Photographs from Bita Paka 2010
Photos © Sebastien Grenda


Bita Paka was the site of the wireless station in German New Guinea. It is on the Gazelle Peninsular on New Britain (then known as Neu Pommern) near Kokopo (then known as Herbertshöhe). It was on the road to Bita Paka that the German reservists and Polizeitruppe of New Guinea made their stand against the Australian Invasion on the 11th September 1914. The battle lasted only a day and the wireless station was captured that evening. The governor for German New Guinea surrendered on 17th September. The battle had cost the lives of about thirty Melanesians, one German and six Australians. These were the first Australian casualties of the First World War.

In 1914 the road to Bita Paka was a rough track that the Germans had mined and dug trenches across. Dense vegetation lay on either side of the track, hampering Australian attempts to out flank the German positions. Today much of the vegetation has been cultivated, the road  macadamised and the wireless station completely dismantled. Its exact site is no longer known. The area was also the scene of heavy fighting between Australian and Japanese Forces in 1942.

A Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery is situated nearby. As well as five Australian graves from 1914, most of the cemetery has the graves of Australian soldiers from the Second War World War and Indian Prisoners of War who died while working as forced labour for the Japanese.



The Australian War Memorial to their dead of 11th September 1914 inside the cemetery. Along the bottom are inscribed the names of the six fallen Australians: Able Seaman WGV Williams, Able Seaman JE Walker, Captain BCA Pockley AAMC, Lieut Commander CB Elwell RN, Signalman RD Moffat, Able Seaman HW Street. Except for Signalman Moffat who was buried at sea, the others are now buried in the cemetery at Bita Paka.

  A plaque outside the cemetery explaining the Battle of Bita Paka.  
  The entrance to the cemetery  
  Inside the cemetery at Bita Paka.  
  One of the places described as possibly being the site of the former German wireless station at Bita Paka. Note the old stone flooring and fallen pillar in the foreground.  
  This was also described as the site where the wireless station once stood. It is now inside a banana plantation. Its wild appearance is most likely how the area as a whole looked in 1914.  
  An old civilian cemetery found nearby inside the banana plantation.  


A period photograph taken by Australian forces in 1914 showing some of the New Guinea Polizeitruppe they had captured at Bita Paka. This photograph is on display at the Rabaul Museum.


Recommended External Links-

The Australian Official History of the War in the Pacific at the Australian War Memorial Website
Battle of Bita Paka at First World
Australia's First Battle Against Germany in World War One  at Austrailia
Battle of Bita Paka at Wikipedia


These photographs were taken by Sebastien Grenda, please respect his generosity in sharing them with us by not reproducing them without prior permission.

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