Korean War: Establishing the Pusan Perimeter (15)

The 25th Division Moves South: Dawn of 1 August found the U.S. 25th Division moving to new defensive positions south of Sangju on the central front. At 1500 that afternoon a telephone message from Eighth Army headquarters to General Kean abruptly changed division plans. Eighth Army alerted the division for movement south to Samnangjin on the Naktong River. There it was to deny enemy movement eastward and prepare to attack westward.  

An advance party of the division headquarters left Poksong-dong an hour after midnight, 2 August. That morning General Kean and his party followed by plane, stopping at Taegu for a conference at Eighth Army headquarters. At the conference, General Walker changed the destination of the division from Samnangjin to Masan. General Kean informed the division units en route of the change in orders, employing every type of communication available, from runner to radio. 

[N2-25-2Ibid., 2 Aug 50; 24th Inf WD, 6-31 Jul 50, p. 42; 2nd Bn, 24th Inf, WD, 1-31 Aug 50. 1 25th Div WD, 1 Aug 50. 3 Notes by Landrum for author, recd 8 Mar 54.]

 There was only one road for the movement of the 25th Division. This ran south from Sangju to Kumchon and then southeast to Waegwan on the Naktong River. Travel as far as Waegwan would be by foot and motor, from Waegwan to Masan by rail. The Kumchon Waegwan road was the main supply road to the central front. Accordingly, there was ample opportunity for conflict, confusion, and delay in the movement of supplies north and of the 25th Division south over this road. Eighth Army headquarters recognized this danger. Colonel Landrum made available from headquarters to the army G-3 Section all the officers he could spare to assist in the orderly control of the 25th Division movement. These officers concentrated their attention at points where road restrictions or the presence or movement of other units threatened trouble.

 Equal or even greater effort had to be made to assure that the necessary rail equipment would be at hand to carry the division from Waegwan southward. At the time, with the enemy pushing the front back everywhere, there was a great demand for rail equipment to evacuate supplies and troops. Congestion in rail yards was almost indescribable. Units seeking transportation commandeered locomotives, cars jammed the tracks, native refugees crowded into cars, and general chaos threatened. The ROK 17th Regiment, moving southwest at this time to buttress the sagging 24th Division front in the Kochang area, further complicated the traffic problem. Without the planning, supervision, and hard work of American transportation troops, the Korean rail system would have failed at this time. [N25-4 See Col E. C. R. Lasher, “A Transport Miracle Saved Pusan,” Transportation Journal (November-December, 1950), pp. 12-13.] 

The loading of heavy equipment and weapons, such as the 155-mm. howitzers, went on all during the night of 2-3 August at Waegwan. The last of the troops arrived on trucks of the 73rd Truck Company at 0530, 3 August. These dust-caked men and their equipment, loaded into boxcars and gondolas, were on their way to the new front at 0600. An hour later the last of the division equipment had been loaded into cars and was on its way to Masan. 

The main party of the 25th Division command post arrived at Masan at 2115, 2 August, after an all-day ride. Of the combat units, the 35th Infantry moved first, closing at Masan at 1000, 3 August. The 24th Infantry arrived at 1930 that evening. General Kean reached Masan during the day and assumed command of all the U.N. troops south of the Naktong River. The 25th Division completed the 150-mile move by foot, motor, and rail within a 36-hour period.

General Walker said that this “history making maneuver” saved Pusan. He said also that had the North Koreans attacked strongly on the Kumchon front while the division was passing over the single road through Kumchon, “we couldn’t have done it.” In recognizing the critical nature of the situation in the southwest and in acting with great energy and decisiveness to meet it, General Walker and his staff conceived and executed one of the most important command decisions of the Korean War. United Nations Forces Withdraw Behind the Naktong  

By the end of July, the enemy pressure that forced General Walker to move the 25th Division from the central to the southern front forced on him also, partly as a consequence of that move, the decision to withdraw Eighth Army across the Naktong. The withdrawal was planned to start the night of 1 August.

 On 30 July the 34th Infantry of the 24th Division, driven from Kochang, was in a defensive position near Sanje-ri astride the road to Hyopchon and the Naktong River. That day, the 21st Infantry Regiment—except for C Company and a section of 81-mm. mortars, still at Yongdok on the east coast, and the 3rd Battalion, just attached to the 1st Cavalry Division—crossed the Naktong and took a position behind the 34th Infantry. The ROK 17th Regiment also arrived and occupied the high ground on the right (north) of the 34th Infantry. The next morning the 34th Infantry withdrew behind the 21st Infantry. Colonel Stephens then assumed command of both the 21st and the 34th Regiments on oral orders from General Church.

[N25-8 21st Inf WD, 30-31 Jul 50; 24th Div WD, 31 Jul 50; Interv, author with Beauchamp, 24 Sep 52; Ltr, Beauchamp to author, 7 Apr 53; Stephens, MS review comments, Dec 57]

After the 34th Infantry withdrew through the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry, Colonel Stephens moved the ROK 17th Regiment back abreast of his troops, with one battalion on either flank and one in reserve. The next day, 1 August,North Koreans attacked both flanks. The ROK’s repulsed them. General Church initially had intended that the ROK 17th Regiment would pass through the mountains around the flank of the North Koreans and attack from their rear while the 34th and 21st Regiments held them in front. But the army order for withdrawal came before this could be done.

 The ROK 17th Regiment at this time had a high reputation. Colonel Kim, the commander, a small man of twenty-eight years, commanded the respect of his officers and men. In a conference at this time, General Church asked Colonel Kim if his ROK’s would hold their part of the line. He answered, “We will stay as long as the Americans.” He was believed implicitly by those present.

[N25-9 Interv, author with Church, 25 Sep 52; Interv, author with Cheek, 5 Aug 51; Interv, author with Maj Charles R. Alkire (S-2, 21st Inf), 1 Aug 51; Interv, author with Colonel Richard W. Stephens, 8 Oct 51.]

On 1 August Eighth Army issued an operational directive to all United Nations ground forces in Korea for their planned withdrawal behind the Naktong. It confirmed oral and fragmentary orders already issued to units on their redeployment to the main defensive positions of the Pusan Perimeter.

[25-10 EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, an. 3, 1 Aug 50. Annex 3 includes a copy of the directive, Plan D. ]

 At 0945, 2 August, Colonel Stephens received Eighth Army’s order to withdraw. He at once sent the 34th Infantry across the Naktong to the Yongsan area. During the day, while the 21st Infantry and the ROK 17th Regiment fended off enemy probing attacks, he made plans to complete the withdrawal that night to the east side of the Naktong.

[N25-11 21st Inf WD, 2 Aug 50; 24th Div WD, 2 Aug 50. The 24th Division received the Eighth Army Directive, dated 1 August 1950, at 020230]

The withdrawal east across the Naktong by the 21st Infantry proceeded smoothly during the night of 2-3 August. The last of the regiment crossed the Koryong-Taegu bridge forty-five minutes past midnight, followed by the 14th Engineer Combat Battalion two hours later. The ROK 17th Regiment, covering the withdrawal of the other units (Colonel Stephens remained with it), crossed the river at 0630, 3 August. Engineers unsuccessfully tried to blow the bridge at 0715. During the day the 3rd Engineer Combat Battalion again prepared it for demolition and dropped it that night. The preceding night, at 2200, the engineers blew the other Naktong River bridge in the 24th Division sector. It was twenty air miles south of the Koryong bridge and connected Chogye with Changnyong, 24th Division headquarters. [N25-12]  

On the evening of 3 August, the third regiment of the division, the 19th Infantry, was relieved in its position at the Chungam-ni Notch west of Masan by the 35th Infantry of the 25th Division. It then moved northeast across the Naktong to the command post of the 24th Division at Changnyong, arriving there the next day. From the time of its commitment in Korea on 13 July to 4 August, the 19th Regiment had lost 80 percent of its ¼-ton trucks, 50 percent of its ¾-ton trucks, and 33 percent of its 2½-ton trucks. Low on all supplies, it found individual clothing, hand grenades, 4.2-in mortar ammunition, and flares and illumination shells all but impossible to obtain.[N25-13]  

Simultaneous with the movement of the 24th Division to the east side of the Naktong, the 1st Cavalry Division, next in line above it, began withdrawing on army orders from the Chirye-Kumchon area to Waegwan on the east side of the river. The division withdrew without difficulty, except for the 5th Cavalry Regiment. This regiment, the last in the march order, was heavily engaged and one battalion nearly lost. By nightfall of 3 August, however, all units of the division were across the Naktong except the rear guard of the 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, which had been blocking on the Songju road, southwest of the Waegwan bridges.[N25-14]  

[N25-12 24th Div WD, 3-4 Aug 50; 21st Inf WD, 2-3 Aug 50; 24th Div G-3 Jnl, Msg 483, 022330 Aug 50; EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, 3 Aug 50. ]

[N25-13 19th Inf WD, 22 Jul-4 Aug 50; Ibid., 22 Jul25 Aug 50, Logistics Sec. ]

[N26-14 Ltr, Gay to author, and attached notes, 24 Aug 50; EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, 3 Aug 50, Msg from 1st Cav Div. ] 

The main line railroad bridges and the highway bridge across the Naktong at Waegwan were to be blown as soon as all units of the 1st Cavalry Division had crossed. These bridges were the most important on the river. General Gay, in arranging for their destruction, gave orders that no one but himself could order the bridges blown. At dusk on 3 August, thousands of refugees crowded up to the bridges on the west side of the river, and repeatedly, as the rear guard of the 8th Cavalry would start across the bridge, the mass of refugees would follow. The division commander ordered the rear guard to return to the west side and hold back the refugees. When all was ready the troops were to run across to the east side so that the bridge could be blown. This plan was tried several times, but in each instance the refugees were on the heels of the rear guard. Finally, when it was nearly dark, General Gay, feeling that he had no alternative, gave the order to blow the bridge. It was a hard decision to make, for hundreds of refugees were lost when the bridge was demolished.

[N25-15 Ltr, Gay to author, 24 Aug 50; EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, 3 Aug 50; Ibid., POR 66, 3 Aug 50.]

The refugee problem was a constant source of trouble and danger to the U.N. Command during the early part of the war. During the middle two weeks of July it was estimated that about 380,000 refugees had crossed into ROK-held territory, and that this number was increasing at the rate of 25,000 daily. The refugees were most numerous in the areas of enemy advance. In July and by the end of July 1950, the South Korean government had established fifty-eight refugee camps, most of them in the Pusan-Taegu area, to care for the homeless people. August 1950, the volume of refugees moving through U.N. lines was greater than at any other time in the war. With the destruction of the Waegwan bridges, Eighth Army by the morning of 4 August had destroyed all the bridges across the Naktong on its front. Its troops were in defensive positions on the east bank awaiting enemy crossings.

 On a line curving north and east from Waegwan, the divisions of the ROK Army also withdrew across the river, coordinating their moves with Eighth Army on the night of 2-3 August. In this movement, the ROK forces had some severe fighting. The ROK 1st Division was heavily engaged north of the river on 2 August, while the 16th Regiment of the ROK 8th Division was even more heavily engaged by the N.K. 12th Division at Andong. [N25-16] 

It was evident in the last days of July and the first of August that General Walker was concerned about the failure of his troops to carry out orders to maintain contact with the enemy. In preparing for the withdrawal to the Perimeter position, on 30 July he had ordered all units to maintain such contact. Three days later conditions compelled him to repeat the order with the injunction that division commanders give it their personal attention. Later in the day he thought it necessary to issue still another directive which ordered, “Daily counterattacks will be made by all units. . . . Commanders will take immediate and aggressive action to insure that these and previous instructions to this effect are carried out without delay.” “Counterattack,” Walker said, “is a decisive elm [element] of the defense.” [N25-17]  

[N25-16 EUSAK WD, Opn Directive in G-3 an., 1 Aug 50; Ibid., POR 61, 2 Aug 50; GHQ UNC G-3 Opn Rpts 38 and 39, 1-2 Aug 50; GHQ UNC, Telecon TT3619, 3 Aug 50. ]

  The Naktong River Line, as many called it, was the vital position where Eighth Army intended to make its stand. On 4 August, General Church issued to the 24th Division an order typical of those issued to American troops at this time. He directed that every man in the division know the order. It said: Defensive and alternate positions must be prepared, routes reconnoitered, intensive patrolling of the river at night, communications perfected, and each individual know his job. There will be no withdrawal nor need there be any if each and every one contributes his share to the preparation, and, if attacked, has the will to fight it out here.

