World War II History

World War II History

The New Britain campaign was a World War II campaign fought between Allied and Imperial Japanese forces. The campaign was initiated by the Allies in late 1943 as part of a major offensive which aimed to neutralise the important Japanese base at Rabaul, the capital of New Britain, and was conducted in two phases between December 1943 and the end of the war in August 1945.

Initial fighting on New Britain took place around the western end of the island in December 1943 and January 1944, with US forces landing and securing bases around Arawe and Cape Gloucester. This was followed by a further landing in March 1944 around Talasea, after which little fighting took place between the ground forces on the island. In October 1944, the Australian 5th Division took over from the US troops and undertook a Landing at Jacquinot Bay the following month, before beginning a limited offensive to secure a defensive line across the island between Wide Bay and Open Bay behind which they contained the numerically superior Japanese forces for the remainder of the war. The Japanese regarded the New Britain Campaign as a delaying action, and kept their forces concentrated around Rabaul in expectation of a ground assault which never came.

The operations on New Britain are considered by historians to have been a success for the Allied forces. However, some have questioned the necessity of the campaign. In addition, Australian historians have been critical of the limited air and naval support allocated to support operations on the island between October 1944 and the end of the war.

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