12 January 1943

The last major battle of the Papuan campaign explodes into action at 5 past 8 in the morning as Australian 18th Brigade attacks along the main Sanananda Track and the Americans assault via Tarakena.

Tanks roll along the main track, raised above the surrounding swamps, which cannot support their weight. They are immediately sent packing by a combination of anti-tank guns (even though the tank commanders had been assured none existed there) and Jap suicide squads which leap on them with Molotov cocktails and grenades.

The infantry supporting the tanks are decimated by a massive wave of fire from the deeply-embedded Jap fortifications. One Australian battalion suffers almost 100 casualties without making any ground.

45 Diggers are killed in action on the day. At Allied headquarters, Australian protests against the needless slaughter result in a stalemate as the leaders ponder their next step.