 Every soldier will under all circumstances retain his weapon, ammunition, and his entrenching tool. Without these he ceases to be a soldier capable of defending himself. Many of our losses have been occasioned by failure to dig a foxhole when the time permitted.[N25-18]

[N25-17 EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, Msg at 301850 Jul 50; Ibid., G-3 Sec, Msg at 020845 Aug 50; Ibid., G-3 Sec, 2 Aug 50. ]

[N25-18 24th Div WD, G-2 Jnl, 2-5 Aug 50, entry 232, 4 Aug 50. ]

 The Pusan Perimeter

 The Pusan Perimeter positions taken up by the American and ROK forces on 4 August enclosed a rectangular area about 100 miles from north to south and about 50 miles from east to west. The Naktong River formed the western boundary of the Perimeter except for the southernmost 15 miles below the point where it turned eastward after its confluence with the Nam. The Sea of Japan formed the  

eastern boundary, and the Korea Strait the southern boundary. An irregular curved line through the mountains from above Waegwan to Yongdok formed the northern boundary. Yongdok on the east coast stood at the northeast corner of the Perimeter, Pusan was at the southeast corner, Masan at the southwest corner, and Taegu near the middle from north to south, but only about 10 miles from the western and threatened side of the Perimeter. From Pusan, Masan is 30 air miles west, Taegu 55 miles northwest, Pohang-dong 60 miles northeast, Yongdok 90 miles northeast. With the exception of the delta of the Naktong and the east-west valley between Taegu and Pohang-dong, the ground is rough and mountainous. The mountains are particularly forbidding in the northeast above Pohang-dong.  

In planning for the defense of the Perimeter, Eighth Army believed it needed at least two reserve forces, one in the vicinity of Kyongsan, 10 miles southeast of Taegu, which it could use to bolster any part of the line in the center and in the Pohang-dong area of the east coast, and another in the vicinity of Samnangjin-Miryang, which it could use against any threatened or actual enemy breakthrough along the lower Naktong or the Masan corridor. 

General Walker reported to the Far East Command at this time that he thought the 24th Division would have to be completely rehabilitated before it could be effective. He also doubted that the 25th Division had offensive capabilities. He intended to use the 30,000 ROK trainees, he said, mostly to bring the existing ROK divisions to full strength. After that was done, he would begin the organization of new ROK divisions.[N25-20] 

The de]ployment of U.N. forces on the arc curving from the southwest to the northeast as the battle of the Perimeter opened was as follows: U.S. 25th Infantry Division, U.S. 24th Infantry Division, U.S. 1st Cavalry Division, and then the ROK 1st, 6th, 8th,Capital, and 3rd Divisions, in that order.  

In the southwest, Eighth Army had hoped to anchor the line near the coast on the Chinju pass, but the enemy had forced the line eastward to a point just west of Chindong-ni, whence it ran northward from the coast to the Nam River below Uiryong, a few miles west of the confluence of the Nam and the Naktong. The 27th, 24th, and 35th Regiments of the 25th Division were on line in that order, south to north, with some ROK’s (Task Force Min) interspersed among them, particularly in the 24th Infantry sector. The division command post was at Masan.[N25-21] In addition, General Kean had at hand the 5th Regimental Combat Team, attached to the 25th Division, and the 89th Medium Tank Battalion.

 [N25-20 Memo, Hickey for CofS FEC, 7 Aug 50; sub: Report on Visit to Korea. ]

[N25-21 25th Div WD, 4 Aug 50; Ibid., Summ, Aug 50; 35th Inf Unit Hist, 3-4 Aug 50; 27th Inf WD, 3rd Bn, 27th Inf, Hist Rpt, Aug 50; EUSAK Opn Directive 031830 Aug 50. The 25th Division now had the normal 9 battalions in its 3 regiments. An Eighth Army radio message on 3 August ordered the 1st and 3rd Battalions, 29th Infantry, attached to the 25th Division. The division, in turn, on 6 August attached the 1st Battalion to the 35th Infantry and the next day attached the 3rd Battalion to the 27th Regiment, as their third battalions.]

 Opposite the 25th Division stood the N.K. 6th Division and the 83rd Motorized Regiment of the 105th Armored Division. Next on the U.N. line was the U.S. 24th Division. Its zone lay north of the Nam and along the east bank of the Naktong for 25 air miles, or about 40 miles of river front. The 34th and 21st Infantry Regiments and the ROK 17th Regiment were on line in that order, south to north. The 19th Infantry was in division reserve, re-equipping after arriving from the Masan front on 4 August. The 21st Infantry front was so long that Colonel Stephens, the regimental commander, placed seven .50caliber machine guns with crews from the 14th Engineer Combat Battalion in the main line of resistance. The division command post had now moved to Miryang.

 Eighth Army on 3 August defined the boundary between the 24th and 25th Divisions as the south bank of the Naktong River, and made the commanding general of the 24th Division responsible for bridges, ferries, and small boats along the stream. General Church was to remove to the north bank, and destroy as he deemed advisable, all boats and ferries, and to prepare all bridges for demolition and blow them at his discretion. At this time, Eighth Army planned for the 9th and 23rd Regiments of the 2nd Infantry Division to relieve the 24th Division in its sector of the line the night of 8 August, but events were to make this impossible.[N25-22 EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 3 Aug 50, Msg at 031130; Ibid., 4 Aug 50, Plan for Relief of 24th Inf Div.]

Opposite the 24th Division stood the N.K. 4th Division. Above the 24th Division, the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division extended the line 18 air miles to a point 3 miles north of Waegwan. The actual river line was about 35 miles. The 7th Cavalry (less the 1st Battalion, which was in division reserve), the 8th Cavalry, and the 5th Cavalry Regiments were in position in the division sector, in that order from south to north. The division command post was at Taegu. Taegu, also Eighth Army headquarters, lay about 10 miles east of the Naktong River behind the center of the 1st Cavalry Division front.[N25-23] Opposite the 1st Cavalry Division was the N.K. 3rd Division.

 The three American divisions each had fronts to defend from 20 to 40 miles long. The Naktong River Line at this time resembled closely the German front before Moscow after the first German withdrawal in 1941, when Guderian’s divisions each had a front of 25 to 35 miles to defend.[N25-24]  

North of Waegwan, the ROK 1st and 6th Divisions of the ROK II Corps extended the line north along the Naktong for 20 more air miles, and thence northeast for about 10 miles toward Uisong. From there the 8th and Capital Divisions of the ROK I Corps continued the line northeast through Uisong where it turned east toward Yongdok on the coast. On the east coast the ROK 3rd Division held the right anchor of the U.N. line. The ROK Army headquarters was at Taegu with a forward command post at Sinnyong. ROK I Corps headquarters was at Uisong; ROK II Corps headquarters at Kunwi.[N25-25]

 [N25-23 1st Cav Div WD, G-2 Narr Rpt, Aug 50; EUSAK WD, POR 66, 3 Aug 50.]

[N25-24 Guderian, Panzer Leader, p. 265.]

[N25-25 EUSAK WD, POR 64, 3 Aug 50; GHQ UNC Sitrep, 5 Aug 50.] 

North of Waegwan, the N.K. 15th and part of the 13th Divisions faced the ROK 1st Division; eastward, part of the N.K. 13th and the 1st Division faced the ROK 6th Division; beyond them the N.K. 8th Division stood in front of the ROK 8th Division; next in line, the N.K. 12th Division confronted the ROK Capital Division below Andong; and, finally, on the east coast the N.K. 5th Division and the 766th Independent Infantry Regiment faced the ROK 3rd Division.[N25-26]  

In summary then, the ROK Army held the east half of the line from a point just above Waegwan; the U.S. Eighth Army held the west or southern part. The ROK sector extended for about 80 air miles; the Eighth Army’s for about 65 air miles. The ROK troops held the most mountainous portions of the line and the part with the poorest lines of communications.

 The North Korean Army comprised two corps: I Corps controlled operations generally along the western side of the perimeter opposite the American units; IICorps controlled operations along the northern or eastern half of the perimeter opposite the ROK units. This enemy corps alignment remained unchanged throughout the Pusan Perimeter period of the war.[N25-27]  

[N25-26 ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issues 99, 94, 104, 100, 96, 3, and 4; GHQ UNC Telecon TT3619, 3 Aug 50; TT3623, 4 Aug 50; TT3630, 7 Aug 50. GHQ UNC Sitrep, 6 Aug 50, and TT3623 have the]

[N25-27 GHQ FEC, History of the N.K. Army, 31 Jul 52, pp. 41-42.] 

N.K. 2nd Division opposite the ROK 1st Division. Actually, the enemy 2nd Division was in a rest area behind the line. The N.K. 1st Division entered the Perimeter battle 8 August, after resting at Hamchang several days and taking in several thousand replacements.  

The N.K. Army had activated its I Corps at Pyongyang about 10 June 1950, its II Corps at the same place about 12 June 1950. In early August 1950, the N.K. I Corps included the 3rd, 4th, and 6th (later also the 2nd,7th, 9th, and 10th) Divisions; II Corps included the1st, 5th, 8th,12th, 13th, and 15th Divisions. Tanks and personnel of the 105th Armored Division were divided between the two corps and supported both of them.  

The establishment of the Pusan Perimeter may be considered as a dividing line in viewing and appraising the combat behavior of the American soldier in the Korean War. The Pusan Perimeter for the first time gave something approaching a continuous line of troops. With known units on their left and right and some reserves in the rear, the men showed a stronger disposition to fight. Before the Pusan Perimeter, all through July and into the first days of August, there was seldom a continuous line beyond a battalion or a regimental position. Both flanks were generally wide open, and enemy troops moving through the hills could easily turn a defensive position. Supporting troops were seldom within reach. American soldiers, realizing the isolated nature of their positions, often would not stay to fight a losing battle. Few in July 1950 saw any good reason for dying in Korea; with no inspiring incentive to fight, self-preservation became the dominating factor.

 U.S. Air Action and Build-up in the First Month

Air support, tactical and strategical, and the state of logistics at the end of July after the first month of war both exercised continuing and pervasive influence on the course of the heavy August battles of the Pusan Perimeter.

In the first month of the Korean War, close air support of ground troops was a vital factor in preventing the North Koreans from overrunning all Korea, and in gaining for the United States the margin of time necessary to bring in reinforcements and accumulate the supplies needed to organize the Pusan Perimeter. By mid-July the U.N. Air Force had all but stopped movement of enemy troops, armor, and truck convoys during daylight. This imposed the greatest difficulties on North Korea in supporting its front-line troops, and it slowed the North Korean advance.

During the first month, the U.N. air arm comprised U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine planes and some Royal Australian Air Force planes and troops. By the end of July, the U.N. ground forces in Korea were receiving proportionately more air support than had General Bradley’s Twelfth Army Group in World War II.[N25-28]  

In mid-July, the FEAF Bomber Command began an ever heightening attack on strategic enemy targets far behind the front. The first such target was Wonsan on the east coast. This communications center linked Vladivostok in Russia Siberia with North Korea by rail and sea. From it, rail lines ran to all the North Korean build-up centers. The great bulk of Russian supplies for North Korea in the early part of the war came in at Wonsan, and from the beginning it was considered a major military target. In the first heavy strategic bombing of the war, FEAF hit this busy port city, on 13 July, with 400 tons of demolition bombs. Three days later, thirty B-29 bombers struck the railroad marshaling yards at Seoul.[N25-29]  

[N25-28 “Air War in Korea,” Air University QuarterlyReview, IV, No. 2 (Fall, 1950), 19-39. Fourteen fighter-bomber groups supported Bradley’s 28 divisions; at the end of July 1950, 8 fighter-bomber groups supported the 3 American and 5 ROK divisions in Korea.]

