By the fall of 1943 the two-pronged counteroffensive begun by the South and Southwest Pacific forces in 1942 moved toward B its culmination in the neutralization of Rabaul. SWPA forces under General MacArthur, with rear bases in Australia and Port Moresby and advanced bases at Dobodura and in the Markham-Ramu valleys, were getting set for a jump across Vitiaz Strait to Arawe and Cape Gloucester on New Britain. The SOPAC forces of Admiral Halsey would soon move forward from recently conquered bases on New Georgia onto Bougainville. In both theaters it had been a tough war of attrition in which Allied superiority in men and materiel gradually gained the ascendancy. With the attainment of air superiority, it had been possible for both MacArthur and Halsey to neutralize certain enemy strong points rather than attempt costly assaults, and now it had been decided to apply the tactic to Rabaul itself.
Rabaul and Cape Glouster
The isolation and neutralization of the Bismarck Archipelago--accomplished within the six-month period extending from October 1943 through March 1944--offers an excellent example of the acceleration and effectiveness of joint air, ground, and sea operations, once aerial superiority has been achieved. Attacks on Rabaul by SWPA air forces kept the Japanese off balance while Halsey's forces went into Bougainville. South Pacific-based aviation returned the favor by sustained assault on Rabaul as SWPA forces went into Arawe and Cape Gloucester. Mass bombing of the invasion areas at Cape Gloucester by the Fifth Air Force virtually eliminated a potentially strong Japanese ground opposition. Nissan, one of the Green Islands, was occupied by SOPAC forces in February 1944 almost under Rabaul's nose, without any strong resistance. Aerial reconnaissance led MacArthur to gamble on the 29th of February with the successful "reconnaissance in force" of
Los Negros in the Admiralties. The later occupation of Emirau Island by SOPAC forces completed the circle around Rabaul and provided bases for further operations as well as for the continued aerial neutralization of Rabaul and Kavieng. Thus the CARTWHEEL operations of the ELKTON plan came to completion, securing MacArthur's right flank for the advance up New Guinea toward the Philippines and securing the left flank of Nimitz' advance into the Marianas and the Carolines.
Although the Japanese, underestimating the strength of the Allied forces, at first had been slow to improve the facilities and defenses of Rabaul, the place by the fall of 1943 was well prepared and heavily defended. Lakunai and Vunakanau airfields, two prewar Australian strips, had been improved despite repeated bombings by Fifth Air Force planes extending back to early 1942; the first had an all-weather surface of sand and volcanic ash, the second was surfaced with concrete. Rapopo, fourteen miles southeast of Rabaul, had been completed by December 1942 with concrete strips, barracks, and other facilities for operations, communications, repair, and supply. Tobera's concrete-surfaced airfield, inland midway between Vunakanau and Rapopo, had been completed in August 1943. On these four fields around Rabaul* were revetments for 166 bombers and 265 fighters, besides extensive unprotected dispersal parking areas. Across the St. Georges Channel on New Ireland were the additional facilities of Borpop airfield, completed in December 1943, which formed the fifth of the operational dromes protecting Rabaul.1
The docking facilities of the port of Rabaul included seven wharves, which the Japanese supplemented by building new piers in Simpson Harbor and by using floating cranes. On the north shore of Blanche Bay, where the many inlets were well covered by heavy foliage, the Japanese dispersed their repair facilities and harborage for small boats and barges. In the same area they also located their submarine fueling and handling facilities. The Japanese were well supplied in all classes of stocks, since the Eighth Supply Depot of the Southeastern Fleet and the supply section of the Eighth Area Army each maintained a six-month inventory of all supplies for the army and naval units in the Bismarcks-Solomons-eastern New Guinea areas. Until February 1944
* The Japanese had started construction on two other fields in the vicinity, one at Keravat, thirteen miles southwest of Rabaul, and the other at Rakada on Duke of York Island, but these fields never became operational.
Most of these supplies were in warehouses in Rabaul township or stored in dumps above ground.2
To protect all this, high priority had been given to antiaircraft defenses during 1943. The organizational setup was a combined army and naval defensive establishment which was well coordinated and integrated. Of the 367 antiaircraft weapons, 192 were army operated and 175 naval operated. The army units were used around Rapopo airfield and around army dumps and installations; they also participated jointly
Rabaul and Gazelle Peninsula
in the defenses lining Simpson Harbor. The naval units guarded Simpson Harbor and its shipping and the three airfields of Tobera, Lakunai, and Vunakanau. The Southeastern Fleet had built up an extensive and efficient early warning radar system. Besides the sets at Rabaul with ninety-mile coverage, there were radar sets to the southwest on New Britain, at Kavieng and Cape St. George on New Ireland, and at Buka. These sets would pick up Allied strikes and would radio warning to Rabaul from thirty to sixty minutes ahead of the attack. Surrounding Rabaul, the Japanese had also established strong beach and coastal defenses as well as heavily fortified ground defense zones.3
Though Rabaul was the keystone of the Bismarck Archipelago, the Japanese held many other strong and potentially strong supporting
positions. On the north was Kavieng with a large airdrome operational since August 1942; its satellite field at Panapai was finished in April 1943. To the west on New Britain, Gasmata had been developed from an existing runway captured in February 1942. Because of poor dispersal facilities, it soon became nonoperational once sustained Allied attacks could reach it. To replace Gasmata, the Japanese began development of a strip at Cape Hoskins in September 1943. It was used as a satellite airfield for the defense of Rabaul and for the protection of convoys in the Bismarck Sea. The two strips at Cape Gloucester were potentially dangerous to Allied fields on near-by New Guinea. Talasea provided another emergency landing strip. To the northwest, there were two airdromes in the Admiralty Islands. Lorengau, on Manus, was developed from the civil landing ground in April of 1943 but was never used extensively. On Los Negros, however, the large airdrome of Momote, complete with dispersals and revetments, had been constructed in October 1943.4 In New Guinea, the field at Madang, operational in March of 1943, was little used after the two Alexishafen strips were completed in May and August of 1943. These latter were heavily bombed throughout August and September and were too far forward to be of much operational use. Nubia and Awar, in the Hansa Bay area, were farther back but also under Allied attack, with the Nubia strip more or less abandoned in favor of Awar, which was finished in November 1943. The five strips of Boram, Wewak, Dagua, But, and Tadji, though under heavy attack since August 1943, were still capable of mounting a serious threat to the Allies5 Tadji and the Hollandia strips were staging and dispersal areas for the Wewak and Madang dromes.6
As early as the spring of 1943, Southeastern Fleet headquarters at Rabaul had experienced serious difficulty in maintaining its air garrison at the desired strength. Army strength of approximately sixty fighters and forty bombers--all belonging to the Fourth Air Army--moved from Rabaul to Wewak in August 1943. The severe losses sustained by land-based units of the Eleventh Air Fleet during the Munda operations had forced recommitment of the air group of Carrier Division 2 from Truk,* and by November, it was necessary to send down the air group of Carrier Division I.7 After its move to Wewak, the Fourth Air Army assumed responsibility for the New Guinea area east of longitude 140°E.; but in addition to the destructive Fifth Air Force attacks of August and September, the army was further weakened by the necessity to
* See above, p. 253
return the 7th Air Division to the Celebes in November 1943 for replacement of naval units depleted by constant reinforcement of Rabaul. Losses over the ferry routes to Wewak were high (approximately 30 per cent), maintenance was poor, and Allied interdiction of shipping forced the grounding of many planes for lack of parts. Army units in New Guinea were in no condition to aid the hard pressed naval air units at Rabaul, and vice versa.8 But Japanese commanders, though forced by the fall of 1943 to contemplate withdrawal of their outer defenses to the Marianas and the Carolines, were determined to hold Rabaul at all costs for protection of the fleet base at Truk.9
The Fifth Air Force, which in October launched an intensive air offensive against Rabaul that marked the beginning of the final effort to neutralize enemy power at that point, now disposed the overwhelming bulk of its forces at forward bases. Port Moresby, though still important, had become almost a rear base. ADVON Fifth Air Force, the V Bomber and Fighter Commands, and the 54th Troop Carrier Wing were all located there. The four active airdromes--Jackson, Wards, Schwimmer, and Durand--based two heavy bombardment groups, four fighter squadrons, and the 8th Photo Squadron. The troop carrier groups and a few additional fighter and night fighter units were also based at Port Moresby.10 At Milne Bay was the supply terminus of the Directorate of Air Transport, which transshipped here for air supply to the island garrisons and to troop carrier groups for air supply in the forward area. Headquarters of New Guinea Force and of the Seventh Amphibious Force of the Seventh Fleet of the Allied Naval Forces were also at Milne Bay. At near-by Samarai was an advanced base for Patwing 10, flying PBY's in night search and reconnaissance missions. In addition to Milne Bay, ALAMO Force* and its Sixth Army units had a headquarters and staging area on Goodenough Island. Also on Goodenough was RAAF's 9 Operational Group with 71 Wing (three Beaufort squadrons, one Boston squadron, and one of Beaufighters) and with operational control over 73 Wing on Kiriwina Island. Woodlark Island served primarily as flank protection and was not heavily manned, but on Kiriwina, RAAF engineers had finished two airstrips with four alert areas, parallel taxiways, and 107 dispersed hardstands by 15 October. Approximately 325 miles from Rabaul, these strips
* This headquarters, established in June 1943 under Lt. Gen. Walter Krueger, controlled U.S. and Allied ground units in the forward area. It was responsible directly to GHQ.
provided a staging base from which the B-25's could reach Rabaul with adequate bomb loads. P-38's by staging or basing on Kiriwina could provide fighter cover over Rabaul for either the heavy or medium bombers.11 The staging base for the heavy bombardment groups attacking Rabaul was Dobodura. It was the headquarters of the First Air Task Force (responsible for operational control of the Rabaul attacks) under Col. Frederic H. Smith, Jr. Under the organizational setup of the Fifth Air Force, the operational strength of the air task forces varied with the size of the mission assigned, being augmented from one of the other task forces or V Bomber or V Fighter Command as necessary.* On 30 September, the units of the First Air Task Force consisted of the 22d Bombardment Group with B-25's and B-26's, the 3d Bombardment Group with one squadron of A-20's and three of B-25 strafers, and the 475th Fighter Group and part of the 49th Fighter Group equipped with P-38's.12
The main base for future New Guinea operations was to be at Nadzab.<«> Since its capture on 5 September, it had become the headquarters of the Second Air Task Force, commanded by Col. Jarred V. Crabb, and functioned as a major air base, even though destined to be completely supplied by air until mid-December, when the road joining it to Lae was finally completed. The advanced base at Gusap, where Third Air Task Force had its headquarters, filled a vital role in that the single-engine P-47's could reach Wewak and the shorter-range P-40's and P-39's could cover the Madang and Alexishafen dromes, thus enabling Whitehead to pull out his long-range P-38's for the Rabaul attacks.13 Finschhafen, where Whitehead wanted facilities for fighters and for troop carriers to cover and supply the Cape Gloucester operations, was in preparation and would be ready for operations on 17 December.14
Since the first in a long series of air attacks dating back to 25 January 1942, Rabaul had been kept under constant surveillance by Moresby-based reconnaissance and photo planes. Fifth Air Force planners, therefore, had at hand photographic and reconnaissance reports for almost a year and a half of constant coverage when they made their plans to "knock out" Rabaul. With long-range forecasts from the weather
The Fifth against Rabaul
* See above, pp. 156-57.
« On the development of forward bases during the fall of 1943 see above, pp. 189-93.
services and assurance that staging facilities for the P-38's would be ready on Kiriwina, the opening of the attack was set for 15 October 1, 1943.15 It was agreed at a meeting of representatives from the South and the Southwest Pacific at Brisbane on 10 September that SWPA air forces during the last two weeks of October "would attack airfields and shipping at Rabaul with the object of destroying shipping and neutralization of enemy air."16 These attacks having served, among other things, as partial preparation for Halsey's landing on Bougainville on or about 1 November, the Fifth Air Force from 1 to 6 November would protect the landing forces by neutralization of enemy operations from Buka and thus assist SOPAC in the establishment of a forward base from which fighter cover could be provided for daylight bombardment attacks from the Solomons on Rabaul.* During the latter half of November, SWPA forces would seize the Cape Gloucester area on New Britain for purposes which included the establishment of bases for neutralization attacks on Kavieng. The landing would be covered in part by air attacks from the South Pacific on Rabaul. To this outline Halsey agreed, except that he indicated to MacArthur that his own forces could take care of Buka and the Fifth Air Force might better expend its effort on Rabaul.17
Reconnaissance by the 8th Photo Squadron on 1 October showed a heavy cruiser, one light cruiser, ten destroyers, five submarines, and twenty-six merchant vessels in Simpson Harbor. On the Rabaul airdromes were eighty-seven medium bombers, thirty-seven light bombers, and fifty-nine fighters. By 11 October, the fighter estimate had jumped to 145.18 Plans for the initial strike, meanwhile, were worked out, and weather predictions pointed to 12 October as the target date. That was jumping the gun a bit on the planned date of 15 October, but with the northwest monsoon due shortly, advantage had to be taken of any good weather. To Arnold, General Kenney confidently wrote:By the time you get this letter you should have read some headlines about the show on Rabaul which according to our long range weather forecast will take place on October 12th. This is the beginning of what I believe is the most decisive action initiated so far in this theater. We are out not only to gain control of the air over New Britain and New Ireland but to make Rabaul untenable for Jap shipping and to set up an air blockade of all the Jap forces in that area. The attack will be opened by 120 B-25 strafers, each with eight forward firing fifty calibre guns and carrying approximately a ton of either parafrag or 100 pound frag bombs. The targets are the three Jap airdromes around Rabaul. Following them between 84 and 96 B-24's will attack the shipping in the harbor from
* See again, pp. 245-50.
20,000 ft. altitudes concentrating three plane element pattern bombing on between twenty and thirty of the largest ships. Each B-24 is loaded with six one thousand pounders. In the past we have averaged around five percent of direct hits on shipping from high altitude. Our daylight bombing during the past three months on Salamaua, Lae, and Wewak has improved our accuracy tremendously. I expect to sink between twenty and thirty ships in this attack. As the Jap has plenty of radar warning he should be able to put in the air between sixty and eighty fighters, so we will have between one hundred and one hundred twenty P-38's as top cover for the show. The P-38's will take off from Dobodura and stop in at our new airdrome at Kiriwina for refueling after the combat. I have told the kids that in addition to the ships sunk, I expect forty or fifty Nips shot these guesses with the headlines when you read them.19
The mission went off much as General Kenney had planned. Weather aircraft, taking off shortly after midnight, reported good weather along the route to Rabaul, and thus was launched the largest air attack yet made in the Pacific. All crews had been carefully briefed on approach routes, antiaircraft positions and their individual targets. The B-25 groups had assembled at Dobodura. The 3rd Bombardment Group was using three squadrons and a P-38 escort to attack Rapopo airdrome with strafing and parafrags. The four squadrons of the 345th Group and two of the 38th Group were to attack Vunakanau in the same manner. In all, 113 B-25s took to the air, Lt. Col. Clinton U. True, group commander of the 345th in the lead; six planes turned back because of mechanical difficulties. The B-24's, seven squadrons of the 90th and 43d Groups got off from Port Moresby and made their rendezvous after some delay because of an accident on one of the takeoffs. Carrying six 1,000-pound bombs each and briefed for selected targets in the harbor, they were met over Kiriwina by two squadrons of P-38's, the 80th and 39th. Twenty-five Liberators and nineteen P-38's were forced by mechanical trouble to turn back. One RAAF Beau-fighter squadron, out of Kiriwina, had as its targets the Tobera and Rapopo airdromes and was scheduled to go in between the B-25 and B-24 attacks.20
Hoping for surprise and apparently achieving it (this was one of the few times that surprise was attained at Rabaul), the mediums flew at 1,000 feet from Oro Bay to Kiriwina, dropped down to minimum altitude as they went up the St. Georges Channel, then turned sharply inland at the mouth of the Warangoi River, and still at treetop level the formation split, with the 3d Bombardment Group's forty planes headed toward Rapopo and the other sixty-seven planes headed toward Vunakanau.
