was only over 32 miles of water. Timor is 700km away...too far)..Naturally, I was shouted down, but when I go back to Darwin (in a weeks time), I intend to become a whole lot more active up there in the research field...SOMEBODY has to tell it like it was...rather than letting the same wartime propaganda go round and round for eternity....The people of Darwin are astoundingly ill informed about their own airwar.....

    Thats about it....Outskirts of Darwin has old Airstrips (one is called SATTLER)....there are remains of depots (one of which my Cadet group used for exercises)...it had a small railway, a tiny platform station, nissen huts, and a whole bunch of miccelanious junk just sitting there and rusting away. Darwin's airwar history could have been chronicled years ago...one of the instructors of my cadet unit, John Haslett, was an expert that nobody listened to. He had published before, traced aircraft wrecks, and was conducting research into something called "The Empire Air Training Scheme", a program that turned out as many as 14,000 pilots...thats a lot of aircrew, and we trained em' all HERE....

    When I get to Darwin, I'm going to take a field trip to the "Gun-Turret" to show you what an Aussie 'site' looks like....promise .......
     
    Owen likes this.
  3. jacobtowne

    jacobtowne Senior Member

    The US victory at Guadalcanal owed much also to the band of Coastwatchers who passed on vital ship movements to the allied command.

    Australian coastwatchers continued to be an important part of the war effort. On islands dotted around the South West Pacific Area they radioed vital information to the Allied command reporting enemy ship movements. Admiral Nimitz, US Navy Supreme Commander, Pacific Ocean Area, later praised their work in relation to the Solomons Campaign. “The Coastwatchers saved Guadalcanal, and Guadalcanal saved the Pacific.”

    Very true, Spidge. In addition, the survival of Henderson Field was crucial to success at Guadalcanal, and that survival was made possible by coastwatchers' radio warnings of Japanese air assaults flying down from Rabaul. The warnings gave pilots at Henderson enough time to reach combat altitude.

    JT
     
  4. Christos

    Christos Discharged

    Spide has posted an expression of interest in RAAF graves....the Batchelor cematary, Spidge, i will take a day trip for you and go down there....it will be nice to have something positive to go to batchelor for....war graves are not exactly full of artifacts to look at. It will give some purpose to the visit...I'll keep you posted on the results
     
  5. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    Spide has posted an expression of interest in RAAF graves....the Batchelor cematary, Spidge, i will take a day trip for you and go down there....it will be nice to have something positive to go to batchelor for....war graves are not exactly full of artifacts to look at. It will give some purpose to the visit...I'll keep you posted on the results

    Good man Christos,

    Do you want a list of the NT burials?

    If so, send me a PM with an email address.


    Cheers

    Geoff
     
  6. Christos

    Christos Discharged

    yes please...any research help will be warmly appreciated...
     
  7. webley

    webley Junior Member

    Chritos,
    You say you have no battlefields near you in Australia.
    What is travel like between Oz & PNG?
    Is there much to see up there regards a battlefield tour?
    Geoff,
    You've been up there haven't you?
    I walked the kokoda about 6 years ago and there was quite a bit to see then. Weapons pits on the track that sort of thing. Isurava (spelling?) memorial was being built at the time and helmets, tommygun drums and bren mags were everywhere. One of the villages, I think it may have been Efogi have a collection of brens, rifles, mortars, grenades, woodpeckers etc.
    I remember digging in a weapons pit at Eora crossing and coming across a pile of three inch mortar shells (pucker factor went up, stopped digging in them after that).
    Cheers
     
    Owen likes this.
  8. Christos

    Christos Discharged

    I should explain something about my trip to Darwin....i'm going up there principally to spend Christmas with mom, but I won't be taking my computer...I will be coming back down to Brisbane to close off the house and then load my gear into my car and actually drive up there (it's over 3,000 kms!)....so, my trips to the sites and cematary will be for the second trip up there....so ther will be a significane t gap between my first trip, and the catual move to Darwin with my computer and research library in tow......

    Hang on....the wait will be WELL WORTH IT!

    I am just about to shut all this down so I can make the aircraft at 0720 tomorrow......see you all then!
     
  9. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    I should explain something about my trip to Darwin....i'm going up there principally to spend Christmas with mom, but I won't be taking my computer...I will be coming back down to Brisbane to close off the house and then load my gear into my car and actually drive up there (it's over 3,000 kms!)....so, my trips to the sites and cematary will be for the second trip up there....so ther will be a significane t gap between my first trip, and the catual move to Darwin with my computer and research library in tow......

    Hang on....the wait will be WELL WORTH IT!

    I am just about to shut all this down so I can make the aircraft at 0720 tomorrow......see you all then!

    No problem Christos. You will be there before me!:lol:
     
  10. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

    Well, seems like someone finally took into consideration my thread... It was about time... :p

    I think that since the campaigns through New Guinea and the Solomons, even if somehow mutually supportive, belonged to different areas of operations, each one had its own decisive battle or turning point, be it called Guadalcanal or Milne Bay.

