The Japanese seizure of Rabaul on New Britain in January 1942 directly threatened Northern Australia and, as a result, General Douglas MacArthur took command of the Southwest Pacific Area. In July 1942, the Japanese attacked south across the Owen Stanley mountain range. Thanks to the hasty deployment of Australian militiamen and veteran Imperial Force troops the Japanese were halted at Ioribaiwa Ridge just 27 miles from Port Moresby.
MacArthur's priority was to regain Northeast New Guinea and New Britain. The capture of airfields at Buna and re-occupation of Gona and Sanananda Point were pre-requisites. The Allied offensive opened on 16 November 1942 with Australian infantrymen and light tanks alongside the US 32nd Infantry Division.
Overcoming the Japanese and the inhospitable terrain in tropical conditions proved the toughest of challenges. It remains an achievement of the highest order that the campaign ended successfully on 22 January 1943. This account with its clear text and superb imagery is a worthy tribute to those who fought and, all too often, died there.