Battle of Solomons Island

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Everybody opened up with five-inch and with automatic weapons.

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The attack lasted five or six minutes, and during that time they came down one after another starting from the port bow and working around to the starboard quarter. At one time I remember seeing five Japanese dive bombers in line all the way from about 2, feet to 12, We had the old 1. Five-inch on local control did very well. They hit several planes on the nose.

Solomon Islands campaign

The tremendous number of 20mms that we were able to bring to bear on each plane caused them either to miss or to drop in flames. However, as they worked around toward the stern, where we had little firepower protection, when they came down although we hit them, they were able to take aim and we sustained three hits. One on fiveinch Gun Group Number Three; one on the flight deck aft, which penetrated down three decks; and another one just abaft the island structure on the flight deck. This was an instantaneous bomb. The one that hit Gun Group Number Three wiped out the entire group of thirty-nine men.

My impression of the battle was that if we had a little more firepower, it might have been different. It looked to me that if you had enough guns that the enemy planes would be in trouble, would have to swerve off or. The follow-up strike returned to CarDiv Five minus five planes. Leslie, skipper of Bombing Three at Midway.

New to the Avenger, he nonetheless navigated to an erroneous contact report waves breaking over a reef and back again, reaching Saratoga to make his fourth landing in a TBF—his first such landing at night. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Turner F. Frank J. Petrarca, who had repeatedly demonstrated his commitment to treating wounded soldiers without regard for his own safety, was killed when he went to the aid of a mortar victim lying in an area swept by enemy fire.

Both were awarded the Medal of Honor. To the north, at the far right of the American line, the th Infantry had not encountered prepared defenses. Moving far ahead of the regiment to its left, the th was attacked by the Japanese lurking off the American right flank. The Japanese were too few to destroy the Americans outright, but, divided into small groups, they managed to encircle and harass the American rear areas for several days. Slowed by the need to transport a growing number of wounded, the th stolidly worked back to the American line, fighting through innumerable ambushes and raids.

It was in the midst of this withdrawal that a Japanese machine gun on higher ground fired on Pvt. Rodger W. Although wounded by the first bursts, Young attacked on his own initiative until he was killed, firing and throwing hand grenades and allowing his platoon to escape. Private Young was awarded the Medal of Honor. The end came more quickly than any had foreseen. American troops reached the airfield's perimeter and encircled it on 3 August. On 4 August Bibilo Hill fell. The next day the Americans overran Munda, with 43d Division infantrymen killing or driving the remaining Japanese from their bunkers, tunnels, and pillboxes.

The capture of Munda airfield on 5 August was only one phase of the New Georgia campaign.

Battle of the Solomon Islands - WW2 Timeline (January 1942 - August 1945)

These islands had to be taken or neutralized before the Americans could continue up the Solomons chain. General Griswold had tried to prevent Japanese from escaping during the Munda operation by encircling the airfield to prevent withdrawals and trap Japanese troops, but this tactic proved only partially successful. After the airstrip was captured, Griswold sent the 27th and st Infantry Regiments of Maj. Lawton Collins' 25th Division in pursuit of the retreating Japanese north to Bairoko Harbor and northwest along the coast.

Most Japanese moved to Arundel, Kolombangara, and Baanga, leaving behind only a small detachment to contest the American advance.

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On 11 August the th Infantry moved onto Baanga, from where a pair of Japanese mm. When the Japanese resisted strongly, the d also was ordered onto the small island and into the fight. The two regiments spent ten days driving the Japanese from the southern part of Baanga, losing 52 killed, wounded, and nonbattle casualties. The remaining Japanese troops withdrew to Arundel. Admiral Halsey also wanted Arundel taken because of its important position. But there, too, because of recent undetected reinforcements and because of the difficulty of its terrain-perhaps the worst in New Georgia-Japanese resistance proved stronger than expected.

