Airfields on the Vogelkop Peninsula

Strategically and tactically the most important result of the Noemfoor operation was that airfield development on the island permitted the Allied Air Forces to increase slightly the breadth and depth of air penetration, bringing Japanese bases to the southwest, west, and northwest within a little shorter range for fighters and bombers.1 The nearest of these bases were on the Vogelkop Peninsula, and the Japanese stronghold at Manokwari, at the northeast corner of the Vogelkop, was less than 70 nautical miles west of Noemfoor.

Early Plans for the Vogelkop

General MacArthur's strategy for the drive to the Philippines--successive occupation of air and supply bases along the north coast of New Guinea--had from its inception envisaged the capture of an air-base site on the western Vogelkop as the final large-scale operation in New Guinea. From such a base the Allied Air Forces could support subsequent operations to the northwest, either directly to Mindanao in the southern Philippines, or if necessary via the islands between the Vogelkop and Mindanao.2


While General MacArthur's planners made many changes in their choice of specific objectives on the Vogelkop, by late October 1943 they had determined to seize the large Japanese troop and supply base at Sorong, on a small island just off the peninsula's northwest shore. Simultaneously, air and naval-base sites would be secured on Waigeo Island, about sixty miles northwest of Sorong. Manokwari was not considered a profitable target. From fields on the near-by Geelvink Bay islands--such as Biak and Noemfoor--Allied Air Forces planes could accomplish virtually the same missions they could from Manokwari, and from those islands, which could be secured at less cost than Manokwari, the Allied Air Forces could easily keep inoperational Japanese air and naval bases in the Manokwari area. Since the Sorong-Waigeo area was within support range of Allied land-based aircraft flying from airdromes on the Geelvink Bay islands, the Japanese at Manokwari could safely be bypassed.

In conjunction with the advance to Sorong and Waigeo, General MacArthur


planned to occupy and develop the Klamono oil fields, inland on the Vogelkop some thirty miles southeast of Sorong. Allied plans to exploit the oil resources of the Vogelkop and other petroleum centers in the Netherlands East Indies had a long history. The Japanese advance south through the Indies in 1942 had cut off one of the world's richest sources of petroleum products, forcing the Allies to depend on Western Hemisphere and Middle East supplies, the latter of which had long been threatened by the German and Italian Armies. Oil from both sources had to be transported through dangerous waters before it could reach its proper destinations. Shortages of petroleum products were soon in evidence throughout the countries controlled by or friendly to the Allied nations.

Most of the petroleum production and refining facilities in the Netherlands East Indies had been partially or wholly destroyed by retreating Dutch forces or by civilian oil companies themselves. Many of the civilian oil experts, escaping south to Australia, were integrated into United States or Netherlands armed forces. At General MacArthur's headquarters some of these men soon began making plans for the rehabilitation of the lost fields, once Allied forces had wrested them from the Japanese.3 Suggestions emanating from General MacArthur's headquarters concerning oil rehabilitation projects expressed the view that necessary equipment should be furnished by the United States Government and turned over to civilian organizations for the actual task of bringing wells and refineries back into production.

Meanwhile, in the United States, similar planning was going on, much of it without reference to General MacArthur and independently of related civilian or military agencies of the government. The Headquarters, Army Service Forces; the Office of the Chief Engineer, U.S. Army; the Office of the Quartermaster General, U.S. Army; the Army-Navy Petroleum Board; various civilian oil companies with prewar interests in Netherlands East Indies oil fields; and, finally, U.S. Navy logistical agencies were all interested in oil rehabilitation projects. Ultimately, in December 1942, the somewhat chaotic situation in regard to the planning for oil field exploitation in the Indies was brought to the attention of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.4

The Joint Chiefs quickly assumed responsibility for the direction and co-ordination of oil rehabilitation projects in the Netherlands East Indies and undertook necessary liaison with British and Dutch agencies. By mid February 1943 they had decided that, contrary to General MacArthur's recommendations, military units would at least start all oil rehabilitation and exploitation projects in the Indies, although the final development of the oil resources might be left to civilian agencies. General MacArthur was instructed to plan the location and timing details of oil rehabilitation projects in the Indies, and, subject to the Joint Chiefs' approval, execute those plans. At the same time, the Joint Chiefs directed that the organization of special military petroleum production and refining units begin. The


requisite troops, most of them U.S. Army engineers and many especially recruited from civilian pursuits, soon began to assemble and train in California. Orders were also placed with manufacturers for the special production and refining equipment, which was sent to California as it was obtained.5

While these steps were being taken to coordinate oil rehabilitation projects, it had become obvious that in accordance with General MacArthur's plans the first significant oil producing region that could be recaptured in the Netherlands East Indies would be the Klamono district on the Vogelkop Peninsula. Before the war, civilian oil companies had found oil in commercial quantities at the Klamono fields, but there had been little production other than that necessary to prove the discoveries. Insofar as was known, Dutch forces on the Vogelkop had not destroyed many of the Klamono production facilities when they left the region in 1942. Nor had the Japanese made any use of the fields--they found all the oil their limited shipping could handle in more accessible places such as Java, Sumatra, and Borneo.

The Klamono district oil was especially valuable in that it could be used as fuel for naval vessels without refining beyond a little "topping" to remove excess naphtha. With limited effort, the wells could be expected to bring in some 16,000 barrels of crude oil per day; with additional development, about 25,000 barrels. Such production would presumably save the Allies considerable shipping space and time, for, instead of the long haul from United States ports, navy bunker fuel could be produced and topped as necessary much nearer to the scene of combat.6

Early in February 1944 General MacArthur requested that the troops and equipment of the Engineer Petroleum Production Depot (as the unit then forming in California was designated) arrive in the Southwest Pacific by 1 November, ready to start work at the Klamono oil fields.7 This arrival date was based on General MacArthur's current planning assumption that operations on the Vogelkop would begin about 1 October. Shortly after General MacArthur made this request, sweeping changes in plans were made for the entire program of operations in the Southwest Pacific following the decision to bypass Japanese bases in eastern New Guinea in favor of the jump to Hollandia and Aitape on 22 April. In March General MacArthur was able to amend his plans to provide for the invasion of the Vogelkop no later than 15 September.8

While this change did not materially affect General MacArthur's plans for the development of the Klamono oil fields, the February, March, and April acceleration of operations throughout the Pacific theaters did affect the thinking with regard to oil rehabilitation projects on the part of various headquarters and boards back in Washington.9 Anticipating that the new schedule of operations might end the war against Japan sooner than previously expected, Headquarters, Army Service Forces, and the Army-Navy Petroleum Board began to


consider it possible that the Klamono oil wells could not be brought into production soon enough to assist the war effort. Moreover, doubts were being raised concerning the justification of the proposed use of troops, equipment, and ship tonnage. The Engineer Petroleum Production Depot, as organized in California, was to contain 3,300 men, to which number the Southwest Pacific Area was to add 1,700 troops and heavy equipment of all sorts. Restudy of the ship tonnage needed to transport and support these 5,000 men and their special equipment made it obvious that the Klamono oil project would tie up more ships than originally expected. Simultaneously, new estimates of the time which would be consumed in getting oil produced in appreciable quantities from the Klamono wells made it appear that it would be mid-1946 before the Klamono oil would begin to save any shipping space for the Allies. This might well be too late to affect the outcome of the war materially. At the time, the Allies could ill afford to tie up the shipping needed to support the Engineer Petroleum Production Depot from late 1944 to mid-1946.10

By April 1944 about 90 percent of the Engineer Petroleum Production Depot's special equipment had been gathered in California and 60 percent of the unit's men had been assembled and were in training.11 The stockpiling, organizing, and training continued for three more months, while the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other interested government agencies went on with new studies of the entire problem of oil field rehabilitation projects in the light of the revised plans for the Pacific war. General MacArthur's opinions concerning the cancellation of the Klamono project were sought. He raised no objections to its abandonment.12 Finally, on 26 July, the Joint Chiefs decided to cancel the Klamono oil exploitation plans and to disband the Engineer Petroleum Production Depot.

The standard service units attached to the depot were sent overseas to perform their usual duties. The specialized production and refining organizations were disbanded, and their troops were used as fillers for other engineer units or were partially re-equipped and retrained to perform other duties, such as maintaining bulk petroleum storage facilities at overseas bases. The Army engineers turned over some of the special equipment to the U.S. Navy, and a little of it was found useful for the Army's standard engineer units. The bulk of the production and refining equipment was kept in a stockpile on the west coast for postwar disposal by the government in the most profitable manner possible.13

Cancellation of the Sorong-Waigeo Plan

While the cancellation of the Klamono oil project removed some of the necessity for seizing the Sorong-Waigeo area, the abandonment of that project actually played a relatively minor part in subsequent changes in General MacArthur's plans for operations on the Vogelkop.

In accordance with instructions from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General MacArthur


was continually looking for ways and means to accelerate operations within his theater. His planners were reported to have thought it possible that if sufficient carrier support and assault shipping could be made available from Central Pacific sources, the target date for the advance to the Philippines might be greatly accelerated by jumping from Hollandia to the Wakde-Sarmi area, thence to the western Vogelkop, and then directly to Mindanao. Without such additional means, intermediate stops at the Geelvink Bay islands and at other islands such as Halmahera, between the Vogelkop and Mindanao, would be necessary.

