Battle of Wakde

The Battle of Wakde (Operation Straight Line) was part of the New Guinea campaign of World War II. It was fought between the United States and Japan from 18 May 1944 to 21 May 1944.

Wakde is located about 225 miles east of Biak Island and 200 miles west of Hollandia.

Battle of Wakde
Part of World War II, Pacific War
Troops at Wakde

American troops advancing on a coconut plantation
Date18–21 May 1944
Location
Result American victory
Belligerents
 United States  Japan
Commanders and leaders
Jens A. Doe Hachiro Tagami
Strength
~600 Men, 4 Sherman Tanks 1,080 Men [1]
Casualties and losses
40 killed
107 wounded
2 Tanks lost
759 killed
4 captured

Battle

Task Force 77, commanded by Rear Admiral William Fechteler supported by USS Stockton covered the landing on 17 May 1944 by the 2nd Engineer Special Brigade, Company A, 542nd Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment, of the 163rd Regimental Combat Team of the 41st Infantry Division. The pre-invasion bombardment destroyed the few 75 mm gun emplacements the Japanese had and damaged several of the 100 bunkers the Japanese had placed on the island.

The first US troops landed on the Island at 9:10 on the 18th on the south western side of the island and came under heavy fire from concealed positions. The fire however, was predominantly aimed at the LCI gunboats and ultimately the Americans reached the beach with only light casualties. By 9:25, the invasion force was ashore with two tanks (the other two having been lost at sea) which the Americans used to secure the beachhead despite heavy fire from Japanese defenders which killed one of the company commanders. The American units then split up. B and F Companies took the tanks and headed west along the coast whilst A Company were sent south-west to clear out machine gun nests. C Company was then sent north towards the airfield where they were forced to overcome heavy fighting with well defended Japanese positions. Even so, the advance north went well and by noon they reached the airfield. By 13:30, the Americans had also reached the north of the airfield but had failed to take the eastern side where the majority of the remaining Japanese forces were located.

The attack continued at 9:15 on May 19 with the rest of the airfield captured despite well entrenched Japanese positions. Following the capture of the airfield, surviving Japanese made their way to coral caves on the coast, holding the Americans to a delay for a couple hours before finally being overcome. The third day of the battle was mostly American forces clearing up the last pockets of Japanese resistance in north-eastern corner of the island where they were subject to several suicidal 'Banzai' charges over the course of the day but were able to destroy the remaining Japanese resistance by the end of the day.

After a three-day battle the island was declared captured on 20 May. Several Japanese snipers still remained on the island until they were cleared out by L Company between 22 and 26 May. The capture of Wakde cost the Americans 40 killed, and 107 wounded, the Japanese lost 759 killed and 4 captured.

Aftermath

Following the capture, Wakde Airfield was quickly expanded to cover the whole island with the airfield being operational on 21 May despite it having only recently been captured and by 24 May, B-24 Liberators were conducting reconnaissance missions from it. It was initially an extremely important airbase, providing a landing and taking off base for attacks on the mainland and other islands throughout the rest of the Summer 1944. Eventually, its use faded, and it became an emergency landing field, with American troops beginning their withdrawal from the island in February 1945.

References

  1. ^ Rickard, John. "Battle of Wakde Island, 18-21 May 1944". History of War. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  • Davison, John (2004). The Pacific War Day by Day. New York: Chartwell Books, Inc. ISBN 0-7858-2752-8
  • Dunn, Richard. Japanese Operations at Wakde Island.

External links

Coordinates: 1°56′S 139°1′E / 1.933°S 139.017°E

Albert G. Noble

Admiral Albert Gallatin Noble (December 14, 1895 – February 22, 1980) was a United States Navy admiral who was promoted to four star rank as a "tombstone admiral".

