Fight on Pacific ocean in 1943-1945.

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by Mitya, Jun 29, 2008.

  1. Mitya

    Mitya Member

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    Whether will help with a question of war on Pacific ocean in 1943-1945?
    Everything, that at me is. I am interested especially with war in air. What forces and means (types of machines, their quantity{amount}) were used in the basic battles on Pacific ocean at this time. Full descriptions of battles. It would be very healthy, if all this with maps...
    I know the basic battles. In general. It would be desirable to learn in more details.
     

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  2. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    where would you like to start....this is a HUGE subject. Best to break it down a bit before we begin. Probably the best place are the initial attacks...Pearl, Fze Z, Malaya, the Philipinnes
     
  3. Mitya

    Mitya Member

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    I am interested with the period 1943-1945
     
  4. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    As many of the frequent members of the forum know, I enjoy discussing the battles in the PTO and CBI.

    As a start .....

    For the AAF:
    5th AF and 13th AF fought in the Solomons and New Guinie. They merged together in late 1944 to become the FEAF (Far East Air Force's).

    7th AF fought in the Central Pacific.

    11th AF was up in the Aleutions.

    10th and 14th AF's were in China and Burma.

    20th AF (with B29's) started in India and China but ended up in the Mariana Islands untill the end of the war.
     
  5. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    I can give some account of the operations in PNG, starting in January '43. I thought the best way of getting the broad details right would be to approach the issue on a mopnth by month basis, with side discussions on matters of intersts, orders of battle and the like

    I will admit that I will probably just cut and paste from various sources that I have, because it would otherwise take a month of sundays to write the thing myself.

    This opening post is based mostly on Lt Colonels Pamphlet on the fighting in PNG. Drea was attached to the US war college, answerable to General Sullivan at the end of the war

    Strategic Setting

    In January 1943 the Allied and the Japanese forces facing each other on New Guinea were like two battered heavyweights. Round one had gone to the Americans and Australians who had ejected the Japanese from Papua, New Guinea. After three months of unimaginative frontal attacks had overcome a well-entrenched foe, General Douglas MacArthur, the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA) commander, had his airstrip and staging base at Buna on the north coast. It was expensive real estate. About 13,000 Japanese troops perished during the terrible fighting, but Allied casualties were also heavy; 8,500 men fell in battle (5,698 of them Australians) and 27,000 cases of malaria were reported, mainly because of shortages of medical supplies. Besides ruining the Australian 7th and U.S. 32d Infantry Divisions, the campaign had severely taxed the Australian 5th and U.S. 41st Infantry Divisions. The exhausted Americans needed six months to reconstitute before their next operation. Australian ground forces, despite heavier losses, became the front line of defense against the Japanese who, though bloodied, were ready for round two.

    To block the Allied counteroffensives on New Guinea and in the Solomons, Tokyo dispatched thousands of reinforcements to its great bastion at Rabaul, New Britain. On 9 November 1942, Eighth Area Army, commanded by Lt. Gen. Hitoshi Imamura, opened on Rabaul. Eighteenth Army, commanded by Lt. Gen. Hatazo Adachi, was organized the same day and subordinated to Eighth Area Army. Adachi took charge of operations on New Guinea. Despite their defeat at Buna and the heavy losses in the continuing struggle for Guadalcanal, in January 1943 Japan still held the preponderant air, naval, and ground strength in the Southwest Pacific and retained the strategic initiative in New Guinea. With these advantages, they planned to strike again for Port Moresby.

    Japanese construction battalions had transformed the prewar airfield and harbor at Lae, North East New Guinea, into a major air base and anchorage on the Huon Gulf. Japanese infantrymen could land at the stronghold and then sortie under air cover to seize a forward air base at Wau, located in the malarious Bulolo Valley about 150 miles west-northwest of Buna. With Wau in hand, the Japanese could lunge forward again toward Moresby protected by an aerial umbrella. Isolated and weakly defended, the Australian airstrip at Wau seemed ripe for Eighteenth Army's picking.

    In January 1943 Eighth Area Army ordered reinforcements to Lae. Forewarned of the impending convoy by decrypted Japanese naval messages, MacArthur's air chief, Lt. Gen. George C. Kenney, commander of Allied Air Forces and U.S. Fifth Air Force, sent repeated air attacks against the enemy ships. Allied pilots sank two troop transports, damaged another, and killed 600 Japanese soldiers. Only one-third of the intended Japanese reinforcements reached Lae, and these survivors salvaged only half of their equipment. Without reinforcements, the desperate attack on Wau failed. The defeated Japanese remnants fell back into the jungle, slowly giving ground toward Lae.
     
