Foreign Relations of the United States, Conference at Quebec, 1944
Memorandum by the United States Chiefs of Staff 1
General Progress Report on Recent Operations in the Pacific
The enclosure, compiled from reports of the area commanders in the Pacific, is presented for the information of the Combined Chiefs of Staff.[Page 443]
Progress of Pacific and Southwest Pacific Operations, 15 November 1943-15 September 1944
1. Operations in the North Pacific have been limited to periodic air raids and surface ship bombardment of Paramushiru and Shimushu and other islands in the northern Kuriles. Concurrently the establishment of bases to support future operations in the North Pacific is being carried to completion.
2. In furtherance of the approved strategic concept of the war against Japan, the amphibious forces of the Pacific Ocean Areas, supported tactically and strategically by combatant units of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, have successively occupied principal objectives in the Gilbert, Marshall and Marianas Islands.
3. The Gilbert Islands operations were initiated on 17 November 1943, and resulted in the occupation of Tarawa, Makin, and Apamama. Tarawa was well defended. In particular the beach defenses were extensive and difficult to overcome.
4. The Marshall Islands operations were initiated the 31st of January and resulted in the occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls. This was followed by the occupation in mid-February of Eniwetok.
5. Operations for the seizure of Saipan were initiated on the 15th of June. This was followed by the occupation of Tinian and Guam in late July.
6. The next operation scheduled in this area is the occupation of the Palaus. The target date is 15 September 1944.
7. From bases established in the Marshalls and Gilberts continuous air raids have been conducted against isolated Japanese held islands. Particular attention has been given to neutralization of Truk. These operations have been coordinated with similar operations conducted from bases in the Southwest Pacific.
8. During the operations for the occupation of the Marianas strong units of the Japanese Fleet were engaged by air action from our carriers in the Philippine Seas. Severe damage was inflicted on the Japanese in this engagement.
9. The submarine campaign in the Western Pacific has been prosecuted with vigor and the results attained have been most gratifying. Heavy toll has been taken of Japanese shipping as well as of escorting forces.
10. The occupation of the Marianas has presented the opportunity for development of bases for VLR bombers for operations against [Page 444] Japan Proper. Preparations for conducting these operations are underway with all speed.
11. Operations in the South Pacific have been principally harassing operations against the isolated Japanese garrisons by air forces. The Royal New Zealand Air Force participated in combat missions with U.S. Army and Navy air units from bases in the South Pacific. The South Pacific area is being progressively “rolled-up.” Bases developed in that area are currently being used for rehabilitation of troops for further operations in the Western Pacific. The naval base at Espiritu Santo has proved very useful in repairing battle damage. Repairs have been successfully accomplished on all classes of ships.
12. On 15 February, the 3rd New Zealand Division (less one brigade) seized Green Island.
13. A U.S. task force landed in the Arawe area of New Britain on 15 December 1943 and terminated organized enemy resistance on 16 January 1944.
14. One U.S. marine division, supported by Allied air and naval forces, landed in the Gloucester area on 26 December 1943 and succeeded in capturing the airfields by 30 December. Japanese killed were 3,686 as against our losses of 326. As a result of the Arawe and Cape Gloucester operations, western New Britain was secured by the middle of March.
15. Preceded by heavy naval and air bombardment, a successful, unopposed landing was made near Saidor on 2 January 1944. The airstrip was captured and ready for landing of transport aircraft by 7 January. Commencing 16 January, the remainder of the U.S. division employed reinforced the original landing. In expanding the beachhead, only weak resistance was encountered.
16. One U.S. cavalry division, supported by naval and air force units, made initial landings in the Admiralty Islands on 29 February 1944. The landing was made in Hayne Harbor, Los Negros Island, against little resistance and Momote airdrome was seized on D-day. Several enemy counterattacks were repulsed resulting in large Japanese casualties and by 23 March enemy forces on Los Negros were completely surrounded. Adjacent islands in the group were reduced and occupied and by the middle of April complete control of the Admiralty Islands had been obtained.
17. Two independent task forces, under the command of the Sixth Army, made simultaneous landings at Aitape and Hollandia on 22 [Page 445] April 1944. Landings were preceded by heavy naval bombardment and air strafing attacks.
