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Jap pockets wiped out in Sanananda

By
Don Caswell
Australian-manned M3 General Stuart tanks attack Japanese pillboxes in the final assault on Buna, Papua New Guinea, on January 2, 1943. File Photo by George Silk/Australian government
Australian-manned M3 General Stuart tanks attack Japanese pillboxes in the final assault on Buna, Papua New Guinea, on January 2, 1943. File Photo by George Silk/Australian government

GEN. MACARTHUR'S HEADQUARTERS, Australia -- Allied bombers, under a full moon, smashed at the busy Japanese harbor of Rabaul, on New Britain, and Amboina, in the Dutch East Indies, Wednesday night, scoring direct hits on one cruiser and three cargo ships, Gen. Douglas MacArthur announced today.

In the Sanananda area of Papuan New Guinea, American and Australian troops wiped out one of four Japanese pockets of resistance Thursday, killing 150 men, the communique said.

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B-25 Liberator heavy bombers swarmed upon the cruiser and a 5,000-ton merchantman at Amboina shortly before dawn on Thursday, and two out of 20 Zero fighter planes that attempted to intercept the raiders were shot down.

Catalina flying boats, following by three waves of Flying Fortresses at high altitudes, struck Rabaul shortly before midnight and heavily hit 5,000-ton and 2,000-ton cargo ships. The larger vessel was beached. The planes then bombed airdromes in the Rabaul vicinity.

Telling the story of land fighting, an army spokesman said, "The Japanese pocket liquidated on Thursday, despite a 10-inch rainfall which hampered operations, was 700 yards inland on the east side of the Sanananda Point has now been reduced to 150 yards of beach front.

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"The pocket between Giruwa, approximately two miles east of Sanananda village, and Tarakena village is being reduced by constant attacks from both sides but heavy fighting continues with one group of 21 Japanese bodies being counted in this area."

The fourth pocket, approximately 2,500 yards inland, is surrounded by Allied troops.

Japanese medium bombers raided Port Darwin, in northern Australia, shortly Thursday night but their bombs fell harmlessly in the bush. Kittyhawk fighters intercepted and one bomber was "probably destroyed."

Japanese bombers raided the Milne Bay area, at the southern tip of New Guinea Wednesday night but did no damage.

American Catalina flying boats bombed the airdrome at Gasmata, on New Britain, before dawn on Thursday and in the afternoon B-25 Mitchell medium bombers raided the Japanese airdrome at Lae, approximately 160 miles northwest of Buna.

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