  6. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    An excellent account of the fighting on Guadacanal from the japanese perspective. A little out of time frame, but very useful in understanding the Japanese mindset of the time, from the point of view of the common soldier

    Diary of a Japanese Veteran: "My Guadalcanal"

    The battle Of Wau

    (source is mostly wiki, but the article is very good nonetheless)

    Wau is a town in New Guinea, in the province of Morobe situated in a valley at an altitude of around 1,300 metres (4,260 ft). It was the site of a gold rush during the 1920s and 1930s when gold prospectors arrived at the coast at Salamaua and struggled inland along the Black Cat Track. The miners partially cleared the area and built houses, workshops and aerodromes and established a water supply and an electricity grid. They also constructed aerodromes at Wau and Bulolo which were the primary means of reaching the Wau-Bulolo Valley.

    Wau aerodrome was a rough Kunai grass airstrip 1,100 metres (3,600 ft) in length with a 1 in 12 slope heading directly for Mount Kaindi. Aircraft could approach from the northeast only, landing uphill and taking off downhill. This also precluded extension of the strip.[1]

    The ceiling of a fully laden Dakota transport was around 3,000 metres (9,800 ft), but the mountains of the Owen Stanley Range are up to 4,000 metres (13,000 ft) high so aircraft had to fly between the mountains rather than over them. This required good visibility, but cumulus clouds built up over the ranges in the mornings followed by showers in the afternoon. On most days, operations over Wau were possible for no more than four or five hours.

    Initially civilians were evacuated from Wau by air but as the Japanese drew closer – bombing Wau on 23 January 1942 – it became too dangerous to fly without fighter escort, which was unavailable. This left some 250 European and Asian men stranded. These refugees made a hazardous journey over the Owen Stanley Range on foot by way of Kudjeru and Tekadu to Bulldog, a disused mining settlement where there was an aerodrome, and thence down the Lakekamu River to the sea.[2]

    With the feasibility of the route thus demonstrated, New Guinea Force decided to establish a line of communications to Wau via Bulldog. A platoon of the 1st Independent Company left Port Moresby in a schooner and traversed the route, joining the men of the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles holding the Wau area.[3] This was the beginning of what became Kanga Force on 23 April 1942

    Apart from a raid on Salamaua in June 1942, Kanga Force accomplished very little. However, Wau soon occupied an important place in the strategy of General Sir Thomas Blamey, the Commander Allied land Forces, South West Pacific Area, who was concurrently commanding New Guinea Force.

    At the time, the Japanese held air superiority over the Solomon Sea, precluding airborne or seaborne operations against the Japanese base at Lae. General Blamey therefore decided that he would have to capture Lae with a land campaign. The Bulldog Track would be upgraded to a highway capable of carrying trucks, and tanks - capable of supporting a division that would advance overland on Lae.

    Lieutenant General Hitoshi Imamura, the commander of the Japanese Eighth Area Army, correctly deduced his opponent's intentions and the strength of Kanga Force and resolved to head off the danger to Lae by capturing Wau. On 29 December 1942, he ordered the 102nd Infantry Regiment and other units under the command to Major General Tooru Okabe to move from Rabaul to Lae and then move inland to capture Wau.

    Adachi was up against a resourceful, resolute and aggressive opponent, who also had access to good intelligence. Allied Ultra codebreakers were reading the Japanese shipping codes, and Blamey knew in advance about the force that Adachi was planning to send from Rabaul to Lae, although not its ultimate destination. [6] Rather than wait and see how events developed, he immediately ordered the 17th Infantry Brigade to move from Milne Bay to Wau on 4 January 1943. Its commander, Brigadier Murray Moten was ordered to assume command of Kanga Force and defend Wau.

    the first group of the 17th Infantry Brigade, the 2/6th Infantry Battalion, embarked for Port Moresby on 9 January 1943. The rest of the battalion followed over the next two nights. The 2/7th Infantry Battalion embarked on the Army transport Taroona on 13 January and the 2/5th on Duntroon the next day.[10]

    The prospects of beating the Japanese to Wau did not look good. Only 28 Dakotas of the U.S. 374th Troop Carrier Group were available in New Guinea, and these had to be shared with the Buna front. Between 10 and 19 January, the 2/6th Infantry Battalion was flown in from Port Moresby to reinforce Kanga Force. In the process, there were three crashes. Poor flying weather forced many aircraft to return without landing. Brigadier Moten was twice forced to return to Port Moresby before reaching Wau on the third attempt. Bad weather continued over the following week, limiting air operations and sometimes precluding them entirely. Part of the 2/5th Infantry Battalion arrived on 27 January.[11]

    The Japanese encountered a platoon of the 2/7th Independent Company under Captain Geoffrey Bowen. A brief action followed in which Bowen was killed, and the Australians retreated back to Skindewai. However, instead of pursuing them, Okabe chose to advance on Wau down an old and seldom used track running parallel to the Black Cat Track through difficult country and the two sides lost contact. Okabe thereby disguised the strength and objective of his force, and took the Australians by surprise. By 27 January, he was in sight of Wau. However, the rugged march took longer than he had anticipated, and his rations had begun to run short.[9]

