View Full Version : Shaggy Ridge - Real bad country

Rising Sun*
08-23-2007, 07:57 AM
Shaggy Ridge was an important battle in New Guinea by Australians against the Japanese, but it's notable also for the terrain.

You settle in with your company on the razorback leading to the two forward pimples. The ridge falls away in sheer declivities and the top is, in places, no more than a few inches wide. The forward platoon holds a sand-bagged sniper's post and beyond that the Japs hold Intermediate Pimple and Green Sniper Pimple. There is no way of advance along the top. Men can move only in single file where the path is so narrow.

The terrain. The first picture doesn't give you a real sense of it.


Here's some detail around the top third of the previous picture, with the ringed areas being some of the weapon pits with men in them.


Here's some clear detail, which shows what lousy terrain it was to attack. There was only one way to get up there and displace the enemy.


Some of the Australians who fought there.


In how many places have you seen those sorts of faces and eyes before?

08-23-2007, 11:36 AM

In how many places have you seen those sorts of faces and eyes before?

Oh nice guys;)
Let me guess mate..ummmn ... yea... "The Pirates of Caribbean" ;)
Yes the second guy from the left definitely shoted in this film.

P.S. Good infor mate.

08-31-2007, 09:06 AM
I knew diggers who fought in New Guinea and their descriptions of the conditions and the terrain are actually worse than the photographs.


Rising Sun*
08-31-2007, 07:54 PM
I knew diggers who fought in New Guinea and their descriptions of the conditions and the terrain are actually worse than the photographs.



Here's an AWM pic of some lucky Aussies at Sanananda. They're lucky because they've constructed a bridge to keep them out of the water in the swamp. A lot of others just had to sit in the water.


The AWM caption is: Sanananda Track, Papua, January 1943: Australians of the 2/7th Cavalry Regiment in a waterlogged fox hole. They are in a forward position less than 30 yards from enemy positions and the photographer who took this picture could hear the Japanese soldiers talking.

09-01-2007, 04:33 AM
Quite simply, a bastard of a place to live in let alone fight a war.


02-11-2009, 10:34 PM
Quite simply, a bastard of a place to live in let alone fight a war.


Ever seen the poem "Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels" ?
Written about the PNG aspect of the war, and the poor suffering troops and natives in combat there.
Granted, it may have been a "minor campaign" in the over-all scheme of things.
However, those who fought in it deserve every atom of respect that may come their collective way.
Cheers to the Aussies, from a Kiwi.

Regards, Uyraell.

Rising Sun*
02-12-2009, 01:49 AM
Granted, it may have been a "minor campaign" in the over-all scheme of things.

It doesn't seem to be well known outside some Australian and serious American military history circles, but it certainly wasn't minor. Without it, MacArthur would never have returned to the Philippines. It seems to be one of those campaigns that made a major contribution to victory but which for some reason are ignored or forgotten.

It was by far the most sustained campaign in the Pacific war and, with Guadalcanal, the most important campaign in the first couple of years of the Pacific war because it stopped the Japanese advance and laid the foundations for the thrust to the Philippines.

The completion of the New Guinea campaign marked the successful execution of the primary mission of the Southwest Pacific Forces, which was to extend control to the westward and establish bases from which the Allies could launch attacks against, first the Philippines, then Formosa, and finally the Japanese mainland.
http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/AAF/USSBS/PTO-Campaigns/USSBS-PTO-8.html p. 185

However, few people realise how important it was, and notably in America despite a huge and sustained American contribution to that campaign. For some reason the focus is usually on the central Pacific thrust towards Japan later in the war, and for that matter while the New Guinea campaign was continuing.

In a way, for three years the Pacific war really took place in New Guinea. It was an important side theatre that for the length of the war conveniently pinned down 350,000 elite Japanese troops as MacArthur island-hopped his way to Tokyo.

