NEW LANDING IN
Jap Threat To Moresby
From George H. Johnston, "The Mercury" War
GENERAL MACARTHUR'S HEADQUARTERS,
A JAPANESE invasion force estimated to number
not more than 2,500 men, effected a successful
landing at Gona mission station at Buna, on the north . coast of Papua, yesterday, in the face of fierce air at- tacks by Allied forces.
One large transport and a special landing barge were sunk by air attacks, probably with considerable loss of life. One float plane was destroyed in combat, and troops in landing barges and on shore suffered heavy casualties. Buna is connected with Port Mores- by by a track through 120 miles of thick jungle.
THIS new enemy move represents
the most serious threat yet to the security of thc Allied advance garrison at Port Moresby, and is much graver than the landings at Lae and Salamaua on March 8, be-
cause Buna is the northern terminus of the only good track linking the north coast of the territory with the south coast.
The track, although useless for heavy equipment or mechanised transport, is negotiable for men on foot with moderate equipment. The track from Buna leads inland to the mountain village of Kokoda, which shelters beneath the 30,000ft. peak of the Owen Stanley Range, near the only negotiable path—a 7,000ft. gorge called "The Gap." The track
from that point, although difficult, . leads to Port Moresby.
Thus Buna has what Lae and Salamaua have always lacked--a direct link with thc main Austra- lian base of Port Moresby. Buna is the first point in Papua occu- pied by the Japanese.
Large Transport Sunk
First indications of the new enemy move came on Tuesday evening, when Allied reconnaissance bombers sighted the Japanese convoy off the north coast of Papua. The ships were attacked, and one large transport re- ceived a direct hit and sank, probably with heavy loss of life.
The balance of the convoy continu- ed, and the landing was effected early yesterday morning, probably before dawn, in special invasion barges carried in transports.
All day yesterday our aircraft hammered at points where the Japanese had gained a foothold, bombing and strafing enemy ships, landing barges, and Japan- ese troops who had reached shore. Particularly heavy cas- ualties were inflicted on the de- barking troops
The opinion was expressed by an official spokesman today that the' enemy landing was made' under cover of air transport which prob- ably came from Lae. Buna is ap- proximately 120 miles from Mores- by, compared with 180 miles from .Moresby to Lae.
Following is the text of the com- munique issued today
"Buna.-The enemy effected a landing at Gona mission on the north coast of Papua, a point not occupied by Allied forces. The enemy convoy was discovered by reconnaissance, and our air force executed a series of bombing and strafing attacks throughout the day on enemy shipping, landing barges, and personnel on shore.
"One large transport and one barge were sunk. An enemy float plane was shot down in combat. Two of our fighter planes are missing.
"Timor.--An Allied air unit on
reconnaissance slightly bombed the enemy barracks."
"The Mercury" Special Service
CANBERRA, Thursday.-The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) said tonight thc Japanese land- ing at Buna was a further in- dication of thc extraordinary resiliency of the enemy in the face of recent reverses, and a
clear indication that thc grave threat to Australia would con- tinue until Japan was driven
out of thc war.
"For months the Japanese have been working like beavers in the areas they have occupied to develop these areas and increase their strik- ing power," Mr. Curtin said. "Aus- tralians must meet this position by working like beavers also.
"While the Japanese may accept a halt temporarily, their purpose remains unshaken, and is pursued again as soon as possible. Therefore the menace to Australia remains constant, and cannot be broken until Japan is utterly defeated.
"All that is happening around us proves that this is a war for abso- lute survival. No compromise is possible. We cannot escape the con- sequences of the struggle, and we cannot afford to let up in our efforts."