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Photographs supplied by Peter F Williams / Glen Yeomans / Russell Byers

The Plaque commemorates the personnel of "Lark Force" which defended Rabaul during World War Two, and those who were killed during the sinking of the Montevideo Maru. The plaque location is indicated by the red poppy in the second image. 

The "Rabual and Montevideo Maru Memorial" in the Australian War Memorial grounds also commemorates this event.

Lark Force was an Australian Army formation established in March 1941 during World War Two for service in New Britain and New Ireland. Under the command of Lieutenant Colonel John Scanlan, it was raised in Australia and deployed to Rabual and Kavieng, aboard SS Katoomba, MV Neptuna and HMAT Zealandia, to defend their strategically important harbours and airfields.

The objective of the force, was to maintain a forward air observation line as long as possible and to make the enemy fight for this line rather than abandon it at the first threat as the force was considered too small to withstand any invasion.[1]

Most of Lark Force was captured by the Imperial Japanese Army after Rabaul and Kavieng were captured in January 1942. The officers of Lark Force were taken to Japan, but while the NCOs and men were being transported to the Chinese island of Hainan aboard the Montevideo Maru, the ship was torpedoed and sunk by the USS SturgeonOnly a handful of the Japanese crew were rescued but none of the between 1,050 and 1,053 prisoners survived, because they were still locked below deck.



Address:Fairbairn & Limestone Avenues, Australian War Memorial Sculpture Garden, Campbell, 2612
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -35.279626
Long: 149.147118
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:Conflict
Actual Event Start Date:03-September-1939
Actual Event End Date:15-August-1945


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Saturday 1st November, 2003
Front Inscription


Rabaul, on the island of New Britain, was attacked by Japanese forces in January 1942.  It was defended by "Lark Force", which was made up of the 2/22nd Battalion, a detachment of the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles, anti-aircraft, anti-tank and heavy artillery batteries, along with army medical and supply units and 24 Squadron RAAF. Despite a gallant defence, "Lark Force" was quickly overwhelmed by a much stronger enemy.  Some escaped, but most of the Australians who survived the battle and the massacre at Toll Plantation became prisoners of war.

In July most of the "Lark Force" prisoners and Australian civilian internees, together with members of the 1st Independent Company AIF - captured while escaping from nearby New Ireland - were evacuated aboard the Montevideo Maru.  Tragically, a US submarine torpedoed the ship in the South China Sea.  Over 1,050 prisoners were lost.

Dedicated By The 2/22nd Battalion "Lark Force" Association, In Honour Of Those Who Lost Their Lives On New Britain And At Sea On The Montevideo Maru.

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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