When war came to Papua and New Guinea
23 January 1942
Japanese invasion of Rabaul
Port MoresbyFebruary 1942 to August 1945
3 February 1942 to 17 August 1943
Battle of Port Moresby
First Japanese bombing of Port Moresby3 February 1942
USAAF joins the Battle of Port Moresby31 March 1942
Bombing of the MV Macdhui in Port Moresby Harbour17 to 18 June 1942
The Colonel informed us the Japs have taken Lae and they are advancing on Moresby – the last port before Australia. He said we must stop them and that no prisoners are to be taken and we must not be taken.
We must give no quarter or expect none because if they break through, there is nothing to stop them from landing in Australia. Mum, we all write these letters and leave them at the base to be posted in case we are killed.
When you receive this letter, please don’t grieve too much as we will know that I died trying to help save Australia. I am sorry I will not be able to help you in your old age and repay you for all the trouble I was.
Stanley McTackett. Ready more of his story.
After Japan attacked Pearl Harbour on 7 December 1941, the US officially entered the Second World War. Japan wanted to expand its territory across South-East Asia and the Pacific.
In early 1942, Japan's actions in Asia and the Pacific drew Australia into one of the most gruelling campaigns in our military history, and one of the longest of the war.
While the Japanese had no firm plans to invade Australia, they wanted to cut our supply line with the United States and establish bases in the South West Pacific.
The Allies had intelligence that the Japanese planned to invade Port Moresby. They had already invaded Australian territory in New Britain and New Ireland in January 1942. An Allied force collaborated by sea and air to intercept the Imperial Japanese Navy, halting the Japanese advance in the Battle of the Coral Sea.
Port Moresby was the ideal base from which to launch attacks in Papua and New Guinea and south towards Australia. Fear was growing among Australians that the Japanese might invade the mainland, so any advance on Port Moresby had to be stopped.
The start of the Papua and New Guinea campaign grew into a fight involving tens of thousands of men and women in uniform from Australia, the US and, for the first time, Papuans and New Guineans on whose land the battles were fought.
Follow this trail to explore how the Second World War came to Australia's doorstep and why it was so important for Allied forces to halt the advancing Japanese.