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New Britain campaign
Part of the Pacific Theater of World War II
New Britain WW2 map.jpg
New Britain. Rabaul is at the north-east extremity of the island.
DateDecember 15, 1943 – August 21, 1945
LocationNew Britain, Territory of New Guinea
Result Allied victory

 United States

  • Australia Territory of New Guinea
 New Zealand
 Empire of Japan
Commanders and leaders
United States J. W. Cunningham
United States William H. Rupertus
United States Rapp Brush
Australia A.H. Ramsay
Australia H.C.H. Robertson
Empire of Japan Hitoshi Imamura
< 20,000 > 100,000

The New Britain Campaign was a World War II campaign by the Allies, between December 1943 and the end of the war in August 1945, to contain Japanese forces concentrated in Rabaul, the capital of New Britain, the major Japanese base for the New Guinea and Solomons campaigns.


New Britain is a crescent-shaped island north east of the mainland of New Guinea, approximately 600 kilometres (370 mi) along its south-eastern coast line, and from 30 to 110 km (20–70 mi) wide, not including a small central peninsula. The island has an area of 37,800 square kilometers (14,600 mile²).


There were more than 100,000 Japanese military and civilian personnel on New Britain and a smaller nearby island, New Ireland.[1] These were centred on the headquarters of the Eighth Area Army: the 17th Division (11,429 personnel at the end of the war); the 38th Division (13,108); the 39th Brigade (5,073); the 65th Brigade (2,729); the 14th Regiment (2,444); the 34th Regiment (1,879) and the 35th Regiment (1,967). By the end of the war, these Japanese forces were restricted to Rabaul and the surrounding Gazelle Peninsula.

United States, Australian and New Guinean forces, assisted by local civilians, were always a division-level command or smaller: the U.S. "Director" Task Force (effectively a regimental combat team) and the 1st Marine Division handed over to the 40th Infantry Division, which in turn handed over to the Australian 5th Division.



The main battles of the campaign were:

The initial landings at Cape Gloucester were part of Operation Cartwheel. The main objective of the operation was the isolation of Rabaul. Part of this plan called for the Allies to secure beachheads on New Britain, within which air bases could be constructed.

External links


  1. Long, Gavin (1963). "Chapter 10: Operations on New Britain" (PDF). The Final Campaigns. Australia in the War of 1939–1945. 7 (1st ed.). Retrieved 2013-01-12. 

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