There seems to be a bit of talk about old Shaggy Ridge which I must say is a beauty, and he has a few scars on it at the moment from Mortar and Arty [artillery] bombs. It is as steep as hell on both sides and is only flat for a couple of feet on top …

Lieutenant Robert 'Shaggy' Clampett, 2/27th Battalion, after whom Shaggy Ridge was named. Read more about his account.

Shaggy Ridge was a treacherous 6.5 km spur, along the inland route from Dumpu to Madang. It rises between the valleys of Mene and Faria Rivers, ending at Kankiryo Saddle.

The Japanese infantry held the ridge, supported by artillery and engineers. This defensive position blocked access for the Allies from the Ramu Valley to the north coast.

In late December 1943, the Australian offensive began with a successful attack at 'The Pimple'. This was one of three rocky outcrops held by the Japanese on the ridge line. In early January 1944, the Australians launched Operation Cutthroat. The operation aimed to secure the Kankiryo Saddle as part of the Shaggy Ridge campaign, joining Faria Ridge, Shaggy Ridge and two features known as Prothero 1 and Prothero 2.

Many of these men were veterans of Tobruk, Milne Bay and the beachhead battles, but it would be the attack on Prothero that would mark the low point of their war. Dwelling on the damage caused by the Japanese mountain gun at Prothero, Sergeant Geoffrey Lowe reflected that “Tobruk was a picnic” when compared with the battalion’s experience on Shaggy Ridge.

- Emma Campbell, The Hell of Shaggy Ridge, Wartime magazine issue 83, Australian War Memorial.

By April 1944, the gruelling campaign was a success, at great cost. The Australian 7th Division and supporting units lost 204 killed, 464 wounded, and a greater number dead due to illness.

Learn about Madang, another location of strategic importance in the Ramu Valley.

Papua New Guinea
27 December 1943 to 26 January 1944
Image caption
Troops of 'C' Company, 2/9th Infantry Battalion digging into a newly occupied feature on Shaggy Ridge.
Image attribution
Australian War Memorial. AWM064255. Photo by Norman Bradford Stuckey.

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