Asiatic-Pacific Theater

The Asiatic-Pacific Theater, was the theater of operations of U.S. forces during World War II in the Pacific War during 1941–45. From mid-1942 until the end of the war in 1945, there were two U.S. operational commands in the Pacific. The Pacific Ocean Areas (POA), divided into the Central Pacific Area, the North Pacific Area and the South Pacific Area, were commanded by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief Pacific Ocean Areas. The South West Pacific Area (SWPA) was commanded by General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Allied Commander South West Pacific Area. During 1945, the United States added the United States Strategic Air Forces in the Pacific, commanded by General Carl A. Spaatz.

Because of the complementary roles of the United States Army and the United States Navy in conducting war in the Pacific Theater, there was no single Allied or U.S. commander (comparable to General Dwight D. Eisenhower in the European Theater of Operations). There was no actual command; rather, the Asiatic-Pacific Theater was divided into SWPA, POA, and other forces and theaters, such as the China Burma India Theater.

Battle of Lone Tree Hill

The Battle of Lone Tree Hill, also known as the Battle of Wakde-Sarmi, is the name given to a major battle in 1944 in Dutch New Guinea, between United States and Japanese forces.

Following the loss of Hollandia, to the east, in April 1944, the Toem-Wakde-Sarmi area was an isolated coastal salient for the Japanese. Nevertheless, elements of the Japanese 223rd and 224th Infantry Regiments, commanded by Lieutenant General Hachiro Tagami, were concentrated at Lone Tree Hill, overlooking Maffin Bay, and were blocking any further advance by the 158th Regimental Combat Team of the U.S. Army. The Japanese were in well-prepared positions, which included fortified caves. Meanwhile, the main body of the Japanese 223rd Infantry Regiment had outflanked the U.S. units, and a battalion of the Japanese 224th Infantry Regiment, was retreating from Hollandia, towards the Toem-Wakde-Sarmi area.

Lone Tree Hill rose from a flat, coastal plain about 6,000 feet (1,800 m) west of the main jetty in Maffin Bay. The hill was named for a single tree depicted on its crest by U.S. maps; it was a coral formation, covered with dense tropical rain forest and undergrowth. It was about 175 feet (53 m) high, 3,600 feet (1,100 m) long north to south, and 3,300 feet (1,000 m) wide east to west. The north side was characterized by a steep slope. The eastern slope was fronted by a short, twisting stream which the Americans named Snaky River.

On 14 June, the US commander, General Walter Krueger, sent the U.S. 6th Infantry Division, to relieve the 158th RCT. After ten days of hard fighting, the US forces took Lone Tree Hill. The Japanese suffered more than 1,000 dead, including some trapped in collapsed caves. The U.S. Army suffered about 700 battle and 500 non-battle casualties. With Lone Tree Hill in American possession, Maffin Bay became a major staging base for six subsequent battles: Biak, Noemfoor, Sansapor, Leyte and Luzon.

Edwin A. Zundel

Edwin Albert Zundel (29 March 1893 – 13 February 1985) was a United States Army brigadier general who served on the Western Front during World War I, in the Southwest Pacific Area during World War II, and as Inspector General, Far East Command, and Inspector General, United Nations Troops—Korea during the Korean War. He was a member of the West Point class of 1915, "the class the stars fell on" that also included Omar Bradley and Dwight Eisenhower.

Zundel commanded an artillery battalion on the Western Front during World War I, and was artillery officer of the Sixth United States Army in the Southwest Pacific Area during World War II, participating in many of the operations there. In May 1944 he became commander of the 41st Infantry Division Artillery, and was decorated for gallantry in the Battle of Biak and the Battle of Mindanao. After the war he became chief of the Counter Intelligence Corps and commandant of its Corps School. He served in the Korean War as Inspector General, Far East Command, and Inspector General, United Nations Command.

HMAS Australia (D84)

HMAS Australia (I84/D84/C01) was a County-class heavy cruiser of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). One of two Kent-subclass ships ordered for the RAN in 1924, Australia was laid down in Scotland in 1925, and entered service in 1928. Apart from an exchange deployment to the Mediterranean from 1934 to 1936, during which she became involved in the planned British response to the Abyssinia Crisis, Australia operated in local and South-West Pacific waters until World War II began.

