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.[7]

According to John Laffin, the campaign "was arguably the most arduous fought by any Allied troops during World War II".[8]

1942

Strategic situation

Eastern New Guinea and New Britain 1944
Papua New Guinea, the Bismarcks and the Northern Solomons

The struggle for New Guinea began with the capture by the Japanese of the city of Rabaul at the northeastern tip of New Britain Island in January 1942 (the Allies responded with multiple bombing raids, of which the Action off Bougainville was one). Rabaul overlooks Simpson Harbor, a considerable natural anchorage, and was ideal for the construction of airfields. Over the next year, the Japanese built up the area into a major air and naval base.

The Japanese 8th Area Army (equivalent to a Euroamerican army), under General Hitoshi Imamura at Rabaul, was responsible for both the New Guinea and Solomon Islands campaigns. The Japanese 18th Army (equivalent to a Euroamerican corps), under Lieutenant General Hatazō Adachi, was responsible for Japanese operations on mainland New Guinea.

The colonial capital of Port Moresby on the south coast of Papua was the strategic key for the Japanese in this area of operations. Capturing it would both neutralize the Allies' principal forward base and serve as a springboard for a possible invasion of Australia.[9] For the same reasons, General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander Allied Forces South West Pacific Area was determined to hold it. MacArthur was further determined to conquer all of New Guinea in his progress toward the eventual recapture of the Philippines.[10] General Headquarters Southwest Pacific Area Operational Instruction No.7 of 25 May 1942, issued by Commander-Allied-Forces, General Douglas MacArthur, placed all Australian and US Army, Air Force and Navy Forces in the Port Moresby Area under the control of New Guinea Force.[11]

Japanese seizure of Lae and Salamaua

Due north of Port Moresby, on the northeast coast of Papua, are Huon Gulf and the Huon Peninsula. The Japanese entered Lae and Salamaua, two locations on Huon Gulf, unopposed in early March 1942.[12] MacArthur would have liked to deny this area to the Japanese, but he had neither sufficient air nor naval forces to undertake a counterlanding. The Japanese at Rabaul and other bases on New Britain would have easily overwhelmed any such effort (by mid-September, MacArthur's entire naval force under Vice Admiral Arthur S. Carpender consisted entirely of 5 cruisers, 8 destroyers, 20 submarines 7 small craft).[13] The only Allied response was a bombing raid of Lae and Salamaua by aircraft flying over the Owen Stanley Range from the carriers USS Lexington and USS Yorktown, leading the Japanese to reinforce these sites.[12]

Japanese attempt on Port Moresby

Operation Mo was the designation given by the Japanese to their initial plan to take possession of Port Moresby. Their operation plan decreed a five-pronged attack: one task force to establish a seaplane base at Tulagi in the lower Solomons, one to establish a seaplane base in the Louisiade Archipelago off the eastern tip of New Guinea, one of transports to land troops near Port Moresby, one with a light carrier to cover the landing, and one with two fleet carriers to sink the Allied forces sent in response.[14] In the resulting 4–8 May 1942 Battle of the Coral Sea, the Allies suffered higher losses in ships, but achieved a crucial strategic victory by turning the Japanese landing force back, thereby removing the threat to Port Moresby, at least for the time being.[15]

After this failure, the Japanese decided on a longer term, two-pronged assault for their next attempt on Port Moresby. Forward positions would first be established at Milne Bay, located in the forked eastern end of the Papuan peninsula, and at Buna, a village on the northeast coast of Papua about halfway between Huon Gulf and Milne Bay. Simultaneous operations from these two locations, one amphibious and one overland, would converge on the target city.[16]

Crossing the Owen Stanleys

Buna was easily taken as the Allies had no military presence there (MacArthur wisely chose not to attempt an occupation by paratroopers since any such force would have been easily wiped out by the Japanese). The Japanese occupied the village with an initial force of 1,500 on 21 July and by 22 August had 11,430 men under arms at Buna. Then began the grueling Kokoda Track campaign, a brutal experience for both the Japanese and Australian troops involved. On 17 September, the Japanese had reached the village of Ioribaiwa, just 30 kilometres (20 mi) from the Allied airdrome at Port Moresby. The Australians held firm and began their counterdrive on 26 September. "...the Japanese retreat down the Kokoda Trail had turned into a rout. Thousands perished from starvation and disease; the commanding general, Horii, was drowned."[17] Thus was the overland threat to Port Moresby permanently removed.[18]