The 3rd Group formed in "shallow Vs of squadrons, 12 to 15 planes wide and followed each other by about one mile." Opening up long-range fire with their eight forward-firing .50's on the antiaircraft positions, they toggled their 20-pound parafrags over the bomber dispersal and revetment area. Explosions, dust, and smoke made damage assessment uncertain, but the 3rd Group claimed fifteen to twenty-five planes destroyed on the ground and three in the air.21
The same tactics were used by the B-25's in their attack at Vunakanau. Only light and inaccurate antiaircraft fire was encountered. However, intercepting fighters began making attacks as the fifth and sixth squadrons came over the target. One Zeke was shot down, but the fighters had flamed the right engine of the B-25 piloted by Lt. Sidney W. Crews. His landing gear dropped and a tire fell off as some six Zekes moved in on the damaged plane. His crew shot down one of them before he radioed his flight leader, "I'm going in," and hit the water. The fighters escorting the mediums had met little opposition. They got one Betty bomber and one Oscar over Vunakanau without loss to themselves. Within ten minutes and with loss of only the one B-25, the two attack groups were away from Rabaul and headed home. The fighters and a few damaged bombers landed at Kiriwina for refueling and repairs; the B-25's reached Dobodura about 1300. The twelve Beaufighters made their attacks on Tobera and Rapopo just after the B-25's had cleared the area.22
The B-24's, having picked up the fighter escort over Kiriwina, headed directly toward Wide Bay on the east coast of New Britain and across New Britain to Rabaul. They had no need to bother with surprise, for the B-25's had preceded them and it was hoped that the mediums had already destroyed enough enemy fighters on the ground to make the relatively meager escort of twenty-eight P-38's sufficient. At 1205, the 400th Squadron led the six-plane flights of the 90th Group over Simpson Harbor. A destroyer was claimed sunk, two tenders badly damaged, two large merchant ships in flames, and three other ships sunk or badly damaged. An estimated forty enemy fighters, mostly Zekes, followed the 400th and 321st Squadrons in a running fight for forty minutes after the attack. Two B-24's were shot down but AAF gunners claimed at least ten fighters. The escorting fighters, busy keeping the heavies under watch, did not get into much action themselves.23 The three squadrons of the 43d Group followed the 90th over the target, just as the last bomb strings were hitting. The crews
reported much confusion in the harbor: fires, ships circling or headed out to sea, and heavy, intense, but inaccurate antiaircraft fire from all types of weapons. The 90th Group had pulled most of the interceptors off with them, so the 43d was hardly bothered. Claims were confused--mostly damage only--except for the 65th Squadron, which reported the marvelous score of forty-eight hits out of forty-eight bombs dropped. Fuel was low in the 43d's tanks--the planes had circled waiting for the 90th at rendezvous--and one plane landed in the water near Kiriwina. Others had to land at Kiriwina, but most of the planes made Dobodura.24
In its preliminary estimate, ADVON Fifth Air Force listed 100 enemy planes destroyed on the ground, 51 badly damaged, 26 shot down in the air, heavy destruction to airdromes and the wharf area, 3 large merchant vessels, 3 destroyers, 43 small merchant vessels, and 70 harbor vessels sunk or destroyed, with other vessels damaged.25 According to these figures, General Kenney's predictions were amply fulfilled. Actually, the estimate was apparently conservative as to the damage done to grounded planes on the airdromes, but it was extremely optimistic in regard to damage to shipping in the harbor. Photo interpretation revised the preliminary estimate downward. Yet the first raid had been a conspicuous success and augured well for the "knock-out" of Rabaul.26
Within three hours after the planes landed at Dobodura, ground crews had 108 B-25's ready for another mission; by the next morning, 70 B-24's were ready. The RAAF 71 Wing sent out twelve Beauforts which hit shipping in Simpson Harbor near dawn on the morning of 13 October, but the weather gods were not planning to let General Kenney make an easy job of Rabaul. Seventy heavy bombers took off at 0800 and rendezvoused with 100 fighters from Kiriwina before they ran into a heavy weather front 150 miles from Rabaul. The fighters turned back; three were lost in the storm and one crashed in landing. Gradually the bombers gave up and turned back--twenty-seven planes hit targets on western New Britain. Not until 18 October did the weather permit further attacks on Rabaul. The Fifth Air Force not only lost flying days, but it lost the cumulative effect of continuous mass raids.27
The Japanese, however, managed to get in several strikes at New Guinea ports. Evidently figuring the Rabaul attack of 12 October as preliminary to an invasion, they sent bomber and fighter missions
against Oro Bay on 15 and 17 October, and against Finschhafen on 17 and 19 October. Allied planes claimed over 100 planes shot down for a loss of 10, and no shipping suffered hits. The use of Val bombers and the fighter types indicated that these attacks had been mounted from Rabaul.28
The Fifth set up another big strike on 18 October. The 528th and 53 1st Squadrons had been borrowed from the 380th Group at Darwin to augment the squadrons of the 90th and 43d Groups. Eight squadrons of Liberators and two groups of strafers took off soon after 0700 to hit Vunakanau, Lakunai, and Tobera. Over Kiriwina, the formations picked up a three-squadron escort of P-38's, but the formations again ran into a "cumunimbus" front and the P-38's turned back. The heavies flew west along the coast of New Britain looking for a break. Fifteen planes hit targets on western New Britain; six hit Sio on New Guinea; and the rest salvoed their bombs and returned to base. The B-25's ran into the same front, but by skimming the waves were able to get under the weather. Fifty of the Mitchells got through and split up as they went inland over Cape Gazelle. The 38th Group achieved surprise at Tobera, claiming sixteen planes destroyed with their 100-pound demolition bombs.29
Three squadrons of the 345th did even better in two runs over Rapopo. They claimed twenty-five planes on the ground and ten to twelve planes of an estimated sixty interceptors. The 501st Squadron--often called the "five o last"--was assigned shipping off Vunapope. Most of its planes had turned back, and only six reached the objective. Spraying supply and camp areas with .50-cal. fire on the approach to the targets, the first flight of three planes capsized a 5,000-ton freighter and demolished a corvette. The second flight had strafed a 6,000-ton freighter-transport and lifted it out of the water with bombs when enemy interceptors came in. Lt. Ralph G. Wallace's right engine was hit; he had to feather the propeller and resort to single-engine operation while the other two planes dropped back to protect him. Lt. Harlan H. Peterson's plane was hit and went into the water to be strafed by the Japanese. Some forty to fifty Japanese fighters continued to attack as the two remaining B-25's tried to get away. One enemy pilot even eased in between the two planes and for a time flew formation with them, with neither U.S. plane daring to fire for fear of hitting the other. Lieutenant Wallace's plane had a severed fuel line, which the enlisted men tried to hold with only partial success, and his co-pilot was wounded. Flying
on the deck, Wallace was able to maneuver at least four Japanese into the water as they miscalculated their passes, and he brought his plane into Kiriwina. But Capt. Lyle E. Anacker's plane had been hit and, having turned away still under attack, was lost.30
Whitehead took advantage of the continuing bad weather over Rabaul to get in some strikes against New Guinea targets--Sattelberg, Wewak, and other targets were bombed. But photographs taken on 19 October which indicated that the Japanese had rebuilt their fighter strength at Rabaul to 211 planes, together with a forecast of clearing weather on the 23d, led him to plan another big strike for that day. The plan called for a fighter sweep of three P-38 squadrons prior to a heavy bomber attack on Lakunai and Vunakanau. A force of 57 Liberators and 100 P-38's arrived over the targets only to find them blocked out by cloud cover, but in the absence of a specified secondary target, they found Rapopo open. The change of target caused some confusion in the bomb runs and some of the planes failed to drop, but good coverage was secured on the runways and dispersals. The P-38 escort shot down thirteen planes and lost one, though the pilot escaped to live with natives on New Britain for some time before his rescue. The bombers shot down four interceptors and claimed twenty planes on the ground.31
On the next day, heavy bomber crews rested while the mediums worked over Tobera, Rapopo, and Vunakanau. According to plan, the mission should have reached Rabaul at 1000, but slow take-offs and scattered formations delayed the arrival until approximately noon, when Japanese interceptors customarily had patrols up. The leading squadron of the 3d Group was heavily attacked and, though it called down the fighters, lost one B-25 before the Japanese were driven off. The group spotted only four planes on Tobera, but it claimed twenty-one destroyed on the ground at Rapopo. The 345th claimed twenty-seven at Vunakanau. The B-25's shot down eight interceptors and lost two planes, one in a sea crash from which the crew was rescued. "In the hottest battle yet encountered," the escorting P-3 8's accounted for thirty-seven Japanese planes and lost none in the air. Two planes crash-landed at Kiriwina, fortunately without injury to the pilots.32
The weather forecasters on the 24th were again "pessimistic about tomorrow's weather," but Whitehead sent out another strike on 25 October. The plan called once more for a two-squadron fighter sweep to be followed by a two-group heavy attack, and again the force, this
time sixty-one Liberators and eighty-one Lightnings, ran into increasingly bad weather. Announcing on the command frequency a purpose to turn back, the fighter leaders returned with seventy-three P-38's to Kiriwina. Eleven B-24's also turned back, but the bomber leaders apparently did not hear the announcement and the other B-24's continued on instruments toward Rabaul, as did Maj. Charles H. MacDonald and his flight of eight P-38's of the 432d Fighter Squadron.33 After struggling through the storm, the bombers were met at Rabaul by fierce resistance. Cruisers and destroyers in the harbor joined the land batteries to put up a heavy barrage, and some sixty Zekes, Hamps, Oscars, and Tonys attacked as the bombers started their run. MacDonald, who had his eight P-38's over the lead squadron, hoped that "the Nips seeing us would be discouraged and perhaps figure that there were lots of us," and for forty-five minutes the eight P-38's maintained a weaving patrol over the target area. With this help, the bombers covered Lakunai well, though the following squadrons had to bomb through the dust caused by previous bombs. One plane in the last squadron, the 403d, was badly damaged and promptly set upon by Japanese fighters. Two bombers, dropping back to box it in for protection, shot down eight enemy planes before they had to pull off. Then, for fifteen minutes the Japanese lined up to make their passes, but the plane still flew. Not until after the enemy had given up did the two remaining engines cut out and the plane break up after ditching. The pilot and co-pilot were trapped, but eight of the crew got out and were picked up by a Catalina.34
Whitehead had scheduled a low-level attack on shipping for the day following this attack on Lakunai.35 Accordingly, eighty-two B-2 5's took off on 26 October, but forbidding weather building up over Kiriwina kept the fighters on the ground, and the Mitchells returned to base. On the night of the 26th, three RAAF Catalinas initiated a series of harassing attacks on Kavieng, and three days later, 71 Wing of the RAAF took on the job of maintaining a nightly harassing of the Rabaul airdromes. On the same day, 8 Squadron, with its torpedo-carrying Beauforts, was assigned to continuing attacks on shipping in the mouth of Simpson Harbor.36 Full-scale assaults on Rabaul were resumed on 29 October. Forty-six Liberators hit Vunakanau airdrome with frag clusters and 500-pound demolitions. The crews claimed only nine planes on the ground, but photos indicated that eighteen would have been nearer right. Total
claims, including those of the fighter escort, for planes shot down ran to twenty-five, and returning pilots and crews summed up their estimate of the Japanese interceptors as follows: "The eager pilots were not experienced; and the experienced not eager." It was perhaps fortunate that this should have been the case, for the fighter cover of P-38's was badly mixed up in its stations during the attack.37
A low-level attack against shipping was slated next, and for the first good day. Planned partly to aid South Pacific forces who had gone into the Treasury Islands on 27 October, the mission could not be flown until 2 November. The crews had been alerted on both 30 and 31 October and again on 1 November, only to receive from the weather plane an unfavorable report. A similar report came in on the morning of 2 November and the mission had been canceled, but two F-5's of the 8th Photo Squadron, sent out subsequently, reported clearing skies and good flying weather. At Rabaul they found seven destroyers, one tender, and twenty merchant vessels in the harbor and a total of 237 planes on the airfields, The mission having been hurriedly rescheduled, eighty B-25's and the same number of fighters were headed toward Rabaul by 1100. Two squadrons, the 39th and 8oth, had orders to make a fighter sweep of the harbor; the four squadrons of the 345th Group were to blanket the land batteries; and five squadrons of B-25's--two from the 3d Bombardment and three from the 38th Group--were to hit shipping.38 The 39th Fighter Squadron reported little opposition as it led the attacking planes over Lakunai and Simpson Harbor, but the 80th Squadron, which followed, reported between 60 and 100 interceptors. The strafers of the 345th met both intense antiaircraft and eager interceptors (postwar interrogations indicate these were pilots of the newly arrived CARDIV I); eight Mitchells in the lead were hit, three of which failed to return to base. In exchange, the unit claimed seventeen enemy fighters shot down, as did also their escort from the 431st and 432nd Fighter Squadrons. Photo reconnaissance showed sixteen aircraft destroyed on Lakunai airdrome, and leaders of the shipping strike credited the effective neutralization of shore antiaircraft as mainly responsible for their success. It was this neutralization which enabled the striking squadrons to come in from the east over Crater Peninsula, circle north of the North Daughter volcano, pass over Rabaul town, and then make their runs over Simpson Harbor--a route normally
protected by heavy antiaircraft fire. It should be noted, however, that fire and smoke made target selection in the harbor difficult.39
Maj. John P. Henebry, commander of the 3d Group, led the forty-one B-25's attacking targets in the harbor with 1,000 pound bombs. Two destroyers off the mouth of the Warangoi River, directly in the path of the approaching planes, caused some confusion as their fire, together with that of intercepting fighters, forced the B-25's to break formation and attack in two-plane or individual bombing and strafing runs. Cruisers and destroyers in the harbor not only threw up anti-aircraft fire but fired their big guns into the water, throwing water-spouts up in front of the low-flying attackers. Maj. Raymond H. Wilkins, 8th Squadron commander, having led the squadron through the fire of "those damned cruisers," went down, as did another of his B-25's. Major Henebry's plane was also hit, but he managed to get close to Kiriwina before ditching.40 Despite the confusion, smoke, and heavy enemy fire, this low-level bombing attack by the Mitchells had been remarkably accurate. Hits and near misses were scored by almost all planes. In all, forty-one ships were attacked, of which twenty-four were bombed and seventeen strafed. Accurate damage assessment was difficult. The official communiqué claimed three destroyers, eight large merchant vessels, and four coastal vessels sunk--a total of about 50,000 tons--and damage to two heavy cruisers, two destroyers, two tankers, and seven large merchant vessels. A later Fifth Air Force report cut the tonnage sunk to 13,000 tons, with damage to twenty-two other vessels. The Japanese after the war admitted to USSBS interrogators damage to a 10,000-ton oil tanker and the loss of three merchant vessels aggregating 8,000 tons, a minesweeper, and two smaller boats.41
Nevertheless, it was an expensive attack for the Fifth Air Force. Forty-five pilots and crew members were listed as killed or missing. Eight bombers and nine P-38's were lost. Others were so badly damaged by antiaircraft that they cracked up on landing. On the credit side of the ledger, the Mitchells shot down twenty-six enemy fighters, destroyed sixteen on the ground at Lakunai, and destroyed ten flying boats or floatplanes in the harbor. The fighters claimed forty-two enemy planes shot down; they also reported that the caliber of the Japanese pilots was considerably better than anything they had recently encountered.42
RAAF Beauforts got through on the night of 2 November to bomb Tobera, but then the weather closed down and only the reconnaissance
planes went out. Their reports gave cause for worry to General Whitehead, who wrote Kenney on 4 November:
For the past twenty-four hours we have been watching the movement southward of the Nip heavy cruiser, light cruiser, destroyer, troop transports and freighters. At 1000 this morning I ordered a concentration of the 345th Attack Bombardment Group and 475th Fighter Group at Kiriwina while the 43d Bomb Group is moving into Dobodura. At this time it appeared that the Nip Task Force, that is the first echelon which was made up of 3 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers, and 9 destroyers would reach Rabaul between 0300L and 0700L November 5th. Later reports indicate that this force has rendezvoused with a very large whaler and some merchant vessels and cannot reach Rabaul before 0800L November 5th.43
Regular reconnaissance reports on this movement from Truk went to Admiral Halsey, whose forces had established a beachhead at Empress Augusta Bay on 1 November,* and Whitehead was prepared to expend maximum effort at Rabaul or on the Japanese task force should it sortie toward the new Torokina beachhead. Admiral Halsey, however, did not propose to let this Japanese force put him on the defensive. He made his plans to check it at Rabaul with a carrier strike,« and requested General Kenney to flatten Rabaul town and cover the airdromes while the carrier planes worked over the shipping.44 The mission was accomplished according to plan on 5 November, catching the Japanese cruiser and destroyer force just after it entered the harbor. The Fifth Air Force supported the carriers with twenty-seven Liberators of the 43d Group and fifty-eight P-38's in a bombing attack on the wharf area against very light opposition.45
A heavy bombardment mission was airborne from the Fifth Air Force on 6 November but was called back because of poor weather. A group of heavies covered by sixty-four P-38's got through on 7 November to hit Rapopo airdrome, where it ran into heavy and experienced opposition. There were about sixty enemy fighters attacking; the covering P-38's claimed twenty-three shot down while losing five of their own number. Sixteen planes were destroyed on Rapopo airdrome. Again on 10 November, a heavy bomber mission hit Rabaul while the other groups prepared for a big mission in coordination with another carrier raid to be carried out on Armistice Day.46 Admiral Halsey had specifically requested that all attack bombers be assigned shipping targets in Simpson Harbor. Accordingly, it was planned that after a heavy bomber force, taking off at midnight, had hit Lakunai in the early
* See above, p. 256.