Although the support from Central Pacific sources was not forthcoming and it was found necessary to seize Biak and Noemfoor, General MacArthur, in May, was able to inform the Joint Chiefs of Staff that operations on the Vogelkop could be moved forward to start about 1 August, a month and a half prior to his previously estimated target date. From air bases at the western Vogelkop, he went on, a subsequent advance northwest to Halmahera could be supported. The jump to Halmahera could be made about 15 September, in conjunction with an invasion of the Palaus in the western Carolines by forces of the Central Pacific.14

In June, when General MacArthur alerted ALAMO Force for the Noemfoor operation, he simultaneously informed General Krueger that landings in the Sorong-Waigeo area would begin on or about 25 July. General MacArthur believed that the Sorong-Waigeo operation would entail the use of an entire infantry division, and General Krueger selected the 6th Division, which, in June, was in active combat at the Wakde-Sarmi area. In addition to making this choice, General Krueger set his staff to work preparing tentative plans for the Sorong-Waigeo operation, and by 10 June had ready an outline tactical plan and a troop list.15

Beyond anticipating that the proposed air-base site at the northwestern Vogelkop would be located some place on Waigeo Island, General MacArthur's planners had not yet been able to reach any decision concerning the exact locations of the airfields. To obtain information upon which to base such a decision, the Fifth Air Force attempted to fly many special photographic missions over Waigeo. In addition, on 6 June, General MacArthur ordered ALAMO Force to conduct a ground reconnaissance of the north coast of Waigeo at Kabarei Bay where, about this time, elements of the KON Force found refuge during the Japanese attempts to reinforce Biak. The reconnaissance party was to comprise ALAMO Scouts, Allied Intelligence Bureau agents, terrain experts of the Fifth Air Force, and hydrographic survey men of the VII Amphibious Force. The group was to be transported by submarine from the Admiralties to Waigeo, and its terrain report was to be ready by 15 June.16


Before the reconnaissance party could carry out its mission, reasonably good aerial photographs had to be made available to it. But from 6 through 11 June, Fifth Air Force planes were prevented by bad weather from obtaining the necessary coverage.17 Finally, on the 12th, some pictures were taken. The next day General MacArthur informed General Krueger that the new photographs showed little likelihood that airfields could be developed on the shores of Kabarei Bay. The reconnaissance area was therefore changed to the southwest section of Waigeo Island and the coast east from Kabarei Bay. Photographic coverage of these areas left much to be desired, but the reconnaissance project was deemed of such importance that almost immediate action was necessary. General Krueger, hoping for better photographs, delayed the sailing of the reconnaissance party for some days, but the submarine finally got under way from the Admiralties on the 17th, expecting to reach Waigeo on the 23d. The reconnaissance report was to be ready by 2 July.18

On 20 June General MacArthur told General Krueger that new studies were being made regarding the possibility of airfield construction on the northwest coast of the Vogelkop at Sansapor and Mar, two mainland villages located about 70 miles northeast of Sorong and some 60 miles east of Waigeo Island. The next day General MacArthur announced to the headquarters concerned that late photographs indicated unsuitability of airdrome sites at the newly assigned Waigeo reconnaissance areas. The Allied Naval Forces was thereupon instructed to divert the reconnaissance to the Sansapor-Mar area to seek other airfield sites.19

General Krueger believed that insufficient photographic coverage was available for the new study and the Fifth Air Force considered that on the basis of available photography the Sansapor-Mar area was devoid of airfield sites. General Krueger therefore concluded that the results of ground reconnaissance at Sansapor-Mar would not justify the risks, and he recommended that the project be abandoned.20 But General MacArthur ordered the reconnaissance to be undertaken and, on 23 June, the submarine put the scouting party ashore near Mar. The group remained in the area for almost a week, discovering good landing beaches and finding one or two sites where airfields might be developed after time-consuming hard work. The party's report was ready on 30 June, upon which date General MacArthur directed ALAMO Force, with the support of Allied Air and Naval Forces, to secure the Sansapor-Mar area instead of the Sorong-Waigeo region. The Sansapor-Mar landing was to take place on 30 July.21


The Sansapor-Mar Plan

Map 18
Vogelkop Operation
30 July-31 August 1944

At the Sansapor-Mar area, an air base and minor naval facilities were to be established to support subsequent operations northwest toward the Philippines.(Map 18) The air construction task called for the development of fields upon which two fighter groups, five squadrons of medium bombers, and a half squadron of night-fighters could be based. To seize and protect the air-base area, the 6th Infantry Division, less one regimental combat team but reinforced with service and antiaircraft units, was considered sufficient force. General Krueger was made responsible for the direction


of the operation and for co-ordination of air, naval, and ground planning.22

Plans and Planning

Mar lies in flat, swampy ground at the mouth of the Wewe River, which flows into the Pacific about 18 miles west-southwest of the Kaap de Goede Hoop, northernmost point on the Vogelkop. About 7 miles northeast of Mar is Cape Opmarai, and 7 miles to the southwest is Cape Sansapor, situated 2 miles northeast of Sansapor Plantation and the native hamlet of the same name. At many points along the 25 miles of coast line between Kaap de Goede Hoop and Cape Sansapor, spurs of the Tamrau Mountains, which dominate most of the Vogelkop, descend to the shore. Densely forested coastal flats are to be found near Mar and along the shore line northeast of Cape Sansapor. Off Mar lie the Mios Soe Islands, Amsterdam and Middleburg, respectively 5 and 3 miles from the coast.23

Little detailed information concerning the target area was available to ALAMO Force other than that brought back by the 23-30 June reconnaissance party. Japanese activity appeared to center at Sansapor Plantation, where the Japanese were known to maintain a staging base for barges moving along the coast from Sorong to Manokwari. The ALAMO G-2 Section estimated that unless a clearing noted near the mouth of the Wewe proved to be airdrome construction, few more than 100 Japanese would be found at Sansapor-Mar. If the clearing was in preparation for an airfield, then a Japanese airdrome construction unit of perhaps 700 men might be stationed at the objective. The terrain reconnaissance and photographs indicated that good landing beaches existed near Mar and above Cape Sansapor. Potential airdrome sites had been reported at both places and, in addition, it was believed possible that a fighter strip might be constructed on tiny Middleburg Island, the flat surface of which was given over to a neglected coconut tree plantation.24

When on 8 July principal air, ground, and naval commanders gathered at General Krueger's command post to discuss plans for the new operation, it immediately became apparent that more intelligence and terrain information would be needed before detailed landing, supply, and engineer plans could be evolved. As a result, only general discussions were held and the conferees reached only tentative conclusions, which they realized might be changed after further reconnaissance at the objective area.

The first question taken up at the 8 July conference was that of setting H Hour, the target date of 30 July being agreeable to all concerned. To assure tactical surprise, General Krueger wanted the landing made at first light, even though Maj. Gen. Ennis C. Whitehead, now in command of the Fifth Air Force, could not promise air cover until forty-five minutes later. Admiral Fechteler, in charge of the amphibious phase of the operation, was willing to forego air cover since no enemy opposition was expected, but he would approve the early landing hour


only if an advance party could be put ashore to guide LST's to the proper beaches. The conferees concluded that putting an advance party ashore might destroy chances for tactical surprise and bring Japanese aircraft over the area. Therefore, H Hour was tentatively set for 0700, about fifteen minutes before sunrise at Mar.

Preliminary naval bombardment was considered unnecessary in the light of expected Japanese dispositions. Without naval bombardment, chances for tactical surprise seemed good. The nearest enemy garrison was at Sansapor, only twelve miles from the proposed landing points near Mar, and the nearest Japanese radio facilities were also thought to be located at Sansapor. If no bombardments were delivered and if the naval forces maintained radio silence until some Japanese opposition was encountered, there would be a good chance to land the entire D Day force before the Japanese realized a landing was under way. Thus, the possibility of harassing attacks by Japanese troops from Sansapor would be reduced, as would the probability of air attacks from Japanese bases within range of Mar.