    Standing in the way was A Company of the 2/6th Infantry Battalion under Captain W. H. Sherlock. Okabe ordered an all-out attack on Sherlock's position on 28 January. Sherlock was forced from his position and retreated onto a nearby spur. For much of the afternoon, frontal Japanese attacks were repelled by Australian mortar and machine gun fire, and efforts to infiltrate Sherlock's positions were defeated by a bayonet attack led by Sherlock in person. By 18:00, Sherlock was still holding on, but his mortar ammunition had run out and his small arms ammunition was running short, and his position was being plastered with mortar rounds and swept by machine gun fire. Sherlock held on through the night and was killed the next day trying to break through the Japanese lines.[12]

    A Company's sacrifice was not in vain. On 28 January, the weather cleared and a record 60 planeloads arrived at Wau, bringing in 814 men before air operations were suspended in the early afternoon. The fighting at Buna had ended on 23 January, freeing up aircraft to support Wau, and 52 brand-new Dakotas of U.S. 317th Troop Carrier Group had arrived in Australia, their movement from the United States having been expedited in response to urgent requests from General Douglas MacArthur arising from the Buna fighting. After a quick maintenance check, they were flown up to Port Moresby to help the U.S. 374th Troop Carrier Group fly the 17th Infantry Brigade in to Wau. This meant that up to 40 aircraft were now available daily.

    On 29 January, 57 planeloads arrived, bringing most of the 2/7th Infantry Battalion and the remainder of the 2/5th. Although subjected to small arms fire as they came in and unloaded, 40 aircraft made 66 trips that day. Their cargo included two dismantled 25 pounders of the 2/1st Field Regiment with 688 rounds of ammunition. These were landed in the morning and in action in the early afternoon, engaging a concentration of 300 enemy troops between the villages of Wandumi and Kaisenik. The Japanese were also engaged by Beaufighters of No. 30 Squadron RAAF flying close air support. On 31 January, 35 aircraft made 71 trips and on 1 February 40 aircraft made 53 trips, bringing reinforcements including the 2/3rd Independent Company that brought the strength of Kanga Force to over 3,000 men. Three Dakotas were lost over the three days.[11] For its part in the battle, the 374th Troop Carrier Group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation.[13]

    Japanese attacks on 30 January succeeded in reaching the corner of the airstrip but were forced to fall back under enormous pressure. By 4 February, Okabe was threatened with encirclement and was forced to order a withdrawal.[9] In an attempt to shut down the transports on 6 February, ten Japanese fighters attacked a flight of Dakotas escorted by eight P-39s. One Dakota was shot down. Meanwhile about nine bombers and 20 fighters struck Wau, damaging the strip and destroying a CAC Wirraway.[7] With all hope of capturing Wau gone, Okabe was ordered to abandon the attempt and withdrew to Mubo.[9]
     

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  7. Mitya

    Mitya Member

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    Thank. Has translated. Esteemed. We shall make results. Fight for Guadalcanal proceeded since August, 7 1942 on February, 7, 1943. Japanese have sufferred here defeat. And they had been lost the strategic initiative.
    During battles for Guadalcanal there were 3 large battles on land and 5 on the sea.
    And what is known about war in air? Forces of the parties {sides}, parts... Whether there Is a description what - be air operation? Saburo Sakai have just been wounded near Guadalcanal. And on the part of Americans there is a description of fights?
    On Pacific ocean operated at Americans: 5 Air Army (P-47?), 20 AA, 7 AA. The basic weight of fights as I think, the USA have born {have taken out} F4F from Naval Forces. Whether were P-40, P-38, P-39, P-40, P-51, Spitfire in fight for Guadalcanal?
    On Pacific ocean took part Spit-IIIV from: 54, 79, 452, 453, 548, 549 squad. And whether there were they there?
    And still. And there is something similar on the American and English divisions The Luftwaffe, 1933-45 ?
     
  8. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    54sqn RAF (Spitfire MkVc and later VIII) was based soley in Darwin, Australia and was part of the Spitfire wing that defended Darwin during the air raids of 1943.

    548 and 549 sqn RAF (MkVIII) were formed in Australia in Dec 1943 and were based entirely in the Darwin area. They did not see any aerial combat.

    79 sqn RAAF (MkVc and VIII) saw action whilst based on Goodenough Is, Trobriand Is. Los Negros Is and finally at Morotai.

    452 sqn RAAF (MkVc and MKVIII) defended Darwin from Jan 43 - Jan 45 after which they deployed to Morotai and finally Tarakan which is just off Borneo.

    457 sqn RAAF (MkVc and MkVIII) defended Darwin from Jan 43 - Feb 45 before deploying to Morotai then Labuan off Borneo.
     
  9. Mitya

    Mitya Member

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    Instead of could prompt me what types of planes took part in this battle? F4F-3/4 - the basic of machines for that moment in fleet. Whether were P-40, P-39, P-38, P-47 there? And, if were, whether that is not present figures how many them there was? F4U just debuted there. I know it. And how to be with other types? :?:
     
  10. magnocain

    magnocain Member

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    The Battle of the Surigao Straight In the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the USS Mississippi fired on the sinking IJN Yamashiro. This was the last time in history that a battleship fired on another. The shots missed.
     
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