Air operations

Since Port Moresby was the only port supporting operations in Papua, its defence was critical to the campaign. The air defences consisted of P-39 and P-40 fighters. RAAF radar could not provide sufficient warning of Japanese attacks, so reliance was placed on coastwatchers and spotters in the hills until an American radar unit arrived in September with better equipment.[19] Japanese bombers were often escorted by fighters which came in at 30,000 ft (9,100 m)—too high to be intercepted by the P-39s and P-40s—giving the Japanese an altitude advantage in air combat.[20] The cost to the Allied fighters was high. By June, 20–25 P-39s had been lost in air combat, while three more had been destroyed on the ground and eight had been destroyed in landings by accident. The Australian and American anti-aircraft gunners of the Composite Anti-Aircraft Defences played a crucial part. The gunners got a lot of practice; Port Moresby suffered its 78th raid on 17 August 1942.[21] A gradual improvement in their numbers and skill forced the Japanese bombers up to higher altitude, where they were less accurate, and then, in August, to raiding by night.[19]

Although RAAF PBY Catalinas and Lockheed Hudsons were based at Port Moresby, because of the Japanese air attacks, long-range bombers like B-17s, B-25s, and B-26s could not be safely based there and were instead staged through from bases in Australia. This resulted in considerable fatigue for the air crews. Due to USAAF doctrine and a lack of long-range escorts, long-range bomber raids on targets like Rabaul went in unescorted and suffered heavy losses, prompting severe criticism of Lieutenant General George Brett by war correspondents for misusing his forces.[22] But fighters did provide cover for the transports, and for bombers when their targets were within range.[23] Aircraft based at Port Moresby and Milne Bay fought to prevent the Japanese from basing aircraft at Buna, and attempted to prevent the Japanese reinforcement of the Buna area.[24] As the Japanese ground forces pressed toward Port Moresby, the Allied Air Forces struck supply points along the Kokoda Track. Japanese makeshift bridges were attacked by P-40s with 500 lb (230 kg) bombs.[25]

Allied capture of Milne Bay

While it was beyond MacArthur's capabilities to deny Buna to the Japanese, the same could not be said of Milne Bay, which was easily accessible by Allied naval forces. In early June, US Army engineers, Australian infantry and an anti-aircraft battery were landed near the Lever Brothers coconut plantation at Gili Gili, and work was begun on an airfield. By 22 August, about 8,500 Australians and 1,300 Americans were on site.[26] The Japanese arrived and the 25 August – 7 September Battle of Milne Bay was underway. Historian Samuel Eliot Morison summed up the results this way:

...the enemy had shot his bolt; he never showed up again in these waters. The Battle for Milne Bay was a small one as World War II engagements went, but very important. Except for the initial assault on Wake Island, this was the first time that a Japanese amphibious operation had been thrown for a loss ... Furthermore, the Milne Bay affair demonstrated once again that an amphibious assault without air protection, and with an assault force inferior to that of the defenders, could not succeed.[27]

The D'Entrecasteaux Islands lie directly off the northeast coast of the lower portion of the Papuan peninsula. The westernmost island of this group, Goodenough, had been occupied in August 1942 by 353 stranded troops from bombed Japanese landing craft. The destroyer Yayoi, sent to recover these men, was itself bombed and sunk on 11 September. A force of 800 Australian troops landed on 22 October on either side of the Japanese position. Beleaguered, the survivors of the Japanese garrison were evacuated by submarine on the night of 26 October. The Allies proceeded to turn the island into an air base.[28]

Allied recapture of Buna and Gona

The Japanese drive to conquer all of New Guinea had been decisively stopped. MacArthur was now determined to liberate the island as a stepping-stone to the reconquest of the Philippines. MacArthur's rollback began with the 16 November 1942 – 22 January 1943 Battle of Buna-Gona. The experience of the green US 32nd Infantry Division, just out of training camp and utterly unschooled in jungle warfare, was nearly disastrous. Instances were noted of officers completely out of their depth, of men eating meals when they should have been on the firing line, even of cowardice. MacArthur relieved the division commander and on 30 November instructed Lieutenant General Robert L. Eichelberger, commander of the US I Corps, to go to the front personally with the charge "to remove all officers who won't fight ... if necessary, put sergeants in charge of battalions ... I want you to take Buna, or not come back alive."[29]

The Australian 7th Division under the command of Major General George Alan Vasey, along with the revitalized US 32nd Division, restarted the Allied offensive. Gona fell to the Australians on 9 December 1942, Buna to the US 32nd on 2 January 1943, and Sanananda, located between the two larger villages, fell to the Australians on 22 January.[30]

Operation Lilliput (18 December 1942 – June 1943) was an ongoing resupply operation ferrying troops and supplies from Milne Bay, at the tip of the Papuan Peninsula, to Oro Bay, a little more than halfway between Milne Bay and the Buna-Gona area.

