World War II, 1939–1945
RATSUA – PORTON
The Battle of Porton Plantation (8–10 June 1945) took place at Porton Plantation, near the village of Soraken on Bougainville Island, in the Solomon Islands archipelago during World War II. Involving forces from Australia, and Japan, the battle was part of the wider Bougainville campaign, which had begun in late 1943 and lasted until the end of the war in August 1945.
The fighting occurred after a company-sized Australian force made an amphibious landing north of the Porton Plantation jetties in an attempt to outflank the Japanese positions on the Ratsua front, which were holding up the advance of the 26th and the 31st/51st Battalions from the 11th Brigade. The Australians landed unopposed and established a small perimeter, however a number of their landing craft ran aground and they were unable to bring their heavy weapons and support elements ashore. Troops from the Japanese 87th Naval Garrison Force quickly surrounded the beachhead and, as their supply situation grew desperate, the Australians were forced to withdraw. In the course of their evacuation by sea another landing craft ran aground. Over the next two days several unsuccessful rescue attempts were made until eventually, in the early morning of 11 June, the last Australian survivors were picked up.
The Battalion returned to Australia during August 1944 and underwent further training at Strathpine (near Brisbane) until embarkation for Bougainville, Solomon Islands, in December 1944. On 8 June 1945, A and a part of C Companies were landed at Porton Plantation (see Google Earth map) in the north of Bougainville and became involved in the Battalion’s heaviest fighting of World War Two.
Of the 190 members involved in the Battle, 23 were either killed or missing in action, while 106 were wounded. The survivors were evacuated from Porton on 11 June 1945. The General Officer Commanding 2nd Australian Corps AJF, Lieutenant General S.G. Savage, stated that ‘the bravery of the men in the Porton operation had not been surpassed by Australian troops in either World War One or World War Two’. Commander in Chief, General Sir Thomas Blamey, visited the Battalion while the Battle of Porton was in progress on 09 June 1945 and said that it was ‘one of the most stirring episode I have ever seen. I was deeply impressed by the determined courage of the men. It was a most gallant and inspiring spectacle’. On the unconditional surrender of the Japanese in September 1945, the Battalion was split up with elements being relocated to Nauru, Rabaul and Ocean Island where they served until returning to Australia and demobilised at Townsville and Cairns in June 1946.
During hostilities the Battalion suffered 46 members Killed in Action, 11 Died of Wounds, 2 Acc. Killed and 1 Died of Illness.