The World at War

The Territory of New Guinea under Australian Mandate 1919 - 1949

The Territory of New Guinea under Australian Mandate Timeline

1919June 28 Germany signs the Treaty of Versailles and cedes all sovereignty over New Guinea.
September 10 Prime Minister William Hughes tells the Australian Parliament that, “the national safety is assured now that the great rampart of islands [New Guinea]”, is Australian. During the Year
Bird of Paradise exports resume after a six year hiatus. The year’s trade amounts a mere £100. Copra exports drop 34% to £244,314 for the year.
Imports of beer, wine and spirituous liquors increase by 98% to £31,744 and of cigars and tobacco by 114% to £36,166 during the year.
New Guinea registers a trade surplus of £3,195.
Rudolf Schlechter publishes taxonomic descriptions of 93 new species of orchids collected by A. Kempf in the Waria River area, by A. Kempter inland from of Vanimo, and by E. Keyser on the Saruwaged Range.
1920December 17 The League of Nations ratifies the mandate “conferred upon his Britannic Majesty for and on behalf of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia”, over the former German colony of New Guinea. Article 4 of the Mandate forbids the military training of the natives for purposes other than policing and local defense and further declares that, “no military or naval bases shall be established or fortification erected in the territory.”
During the Year Hermann Detzner publishes Vier Jahre unter Kannibalen (Four Years among the Cannibals) an account of his wanderings in New Guinea while hiding from Australian forces during World War I.
The trade in Birds of Paradise returns to full vigor bringing £34,133 on the export market.
Copra exports soar to £745,057 an increase of 305% over the previous year.
1921May 19 Civil administration begins. Australian law supplants German in the mandate. The territory’s European civilian population numbers 1288 of whom 715 are British subjects and the rest are mostly Germans. During the Year
Sharkeye Park strikes gold on Koranga Creek in the Bulolo Valley near the present day town of Wau. A nine day trip through 50 miles of unbroken bush separates the goldfield from the coastal port of Salamaua. One prospector, Errol Flynn by name, later describes the rigors of the overland route, "... that crawly sound you heard a few feet away might be a snake, a cassowary or maybe only a wild board razorback ... I have seen Central Africa, but it was never anything like the jungle of New Guinea".
Rudolf Schlechter publishes taxonomic descriptions of 30 new species of orchids collected mainly by A. Kempf from the Waria River area and by E. Werner on the Finisterre Range.
Bird of Paradise exports drop 83% to £5,670.
1923January 1 Cecil John Levien, district officer at Morobe, pays £1 for Territorial Miners Right #1.
During the Year The Australian Government appoints a commission of inquiry to study complaints of labor law violations by the Expropriations Board in its management of New Guinea’s formerly German plantations.
J. G. McLaren, Secretary of the Prime Minister's Department, urges the appointment of a Government Anthropologist for the Territory of New Guinea as a matter of, “immediate and pressing importance”. The Administrator, General Wisdom objects on the on the grounds of cost. The Brigadier eventually gives in but insists that the expenses of the post be borne by the Native Education Trust Fund since the appointment is for the benefit of the natives.
Rudolf Schlechter publishes taxonomic descriptions of 126 new species of orchids collected by C. Ledermann and L. Schultze in the Sepik District.
1924April The Government Anthropologist Ernest W. Chinnery takes up his post. A short time later, Chinnery reports that Wisdom “reminds me occasionally that he only consented to my appointment on the understanding that I would prove myself an ‘economic anthropologist’, meaning I suppose that if I stir up any condition not pleasant to the present powers I'll become unpopular.”
During the Year The Native Administrative Regulations make it “...illegal to practice or pretend to practice sorcery; to threaten its use either by oneself or through another, to procure or attempt to procure a sorcerer” or, “to be found in possession of implements or charms used in sorcery...” The penalty for such offenses is a fine of £3 or a six month prison sentence or both.
1925Gold is struck on Edie Creek inland of the Koranga find. 50 miners are working the diggings in the Bulolo Valley by years end. Gold becomes New Guinea’s second ranking source of export earnings. £18,512 worth is mined during the year. Copra exports of £815,838 account for 95% of New Guinea’s foreign trade. The Territory’s trade surplus grows to £321,050.
1926December Cecil J. Levien, C.V.T. Wells and W. Lapthorne establish Bulolo Gold Dredging and Guinea Airways Limited.
1927April 18 Captain Andrew E. Mustar pilots a DeHavilland DH37 on Guinea Airway’s inaugural flight from Lae to Wau near the Bulolo goldfields.
During the Year The Expropriations Board completes the sale of German property in New Guinea. Most of the 268 plantations have been auctioned off to Australian soldier settlers few of whom have any experience in tropical farming. The trading stations, warehouses and shipping facilities of the Neu-Guinea Kompagnie are purchased by two large Australian firms, W. R. Carpenter & Company and Burns -Philp Company.
Government patrols push across the interior of Manus, the main island in the Admiralty group, for the first time.
