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60 Years since the Battle of Lae.

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Gary Nairn MP Federal Member for Eden-Monaro PO Box 232, Queanbeyan NSW 2620 Tollfree NSW 1800 041 539 Ph: (02) 6297 3952 Fax: (02) 6297 5768

Press Release Ref: 1039 Published: 4/9/2003 Title: 60 Years Since the Battle of Lae

The Battle of Lae in September 1943 marked the start of the single largest military campaign Australia had ever mounted as part of a larger Allied force, Gary Nairn, the Member for Eden-Monaro said.

“The 60th anniversary of this historic engagement is a time to recall the tens of thousands of Australian troops, airmen and sailors who contributed to this successful advance against Japanese forces,” Gary Nairn said.

“Between 4-16 September 1943, Australian troops from the 7th and 9th Division, supported by Australian and US naval and air forces, were involved in the battle to seize the major Japanese base at Lae, on the northern New Guinea coast.

“Lae was a particularly valuable base because it was in the Markham Valley which had large areas of flat treeless land on which Allied forces could build bases for aircraft to strike further into enemy territory.

“The battle included the largest Australian amphibious landing since Gallipoli, as well as the largest airlift of Australian forces,” Gary Nairn said.

The 7th Division was commanded by Major General George Vasey and the 9th Division was commanded by Major General George Wootten.

After a short naval bombardment in the early hours of 4 September, troops of the 9th Division began landing on Red and Yellow Beaches to advance towards Lae.

The next morning 1720 men of the US 503rd Paratroop Regiment were dropped at Nadzab, in the Markham Valley, along with 36 men of the 2/4th Australian Field Regiment with their artillery.

An aerodrome was built and on 7 September two-thirds of the 7th Division’s infantry were landed at Nadzab in more than 250 aircraft loads.

“The 7th and 9th Divisions faced some tough opposition, but they were advancing from different landing points and racing to be first to Lae,” Gary Nairn said.

“The Japanese began retreating into the mountains of the Huon Peninsula and Lae fell on 16 September 1943, paving the way for Australian soldiers to further advance against enemy


“On the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Lae Australians can proudly remember this significant event in our military history and acknowledge those who took part in the successful campaign.”