Australia’s First Campaign
The capture of German New Guinea, 1914
No. 29 in the Australian Army Campaigns Series
By Robert Stevenson
Published by Big Sky Publishing
RRP $19.99 in paperback | ISBN 9781922387721
This book begins with a necessary history lesson to establish the context of German colonial interests in the Pacific and Australia’s own rise from colony to nationhood.
As German interests grew, so did their naval presence, leading to the establishment of the powerful East Asiatic Squadron by 1914 at Qingdao, giving Germany the ability to wage war on Britain’s maritime commerce in the region, their plans aided by their network of wireless stations across the Pacific but hampered by the armoured cruisers in the Pacific fleet that were too big and thus ill-suited to operation that involved hunting merchant vessels.
As Britain declared war on Germany, Australia and New Zealand were called upon to seize German wireless stations in the Pacific to protect British interests.
Yet the Australian campaign to seize German New Guinea in 1914 is most certainly one of the forgotten episodes of the First World War.
Preceding the Gallipoli landings by seven months, this successful amphibious operation was the very first of its kind undertaken by the Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Army.
The campaign was also everything the Gallipoli campaign was not: the New Guinea operations were planned and executed by Australian officers, the fighting was short, sharp and successful, and it was a highly effective use of military force, achieving its operational objectives.
This volume of the Army History Unit’s Campaign Series describes how a novice navy and army planned, mounted and launched a complex joint operation over 3300 kilometres from their mounting base and defeated or forced the withdrawal of German naval and land forces.
This latest publication in the Australian Army Campaigns series is a thoroughly researched and highly readable account of the Australian military’s first joint operation. The text is well supported by photographs and maps that bring an extra dimension to the narrative.