Battle of Rabaul (1942)
The Battle of Rabaul (Operation R), on the island of New Britain, in the Australian Territory of New Guinea, in January and February 1942, represented a strategically significant defeat of Allied forces by Japan, in the Pacific campaign of World War II. Following the capture of the port of Rabaul, Japanese forces turned it into a major base and proceeded to land on mainland New Guinea, advancing towards Port Moresby and Australia. Hostilities on the neighbouring island of New Ireland are also usually considered to be part of the same battle.
Rabaul was important because of its proximity to the Japanese territory of the Caroline Islands, where a major Imperial Japanese Navy base was situated on Truk.
Japan demanded the delivery of raw materials, most importantly OIL from Sumatra. The Dutch administration complied; yet in March 1942 the Japanese invaded, occupying most of the archipelago (southern New Guinea escaped Japanese occupation). The Dutch residents, in total 170,000, were INTERNED, a Japanese military administration established; the Japanese partitioned the archipelago in three zones, Sumatra, the Central and the Eastern Islands; many Indonesians found employment in the new administration. Dutch was replaced, as language of administration, education and jurisdiction, by Bahasa Indonesia and Japanese.
World War Two in the Pacific