    However, we must consider that if the Jap had succeeded at Milne, finally breaking the Owen Stanleys by going around them instead of through and over, Kokoda (Ioribaiwa and stuff) would have become nothing but a small setback, Moresby would have been as naked as a table dancer and Buna would have never happened, releasing sorely needed Sons of Nippon to fight around Henderson and the Matanikau, tipping the balance in the hectic days of late 42 in favour of ´ol Tojo.
     
  11. Christos

    Christos Discharged

    Hmmm......nice comment there to round this one off......It has actually been very nice to have Aussie Arms recognized in such a manner, not for the first time either....go Oz!
     
  12. syscom_3

    syscom_3 Member

    Even if the Japanese had succeded at Milne Bay, there wasnt much they could have done to exploit the sitaution.

    The distance from Milne to Port Moresby overland is still quite considerable and their logistical sitaution was poor at best.

    Remember that in the final few months of 1942, the allies were getting stronger on a weekly basis, especially with bombardment groups. Any movements up the coast whether by land or sea was going to be perilous.

    My estimate is if the IJA controlled Milne bay, nothing would have happened. It would have remained an enclave just like so many Japanese positions as the war progressed and passed them bye.
     
  13. Christos

    Christos Discharged

    yes, indeed, very true......but we Aussies still point with pride to our achievements in New Guinea....

    Just as a personal note to that, when I read a review of an old S&T wargame called BLOODY BUNA, the author also commented on the composition of forces for New Guinea, rating the Americans as a poor second to the combined jungle skills of the Japanese and Australians......in fact, from personal interviews with a New Guinea vet or two, the absolute BEST jungle soldier of all was the NATIVE PAPUAN, whom Aussie 'diggers' swore were born with a sixth sence that could tell from the sound of snapping twigs whether it was made by an animal, or man, and whether they were Japanese or Allied. No-body quite knows how many Allied lives were lost for failure to utilize this native manpower in the early stages of the campaign, something that was rectified, although my Uncle Jim did say that by the time they got any real numbers of natives in uniform, most of the Japs they encountered were "Starving."
     
  14. syscom_3

    syscom_3 Member

    Those who have studied the wa rin the Pacific to any degree, know that the Aussies were the best jungle fighters of the war.
     
  15. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

    Wasn´t the NGVR composed of Papuans with Aussie officers? Or was it just a name for an all Aussie-settler unit?
     
  16. A Potts

    A Potts Member

    If Morsby had been taken a few more Japanese Divisions would have been free. I would imagine for the Solomons (Guadacanal).

    What then would have happened?
     
  17. steve w

    steve w Junior Member

    i myself have not researched milne bay yet,but i thought i would tell u about pearl harbor. i visited there back in early 1990's.and it was very moving 2 be at a place ,that was what brought the usa into the war by the japs attack,,,to visit the memorial over uss arizona,,,to think there are still over a thousand sailors still below,, very moving,but sad.it is along way 2 go but i can recommend going there,cheers steve w:):)
     
  18. BuffaloChuck

    BuffaloChuck Junior Member

    I'M BUMPING UP THIS OLD THREAD... hope you don't mind.

    As I've read more about Milne Bay in the last 20 years (only because these histories are more commonly published or included in other American books), it reveals that Japan was willing to 'reach far' and that they wouldn't learn lessons from these 'too far reaches'.

    I think if they'd had success at Guadalcanal, then Milne Bay's success would be logical for them. Their planes, too, needed more fueling stops than less.

    But that they didn't realize they lacked maintenance and supplies logistics is still one of the amazing "What WERE they thinking?" issues for me.
     
  19. Blackblue

    Blackblue Senior Member

    One of the main objectives at Milne Bay was the airfields...via a vis Guadalcanal. If the Japanese were able to seize and hold these airfields they would have been able to project air power well beyond their main base at Rabaul, providing the ring of security they required against allied sea power for further build up and future operations. Given the comparitive airpower available in theatre the successful capture of Port Moresby would have been all the more likely if Milne Bay had been secured. Luckily allied successes at Coral Sea, Milne Bay, the Kokoda Track and Guadalcanal meant that the capture of Port Moresby became impossible.
     
  20. adam elliott

    adam elliott Junior Member

    I dont think the Japanese were particularly interested in Guadalcanal until it's suitability for an airstrip became apparent, then it became strategic. Prior to that the Japanese were content with sea plane bases at Tulagi and Isabel and in the Shortland Islands.

    At Milne Bay the airstrip was constructed by the allies, in fact I think CBs were involved, I know American AA batteries were there.

    If the Japanese had been able to take the airstrip at Milne Bay they would have had a pretty tough line: Rabaul, Milne Bay, Buka, from which to have a go at Moresby and attack shipping routes.

    In terms of that Guadalcanal was a strip too far, although Guadalcanal was extremely useful for attacking shipping routes to Australia

    The New Guinea Volunteer Rifles were expatriate planters, bank workers etc etc formed into a very successful militia unit who were disbanded in 1944 I think and absorbed into ANGAU(????).

    The 'native' soldiers were in the Papuan Infantry Battalion. The PIB both performed extremely well and not so well. They had Australian officers and NCOs

    Neither the NGVR or the PIB fought at Milne Bay
     

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