MacArthur's Papua New Guinea Offensive 1942-1943...
...an 'Images of War' title from Pen & Sword
Title: MacArthur's Papua New Guinea Offensive 1942-1943
Author: Jon Diamond
Publisher: Pen & Sword
This new addition to the Images of War series from author Jon Diamond covers a particular part of the story of the war in the Pacific that I didn't know much about. It was not publicised during the war as it could have worried a lot of people. With the Japanese advancing southwards after their attack on Pearl harbour in December 1941, they were moving down through New Guinea and did actually get very close to being able to attack the Australian mainland. The actions which stopped them are illustrated and explained in this new 235-page soft-cover book.
The book is split across 5 chapters plus an Epilogue. Each one starts with a few pages of text which set out the background and details, including 6 very helpful maps across the first 4 chapters. The campaign involved both American and Australian units operating side by side, under the overall command of General MacArthur. The first chapter sets out the Overview of the South-West Pacific Area in 1942 and the Strategic Importance of Papua (with 4 supporting maps). Next we have the topic of Terrain, Weaponry and Fortification. This includes map number 5 and shows us the conditions the forces from both sides had to cope with. Chapter 3 describes the various Commanders and Combatants. This leads neatly into the successful Allied offensive in The Allied Attacks on the Buna, 16 November 1942 to 22 January 1943, which includes the 6th map in the book. The final chapters goes on with the Allied Attacks on Gona, Sanananda and Giruwa. Naturally with this series, each chapter contains plenty of archive photos, very few of which I had seen before. No heavy equipment, just light tanks on both sides, and light artillery pieces. The jungle and conditions which the troops had to cope with are clearly displayed and all well captioned. One of the sad aspects of the story must be the number of deaths on both sides and there are plenty of photos included which show bodies on the ground. While I know about the Japanese code of honour which led to soldiers dying rather than surrender, the sheer number of Japanese troops who died in these battles does make you wonder just how people can do that, leaving parent, wives and children alone to cope, and without having the opportunity to know their son/husband/father. It is just sad. We see plenty of equipment, including artillery, tree-trunk built bunkers, light tanks, aircraft and the Japanese Daihatsu landing barge.
Another good book in the series with plenty of interesting photo references that will please historians interested in the PTO (Pacific Theatre of Operations) as well as modellers for the extra detail of uniforms, equipment and terrain.
Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.