BOUGAINVILLE AND THE NORTHERN SOLOMONS is a narrative not only of Marines against the Japanese, but of Marines against the jungle. In all the past history of the Corps, whether it be Nicaragua, Haiti, or Guadalcanal, it is improbable that Marine units ever faced and defeated such an implacable combination of terrain and hostile opposition.
In this struggle, as always, superior training, discipline, determination and unquestioning will to win on the part of individual Marines were the crucial factors. Indeed, those same factors may be said to constitute common denominators of victory under any circumstances, whether jungle or atoll, on the ground or in the air.
C. B. CATES,
GENERAL, U. S. MARINE CORPS
COMMANDANT OF THE MARINE CORPS
BOUGAINVILLE AND THE NORTHERN SOLOMONS CAMPAIGN is the fourth in a series of operational monographs being prepared by the Historical Section, Division of Public Information, Headquarters, United States Marine Corps, concerning Marine Corps operations in World War II. As a sufficient number of these narratives are brought to completion, they will be edited into a single operational history of the Marine Corps in the past war.
Throughout the campaign for the Northern Solomons, the Marine Corps took part in every action, either through the presence of Marine units or by exercise of landing force command. However, many of the troops involved at one time or another came from the U.S. Army or from the Imperial Forces of New Zealand. Because of this thread of continuity, it seems appropriate that the entire campaign, diverse and long as it was, be treated as an entity. However, it is more correct that the Army should recount the story of the repulse of the major Japanese counteroffensive on Bougainville in the spring of 1944. The U.S. Army exercised command and furnished the XIV Corps which fought so gallantly and bore the brunt of the action in the decisive defeat of the Japanese forces seeking to eliminate the beachhead established by the I Marine Amphibious Corps. Attached to the XIV Corps, was the 3d Defense Battalion, FMF and Marine Air Groups 14 and 24. Thus, operations and events which took place on Bougainville after relief of the I Marine Amphibious Corps by the XIV Corps, U.S. Army, have been mentioned in summary alone. In the Green Islands narrative, conversely, although command did not vest in a Marine Corps Headquarters, a substantial portion of the participating units (four aviation Squadrons) were Marine, and it is necessary that the entire story--not a long one--be related in order that the reader may gain the rounded picture which will enable him to follow the Marine air operations.
One of the Northern Solomons engagements, the so-called Choiseul Diversion, has been treated in more detail, for exemplary purposes, than the much larger actions on Bougainville. The reasons for this differentiation lie in the smaller scale of the individual units--often squads, or patrols of platoon size--as well as in a desire that Marine officers be able to study, in full detail, the performance of a relatively small unit in an independent mission of importance.
For the purpose of this study, the Northern Solomons is defined as that area lying north of a line drawn from the southeastern tip of Choiseul westward past the northern tip of Vella Lavella. Although in the Bismarck Archipelago, Emirau Island is included herein because operations conducted there were directed, essentially as part of The Northern Solomons Campaign, by the South Pacific command.
Acknowledgment must be made for the generous assistance furnished by Dr. John Miller, of the Pacific Section, Historical Division, Special Staff, United States Army; Mr. J. J. Bagnall of the Collection and Dissemination Division, Central Intelligence Agency; and of course to the staff, Office of Naval Records and Library. Lieutenant Colonel R. D. Heinl, Jr., Officer-in-Charge of the Historical Section, Division of Public Information, participated extensively in the editing, cartographic planning, and final production of this work. Finally, acknowledgment is made to those officers and men who furnished additional information of historical value by submitting to interview and having their opinions and assertions duly recorded.
All statements contained herein have been documented and cited for the reader's convenience. They are as accurate as the sources from which they were drawn. In the first four chapters no effort is made to explain or excuse successes or failures. In the fifth and concluding chapter, however, surmise appears in the evaluation of the campaign and analysis of lessons learned. The first draft of this monograph was submitted to a number of the key officers and men who participated in various Northern Solomons operations, and the resultant work evolves from their criticisms and comments regarding the initial effort.
Maps and sketches in this monograph were prepared by the Reproduction Department, Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Virginia. All photographs, unless otherwise indicated, are official Marine Corps, Navy, or Army.
It is hoped that all persons with first hand experience will aid in further improvement of this study by submitting written comments or, when feasible, visiting the Historical Section, Division of Public Informaton, Headquarters Marine Corps, to make oral comments and be interviewed.
W. E. RILEY,
BRIGADIER GENERAL, U.S. MARINE CORPS,
DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF PUBLIC INFORMATION.
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