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PLAQUE NO. 82 ... Wewak

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The Wewak plaque is located in front of the  Cape Wom War Memorial, Wewak, PNG which is at the original surrender site at the end of the war in 1945. The plaque was unveiled by the Minister of Veterans Affairs The Hon Con Sciacca, Mrs Ted Kenna VC and Mrs Daphne Dunne (widow of Lt A Chowne VC) on 8 July 1995.

 Text on plaque, English and Pigin English, central bas-relief map of Aitape to Wewak and centre bottom, line drawing of Australian soldier being helped to the rear by two National Carriers (Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels).

Plaque Text. In 1944 the Wewak area was controlled by a 35,000 strong Japanese Army apart from the American garrison at Aitape. The 6th Australian division relieved the Americans in October 1944. By December they had advanced eastward along the coast pushing the Japanese back. Concurrently the Australians thrust through the southern aspects of the Torricelli mountains with the royal Australian air force providing close air support from Aitape.

 The country was savage, continually washed by rain and broken by rivers and gullies .mud, floods and tropical disease sapped the strength of both forces. Supply problems increased as the Australians advanced. In mid-march, 1945, after hard fighting, but airfield was captured inland. Maprix airfield was secured by April thus easing the resupply problem and so by the 11 May 1945 Wewak was captured. The royal Australian navy aided the landing of an amphibious force at dove bay on the 11 May in order to prevent the Japanese from escaping to the eats.

The Japanese however escaped south and although isolated and starving, continued to fight the Australians and a battalion of New Guineans until the end of the war on august 14, 1945. Only 18,000 of the original 38,000 strong Japanese army remained. In this the final campaign in New Guinea 7,700 square kilometres of territory were captured-but in so doing 442 Australian and 23,000 Japanese soldiers died (9,000 killed in action).

 



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