Much time at the conference was devoted to discussing airdrome construction. The ALAMO Force engineer officer thought Middleburg Island offered the best site for quick construction of an airfield from which local fighter cover could be provided. The Mar area, according to available information, did not appear well suited to airdrome development, although a landing at Mar seemed best from the naval point of view since that area provided favorable beaches for LST's. The conferees therefore thought that the main landing would have to take place near Mar. A shore-to-shore operation to seize the Cape Sansapor area, apparently better suited for airfields, would follow, as might another minor landing to secure the Mios Soe Islands.25

Since lack of detailed terrain information made further planning almost impossible, another reconnaissance party was slipped ashore near Cape Opmarai during the night of 14-15 July. This group, which went forward by PT boat from Noemfoor, encountered no Japanese in the area and found the natives friendly. After spending three days in the Sansapor-Mar area, the group brought out a terrain report which considerably changed tentative plans. First, the reconnaissance disclosed that there was no Japanese airdrome construction in the area and that the previously located cleared strips were actually overgrown native gardens. The best airdrome site was found near two small, reef-bound capes about one and three-fourths miles northeast of Mar. The beaches near and between the two capes were found to be excellent for landing although not too satisfactory for heavy truck traffic. The rain forest in the region was noted to be less dense than anticipated. Finally, the party's airdrome engineers estimated that a 6,000-foot runway could be constructed near the capes within twenty-five days after the landing, providing heavy rains did not impede the work.26

With the new information at hand, final plans were rapidly drawn up by all units concerned. The landing was to be made at 0700 on D Day, 30 July, between the two small capes northeast of Mar. The first


airstrip would be constructed in a partially cleared area immediately inland from the westernmost promontory. The Cape Sansapor area, now deemed unsuitable for an airstrip, was selected by naval planners as a PT base site, and plans were made to secure that area by a shore-to-shore operation on D plus 1. Middleburg Island would be seized at H plus 35 minutes on D Day so as to assure another airfield site. Final determination of airfield locations was left to Brig. Gen. Earl W. Barnes, who was to accompany the assault echelon to Mar as the commander of the XIII Air Task Force. This organization was, in effect, an advance echelon of the Thirteenth Air Force, from which was to be drawn the air garrison for the Sansapor-Mar area. General Barnes built his headquarters around men selected from his previous staff, that of the XIII Fighter Command.27

In charge of the ground forces was Maj. Gen. Franklin C. Sibert, commanding general of the 6th Infantry Division and previously of the TORNADO Task Force at Wakde-Sarmi. For the Sansapor-Mar operation General Sibert was to command an organization designated the TYPHOON Task Force, which comprised the 6th Division, reinforced, less the 20th Regimental Combat Team. The latter unit was to remain at Wakde-Sarmi as ALAMO Force Reserve for the new operation. Combat units for the D Day echelon of the TYPHOON Task Force were the 1st Infantry, the 1st Battalion of the 63d Infantry, the 1st Field Artillery Battalion, the 6th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop, a company of the 6th Engineers, and four antiaircraft batteries. There was to be a high percentage of service troops, especially engineers, among the approximately 7,300 men who were to land on 30 July.

The assault on RED Beach, as the landing point was named, was to be undertaken by the 1st and 2d Battalions, 1st Infantry, going ashore in LCVP's from the APD's taking them forward from Wakde-Sarmi. The 3d Battalion was designated TYPHOON Task Force Reserve for the landing, and, if necessary, it would aid the 6th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop to secure Middleburg Island. The reconnaissance unit was to move ashore in LVT's and LVT(A)'s launched from LST's. The 1st Battalion, 63d Infantry, was initially to operate as part of the Shore Party with the Shore Battalion of the 543d Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment, 3d Engineer Special Brigade, and was then to revert to a reserve role.28

Admiral Fechteler's Attack Force (Task Force 77) was to have a D Day groupment comprising 11 destroyers, 5 APD's, 16 LCI's, 3 rocket LCI's, 8 LST's, 4 PC's, and 1 ATF. A Covering Force (Task Force 78), consisting of 1 heavy cruiser, 2 light cruisers, and 9 destroyers under the command of Admiral Berkey, was to be available for support fire if needed. In addition to covering the main landing, the naval elements would support the operations against the Mios Soe group on D Day, and on D plus 1 provide LCI and destroyer support fire to cover the


SANSAPOR PLANNERS. Left to right (across table): Lt. Gen. Walter Krueger, Maj. Gen. Franklin C. Sibert, Rear Adm. William M. Fechteler, Brig. Gen. Charles E. Hurdis.

shore-to-shore operation against Cape Sansapor. The Allied Naval Forces was responsible for the movement of all troops and supplies from rear bases to Sansapor until relieved by the Services of Supply on 1 September.29

Units of the TYPHOON Task Force reaching the objective area on D Day, D plus 2, and D plus 4 were to take with them a ten-day supply of rations, clothing, unit equipment, fuels, and lubricants, and two units of fire for all weapons. After D plus 4, amphibious craft were to bring forward with each unit aboard a ten-day supply of rations, clothing, unit equipment, petroleum products, medical supplies, engineer construction equipment, and motor maintenance supplies. Large cargo ships to arrive after D plus 4 were to carry thirty days' supply of these items, and both types of shipping were to bring forward three units


of fire for all weapons of the organizations aboard.30

Staging and Rehearsing Problems

The TYPHOON Task Force staged at the Wakde-Sarmi area, where many problems arose. General Sibert had known since late June that his division was to undertake another operation, but it was not until 14 July that elements of the 31st Infantry Division began to arrive at Wakde-Sarmi to relieve the 6th from combat responsibility there, and it was the 18th of the month before General Sibert could relinquish command of the TORNADO Task Force to his successor and before all the troops of the 6th Division were out of combat. Staging was further hampered by the necessity for moving service unit and port installations from the exposed Toem-Arare beaches westward to Maffin Bay, where more sheltered waters and better beaches were to be found.

Thus, staging was slowed from the start by three major factors--the relief and assembly of the 6th Division, the arrival of the 31st Division's units over beaches the TYPHOON Task Force was using for staging, and the movement of the staging area itself. Moreover, since the danger from Japanese air attacks made it impossible to plan to send any large cargo ships to Sansapor for at least a month after the initial landings there, it was necessary to establish a troop and cargo transfer point at Maffin Bay. With the exception of the 6th Division and the supplies already available at Maffin Bay, almost all troops and equipment for the TYPHOON Task Force were brought forward to Maffin Bay on noncombat vessels from rear bases, unloaded, and then reloaded on LST's and other landing craft. The beaches at Maffin Bay soon became crowded with numerous units and tons of equipment, many of which were not to move to Sansapor-Mar until weeks after the initial landings. Finally, to add to the other difficulties, heavy rains intermittently stopped or slowed all staging operations at Maffin Bay.31

At Maffin Bay the 31st Infantry Division supplied many troops for labor to help the TYPHOON Task Force mount out. ALAMO Force Reserve for the Sansapor-Mar operation, the 6th Division's 20th Regimental Combat Team, devoted almost all its time to labor, and the rest of the 6th Division, although busy re-equipping, planning, and trying to train and rehearse, also had to furnish many labor details.32

Rehearsals for the TYPHOON Task Force were curtailed by the cargo transshipment activity at Maffin Bay and also because many tons of supplies and equipment arrived there barely in time to be reloaded on LST's of the D Day echelon. The APD's and LCI's which were to carry assault infantry forward reached Maffin Bay on 24 July and, after embarking their troops, put out to sea overnight. The next morning the assault battalions had a practice landing near Toem. Most of the LCI's, which had recently


arrived in the theater, had trouble keeping formation, and were therefore given additional training on succeeding days. It was impossible for the LST's to participate in rehearsals, since they were engaged in final loading. Although he believed that even the incomplete rehearsals proved of ". . . considerable benefit to both the Army and Navy in preparation for the operation," Admiral Fechteler observed that more complete rehearsals were needed, especially for the LST's.33

One aspect of the loading was unusual for the Southwest Pacific Area's forces. The 6th Division had come to New Guinea from Hawaii, where, in final amphibious training, it had studied and developed a great enthusiasm for pallet loading, an enthusiasm which it carried so far as to pallet-load LST's. The latter practice was undertaken against the advice of the ALAMO G-4 Section's liaison officer with the TYPHOON Task Force at Maffin Bay. He felt that LST's should be so loaded that every pound of cargo could be easily manhandled, and he pointed out that much of the cargo put aboard LST's on pallets might be ruined by sea water as the pallets were dragged aboard during loading or towed ashore at the objective. He also believed that the pallets took up too much space on LST's and that they were extremely difficult to load on such ships. Finally, he noted, mud brought aboard the LST tank decks by the pallets during loading immobilized fork-lift trucks.34

Critical shortages of most supplies were made up before the TYPHOON Task Force left Maffin Bay, but sufficient supplies of engineer explosives, sandbags, and wire mesh beach mats did not reach the staging area in time to be loaded on ships of the D Day echelon. These items had been requisitioned by ALAMO Force in late June and early July, but for some reason shipment from Services of Supply rear bases to Maffin Bay was delayed. The explosives shortage might have slowed airfield construction at Sansapor-Mar had not provision been made to ship the explosives by air to Maffin Bay and load them there on ships moving to the objective area on D plus 2 and D plus 4. The wire mesh could not be shipped forward in time to be of use during the landings.35

Engineer Problems

One of the most difficult problems faced by the TYPHOON Task Force was setting up a schedule for shipping engineer units to the objective. As staging and construction plans were continued, it began to appear that sweeping changes in construction directives, schedules for the arrival of engineer units, and choice of airdrome sites at Sansapor-Mar would have to be made. The first construction task at Sansapor-Mar was to complete by D plus 20, 18 August, one airfield with a 5,000-foot runway and associated facilities for a group of fighters and a half squadron of night-fighters. The remaining airfield construction was to be finished by D plus 35, 3 September. The principal units


scheduled to engage in airdrome and other construction activities were the 836th and 1897th Engineer Aviation Battalions, the 43d Engineer Construction Battalion, the 96th Engineer General Service Regiment, the 617th Engineer Base Equipment Company, and the 571st Engineer Dump Truck Company. All were to operate under the supervision of Headquarters, 1112th Engineer Construction Group.36

