Lake Bismarck

In the southwestern part of the Pacific Ocean, north of Papa New Guinea, is Lake Bismarck. This part of the sea is located south of the Bismarck Archipelago and the Admiralty Islands and it is mainly known for the battle that took place here during World War II when Japan suffered a very large military defeat. Lake Bismarck is named after the German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck.

Geography and history

Lake Bismarck is surrounded to the east and south by the Bismarck Archipelago. To the south, the sea is bordered by Papua New Guinea, which is the eastern part of the island of New Guinea. In the northern part of the lake are the Admiralty Islands which are also part of Papua New Guinea. South of the Bismarck Archipelago is Lake Solomon, which is reached through the Vitiaz Strait. Historically, half of New Guinea was divided between Germany and Great Britain, which meant that Germany had control of Lake Bismarck from the end of the 19th century until the beginning of the First World War. It was also then that the sea part was named after the German Chancellor. One can not talk about this sea without mentioning the battle during World War II when Japan’s invasion of the western Pacific region was stopped, so let’s take a closer look at what happened…

The Battle of Lake Bismarck

The Battle of Lake Bismarck took place on March 2-4, 1943. US and Australian air forces then attacked Japanese escort ships carrying troops en route to Lae in New Guinea. This meant a great loss for Japan. The fact that Japanese troops were even on site was due to the decision to strengthen its position in the southwestern part of the Pacific Ocean. The plan was to avoid jungle and mountain terrain by letting the troops travel by sea to Lae. This was done despite being aware of the Allies’ presence in the area.

The reason why the Allies were able to attack the Japanese troops so forcefully was that they were fully aware of what was going on as they had managed to get information about this in advance via interception. When the Japanese convoy left on February 28 from the Simspon port in Rabaul, they were on their way to a massive attack from the USA that was waiting for them. Nearly half of the Japanese troops died and the rest were shipped back to Rabaul. Only a few reached Lae. After this, Japan gave up attempts to strengthen Lae with ships and this meant that they failed to stop the Allies’ advance on New Guinea.

Lake Bismarck