New Georgia campaign

Coordinates: 8°30′S 157°20′E / 8.500°S 157.333°E The New Georgia campaign was a series of land and naval battles of the Pacific campaign of World War II between Allied forces and the Empire of Japan. It was part of Operation Cartwheel, the Allied strategy in the South Pacific. The campaign took place in the New Georgia group of islands, in the central Solomon Islands from 20 June through 7 October 1943.

Background

SolomonsNewGeorgiaPacificWarMap
Area of Operation Cartwheel, with New Guinea on the west and the New Georgias highlighted

The Japanese had captured New Georgia in 1942 and built an airbase at Munda Point which began operations in December 1942 to support the Guadalcanal offensives. As it became clear at the end of 1942 that they could not hold Guadalcanal, the Japanese commanders guessed that the Allies would move toward the Japanese base at Rabaul on New Britain, and that the central Solomon Islands were logical steps on the way.

The Imperial Japanese Army believed that holding the Solomon Islands would be ultimately unsuccessful and that it would be better to wait for an Allied attack on Bougainville which would be much less costly to supply and reinforce. The Imperial Japanese Navy preferred to delay the Allied advance for as long as possible by maintaining a distant line of defence. With no effective central command, the two Japanese services implemented their own plans: the navy assumed responsibility for the defence of the central Solomons and the army for the northern Solomons.

In early 1943, Japanese defenses were prepared against possible Allied landings on New Georgia, Kolombangara and Santa Isabel. By June 1943, there were 10,500 troops on New Georgia and 9,000 on Kolombangara, all under the command of General Minoru (Noboru) Sasaki, well dug in and waiting for an Allied attack.

Allied planning

Choice of New Georgia

By early 1943, some Allied leaders had wanted to focus on capturing Rabaul, but Japanese strength there and lack of landing craft meant that such an operation was not practical in 1943. Instead, on the initiative of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, a plan known as Operation Cartwheel was developed, which proposed to envelop and cut off Rabaul without capturing it, by simultaneous offensives in the Territory of New Guinea and northward through the Solomon Islands.

The Allied base at Guadalcanal continued to suffer from Japanese bombing raids even after the island was declared secured on 9 February 1943. The Japanese airfield at Munda made these raids easier by giving Japanese planes a convenient place to refuel on the way to and from their main base at Rabaul. The Allies attempted to neutralize Munda with repeated bombing raids and naval shelling, but the Japanese were always able to repair the airfield in short order.[3] The Allied command thus determined that Munda had to be captured by ground troops. Since the New Georgias lay within the South Pacific Area, the operation would be the responsibility of Admiral William F. Halsey, headquartered at Nouméa on New Caledonia.

Capture of the Russells

R K Turner2-Feb44
Rear Adm. Richmond Kelly Turner, Commander South Pacific Amphibious Forces

The Russell Island group, lying between Guadalcanal and the New Georgia group, had served as a troop staging base for the Japanese during the fight for Guadalcanal, and Admiral Halsey, Commander South Pacific Force (renamed US Third Fleet on 15 March 1943), determined to capture it in preparation for the main action in the New Georgias. In early February, he instructed Rear Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner, formerly his Deputy Commander and now his Commander Amphibious Force, to undertake Operation Cleanslate.

Beginning 21 February, Admiral Turner landed the 43rd Infantry Division (Army) under Maj. Gen. John H. Hester and the 3rd Marine Raider Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel Harry B. "Harry the Horse" Liversedge on the Russells, a total of approximately 9,000 troops and their equipment. These landings were totally unopposed because, unbeknownst to the Allies, the Japanese had evacuated the Russells soon after leaving Guadalcanal. In fact, the men landing on nearby Banika Island were greeted by two coastwatchers with the offer of a cup of tea.[4]

Preliminaries to the New Georgia landings

Battle of New Georgia map
Allied Landings in the New Georgias

Alarmed that the Allies were working their way up the Solomons chain, the Japanese bombed the new American base in the Russells and began strengthening their own airfields at Munda and at nearby Vila on Kolombangara Island. In their turn, the Americans continued attempting to subdue Munda field with naval shellings of dubious effectiveness.[5] During the course of one of these overnight bombardment sorties, on the night of 6–7 March 1943, an American force consisting of three light cruisers and three destroyers under the command of Rear Admiral A. Stanton "Tip" Merrill encountered the Japanese destroyers Murasame and Minegumo as they were returning up Kula Gulf from delivering food and supplies to the garrison at Vila. In the ensuing action, known as the Battle of Blackett Strait, both Japanese destroyers were sunk.[6]

