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2/6th Independent Coy captures Kaiapit

19 SEP 1943: World War II and the 2/6th Independent Company captures Kaiapit, New Guinea. Kaiapit was needed for the airstrip that was to be constructed there once the Japanese had been driven from the area. Kaiapit became a base for the 7th Division’s advance up the Markham Valley.

The Battle of Kaiapit was an action fought between Australian and Japanese forces during the Finisterre Range campaign of World War II. Following the landings at Nadzab and at Lae, the Allies attempted to exploit their success with an advance into the upper Markham Valley, starting with Kaiapit. The Japanese intended to use Kaiapit to threaten the Allied position at Nadzab, and to create a diversion to allow the Japanese garrison at Lae time to escape.

The Australian 2/6th Independent Company flew in to the Markham Valley from Port Moresby in 13 USAAF C-47 Dakotas, making a difficult landing on a rough airstrip. Unaware that a much larger Japanese force was also headed for Kaiapit, the company attacked the village on 19 September to secure the area so that it could be developed into an airfield. The company then held it against a strong counterattack. During two days of fighting the Australians defeated a larger Japanese force while suffering relatively few losses.

The Australian victory at Kaiapit enabled the Australian 7th Division to be flown in to the upper Markham Valley. It accomplished the 7th Division’s primary mission, for the Japanese could no longer threaten Lae or Nadzab, where a major airbase was being developed. The victory also led to the capture of the entire Ramu Valley, which provided new forward fighter airstrips for the air war against the Japanese. Photo: Diggers on the Kaiapit Track.

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