Tomorrow marks the 80th anniversary of the Battle of the Bismarck Sea

The Battle of the Bismarck Sea was a significant military engagement that took place during World War II in the Pacific Theatre. It was fought between Allied forces, primarily Australian and American air and naval units, against Japanese naval and transport vessels.

The battle lasted from March 2 to 4, 1943, and took place off the coast of Papua New Guinea in the Bismarck Sea.

At the time of the battle, the Japanese military was attempting to reinforce its garrisons in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. The Imperial Japanese Army had been successful in occupying most of the key strategic locations in the region and was determined to maintain its hold on these territories.

The Allies, on the other hand, were equally determined to prevent the Japanese from strengthening their position in the area. The Allied forces used a combination of air and naval power to defeat the Japanese.

The Allied air units, consisting of B-17 bombers and Australian Beaufighters, launched a series of devastating attacks on the Japanese transport ships, sinking or damaging over a dozen of them. The Allied naval units, which included American destroyers and Australian corvettes, also joined the attack, using their guns to fire at the Japanese vessels and provide additional support for the Allied aircraft.

The combined Allied force of 154 fighters, 34 light bombers, 41 medium bombers and 39 heavy bombers flew successive relay sorties against the convoy over three days.

By daybreak, on 4 March 1943 all eight Japanese troop transports and four of their escorting destroyers had been sunk. The other four were badly damaged, and around 50-60 escorting Zero fighters had also been shot down.

The Battle of the Bismarck Sea was a significant victory for the Allies, as it effectively ended the Japanese effort to reinforce their troops in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. The defeat also marked a significant turning point in the war in the Pacific, as it demonstrated the effectiveness of Allied air power in the region.

One of the key factors that contributed to the Allied victory was the use of innovative tactics. The Allies employed a technique called “skip bombing,” which involved dropping bombs from a low altitude and having them skip along the water’s surface before hitting their target. This method was particularly effective in sinking the Japanese transport ships, which were typically slow-moving and heavily laden with troops and supplies.

Another crucial factor in the Allied victory was the cooperation between the Australian and American military units. The Australian Beaufighters and corvettes played a vital role in the battle, working alongside the American B-17 bombers and destroyers to effectively neutralize the Japanese threat.

In conclusion, the Battle of the Bismarck Sea was a significant engagement in the Pacific Theatre during World War II. It showcased the effectiveness of Allied air power and demonstrated the importance of innovative tactics and cooperation between different military units. The battle was a crucial turning point in the war, and its outcome had a significant impact on the course of the conflict in the Pacific.


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