A little after 1320 on the afternoon of 19 December 1943, C Company of the 29/46th Australian Infantry Battalion, advancing on Fortification Point on the north coast of New Guinea's Huon Peninsula, came under fire from strongly held Japanese positions on high rocky ground to their left. On order from the Commanding Officer (CO), Lieutenant-Colonel Kenneth Cusworth, C Company withdrew to enable the employment of a supporting fire plan. Commencing at 1417, the Japanese were hammered with 10 000 rounds of medium machine-gun fire, 60 3-inch mortar bombs and 750 rounds of 25-pounder artillery shells. The fire ceased a little over half an hour later and C Company, joined by four Matilda II tanks, recommenced its advance up the steeply climbing coastal track – a steep jungle-clad slope on its left and a cliff dropping to the sea on its right. The company was engaged once again. The Matildas responded with their machine guns; the infantry bounded ahead. C Company edged forward. In the meantime, D Company, paired with C Company in the forward role during the advance, scrambled onto the high ground to outflank the Japanese. More machine-gun fire crackled around C Company. The hillside echoed with the thud of the Matildas’ guns. The leading Matilda was struck by fire from a concealed anti-tank gun – once, twice, then a third and a fourth time. It trundled onwards undamaged, its gun dispensing with the challenge to its dominance of the battlefield. The anti-tank gun was the lynchpin of the defence and with its destruction the Japanese broke and ran. By 1730, the fight was over and the 29/46th dug in for the night.
|Title of host publication||Australia 1943: The Liberation of New Guinea|
|Editors||Peter J. Dean|
|Place of Publication||Port Melbourne|
|Publisher||Cambridge University Press|
|Publication status||Published - 2014|