Battle of Buna–Gona

A captured Japanese Type 88 75mm Field Anti-Aircraft gun in the Buna area

A captured Japanese Type 88 75mm Field Anti-Aircraft gun in the Buna area

The Battle of Buna-Gona was a major battle of the campaign in New Guinea during the Pacific War in World War II that took place between November 16 1942 and January 22, 1943 on the northeast coast of New Guinea. The battle began when Australian and U.S. forces stormed the beachheads major Japanese in Buna and Gona Sanananda.

The allied forces faced about 7,500 Japanese soldiers, both troops who had been stationed there for a time, as Japanese forces were retreating from the Kokoda Trail Campaign. At first, the Allied commanders vastly underestimated Japanese strength, like the strength of its defensive structures, leading to a bloody battle that ended with a percentage of deaths on both sides much greater than the same Battle of Guadalcanal.

Despite setbacks and the treacherous conditions of the area, the Allies ended up killing or capturing the vast majority of the Japanese troops. On December 9, 1942 Australian forces took Gona and four days after U.S. troops were able to capture the village of Guna. Finally, the village fell into Allied hands Sanananda January 18, and the 22 of that month all Japanese resistance had been eliminated, resulting in the final expulsion of all the forces of the Japanese Empire Eastern New Guinea.

Background Information

After the Japanese failed in their attempts to take Port Moresby by sea after the Battle of the Coral Sea, Japanese forces invaded northern New Guinea on July 21, 1942 and established forts along the coast in the villages of Buna, Gona and Sanananda.

Natural conditions

Like much of the territory of Papua New Guinea, the weather in the northeast of the island is tropical with high levels of precipitation and average temperatures near 30 ° C throughout the year. Because of this, on the island lethal tropical diseases such as malaria and dysentery can be found.

Ally poor preparation

Allied intelligence reports provided very inadequate before the Allied landings. Many of them indicated that they had less than 3,000 Japanese soldiers stationed malnourished and sick Buna, Gona and Sananada, when in fact their numbers exceeded 6,500. Furthermore, the lack of reconnaissance photos brought the allied generals to assume that due to the swampy and treacherous terrain of the area, the Japanese defenses were most likely temporary fortifications and that the enemy would not have intentions to offer resistance, which proved to be particularly wrong.

In addition to poor intelligence, Allied soldiers were unprepared for war in the jungles of New Guinea and Japanese tactics. The troops had been trained for war in Europe, were very little time together before being sent to the war zone and their uniforms were the wrong color. To correct the latter, Australian soldiers who had returned from the first phase of the Battle of Kokoda tiñeran advised them their dark green uniforms. Unfortunately, dyeing they used in Brisbane ended up causing skin diseases many of the troops

Allied troops began the battle without naval support, artillery or air. Although the 32. U.S. Infantry Division had brought 36 M101 105mm Howitzers, these ended up being left in Australia due to logistical problems. Besides General George Kenney, who was in command of the Allied forces in the Southwest Pacific, said the artillery “had no place in the fight in the jungle” and that they could replace their function with little air support they had.

Japanese Fenders

The Japanese forces were divided into three fortifications along the coast, each stationed in each of the main villages. The approximately 5,500 troops of the army and navy were initially stationed in this area of ​​New Guinea received supplies from Rabaul, even via submarine. These new supply lines could be cut by the allies after two months into the battle.

The Japanese armed coconut wooden fortifications along the beach, crossing the front lines. The fortifications and artillery were concealed with vegetation, making them almost invisible to attackers. They also had snipers in the trees.

Allied supply lines

The most important bases of the allies in the area were far from Buna – Port Moresby and Milne Bay – and the Japanese had control of the air and the Bismarck Sea, increasing the difficulty of the operation.

Bibliography

•”World War II”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web 26 May 2012

Battles Pacific Front (World War II)

Battles of the United States in World War II

Battles of Australia

Battles of twentieth century Japan

History of Papua New Guinea

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