[N25-29 GHQ FEC Sitrep, 12-14 Jul 50; New York Times, July 23, 1950. The 92nd Bombardment Group was at Yokota in Japan; the 22nd, at Kadena on Okinawa.] 

One of the important bomber missions was to deny the enemy use of the ponton bridge across the Han River at Seoul, and to destroy the repaired railroad bridge there. Several attempts in July by B-29’s to destroy the rail bridge failed, but on the 29th twelve bombers succeeded in hitting the ponton bridge and reported it destroyed. The next day, forty-seven B-29’s bombed the Chosen Nitrogen Plant at Hungnam on the northeast coast.[N25-30]  

In the meantime, carrier-based planes from the USS Valley Forge, which was operating in the Yellow Sea, on 22 July destroyed at Haeju in North Korea six locomotives, exploded eighteen cars of a 33-car train, and damaged a combination highway and rail bridge.[N25-31]  

[N25-30 GHQ UNC G-3 Opn Rpt Nr 33, 27 Jul 50; Nr 35, 29 Jul, and Nr 37, 31 Jul 50; New York Times, July 28, 1950.]

[N25-31 GHQ FEC Sitrep, 22 Jul 50.] 

By 27 July, the FEAF Bomber Command had a comprehensive rail interdiction plan ready. This plan sought to interdict the flow of enemy troops and matériel from North Korea to the combat area. Two cut points—(1) the Pyongyang railroad bridge and marshaling yards and (2) the Hamhung bridge and Hamhung and Wonsan marshaling yards—would sever rail communications with North Korea. Destruction of the rail bridges over the Han near Seoul would cut rail communication to the battle area. On 28 July the Far East Air Forces gave to the Bomber Command a list of targets in the rail interdiction program, and two days later a similar plan was ready for interdiction of highways. On the third day of August, FEAF issued to the Fifth Air Force and to the Navy lists of targets for co-ordinated interdiction attacks south of the 38th Parallel. In general, the Han River divided Fifth Air Force and FEAF Bomber Command zones. 

By the end of July, the Far East Air Forces had flown as many as 400 sorties in a day. Altogether, it had flown a total of 8,600 sorties—4,300 in close support missions, 2,550 in close interdiction, 57 in two strategic bombing strikes, and 1,600 in reconnaissance and cargo sorties.[N25-33] As the month neared an end, the first fighter plane reinforcements from the United States reached the Far East. On 23 July, the 27,000-ton Navy carrier, Boxer, setting a Pacific crossing record of eight days and seven hours, arrived in Japan with 145 F-51 Mustangs borrowed from National Guard air squadrons.[N25-34] On 30 July, the Far East Air Forces had 890 planes—626 F-80’s and 264 F-51’s—but only 525 of them were in units and available and ready for combat.[N25-35]

 [N25-32 USAF Hist Study 71, pp. 35-37. ]

[N25-33 “Air War in Korea,” op. cit., p.21.]

[N25-34 Ibid.; Karig, et al., Battle Report: The War in Korea, p. 104; New York Times, July 23, 1950. The Boxer also brought to the Far East 25 other planes, 1,100 Army and Air Force personnel, 190,000 gallons of aviation gasoline, 16,000 gallons of lubricating oil, and a very large cargo of shells, bombs, and other ammunition.]

 Rockets, napalm, and .50-caliber machine gun fire in strafing were the effective weapons used by the close support fighter planes. Napalm, the jellied gasoline carried in wing tanks, generated a searing heat when ignited by a contact fuze upon striking the ground. The splashing, flaming liquid is a two-edged weapon: it burns and consumes, and it strikes men with terror when it bursts on or near their positions. No one who has seen the huge, podlike tanks hurtle to the ground and burst into orange balls of flame, quickly followed by billowing clouds of dense, black smoke, would care to withstand this form of attack.  

The consumption of aviation gasoline was so great in the early phase of the war, as compared to the available supply in the Far East, that it became one of the serious logistical problems. Ocean tankers could scarcely keep pace with the rate of consumption. The situation never got to the point where air operations stopped, but it came near to that. There were times when the gas terminals in Japan were empty—all the fuel was in the stations.[N25-36] Just as Eighth Army prepared to fall back behind the Naktong River, important ground reinforcements from Hawaii and the United States arrived in Korea. The United States had barely won the race against space and time.

 [25-35 FEAF Opns Hist, vol. 1, 25 Jun-1 Nov 50, pp. 89-90. ]

[25-36 Interv, author with Maj Gen George L. Eberle, 12 Jan 54. Eberle was GHQ UNC G-4.]

The 5th Regimental Combat Team from Hawaii, commanded by Colonel Godwin L. Ordway, arrived first, on 31 July, after nine days at sea, with all three battalions. With the regiment came fourteen M26 Pershing tanks and the 555th (Triple Nickel) Field Artillery Battalion. Orders from Eighth Army awaited the regiment upon its arrival at Pusan to proceed at once to Masan where it was to be attached to the 24th Division. The leading element of the regiment arrived at Masan the next evening, 1 August. By the following morning the entire regiment was in an assembly area north of the town.[N25-37]

 This regiment included many Hawaiians and some former members of the famed 442nd Regimental and the 100th Battalion Combat Teams, the much-decorated Nisei infantry units of World War II. Another notable characteristic of this regiment was the close bond of comradeship that existed between it and its supporting 555th Field Artillery Battalion.

 Into Pusan harbor on the same day, 31 July, came the first ground troops from the United States, the 9th Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division. Known as the Manchu Regiment because of its part in suppressing the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900, the 9th Infantry was one of the oldest regiments in the United States Army. The 2nd Battalion of the regiment sailed from Tacoma, Washington, 17 July, the first Army infantry troops to depart continental United States for Korea. The 9th Infantry, commanded by Colonel John G. Hill, proceeded immediately to Kyongsan, ten miles southeast of Taegu, and was placed in army reserve. The 15th Field Artillery Battalion accompanied the regiment as its artillery support unit. At 0130, 2 August, Eighth Army ordered Colonel Hill to be ready to move his regiment on 1-hour notice after 1600 that day.[N25-38] The 23rd Infantry, 2nd Division, began arriving at Pusan on 5 August. That very morning its 1st Battalion received an alert to be ready to move on an hour’s notice.[N25-39] 

[N25-37 GHQ UNC Sitrep, 31 Jul 50; GHQ UNC G-3 Opn Rpt, 1-2 Aug 50; Schnabel, FEC, GHQ Support and Participation in Korean War, ch. iii, p. 23; 24th Div G-3 Jnl, 29 Jul-6 Aug 50, entry 420, 011825.]

[N25-38 2nd Div WD, 8 Jul-31 Aug 50, G-2 Hist Sec, pp. 14, 28; EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 30 Jul and 2 Aug 50.]

[N25-39 2nd Div WD, 8 Jul-31 Aug 50, G-2 Hist Sec, p. 28.] 

A third major reinforcement arrived in Korea on 2 August—the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, commanded by Brigadier General Edward A. Craig. Activated on 7 July, the brigade began loading at San Diego and Long Beach, Calif., two days later and sailed for the Far East on the 14th. While still at sea it received orders to bypass Japan and head directly for Pusan. On 25 July, General Wright, Far East Command G-3, verbally ordered General Craig, who was in Japan with his advance party, to change his brigade plans from occupying the Kobe-Osaka-Kyoto area of Japan to reporting with the brigade to Eighth Army in Korea. The marines went ashore at Pusan on 3 August and proceeded immediately to Masan in Eighth Army reserve. The Marine brigade was attached to the 25th Division on 6 August. The brigade comprised the 5th Marines, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Raymond L. Murray, plus a brigade headquarters group. The three battalions of the regiment had only two rifle companies each and a Heavy Weapons Company. The brigade had a strength of 4,725 men. Most of the officers and about 65 percent of the noncommissioned officers of the Marine brigade were combat veterans.[N25-40]

 Initially, General MacArthur had planned to use the Marine brigade in an amphibious operation behind the enemy lines. The situation at the time the brigade arrived in Far Eastern waters, however, required its unloading at Pusan. Every available man, it appeared, would be needed to hold the Pusan Perimeter.  

Except A Company, which already had arrived, the 8072nd Medium Tank Battalion, a provisional organization equipped in Japan with repaired tanks salvaged from the Pacific island battlefields of World War II, came into Pusan harbor on 4 August. Three days later Eighth Army transferred its troops and equipment to the 89th Medium Tank Battalion. Other tanks were on the way. The SS Luxembourg Victory left San Francisco on 26 July carrying eighty medium tanks. [N25-41]  

[N25-40 1st Prov Mar Brig Special Act Rpt (hereafter cited as SAR), 2 Aug-6 Sep 50, pp. 1-4; 5th Mar Regt SAR,2 Aug-6 Sep 50; 1st Bn, 5th Mar, SAR, Aug 50, p. 1; EUSAK WD, G-4 Stf Sec, 3 Aug 50; Ibid., POR 64, 3 Aug 50; GHQ UNC G-3 Opn Rpt, 3 Aug 50. Lynn Montross and Captain Nicholas A. Canzona, USMC, U.S.Marine Operations in Korea, 1950-1953, vol. I, The Pusan Perimeter (Washington: Historical Branch, G-3, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1954), pp. 65-89. This and succeeding volumes give a detailed account of the marines’ part in the Korean War. Canzona, a participant in the Marine operations in Korea, was a member of the Marine brigade and subsequently of the 1st Marine Division.]

[N25-41 GHQ UNC G-3 Opn Rpt 41,4 Aug 50; EUSAK GO 189, par. 1, 0001, 7 Aug 50; GHQ UNC G-3 Opn Rpt 37, 31 Jul 50.]

 Replacements from the United States also had begun to flow into the Far East Command for assignment in Korea. In July, several hundred officer and 5,287 of 5,300 promised enlisted replacements arrived in Japan and were hurried on to Korea. The Far East Command indicated that the volume of replacements would increase during August and September and reach 16,000 in October. For the last ten days of July, the airlift brought an average of 42 officers and 103 enlisted men daily from the United States west coast, about 100 less than the 240 estimated at its inception as the airlift’s daily capacity.[N25-42]  

The type of war matériel coming into Pusan Harbor during July shows why the United Nations Command had to hold a defense perimeter around this vital port if the North Koreans were to be denied victory. During the period of 2-31 July 1950, a total of 309,314 measurement tons of supplies and equipment were offloaded at Pusan, a daily average of 10,666 tons.  

The first heavy lift cranes arrived on 23 July—a 60-ton crane and two crawler cranes, towed 900 miles from Yokohama. Not until the first week of August did a 100-ton crane reach Pusan. In the last half of July, Pusan was a busy port indeed, 230 ships arriving and 214 departing during the final sixteen days of the month. During this period, 42,581 troops, 9,454 vehicles, and 88,888 long tons of supplies came ashore there. Subordinate ports of Ulsan and Suyong unloaded ammunition and petroleum products over the beaches from barges, tankers, and LCM’s.[N25-43]

 [N25-42 EUSAK WD, 31 Jul 50, Memo for Colonel Conley, sub: Projected Replacement Status; Ibid., G-1 Stf Sec. Replacement quota for August was 1,900 officers, 9,500 enlisted men; for September, 1,500 officers, 11,500 enlisted men; and for October, 1,200 officers, 16,000 enlisted men.]

[N25-43 Pusan Logistical Command Activities Rpt, Trans Sec, Jul 50; Mossman and Middleton, Logistical Problems and Their Solution, EUSAK.]

 The airlift of critically needed items from the United States tapered off at the end of July as surface transportation began to meet requirements. Some items such as the new 3.5-inch rocket were still being carried largely by airlift, 900 of them being scheduled daily for air delivery to Korea during August. The new 5-inch “shaped charge” rockets for Navy fighter planes, developed at the Navy’s Inyokern, California, Ordnance Test Station, were at first delivered to Korea entirely by air. A special Air Force plane picked up at Inyokern on 29 July the first 200 of the shaped charge warheads for delivery to the Far East.[N25-44]  

After the first hectic weeks, steps were taken to reduce the necessity for the large number of airlifts to Korea from Japan. By 15 July, MacArthur’s headquarters sent to Eighth Army a proposal to provide daily ferry service from the Hakata-Moji area to Pusan, and to provide this service with fast express trains from the Tokyo-Yokohama area.[N25-45] Accordingly, a Red Ball Express was organized.  