« See above, p. 260.
morning hours, mediums covered by P-38's would hit shipping while the heavies, flying without escort, would strike again at airdromes.47
On the night of 10/11 November, Whitehead sent up an RAAF attack group of Beauforts and followed through with twenty-three Liberators, which were over Lakunai in the early morning. The main effort got under way at 0700 with the take-off of additional formations of heavies, but photo and weather planes out ahead soon reported a front from sea level to 35,000 feet which cut off the target. At 0900, Whitehead was forced to call the planes back.
And so ended, except for a continuing photo and reconnaissance coverage, the Fifth Air Force campaign against Rabaul. It was anticipated that further attacks might have to be mounted during the interval before South Pacific forces were scheduled to take over the job in December, but events proved that the Fifth's attacks, in conjunction with the carrier strikes,* already had neutralized Rabaul as a major threat to the American beachhead on Bougainville and thus had provided assurance that Halsey's land-based planes could be brought forward in time. Meanwhile, there was much to be done in preparation for the landings on Cape Gloucester.48
Although it had been decided to neutralize and isolate Rabaul in lieu of occupying it, Allied plans still required a foothold on the western end of New Britain for control of the Vitiaz Strait. The operation had been included in the ELKTON plan of February 1943, with a view at that time to the ultimate occupation of Rabaul, and, as a sequel to the seizure of the Huon Gulf and Peninsula, it had been among the operations specified for 1943 by the Joint Chiefs in July.«49 The JCS directive assumed that the purpose was to "prepare for the ultimate seizure of the Bismarck Archipelago," but tactical plans were drafted in September on the assumption that instead Rabaul would be by-passed.50
Planning conferences had gotten under way in July, and GHQ Operations Instruction 38 on 22 September 1943 allocated to the ALAMO Force for the Cape Gloucester landing the First Marine Division, the 32d Infantry Division, the 63d Tank Destroyer Battalion, and the 503d Parachute Infantry Regiment.51 ALAMO Force forwarded its plan on 29 September to GHQ, which promptly approved
* The carrier raid on 11 November went off as scheduled. (See above, p. 260.)
« See above, pp. 129-35.
it but with the admonition that "future plans now under preparation necessitate great flexibility in the employment of troops in order to take advantages of favorable opportunities for more rapid advance." Reserve units, therefore, should not be committed unless absolutely necessary.52
The approved plan for DEXTERITY was then issued as ALAMO Force Field Order 4 on 18 October 1943. This order directed the Allied Air Forces to provide a preliminary blockade and aerial bombardment of western New Britain, to furnish convoy cover and ground support for the landing forces, and to mount a paratroop drop of regimental strength53 ADVON Fifth Air Force on 28 October issued its own plan, which in addition to the usual assignments, called for the movement of the 475th Fighter Group to Cape Gloucester "as soon as suitable airdrome facilities are available, including air warning, communications, and service elements." If a 5,000-foot, all-weather runway could be constructed, it was planned also to bring in the 58th Fighter Group. ADVON would supervise the establishment of these airdrome facilities.54 For seizure of the airfield at Gasmata the orders set up the LAZARETTO Task Force under Brig. Gen. Clarence A. Martin, and for Cape Gloucester proper the BACKHANDER Task Force under Maj. Gen. W. H. Rupertus, USMC. Over-all command fell to Lt. Gen. Walter Krueger, commander of the Sixth Army and of the ALAMO Force. The major landing, at Cape Gloucester, would be made by the First Marine Division, and the Army's 3zd Division under Maj. Gen. William H. Gill would be held as reserve.55
General Whitehead had doubts about the whole operation. Intelligence indicated to him that the south coast of New Britain offered poor possibilities for aerial operations. Gasmata had an average rainfall of 245.2 inches per year; moreover, while the coral runway was good, it was located on an island so small as to limit the strip to a length of 3,200 feet. Even Cape Gloucester, where the possibilities for airfield development were better, held no appeal for Whitehead. The place was actually no closer to Rabaul than Kiriwina, and he felt that the Vitiaz Strait could be well enough controlled from New Guinea bases. On this last point, however, the Navy disagreed, insisting upon coverage for their convoys from both sides of the strait. In a letter to Kenney, Whitehead wrote on 11 November: "I realize that the Commander-in-Chief has probably been committed to this operation by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. If that is the case perhaps nothing can be done about it. . . . From our
standpoint, however, any effort used up to capture any place on the south coast of New Britain is wasted unless an airdrome suitable for combat airplanes can be constructed there,"56 Kenney himself had already indicated to GHQ that airdrome facilities at Cape Gloucester were no longer required. But Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Chamberlin in a memo to Sutherland had disagreed and re-emphasized the importance of the Gloucester-Gasmata area to plans for 1944 operations.57
The original schedule had set up the Gasmata landing for 14 November and that at Cape Gloucester for the 20th. But Halsey's forces, which were to cover Rabaul during MacArthur's New Britain operations, did not go into Empress Augusta Bay until 1 November, and Torokina would not be ready until 15 December.* Furthermore, it was estimated that needed facilities for troop carriers at Finschhafen would not be ready before 17 December. Whitehead also wanted all-weather facilities for one fighter group and two A-20 squadrons at Gusap before going into Cape Gloucester, but indications were that the Lae-Nadzab road would not be ready for heavy construction equipment to move over it before 1 December, that it would be 15 December before the equipment could be used on the airdrome, and that the earliest completion date would be 8 to 17 January 1944. He accordingly recommended on 13 November "that the DEXTERITY Operation be postponed until these minimum facilities are available."58
Already the dates had been changed, and this constituted a recommendation for a second postponement. Because of the Japanese penchant for night raids, task force operations were normally mounted in periods of the dark of the moon, and a conference at GHQ late in October had selected 27 November for Gasmata and 4 December for Cape Gloucester. If postponement beyond these dates became necessary, the next favorable phase would fall between 22 and 27 December. Because of the onset of the northwest monsoon, the surf and weather conditions at Cape Gloucester could be expected to worsen with time, and so the conferees in October had agreed on a recommendation that the target date be the earliest practicable one in December. It had also been agreed to put the maximum tonnage into Lae and Finschhafen by extending the responsibility of the amphibious forces to supply Lae. In addition, the 864th and 1913th Engineer Aviation Battalions were to be dispatched to Lae to increase the engineering force there, pending their departure for western New Britain.59
* See above, p. 267.
In a letter on the same subject to MacArthur, General Krueger pointed out that the tentative date of 4 December at Gloucester would require that Gasmata be secured by 28 November, and that the loss of any shipping at Gasmata would hinder the Gloucester operation. He recommended 2 December for Gasmata and 26 December for Gloucester, and these dates were approved by MacArthur on 14 November.60 A conference among Krueger, Kenney, and Admiral Barbey within a week brought still another recommended change. The Navy was interested in the establishment of a base for PT boats on the south coast of New Britain for protection of Vitiaz Strait, and available intelligence indicated that Arawe, a good distance west of Gasmata, offered the best location. And since intelligence also estimated the enemy force at Arawe as much less than that at Gasmata, where a build-up of Japanese strength was reportedly under way, it was decided to recommend substitution of Arawe for Gasmata.61 If the Arawe landing took place at least eight days before Gloucester, Kenney was sure that he could supply imited air cover. MacArthur approved, and on 22 November, GHQ issued Annex 15 to Operations Instruction 38 eliminating Gasmata and substituting the seizure of Arawe peninsula with a target date of 15 December.62
Krueger on 30 November set up for Arawe the DIRECTOR Task Force under Brig. Gen. Julian W. Cunningham. The assault echelon consisted of the 112th Cavalry Regiment; 148th Field Artillery Battalion; 59th Engineer Co. (C) ; Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 236th Antiaircraft Artillery Searchlight Battalion; and Batteries C and D, 470th Antiaircraft Artillery Air Warning Battalion.63 On 12 December, the 2d Battalion, 158th Infantry Regiment was designated as the reserve. The substitution of Arawe released forces originally scheduled for Gasmata, making possible their use under Brig. Gen. Clarence A. Martin's command for a landing at Saidor.* A final change in the plans for DEXTERITY eliminated the paratroop landing at Cape Gloucester. Kenney's director of operations on 8 December queried the G-3 section of GHQ on the proposed drop, pointing out that its mounting would take space at Dobodura which might better be used by a heavy bombardment group. MacArthur and Krueger agreed, after conferring at Goodenough Island on 14 December.64
All this planning had depended heavily on aerial reconnaissance, with the main burden falling on the 8th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron,
*See below, p. 345.
which flew daily missions over New Guinea, New Britain, and New Ireland. The First Marine Division sent in two patrols for detailed beach data near Tauali and west of Silimati Point on Cape Gloucester, and other patrols reconnoitered the Arawe area. The information they secured, besides furnishing planning data for the ground troops, supplied target data for air force strikes.65 But the exchange was no more than fair. Aerial photography, though limited by its inability to penetrate jungle foliage, showed up bridges, clearings, gun positions, supply dumps, new trails, and beach defenses. The Seventh Amphibious Force used aerial photos as the basis for its navigational charts, the First Marine Division in the selection of landing beaches. Gridded mosaics were used by the artillery as firing charts, and gridded obliques served for designating ground support strikes.66 Heavy and medium bombers often supplemented the efforts of the 8th Photo, and photo interpreters at the several headquarters put in many long hours. Overwater reconnaissance covered the Bismarck and Solomon seas and the approaches to Truk. Though the assignment was shared with Patwing 10's PBY's and RAAF Catalinas, Fifth Air Force heavies flew no less than 192 B-24 reconnaissance sorties during November.67
Between 11 November and 19 December, when SOPAC laid on its first Rabaul bomber strike, SWPA efforts against Rabaul were restricted to missions flown by RAAF planes. A total of thirty-two Beauforts were over Lakunai airfield and Simpson Harbor on the nights of 3 and 4 December, and these were followed on 7 December by a night strike of twenty-six Beauforts against Borpop airdrome on New Ireland.68 The Fifth Air Force gave its support to Australian ground forces in their hard fight along the coast of the Huon Peninsula and in the Ramu valley, and extended this activity to include repeated blows against Wewak and other New Guinea air bases,* These blows, while protecting Allied bases at Nadzab, Gusap, and Finschhafen,69 served also to neutralize enemy air power by way of preparation for DEXTERITY.
Preinvasion bombing of western New Britain began on 13 November, when nine of the B-25's brought forward to Kiriwina for the Rabaul strikes and an escort of eighteen RAAF P-40's bombed, strafed, and photographed the area from Gasmata to Lindenhafen. A P-40 strike followed on 17 November; and in the four-day period 20 to 24 November, 133 B-24's and 63 B-25's dropped 432 tons of bombs on
* See below, pp. 338, 345-46.
personnel and supply areas as well as on the defenses of Gasmata and Agur Island. Aside from regular RAAF patrols which hit Gasmata three times, there were no more attacks in November. On 6 December, eighteen B-25's of the 345th Group were weathered out of Borgen Bay in the Gloucester area and hit the Arawe Islands; two days later six A-20's attacked Cape Merkus on the Arawe peninsula. None of these targets on western or southern New Britain was strongly defended by antiaircraft weapons, and in this period few Japanese fighters could be spared from protection of the main bases at Rabaul and Wewak.70
On the north coast, where the principal targets were supply dumps, coastal installations, shipping, and airdromes, small-scale missions, using B-25's, B-26's, and A-20's for the most part, were sent over the area through October and November. On 13-14 October, when weathered out of Rabaul, twenty B-24's and twenty-four B-25's hit the airdrome and coastal area at Cape Gloucester.71 On 19 November the aerial preparation for the invasion began in earnest. The Japanese were reported to be sending merchant vessels from Rabaul to Garove Island (seventy-five miles north of Borgen Bay) and running men and supplies by barges at night to Borgen Bay. There was also supposed to be a barge route along the north coast from Rabaul to the Rai coast in the Saidor area of New Guinea. Strikes were set up to cut down this traffic as well as to knock out any potential defenders in the invasion area.72 From 19 November to 25 December (D minus 1), a period of thirty-six days, there were only nine days in which light, medium, or heavy bombers were not over the northwest coastal areas of New Britain, and on many of these days fighter sweeps or night coastal patrols also covered the area.* The cannon-mounted model of the B-25 received a thorough testing during the period, using 1,253 rounds of 75-mm. ammunition. This effort was chiefly centered on the Gloucester airdrome and the antiaircraft concentrations there. The dump area between the two airstrips received full attention, as did Target Hill back of the strips. The beach defenses of Borgen Bay were thoroughly worked over as well as all suspected bivouac areas. The Cape Hoskins airdrome was hit by thirty-seven B-24's on 18 December to make sure it would be inoperable during the landing.73
* The total sorties for the period amounted to 1,845, the bomb tonnage 3,926. The A-20's dropped 65.4 tons, the B-25's dropped 49.5, the B-26's of the 22d Bombardment Group put in 542.1 tons, and the heavy groups using quarter-, half-, and one-ton bombs unloaded a total of 3,269 tons. A total of 2,095,488 rounds of .30- and .50-cal. ammunition was expended in strafing.
By this bombing on a scale unprecedented for SWPA, the Fifth Air Force hoped to enable the Marines to walk ashore standing up, and in effect this happened. GHQ had estimated that there were 4,000 troops in the Gloucester area. The First Marines more accurately figured 9,000, with an additional 5,000 in the Cape Hoskins area and potential reinforcements from the estimated 80,000 troops in and around Rabaul.74 The defensive responsibility belonged to the Japanese Eighth Area Army, with headquarters at Rabaul, and the troops employed were veterans. Around Cape Hoskins the coast was defended by the 17th Division; at Cape Gloucester by the 65th Brigade, reinforced by the 53d Regiment of the 17th Division. The 141s and 142d Regiments of the 65th Brigade were veterans of Bataan and the Philippines campaign,75 and the Fifth Air Force found much satisfaction in later reports of prisoner interrogations which showed these veterans dazed from the heavy aerial effort as well as weak from short rations imposed by the aerial blockade of the barge supply lines.