The d Infantry landed on 27 August, but additional troops were needed, and soon joining the d were the th Infantry, two battalions of the 27th Infantry, a 4. While combat on Arundel was viewed primarily as "mopping up small groups of Japanese," one 43d Division battalion commander later described the fighting on Arundel as "the most bitter combat of the New Georgia campaign. There were about 12, Japanese troops on Kolombangara, the next stronghold in the Solomons chain and site of another Japanese airfield.

Battle Archives | Tourism Solomons

The difficulty, effort, and cost involved in ejecting the Japanese from fortified jungle defenses, as on Munda, however, were not lost on Admiral Halsey. Wary of Japanese strength on Kolombangara, he had no desire for "another slugging match. Halsey endorsed the idea, recognizing that it exploited both American mobility and local air and sea superiority. He would gain his objective, a better airfield nearer to Bougainville, while avoiding a costly battle.

Japanese forces on Kolombangara would be left to "die on the vine. Under Admiral Wilkinson's command, the amphibious assault was well organized and successful. American troops advanced steadily despite logistical hardships imposed by the environment. In mid-September Maj. Barrawclough, commander of the 3d New Zealand Division, took command of Vella Lavella, and his troops assumed the pursuit. The Japanese retreated to the northwest from where many were evacuated.

To the south, the bypassed Japanese troops on Kolombangara did not wither on the vine. During three nights between 28 September and 3 October, more than 9, troops escaped to southern Bougainville in a well-organized evacuation effort. The evacuation of Kolombangara largely ended the campaign for New Georgia and the surrounding islands, a joint campaign that had proved much more involved and costly in its ground operations than had been anticipated.

American casualties were 1, dead and 3, wounded, excluding the even greater number of disease, combat fatigue, and neuropsychiatric casualties. In addition, extensive Japanese defenses in southern Bougainville augured that any ground operation there would be lengthy and costly.

Halsey's solution was to neutralize the area without landing on Bougainville, but because MacArthur wanted Halsey's airplanes available to attack Rabaul and support his own advance to Cape Gloucester scheduled for December , he directed Halsey to seize airfield sites on Bougainville around 1 November In early October the Japanese had approximately 37, troops on Bougainville and nearby islands. There were 25, soldiers in southern Bougainville and the Shortland Islands, 5, on the east coast, 5, on Bougainville's northern end and on Buka Island, and a small number around Empress Augusta Bay on the west coast.

Despite the heavy surf at Empress Augusta Bay and its proximity to Japanese airfields on southern Bougainville 65 miles and Rabaul miles , Halsey surmised that the imposing mountain range surrounding the bay's coastal plain would delay the Japanese counterattack three to four months. As invasion preparations proceeded, Lt. George C. Kenney's Fifth Air Force flying from New Guinea conducted major air attacks against Rabaul during October and November, while the Air Command, Solomons, kept the five Japanese fields on Bougainville under such pressure that they were useless by invasion day.

Edson's (Bloody) Ridge, Guadalcanal Province, Solomon Islands

As part of a deception plan to mislead the Japanese as to where the main invasion would occur, the marines harassed the Japanese on the northern half of the island for twelve days before withdrawing. Perceiving threats everywhere except in the west, the Japanese concentrated their defenses accordingly, largely ignoring the western shore.

The Empress Augusta Bay invasion on 1 November, under the command of Admiral Wilkinson, showcased the growth of American skill in conducting and supporting amphibious assaults. Despite a heavy surf that caused one transport to run aground and eighty-six landing craft to swamp and that rendered some beaches too dangerous to use, most supply ships were emptied within eight hours and 14, marines landed before nightfall. For the next two months, as the marines expanded their beachhead, the Japanese continued to believe that the main assault on Bougainville would come elsewhere.

Solomon Islands Campaign

By March the Japanese had realized their error and assembled a counterattack force. This force, some 15, to 19, strong, moved across the mountains to attack what Japanese intelligence had reported to be 30, Americans and their airfields within the beachhead. The movement of Japanese troops and supplies from all over Bougainville toward Empress Augusta Bay had been detected, however, and attack plans learned from decrypted Japanese Army messages and captured documents.