MATERIAL: Linen
TYPE: Painting
DIMENSIONS: 790 x 1530 mm
COMPONENTS: Coarse native linen.
CONDITION: Some light rubbing and chipping of paint, lightly rubbed in places, old pin holes on the broad red borders. The markings on the flags are all contemporary stenciling from the time of the battle.
NOTES: Contemporary Native views of any battle from World War II in the Pacific are very rare. Contemporary Native views of any battle from World War II in the Pacific are very rare. Bonham’s World War II expert is certain that this isn’t a tourist piece as well as certain that it was done by a native Papuan New Guinean.

It was consigned by a collector in Colorado who acquired it through an agent from the family of a World War II Pacific veteran, so it seems it was bought in perhaps 1945 by a U.S. soldier as he left the campaign as a souvenir!
ITEM ID: 4553
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Pacific Theater: Native View of the Australian Action in the Battle for Buna

DATE
Decade: 1940s
Century: 20th (1901-2000)
Notes: November 16, 1942 to January 22, 1943

A large painted view of the Battle for Buna, painted on coarse native linen. The battle scene with Australian forces, with tropical hats, on the left side attacking Japanese dug in positions on the right, the flags of Australia and Papua New Guinea flying high, aircraft overhead bombing ground forces and attacking Japanese aircraft, the assault being led by 5 tanks, with 3 more in reserve, the Papua New Guineans Infantry patrolling the vicinity for Japanese stragglers.

An unusual Battle scene drawn up by a native artist almost certainly representing the Battle for Buna (November 16, 1942 to January 22, 1943). The view shows the first assault, by the 2/9th Battalion of the Australian 18th Brigade on December 14th, against Buna, supported by 8 M3 Stuart tanks of the 2/6th Armoured regiment, the forces advancing through the Duropa Plantation in the area bordered by Sinemi creek. Stories of the battle describe, “behind the tanks went the fresh and jaunty Aussie veterans, tall mustached, erect, with their blazing Tommy-guns swinging before them. Concealed Japanese positions, burst into flame…Steadily the tanks and infantrymen advanced through the spare high coconut trees, seemingly impervious to the heavy opposition.”

The campaign for the capture of New Guinea from the Japanese began in January 1942 and continued to August 1945, the rain and the heat wore down the combatants, with Australia and the US facing the Imperial Japanese Army. It is often said that the campaign “was arguably the most arduous fought by any Allied troops in World War II.” It is interesting to note elements of the Australian Victoria Scottish Regiments in kilts and special caps present at the action.