Australian Infantry Battalion : The Battle of Slater’s Knoll in Bougainville
Trekking the Kokoda Track offers a unique opportunity to delve into the rich history of the Australian involvement in the Second World War. One of the significant battles that unfolded along the way was the Battle of Slater’s Knoll, situated in Bougainville. In this article, we will explore the events that transpired at Slater’s Knoll, shedding light on the bravery of Australian troops and their encounters with Japanese forces.
Background: Australian Advance and Occupation
The Australian advance towards Slater’s Knoll commenced in March 1945. Australian troops, belonging to the 23rd Infantry Regiment, crossed the Puriata River southward, strategically positioning themselves at the rear of the Australian perimeter. The decision to occupy the knoll was a part of the broader plan orchestrated by the Australian II Corps, consisting of various infantry battalions, with the 23rd leading the way.
The Battle Unfolds: Assault on Slater’s Knoll
The assault on Slater’s Knoll unfolded on the night of 30 March 1945. The Japanese forces on Bougainville Island, particularly the 13th Infantry Regiment, launched a counterattack against the main Australian offensive. The Australian 25th Battalion, along with the 61st Battalion, played a crucial role in the fighting. The battle proved to be intense, with both Australian and Japanese forces engaged in waves of combat.
Key Players: Australian and Japanese Forces
The main protagonists in this battle were the Australian 25th Battalion and the Japanese 13th Infantry Regiment. The Japanese 6th Battalion also participated, being one of the most heavily involved units. The Australian 23rd Infantry Regiment, tasked with holding the knoll, faced fierce resistance from the Japanese, particularly along the banks of the Puriata River.
Night Assault and Occupation
The decisive moment in the Battle of Slater’s Knoll came during the night assault on 6 April. Australian forces, including the 23rd Infantry Regiment, successfully repelled the Japanese attack. The small knoll, now named Slater’s Knoll, stood as a testament to the courage and determination of the Australian troops.
Australian Victory and 7th Brigade’s Final Involvement
The battle concluded with a decisive Australian victory, marking the 7th Brigade’s final involvement in the Bougainville campaign. The 15th Brigade shortly relieved them, highlighting the strategic importance of Slater’s Knoll in the broader context of the conflict. The Australian War Memorial commemorates the 7th Brigade’s contribution with a battle honour for their actions at Slater’s Knoll.
Aftermath and Legacy
Following the victory at Slater’s Knoll, the Australian forces continued their advance, fighting through April 1945. The Japanese resistance persisted, but the Australian troops remained resilient. The occupation of the knoll became a symbol of the tenacity displayed by the Australians throughout the Bougainville campaign.
The Battle of Slater’s Knoll stands as a pivotal moment in the Kokoda Campaign, showcasing the bravery and determination of Australian troops in the face of formidable challenges. The events at Slater’s Knoll on that fateful night in April 1945 are etched in history as a testament to the courage and sacrifice of those who fought along the Kokoda Track. As you trek through this historic trail, remember the stories of Slater’s Knoll and the indomitable spirit of the Australians who faced the challenges of war with unwavering resolve.
Q: What was the Battle of Slater’s Knoll in Bougainville?
A: It was a significant battle fought between Australian and Japanese forces along the Buin Road.
Q: Who was involved in the Battle of Slater’s Knoll?
A: The battle occurred as a force of Australian infantry battalion, along with an armoured regiment, advanced towards Slater’s Knoll on 30 March.
Q: What was the significance of the Australian infantry battalion in the battle?
A: The Australian infantry battalion played a crucial role in the assault on the knoll, with the battalion being the most heavily involved in the fighting.
Q: Which units participated in the fighting at Slater’s Knoll?
A: The battle was fought between the Australian infantry battalion and the Japanese from the Japanese 6th Battalion. Additionally, the 61st Battalion also took part in the fighting.
Q: What happened after the battle?
A: Following the battle, the Australian forces in the area were relieved by the 15th Armoured Regiment, marking the end of the intense fighting.
Q: Where is Slater’s Knoll located?
A: Slater’s Knoll is situated south of Bougainville, and the battle took place in that region along the Buin Road.
Q: When did the assault on Slater’s Knoll take place?
A: The assault on Slater’s Knoll took place on the night of 30 March, marking the beginning of the intense fighting.
Q: What characterized the fighting at Slater’s Knoll?
A: The fighting at Slater’s Knoll was intense, particularly with the Australian infantry battalion bearing the brunt of the heavy combat.
Q: What was the role of the 61st Battalion in the Battle?
A: The 61st Battalion played a significant role in the fighting alongside the Australian infantry battalion and the Japanese forces from the 6th Battalion.
Q: How are Australians Infantry Battalion remembered in relation to the Battle of Slater’s Knoll in Bougainville?
A: Australians Infantry Battalion is remembered for their valiant efforts and crucial role in the Battle, where they fought bravely against Japanese forces.