But during the pre-invasion period the effects of the bombardment were hardly apparent. Except for the airfields and a few other points, the area was densely covered with jungle growth, and much of the bombing had to be done by reference points with results as obscure as was the target. One squadron reported: "Our bombs, bursting throughout the [target] area, started no fires and it seems doubtful that anything of value was destroyed. For sheer tree-splitting, however, the mission was magnificent.76
Most of the preliminary bombing for the south-coast operation had been directed at Gasmata, Ring Ring, and Lindenhafen before the GHQ instruction of 22 November changed the target area to Arawe, and it was then decided to continue the main weight on those areas in the hope of gaining tactical surprise for the Arawe landing.77 On 13 December, thirty-four B-24's, two squadrons of the 380th Group and two from the 43d, were weathered out of Cape Hoskins and hit Lindenhafen with 1,000-pound bombs. In the afternoon, twenty-six B-25's worked over the same area from minimum altitude with bombs and .50-cal. ammunition. On that day, too, twenty-six B-24's of the 90th Group with twenty-four B-25's of the 345th Group hit Ring Ring Plantation. On 14 December, the 22d Group with nine B-26's and thirty-one B-25's was assigned the Gasmata airdrome. Using 1,000-pound bombs
Rabaul: Revetments, Vunakanau Airfield
Rabaul: Parafrags Along the Docks
Rabaul: One Maru Down
Rabaul: Direct Hit
Rabaul: Phosphorus Bombs on Airfield
Isolation of Kavieng: Attack on Convoy off Kavieng
Isolation of Kavieng: Directo Hit on Destroyer off Kavieng
from medium altitude, the group scored only 30 per cent hits, but this was adjudged to be enough to protect the invasion force from Gasmata-based attacks. The bombers, accordingly, now switched to the invasion area--the Amalut Plantation on the Arawe peninsula and near-by Pilelo Island. A total of 273 sorties were flown on 14 December against the south coast, while the north coast was given a day's rest.78
The air plan for Z-day,* 15 December, provided for attacks on the bivouacs and supply areas at Cape Gloucester, direct support for the amphibious force at Arawe, fighter protection for naval forces, and preparation for support of the ground forces. RAAF 9 Operational Group was to give fighter cover along the south coast, strike Lakunai airdrome with a maximum force of Beauforts during the night of 15/16 December, dispatch Catalinas to work with the night bombardment squadron of the 43d Group in barge sweeps along the coast east of Arawe during the night of 15/16 December, and hold one squadron of Bostons alerted to hit enemy naval forces. On the 16th, eight bombardment squadrons would go on alert at Dobodura: one squadron of B-25's on air alert from 0615 to 0900; two squadrons of A-20's on ground alert throughout the day; five heavy squadrons of the 43d and 380th Groups on ground alert until 1000, at which time they were to be dispatched over Gloucester if not called for at Arawe.79
The DIRECTOR Task Force, meanwhile, had embarked at Goodenough Island on the night of 13/14 December, its landing force of I ,700 men supplied by the 112th Cavalry Regiment.80 Apparently undetected en route, the convoy arrived off the beaches at dawn of the 15th and after a destroyer bombardment the landing began. Troop B of the 1st Squadron landed on Pilelo Island, where a radio station had been reported to exist--mistakenly, as events proved. Troop A, attempting to land at the base of Arawe peninsula to cut off enemy troops retreating from Amalut Plantation, ran into heavy opposition. Twelve of the fifteen boats were sunk with a loss of twelve killed, four missing, and seventeen wounded, along with all of their equipment. It was decided then to abandon the effort, and General Cunningham requested complete resupply by air. The new equipment, packed by the Provisional Air Supply Company at Dobodura and loaded into nineteen B-25's and one B-17, would be dropped on Amalut Plantation between 1300 and 1500 on 16 December.81
* The landing date at Arawe was labeled "Z-day" to avoid confusion with the specified "D-day" for the main landing at Cape Gloucester.
The main landing party of the 2d Squadron, having shifted from an LSD into Buff aloes and Alligators headed toward House Fireman Beach in the company of two rocket-firing DUKW's. Reefs and a misunderstanding of the fire support schedule caused some delay, and the reserve (1st Squadron minus Troops A and B, but reinforced by engineers and service units) landed thirty minutes ahead of the main force. There was fortunately little opposition. The artillery and antiaircraft units arrived from Cape Cretin in LCT's and LCM's at H plus 2 hours. By 1430 the troops had advanced three miles to the final objective for Z-day. The Air Liaison Party had landed with the 2d Squadron, and within twenty minutes it had established contact with ALAMO Force headquarters, ADVON Fifth Air Force, and the First Air Task Force. Because of the lack of opposition only one air strike was called for on Z-day. One three-plane flight of the nine B-25's on air alert was ordered to bomb targets just north of Cape Merkus. For good measure, five planes instead of three dropped bombs and strafed.82
In contrast to the bombers, the fighters had a busy day. A Japanese reconnaissance plane was over Arawe at 0700, before the first patrol of nine P-3 8's arrived. It apparently radioed Rabaul the sighting of the convoy, for at 0900 from thirty to forty Vals and Zekes bombed and strafed the beachhead. One LCV was destroyed, and the attacking force got away without loss. During the day a total of eighty-two P-38's and forty-six P-47's patrolled the Arawe area, and the Japanese sent in an estimated seventy to eighty fighters and dive bombers. But there were only two fights: one at 1115, when four P-38's shot down a Zeke, and another at 1800, when four P-38's drove off thirty Zekes plus twelve Bettys and Sallys.83
After Z-day the enemy's luck ran out. He continued to send heavy attacks against Arawe, but they lost heavily to the Allied fighter cover and seldom broke through the fighter screen to do any significant damage. Nevertheless, the beachhead area felt the need of heavy antiaircraft guns, since Japanese attackers could remain outside light anti-aircraft range. From 15 December to 31 December the Japanese lost at least twenty-four bombers and thirty-two fighters, and after 1 January enemy planes made most of their attacks at night. There were few even of these after 90-mm. antiaircraft guns were brought into the area on 1 February.84
Calls made upon the Allied bombers remained few. A-20's contributed the major effort, bombing and strafing reported Japanese concentrations
between Gasmata and Arawe or breaking up enemy concentrations in front of Allied ground positions. The direction of flight of some of the Japanese planes indicated that they were coming from Madang. Accordingly, that airdrome was hit on 19 December by the 33d Bombardment Squadron with forty-five tons of bombs. The Allied ground troops had held their line on the peninsula and limited their offensive action to sending out forward patrols. When these patrols were driven in on 21 December, giving evidence of Japanese concentrations in front of the cavalry positions, General Cunningham requested reinforcements. Company G of the 158th Infantry was sent first, followed by the rest of the 2d Battalion and by a company of light tanks of the First Marine Division in January.85 On 16 January, Cunningham launched an attack to clear this area. At 0830, eighteen B-24's dropped 136 x 1,000-pounders on enemy positions, followed by twenty B-25's strafing and bombing. Artillery and mortar barrages further softened the enemy, after which the light tanks spearheaded a drive which advanced about a mile. Following this attack, patrols found evidence that the enemy was withdrawing; they steadily ranged farther until 10 February, when Arawe patrols contacted the Marine patrols from Cape Gloucester which had reached Gilnit. Patrols reached and occupied Gasmata airdrome and Lindenhafen Plantation by 17-18 March. Thereafter, there was little except routine patrolling until 8 June 1944, when the 108th Infantry, 40th Division relieved the original DIRECTOR forces.86
Three days after the Arawe landing, the air assault on Cape Gloucester had been stepped up in preparation for the landing there. Two Japanese fighters having been seen taking off from No. 2 strip at Gloucester on 17 December, the 90th Group struck the field with eighty 2,000-pound bombs the next day to put it back out of condition. The 380th and 43d Groups used half-ton bombs to give the Cape Hoskins airdrome the same treatment, and neither airfield was reported operational thereafter. On 19 December two squadrons of the 380th Group flew two missions from Dobodura. The 43d Bombardment Group flew double missions on each day from the 21st through the 25th. The highest number of bomber sorties was reached on 24 December, when the seven bombardment groups flew 280 bomber sorties. The double missions were unusual for the heavy bombardment groups, though common
enough for the B-25's. In addition to the daylight attacks, night-flying B-24's were over the area with bombs, grenades, beer bottles, and anything else that would bother the Japanese and keep them awake.87 As the bomber effort reached its peak with the approach of D-day, every target of importance was hit. The 345th Group, scheduled for beach attacks on D-day, sent its strafing Mitchell bombers over the course on 24 December to make sure of their timing. There were no fighters and very little antiaircraft to interfere with this rehearsal. Beginning on 19 December, the Second and Third Air Task Forces used their fighter bombers and such mediums as were available to make sure that no opposition to the Gloucester landing came from the New Guinea fields at Madang, Alexishafen, and Wewak. The RAAF Beauforts, after a short break, resumed nightly harassing attacks on Rabaul on 13 December. On 17 December, SOPAC put seventy-six fighters over Rabaul; and two days later, P-38's and RNZAF P-40's escorted six Thirteenth Air Force B-24's to Rabaul. The B-24's mounted three more attacks--on 23 December when they were accompanied by another fighter sweep and on the 24th and 25th--and a SOPAC carrier force attacked shipping in Kavieng Harbor with bombs and torpedoes on Christmas Day.* The usual reconnaissance was maintained, with RAAF Catalinas nightly covering the Kavieng area. In all, the enemy was being hit by a coordinated air attack which he hardly knew how to handle.88
The air plan for D-day was carefully timed to give maximum support to the landing. To insure no disruption from enemy air attacks the plan provided for one fighter squadron to be over the area from 0630 to 0700, three squadrons from 0700 to 1400, and one squadron from 1400 to 1830. From 0700 to 0720, five squadrons of Liberators were to neutralize by high-level bombing all defense positions covering the landing beaches. Fleet units were to bombard the entire area from 0600 to 0727; and from 0728 to 0743, three B-25 squadrons were to bomb and strafe the beaches, while another squadron covered rear positions with white phosphorus bombs. Squadrons of A-20's would be on air alert from 0745 (H-hour) to 0915, with designated targets if they were not called for. To catch enemy concentrations gathering for counterattacks, four squadrons of heavies were to drop 1,000-pounders from 0900 to 0915, and at 0930 four squadrons of mediums were to bomb and strafe along the coast east of the beachhead. Other heavy
*See below, pp. 350-51.
and medium strikes were set up during the day to eliminate any effective enemy reaction.89
The northwestern tip of New Britain is dominated by three volcanic mountains. On the west, from Cape Gloucester south to Cape Bushing, lay an ideal beach area with good anchorage and no reef offshore; but the Japanese, of course, had concentrated their defenses there. To the east of the mountains was a comparatively low valley running from Borgen Bay south to the mouth of the Itni River. After study, the Marine planners selected two beaches, Yellow 1 and Yellow 2 in Borgen Ray northwest of Silimati Point. Interpretation of aerial photographs and the SWPA terrain study noted swampy area back of the beaches, but the Marines seem to have overlooked this, for the fact came as a surprise and caused some disruption in the early stages of the landing.90 Combat Team C (7th Marine Regiment reinforced) was to seize and consolidate the beachhead; Combat Team B (1st Marine Regiment reinforced) was to pass through and attack northwest toward the airdrome. On D-day also Battalion Landing Team 2 I of Combat Team B (1,500 troops and their supplies) was to land at Green Beach near Tauali at H-hour for the purpose of cutting off any withdrawal southwest from the Gloucester area. The reserve force, Combat Team A (5th Marine Regiment reinforced) was to move on D-day from Milne Bay to Oro Bay.91
Escorted by cruisers and destroyers, Task Force 76, carrying the BACKHANDER troops, left Buna harbor at 0300 on 25 December. Fifth Air Force fighters provided cover along the New Guinea coast. A Japanese reconnaissance plane was shot down east of the convoy early in the afternoon, but no attacks occurred during the 25th of December. After dark, the Tauali force under destroyer escort separated from the main force.92
The landing was favored with good weather-ceiling and visibility unlimited. The naval and air bombardments went off as scheduled. Five squadrons (forty-three B-24's) dropped 112 tons on the Target Hill area beyond Yellow 2. The mediums (thirty-eight B-25's) worked over the beaches and smoked Target Hill, pulling off when the landing craft were 500 yards offshore. Two LCI's and two DUKW's put a rocket barrage on the beaches. The landing craft reached shore on schedule, and the 7th Marines began organizing the beachhead without opposition. The beaches were not strongly defended, and the bombardment preparation had caused the abandonment of guns and equipment
by enemy troops assigned to the area. The 1st Marines landed at 0900 and began advancing toward the airdrome. Meanwhile, the A-20's on air alert were not called for; and so at 0815 they bombed a previously assigned target and were followed in their attack by twenty-four Liberators. Just before 1100 the 38th Group's mediums bombed and strafed the coast southwest of Cape Gloucester.93 Documents captured at the beachhead indicated a strength of 5,000 or more enemy troops in the Borgen Bay area. General Rupertus requested General Krueger to release Combat Team A to reinforce his command. During the afternoon, twenty-four Mitchells of the 345th Group hit Hill 150 and Natamo Point. The 43d Bombardment Group put sixty-three tons on Hill 660; the 380th Group dropped another sixty-seven tons on Target Ridge.94
Battalion Landing Team 21 was equally successful in its landing on Green Beach, north of Tauali. The escorting destroyers Reid and Smith began bombardment at 0716, and at 0736 eleven B-25's of the 13th Bombardment Squadron thoroughly worked over the beach area. The enemy had again abandoned defensive positions, and the ground troops soon had the beachhead organized with patrols out to contact the enemy. The thick jungle was the biggest obstacle, forcing troops to leave much equipment along the coast exposed to enemy air attack.95
Brig. Gen. Frederic H. Smith, Jr., of the First Air Task Force was charged with control of all aerial operations. Air force representatives controlled aerial activity from the headquarters ship during the landing at Borgen Bay. The 1st Air Liaison Party with First Marine Division headquarters landed at 0930 and moved to the division command post by 1100. It established contact with the Finschhafen relay station and, because of the failure of Marine communications, relayed Marine traffic to ALAMO Force headquarters through Finschhafen and the First Air Task Force at Dobodura. It controlled bomber strikes by messages direct to the pilots. The fighter controller remained afloat on a destroyer.96 There were no morning air attacks on the beachhead. The expected attack came, however, between 1430 and 1510 in the afternoon. The presence of Vals--naval dive bombers--made Rabaul the likely base of the attack. An estimated twenty-five Vals escorted by thirty to sixty Zekes, Oscars, and Tojos made up the attacking force, which was first plotted at 1420 and again at 1425. The destroyers' radar lost the plot, however, and the two squadrons sent for interception were out of position
when the attack came in. Although there were forty-nine P-38's, sixteen P-47's, and sixteen P-40's in the area, the dive bombers got through to the convoy and sank one destroyer, damaged three others, and damaged two LST's. The aerial combat began at about 1445; and by 1510 the Japanese had lost twenty-two out of the twenty-five dive bombers and probably more than twenty-four of their fighters against an Allied loss of two P-38's and two P-47's. Unfortunately, the Vals made their attack just as the B-25 group was going in to strafe Hill 150--in fact, the Vals flew through the B-25 formation. The ships' anti-aircraft opened up on both groups and scored more heavily on the B-25's (two shot down and two badly damaged) than it did in getting one Val.97
In a second attack at 1715, fifteen torpedo-carrying Bettys tried to reach a convoy of LST's. The 341st and 342d Fighter Squadrons, covering the area with twenty-six P-47's, intercepted the two attacking waves and destroyed fourteen of the Bettys and two Tojos, and claimed the other Betty as probably destroyed. Again, ships' antiaircraft shot down one P-47 of the 342d Squadron. On 31 December, patrolling P-47's and P-40's shot down eight Vals and four fighters, claiming two additional probables off Cape Gloucester. Between 15 and 31 December, over Arawe and Gloucester the Japanese lost an estimated 163 destroyed and 22 probables--a loss they could ill afford when their own base at Rabaul was being hard hit by South Pacific air forces. So succeeding raids were made usually at night in small strength, and Allied air action became that mainly of ground support and aerial supply.98
In the ensuing days of the campaign, the Marines had to fight both the Japanese and the weather. Day after day heavy rain and deep mud hampered all activity. Yet the advance was steady. After consolidating their beachhead on the first day, the Marines on 27 December advanced about six miles without opposition. When patrols located machine-gun positions near the airdrome on 28 December, they requested an aerial attack, which was carried out by nineteen A-20's of the 3d Bombardment Group. The enemy still had to be routed out by close combat, and progress was slow. The first battalion of the reserve Combat Team A reached Gloucester on 29 December, and reinforcements were started up to the line for the final assault on the airdrome. A Fifth Air Force strike was also called for, to soften the main enemy defenses on Razor Back Hill south of the airfield and in woods and grass areas southeast of Strip 2.99
In an excellent example of ground support by heavy bombers, fifty four Liberators at 10,000 feet dropped 156 tons of 500-pound bombs in the target areas with none short of the bomb line. They pulled off the target area by 0905 to be followed by the mediums of the 22d and 345th Bombardment Groups, which dropped 300- and 500-pounders--79 tons in all--and made numerous strafing runs until 0923. Contrary to plan, however, the Marine ground troops waited for their reinforcements before moving out at 1515. Despite the delay, the Japanese had had enough from the air, and the advancing forces were able to overcome the dazed enemy. By noon of 30 December, both strips were occupied. The continuing air attacks had knocked out all the artillery as well as the antiaircraft guns which might have been used as artillery. An observer reported prisoners as stating that the air bombardment was more than they could stand and as a consequence reinforcing troops had been withdrawn into the hills overlooking the Cape Gloucester area.100 In miserable weather, the next two weeks were devoted to establishing the airdrome area and getting engineering units to work on the airfield while Marine patrols kept contact with the retreating enemy.
