AFTER PNG Attitude published my ‘PNG Adventurous Training Guide' recently, I received an invitation from James Warar, headman of Porton Plantation in Bougainville, to let interested people know about the commemoration of a controversial World War II battle at the plantation.
The 31/51st Battalion of the Australian Military Force attacked Imperial Japanese soldiers defending the plantation from 8-11 June 1945. The commemoration will be held on Saturday 10 June 2017 at Porton.
But the Australian assault made several mistakes and the attack did not go according to plan.
The errors included not carrying out reconnaissance to determine the enemy's strength and not consulting with 26th Battalion AMF which had successfully attacked Soraken Peninsula earlier and built up valuable experience.
Furthermore, the military planners did not heed the words of the Officer Commanding 42nd Landing Craft Company about the possibility of landing craft getting stuck on the fringing coral reef.
Here was suspicion that the attack was rushed to impress Australian General Blamey, who was visiting the area.
The result was that the attack failed, with 27 Australians were killed-in-action and 69 wounded. The Porton Plantation battle was the only Australian defeat on Bougainville in 1944-45.
“As a result, shortly afterwards the Australian forces on Bougainville changed the focus of their operations to the southern sector of the island where they were able to advance along the coastal plain towards the main Japanese position at Buin.
“Since the end of the war, there has been considerable criticism of the planning undertaken by the Australians prior to the operation, and it has been argued that the operation failed due to poor intelligence and lack of resources and was ultimately unnecessary.”
Further down the west coast, a little further south between Buoi Plantation and Ratsua, Imperial Japanese troops defended their Base 5 which was attacked by 8th Battalion AMF on 24 July 1945 after a bombardment of 900 artillery shells and mortar bombs.
Partridge was awarded the Victoria Cross for this action, the only militia soldier to receive the VC during World War II. With sly humour, the position was renamed Part Ridge in his honour.
People interested in making the trip should contact Lesley Palmer at <email@example.com> who will contact James Warar.
James will arrange accommodation and transport and swimming and canoeing.
The story of the battle will be told and landmarks pointed out. Lunch will be provided with costs shared among visitors.