1928The Victoria branch of the League of Nations Union declares Australia’s administration of the mandate creditable but inadequate owing to the lack of “any system of training a tropical civil service...this inevitably placed the administration of the Territory in inexperienced hands.” 1930
Copra exports of £864,358 still account for 90% of New Guinea’s foreign trade. Gold production rises to £96,338. The metal is New Guinea’s second ranking commodity but still accounts for less than 10% of the Territory’s export trade. 1931
Guinea Airways begins operating Junkers G31 tri-motors which can be loaded by crane via a large opening cargo door in the roof. The Junkers play a major part in moving the heavy components of mining dredges to the goldfields when surface deposits play out. In 1931-32, Guinea Airways airlifts 3,947 tons of freight. All airlines in the US lift only 513 tons in 1931, Britain slightly more than the US, and France 1,508 tons.
The Australian Government offers a bounty of £13, 10 shillings per ton to encourage production of cocoa in the Territory.
Australia allows duty free imports of rubber from New Guinea.
1932Regular air service between Port Moresby, Papua and the Morolee goldfields begins.
1933March 27 – October 19
Patrol officers Taylor and Lindsay accompanied by Micheal Leahy patrol a previously unexplored area between the Bismarck Range and the Papuan border centered on Mount Hagen. The party compiles extensive anthropological notes and short vocabularies of the Bena Bena, Workor, Lundumanka, Mairifuteikar, China Shiva [Sinasina], Chimbu, Baimarn, and Yanger languages.
May 15 – 25 Patrol Officer Charles Bates compiles short vocabularies of the Ornapinka and Infuntera languages during a patrol between Ramu and Purari in the Morobe District.
June 5 - 8 Patrol Officer Charles Bates compiles a short vocabulary of the Bena-Bena and Sofa-Sofa languages during a patrol of the Sofa Valley and the Upper Purari in the Morobe District.
June 22 - July 13 Patrol officers map a previously unexplored area between the source streams of the Ramu and Langimar Rivers in the Morobe District.
August 8 – September 5
Patrol Officer Charles Bates compiles short vocabularies of the Puntibasa and Arau languages during a patrol of the area between Ramu and the Markham River.
During the Year Limited self-government for the European population is introduced in the Territory. A 15 member Legislative Council composed of the mandate’s 8 administrative department heads and 7 members appointed by the Administrator to represent the interests of businessmen, miners, planters and missionaries is established. Legislation requires the approval of an Executive Council composed of the Administrator and the 8 department heads and is subject to veto by the Commonwealth government.
1934March 3 Patrol Officers Bridge and Edwards complete a month long tour of villages in the eastern highlands during which they compile vocabularies of the Manki, Ekuti and Gumi languages.
September 12 Walter Ramsay McNicoll is appointed Administrator of New Guinea. McNicoll perpetuates the system of indentured labor system in the Territory at time when the British Government is recommending its abandonment in the colonies. New Guinea’s minimum wage for native labor is 5 shillings a month (half the rate in neighboring Papua). A head tax of 10 shillings per year coerces many natives into joining the labor force.
During the Year Patrol Officer J.R. Black compiles a vocabulary of the Garfi language spoken in the vicinity of Finintegu in the eastern highlands.
1935Gold accounts for 81% of New Guinea’s export trade. £1,897,244 worth of the yellow metal is extracted from the mandate’s deposits. Copra drops to second rank among New Guinea’s exports accounting for 15.4% of the trade. 1936
October Guinea Airways pilot Tommy O’Dea takes 8 gold miners on a flight from Wau to Melbourne for the Melbourne Cup horse race. The passengers pay £200 apiece to charter the lines’ brand new £18,000 Lockheed L10 Electra the C. J. Levien. 1937
May 29 Mount Vulcan erupts on the southwest rim of the Rabaul caldera spewing smoke and ash over the city.
May 30 The Tavurvur volcano on the southeast rim of the Rabaul caldera erupts in a violent steam explosion that blasts out of the main crater. At least 441 people are killed by pyroclastic flows and falling debris. The Burns Philp freighter Montoro and the American ship Golden Bear pickup survivors at Nordup beach and take them to the Catholic Mission at Unepope beach near Kokopo.
June 29 Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan land their Lockheed Electra at Lae during their round the world flight.
July 2 Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan takeoff from Lae bound for Howland Island. At 0800 GMT Earhart makes her last radio contact with Lae. She reports being on course for Howland Island at 12,000 feet over the Nukumanu Islands. Nothing is seen or heard from the plane thereafter.
October Administrator McNicoll lifts the ban on copra making by the Tolai people of New Britain. Freedom for New Guineans to enter the European economy arouses considerable hostility towards McNicoll among the settlers. Burton Collins, a New Zealand geologist living in Madang, writes to his father, “there has been a terrible outcry against the Administration in Rabaul because some natives have been allowed to save up enough money to buy cars & actually ply them for hire!” 1938
July 1 The Minister in Charge of Territories (former Prime Minister William Hughes) reacting to suggestions that Hitler might be appeased by the return of some former German colonies, tells an audience in Rabaul that New Guinea is Australia’s and “all hell is not going to take it away.”