On 3 January the 1913th Engineer Aviation Battalion began work on the Cape Gloucester airfield. The 864th Engineer Aviation Battalion came in on 13 January, and one week later the 841st Battalion for work on the roads. By the end of the month, 4,200 feet of pierced plank had been laid and the first plane, a Beechcraft, had landed. A C-47 landed safely the next day. The engineers had worked to good effect and under very difficult conditions. There had been only five clear days between 26 December and 1 February, with heavy rain on all others. General Whitehead was anxious to get the field operational to supply single-engine fighter cover for strikes on Kavieng in support of Halsey's landing on Nissan Island; he also wanted an emergency field for his planes attacking the Admiralties. Generals Krueger and Smith inspected the field on 9 January and estimated that one group of fighters could move in on the 15th101 The field was not ready until 30 January, however, and for another fortnight troop carriers bringing in badly needed supplies severely taxed the limited facilities. Not until 13 February did the 35th Fighter Squadron (P-40's) with aid from the transports begin its move to Cape Gloucester. The 80th Fighter Squadron brought its P-38's in on 23 February. The muddy subbase of the field was such that it came up
through the planking after heavy rains. This did not bother the P-40's but made it very difficult for P-38's to land without overrunning the strip. The surprise move into the Admiralties on 29 February would give Whitehead another base from which to hit Kavieng. Whitehead needed all Fifth Air Force units at Nadzab, so he decided to move the 35th and 80th Squadrons back to New Guinea and replace them with RAAF units equipped with P-40's moving up from Kiriwina. On 11 March, the necessary moves began.102
While the 1st Marines and the reserve forces of the 5th Marines had moved northwestward toward the airdrome, the 7th Marines held the beachhead against possible Japanese counterattacks from the east. Probing Marine attacks began to expand the beachhead on 30 December, by which time the Japanese were making ready their own counterattack. On 3 January a strong Japanese effort was made to regain Target Hill; starting at 0545 and supported by artillery, it lasted until noon and cost the enemy over 200 casualties103
The Allies followed this victory with an effort to break out of the beachhead for the purpose of driving the Japanese back along the northern coast of New Britain. As their drive got under way, the Marines were forced to fight in an area heavily covered by forest or kunai grass, and the aid that could be expected from the air forces was limited. In most instances, opposing positions were too close for bombing. When attacks were called for, the targets were fixed by coordinates or marked with smoke shells. At times both methods were used, as on 4 January when the Marines moved toward Hill 150. A formation of B-25's on call sent planes first against a map target, then responded to a smoke shell 200 yards southwest of the initial target, and finally bombed and strafed on a shell burst 500 yards northwest of that target.104 The Marines, assisted by other bombings on 6 January, took Hill 150 by nightfall. The Japanese were still strongly entrenched on Aogiri Ridge--just southeast of Hill 150--and on Hill 660. The Aogiri Ridge positions were too close to Hill 150 for air strikes, but eighteen B-24's were called in to put 216 x 500-pound bombs on Hill 660 on 7 January. By 9 January, the Marines had occupied Aogiri Ridge, repelling all enemy attempts to retake it. Another strike hit Hill 660 on the 10th of January, as the Marines prepared to take it.105
The 3d Battalion, 7th Marines opened the attack on Hill 660 on 13 January but the advance was stopped near the crest by dug-in, 20-mm. guns that had survived both aerial bombardment and artillery fire
It was necessary to bring up tanks despite the difficult terrain; and on 14 January, the position was taken with their aid. The Japanese fell back toward Magiarapu village, which was worked over by A-20's. The Japanese of the 141st Infantry made a last unsuccessful counterattack on 16 January, after which they withdrew from the area toward Talasea and Hoskins Plantation.106 Succeeding phases of the Marine advance were tough. There were occasional air strikes called for on particular targets, but most of the air missions were barge sweeps or patrols over the enemy's rear areas, hitting any targets of opportunity that were presented.
The campaign for possession of the western tip of New Britain ended with the junction of patrols from Arawe and Cape Gloucester on 10 February. Already, however, Operation APPEASE, an exploitation to extend the area under Allied control to Talasea and Hoskins Plantation on the northern coast, had gotten under way. The first action, an attempt to seize Iboki Plantation, started on 1 February. After strikes by fifty B-24's and forty-two B-25's on 21 and 22 February, an amphibious landing took the place without opposition on 25 February. Another amphibious jump, this time to Talasea, constituted the second phase of the operation. It had been anticipated that opposition might be strong and RAAF units at Kiriwina had been assigned for support, but weather cut them off on D-day. Fortunately, the 80th Fighter Squadron, which had moved onto Cape Gloucester on 23 February, was able to cover the landing, and the Japanese force, though strong, chose not to put up a stout resistance. Landing on Volupai Plantation on 6 March, the 5th Marines occupied the Talasea airdrome on 8 March and lost contact with the retreating Japanese on 15 March.107 Hoskins Plantation was occupied by patrols of the 185th Infantry of the 40th Division on 7 May. This division, under Maj. Gen. Rapp Brush, had moved into New Britain in April, relieving the First Marine Division, and was, in turn, relieved by the Australian 5 Division on 27 November 1944.108
A review of the operations at Cape Gloucester gave Allied leaders much cause for optimism as to the success of future operations. Perhaps the diversionary effort at Arawe could have been better managed, but the main show at Cape Gloucester had been well executed by all arms. There had been mistakes, it is true. For example, the recognition training of both naval and air forces was shown to be poor. Naval antiaircraft crews would fire on "anything that was not a P-38." P-47's shot down a Catalina, and even made passes on an A-20 formation. Small
Allied surface craft, such as PT boats, were attacked more than once under conditions where recognition should have been certain. But at least partial remedy for these failures could be provided by additional training.109 Limited by the nature of jungle warfare, air units had made their chief contribution by pre-invasion bombing--so intense that the term "Gloucesterizing" thereafter served in Fifth Air Force circles to describe the complete obliteration of a target--and by the continuous isolation of the battle area. Barge hunts and attacks on roads and supply dumps not only denied adequate reinforcement for the enemy but reduced him in time to half rations. It also resulted in so many desertions by native carriers that the Japanese were forced to divert combat troops to serve as bearers.110 Admiral Barbey described the air support given the Navy as "superb."111 To Arnold, General MacArthur wrote: "The Air Force here has been magnificent and is the very hub of our success."112
In planning for the invasion of New Britain, the Allied command had given consideration to the possibility of a third amphibious operation, against Saidor on the New Guinea coast opposite Cape Gloucester. But it was not until 16 December, the day after the landing at Arawe, that Brig. Gen. Clarence A. Martin received formal notice of a decision to activate under his command the MICHAELMAS Task Force for the occupation of Saidor.113
Located midway between Blucher Point and Madang, Saidor promised an area for the development of additional forward airfields and a good harbor for small naval craft. Its occupation, moreover, would speed the liquidation of enemy forces along the coast above Finschhafen. Capture of the coastal points of Lae, Salamaua, and Finschhafen in September had been followed by more or less continuous fighting in the Allied effort to consolidate and extend the positions seized in these major operations. Inland along the Markham River and then across the watershed into the Ramu River valley, the burden of pushing back the Japanese or cleaning out pockets of enemy resistance had fallen chiefly to Australian troops; along the coast a similar task had been assumed by the Australians with aid from American forces. Both assignments involved some exceedingly tough fighting against an enemy who was usually inclined to accept annihilation in preference to the abandonment
of hopeless positions. Not until 8 December did the Australians manage to occupy Wareo, an important trail junction only a few miles inland from Finschhafen; and from Wareo, it took two more weeks, with aid from artillery and the air, to work ten miles across rivers and deep gorges to Fortification Point on the coast. The longer distance up the coast to Blucher Point was then negotiated within four days, but meanwhile the malaria-ridden Aussies in the interior had even been forced to withdraw from some of the more forward positions in the Ramu valley. During the remainder of the month, Allied bombers almost doubled their rate of attack on supply and LOC (line of communications) targets in an effort to limit the enemy's capacity.114
On 20 December, Generals Whitehead and Martin met with Admiral Barbey to go over a plan for the Saidor landing that had been drafted by ALAMO force.115 Whitehead received general concurrence on his plans for air support, except that both Barbey and Martin felt that the advantage of surprise argued for an H-hour too early for some of the bomber support scheduled.116 Final preparations were rushed to a rather precarious state of readiness within the next ten days. On 22 December, D-day was tentatively set for 2 January 1944, and General Martin was advised to hold his command, already on Good-enough Island, in a state of readiness that would permit the operation to be mounted "on or after 2 January on 48 hours notice."117 To meet this date, at first, seemed impossible. Continual rains and a lack of transportation hindered the movement to the embarkation areas; orders from higher echelons were confusing as to the employment of landing craft; and some units had arrived on Goodenough without equipment. But the loading was completed and a brief rehearsal of the landing-boat formation had been held by late afternoon of 31 December. On the next day the landing craft had met their destroyer escort in Oro Bay.118
In the meantime, the details of air participation in the operation had not been made entirely clear to General Martin. Immediately following the preliminary conference on 20 December, an air liaison party and the task force staff discussed the original air plan, prepared a revised plan, and submitted it to General Whitehead at Port Moresby, who assigned the air phase of the MICHAELMAS operation to the First Air Task Force. The final air plan and operations order did not reach General Martin until he had left Goodenough. Fortunately it was almost identical with earlier drafts, although one small change caused considerable anxiety. The final operations instruction assigned an
alternate target which proved to be inside the bomb line. By the time this had been discovered, the convoy was on the way, radio silence was in effect, and nothing could be done to correct the situation until the landing had occurred. Fortunately the air liaison after the landing managed to make contact with the alerted planes before any damage had resulted.119
The extensive air operations which had preceded and followed the landing at Arawe served also as preparation for the Saidor landing. Likewise, low-level bombing attacks at Wewak on 22 and 23 December, together with increased pressure on Madang and Alexishafen during the last week of December, had greatly reduced the risk of enemy interference. And as the landing force moved northward on 1 January, sixty B-24's and forty-eight B-25's littered the coast line at and near Saidor with 218 tons of demolition bombs.120 The convoy, consisting of sixteen LCI's, approximately nine APD's, six LST's, and six destroyers, after passing through a tropical storm in the Huon Gulf, arrived on time off the three landing beaches, which had been chosen after a careful study of aerial photographs. Naval bombardment, because of continuing unfavorable weather, began some fifteen minutes behind schedule. When the heavy bombardment ceased, several LCI's covered the landing assault with rocket fire. About 7,000 troops,* 300 vehicles, and approximately 1,800 tons of other equipment and supplies were put ashore in good order, and almost without opposition.121] The weather had prevented the scheduled air support. Forty-two B-25's taking off at first light for a Saidor mission were unable to bomb. Somewhat later, three B-2 5's succeeded in breaking through the storm front and swept over the Saidor airstrip and other inland points to lay a smoke screen, and shortly thereafter, forty-two B-24's dropped almost 100 tons of bombs on assigned targets behind the beachheads. These were followed by forty A-20's, which at a tree-scraping altitude dropped an additional thirty-six tons.122 It had been assumed that the landing might provoke an attack by 60 to 100 Japanese planes and that attacks on that scale would probably
* The principal units assigned to the MICHAELMAS Task Force included the 126th Infantry Regimental Combat Team, 121st Field Artillery Battalion, Hq. and Hq. Battery of the 191st Field Artillery Group, 808th and 863d Engineer (Aviation) Battalions, plus medical and service units. Later the 128th Infantry RCT (less two battalion combat teams) was added to the troop complement. (Report of MICHAELMAS Operation, 16 Dec. 1943-10 Feb. 1944.)
continue. Consequently, a strong fighter cover had been provided in the air plan and every attempt made to provide adequate air warning and fighter control. The previously tested plan of using a destroyer to house fighter controllers was again employed, and an aircraft warning company was promptly landed by LST on D-day.123
Actually, Japanese resistance to the Allied landing was "pitiable." For more than eight hours, no enemy aircraft appeared, by which time all landing craft had unloaded their cargoes and were heading back toward Oro Bay. The first raid came shortly after 1600, by nine Helen bombers escorted by perhaps twenty Zeke and Tony fighters. The enemy pilots were not particularly enthusiastic, and when twelve P-40's approached, several of the bombers jettisoned their bombs and with some of the fighters beat a hasty retreat. A number of bombs were dropped, however, and one American enlisted man was killed and another wounded. In the combat that had meanwhile developed overhead, one P-40 was seen to go down in flames, and two Helens and three enemy fighters were destroyed.124 During the night of 2/3 January, there were three small bombing attacks. Two bombs, which seriously wounded two men, were dropped during the following night. On 5 January, four American P-47's strafed two American LCM's but caused no casualties. That evening the Japs struck twice with no success and lost one plane from antiaircraft. Two nights later there were five small raids, unpleasant but not damaging. After the first week and until the end of the campaign there were numerous red alerts, but on only one occasion were bombs dropped.125
Meanwhile, as the infantry gradually enlarged its perimeter against sporadic enemy opposition, the air service units were organizing a base on the airstrip. By 10 January, a fighter subsector had established communications with related sectors. Despite soaking rains, elements of the three aviation engineer battalions assigned to the task force had smoothed out a runway on the Saidor airfield, an Australian commercial strip before the war. The 3d Airdrome Squadron arrived on 9 January, and two days later a flight of twelve C-47's loaded with ammunition landed on the reconditioned field.126
The base was envisaged as a forward supply depot and as a key point in the fighter defense network. It was estimated, however, that it would take several months before extensive base facilities could be developed. In mud, rain, and a confusion of orders, camp sites were cleared, fox-holes dug, and tents pitched on one location after another, with some
units playing the old army game of "hurry up and wait." But order began to appear, and by 21 January, Saidor had officially become the key point in the 21st Fighter Sector.127
Meanwhile, Allied infantry was rapidly eliminating Japanese resistance along the coast. The Australians, in their drive from Finschhafen, were now fighting in less difficult country and had reached the important barge center at Sio by 14 January. The Americans at Saidor, fanning out in all directions, encountered little but sniping Japanese patrols. Ten days after the landing, the battalion which was spearheading the American advance could claim only forty-seven Japanese killed since the beginning of the operation. In view of the light Japanese resistance, there was little need for air support.128
The advances along the coast were rapid when compared with those of the Australian 7 Division in the Ramu valley. Throughout December and most of January a virtual stalemate had existed there. The principal obstacles confronting the Australians trying to reach the Bogadjim road and the approaches to Madang were the enemy defenses on Shaggy Ridge, six miles north of Dumpu and approximately forty miles south of Madang. The Japanese, holding the high north end of the ridge, dominated the path along which the Australians had to advance. This approach to the "pimple" was from two to three feet wide with drops of 300 to 500 feet on either side and was honeycombed with enemy machine-gun nests and foxholes. The infantry supported by mountain guns had made several unsuccessful attempts to take this position by late December, and an unusual effort by the air units was deemed necessary.
