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Print 10/19
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Milne Bay - The Turning Point: Collectors Edition
by Robert Taylor
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The Battle for Milne Bay in New Guinea was a story of true grit, determination, and valour; it was the moment when the Imperial Japanese Army tasted defeat on land for the first time in nearly three centuries.

Overall Print Size: 25 1⁄8" wide x 19 1⁄4" high
Companion print: 19 7⁄8" wide x 15 1⁄8" high

In the space of two weeks, the Japanese attempt to capture Milne Bay was halted, and any ambitions they might have held to invade Australia thwarted.

And that victory was due in no small part to the Kittyhawks of 75 and 76 Squadrons RAAF.

Robert Taylor’s powerful painting depicts Kittyhawks from 75 and & 76 Squadrons RAAF, returning to No 1 Strip after attacking Japanese positions during the Battle for Milne Bay. Featured is A29-133 Polly of 75 Sqn in company with A29-90 Ming the Merciless of 76 Sqn.

After the Japanese had invaded the north of New Guinea, their main objective was to take Port Moresby in the south. But defeat at the Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942 put an end to any invasion of Port Moresby by sea: instead they must strike across the Owen Stanley Ranges via the Kokoda Trail.

Protecting Port Moresby's eastern flank was the key strategic natural harbour at Milne Bay, and in June 1942 American engineers, protected by Australian troops, began construction of the first of three proposed airstrips to be hacked out of the steaming jungle. Within a few weeks they had laid the first runway, formed by laying steel matting in almost impossible conditions. With heavy rain falling almost continuously, it was an extraordinary feat.

Four days later the Kittyhawks of 75 and 76 Squadrons, RAAF, took up residence, together with a few Hudsons of 6 and 32 Squadrons to provide long-range reconnaissance.

On the night of 25th August 1942, in torrential rain, a Japanese invasion force began their landing in the bay. With the Australian troops bitterly contesting every yard, the fighting was savage and bloody; conditions in the jungle battleground were wet, muddy, and atrocious. At first light the next morning the Kittyhawks and Hudsons immediately joined the battle, flying continuous raids against the Japanese forces. Sortie after sortie, strafing and bombing the enemy troops, their landing barges and stores.

For the next eleven days the bitter battle raged, the Australian troops fighting in savage hand to hand combat as the Japanese were halted at No.3 airstrips perimeter.

But eventually the Japanese were spent as a fighting force. With no hope of reinforcement, they were forced to withdraw. A quarter of their invasion force had been lost.

Polly, now beautifully restored, resides in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, whilst Ming the Merciless is under restoration to airworthiness for the RAAF Museum, Point Cook. Both aircraft are a fitting tribute to the men and machines who stopped the Japanese in New Guinea.

THE COLLECTORS EDITION: (print numbers 1 - 150) Each copy is hand-signed by the artist and numbered:
The entire edition is individually hand-signed by the following EIGHT RAAF veterans who flew and fought in Kittyhawks with 75 and 76 Squadrons at Milne Bay, including those Pilots who flew A29-133 and A29-90. 

Flight Lieutenant H. A. HARRY KERR MID - A29-90 Pilot
Flight Lieutenant ARTHUR D. TUCKER - A29-133 Pilot
Squadron Leader PETER BOOTH-JONES DFC - A29-133 Pilot

Flight Lieutenant RAIFE J. COWAN
Flight Lieutenant A. J. NAT GOULD - A29-133 Pilot
Flight Lieutenant NOEL C. TODD - A29-133 Pilot
Squadron Leader BRUCE D. WATSON DFC

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