- The Hollandia Task Force made landings in the Humboldt Bay and Tanahmerah Bay areas respectively and formed a pincers movement in attacking the three airstrips. Only slight enemy resistance was encountered and by 1 May control of the area had been definitely established.
- The Aitape Task Force established landings against practically no opposition and the airdrome was reported operational by 25 April.
- The element of surprise played an important part in the success of both operations resulting in an estimated 54,000 troops to the eastward being cut off.
18. A U.S. task force, supported by air and naval forces, made unopposed landings on Wakde Island and near Arara on 17 May 1944. All enemy resistance on Wakde was overcome by 18 May. The Arara perimeter was extended between the Tementoe River and the Tor River on 17 May with increasing enemy resistance west of the Tor River. Strong enemy attacks failed to penetrate the perimeter and were repulsed. The task force perimeter was extended and by 3 July included the Maffin airdrome. Casualties suffered by the Japanese are 3,650 killed and 70 prisoners. Active patrolling is continuing.
19. On 27 May 1944 one U.S. infantry division, with the support of air and naval forces, made landings in the Biak Island areas and encountered little opposition initially. Enemy strength developed on 5 June and the Mokmer airstrip was crossed on 7 June under artillery, mortar and machine gun fire. Artillery fire prevented work on the Mokmer airdrome until 11 June and the enemy launched several unsuccessful counterattacks in an effort to regain the field. Boroke, Sorido and Mokmer dromes were entirely cleared of enemy artillery and small arms fire by 22 June. General patrolling and mopping up operations continue.
20. One U.S. regimental combat team, closely supported by air and naval forces, landed unopposed near the Kamiri drome on Noemfoor Island on 2 July 1944. On 3 July and 4 July three U.S. parachute battalions were dropped on the Kamiri strip, assisting the infantry. By 6 July enemy resistance had been overcome and the Kamiri, Koransoren and Namber dromes were firmly held.
21. A U.S. infantry task force made an unopposed landing near Cape Opmarai in the Cape Sansapor area on 30 July 1944. No opposition other than patrol skirmishes has been encountered and active patrolling continues. Japanese dead for the period 30 July to 10 August numbered 92.
22. Air operations conducted in the Southwest Pacific Area have been especially effective in neutralizing Japanese forces and enabling [Page 446] the Allies to conduct further offensive actions aimed at gaining complete control. In all advances, their mission in each case called for securing airfields and other bases from which to conduct further operations. Air supremacy has been achieved to such an extent that only in isolated instances are the Japanese offering any determined air resistance.
23. Australian land force activity in the Southwest Pacific Area consisted primarily of participation in the Finschhafen and Kaiapit-Dumpu operations and the occupation of the Madang-Sepik River coast line. The 9th Australian Division captured Finschhafen on 2 October 1943 and drove the remaining Jap troops to Satelberg. Satelberg fell on 29 November. Elements of the 9th Australian Division, utilizing armor to great advantage, then advanced up Huon Peninsula coast line to contact U.S. Saidor Task Force at Yaut River, southeast of Saidor, to complete occupation of Huon Peninsula on 10 February.
Simultaneously, the 7th Australian Division was deployed into the Ramu Valley to reinforce independent Australian units and to stop the threatened Jap drive overland through the Ramu-Markham Valley from Madang. The 11th Australian Division relieved the 7th Australian Division 8 January and continued the Australian advance to a final juncture with U.S. troops near Yalua on 13 April. Subsequently, U.S. troops were withdrawn and the Australian units continued pressure on the Jap forces which withdrew up the New Guinea coast toward Wewak. By 6 June Australian troops had reached Hansa Bay and are now in contact along the Sepik River.
During this period, the RAAF carried on continued attacks from the Darwin area. Australian fighter units attached to U.S. task forces were used in each of the landings along the New Guinea coast as the initial occupation forces with their light P–40’s.
They operated in the advance airdromes before the airdromes were suitable for the operation of U.S. units equipped with heavier aircraft.
The Netherlands East Indies Air Forces operating in the Southwest Pacific Area consist of the 18th Medium Bomber Squadron and the 120th Fighter Squadron. Elements of these forces participated in daily bombing and strafing strikes against enemy shipping and installations in the Aroe-Tanimbar-Kai and Timor areas.
24. Future operations in this area will advance our forces into the southern and central Philippines via Morotai, Talaud, Sarangani and the Leyte-Samar area, with a target date of 20 December for Leyte-Samar.2