1943

Holding Wau

Deadjapanese
Two dead Japanese soldiers in a water filled shell hole somewhere in New Guinea

Wau is a village in the interior of the Papuan peninsula, approximately 50 kilometres (30 mi) southwest of Salamaua. An airfield had been built there during an area gold rush in the 1920s and 1930s. This airfield was of great value to the Australians during the fighting for northeast Papua.[31]

Once the Japanese had decided to give up on Guadalcanal, the capture of Port Moresby loomed even larger in their strategic thinking. Taking the airfield at Wau was a crucial step in this process, and to this end, the 51st Division was transferred from Indochina and placed under General Hitoshi Imamura's Eighth Area Army at Rabaul; one regiment arrived at Lae in early January 1943. In addition, about 5,400 survivors of the Japanese defeat at Buna-Gona were moved into the Lae-Salamaua area. Opposing these forces were the Australian 2/5th, 2/6th and 2/7th Battalions along with Lieutenant Colonel Norman Fleay's Kanga Force.[32]

The Australians decisively turned back the Japanese assault in the ensuing 29–31 January 1943 Battle of Wau. "Within a few days, the enemy was retreating from the Wau Valley, where he had suffered a serious defeat, harassed all the way back to Mubo..."[33] About one week later, the Japanese completed their evacuation of Guadalcanal.

Final Japanese drive on Wau

General Imamura and his naval counterpart at Rabaul, Admiral Jinichi Kusaka, commander Southeast Area Fleet, resolved to reinforce their ground forces at Lae for one final all-out attempt against Wau. If the transports succeeded in staying behind a weather front and were protected the whole way by fighters from the various airfields surrounding the Bismarck Sea, they might make it to Lae with an acceptable level of loss, i.e., at worst half the task force would be sunk en route.[34] It is indicative of the extent to which Japanese ambitions had fallen at this point in the war that a 50% loss of ground troops aboard ship was considered acceptable.

A20BismarckSea
An Allied A-20 bomber attacks Japanese shipping during the Battle of the Bismarck Sea, March, 1943

Three factors conspired to create disaster for the Japanese. First, they had woefully underestimated the strength of the Allied air forces. Second, the Allies had become convinced that the Japanese were preparing a major seaborne reinforcement and so had stepped up their air searches. Most important of all, the bombers of MacArthur's air forces, under the command of Lieutenant General George C. Kenney, had been modified to enable new offensive tactics. Their noses had been refitted with eight 50-caliber machine guns for strafing slow-moving ships on the high seas. In addition, their bomb bays were filled with 500-pound bombs to be used in the newly devised practice of skip bombing.[35]

About 6,900 troops aboard eight transports, escorted by eight destroyers, departed Rabaul at midnight 28 February under the command of Rear Admiral Masatomi Kimura.[36] Through the afternoon of 1 March, the overcast weather held at which point everything began to go wrong for the Japanese. The weather changed direction and Kimura's slow-moving task force was spotted by an Allied scout plane. By the time the Allied bombers and PT boats finished their work on 3 March, Kimura had lost all eight transports and four of his eight destroyers.[37]

...planes and PTs went about the sickening business of killing survivors in boats, rafts or wreckage. Fighters mercilessly strafed anything on the surface ... The PTs turned their guns on, and hurled depth charges at the three boats which, with over a hundred men on board, sank. It was a grisly task, but a military necessity since Japanese soldiers do not surrender and within swimming distance of shore, they could not be allowed to land and join the Lae garrison.[38]

The remaining destroyers with about 2,700 surviving troops limped back to Rabaul. "The enemy never again risked a transport larger than a small coaster or barge in waters shadowed by American planes. His contemplated offensive against Wau died a-borning."[38]

Operation I-Go

Isoroku Yamamoto
Fleet Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto
Ozawa11
Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa
Jinichi Kusaka
Rear Admiral Jinichi Kusaka

Fleet Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto promised the emperor that he would pay back the Allies for the disaster at the Bismarck Sea with a series of massive air strikes. For this, he ordered the air arm of Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa's Third Fleet carriers to reinforce the Eleventh Air Fleet at Rabaul. To demonstrate the seriousness of the effort to the Supreme War Council, multiple shifts of high-ranking personnel were also effected: Both Yamamoto and Ozawa moved their headquarters to Rabaul; and Eighth Fleet commander Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa as well as General Imamura's chief of staff were sent to Tokyo with advice and explanations for the respective General Staffs (Admiral Tomoshige Samejima replaced Mikawa as Eight Fleet commander).[39]

I-Go was to be carried out in two phases, one against the lower Solomons and one against Papua.

