Military History

This Week In History | Week 38

By The Cove September 13, 2020

Week 38 | 14 September - 20 September


16 September 1943 | The capture of Lae

The Salamaua-Lae Campaign (30 June-16 September 1943) was the first part of Operation Postern, a wider offensive aimed at eliminating the Japanese presence on the New Guinea side of the Vitiaz Strait. The attack on Lae involved a two pronged assault. On 4 September troops from the Australian 9th Division landed on the coast east of Lae. On the following day the US 503rd Parachute Regiment captured the airfield at Nadzab, up the Markham River from Lae. They then joined with the Australian 7th Division, which had been flown into Marilinan, up a tributary of the Markham River a little earlier.  These forces then converged on Lae. The Japanese put up a fierce resistance, but the town fell on 16 September. The Japanese suffered the heavier casualties during the campaign, despite being on the defensive. In total they suffered about 10,300 casualties, of which 2,722 were dead. The Australians bore the brunt of the fighting on the Allied side, with 500 dead and 1,300 wounded, while the Americans lost 81 dead and 396 wounded.


17 September 1950 | Adv Party 3 RAR arrive in Korea

On 29 June 1950, Australia was one of the first nations to commit units, from each of the three services, to the war in Korea under the banner of the newly formed United Nations (UN). 3 RAR was rapidly committed as Australia's main land force contribution to the United Nations forces in the Korean War. After a period of intensive training and reinforcement in Japan, the advanced party arrived on 17 September 1950, with the remainder of the battalion arriving in late September 1950. The battalion formed part of the 27th Commonwealth Brigade and took part in the United Nations offensive into North Korea and the subsequent retreat into South Korea following the Chinese offensive in the winter of 1950.


20 September 1999 |  INTERFET landed in East Timor

The International Force East Timor (INTERFET) was a multinational non-United Nations peacemaking taskforce, organised and led by Australia in accordance with United Nations resolutions to address the humanitarian and security crisis that took place in East Timor from 1999–2000 until the arrival of UN peacekeepers. INTERFET was commanded by an Australian military officer, Major General Peter Cosgrove.  

As background, Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and annexed the former Portuguese colony. The annexation was recognised by few nations, but was resisted by many East Timorese.  Following the fall of long-serving Indonesian President Suharto, the new president, B. J. Habibie, was prepared to grant East Timor special autonomy. The announcement by President Habibie of a referendum to allow the East Timorese people to determine their future provoked a violent reaction from pro-Indonesian militia who unleashed a campaign of violence, murder, arson, looting, and intimidation upon the Timorese people. The Indonesian army did not intervene to restore order. As a result, with the support of the international community, the first Australians from INTERFET arrived in Dili on 20 September.



The Cove

The home of the Australian Profession of Arms.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.

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