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Nadzab

The latest issue of Wartime, the War Memorial's pictorial magazine, contains a bit about the parachute drop on Nadzab. This was the first American drop of the war against Japan, by the US 503rd Parachute Infantry - over 1,700 men. Accompanying them was some 34 Australians, gunners who dropped with a pair of short 25 pounders to provide the Americans with some artillery support. Obviously, a very small part of the event but significant mainly because it was the first Australian parachute drop.

A certain lieutenant colonel is credited with the idea of dropping the short 25 pounders in the Dexter's Official History, which is repeated in Wartime. Unfortunately, I have my doubts about the lieutenant colonel being responsible for the idea, for it was practiced before he arrived in New Guinea. Dexter provides a footnote for a change, to an obscure book I was able to find in the library at ADFA. It doesn't back up the claim.

A better attribution might have been to Brigadier Sewell, who died from Scrub Typhus during the campaign. He arranged and supervised the tests although the original idea probably wasn't his either. His only mention in Dexter is in a footnote on page 279 listing the staff officers at New Guinea Force HQ. Would you believe that three brigadiers died in this campaign? By comparison, only two brigadier generals of the First AIF died in the whole of the Great War.