Large-scale warfare going on around here now. Japs are reinforcing Solomons and have made a landing at Fall River [the US code name for Milne Bay]. Glad I'm not there. Unless the Aussies have got in some better troops, the Japs will take the place without very much trouble.

Diary of Captain Hyman Samuelson, 96th Engineer Battalion, US Army, 26 August 1942. Read his account.

On the night of 25 August 1942, 2,000 Imperial Japanese Navy troops landed in barges on the northern coast of Milne Bay. A further 800 reinforcements would arrive later.

The Japanese landed at the wrong place, some 11 km east of the planned site. This miscalculation made it easier for Australian troops to block their access along the coastal flats.

The night of the landing, there was low cloud and heavy rain. But having an airfield nearby gave the Australians an advantage. RAAF bombers could quickly target Japanese forces during any break in the weather, whereas Japanese planes had to come from further away at Buna, Lae, and Rabaul. They also often lost communication with their troops on the ground. This meant that most of their air raids were unsuccessful.

RAAF Kittyhawk aircraft damaged many of the Japanese landing barges. This prevented them from undertaking waterborne flanking movements along the coast. They also destroyed Japanese ammunition and supplies. They were supported by USAAF bombers from Charters Towers, Queensland. One of these sank a Japanese transport ship.

Following the landing, the Japanese troops began advancing along the coast towards the Australian base. The Battle of Milne Bay had begun.

Papua New Guinea
26 August 1942
Image caption
This photo shows the type of dense jungle foreshore that the Japanese forces landed their barges on in their unsuccessful landing at Milne Bay. A wrecked barge is in the foreground. Photo taken September 1942.
Image attribution
Australian War Memorial. AWM 026623. Photo by Thomas Fisher.

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