During the Year The Minister for Territories, William M. Hughes, comes under attack in the Australian press for his decision to move the capital of New Guinea from Rabaul to Salamaua. Hughes is accused of accepting bribes from Burns Philp and New Guinea Goldfields Ltd. The Pacific Islands Monthly accuses the Government of apathy and irresponsibility in its attitude towards New Guinea affairs in general. The uproar delays the move until October 1941 and to Lae rather than Salamaua.
An Australian commission of inquiry chaired by Frederick Eggleson studies the amalgamation of Papua and New Guinea under a single administration.
W.R. Carpenter & Company, Ltd. begins weekly airmail delivery from Sydney to Rabaul and the Morolee goldfields.
1939Oil exploration begins near Sepik on the north coast of New Guinea.
Authorities suspect German missionaries who were allowed to remain in the Territory after World War I of aiding Nazi Germany’s war effort. 399 of the mandate’s 655 missionaries are German nationals.
September 8 An Australian militia unit, The New Guinea Volunteer Rifles, is raised from the Europeans of the Territory. The Rifles are headquartered in Rabual and companies are formed at Rabual, Wau, Salamaua, and Lae with subsections at Kokopo, Kavieng and Madang.
1940Gold production rises to £3,021,731 and accounts for 92% of the Territory’s export trade.
1941April The 2/22nd Australian Infantry Battalion, a Victorian militia unit, leaves Melbourne for Rabual.
May 30 The Rabaul Times publishes an editorial informing newly arrived Australian troops of the strict racial barriers customarily observed in the mandated territory.
October Volcanic activity resumes near Rabaul. The administration prepares to move the capital to Lae on the island of New Guinea.
December The territory’s non-indigenous population includes 3,122 British subjects, 2,199 Chinese, 419 Germans, 156 Dutch, 146 Americans, 29 Japanese, 23 Poles and 2 Italians. December 8
Japanese planes based in the Caroline Islands begin flying reconnaissance missions over the Territory.
Rabaul’s 22 resident Japanese are interned as enemy aliens in the local jail.
1942January Employment in the Bululo goldfields peaks at 1,500 Europeans and 10,000 natives.
Eight dredges powered by 3 hydroelectric stations are extracting £3,000,000 of gold per annum.
January 4 Japanese airplanes bomb Rabaul.
January 20 Japanese carrier based aircraft attack Rabaul. In an engagement lasting less than ten minutes three of the Royal Australian Air Force 24 Squadron's 8 Wirraways are shot down, one crashes on take-off and 2 are damaged in crash-landings.
January 21 Civil administration is suspended throughout Papua and New Guinea. The Army’s Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit (Angau) assumes control of government in the unoccupied regions of the territories under martial law. The native police are disarmed and disbanded. The Japanese bomb Lae, Salamaua, Madang, Lorengua and the Bulolo goldfields.
The 60 aircraft from the Japanese carriers Kagi and Akagi attack Kavieng, New Ireland bombing and strafing the wharf area, Chinatown, and the recently built airstrip.
Australian forces abandon Lae and Salamaua.
January 22 A Japanese naval taskforce consisting of 8 cruisers, 12 destroyers, 9 submarines and 2 aircraft carriers with 171 aircraft is sighted off Rabaul.
January 23 The Japanese land 17,000 battle hardened troops at Rabaul. The capital is defended by 1,400 Australian soldiers and 150 New Guinea Volunteer Rifles. A night of fierce combat leaves about 2,000 Japanese and 50 Australians dead. The defenders are over run and around 11 o’clock the surviving Australians are told it’s, “every man for himself”. Only 400 soldiers and civilians escape to Australia or survive the occupation by hiding in the jungle. Japanese troops land at Kavieng on New Ireland.
January 24 – 28 Royal Australian Air Force planes bomb the Japanese fleet off Rabaul.
January 27 All men in Papua and New Guinea under age 45 are mobilized.
February 1 The Japanese bomb Wau.
February 2 A Japanese seaplane spots the MV Induna Star in St George's Channel. The ship, carrying 133 members of the 1st Independent Company fleeing Kavieng on New Ireland is bombed and then taken under escort to Rabaul.
February 4 Japanese troops execute 125 Australian prisoners at Tol plantation. Six Australians survive the massacre which is reported in the Australian press in April.
February 10 Japanese forces occupy Gasmata on the island of New Britain.
February 20 Japanese aircraft attack an American naval taskforce off Rabaul.
February 20 Lieutenant Edward H. O’Hare, a fighter pilot from the U.S.S. Lexington, single-handedly, attacks a formation of 9 enemy bombers shoots down 5 and damages a sixth before it can reach its target. O’Hare is awarded the Medal of Honor. March 8
Large scale Japanese landings take place at Lae and Salamaua. The New Guinea Volunteer Rifles and survivors of the 2/22nd Battalion from Rabaul destroy all military supplies and withdraw into the hinterland where they observe the Japanese build-up.
