One of the great unknown battles of the Second World War, at Finschhafen the 9th Australian and 20th Japanese divisions fought desperately for control of the eastern Huon Peninsula, the key to the Vitiaz Strait, Bismarck Sea and eventual allied drive towards the Philippines. Denied reinforcement and resupply by allied high command, who refused to believe Australian reports of heavy Japanese resistance in the area, the beleaguered 20th brigade was forced to face the entire oncoming Japanese 20th division. Only reinforced in the nick of time, the 9th Division would have to endure one of the fiercest Japanese counterattacks of the Pacific War.
With its formation penetrated, brigades separated and nearly driven back into the sea, the Australians faced the worst crisis of the war since Singapore. The heroic actions of just a few battalions averted disaster, fighting the Japanese to a standstill. Truly, the Battle of Finschhafen is one the Australian Army’s greatest moments of the Second World War, one that is essentially unknown to Australians and World War Two enthusiasts alike. Much like the other 1943 campaigns in New Guinea, to Australians the battle is overshadowed by the towering historical colossus that is Kokoda, and American popular historians have, generally speaking, preferred to ignore Australian campaigns and battles, instead pretending that the Pacific War was a purely American endeavor. This video will, hopefully, redress some of that neglect.