November, 1944-August, 1945 – Australian forces battle the Japanese in the thick jungle of Bougainville, in the Solomon Islands.
The island had originally been occupied by US forces a year earlier, but as the war edged closer to Japan, they replaced their combat troops on Bougainville with the Australians. The Australians were offended at being sidelined from the main operations against Japan, so determined to destroy the remaining Japanese forces on Bougainville, rather than simply act as a garrison force.
The decision remains controversial – the bloody encounters in the thick Bougainville jungle cost the Australians more than 500 men killed, against a Japanese force that was completely cut off, with no chance of reinforcement or resupply.
Although the Bougainville Campaign did nothing to influence to outcome of the war, it demonstrated the tough fighting abilities of the Australians, and helped improve Australia’s reputation among her allies in post-war negotiations.