The Americans next attempted to interdict the Japanese supply lanes by mining the ocean approaches to Vila and Munda. This proved as ineffective as bombardment had been, since the Japanese were able to sweep up the mines readily.[7]

The Allies had plenty of time to plan Operation Toenails, as the invasion of the New Georgias was called. The plan called for simultaneous landings on 30 June at four places. From southeast to northwest, these were: (1) Wickham Anchorage on the southeast coast of Vangunu Island; (2) Segi Point on the southeastern tip of New Georgia; (3) Viru Harbor on the southwest coast of New Georgia, just a few miles up from Segi; and (4) Rendova Harbor on Rendova Island just across Blanche Channel from Munda, placing the latter Japanese base well within range of land-based artillery.[8]

During the entire New Georgia Campaign, the resolution and resourcefulness of the British Commonwealth coastwatchers proved invaluable to the Allied cause. District Officer Donald Gilbert Kennedy, a New Zealander, set the tone in a message he had had delivered to every native village when occupation by the Japanese was imminent: "These islands are British and they are to remain British. The government is not leaving. Even if the Japanese come, we shall stay with you and in the end they will be driven out." In the event, it was the prospect of District Officer Kennedy being killed or captured that led Admiral Turner to move up the first Allied landings by nine days. He sent two companies of the 4th Marine Raider Battalion to capture Segi Point on the morning of 21 June, where Kennedy and his native comrades were rescued.[9]

Conquest of New Georgia island

Main landings: 30 June – 2 July

Human conveyer belts
LCIs Unloading at Rendova

A force consisting of portions of the 4th Marine Raider Battalion and of the 103rd Infantry Regiment (Army) landed at Oloana Bay on the south coast of Vangunu Island. From there they marched overland to Vura village which overlooked Wickham Anchorage, the first of the objectives of the original plan. By 12 July, Vura was secured and garrisoned.[10]

A force also consisting of portions of the 4th Marine Raider Battalion and portions of the 103rd Infantry Regiment (Army) landed at Viru Harbor, the third of the original plan's objectives. The Japanese were driven off and by 9 July the area was secured and garrisoned.[11]

The landings in the area around Munda were obviously the most important of the four. Admiral Turner personally commanded this portion of the invasion fleet from his flagship, the attack transport McCawley, which after being damaged by a Japanese air-launched torpedo that afternoon, was mistakenly sunk by an American PT boat that night. The 172nd Infantry Regiment (Army) landed at Rendova Harbor while Companies A and B of the 169th Infantry Regiment along with a commando unit of 130 South Pacific islanders took three vitally placed islets in Blanche Channel.[12] These were to provide staging areas for the main event, the siege of Munda, the ultimate goal that eventually would prove far more arduous to attain than anticipated.

On 2 July, the Americans were ready to make a landing in the Munda area. Laiana beach was closest, being only two miles from Munda, but as it was heavily defended, it was rejected in favor of Zanana beach, more than three miles farther east. Zanana would prove to be an unfortunate choice.

Landings in Kula Gulf

LiversedgeNewGeorgia
Lt. Col. Harry B. Liversedge on New Georgia.

Halsey's counterparts at Rabaul, Vice Admiral Jinichi Kusaka and Lieutenant General Hitoshi Imamura, had no intention of allowing New Georgia to fall the way Guadalcanal had. They loaded 4,000 troops on destroyers, brought them down The Slot on the night of 4–5 July and landed them at Vila on the southeast coast of Kolombangara Island.[13] From there, the men would be ferried across Kula Gulf on barges to Bairoko on the northwest coast of New Georgia, from where they would follow the eight-mile jungle trail to Munda.

The Allies also carried out an amphibious operation in Kula Gulf that night. Admiral Halsey had dispatched transports carrying 4,600 troops under Colonel Liversedge to Rice Anchorage on the northwest coast of New Georgia. Covering these troopships was a force of three light cruisers and four destroyers commanded by Rear Admiral Walden L. "Pug" Ainsworth. One of Ainsworth's destroyers, the Strong, was torpedoed and sunk by the Japanese as the latter were retiring up the Gulf from their reinforcement mission to Vila.[14]

Liversedge's men were tasked with moving down the coast and capturing Bairoko, thereby interdicting the trailhead used by the Japanese to reinforce Munda. They were successfully landed at dawn, but were only able to advance 5 miles (8.0 km) through the heavy jungle the first day.[15] After three days, they had covered 7 miles (11 km).[16]

The night (5–6 July) after the Kula Gulf landings, the opposing naval forces engaged in a full-scale battle in the waters northeast of Kolombangara Island, an action that came to be called the Battle of Kula Gulf. The Americans lost the light cruiser Helena while the Japanese lost two destroyers, Niizuki and Nagatsuki, as well as Rear Admiral Teruo Akiyama.

