scarlet beach

The Landing at Scarlet Beach in Papua New Guinea’s War History with Australian Troops


Embarking on the legendary Kokoda Track, trekkers are not just traversing rugged terrains but delving into the rich history of Papua New Guinea, particularly the events that unfolded at Scarlet Beach. This article sheds light on the crucial battles and historical significance associated with this iconic location during the Huon Peninsula Campaign in 1943.

The Prelude to Scarlet Beach: Kokoda Campaign and Capture of Finschhafen

The Kokoda Track, synonymous with resilience and bravery, witnessed the footsteps of Australian troops during the grueling Kokoda Campaign. As the Australians pushed inland, the significance of Finschhafen became evident. This strategic location set the stage for the next chapter in the campaign.

The Amphibious Landing at Scarlet Beach and Siki Cove

In the annals of military history, Scarlet Beach etched its name as the site of the first opposed amphibious landing during the Second World War. In September 1943, Australian forces, under the command of Brigadier Victor Windeyer’s 20th Infantry Brigade, made an audacious landing at Scarlet Beach and Siki Cove.

The Battle Unfolds: 22nd Infantry Battalion and Bumi River

As the Australian troops established a beachhead, they faced strong Japanese resistance. The 22nd Infantry Battalion played a pivotal role in securing the high ground around Scarlet Beach. The Battle of Scarlet Beach and Siki Cove unfolded with tenacity, mirroring the spirit of the Australians at Gallipoli in 1915.

The Japanese Counter-Attack: Sattelberg and Beyond

The Japanese, unwilling to concede defeat, launched a fierce counter-attack. The high ground around Sattelberg became a battleground, reminiscent of the struggles faced by the Anzacs at Gallipoli. Despite initial setbacks, the Australians held their ground, determined to thwart the Japanese advance.

Withdrawal and Resilience: January 1944 and Beyond

The months that followed the landing at Scarlet Beach saw intense warfare around Finschhafen. The capture of Finschhafen in January 1944 marked a turning point, showcasing the resilience of the Australian forces. The northern New Guinea campaign had shifted in favor of the Allies.

Challenges and Triumphs: Navigational Errors and Pillboxes

The journey around Scarlet Beach was not without challenges. Navigational errors resulted in Australian troops being landed under heavy Japanese fire. As they advanced from Lae, the Australians faced fortified Japanese positions, including bunker-type pillboxes made of logs.

The Legacy of Scarlet Beach: From Gallipoli to Kokoda

Scarlet Beach, with its echoes of the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915, serves as a testament to the indomitable spirit of the Australian troops. The scarlet sands witnessed the ebb and flow of conflict, culminating in the eventual withdrawal of Japanese forces.

Conclusion: An Ongoing Tribute to Sacrifice

Today, as trekkers embark on the Kokoda Track, Scarlet Beach stands as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by Australian troops during the Second World War. The scarlet sands tell a tale of courage, resilience, and the unwavering spirit that defines the legacy of the Kokoda Campaign. Explore the collection at the Australian War Memorial and places of pride, and honor the brave souls who shaped the history of Papua New Guinea and the Kokoda Track.

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