Papua New Guinea and World War II

During World War II the Japanese occupied the Solomon Islands and the coast of PNG, as a jump-off place to conquer Australia. Madang was a major part of the Japanese supply chain. The Japanese were only defeated when they tried to take Port Moresby by marching 60,000 troops down the Kokoda trail. They did not realize that after awhile, the trail went through a total wilderness and became very narrow. The U.S. was busy in Guadalcanal, the Australian troops had been sent to Turkey, and only the Aussie reserves were left to fight, called the ‘chocolate soldiers” because it was assumed they would melt in battle. However, they were able to pick off the Japanese who were sitting ducks on a very narrow trail. The Battle of the Coral Sea off the coast of PNG cut off the Japanese supply line, and led to their defeat.

Today, deep in a jungle-like area, there still sits a Japanese bomber shot down by the U.S.  It is rusted and vines are growing out of it, but the Japanese flag is still visible. Seeing it in this isolated location, in the extreme heat and humidity, with sprouts of greenery adorning it, is an eerie feeling, bringing an understanding of what our military who fought there faced.  There are other remains of WW II--bomb craters now covered with grass, a sunken supply ship, and a rusted tank. They are eerily reminiscent of the past.

One hundred and twenty Lutheran missionaries were killed by the Japanese during the war.