Debacle at Munda

Drive toward Munda Point
Initial Drive Towards Munda

The Army troops' advance from Zanana to Munda was completely stymied. General Hester tried to break the stalemate by sending the 172nd Infantry Regiment around to the north to take the Japanese position in the rear, while the 169th Infantry would continue the frontal assault. Historian Samuel Eliot Morison had this to say about the decision:

This was perhaps the worst blunder in the most unintelligently waged land campaign of the Pacific war (with the possible exception of Okinawa). Laiana should have been chosen as the initial beachhead; if it was now required, the 172nd should have been withdrawn from Zanana and landed at Laiana under naval gunfire and air support. Or Hester might have made the landing with his reserves then waiting at Rendova. As it was, General Sasaki interpreted the move correctly and by nightfall had brought both advances to a standstill.[17]

The American ground troops on New Georgia were thus halted in both the north and the south. The Japanese brought reinforcements over by barge from Vila to Bairoko, and 1,200 more troops were loaded onto four destroyer-transports at Rabaul and sent down to be landed at Vila on the night of 12–13 July. These ships were escorted by a light cruiser and five destroyers. Admiral Ainsworth was sent to intercept this flotilla with three light cruisers and ten destroyers. He encountered the Japanese force in The Slot in the waters north of Kolombangara Island. The ensuing Battle of Kolombangara resulted in the sinking of the American destroyer Gwin, the Japanese light cruiser Jintsu, and the death of Rear Admiral Shunji Izaki.[18]

Changes in command and the capture of Munda

Capture of Munda Point
Siege and Capture of Munda

Major General Oscar W. Griswold, commander XIV Army Corps and General Hester's immediate superior, visited New Georgia to assess the situation and determined that it was indeed dire. He radioed that at least another division was needed to break the stalemate. At Nouméa, Admiral Halsey had had no conception of how bad things were.[19] He sent Lieutenant General Millard F. Harmon, USAAF, to the front to straighten the matter out. Harmon thoroughly investigated the situation on New Georgia and gave field command to Griswold so that Hester could concentrate on leading his own division. (A long-anticipated change in naval command took place at the same time, when Rear Admiral Theodore Stark Wilkinson took over leadership of the amphibious forces from Admiral Turner on 15 July.)[20]

General Sasaki took advantage of the disorder on the American side. Samuel Eliot Morison described it this way:

Darkness came to the jungle like the click of a camera shutter. Then the Japanese crept close to the American lines. They attacked with bloodcurdling screams, plastered bivouacs with artillery and mortar barrages, crawled silently into American foxholes and stabbed or strangled the occupants. Often they cursed loudly in English, rattled their equipment, named the American commanding officers and dared the Americans to fight, reminding them that they were "not in the Louisiana maneuvers now." For sick and hungry soldiers who had fought all day, this unholy shivaree was terrifying. They shot at everything in sight – fox fire on rotting stumps, land crabs clattering over rocks, even comrades.[21]

The Japanese learned to apply close assault tactics to American tanks, rendering armor even less effective in the jungle than usual. On the night of 17 July, the Japanese actually succeeded in overrunning the command post of the 43rd Division near Zanana. Eventually, however, Sasaki's troops became sick and exhausted; also, he had lost communications with Rabaul. He ordered a retreat from the Munda area on 3 August. General Griswold had his men sweep around Munda to the northwest and on 5 August plastered the remaining Japanese with artillery fire. That day, the Americans moved unopposed into Munda, finally achieving the campaign's most important goal.[22]

Capture of Bairoko

Approach to bairoko
Approach to Bairoko

On the northern front, Colonel Liversedge had been reinforced by 700 Marines and made plans to capture Bairoko village, which sits on the eastern side of Bairoko Harbor, on 20 July.[23] His Army detachment was to attack the village from the southeast while his Marines converged from the northeast, a classic pincer movement. The Japanese defensive positions were so well designed, however, that neither force could make progress, and casualties began to mount. Just before dawn on 22 July, Liversedge called for air strikes to cover his withdrawal. Perhaps with a view to compensating for failures in land-based air cover following previous such requests, what followed was the heaviest aerial bombardment of the campaign so far.[24]

On the night of 1–2 August, while patrolling Blackett Strait west of Kolombangara, PT 109 was cut in two and sunk by destroyer Amagiri. The boat's commander was Lieutenant John F. Kennedy.[25]

Beginning 3 August, Liversedge tried again, first establishing a battalion of the 148th Infantry at a blocking position on the Munda trail. Two days later he relieved these men with a combined Army/Marine force and moved the 148th to a dominant position overlooking the entire area. On 10 August Liversedge picked up another battalion of GIs and renewed the direct attack on Bairoko. After two more grueling weeks, the Americans entered Bairoko unopposed on 24 August.[26]

