Jungle warfare in the Southwest Pacific provided a unique experience for an army only lately thrust into global war; but as The Approach to the Philippines graphically demonstrates, the rules of war, the problems of leadership, and the opportunities for military success pertain in the steaming hills of New Guinea as well as on the broad plains of Normandy.

Sustained interest in small unit warfare and the campaigns of the Pacific war prompted the Center to reprint Robert Ross Smith's work. Through his efforts the lesser known but significant amphibious and ground operations in 1944 along the New Guinea coast and the southern Palaus are familiar to the military history community. The volume provides painstaking analysis of these complex operations--amphibious landings, carrier-based and land-based air operations, infantry maneuvers, and artillery and armor support--which served as a prelude to the Allied invasion of the Philippines. It also gives a detailed account of the intricacies of interservice operations. One of the volume's major contributions is the reconstruction of the logistic and support services in the campaign.

Washington, D.C.
1 April 1984
Brigadier General, USA (Ret.)
Chief of Military History.


The Author

Robert Ross Smith received his B.A. and M.A. degrees from Duke University. A graduate of the Infantry Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia, Mr. Smith served two years in the G-3 Historical Division staff at General MacArthur's headquarters in the Southwest Pacific. He joined the Center of Military History in 1947 and rose to the position of branch chief before retiring in 1983. He also served as chief historian of U.S. Army, Pacific, during an important phase of the Vietnam War. Mr. Smith has written many works on military history, including Triumph in the Philippines, another volume in the U.S. Army in World War II series. He is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve.



This volume describes the operations of Allied forces in the Pacific theaters during the approach to the Philippines, April through October 1944. While this is essentially the story of U.S. Army ground combat operations during the approach, the activities of all ground, air, and naval forces are covered where necessary for the understanding of the Army ground narrative. Eight major and separate operations, all susceptible of subdivision into distinct phases, are described. Seven of these operations took place in the Southwest Pacific Area, while one--the Palau Islands operation--occurred in the Central Pacific Area. This series of actions is exceptional in that the operations were executed in such rapid succession that while one was being planned the height of combat was being reached in another and still others had entered the mopping-up stage.

Because of the nature of the combat, the level of treatment in this volume is generally that of the regimental combat team--the infantry regiment with its supporting artillery, engineer, tank, medical, and other units. The majority of the actions described involved a series of separate operations by infantry regiments or regimental combat teams, since divisions seldom fought as integral units during the approach to the Philippines. Division headquarters, often assuming the role of a ground task force headquarters, co-ordinated and administered the ofttimes widely separated actions of the division's component parts.

In accomplishing the research and writing for this volume, which was begun in the spring of 1947, the author had access to the records of the U.S. Army units involved in the approach to the Philippines. Records of the Combined and Joint Chiefs of Staff, the U.S. Army General Staff, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, the U.S. Air Force, and the Australian services were also made available to the author upon request. Principal Japanese sources employed were monographs of Japanese operations prepared by former Japanese Army and Navy officers, beginning in late 1946, under the direction of the United States high command in Tokyo.

Unlike most operations in the Central Pacific and in Europe, those of U.S. Army ground combat forces in the Southwest Pacific Area had no contemporary historical coverage during World War II. In the last-named theater, no teams of historians accompanied combat units to observe, collect materials, conduct interviews, and prepare preliminary historical manuscripts. Thus, the sections of this volume concerning operations in the Southwest Pacific Area are based principally upon the official unit records maintained during combat and, to a lesser extent, the unit After Action Reports required by Army regulations. For operations


in the Palaus, there was available an incomplete manuscript covering part of the 81st Infantry Division's actions. This was prepared partly in the field and partly during a short tour of duty with the Historical Division, War Department General Staff, by Maj. Nelson L. Drummond, Jr. For operations of the 1st Marine Division in the Palaus, the author depended for the most part on Maj. Frank O. Hough's The Assault on Peleliu, an official publication of the Historical Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps.

It is manifestly impossible for the author to list all those who have aided or guided him during the preparation of this volume, but he must express his gratitude to those who have made especially notable contributions.

Thanks are due the personnel of the Historical Records Section, Departmental Records Branch, Office of The Adjutant General, U.S. Army, especially Mr. Wilbur Nigh and Miss Thelma K. Yarborough, for their co-operation and patience in helping the author locate source material. For similar reasons thanks are due the members of the Organization Records Branch, Records Administration Center, Office of The Adjutant General. The author is also greatly indebted to Maj. Frank O. Hough (USMCR) of the Historical Division, Headquarters, U. S. Marine Corps; to Lt. Roger Pineau (USNR) of the Naval History Branch, Naval Records and History Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, U.S. Navy; to the personnel of the Naval Records and Library Branch of the same Division; to Capt. Bernhardt L. Mortensen (USAF) of the USAF History, Research, and Library Division, Air University Library, Air University, U.S. Air Force; to Flight Lt. Arthur L. Davies (RAAF) of the History Section, Headquarters Royal Australian Air Force; and to the author's personal friend Capt. John Balfour (AIF) of the Office of the Official War Historian, Australia. The list would not be complete without mention of the time and patience of fifty-odd participating commanders who provided comments on all or parts of the manuscript and, finally, official reviews undertaken by members of the Historical Sections of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Air Force, and the Australian Army.

Especial thanks are due Dr. John Miller, jr., during whose tenure as Chief of the Pacific Section, Office of the Chief of Military History, much of this volume was written, for his sound counsel and his careful reviewing of the final manuscript. For his excellent guidance and valuable advice, a great debt of gratitude is likewise owed Dr. Louis Morton, under whose direction as Chief of the Pacific Section preparation of this volume was begun and (upon his return to the section after a period of service as Deputy Chief Historian, Department of the Army) completed. The help and encouragement of Dr. Kent Roberts Greenfield, Chief Historian, Department of the Army, is also keenly appreciated. The author is greatly indebted to the late Mr. W. Brooks Phillips of the Editorial Branch, Office of the Chief of Military History, who did the final editing, ably assisted by Mrs. Loretto Stevens and other members of the same branch. Mr. Leonard B. Lincoln prepared the index, and the painstaking task of final typing for the


printer was in charge of Mrs. Lois Riley. The author acknowledges his indebtedness to the many other members of the Office of the Chief of Military History (especially Mr. Wsevolod Aglaimoff, the Chief Cartographer, and his colleagues of the Cartographic Branch, as well as the members of the Photographic Branch), for the time and effort they expended during the preparation of the volume.

Finally, the completion of the work would not have been possible without the support of Maj. Gen. Orlando Ward, Chief of Military History, Department of the Army, and the military members of his staff who, understanding the problems of the historian, made the path smoother.

Washington, D.C.
1 May 1952


Table of Contents ** Next Chapter (I)

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