It had a capacity of 300 measurement tons daily of items and supplies critically needed in Korea. The Red Ball made the run from Yokohama to Sasebo in a little more than thirty hours, and to Pusan in a total of about fifty-three hours. The first Red Ball Express train with high priority cargo left Yokohama at 1330 23 July. Regular daily runs became effective two days later. The schedule called for the Red Ball to depart Yokohama at 2330 nightly and arrive at Sasebo at 0542 the second morning thereafter, and for the cargo to be transferred directly from train to ship. Ship departure was scheduled for 1330 daily and arrival at Pusan at 0400 the next morning.[N25-46]

[N25-44 GHQ UNC G-3 Opn Rpt 37, 31 Jul 50; “Air War in Korea,” op. cit., p. 21. ]

[N25-45 GHQ FEC Sitrep, 20 Jul 50. ]

[N25-46 Ibid., 23 Jul 50; EUSAK WD, Summ, 13-31 Jul 50, 25 Jul; Ibid., G-4 Stf Sec Rpt, 25 Jul]

Army transportation men worked almost ceaselessly during July to bring order out of near chaos in the train movements from Pusan toward the railheads at the front. By 18 July they had established a regular daily schedule of supply trains over two routes: (1) the main Pusan-Taegu-Kumchon line with a branch line from Kumchon to Hamchang; and (2) the Pusan-Kyongju-Andong single track line up the east coast with a branch line from Kyongju to Pohang-dong. As the battle front moved swiftly southward, trains after the end of July did not run beyond Taegu and Pohang-dong. After the enemy threat developed in the southwest, a supply train ran daily from Pusan to Masan. On 1 July the U.N. Command controlled 1,404 miles of rail track in South Korea. By the end of the month this had shrunk to 431 miles of track, a loss of 973 miles, or more than two-thirds. [N25-47]

 In July, 350 mixed trains moved from Pusan toward the front. These included 2,313 freight cars loaded with 69,390 short tons of supplies. Also leaving Pusan for the front were 71 personnel trains carrying military units and replacements. Among the trains returning to Pusan from the forward area were 38 hospital trains carrying 2,581 patients, and 158 freight cars loaded largely with personal belongings taken by unit commanders from their men in trying to strip them down to only combat needs.[N25-48]

 Since the Korean railroads had been built by Japan, repair and replacement items could be borrowed from the Japanese National Railways and airlifted to Korea within a very short time after the need for them became known. One of the largest and most important of rail purchases in Japan for use in Korea was twenty-five standard-gauge locomotives. By 1 August the ROK National Police was responsible for protecting all rail bridges and tunnels. Armed guards, their number varying with the importance of the structures, were stationed at each of them.[N25-49]

[N25-47 Pusan Log Comd, Activities Rpt, Trans Sec, Jul 50; Ibid., HQ, Plat Ldrs’ Class, (B) (Provisional), Memo 1, 18 Jul 50. ]

[25-48 Ibid., Trans Sec and Table V, Jul 50. ]

[N25-49 GHQ FEC Ann Narr Hist Rpt, 1 Jan-31 Oct 50, p. 47; EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 1 Aug 50, Ltr of Instr 1, Office of Coordinator, Lines of Comm. 50 Mossman and Middleton, op. cit., pp. 8, 12.]  

The re-equipping of the ROK Army constituted in itself a large logistical problem in July. To meet part of the requirements, Japanese manufacturers contracted in August to produce for the ROK Army 68,000 vehicles, mostly cargo and dump trucks, with first deliveries to be made in September. Another matter of importance concerned replacing artillery losses in the early weeks of the war with World War II 105-mm. howitzers rebuilt in Japan. 

During the fourth week of American intervention, certain formal procedures indicated, seemingly, that the U.N. Command expected the war to continue for some time. General MacArthur, on 23 July, announced that the U.N. Command had adopted the provisions of the 1949 Geneva Prisoner of War Convention. President Syngman Rhee in a proclamation likewise accepted the provisions of the Geneva Convention on behalf of the Republic of Korea. Then, on 24 July, General MacArthur established a formal United Nations Command with headquarters in Tokyo. The next day this headquarters issued U.N. Communiqué No.1. [N25-51 GHQ FEC Ann Narr Hist Rpt, 1 Jan-31 Oct 50, p. 39; GHQ FEC Sitrep 24 Jul 50.]

 Strength of the Opposing Forces at the Pusan Perimeter  

Although American losses were heavy in the first month of the war, the buildup of U.S. men and weapons in Korea had gone steadily forward. Initially, Americans lost as many men from heat exhaustion as from gunfire. The temperature reached no degrees, the Naktong hills had little vegetation, and good water was scarce. There was little shade in southern Korea. The blazing sun together with the exertion required to climb the steep slopes caused frequent throbbing headaches. The men’s legs lacked the power to climb the steeply pitched mountains and buckled under the unaccustomed ordeal. [N25-52]  

The preponderance of American battle casualties was in the Army ground forces. The Navy and Air Force had few battle casualties at this time. [N25-53] American Army casualties in Korea through 31 July 1950 totaled 6,003 men: 1,884 killed, 2,695 wounded, 523 missing, and 901 reported captured. Almost 80 percent of these casualties occurred in the last half of the month. [N25-54] More than half the total battle losses were in the 24th Infantry Division which up to 4 August listed 85 men killed, 895 wounded, and 2,630 missing for a total of 3,610 battle casualties. [N25-55]

 [N25-52 Training Bul 3, Off, Chief of Army Field Forces, 28 Nov 50; Captain Robert K. Sawyer, Notes for author, 1 Oct 52. ]

[N25-53 Typical daily battle casualty reports of this period: 30 Jul—Army, 617, including 20 KIA, 126 WIA, 417 MIA; Navy, 0; Air Force, 1 (MIA); 31 Jul—Army, 328 (20 KIA, 181 WIA, 127 MIA); Navy, 0; Air Force, 3 (1 WIA,2 MIA). GHQ UNC G-3 Rpts 37-39, 31 Jul-2 Aug 50.]

[N25-54 DA Battle Casualties of the Army, Final Rpt, 30 Sep 54, and CTM, 31 May 52. Casualties for the last half of July totaled 4,754, including 1,265 KIA, 2,345 WIA, 971 MIA, and 173 reported captured. Eighth Army gives the total as 5,482, including 272 KIA, 1,857 WIA, and 3,353 MIA, presumably covering the period of 13-31 July. See EUSAK WD, Summ, 13-31 Jul 50.]

[N25-55 EUSAK WD, 4 Aug 50, CofS Slip Note 1, Plan for Relief of 24th Inf Div.]

 ROK Army losses during the first six weeks of the war were very heavy, but the precise number is unknown. Probably the killed, wounded, and missing reached 70,000. Most ROK units were in almost continuous action during July. In the United States, where the press emphasized American battle action, the part of ROK units in checking the North Korean advance was generally underThe discrepancies between Eighth Army figures and final TAGO figures are explained in part by the fact that casualty reporting in the field is governed by regulations which provide that, unless the body is recovered or the person is actually reported in the hands of the medics, the man is reported missing in action. When additional information is received, TAGO’s official casualty records are revised, and the result is reduced figures for those missing and increased figures for those killed, wounded, or captured; estimated and little understood. ROK Army losses were normally far greater than those of Eighth Army. On 1 August, for example, ROK casualties were 812 (84 KIA, 512 WIA, 216 MIA) in comparison with U.S. Army losses of 285, and on 3 August they were 1,133 (128 KIA, 414 WIA, 591 MIA) in comparison with U.S. Army losses of 76. {n25-56] If the estimate of 70,000 for ROK losses is approximately accurate, total U.N. losses up to 5 August 1950 would be about 76,000 men.

According to their own testimony, the North Korean losses were far greater for this period than U.S. military sources estimated them to be at the time. On 29 July, General MacArthur’s Intelligence Section set the figure at 31,000. The Department of the Army estimated 37,500. [N25-57] Actually, the North Korean casualties appear to have been about 58,000, according to a study of prisoner of war interrogations. This large discrepancy was due apparently to a failure on the part of American authorities to realize how great were the casualties inflicted by the ROK Army. When the enemy is advancing there is little opportunity to count his dead. In some engagements, the ROK’s decimated N.K. regiments and even whole divisions.

[N25-56 GHQ UNC G-3 Rpts 39, 2 Aug 50, and 41, 4 Aug 50. ]

[N25-57 New York Times, July 30, 1950; DA Wkly Intel Rpt 76, 4 Aug 50.]  

Underestimation of enemy losses in the first five weeks of the war led in turn to an exaggerated notion of the enemy forces facing the U.N. Command along the Pusan Perimeter. The enemy had probably no more than 70,000 men in his committed eleven divisions, one independent mechanized regiment, and one independent” infantry regiment, as he began crossing the Naktong River on 4-5 August to assault the U.N. forces in the Pusan Perimeter. A tabulation of estimated enemy strength by major units as of 5 August follows: No reliable figures are available for the number of enemy tanks destroyed and for tank troop casualties of the 105th Armored Division by 5 August, but certainly they were high. There were only a few tank replacements during July.

[N25-58 The estimates of both enemy losses and strength are based on enemy materials—captured documents and interrogation reports. These, taken as a body, are believed to be more reliable than estimates prepared by U.N. authorities as the battle progressed, which could be little better than guesswork. This is particularly true of the period under discussion as the enemy held the battlefield during the U.N. withdrawal movements to the Pusan Perimeter and there seldom was an opportunity to count his dead. The replacements received in the enemy combat units, as reported in prisoner interrogations, have been included in the strength figure. See ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 3 (N.K. 1st Div), p. 33; Ibid., Issue 94 (N.K. 2nd Div); Ibid., Issue 96 (N.K. 3rd Div), p. 33; Ibid., Issue 94 (N.K. 4th Div), p. 48; Ibid., Issue 96 (N.K. 5th Div), p. 42; Ibid., Issue 100 (N.K. 6th Div), pp. 38-39; Ibid., Issue 99 (N.K. 12th Div), pp. 44-46; Ibid., Issue 104 (N.K. 13th Div, p. 60; Ibid., Issue 3 (N.K. 15th Div), p. 42; Ibid., Issue 4 (105th Armed Div); 27th Inf WD, PW Interrog Rpt 10; 1st Prov Mar Brig SAR, II. ]

 The first large tank replacement apparently took place about 15 August, when 21 new tanks and 200 tank crew men arrived at the front. Aerial action destroyed many new tanks before they could reach the battle zone. One captured major said the armored division was down to 20 percent strength by the time the battle for Taegu began.[N25-59] The North Koreans probably had no more than 3,000 armored personnel and forty tanks at the front on 5 August. While no exact information is available as to the number of enemy artillery pieces and heavy mortars still in action by 5 August, it probably was about one-third the number with which the North Koreans started the war. The 4th Division artillery, for instance, reportedly had only twelve guns on 5 August when the division reached the Naktong.[N25-60 ]An official report from General MacArthur to the Department of the Army gave U.N. troop strength in Korea on 4 August 1950 as 141,808. [N25-61]

 [N25-59 ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 4 105th Armd Div); 24th Div G-2 Jnl, 2-5 Aug 50, entry 256, 041010.]

[N25-60 ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 106 (N.K. Arty), pp. 23, 66. This figure probably includes the 122-mm. howitzers. The standard North Korean division artillery included twenty-four 76-mm. guns and twelve 122-mm. howitzers. Most of the Russian-supplied artillery ammunition used by the North Koreans was four or five years old and verdigris deposits coated the shell casings. There were many misfires and duds. Until about October 1950, the North Koreans used only two types of artillery ammunition, high explosive and armor piercing. The shells had a point detonating fuze to which a nose cap could be attached to give a slightly delayed burst.]