Securing New Georgia

Clean up new georgia
Actions in Western New Georgia

Admiral Kusaka and General Imamura at Rabaul made a final, disastrous attempt to bring reinforcements to General Sasaki. Under the protection of a single destroyer, 940 troops and 700 naval personnel were loaded aboard three destroyer-transports and sent down under the command of Rear Admiral Kaju Sugiura to Kolombangara on the night of 6–7 August. Admiral Wilkinson, thinking such a movement likely on that night, sent a force of six destroyers under Commander Frederick Moosbrugger to intercept them.[27] The American destroyer sailors were jubilant that at last they would be free of the combat doctrine that required them to stick close to the cruisers; on this night, they would be able to apply their own tactics.[28] In the resulting Battle of Vella Gulf, fought in the waters northwest of Kolombangara, the American destroyers took the Japanese completely by surprise. The three ships carrying passengers, Arashi, Hagikaze, and Kawakaze, were torpedoed and sunk, and the escort ship, Shigure, did not linger to search for survivors.[29]

Following this major reversal, General Sasaki moved his headquarters to Kolombangara on 8–9 August, leaving behind a token force to defend the west coast of New Georgia. His mission now was simply to hold the remaining islands of the New Georgia group as long as possible, giving the Japanese a chance to reinforce the northern Solomons. US Army forces moved along the west coast of New Georgia, wiping out the 200 Japanese remaining in the Zieta area, and capturing the islet of Baanga to silence the enemy artillery there by 20 August. Under the noses of U.S. patrols, the last Japanese troops on New Georgia were barged from Bairoko Harbor over to Kolombangara on the night of 23 August. This marked the end of ground combat on New Georgia.[30]

Outlying islands

Arundel

General Sasaki played his delaying role to the hilt. When the US 172nd Infantry landed on Arundel Island, just west of New Georgia, on 27 August, he allowed them to come ashore unopposed and establish a beachhead. Just as the Americans were feeling the occupation would be easy, Sasaki counterattacked in multiple places, tying the Americans down and forcing them to call for reinforcements. He carried out a particularly determined attack on 15 September, bringing the whole Allied effort on Arundel to a halt, and with far fewer troops than his opponents. General Griswold ordered a full-scale effort, including Marine Corps tanks, to drive the Japanese off the island. After vicious fighting on 17 & 18 September, the Japanese abandoned Arundel for good on the night of 20–21 September.[31]

Vella Lavella

Admiral Halsey had earlier seen the wisdom of bypassing the heavily fortified island of Kolombangara and invading Vella Lavella instead, the latter island lying closer to Bougainville and Rabaul and being less well defended. Thus, a month before New Georgia was secured, a reconnaissance party was landed on Vella Lavella to gain information about Japanese strength and dispositions as well as about suitable landing sites. These men and their native guides managed to explore the island for a full week, completely avoiding contact with the Japanese. On 31 July, they returned to Guadalcanal with thorough intelligence about the target. The village of Barakoma near the island's southeastern tip was selected as the landing place.[32]

The invasion force consisted of seven destroyer-transports, three LSTs, two submarine chasers and twelve destroyers under the personal command of Admiral Wilkinson aboard one of the destroyers. Embarked were about 6,500 ground troops led by Major General Robert B. McClure. Japanese planes attacked multiple Allied bases on the night of 14 August, but completely missed this fleet headed for Vella Lavella. The next morning, disembarkation began at Barakoma.[33]

155-mm-gun-4th-defense-battalion-barakoma
155mm Gun at Barakoma

The Japanese high command in Tokyo had already decided that no more troops would be wasted in the central Solomons. Rather than reinforce and defend Vella Lavella, it was to be used merely as a way station for the evacuation of the troops on Kolombangara that had been bypassed by the Allies with this new landing. Horaniu on the northeast coast was selected as a barge staging point and on the night of 17–18 August two Army companies and a Navy platoon were landed there. The covering force of four destroyers was met in The Slot by an American force, also made up of four destroyers under Captain Thomas J. Ryan, that had been sent to disrupt the operation. In the ensuing Battle off Horaniu, no ships of either side were lost and the Japanese succeeded in establishing a barge base.[34]

The Allies decided to squeeze the remaining enemy ground forces on Vella Lavella into a pocket in the northwest corner of the island and wipe them out. The 3rd New Zealand Division, under the command of Major General Harold E. Barrowclough, was given this assignment. The New Zealanders began their pincer movement on 21 September, but the Japanese resisted so fiercely that it took until 5–6 October to bottle them up.[35]

