From the Air, Sea and Land: The Capture of Lae


At 1035 on 5 September 1943 Colonel Kenneth H. Kinsler, Commanding Officer (CO) of the US 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR), leapt out of his Dakota transport aircraft into combat. Within four and a half minutes some 81 transport aircraft had landed his regiment on three separate landing zones near the abandoned airfield at Nadzab, 27 kilometres from the main Japanese base in New Guinea at Lae. As Kinsler floated through the smoke screen towards the drop zone aircraft of the US Fifth Air Force bombed and strafed the surrounding area, including the villages of Gabmatzung and Gasonkek and the Markham Valley Road. Meanwhile, fighter aircraft circled lazily overhead guarding against interference from any marauding Japanese planes. This was the first and only time that a US parachute regiment would be dropped complete in one lift during the Pacific War. Soon after the 503rd PIR had landed a �volunteer� detachment from the 2/4th Australian Field Regiment with two light 25-pounder guns were also dropped over the airstrip. As Kinsler floated through the bright New Guinea sky, the pressure of command and the burden of history weighed heavily upon him. As this operation was the first of its kind in the Pacific theatre he knew it had to be a success. But what Kinsler did not realise was that the tactical use of his regiment to help facilitate the capture of Lae would have strategic implications far beyond the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA). His success or failure would help to make or break the airborne concept in the US Army.






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Australia 1943: The Liberation of New Guinea

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