Appendix ITHE ELKTON PLAN
THE SEIZURE AND OCCUPATION OF
THE NEW BRITAIN-NEW IRELAND-NEW GUINEA AREA,
Prepared by GHQ, SWPA, 28 February 1943
SECTION I -- GENERAL
- General Task.
The Joint Directive for offensive operations in the Southwest Pacific is set forth by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the following form:
"Seizure and occupation of the NEW BRITAIN-NEW IRELAND-NEW GUINEA area."
"To deny the area to JAPAN."
Task One -- "Seizure and occupation of SANTA CRUZ ISLANDS, TULAGI, and adjacent positions."
Task Two -- "Seizure and occupation of remainder of SOLOMONS, LAE, SALAMAUA, and northeast coast of NEW GUINEA."
Task Three -- "Seizure and occupation of RABAUL and adjacent positions in NEW BRITAIN-NEW IRELAND area."
- Analysis of Task.
- Task 1 above may be considered accomplished.
- Tasks 2 and 3 require the employment of two general axes of advance: on the west, along the line northeast coast of NEW GUINEANEW BRITAIN; on the east, through the SOLOMONS; culminating in the capture of RABAUL. In addition Task 3 requires seizure and occupation of positions in the NEW BRITAIN-NEW IRELAND area adjacent to RABAUL.
- The northeast coast of NEW GUINEA (northwest of BUNA), the SOLOMONS (northwest of GUADALCANAL), NEW IRELAND, and NEW BRITAIN are in the hands of the enemy. The sea and land areas south of the line BUNA-GUADALCANAL are generally under our control. The defenses of both sides are concentrated in and around airfields, the remainder of the land areas generally being unoccupied.
Tasks 2 and 3 generally require the following steps:
- Seizure of operating airdromes in the HUON PENINSULA area to provide necessary direct land-based air support for subsequent operations along the line of NEW BRITAIN.
- Seizure of operating airdromes in NEW GEORGIA to provide necessary direct land-based air support for subsequent operations along the line SOLOMONS-NEW IRELAND.
- Seizure of operating airdromes in NEW BRITAIN on the west and BOUGAINVILLE ISLAND on the east, to provide direct land-based air support for subsequent operations against KAVIENG and RABAUL.
- The capture of KAVIENG and the isolation of RABAUL by air and naval action. (The capture of KAVIENG may be delayed until after Step (5) if the situation justifies.)
- The capture of RABAUL after necessary reduction of enemy strength by combined attack to eliminate the center of enemy resistance.
- Scheme of Maneuver.
- The scheme of maneuver is based on seizure of HUON PENINSULA followed by converging attacks:
- Through NEW BRITAIN.
- Through the SOLOMONS to KAVIENG.
Both culminating in a combined assault on RABAUL.
The attack along the NEW GUINEA coast to capture operating airdromes in the HUON PENINSULA must precede the attack through the SOLOMONS, then both attacks proceed toward the objective, RABAUL, as a converging mutually supporting operation. Preceded by strong land-based air action and covered by our fleet to prevent major hostile naval interruption; the forces along the western axis operate against successive objectives to capture air operating bases in western NEW BRITAIN by air-borne and small craft operations and thence by amphibious operations to the capture of RABAUL; the forces along the eastern axis progress northwestward by amphibious operations through successive objectives to a meeting with western forces in a combined attack on RABAUL. Throughout the operations the employment of aviation of both forces is coordinated by the Commander in Chief, Southwest Pacific Area, in support of either force requiring the maximum assistance at the moment. The Fleet seeks decisive combat with hostile naval forces.
To insure the security of the Southwest Pacific Line of Communications, the defense of TORRES STRAIT area will be undertaken along the line DARWIN-MERAUKE by the action of ground, air, and naval units. MERAUKE will be occupied as an air operating base.
While the operations to secure successive objectives are considered separately, this does not indicate the timing necessarily. The timing will exploit favorable conditions and take advantage of the momentum achieved by either advance.
Request will be made on the Joint Chiefs of Staff for a diversion in the INDIAN OCEAN by Indian Theater Forces and/or in the North PACIFIC (ALEUTIAN ISLANDS) by North PACIFIC FORCES, to precede our operations and draw away hostile air and naval forces from the Southwest PACIFIC and supporting areas.
- General Chart.