Most of the engineer units had to be moved up from rear bases and reloaded at Maffin Bay. The staging situation there, the schedule of arrival of various units at Maffin Bay, and the construction program at Sansapor-Mar made it necessary to set up a complicated schedule of engineer shipment to the objective--a schedule which the TYPHOON Task Force completed by 15 July.37 Hardly had this initial plan been finished when various interested headquarters began making proposals which led to many changes in it. Restudy of information concerning the terrain at the objective made it appear to General Headquarters and ALAMO Force that the construction target dates could not be met unless many revisions were made in the task force's proposed schedule for shipping forward engineer units. Moreover, the airfields at Sansapor-Mar would have to be built on unbroken ground (previously, forces of the Southwest Pacific had for the most part utilized sites where Japanese construction had already been begun or completed), a factor which might lead to serious delays in the completion of airfields of utmost importance to the success of subsequent operations. On the other hand, making extensive revisions in shipping schedules would complicate lighterage problems at the staging and objective areas at a time when provision of many more lightering craft was out of the question.

Arguments and counterproposals for revisions of the engineer unit shipping schedules continued until, by 18 July, various agencies had evolved the following plans:38

ALAMO Engineer
Section Plan
Section Plan
Force Plan
836th Engineers D plus 2 D Day In echelons on D Day, D plus 2, D plus 4 In echelons on D Day and D plus 2
1897th Engineers D plus 4 D plus 2 In echelons on D plus 2, D plus 4, D plus 8 D plus 4
43d Engineers D plus 8 D plus 4 D plus 4 D plus 8
617th Engineer Base Equipment Company D plus 2 D plus 8 D plus 8 D plus 4
96th Engineers In echelons on D plus 10 and D plus 12 In echelons on D plus 8 and D plus 10 In echelons on D plus 10 and D plus 12 D plus 10


By 21 July, although the ALAMO Force Engineer thought it might be 8 September rather than 18 August before a fighter strip could be prepared in the Sansapor area, new terrain information and some eleventh-hour revisions in the plans for movement of engineer units made it appear that construction schedules at the objective might be met. The revised movement plans provided for arrivals at Sansapor-Mar as follows:39

Units Arrival Date
One half of the 836th Engineers D Day
One half of the 836th Engineers D plus 2
1897th Engineers (less elements); 617th Engineer Base Equipment Company D plus 4
Remainder of 1897th Engineers; 96th Engineer General Service Regiment D plus 8
571st Engineer Dump Truck Company; 43d Engineers D plus 12 and 18

One final difficulty arose concerning the 43d Engineer Construction Battalion. The unit's men were at Sydney, Australia, in mid-July, while the bulk of its equipment was at Oro Bay, New Guinea, and it was found impossible to move the unit forward for transshipment at Maffin Bay in time for it to reach Sansapor at a date by which it could be of much aid for meeting construction target dates at the latter objective. General MacArthur therefore released to ALAMO Force the 1881st Engineer Aviation Battalion. This unit, stationed at Hollandia, was to move directly from the latter base to arrive at Sansapor-Mar on D plus 8. The 43d Engineers were to be moved forward when the shipping situation allowed its men and equipment to be assembled.40

The demands of the airfield construction schedule also promoted many changes in plans for the number and types of landing craft to be sent forward to Sansapor-Mar with early echelons. General Sibert requested that four LCT's be assigned to the D Day echelon to move engineer equipment, antiaircraft units, and other supplies and troops to the proposed PT-base site at Cape Sansapor and to the airdrome site on Middleburg Island. He pointed out that it might prove necessary to construct a fighter strip on Middleburg in order to meet the first airfield project's target date, and he noted that LCM's would not be able to move large, heavy engineering equipment to the island.41


Initially, General Krueger disapproved General Sibert's request upon advice from the ALAMO Engineer Officer that a strip could be built on the mainland, thus making unnecessary transshipment of heavy equipment. Moreover, available LCT's were sorely needed in rear areas. But General Sibert argued that there would be no way of moving engineer equipment to Middleburg in the event that construction of a fighter strip there proved necessary. Finally, General Krueger made arrangements with Admiral Fechteler to have two LCT's towed to the objective by LST's of the D plus 2 echelon.42

Operations in the Sansapor-Mar Area

The Landing

Air support for the Sansapor operation was provided principally by planes of the Fifth Air Force, which, in order to preserve tactical surprise at the objective, carried out no bombardment missions against the Sansapor-Mar area before D Day. Instead, the Fifth Air Force, aided by Australian and Dutch aircraft, conducted many heavy strikes against Japanese air bases at Manokwari and Sorong and in the Halmahera-Ceram-Ambon region. On the morning of D Day, night-fighters and B-25's were over the objective area to give support if necessary as the ships of Admiral Fechteler's Attack Force began moving shoreward, but no preassault bombardment or strafing missions were undertaken.43

In order to deceive the Japanese, the Main Body had approached Sansapor on a rather roundabout route, sailing first from Maffin Bay into the waters between Noemfoor and Biak and then along the line of the equator as if heading toward Sorong or Halmahera. The Main Body made several radar contacts with Japanese aircraft on D minus 1 while in waters beyond Noemfoor, and protecting land-based fighters intercepted three or four Japanese aircraft about twenty miles south of the convoy route. The air battle, during which one or two Japanese planes were shot down, took place out of sight of the Main Body, which reached Sansapor apparently undetected.

The Covering Force's cruisers and destroyers rendezvoused off Hollandia and sailed north and west well behind the Main Body until some forty miles off Manokwari. Then it passed the Main Body and began moving in toward the Sansapor-Mar landing beach at 0200 on D Day, keeping its guns and radios silent. The Main Body arrived in the transport area about 0500. The assault ships were all on station by 0630, at which time Admiral Fechteler gave the order to execute the landing plan.44

Control craft rapidly found their proper positions and showed colored lights seaward to mark the landing craft approach lanes. The assault troops of Col. Forbie H. Privett's 1st Infantry were soon aboard the twelve LCVP's of the first wave, but, since the landing craft had left the assembly area too soon, they had to be held about ten minutes at the offshore line of departure, where they were especially vulnerable to fire from Japanese


aircraft or shore-based weapons. Fortunately, no such opposition developed and the first wave was ashore at 0701, one minute late. The second wave was a minute and a half late, but subsequent waves made up the time. LCI's began moving shoreward about H plus 10 minutes, to beach with ramps in about two feet of water. The troops waded the short distance to shore without difficulty. The LCVP's quickly retracted and were hoisted back aboard the APD's. The APD unit left for Hollandia at 0732, 28 minutes ahead of schedule, while the LCI's were unloaded so rapidly that they were able to set sail for Hollandia 17 minutes early, at 0813.45

While the unopposed mainland landing was taking place, one LST moved toward Middleburg Island and at 0730 (fifteen minutes late) began launching 12 LVT(A)'s and 4 LVT's, aboard which was the 6th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop, together with a 60-mm. mortar section and a squad and a half of riflemen from the 1st Battalion, 63d Infantry. All these troops were ashore on Middleburg by 0800. There was no opposition to this landing and the amphibious group quickly re-formed and set sail for Amsterdam Island, two miles away. A landing was effected on Amsterdam, which also proved unoccupied by any Japanese, at 1130. Small detachments were left on each island, while the rest of the force returned to the mainland. On Middleburg was incurred the TYPHOON Task Force's only D Day casualty--one man was wounded fatally by the accidental discharge of an LVT(A)'s 37-mm. gun.46

Back at RED Beach, tactical operations had been going equally well. The 2d Battalion, 1st Infantry, landed on the east (left) sector and before 0830 had pushed inland and eastward about three-quarters of a mile from the beach's center. Defenses were set up along low hills about 800 yards inland. About 0820 the 2d Battalion had killed three unarmed Japanese near the east end of the beach. It was not until the report of this first contact was relayed to the command ship offshore that radio silence was broken and higher headquarters was informed of the TYPHOON Task Force's situation.47

On the west flank the 1st Battalion, 1st Infantry, found rougher going in dense jungle undergrowth, but located no Japanese. The 3d Battalion, ashore at 0740, pushed west along the beach to the mouth of the Wewe River, 2,500 yards distant. There the unit, having encountered no opposition, assembled as task force reserve and began preparations for the D plus 1 shore-to-shore operation to secure Cape Sansapor.48

The 1st Field Artillery Battalion was ashore and ready to fire at 1107; antiaircraft units were set up as quickly as they came ashore, but had no targets on D Day. The 6th Engineers immediately began working on roads and bivouacs, while men of the 836th Engineer Aviation Battalion started airdrome site surveys. The 543d Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment's troops, assisted by men from many other units, unloaded supplies, constructed beach exits, and cleared dump areas. The available air support was not needed, and as flights of


B-25's reported on station during the day they were sent off to hit targets of opportunity south of Cape Sansapor or in the Sorong area. General Sibert, who assumed command ashore at 1020, could be well pleased with the tactical situation.49 With conditions at the landing beach, he could not have been so happy.