The first strike, on 7 April, was against Allied shipping in the waters between Guadalcanal and Tulagi. At 177 planes, this was the largest Japanese air attack since Pearl Harbor.[40] Yamamoto then turned his attention to New Guinea: 94 planes struck Oro Bay on 11 April; 174 planes hit Port Moresby on 12 April; and in the largest raid of all, 188 aircraft struck Milne Bay on 14 April.[41]

I-Go demonstrated that the Japanese command was not learning the lessons of air power that the Allies were. The Allied reduction of Rabaul was only made possible by relentless air strikes that took place day after day, but Yamamoto thought the damage inflicted by a few attacks of large formations would derail Allied plans long enough for Japan to prepare a defense in depth. Also, Yamamoto accepted at face value his fliers' over-optimistic reports of damage: they reported a score of one cruiser, two destroyers and 25 transports, as well as 175 Allied planes, a figure that should certainly have aroused some skepticism. Actual Allied losses amounted to one destroyer, one oiler, one corvette, two cargo ships and approximately 25 aircraft.[42] These meager results were not commensurate with either the resources expended or the expectations that had been promoted.

Allied strategy toward Rabaul

The umbrella term for the series of strategic actions taken by the Allies to reduce and capture the vast Japanese naval and air facilities at Rabaul was Operation Cartwheel. Two major moves were planned for the end of June:

Eventually, the Joint Chiefs of Staff realized that a landing and siege of "Fortress Rabaul" would be far too costly, and that the Allies' ultimate strategic purposes could be achieved by simply neutralizing and bypassing it. At the Quebec Conference in August 1943, the leaders of the Allied nations agreed to this change in strategy.

Aust soldiers Finisterres
Australian soldiers resting in the Finisterre Ranges of New Guinea while en route to the front line
Japanese flags are displayed by the weary Marines
Marines of the 1st Marine Division display Japanese flags captured during the Battle of Cape Gloucester

1944–1945

LVTs head for the invasion beaches at Humboldt Bay, New Guinea, on 22 April 1944 (SC 264436)
22 April 1944. US LVTs (Landing Vehicles Tracked) in the foreground head for the invasion beaches at Humboldt Bay, Netherlands New Guinea, during the Hollandia landing as the cruisers USS Boise (firing tracer shells, right center) and USS Phoenix bombard the shore. (Photographer: Tech 4 Henry C. Manger.)

Notes

  1. ^ Biography of Lieutenant-General Heisuke Abe
  2. ^ Born in 1886 and died in 1943 after suffering from Dracunculiasis at Wewak.[1]
  3. ^ Tanaka 1980, p. ii.
  4. ^ New Guinea: The US Army Campaigns of World War II. 8,500 prior to January 1943, 24,000 between January 1943 and April 1944, and 9,500 from April 1944 to the end of the war. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
  5. ^ "Statistical and accounting branch office of the adjutant general p. 94"
  6. ^ Fenton, Damien (1 June 2004). How many died? (QnA) Australian War Memorial.
  7. ^ Stevens, The Naval Campaigns for New Guinea paragraph 30 Retrieved 10 March 2016.
  8. ^ Laffin 1986, p. 303
  9. ^ Morison 1949, p. 10
  10. ^ Morison 1950, pp. 31–33
  11. ^ GHQ SWPA.
  12. ^ a b Morison 1950, p. 31
  13. ^ Morison 1950, p. 32
  14. ^ Morison 1949, pp. 10–11
  15. ^ Morison 1949, p. 63
  16. ^ Morison 1950, p. 33
  17. ^ Morison 1950, p. 43
  18. ^ Morison 1950, pp. 33–34
  19. ^ a b Craven & Cate 1948, pp. 476–477.
  20. ^ Watson 1944, p. 20.
  21. ^ Watson 1944, p. 31.
  22. ^ Watson 1944, p. 24.
  23. ^ Watson 1944, p. 38.
  24. ^ Watson 1944, pp. 31–33.
  25. ^ Watson 1944, p. 42.
  26. ^ Morison 1950, pp. 36–37
  27. ^ Morison 1950, p. 39
  28. ^ Morison 1950, pp. 39–40
  29. ^ Vader, p. 90
  30. ^ Vader, p. 102
  31. ^ Morison 1950, p. 54
  32. ^ Vader, p. 106
  33. ^ Vader, p. 108
  34. ^ Morison 1950, pp. 54–55
  35. ^ Morison 1950, pp. 56–57
  36. ^ Morison 1950, p. 55
  37. ^ Morison 1950, pp. 58–62
  38. ^ a b Morison 1950, p. 62
  39. ^ Morison 1950, pp. 117–118
  40. ^ Morison 1950, pp. 120–123
  41. ^ Morison 1950, pp. 125–126
  42. ^ Morison 1950, pp. 127
  43. ^ Morison 1950, pp. 132–133

