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    Bobdubi Morobe Province Papua New Guinea (PNG)

Location
Lat 7° 1' 60S Long 147° 4' 0E  Bobdubi is located along the Francisco River near the north coast of New Guinea, inland from Logui and Salamaua to the northeast. To the east is the Scout Ridge. Connected by a track southward to Komiatum and Mubo. Also known as Bobdubi Ridge for the highest elevation feature. Possibly, also known as "Orodubi". The Orodubi-Komiatum Track spans from Bobdubi to Komiatum.

Wartime History
Bobdubi was occupied by a Japanese Army and was used in conjunction with their advance to Mubo and Wau. After their failure to capture Wau, Bobdubi was defended to protect the approach to Salamaua. There were two phases of ground combat at Bobdubi dubbed "Bobdubi I" and "Bobdubi II".

Bobdubi I: April 22-May 29, 1943
During April 22 to May 29, 1943 "Bobdubi I" began when the Australian Army 2/3rd Independent Company advanced in an arc towards Bobdubi and probed the area during May 3-4, 1943. This diversionary attack supported the Australian  Army 2/7th Infantry Battalion attack on Mubo.

On May 5, 1943 the Japanese Army began attempting to reoccupy the position but were subjected to Australian raids and ambushes. On May 11, 1943 2/3rd Independent Company commandos found Bobdubi Ridge unoccupied and captured the ridgeline. Once detected, Japanese at Komiatum opened fire on them. On May 14, 1943 the Japanese counterattacked with supporting fire from artillery and mortars, forcing the commandos to withdraw.

On May 15, 1943 the Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) flew their first close air support mission in New Guinea, flying three sorties but failed to inflict any damage on the Australians and accidentally bombed their own forces. During late May 1943, the Australian  Army 2/7th Infantry Battalion reached Bobdubi and repelled another Japanese counterattack.

Japanese and Allied missions against Bobdubi
May 15 - July 11, 1943

Bobdubi II: June 30-August 19, 1943
By late June 1943, the Japanese had a defensive position at Bobdubi under the command of Japanese Army 51st Division commander Lt. Gen. Hidemitsu Nakano. At the time, the Japanese force was roughly a company from the 115th Infantry Regiment.

On June 30, 1943 the Australian Army 3rd Divisoin, 15th Brigade, 58th Battalion and 59th Battalion attacked Bobdubi to cut off the Komiatum Track to Mubo, in conjunction with the U. S. Army landing at Nassau Bay and the 17th Brigade offensive around Mubo. During the initial attack, the two forces engaged in hand-to-hand combat. Immediately, the Japanese reinforced Bobdubi with roughly 200 Japanese from the 66th Infantry Regiment, and next a battalion from the the 80th Infantry Regiment from Lae.

During early July 1943, commandos from the 2/3rd Independent Company attcked and occupied "Ambush Knoll" overlooking Bobdubi Ridge. The Japanese launched a series of counter attacks to retake the feature to maintain their supply line to Mubo. A platoon the 2/3rd Independent Company managed to hold Ambush Knoll then in late July 1943 attacked Timbered Knoll and repelled the Japanese from that feature. The combat was covered by Australian war correspondent Damien Parer.

At the end of July, the 2/6th Infantry Battalion put in a company-level attack on the Japanese flank and managed to secure one of the feature's in front of Ambush Knoll. Meanwhile, the 58th/59th attacked around a position dubbed "Old Vickers". Heavily

supported with indirect fire and machine-guns, the attack was successful and, the Japanese abandoned Bobdubi Ridge. The fighting over the six weeks to that point had been heavy, with Japanese losses at the hands of the 15th Brigade being estimated at around 400 killed, against 46 killed and 152 wounded for the Australians. In mid-August, the Australians continued the attack. On 14 August, heavy aerial bombing reduced Japanese positions around "Coconut Ridge" which consisting of three positions dubbed "North Coconut", "Central Coconut" and "South Coconut" followed by an attack by the 2/7th Infantry Battalion; advancing up a steep slope, they nevertheless managed to gain a foothold around the northern end of the ridge and that night, the Japanese withdrew from the southern end.

Meanwhile, two days later, the 2/6th Infantry exploited further, attacking and taking Komiatum Ridge with two companies, after a heavy artillery preparation. The result of this was the encirclement of Japanese troops on Mount Tambu, their supply routes between Komiatum and Davidson Ridge having been cut. In an effort to prevent a break out between Komiatum and Bobdubi, the Australian Army divisional commander Savige, ordered a follow up attack by the 15th Brigade towards the Salamaua Track. On 17 August, the 2/3rd Independent Company secured the junction of the Bobdubi–Salamaua Track, and then held it against heavy Japanese counter-attacks, which were finally defeated by August 19, 1943.

Afterwards, Australian forces advanced towards Logui and Salamaua.

Following actions around Bobdubi, further fighting in the Salamaua area followed. As the Japanese divisional commander, Nakano, ordered the withdrawal of his forces from around Komiatum and Bobdubi to a final defensive line to the rear,[17] the Australian advance towards the coast, in conjunction with the drive north along the coast by the US 162nd Infantry Regiment, pushed the Japanese further to the north-east. In mid-August, the 29th Brigade, which had landed at Tambu Bay, relieved the 17th, as the 5th Division headquarters took over from the 3rd Division.[18][16] Advancing towards Salamaua in an effort to draw reinforcements away from Lae, where a seaborne landing was planned for mid-September in conjunction with an airborne landing at Nadzab to capture the town in a pincer movement, the Australian and US forces continued to clash with the Japanese for the next fortnight. The Japanese resisted heavily, but nevertheless, the Francisco River was crossed on 21 August, and in the first week of September, the 42nd Infantry Battalion captured "Charlie Hill".[19] Bad weather held up the Allied advance, and finally, Nakano received orders from the 18th Army commander, Hatazō Adachi, to withdraw back from the Salamaua region to reinforce Lae,[20] transferring between 5,000 and 6,000 troops by barge.[19] The town of Salamaua and its airfield was eventually taken by the Allies on 11 September.[21][22]

The fighting around Bobdubi took place in two phases and as a result after the war, the Australian Army issued two battle honours to units that participated in the battle: "Bobdubi I" for the initial phase between 22 April 1943 and 29 May 1943 and "Bobdubi II" for actions between 30 June 1943 and 19 August 1943. The units chosen to receive these battle honours were from the 15th and 17th Brigades, which were under the command of the 3rd Division.

The Japanese reacted strongly to this threat to their communications, launching a full-scale attack supported by guns and mortars on the 14th and forced the Australians to withdraw. On 15 May, over 100 Japanese aircraft attacked the Australian positions in three heavy raids. The Japanese maintained their air attacks in the following days, but generally against targets farther to the Australian rear. On 17 and 18 May large formations of Japanese aircraft raided Wau Airfield.

References
U. S. Army in World War II - The War in the Pacific Chapter V pages 61, 64-65
CLIK New Guinea Campaigns 3rd Division [PDF]

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Last Updated
August 25, 2018

 

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