New Britain Island,
January 22, 1942,
Australian army of 23 units opposed to Japanese army of 30 units
for a battle of complexity 0.42 at Company(I) level
on a 2.5 Km/Hex map
for 11 turns of Half Day each.
by Graham Donaldson submited on 16-02-2003
Rugged-Defense Playing Statistics
FALL OF RABAUL
Imperial Japanese invasion of northern New Britain during the operations into the Australian territory of Papua-New Guinea
After the capture of Tarakan and Menado the Japanese military command was ready to thrust its trident offensive further south during the last week of January 1942. One prong aimed at Kavieng and Rabaul, another point at Ambon and Timor with a third prong towards Balikpapan and Bali. These leapfrog advances by the Japanese task forces carried the Rising Sun conquests across the tropical equator and established bases deep in the Netherlands East Indies archipelago and Australian mandated territory.
The South Seas Force consisting of a reinforced regiment and SNLF Marines was assigned Rabaul, staging from Truk and covered by a powerful surface fleet including aircraft carriers. The Japanese land force under General Tomitaro Horii quickly captured Kavieng on New Ireland and Lorengeu in the Admiralties. Then it was Rabaul's turn to be crushed. Priority to the capture of Rabaul was not so much for resource value but as a vital point in the strategy to establish air bases and naval facilities to protect from counterattack the rich co-prosperity empire which was rapidly expanding.
In the meantime the deep water port and air base was constantly under air attack by land based bombers and carrier aircraft. From 4th January the harbour and airfields at Rabaul were attacked intermittently by small groups of enemy aircraft. On 20th January a large raid by some 100 warplanes bombed and strafed the harbour defenses and shore installations. During the Japanese carrier aircraft attack, performed by some veterans of Pearl Harbor, an ever diminishing handful of obsolete Australian Wirraway fighter planes courageously rose to oppose the aerial armadas.
A couple of days later in the early morning darkness the Japanese invasion fleet arrived. After the initial night amphibious landing under flares dropped by aircraft over the Harbour the defending Australian companies withdrew westward under increasing Japanese pressure. By midday the fatigued Diggers were hopelessly defending a perimeter around Vunakanau airfield. As the Japanese push continued and fragmented the Australian cohesiveness, contact was lost with the forward companies. The Australian commander ordered a retirement in small groups through the jungle.
Most Australian troops escaped to find shelter as they made their way southwards and for many the chance to be eventually evacuated with the assistance of local administrative officers and brave civilians. About 400 Australian servicemen were able to elude and escape the Japanese clutches on New Britain.
Rabaul became an important air base, deep water harbour and main supply base for Imperial Japanese military operations in the South West Pacific area, and was developed and encircled with a protective ring of minor naval stations and air bases. In early March 1942 to the east Buka island was occupied, Bougainville and Shortland Islands in the Solomon's chain invaded. Also to the west Manus Island in the Admiralties had been captured and on the 8th March large Japanese troop concentrations landed at points on the undefended coast of New Guinea.
However by mid-1944 after many bloody island campaigns the Nippon forces were isolated and neutralized on the Gazelle Peninsula until the atomic capitulation of the Rising Sun Home Islands.
'Nos morituri te salutamus' ( "We, who are about to die salute you" ) - Wing Commander Lerew, C/O RAAF at Rabaul after being told by RAAF Townsville command the inability to send fighters to New Britain's defenses.
TOAW Island Series scenario by Graham Donaldson.
THE JAPANESE THRUST, Lionel Wigmore, AWM, Canberra, 1957.
BLOODY SHAMBLES, Volume I, by C. Shores & Y. Izawa
RABAUL 1942, Douglas Aplin, Melbourne, Australia, 1980.
A DICTIONARY OF AUSTRALIAN MILITARY HISTORY, Ian Grant, Random House, Australia, 1992.
DIGGERS, (The Australian Army, Navy and Air Force in eleven wars), George Odgers, Lansdowne, 1994.
AND fellow friends friends
best regards, and good luck.