March 10 The Japanese Navy establishes a Minsei-bu (Civil Administration Section) for New Britain, New Ireland, Eastern New Guinea and the Solomon Islands headquartered at Rabaul.
Japanese forces land at Finschafen and occupy the islands of Bougainville and Buka.
March 20 Japanese forces penetrate the interior of New Guinea as far as the Markham Valley.
March Nan'yo Takushoku Kaisha (The South Seas Colonization Company) sends about 100 staff to Rabaul to engage in growing vegetables, tobacco and cocoa; operation of a saw mill and a cement plant and management of a hotel. They employ about 400 New Guineans who clear land and work on farms.
Nan'yo Kohatsu Kabushiki Kaisha (The South Seas Development Company), the dominant force in Micronesia’s sugar industry takes over New Guinea’s trading stations; vegetable and rice farms; management of copra and cocoa plantations and operation of a soap plant and saw mill.
April 8 Japanese forces occupy Lorengau.
April 30 American P-39 fighters strafe Japanese airfields at Lae and Salamaua.
April A branch of the Japanese Navy’s Minsei-bu (Civil Administration Section) is established at Kavieng. The Australian Army’s Kanga Force is formed to reinforce the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles and undertake reconnaissance missions on New Guinea.
May 23 The Australian Army’s Kanga Force is airlifted into Wau to operate as a guerrilla force against the Japanese in the Markham Valley.
June 6 Tavurvur volcano near Rabaul begins a moderate-sized explosive eruption.
June 22 Australian prisoners of war and civilian internees board the MV Montevideo Maru in Rabaul harbor for transport to prison camps in Japan.
June 30 The New Guinea Volunteer Rifles and Kanga Force raid Salamaua inflicting heavy casualties and capturing the first Japanese equipment and documents taken by the Australian Army.
July 1 The submarine USS Sturgeon sinks the MV Montevideo Maru off the northern coast of Luzon. The ship displays no Red Cross markings and all 1,056 Australian prisoners from Rabaul go down with it.
August 13 About 100 Japanese and Korean women are working in at least two brothels in Rabaul’s Chinatown according to reports delivered by New Guineans arriving in Port Moresby.
November 24 U.S. 5th Air Force B-17s and B-25s and RAAF Beaufighters sink the Japanese destroyer Hayashio in the Huon Gulf between Lae and Finschafen.
December A branch office of the Nan yo Kaihatsu Kinko (South Seas Development Bank) opens in Rabaul. The Bank is established to finance the development of occupied areas, control currency exchange and dispose of enemy properties. The branch issues military scrip exchangeable at the rate of ¥10 = £1 Australian.
December 18 The submarine USS Albacore torpedoes and sinks the Japanese light cruiser Tenryu off Madang.
1943January 29 The Japanese send 3,000 men from Mubo to seize Australian held airfields at Wau.
January 30 The Victorian 17th Militia Brigade is airlifted to reinforce Australian forces at Wau.
February 3 The Japanese attack on Australian forces holding Wau begins.
February 6 The Japanese lose 13 bombers and 4 fighters in an air battle over Wau.
February 26 Australian forces drive the Japanese attacking Wau back towards Mubo. The battle for Wau ends with 1200 Japanese and 300 Australians dead.
February The Japanese 8th Navy Development Department begins civil administration at Wewak.
March 1 A Japanese convoy under Rear Admiral Kimura Masatomi leaves Rabaul on Operation 81, reinforcement of the Lae garrison. The Japanese taskforce consists of 7 troop transports carrying 6,000 soldiers and 400 marines, an eighth transport carrying aviation fuel and 8 destroyer escorts. Allied air reconnaissance spots the convoy north of New Britain in the afternoon but cloudy skies shield it from air attacks for the moment.
March 2 The Battle of the Bismarck Sea begins. The U.S. 5th Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force sink the troopship Kyokusei Maru.
Two destroyers temporarily leave Kimura’s formation to take General Nakano, commander of the 51st Division, to Lae. March 3
The Japanese convoy is spotted in Huon Gulf 80 miles west of Lae. Allied air forces resume the attack. Admiral Kimura’s flagship, Shirayuki, is hit and stays afloat just long enough for the wounded commander and crew to board the destroyer Shikinami. The destroyer Arashio is hit by 3 bombs, loses rudder control and collides with the troopship Nojima Maru. The destroyer Tokitsukaze is left dead in the water by a bomb hit in the engineering spaces. The destroyer Yukikaze pulls alongside to remove General Adachi and the Tokitsukaze’s crew. The morning attack ends. The destroyer Asashio remains to assist the crippled Arashio and the rest of the convoy retreats up the Vitiaz Strait after picking 2,700 soldiers and sailor out the water. Allied bombers renew their attacks in the afternoon. The destroyers Asashio and Arashio and all but one of the surviving troop transports are sunk. The last transport ship, the Oigawa Maru, is sunk by American PT boats later in the evening.