The cruiser remained near Australia until mid-1940, when she was deployed for duties in the eastern Atlantic, including hunts for German ships and participation in Operation Menace. During 1941, Australia operated in home and Indian Ocean waters, but was reassigned as flagship of the ANZAC Squadron in early 1942. As part of this force (which was later redesignated Task Force 44, then Task Force 74), Australia operated in support of United States naval and amphibious operations throughout South-East Asia until the start of 1945, including involvement in the battles at the Coral Sea and Savo Island, the amphibious landings at Guadalcanal and Leyte Gulf, and numerous actions during the New Guinea campaign. She was forced to withdraw following a series of kamikaze attacks during the invasion of Lingayen Gulf. The prioritisation of shipyard work in Australia for British Pacific Fleet vessels saw the Australian cruiser sail to England for repairs, where she was at the end of the war.

During the late 1940s, Australia served with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan, and participated in several port visits to other nations, before being retasked as a training ship in 1950. The cruiser was decommissioned in 1954, and sold for scrapping in 1955.

HMAS Manoora (F48)

HMAS Manoora was a passenger liner that served in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) during World War II. She was built in Scotland in 1935 for the Cairns to Fremantle coastal passenger run for the Adelaide Steamship Company. She was requisitioned by the RAN for naval service in 1939. Manoora was initially converted into an armed merchant cruiser (AMC), operating primarily in Australian, New Guinea, and Pacific waters, with deployments to Singapore and the Bay of Bengal.In 1942, the ship was converted into the RAN's first landing ship, infantry (LSI). After extensive training, Manoora was involved in most of the Allied amphibious operations in the Pacific during 1944 and 1945. After the war's end, the ship was used to transport occupation forces and refugees until 1947, when she was decommissioned from naval service and returned to the Adelaide Steamship Company. Manoora continued to operate in Australian waters until 1961, when she was sold to an Indonesian company and renamed Albulombo. The ship was sold for scrap in 1972.

New Guinea campaign

The New Guinea campaign of the Pacific War lasted from January 1942 until the end of the war in August 1945. During the initial phase in early 1942, the Empire of Japan invaded the Australian-administered territories of the New Guinea Mandate (23 January) and Papua (8 March) and overran western New Guinea (beginning 29/30 March), which was a part of the Netherlands East Indies. During the second phase, lasting from late 1942 until the Japanese surrender, the Allies—consisting primarily of Australian and US forces—cleared the Japanese first from Papua, then the Mandate and finally from the Dutch colony.

The campaign resulted in a crushing defeat and heavy losses for the Empire of Japan. As in most Pacific War campaigns, disease and starvation claimed more Japanese lives than enemy action. Most Japanese troops never even came into contact with Allied forces, and were instead simply cut off and subjected to an effective blockade by the US Navy. Garrisons were effectively besieged and denied shipments of food and medical supplies, and as a result, some claim that 97% of Japanese deaths in this campaign were from non-combat causes.According to John Laffin, the campaign "was arguably the most arduous fought by any Allied troops during World War II".

Wakde

Wakde is an island group of Indonesia, part of the province of West Papua, between the districts of Pantai Timur and Tor Atas. It comprises two islands, Insumuar (the larger) and Insumanai (much smaller).

Occupied by Japanese forces in April 1942, Wakde served as an airbase. United States forces landed in May 1944 (the Battle of Wakde or Operation Straight Line) and used the airfield.

In September 2005, the remains of Japanese soldiers and Papuans were found in a cave on the uninhabited island. The island is located at 1°56′S 139°1′E, two miles off the northern coast of Papua, near the Tor River.

Western New Guinea campaign

The Western New Guinea campaign was a series of actions in the New Guinea campaign of World War II. Dutch East Indies KNIL, United States and Australian forces assaulted Japanese bases and positions in the northwest coastal areas of Netherlands New Guinea and adjoining parts of the Australian Territory of New Guinea. The campaign began with Operations Reckless and Persecution, which were amphibious landings by the U.S. I Corps at Hollandia and Aitape on 22 April 1944. Fighting in western New Guinea continued until the end of the war.

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