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Title: Report on historical sources on Australia and Japan at war in Papua and New Guinea, 1942-45
Author(s): Nelson, Hank
Keywords: historical sources
World War II
Papua New Guinea
official histories
general histories
unit histories
battle histories
documentary sources
Date created: 1996
The violence of the Second World War came to New Guinea in January 1942 and it stayed until the Japanese surrender on 15 August 1945. At that time there were still over 145,000 Japanese troops and auxiliaries in New Guinea. The guarding, provisioning and repatriation of the Japanese troops continued until after the last trial of war criminals on Manus in 1951. The relevant period could therefore be over a decade, but to conform to the 1942-45 dates, and because the war crimes trials constitute a separate topic, just brief consideration will be given to the immediate postwar years. While the report concentrates on eastern New Guinea, some Australians fought in Dutch New Guinea, particularly those in the RAAF who operated from bases within Dutch New Guinea as well as flying missions over the area. Dutch New Guinea was certainly significant for the Japanese: there were still some 26,000 Japanese there after the surrender in 1945. The report refers to Dutch New Guinea only where there is some continuity of operations across the border and where Australians were involved. Although the report is on Australian and Japanese sources there are references to material from the United States and New Zealand. This is because these two nations generated basic material, provide other perspectives on events, and because troops from these two countries often acted with Australians. For example, the New Zealand pilots flying from Torokina and Jacquinot Bay frequently supported Australian ground troops and attacked targets identified by Australians. In the fighting around Buna and Gona at the end of 1942 Australian and American ground troops and air forces were all engaged. In the battle of the Coral Sea, so critical for Australia, the majority of the Allied ships were American, but both Australian and American navies and air forces were involved and aircraft were using Australian land bases. This is a survey of available material and is not, of course, intended to be comprehensive. But the section on recent autobiographical writings by Australians who fought in New Guinea has been done thoroughly to illustrate points made in the accompanying notes about the frequency and diversity of these reminiscences.
Type: Working/Technical Paper
Appears in Collections:Open Access Research

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