RED Beach, though excellent for LST's and landing craft, left much to be desired for wheeled vehicles and dispersal facilities. When the sand proved soft and loose, the lack of wire mesh beach mats began to be felt keenly and many trucks (some of which were reported to have been overloaded) had to be pulled out of the sand by tractors. Dispersal was difficult because the area behind the beach was forested and densely overgrown with thick jungle flora of all types. Admiral Fechteler learned that LST unloading was being delayed by lack of troops and trucks, and the senior LST commander stated that available troops were not making all the effort they could. By noon LST unloading was threatened with serious delay, and Admiral Fechteler brought the situation to General Sibert's attention.

General Sibert immediately took steps to get assigned troops and vehicles back on the job and he sent more men to the aid of the Shore Party. Thereafter, cargo handling proceeded more rapidly, although it was soon found that earlier criticism of loading pallets on LST's was justified. LST commanders declared that pallets moved slowly, wasting both time and space. Moreover, tractors and roads soon began to break down under the strain of dragging pallets around the beach, and many bulldozers had to be assigned to dragging missions when they might have been employed to better advantage improving roads or dump and bivouac areas. Nevertheless, one LST was unloaded by 1600 and the rest were unloaded in time to start back to Maffin Bay by 1730. The initial slowness of unloading and early congestion at the beaches did not prove serious nor dangerous, although the situation might have been different had there been any Japanese air action.50

Despite the minor difficulties of unloading, Admiral Fechteler reported: "The operation on the whole was carried out with a precision of execution which reflected a high state of training and morale throughout the Force. It is considered that the operation could and would have been successful against determined opposition."51 An observer from the Alaskan Department--of all places--noting the lack of opposition ashore and the smoothness with which most of the landing activities were executed, expressed similar sentiments: "GLOBETROTTER [Sansapor] expedition was a well organized, well executed and entirely unexciting amphibious operation."52

Post D Day Operations at Sansapor-Mar

At 0650 on 31 July the 3d Battalion, 1st Infantry, left its assembly area at the mouth of the Wewe aboard LCM's and LCVP's, bound for GREEN Beach at Cape Sansapor,


five miles down the coast.53 Escort was provided by 4 destroyers and 2 PC's. Since information from natives indicated that the Japanese garrison had evacuated Sansapor, preliminary bombardment was limited to light fire by a single destroyer. Company I was on the beach at 0844 and, meeting no resistance, rapidly deployed to cover the landing of the rest of the battalion. Encountering no Japanese troops, the battalion marched south along the beach and before 1000 hours secured Sansapor Plantation and Village. Large quantities of Japanese supplies were captured and there were many evidences of hasty departure of Japanese troops from the Sansapor area. Antiaircraft weapons and a platoon of the regimental cannon company soon arrived to reinforce the 3d Battalion, which quickly set up a defensive perimeter around the plantation and village. There had been no casualties.

The shore line at Cape Sansapor proved too reef-bound and the beaches too poor for the planned PT boat base, but upon investigation Amsterdam Island proved an excellent location. When the PT squadron arrived on D plus 2, 1 August, it was sent to the new site and began operations from Amsterdam the same night. The Cape Sansapor area became the site of a radar warning installation.

Subsequent combat operations in the Sansapor-Mar area consisted mainly of patrolling to hunt down scattered, small groups of Japanese, expanding the beachhead, and protecting the airfield installations upon which work was soon started. On 3 August 92 sick or wounded Japanese and Formosan troops were captured at a Japanese hospital area near Cape Opmarai, and on the same day at other locations 23 more Japanese were captured and 4 were killed. This was the largest single day's "bag" to 31 August. Patrols of the 63d Infantry and the 6th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop were sent as far east along the beach as Kor village, about 11 miles from Mar. On the southwest, patrols of the 1st Infantry penetrated as far as the Mega River, some 30 miles from RED Beach. Other small 6th Division patrols, accompanied by members of a Netherlands Indies Civil Administration Unit, pushed along the coast and inland to even more distant points to re-establish Dutch control over the native population and to seek information concerning Japanese movements.

During the middle of August, patrols based at Kor were sent up the Kor River and northeast along the coast two miles to Cape Waimak. Soon these patrols began to report that large groups of enemy were moving toward Kor from the east. On the 15th ALAMO Force (which had received the information from General Headquarters) warned the TYPHOON Task Force that about 250 men of Headquarters, 35th Division, had been moving overland along the north coast of the Vogelkop Peninsula from Manokwari to Sorong.54 These troops and perhaps


other scattered groups from the 35th Division could be expected to reach the Sansapor-Mar area almost any day.

The ALAMO Force warning had a good foundation. It will be remembered that after the failure of the KON Operation, the 2d Area Army had evolved a plan to send all or part of the 35th Division from Sorong and Halmahera to Biak. When, after the defeat suffered by the 1st Task Force during the A-GO Operation, it proved impossible to move the 35th Division to Biak, the 2d Area Army had decided to concentrate that division at Manokwari, and the unit soon began to move eastward by small ship and barge. With the Allied seizure of Noemfoor and an increasing tempo of Allied air attacks against Manokwari from Wakde, Biak, and Noemfoor, the 2d Area Army realized that positions at the northeastern section of the Vogelkop were no longer tenable or useful. The displacement of the 35th Division was accordingly halted.

The standard of living at Manokwari, site of command posts of the 2d Army and the 35th Division, slipped rapidly during the last weeks of June. The 12,000 to 15,000 Japanese troops stationed there were fast consuming the supplies which Allied bombing raids left undamaged, while Allied air and naval action prevented the Japanese from sending supplies by water eastward from Sorong or Halmahera. Therefore, On 3 July, the 2d Army ordered the 35th Division to retrace its steps and concentrate at Sorong, where other elements of the division were arriving from Halmahera. About the same time, Headquarters, 2d Army, began an overland trek from Manokwari south 150 miles to Windehsi, located on the narrow neck of land which separates the Vogelkop Peninsula from the rest of New Guinea. Other small garrisons at points along the western shores of Geelvink Bay were withdrawn. Most of these troops concentrated in the Windehsi area where natural food supplies, such as sago palm and coconuts, were more plentiful than at Manokwari. At the latter base there was organized the 1st Independent Brigade, which apparently consisted principally of service personnel, perhaps strengthened by a few elements of the 220th Infantry, 35th Division.

The commanding general of the 35th Division, Lt. Gen. Shunkichi Ikeda, was evacuated from Manokwari, presumably by aircraft, on or about 1 July and on the 15th of the same month the division headquarters began the long overland march along the north coast of the Vogelkop to Sorong. The division was made responsible for the defense of the area between Sorong and Kaironi, the latter located some forty miles west of Manokwari. The 1st Independent Brigade, under Maj. Gen. Yuki Fukabori, and other units of the Manokwari Garrison were left to hold the Kaironi-Manokwari zone. It is impossible to trace the movements of the 35th Division headquarters westward from Manokwari, but it appears that the march was expected to take forty days. Such was the supply situation at Manokwari that the command group could leave that base with provisions for only twenty days. It is easy to imagine that in such circumstances the headquarters personnel and attached troops were not in the best of shape as they approached Kor and tried to strike inland to bypass the TYPHOON Task Force's positions.

The TYPHOON Task Force quickly increased the number of its outposts, ambush positions, and patrols. On 16 August, the day after it was learned that the 35th Division headquarters was approaching Sansapor, elements of the 63d Infantry in the


Kor-Cape Waimak area killed 17 Japanese and captured 4. Identified were members of Headquarters, 35th Division, some troops of the 219th Infantry, the 2d Army Band, and, within a few more days, the Signal Company, 35th Division. By 31 August the 63d Infantry had killed 155 Japanese and taken 42 prisoners. The American regiment lost only 3 men killed and 4 wounded.

The 1st Infantry, on the west flank, had similar experiences as it sent patrols up the rivers and inland in its sector. By the end of the month the regiment had killed 197 Japanese and captured 154, while losing only 4 men wounded itself. The 20th Infantry, which arrived at Mar from Maffin Bay on 23 and 25 August, had scant time to participate in the patrolling before the end of the month, but the 6th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop, during its series of far-flung patrols, killed 42 Japanese and captured 5 others. Total battle casualties for the TYPHOON Task Force from 30 July through 31 August were 14 killed, 35 wounded, and 9 injured. Japanese losses during the same period were about 385 killed and 215 captured (a good many in both categories were actually Formosans).55

General Sibert had been unable to remain at Sansapor-Mar to applaud the success of his troops' patrolling. On 24 August he had left to take command of the X Corps, headquarters of which had recently arrived in the theater from the United States. His place as a commanding general of the 6th Infantry Division and commander of the TYPHOON Task Force was taken over by Brig. Gen. Charles E. Hurdis, previously commander of the 6th Division Artillery.56

Medical Problems

Although the TYPHOON Task Force's battle casualties were abnormally low, tropical disease posed a serious problem. On 9 August the first cases of dreaded scrub typhus, which had been epidemic at Biak and Owi, were diagnosed at Sansapor. On the 9th, 6 scrub typhus cases were admitted to the hospitals, 27 the next day, and 62 on the 11th. Daily admittances continued to rise rapidly for two weeks. At the same time, "fever, undetermined origin" became prevalent, some cases later to be diagnosed as scrub typhus or believed to be mild attacks of that disease. The 1st Infantry was especially hard hit, and by 31 August had lost 9 men dead of scrub typhus, 121 in the hospital with the same disease, and 258 hospitalized with unknown fevers. The epidemic was no respector of rank. Colonel Privett, the regimental commander, was laid low, as were the regimental executive officer, the S-1, the S-2, the S-3, several rifle company commanders, and a number of high-ranking noncommissioned officers.

