By the summer of 1943--it was winter in Australia--plans had been completed for the inauguration of Operation CARTWHEEL, to use the code word for the projected offensives from New Guinea and the Solomons which were aimed ultimately at the reduction of Rabaul. These plans called immediately for a landing on Rendova Island near New Georgia by South Pacific forces* and for the occupation of Woodlark and Kiriwina Islands, near the southeast tip of New Guinea, and of Nassau Bay, some fifty miles up the New Guinea coast from Morobe harbor. These initial moves would be followed by the seizure of Lae (Salamaua being simultaneously by-passed and isolated) and by further steps to assure Allied control of the Huon Gulf and of the peninsula which bears the same name and which, with Cape Gloucester on New Britain, commands Vitiaz Strait. Meanwhile, as opportunity and available forces permitted, Admiral Halsey in the South Pacific would advance into the upper Solomons. Thus would the stage be set for the final reduction of Rabaul.
Huon Gulf and Peninsula
In the initial operations, South Pacific naval units would provide protection against the Japanese fleet out of Truk. They would reconnoiter an area above 1ƒ N. and perform a similar service east of 155ƒ E, and northeast of New Ireland and the Buka Passage. Southwest Pacific air and sea forces were to provide reconnaissance over the Solomons and the Bismarck Sea areas west of 155° E. and southwest of the Buka Passage and New Ireland.1
In New Guinea, Australian troops operating from their base at Wau would seize Bobdubi Ridge, which dominated the Japanese supply line from Salamaua to Mubo. American troops landed at Nassau Bay would
* See below, pp. 219-21.
push inland and up the coast for a junction with the Australians near Mubo. Australian outposts farther north in the interior and notably at Bena Bena, northwest of Lae some 100 miles, would provide intelligence and interfere in all possible ways with the consolidation of enemy positions in the Markham and Ramu river valleys. The airstrip at Bena Bena, with which contact by air transport had been maintained over the preceding months, was considered to be of importance to future "air activity."2
First on the schedule came Woodlark and Kiriwina. Neither of the islands had been occupied by the Japanese, and both were considered to be conveniently located for the development of useful airfields. Advance landing parties had gone ashore in May to investigate beaching conditions and to scout for airstrip sites. Curiously enough, these parties apparently made no contact with coast watchers and air warning units already located on the islands, with the result that only good luck saved embarrassing incidents when the landings occurred in June.3
Conferences between South and Southwest Pacific representatives at Brisbane in May had decided that forces for the occupation of Woodlark should be provided from the South Pacific. Kiriwina would be the responsibility of SWPA.4 Although the two operations would be undertaken without enemy opposition, they constituted nevertheless an important experiment with the techniques of an amphibious landing. The naval elements of MacArthur's command had been redesignated as the Seventh Fleet on 19 February 1943, and subsequently the Seventh Amphibious Force had come into existence, under Rear Adm. Daniel E. Barbey, for the control of such landing operations as these. The Woodlark Force had assembled at Townsville by 4 June to begin a short period of vigorous training. Units scheduled for the Kiriwina Task Force were in training at several different points and would not assemble at Milne Bay until 25 June.
Since no enemy would be met on either of the two islands, the air force had only to provide a fighter cover. Only at Nassau Bay would air support operations be required. Three RAAF squadrons, equipped respectively with P-40's, Beaufighters, and Hudsons, together with a squadron of P-39's sent over from Guadalcanal, took up station at Milne Bay, and one squadron of P-38's was put on alert at Port Moresby. A group of heavies received instructions to hit Rabaul as flying conditions
permitted, and other bomber units were alerted for emergency summons from air support parties going in at Nassau Bay.5
The landing at Kiriwina, though described by the Navy as "fouled up beyond repair," went off without serious incident on 30 June. At Woodlark a comparable force of some 2,500 troops moved ashore on the same day. Advanced engineering survey and construction parties had landed on the two islands on 23-24 June, however, to prepare for the arrival of the main parties.6 The garrison at Kiriwina was promptly doubled and an airstrip begun which was in operation by 18 July. The first plane had already landed on the strip at Woodlark two days earlier.7 With the recently completed Vivigaui airfield on Goodenough Island, the new strips brought cover from the Southwest Pacific closer both to the Solomons and to New Britain.
The landing at Nassau Bay presented a different story. On 26 June the MacKechnie Force, somewhat more than a battalion in strength, commenced its movement by boat to a staging area at Mageri Point, fifteen miles northwest of Morobe. Three days later the outfit embarked for Nassau Bay. The maneuver had not been particularly well planned. Landing craft--twenty-eight LCV's, one damaged LCM, two Japanese barges, and three PT boats--assembled only the day before the initial move. Information on the character of the beach was limited, coming chiefly from a cursory reconnaissance by an Australian officer. Colonel MacKechnie's efforts to secure aerial photographs had met with little success; the one set received provided coverage for only half of the landing area and the number of copies was too few.8 The landing itself had to be made through a surf represented by natives as the worst they had ever seen. An Australian patrol, whose duty it was to mark the beach, arrived late, with the result that the first two waves were landed at the same time. The PT boats, comprising a third wave, failed to make shore at all, which perhaps was just as well, for the less than twenty landing craft that got in suffered serious damage from high seas. Fortunately, the 740 men aboard landed without loss of life, but mortars, radios, and much ammunition were lost. No artillery and only a few antiaircraft guns could be brought to shore.9
The troops soon made contact with the enemy, but because of the lack of artillery and the loss of so many of the landing craft which had been counted on to bring up supplies, they hesitated to undertake an advance. Fear of Japanese air attack in these circumstances became the greater because of the loss of virtually all radio equipment upon which
liaison with the Fifth Air Force depended. Fortunately, the air support officer at Bulolo suggested that a telephone line be strung from his station to the beachhead, and by this means a precarious and roundabout communication was established. But the first request sent by the air liaison officer with the MacKechnie Force--a request on 30 June for fighter cover until the beach could be cleared--brought no planes, although several squadrons were not otherwise occupied. It would have been impossible to maintain constant cover over the beach, and perhaps the policy was to hold the fighters on the ground until hostile plots showed.10
The assigned missions of the Fifth Air Force during the week of the three landings had been held up by the miserable weather prevailing until the 30th. But it cleared sufficiently that day to permit eight B-17's and three B-24's to hit Vunakanau at Rabaul. During the following night, ten B-24's struck at Lakunai and Rapopo; Vunakanau and Rapopo were the targets for eleven B-17's and seven B-24's on 2 July; and all three airfields were bombed by thirteen B-24's a day later. One B-17 was lost in this four-day assault, in which almost 100 tons of bombs were dropped. In the same period, B-25's and A-20's carried out approximately seventy sorties against airfields and supply points in the Lae-Salamaua area. On 1 July, six A-20's bombed and strafed the ground troops confronting the American infantry at Nassau Bay.11 These several missions apparently had some effect on the enemy's capacity to interfere with the landings, although it is evident that he elected to direct most of his available strength against Halsey's landing operations in the Solomons.*
The first Jap attack on the Nassau Bay beachhead did not occur until 2 July, when ten medium bombers made a series of bombing and strafing runs over the Allied positions. These raids were not intercepted, but on the following day fourteen P-40's, returning to Dobodura after a routine escort mission, surprised six or eight bombers, escorted by Zekes, in an attack at Nassau Bay. Having changed their course, the flyers dropped belly tanks and proceeded to shoot down five Japanese planes, a victory suitably celebrated a day later with "jungle juice" on an otherwise quiet Fourth of July.12
Other obstacles, rather than air attack, kept the Americans at Nassau Bay from immediately advancing inland to join the Australians. The force at first felt some uncertainty as to the source from which it took
*See below, pp. 222-29.
its commands; the troops were inexperienced and excitable; above all, the supply line remained 13 In the absence of landing craft for seaborne supply and lacking men and construction machinery for road building, the ground forces became almost entirely dependent upon air transport for their food and munitions. Never a completely satisfactory expedient, the supply drops at first brought keen disappointment when only B rations, which required cooking, were dropped for troops who had no cooking facilities. In one instance supplies were dropped according to instructions at a point where there were no troops. Although some of these supplies were later salvaged, much of the food had to be cleared away and buried. Improvement soon came, however, and the troop carrier units took increasing pride in their "biscuit bombing."* When rations and ammunition miscarried, the transports would return with replacements again and again so long as weather and visibility permitted.14
Fed and in no small part equipped by air, the troops on the ground gradually pushed forward toward Salamaua. By 13 July elements of the 162d Regiment had joined the Australians, a junction leading to the early capture of the Japanese base at Mubo, after enemy positions in the area had been worked over on 13 July by more than forty B-25's and approximately a dozen heavy bombers in an exhibition of "faultless" bombing which permitted the capture to be made without casualty.15 Meanwhile, American troops moving up the coast reached Tambu Bay on 20 July to join an amphibious force landing the same day to secure a position for the Allies no more than five miles from Salamaua. Within a week American field artillery was firing shells into Salamaua itself.16
During these advances the Allied Air Forces had worked in close cooperation with the ground troops. In addition to the troop carrier missions, fighters and bombers were carrying out an unprecedented number of offensive and defensive sorties. The fighters not only stood through many hours on ground alert but went out often on patrol and escort and "scrambled" to meet alarms. These alarms became more frequent in July, when Japanese aircraft made sorties over Allied positions, chiefly in the Bena Bena and Salamaua areas, on at least eleven days. The fighters claimed no less than fifty-eight Japanese fighters and four bombers destroyed against a loss of six of their own planes.17 Enemy thrusts were countered also by stepped-up bomber activity.
* By late 1943 the percentage of food packages recovered had risen from 50 per cent prevailing during the Papuan campaign to 85 and even 90 per cent.
After 5 July, the bombers visited the Lae-Salamaua area almost every day. Weather blocked out the objectives on only two full days, and the month's totals included approximately 400 B-25, 100 B-24, 45 RAAF Boston, 35 A-20, 30 B-17, and 7 B-26 sorties.18 Intelligence, confirmed by aerial photography, collected at Madang were being sent overland to troops in the south, three heavy raids were laid on that target between 20 and 23 July. In these missions, B-25's accomplished having indicated that supplies "the deepest penetration by attack bombers into enemy territory" made to date, ringing up a total of from 100 to 120 sorties in the company of heavy bombers. The heavies themselves dropped more than sixty tons of bombs on buildings and installations.19
Although most of the attacks on shipping during this period were limited to interference with the enemy's barge traffic, the most successful attack against war vessels since the Bismarck Sea victory occurred on 28 and 29 July. On 28 July, fifteen B-25's pounced on two destroyers previously reported in the Bismarck Sea northwest of Cape Gloucester. They swept in at mast height, strafing with their forward fire-power, and dropped 100 delayed-action bombs, with fourteen hits claimed. On the following day, the same number of planes returned to find one destroyer beached, and they bombed and strafed it until it exploded. The definite destruction of both destroyers--the Ariake and the Mikatsuki--has subsequently been confirmed by Japanese sources.20
Though these July operations compared in scale and effectiveness more than favorably with any supporting operations theretofore undertaken by the Fifth Air Force, they marked no more than the beginning of the effort that would be required in support of the final conquest of Lae. Among the tasks that lay ahead, special significance attached to plans for taking out the opposing air force. Wewak, 200 miles above Madang, had been built into the enemy's major air base on New Guinea. For a time yet the Japanese would continue to direct their main air effort down into the Solomons,21 but they transferred some 200 army planes to Wewak during June and July and would move the headquarters of the Fourth Army Air Force there from Rabaul in August.22 As Allied intelligence clearly indicated, stiff fighting lay ahead and for this, fortunately, new strength was becoming available.
Kenney had been promised in March that he would receive during the summer two new fighter groups, an additional heavy group,
The Build-up of Forces
another medium group, another light group, and an observation group, in addition to a substantial increase of his transport fleet.*
Personnel of the 348th Fighter Group reached Australia on 14 June. Its P-47's began to arrive in the same month, and by the end of July its three squadrons had made the 1,200-mile flight from Brisbane to Port Moresby.23 The 475th Group, activated in May and destined to become the first all P-38 group in the theater, was not ready for combat until mid-August. Its cadre, drawn from New Guinea, had reported on 17 June, "shivering in the winter chill of Australia." Within three weeks "fillers" had arrived from the United States, and at the close of July the unit moved up to Dobodura, the ground echelon first and the air echelon as the equipment became available. June and July had brought with them a total of 115 P-38's, which were pushed through the Eagle Farm assembly line at Brisbane in time to put all three squadrons of the new group into operation by 15 August.24
Offensive fighter strength had thus been greatly increased, and this increase was almost matched by new bombardment strength. B-24's and B-25's had been reaching Australia in large numbers since April, and in mid-July the new 380th Bombardment Group (H) went into operations from Darwin. For several months past, the 319th Squadron of the 90th Group had been covering the Netherlands East Indies from Darwin, striking sharp blows against such targets as Amboina, Koepang, and even distant Makassar and Kendari in the Celebes. As the 380th Group took over, it gave warning to the enemy of still more distant penetrations by striking Soerabaja with six B-24's in a bombing mission which required fourteen hours of continuous flying by the crews to cover both ways the 1,200-mile distance from Darwin.25
The most sensational of the early raids carried out by this group, in view of the planes and techniques available at that time, was that of 13 August against strategic Balikpapan on the island of Borneo. At 1730, eleven B-24's carrying 69 x 500-pound bombs took off from Darwin and headed out across the Timor Sea in cloudy and turbulent weather. One aircraft was forced to turn back and another failed to find the target, but between midnight and 0145, nine planes hovered over the oil refineries, tanks, and harbor installations, dropped their bombs from between 5,000 and 8,500 feet, and claimed forty-eight "hits." As the last plane turned for the long flight back to the base, two refinery areas and one medium-sized vessel were afire and seven large
* See above, pp. 151-52.
oil tanks were exploding. In just under seventeen hours from the takeoff, eight of the nine aircraft had returned. The ninth, short of fuel, had crash-landed, but all crew members were safe.26 Darwin-based aircraft (Australian Beaufighters, Hudsons, and Spitfires, for the most part, with a Dutch squadron of B-25's and the American B-24's) continued to maintain a necessary vigil over the enemy's NEI bases and the approaches to Torres Straits.27 In addition to securing intelligence of enemy dispositions, the missions served a useful diversionary purpose as Allied forces gathered their strength for the attack on Lae.