References

  • "Biography of Lieutenant-General Heisuke Abe – (阿部平輔) – (あべ へいすけ) (1886–1943), Japan". Generals.dk. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  • Craven, Wesley; Cate, James (1948). Army Air Forces in World War II, Volume 1: Plans and Early Operations—January 1938 to August 1942. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. OCLC 704158.
  • GHQ SWPA, Establishment of New Guinea Force and Miscellaneous GHQ Correspondence Relative to NGF, Australian Army, retrieved 15 November 2015
  • Laffin, John (1986). Brassey's Battles: 3,500 Years of Conflict, Campaigns and Wars from A-Z. London: Brassey's Defence Publishers. ISBN 0080311857.
  • Morison, Samuel Eliot (1949). Coral Sea, Midway and Submarine Actions, vol. 4 of History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Boston: Little, Brown and Co. ISBN 0-316-58304-9.
  • Morison, Samuel Eliot (1950). Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, vol. 6 of History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Edison, New Jersey: Castle Books. ISBN 0-7858-1307-1.
  • Tanaka, Kengoro (1980). Operations of the Imperial Japanese Armed Forces in the Papua New Guinea Theater During World War II. Tokyo, Japan: Japan Papua New Guinea Goodwill Society. OCLC 9206229.
  • Vader, John (1971). New Guinea: The Tide Is Stemmed. New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-0-3450-2223-3.
  • Watson, Richard L. Jr (1944). USAAF Historical Study No. 17: Air Action in the Papuan Campaign, 21 July 1942 to 23 January 1943 (pdf). Washington, DC: USAAF Historical Office. OCLC 22357584.

Further reading

  • Anderson, Charles R. Papua. World War II Campaign Brochures. Washington D.C.: United States Army Center of Military History. CMH Pub 72-7.
  • Dear, I.C.B.; Foot, M.R.D., eds. (2001). "New Guinea campaign". The Oxford Companion to World War II. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19860-446-4.
  • Dexter, David (1961). The New Guinea Offensives. Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 1 – Army. Volume 6. Canberra: Australian War Memorial. OCLC 2028994.
  • Drea, Edward J. (1998). In the Service of the Emperor: Essays on the Imperial Japanese Army. Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-1708-0.
  • Drea, Edward J. Papua. World War II Campaign Brochures. Washington D.C.: United States Army Center of Military History. CMH Pub 72-9.
  • Gailey, Harry A. (2004). MacArthur's Victory: The War In New Guinea 1943–1944. New York: Random House. ISBN.
  • Hungerford, T.A.G. (1952). The Ridge and the River. Sydney: Angus & Robertson; Republished by Penguin, 1992. ISBN 0-14-300174-4.
  • Japanese Research Division (1950). Sumatra Invasion and Southwest Area Naval Mopping-Up Operations, January 1942 – May 1942. Japanese Monographs, No. 79A. General Headquarters Far East Command, Foreign Histories Division.
  • Leary, William M. (2004). We Shall Return! MacArthur's Commanders and the Defeat of Japan, 1942–1945. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-9105-X.
  • McCarthy, Dudley (1959). South-West Pacific Area – First Year. Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 1 – Army. Volume 5. Canberra: Australian War Memorial. OCLC 3134247.
  • Taafe, Stephen R. (2006). MacArthur's Jungle War: The 1944 New Guinea Campaign. Lawrence, Kansas, U.S.A.: University Press Of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-0870-2.
  • Zaloga, Stephen J. (2007). Japanese Tanks 1939–45. Osprey. ISBN 978-1-84603-091-8.