The scrub typhus had begun among troops bivouacked at Mar village, and upon investigation it was found that typhus was invariably found among troops who had slept on the ground at one time or another in native villages or clearings. Immediate steps were taken to control the spread of the disease. First, most of the medical installations were moved to healthier locations on the beach west of the Wewe River. Then, all bivouac areas were cleared, brush and grass burned, and large areas around the beachhead


sprayed with oil. Clothing was impregnated with insect repellent and orders were issued for all men to wear complete uniforms at all times.57

The antityphus measures were rigidly enforced by officers and noncommissioned officers such as 1st Sgt. James H. P. Daugherty of the 6th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop, who addressed his men in language doubtless hallowed by Caesar's centurions: "It's the specific order of General MacArthur, General Krueger, and General Sibert that all men shall at all times wear a complete uniform consisting of shirt or jacket, trousers, leggins and cap, and that mosquito repellent shall be used about leggin tops, sleeve cuffs and shirt or jacket collars. This is to stop scrub typhus. Now--I don't make these rules but I sure as hell enforce them--and I enjoy doing it. Are there any questions? Then--move out."58

By the end of August the strictly enforced antityphus measures began to show results and daily admissions dropped rapidly. As of the 31st, 275 cases had been diagnosed as scrub typhus, 530 men had been hospitalized for fever, undetermined origin, and there had been 9 deaths. The mortality rate (presumably including men still in the hospital and not expected to recover) was about 3 percent.59

Scrub typhus cases, other fever patients, and battle casualties were evacuated from Sansapor-Mar by a variety of means. Initially, LST's were employed for the duty, taking men back to Maffin Bay or Hollandia hospitals. The hospital ship Tasman arrived on 31 August and began loading patients, while air evacuation began on 23 August. By this combination of means 504 officers and men were evacuated from the area by the end of August.60

Airfield Construction

Air evacuation had been made possible because the TYPHOON Task Force's first construction objective, a 5,000-foot runway, had been more than met on schedule. On D Day it had quickly become apparent to General Barnes of the XIII Air Task Force, responsible for selecting the location for the first field, that Middleburg Island offered a more promising site than the mainland near RED Beach, where the soil was loose, swampy spots abounded, and stands of heavy forest would obstruct the work. General Barnes put off a final decision until he could make a reconnaissance of the Cape Sansapor area on D plus 1, but he decided, after viewing that region, that Middleburg was the best site, and he decided to go ahead with a 5,000-foot fighter runway on that island. The medium bomber field, he determined, would be constructed on the mainland immediately west of RED Beach.

LCT's, which arrived at Mar on D plus 2, immediately began shuttling the men and heavy equipment of the 836th Engineer Aviation Battalion and the 617th Engineer Base Equipment Company to Middleburg, where the two units were concentrated by 3 August. General Sibert's foresight and insistence that LCT's be included in an early convoy now paid handsome dividends. With hard work, the strip on Middleburg had reached such a stage of completion by 14 August that a crippled B-24 was able to use it for a successful emergency landing. On


17 August, a day ahead of schedule, General Barnes was able to report that the strip was ready to receive fighters. As of that day the runway was 5,400 feet long and boasted one alert apron some 1,600 feet in length. Other alert aprons, taxiways, and hardstandings were completed by 25 August, the day of the first Japanese bombing attack on the area held by the TYPHOON Task Force.

There had been some red alerts before 25 August at Sansapor-Mar and a few Japanese planes had been sighted, but the raid of the 25th was the first during which the enemy attempted to bomb or strafe the area. The only result of this initial effort was damage to a single fighter on the new Middleburg Drome. During the night of 27-28 August, there was a heavier attack, during which four P-38's on Middleburg were destroyed, an antiaircraft machine gun position wiped out, and two men killed and ten wounded. Another raid occurred on the morning of 31 August, when light damage was incurred at the Middleburg strip and one man on that island was injured.61

On the mainland, the construction of Mar Drome did not at first proceed as rapidly as had work on Middleburg Island. First reports from Allied Air Forces' engineers returning from the Mar site to Hollandia indicated that a field could not be made ready for bombers until 12 October, over a month later than had been planned. It was felt that problems of soil packing, drainage, and extensive clearing would prevent realization of an earlier completion date, and it was recommended that the necessary engineer effort be diverted to extension of airdrome facilities on Noemfoor Island.62

Upon investigation, however, it was found that the engineers' estimates had apparently been based on a faulty assumption that the Mar field was to be prepared for use by heavy bombers. Furthermore, it was discovered that only one half of one engineer battalion was working at the site when the examination was made. It was unnecessary to station heavy bombers at Mar because such planes could undertake missions against targets even as far distant as the southern Philippines from Biak and Noemfoor bases or from fields which were expected to be constructed at Halmahera or Morotai. On the other hand, a forward medium bomber base on the western Vogelkop was necessary, for only from such a base could strafing planes--light and medium bombers--reach Japanese air, troop, and supply installations in the Celebes, at Ambon, on Halmahera, and on Morotai.

More optimistic estimates for construction were possible when additional engineer units began working at the Mar location. Then, to avoid some of the worst swampy spots, the strip site was moved slightly inland, where it was found that the jungle undergrowth and forest were not as dense as anticipated. Finally, it was concluded that the Mar Drome could be ready for medium bombers within five days of the target date, 3 September.63


BULLDOZER CLEARING JUNGLE UNDERGROWTH for the construction of Mar Drome.

The 1879th and 1881st Engineer Aviation Battalions, the 43d Engineer Construction Battalion, the 96th Engineer General Service Regiment, and the 571st Engineer Dump Truck Company all spent long hours of labor on Mar Drome to make the construction target date. The first plane, a C-47, landed on the field on 2 September. The next day, exactly on schedule, the field was declared operational for medium bombers. There was then available a 6,000-foot steel-matted runway, 4 alert aprons, 2,800 feet of taxiways, and 7 dispersal lanes. By the 18th of the month, dispersal sites had been increased to 85, taxiways to 10,820 feet, and the strip had been lengthened to 7,500 feet.64 From the Middleburg and Mar Dromes innumerable missions were flown in support of the Morotai landings on 15 September and against Japanese oil installations, shipping, troop concentrations, and airfields throughout the northern part of the Indies.65


Insofar as Japanese ground forces were concerned, the Allied development at Sansapor-Mar completed a circle of air bases around 2d Army units in western Dutch New Guinea. That army's troops on the Vogelkop Peninsula--most of the 35th Division, the bulk of the 2d Amphibious Brigade, two provisional infantry brigades formed from miscellaneous combat and service units, and various service organizations--were cut off, their effectiveness destroyed. They could not mount an offensive; they could only "sweat it out" to the end of the war at bases such as Manokwari and Sorong, or they could attempt to retreat south and west from those bases to islands such as Ambon, Ceram, and the Celebes. The Allied landing had caught some of these forces in transit across the Vogelkop from Manokwari toward Sorong. In the end, few Japanese troops were able to escape from the Vogelkop. Gradually running out of food and other supplies, they awaited the end of the war at Manokwari and Sorong or, after a laborious overland trek, at minor bases south of the Vogelkop on the Bomberai Peninsula.


Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (XVII) * Next Chapter (XIX)


1. Other less tangible results were the destruction of the Japanese garrison; the elimination of Noemfoor as a way station for Japanese reinforcements moving toward Biak, thus perhaps allowing quicker mop-up on the latter; and the reduction of airdrome construction requirements at Biak, enabling the Allied Air Forces to send more planes into the forward area without potentially dangerous crowding at Biak.

2. RENO I, 25 Feb 43, copy in OCMH files; RENO III, 20 Oct 43, copy in OPD file, ABC 384 Pacific, Sec. 8-A.

3. Some of the foregoing material is based upon the contents of the various GHQ SWPA RENO plans; some is based on personal knowledge acquired by the author while serving on the staff of GHQ SWPA during 1944-46; and the rest is general knowledge.

4. Memo, Maj. Gen. Thomas T. Handy, ACofS OPD, for Cofs USA, 31 Dec 42, no sub; JCS 190, Rehabilitation of Petroleum Resources in the Netherlands East Indies, 9 Jan 43, and atchd papers, in OPD file, ABC 350.05 NEI (2-7-42), Sec. 1. All the papers of the JCS 190 series cited hereafter bear the same title.