In July, too, the recently arrived 345th Bombardment Group (M), equipped with B-25's, entered combat from its base at Port Moresby. Two additional medium squadrons had been activated in April for the understrength 38th Group, but these units would not be ready for combat until October.28 The delay, no doubt, traced in part to a continuing debate over the B-25 plane to be provided for the Southwest Pacific. Kenney had doubts about the new B-25G, equipped with a 75-mm. gun in the nose, but finally agreed to take sixty-three of them on the understanding that he could modify them if necessary.29 For replacements, he planned to use the still newer models H and J, the first for his strafer units and the latter for straight bombing; accordingly, he received with concern information during the summer that an early design of the B-25H, which had included eight forward-firing .50-cal. machine guns, was to be modified by eliminating the place for a co-pilot and two guns to make provision for a cabin heater.30 Kenney had no need for a heater in planes which rarely fought above 1,000 feet, and he considered the co-pilot, who acted as bombardier and camera man and often had to take over from a wounded or dead pilot, as indispensable in low-level attacks. Once again the problem at AAF Headquarters was to square the general needs in most theaters with the peculiar requirements of one, and to do this without sacrifice of the advantages of mass production.31 When the first B-25G arrived in July, Lt. Col. Paul I. Gunn put it through a variety of tests against Japanese targets. He was pleased with the accuracy of the 75-mm. cannon, but he recommended the addition of four forward-firing machine guns.32 The first attempt to attach the guns failed; after 300 to 400 rounds had been fired, the "skin began to ripple and tear loose at the bomb bay, the leading edge of the wing cracked between nacelles and fuselage," and the blast obviously affected the adjacent primary structure. But the 4th Air Depot Group
at Townsville solved the problem of altering the fuselage in order to "beef" the structure at critical points. The work required the addition of ninety-seven separate items, fifty-two of which were fabricated at Townsville.33 Between 25 September and 8 October the depot satisfactorily modified thirty-eight of the planes.
Delay in the delivery of A-20's had also made it necessary to continue the use of B-25's by the 3d Bombardment Group (L). Production had fallen behind anticipated goals, and lend-lease commitments to Russia held a high-priority claim on available A-20's. The prospect for a full A-20 group in the Southwest Pacific had to be postponed to December, or even January 1944.34
Fortunately, the promised troop carriers came through approximately on schedule. During the first week of July the air echelons of four new squadrons reached Moresby, and two more squadrons soon followed. By September still another group had joined the Fifth Air Force to give the 54th Troop Carrier Wing a total now of fourteen squadrons, four of which were assigned for operations to the First Air Task Force.35 The arrival of new units, however, did not solve the continuing problem of replacements, both of aircraft and of personnel. At this time in all combat areas many units still operated at reduced strength, and the general policy, expressed in June 1943, was to bring these units to full strength only after airplanes and crews became available "in suitable numbers to man and sustain all units of the current Army Air Forces program at reduced T/O strength." For active theaters, it was planned to provide each month replacement personnel up to 15 per cent of reduced T/O strength36--a policy tied to a table of priorities which in August placed the Fifth Air Force next after the Eighth. Specific promises to Kenney in June had been to provide two heavy bombardment groups with unit strength of forty-eight aircraft, a third with unit strength of thirty-five, and a 50 per cent reserve for all; in medium, light, and fighter bombardment groups, a unit strength of fifty-seven with a 50 per cent reserve; for fighter groups, a unit strength of seventy-five with 50 per cent reserve; and for troop carrier groups, unit strength of fifty-two plus a 15 per cent reserve.37
The War Department in May had fixed the level of bombers to be maintained in the Southwest Pacific at 197, noting at the time a shortage of 55 and promising to make up the deficit by 1 July. During May and June, 41 B-24's came in and five were lost. Early in July, 65 heavy
bombers were on the point of departure from the United States, but realization of the goal of 197 was now set for 15 August.38 General Kenney's warning that two months' attrition would alter original estimates, that his B-17's by September would be fewer than twelve (less than enough for a squadron), and that they should be replaced by B-24's brought assurance that sufficient aircraft would be "in pipeline" to maintain actual strength at 197 bombers. But by I August the date again had been pushed back, this time to 15 September.39
For five fighter groups, Brig. Gen. Paul B. Wurtsmith had 565 aircraft at the end of July and 598 as August closed. In other words, he had on paper the allotted unit strength plus a 50 per cent reserve, but the totals included 70 P-39's, 30 P-400's, and 118 P-40's. In these categories, more than half the planes were in depot, and few of the remainder could be depended upon for combat. John N. Gibson, technical representative of Bell Aircraft, had reported to General Kenney on 4 July that his P-39's and P-400's had averaged approximately 300 hours of combat flying. Paul V. McNamara of Curtiss Wright rendered a similar report on the P-40's, declaring they had "anywhere from three to five hundred operational hours on them, which is equivalent to about two thousand normal operating hours."40 To Arnold, Kenney himself wrote: "With the possible exception of Chennault, I do not believe anyone else is flying stuff as old and worn out as these youngsters out here are. . . . Every time I visit an outfit I have to listen to the same old question: 'How much longer do we have to push these old crocks around?'"41
The problem of replacement personnel was no less important in Kenney's mind. In June he estimated that within three months he would require 650 combat crew members per month, an estimate based partly on his belief that "everybody who puts in three hundred combat hours should be sent home." He assumed that in his three heavy groups seven crews a month would be lost, twelve would reach the limit of 300 combat hours, and three would be counted out because of wounds, sickness, or war weariness before the 300-hour mark had been reached. In like manner, he calculated a total of twenty crews needed for the four medium groups and fifty-eight pilots for five fighter groups.42 Since these figures agreed almost exactly with planned replacements of 15 per cent per month, they were accepted by the War Department.43 But again there were limits which forced reconsideration. In June all air forces had been informed that OTU personnel scheduled for new
units after July would be diverted to replacement crews only insofar as it was necessary to bring crew strength to two and a half crews for each heavy and medium bomber and to two crews for each light bomber, fighter, and transport plane. It was only a few days, however, before General Arnold had to inform his air commanders in the field that this could be done only at the cost of turning out no additional combat units between 15 August and January 1944. In facing "one of the most serious decisions that we have had to make," he asked for carefully considered recommendations as to the replacements that would be required.44 Kenney requested two crews per airplane for all tactical units, with a minimum of 15 per cent a month replacement. He got the promise of this last for the coming year except for troop carrier units, which would receive a replacement flow of no more than 7.5 per cent, but any increase in combat crews beyond one for each aircraft would have to be accomplished within the replacement limits thus set.45.
Kenney protested especially over the limit placed on troop carrier replacements. To General Arnold he wrote:
In the case of troop carriers, I figure I can get five hundred hours of New Guinea operation out of them. It is asking a lot, for the figures show that between weather and Nips a man lives longer in a P-39 than he does in a C-47 flying the troop carrier supply runs in New Guinea. These kids get a hundred hours a month, so that if I replace them at the five hundred hour mark I will need twenty per cent per month for that reason alone, instead of the seven and one half per cent your staff has promised me. The replacement rate per month for troop carriers should be twenty five per cent. The troop carrier group working between Australia and New Guinea is averaging over one hundred hours per month per crew. The great part of their haul is over the 750 mile over water hop from Townsville to Moresby on schedule--which they keep regardless of weather. I don't know how much of the grind they can take but with a replacement rate of seven and one half per cent I cannot think of sending them home before fifteen hundred hours.46.
And the appeal on this and other points paid off. By 17 August it had been decided that it would be "possible to furnish sufficient replacement crews in excess of the 15 per cent during the months of January and February 1944 to bring the heavy units in the Fifth Air Force to a status of two crews per UE [Unit Equipment] airplane," that fifty-six medium bombardment crews in addition to the authorized flow could be dispatched immediately, and that Kenney's requests for troop carriers would be met.47 Arnold emphasized that the action constituted an exception to established policy.48 To facilitate the training and indoctrination of newly arriving crews, the Fifth Air Force had established
at Charters Towers the preceding February a replacement center which soon developed into a training school.49
Other problems engaging Kenney's attention during the summer included the development of more deadly munitions. For some time his engineers had been searching for a fuze that would detonate standard bombs at determined altitudes above the ground, but with inconclusive results.50 He informed Arnold in September, however, that he had a "college professor down in Sydney" whose efforts promised that the Fifth Air Force might do greater damage to planes on enemy airfields and particularly to those parked in revetments.51.
The current AAF attempt to extend the range of its fighters included the development by the Fifth Air Force of a belly tank for the P-47. Kenney wrote Arnold that the early P-47 models had less range than the P-40 and warned that the "engineers back home" were developing planes with no more range than was needed "to defend London or to make a fighter sweep across a ditch no bigger than Chesapeake Bay."52 Early in July, the depot at Port Moresby received a rush order to convert the 110-gallon tank used on P-39's and P-40's for use on the P-47, and the depot by dint of much hard work and some improvisation soon achieved a rate of seven installations per day.53 Meanwhile, at Brisbane engineers had developed by August a suitable tank of 200-gallon capacity. Manufactured in Australia, it became standard equipment in the Southwest Pacific.54.
By mid-August the time had come for the inauguration of an air offensive preliminary to the seizure of Lae. The primary task, of course, was to take out the enemy's air force, and for this purpose his airdromes at Wewak became the target of prime importance. A new advanced base had been developed at Tsili Tsili to bring Wewak within the range of escorting fighters and to provide refueling facilities for medium bombers. A Second Air Task Force for the forward control of operations had also been established on the pattern of the task force previously organized at Dobodura.55 The location of Tsili Tsili as a potential Allied base had been the work largely of Lt. Everette E. Frazier, an aviation engineer who had been transferred from his battalion to the Fifth Air Force for this purpose back in With orders "to locate one operational or staging fighter drome forward of Wau," Frazier had been flown to Bulolo,
ENEMY BASES UNDER ATTACK
Above: Salamaua Below: Wewak
NAZDAB: PARATROOP LANDING, 5 SEPTEMBER 1943
FIFTH AIR FORCE MAINTENANCE
Above: Sheet Metal Shop, Port Moresby Below: B-25 "Strafer"
NEW GUINEA MANPOWER
Above: As Tractor Below: As Steamroller
then the headquarters of the 3 Australian Division. He first penetrated enemy territory by foot almost to Salamaua without finding a suitable field. A new trek, made in the company of an Australian officer and several natives, took him through the densest jungle and rain forests to Marilinan on the Watut River, almost fifty miles west of Lae. An old field at this point, though blocked at one end by a mountain, could take transport planes and, with their help in the provision of engineering equipment, could be improved for the use of fighters. The local Australian administrative officer undertook at once, with native help, to clear the field and provide camouflage. Plans to pick up Frazier by plane miscarried, and on 9 June he set out on foot for Wau, where C-47's took off regularly for Port Moresby. One week later, he reached ADVON Fifth Air Force and promptly went into conference with General Kenney and a number of his top advisers.
Huon Gulf Area
The question was whether Marilinan met the requirement for an advanced base in the coming operations, and Frazier had to report that it
would do only until the heavy September rains began. Then all equipment would have to be evacuated or else abandoned until the rainy season had ended. But it could be anticipated that by that time the Allied advance, plans for which included a movement up the Markham River valley, would have reached Nadzab, a site already selected on the advice of Australians familiar with New Guinea as ideal for a permanent air base. The schedule would be tight, but it was believed that preparations could be completed at Nadzab in time to make the transfer before the rains made the move from Marilinan impossible. Accordingly, it was decided that Marilinan would serve as an interim base with forward activities to be transferred as quickly as possible to Nadzab. General Wurtsmith then flew to Marilinan, where it was decided in conference with other officers of the bomber and fighter commands that an old strip at near-by Tsili Tsili would serve the purpose better.
The job of making ready the field at Tsili Tsili fell to Col. Ward T. Abbott, air engineer for the Fifth Air Force, who fortunately could count upon the ever dependable C-47's for indispensable help. By the first of July they could land at Tsili Tsili, and within the span of ten days they had brought in a company of airborne engineers equipped with specially designed miniature bulldozers, graders, carryalls, and grass cutters. Although somewhat inexperienced, this contingent had graded a 4,200-foot runway for transports and made a beginning on another that would extend to 7,000 feet on completion. For a ten-day period the weather interrupted movements intended to build the engineers up to a full battalion. Even so, when the weather cleared, sufficient progress had been made to permit the new base to handle as many as 150 C-47's a day.57.
Before the end of July the troop carriers had flown in an Australian infantry battalion to guard the land approaches to the new base and an American automatic weapons battery to provide antiaircraft protection. On 1 August a fighter control squadron and a plotting platoon of the 565th Aircraft Warning Battalion made an uneventful flight across the Owen Stanleys. Two days later a quartermaster platoon arrived, to be joined within a few days by the 119th Quartermaster Bakery. By 11 August, a signal detachment sent forward to install communications for the Second Air Task Force (of which Lt. Col. Malcolm A. Moore assumed command on 5 August*), an air service squadron, and an airdrome squadron had also made the now almost
* He was replaced by Col. David W. Hutchison on 27 August.
routine flight to the new base. By the middle of August, a fighter control sector and radar sets had been established, forty miles of rubber cable had been dug in for local communications, a message center and radio station were in operation, and an ordnance dump and quartermaster supply room were serving the more than 3,000 troops already in the area.58.
As this story emphasizes, the Allied advance along the New Guinea coast depended upon much more than merely a series of amphibious jumps. Parallel with and at times in advance of the amphibious movements, the Allied command successfully executed a series of forward hops along a line some distance inland from the enemy's positions on the coast. Depending initially upon the daring and experience of small Australian forces, upon the knowledge and influence with the natives of some Australian administrative officer who had managed to keep beyond the reach of the Japanese, or upon such ventures as that of Lieutenant Frazier, these hops were made possible only by the speed and adaptability of the air transport plane. It was the C-47 which actually put forward the P-47 or P-38 and thus provided air cover for the ensuing amphibious movements.
By camouflage and clever flying of the troop carriers, the existence of the field at Tsili Tsili was hidden from the enemy for a time. The first attack on 15 August caught the troop carriers as they were flying in the ground echelons of the first fighter squadrons to be based at Tsili Tsili. One flight of the C-47's had just landed when twelve Sallys, escorted by an equal number of fighters and flying low enough to have avoided the Allied radar, roared in though mountain passes. Japanese shells riddled one airborne C-47 of the second flight and caused it to crash, killing all occupants; another transport vanished into the surrounding mountains and was never found. The remainder of the second flight turned back to Port Moresby, making their getaway by some skilful flying at treetop levels. Fortunately, the escorting P-39's engaged the attention of the Japanese fighters. When the fight was over, four P-39's had been lost, but three of the four pilots saved themselves and claims showed eleven Sallys and two or three of the fighter escort shot down.59 Damage on the ground had been slight.
