Papua New Guinea and WWII turned the country in to a major theater in the battle for the Pacific. The Japanese forces landed first at Kavieng in New Ireland on the 21st January 1941. And soon after at Rabaul in New Britain.
The Japanese then proceeded to turn Rabaul into their main base along the South Pacific rim. They launched their attack on Port Moresby in May 1942 from there in the next stage of the grand plan for control of New Guinea. Together with the isolation and possible invasion of Australia to the south.
But in the Battle of the Coral Sea US carrier-based aircraft and the Australian Navy succeeding in forcing the Japanese armada back to its base in Rabaul.
In June 1942, after suffering devastating defeat at the Battle of Midway. The Japanese abandoned trying to take Port Moresby by naval attack. Launching instead a surprise landing near Buna on the northeast coast of PNG. From there, they used Buna as their base to launch an overland advance across the Owen Stanley Range.
PNG and WWII – The Kokoda Track
These mountains reach a height of 13,000 ft and are like a spine that runs down the Papuan peninsula. They are a formidable, saw-toothed, jungle barrier that separates the northeast from the southwest of the country.
The defeat of this attack by the Australian Army on the Kokoda Track is one of the finest moments in the military history of Australia. It was also very significant turning point for Papua New Guinea and WWII because it effectively ended the Japanese invasion!
The Kokoda Track has a very high emotional connectivity with many Australians – both old and young. In many ways walking the Track has become almost a right of passage for many Aussies
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