The Battle of Madang was 'an impressive performance, characterised by energy, determination and sound planning'.

Historian, Eustace Keogh


In 1943, Madang was a deep-water port on the north-east coast of New Guinea. The harbour is landlocked and set in a lagoon. Madang sits on a flat coastal strip comprising swamp, plantation and grassy areas. The Gogol and other rivers obstructed approaches to the town.

Strategic situation

Japanese forces captured Madang in early March 1942, along with Lae and Salamaua. Their aim was to support their key base at Rabaul, captured in January 1942. The Japanese improved communication and infrastructure in the area, including roads, port facilities and airfields. This meant they could use the harbour as part of a forward base supporting troops in Salamaua and Lae.

After Shaggy Ridge fell to the Allies in January 1944, the Japanese withdrew to Madang to reorganise and carry out delaying actions. Australian troops broke through Japanese positions in the Finisterre Mountains.


Madang was taken by the Allies on 24 to 25 April 1944, giving them access to a deep-water harbour.

Papua New Guinea
February to April 1944
Image caption
Forward scouts of the 35th Infantry Battalion cross the river during the unit drive up the coast towards Wewak.
Image attribution
Australian War Memorial. AWM 073580. Photographer unknown.

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