Conclusion: The Results and the Costs

With the seizure of air-base sites in the Palaus and on Morotai, the Allied forces of the Pacific theaters completed the strategic and tactical steps of the approach to the Philippines; they were now poised to move on into those islands. Eleventh-hour changes in plans concerning the date and place for the invasion of the Philippines were consistent with the strategic concept upon which the approach had been based. The occupation of Morotai and the southern Palaus fulfilled the concept of two drives--one westward across the Central Pacific and the other northwestward up the north coast of New Guinea--toward the Philippine Islands. One phase of the war in the Pacific was ended. Another was soon to begin.1

Since April 1944, forces of the Central Pacific Area, in their part of the drive, had moved 1,625 nautical miles westward from the Marshalls to the Palaus and were about 3,250 nautical miles southwest of Hawaii.2 During the same time, the forces of the Southwest Pacific Area, in a rapid succession of seven major operations, had moved some 1,300 nautical miles 3 from the Huon Peninsula of eastern New Guinea to Morotai Island.

The costs had not been low. The Allies had suffered more than 20,000 battle casualties, including over 3,600 killed. The Japanese had lost at least 43,000 men, including some 40,000 killed. Seven Japanese divisions and the combat equivalent of at least one more division had been destroyed or cut off--losses which the Japanese could not replace. A Japanese air army, the theoretical equivalent of a U.S. air force, had also been wiped out. The Japanese could ill afford this loss of trained pilots and first-line aircraft. Losses of Japanese naval land-based aircraft were such that Japanese surface-vessel action was seriously hampered. Few naval surface craft were sunk by either side,4 but the Japanese could not replace the vessels they lost.

The Allies had employed nine divisions-eight Army and one Marine, and the equivalent of another Army division in separate regimental combat teams. The entire U.S. Pacific Fleet, comprising the Third, Fifth, and Seventh Fleets, had been used, together



Operation Killed in Action a

Wounded in Action

U.S. Army b U.S. Navy U.S. Marines U.S. Army b U.S. Navy U.S. Marines

Hollandia 155 c 4 ........ 1,060 c 7 ........ 1,226
Aitape 450 ........ ........ 2,550 ........ ........ 3.000
Wakde-Sarmi 415 3 ........ 1,500 10 ........ 1,928
Biak 435 36 ........ 2,360 83 ........ 2,914
Noemfoor 70 0 ........ 345 3 ........ 418
Sansapor 15 0 ........ 45 0 ........ 60
Morotai 30 15 ........ 85 18 ........ 148
Palaus 540 c 158 1,250 2,735 c 505 5,275 10,463
Asia-Mapia d 20 0 ........ 45 0 ........ 65
Ulithi, etc. e 5 ........ ........ 10 ........ ........ 15
     Total Killed 2,135 216 1,250 ........ ........ ........ 3,601
     Total Wounded ........ ........ ........ 10,735 626 5,275 16,636
     Total Casualties ........ ........ ........ ........ ........ ........ 20,237

a Includes missing in action.
b Army figures, because of conflicting sources, are deliberate approximations. The figures do not include AAF casualties except for engineer aviation battalions.
c Navy figures for Hollandia and Aitape are combined, as are figures for the Palaus and Ulithi.
d See Ch. XIX, n. 1.
e Casualty figures for Ulithi and other western Caroline islands cover the period 22 September 1944-4 January 1945.

Source: Table is based on sources and figures given in the text, except for U.S. Navy figures, which were provided by the Statistics Branch, Bureau of Naval Personnel.

with available combat vessels of Allied nations. Three U.S. Army air forces--the Fifth, Seventh, and Thirteenth--and at least the equivalent of another air force in U.S. naval land-based aircraft, U.S. Marine planes, and aircraft of Allied countries had also participated in the approach to the Philippines. Allied naval and air losses were replaceable, and at the close of this part of the Pacific war, Allied naval and air strength in the Pacific theaters was growing rapidly. While some of the U.S. divisions and separate regimental combat teams had suffered heavy casualties, all of them were still intact and could be brought back up to strength. They had received invaluable combat experience which was to serve them well in later operations.5 They were ready to move on to the Philippines or other combat areas.

Allied forces in the Pacific had successfully completed one phase of the Pacific war. They were prepared to push on toward the ultimate defeat of Japan.



Operation Killed in Action b Japanese Prisoners of War Korean Prisoners of War Formosan Prisoners of War Total

Hollandia 4,475 655 0 15 5,145
Aitape 8,825 100 6 25 8,956
Wakde-Sarmi 3,960 55 2 35 4,052
Biak 6,125 460 0 305 6,890
Noemfoor 1,960 245 2 625 2,832
Sansapor 695 95 7 160 957
Morotai 305 15 0 0 320
Palaus 13,600 c 400 ? ? 14,000
Asia-Mapia 170 0 0 0 170
Ulithi, etc. 20 5 0 0 25
     Total Killed 40,135 ........ ........ ........ 40,135
     Total Prisoners ........ 2,030 17 1,165 3,212
     Total Casualties ........ ........ ........ ........ 43,347

a All figures are deliberate approximations except for Korean prisoners of war. Figures for Japanese wounded are not available.
b Figures cover the latest dates for which they are available. In the case of New Guinea and Morotai they extend to early October 1944; in the Palaus, to the end of November. "Killed in Action" includes those found dead of starvation or disease.
c Includes non-Japanese prisoners, since no breakdown by nationality is available for the Palau operation. The reports state that most of the prisoners were Korean or Okinawan labor troops.

Source; Table is based on sources cited in the text.


Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (XXIV) * Next Chapter (Appendix B)


1. See M. Hamlin Cannon, Leyte: The Return to the Philippines, a forthcoming volume in the series U.S. ARMY IN WORLD WAR II.

2. This, of course, excepts the seizure of the Marianas, an operation which was not, strictly speaking, strategically part of the approach to the Philippines. See Philip A. Crowl, Campaign in the Marianas, a forthcoming volume in the series U.S. ARMY IN WORLD WAR II. The distances given are, respectively, about 1,870 and 3,735 statute miles.

3. Approximately 1,500 statute miles.

4. Except during the Battle of the Philippine Sea, off the Marianas in June 1944. The major Japanese surface-vessel losses during the operations along the New Guinea coast and in the Palaus were a few destroyers.

5. All the divisions and regimental combat teams that participated in the drive up the New Guinea coast later served in the Philippines. The 1st Marine Division re-entered combat on Okinawa in April 1945. Only the 81st Infantry Division did not participate in another major operation, but even elements of that unit engaged in minor mopping-up operations in northwestern Leyte while retraining for the proposed invasion of the Japanese home islands.

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