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Australians Relieve Marines

23 NOV 1944: World War II and Australian troops relieve the Americans at Torokina, Bougainville.

The Australian arrival opened the campaign on Bougainville that cost over 500 Australian lives by the war’s end. During 1942, Torokin was occupied by the Japanese.

On November 1, 1943 the United States Marine Corps (USMC), 3rd Marine Division landed aboard LCVPs and LCI land craft along Empress Augusta Bay from the Koromokina Lagoon to Cape Torokina. The pounding surf was very rough and 84 landing craft (62 LCVPs and 22 LCIs) broached during the landing.

During the landing, four landing craft were sunk by a single Japanese 75mm regimental gun emplaced in a concealed bunker southwest of Torokina village on Torokina Point.

While Marines fired ineffectively at the bunker, Sgt Robert Allen Owen managed to charge into the fire port of the bunker and disperse the gun crew, before he was mortally wounded and died. Later, he earned the Medal of Honor for his actions.

On December 17, 1943 the US Army Americal Division occupied the Torokina perimeter until January 12, 1944. On January 2, 1944 the 182nd Infantry Regiment took the line and the 132nd Infantry Regiment on January 9, 1943.

Using intensive infantry and tanks, the immediate beachhead area was cleared of Japanese defenders.

On March 10, 1944 a Japanese counterattack from the interior and assaulted the south knob of Hill 260 defended by the 182nd Infantry Regiment.

Later, they retook Hill 260 and drove the Japanese back. During April 1944, the US Army pushed the Japanese east of the Mavavia River and secured the Hill Mass of Hill 165, Hill 155, Hill 5500, and Hill 501 and extended the outpost line past the Torokina River.

The division continued patrolling to the Torokina River, Numa Numa Trail, and across the mountain divide.

On December 10, 1944 the Australian Army 3rd Division took over Bougainville operations, to mop up the Japanese forces on Bougainville that were now concentrated in three main areas: Buka Passage in the north, Numa Numa and Kieta in the east, and Buin-Mosigetta in the south.

During November-December 1944 the Australian Army, II Corps (2 Corps) under the command of Lt General S G Savige, assumed responsibility for Bougainville, and continued offensive operations against the Japanese to the south until September 1945. Photo; Sister BA Embling, Australian Army Nursing Service, applies mercurochrome dye to the leg of Corporal OG O’Connor, 24th Battalion, during treatment for a skin ailment at the 109th Casualty Clearing Station. More;

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