South West Pacific Campaign Memorial

South West Pacific Campaign Memorial, Brisbane

Public Art : South West Pacific Campaign Memorial

Sculptor : © Artbusters

Description : The South West Pacific Campaign Memorial includes three bronze statues repesenting the many faces of war including, heroism, bravery, survival and mateship. The first statue depicts an Australian soldier, sleeves rolled up, socks rolled down, rifle at the ready, determination etched onto his face as he leads the group. The second and third statues are of a wounded Australian soldier being helped by a young Papua New Guinean. The bare chested soldier has a bandage around his head, and leans on his companion for support. The soldier's arm is wrapped around the local tribesman's neck but he still clutches the strap of his rifle.

Date Unveiled : The South West Pacific Campaign Memorial was unveiled 1992.

Location : ANZAC Square, Ann Street, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Inscriptions :

South West Pacific Campaign
1942-1945

This Memorial depicts a wounded Australian soldier descending the Kokoda Trail assisted by a strong, dependable Papua New Guinean leading him to safety. They are being passed by a fresh, determined soldier resolute in the task ahead.
Alderman J. Soorley
Lord Mayor of Brisbane


South West Pacific Campaign
1942-1945

This memorial commemorates those Australians and their allies who died or served in the South West Pacific Campaign between 1942 -1945.
Unveiled by
Alderman J.Soorley
Lord Mayor of Brisbane
On 29th August 1992
during the fiftieth year of the Milne Bay and Kokoda campaigns, as a tribute from the city of Brisbane.


South West Pacific Campaign Memorial, BrisbaneBrief History Behind the New Guinea Campaign : The South West Pacific Campaign (New Guinea Campaign) was one of the major military campaigns of World War II. The island of New Guinea was an important strategic location for isolating Australia during the war, due to the large areas that could be used as land, air and naval bases. At the time of World War II the island of New Guinea was divided into three parts Australian League of Nations mandate Territory of New Guinea (the north-eastern part of the island of New Guinea and surrounding islands), the Territory of Papua (the south-eastern part of the island of New Guinea, an Australian colony), and Dutch New Guinea.
The Japanese were well aware of the strategic importance of New Guinea and it wasn't long before they commenced fighting. On January 23rd 1942 the Japanese began their assault on Rabaul, which was located on the island of New Britain, in the Australian Territory of New Guinea. The Japanese were successful in defeating the Allies and in capturing the port of Rabaul. The Supreme Commander for the Allied forces at the time was General Douglas MacArthur.

Brief History of the Kokoda Campaign : The ultimate aim of the Japanese was to capture Port Moresby, as it gave them a base from which they could easily strike Eastern Australian and also access to both the Indian and Pacific ocean routes. One of the most significant battles during this time was the Kokoda Trail campaign. These series of battles were fought between July 1942 and January 1943 and were between Japanese and primarily Australian forces. The aim of the Allies was to defend Port Moresby at all costs. Major General Basil Morris set up a group called Maroubra Force to defend Kokoda , and he ordered the 100-strong B Company of the Australian 39th (Militia) Battalion to walk the trail (a single-file foot thoroughfare that runs 96 kilometres (60 mi) overland, through dense jungle and harsh terrain) to the village of Kokoda. Once there the battalion was to secure the airstrip at Kokoda, in preparation for an Allied build-up along the Papuan north coast. By the time they arrived and began preparations, the Japanese had already landed. It wasn't long before the Kokoda airstrip was captured by the Japanese, despite a might fight by the 39th Battalion. The Kokoda trail had now become an important route for the Japanese to seize Port Moresby. Reinforcements were sent along the trail, including more companies of the 39th Infantry Battalion plus the rest of the Militia's 30th Infantry Brigade & the 49th and 53rd Infantry Battalions. Over the course of time there would be many battles between the Japanese and Allied troops in this very inhopitable terrain. Tropical diseases, especially malaria became yet another enemy during this time, overtaking combat casulties 10 to 1. Eventually the Japanese retreated.

Brief History of the Milne Bay Campaign : The battle of Milne Bay began on the 25th August, 1942 when Japanese forces attacked the Australian Base at Milne Bay. The attack was part of the Japanese strategy to capture Port Moresby. The air and naval base at Milne Bay would provide support to the Japanese on the Kokoda Trail Campaign. The battle was significant as it was the first time in the Pacific campaign that Allies had defeated any Japanese land forces in WWII. The British Field Marshal Sir William Slim had said of the victory "Australian troops had, at Milne Bay, inflicted on the Japanese their first undoubted defeat on land. Some of us may forget that, of all the allies, it was the Australians who first broke the invincibility of the Japanese army."

The major battles during the South West Pacific campaign were :

Operation Mo (1942)
Battle of the Coral Sea (1942)
Kokoda Track campaign (1942)
Battle of Milne Bay (1942)
Battle of Buna-Gona (1942-43)
Battle of Wau (1943)
Battle of the Bismarck Sea (1943)
Operation Cartwheel (1943)
Salamaua-Lae campaign (1943)
Bombing of Wewak
Finisterre Range campaign (1943-44; including a series of actions known as the Battle of Shaggy Ridge)
Huon Peninsula campaign (1943-44)
Bougainville campaign (1943-45)
New Britain campaign (1943-45)
Admiralty Islands campaign (1944)
Western New Guinea campaign (1944-45)

Points of Interest: The aussie soldiers nicknamed the Papuans, who helped carry the wounded from the Kokoda Trail, as the "fuzzy-wuzzy angels",  due to their hair and for the extreme care they took in providing for the sick and wounded.

LEST WE FORGET

South West Pacific Campaign Memorial South West Pacific Campaign Memorial South West Pacific Campaign Memorial

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