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Landing on New Britain

4 NOV 1944: World War II and troops of the 6th Brigade land at Jacquinot Bay, New Britain. Jacquinot Bay became an important base for Australian operations against the Japanese on New Britain.

The first echelon, consisting of the 14th/32nd Battalion and a company of the 1st New Guinea Infantry Battalion, was transported by two transports under the escort of the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) destroyer HMAS Vendetta, frigate Barcoo and sloop Swan. The landing was unopposed by Imperial Japanese forces.

After covering the landing force for two days, HMAS Vendetta, Barcoo and Swan proceeded to Wide Bay and bombarded Japanese positions around the bay. The RAN motor launches ML 802 and ML 827 stayed in the area with landing craft of a company of the United States Army’s 594th Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment.

The landing was conducted as part of a change in responsibility for Allied operations on New Britain with the Australian 5th Division, under Major General Alan Ramsay, taking over from the US 40th Infantry Division, which was needed for operations in the Philippines.

The purpose of the operation was to establish a logistics base at Jacquinot Bay on the south coast of New Britain to support the 5th Division’s planned operations near the major Japanese garrison at Rabaul.

As part of the first stage of the Australian take over, Brigadier Raymond Sandover’s 6th Brigade was directed to secure the Jacquinot Bay area.

While the region was believed to be undefended, the initial landing was conducted by a combat-ready force comprising the reinforced Australian 14th/32nd Battalion protected by warships and with aircraft on standby.

As expected, there was no opposition to the landing on 4 November and work soon began on logistics facilities.

Once a base was established at Jacquinot Bay it was used to support Australian operations near Rabaul which were conducted in early 1945 in conjunction with advances on the northern side of New Britain.

The campaign was effectively one of containment as the larger Japanese force was isolated while the Allies conducted further operations elsewhere. Photo: Australian 6th Brigade troops unload stores at Jacquinot Bay. More;

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