Detailed preparations were made by the Third Air Task Force. The plan was for the RAAF Boomerang, a slow, Australia-manufactured plane, to guide dive-bombing P-40's to the objective, no more than 150 yards from the nearest Australian troops. After meticulous preparations, a series of attacks was carried out by P-40's, each of which carried one 500-pound bomb. These attacks were conspicuously successful, Boomerang pilots, knowing intimately the battle area, guided the P-40's to the target; and the dive bombing, generally executed from 1,000 feet, was accurate. After a heavy attack of 27 December, the infantry easily captured the strongpoint.129 This, however, proved to be only a key link in the chain of strongpoints held by the Japanese. Shaggy Ridge itself seemed to extend almost indefinitely north and south, and its crest and sides were a maze of foxholes and trenches. The Third Air
Task Force again undertook to blast the enemy out of these positions and planned a coordinated B-25 and P-40 attack in what was known as the "CUTTHROAT Operation." For three days, 18 to 20 January, B-25's from Nadzab and Port Moresby plastered the ridge itself, near-by stores, and ground installations with 500-pound bombs. P-40's then struck on 21 January, and on the following day returned again. Just before the infantry advanced, the artillery opened up on the same positions. By 23 January, the Australians were in possession of the strongest enemy positions in the Shaggy Ridge area.130
While the light and medium bomber squadrons were exerting every effort to clear the path of advance for the ground forces, other medium and heavy units were increasing their assaults on the principal Japanese bases in New Guinea, from Madang to Hollandia. Madang and Alexishafen as the natural havens for defeated Japanese fleeing from the Saidor area, Hansa Bay as a communications and supply center, and Wewak as the home of the Japanese Army Air Force in New Guinea were logical points of attack for Allied bombers. Alexishafen and Madang received the heaviest tonnage of bombs. During January a total of 308 B-24, 107 B-25, and 9 B-26 sorties were carried out against Alexishafen and Madang, in which more than 1,100 tons of bombs were dropped.131 By 13 January, Allied intelligence had decided that Alexishafen had been abandoned as an important supply and distribution center, and it was attacked for the last time in the month on that date. From then until the end of January, attention was turned toward Hansa Bay and Wewak, with 525 tons of bombs dropped in the course of 130 B-24 and 121 B-25 sorties against Hansa Bay and 350 tons in three strikes employing 127 B-24's against Wewak.132 As Allied air efforts progressively increased, Japanese reaction progressively declined.
The conquest of Saidor, together with the Australian advance in the upper Ramu River valley, brought to an end the Allied campaign for possession of the Huon Peninsula. Japanese troops cut off by the Saidor landing did their best to withdraw to Madang. But at the mercy of jungle disease--not to mention Allied air attacks--and with their supply lines severed, few more than half of them made good their escape.133 The consolidation of the advanced base area thus achieved would count for much in the ensuing operations of 1944.
Meanwhile, Admiral Halsey's South Pacific air forces had launched a sustained effort to knock Rabaul out of the war. There had been
The Reduction of Rabaul
some delay in completing necessary facilities on Bougainville, but Maj . Gen. Ralph J. Mitchell, USMC, who in November had succeeded the AAF's General Twining as COMAIRSOLS, managed on 17 December to send up to Rabaul a fighter sweep of seventy-six planes under the lead of Maj. Gregory Boyington, ex-AVG pilot and now commanding officer of Marine Fighter Squadron 214. The sweep failed in its purpose to entice the full defending force into the air for a fight. Claims showed only seven planes shot down against a loss of three, and the experience argued for use of a smaller number of aircraft thereafter in the interest of more effective control.134 Nevertheless, a beginning had been made.
Because of the weather, a heavy bomber mission scheduled for 18 December was diverted to Bougainville targets. The weather interfered again on the 19th, when only six of forty-one B-24's dispatched were successful in bombing Rabaul. P-38's and RNZAF P-40's provided the cover. On 23 December, the Liberators returned to drop 1,000-pound bombs on Lakunai and Vunakanau airfields, and the bombers were followed by a fighter sweep which caught the enemy defenders in the air with resulting claims of thirty shot down. Twenty-four B-24's hit Vunakanau on the next day, while six Liberators bombed Lakunai. Escorting P-38's claimed eight interceptors. On Christmas Day, when carrier planes attacked Kavieng, only five Liberators got through to Lakunai and two P-38's were lost while warding off interception. The next strike, on 30 December, met tough opposition. Ten B-24's hitting Tobera airdrome were opposed by approximately fifty-five experienced and eager fighters. Eleven Liberators whose target was the town of Rabaul had a running fight with an estimated forty to sixty fighters. As the month closed, the record showed a total of 617 sorties, 197 tons of bombs dropped, and claims of 113 enemy planes against the loss of 19 aircraft.135
The burden of these early bombing attacks had been carried by the 5th and 307th Bombardment Groups of the Thirteenth Air Force. Seven Marine F4U, two Navy F4U, three Navy F6F, and four RNZAF P-40 squadrons supplied the bulk of the fighter effort, with help from the AAF's P-38's. The P-38's usually flew "high" cover; the New Zealand P-40's were favorites with the bomber crews for "close" cover. Formations mixed types and services in a pattern long familiar in the South Pacific.
During January the development of advanced bases made it possible to bring forward new strength for the continuing assault on Rabaul.
On 1 January 1944, fifteen B-24's out of a scheduled twenty-one from the 307th Group reached Lakunai with an escort of forty-eight F6F's and twenty-five P-38's. They were met by heavy and accurate anti-aircraft fire, and some eighty to ninety fighters attempted interception. One B-24 crashed after dropping out of formation, and two others were so badly damaged that they crash-landed at Torokina. But the bombers alone claimed twenty of the enemy, and reported good patterns on the target with their 20-pound frag clusters.136 Small fighter missions swept over Rabaul on 2 and 3 January.137 The RAAF, continuing its operations from Kiriwina, on the night of 2 January put thirty-nine Beauforts over the airdrome and followed this with a twenty-one plane attack on the night of 4 January. During the preceding day, SOPAC fighters after failing to rendezvous with B-24's of the 307th Group went on to Rabaul for a sweep resulting in claims of ten planes destroyed. The Piva strips at Torokina could be used for staging purposes by 5 January, and I 50 SBD's (dive bombers) and TBF's (torpedo bombers) were flown up from Munda in preparation for a big strike against shipping and antiaircraft defenses in Simpson Harbor, but the weather proved unfavorable. Navy and Marine bombers were over the Rabaul area on the 7th, but they found their targets weathered over and, as a result of faulty briefing, they failed to hit other targets which were open. Consequently, the new bombing weight was not felt by the enemy until the 9th. Three days later, the B-25's of the 42d Bombardment Group (M) staged their first mission through Treasury from their base in the Russells to add the weight of the AAF's medium bombers.138
Thirteenth Air Force fighters had performed an outstanding mission on 6 January. Sixteen P-38's of the 44th Fighter Squadron rendezvoused with thirty-two F4U's and twenty-six F6F's for a fighter sweep over Rabaul. Because of the poor weather which developed, all of the F6F's and all but eight Corsairs turned back, but the other planes reached the target, where they were intercepted by an estimated thirty to forty Zekes and Hamps. In a running fight that ranged back and forth over Cape Gazelle, nine Japanese fighters were shot down with the loss of two of the P-38's.139 At the suggestion of General Harmon, it was decided that the heavies should be used principally on night missions, and on the night of 10/11 January the 5th Group put twenty of its bombers over Lakunai with 500-pounders and frag clusters. During the next two weeks, the heavies flew eleven night missions which varied
in size from six-plane harassing attacks to the full-scale attack by thirty-three B-24's and six B-25's on the night of 22/23 January. Bad weather frequently interfered, but a total of 115 Liberators reached targets in the Rabaul area and unloaded their 500-pound bombs, frag clusters, and incendiaries. In these night missions, the planes usually made individual bomb runs at ten-minute intervals.140 The B-25's of the 42d Group having flown their first mission against Rabaul on 12 January returned to targets in that area on eleven additional days before the month was out. In these missions, the number of planes varied from six to thirty-four, and the targets were chiefly airdromes. After 11 January, the SBD's and TBF's gave their primary attention to shipping targets in Simpson Harbor.141 Fighters from all services continued to fly on escort duty and on independent sweeps designed to beat down defending forces. It was arduous work and at times it was costly. Antiaircraft fire was heavy and accurate; the interception was frequently sharp. But the combined effort sent against Rabaul kept a steady pressure on the dwindling resources of the enemy's 11th Air Fleet, to the advantage, among others, of the US. Marines as they moved into the Marshall Islands. At the end of January, the heavy bombers had flown during the month a total of 263 sorties against Rabaul, the Mitchells 180, the SBD's 368, and the TBF's 227. Eight B-24's, fourteen B-25's, eight SBD's, and five TBF's had been lost to enemy antiaircraft and fighters. Approximately 1,850 fighter sorties had been chalked up with the loss of seventeen P-38's, thirty-seven F4U's,five F6F's, and six P-40's.142
As the attack continued unabated through the first nineteen days of February, the B-24's flew 256 sorties, the B-25's 263, the TBF's 244, and the SBD's 573. Fighter sorties fell off to 1,579 as the enemy's defenses weakened. Shipping targets became rare in Simpson Harbor, and the SBD's and TBF's turned their attention to antiaircraft positions. AAF heavies and mediums continued to devote their attention chiefly to air installations, for airdrome maintenance crews kept the runways under constant repair and enemy interception, though weakening, remained a factor that could not be ignored.143 A standard schedule of morning, afternoon, and night missions gave Rabaul's defenders little respite, except when the weather interfered. The tempo of the attack was stepped up during the week preceding 15 February, when South Pacific forces landed virtually without interference on Nissan in the Green Islands, which is only a little more than 100 miles from Rabaul.144 The
last enemy interception of any significant size occurred on 19 February, the date subsequently selected by the South Pacific command to mark its victory in the air battle of Rabaul.
The air assault on Rabaul actually continued for weeks thereafter, but there was justification enough in the selection of 19 February as the day of victory. After U.S. Navy carriers had struck two hard blows at Truk on 16 and 17 February, all but a few of the remaining planes at Rabaul were called back to Truk and the 11th Air Fleet for practical purposes had come to its end. Japanese commanders at Rabaul hoarded the handful of planes left to them for necessary reconnaissance and courier service. Construction had been begun in November 1943 on underground facilities into which the Japanese started moving their stocks and supplies in January. The task had been virtually completed before intensive attacks were directed against the town and other storage areas in March.145 Indeed, had General Mitchell shifted the priority of targets from the airfields to the town at an earlier date, the change apparently would have added greatly to the enemy's embarrassment.146
Free now of the necessity for guarding against interception, the fighters gave their attention more fully to the destruction of ground targets. The P-3 8's drew their first dive-bomber assignment over Rabaul on 23 February. By 17 March, it was estimated that 67 per cent of the 1,400 buildings in the town had been destroyed; by 20 April, all but some 120 had been flattened or burned. The completion of an airstrip on recently occupied Nissan made it possible even for the short-legged P-39's to get into the show. Their first mission against Rabaul was flown on 8 March. After March the B-24's turned their attention to new and more distant targets. Already, ground units had moved onto Emirau Island, above Kavieng, on 20 March in accordance with plans that did not even call for the maintenance of a fighter patrol to cover the beginning of base construction there. The reconnaissance patrol of the snooper B-24 868th Squadron was considered sufficient protection, and it was.147 With May, patrol and reconnaissance missions became the regular assignment for the Rabaul area.
A long-feared center of enemy power had been effectively neutralized by air attack and then by-passed. The long and bitter struggle which had its beginning at Guadalcanal had reached its end. Appropriately, the final victory was shared by the Marines, the Navy, the AAF, the New Zealanders, and the Australians.
Kavieng had been a responsibility of SWPA, but until February 1944 the weight of air attacks against that base had been limited. With Finschhafen as a base for fighter escorts and Cape Gloucester airfield for emergency landings of battle-damaged planes, Kenney now told Whitehead to concentrate the Fifth Air Force's efforts against Kavieng until 15 February.148 Whitehead's attacks would cover the right flank of the Admiralties operation and support both Halsey's landing on Nissan Island on the 15th and CENPAC's carrier raid against Truk on the 16th and 17th. The first mission was set up for 5 February, but a weather front diverted the planes to their secondary target, Hoskins airdrome on New Britain. On 11 February forty-eight B-24's of the 43d and 90th Groups escorted by P-38's reached Kavieng to catch planes warming up on the apron; 170 tons of bombs were dropped on the airdrome and revetment area.149 The same groups followed up on 13 February when thirty-five B-24's escorted by thirty-two P-38's left Kavieng runway unserviceable. Next day the Kavieng drome was hit again, but the main effort of the forty-three Liberators attacking was put on Panapai, the other airfield on the tip of New Ireland.150
On 15 February, as Halsey's forces were landing on Nissan Island, the Fifth struck Kavieng in a well-executed mission. Seventeen of the heavies were diverted to Talasea, the secondary target, and nineteen hit Panapai. Four squadrons of A-20's from the 3d Bombardment Group attacked shipping in the harbor and the floatplane base and main wharf on Nusa Island. Seven squadrons of B-25's from the 38th and 345th Groups bombed Kavieng town and stores along the harbor front, No interceptors rose to test the escort of sixty-one P-38's but the accurate antiaircraft batteries around Kavieng Harbor shot down eight of the low-level strafers. In one of the "most striking rescues of the war,'' a Navy Catalina picked up fifteen crew members, making five separate landings and take-offs under Japanese fire. The Dumbo, piloted by Lieutenant Gordon and covered by four P-47's, landed twice to pick up nine men while Maj. Chester A. Coltharp and Capt. Anthony N. Chiappe of the 345th Group strafed the Japanese gun positions to keep the fire down. The PBY was headed home when Coltharp spotted first one man down and then two rafts; he called the Dumbo back. Despite heavy seas and a damaged plane, Lieutenant Gordon made three more landings and finally returned home with the fifteen men. Coltharp and Chiappe, low on gasoline, barely made Cape Gloucester.151
The appearance of low-level strafing and skip-bombing artists at Kavieng was apparently enough of a warning for the Japanese. There was a sudden flurry of shipping activity. A fourteen-ship convoy off New Hanover was first worked over by ten Navy Catalinas, then by the Mitchells on 16 February. Other convoys of five to seven ships were sighted clearing Rabaul and Kavieng. Mitchells were back to hit the ships on the 17th and again on the 19th, assisted on the latter day by A-20's of the 3d Group. The Liberators, which had pounded Kavieng and Panapai on the 16th and I 7th, joined in the antishipping strikes on 20 February; they claimed two ships sunk. The final attack came on 21 February, when the 345th and 38th Groups sent out their B-25's. Weather turned back all planes but those of the 500th and 501st Squadrons. Their sixteen Mitchells found a convoy of five ships and sank two, the Kakai Maw and Kowa Maw. These were the last large ships to clear Rabaul Harbor; significantly, they had been evacuating ground personnel of the air units which had flown to Truk. Destroyers from SOPAC came in to hunt down those ships still afloat, and the Fifth turned to concentrate on the Admiralties. On 6 March the areas of responsibility were redrawn and Kavieng was assigned to SOPAC. Shortly thereafter, on the 12th, the JCS decided that Kavieng, like Rabaul, would be isolated rather than occupied." When Halsey went into Emirau on 20 March the New Ireland base was indeed effectively encircled. But already, in the attacks of 13 to 21 February, Kavieng had been flattened and the Japanese had lost thirteen ships totaling 16,465 tons.152
* See below, p. 573.
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (9) * Next Chapter (11)
1. History, 5th AF, Pt. 111, App. 111, Doc 9; USSBS, Rabaul, pp. 11-12.
Notes to Chapter 10:
2. USSBS, Rabaul, pp. 11-18.
3. Ibid., pp. 12-17.
4. History, 5th AF, Pt. 111, App. 111, Doc. 9; ltr., Whitehead to Kenney, GHQ Outline Plan, Operation "F," 29 Jan. 1944. At Lupin, seven miles east of Arawe Harbor, there was an emergency landing strip built in 1937, but it was never used by Japanese. (AC/S G-2 ALAMO Force, Terrain Report, Arawe Area, 26 Nov. 1943.)
5. USSBS Interrogation No. 483.
6. Ibid.; USSBS, Japanese Air Power, p. 14.
7. USSBS, The Campaigns of the Pacific War, pp. 183-85; USSBS, Japanese Air Power, pp. 12-13.
8. USSBS, Japanese Air Power, pp. 12-13. The Fourth Air Army was composed of the Sixth Air Division (324 planes) and the Seventh Air Division (156 planes in New Guinea and 84 in the Ambon area).
9. Lt. Gen. Y. Arisue of general staff and chairman of the Army-Navy Liaison Committee, in Hq. AAF AC/AS-2, Mission Accomplished (Washington: USGPO, 1946), pp. 11-12; USSBS, Campaigns of the Pacific War, pp. 183-85.