On the night of 6–7 October, Rear Admiral Matsuji Ijuin led a force consisting of three destroyer-transports and twelve small craft to take the 600 remaining ground troops off Vella Lavella. Ijuin personally commanded a group of six destroyers sent to cover the operation from American naval interference. Admiral Wilkinson hurriedly rerouted two groups of three destroyers each to attempt to disrupt the evacuation. Only the first group, under the command of Captain Frank R. Walker, arrived in time to engage in combat. In the resulting naval battle, the US destroyer Chevalier and the Japanese destroyer Yugumo were lost. Ijuin succeeded in keeping the American ships from interfering in the evacuation.[36] As a result, General Barrowclough's men entered the evacuated area unopposed. The New Georgia campaign was complete.[37]

Notes

  1. ^ Altobello, Into the Shadows Furious, p. 354.
  2. ^ Altobello, Into the Shadows Furious, p. 354.
  3. ^ Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, p. 90
  4. ^ Horton, New Georgia: Pattern for Victory, p. 21
  5. ^ Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, pp. 106–107
  6. ^ Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, pp. 107–110
  7. ^ Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, pp. 110–116
  8. ^ Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, p. 139
  9. ^ Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, p. 141
  10. ^ Horton, New Georgia: Pattern for Victory, pp. 46–51
  11. ^ Horton, New Georgia: Pattern for Victory, pp. 44–46
  12. ^ Horton, New Georgia: Pattern for Victory, pp. 54–57
  13. ^ Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, p. 156
  14. ^ Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, pp. 156–158
  15. ^ Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, p. 157
  16. ^ Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, p. 176
  17. ^ Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, p. 177
  18. ^ Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, pp. 180–182
  19. ^ Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, p. 198
  20. ^ Horton, New Georgia: Pattern for Victory, p. 77
  21. ^ Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, p. 199
  22. ^ Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, pp. 200–206
  23. ^ Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, p. 202
  24. ^ Horton, New Georgia: Pattern for Victory, pp. 105–108
  25. ^ Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, p. 211
  26. ^ Horton, New Georgia: Pattern for Victory, p. 109
  27. ^ Horton, New Georgia: Pattern for Victory, p. 118
  28. ^ Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, pp. 212–213
  29. ^ Horton, New Georgia: Pattern for Victory, pp. 118–120
  30. ^ Horton, New Georgia: Pattern for Victory, pp. 121–122
  31. ^ Horton, New Georgia: Pattern for Victory, pp. 124–128
  32. ^ Horton, New Georgia: Pattern for Victory, p. 130
  33. ^ Horton, New Georgia: Pattern for Victory, p. 135
  34. ^ Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, pp. 233–234
  35. ^ Horton, New Georgia: Pattern for Victory, p. 141
  36. ^ Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, pp. 243–250
  37. ^ Horton, New Georgia: Pattern for Victory, p. 141

References

  • Alexander, Joseph H. (2000). Edson's Raiders: The 1st Marine Raider Battalion in World War II. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-020-7.
  • Altobello, Brian (2000). Into the Shadows Furious. Presidio Press. ISBN 0-89141-717-6.
  • Bergerud, Eric M. (1997). Touched with Fire: The Land War in the South Pacific. Penguin. ISBN 0-14-024696-7.
  • Day, Ronnie (2016). New Georgia: The Second Battle for the Solomons. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0253018773.
  • Feldt, Eric Augustus (1991) [1946]. The Coastwatchers. Victoria, Australia: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-014926-0.
  • Hammel, Eric M. (2008). New Georgia, Bougainville, and Cape Gloucester: The U.S. Marines in World War II. A Pictorial Tribute. Pacifica Press. ISBN 0-7603-3296-7.
  • Hammel, Eric M. (1999). Munda Trail: The New Georgia Campaign, June – August 1943. Pacifica Press. ISBN 0-935553-38-X.
  • Hayashi, Saburo (1959). Kogun: The Japanese Army in the Pacific War. Marine Corps. Association. ASIN B000ID3YRK.
  • Horton, D. C. (1971). New Georgia: Pattern for Victory. New York: Ballantine Books.
  • Lord, Walter (2006) [1977]. Lonely Vigil; Coastwatchers of the Solomons. New York: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-466-3.
  • McGee, William L. (2002). The Solomons Campaigns, 1942–1943: From Guadalcanal to Bougainville—Pacific War Turning Point, Volume 2 (Amphibious Operations in the South Pacific in WWII). BMC Publications. ISBN 0-9701678-7-3.
  • Morison, Samuel Eliot (1958). Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, vol. 6 of History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Castle Books. ISBN 0-7858-1307-1.
  • Peatross, Oscar F. (1995). John P. McCarthy; John Clayborne (eds.). Bless 'em All: The Raider Marines of World War II. Review. ISBN 0-9652325-0-6.
  • Radike, Floyd W. (2003). Across the Dark Islands: The War in the Pacific. ISBN 0-89141-774-5.
  • Rhoades, F. A. (1982). A Diary of a Coastwatcher in the Solomons. Fredericksburg, Texas, U.S.A.: Admiral Nimitz Foundation.
  • Rottman, Gordon L. (2005). Duncan Anderson (ed.). Japanese Army in World War II: The South Pacific and New Guinea, 1942–43. Oxford and New York: Osprey. ISBN 1-84176-870-7.

