RAN Victory at Bita Paka
Friday 9 September, 2016
The assault on the Bita Paka wireless station in New Britain on 11 September, 1914, was the first military action by Australian servicemen in World War One. The operation was carried out by landing parties from the Australian Fleet. Australian shore parties landed at Rabaul, Kabakaul and Herbertshöhe. A patrol of 25 Australian naval reservists pushed inland from Kabakaul to the wireless station at Bita Paka. Following an engagement with German forces and Melanesian police and troops they took possession of the strategically important wireless station.
In this action Australia suffered six dead and four wounded. It was the first Australian action of the First World War. Those Australians killed at Bita Paka were among more than 60,000 killed in the four-year long conflict.
This was an inspiring and strategic victory. It was instrumental in forcing the Germans to surrender all New Guinea territories and to be ejected from Samoa by New Zealand troops, backed by the Australian Fleet. The German East Asiatic Squadron was removed from all of its bases in the Pacific territories. Australian naval forces were then able to ensure the safe passage of our soldiers to Europe and the Middle East. It also allowed the protection of merchant ships in key trade routes and removed the threat of bombardment of Australian coastal cities by the German warships.