BUNA -- THE PYRRHIC VICTORY
On 25 August 1942, Eichelberger and his staff arrived in Brisbane, Australia. After a short briefing by MacArthur, Eichelberger learned that he would Command I Corps, consisting of the 41st Division under Major General Horace Fuller, and the 32d Division, under Major General Forrest Harding. His units were assigned to the Australian 1st Army, under General Sir John Lavarak. His primary assignment was to train the two divisions for future operations in the Southwest Pacific.
Eichelberger had barely begun his training program when the 32d Division was ordered to New Guinea in September 1942. This unit remained under the command of General Harding, the division commander. Eichelberger was prohibited from accompanying the unit to New Guinea, except for a brief visit on 25 September. From October through November, his sole task was to prepare his remaining unit, the 41st Division, for future combat assignments against the Japanese. He attempted to accomplish this mission by "hardening"' the men through continuous maneuvers, tightening their discipline, and emphasizing exercises in night attacks and jungle tactics. On 23 October, while the 41st Division was engaged in these training exercises, Eichelberger was awarded a third star; he attributed his promotion to the influence of his old mentor, General Malin Craig. 1
From his headquarters in Rockhampton, Australia, Eichelberger closely monitored his own troops and the fighting in New Guinea. Anxious to see action and to abandon his "training role," he watched with interest the activities of the 32d Division and its commander, General Harding. From discussions with other officers in Australia, Eichelberger learned that the 32d Division was to be part of a joint American-Australian effort to dislodge the Japanese from Buna, a small government outpost on the northeast coast of Papua, New Guinea. Since Buna was only 120 miles from the Allied base at Port Moresby, its occupation would
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Publication information: Book title: In Caesar's Shadow:The Life of General Robert Eichelberger. Contributors: Paul Chwialkowski - Author. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1993. Page number: 57.