External links

38th Division (Imperial Japanese Army)

The 38th Division (第38師団, Dai sanjūhachi shidan) was an infantry division of the Imperial Japanese Army, activated 30 June 1939 in Nagoya, simultaneously with the 39th, 40th and 41st Divisions. Its call sign was the Swamp Division (沼兵団, Numa Heidan).

Battle of Bairoko

The Battle of Bairoko was a battle between American and Imperial Japanese Army and Navy forces on 20 July 1943 during the New Georgia Campaign in the Solomon Islands during the Pacific War. In the battle, U.S. Marine Raiders—supported by two U.S. Army infantry battalions—attacked a Japanese garrison guarding the port of Bairoko on the Dragons Peninsula on New Georgia. The day-long assault on well-prepared Japanese defensive positions by the Americans was unsuccessful.

After calling-off the assault, the Americans withdrew to nearby Enogai. The American forces remained in the Enogai area until the end of the New Georgia Campaign. The Japanese used Bairoko to resupply and reinforce their troops who were guarding an airfield at Munda Point on New Georgia. After the U.S. and its allies successfully captured the airfield, the Japanese evacuated New Georgia and abandoned Bairoko on 24 August.

Battle of Enogai

The Battle of Enogai was a battle between United States and Imperial Japanese Army and Navy forces on 10–11 July 1943 during the New Georgia Campaign in the Solomon Islands during the Pacific War. In the battle, U.S. Marine Raiders, supported by two United States Army infantry battalions, attacked and destroyed a Japanese garrison guarding the small port of Enogai on the Dragons Peninsula on New Georgia. After conducting an unsuccessful follow-up attack on nearby Bairoko, the American forces remained in the Enogai area until the end of the New Georgia Campaign.

Battle of Munda Point

The Battle of Munda Point was a battle, from 22 July-4 August 1943, between primarily United States Army and Imperial Japanese Army forces during the New Georgia Campaign in the Solomon Islands in the Pacific War. In the battle, U.S. forces captured a Japanese airfield constructed at Munda Point on New Georgia.

After losing the battle for the airfield, Japanese forces abandoned New Georgia entirely and redeployed to defend nearby Kolombangara. The U.S. employed the airfield in its campaign as part of Operation Cartwheel to isolate the major Japanese base at Rabaul, New Britain.

Battle of Viru Harbor

The Battle of Viru Harbor was a battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II that took place on New Georgia island during the New Georgia Campaign from 28 June – 1 July 1943.

A battalion of U.S. Marine Raiders landed at a remote location, marched overland, and attacked a force of Imperial Japanese Navy and Army troops that were guarding Viru Harbor. The Marines drove the Japanese out of Viru, which was then occupied by additional U.S. Army soldiers and U.S. Navy personnel and ships.

Battle of Wickham Anchorage

The Battle of Wickham Anchorage took place during the New Georgia Campaign in the Solomon Islands during the Pacific War from 30 June -3 July 1943. In the battle, a force of United States Marine Corps Raiders and United States Army soldiers landed by ship in Wickham Anchorage on Vangunu Island and attacked a garrison of Imperial Japanese Navy and Army troops. The purpose of the attack by the U.S. was to secure the lines of communication and supply between Allied forces involved in the New Georgia Campaign and Allied bases in the southern Solomons. The U.S. forces were successful in driving the Japanese garrison from the area and securing the anchorage.

DeWitt Peck

DeWitt Peck (May 29, 1894 – January 13, 1973) was a decorated officer of the United States Marine Corps with the rank of major general, who served as the 18th Assistant to the Major General Commandant of the Marine Corps during World War II. He later commanded the 1st Marine Division during Operation Beleaguer within Chinese Civil War.

Frederick Ashworth

Frederick Lincoln "Dick" Ashworth (24 January 1912 – 3 December 2005) was a United States Navy officer who served as the weaponeer on the B-29 Bockscar that dropped a Fat Man atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan on 9 August 1945 during World War II.