In New Guinea, Japan lost 220,000 troops.[46] In a land that was never imagined to become a battlefield, not by late-Tokugawa southward advance protagonists who envisaged the Philippines as a possible war theatre, not by Meiji intellectuals who saw the prize in Malaya and in Indonesia, not even by the General Staff at the outbreak of war.

It is an irony of Pacific war history that several other islands come to mind immediately when we speak of action in the Pacific, but not New Guinea. The many battles there are little known, except to specialists who study that place and period and to people in Australia, although the war on that island was the most drawn out and frustrating of battles in the Pacific war. http://ajrp.awm.gov.au/ajrp/remember.nsf/pages/NT00002FAA

The New Guinea Campaign is really the story of two Allied armies fighting two kinds of war--one of grinding attrition and one of classic maneuver. During the attrition period, from January 1943 until January 1944, Australian infantrymen carried the bulk of ground combat while the Americans reconstituted, reinforced, and readied themselves for the maneuver phase of the campaign. During attrition warfare characteristic of eastern New Guinea ground operations through the seizure of the Saidor in January 1944, the Allies suffered more than 24,000 battle casualties; about 70 percent (17,107) were Australians. All this to advance the front line 300 miles in 20 months. But following the decisive Hollandia, Netherlands New Guinea, envelopment in April 1944, losses were 9,500 battle casualties, mainly American, to leap 1,300 miles in just 100 days and complete the reconquest of the great island.

The series of breathtaking landings, often within a few weeks of one another, were the fruits of the Australians' gallant effort in eastern New Guinea. They fought the Japanese to a standstill at Wau and then pushed a fanatical foe back to the Huon Peninsula. This gave Sixth Army the time to train and to prepare American forces for the amphibious assaults that MacArthur envisioned. It also bought the time to bring the industrial capacity of America to bear in the Southwest Pacific. Aircraft, ships, landing craft, ammunition, medicine, equipment--in short, the sinews of war--gradually found their way to MacArthur's fighting men.
http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-C-NewGuinea/index.html pp. 29-30

Australia made the major army contribution to the New Guinea campaign during its main offensive phase.

For the first two years of operations Australian troops formed the bulk of the forces fighting in the South-West Pacific Area. Indeed, at no stage did the proportion of Australians involved drop below 65%.
Charlton, Peter, The Unnecessary War: Island Campaigns in the South-West Pacific 1944-45, Macmillan, Melbourne, 1983, p.11

02-13-2009, 12:41 AM
I completely agree with you.
I know some details of the campaign, though am no specialist therein.
I should have used the phrase "perceived as minor" which would have been a more balanced and more just descriptor.
Again though, my Profound Respects the those who fought in it.

Regards, Uyraell.

08-01-2010, 12:40 PM
I have earlier mentioned the poem "Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels", which was written about the Papua New Guinea Campaign, and the native auxiliaries.
After much soul-searching, I've decided to place it here, in the hope it at least gets seen for the fine piece of writing it is.
According to Martin Page, from whose book, "For Gawdsake Don't take Me" (Page 66), I am quoting it, the poem was written by an unknown Australian Soldier.

The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels.

Many a mother in Australia, when the busy day is done,
Sends a prayer to the Almighty, for the keeping of her son;
Asking that an angel guide him and bring him safely back --
Now we see those prayers are answered on the Owen Stanley Track.

Though they haven't any haloes, only holes slashed through the ear,
And their faces marked with tattoos, and with scratchpins in their hair,
Bringing back the badly wounded, just as steady as a hearse,
Using leaves to keep the rain off, and as gentle as a nurse,

Slow and careful in bad places, on the awful mountain track,
And the look upon their faces makes us think that Christ was black,
Not a move to hurt the carried, as they treat him like a saint,
It's a picture worth recording that an artist's yet to paint.

