The South West Pacific Area, as defined by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff
Australian cruiser Canberra
(center left) protects three Allied transport ships (background and center right) unloading troops and supplies at Tulagi
Japanese troops load onto a warship in preparation for a
run sometime in 1942
The South West Pacific theatre, during
World War II, was a major
theatre of the
war between the Allies and Japan. It included the
Dutch East Indies (except for
Australia and its mandate
Territory of New Guinea (including the
Bismarck Archipelago) and the western part of the
Solomon Islands. This area was defined by the
South West Pacific Area (SWPA) command.
In the South West Pacific theatre, Japanese forces fought primarily against the forces of the
United States and
New Zealand, the
Netherlands (mainly the
Dutch East Indies), the
United Kingdom, and other Allied nations also contributed forces.
The South Pacific became a major theatre of the war following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Initially, US warplans called for a counteroffensive across the Central Pacific, but this was disrupted by the loss of battleships at Pearl Harbor. During the First South Pacific Campaign, US forces sought to establish a defensive perimeter against additional Japanese attacks. This was followed by the Second South Pacific Campaign, which began with the battle of Guadalcanal.