Victory in the Pacific
Edited by Peter J Dean
Published by Cambridge University Press
RRP $59.95 in hardcover
This is the final instalment of Peter Dean’s trilogy of books examining Australia’s involvement and contribution in the Pacific War. By early 1944, the majority of US Forces had moved further north leaving the Australians to clear out the remaining Japanese from New Guinea. This was described at the time by the Australian press as ‘mopping up operations’.
In reality, the Commander-in-Chief of the Southwest Pacific Area, General Douglas MacArthur, sidelined Australia’s troops into campaigns that could not affect the outcome of the war. They were effectively no longer involved in offensive operations. In theory however, the Australians were being saved for the anticipated invasion of Japan in 1946-47.
But as my late father attested, the Aitape to Wewak campaign, labelled a mopping-up exercise, was anything but. Casualties were higher than expected and malaria was rife. And this was also the case in other areas of New Guinea and Borneo. The Japanese forces were determined and fearless.
Dean has assembled an excellent cast of historians to help examine this important period in Australia’s history. There is also a revealing chapter by Hiroyuki Shindo who examines the Japanese Army’s strategy and operations from late 1943 through to wars end in the Southwest Pacific Area.