External links

Battle of Biak

The Battle of Biak was part of the New Guinea campaign of World War II, fought between the United States Army and the Japanese Army from 27 May to 17 August 1944. It was part of General Douglas MacArthur's Southwest Pacific command's offensive drive to clear New Guinea in preparation for an invasion of the Philippines. It was the first major effort by the Japanese to allow uncontested landings for the purpose of creating a kill zone inland.

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.

Eighteenth Army (Japan)

The Japanese 18th Army (第18軍, Dai-jyūhachi gun) was a field army of the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.

Landing at Aitape

The Landing at Aitape (Operation Persecution) was a battle of the Western New Guinea campaign of World War II. American and Allied forces undertook an amphibious landing on 22 April 1944 at Aitape on northern coast of Papua New Guinea. The amphibious landing was undertaken simultaneously with the amphibious landings of Battle of Hollandia at Hollandia to isolate the Japanese 18th Army at Wewak.

Military history of the United States during World War II

The military history of the United States in World War II covers the war against Germany, Italy, and Japan, starting with the 7 December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. During the first two years of World War II, the United States had maintained formal neutrality as made official in the Quarantine Speech delivered by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937, while supplying Britain, the Soviet Union, and China with war material through the Lend-Lease Act which was signed into law on 11 March 1941, as well as deploying the U.S. military to replace the British invasion forces in Iceland. Following the "Greer incident" Roosevelt publicly confirmed the "shoot on sight" order on 11 September 1941, effectively declaring naval war on Germany and Italy in the Battle of the Atlantic. In the Pacific Theater, there was unofficial early U.S. combat activity such as the Flying Tigers.

During the war, over 16 million Americans served in the United States Armed Forces, with 405,399 killed in action and 671,278 wounded. There were also 130,201 American prisoners of war, of whom 116,129 returned home after the war. Key civilian advisors to President Roosevelt included Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, who mobilized the nation's industries and induction centers to supply the Army, commanded by General George Marshall and the Army Air Forces under General Hap Arnold. The Navy, led by Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox and Admiral Ernest King, proved more autonomous. Overall priorities were set by Roosevelt and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, chaired by William Leahy. Highest priority went to the defeat of Germany in Europe, but first the war against Japan in the Pacific was more urgent after the sinking of the main battleship fleet at Pearl Harbor.

Admiral King put Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, based in Hawaii, in charge of the Pacific War against Japan. The result was a series of some of the most famous naval battles in history. The Imperial Japanese Navy had the advantage, taking the Philippines as well as British and Dutch possessions, and threatening Australia but in June 1942, its main carriers were sunk during the Battle of Midway, and the Americans seized the initiative. The Pacific War became one of island hopping, so as to move air bases closer and closer to Japan. The Army, based in Australia under General Douglas MacArthur, steadily advanced across New Guinea to the Philippines, with plans to invade the Japanese home islands in late 1945. With its merchant fleet sunk by American submarines, Japan ran short of aviation gasoline and fuel oil, as the U.S. Navy in June 1944 captured islands within bombing range of the Japanese home islands. Strategic bombing directed by General Curtis Lemay destroyed all the major Japanese cities, as the U.S. captured Okinawa after heavy losses in spring 1945. With the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and an invasion and Soviet intervention imminent, Japan surrendered.

The war against Germany involved aid to Britain, her allies, and the Soviet Union, with the U.S. supplying munitions until it could ready an invasion force. U.S. forces were first tested to a limited degree in the North African Campaign and then employed more significantly with British Forces in Italy in 1943–45, where U.S. forces, representing about a third of the Allied forces deployed, bogged down after Italy surrendered and the Germans took over. Finally the main invasion of France took place in June 1944, under General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Meanwhile, the U.S. Army Air Forces and the British Royal Air Force engaged in the area bombardment of German cities and systematically targeted German transportation links and synthetic oil plants, as it knocked out what was left of the Luftwaffe post Battle of Britain in 1944. With the Soviets unstoppable in the east, and the Allies unstoppable in the west, Germany was squeezed to death. Berlin fell to the Soviets in May 1945, and with Adolf Hitler dead, the Germans surrendered.

The military effort was strongly supported by civilians on the home front, who provided the military personnel, the munitions, the money, and the morale to fight the war to victory. World War II cost the United States an estimated $341 billion in 1945 dollars – equivalent to 74% of America's GDP and expenditures during the war. In 2015 dollars, the war cost over $4.5 trillion.

