Dennis Burns Profile picture
History, modern and ancient. Military history of the South West Pacific. Always learning. New Guinea born.
Apr 26 13 tweets 6 min read
Jan 1943: FD Roosevelt and Churchill, at the Casablanca Conference, resolved to retaliate against Japan on multiple fronts in the Pacific, starting in New Guinea.
One result was the April 1944 landing of 22,500 troops at Aitape (ai-ta-pee), on New Guinea’s north coast.
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The fight for New Guinea’s airfields was part of a threefold effort to attack the Japanese Empire:
1) to divert attention to the Southwest Pacific in time for USA to strike in the north;
2) to eliminate the Japanese SW Pacific Area HQ at Rabaul;
3) to retake the Philippines. Image
Feb 22 4 tweets 2 min read
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All seven Hutchins brothers volunteered to serve during WW2.
Only three survived.

Alan, of 2/22nd Battalion died as a POW at Rabaul, New Guinea.
Eric, Fred, David, plus cousin Tom Hutchins, all of 2/21st Australian Battalion, died as prisoners of the Japanese on Ambon Island. Tom Hutchins 2/21 Battalion, of Rainbow, Vic.
One of six brothers who served in WW2.
A POW at Ambon since Feb 1942, he died of malnutrition & disease aged 32 on 4 September 1945, still a prisoner of the Japanese.
Four of his brothers served O/S and one in Australia.
All survived.
Feb 15 11 tweets 5 min read
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17 Dec. 1941:
The Australian 2/21st Infantry Battalion made up the bulk of "Gull Force".
It was sent, in an act of military absurdity, to assist a Dutch contingent “protecting” the tiny (680sq. km) strategic Ambon Island, with its harbour and airstrip, from Japanese invasion. The Gull Force commander Lt Col Roach MC considered the mission hopeless.
His well-trained but poorly armed and poorly supported men were being sacrificed.
Many of their weapons were WW1 vintage.
He complained to High Command.
He was quickly relieved of his command, and replaced.
Oct 19, 2021 21 tweets 9 min read
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Ambush at AMBASI
From mid-January 1943 the bedraggled few thousand survivors of Major Gen. Kensaku Oda's forces on the Papuan coast around Gona-Buna were desperately trying to escape .
Their beachhead was being reduced day by day.
They fled in groups by night, silently.

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For about three weeks, 3,400 Japanese stealthily fled the battle zone in small groups, many on barges, and some by foot.
They quietly evaded the Australian and American besiegers, then headed north along the swampy Papuan coast towards their base at Salamaua, then on to Lae.
Aug 25, 2021 31 tweets 16 min read
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At the outbreak of war in Europe, Tonga (then pop. 33,000) had been a British protectorate since 1900, administered by New Zealand.
In Sept 1939 tiny Tonga declared war on Germany’s 79 million.
On 8 December 1941 Tonga also declared war against Japan’s 73 million. 2/
Queen Sālote called for volunteers to join the Tonga Defence Force (TDF).
Almost every adult male in the kingdom stepped forward. By 1942 the TDF had 2,000 men.
9th May 1942: To help withstand the Japanese southward juggernaut, 7,650 men of US Task Force 0051 arrived at Tonga.
Aug 10, 2021 16 tweets 7 min read
The Fijians on Bougainville
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The First Commando #Fiji Guerrillas had so impressed the American South Pacific Command while fighting in 1942-43 in the Central Solomons that Fijian Commandos and a Fijian Battalion were requested to join them on Bougainville in late 1943. Dec 1943: When XIV Corps took over the Torokina base from the 3rd US Marines, Maj-Gen Oscar Griswold was concerned about the inability of his raw units to gather intelligence in the harsh tropical conditions.
He’d seen the “Pacific Scouts” in action in the early Solomons actions.
Jul 20, 2021 15 tweets 6 min read
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In the SWW 8,000 Fijians fought mainly as scouts and light infantrymen against Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands campaign, 1943-1945.
Their knowledge of tropic environments and a skill for ambushing made them feared by the enemy and much respected by the Allies. 2/15
First Fijians to see action were 30 Commandos sent to Guadalcanal for guerrilla operations in support of the American forces there.
They also saw action on the nearby island of New Georgia in 1943, tasked to locate and destroy a party of IJA's 13th Regt defending the island.
Jun 1, 2021 20 tweets 9 min read
A stonemason’s war:
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In 1915 Joseph Ellis was a stonemason in the quiet, ex-goldfield town of Castlemaine, Victoria.
Two of his sons worked in the small family business:
William, stonemason, was 23, 170cm tall, fair-haired & blue-eyed.
Samuel was 21, with dark complexion. 2/20
With little work available, the brothers enlisted together in March 1915 in the Australian Imperial Force.
Pay was good: 6 shillings/day.
In contrast, British Army private soldiers received 1 shilling per day.
Recruits arrive at Broadmeadows Camp, west of Melbourne in 1915.
May 13, 2021 7 tweets 3 min read
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Lt Robert Cole was a member of FELO (Far East Liaison Office), a SWW intelligence-gathering & psychological warfare unit.
In 1944 he led a long patrol behind Japanese lines in Dutch New Guinea supporting American forces which landed @ Hollandia (Operation Reckless). 2/7
Lt. Bob Cole then joined the Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit (ANGAU) as a Captain.
He led successful armed reconnaissance long-range patrols through rugged, remote and hostile country in the upper Sepik River area.
This resulted in the award of his Military Cross.
Apr 25, 2021 15 tweets 6 min read
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The tragic story of the Mullarkey family from Sydney. Frederick and Elizabeth Mullarkey were immigrants from Galway and Tipperary respectively.
They had nine children.
One son died in infancy.