A 1933 graduate of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, Ashworth commanded Torpedo Squadron Eleven (VT-11), a Grumman TBF Avenger unit based on Guadalcanal that flew patrol, search, spotting, strike, and night mine-laying missions in support of the New Georgia Campaign in the Solomon Islands. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism while carrying out these missions. He then participated in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaign as aviation officer on the staff of Vice Admiral Richmond K. Turner's V Amphibious Force.

Rotated back to the United States in June 1944, Ashworth became senior naval aviator at the Naval Proving Ground in Dahlgren, Virginia. In November 1944 he was assigned to the Manhattan Project, and supervised the testing of atomic bomb components at Wendover. In February 1945, he travelled to Guam, where he met Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, and selected Tinian as a base of operations for the 509th Composite Group. After the war he selected Bikini Atoll as the site for Operation Crossroads.

Remaining in the navy after the war, Ashworth rose to the rank of vice admiral in May 1966. He was Commandant of Midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy in 1958, and served as commander of the United States Sixth Fleet from September 1966 to April 1967. He retired from the navy in 1968, and died in 2005.

James Dalton II

James Leo Dalton II (January 20, 1910 – May 16, 1945) was a general and commander of United States Army forces during World War II. He graduated from West Point in 1933 and earned the Silver Star during the strategically significant Guadalcanal Campaign in which he commanded the 161st Infantry Regiment as a colonel.

Dalton later commanded the 161st during the New Georgia Campaign in 1943 and Battle of Luzon in 1945 before being promoted and reassigned as assistant commander of the 25th Infantry Division. He was killed by a Japanese sniper during the Battle of Balete Pass on May 16, 1945.

Landings on Rendova

The Landings on Rendova was a military amphibious assault on Rendova Island in the Solomon Islands on 30 June 1943 by United States Army and Navy forces during the New Georgia Campaign of the Pacific War. In the assault, U.S. forces overwhelmed a small Japanese military garrison and secured the island. The U.S. occupied the island to use it as a staging and artillery base to support an offensive against Japanese forces guarding an airfield at Munda Point on nearby New Georgia.

Marine Raiders

The Marine Raiders were elite units established by the United States Marine Corps during World War II to conduct special amphibious light infantry warfare, particularly in landing in rubber boats and operating behind the lines. "Edson's" Raiders of 1st Marine Raiders Battalion and "Carlson's" Raiders of 2nd Marine Raiders Battalion are said to be the first United States special operations forces to form and see combat in World War II.

However, despite the original intent for Raiders to serve in a special operations capacity, most combat operations saw the Raiders employed as conventional infantry. This, combined with the resentment within the rest of the Marine Corps that the Raiders were an "elite force within an elite force", led to the eventual abandonment of the experiment.

Four Raider battalions served operationally but all were disbanded on 8 January 1944 when the Corps made the doctrinal decision that the Raiders had outlived their original mission. The changing nature of the war in the Pacific, with many large-scale amphibious assaults to come against well-defended islands, negated the requirements for small light units that could strike deep into enemy territory.

On 1 February 1944, the 1st Raider Regiment was redesignated the 4th Marine Regiment, thus assuming the lineage of the regiment that had garrisoned Shanghai in the interwar years and fought so gallantly on Bataan and Corregidor. The 1st, 3rd, and 4th Raider Battalions became respectively the 1st, 3rd, and 2nd Battalions of the 4th Marines. The 2nd Raider Battalion filled out the regimental weapons company. Personnel in the Raider Training Center transferred to the newly formed 5th Marine Division. Leavened with new men, the 4th Marines went on to earn additional distinctions in the assaults on Guam and Okinawa. At the close of the war, the regiment joined the occupation forces in Japan and participated in the release from POW compounds of the remaining members of the old 4th Marines.

In 2014, the Marine Special Operations Regiment, serving under the United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC), was renamed the Marine Raider Regiment. This change was implemented to better show that modern Marine special operations forces trace their lineage and heritage back to the World War II Raiders. Individual Marines of the Marine Raider Regiment are once again called "Marine Raiders".

New Georgia

New Georgia, with an area of 2,037 km2, is the largest of the islands in Western Province, Solomon Islands, and the 200th-largest island in the world.

New Georgia counterattack

The New Georgia counterattack was a counterattack on 17–18 July 1943 by mainly Imperial Japanese Army troops against United States Army forces during the New Georgia Campaign in the Solomon Islands. The U.S. and its allies were attempting to capture an airfield constructed by the Japanese at Munda Point on New Georgia.

The Americans landed on New Georgia on 2 July 1943 and made limited gains in their drive toward Munda Point. The objective of the Japanese counterattack was to destroy the American forces on New Georgia by attacking their exposed flank and rear areas. The Japanese succeeded in infiltrating and attacking several isolated outposts in the American rear areas, but failed to inflict significant casualties on the American forces. After the Japanese counterattack was defeated, the Americans and their allies captured the airfield in the Battle of Munda Point.