The Japanese followed through with another raid on the 16th, but P-47's and P-38's, which had been sent up that day on escort, knocked down approximately fifteen of the strafing fighters. Thereafter, enemy planes kept away. In fact, it became evident that the Japanese had
decided to conserve their strength. Except for the two attacks on Tsili Tsili, hostile raids during August were largely restricted to a few bombs dropped on Kiriwina and Woodlark Islands.60 Meanwhile, the Allied Air Forces seemed to be studiously avoiding the rapidly developing base at Wewak. They hit at points in the Netherlands East Indies. They harassed enemy barge traffic. They bombed Gasmata and Madang. They dropped particularly heavy bomb loads in the vicinity of Salamaua-for example, 173 tons on 13 August.61 But they stayed away from Wewak, with its satellites at But, Dagua, and Boram, until Tsili Tsili had been sufficiently developed and stocked with fuel to provide a base for fighters and an emergency landing field for the assistance of medium bombers. It was also hoped that time would encourage the Japanese to build a fat target at Wewak.
Aerial photographs on 30 July had shown only nineteen light bombers on the airfield at But. Improvements on the drome, however, seemed to indicate its future use by heavy aircraft. Four days later, there were twenty fighters and several light and medium bombers at Wewak, eighteen light bombers and five fighters at But, and a total of fifty-six aircraft at Dagua. The build-up continued until on 13 August eight medium bombers, thirty-one light bombers, and sixty-nine f thirty-four light bombers, and twenty-three fighters at But and Dagua.62 General Whitehead now had at his disposal two heavy groups with sixty-four bombers in commission and two medium groups with fifty-eight B-25's having a fuel capacity equal to the round trip from Port Moresby.63 And on the afternoon of 16 August, final plans were made for the most decisive series of air strikes carried out by the Fifth Air Force since the Bismarck Sea action. Eight squadrons of heavies would open the assault with night attacks on the four Wewak airdromes. After this preliminary softening, five squadrons of B-25 strafers, covered by a strong fighter escort, would follow at minimum altitude to bomb and strafe every plane still on the ground.64.
Between 2100 and midnight of 16 August, twelve B-17's and thirty-eight B-24's took off from Port Moresby. The weather was generally good, and all aircraft reached the target except for two B-24's which turned back because of mechanical difficulties. Shortly after midnight, the first heavy bombers crossed the target and from then until after 0300 the bombers divided their attention among the four Wewak dromes. Incendiaries carried by the leading planes were supposed to
light the targets, but the timing was off and the incendiaries and frag clusters fell together. Searchlights proved annoying, antiaircraft fire was intense, and several night fighters attempted interception, but only three aircraft were lost and none apparently to the enemy fighters.65 Results are difficult to determine. Photographs of Wewak, Boram, and Dagua, taken early on the following morning and prior to the subsequent attacks, showed "at least 18 unserviceable" aircraft out of some 204 counted. It was certain only that the heavies had accomplished their primary mission--to keep the Japanese aircraft grounded for the next attack.
Even while the pictures were being shot, three squadrons of B-25'S made ready for the take-off at Dobodura and two more squadrons at Port Moresby. The Moresby-based planes, undertaking in their 500-mile flight to Wewak the deepest penetration by medium bombers into enemy-held New Guinea yet made, had trouble. Of the twenty-six B-25's taking off, only three reached the target. These three performed magnificently in their attack on Dagua. They scattered 105 x 23-pound parafrags which smashed at least seventeen aircraft on the ground, fired more than 5,000 rounds, and shot down one of fifteen intercepting Oscars, but the failure of the other planes to get through allowed But to go scot-free. Twenty-nine of the strafers from Dobodura (thirty-seven had taken off), however, dropped 786 parafrags and claimed 786 hits on Boram and Wewak. At Wewak, the 90th Squadron rather conservatively claimed about fifteen aircraft destroyed or damaged. The 8th Squadron announced that at Boram at least fifteen of forty to sixty aircraft had been totally destroyed and twenty-five to thirty left burning. The 13th Squadron, which had joined the 8th in the attack on Boram, reported that of seventy to eighty aircraft on the runway, "all [were] believed destroyed or severely damaged."66.
Except for one fighter attack, which the B-25's themselves broke up, Japanese resistance was limited to fairly heavy antiaircraft fire. The heavy bombers which had preceded the mediums undoubtedly should be credited in part, but the Fifth Air Force had also sent with the mediums fighter escort on a scale theretofore unknown in the Southwest Pacific. All six P-38 squadrons participated; on the early morning of 17 August, 99 of the 127 fighters actually in commission took off from Dobodura and Moresby to form the escort. Of these planes, fourteen turned back because of mechanical difficulties. The remainder, with the comforting knowledge of adequate refueling facilities at Tsili
Tsili, completed what to them was an uneventful flight with "nil" interceptions.67.
On the 18th, Wewak was hit again, though the weather proved a bother. Only twenty-six of the forty-nine heavies that set out for this daylight attack reached the target, and their efforts were not particularly effective. The B-25's were more successful. Fifty-three of the sixty-two strafers taking off reached the target. Antiaircraft fire was heavy, and Japanese fighters savagely attacked the low-flying American planes. Ten to fifteen Zekes and Oscars intercepted a flight led by Maj. Ralph Cheli, an expert B-25 pilot. An Oscar riddled one B-25, but it returned safely to base. The same Oscar then attacked Cheli's plane and scored numerous hits. With flames bursting out of his right engine and wing, Cheli led his flight across Dagua drome, strafed a row of enemy aircraft, instructed his wingman to take over, and then crashed into the sea. Meanwhile, the American fighter cover of seventy-four P-38's had shot down fifteen enemy fighters, losing two of their own.68.
During the remainder of the month, the offensive continued. B-24's carried out 102 additional sorties, and B-25's added twenty-one against land targets in the Wewak area. With objectives there seriously battered, other heavy strikes were carried out against important enemy supply centers at Hansa Bay and Alexishafen.69 From the first Wewak raid until the end of the month, American flyers ran up an impressive score: B-25 gunners claimed twenty-two enemy aircraft shot down for a loss of two Mitchells in combat and three from other causes; B-24 gunners claimed thirty-five enemy aircraft against three B-24's destroyed in combat and one in an accident; American fighters entered claims for sixty-nine enemy planes shot down. Six P-38's were lost in combat and three P-38's and four P-47's from other causes. Still larger were Allied claims of Japanese planes destroyed on the ground at Wewak: official scores showed over 200 aircraft destroyed. It is impossible to arrive at any definite conclusion as to the accuracy of this figure, and it was revised somewhat by the calculations of statisticians at AAF Headquarters. Their figure for the total number of aircraft destroyed on the ground in the Southwest Pacific Area during August is 175. In view of the fact that the largest total for any previous month was six, the record for August was impressive enough, even as revised.70.
Meanwhile, preparations for the assault on Lae went forward. American and Australian forces, since the enemy's repulse at Wau in the
preceding February, had come within sight of Salamaua, and every effort was made to convince the enemy that its capture would be the next Allied objective.71 The ruse paid off, for postwar intelligence indicates that the main body of the Japanese 51st Division by September 1943 had taken positions at Salamaua with 500 naval troops for a total of 5,000 men. At Lae, the real objective, there were 2,500 men, not all of them effective.72.
The plan was to by-pass Salamaua, to seize Lae by a shore-to-shore amphibious movement, and to join this maneuver with an airborne landing for the capture of Nadzab, some fifteen to twenty miles inland on the Markham River.73 Nadzab offered a flat, grass-covered area suitable for transport landings and well situated for the development of a major air base. When submitting his plan for the airborne operation on 16 July, General Blarney had added to the paratroop drop an overland march by a considerable force of Australians who would reach position across the Markham River from Nadzab in advance of the air drop. It was feared that the weather might interfere with an operation depending wholly upon the paratroopers. Simultaneously, the Seventh Amphibious Force would land the Australian 9 Division east of Lae near Hopoi village.74 Blarney's recommendations served to provide the outline for the final plan.
The individual forces, however, were slow in supplying the necessary detailed information. Air and naval plans were dependent upon those of the Australian New Guinea Force, and these by the first week in August remained so nebulous that General Chamberlin, MacArthur's operations officer, feared that the New Guinea Force commander did not understand how complicated was the problem of logistics.75 Having decided on a check of Blarney's preparations, General Sutherland at the same time urged Kenney to furnish meanwhile as much detail on general support missions as was possible.76.
General Kenney had already submitted a general plan for air operations, and further discussions tended to center around its proposal that protection for the amphibious force be provided by maintaining the fighters on ground alert.77 The Navy wanted an "air umbrella" or, in other words, continuous coverage,78 which Kenney argued the fighter command would not be able to provide because of an insufficient number of planes. In his reply to General Sutherland's request for information, however, he undertook "to place the maximum number of fighter aircraft in the Lae vicinity on a continuous wave basis,"
and he promised that reserve aircraft would be held on ground alert specifically in support of the Navy.79 Although General MacArthur was inclined to accept Kenney's advice on this point, the Navy's persistence resulted in a further compromise which provided for a thirty-two-plane cover to be maintained as continuously as possible through daylight hours in addition to a constant ground alert.80.
There remained the problem of fighter control for the units thus assigned. Two Allied fighter control sectors existed on the north coast of New Guinea, one at Dobodura and the other at Tsili Tsili. But the radar coverage of the seas through which the convoy would proceed was far from complete. It was calculated, in fact, that Japanese aircraft from Wewak or Madang could fly behind the mountains toward Lae and others from New Britain could swing across Vitiaz Strait without being picked up until it was too late for an adequate warning.81 A suggestion by an RAAF wing commander that a destroyer be posted between Lae and Finschhafen for the purpose met with immediate approval. Accordingly, the destroyer Reid, which would serve also as a part of the antisubmarine patrol from Buna to Lae, received orders to take up its station at 45 miles southeast of Finschhafen.82 The controllers on the destroyer, equipped with radar and radio sets, were able to monitor the normal radio channels of the fighter sectors and thus to be apprised of warnings picked up by radar sets other than their own. In addition to the party on the destroyer and the control squadrons ashore, air liaison units were assigned to the landing forces.83.
As these forces assembled at the close of August for the attack on Lae, the air force initiated a series of heavy attacks on airfields, shipping, and supply points in both New Guinea and New Britain. On 11 September, twelve Beaufighters, twelve B-25's, and five B-26's struck at barges, fuel dumps, and other supply points along the southwestern coast of New Britain; on the same day, more than forty B-25's and approximately twenty B-24's started large fires in dumps at Alexishafen, an even larger force of B-24's attacked the Madang area, and six B-17's struck at Labu, a strategically situated warning point near Lae.84 B-25's carried out a particularly effective low-level attack on the following day against Wewak. The strafers swept over the harbor at from 50 to 100 feet, under a cover of approximately forty P-38's. They directed twenty-nine 1,000-pound bombs against shipping in the harbor and sank at least two medium-sized vessels.85 The bombers continued their attacks while the largest amphibious force yet to see action
in the Southwest Pacific gathered off Buna on 3 September. Gasmata, Borgen Bay, Cape Gloucester, and the Lae area were hit, and eleven RAAF Catalinas littered Vunakanau and Laltunai airdrome with bombs in an attempt to keep Rabaul-based planes on the ground.
In the early morning of 4 September, while this last operation was still in progress, the amphibious force neared its destination. The destroyer reid turned to take up its position as an aircraft control ship off Finschhafen; and as the landing craft sought their assigned positions, Allied aircraft were taking off from Port Moresby, Dobodura, and Tsili Tsili to lend their support. Within a few minutes the men crouching in their landing craft watched the fighters sweep over the beaches in strafing and bombing attacks. Meanwhile, five destroyers poured their shells onto the beach area. By 0630 the first men of the Australian 9 Division had landed, and within four hours LCP's, LCI's, LCT's, and LST's had put ashore 7,800 men, together with vehicles, guns, and stores.86 At 0705 three twin-engine bombers dived rapidly out of a cloud to attack the landing craft; one American later described the reaction of the men yet to be landed as:
first, indignation, then bewilderment, not fear, that came a little later. We fell to the deck along with the Aussies and watched tracers bounce around us. Then the Nips released their bombs, we watched them almost curiously . . . the bombs struck all about us, straddled our ship and one fell off the stern. A near miss on the LCI next to us blew a great hole in its port side and she broached. . . . Then it was all over; the bombers had flown off to the east with a pack of P-38's on their tails.
Three naval personnel were killed and nine wounded.87 Except for this attack, enemy air interference was slight until afternoon. In a continuing attempt to neutralize Japanese airdromes, nine B-25's at 0800 bombed the Hopoi landing ground near the beaches. An hour later, two dozen B-24's dropped ninety-six tons of bombs on gun emplacements, trucks, and depots at the Lae airdrome. Gasmata and Cape Gloucester were also hit.88 At 1400, as the ships offshore prepared to withdraw, the radar on the reid picked up a large enemy formation approaching from a direction southwest of Gasmata and less than 100 miles away. One fighter squadron waited on its assigned patrol over Lae, while the reid at one-minute intervals flashed grid references to the sector controls at Dobodura and Tsili Tsili. Fighter pilots taking off for interception carried with them grid maps which permitted them to plot the course as it continued to be signaled.89 The enemy thus was intercepted by approximately
forty P-38's and twenty P-47's. At a cost of one P-38, twenty Japanese planes were shot down, but other planes got through to attack the shipping off Lae.90 Dive bombers caused superficial damage to two destroyers and scored a hit on an LST in which twenty-six Australians were wounded and one U.S. Navy officer and six seamen were killed. Twelve torpedo planes scored a hit on another LST, killing forty-two men and wounding thirty. Two of the torpedo planes were shot down by antiaircraft fire.91.