Six sons grew into adulthood.
All were outstanding students and sportsmen.
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Most outstanding of the sons was Niall, born 1895.
On the death of his father he was awarded a scholarship to St Joseph’s College where he excelled. Aug 1914: He left university to be a private in the 1st Battalion AIF to go to Gallipoli.
Selected for officer school in Egypt
Mar 16, 2021 24 tweets 9 min read
AKIKAZE ATROCITY
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WARNING: Stark Facts
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In 1884 Germany claimed NthEast New Guinea despite Bismarck saying privately “the entire colonial idea is humbug; however, we need it to win the vote of the people.”
German missionaries soon began to build missions along the coasts. 2/21
Since 1892 in northern New Guinea, Catholic German missionaries of the Society of the Divine Word had carried out their work around Wewak. Along with the Holy Spirit Sisters they managed basic hospitals and schools teaching agriculture, hygiene, carpentry, childcare, etc.
Dec 18, 2020 13 tweets 6 min read
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1909: a Prussian boy called Hermann Johann Friedrich Bottcher was born in Landsberg, NE Germany.
By 1918 he was orphaned; his soldier father killed in the Great War, and his mother having died before 1914.
He grew up, becoming a carpenter and studying architecture. 2/12:
With the rise of Nazism in Germany, he grew concerned and somehow escaped from his troubled homeland, along with his uncle George.
They emigrated to Australia.
1931: Speaking very little English, 22 y.o. Hermann then moved across the Pacific to California to pursue studies.
Oct 24, 2020 4 tweets 2 min read
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16 Oct 1943: As part of a 3-pronged Japanese counter-attack against the Allied beachhead at Scarlet Beach, Finschhafen, 7 Japanese landing craft of the Sugino Craft Raiding Unit set off with a detachment of 79th Infantry Regiment.
They intended to launch a surprise night raid 2/4
While moving south to Scarlet Beach four barges were destroyed in a sea battle with 2 PT boats.
Three remaining barges continued around the point to assault the beach.
One barge was then sunk offshore by a 37mm AT gun manned by men of the US 532d Engineer Boat and Shore Regt.
Oct 22, 2020 5 tweets 2 min read
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#OTD 1943: In an opposed landing by Australian 20th Bde at Scarlet Beach, Finschhafen, New Guinea 2 platoons of the Papuan Infantry Battalion were attached.
Also attached was Sgt Iaking IWAGU, Royal Papuan Constabulary, a local guide.
The IJA's 80th Regt were waiting. Image 2/4
The LCI came under heavy fire.
It stopped in deep water, its ramps damaged by shells.
The Australians and Papuan Infantry had to disembark into deep water.
The OC of the PIB detachment, Capt Leutchford, leading his men, was immediately mortally wounded and sank in the water. Image
Oct 13, 2020 19 tweets 9 min read
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THE LOST UNIT:
To support the Japanese Naval landings #MilneBay in August 1942, the Tsukioka Unit (353 men of the 5th Sasebo Special Naval Landing Force, plus others) were ordered east from Buna, packed onto 7 barges. The voyage was perilous, many men seasick. Image The Tsukioka Unit was responsible for the earlier massacre of the population of Buna village, and of several fleeing Australian, English & Papuan missionaries & civilians who’d been mistreated and turned in by local villagers. All were beheaded. The last victim was a 6 y.o. boy. Image
Oct 8, 2020 8 tweets 4 min read
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Oct 1942: The LOST BATTALION. General MacArthur, frustrated with the “slow pace” of the Australians’ advance on the Kokoda Trail in the Papuan campaign, decided to send a newly-arrived US Btt'n over another barely passable trail to cut the Japanese supply line from Buna. Image Plan: to flank attack the Japanese bastion at their Buna-Gona beachheads. The Kapa Kapa Trail, 210 km-long is more than twice as long as the Kokoda Trail and at its highest point (3,100 m) is more than 1,000m higher. Total ascent and descent was (and still is) a daunting 14,400m. Image
Jul 29, 2020 6 tweets 4 min read
1/6: Late1945: Suspected Japanese war criminals from all over the Pacific region were rounded up, detained, and carefully guarded for months by troops of New Guinea Infantry Battalions. The NGIB had no love for the invaders who had brought death and destruction to their country. 2/6: Rabaul as it was: 100,000 Japanese troops were based here in WW2. The main Indian POW camps were on the distant shore at top right of picture. Rabaul is surrounded by extinct, dormant & active volcanoes. The smoking volcano is Tavurvur: it virtually destroyed the town- 1994.
Jul 27, 2020 10 tweets 4 min read
1/9: Near Rabaul on New Britain Island, New Guinea, there were several camps for almost 6,000 Indian WW2 prisoners of war. The camps were often damp from tropical downpours, hot, humid and rife with malaria and skin diseases. note: Apologies for the poor quality of many photos. Image 1a/9: Most POW camps were placed in jungles outside town, as Rabaul was for four years the most consistently and heavily bombed town in the entire Pacific region. Many POWs, however, were killed by Allied bombing. In following tweets I’ll not reveal names, to save embarrassment. Image
Jul 25, 2020 6 tweets 4 min read
1/5 Few know of the forgotten POW Indian army troops, captured in Feb 42, who didn’t join the INA. 8,000 were sent to New Guinea, where they were brutally used as slave labourers. An account of these prisoners’ experience is barely treated by WW2 histories. @AdiRChhina @SumedhaMM Image 2/5 As Australian troops advanced in 1944/45, they were surprised to find bedraggled groups of proud but emaciated men, sometimes wandering thru’ jungles or detained in camps. Almost 6,000 Indian POWs were found on northern New Britain, around the huge Japanese base at Rabaul. Image