United States Army in World War II
The War in the Pacific

Victory in Papua


Samuel Milner



Kent Roberts Greenfield, General Editor

Advisory Committee
(As of 30 March 1955)
James P. Baxter
President, Williams College


Brig. Gen. Samuel G. Conley
Continental Army Command


Samuel Flagg Bemis
Yale University


Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Dunn
Army War College


Gordon A. Craig
Princeton University


Brig. Gen. Charles E. Beauchamp
Command and General Staff College


Elmer Ellis
University of Missouri


Brig. Gen. Urban Niblo
Industrial College of the Armed Forces


William T. Hutchinson
University of Chicago


Col. Thomas D. Stamps
United States Military Academy


Charles H. Taylor
Harvard University


Office of the Chief of Military History
Maj. Gen. Albert C. Smith, Chief

Chief Historian Kent Roberts Greenfield
Chief, War Histories Division Col. Ridgway P. Smith, Jr.
Chief, Editorial and Publication Division Col. William H. Francis
Chief, Editorial Branch Joseph R. Friedman
Chief, Cartographic Branch Maj. James P. Holly
Chief, Photographic Branch Margaret E. Tackley

. . . to Those Who Served


  Foreword vii
  The Author viii

Chapter     Page
I. The Japanese Threaten Australia 1
    The Danger 1
    The Plan To Isolate Australia 11
II. Preparing the Defense 14
    The High Command Acts 14
    The Interim Period 18
    The Defensive Problem 23
    The Sufficiency of the Means 27
III. The Thwarted Landing 33
    Frustration at Jomard Passage 33
    Securing the Approaches 40
IV. Providence Forestalled 45
    Moving to the Offensive 45
    The SWPA Prepares 48
    The PROVIDENCE Operation 51
    The Japanese Get There First 53
V. Kokoda Thrust 56
    Planning the Overland Attack 56
    The Japanese Strike Inland 61
    The Main Force Arrives 66
VI. The Japanese Offensive Collapses 72
    The SWPA: Early August 72
    The Defense Falls Into Place 74
    The Battle of Milne Bay 77
    The Road to Ioribaiwa 88
    The Australians Take the Offensive 100
VII. The Advance on the Beachhead 101
    The Approach to the Target 102
    Completing the Deployment 115
    Drawing the Noose Tight 119
VIII. The Allies Close In 125
    Mounting the Attack 125
    The 32d Division on the Eve of Combat 132
    The Enemy Position 139
IX. The Opening Blows in General Vasey's Area 147
    The Attacks on Gona 147
    The 16th Brigade Moves on Sanananda 151
    The Americans Take Over 155
X. The First Two Weeks at Buna 168
    General Harding Readjusts His Plans 168
    The Battle Opens 174
    The Attacks of 30 November 189
XI. I Corps Reaches the Front 196
    The Situation: 30 November 196
    General Eichelberger Is Ordered Forward 202
    Buna Operations: 1 and 2 December 206
    General Harding's Relief 208
XII. The Fighting West of the Girua 213
    Operations in the Gona Area 213
    The Sanananda Front 219
    The Japanese Reinforce the Beachhead 231
XIII. Buna: The Second Two Weeks 234
    The Attack of 5 December 234
    Colonel Martin Softens Up the Enemy Line 245
    Urbana Force Makes Its First Gains 248
    The Scene Brightens 254
XIV. Warren Force Takes the Initiative 260
    The Advance to Simemi Creek 260
    Crossing the Creek 267
    The Fight for the Old Strip 272
XV. Urbana Force Closes on the Mission 282
    The Search for an Axis of Attack 282
    The Attack Moves North 288
    The Subsidiary Operations 291
    The Corridor to the Coast 293
XVI. The Fall of Buna 304
    The Advance to Giropa Point 304
    The Capture of Buna Mission 309
    The End at Buna 319
    Buna's Cost 323
    The Situation to the Westward 324
XVII. Clearing the Track Junction 328
    General Herring Calls a Conference 328
    The Preliminary Operations 335
    Tokyo Decides To Withdraw 346
    The Clean-up South of Musket 348
XVIII. The Final Offensive 350
    The Three-Way Push 350
    Finishing the Job 358
