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Australian War Memorial remembers Milne Bay

The Australian War Memorial is marking the 80th anniversary of the Second World War battle of Milne Bay, one of the first major battles in the Pacific in which Australian troops decisively defeated Japanese land forces.

The Memorial will lead commemorations on Thursday 25 August 2022 at a Last Post Ceremony in Canberra.

Shane Casey, Senior Curator at the Australian War Memorial, said: “Australian infantry, supported by the RAAF and US engineers, drove the Japanese forces back towards the east.

“As the Japanese retreated, their abandoned equipment was captured by advancing troops – providing the Allies with valuable military intelligence.”

Fought between 25 August and 7 September 1942, the battle raged through incessant rain, thick jungle, and malaria-ridden swamps.

“It was some of the worst conditions faced by Australian forces in the Second World War,” Dr Lachlan Grant, Senior Historian at the Australian War Memorial, said.

“Milne Bay was a key turning point in the Pacific War, where the Australian forces repelled the Japanese invasion force in one of their first defeats on land.”

A future exhibition on Milne Bay will be part of the development at the Australian War Memorial.

“For the first time we will bring together the most iconic objects in the battle of Milne Bay – Polly, the Kittyhawk and the Japanese Ha Go tank from the battle grounds,” Dr Grant said.

“Through these large objects we are able to interpret and tell the stories of individual Australian and Japanese soldiers and airmen who served at Milne Bay.”

Mr Casey said: “The Ha Go tanks were examined by Allied forces and together with other materials captured they provided vital insights into the capabilities of Japanese forces and their thinking.

“The Ha Go is undergoing meticulous conservation for these new galleries before being reunited with its enemy the Kitty Hawk.

“The bringing together of these key large technology objects from the Milne Bay battlefield is unique and will be one of the highlights of the new Anzac Hall.”

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