5. JPS 107/3, Rehabilitation of Petroleum Resources in the Netherlands East Indies, 15 Feb 43, and atchd papers; JCS 190/2, 19 Feb 43, and atchd papers, both sets of sources in OPD file, ABC 350.05 NEI (2-742), Sec. 2.

6. The Enemy Oil Committee for the Division of Fuels and Lubricants, Office of The Quartermaster General, "Petroleum Facilities of New Guinea and Ceram," Jun 44, in OPD file, ABC 463.9 New Guinea, 5 Feb 44.

7. JCS 190/4, 5 Feb 44, and atchd papers, in OPD file, ABC 463.9 New Guinea, 5 Feb 44.

8. RENO IV, 6 Mar 44, in OPD file, ABC 384 Pacific (1-17-43) Sec. 3-A; see also above, Ch. I.

9. See above, Chapter I.

10. OQMG, "Petroleum Facilities of New Guinea and Ceram," Jun 44; JPS 374/27M, Rehabilitation of Petroleum Resources in the NEI, 12 Apr 44, and atchd papers, in OPD file, ABC 350.05 NEI (2-7-42), Sec. 2.

11. Ibid.

12. JCS 190/6, 10 Jun 44; JCS 190/7, 26 Jun 44; JCS 190/8, 14 Jul 44, and papers atchd to each, all in OPD file, ABC 350.05 NEI (2-7-42), Sec. 2.

13. JCS 190/8, 14 Jul 44, and atchd papers, in OPD file, ABC 350.05 NEI (2-7-42), Sec. 2, supplemented by author's personal observation.

14. Rad, CG USAFISPA to CofS USA [Maj Gen Laurence S. Kuter, AAF representative on tour in the SWPA and SPA, to Gen Henry H. Arnold, CG AAF], WAR-7, 2 Apr 44, CM-IN 1174; Rad, CINCSWPA to CofS USA, C-12287, 8 May 44, CM-IN 6163.

15. Rad, GHQ SWPA to ALAMO, C-13296, 5 Jun 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Noemfoor, 6-19 Jun 44; Rad, ALAMO to GHQ SWPA, WF-1900, 10 Jun 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 10 Jun 44; ALAMO Force Opns Rpt Sansapor, p. 2. Plans for a July invasion of the Western Vogelkop are also outlined in General MacArthur's RENO V plan of 15 June 1944, a copy of which is in OPD file, ABC 384 Pacific, Sec. 8-C.

16. Rad, GHQ SWPA to AAF SWPA, ANF SWPA, and ALAMO, CX-13332, 6 Jun 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 6 Jun 44. ALAMO Scouts were specially trained troops who conducted reconnaissance and patrolling missions, often behind enemy lines.

17. Rad, ALAMO to Advon 5thAF, WF-2212, 9 Jun 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Noemfoor, 6-19 Jun 44; Rad, Advon 5thAF to ALAMO and GHQ SWPA, U-3204-D, 11 Jun 44, in ALAMO Adv Hq G-3 Jnl Wakde-Biak, 11-13 Jun 44.

18. Rad, GHQ SWPA to AAF SWPA, ANF SWPA, and ALAMO. CX-13631, 13 Jun 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Sansapor, 6 Jun-11 Jul 44; Rads, ALAMO to CG U.S. Forces APO 324 [Admiralties], WF-2643 and WF-2686, 13 Jun 44, in ALAMO G-2 Jnl Wakde-Biak, 3-16 Jun 44; Rad, ALAMO to GHQ SWPA, WF-3538, 18 Jun 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Noemfoor, 6-19 Jun 44.

19. Rad, GHQ SWPA to ALAMO, AAF SWPA, et al., CX-13950, 20 Jun 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Sansapor, 6 Jun-11 Jul 44; Rad, GHQ SWPA to ALAMO and ANF SWPA, CX-14009, 21 Jun 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 21 Jun 44.

20. Draft of unnumbered, unsent Rad, ALAMO to GHQ SWPA, 22 Jun 44, in ALAMO G-2 Jnl Wakde-Biak, 16 Jun-10 Jul 44.

21. Rad, GHQ SWPA to ALAMO, CTF 72, and Com 7thFlt, S-57, 30 Jun 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Sansapor, 6 Jun-11 Jul 44 (this rad apparently is a redispatch of a msg originated by the submarine during the night of 29-30 Jun); ALAMO Force Opns Rpt Sansapor, p. 10; GHQ SWPA OI 56, 30 Jun 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 30 Jun 44.

22. Ibid.

23. AGS SWPA, Terrain Handbook 29, "Dutch New Guinea, Sorong Area," 1 Jul 44, copy in OCMH files; ALAMO Force, G-2 Photo Int Sec., Consolidated Rpt 144, 18 Jul 44, in ALAMO G-4 Jnl Noemfoor, 21-29 Jul 44.

24. ALAMO Force, G-2 Photo Int Sec., op. cit.; Rad, GHQ SWPA to ALAMO, et al., S-57, 30 Jun 44; ALAMO Force, G-2 Est of Enemy Sit with Respect to Cape Sansapor-Cape Opmarai Area, Northwest Vogelkop, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Sansapor, 6 Jun-11 Jul 44; ALAMO Force Opns Rpt Sansapor, pp. 5, 10.

25. ALAMO Force, Conf Rpt, Hq ALAMO Force, 1045-1410, 8 Jul 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Sansapor, 6 Jun-11 Jul 44; ALAMO Force Opns Rpt Sansapor, p. 12; CTF 77 Opns Rpt Sansapor, pp. 1-5.

26. Rad, ALAMO to GHQ SWPA, WH-1654, 12 Jul 44, in ALAMO G-2 Jnl Sansapor, 11-13 Jul 44; Rad, ALAMO to GHQ SWPA, WH-2882, 18 Jul 44, ALAMO G-3 Jnl Sansapor, 19-27 Jul 44; ALAMO Force Opns Rpt Sansapor, pp. 5, 10.

27. ALAMO Force Opns Rpt Sansapor, p. 5; TYPHOON Task Force [TyTF] FO 1, 15 Jul 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl. Sansapor, 13-18 Jul 44; Rad, GHQ SWPA to ALAMO CX-15141, 21 Jul 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Sansapor, 19-27 Jul 44; 5thAF OI 4, 11 Jul 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 14 Jul 44.

28. ALAMO Force Opns Rpt Sansapor, p. 5; TyTF FO 1, 15 Jul 44; History of the TYPHOON Task Force in the Opmarai-Sansapor Area, Vogelkop Peninsula, Dutch New Guinea, 30 July-31 August 1944, p. 10 (hereafter cited as Hist of TyTF, 30 Jul-31 Aug 44).

29. GHQ SWPA OI 56, 30 Jun 44, and 56/10, 27 Aug 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 30 Jun 44; CTF 77 Opn Plan 7-44, 15 Jul 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 22 Jul 44; CTF 77 Opns Rpt Sansapor, pp. 1, 3, 5; ComCruDiv 15 [CTF 78] Opn Order 3-44, 21 Jul 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 26 Jul 44; ALAMO Force Opns Rpt Sansapor, p. 12; TyTF FO 1, 15 Jul 44.

30. ALAMO Force Adm O 11, 11 Jul 44, in ALAMO G-4 Jnl Sansapor, 8 Jun-3 Aug 44.

31. ALAMO Force Opns Rpt Wakde-Biak, pp. 26-28; TTF Opns Rpt Wakde-Sarmi, 12 Jun-18 Jul 44, pp. 9-10; TTF [31st Inf Div] Opns Rpt Wakde-Sarmi, 18 Jul-2 Sep 44, pp. 2-4; Memo, ACofS G-4 ALAMO for CofS ALAMO, no sub, 6 Jul 44, and Ltr, ALAMO G-4 LO with TyTF at Maffin Bay to ACofS G-4 ALAMO, no sub, 20 Jul 44, both in ALAMO G-4 Jnl Sansapor, 8 Jun-3 Aug 44. See also above, Ch. XI.

32. TTF Opns Rpt Wakde-Sarmi, 18 Jul-2 Sep pp. 2-4; Hist of TyTF, 30 Jul-31 Aug 44, p. 21; 20th Inf Opns Rpt Sansapor, p. 1; Memo, ACofS G-4 ALAMO for CofS ALAMO, no sub, 6 Jul 44; Memo, ACofS G-4 ALAMO for CofS ALAMO, sub: Re Cargo Handling in the Toem Area, 10 Jul 44, in ALAMO G-4 Jnl Sansapor, 8 Jun-3 Aug 44. See also above, Ch. XI.

33. CTF 77 Opns Rpt Sansapor, pp. 6-7, 14; ALAMO Force Opns Rpt Sansapor, p. 9. Quotation from page 7 of the CTF 77 report.

34. Ltrs, ALAMO G-4 LO with TyTF at Maffin Bay to ACofS G-4 ALAMO, no subs, 16 and 20 Jul 44, both in ALAMO G-4 Jnl Sansapor, 8 Jun-3 Aug 44.