At the time of this attack, troops and supplies were still jammed on the beach. Had the bombs struck there, great damage might have resulted. But it was not until three hours later that a sharp attack by an unspecified number of planes fired an ammunition dump, killed two men, wounded twelve others, and damaged two beached LCI's. By this time, fortunately, the congestion on the beach had been somewhat relieved. Engineers had pushed something resembling a road through to Hopoi village, 400 yards inland, and priorities of travel from the beach to established positions there had been assigned.92 With the action at Lae thus successfully launched on 4 September, and pretty well according to plan, attention then came to a focus on the Nadzab paratroop drop scheduled for the following day. The occupation of Nadzab, which lies northwest of Lae, would cut off the Japanese in the Lae-Salamaua area from their natural route of escape and give to the Allies control of the Markham River valley. Already an Australian pioneer battalion and a field company, having come down the Watut River from Tsili Tsili, waited almost within gunshot of the objective.93.
The 54th Troop Carrier Wing, charged with the transport of the paratroopers, went on alert at Port Moresby early in the morning of 5 September. Eighty-four of its C-47's warmed their engines and loaded the U.S. 503 d Paratroop Regiment and associated Australian units for a drop onto the kunai-grass plains of Nadzab. At 0825, the first C-47 rolled down the runway. Within fifteen minutes three flights, totaling seventy-nine planes, were airborne. Over Thirty-Mile Airdrome, the unarmed transports met the first part of a fighter escort that would include, all told,100 planes. The C-47's crossed the Owen Stanleys at 9,000 feet. Above Marilinan, they maneuvered into "6-plane elements in step-up right echelon, all three flights abreast," and dropped from 3,500 feet to between 400 and 500 feet. At 0948 the paratroopers
were alerted and twenty-one minutes later were given the red light. At 1022 the first paratrooper made his jump.94.
It would be difficult here to improve upon the description given by General Kenney as he wrote to Arnold two days later:
You already know by this time the news on the preliminary moves to take out Lae but I will tell you about the show on the 5th of September, when we took Nadzab with 1,700 paratroops and with General MacArthur in a B-17 over the area watching the show and jumping up and down like a kid. I was flying number two in the same flight with him and the operation really was a magnificent spectacle. I don't truly believe that another airforce in the world today could have put this over as perfectly as the 5th Air Force did. Three hundred and two airplanes in all, taking off from eight different fields in the Moresby and Dobodura areas, made a rendezvous right on the nose over Marilinan, flying through clouds, passes in the mountains and over the top. Not a single squadron did any circling or stalling around but all slid into place like clockwork and proceeded on the final flight down the Watut Valley, turned to the right down the Markham and went directly to the target. Going north down the valley of the Watut from Marilinan, this was the picture: heading the parade at one thousand feet were six squadrons of B-25 strafers with the eight .50 cal. guns in the nose and sixty frag bombs in each bomb bay; immediately behind and about five hundred feet above were six A-20's flying in pairs--three pairs abreast--to lay smoke as the last frag bomb exploded. At about two thousand feet and directly behind the A-20's came ninety-six C-47's carrying paratroops, supplies and some artillery. The C-47's flew in three columns of three plane elements, each column carrying a battalion set u for a particular battalion dropping ground. On each were the close cover fighters. Another group of fighters sat at seven thousand feet and up in the sun, staggered from fifteen to twenty thousand, was another group of C-47's [P-47's]. Following the transports came five B-17's, racks loaded with three hundred pound packages with parachutes, to be dropped to the paratroopers on call by panel signals as they needed them. This mobile supply unit stayed over Nadzab practically all day serving the paratroops below, dropping a total of fifteen tons of supplies in this manner. Following the echelon to the Markham to take out the Jap defensive position at Heath's Plantation, about half way between Nadzab and Lae. Five weather ships were used prior to and during the show along the route and over the passes to keep the units straight on weather to be encountered during their flights to the rendezvous. The brass hats flight of three B-17's above the center of the transport column completed the
By 1204 all transports had returned safely to Port Moresby. The paratroopers met with no resistance, and soon effected liaison with the Australians who had reached the area by crossing the Markham River in rubber boats and on a "folding boat bridge" as soon as the paratroop drop began. At the same time, a Papuan infantry company, which had also come overland, swung westward to cover approaches to Nadzab
from that direction. Within twenty-four hours the area was secured96 The development of the area into an air base began immediately. By 1840 on 5 September the grass had been burned off for an airstrip, and early on the morning of the 6th, it was ready to receive transport aircraft. That afternoon the troop carriers made their first landings, bringing in infantry of the Australian 7 Division, which had been previously transported to Tsili Tsili, engineer construction equipment, and an air liaison company to establish communications with cooperating air units. Within a week of the original paratroop drop, the engineers had completed two parallel strips with one dispersal loop, and by 14 September, Nadzab had acquired two parallel runways, each 6,000 feet long, and a dispersal area capable of handling thirty-six transports simultaneously. As early as 11 September, 333 plane loads had been shuttled in from Tsili Tsili and eighty-seven had come direct from more southerly bases. Ground organization permitted twenty-seven troop carrier planes to land, unload, and take off within forty-five minutes.97.
By this time, also, the ground campaign against Lae and Salamaua was rapidly and unexpectedly reaching its climax. Strong elements of the Australian 7 Division drove down the Markhani valley toward Lae. The enemy offered resistance from prepared positions, but the Australian troops swiftly broke the positions and it was soon a race between 7 Division and the 9 Division advancing from the east to see which would reach Lae first. Meanwhile, the American and Australian forces outside of Salamaua were relentlessly closing in on that objective. On 11 September they had reached the airfield, and within a few hours it was under a final assault.98 Two days later Salamaua was occupied, and on 16 September Lae, too, had fallen.
The unexpectedly rapid conquest of Lae and Salamaua led to a hurried change of plans. Finschhafen, strategically located just above the Huon Gulf approximately sixty-four miles beyond Lae and destined for development as a staging area for future Allied advances and as a forward base for aircraft and light surface ships, had been originally scheduled for attack approximately four weeks after the fall of Lae. The weakness displayed by the Japanese in the general area, however, encouraged the officers of the Seventh Amphibious Force and of the Australian I Corps to suggest a possible acceleration of the timetable.
on 20 September, accordingly, General MacArthur approved a plan which moved up the Finschhafen landing to the 22d.99 There was just time to move the needed landing craft and destroyers up from Milne Bay to load the troops at Lae. While Allied bombers concentrated on Japanese airfields, supply dumps, and reinforcement routes leading from Madang to Finschhafen, the fighters covered the naval movement to Lae and the loading there.100 During the night of 21/22 September the convoy moved east from Lae along the coast and rounded the tip of the Huon Peninsula. The landing was to take place at Scarlet Beach near the Song River. Although the place had been carefully chosen, the information on its characteristics available to the amphibious force left much to be desired. A small party had scouted the shore from 11 to 14 September, but Japanese activity in the area had thwarted efforts to obtain information. Useful photographs were lacking. Only one set of oblique was available to the Seventh Amphibious Force on 17 September, although special low obliques and verticals had previously been requested. Several sets of low verticals were taken and delivered during the night of 19 September, but they included only one corner of the beach and, according to the naval report, "were valueless for beach information."101.
The landing, which occurred at 0445 on 22 September, was preceded by a sharp naval bombardment. Pre-invasion strafing of the beaches had been dispensed with, but long before dawn the air assault began against other points: B-24's and B-25's undertook to render the field at Cape Gloucester unserviceable; RAAF P-40's were sent against Gasmata; and A-20's and B-25's sought to hamper the movements of Japanese ground troops in the Finschhafen area itself.102 Meanwhile the Australians had consolidated the beachhead, broken through newly prepared positions near by, and were pushing forward toward the airstrip. An air liaison party had landed with the first waves, but at first there was little need for direct air cooperation. The landing was virtually unopposed, and within seven hours 5,300 troops and tons of supplies had been landed.103.
Shortly before noon the ships in the convoy weighed anchor and started back toward Buna. Less than an hour after the departure from the Finschhafen area, the fighter controller of the reid, which served in the same capacity as at Lae, began to chart a formidable series of plots coming from New Britain and within less than seventy miles of the destroyers. Happily, the Japanese had chosen an inopportune
time, from their point of view, for an attack upon the convoy. At least three American fighter squadrons had been patrolling the Lae-Finschhafen area for several hours. They were scheduled for relief within a very few minutes, but still had sufficient fuel left for perhaps an hour of combat flying. The relieving squadrons, moreover, were just preparing to take off for patrol. Thus at least five squadrons were available for interception.104 The controller crew on the reid at once directed the five squadrons to positions above the convoy, and the Japanese planes, consisting of twenty to thirty bombers and thirty to forty fighters, flew unhesitatingly into the trap. In less than an hour the American fighters had shot down ten or more bombers and twenty-nine fighters. The destroyers' antiaircraft, meanwhile, had knocked out nine of ten torpedo planes which had swept in at such a low altitude that the radar had failed to detect them. No damage was done to the Allied convoy in this attack, and out of three P-38's shot down at least one pilot was saved.105.
Finschhafen, meantime, had become the objective of a pincer operation. In addition to the Australians landed on Scarlet Beach, other Australian troops were working up from the earlier landings at Hopoi village. By 23 September the main force had captured one of the Finschhafen airstrips, and an air liaison party had established its radio set. The advance was still slow, however, since the Japanese had had time to establish strong ground positions south of the swiftly flowing Bumi River. Japanese air attack, too, occasionally hampered the advance. On 24 September, for example, nine enemy bombers bombed and strafed the air liaison party's headquarters. The radio set was knocked out, and three of the party, including Captain Ferrell, its commander, were killed.106.
But the scale of Japanese effort was insignificant when compared with that of the Fifth Air Force. Routine attacks were continued on airfields at Cape Gloucester and Gasmata and on communications in the Madang area, with the heaviest attacks, as in the previous month, reserved for air and shipping facilities at Wewak. For these missions, some of the fighters which provided the escort used servicing and refueling facilities at an advanced airfield approximately three miles from the much-bombed Australian post at Bena Bena. A service detachment had landed on that remote field, known as New Garoka, on 31 August. Within a few hours they had dispersed fuel drums, oxygen cylinders, and miscellaneous equipment around the strip. On 25 September, they
were instructed to prepare immediately for servicing and refueling operations, and by 0830 of the following day the first planes had arrived. Within a short time forty-two fighters were being serviced on the strip.107.
A mission to Wewak run on 26 September had been no more than a preliminary to the big show on the 27th, when seventeen B-24's followed by almost one hundred B-25's swept over the Wewak airfields and harbor installations to drop more than 160 tons of bombs. Three B-25's were shot down by antiaircraft, but the remainder created havoc among the tankers and merchant vessels in the harbor. At least one 2,000-ton cargo vessel was sunk. In the meantime, an overwhelming cover of 121 Allied fighters shot down eight of the twenty Japanese interceptors that ventured into the air. On 28 September, forty B-24's in a daylight attack dropped 150 tons of bombs on the main ammunition and fuel dumps, which were "considered destroyed."108.
The town of Finschhafen fell to the Australian veterans of the 9 Division on 2 October, ten days after the landing. The last days of the attack were marked by stiff enemy resistance that was overcome only by hand-to-hand fighting and by the close cooperation of air units.
But the capture of Finschhafen, though it placed Allied forces on the upper side of the Huon Peninsula, by no means ended the campaign for the Huon Gulf area. The enemy garrison had withdrawn, but it had not been annihilated; reinforcements were on the way to Madang; the Japanese were still able to replace destroyed aircraft; and even Wewak had been only temporarily neutralized. Much fighting lay ahead before the Markham and Ramu river valleys were under full control of the Allied forces, and much work would yet be required, even in the sections already seized, before the base facilities planned were brought to completion.
Already, Nadzab, planned since June as the home of the Second Air Task Force with eight runways and dispersal areas, was in a state of feverish activity. Seventeen days after the paratroop landing there, troop carrier planes had ferried in the first air service unit and others soon followed. On 5 October, the headquarters squadron of the 35th Fighter Group arrived from Tsili Tsili, theretofore home of the Second Air Task Force, and before the end of the month two squadrons of P-39's were providing a fighter defense; by mid-November, four airdromes were in use. Living conditions at first were exceedingly primitive,
in part because of the need to depend for several months entirely on air transport for supply.109.
In the meantime, troop carrier planes were carrying the Australian 7 Division forward in the drive toward Kaiapit and Dumpu, considered as the logical advanced operating bases for the neutralizing of Wewak. The Australians had first planned an overland advance, but General Whitehead urged an airborne movement. Again Capt. Everette Frazier, who had shared in the choice of Tsili Tsili as an advanced operating base, was called upon to reconnoiter the Ramu valley. He landed in a cub plane on a "long-level burned off place" on the Leron River a few miles from Japanese-held Kaiapit. On 16 September Colonel Hutchison of the Second Air Task Force approved the site for troop carriers, and on the following day 250 Australians were ferried in to launch an assault on the enemy at Kaiapit. By 20 September, the Australians had rooted the Japanese out and were assisting Frazier in improving an old strip thus captured. The Kaiapit strip was soon capable of receiving transports with reinforcements, which included airborne engineers. Before the end of the month, these engineers had completed preliminary surveys for a 6,000-foot runway and fourteen miles of dispersals.110.
Meanwhile, the Australians had continued their advance through the valley. Since they were completely dependent upon air transport for rations and supplies, engineering parties accompanied them to stake out strips where troop carrier planes could land. Before the end of the month the advance had progressed as far as the junction of the Gusap and Ramu rivers. The valley in this area seemed so admirably suited to airfield construction that Col. Murray C. Woodbury and Col. Donald R. Hutchinson, both of the newly organized Third Air Task Force, decided to limit the establishment at the swampy and malaria-ridden Kaiapit location and build the base for the Third Air Task Force at a point which they chose to call Gusap. This proved to be the most pleasant, in climate at least, of any of the advanced bases so far established in the Southwest Pacific. It was bounded entirely by jungle and mountains, with the Finisterre and Bismarck ranges on the north and the south rising at points to 14,000 feet. The prevailing winds ran parallel with the valley; the soil was well drained; and the Ramu River was wide, shallow, and swiftly flowing.111.
The plan now called for all-weather facilities at Gusap for two fighter groups and one medium bombardment group, together with
servicing facilities capable of handling 200 transports daily. Although the all-weather runway was not completed until January, after months of work on a 24-hour-a-day basis, four usable strips were speedily laid out by airborne engineers. The first service squadron arrived by troop carrier late in October, and a P-40 fighter squadron by the first of November. In the meantime a signal crew had effected a junction with the line already laid to the Leron River from Kaiapit, and on 7 November the 100-mile distance from Lae to Gusap was connected by cable.112.