No. 15 Squadron RAAF

No. 15 Squadron was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) light bomber and maritime patrol squadron of World War II. The squadron was formed in January 1944 and initially flew anti-submarine patrols off the east coast of Australia. From September that year elements of the squadron took part in the New Guinea Campaign, and the main body of the squadron moved to New Guinea in March 1945. Its duties in New Guinea included anti-submarine and anti-barge patrols as well as attacking Japanese positions. No. 15 Squadron was demobilised after the end of the war, and was formally disbanded in March 1946.

No. 23 Squadron RAAF

No. 23 (City of Brisbane) Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is a non-flying base operations and training squadron headquartered at RAAF Base Amberley near Brisbane, Queensland. The squadron was formed in 1937 and saw action against the Japanese during World War II as a bomber squadron. Operating from Archerfield during the early stages of the war, the squadron undertook maritime patrols off Australia's east coast before converting to a dive-bomber role and taking part in the New Guinea campaign. Later in the war, the squadron converted to Liberator heavy bombers and flew missions against Japanese targets in the Netherlands East Indies. After the war, No. 23 Squadron was used to reform No. 6 Squadron and was then re-raised as a Citizens Air Force unit based in Brisbane. Until 1960, the squadron flew jet fighter aircraft before converting to a ground support role and now forms part of the RAAF's Combat Support Group.

No. 2 Air Ambulance Unit RAAF

No. 2 Air Ambulance Unit RAAF was a Royal Australian Air Force air ambulance unit of World War II. The Unit was formed on 1 March 1942 at RAAF Base Fairbairn and flew its first operational sortie on 7 March. No. 2 Air Ambulance Unit operated throughout Australia during 1942 and began flights to New Guinea in 1943.

Although it remained based in Australia, No. 2 Air Ambulance Unit supported the Allied forces engaged in the New Guinea campaign until the end of the war. Following the end of the war the Unit flew Australian prisoners of war home until November 1945 when its aircraft were transferred to No. 36 Squadron's Air Ambulance Flight. No. 2 Air Ambulance Unit was disbanded on 8 December 1945.

No. 71 Wing RAAF

No. 71 Wing was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) wing of World War II. It was formed in February 1943 at Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea, as part of No. 9 Operational Group. The wing initially comprised two squadrons of P-40 Kittyhawks, one of Lockheed Hudsons, and one of Bristol Beauforts. The wing's mainstay soon became the Beaufort, which eventually equipped five squadrons attached to the formation. No. 71 Wing took part in the New Guinea campaign under the auspices of No. 9 Group, before transferring to No. 10 Operational Group for the Western New Guinea campaign during 1944. It then returned to the control of Northern Command (formerly No. 9 Group) to support Australian ground forces in the Aitape–Wewak campaign, and completed its final combat mission only hours before the Japanese surrender in August 1945. No. 71 Wing remained in New Guinea following the war and was disbanded in January 1946.

No. 73 Wing RAAF

No. 73 Wing was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) wing of World War II. It was formed in February 1943 at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, as part of No. 9 Operational Group. The wing initially comprised three attack squadrons flying CAC Wirraways, Douglas Bostons, and Bristol Beaufighters, with which it took part in the New Guinea campaign until mid-year. It was then reorganised with three fighter squadrons operating P-40 Kittyhawks and Supermarine Spitfires; in this form it saw action in the New Britain and Admiralty Islands campaigns through 1943–44. The wing was disbanded at Los Negros in August 1944, and by the beginning of 1945 its squadrons had been absorbed into other RAAF wings under No. 10 Operational Group (later the Australian First Tactical Air Force).

Operations Reckless and Persecution

Operations Reckless and Persecution were the Allied amphibious landings at Hollandia and Aitape, respectively, which commenced the Western New Guinea campaign. Both operations commenced on 22 April 1944.

In Operation Reckless the U.S. 24th and the 41st Infantry Divisions—under Lieutenant General Robert L. Eichelberger—landed at Tanahmerah and Humboldt bays near Hollandia in Dutch New Guinea (later known as Jayapura, Indonesia).

In Operation Persecution, the 163rd Regimental Combat Team—detached from the U.S. 41st Infantry Division—and the No. 62 Works Wing of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) simultaneously landed at Aitape, in the Australian Territory of New Guinea (later Papua New Guinea) about 140 mi (230 km) east of Hollandia.