[N25-61 GHQ UNC Sitrep, 4 Aug 50. ]

The 24th Division figures include the 5th Regimental Combat Team and the 1st and 3rd Battalions of the 29th Infantry. These units were attached to the 25th Division about the time the Far East Command issued the 4 August situation report. This report indicates that American ground combat units, as of 4 August, totaled more than 47,000 men. The principal ROK combat strength at this time was in five infantry divisions recently filled to a strength of approximately 45,000 men. [N25-62] Thus, on 4 August, the United Nations combat forces outnumbered the enemy at the front approximately 92,000 to 70,000.  

The relative U.N. strength opposed to the North Koreans at the front in early August was actually much more favorable than commonly represented. A leading American newspaper on 26 July, in a typical dispatch filed in Korea, described the attack against the 1st Cavalry Division at Yongdong as being “wave after wave.” A subhead in a leading article in the same newspaper a few days later said in part, “We are still outnumbered at least four to one.” [N25-63] Other American newspapers reported the Korean War in much the same vein. 

[N25-62 GHQ UNC G-3 Opn Rpt 41, 4 Aug 50; Ibid., Sitrep to DA, 5 Aug 50. The ROK Army transferred about 14,000 of the approximately 82,000 troops listed in the estimate to labor units, so the over-all troop strength of U.N. forces would fall proportionately. This would not affect the combat forces figures.]

[N25-63] New York Times, July 26 and 30, 1950.]

SOURCE: South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu; BY: Colonel Roy E. Appleman (United States Army Center of Military History)

Korean War: First American Counterattack-Task Force Kean (August 1950) (16)

Korean War: Blocking the Road to Masan 1950 (14)

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World War Two: Hollandia-Aitape Operation (AP-2B): Planning and Preparation

The Logistic Plan: While logistic support of the Hollandia-Aitape operation was a responsibility of the Services of Supply, ALAMO Force was responsible for the co-ordination of all detailed logistic planning.[N2-48] For the purposes of coordination, General Krueger was authorized to call to his headquarters representatives of the Services of Supply, the Allied Air Forces, and the Allied Naval Forces.

The Allied Naval Forces was responsible for the logistic support of its own elements, but in case of emergency it could draw supplies from Services of Supply stocks. All air force technical supplies required to support air force units moving to Hollandia or Aitape were to be provided by the Allied Air Forces. That headquarters was to be prepared to fly emergency supplies to Hollandia and Aitape upon call from ALAMO Force.

The latter organization was to provide maintenance and rations for troops staging for Hollandia and Aitape, establish initial supply bases at the objectives, and initiate numerous construction projects, including airfields at Hollandia and Aitape.

To insure supply of units moving to Hollandia and Aitape, the Services of Supply was to provide at forward bases a thirty-day supply of rations, unit equipment, clothing, fuels, and lubricants. Six units of fire [N2-49] of all types of ammunition were to be stockpiled for ground assault troops. Construction matériel, in amounts and types determined by ALAMO Force, was also to be provided at forward bases. The responsibility for obtaining these supplies from the Services of Supply and assembling them at RECKLESS and PERSECUTION Task Force staging areas was vested in ALAMO Force.

[N2-48 The material in this subsection is based principally on: Annex 4, Logistics, to GHQ SWPA OI 46, 18 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 18 Mar 44; USASOS Logistics Instructions 46/SOS, 2 Apr 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 3 Apr 44; ALAMO Force Adm O 7, 6 Apr 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 20-23 Mar 44.]

[N2-49 From available evidence, it appears that at the time of the Hollandia-Aitape operation the unit of fire used in the Southwest Pacific was the same as that established by the War Department. Later, however, some changes were effected within the theater, notably an increase in the rounds per unit of fire for the BAR and the 105-mm. howitzer and a reduction in rounds for the M1 rifle. The War Department unit of fire during 1944 is to be found in the 1944 edition of FM 101-10, Staff Officers’ Field Manual: Organization, Technical, and Logistical Data.]

Assault units of the RECKLESS and PERSECUTION Task Forces were to carry ashore a five-day supply of rations. Additional rations to assure food until D plus 20 for all units of the RECKLESS Task Force landed through D plus 3 were to be moved to Hollandia with those units. Sufficient rations were to be loaded for PERSECUTION Task Force assault echelons to supply them through D plus 29. Both task forces were to take with them a fifteen-day supply of unit equipment, clothing, fuels, and lubricants. Engineer construction matériel was to be loaded on ships scheduled to land through D plus 3 in such quantity as to satisfy the minimum prescribed by ALAMO Force, and in additional quantities as required by the commanders of the RECKLESS and PERSECUTION Task Forces. Fifteen days’ supply of other types of construction and maintenance matériel was to be moved to Hollandia and Aitape during the assault phase of the operations.

Provision for ammunition supply was more complex and depended to a large extent upon the nature of individual combat organizations. Assault troops moving to Hollandia were to be provided with at least two units of fire for all weapons. On the other hand, the PERSECUTION Task Force was to be supplied with four units of fire for the landing. Sufficient ammunition for field and antiaircraft artillery weapons, 4.2-inch mortars, and hand grenades was to be shipped forward on assault convoys to provide each task force with six units of fire by D plus 3. Other types of ammunition, to establish a total of five units of fire by D plus 3, would also be shipped to Hollandia and Aitape.

Resupply of ammunition for the RECKLESS and PERSECUTION Task Forces was a responsibility of ALAMO Force. Two units of fire for all weapons were to be brought forward on convoys scheduled to arrive at the objectives on D plus 8. After this first automatic resupply, the two task forces would requisition from ALAMO Force ammunition as needed.

Extra rations, fuels, lubricants, and ammunition were to be stockpiled at forward bases so as to insure uninterrupted flow of these items to the objectives. The Services of Supply was to hold two large cargo vessels empty at a forward base for possible emergency use until D plus 30, and was also to furnish, prior to D Day, 1,000 tons of space on small ships for emergency use. The Allied Naval Forces and the Services of Supply were to co-operate in providing tankers for movement of bulk-loaded aviation gasoline, barges for handling such fuel at the objectives, and harbor and lightering craft.

Through D plus 45 the control of all shipping moving to Hollandia and Aitape was to rest with Allied Naval Forces. After that date the Services of Supply was to assume this responsibility. Principal supply and staging bases were to be at Goodenough Island and Finschhafen. The latter base would be the point of departure for resupply ships controlled by Allied Naval Forces. Services of Supply shipping was to use such bases as might be determined by that headquarters.

Obtaining the Shipping

Early plans for the operation had indicated that 32,000 troops with 28,500 measurement tons of supplies would be ample to secure the Hollandia area. Enough shipping could have been scraped up within the Southwest Pacific to carry out an operation of that size, but the scope of the undertaking was entirely changed by the enlargement of the forces and the decision to seize Aitape. The 52,000-odd troops finally assigned to the assault phase of the operation would require 58,100 tons of supplies and equipment. There was not enough assault shipping within the theater to meet such requirements of troop and cargo space.

[N2-50 Annex 4, Logistics, to GHQ SWPA OI 46, 18 Mar 44; GHQ SWPA, Hollandia Outline Plan Draft, 28 Feb 44, and atchd, unsigned, undated memo, sub: Comments on Hollandia Outline Plan, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 2-14 Mar 44.]

Most of the necessary additional shipping was obtained by borrowing for a limited period assault vessels from the South and Central Pacific Areas and by utilizing some theater ships normally engaged in training activities or operations in rear areas, substituting civilian-manned vessels for the latter.

By mid-March it appeared that these steps had secured the minimum shipping space needed for the operation. However, requirements for hurried airdrome and base construction made it necessary to add more service troops and larger quantities of engineer equipment to assault cargoes than had been contemplated when arrangements for borrowing ships were first completed. [N2-51] General Krueger proposed that additional shipping space be obtained by using large cargo vessels (AK’s) which were not usually employed during assaults.

These vessels, often of the Liberty-ship type, differed from attack cargo ships (AKA’s) principally in that they did not carry enough small boats to unload themselves. Four AK’s, manned by U. S. Navy or Coast Guard personnel, were operating in rear areas in the theater where dock facilities and large cranes were available. General Krueger requested that these four be made available for the Hollandia-Aitape operation, a request which seemed justified in the light of expected Allied air superiority at the objectives and which had a precedent in Japanese practice during the early months of the war in the Pacific. [N2-52]

Admiral Barbey, in charge of the amphibious phase of the operation, opposed this plan. He felt that AK’s would be especially vulnerable to attack in the forward areas if they were to remain at the objectives until completely unloaded of a capacity cargo. The Supply Section (G-4) of General MacArthur’s headquarters did not entirely agree with the admiral and was, indeed, inclined toward the point of view that AK’s “. . . should be operated with a view to support rather than preservation of naval facilities . . .” [N2-53]

The G-4 Section’s point of view represented one side of a basic disagreement between Army and Navy circles not only in the Southwest Pacific Area but also, to varying degrees, in other theaters of operations. To the Navy, the shipping shortage in the Southwest Pacific, together with the importance of keeping in operation ships capable of providing further logistic support, outweighed the necessity for employing merchant-type shipping, such as AK’s, in the early phases of amphibious operations. The loss of a single vessel of that type would be keenly felt in both rear and forward areas in the Southwest Pacific for months to come. Moreover, to the Navy a piece of capital equipment such as an AK was not as expendable as such items of ground force equipment as an artillery piece, a tank, or a truck. An AK represented months or perhaps years of construction effort and crew training. [N2-54]

[N2-51 Rad, GHQ SWPA to ALAMO, XC-1753, 5 Mar 44, and Rad, ALAMO to GHQ SWPA, WF-1012, both in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 2-14 Mar 44; Memo, G-3 GHQ Opns Div to ACofS G-3 GHQ, 25 Mar 44, sub: Shipping Borrowed from SOPAC, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 25 Mar 44; Memo, ACofS G-3 ALAMO for CofS ALAMO, 27 Mar 44, no sub, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 24-27 Mar 44.]

[N2-52 Memo, GHQ SWPA, no addressee, 1 Mar 44, sub: Considerations Affecting the Plan to Seize Humboldt Bay Area with Strong Support of Carriers, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 2-14 Mar 44; Memo, G-3 ALAMO Plng Div for ACofS G-3 ALAMO, 11 Mar 44, no sub, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 2-14 Mar 44; Rad, Com7thFlt to ALAMO, 15 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 16 Mar 44.]

[N2-53 Memo, ACofS G-2 ALAMO to CofS ALAMO, 15 Mar 44, no sub, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 15-18 Mar 44; Memo, ACofS G-3 ALAMO, for CofS ALAMO, 27 Mar 44, no sub, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 24-27 Mar 44; Ltr, Col Harold E. Eastwood

[of G-4 GHQ SWPA] to ACofS G-4 ALAMO, 26 Mar 44, no sub, in ALAMO G-4 Jnl Hollandia, 11 Feb-2 Apr 44. The quotation is from the latter document.]

[N2-54 Ltr, Rear Adm Albert G. Noble [Chief, BuOrd USN and, in 1944, one of Admiral Barbey’s chief deputies] to Gen Ward, 18 Dec 50, no sub, in OCMH files.]