The new bases--Lae, Nadzab, Finschhafen, and Gusap--would bring Allied aircraft much closer to the critically important waters of Vitiaz Strait. The responsibility for base development at all, save Gusap, belonged to the US. Army Services of Supply, but the primary interest of the air forces was recognized by placing Brig. Gen. Carl W. Connell, previously commander of the V Air Force Service Command, in charge of much of the construction program. His headquarters was established at Lae, which was envisaged as the principal port of entry for bases in the valleys.113 On 20 September, when the first engineer troops had landed at Lae, the place had lacked any real harbor facilities. Heavy construction equipment and trained personnel were also lacking, and sunken barges and other debris littered the harbor. Before the end of the month, however, gasoline and oil in drums were arriving by sea and air, and on 20 October Lae received its first Liberty ship.114 From Lae to Gusap and Nadzab, materiel had at first to be moved entirely by air at the rate of about 200 troop carrier loads a day. Consequently, it was necessary to have extensive runways and hardstands as well as parking areas for fighter planes on ground alert.115.
The problem of transportation proved indeed a difficult one. Even the most fervent advocates of air transport admitted that troop carriers alone could not develop the Nadzab area to the extent desired, and that large-scale airdrome construction would have to wait until heavy construction equipment could move by road from Lae. But the Allies had been unprepared for their sweeping victory, and although Kenney stated that nine engineer battalions were necessary if adequate roads and base facilities were to be constructed in 1943, only two were actually available. General Connell was "straining every nerve" to complete at least the Lae-Nadzab road by 1 December, but General Kenney did not think that this would be early enough. Connell diverted
one engineer battalion from airdrome construction and pushed the road from both ends, working night and day.116 But rain limited the number of hours that could be used. It rained on forty-six of the last sixty days of the project. The subgrade generally could be worked only in the late afternoon, when the rain usually had stopped, and work continued into the night until a new downpour began. As Connell later declared: "We literally floated that road into Nadzab and had to back-end dump surfacing materials for more than half its entire length."117 At long last, on 15 December 1943, "Jonah's road" was opened and the equipment began to move.118.
With the road open, further delay was occasioned by a shortage of trucks. A considerable number of American trucks had arrived at Lae, but these had been "loaned" to the Australian 9 Division with the understanding that they would be returned when that organization moved to Finschhafen. However, when the Australians departed, the trucks left behind were described either as unserviceable or "junk." In mid-December a truck regiment arrived with 150 trucks, but they were all crated, and Connell estimated that uncrating and assembling five trucks was a good day's work for the men available.119.
Connell also held responsibility for developing the base at Finschhafen. The task of dredging the harbor and mooring a large floating dock was well under way by November, but the construction of air facilities considered necessary before the launching of the New Britain campaign had been somewhat delayed. Differences of opinion between Whitehead and Connell slowed down the work considerably, according to the latter.120 Moreover, nightly rains created a drainage problem which was not solved until late November, when a supply of pipe requisitioned some weeks before finally arrived.121 By this time, a general movement forward of tactical units to Nadzab, Finschhafen, and Gusap had gotten under way, with the usual discouragements attendant upon such a movement. Camps were hacked out of the jungle, and medicos sought to stamp out threatening cases of gastroneuritis, malaria, and dengue. But at Gusap two fighter squadrons were flying P-40's, movies were being shown, Special Services were offering magazines, books, stationery, phonographs, and there were in addition a radio and a piano. Thanksgiving Day at both Gusap and Nadzab was celebrated with turkey and all the trimmings. Within another month, airdromes at Nadzab received two medium squadrons sent forward from Dobodura and two additional fighter squadrons
from Port Moresby to bring the total of fighter squadrons in the Nadzab area to four. At Finschhafen, by mid-November, service squadrons, a portable hospital, a truck company, and a warning unit had arrived. A 5,700-foot runway of steel matting, two alert areas, and a parallel taxiway were almost completed by 10 December, and it was thought that two fighter squadrons could fly from there in an emergency; but Kenney and Connell pushed the men to such an extent that on 17 December the entire 348th Fighter Group with P-47's and on Christmas Day the 35th Fighter Squadron with P-40's made the transfer from Port Moresby. This sudden influx of aircraft for a time resulted in complete confusion. Aircraft warning was almost nonexistent, and the inadequacy of control resulted in numerous accidents on the runways. The tactical advantages, however, were worth the hazards. Four squadrons of fighter planes had been brought 200 miles nearer to Cape Gloucester and almost 150 miles closer to Wewak.122.
The question of what further bases in the general area of the Huon Peninsula might be needed for control of Vitiaz Strait and in preparation for landings in New Britain had come up as early as 3 September. At a conference of MacArthur's chief advisers, General Kenney had favored a deep penetration of the Ramu valley by dependence on airborne operations. Rear Adm. Arthur S. Carpender favored an amphibious hop along the coast from Finschhafen to some point between Saidor and Madang. In the end, agreement was reached on a combination of the two proposals: an airfield at Dumpu in the Ramu River valley could probably be seized by 1 November and developed for cover of an amphibious movement into Saidor to be undertaken simultaneously with landings on Cape Gloucester in New Britain.123 Thus operations to consolidate the Allied possession of the Huon Peninsula would be bracketed with the initial move into the Bismarcks.
Plans and Resources
The development of this plan hinged in part on a continuing debate over the strategy to be pursued in the Pacific. To General MacArthur the plan for a Central Pacific offensive, authorized the preceding July,* had indicated that the Joint Chiefs were reviving the old prewar plans which had been oriented toward naval problems and culpably ignoring the advantage offered by an Australian base. A request from OPD offered him an opportunity to present his own view again in the form
* See above, p. 135.
of a revised plan--RENO II.124 Dated 3 August 1943, this plan argued that the priority accorded the European war would permit only one route of advance. The line across the Central Pacific could gain no strategic result until it reached the Philippines, except for a possibly decisive fleet engagement. Moreover, the effort could not be supported with any considerable land-based air power and would depend upon vulnerable, or at least unproved, carrier-borne support. On the other hand, the New Guinea approach would permit full exploitation of land-based aviation, and the presence of large land masses would allow a desirable flexibility in the development of the advance. The plan called immediately for occupation of New Ireland and the Admiralties by 1 March 1944, these seizures to be followed by the occupation of Rabaul. With the Pacific Fleet based on Rabaul, the way back to Luzon would lead out along the New Guinea coast, as far west perhaps as the tip of the Vogelkop, and thence north to Mindanao.
The Combined Chiefs of Staff at the QUADRANT conference in Quebec during August, however, had confirmed the plan for a Central Pacific drive. They directed seizure of objectives in the Gilberts, the Marshalls, and the Carolines as far west as Woleai and to include a fleet base at Truk. The Palaus and Yap (both in the Carolines west of Woleai), Guam, and the Japanese Marianas were also to be seized. In addition to these operations, MacArthur's plans for an advance westward in New Guinea to the Vogelkop received confirmation, but the projected Central Pacific thrust into the Carolines, with their potential bases, had suggested that it would not be necessary to occupy Rabaul. Instead, it was now proposed that Rabaul should be by-passed and neutralized, with a consequent speeding up of New Guinea operations.125 General MacArthur saw in these decisions at first a purpose to pinch off his own effort at the Vogelkop. A directive from OPD, however, indicated that he should continue with his plans for an invasion of Mindanao, and as a result RENO III was issued on 20 October 1943.126 This revision of plans called immediately for the occupation of bases in the Bismarcks and along the New Guinea coast northwestward of Vitiaz Strait for the isolation of Rabaul. Plans had already been made for the seizure in December of positions on Cape Gloucester in New Britain, and these were to be carried through for assurance of Allied control over Vitiaz Strait.127 Subsequent occupations of the Hansa Bay area--lying westward along the New Guinea coast beyond Madang--(1 February 1944), of the Admiralties (1 March), and of Kavieng
(1 March by South Pacific forces) would complete the isolation of Rabaul, which, after the blockade had sufficiently reduced the defensive capacity of the Japanese garrison, might be occupied for an appropriate development of base facilities. Meanwhile, the westward advance in New Guinea would continue, reaching the Vogelkop by 1 October 1944.
After a preliminary plan had been forwarded to Washington by Admiral Nimitz on 1 September 1943, he had issued on 30 September a more comprehensive timetable for the Central Pacific operations.128 He planned to capture Makin and Tarawa in the Gilberts by operations scheduled for 15 November 1943; Kwajalein, Wotje, and Maloelap of the Marshalls, for 1 January 1944; and Eniwetok in the Marshalls and Kusaie in the Carolines, for 15 February. After this last operation, Central Pacific forces might take either Ponape or Truk in the Carolines, with a target date of 1 June 1944 for the former or 1 September for the latter. Next might come either Yap and Palau in the western Carolines or Saipan and Tinian in the Marianas by the end of the year. Nimitz's schedule for the Gilberts and Marshalls bettered that originally suggested by the JCS, but later phases remained speculative.
Indeed, the whole subject of the ultimate strategy to be employed against the enemy remained subject to further debate. As General Marshall informed both MacArthur and Harmon in October, the intention was to exert unremitting pressure upon the Japanese from every side, subject to the means at the disposal of the several theater commanders. As for the question of whether the main effort ultimately should be made in the Southwest Pacific, he reminded MacArthur that disposition of enemy forces to meet simultaneous Allied thrusts would have considerable influence upon the final decision. The main point now was to apply constant pressure from all sides.129.
RENO III had made it clear enough that in the Southwest Pacific responsibility for maintaining pressure on the enemy would fall heavily on Kenney's air forces. The strategic objective of cutting off Japan from the resources of the Malaya-Netherlands East Indies area would be attained through a scheme of maneuver that gave the chief offensive role to land-based air power. The "land-based bomber line" would be advanced westward along the land mass of New Guinea toward the Philippines, with hostile forces by-passed and neutralized through air action wherever practicable in order to avoid costly and time-consuming operations. The "offensive fighter line" would move forward
with the aid of air transport to extend the "destructive effort of bombers." Ground forces carried forward by air and water would seize and make secure an advancing line of air bases. Flank protection would be provided "essentially by air operations." Necessary naval bases would be established under the protection of land-based aviation, with carrier-borne planes making their own special contribution by close support of landings undertaken beyond the reach of previously established land bases. Thus might the length of forward movements be increased with a consequent saving of valuable time. This, in brief, was the doctrine taught by a year of successful warfare in the Southwest Pacific, and its acceptance by MacArthur gave new occasion for General Kenney to look to his planes.
As of October 1943, Kenney had the following tactical units: one light, three medium, and three heavy bombardment groups, five fighter groups, four and a half troop carrier groups, one photo squadron, and one night fighter detachment. In September, General MacArthur had been informed that within sixty days he would receive an additional dive bomber group, another fighter group, and a night fighter squadron.130 It was also understood that a second light bombardment group, a second night fighter squadron, and a combat mapping squadron had been allotted for early shipment.131 As so frequently had been the case, however, the allocation of units to the air force did not necessarily mean an early and appreciable increase in its strength. Perhaps the most critical need was for more fighter aircraft, particularly for those with range, firepower, and speed. Bur these same qualities were needed in the European theater, a fact dramatically demonstrated by the losses on the Schweinfurt mission of 14 October 1943.* Consequently, in order to increase the number of long-range fighters in ETO, fewer P-38's were sent to Kenney; the number on hand in SWPA actually would decline from a high of 212 in September to 150 in February 1944. In lieu of P-38's previously allocated to the Fifth, General Arnold authorized an unprecedented flow of some 350 P-47's to the Southwest Pacific during November and December, but this number was cut down by the lack of transportation to move them. From October through December, no more than forty-five P-38's and 207 P-47's arrived in Australia, and Kenney had to be content with these, plus the promise that P-38's scheduled for the South Pacific would be sent to the Southwest instead and that his depot
* See Vol. II, 699-704. 196
reserve in fighters would be gradually brought up to 70 per cent instead of the previously established figure of 50 per cent.132.
In light bombers, commitments had been low, and only two groups would be equipped with the A-20 by February 1944; the third group, although in the theater, did not have its aircraft.133 The situation with reference to medium bombardment was complicated by the fact that the B-25J, the model that Kenney particularly desired because of its provision for a co-pilot and heavy forward firepower, was not expected to be available before April I 944. The service command, accordingly, undertook to modify most of the B-25's as they arrived in the theater in order to equip them for the peculiar requirements of SWPA operations. And as a result, although the Fifth Air Force had approximately its authorized strength of 257 B-25's, most of the new planes were in the depots and tactical squadrons were considerably below strength.134.
At the same time, however, the striking power of V Bomber Command was being strengthened by the increased effectiveness of its heavy bombers. One of the most important developments of the fall was the arrival in October of thirteen B-24's furnished with blind-bombing equipment. Until this time, the PBY's of the RAAF or of U.S. naval units attached to the Fifth Air Force had enjoyed the best equipment for night attacks against Japanese shipping. But these planes were equipped with the inferior SCR-521, which guided the airplane to the ship but did not permit blind bombing.135 General Kenney had early felt the need for better equipment, and in May 1943, he had been assured that some blind-bombing devices would be available to him in July. The new B-24's were immediately assigned, on their arrival in October, to the 63d Bombardment Squadron, pioneer antishipping squadron. The blind-bombing equipment of the new B-24's known as LAB (low-altitude bombardment) consisted of the SCR-717B Sea Search Radar, the SCR-729 interrogator-responsor, and a number of other devices, including an absolute altimeter, a radar scope, and a bomb-release mechanism.136.
Kenney had been completely won over by the performance of his B-24's, and in January would win approval for converting the 22d Bombardment Group (M) to a heavy unit.137 As he looked forward to future operations, range acquired a new importance; when Arnold during the fall requested Kenney's personal views on employment of the B-29 against the Japanese, he argued that 90 per cent of Japan's oil came from the NET and that "every single oil field, oil well and refinery"
lay within reach of the B-29 operating from existing fields in northern Australia. The question was joined in Kenney's mind with the continuing discussion of Pacific strategy--particularly with the question of the priority to be given a Central Pacific offensive-and he concluded: "If you want the B-29 used efficiently and effectively where it will do the most good in the shortest time, the Southwest Pacific is the place and the Fifth Air Force can do the job."138.
