MacArthur Strikes Back: Decision at Buna, New Guinea, 1942-1943

By Harry A. Gailey | Go to book overview

Chapter IV
Milne Bay

As General Horii's bedraggled columns closed in on their objective, the Japanese planners at Rabaul decided to launch a new campaign in Papua despite the continuing demands of their Guadalcanal operations. Their reason was that if the proposed operation succeeded, it would give them key airfields less than two hundred miles from Port Moresby. These were being constructed by the Allies at Milne Bay who had belatedly understood the importance of controlling the areas adjacent to the bay that prior to the war had been only sparsely settled.

The Japanese were almost completely ignorant of the terrain and climatic conditions. Even the Australians who administered the area did not fully comprehend the difficulty of carrying on military operations there. The bay itself was a deep cleft in the lizard's tail of extreme southeast Papua; it extended approximately twenty miles inland and was between four and five miles wide. On either side were mountains rising as high as 4,000 feet and dropping almost to the shoreline, leaving only a narrow strip of land between them and the sea. Much of this was covered by jungle. Because the region received more than two hundred inches of rain annually, the many streams overflowed, creating coastal swamps. At the head of the bay was a wide alluvial plain on which Lever Brothers had planted a large coconut plantation. The company headquarters and service buildings were located at Gili Gili. The dock there consisted of two large barges placed side by side with a ramp leading to a small jetty. The plantation area was serviced by only a few roads, most of them

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MacArthur Strikes Back: Decision at Buna, New Guinea, 1942-1943
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Chapter I - The Japanese Tide 1
  • Chapter II - Macarthur Arrives 17
  • Chapter III - Retreat to Ioribaiwa 35
  • Chapter IV - Milne Bay 59
  • Chapter V - Changing Commands 73
  • Chapter VI - On to Kokoda 87
  • Chapter VII - Enter the 32d Division 101
  • Chapter VIII - Sanananda-Gona Operation 117
  • Chapter IX - Buna Operations: First Phase 135
  • Chapter X - Eichelberger Arrives, Harding Departs 155
  • Chapter XI - Sanananda Stalemate 171
  • Chapter XII - Clearing the Buna Approaches 189
  • Chapter XIII - Final Offensives 213
  • Epilogue 233
  • Notes 237
  • "Bibliography" 251
  • Index 257
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