Many a lad will see his mother, and the husbands, wee'uns and wives
Just because the fuzzy-wuzzies carried them to save their lives.
From mortar or machine-gun fire or a chance surprise attack
To safety and care of doctors at the bottom of the track
May the mothers in Australia, when they offer up a prayer
Mention these impromptu angels with the fuzzy-wuzzy hair.

__________________________________________________ ______________________

Personal Note:
During the 30-plus years I have owned the book, I have read the above poem many times and each time it has had an impact upon me.
Typing it out here though, was an emotional experience.
You see: Though those I knew were not in the PNG Campaign, this poem calls to mind some of the things I have seen in the eyes of the Veterans I knew long-ago.
I give Thanks for having known those Men, for what they did, and what they later chose to share with me, of their wartime experiences.
Thus, in a sense, typing out this poem is a very small personal tribute to them also.

__________________________________________________ _______________________

Kind and Respectful Regards, Uyraell.

05-28-2011, 09:13 AM
I have recently discovered my Great Uncle served with the 2/9th Australian Infantry Battalion that were involved in the Attack on Shaggy Ridge. I'm not entirely sure he was involved in the actual assault on the peak in late 1943-early 1944, but I have his service medals including his PNG medal. I never met the man unfortunately, but have been told that he 'earned his medals', as another WWII veteran family member put it.

I'm really keen on learning more about this campaign and was wondering if someone could point me to the best resources to read up on it.

Thanks in advance.

Rising Sun*
05-28-2011, 09:47 AM

What you're looking for is most likely to be in battalion, brigade or divisional histories. These might help your search or interest you.






Timbo in Oz
06-03-2011, 01:45 AM
?I was selected this year for training to become a volunteer guide at the AWM, among 19, and we are about 3/4 through.

The 1943-44 campaigns were the largest ever carried out by the Australian Army, with US involvement and lasted 13 months. It was indeed a 'bastard of a place' as Peter Brune's book is titled. NG was vital to MacArthur's future operatiions. However my focus will be on a Japanese atrocity - sinking the Hospital ship Centaur.

My other gallery just before that will include a stand on 'Tail-gunners, the RAAF and Europe', and 'El Alamein1 and 11'.

Strangely, I met a lady just one week ago whose father was captured at the last stage of El Al1/Tel el Eisa at Miteirya ridge aka Ruin Ridge. 2/28th battalion attacked and the British armour failed to arrive, (what a surprise!) so whole Bn KIA /captured. Her father was killed when his Italian ship was sunk.

Tomorrow (Saturday) each group ( of 6/6/7 trainees) will lead a guided tour - with each trainee doing parts of the standard 90 minute tour. We rehearsed it last Sunday and did it in less that the standard time. There are a large number of big AV/relic displays in the last big gallery and they are at set times hence the time limit.

Next phase is our 'hump tour' for each individual, doing the whole tour on a typical day with the place full of visitors and school-kids. When we pass that, we get to do 12 tours guiding the public, and then are assessed on another tour which leads to Australian accreditation as a museum tour guide.

John Hoehn
06-25-2011, 04:36 AM
One of the toughest campaigns in the Pacific. Here, those Aussies were real mountain clmbers!

Kokoda Historical
03-03-2013, 05:03 PM
For those interested in Shaggy Ridge we will be visiting there in May this year. Check out http://www.kokodahistorical.com.au/index/index.php/tours/shaggy-ridge-tour
for more info. The focus of this tour will be the WWII history and seeing the battlefields.
Contact us for more info.
Kokoda Historical

Kokoda Historical
03-03-2013, 05:12 PM
Hi FenderDan
We would recommend "On Shaggy Ridge" by Phil Bradley - its hard to find though. If you are interested we'll be visiting Shaggy Ridge in May this year - see
http://www.kokodahistorical.com.au/index/index.php/tours/shaggy-ridge-tour (http://www.kokodahistorical.com.au/index/index.php/tours/shaggy-ridge-tour) for more info.
Kokoda Historical (http://www.kokodahistorical.com.au/)