The 16th Brigade, under Brigadier Lloyd approached Sanananda which was
the main Japanese base. It was later estimated that 5300 Japanese were
deployed in front of Sanananda at the commencement of the coastal
fighting. On 20 November, the Australian advance came under heavy
artillery fire, lost heavily and was stopped. The following day the
Japanese counter attacked but the Australians, although skilful and
resolute in holding their positions, were unable to advance themselves.

The Australians were reinforced by the 126th Regiment of the US 32nd
Division which attempted to push forward on 23 November without success.
By the end of the month the Sanananda situation was a stalemate. The
Americans established what was known as the Huggins Road Block and in
the first few days of December held the position against continuing
Japanese attacks. On 6 December two militia battalions of the 30th
Brigade commanded by Brigadier Porter relieved the 16th Brigade. A third
attempt to push forward was made by the 49th and 53rd/55th battalions on
7 December but the attacks were repulsed with heavy losses. There was to
be a lull on the Sanananda front for twelve days since it was decided to
strike at Gona and Buna first before attempting to reduce the Sanananda

The Japanese received some reinforcements during the battle and by mid
December the Japanese force at Sanananda numbered 6,000 men including
sick and wounded. On 15 December it was estimated that they were opposed
by 646 Australian and 545 American infantry. Two fresh units, the 2/7th
Cavalry Regiment serving as infantry and the 36th Battalion, were
brought forward from Port Moresby.

At 7.22 am on 19 December the guns opened fire on the Japanese positions
with the mortars joining in four minutes later. At 7.30 am the 49th and
55/53rd battalion went forward with the 36th battalion in reserve. The
49th made good progress and Brigadier Porter promptly reinforced it with
a company of the 36th. At the end of the day the 49th was a few hundred
yards south-east of the Huggins road-block. The 55th/53rd met strong
opposition and made little progress and on 21 December the 36th
Battalion attacked but lost fifty five killed and wounded and gained
little ground. The 2/7th Cavalry reached the Huggins road-block on 18
December having used a supply route flanking the Japanese positions. 
6 am the next day the 2/7th Cavalry moved north towards Sanananda Point.
The regiment came under heavy fire and the commanding officer, Lt-Col E
P Logan was killed. A squadron with about 100 cavalrymen became
separated from the rest of the unit and at nightfall set-up a perimeter
about 400 yards forward of Huggins. They remained cut-off for several
days until a route was found between Huggins and the isolated men. On
the 23 December the main body of the 2/7th Cavalry moved out of Huggins
and concentrated in the perimeter 400 yards forward of Huggins. There
was still well entrenched Japanese between the 2/7th Cavalry and Huggins
and between Huggins and the 30th Brigade.

The 163rd Regiment of the US 41st Division began arriving at the
Sanananda front on 30 December. On 5 January 1943 the 18th Brigade moved
in from Buna. The Americans took over Huggins and the 2/7th Cavalry
perimeter which they name Kano and on 7 January established a third
road-block on the Killerton track called Rankin. The 18th Brigade with
the 2/7th Cavalry replaced the 30th Brigade south of Huggins. At 8 am on
12 January the 18th Brigade with the support of three tanks launched its
attack. The tanks were quickly knocked out by anti-tank fire but the
infantry fought on doggedly, killing a great many Japanese and reducing
a number of enemy positions. However, the 2/12th Battalion had scarcely
advanced by the end of the day and had lost 4 officers and 95 men. The
Australians were bitterly disappointed at the apparent failure of the
day but had misread the situation. Although there were still plenty of
unreduced bunkers standing, the Japanese had had enough and on 13
January began withdrawing from the positions in front of the

The 2/10th Battalion quickly advanced through bush and swamp to Cape
Killerton, meeting only isolated Japanese parties. The 2/12th Battalion
reached the track behind the Japanese on 17 January and the next day
took Sanananda Village. On 19 January a company of the 2/10th Battalion
broke into a strong Japanese base, killing about 150 and nearly
encircling the remainder. The Japanese continued to resist and on the
21st the Australians closed in and killed the 100 remaining defenders
who refused to yield. In the week from 13 to 20 January 1943, the
Japanese evacuated about 1,200 sick and wounded and another 1,000
escaped overland. Although there were still many resolute Japanese
moving about, organised resistance in the Sanananda area had been broken
by 22 January. Australians and American casualties in the Sanananda area
totalled 2100 including 600 Australian and 274 American dead.

The fall of Sanananda marked the end of the Papuan campaign. Of the
20,000 Japanese landed in Papua between July 1942 and January 1943,
about 7000 were evacuated by sea or escaped overland. Nearly 13,000
Japanese were killed or died of illness in the Papuan operations. In
operations in Papua 2,165 Australians and 671 Americans were killed and
3,533 Australians and 2,172 Americans wounded .