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Air War Against Japan 1943-1945 (Australia In The War by GEORGE ODGERS

By GEORGE ODGERS

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During the early stages of the operation the bombing of the enemy base at Rabaul was to be the principal objective of the Allied air forces. This target was highly important because the Japanese were expected to use aircraft to attack Milne Bay, Goodenough, Kiriwina and Woodlark in strength as soon as they became aware of Allied intentions. MacArthur believed that it would not be possible to carry out the occupation without the enemy discovering it in the early stages. As soon as Woodlark and Kiriwina were firmly established as bases General Kenney was to bring in elements of his air forces and prepare these for general support of the Lae-Salamaua, Finschhafen, Madang and western New Britain operations.

The Kittyhawks of No. 77 Squadron each carried six 40-lb. bombs with the intention of carrying out low-level bombing and strafing after the bombers had finished with the target, but they encountered heavy rain and cloud and were unable to reach Gasmata. The Bostons of No. 22, which had been withdrawn from support of the army at Mubo, had moved from Port Moresby to Goodenough during July. m. on 22nd July from Vivigani airfield. Their bombs destroyed the wireless station building at 1 w-o L. V. McMahon, 409934; 100 Sqn.

Its capture, therefore, becomes so important a phase of the Pacific war as to involve concentration of our own forces for its accomplishment. This will require long preparation and great resources. If predominant strength is not assembled by us for the purpose, the attempt will certainly fail. 1 It was not correct to say that the 9th Division, arriving from Egypt, must be "completely re-equipped" although some re-equipment was necessary. Moreover a considerable number of militia units had been employed successfully in offensive operations in Papua.

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