    The Victory at Sanananda 364
    The 41st Division Takes Over 368
XIX. The Victory 369
    The Campaign in Review 369
    What the Campaign Taught 376
    Conclusion 377
Bibliographical Note 379
Glossary 386
Basic Military Map Symbols 391
Index 395
1. Battle of Coral Sea, 5-8 May 1942 35
2. Bulolo Valley Area 42
3. The Pacific Areas, 1 August 1942 49
4. Kokoda-Templeton's Crossing Area 58
5. Japanese Attack at Milne Bay, 26-31 August 1942 78
6. Plan of 1 October 1942 101
7. Plan of Attack, 16 November 1942 127
8. Establishing Roadblock on Sanananda Road, 22-30 November 1942 157
9. Japanese Defenses at Buna 175
10. Situation on Approaches to Buna, Evening, 30 November 1942 190
11. Sanananda Front, December 1942 220
12. Warren and Urbana Fronts, 1-16 December 1942 236
13. Warren Front, 18-28 December 1942 262
14. Urbana Front, 18-28 December 1942 283
15. The Fall of Buna, 31 December 1942-2 January 1943 306
16. Sanananda Front, 3-12 January 1943 331
17. Sanananda Front, Last Phase, 15-22 January 1943 352
  Maps I-VI are in inverse order inside back cover  
I. Pacific Ocean (National Geographical Society Map)  
II. Papuan Campaign Area  
III. Japanese Thrust Along Kokoda Trail, 22 July-16 September 1942  
IV. Allied Advance Across Owen Stanley Range, 26 September-15 November 1942  
V. The Buna Area  
VI. Closing in on Japanese Beachhead, 16-21 November 1942  
General MacArthur Arriving in Sydney 19
General Orders No 1, 18 April 1942 21
The Battle of the Coral Sea 36
The Battle of the Coral Sea 37
USS Yorktown Under Japanese Fire 47
Papua 57
Jungled Mountain Ridges Near the Gap 59
Port Moresby 75
Milne Bay Area 80
Australian Riflemen Passing Abandoned Japanese Tanks 85
Wharf At Gili Gili 88
General Harding 91
32d Division Troops 93
32d Division Troops 93
Bridge At Wairopi 97
Coastal Shuttle Operations 109
Coastal Shuttle Operations 109
Kapa Kapa Trail, September 1942 111
Crossing A Branch Of Eroro Creek 118
Chow Line Along The Muddy Trail 119
Taking A Break 122
Taking A Break 123
Simemi Village 129
Lt Col Herbert A Smith 130
General MacNider 131
107th Medical Battalion Corpsmen at Ward's Drome 136
Coconut Log Bunker With Fire Trench Entrance 142
Interior of Coconut Log Bunker 143
Gona Mission Area 148
Natives With Supplies and Ammunition 160
"Fuzzy Wuzzy" Natives 161
Making Litters for the Wounded 166
Australian 3.7-inch Pack Howitzer 170
General Waldron 171
128th Infantrymen 172
128th Infantrymen 172
128th Infantrymen 173
128th Infantrymen 173
126th Infantrymen Passing Through Hariko 183
First Aid Station, Simemi 198
First Aid Station, Hariko 199
114th Engineer Battalion 200
Boatload of Rations 229
Disabled Bren Gun Carriers 239
Three Generals Convalescing 258
General Stuart Light Tanks M3 265
Simemi Creek Area 268
Bridge Over Simemi Creek 269
Swamp East of the Bridge 270
American and Australian Casualties 275
Warren Force Men After the Attack 280
127th Regimental Headquarters Command Post 287
Footbridge Over Entrance Creek 292
Japanese-Built Bridge 295
General Eichelberger and Members of His Staff 302
Firing a 60-mm Mortar 308
37-mm Antitank Gun 318
32d Division Troops Examine Booty 320
Emaciated Prisoners Being Led to the Rear Area 321
General Blamey Touring the Battle Area 322
Weary Soldier Sleeps 326
General Herring 332
Sanananda Point 334
Collapsible Assault Boats 337
Setting Up a Field Switchboard 340
General MacArthur With General Kenney 344
.50-cal Browning Machine Gun 360
Order of the Day, 22 January 1943 365
Dobodura Airstrip 366
Dobodura Airstrip 367
Japanese Prisoners at Dobodura 373
The illustrations on pages 19 and 85 are Australian War Memorial photographs; those on pages 295 and 326 are Life photographs taken by Strock. All other illustrations are from the files of the Department of Defense.

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Jerry Holden for the HyperWar Foundation