10. 5th AF Station Lists, 30 Sept. and 30 Oct. 1943; AAF Reference History No. 16, The Fifth Air Force in the Huon Peninsula Campaign-Oct. 1942 to Feb. 1944. This history, written by Maj. Richard L. Watson, gives detailed accounts of personnel, airplane strength, air-base construction, and combat operations including the Fifth Air Force attacks on Rabaul. It has been used extensively by the author.
11. AAFRH-16, p. 10; 5th AF Station Lists, 30 Sept. and 30 Oct. 1943; History of the Fifth Air Force Service Command in New Guinea; GHQSWPA Off. of the CE, Engineer Construction in the South-west Pacific Area, p. 39; Station List, 25 Oct. 1943, in Air Service Command in the SWPA, 1941-1944, Pt. I; Air Evaluation Board, Rabaul, Annex DD.
12. History, 3d Airdrome Sq.; AAFRH-16, pp. 15-16.
13. Memo for Sutherland from Brig. Gen. Carl Connell, 6 Sept. 1943; History of the V AFSC in New Guinea; History, 3d Air Task Force; AAFRH-16, pp. 16-20.
14. AAF Historical Study No. 43, The Fifth Air Force in the Conquest of the Bismarck Archipelago-Nov. 1943 to Mar. 1944, pp. 11-12 and App. 2. This study, written by Maj. Harris G. Warren, gives details of the Fifth Air Force operations against New Britain and the Admiralties.
15. Ltr., Gen. Wilson to CINCSWPA, 26 Aug. 1943, in GHQSWPA G-3 Journal, 26 Aug. 1943.
16. Minutes of a Conference held at GHQSWPA, 10 Sept. 1943, in folder, MacArthur's Plans, 1942.
18. CM-IN-1O25 (10-2-43), Brisbane to WAR C-6301, 2 Oct. 1943; CM-IN-6490 (10-11-43), Rear Echelon GHQSWPA to WAR C-6586 11 Oct. 1943; CM-IN-7068 (10-12-1943), Brisbane to WAR, C-6614, 12 Oct. 1943.
19. Extract from ltr., Kenney to Arnold, 10 Oct. 1943, in memo for the C/S, 24 Oct. 1943.
20. AAFRH-16, pp. 96-100; AEB, Rabaul, p. 23; 8th Bomb. Sq., NCMR 284-AA, 12 Oct. 1943. Annex DD, AEB report, indicates that the RAAF unit was No. 30 Squadron (Beaufighters) of No. 71 Wing.
21. N.Y. Times, 15 Oct. 1943; 8th, 13th, 71st, and 90th Bomb. Sqs., NCMR 284-AA, 12 Oct. 1943; Form 34, 8th, 13th, 71st, and 90th Bomb. Sqs., 9-16 Oct. 1943.
22. History, 49th Ftr. Gp.; Form 34, 8th, 13th, 71st, 90th, 405th, 498th, 499th, 500th, 501st Bomb. Sqs. and 9th, 431st, 432d, and 433d Ftr. Sqs., 9-16 Oct. 1943; 433d Ftr. Sq., NCMR 3-67, 12 Oct. 1943; AEB, Rabaul, p. 23.
23. 319th, 320th, 321st. and 400th Bomb. Sqs., NMR 284G, 12 Oct. 1943; 80th Ftr. Sq., ICFR Mission 213, 12 Oct. 1943; Form 34, 319th, 320th, 321st, and 400th Bomb. Sqs., and 39th and 80th Ftr. Sqs., 9-16 Oct. 1943.
24. 64th, 65th, and 403d Bomb. Sqs., NMR 284G, 12 Oct. 1943; Form 34, 64th, 65th, 319th, 320th, 321st, 400th, and 403d Bomb. Sqs. and 39th and 80th Ftr. Sqs., 9-16 Oct 1943.
25. GHQSWPA Allied Air Forces Intelligence Summary (Isum) 147, 16 Oct. 1943.
26. "An Indian Army Captain stated that after the first heavy attack on Vunakanau on 12 October 1943, his men counted approximately 200 wrecked or damaged aircraft on the airfield. Some of the wrecks were later used to conceal fighters. In the raid the Japanese suffered about 300 casualties. They mistook the parafrags for an Allied airborne landing." (AEB, Rabaul, Annex GG.) In this and other instances, the GHQ policy of basing the daily communiqué on preliminary reports rather than photo-interpreted figures caused later embarrassment.
27. Isum 147, 16 Oct. 1943; 64th and 65th Bomb. Sqs., NMR FFO 285L, and 400th Bomb. Sq., NMR 285K, 13 Oct. 1943; Form 34, 64th, 65th, 403d, 319th, 320th, 321st, 400th, 528th, and 531st Bomb. Sqs. 9-16 Oct. 1943.
28. Isum 148, 20 Oct. 1943, p. 1. On 15 October, the entire force of twenty-seven Val dive bombers and their escorting twenty fighters were shot down. (AAFRH-16, p. 104.)
29. Form 34, 9th, 39th,40th, 431st, 432d, and 433d Ftr. Sqs., and 64th, 65th, 71st, 319th, 320th, 321st, 400th, 405th, 498th, 499th, 500th, 501st, 528th, and 531st Bomb. Sqs., 17-23 Oct. 1943.
30. Form 34 data, as cited in n. 29; 499th, 500th, 501st, and 319th Bomb. Sqs., NMR FFO 290, 23 Oct. 1943. Three B-25's were lost, but an estimated forty planes were destroyed on the ground and twenty-eight in the air. Also destroyed were the three ships.
31. Isum 149, 23 Oct. 1943; ltr., Whitehead to Kenney, 24 Oct. 1943; Form 34, 64th, 65th, 403d, 319th, 320th, 321st, and 400th Bomb. Sqs. and 9th, 39th, 80th, 431st, 432d, and 433d Ftr. Sqs., 24-30 Oct. 1943.
32. Ltr., Whitehead to Kenney, 24 Oct. 1943; Form 34, 8th, 13th, 90th, 498th, 499th, 500th, and 501st Bomb. Sqs., and 9th, 39th, 80th, 431st, 432d, and 433d Ftr. Sqs., 24-30 Oct. 1943.
33. Ltr., Whitehead to Kenney, 24Oct. 1943; Form 34, as cited in n. 31.
34. Form 34, as cited in n. 31; Major MacDonald shot down one Zeke. Thirty-nine aircraft were shot down and photographs showed twenty-one destroyed on the ground.
35. Ltr., Whitehead to Kenney, 24 Oct. 1943.
36. AAFRH-16, p. 119; AEB, Rabaul, p 7. 25. 37.
37. Form 34, as cited in n. 31.
38. Ltr., Whitehead to Kenney, 4 Nov. 1943; AAFRH-16, pp. 120-23; Isums 152 and 153, 3 and 6 Nov. 1943; Form 34, 8th Photo Sq., 31 0ct.-6 Nov. 1943.
39. 5th AF, Rabaul; History, 38th Bomb. Gp., Jan. 1940-31 Mar. 1944, p. 206; Form 34, 9th 39th, 80th, 431st, 432nd, 433d Ftr. Sqs. and 8th, 13th, 71st, 90th, 405th, 498th, 499th, 500th, and 501st Bomb. Sqs., 31 Oct-6 Nov 1943.
40. 40. Form 34, as cited in n. 39; History, 3d Bomb. Gp. Major Wilkins, when he saw that his squadron would have to pass close to the cruisers, placed his own plane on the exposed left flank drawing most of the fire. He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
41. History, 3d Bomb. Gp.; USSBS, Rabaul, p. 266, Table 6. A shortage of oil tankers at this time and throughout the remainder of the Pacific war seriously limited the range and mobility of the Imperial navy. The JANAC listed only two ships: one of 1,503 and the other of 3,119 tons.
42. USSBS, Rabaul, Table 6.
43. Ltr., Whitehead to Kenney, 4 Nov. 1943.
44. Incl. (ltr., Comdr. 3d Fleet to COMINCH, South Pacific Campaign-Narrative Account, 3 Sept. 19441, The South Pacific Area, 20 Apr. 1942 to 15 June 1944 (hereinafter cited as Halsey Rpt.); Hq. USAFISPA G-2 Per. Rpt. 42,9 Nov. 1943, p. 5; ltr., Twining to Arnold, 14 Nov. 1943; Flt. Adm. William F. Halsey and Lt. Comdr. Julian Bryan, 111,"Admiral Halsey Tells His Story," in Saturday Evening Post, 19 July 1947.
45. Isums 153 and 154, 6 and 10 Nov. 1943; CM-IN-3585 (11-6-43). CTF 39 to USSBS, The Campaigns of the Pacific War, p. 155; History, V FC. Only one P-38 was lost on the mission, since the Navy fighters had pretty well cleared the skies. COMSOPAC, 050712, 5 NOV. 1943;
46. Isum 154, 10 Nov. 1943.
47. Halsey Rpt.; USSBS, The Campaigns of the Pacific War, pp. 155-57; ltr., Twining to Arnold, 14 Nov. 1943; ltr., Whitehead to Kenney, 10 Nov. 1943.
48. AEB, Rabaul, p. 27; ltr., Whitehead to Kenney, 11 Nov. 1943; msgs., COMAFADVON 5 to COMAF 5, 10 Jan. 1944, MacArthur to Comdr. SOPAC, 11 and 16 Jan. 1944, and Comdr. 3d Fleet to MacArthur, 15 Jan. 1944, all in GHQSWPA, G-3 Journal, 9 Jan. 1944. The night strikes by RAAF planes continued against Rabaul until 10 Jan. 1944 when their target was switched to central New Britain and Kavieng.
49. Radio 022100Z, 2 July 1942, JCS to CINCSWPA, CINCPAC, and COMSOPAC, File C/S, GHQSWPA 33; Radio Q147, CINCSWPA to C/S, WD, WDC in C/S GHQ File WD 173, 2 Aug. 1943.
50. JCS Radio 2407, 29 Mar. 1943, to CINCSWPA, in G-3 Journal GHQ-SWPA, 30 Mar. 1943; ELKTON 111; Minutes of Conference at GHQSWPA on 10 Sept. 1943 between SWPA and SOPAC on coordination of 1943 plans, in MacArthur's Plans, File No. 706.322 1942 in AFSHO.
51. Hq. ALAMO Force, Report of the DEXTERITY Operation, 15 Dec. 1943-10 Feb. 1944 (hereinafter cited as DEXTERITY-ALAMO Rpt.), pp. 1-3; ltr., 7th Amph. Force to CINCSWPA, Cape Gloucester Opns., 13 Feb. 1944, in G-3 Journal, 22 Dec. 1943
52. Ltr., Sutherland to Comdr. ALAMO Force, Plans of Opns., DEXTERITY, 14 Oct. 1943.
53. Ibid., p. 1.
54. Opns. Instructions 39 together with ltr., ADVON 5th AF to CG 5th AF, both dated 28 Oct. 1943.
55. DEXTERITY-ALAMO Rpt., p. 4. 56. Ltr., Whitehead to Kenney, 11 Nov. 1943.
56. Ltr., Whitehead to Kenney, 11 Nov. 1943.
57. Memo for C/S from Gen. Chamberlin, 11 Oct. 1943, in G-3 Journal, 11 Oct. 1943. Cf. Kenney, General Kenney Reports, pp. 326-27.
58. Ltr., ADVON 5th AF to CG 5th AF, Opns. Instr. 39, 28Oct. 1943; memo for Kenney from Whitehead, Airdromes for DEXTERITY Opn., 13 Nov. 1943; ltr., Whitehead to Kenney, 13 Nov. 1943.
59. Memo for C/S by GHQSWPA G-3; penciled note: "Not sent but discussed with Kenney and Sutherland-action approved," in G-3 Journal, 26 Oct. 1943.
60. Ltr., Krueger to CINCSWPA, 12 Nov. 1943, in G-3 Journal, 14 Nov. 1943.
61. Memo for MacArthur from Chamberlin, 21 Nov. 1943, in G-3 Journal, 21 Nov. 1943.
62. DEXTERITY-ALAMO Rpt., p. 3.
63. Ibid., p. 5.
64. Check Sheet, D/Opns. AAF to G-3, 8 Dec. 1943, in G-3 Journal, 8 Dec. 1943.
65. DEXTERITY-ALAMO Rpt., p. 7; Isum 150, 27 Oct. 1943, p. 1a; Isum 160, 1 Dec. 1943, p. 1; Isum 162, 8 Dec. 1943, p. 1.
66. Isum 164,15 Dec. 1943, p. 14; Comdr. 7th Amph. Force, Report on Cape Gloucester Operation (hereinafter cited as 7th Amph. Rpt.), 3 Feb. 1944; History, 5th Tactical Air Communications Sq., May 1942-Apr. 1944, p. 11; 1st Marine Div. Gloucester Rpt., Annex A, p. 36; ltr., Col. H. V. White, AC/AS G-2 6th Army to AC/AS G-2 GHQ, 4 Nov. 1943, in G-3 Journal, 5 Nov. 1943.
67. History, 8th Photo Rcn. Sq., Activation to 1 Feb. 1944, p. 4; Form 34's, 8th Photo Rcn. Sq. and 90th Bomb. Sq., Nov. 1943. On 19 November, the 90th Bombardment Squadron sent nine B-25's on a photographic and strafing mission of the Cape Gloucester area. (Form 34's, Fifth AF bomb. sqs., Nov. 1943; AAFRH-16, p.137.)
68. Radio msgs., MacArthur to C/S WD: 3179 (12-5-43), C-8546, 5 Dec. 1943; 3700 (12-6-431, C-8576, 6 Dec. 1943; 5158 (12-8-43), C-8653, 8 Dec. 1943
69. Form 34's, 5th AF, Nov.-Dec. 1943; AAFRH-16, pp. 133, 138-41; Isums 154, 156, 157, 159, Of 10, 17, 20, 27 Nov. 1943.
70. Form 34's, 5th AF, Nov.-Dec. 1943; MacArthur's daily communiqués to C/S WD, Nov.-Dec. 1943; map, Japanese Antiaircraft Installations in New Britain, in History, 5th AF, Pt. III, App. III, Doc. 19; AAFHS-43 pp. 25-27.
71. Form 34s, 5th AF, Nov.-Dec. 1943; Isums 146-47, 149, 151-53, of 13, 16, 23, 30 Oct., 3, 6 Nov. 1943; AAFHS-43, pp. 27-28.
72. AAFHS-43, p. 28.
73. Ibid. and App. 3.
74. 1st Marine Div. Gloucester Rpt., Annex A, p. 45, and Phase I, Hq. Combat Team C Opns. Order 1-43, 20 Dec. 1943.
75. 1st Marine Div. Gloucester Rpt., Annex A, pp. 45-48, and App. I, Hq. LT 21 Opns. Order 3-43, 23 Dec. 1943; AAFHS-43, p. 17.
76. 403d Bomb. Sq., NMR No. 353-CG, 22 Dec. 1943.
77. DEXTERITY-ALAMO Rpt., p. 8.
78. Form 34, 5th AF, 12-18 Dec. 1943; NMR's, 5th AF, 12-18 Dec. 1943; AAFHS-43, pp. 29-30 and 140, n. 41.
79. Hq. ADVON 5th AF Frag Field Order 173, 15 Dec. 1943, in AAFHS-43, App. 4.
80. 112th Cavalry Regt., Historical Report--24 Nov. 1943-10 Feb. 1944 (hereinafter cited as 112th Cavalry Rpt.), pp. 1-5; DEXTERITY-ALAMO Rpt., p. 8.
81. DEXTERITY-ALAMO Rpt., p. 8; 112th Cavalry Rpt., p. 6; AGF Board Report, SWPA 6, Airborne Supply during the Arawe and Cape Gloucester Operations in the Southwest Pacific Area, 7 Feb. 1944 (hereinafter cited as AGF Rpt. 6). Another supply mission dropped 204 mines on 20 December and three B-17's dropped sandbags and barbed wire and pickets on 28-29 December. (AAFHS-43, p. 42.)