Seghe Airport

Seghe Airport is an airport on Seghe in the Solomon Islands (IATA: EGM, ICAO: AGGS).

The Segi Point area was secured by the 4th Marine Raider Battalion on 30 June 1943 in the opening phase of the New Georgia Campaign. The 47th Naval Construction Battalion (Seabees) landed with the Marines and immediately began construction of a fighter airstrip. Bad weather and poor soil conditions delayed construction, but by 18 July a coral-surfaced 3,300 feet (1,000 m) by 150 feet (46 m) runway was ready for use. By the end of July taxiways and revetments had been completed. In August the runway was widened to 200 feet (61 m) and two 42,000 US gallons (160,000 l; 35,000 imp gal) gas tanks had been constructed and by September 52 hardstands had been completed.The field was then used as a fighter strip to support the Rendova and Munda Point Landings.

USAAF units based at Segi Point included:

44th Pursuit Squadron operating P-40sUS Navy units based at Segi Point included:

VB-305 operating SBDs

VF-33 operating F6Fs

VF-38 operating F6Fs

VF-40 operating F6Fs

USS LST-460

USS LST-460 was a United States Navy LST-1-class tank landing ship used in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater during World War II. As with many of her class, the ship was never named. Instead, she was referred to by her hull designation.

USS LST-472

USS LST-472 was a United States Navy LST-1-class tank landing ship used in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater during World War II. As with many of her class, the ship was never named. Instead, she was referred to by her hull designation.

VMR-152

Marine Transport Squadron 152 (VMR-152) was an air transport of the United States Marine Corps that was responsible for the movement of personnel, equipment, and supplies. The squadron flew fixed-wing cargo aircraft to include the R4D Skytrain and the R4Q Flying Boxcar. The squadron saw combat during World War II and the Korean War with their most notable contributions coming during the Battle of Guadalcanal and during the Marine breakout during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. The squadron was decommissioned in the late 1950s.

Vangunu

Vangunu is an island, part of the New Georgia Islands in the Solomon Islands. It is located between New Georgia and Nggatokae Island. To the north and east of the island is Marovo Lagoon. The island has an area of 509 square kilometres (197 sq mi).

XIV Corps (United States)

XIV Corps was a corps-sized formation of the United States Army, originally constituted on 1 October 1933 in the Organized Reserves. The history of XIV Corps in World War II dates from December 1942. Then, under Major General Alexander Patch, the XIV Army Corps directed the American 23rd Infantry Division and 25th Infantry Divisions, the 2nd Marine Division, and the 147th Infantry Regimental Combat Team in the final drive that expelled the Japanese from Guadalcanal early in February 1943. The 70th Coast Artillery Regiment (Anti-Aircraft) landed on 23 May 1943. From air fields guarded by the XIV Army Corps, Allied aircraft began the neutralization of the enemy's vital Munda airfields on New Georgia.

Major General Oscar Griswold succeeded Patch as XIV Corps commander on 26 April 1943. In a lightning campaign, which began 30 June 1943 with the invasion of Rendova Islands, General Griswold's forces, which included the 43rd (New England) and the 37th (Buckeye) Infantry Divisions with elements of the 25th Division, seized New Georgia and the important Munda airfield on 6 August. Mopping up the adjacent islands was completed and the New Georgia campaign ended on 6 October 1943. American and New Zealand aircraft operating from the Munda field began the neutralization of Kahili and other enemy airfields in Bougainville.

XIV Corps defeated the once fine Japanese 17th Army on Bougainville in March 1944. Part of this army was the Sixth Infantry Division, which was considered Japan's best division in the early Chinese campaigns and played a major part in the Rape of the Chinese city of Nanking in 1937.

In the Bougainville campaign (1943-45), the 37th and Americal Divisions, and two battalions of the Fiji military forces, were the principal combat units of XIV Corps. Elements of the 93rd (Negro) Infantry Division arrived after the peak of the battle and assisted in harassing retreating Japanese troops. There were 65,000 Japanese on Bougainville when the Americans landed, of whom some 8,200 died in combat and 16,600 from illness.The three airfields in the Bougainville perimeter were used as bases for allied aircraft that reduced the once mighty Japanese air and naval base of Rabaul, New Britain, to an impotent outpost of the enemy's island empire. The first raid on Truk, a large Japanese air and naval base in the Central Pacific, was staged through Bougainville by Liberators of the Thirteenth Air Force.

From the Solomons campaigns, XIV Army Corps gained the nickname "Kings of the Solomons".

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