Admiral Barbey finally determined to take some calculated risks that seemed to be warranted by the importance of the cargo which AK’s could carry to the objectives. He decided that two lightly loaded AK’s would move to Hollandia with the D-Day convoys. These two ships were to leave that area on D plus 2 whether or not their unloading was completed. Another AK was to reach Aitape on D Day and the fourth would arrive at Aitape on D plus 1. Both the latter were to have a capacity load and were to remain at Aitape until completely discharged. During the period that the four AK’s were operating in the forward area, the Services of Supply, by arrangement with Allied Naval Forces, was to provide civilian-manned vessels totaling equivalent tonnage for operations in the rear area. [N2-55]

The fact that the AK’s scheduled to arrive at Hollandia on D Day were not to be completely loaded resulted in a reduction of tonnage space—space which ALAMO Force believed necessary for the success of the operation. During the discussion concerning the dispatch of AK’s to Hollandia, the Allied Naval Forces had made available six landing ships, tank (LST’s) which had not previously been assigned to the operation, apparently in the hope that ALAMO Force would accept these vessels in lieu of the AK’s. Even with this addition, space was still lacking for 3,800 tons of engineering equipment and other cargo that ALAMO Force desired to send forward with initial convoys. This cargo had to wait for later convoys. [N2-56]

As another result of the limitations on cargo space, the quantity of supplies to be carried forward after the assault phase, on Services of Supply ships manned by civilian crews, was increased beyond that originally contemplated. In addition, some of the ships sailing with the D Day through D plus 3 convoys would have to unload at Hollandia and Aitape, return to eastern New Guinea bases for reloading, and go back to the forward objectives with a new series of convoys beginning on D plus 8. [N2-57]

[N2-55 Ibid.; Rad, Com7thFlt to ALAMO, 15 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 16 Mar 44; Rad ComServFor-7thFlt to CTF 76, 15 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 16 Mar 44; Rad, CTF 76 to ALAMO and ANF SWPA, 1 Apr 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 31 Mar-1 Apr 44; Rad, GHQ SWPA to ALAMO, C-10273, 1 Apr 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 1 Apr 44; Rad, CTF 76 to ALAMO and Com7thFlt, 1 Apr 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 2-4 Apr 44; Annex 6, Assignment of Shipping, 1 Apr 44, to ALAMO Force FO 12, 23 Mar 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 20-23 Mar. 44.]

[N2-56 Memo, ACofS G-3 ALAMO for CofS ALAMO, 27 Mar 44, no sub, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 24-27 Mar 44; Rad, GHQ SWPA to ALAMO, CX-10175, 28 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 28 Mar 44.]

[N2-57 Memo, ACofS G-4 ALAMO for ACofS G-4 USASOS, 9 Apr 44, no sub, in ALAMO G-4 Jnl Hollandia, 3-16 Apr 44; CTF 77 Opn Plan 3-44, 3 Apr 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 4-5 Apr 44.]

The first detailed plans for the Hollandia operation had been drawn up during the last week of February 1944 and final major changes were completed in the second week of April. After 9 April the number of assault vessels was not changed and the quantity of personnel and supplies scheduled to be landed through D plus 3 remained substantially the same. [N2-58]

Loading and Unloading Problems

Because of the shipping shortage, it was extremely important to make use of all available cargo space on each vessel. In accordance with common practice in amphibious operations, the ships of the Hollandia-Aitape assault convoy were to be combat-loaded, which is to say that supplies most needed ashore would be the last loaded at staging areas, and the most important matériel would be aboard ships to be first discharged.

This would insure that priority cargo would be the first ashore. Combat loading could take a variety of forms or combinations thereof. All cargo could be loaded in bulk in the holds of ships, or could be stowed aboard wheeled or tracked vehicles, themselves to be combat-loaded. Another possibility considered during preparations for the Hollandia-Aitape operations was to lash supplies onto prefabricated platforms—known as pallets—which could easily be loaded aboard cargo ships. For unloading, these platforms could be lowered by deck cranes into small boats or, occasionally, into water to be dragged behind small craft to the beach. [N2-59]

Pallet-loading had been used extensively during operations in the Central Pacific Area but had been little employed in the Southwest Pacific. The system had the advantage of saving much time and labor by reducing to a minimum the handling of individual boxes, crates, and cartons. But it had the disadvantage of using somewhat more space in holds than simple bulk stowage. Moreover, not many pallets were readily available in the forward areas of the Southwest Pacific and, again, the theater had had little experience in their use. To save all possible space and to take advantage of theater experience, ALAMO Force decided that bulk combat-loading would be employed for all cargo not stowed aboard vehicles. [N2-60]

Another problem was that of lighterage at the objectives. Since the AK’s did not carry small craft with which to unload themselves provision had to be made to secure such boats. For Aitape, ALAMO Force believed that one landing craft, tank (LCT), and twenty landing craft, mechanized (LCM’s) would be required on D Day and twice that number on D plus 1, when the second of the two AK’s was scheduled to arrive. General Krueger therefore requested that Allied Naval Forces set up an LCT-LCM convoy or its equivalent in other landing craft to arrive at Aitape on D Day.

[N2-58 GHQ SWPA, Hollandia Outline Plan Draft, 28 Feb 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 2-14 Mar 44; ALAMO Force FO 12, 23 Mar 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 20-23 Mar 44. The second column includes the AK’s, the shipping listed in CTF 77 Opn Plan 3-44 of 3 Apr 44, the ships carrying the 127th RCT to Aitape (shipping which was committed to the assault phase on 9 April), and miscellaneous other additions in the period prior to 9 April. The totals agree with those set forth-in ALAMO FO 12 and with the naval reports of the operation, although not with the naval plans.]

[N2-59 The water drag method could, of course, be used only for items such as canned rations which were to be used immediately ashore and which would not suffer from temporary immersion in salt water.]

[N2-60 Memo, ALAMO G-3 Plng Div for ACofS G-3 ALAMO, 11 Mar 44, no sub, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 2-14 Mar 44; Memo, ALAMO QM for ACofS G-4 ALAMO, 21 Mar 44, no sub, in ALAMO G-4 Jnl Hollandia, 11 Feb-2 Apr 44.]

Admiral Barbey would not approve this plan. He felt that it would not be practical for LCM’s and LCT’s to move to Aitape under their own power nor to be towed there by large ships. The distance from staging areas to Aitape would increase the possibility of mechanical failures on the part of the LCT’s and LCM’s moving under their own power. Towing would decrease the speed of the assault convoy, thereby increasing the possibility of Japanese air attacks on the convoys and lessening chances for tactical surprise at the objectives. Admiral Barbey therefore felt that the Aitape unloading plan would have to be based on the use of small craft carried forward by the assault shipping scheduled to arrive on D Day. [N2-61]

To obtain some additional lighterage, it was decided to carry extra landing craft on all large assault ships arriving at Aitape on D Day. [N2-62] In addition, three landing ships, dock (LSD’s) scheduled to arrive at Hollandia and Aitape on D Day were ordered to make a rapid return trip to eastern New Guinea bases to pick up another load of small craft. On the return trip the LSD’s were to carry a total of three LCT’s and twenty-four LCM’s to Aitape, which, together with one LCT and six LCM’s that could be loaded on D-Day shipping, was considered ample. It was hoped that this return trip of the LSD’s could be accomplished by the afternoon of D plus 3. Because of the distances involved, however, Admiral Barbey could not promise that the LSD’s would arrive at Aitape on their second trip prior to the morning of D plus 4. [N2-63]

Since it was not necessary to unload as much engineering construction equipment at Hollandia during the assault phase as at Aitape, the lighterage problem at Hollandia did not appear acute prior to the landings. It was thought probable that such shortages as might occur there would be eased by sending forward extra small craft aboard the ships of the first resupply convoy on D plus 8. [N2-64]

A third problem of supply movement was to find a method of transporting supplies from the water’s edge to dump areas by means other than the conventional, time consuming individual handling of each item or container. ALAMO Force decided that beach sleds—which could be dragged any place on a beach negotiable by wheeled vehicles, tractors, or bulldozers—would be the answer. About 150 sleds had been manufactured in Australia for use by the 1st Cavalry Division in the Admiralties, but they had not been ready in time for that operation. ALAMO Force obtained a high shipping priority for the movement of 34 sleds from Brisbane, Australia, to the staging area of the 24th Division at Goodenough Island.

[N2-61 Rad, ALAMO to CTF 76, WF-4237, 25 Mar 44, Rad, CTF 76 to PTF, 25 Mar 44, and Memo, ACofS G-3 ALAMO for CofS ALAMO, 27 Mar 44, no sub, all three in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 24-27 Mar 44; Memo for record, G-3 ALAMO, 28 Mar 44, sub: Status of Planning, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 28-30 Mar 44.]

[N2-62 Available documents do not indicate how many landing craft were to be so carried forward nor on which large ships they were to be carried.]

[N2-63 Memo, ACofS G-3 ALAMO for CofS ALAMO, 31 Mar 44, no sub, and Rad, ALAMO to CTF 76, WF-5127, 31 Mar 44, both in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 31 Mar-1 Apr 44; Rad, ALAMO to CTF 76, WF-834, 6 Apr 44, and Rads, CTF 76 to ALAMO, 6 and 7 Apr 44, last three in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 6-7 Apr 44.]

[N2-64 Rad, CTF 76 to Com7thFlt, 7 Apr 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 6-7 Apr 44; CTF 77, Opn Plan 3-44, 3 Apr 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 4-5 Apr 44.]

These sleds arrived at Goodenough too late to be loaded on the Hollandia convoy. [N2-65] Meanwhile, ALAMO Force had discovered that another 26 sleds were on the way from Australia to Oro Bay, New Guinea, and that the remainder of the original 150 had supposedly been shipped during March to Cape Cretin, New Guinea. [N2-66] From the middle of March to the middle of April the ALAMO G-4 Section directed a widespread search for these two shipments, all trace of which had apparently been lost. An officer from the ALAMO Ordnance Section looked for the sleds to no avail at various Services of Supply bases in New Guinea and Australia.

Finally, official channels having failed, the ALAMO G-4 Liaison Officer at Oro Bay, who was also engaged in the search, followed a hunch. He had a sergeant from his liaison group informally establish contact with a supply sergeant at the Oro Bay Base Engineer Section. This supply sergeant immediately located 60 beach sleds at the base engineer supply dump.

These sleds were perhaps not the particular ones for which the search was being conducted, since their dimensions differed slightly from those specified. However, the liaison officer was acting on instructions from the ALAMO G-4 to get some beach sleds to Cape Cretin, where some of the Hollandia-bound convoy was loading, no later than 17 April. He therefore drew the 60 sleds from the base engineer and had them shipped forward from Oro Bay by small boat. Taking this action on his own responsibility, the liaison officer assured at least a partial supply of beach sleds for the RECKLESS Task Force. [N2-67]

Problems of Subordinate Commands While sufficient supplies were on hand within the Southwest Pacific Area to provide assault units with almost all the materials they needed for initial operations, some shortages did exist which could not be filled prior to the assault. Other logistic difficulties were caused by the rather hurried organization of the task forces and by the fact that units assigned to the operation were scattered all over the eastern part of the theater. The RECKLESS Task Force G-4 complained that many units scheduled to engage in the operation were assigned to the task force so late that it was nearly impossible to ascertain their supply shortages. General Krueger had originally approved a plan to make the task force responsible only for the supply of units specifically assigned to it. But the task force was later ordered to assure completeness and serviceability of supplies and equipment of all units scheduled to be controlled by the task force at Hollandia, whenever assigned. [N2-68]

[N2-65 Rad, G-4 ALAMO to ALAMO G-4 Liaison Officer (LO) at Hq USASOS, WF-2088, 14 Mar 44, in 24th Div G-4 Plng Jnl, Hollandia; Rad, GHQ Chief Regulating Officer at Goodenough Island to G-4 ALAMO, WA-409, 15 Mar 44, in ALAMO G-4 Jnl Hollandia, 11 Feb-2 Apr 44; Memo, Asst ACofS G-4 ALAMO for ALAMO G-4 LO at USASOS Base B, 23 Mar 44, no sub, in ALAMO G-4 Jnl Hollandia, 11 Feb-2 Apr 44; Memo, ACofS G-4 ALAMO for ALAMO Engr, 18 Apr 44, no sub, in ALAMO G-4 Jnl Hollandia, 17-29 Apr 44; Ltr, ALAMO G-4 LO at Hq USASOS to ACofS G-4 ALAMO, 9 Apr 44, in ALAMO G-4 Jnl Hollandia, 3-16 Apr 44.]

[N2-66 Memo, Asst AGofS G-4, ALAMO for ALAMO G-4 LO at USASOS Base B, 23 Mar 44, no sub, and Memo, G-4 ALAMO for ALAMO Engr and ALAMO Ord O, 31 Mar 44, no sub, both in ALAMO G-4 Jnl Hollandia, 11 Feb-2 Apr 44.]

[N2-67 Rads, ALAMO G-4 LO at Base B to ALAMO, WO-1702 and WO-1710, 14 and 15 Apr 44, respectively, and Ltr, ALAMO G-4 LO at Base B to ACofS G-4 ALAMO, 15 Apr 44, all three in ALAMO G-4 Jnl Hollandia, 3-16 Apr 44.]