The B-29 would be committed elsewhere, and the resources more immediately available for prosecuting the war in the Pacific would be divided between MacArthur and Nimitz. Even so, the scale of operations scheduled for the Southwest Pacific imposed a heavy burden upon supply and maintenance services. The V Air Force Service Command had become a veteran outfit; Australian factories turned out in increasing quantity belly tanks, tires and tubes, engine parts, vehicles, and other sinews of air warfare; large depots at Brisbane, Townsville, and Port Moresby functioned with growing efficiency; and the supply line from the United States was much more dependable than it had been earlier.139 But problems also remained.
Newly arriving units often had been instructed by issuing agencies in the United States that T/BA equipment would be drawn in the theater, only to find the equipment unavailable at the other end of the line. At other times, difficulty arose from the loading of organizational equipment on ships docking at widely scattered ports, and frequently the equipment arrived weeks after the unit.140 In October 1943, MacArthur urged that he be informed sufficiently in advance of the shipment of troops to permit him to notify the port of embarkation as to their final destination in order that they might be loaded accordingly. He asked also for unit-loading of equipment and men, or else that organizational equipment be shipped sufficiently in advance of the troops. It was not possible to meet this request fully, but renewed efforts were agreed upon for the exchange of information that might obviate some of the difficulties. With reference to air units, it had been agreed by mid-December that it would be understood that Milne Bay was the desired port of discharge unless another had been specified.141.
Problems of supply and maintenance within the theater provided their own difficulties. Requisition channels were long, tedious, and sometimes clogged with red tape. The forward movement of tactical units increased the distances from the major depots and emphasized the need for a more flexible organization. By August 1943, a provisional
reorganization had been decided upon which called for the elimination of service group headquarters, the released personnel to be reassigned to service squadrons, and for the establishment of wing headquarters with "command and administrative control" over all service units in a given geographical area. General MacArthur approved the provisional organization; War Department authorization was secured after some debate, and on 9 January 1944 the Headquarters and Headquarters Squadrons of IV and V Air Service Area Commands were activated.142 The new commands were located, respectively, at Port Moresby and Townsville. The reorganization did not affect activities in the Darwin area, which remained the province primarily of the Australians. There were plans, however, for the development of AAF service activities there in anticipation of heavier American commitments which might include B-29 units.143
The depots at Brisbane, Townsville, and Port Moresby continued to be marked by the variety of their activities. They not only had to overhaul engines, inspect and repair parachutes, paint aircraft, fill oxygen cylinders, and install armament but they were expected to find all sorts of short cuts and to make odd pieces of equipment from material on hand. The machine shop at Townsville produced, among other things, special propeller tools, a jig-filing machine, an indicating apparatus for hollow-steel propellers, and an electric arc welder for high-melting-point soldering on armatures. At Port Moresby, the parachute shop made such articles as canvas jeep tops, moving-picture screens, trailer covers, flags, belts, and silk panties. The sheet-metal shop manufactured rain troughs, latrine funnels, and lamp shades; and the welding shop produced washing machines, an air-cooled oven, and a dentist's drilling machine.144 By September 1943, the Townsville depot had converted some 175 B-25Cs and D's for low-level strafing, and then turned to the B-25G. Between November and the following April, it would add on eighty-two planes two additional .50-cal. machine guns in the nose, two more in the gun tunnel, and a stinger of twin .307s in the tail--modifications requiring 234 man-hours per plane.145 During July and August 1943, the service command had designed a 200-gallon belly tank for the P-47; then, facing a failure to get the tank manufactured by Australian concerns in sufficient quantity, the command prepared the P-47 for the use of a 150-gallon wing tank from the United States, work calling for 300 man-hours per plane.146 At Kenney's instance, attempts were made to extend the P-47's range still farther by installing
a leakproof tank behind the pilot's armor in the cockpit, but the end result proved not too satisfactory.147 As yet no rotation policy promising relief to ground and service personnel could be worked out. In July, General MacArthur had explained to his troops:
The necessity for an indefinite period for using all available shipping for the transportation to this theater of additional units and of replacements to maintain the strength of the command will operate to prevent the return of individuals or units to the United States under any rotation policy or at the end of any specified period of duty. Except for the physically unfit, for air crew personnel definitely unqualified for duty in the command, personnel can be returned only under the most exceptional circumstances.148
A medical report of the 565th Aircraft Warning Battalion showed that the number of men on sick call promptly went up by 50 per cent.149 But living conditions showed improvement, even on the advanced bases. The delivery of mail, if properly addressed, was dependable, and V-mail reached most units in New Guinea within ten to fourteen days of its posting. The men were paid promptly, although money was of such slight importance in the forward areas that it was usually not drawn more than once every three or four months. Food, too, was generally less distasteful than had been the case earlier. Fresh meats and vegetables were to be had in increasing quantities, some from gardens planted near Bena Bena and New Garoka. Fresh milk, however, was not provided in the forward area, and there was still almost universal complaining about dehydrated foods.
The health of officers and men of the Fifth Air Force varied between the two extremes, generally depending upon the length of time spent in New Guinea. Medical records showed that between 1 June and 31 August an average of 18.24 patients a day were admitted to sick report per 1,000 officers and men in the Fifth Air Force, and that an average of three men a day were evacuated to the United States for medical reasons.150 Various expedients were tried to sustain the morale of aircrews, including a portion of whiskey upon returning from combat and the assurance of awards for participation in a certain number of missions. Leaves for visits to Australia now came with more regularity, and the promise of an expanding flow of replacements provided further encouragement.
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (5) * Next Chapter (7)
1. Vice Adm. Aubrey W. Fitch, Task Force 33, South Pacific Force, Operation Plan 7-43, 17 June 1943, derived from Third Fleet's Operation Plan 14-43. See also USSBS, Employment of Forces under the Southwest Pacific Command.
Notes to Chapter 6:
2. USSBS, Employment of Forces under SWP Comd.; Aus. Army Dir. of Public Relations, Battle of the Ridges (Sydney, 1944). The plan was to maintain about 1,000 men at Bena Bena, 2 Australian independent companies, 1 airborne AA (US.) battery, an AW detachment, and service detachments. (Ltr., Chamberlin to Col. R. J. Barham, ALF, 5 June 1943, in GHQ G-3 Journal, 5 June 1943.)
3. Report by Comdr. Seventh Amphibious Force, Operation CHRONICLE, 21 Nov. 1943. There was apparently one Australian coast watcher at Woodlark and a radar station on Kiriwina. (See Woodlark Task Force Opns. Diary, 23 June-4 Aug. 1943; History, Kiriwina Task Force, 9 June-4 Aug. 1943.)
4. Notes on Conference Held in Brisbane, 17 May 1943, in GHQ G-3 Journal, 17 May 1943. See also USSBS, Employment of Forces under SWP Comd.
5. Memo for G-3 from Brig. Gen. Hugh Casey, 1 May 1943; ltr., Hq 5th AF to ADVON, 19 June 1943; History, CHRONICLE Operation, sgd. Krueger, 23 Aug. 1943, in GHQ G-3 Journal, 30 Aug. 1943.
6. History, Kiriwina Task Force; USSBS, Employment of Forces under SWP Comd., p. 23; AAFRH-13, The Fifth Air Force in the Huon Peninsula Campaign, Jan.-Oct. 1943, p. 174; AAFRH-20, The Thirteenth Air Force, Mar.-Oct. 1943, p. 79; Office of Naval Intelligence, ONI Weekly, II, 27 (7 July 1943). See also Walter Karig, Battle Report, IV, The End of an Empire (New York, 1948), 22; History, CHRONICLE Operation, sgd. Krueger, 23 Aug. 1943.
7. History, Kiriwina Task Force; Woodlark Task Force Opns. Diary; msg., MacArthur to COMSOPAC, 2 July 1943, in GHQ G-3 Journal, 2 July 1943; Historical Report, 46th Engr. General Service Regt., 16 May-4 Aug. 1943, in GHQ G-3 Journal, 4 Aug. 1943.
8. Msg., Regtl. S-3 to G-3 41st Div., 26 June 1943, and FO 2, 26 June 1943, in 162d Regt. War Journal; Colonel MacKechnie, Notes on Opns.--Morobe, Nassau Bay Area, 13 July 1943.
9. MacKechnie, Notes on Opns.; Brig. Gen. W.F. Heavey, CO 2d Engr. Special Brig., report, Exchange of Information (Army and Navy Combined Operations), 13 July 1943.
10. MacKechnie, Notes on Opns.; msg., Red. CO to CG 41st Div., 30 June 1943, in 162d Regt. War Journal; Form 34 for 27 June-3 July 1943, all sqs. of 8th, 35th, 49th Gps.
11. SWPA Intel. Sums. 118 and 119, 7 and 10 July 1943; 63d Sq. Combat Diary; Form 34, 27 June-3 July 1943, 89th Sq.
12. Msg., Regtl. S-3 to G-3 41st Div., 2 July 1943, in 162d Regt. War Journal; History, 49th Ftr. Gp.; Form 34, 27 June-3 July 1943, 17th Ftr. Sq.
13. 162d Regt. Rpt. of Opns., 29 June-12 Sept. 1943; MacKechnie, Notes on Opns.
14. 162d Reg. Rpt. of Opns.; MacKechnie, Notes on Opns.; 162d Regt. War Journal, 15 July 1943; msgs., 17th Brig. to Regtl. CO, 5 July 1943, Regtl. S-3 to G-3 41st Div., 10 July 1943, 3 Aus. Div., sgd. Reeski to Kate, 293, 19 July 1943, and 3 Aus. Div. to Coane, 817, 25 July 1943, all in 162d Regt. War Journal.
15. Hq. 5th AF GO 176, 12 Aug. 1943.
16. Intel. Sum. 121, 17 July 1943; ONI Weekly, II, 28, 29, and 30 (14, 21, and 28 July 1943) ; Plan for Operations to Secure Tambu Bay by Coane Force, 15 July 1943, and msgs., sgd. Cawlfield to Pt. Base, Morobe, 315, 20 July 1943, Lt. Mulliken to Gen. Coane, 348, 21 July 1943, 3 Aus. Div. to Coane Force, 1005, 27 July 1943, and to GOC 3 Aus. Div., 1026, 28July 1943, all in 162d Regt. War Journal.
17. History, 67th Sq.; Form 34 for July, all fighter sqs.; opns. rpts. in cables. The most successful day for American fighters was on 21 July when thirty-four P-38's escorting a bombing mission to Bogadjim near Madang tangled with some fifty enemy fighters. At least twenty-two fighters were shot down to the loss of two P-38's. (Opns. rpts. in cables; Histories, 35th and 49th Fighter Gps. and 80th Fighter Sq.)
18. These figures usually taken from the intelligence summaries are approximate. There are some differences between these and the figures derived from Form 34. In cases of obvious error, the intelligence summary figures have been adjusted.
19. CM-IN-13306 (7-19-43), Brisbane to WAR, C4050, 18 July 1943; CM-IN-13572 (7-19-43), Brisbane to WAR, C4075, 19 July 1943; History, 8th Bomb. Sq.; ONI Weekly, II,30 (28 July 1943); Intel. Sums. and opns. rpts. in cables for July.
20. See JANAC; Intel. Sums. for July; Form 34, 21-31 July 1943, 8th, 13th, and 90th Sqs.
21. From 1 June to 30 July, Allied flyers in the Solomons claimed 529 aircraft destroyed, while claims for aircraft destroyed in the entire Southwest Pacific numbered only 165. (Intel. Sums. 124 and 125, 28 and 31 July 1943.) On 21 July, 85 fighters and 57 bombers were reported in Wewak dromes. (Intel. Sum. 123, 24 July 1943).
22. USSBS interrogation of Gen. Hitoshi Imamura, CINC Southeastern Japanese Forces, and Lt. Rimpei Kato, his chief of staff, in USSBS, The Allied Campaign against Rabaul.
23. By the end of July, 115 P-47's had arrived. (See AAFRH-13, App. 4; ltr., Kenney to Arnold, 29 June 1943; memo for Col. Burgess from 348th Ftr. Gp., 7 Feb. 1944, in Col. W.M. Burgess Report.)
24. History, 475th Ftr. Gp. Kenney at this time was trying to get an additional P-38 group instead of the P-47 group scheduled for later delivery. His request was refused in July on the grounds that the P-38 was being diverted for modification to become the F-5 photo plane and because of requirements of other theaters. It was refused again in September because of difficulties and delays in production. (CM-OUT-12674 [6-30-43], AC/AS OC&R to CINCSWPA, 5277, 29 June 1943; CM-IN-5484 [7-8-43], Brisbane to CGAAF A1239, 8 July 1943; CM-OUT-4149 [7-10-43], AC/AS OC&R, to CINCSWPA, 5603, 10 July 1943; memo for the AC/S OPD by Lt. Col. N. O. Ohman, AC/AS OC&R, 15 July 1943; CM-IN-23569 [8-31-43], Brisbane to CGAAF, A1625 31 Aug. 1943; CM-OUT-818, [9-2-43], AC/AS OC&R to CINCSWPA, 7511, 2 Sept. 1943.)
25. Form 34 for week of 22 July 1943.
26. The refineries were not destroyed, as two reconnaissance B-24's noted on returning two days later. (Form 34, 8-14, 15-21 Aug. 1943, 528th, 529th, 530th, 531st, and Hq. & Hq. Sqs.)
27. Some thought had been given to the possible necessity for building an airfield at Merauke on southwest coast of New Guinea. (Ltr., GHQ to CO ALF, 26 Mar. 1943; memo for G-4 from G-3, 16 Apr. 1943; check sheet, G-3 to C/S, 28 Apr. 1943; all in GHQ G-3 Journal, 27 Mar., 16 and 28 Apr. 1943.)
28. CM-0UT-11051 (3-28-43), AFIPU to CINCSWPA, 2402, 28 Mar. 1943; ltr., TAG to CINCSWPA, 29 Mar. 1943; CM-IN-12636 (4-21-43), Brisbane to WAR, C1850, 21 Apr. 1943; CM-IN-13858 (4-23-43), Brisbane to WAR, C1907, 23 Apr. 1943; History, 38th Bomb. Gp.
29. CM-IN-5515 (6-9-43), Brisbane to CGAAF, A1057, 9 June 1943; CM-OUT-5627 (6-14-43), AC/AS OC&R to ClNCSWPA, 4729, 13 June 1943; CM-IN-15847 (6-25-43), Brisbane to CGAAF, A1146, 25 June 1943.