R.A.A.F. Eagles Over New Guinea

R.A.A.F. Eagles Over New Guinea is a 1943 Australian newsreel from Cinesound Productions focusing on the role of the RAAF during the New Guinea Campaign in World War Two. It includes combat footage taken by Damien Parer.A copy of the newsreel has survived but not with sound.

Rescue and Communication Squadron RAAF

The Rescue and Communication Squadron (also No. 1 Rescue and Communication Squadron) was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) squadron formed during World War II. Raised for service during the New Guinea campaign, the squadron existed between October 1942 and November 1943, and undertook a variety of support roles including search and rescue, transportation, reconnaissance and casualty evacuation. Upon disbandment, it was used to raise two new communications units.

Solomon Islands campaign

The Solomon Islands campaign was a major campaign of the Pacific War of World War II. The campaign began with Japanese landings and occupation of several areas in the British Solomon Islands and Bougainville, in the Territory of New Guinea, during the first six months of 1942. The Japanese occupied these locations and began the construction of several naval and air bases with the goals of protecting the flank of the Japanese offensive in New Guinea, establishing a security barrier for the major Japanese base at Rabaul on New Britain, and providing bases for interdicting supply lines between the Allied powers of the United States and Australia and New Zealand.

The Allies, to defend their communication and supply lines in the South Pacific, supported a counteroffensive in New Guinea, isolated the Japanese base at Rabaul, and counterattacked the Japanese in the Solomons with landings on Guadalcanal (see Guadalcanal Campaign) and small neighboring islands on 7 August 1942. These landings initiated a series of combined-arms battles between the two adversaries, beginning with the Guadalcanal landing and continuing with several battles in the central and northern Solomons, on and around New Georgia Island, and Bougainville Island.

In a campaign of attrition fought on land, on sea, and in the air, the Allies wore the Japanese down, inflicting irreplaceable losses on Japanese military assets. The Allies retook some of the Solomon Islands (although resistance continued until the end of the war), and they also isolated and neutralized some Japanese positions, which were then bypassed. The Solomon Islands campaign then converged with the New Guinea campaign.

Territory of New Guinea

The Territory of New Guinea was an Australian administered territory on the island of New Guinea from 1920 until 1975. In 1949, the Territory and the Territory of Papua were established in an administrative union by the name of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. That administrative union was renamed as Papua New Guinea in 1971. Notwithstanding that it was part of an administrative union, the Territory of New Guinea at all times retained a distinct legal status and identity until the advent of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea.

The initial Australian mandate was based on the previous German New Guinea, which had been captured and occupied by Australian forces during World War I.

Most of the Territory of New Guinea was occupied by Japan during World War II, between 1942 and 1945. During this time, Rabaul, on the island of New Britain, became a major Japanese base (see New Guinea campaign). After World War II, the territories of Papua and New Guinea were combined in an administrative union under the Papua New Guinea Provisional Administration Act (1945–46).

The Climate of Courage

The Climate of Courage is a 1954 novel by Australian writer Jon Cleary. It is set during World War II and involves a group of Australian soldiers who have returned from service in the Middle East. The novel falls into two parts: the soldiers on leave in Sydney, where they engage in various romantic entanglements and experience the famous submarine attack on Sydney, then taking part in a patrol during the New Guinea Campaign. The book was partly based on Cleary's own experiences of the war and was very popular, selling 28,000 copies in the UK during its first week of publication.

USS Kendall C. Campbell

USS Kendall C. Campbell (DE-443) was a John C. Butler-class destroyer escort acquired by the U.S. Navy during World War II. The primary purpose of the destroyer escort was to escort and protect ships in convoy, in addition to other tasks as assigned, such as patrol or radar picket. Post-war she proudly returned home with four battle stars to her credit.

Kendall C. Campbell was named in honor of Kendall Carl Campbell who was twice awarded the Navy Cross, once during the New Guinea campaign and again during the Battle of the Coral Sea.

Kendall C. Campbell was launched 19 March 1944 by the Federal Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Newark, New Jersey; sponsored by Mrs. Carl B. Campbell; and commissioned 31 July 1944, Lt. Comdr. R. W. Johnson in command.

USS Oyster Bay (AGP-6)

USS Oyster Bay (AGP-6), originally and later AVP-28, was a United States Navy motor torpedo boat tender in commission from 1943 to 1946. She saw service in World War II.

From 1957 to 1993, the former Oyster Bay served in the Italian Navy as the special forces tender Pietro Cavezzale (A 5301).

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.

New Guinea campaign
Theaters
Participants
Timeline
Aspects

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