July 1, 1942: Bring Me My Chariot of Fire!Apr-Jun 1942
The Battle for Port Moresby
These last three months have truly been defined by the struggle for Port Moresby. Allied forces have been under siege for nearly the entirety of the war with little prospect of a tidy end game. As of today, the Japanese have landed roughly four division of troops on the beaches, approximately 72,000 men. As a result we have been forced to respond in kind.
PM was nearly overrun at the end of April, but the 6th AUS Division saved the city by landing on May 2 which will surely be celebrated as an AUS national holiday. (on the same day the 7th AUS Division landed at Perth, more on this later). The Japanese responded by engaging even more troops through seaborne assault supported by several heavy ships of the line.
They have paid dearly for this fixation. Thousands of enemy troops and several dozen ships have been sunk by a combined force of British, AUS, and USN surface raiders, as well as the dive bombers based at PM. Enemy air attacks have been chewed to pieces by the valiant men of the II Fighter Command. PM is our redoubt in the South Pacific.
On June 27, the 32nd US Division also landed at PM, virtually assuring that the badly mauled Japanese assault group can force only a stalemate. We must continue to resupply our troops and deny them the same. If we can win the battle of the sea lanes to PM in the coming months, we will have halted the Japanese advance and isolated a significant portion of their South Pacific detachment.
However, this has not come without loss. Several smaller ships as well as the CV Hornet have been lost in support of PM. The Hornet and Yorktown were torpedoed in separate sorties near Brisbane. The Hornet was lost and Yorktown is in dry dock for the next 90 days.
The Japanese have lost nearly 50 vessels, including several capital ships. Intel estimates losses at 4 BB sunk or severely damaged, 1 CVL sunk, and numerous CAs and CLs, perhaps even the CB Lutzow.
The Allies grow ever stronger in the region, and one begins to suspect that we have seen the high water mark for the Japanese in the South Pacific. Western AUS
The Battle for Geraldton
The Japanese surprised us greatly in April by landing nearly 2 divisions at Geraldton, just north of Perth. AUS reserves were mobilized as well as every available RN fleet asset in the area. We lost 1 BB and had 3 others damaged repelling the IJN in the area, but fortuitously, the 7th AUS was already en route to Perth and landed on May 2.
Over May and June the AUS forces drove the Japanese back ti Geraldton and eliminated the IJ presence in Western AUS on June 6. SitRep
CenPac remains quiet with infrequent raids near Midway and small hunter groups after our supply convoys. Plans for the neutralization of the Marshalls remain on hold.
In SouthPac, troops are beginning to flow into the new bases at Noumea and Luganville. Plans for a thrust into Guadalcanal are nearly complete, with an invasion planned for the Fall.
In NorthPac, the Japanese are invading the Aleutians. The current strategy calls for holding Dutch Harbor and ignoring the Japanese in this theatre until action becomes a necessity. Our assets are needed elsewhere. Future Plans
1) Hold PM at all costs.
2) Engage the IJN on advantageous terms and attrit their supply/troop convoys while avoiding major engagement.
3) Major engagements may be entered only if LBA is available to supplant offensive operations.