March 8 An attack by Japanese bombers forces abandonment of the U.S. Army transport ship Jacob near Porloch Harbor. Private George C. Watson remains in the water helping those unable to swim to reach the life rafts. Watson is eventually dragged under by the turbulence created by the sinking ship. He is the first black solider to receive the Distinguished Service Cross during World War II and finally recognized with a Medal of Honor citation in 1997.
March 16 Flight Lieutenant William Newton is awarded the Victoria Cross for his participation in repeated raids against the Japanese base at Salamaua. Lieutenant Newton held his course and destroyed two large fuel depots despite damage to his aircraft. Newton managed to return to his base but was captured during another mission on March 29th and executed by the Japanese.
March 18 Two American P-38 Lightening fighters shoot down a bomber carrying the Commander of the Imperial Japanese Navy, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, over Buin on Bougainville Island. The architect of the attack on Pearl Harbor is killed in the crash.
April 3 Australian forces advance from Wau towards Salamaua.
May 7 American forces land at Nassau Bay to join the attack on Salamaua.
June 16 Captain Jay Zeamer USAAC, the pilot of a bomber on a photo reconnaissance mission over heavily defended Buka Island, observes about 20 enemy fighters taking off from island’s airfield. Captain Zeamer proceeds with the mapping run despite the certainty of a Japanese attack. In the ensuing engagement, he sustains gunshot wounds to both arms and legs. Despite his injuries, Zeamer maneuvers the damaged plane so that his gunners are able to fight off the enemy during a running fight which lasts 40 minutes. Although weak from loss of blood, he refuses medical aid until the attack is broken off. Zeamer then turns over the controls, but continues to exercise command despite lapses into unconsciousness, and directs the flight to a base 580 miles away. Captain Zeamer is awarded the Medal of Honor.
June 16 Second Lieutenant Joseph R. Sarnoski USAAC, the nose gunner on Captain Zeamer’s photo reconnaissance mission over Buka, though wounded, continues firing and shoots down two enemy planes. A 20-millimeter shell bursts in the nose of the bomber during a second attack knocking him into the catwalk under the cockpit. Sarnoski crawls back to his post and keeps firing until he collapses on his guns mortally wounded. Lieutenant Sarnoski is awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.
June 30 American and Australian forces land south of Salamaua.
June British artillerymen captured in Singapore and held captive on Ballale Island are executed by the Japanese. Australian forces uncover 436 bodies after the Japanese surrender in 1945.
July 17 American and Australian forces retake Mubo, link up with the Australians fighting through from Wau, and prepare to advance on Salamaua.
August 23-27 U.S. 5th Air Force destroys 175 planes on the ground and about 75 more in the air during four days of attacks on the Japanese airbase at Wewak. Only 11 American aircraft are lost in the battle.
September 4 An American naval taskforce under Rear Admiral Barbey lands 7800 troops of the Australian 9th Division on the Huon peninsula east of Lae.
September 4 During amphibious landings at Lae, Seaman Johnnie D. Hutchins, USN, takes the wheel of his LST from its dead helmsman and steers the ship clear of an oncoming torpedo. Hutchins is already mortally wounded but clings to the helm until succumbing to his injuries. Seaman Hutchins is awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.
September 5 Australian and American troops capture the Lae airfields.
September 8 American destroyers shell Japanese positions at Lae.
September 11 The Australian 5th Division retakes Salamaua.
September 13 Private Richard Kelliher attacks a Japanese position at Nadzab, first with hand grenades and then returns to finish it off with a Bren gun after which he proceeds to rescue three wounded members of his platoon while still under heavy enemy fire. Private Kelliher is awarded the Victoria Cross.
September 16 The Australian 7th and 9th Divisions retake Lae.
September 19 The Australian 2/6th Independent Company retakes Kaiapit in hand to hand combat with the Japanese. An airstrip is constructed and Kaiapit becomes a base for the Australian 7th Division's advance up the Markham Valley.
September 22 A U.S. Navy task force under Rear Admiral Barbey lands Australian forces north of Finschafen. Australian forces begin moving overland from Lae towards Madang.
September 27-28 Allied aircraft attack a Japanese convoy off Wewak sinking 3 tankers, 4 supply ships and 29 barges and destroy 50 Japanese aircraft.
September The Japanese evacuate field hospital nurses and “comfort women” working in Rabaul’s brothels in the wake of intensified Allied bombing.
October 2 The Australian 9th Division recaptures Finschafen and establishes a base for the campaign against Japanese forces on the Huon peninsula.
October 3 The destroyer USS Henley is torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine east of New Guinea.
October 7 Australian forces advance through the Ramu Valley towards Madang.
October 11 A flight of four reconnaissance fighters led by Colonel Neel E. Kearby USAAC encounters a formation of 12 Japanese bombers and 36 fighters while returning from a mission over Wewak. Colonel Kearby brings down 6 enemy aircraft in the ensuing combat and is awarded the Medal of Honor.
