early contribution to the Allied cause in the First World War (4 August
1914 to 11 November 1918) was the formation of the Australian Naval
& Military Expeditionary Force (AN&MEF) with 1000 soldiers and
500 sailors. The six month objectives of the AN&MEF were the capture
of German possessions in the Pacific (see map), including the radio
stations and coal supplies supporting the German Navy.
The AN&MEF was recruited principally from Sydney (Army) and
Melbourne (Navy), then hurriedly trained at Palm Island near Townsville
before sailing for New Britain.
dawn on 11 September 1914, almost 100 men, mainly naval personnel,
landed at Kabakaul and Kokopo (see map) to capture an inland German
radio station, thought to be near Bita Paka. A numerically superior
German force stopped the Australian Kabakaul force advancing through the
dense jungle, however, after reinforcement the Australians took the
radio station that evening.
Germans by then greatly outnumbered withdrew to headquarters at Toma,
leaving Rabaul undefended. This enabled the AN&MEF to force the
surrender of the whole area on 17 September 1914.
this regionally significant victory, the Australian Imperial Force (AIF)
and Europe became the nation's focus.
the battle of Bita Paka, six Australians were killed and four were
wounded; one German soldier and 30 Nationals were killed and 11 were
(left side plaque)
was born in 1885 and lived at 36 Beavers Road, Northcote, Melbourne and
from 1911 he worked at the Melbourne City Council Electricity Supply
Depot in Spencer Street. Williams became Australia’s first casualty of
the war when he was mortally wounded on 11 September whilst scouting
forward of the advance party at Bita Paka.
Captain Pockley tended Williams’s wound and gave his
distinctive Red Cross armband to protect the man carrying Williams back
to HMAS Berrima.
(right side plaque)
was born in Sydney in 1890, he was an outstanding scholar and all round
athlete at Shore Public School.
Fresh from Sydney University Medical Faculty, he entered the
fledgling Army Medical Corps. Pockley gave his armband for Williams's
protection, increasing his own risk to enemy fire. He was mortally
wounded soon after Williams. Pockley’s sacrifice upheld the highest
traditions of both his profession and the Army Medical Corps.
Pockley and Williams died aboard the HMAS
Berrima on 11 September and
they lie together in Bita Paka War Cemetery.