Four peoples at war

In Papua from July 1942 to January 1943 over 120,000 people from four regions fought, or supported the fighting troops...

The largest group were Australians, 56,000 of whom were at one time or another either in Papua or involved in air and sea operations there. The Americans, allied to the Australians, contributed 24,000 men. Their enemy the Japanese had 27,000 men, some not from Japan but from its empire, involved in Papuan operations. About 18,000 people from what is now Papua New Guinea, but was then the Australian Territories of Papua and New Guinea, fought, scouted and carried supplies for both sides.

Two American soldiers dress the wounds of an Australian

28 November 1942, Papua. During the Australian-American advance on Buna two American soldiers dress the wounds of an Australian. [Photo: George Silk] [AWM 013953]

Teaching and learning activities for the classroom

Each of the four peoples at war in Papua had different opinions about the war. The aim of this exercise is for you to consider all four perspectives.

First look at a world map so you know where these people came from. Then read the text about them. Now imagine you are being interviewed by a war correspondent. Consider how you would answer the war correspondent's questions, first from the New Guinean viewpoint. Then put on your 'American hat' and answer the same questions. Then try it as a Japanese and finally as an Australian. Write a one sentence answer to each question.

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Cite this page

DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) ( ), Four peoples at war, DVA Anzac Portal, accessed 25 June 2024,
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