30. CM-OUT-19027 (7-27-43), OC&R to CINCSWPA, 6169, 27 July 1943; CM-IN-1602 (8-3-43), Brisbane to WAR, A1412, 3 Aug. 1943; CM-OUT-9127 (8- 22-43), OC&R to CINCSWPA, 7107, 21 Aug. 43.
31. Ltrs., Kenney to Arnold, 7 Sept. 1943 and Arnold to Kenney, 26 Sept. 1943.
32. Report, Lt. Col. P. I. Gunn to CG V AFSC, 7 Aug. 1943.
33. History, V Air Service Area Command; CM-IN-6164 (9-9-43), Brisbane to WAR, A1677, 9 Sept. 1943.
34. Ltr., Arnold to Kenney, sent 12 May 1943; memo for CGAAF from Col. F. H. Smith, Jr., 3 May 1943; CM-OUT-6113 (5-14-43), OPD to CINCSWPA, 3744, 13 May 1943; CM-IN-10801 (5-17-43), Brisbane to WAR, C2507, 17 May 1943; CM-OUT-9268 (5-21-43). WDGS to CINCSWPA, 3969, 21 May 1943; CM-IN-17888 (5-28-43), Brisbane to WAR, C2754, 28 May 1943; CM-OUT-412 (6-1-43), AC/AS AFRTH to CINCSWPA, 4312, 1 June 1943; ltr., Arnold to Kenney, 5 July 1943; CM-IN-6820 (5-11-43), Brisbane to WAR, C2362, 11 May 1943; CM-OUT 4102 (5-10-43) OPD to CINCSWPA, 10 May 1943.
35. CM-OUT-10601 (6-25-43), AC/AS OC&R to CINCSWPA, 5108, 25 June 1943; CM-OUT-8717 (8-21-43), OC&R to CINCSWPA, 7075, 21 Aug. 1943; Histories, 55th, 56th, 57th, 58th TC Sqs., 375th TC Gp., and 54th TC Wing.
36. Ltr., TAG to CGAAF etc., 6 June 1943.
37. CM-OUT-3125 (6-8-43), OC&R to CINCSWPA,4545, 7 June 1943; memo for Gen. Giles from Col. O. P. Weyland, 1 July 1934; notes on a staff meeting with Gen. Arnold, in memo for Col. Gross, etc. from Brig. Gen. H.A. Craig, 11 Aug. 1943.
38. CM-IN-19933 (5-31-43), Brisbane to CGAAF, 31 May 1943; CM-IN-3379 (7-5-43), Brisbane to CGAAF, A1215, 5 July 1943; CM-OUT-3002 (5-7-43), AFRAL to CINCSWPA, 3526, 7 May 1943; CM-OUT-3831 (7-9-43), OC&R to CINCSWPA, 9 July 43.
39. CM-IN-9455 (7-14-43), Brisbane to WAR, AI274, 13 July 1943; CM-OUT-5687 (7-14-43), OC&R to CINCSWPA, 5730, 14 July 1943; ltrs., Kenney to Arnold, 28 July, and Arnold to Kenney, 31 Aug. 1943. The detail of the debate over medium and light bomber replacements is considered in AAFRH-13, pp. 151 ff.
40. CM-IN-2911 (8-5-43), Brisbane to CGAAF, A1413, 3 Aug. 1943; CM-IN-23507 (8-31-43), Brisbane to CGAAF, A1622, 31 Aug. 1943; Reports to General Kenney by John N. Gibson, 4 July 1943, and by Paul V. McNamara, 8 July 1943, incls. to ltr., Kenney to Arnold, 28 July 1943.
41. Ltr., Kenney to Arnold, 28 July 1943.
42. Extract of ltr. from Gen. Kenney in R&R, Arnold to Giles, 29 June 1943.
43. Memo for Gen. Giles from Col. O. P. Weyland, Chief of Allocations and Programs Div., AC/AS OC&R, 1 July 1943, which was incorporated in a letter from Arnold to Kenney, 5 July 1943.
44. CM-OUT-5875 (6-15-43), DC/AS to CINCSWPA, 4748, 14 June 1943; CM-OUT-8566 (6-20-43), C/AS to CINCSWPA (Arnold to Kenney), 4952, 20 June 1943.
45. CM-IN-14605 (6-23-43), Brisbane to CGAAF, A1132, 23 June 1943; CM-OUT- 5632 (7-14-43), Hq. AAF to CGSWPA (Arnold to MacArthur for Kenney), 5724, 11 July 1943; CM-IN-5621I (7-8- 43), Brisbane to CGAAF, A1232, 8 July 1943.
46. Ltr., Kenney to Arnold, 28 July 1943.
47. R&R, DC/AS to AC/AS OC&R, 10 Aug. 1943; memo for C/AS from Brig. Gen. H. A. Craig, 17 Aug. 1943.
48. Ltr., Arnold to Kenney, 31 Aug. 1943.
49. History, 35th Service Gp. The school was officially activated on 18 April 1943 by Hq. Allied Air Forces GO 14.
50. Ltr., Kenney to Arnold, 28 July 1943.
51. Ltr., Kenney to Arnold, 7 Sept. 1943.
52. Ltr., Kenney to Arnold, 28 July 1943.
53. History, 27th Air Depot Sq.; CM-IN-10371 (7-15-43),Brisbane to CGAAF, XA6543, 15 July 1943; CM-IN-11999 (7-17-43), PFO to Brisbane, 1633, 17 Jul 1943; CM-IN-22575 (7-31-43), PFO to CGSWPA 3053, 31 July 1943.
54. Ltr., Kenney to Arnold, 28 July 1943; CM-IN-515 (8-1-43), Brisbane to CGAAF, XA7182, 1 Aug. 1943.
55. Histories, 35th Ftr. Gp., 440th Sig. Bn., 4th Airdrome Sq. See also ADVON 5th AF GO 58, 6 Aug. 1943.
56. The account of the development of Tsili Tsili as a base is taken largely from Capt. Everette E. Frazier's Experiences on the Location of Airdromes in New Guinea, in History, V AFSC in New Guinea.
57. Frazier, "Experiences: Tsili Tsili, a Tribute to Aviation Engineers," in Impact, 1 (Oct. 1943); Historical Summary of the Aviation Engineers; ltr., Brig. Gen. S.C. Godfrey, Air Engr. to COs of Engr. Avn. Unit Training Centers, etc., 15 Nov. 1943; unrecorded interview with Capt. Everette E. Frazier.
58. Histories, 35th Ftr. Gp., 565th Signal AW Bn., 35th Ftr. Control Sq., 412th QM Platoon, 440th Signal Bn., and the 4th Airdrome Sq. On the Second Air Task Force see ADVON 5th AF GOs 58 and 60, 6 and 27Aug. 1943.
59. History, 345th Ftr. Gp.; CM-IN-11980 (8-16-43), Brisbane to WAR, C4827, 16 Aug. 1943; Form 34, 15-21 Aug. 1943, 40th and 41st Ftr. Sqs.
60. History, 475th Ftr. Gp.; Form 34, 12-21 Aug. 1943, 340th, 341st, and 431st Ftr. Sqs.; cable opns. rpts. for August; History, 67th Ftr. Sq.
61. Between 24 July and 3 August, at least 94 enemy barges were claimed destroyed and 60 others damaged. Between 1 and 17 August, the Fifth Air Force carried out at least 46 B-25, 42 B-17, and 154 B-24 sorties on objectives in the general Salamaua area. The official reports on these missions must be used with caution, since the squadron reports are at times less sweeping in their claims. (For more details on this, and for complete documentation see AAFRH-13, pp. 193-95.)
62. Brisbane to WAR: CM-IN-1088 (8- 2-43), C4423, 2 Aug. 1943; CM-IN-2652 (8-4-43), C4473, 4 Aug. 1943; CM-IN-10548 (8-14-43), C4764, 14 Aug. 1943.
63. Form 34 for squadrons of the 43d and 90th Bomb. Gps., the 38th Bomb Gp., and the 3d Bomb. Gp. The B-25's of the 345th Group were being modified.
64. Account of Mission 228-G on 16 Aug. 1943,63d, 64th, 6ph, and 403d Bomb.
65. Ibid.; Form 34, 15-21 Aug. 1943, 63d, 64th, 6ph, 403d, 319th, 320th, 321st, and 400th Sqs.
66. Form 34, 8th, 13th, 71st, 90th, and 405th Sqs.
67. Ibid., 9th, 39th, 80th, 431st, 432d, and 433d Ftr. Sqs. The unit histories, with the exception of that of the 475th Group, are very inaccurate on this mission. (See also Brisbane to WAR: CM-IN-13600 [8-18-43], C4872, 18 Aug. 1943, and CM-IN-12497 [8-17-43], A1515, 17 Aug. 1943.)
68. Form 34; Hq. Allied AF Narrative Mission Rpts. 55, 60, 62.
69. On 25 and 28 August, over 70 B-25's, 30 B-24's, and 10 B-17's hit the Hansa Bay area, and on 29 August, 48 B-25's struck at Alexishafen.
70. Form 34; Intel. Sums.; cable opns. rpts.; Diary of Operational Statistics, Pt. IIIA, Claims against Enemy--1943, in Office of Stat. Control. According to Col. Rinsuka Kaneko, from July 1943 to August 1943 on the staff of the Eighth Area Army at Rabaul and from then until September 1944 with the Fourth Air Force sqs. staff at Rabaul, very heavy losses on the ground from Allied air attack were suffered because there were insufficient personnel and equipment to provide dispersal facilities and to get aircraft off the ground when warning of an attack was received. (USSBS Intr. 440, 21 Nov. 1945.
71. Aus. Army Dir. of Public Relations, Battle of the Ridges; Report by 7 Australian Division on Operation Outlook, 1-16 Sept. 1943, in GHQ G-3 Journal, 16 Sept. 1943; ltr., ALF to GHQ, 16 July 1943, in GHQ G-3 Journal, 16 July 1943.
72. Interrogation of Gen. Adachi and Col. Tanaka of Eighth Area Army headquarters by Aus. 5 M.H. Field Team, Rabaul. See also USSBS, Employment of Forces under SWP Comd., p. 24.
73. See ELKTON Plan, 12 Feb. 1943, and also CCS 420, 4 Dec. 1943. Original plans set the assault on Lae for 1 August. When the details of the airborne maneuver were being worked out, the target date was shifted first to 27 August and then to 4 September to permit the concentration of transport aircraft at Port Moresby. (USSBS, Employment of Forces under SWP Comd., pp. 21-22.)
74. Ltr., ALF to GHQ, 16 July 1943, and Notes on Discussion with Colonel Barham, 24July 1943, in GHQ G-3 Journal, 16 July 1943.
75. Memo to C/S SWPA by Gen. Chamberlin, 5 Aug. 1943.
76. Ibid.; ltr., Sutherland to Kenney, 5 Aug. 1943.
77. Ltr., Brig. Gen. Donald Wilson to CINCSWPA, 20 July 1943.
78. Ltr., CO Allied NF to CINCSWPA, 16 Aug. 1943.
79. Memo for Sutherland from Kenney, 19 Aug. 1943, and 2d ind., Kenney to CINCSWPA, 19 Aug. 1943; ltr., CO Allied NF to CINCSWPA, 16 Aug. 1943.
80. Memo for C/S SWPA from Gen. Chamberlin, 23 Aug. 1943; Hq. Allied AF, Plan for Air Operations in Support of Postern, 26 Aug. 1943; msg., Comdr. Seventh Fleet to CINCSWPA, 27Aug. 1943; msg., Comdr. Seventh Fleet to U.S. Naval Comdr. Moresby for MacArthur, 1 Sept. 1943; Report by Comdr. Seventh Amphibious Force to COMINCH, Lae Operation, 23 Oct. 1943; Annex A to ADVON 5th AF FO 70, 4 Sept. 1943.
81. Radar sets were located in the Dobodura area and at Cape Ward Hunt, Morobe, Bulolo, Tsili Tsili, and Bena Bena. At this time, the set at Morobe was inoperative, the towering mountains limited range of the others, and the set at Cape Ward Hunt did not reach Lae. (Capt. William M. Ball and Capt. David F. Harbor, "Amphibious Control," in AAFSAT Intel. Rpt. 25 [March 1944].)
83. Ibid.; History, 5th Tac. Air Com.
84. CM-IN-1361 (9-2-43), Brisbane to WAR, CA3, 2 Sept. 1943; Form 34.
85. The vessels were the 4,105-ton Hankow Maru and the 5,901-ton Nagato Maru. (JANAC); Form 34, 29 Aug.-4 Sept. 1943, 71st and 405th Sqs.) Many of these attacks were bitterly resisted. For example at least twenty-five fighters were still able to swarm off the much-bombed Wewak fields to intercept the B-25 at- tacks, and enemy AA was heavy and accurate. The forty P-38's, providing top cover, shot down at least six enemy fighters, and the B-25's six more, while three B-25's and two P-38's were lost. (CM-IN- 2068 [9-3-43], Port Moresby to WAR, 3 Sept. 1943; History, 80th Ftr. Sq.)
86. Lae Operation, as cited in n. 80; History, 5th Tac. Air Com. Sq.; AAFRH-13, p. 204.
87. History, 5th Tac. Air Com. Sq.; Form 34, 29 Aug.-4 Sept. 1943, 40th and 433d Sqs.; Lae Operation.
88. Lae Operation; Form 34, 29 Aug.-4 Sept. 1943, 13th Sq.; CM-IN-3998 (9-5-43), Port Moresby to WAR, CA13, 5 Sept. 1943.
89. Ball and Harbor, "Amphibious Control."
90. Ibid.; Form 34, 29 Aug.-4 Sept. 1943, 39th, 80th, 342d, and 433d Sqs.; CM-IN-3998 (9-5-43), Port Moresby to WAR, CA13, 5 Sept. 1943.
91. Lae Operation.
92. Ibid.; History, 5th Tac. Air Com. Sq.
93. Report by 7 Australian Div. on Operation Outlook; History, V AFSC in New Guinea; Frazier interview.
94. Report by Mai. A. J. Beck, Paratroop Dropping at Nadzab, 5 Sept. 1943, in History, 54th TC Wing.
95. Ltr., Kenney to Arnold, 7 Sept. 1943. Several of Kenney's figures are somewhat different from those in the squadron reports. For example, he mentions ninety-six transports, which differs from the figure given above. He mentions six A-2O'S, whereas Form 34, 89th Squadron specifies seven. For more detail on the use of smoke, see Chemical Warfare Service, Theater of Opns., Opns. Ltr. 7, 8 Nov 1943.
