A Chronology of Australian Armed Forces at War 1939-45

By Bruce T. Swain | Go to book overview

epilogue

16 August

New Britain: Gracie Fields and a party of other entertainers arrived at Jacquinot Bay from Bougainville and in the evening performed before 10 000 troops.

Bougainville: The forward battalions learned that fighting was to have ceased the previous day, but the question was: When would all the isolated parties of Japanese know what had happened?

– Leaflets announcing the Japanese surrender were dropped from aircraft on enemy-occupied areas, fired from mortars, and left by Papuan patrols on tracks used by the Japanese, but no enemy came forward as a result.

Borneo: An Australian aircraft from Labuan flew over the POW compound at Kuching (Sarawak), dropping messages to prisoners and telling them of the Allied victory. Food, clothing and medical supplies followed.


18 August

New Guinea: On this and succeeding days messages were passed to Gen Adachi on the mainland by means of a wireless on Kairiru Island. Adachi refused to surrender, however, without direct orders from his superiors.

Bougainville: Maj Otsu came into the lines of the 15th Bn on the Mivo River and was taken to Toko where he was interrogated by Brig Garrett (BGS II Corps). It was then that the Australians learned that there were still 23 000 Japanese on Bougainville, not 13 000 as they had estimated.


19 August

Bougainville: The captain of HMAS Lithgow signalled Gen Savige that Gen Kanda (XVII Army commander) had not arrived at the ordered rendezvous off Moila Point. Instead he had sent an officer bearing a message that Rabaul had not yet authorised him to report to Savige. The envoy was taken to Torokina where he was given a letter for Kanda, and returned to the rendezvous.


20 August

Bougainville: HMAS Lithgow, off Moila Point, was fired on by Japanese guns. Savige wrote to Kanda and threatened retaliation if this firing recurred.


21 August

Bougainville: A letter was received from Vice-Admiral Samejima instructing Gen Savige that he might negotiate with the naval commander at Rabaul but until then 'your naval ships may not be admissible within Shortland Bay'.


22 August

New Britain: Army and navy commanders at Rabaul sent a signal to Gen Sturdee stating that the forces on New Britain and Bougainville were trying to accomplish a cessation of hostilities but 'in Bougainville on account of the dense jungle it has not been possible yet to deliver the order to … those units which have penetrated deep into your lines'.

The Rabaul commanders added that they could not open further negotiations until ordered to do so from Tokyo.

New Guinea: After a visit to the 6th Div, Gen Sturdee informed Gen Blamey that it would be difficult to obtain enough officers and men from the division to form a brigade to go to Japan. Only one battalion commander was willing to go. 'Most 6 Div seem to be imbued with urge to return Aust at earliest for release or remain in army there,' Sturdee's signal said.

-411-

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