New Guinea – One Hell of a War

1943-01-14. Papua. Giropi Point. A dead Japanese soldier lies in front of a bunker. At right Lieutenant D. S. Clarke Of Sydney, NSW. (AWM 014082).

1943-01-14. Papua. Giropi Point. A dead Japanese soldier lies in front of a bunker. At left Lieutenant D. S. Clarke Of Sydney, NSW. (AWM 014082).

During the Papuan campaigns over 33,000 Australian and American troops fought and suffered 8,546 casualties, out of whom 3,095 were killed in action. On Guadalcanal, one in 37 died, while troops in New Guinea had a one in 11 chance of dying. There were many valuable, albeit costly lessons gained through the campaign and it proved to be a massive learning experience for the Allies. These lessons came to form the core of doctrines and tactics employed by the Australian Army. Japanese sources give their losses at about 8,000; there was widespread evidence of the Japanese defenders cannibalising the dead. In the closing stages of the battle, significant numbers of the defenders were withdrawn by sea or escaped overland toward the west and the Japanese base around Salamaua and Lae. The remaining garrison fought to the death, almost to the man.

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