October Allied aircraft destroy 49 Japanese ships, 70 harbor craft and 177 planes in five raids against Rabaul.
October 17 Private Junior Van Noy USA mans a machinegun post 5 yards from the edge of a beach near Finschafen as three Japanese landing craft approach in the early morning darkness. One barge is sunk by shore batteries but the other 2 beach 10 yards from Van Noy's emplacement. Van Noy’s loader is wounded and evacuated but the Private ignores his own wounds and comrades calls to withdraw. He continues firing on the enemy killing at least half of the 39 Japanese in the landing party. Van Noy expends every round before succumbing to his wounds. Private Van Noy is awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.
November 1 The U.S. 3rd Marine Division lands at Empress Augusta Bay on the west side of Bougainville Island.
November 1 Sergeant Robert A. Owens USMC charges a Japanese bunker housing a 75 mm gun that threatens the success of the landing on Bougainville. Owens’ men provide covering fire on two adjacent bunkers while he marches into the mouth of the cannon, enters the emplacement and kills the gun crew. Sergeant Owens is awarded the Medal of Honor.
November 1 First Lieutenant Robert M. Hanson USMC Reserve attacks 6 Japanese torpedo bombers descending on the landing beach at Empress Augusta Bay forcing them to jettison their bombs short of the target and downing one of them. Lieutenant Hanson is awarded the Medal of Honor.
November 1-2 Battle of Empress Augusta Bay – An American naval squadron consisting of 4 light cruisers and 8 destroyers intercepts a Japanese force of 4 cruisers and 6 destroyers sailing to attack the landing force on Bougainville. The Japanese are driven off in nighttime battle with the loss of a cruiser and a destroyer.
November 2 Major Raymond H. Wilkins USAAC leads his squadron in an attack on Japanese shipping in Rabaul harbor. Despite severe damage to his aircraft Wilkins’ bombs sink a Japanese destroyer and a transport ship. Wilkins then begins a strafing run on a heavy cruiser blocking the squadron’s withdrawal before crashing into the sea. Major Wilkins is awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.
November 4-5 Air raids on Rabaul sink 16 Japanese ships, 1 cruiser, damage 11 others and destroy 109 planes.
November 7 During a battle on the Koromokina River on Bougainville Island, a platoon led by Sergeant Herbert J. Thomas USMC Reserve destroys two Japanese machine gun nests. Sergeant Thomas is killed when he jumps on a grenade that bounces back off vines during an attack on a third machine gun emplacement. Sergeant Thomas is awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.
November 9 PFC Henry Gurke USMC is killed during a Japanese attack on a road block near Empress Augusta Bay on Bougainville Island. Gurke pushes his companion in a small foxhole aside to smother a hand grenade before it explodes. Private Gurke is awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.
November 17 The Australian 9th Division begins its attack on Sattleberg, a high peak overlooking the Huon Peninsula.
November 20 Nan'yo Takushoku Kaisha (The South Seas Colonization Company) reports that during their 15 months of operation in New Guinea they produced 1,100 tons of vegetables and made a profit primarily due to low labor costs.
November 21 The Japanese counter-attack American and Australian forces holding Lae in a surprise landing at Scarlet Beach. The defenders narrowly hang on.
November 24 During the advance on the Sattelberg, Sergeant Thomas C. Derrick of the South Australia Regiment is ordered to outflank an entrenched Japanese position. Sergeant Derrick charges ahead of his section and grenades a machinegun nest then orders his second section to advance. Six more enemy positions block their path. Derrick attacks and silences four more Japanese posts before Australian forces reach the summit of the mountain. Sergeant Derrick is awarded the Victoria Cross.
November 25 Battle of Cape St George – Five American destroyers sink 3 of 5 Japanese destroyers bound for Bougainville area off the southern tip of New Ireland.
November 26 Australian forces hold their position on Pabu Hill an outlying ridge near the Sattelberg against strong Japanese attacks
December 15 U.S. 1st Marine Division lands at Arawae on the southwest coast of New Britain in the first step of General MacArthur’s campaign to isolate the Japanese stronghold at Rabaul.
December 25 U.S. 1st Marine Division lands at Cape Gloucester on New Britain.
December 27 The four-month battle for Shaggy Ridge ends with the Australian 7th Division’s capture of the Japanese position on the “Pimple” at the summit of the ridge. The main Japanese supply line through the Finisterre Mountains is severed.
1944January 2 U.S. 32nd Infantry Division lands at Saidor between Madang and the Australians advancing from Huon Bay.
January 24 First Lieutenant Robert M. Hanson USMC Reserve shoots down four Japanese fighters and a possible fifth while providing cover for a bombing raid on Rabaul Harbor. For this and previous actions at Bougainville on November 1, 1943 Lieutenant Hanson is awarded the Medal of Honor.