96. Frazier interview; Beck rpt., as cited in n. 94; Report by 7 Australian Div. on Operation Outlook.
97. Extract from ltr. by Lt. Col. H.G. Woodbury, 25 Oct. 1943, in ltr., Brig. Gen. S.C. Godfrey, Air Engr. to COs of Engr. Avn. Unit Training Centers, etc., 15 Nov. 1943; History, 5th Tac. Air Com. Sq.; Report by 7 Australian Div. on Operation Outlook; GHQSWPA Daily Opns. Rpt., 7 Sept. 1943, and memo for Sutherland from Whitehead, 12 Sept. 1943, both in GHQ G-3 Journal, 7 and 12 Sept. 1943.
98. Cable opns. rpts. for September, 162d Regt. War Journal. The Allied Air Forces in the meantime kept heavy attacks on airfields and barge hideouts in New Britain, renewed attacks on Wewak dromes, and carried out 421 sorties in which approximately 800 tons of bombs were dropped in support of the Lae operation. (See AAFRH-13, App. 3.)
99. Hq. U.S. Fleet, Amphibious Operations during the Period August to December 1943, dtd. 22 Apr. 1944.
100. CM-IN-15490 (9-21-43). Port Moresby to WAR, C66, 21 Sept. 1943; CM-IN-12160 (9-22-43), Port Moresby to WAR, CA66, 21 Sept. 1943.
101. Combined Opns. Hq. Bulletin 10, Operations Postern and Diminish, 24 Nov. 1943; History, 5th Tac. Air Com. Sq.
102. Form 34, 19-25 Sept. 1943, 64th, 403d, 8th, 89th, and 90th Sqs.; CM-IN-16932 (9-23-43), Port Moresby to WAR,CA74, 23 Sept. 1943.
103. Operation Diminish, as cited in n.101. The Japanese had expected an Allied attack on Finschhafen at some future date, and on 15 September about 2,800 troops had arrived there from Madang. The main body of the Japanese 20th Division was en route from Madang to Finschhafen when the landing occurred. (Aus. Intr., 5 M.H. Fld. Team, Rabaul.)
104. Form 34, 19-25 Sept. 1943 for all fighter sqs.; Ball and Harbor, "Amphibious Control."
105. "Amphibious Control"; Form 34, 19-24 Sept. 1943, 9th 35th 39th 341st and 432d Sqs.; CM-IN-16932 (9-23-43), Port Moresby to WAR, CA74, 23 Sept. 1943; CM-1N-18992 (9-27-43), Brisbane to WAR, C6085, 27 Sept. 1943.
106. ONI Weekly, 11, 39 (29 Sept. 1943); History, 5th Tac. Air Com. Sq.
107. History, 478th Service Sq.
108. Form 34, 26 Sept.-2 Oct. 1943, all bomb. sqs.; ONI Weekly for bomb loads. Brisbane to WAR: CM-IN-19937 (9-28-43), C6140, 28 Sept. 1943; CM-IN-19166 (9-27-43), C6108, 27Sept. 1943; CM-IN-20550 (9-29-43), C6183, 29 Sept. 1943. The ship sunk was the Taisei Maru. (See JANAC.)
109. Form 34, 24-30 Oct. 1943,40th and 41st Ftr. Sqs.; History, V AFSC in New Guinea; Histories, 41st Ftr. Sq., 70th TC Sq., 1954th Truck Co. (Avn.), and 35th Gp.; Group Medical and Sanitation Rpt., 1943, in History, 35th Gp.; Hq. Allied AF GO 27, 10 Nov. 1943.
110. History, V AFSC in New Guinea; Histories, 54th TC Wing, 872d Airborne Engr. Avn. Bn., 440th Signal Bn. (Cons.), and Third Air Task Force; ltr., Whitehead to Kenney, 18 Sept. 1943.
111. Ltr., Whitehead to Kenney, 18 Sept. 1943; narrative by Capt. Everette Frazier, in History, V AFSC in New Guinea.
112. Narrative by Capt. Frazier; Histories, 54th TC Wing, 872d Airborne Engr. Am. Bn., and Third Air Task Force; ltr., Whitehead to Kenney, 20 Oct. 1943.
113. Memo for Sutherland from Brig. Gen. Carl Connell, 6 Sept. 1943.
114. Ltr., Connell to Col. H. E. Eastwood, Asst. G-4 GHQ, 21 Sept. 1943; msg., CG 23d Port Hq. to CGUSASOS, 12 Oct. 1943; ltr., Connell to Capt. Christian Petersen, 25 Oct. 1943; 1st ind. (ltr., Whitehead to CG Adv. Sec., USASOS, 26 Dec. 1943), Hq. Adv. Sec., USASOS to Dep. CG 5th AF, 6 Jan. 1944.
115. Ltr., Whitehead to Kenney, 20.
116. Ltr., Kenney to Sutherland, 11 Oct. 1943, in GHQ G-3 Journal, 13 Oct. 1943; memo for Kenney from Whitehead, 13 Nov. 1943; ltr., Whitehead to Kenney, 4 Nov. 1943.
117. Ltr., Connell to Col. "Jimmy" Crabb, CO SATF, 16 Dec. 1943. This project was not without personnel problems. Connell relieved a commanding officer of a signal battalion for trying to push his heavy equipment against orders over the road before it was finished. On another occasion he found that engineer officers were not giving their men proper supervision. (Ltr., Connell to Lt. Col. Henry L. Schnoor, CO 60th Signal Bn., 13 Nov. 1943; memo for Lt. Col. S. E. Smith, CO 836th Engr. Avn. Bn. from Gen. Connell, 16 Dec. 1943; msg., CG Adv. Sec., USASOS to CGUSASOS, 27 Nov. 1943.)
118. Msg., CG Adv. Sec., USASOS to CGUSASOS, 15 Dec. 1943; ltr., Connell to Crabb, 15 Dec. 1943.
119. Ltr., Connell to Col. L. J. Sverdrup, 19 Dec. 1943.
120. Memo for Brig. Gen. L. J. Whitlock, 19 Oct. 1943, with incl. of ltr., Connell to Whitehead, 15 Oct. 1943: msg., MacArthur to CG 23d Port Hq., Q6148, 14 Oct. 1943; msg., CG Adv. Sec., USASOS to CGUSASOS, 10 Dec. 1943; ltr., Whitehead to Kenney, 20 Oct. 1943.
121. Ltr., Whitehead to Kenney, 20 Oct. 1943; ltr., Maj. W. J. Ellison, Jr. to Connell, 11 Nov. 1943.
122. Ltrs., Connell to Kenney, 12 Dec. 1943, and Kenney to Connell, 12 Dec. 1943; Check Sheet, Connell to Lt. Col. Pickard, 17 Dec. 1943; msg., CG Adv. Sec., USASOS to CGUSASOS, 10 Dec. 1943; Histories, 54th TC Wing, 35th, 340th, 341st, and 342d Ftr. Sqs.
123. Memo for C/S SWPA from Chamberlin, 3 Sept. 1943, and memo for file initialed by Chamberlin, both in GHQ G-3 Journal, 31 Aug. 1943; USSBS, Employment of Forces under SWP Comd., p. 24.
124. Msg., OPD to CINCSWPA, CM- OUT-7555, 19 July 1943; GHQSWPA, RENO II, Estimate of the Situation and Outline Plan for Operations of the Southwest Pacific Area, 1944, 3 Aug. 1943.
125. CCS 319/5, 24Aug. 1943. See also JCS 386, 28 June 1943; msg., WD (Marshall) to CINCSWPA, WARX-5972, 21 July 1943.
126. GHQSWPA, RENO III, Outline Plan for Operations of the Southwest Pacific Area to Reoccupy the Southern Philippines 20 Oct. 1943. See also CM- OUT-9252 (9-19-43), Marshall to MacArthur (Personal), 18 Sept. 1943; Nov. 1943.) July 1943. msg., CINCSWPA to WARCOS (for Col. W. L. Ritchie), C-6131, 28 Sept. 1943; CM-OUT-630-632 (10-2-43), OPD to MacArthur, Nimitz, and Halsey, 2 Oct. 1943.
127. GHQSWPA Warning Instn. 2, 6 May 1943; Hqs. ALAMO Force, Report of the Dexterity Operation, 15 Dec. 1943-10 Feb. 1944, pp. 1-3.
128. CINCPOA, Serial 00198, 30 Sept. 1943.
129. CM-OUT-630 (10-2-43), OPD to COMGENSOPAC, Rane 8285, 2 Oct. 1943.
130. In addition to these units, a photo reconnaissance squadron was to depart in late October and another in November, and the squadrons of the 71st Reconnaissance Group had either arrived already or would arrive in October. (CM-OUT-4236 [8-9-43], AC/AS OC&R to CINCSWPA, 7789, 9 Sept. 1943.)
131. CM-IN-12579 (10-2 1-43), Brisbane to CGAF, 21 Oct. 1943; CM-OUT-2022 (11-5-43), AFRTH to CINCSWPA, 92, 5 Nov 1943.
132. For further details on this subject see AAFRH-16, The Fifth Air Force in the Huon Peninsula Campaign, October 1943-February 1944, pp. 46-48.
134. Ibid., p. 50.
135. Capt. James M. Stentz, Radar Officer, V Bomber Comd., Report on Tactics of PBY Catalina Enemy-Shipping Strikes, 3 Jan. 1944.
136. AAFRH-16, p. 54. During the period from 1 October to 31 December 1941, PBY's carried out 177 sorties of which 87 per cent were completed, made 75 contacts and 50 attacks, and were credited with 21 hits and 15 near misses, 8 warships sunk or damaged, and 80,700 tons of merchant shipping sunk or damaged. By January 1944 the LAB planes had flown 126 sorties of which 86 per cent were complete, made 52 contacts and 41 attacks, claimed 20 hits and 17 near misses, and were credited with 8 warships and 73,000 tons of merchant shipping sunk or damaged. (Memo for CG 5th AF from Col. Harry F. Cunningham, AC/AS A-2. ADVON 5th AF, 6 Jan. 1944, in A-2 Lib. 3 Jan. 1944. According to records of the Strategic Bombing Survey, these claims were considerably exaggerated.)
137. AAFRH-16, pp. 51 ff.
138. Ltr., Kenney to Arnold, 29 Oct 1943.
139. Air Service Command in the SWPA, 1941-1944, p. 55.
140. Ltr., Wurtsmith to D/CG 5th AF, [July] 1943; ltr., Hq. 5th AF to CG USAFFE, 25 Sept. 1943; ltr., Capt. Harry M. Hayes, Asst. A-4, 54th TC Wing to Wing Comdr., 12 hug. 1943, in Reustow Report; memo for Liaison Officer from Col. Alvin L. Pachynski, 30 Dec. 1943, in Report of Liaison Officer SWPA, 19 Feb. 1944.
141. CM-IN-2781 (10-5-43), Brisbane to WAR C6365 5 Oct. 1943; CM-IN 7061 (10-12-43), Brisbane to WAR, XC7432, 12 Oct. 1943; CM-OUT-12886 (10-29-43), ASF Trans. to CINCSWPA, 9749, 28 Oct. 1943; WD-PF-356 (12-2-43), Brisbane to CGAAF, XA11873, 2 Dec. 1943; WD-PF-624 (12-4-43). Brisbane to CG-AAF, XA11863, 3 Dec. 1943; WD-PF-1289 (12-8-43), ASCPFO to Brisbane, 1643, 8 Dec. 1943; CM-IN-14425 (12-23- 43), Brisbane to CGAAF, A2520, 23 Dec. 1943; CM-OUT-9579 (12-24-43), AC/AS MM&D to CINCSWPA, 2192, 24 Dec. 1943.
142. Ltr., Connell to Col. W. J. Clinch, AC/AS Personnel, 5 Aug. 1943, in Air Service Command in the SWPA, 1941-1944, Pt. 4; Capt. Edgar A. Holt's interview with Col. Jerry H. Dunkelberger, Exec. Off., IV ASAC, 1 May 1944, ibid., Pt. I; History, IV Air Service Area Comd.; Reustow Rpt., Tabulation of Activities of the 4th Air Depot at Townsville; Hq. 5th AF GO 28, 9 Jan. 1944. On 10 January, Col. Victor E. Bertrandias was placed in command of the Townsville area and Col. Carl A. Brandt, deputy service commander since June 1943, at Port Moresby. (Hq. V AFSC GO 3, 10 Jan. 1944, in History, V ASAC.) The War Department, however, did not authorize the reassignment of service squadrons independently of groups until February. (Memo for the AC/S OPD by Maj. Gen. Barney M. Giles, C/AS, 24Feb. 1944.)
143. Air Service Command in the SWPA, 1941-1944; History, V ASAC.
144. Histories, 4th Air Depot Gp. and 479th Service Sq.
145. See particularly History, V ASAC.
146. WD-PF-3669 (10-23-43), Brisbane to CGAAF, A2031, 23 Oct. 1943; WD-PF-3889 (10-24-43), Brisbane to ASCPFO, XA10280, 24 Oct. 1943; ltr., Whitehead to Kenney, 21 Oct. 1943; CM-OUT-8733 (10-20-43), AFDMA to CINCSWPA, 9390, 20 Oct. 1943; WD-PF-3669 (10-23-43), Brisbane to CGAAF, A2031, 23 Oct. 1943; CM-OUT-12172 (10-27-43), AFDMA to CINCSWPA, 9685, 27 Oct. 1943.
147. WD-PF-1390 (11-9-43), Brisbane to ASCPFO, XA11044, 9 Nov. 1943; memo for the S/AS from Maj. Gen. O.P. Echols, AC/AS MM&D, 11 Dec. 1943; R&R, AC/AS OC&R to S/AS, 12 Dec. 1943; 81st Air Depot Group Year Book, 1943-1944; ltrs., Kenney to Whitehead, 2 Nov. 1943, and Whitehead to Wilson, 9 Jan. 1944.
148. Directive by General MacArthur, Return of Personnel to the United States, FEGG 210.68, 29 July 1943.
149. History, 440th Signal Bn.
150. Col. George F. Baier, Report of Inspection of the Medical Activities of the Fifth Air Force, 27 Nov. 1943.