Fighting on New Guinea was mostly on the north
shore of the island which was easily accessible by navies of all the combatants.
If the Japanese were to control New Guinea, however, they must also control the
south shore and the New Guinea capital, Port Moresby.
first Japanese attempt to invade the south shore of the island was by water. They
assembled an amphibious force and a supporting carrier force at Rabaul and proceeded
on to Port Moresby. This attempt was cut short by the American navy in the Battle
of the Coral Sea. Carriers were lost on both sides and the battle was considered
a draw. It also marked the most southerly penetration of the Pacific made by the
Failure of the Japanese
navy to capture Port Moresby left it up to the Japanese army to make an overland
march across the forbidding Owen Stanley mountain range. Here their forces were
turned back by Australian troops who marched up from Port Moresby. Besides the
Aussie resistance, they were faced with almost impossible logistic problems as
they attempted to supply their marching troops from Buna.
had to be carried on the backs of troops and the artillery towed by manpower up
narrow trails in rain forests, often in heavy rains and all the time insects attacked
them in droves making life very unpleasant for the Japanese mountain troops. The
Japanese overland attack also failed to get near Port�
Army Air Force helped destroy the vitality of the Japanese and the P-38 wreck
now at the Port Moresby War Museum was one of those that carried the battle to
the Japanese. The Museum also has the bomber seat that Admiral Yamamoto supposedly
sat in for his visit to Buin. A mission that resulted in his death when Army P-38s
intercepted his flight and shot down both bombers.