The Battle of Milne Bay 1942
Aust Army Campaigns Series – 24
By Nicholas Anderson
Published by Big Sky Publishing
RRP $19.99 in paperback • ISBN 9781925675672
This book is no.24 in the excellent Australian Army Campaigns Series which began with the publication of The Battle of Crete in 2005.
Milne Bay is located on the far eastern tip of the island of New Guinea. It is surrounded on three sides by mountains that rise to 5,000 ft; it is swamp-riddled – a haven for malaria – and cursed with torrential rain.
As Anderson writes, despite these difficulties, the Bay’s geographic location ‘held a strategic advantage that counterbalanced the negatives’. Its location facilitated command of the sea and air surrounding eastern New Guinea and the Coral Sea. It was here that General Douglas MacArthur ordered the secret construction of an Allied base with airfields to protect the maritime approach to Port Moresby.
It was the Japanese plan to seize Port Moresby that would set the course for the Battle of Milne Bay. Anderson takes us through the background to Japanese ambitions in the Pacific, the building of the base and then the attack by the Japanese.
All that stood between them and success was a brigade of regular Australian soldiers untrained in tropical warfare and a brigade of inexperienced Australian militia.
He provides an excellent summary of the reasons for Allied success in defeating the Japanese attack and supports all this with excellent maps, photographs and an inventory of the vehicles, aircraft and weapons used in the battle.