- Estimate of Forces Required. (2)
In addition to the Naval Striking Force, principal combat elements during each operation are estimated to be:
Naval Ground Air (3) Sopac Sowespac Sopac Sowespac Sopac Sowespac Operation I (as estimated by Comsopac) See Note (1) below --- 4 Divs --- 23 Gps plus 14 Sqdns Operation II " " 2 Divs --- 10 Gps Operation III " " 4 Divs 2 Divs 13 Gps 30 Gps plus 14 Sqdns Operation IV " " 2 Divs --- 15 Gps OperationV " " 2 Divs 3 Divs 15 Gps 30 Gps plus 14 Sqdns GHQ Reserve --- --- 3 Divs
1 Parachute Rgt (Separate)
1 Armd Rgt
10 Divs 122/3 Divs
- Prelimiary estimate by Commander, Allied Naval Forces, of forces required for this campaign:
2 Cru Divs 2 Desrons 1 Des Div 4 PT Squadrons 12 Submarines
in addition to the Naval forces normally required for the defense of the Southwest Pacific Area. The Commander in Chief, SWPA, considers that the minimum requirements are:
in addition to the Naval forces now assigned the SWPA.
1 Cru Div 1 Desron 1 Des Div 4 PT Squadrons
- For land and air forces required for defense in the Southwest Pacific Area, see Enclosures 2 and 3.
- Groups of four squadrons each, at maximum strength.
- 2 Infantry Divisions (One garrisons TORRES STRAIT initially)
1 Air-borne Division
Parachute Regiment (Separate)
Armored Regt. (Australian Brigade)
In view of the determined opposition expected and reduction of Land Force estimates to an absolute minimum, Land Forces assigned to an operation must be considered as permanently committed therein. Land Forces will require an estimated total of 22 2/3 Divisions. Air Forces will require approximately 30 Groups in the Southwest Pacific Area and Groups in the South Pacific Area. Estimated capacity of amphibious equipment required is:
Southwest Pacific Area will employ small shore-to-shore equipment for one Division in Operation I. Remaining operations require amphibious equipment.
Operation Sowespac Sopac I 1 Div II 1 Div III 1 Div 2 Divs IV 2 Divs V 2 Divs 1 Div
- Allotment of Tasks.
- Naval Striking Force.
Elements of the U.S. Fleet and attached naval units.
Cover the operations, prevent interference therewith by major enemy naval forces, and seek decisive action with hostile fleet.
- Allied Air Forces.
Fifth Air Force, R.A.A.F. Command and air elements Southwest Pacific Force not required for defense of installations, facilities, or shipping in the Southwest Pacific Area.
- Destroy hostile aviation in general supporting areas of Northern
SOLOMONS, NEW IRELAND, eastern NEW BRITAIN, and the north coast NEW GUINEA. Destroy naval forces and shipping.
- Support the operations of the Southwest Pacific Task Forces.
- Support the defense of our forward bases and TORRES STRAIT.
- Provide transport aviation support for our operations.
- Be prepared to provide air support for operations of the South Pacific Area and the Naval Striking Force.
- Allied Naval Forces.
Task Force 42, Task Force 44, PT Squadrons and escort vessels.
- Support the operations of the Southwest Pacific Task Forces.
- Support the defense of forward bases in the Southwest Pacific Area and of TORRES STRAIT, and protect lines of communication.
- West Force.
A self-contained Task Force organized and equipped for ground and shore-to-shore operations.
By air-borne, overland and overwater operations, capture LAE and MADANG and secure in the HUON PENINSULA-MARKHAM VALLEY areas air bases required for subsequent operations.
- Center Force.
A Task Force organized and equipped for airborne and overwater operations in NEW BRITAIN.
- Supported by air and light naval forces, capture and consolidate airfields in western NEW BRITAIN to include the general line GASMATA-TALASEA by combined air-borne and overwater operations.
- Supported by air and naval forces and in conjunction with ground forces of the South Pacific Area, capture RABAUL by an overwater operation.
- Southwest Pacific Amphibious Force.
Escort vessels, transport vessels and landing craft.
Embark, conduct, and land Southwest Pacific Task Forces in succession for the capture of MADANG, Western NEW BRITAIN, and RABAUL.
- Supply Services.
- Composition. USASOS and the Australian Lines of Communication.
- Provide logistic support for the operations.
- Establish an intermediate base in MILNE BAY LOUISIADES area for logistic support of subsequent operations.
- South Pacific Force.
- Seize and occupy the NEW GEORGIA, BOUGAINVILLE, KAVIENG areas in successive operations.
- Provide and land a secondary attack force for the capture of RABAUL.
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