CMH Pub 100-1
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, US. Government Printing
Washington, D.C. 20402
Papuan Campaign: The Buna-Sanananda Operation (16 November 1942-23 January 1943) is one of a series of fourteen studies of World War II operations originally published by the War Department's Historical Division and now returned to print as part of the Army's commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of that momentous clash of arms. These volumes, prepared by professional historians shortly after the events described, provide a concise summary of some of the major campaigns and battles fought by American soldiers. The skillful combination of combat interviews with primary sources, many of which are now lost, gives these unassuming narratives a special importance to military historians. The careful analysis of key operations provides numerous lessons for today's military students.
Foreword to CMH Edition
I am pleased that this entire group of studies will once again be available I urge all military students and teachers to use them to enhance our collective awareness of the skill, leadership, daring, and professionalism exhibited by our military forebears.
15 September 1989
HAROLD W. NELSON
Chief of Military History
In the thick of battle, the soldier is busy doing his lob. He has the knowledge and confidence that his job is part of a unified plan to defeat the enemy, but he does not have time to survey a campaign from a fox hole. If he should be wounded and removed behind the lines, he may have even less opportunity to learn what place he and his unit had in the larger fight.
American forces in action is a series prepared by the War Department especially for the information of wounded men. It will show these soldiers, who have served their country so well, the part they and their comrades played in achievements which do honor to the record of the United States Army.
/s/ G. C. Marshall
G. C. MARSHALL,
Chief of Staff
WASHINGTON 25, D. C.
Papuan Campaign: the Buna-Sanananda Operation is the second of a series called AMERICAN FORCES IN ACTION. The series was prepared at the suggestion of General of the Army George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff. His foreword, as used in the original edition, appears on the previous page. The series was originally designed for military personnel only and primarily for wounded soldiers in hospitals to tell them the military story of the campaigns and battles in which they served. With the cessation of hostilities, Papuan Campaign is released as a public document.
This study was based on the best military records available. Although in its published form it contains no documentation, the original manuscript, fully documented, is on file in the War Department. Aerial photographs are by the Allied Air Forces, S. W. P. A.; all others are by the U. S. Army Signal Corps.
Readers are urged to send directly to the Historical Division, War Department, Washington 25, D. C., comments, criticisms, and additional information which may be of value in the preparation of a complete and definitive history of the Buna-Sanananda operation.
Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION The Japanese Threat to Australia 1 Beginning of the Allied Counteroffensive 2 PART I--BUNA Background of the Buna Operation 9 Geography and Climate of the Buna Area 9 The Japanese Defensive Position 13 Air-Ground Cooperation 18 Transport, Supply, and Communication 19 Battering At Buna (19 November--14 December) 26 First Contact 26 Feeling Out the Enemy Lines (20-25 November) 27 A Week of Attack (26 November-2 December) 29 Breakthrough to the Sea (3-5 December) 36 The Capture of Buna Village (6-14 December) 41 Situation on 14 December 42 Warren Front: Capture of the Old Strip (15 December--3 January) 45 The Tanks Break Through to Cape Endaiadere (18 December) 45 Our Troops Cross the Bridge (19-23 December) 48 The Fight up the Old Strip (24-28 December) 50 The Last Days on the Warren Front (29 December-3 January) 52 Urbana Front: Capture of Buna Mission (15 December--2 January) 53 The Triangle and the Coconut Grove (15--20 December) 54 Another Corridor to the Sea (21-28 December) 55 The Mission Falls (28 December-2 January) 57 PART II-SANANANDA Background of the Sanananda Operation 63 The Road Block (22 November--9 January) 65 The Capture of Sanananda (4--23 January) 67 Situation on the Soputa-Sanananda Road (4 January) 69 Opening Up the Cape Killerton Trail (4--15 January) 70 The Envelopment (16 January) 74 The Mopping-Up (17--23 January) 77 Conclusion 81 Annex No. 1: Comparative Table of Strength and Casualties 82 Annex No. 2: Decorations 83 MAPS No. 1 Relation of New Guinea to Neighboring Area Inside back cover 2 South-East New Guinea (Papuan Peninsula) Page 3 3 Buna-Sanananda Campaign, Situation 18 November 1942 Faces page 9 4 The Attack on Buna, 19 November-14 December 1942 Faces page 27 5 The Capture of Buna, 15 December 1942-3 January 1943 Faces page 45 6 Sanananda Front, 22 November 1942--9 January 1943 Page 66 7 Final Attack, Sanananda Front, 9 January-22 January 1943 Page 72 SKETCHES No. Page 1 The Urbana Force Attacks the Triangle, 24 November 1942 30 2 Attack on Warren Front, 5 December 1942 37 3 Breakthrough at Buna Village, 5 December 1942 40 4 Road Block Positions, Sanananda, 1 January-22 January 1943 68 5 Japanese Perimeter "Q," Soputa-Sanananda Road 71 PHOTOGRAPHS Page On the Way to Buna: The Inland Route 8 Japanese Bunker in the Duropa Plantation 15 Interior of a Japanese Bunker in the Duropa Plantation 15 The Old Strip, Buna, Showing Japanese Fortifications 17 Firing Pits and Bunker Entrances, Buna Mission 17 Strip No. 4 at Dobodura 21 American Troops Embarking in a C-47 21 Native Stretcher Bearers with Wounded American 23 Supplies for Headquarters 23 Japanese Defenses in the Duropa Plantation 31 Terrain West of the New Strip 35 Disabled Bren-Gun Carriers 38 Lt. Gen. Robert L. Eichelberger 41 American Light Tanks Manned by Australians 47 Bridge over Simemi Creek 49 Defenses in the Old Strip Area 52 Bridge over Entrance Creek to Musita Island 56 Buna Mission Area 58 Offensive Action in Buna Mission 61 Buna Mission after the Battle 62 Japanese Dead near Buna Mission, 3 January 62 Sanananda Point 75 A Fox Hole on Giruwa Beach 79