82. DEXTERITY-ALAMO Rpt., pp. 8-9; 13th Bomb. Sq., NMR 348-AA, 15 Dec. 1943; AAFHS-43, pp. 32-33.
83. 112th Cavalry Rpt., p. 7; 112th Cavalry S-3 Journal, Opns. Diary, p 3. Neither MacArthur's communiqué nor the DEXTERITY-ALAMO Rpt. lists any shipping losses. (Form 34, 5th AF, 12-18 Dec. 1943; AAFHS-43,p. 142, n. 60.)
84. DEXTERITY-ALAMO Rpt., Lessons Learned, p. 7; 112th Cavalry S-3 Journal; Form 34's, 5th AF fighter sqs., Dec. 1943-Jan. 1944. The Allied air losses were light in view of pilots' reports that the Japanese encountered were experienced pilots. (Incl. 1, p. 6, in DEXTERITY-ALAMO Rpt.)
85. DEXTERITY-ALAMO Rpt., p. 9; AAF-HS-43, pp. 34-37; 33d Bomb. Sq., NMR 352-FF, 19 Dec. 1943.
86. Form 34's, 5th AF bomb. sqs., Dec. 1943-Jan. 1944; DEXTERITY-ALAMO Rpt., p. 10; 64th, 65th, and 403d Bomb. Sqs., NMR 16-A-I, 17 Jan. 1944; 500th and 501st Bomb. Sqs., NMR 16-B-1, 16 and 17 Jan. 1944; 8th and 9th Bomb. Sqs., NMR 20-B-1, 20 Jan. 1944; AAFHS-43, pp. 37-38 and 144, n. 72.
87. DEXTERITY-ALAMO Rpt., p. 10; Form 34's and NMRs, 5th AF bomb. sqs., Dec. 1943; AAFHS-43, pp. 44-47 and App. 3.
88. AAFHS-43, pp. 44-47 and App. 3; History, XIII BC, p. 5.
89. DEXTERITY-ALAMO Rpt., p. 11; Hq. BACKHANDER Force Opns. Order 2-43, Annex C, Air Support Plan, 14 Nov. 1943, in AAFHS-43, App. 5.
90. SWPA Allied Geographical Sec. Terrain Study 63 (Revised), Locality Study of Cape Gloucester, 26 Aug. 1943, p. 1; 1st Marine Div. Gloucester Rpt., Phase II, p. 3; 7th Amph. Rpt., p. 1.
91. DEXTERITY-ALAMO Rpt., pp. 10-11.
92. Ibid., p. 4; 1st Marine Div. Gloucester Rpt., Phase II, p. 2; 7th Amph. Rpt., pp. 6-7
93. DEXTERITY-ALAMO Rpt., p. 11; 7th Amph. Rpt., pp. 7-9; 1st Marine Div. Gloucester Rpt., Phase II, pp. 3-4; Col. Horace O. Cushman, Inf. with 1st Marine Div., Report of Liaison Officer, 26 Dec. 1943-1 Jan. 1944 (hereinafter cited as Cushman Rpt.), p. 5; 500th Bomb. Sq., NMR 359-EE, 27 Dec. 1943; 499th Bomb. Sq., NMR 359-EE, 28 Dec. 1943; 3d Bomb. Gp., NMR 359-GG, 27 Dec. 1943; AAF-HS-43, App. 6.
94. DEXTERITY-ALAMO Rpt., p. 11; 1st Marine Div. Gloucester Rpt., Phase II, p. 4; AAFHS-43, App. 6; 400th Bomb. Sq., NMR 359-NN, 27 Dec. 1943.
95. DEXTERITY-ALAMO Rpt., p. 13; 1st Marine Div. Gloucester Rpt., Phase II, Pt. 11, pp. 1-4; 13th Bomb. Sq., NMR 359-FF, 26 Dec. 1943; Task Group 76.3, Bombardment and Landing Operation at Tauali (Cape Gloucester) , New Britain, 26 Dec. 1943; USS Reid Action Report, Serial 025, pp. 1-2.
96. History, 5th Tac. Air Com. Sq., pp. 49-50; History, 33d Ftr. Control Sq., 11 Dec. 1943-31 Mar. 1944, p. 5; DEXTERITY-ALAMO Rpt., p. 13. The 2d Air Liaison Party operated with the First Marines, and the 3d Air Liaison Party came in with supporting troops on the afternoon of D-day. The 7th ALP accompanied the Tauali Force. (1st Marine Div. Gloucester Rpt., Phase II, Pt. 11, pp. 1-4.)
97. 80th Ftr. Sq., NCR 278, 26 Dec. 1943; 431st Ftr. Sq., NCR 1-147, 27Dec. 1943; 36th Ftr. Sq., NCR 2, 26 Dec. 1943; 35th Ftr. Sq., NCR 5-4, 26 Dec. 1943; 7th Amph. Rpt., p. 10; 500th Bomb. Sq., NMR 359-KK, 26 Dec. 1943; 1st Marine Div. Gloucester Rpt., Phase 11,p. 5. The Japanese had sent out a morning strike which hit Arawe. They apparently knew of the Gloucester landing in the morning but may have been unable to divert the Arawe attack.
98. 41st Ftr. Sq., NCR 2-29, 26 Dec. 1943; 342d Ftr. Sq., NCR 2-29, 26 Dec. 1943; 7th Amph. Rpt., p. 10; AAFHS-43, pp. 58-59.
99. DEXTERITY-ALAMO Rpt., p. 11; memo from Maj. J. B. Bonham in Cushman Rpt., Annex C, p. z; 8th and 9th Bomb. Sqs., NMR 361-AA, 29Dec. 1943.
100. Col. J. F. Bird, Report on BACKHANDER Operation from 1 Jan. 1944 to 7 Jan. 1944, in Cushman Rpt., Annex D, p. 2; AAFHS-43, pp. 61-62; 1st Marine Div. Gloucester Rpt., Phase II, pp. 7-11 and Annex A, p. 17.
101. DEXTERITY-ALAMO Rpt., pp. 13, 18; ltr., Whitehead to Krueger, 28 Jan. 1944, and radio, Krueger to GHQSWPA, 9 Jan. 1944, both in History, 5th AF, Pt. III, App. 11, Docs. 67 and 119.
102. History, 347th Troop Carrier Gp., pp. 58-59. Feb. 1944, p. 2; 65th TC Sq., Daily Opns. Rpts., Feb. 1944; History, 67th TC Sq., Feb.-Mar. 1944; History, 40th TC Sq., Feb. 1944.
103. AAFHS-43, pp. 61-64.
104. 13th Bomb. Sq., NMR 4-J-1,4 Jan. 1944; 1st Marine Div. Gloucester Rpt., Phase III, pp. 2-4
105. 1st Marine Div. Gloucester Rpt., Phase III, pp. 6-11; 43d Bomb. Gp., NMR's 7-A-I, 7-B-I, 7-H-I, 8 Jan. 1944; 90th Bomb. Sq., NMR 19-D-I, 10 Jan. 1944; 321st Bomb. Sq., NMR 10-B-I, 11 Jan. 1944.
106. 1st Marine Div. Gloucester Rpt., Phase III, pp. 13-15; AAFHS-43, pp. 66-67.
107. 1st Marine Div. Gloucester Rpt., Phase IV; 1st Marine Div., APPEASE Operation, Special Action Report; AAFHS-43 pp. 67-72.
108. 1st Marine Div., APPEASE Rpt., pp. 5-11.
109. DEXTERITY-ALAMO Rpt., p. 21.
110. Col. Henry P. Dexter, Hq. AGF, Report on Air Support in Southwest Pacific Area during the Period I Nov. 1943 to 1 Feb. 1944, p. 11, in Army War College File; AAFHS-43, pp. 82-85.
111. Msg., Barbey to Kenney, Whitehead, and Smith, 25 Dec. 1943, in G-3 Journal, 26 Dec. 1943; AAFHS-43, pp. 82-85.
112. DEXTERITY-ALAMO Rpt., pp. 15-17.
113. MICHAELMAS Operation Diary, 16 Dec. 1943-10 Feb. 1944.
114. ONI Weekly, 11,49, 50, 51, and 52 (8, 15, 22, and 29 Dec. 1943).
115. Isums 161-68, 4, 8, 11, 15, 18, 22, 25, and 29 Dec. 1943
116. ADVON 5th AF, Brief Plan for Close Support of MICHAELMAS Task Force. 19 Dec. 1943; memo for CG 5th AF by Brig. Gen. Clarence A. Martin, 21 Dec. 1943; ltr., Comdr. 7th Amph. Force to COMINCH, 3 Feb. 1944.
117. MICHAELMAS Opn. Diary
119. Report of MICHAELMAS Operation, App. 5, Operations Air Liaison Party; MICHAELMAS Opn. Diary. The reason for such an error is not clear. The MICHAELMAS diary states that later inquiries showed that the orders of the MICHAELMAS Task Force, which would have cleared up the matter and which were delivered to the "Fifth Air Force," failed to reach the First Air Task Force, which had prepared the detailed plan of air support.
120. Form 34's, all 5th AF bomb. sqs., 1 Jan. 1944.
121. Ltr., Comdr. 7th Amph. Force to COMINCH, 3 Feb. 1944; Lt. Gen. Walter Krueger, Report on Saidor, Arawe, Cape Gloucester, 17 May 1944.
122. Form 34's, all 5th AF bomb. sqs., 2 Jan. 1944
123. G-2 Estimate of the Enemy Situation, 21 Dec. 1943, Incl. I to Annex 2, Hq. Saidor Task Force, Saidor Plan; AGF Board Rpt. 35, 26 Feb. 1944; Isum 170, 5 Jan. 1944.
124. Isum 170, 5 Jan. 1944; Form 34, 2 Jan. 1944, 7th Sq.; MICHAELMAS Opn. Diary.
125. One enemy attempt on 16 January to attack an Allied convoy resulted in the Japanese losing nineteen aircraft. (MICHAELMAS Opn. Diary; MICHAELMAS Opn. Rpt., as cited in n. 119; Form 34, 16 Jan. 1944, 35th Sq.; History, 35th Ftr. Sq.)
126. AGF Board Report 35, 26 Feb. 1944; MICHAELMAS Opn. Diary; Histories, 56th Ftr. Control Sq., 3d Airdrome Sq., and 54th TC Wing; Krueger Rpt. on Saidor, etc.
127. Krueger Rpt. on Saidor, etc.; Histories, 56th Ftr. Control Sq., 2015 QM Truck Co., and 3d Airdrome Sq.
128. MICHAELMAS Opn. Diary; cable opns. rpts.; MICHAELMAS Opn. Rpt., as cited in n. 119.
129. History, Third Air Task Force; Form 34, 20 Dec. 1943,7th Ftr. Sq.; memo for "all concerned" by TATF, 2 Feb. 1944, in A-2 Lib.
130 Memo for "all concerned" by TATF, 2 Feb. 1944; Form 34, Jan. 1944, 38th and 22d Bomb. Gps. RAAF Vengeances also participated in these attacks but with less success. (CM-IN-13020 [1-20-44] Rear Echelon GHQSWPA to WAR, C-723, 20 Jan. 1944; Adv. LHQ SWPA, The New Guinea Campaign: Ramu Valley-Shaggy Ridge, Report on Jan.-6 Feb. 1944, in GHQ G-3 Journal, 6 Feb. 1944.)
131. The statistics on the sorties and tonnage against Madang and Alexishafen were calculated from Form 34's for January. Only those sorties actually carried out against the airfields, the towns, and the supply depots specifically identified were considered in the calculation. It should be pointed out, however, that all B-25 and A-20 units were repeatedly hitting tracks and supply points along the coast and in the Ramu valley of the general Alexishafen-Madang area.
132. These figures were similarly calculated from Form 34's (see note above). Hansa Bay is considered to include Nubia and Bogia.
133. Aus. Intr., 5 M.H. Fld. Team, Rabaul.
134. Ms. for Robert Sherrod, History of Marine Corps Aviation in World War II, Pt. 12, The Elimination of Rabaul, pp. 3-4; COMAIRNORSOLS Ftr. Comd. War Diary; ONI, The Combat Strategy and Tactics of Major Gregory Boyington, USMCR, 15 Feb. 1944.
135. 13th AF, Campaigns of the Northern Solomons, p. 10; AEB, Rabaul, Annex GG; History, XIII BC, pp. 5, 26; History, XIII FC, Jan.-Mar. 1944, pp. 11, 21; Report on Rabaul Operations; Sherrod, History of MC Aviation, Pt. 12, p. 4; SOPACFOR Intel. Sec., The Air Assault on Rabaul, 17 Dec. 1943-19 Feb. 1944 (hereinafter cited as SOPACFOR Rpt.), pp. 6-7; Isum 169, 1 Jan. 1944.
136. History, XIII BC, pp. 23-24. The F6F's flying cover made several direct approaches on the bombers out of the sun and were fired on. (Ibid.; 307th Bomb.
137. Sherrod, History of MC Aviation, p. 6.
138. Isum 171, 8 Jan. 1944; History, XIII BC, Annex IV; XIII FC Brief Log of Mission (hereinafter cited as XIII FC Log). On 6 January, sixteen P-38's rendezvoused with thirty-two F4U's and twenty-six F6F's for a fighter sweep to Rabaul. After weather turned back the F4U's and F6F's, the P-38's encountered thirty to thirty-five Zekes and Hamps. They destroyed nine Japanese fighters and claimed four to fourteen probables for a loss of two P-38's. (XIII FC Log; Sherrod, History of MC Aviation, pp. 6-7.)
139. History, XIII FC, p. 26.
140. History, XIII BC, Annexes I, IV, VII, XI; XIII FC Log. One of the B-25 squadron commanders, who turned his flight back because of no observable fighter cover, was relieved after the 12 January mission. (Ltr., M. F. Harmon to Gen. Owens, 26 Dec. 1943.)
141. History, XIII BC, Annexes IV and XI; XIII FC Log; SOPACFOR Rpt., p. 7.
142. Ltr., Harmon to Owens, 26 Dec. 1943; History, XIII BC, pp. 13-19 and Annexes I, IV, VII, XI; History, XIII FC, pp. 11, 26; XIII FC Log; Isum 178, 2 Feb. 1944; SOPACFOR Rpt., pp. 7-10. A total estimate for January was 503 Japanese planes destroyed on the ground and in the air. (SOPACFOR Rpt., p. 15.)
143. Isum 178, 2 Feb. 1944; AEB, Rabaul, pp. 33-34; USSBS, Rabaul, pp. 26, 30; History, XIII FC, pp. 13-15, 22; COMSOPAC, Report on the Reduction of Rabaul, 8 June 1944; Sherrod, History of MC Aviation, Pt. 12, p. 7; SOPACFOR Rpt., pp. 7-12; History, XIII BC, Annexes II, V, and VIII.
144. AEB, Rabaul, pp. 34-35; Isum 179, 5 Feb. 44; History, XIII BC, Annexes II, V, VIII; XIII FC Log; Rpt. on Rabaul Opns.
145. AEB, Rabaul, p. 38; History, XIII BC, Annexes II, V, VIII; USSBS: The Campaigns of the Pacific War, p. 194; Rpt. on Rabaul Opns.; SOPACFOR Rpt., pp. 10-15; USSBS, Rabaul, pp. 23-32.
146. USSBS, Rabaul, pp. 17-18.
147. History, XIII BC, pp. 8, 10, and Annexes II-III, V-VI, VIII-X; AEB, Rabaul, Annex GG; History, XIII FC, pp. 12, 14.
148. General Kenney Reports, p. 353.
149. History, V Ftr. Comd., Jan.-June 1944, p. 24; Isum 182, 16 Feb. 1944; NMRs 42-A-I and 42-B-I
150. History, V Ftr. Comd., p. 24; Isum 183, 19 Feb 1944.
151. History, V Ftr. Comd., pp. 25, 26; History, 345th Bomb. Gp., Feb. 1946 p. 10; History, 38th Bomb. Gp., Jan. 1940-March 1944, pp. 260-64; Isum 184 22 Feb. 1944; History, 5th AF, Pt. III, Feb.-June 1944, p. 11; NMRs 15-B-309, 46-B-I; General Kenney Reports, p. 357.
152. Isum 184, 22 Feb. 1944, Isum 185, 26 Feb. 1944; Isum 186, 1 March 1944; NMR's 47-B-1, 47-C-I, 48-E-I, 48-F-I, I9G309, 52-P-I; JANAC; General Kenney Reports, p. 357.