by John Winterbotham
Commemorating those who served, those who died and those who escaped from New Britain, 1942.
There is a lot about the Battle of Rabaul that will never be known because of the way it was conducted. 1500 troops up against an overwhelming 20,000 Japanese troops. How the hell could that small number of troops be able to hold back the Japanese advance on Rabaul, New Britain? Totally impossible! You cannot blame the Australian Commander for giving the order: ‘Every man for himself’. The Japanese were that fast. No sooner was one gap in the Australian line closed than the Japanese were outflanking them somewhere else and because of the fear that the Australians would be cut off, the order was given to get the hell out of here!
The following is a Nominal Roll of Lark Force (comprising approximately 1500 troops and a detachment of RAAF personnel comprising 10 Wirraways and 4 Hudson bombers) who were sent to Rabaul, New Guinea, to defend the two airfields. The RAAF personnel who survived the initial attack on 23 January 1942 escaped southward and were rescued by sea planes. The RAAF were the only force that had a contingency plan if anything happened.
The Nominal roll is split into sections comprising:
(a) Those who Died on the Montevideo Maru
(b) Those who Died whilst attempting Escape
(c) Those who were Executed by the Japanese before the Montevideo Maru sailed
(d) Those who were Executed at Tol Plantation by Japanese soldiers
(e) Those who were Killed in Action or listed as Missing, Presumed Dead on Invasion Day, 23 January 1942
(f) The Officers of Lark Force who were taken to Japan
(g) Those who Escaped capture and made it back to Australia.