In order to carry out its broad supply duties, the RECKLESS Task Force G-4 Section decentralized responsibility for the supply and equipment of various attached units to the headquarters’ Special Staff Sections of corresponding services. This step, which speeded communication between the task force headquarters and the scattered attached units, made possible quick and accurate determination of shortages and insured that steps would be taken to fill requisitions from attached organizations. Nevertheless, because so many units were assigned to the task force quite late, the Ordnance Section declared that determination of numerous ammunition shortages could be made only on “suspicion.” [N2-69]

Another means by which the RECKLESS Task Force solved some of its logistic problems was to make minor modifications in the Tables of Equipment and Basic Allowances of various units assigned or attached to the task force. ALAMO Force approved this step only on the condition that such changes would not materially affect unit tonnage and space requirements, thereby creating a need for more shipping space or causing major last-minute changes in loading plans. [N2-70]

Subordinate units of the RECKLESS Task Force had their own supply problems. On 8 March, with little more than a week’s notice, the 41st Division had to begin moving from Australia to Cape Cretin, New Guinea, where it was to stage for Hollandia. On such short notice a good portion of the division’s supply shortages could not be filled on the Australian mainland. The division sent liaison officers to Services of Supply headquarters, to ALAMO Force headquarters, and to Services of Supply forward bases in New Guinea to find out where shortages could be filled and to start the movement of necessary items to Cape Cretin. Most shortages were filled without undue difficulty from New Guinea bases, but there was a permanent shortage of wheeled vehicles. The 41st Division had no 2½-ton 6×6 trucks and only 50 percent of other authorized vehicles. Some vehicles were supplied in New Guinea, but the fulfillment of authorized allowances had to await post-assault shipment. [N2-71] The 24th Division, staging at Goodenough Island, had especial difficulty in procuring certain types of ammunition.

[N2-68 RTF Opns Rpt Hollandia, p. 65; Ltr, CofS I Corps [RECKLESS TF] to ACofS G-4 ALAMO, 15 Mar 44; Ltr, ACofS G-4 ALAMO to CofS I Corps, 22 Mar 44; Rad, ALAMO to I Corps, WF-96, 1 Apr 44. Last three in ALAMO G-4 Jnl Hollandia, 11 Feb-2 Apr 44.]

[N2-69 Rad, I Corps to ALAMO, RM-2362, 7 Apr 44, in ALAMO G-4 Jnl Hollandia, 3-16 Apr 44; RTF Opns Rpt Hollandia, pp. 36, 65.]

[N2-70 Rad, I Corps to ALAMO, RM-1103, 25 Mar 44, and Rad, ALAMO to I Corps, WF-4218, 25 Mar 44, both in ALAMO G-4 Jnl Hollandia, 11 Feb-2 Apr 44.]

[N2-71 Rad, ALAMO to 41st Div, WF-1247, 8 Mar 44, and Memo, ACofS G-4 41st Div for ADC 41st Div, 11 Mar 44, no sub, both in ALAMO G-4 Jnl Hollandia, 11 Feb-2 Apr 44.]

[N2-72 ALAMO Force Adm O 7, 6 Apr 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 20-23 Mar 44; Rad, ALAMO to USASOS, WF-4530, 27 Mar 44, and Rad, USASOS to ALAMO, ABO-265, 27 Mar 44, both in ALAMO G-4 Jnl Hollandia, 11 Feb-2 Acr 44.]

The division was unable to procure enough 2.36-inch bazooka rockets to build its stocks to the prescribed level of five units of fire. Theater stocks of bazooka rockets were so low that the success of future operations might have been jeopardized if all those available were issued for the Hollandia-Aitape attacks. Therefore, only three units of fire of the 2.36-inch rockets could be issued to the 24th Division itself and only two units of fire to attached units.72 Some lots of 60-mm. mortar ammunition supplied to the 24th Division were found to be defective—a condition which obtained for a large portion of theater stocks of this item.

The division was advised that it would have to use the 60-mm. ammunition issued and that the defective lots were not to be fired over the heads of friendly troops. [N2-73] One regiment of the division was initially short of both 60-mm. and 81-mm. mortar shells. Most of these shortages were made up from stocks in Services of Supply bases in New Guinea, and the shells were shipped to Goodenough Island by small craft. The remainder was shipped by air from these bases or Australia to Goodenough just in time to be loaded on the 24th Division assault convoy. [N2-74]

Like the RECKLESS Task Force, the 24th Division was not made responsible for the supply of many attached units until late in March. Some of these units had difficulty obtaining needed supplies and equipment, although they made efforts to fulfill their requirements.

General Irving, the division commander, felt so strongly about the difficulties of attached units that he requested investigation of the failure on the part of some Services of Supply bases to provide spare parts and maintenance supplies for attached artillery and tank units. Spare parts for artillery mounts, tractors, and tanks were ultimately located at various Services of Supply installations and shipped to Goodenough. However, all the desired spare parts for engineer and ordnance equipment could not be found before the division left its staging area, and provision had to be made to ship such items to the objective on resupply convoys. [N2-75]

The PERSECUTION Task Force had few separate logistic problems. The principal assault element of the task force was the 163rd Infantry of the 41st Division, and that regiment’s supply problems were solved along with those of the division. The 167th Field Artillery Battalion, which was to support the 163rd Infantry at Aitape, had some difficulties. Because of the shortage of shipping space, the battalion’s organic transportation could not all be sent forward on assault convoys. The unit’s radio and wire would therefore have to be manhandled at the objective, and liaison and fire control parties attached to the battalion were to be without their usual transportation. [N2-76]

The Hollandia Tactical Plan

While the problems of logistics were being solved, the tactical plans for the Hollandia and Aitape assaults were being drawn up. Limited knowledge of the terrain at the objectives was a major obstacle to detailed planning, but by early April the ground, air, and amphibious force commanders, in cooperation, had solved most of their problems and had published their final tactical plans.

[N2-73 Ltr, Ord O 24th Div to Ord O I Corps, 29 Mar 44, and atchd, undated Memo for record from Ord Sec. ALAMO, in ALAMO G-4 Jnl Hollandia, 11 Feb-2 Apr 44.]

[N2-74 Ltrs, ALAMO G-4 LO with 24th Div to ACofS G-4 ALAMO, 6, 11, and 15 Apr 44, in ALAMO G-4 Jnl Hollandia, 3-16 Apr 44.]

[N2-75 Notes of Conf between Ord O’s 24th Div and I Corps, 30 Mar 44, and atchd, undated notes by ALAMO Ord O, in ALAMO G-4 Jnl Hollandia, II Feb-2 Apr 44; Ltrs, ALAMO G 4 LO with 24th Div to ACofS G-4, 6 and 15 Apr 44, in ALAMO G-4 Jnl Hollandia, 3-16 Apr 44. Apparently nothing ever came of General Irving’s request for investigation.]

[N2-76 167th FA Bn Opns Rpt Aitape, pp. 1-2.]

Humboldt Bay

Two regimental combat teams of the 41st Division were to start landing at Humboldt Bay on 22 April at 0700, high tide time in the Hollandia area. Simultaneously, two regimental combat teams of the 24th Division were to go ashore at Tanahmerah Bay. After securing their beachheads, the two divisions were to drive inland through successive phase lines to complete a pincers movement aimed at the rapid seizure of the Japanese held airfields on the Lake Sentani Plain. It was intended that the main effort should be made from Tanahmerah Bay by the 24th Division, since known and suspected Japanese defenses seemed concentrated at Humboldt Bay.

While the RECKLESS Task Force Reserve (the 34th Regimental Combat Team of the 24th Division) might actually be more needed by the 41st Division at Humboldt Bay, General Eichelberger, the task force commander, planned to land the reserve at Tanahmerah Bay in an endeavor to exploit expected enemy weaknesses there. Task force headquarters and most of the reinforcing units and service organizations were also to land at Tanahmerah Bay. The 41st Division was to be prepared to drive inland from Humboldt Bay, but its role might be limited to containing Japanese strength which could otherwise move against the 24th Division. Nevertheless, the 41st Division’s plans were made to take advantage of whatever weaknesses might be found in enemy defenses at Humboldt Bay. [N2-77]

The Humboldt Bay landing areas selected for the 41st Division, White Beaches 1-4, presented complex problems of coordination and control. From the northwestern and southeastern shores of the inner reaches of Humboldt Bay ran two low sand spits, divided one from the other by a narrow channel leading from Humboldt Bay southwestward into smaller Jautefa Bay. Narrow, sandy beaches lined the Humboldt Bay side of the two spits, but the Jautefa Bay shore was covered with tangled mangrove swamps.

White Beaches 1-3 were located on the two sand spits. None was ideally located in relation to division objectives, but the beaches were the best in the area. Access to the mainland from the spits could be obtained by movement along the Humboldt Bay side to inland ends of both peninsulas. The northern spit was flanked inland by an open-topped height called Pancake Hill, which was suspected of containing Japanese defensive installations. North of Pancake Hill, toward the town of Hollandia, lay wooded hills rising to a height of over 1,000 feet. The southern spit opened on marshy ground along the southeastern shore of Humboldt Bay.

White Beach 1, about 800 yards long and 70 wide, ran along the northern spit south from the point at which that peninsula joined the mainland. White Beach 2 was at the outer end of the same spit, while White Beach 3 was located at the northern end of the southern peninsula. White Beach 4 was on the western shore of Jautefa Bay and was situated just north of Pim, a native village at the eastern terminus of a motor road running inland to Lake Sentani and the task force objectives. [N2-78]

[N2-77 RTF FO 1, 27 Mar 44; RTF Opns Rpt Hollandia, p. 6.]

[N2-78 LETTERPRESS Landing Force [41st Inf Div] FO 1, 9 Apr 44, in G-3 Annex to 41st Div Opns Rpt Hollandia.]

Close air support for the landings of the 41st Division was the responsibility of planes aboard the carriers of Task Force 58. These aircraft were to maintain combat air patrols over enemy airstrips in the Hollandia area from earliest light on D Day until H plus 60 minutes (0800), or until such patrols proved unnecessary. Fighter planes engaged in these patrol missions were to have freedom of action over the entire Hollandia region until H minus 30 minutes, after which they were to confine their operations to targets two or more miles inland from the landing beaches at both Humboldt and Tanahmerah Bays.

At Humboldt Bay, from H minus 15 minutes until H minus 4, or until the 41st Division’s leading landing wave was within 800 yards of the shore, carrier-based aircraft were to hit enemy antiaircraft batteries and other known or suspected defensive positions around Humboldt Bay, especially on hills near White Beaches 1 and 4. At H minus 4 minutes, carrier-based bombers were to drop their bombs on the beaches in an attempt to detonate possible beach mines. At H minus 3, when the first wave was scheduled to be 500 yards from shore, antipersonnel fragmentation bombs were to be dropped on White Beach 1.

Naval fire support at Humboldt Bay was to be provided by three light cruisers and six destroyers of the U. S. Navy, firing to begin at H minus 60 minutes. Principal targets were Hollandia, Pim, heights north of White Beach 1, Cape Soedja at the northwestern end of Humboldt Bay, and the four landing beaches. Two rocket-equipped landing craft, infantry (LCI’s), were to accompany the leading boat waves, one to fire on Pancake Hill and the other to bombard high ground north of Pancake. A single destroyer was to accompany the first waves to bombard Capes Pie and Tjeweri (the tips of the two sand spits) and to support movement of amphibian tractors (LVT’s) from White Beach 2 to White Beach 4. [N2-79]

The first landings to take place on White Beach 1, at H Hour, were to be executed by the 3rd Battalion, 162nd Infantry. After landing, the battalion was to push rapidly north along the beach to the mainland and make ready to descend into Hollandia from hills south of that town. One company was to move west from the main body to establish a block across a road connecting Hollandia and Pim. The seizure of the northern section of the Hollandia-Pim road was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry, which was to follow the 3rd ashore on White Beach 1. The 2nd was to push up the road toward Hollandia and assist the 3rd Battalion in securing that town. The 1st Battalion, 162nd Infantry, was to land at White Beach 1 still later and assemble inland as division reserve.