January 30 On Bougainville, Sergeant Jesse R. Drowley USA, squad leader in a platoon whose mission during an attack is to remain under cover, hold the perimeter and act as a reserve for the assault company, sees three members of the assault company fall badly wounded. Drowley rushes forward to carry the wounded to cover. After rescuing two men, Sergeant Drowley discovers an undetected enemy pillbox that is inflicting heavy casualties upon the attacking force and is the main obstacle to the success of the advance. He delegates the rescue of the third man to an assistant and runs across open terrain to one of the assaulting tanks. Signaling to the crew, he climbs to the turret, exchanges his weapon for a submachine gun and rides the deck of the tank directing it toward the pillbox with tracer fire. The tank continues to within 20 feet of the pillbox where Drowley receives a severe bullet wound in the chest. He remains on the tank and continues to direct its progress until the enemy box is located by the crew. He remains alongside the tank until the pillbox is destroyed. Sergeant Drowley is awarded the Medal of Honor.
February 10 Japanese resistance ends on the Huon peninsula after a 6 month battle with American and Australian forces.
February 14 Americans and New Zealanders land on Green Island and begin cutting off Japanese bases on Bougainville and Buka.
February 15 American forces occupy Rooke Island between New Guinea and New Britain.
February 15 Lieutenant Nathan G. Gordon, USN, rescues 15 officers and men shot down in air raids against Kavieng Harbor. Gordon lands his Catalina seaplane on the harbor on 4 separate occasions, once within 600 yards of the enemy, and makes a successful takeoff despite heavy swells and a seriously overloaded aircraft. Lieutenant Gordon is awarded the Medal of Honor.
February 18 US Navy attacks Rabaul and Kavieng.
February Japanese air forces are withdrawn from Rabaul.
February 29 American forces make a surprise landing on Negros Island in the Admiralty group and continue encirclement of Japanese bases at Rabaul and Kavieng.
March 3 A Japanese counter-attack on Negros Island fails. 3000 Japanese are killed.
March 6 American forces land at Talasea on New Britain 180 miles west of Rabaul.
March 17 Rear Admiral Ryukichi Tamura orders the execution of the 32 civilian internees held by the Japanese at Kavieng on New Ireland. At dusk the prisoners, including 14 year old David Topal, are led, blindfold, one at a time, from the road to the edge of the wharf and garroted with wire. The bodies are put in two small barges, with concrete blocks tied to their feet, and thrown overboard between Nago and Edmago islands.
March 18-19 American destroyers bombard Japanese positions near Wewak.
March 20 US Marines land on Emirau and Elomusao Islands northwest of Kavieng on New Ireland isolating Japanese bases on New Ireland, New Britain and Bougainville.
March A Japanese counter-attack on Bougainville is repulsed. Surviving Japanese forces remain isolated on the south end of the island until early 1945.
The Japanese 8th Navy Development Department’s Minsei-bu (Civil Administration Section) moves from Wewak to Kairiru Island before leaving the Territory for Hollandia in Dutch New Guinea.
April 16 The U.S. 5th Air Force suffers its biggest operational loss of the war. Aircraft returning from a bombing raid on Japanese airfields at Hollandia in Dutch New Guinea are cut off from their home bases at Gusap, Nadzab and Saidor by a late-afternoon frontal system. Thirty-seven aircraft and 54 airmen are lost in the storm and another 9 aircraft are damaged. It is the highest, single day, weather related loss in US Army Air Corp/US Air Force history.
April 22 An American naval task force under Admirals Mitscher and Barbey lands American troops at Aitape, Tanahmerah Bay, and Humboldt Bay.
April 24 The Australian 30th and 57th/60th Battalions join forces to capture the Japanese stronghold at Madang.
April 26 HMAS Bundaberg attacks Japanese positions on Sek Island off Madang. A landing party then captures the island’s garrison.
July 11 Staff Sergeant Gerald L. Endl USA rescues 11 wounded members of his company during a fire fight between heavily armed Japanese troops and the U.S. 32nd Infantry Division along a jungle trail near Anamo. Endl was carrying the last man in his arms when he was struck by a heavy burst of automatic fire and was killed. His actions made possible the successful evacuation of all but one man, and enabled two platoons to withdraw with their wounded and to reorganize with the rest of the company. Sergeant Endl is awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.
July 19 Second Lieutenant Dale E. Christensen USA leads an attack on a Japanese mortar and machinegun emplacement on the Driniumor River. His platoon is pinned down by intense fire. Christensen orders his men to remain under cover and creeps forward to locate the enemy and determine the best direction from which to attack. His rifle is struck by enemy fire and knocked from his hands but he continues his reconnaissance, locates five enemy machineguns, destroys one with hand grenades, and rejoins his platoon. He then leads a successful assault that drives the Japanese from their positions with a loss of four mortars and 10 machineguns. Lieutenant Christensen is awarded the Medal of Honor.
July 22 Private Donald R. Lobaugh USA is killed while voluntarily rushing a Japanese machinegun emplacement blocking his platoon’s withdrawal from an encircled position near Afua. Private Lobaugh crossed 30 yards of open terrain and killed two of the machine-gunners before succumbing to his wounds. He is awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.
