THE HON ANDREW HASTIE MP
FEDERAL MEMBER FOR CANNING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR DEFENCE
25 August 2022
80TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BATTLE OF MILNE BAY
Today we commemorate the Battle of Milne Bay, a key battle in the Pacific Theatre of World War II.
On the night of 25 August 1942, more than 2,000 Japanese Marines set out to capture the strategic Allied base established at Milne Bay at the south-eastern end of Papua New Guinea.
Milne Bay was a strategic stronghold for the Allied Forces, protecting Port Moresby and securing the Eastern approaches across the Coral Sea.
Over the ensuing six days the Japanese, supported by tanks, pushed forward, attempting to capture the Allied base at Milne Bay, then forge a path to Port Moresby.
However, on the dawn of the 31st August, the Allied force, led by Major General Cyril Clowes, turned the tide of the battle – pushing the invading force back, and forcing their retreat and withdrawal by the 7th of September.
The Japanese suffered the loss of an estimated half of their initial landing force.
The conditions were exceptionally challenging for the Australians – fighting in rain, mud and fog, with limited intelligence, and a fierce Japanese enemy.
Major General Clowes, remarking later on the difficult conditions, is credited with saying that he “never quite realised how dense the fog of war could be.”
We commemorate the 164 Australians who lost their lives – members of the 7th and the 18th Australian infantry brigades; and the 75 and 76 Squadrons from the Royal Australian Air Force.
We also honour also the 14 American servicemen who lost their lives in the battle.
The Battle of Milne Bay is recognised as the first defeat of the Japanese on land during the Pacific War.
It is a timely reminder to all Australians of the enduring values of resilience, bravery, and perseverance in the face of adversity.
As we remember the Pacific War, we are also reminded of the strategic importance of the Pacific – and of the Coral Sea – to Australia for our security, trade, and prosperity.
Lest we forget.
Do you like this page?