35. Ltrs, ALAMO G-4 LO with TyTF at Maffin Bay to ACofS G-4 ALAMO, no subs, 16, 20, and 24 Jul 44, all in ALAMO G-4 Jnl Sansapor, 8 Jun-3 Aug 44; Rad, ALAMO to InterSec USASOS, WH-4466, 26 Jul 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Sansapor, 27 Jul-3 Aug 44; CTF 77 Opns Rpt Sansapor, pp. 10-11.

36. ALAMO Force FO 20, 10 Jul 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Sansapor, 11-13 Jul 44; GHQ SWPA OI 56, 30 Jun 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 30 Jun 44.

37. TyTF FO 1, 15 Jul 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Sansapor, 13-18 Jul 44.

38. Memo, Asst ACofS G-3 ALAMO for ACofS G-3 ALAMO, 18 Jul 44, sub: Engr Units for GLOBETROTTER [Sansapor], in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Sansapor, 19-27 Jul 44; TyTF FO 1, 15 Jul 44.

39. Rad, ALAMO to GHQ SWPA, WH-3073, 19 Jul 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Sansapor, 19-27 Jul 44; ALAMO Force Opns Rpt Sansapor, p. 10; Rad, TyTF to ALAMO, MS-10, 21 Jul 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Sansapor, 19-27 Jul 44; TyTF FO 1, 15 Jul 44.

40. Rad, ALAMO to TyTF, WH-2894, 18 Jul 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Sansapor, 18-19 Jul 44; Memo, Asst ACofS G-3 ALAMO for ACofS G-3 ALAMO, 18 Jul 44, sub: Engr Units for GLOBETROTTER; Memo, Asst ACofS G-3 ALAMO for ACofS G-3 ALAMO, 21 Jul 44, no sub; Rad, GHQ SWPA to ALAMO, CX-15141, 21 Jul 44; Rad, ALAMO to TyTF, WH-3556, 22 Jul 44. Last four docs in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Sansapor, 19-27 Jul 44.

41. Rad, TTF (from Comdr TyTF) to ALAMO, YA-398, 17 Jul 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Sansapor, 13-18 Jul 44.

42. Rad, ALAMO to TyTF, WH-2895, 18 Jul 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Sansapor, 18-19 Jul 44; Memo, ALAMO G-3 LO with TyTF at Maffin Bay for ACofS G-3 ALAMO, 21 Jul 44, no sub, and atchd notes from ACofS G-3 ALAMO to Cofs ALAMO and from Cofs ALAMO to ACofS G-3 ALAMO, 22 Jul 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Sansapor, 19-27 Jul 44; Rad, ALAMO to TyTF, WH-3731, 23 Jul 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Sansapor, 19-27 Jul 44.

43. ALAMO Force Opns Rpt Sansapor, p. 12; CTF 77 Opns Rpt Sansapor, p. 7.

44. CTF 77 Opns Rpt Sansapor, pp. 7-8.

45. CTF 77 Opns Rpt Sansapor, p. 9; Hist of TyTF, 30 Jul-31 Aug 44, p. 12; CTF 77 Opn Plan 7-44, 15 Jul 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 22 Jul 44.

46. 6th Cav Rcn Tr Opns Rpt Sansapor, pp. 2-3; CTF 77 Opns Rpt Sansapor, p. 9; ALAMO Force Opns Rpt Sansapor, p. 11.

47. 1st Inf Opns Rpt Sansapor, 15 Jul-31 Aug pp. 1-2; 1st Inf Jnl, 30 Jul-31 Aug 44; TyTF G-3 Opns Rpt 1, 31 Jul 44, in folder entitled TyTF Opns Rpts, 30 Jul-31 Aug 44; CTF 77 Opns Rpt Sansapor, p. 13.

48. TyTF G-3 Opns Rpt 1, 31 Jul 44; 1st Inf Opns Rpt Sansapor, 15 Jul-31 Aug 44, p. 2; Hist of TyTF, 30 Jul-31 Aug 44, p. 12.

49. CTF 77 Opns Rpt Sansapor, pp. 9-10; Hist of TyTF, 30 Jul-31 Aug 44, pp. 12-13; TyTF G-3 Opns Rpt 1, 31 Jul 44.

50. CTF 77 Opns Rpt Sansapor, pp. 10-12, 15; Hist of TyTF, 30 Jul-31 Aug 44, p. 13; TyTF G-4 Sec. Opns Rpt Sansapor, p. 2; Memo, ACofS G-4 ALAMO for CofS ALAMO, ALAMO QM, et al., 5 Aug 44, no sub, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Sansapor, 3-8 Aug 44.

51. CTF 77 Opns Rpt Sansapor, p. 15.

52. Obsr's Rpt GLOBETROTTER Opn [Rpt of Maj Robert J. Bertrand, Hq., Alaskan Dept], 6 Aug 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Sansapor, 3-8 Aug 44.

53. Information concerning American units in this subsection is based on: Hist of TyTF, 30 Jul-31 Aug 44, pp. 14-22; CTF 77 Opns Rpt Sansapor, pp. 12-13; ALAMO Force Opns Rpt Sansapor, pp. 11-17; 1st Inf Opns Rpt Sansapor, 15 Jul-31 Aug 44, pp. 3-8; 20th Inf Opns Rpt Sansapor, 20-31 Aug 44, p. 1; 63d Inf Opns Rpt Sansapor, 30 Jul-31 Aug 44, p. 1; 6th Cav Rcn Trp Opns Rpt Sansapor, pp. 3-18.

54. Enemy information in this subsection is based principally on: Hist of TyTF, 30 Jul-31 Aug 44, pp. 20-22; Hist of 2d Area Army, pp. 65-69; ALAMO Force, G-2 Wkly Rpts 48, 54, and 55, 5 Jul, 16 Aug, and 23 Aug 44, respectively, copies in G-2 DofA files; GHQ SWPA, G-2 DSEI 865, 4 Aug 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 4 Aug 44; 2d Army Opns Orders, 3 and 9 Jul 44, as cited in DSEI 865.

55. As usual, figures for both American and Japanese casualties vary widely according to the source and cannot be reconciled. The TYPHOON Task Force's breakdown for prisoners was 56 Japanese, 154 Formosans, and 3 Koreans. ALAMO Force lists American casualties as 34 killed and 85 wounded, but since these are so divergent from the task force's own figures, they are believed to include nonbattle casualties.

56. Hist of TyTF, 30 Jul-31 Aug 44, p. 5.

57. 6th Medical Bn Opns Rpt Sansapor, pp. 2-4; 1st Inf Opns Rpt Sansapor, 15 Jul-31 Aug 44, pp. 4-8.

58. 6th Cav Rcn Trp Opns Rpt Sansapor, p. 8.

59. 6th Medical Bn Opns Rpt Sansapor, pp. 2-4; ALAMO Force Opns Rpt Sansapor, p. 16; Scrub Typhus Graphs, atchd to Hist of TyTF, 30 Jul-31 Aug 44.

60. TyTF Surgeon Opns Rpt Sansapor, pp. 1-2.

61. Rad, TyTF to ALAMO, MS-106, 30 Jul 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Sansapor, 27 Jul-3 Aug 44; Ltr, Comdr TyTF to Comdr ALAMO Force, 1 Aug 44, no sub, and Rad, TyTF to ALAMO, MS-140, 2 Aug 44, both in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Sansapor, 3-8 Aug 44; Rad, TyTF to ALAMO, MS-137, 1 Aug 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Sansapor, 27 Jul-31 Aug 44; ALAMO Force Opns Rpt Sansapor, pp. 13-14; Hist of TyTF, 30 Jul-31 Aug 44, pp. 20-22.

62. Rad, 5thAF to GHQ SWPA, A-17777-A, 10 Aug 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Sansapor, 8-15 Aug 44; ALAMO Force Opns Rpt Sansapor, p. 14.

63. Rad, GHQ SWPA to ALAMO, CX-16007, 11 Aug 44, and Rads, TyTF to ALAMO, MS-324 and MS-387, 11 and 14 Aug 44, all in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Sansapor, 8-15 Aug 44.

64. ALAMO Force Opns Rpt Sansapor, p. 14; Hist of TyTF, 30 Jul-31 Aug 44, p. 22. Ltr, Capt B. L. Mortensen, Hist Div Dept of AF Library, to author, 27 Oct 49, in OCMH files.

65. ALAMO Force closed the Vogelkop operation for historical records purposes as of 31 August 1944. The 6th Division continued patrolling in the area until it left for Luzon in January 1945. Elements of the 93d Infantry Division took over the defense of the airfields and some Australian air units ultimately moved into the area, but the fields there were abandoned before mid-1945. By 4 October 1944, shortly after which date ALAMO Force turned over control of the area to the U.S. Eighth Army, Japanese casualties in the area were 695 killed, 94 prisoners, 160 Formosan prisoners, and 7 Korean prisoners. ALAMO Force, G-2 Wkly Rpt 61, 4 Oct 44, copy in G-2 DofA files.

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Jerry Holden for the HyperWar Foundation