July 23 Second Lieutenant George W. G. Boyce Jr. USA falls on a hand grenade to save the members of his platoon while leading an attack on Japanese positions near Afua. Lieutenant Boyce is awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.
September 18 The Japanese execute 18 civilian inhabitants of New Britain after a summary trial for acts of sabotage and other acts hostile to the Japanese Army. The victims are beheaded at Vunarima. Sergeant-Majors Shigeru Ohashi and Yoshifumi Komoda of the Japanese Military Police are convicted of the murders by a war crimes tribunal in Rabaul after the war.
October 11 Australian forces land at Jacquinot Bay on New Britain and begin pushing the Japanese on the island back towards Rabaul.
December 18 Australian forces capture Arty Hill a major Japanese position on the Numa Numa Track across Bougainville.
December 30 Australian forces capture of the heavily defended Japanese position on Pearl Ridge, Bougainville an important vantage point with views over both sides of the island.
1945March 8 The Australian 6th Division begins the battle to retake Maprik.
March 22 Corporal Reginald R. Rattey, 25th Battalion, wipes out four Japanese pillboxes on the Buin Road at Slater’s Hill, Bougainville. Corporal Rattey is the first member of an Australian militia battalion to be awarded the Victoria Cross.
March 23 The Australian 30th Division retakes Waitavolo and Tol plantations on New Britain. The victories enable the Australians to establish a line across the Gazelle Peninsula from which they are able to conduct patrols against Japanese positions in the North of New Britain.
March 25 Lieutenant Albert Chowne and his company attack a Japanese position near Dagua. Chowne, sees his commander killed, rushes ahead and knocks out two machine-guns then leads the company in a charge on the enemy position. Although seriously wounded, he pushes forward and kills two more Japanese before being killed himself. Chowne is awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions which pave the way for an Australian advance on Wewak.
April The Australian 6th Division captures Maprik following a six week battle against heavily entrenched Japanese positions.
May 11 Wewak is retaken by the Australian 6th Division in a combined land and amphibious operation. The last major campaign on mainland New Guinea in the Second World War ends. Japanese forces are cleared from the coast bit fragmented formations remain in the interior of the island.
May 15 Near Wewak, Private Edward Kenna, sees his comrades pinned down by enemy machine guns, stands up in full view of the Japanese only 50 metres in front of him and takes out two machine guns. Kenna lives to receive the Victoria Cross.
June 24 Civil administration is restored in liberated areas of New Guinea.
July 24 On Bougainville, Private Frank Partridge, though wounded himself, retrieves a dead comrade’s Bren gun hands it to another member of the patrol, takes out a Japanese bunker with a grenade and kills its only survivor in hand to hand combat. Partridge is awarded the Victoria Cross.
September 6 HMS Glory enters Rabaul Harbor. The Japanese command boards the aircraft carrier and surrenders its 101,000 man force including 19 Generals and 11 Admirals.
September 13 General Adachi surrenders the 13,000 surviving members of the 18th Army to Major General H.C.H. Robertson of the Australian 6th Division in a ceremony at Cape Wom near Wewak.
September 19 HMAS Swan accepts the surrender of Japanese forces in New Ireland at Namatanai and Fangalawa Bay. Only 7 of the 87 European civilians thought to have survived the occupation of New Ireland are located.
October 31 Civil administration is restored throughout the Territory. New Guinea is merged with Papua under terms of the Papua New Guinea Provisional Administration Act. Jack Keith Murray, Professor of Agriculture at the University of Queensland, is appointed Administrator of Papua & New Guinea. Murray ends indentured labor and repatriates all laborers to their homes. Murray’s reforms are bitterly opposed by returning settlers but the Administrator responds, “A new spirit, new ideas, new demands and standards have spread through the native community. I do not propose to attempt, even if I could hope to succeed, to stifle that spirit so that European employers can return to the standards of a vanished world.”
1946May 24 Lieutentant General Takeo Ito is convicted of murdering Chinese civilians on New Britain and sentenced to death by the war crimes court at Rabaul.
December Australia’s League of Nations mandate over New Guinea transformed into a United Nations trusteeship.1947
March 4 Lieutenant General Masao Baba is convicted in a Rabaul court of ordering a death march in North Borneo and sentenced to death by hanging.
June 24 Rear Admiral Tametsugu Okada is sentenced to death by the war crimes court at Rabaul.
August 6 The last of 188 war crimes trials held in Rabaul concludes. The Rabaul court convicts 266 of 390 accused war criminals and sentences 87 of them to death.
1948March 16 Rear Admiral Tamura Ryukichi is executed at Stanley Gaol, Hong Kong, for ordering the murder of 32 civilian internees at Kavieng wharf.
1949The Australian Parliament passes the Papua and New Guinea Act of 1949 formally confirming the administrative union of New Guinea and Papua under the title of "The Territory of Papua and New Guinea."

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