White Beach 2 and Cape Pie were to be seized at H Hour by a reinforced rifle platoon from the 1st Battalion, 162nd Infantry. The beach was to be used by the 3rd Battalion, 186th Infantry, which, aboard LVT’s, was to move across the spit, push through the backing mangrove swamp, and land on White Beach 4 across Jautefa Bay. Then the battalion was to clear neighboring hills and advance south toward Pim along the Hollandia-Pim road. The rest of the 186th Infantry was to land on White Beach 1 after H Hour and move inland around the upper end of the spit. The 1st Battalion, 186th Infantry, was to move to Pim while the 2nd Battalion assembled in division reserve.

Seizure of White Beach 3 on the southern sand spit was designed as a security measure, and the beach was to be occupied by a rifle company of the 3rd Battalion, 186th Infantry, at H Hour. This unit was then to secure Cape Tjeweri, at the northern tip of the spit, and patrol southeastward from the peninsula along the shore of Humboldt Bay to ward off or delay any Japanese counterattacks from that direction.

[N2-79 CTF 77 Opn plan 3-44, 3 Apr 44]

Artillery landing on D Day was to take up positions either on the northern spit or near the Hollandia-Pim road and from those positions provide support for infantry advancing inland and toward Hollandia. Antiaircraft artillery was to be grouped initially on or near White Beach 1. The first duties of engineers were to unload ships, construct or improve exit roads from White Beach 1 to the Hollandia-Pim road, and improve the latter track. The 41st Reconnaissance Troop was to scout along the shores of Humboldt Bay as far as Tami Airstrip, eight miles southeast of Hollandia, and to Imbi Bay and Cape Soedja at the northwestern limits of Humboldt Bay. [N2-80]

Tanahmerah Bay

Landing points chosen for the 24th Division at Tanahmerah Bay were designated Red Beaches 1 and 2 and the principal thrust was to be made over the latter. Situated on the east-central shore of Tanahmerah Bay, Red Beach 2 ran north and south about 800 yards, boasted clear approaches from the sea, and was steeply inclined. It was known to be narrow and backed by a swamp, the nature of which could not be ascertained before the landing. Red Beach 1 was located at the southern end of Dépapré Bay, a narrow southeastern arm of Tanahmerah Bay. The narrow approach to Red Beach 1 was flanked on each side by hills only 600 yards from the central channel, and the landing area was fronted by a coral reef, the characteristics of which were unknown before D Day.

Red Beach 1 opened on a small flat area at the native village of Dépapré, near the beginning of the only road between Tanahmerah Bay and the inland airfields. Little was known about this road, but it was believed to be extensively used by the Japanese, passable for light wheeled vehicles, and subject to rapid improvement. West and south of Red Beach 1 lay a swamp backed by heavily forested hills. To the north was more difficult terrain, dominated by three prominent hills overlooking both Red Beaches. The division expected to find a road running along the sides of these heavily forested hills over the two miles which separated the beaches. [N2-81]

H Hour at Tanahmerah Bay was the same as for Humboldt Bay, 0700, and carrier-based aircraft from Task Force 58 were to support the landings of the 24th Division in much the same manner they were to support the 41st Division’s assault. Naval fire support at Tanahmerah Bay would be provided by two Australian cruisers and by Australian and American destroyers. Targets and timing of naval support fires were similar to those to be used at Humboldt Bay. Most of the fire at Tanahmerah Bay was to be directed at Red Beach 2 and its environs and, prior to H Hour, only one destroyer was assigned to fire on Red Beach 1. After H Hour all fire support ships would be available to fire on targets of opportunity or objectives designated by the forces ashore. One LCI was to support the leading waves to Red Beach 2 with rocket and automatic weapons fire, which was to begin when the carrier-based planes finished their close support missions (about H minus 4 minutes) and continue until the first troops were safely ashore. [N2-82]

[N2-80 LETTERPRESS LF FO 1, 9 Apr 44.]

[N2-81 NOISELESS Landing Force [24th Inf Div] FO 1, 5 Apr 44, in 24th Div Opns Rpt Hollandia, pp. 24ff. 82 CTF 77 Opn plan 3-44, 3 Apr 44]

On the northern half of Red Beach 2 the 19th Infantry (less one battalion in division reserve) was to land. The two assault battalions were to secure half the beachhead, establish left flank security for the rest of the division, prepare to assume responsibility for the protection of the entire beachhead, and undertake mopping up north of the beach.

Simultaneously two battalions of the 21st Infantry were to land on the southern half of Red Beach 2. After securing their sectors of Red Beach 2, these battalions were to push overland and south toward Red Beach 1. The division planned to improve the road which supposedly connected the two beaches or, if necessary, construct a new road between the two.

Initial landings on Red Beach 1 were to be undertaken by three reinforced rifle companies of the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry, and were to begin at H plus 25 minutes, 0725. The primary missions of this force were to start rapidly inland over the road leading to Lake Sentani and the airfields and to report the size and condition of possible additional landing points in the Dépapré area. Movement inland was to begin before the Japanese could organize defenses along that portion of the road which wound snake-like over rugged hills south and east of Dépapré.

The Allied Naval Forces originally objected to a landing on Red Beach 1 and by arrangement with General Eichelberger had had this plan canceled. But General Irving, who wished to provide for every contingency in a landing area where terrain conditions were practically unknown, wanted the Red Beach 1 landing to remain in the plan, even if naval fire support for the assault could not be obtained.

He considered it possible that failure to secure quickly the entrance to the Dépapré-Lake Sentani road might have disastrous consequences were it found impracticable to build a good road from Red Beach 2 to Red Beach 1. Seizing an opportunity to reopen the discussion of a landing on Red Beach 1, General Irving made personal pleas to General Eichelberger and Admiral Barbey, and succeeded in having the landing reinstated in the plan. This proved one of the most important tactical decisions of the Hollandia operation. [N2-83]

Preliminary Operations and the Approach Intelligence Operations

Early in 1944 General MacArthur’s G-2 Section had noted that the Japanese were increasing their activities in the Wewak area and near-by Hansa Bay. As D Day for the Hollandia-Aitape operation approached, it was discovered that the bulk of the Japanese 18th Army was withdrawing from forward bases at Madang and Alexishafen and was moving rapidly westward across the Ramu and Sepik Rivers to Wewak and Hansa Bay. These activities seemed to indicate that the Japanese probably expected the next Allied attack to be aimed at the Wewak-Hansa Bay area.

Every effort was made to foster in the mind of Lt. General Hatazo Adachi, commanding the 18th Army, the growth of the idea that a major assault in the Wewak sector was imminent. During March and early April, Wewak was heavily bombed by the Allied Air Forces, not only to prevent the Japanese from using their airfields there but also to lead the enemy to believe that the usual aerial softening-up process preceding an amphibious operation was taking place.

[N2-83 NOISELESS LF FO 1, 5 Apr 44; 24th Div Opns Rpt Hollandia, p. 23; Ltr, Gen Irving to Gen Ward, 3 Nov 50, in OCMH files.]

Minor naval bombardments of the Wewak and Hansa areas were carried out in March and early April, and PT’s of the Allied Naval Forces patrolled actively along the coast north from Madang to Wewak. By various means propaganda was spread to convince the 18th Army that a landing was soon to be made at Wewak, and dummy parachutists were dropped in the same vicinity. Allied Naval Forces submarines launched empty rubber life rafts along the coast near Wewak in an endeavor to make the Japanese believe that reconnaissance patrols were active in that area. [N2-84]

One effort was made to obtain terrain information and knowledge of enemy troop strength and dispositions in the Hollandia area. About two weeks before the landing a Seventh Fleet submarine landed an Allied reconnaissance patrol at Tanahmerah Bay. The venture proved completely abortive. Local natives betrayed the patrol to the Japanese, and the members were killed, captured, or dispersed. A few men of the original party eluded the enemy and were found alive after the Allied landings. [N2-85]

Air Operations

The scheduled strike by Task Force 58 against the Palaus, designed both for strategic support of the Hollandia operation and the destruction of enemy air and surface units, was carried out on 30-31 March.

Other islands in the western Carolines, including Yap, Ulithi, Ngulu, and Woleai, were hit during the same two days or on 1 April. The raids resulted in the loss for the Japanese of almost 150 aircraft either in the air or on the ground. Two enemy destroyers, four escort vessels, and 104,000 tons of merchant or naval auxiliary shipping were sunk and many other ships, of both combat and merchant classes, were damaged. In addition, airfields and shore installations at all objectives were damaged and the main channels into the Palau fleet anchorage at least temporarily blocked by mines.

Unfortunately, Task Force 58 had been sighted by Japanese search planes prior to its arrival off the Palaus, and many enemy combat ships and a number of merchant vessels had fled from the area. The desired results were achieved, however—the enemy naval units at Palau were removed as a threat to the Hollandia-Aitape operation and driven back to more westerly bases. Task Force 58 lost twenty planes, but its ships suffered no damage. [N2-86]

[N2-84 Memo, GHQ SWPA for ANF SWPA, AAF SWPA, and ALAMO, 30 Mar 44, no sub, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 2-4 Apr 44; Rad, Com7thFlt to CTF 75, 5 Apr 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 5 Apr 44; Rad, CINCSWPA to COMINCH, 11 Apr 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 12 Apr 44; 18th Army Opns, III, pp. 17-20, 39-40.]

[N2-85 ALAMO Force Opns Rpt Hollandia-Aitape, pp. 20-21. For a complete account of the scouting attempt at Hollandia see Commander Eric A. Feldt (RAN), The Coast Watchers (Melbourne, 1946), pp. 364-74.]

[N2-86 U. S. Strategic Bombing Survey, The Campaigns of the Pacific War, p. 207; Japanese Studies in WW II, No. 34, Naval Operations in the Western New Guinea Area, 1943-45, p. 11, and No. 60, The A-GO Operation, 1914, p. 2, copies in OCMH files.]

The efforts of Task Force 58 had been supplemented by South and Southwest Pacific aircraft which, from bases in eastern New Guinea and the Admiralties, bombed islands in the eastern Carolines and undertook many long reconnaissance missions.

Meanwhile, Southwest Pacific aircraft had been neutralizing enemy air bases in western New Guinea and eastern islands of the Netherlands East Indies. Most of the strategic support missions flown to western New Guinea were undertaken by U. S. Fifth Air Force planes while the Royal Australian Air Forces Command assumed responsibility for the majority of the strikes against the islands in the eastern Indies. These operations were intensified about six weeks before the landings at Hollandia and Aitape. From Wewak to the Vogelkop Peninsula of western New Guinea, and from Biak to Timor, the Allied Air Forces destroyed Japanese planes and airfield installations, rendered many air bases at least temporarily unusable, and hindered enemy attempts to fly air reinforcements to New Guinea from the Philippines.[N2-87]

Spectacular results were achieved by the Fifth Air Force at Hollandia, where the Japanese 6th Air Division had recently retreated from Wewak and received strong reinforcements. The air unit conserved its planes, apparently waiting to see where the Allies would strike next. [N2-88] The Japanese waited too long.

The Fifth Air Force shifted the weight of its attack from the Wewak area to Hollandia, and, during the period 30 March through 3 April, destroyed or damaged over 300 Japanese aircraft, most of them on the ground. On 30 March, when over 100 planes were destroyed at Hollandia, the Japanese were caught completely unprepared.

Faulty intelligence, resulting partially from insufficient radar warning facilities, found many Japanese planes on the ground refueling after early morning patrols. Others had been left unattended upon receipt of reports that a large Allied air formation had turned back eastward after bombing Aitape. Finally, earlier Fifth Air Force attacks had so cratered runways and taxiways of two of the three enemy fields at Hollandia that there was little room to disperse the planes.

The Fifth Air Force, in a series of low-level bombing attacks, covered and aided by newly developed long-range fighters, found enemy aircraft parked wing tip to wing tip along the runways. By 6 April the Japanese had only twenty-five serviceable aircraft at Hollandia. [N2-89] They made no attempt to rebuild their air strength there and, after 3 April, Fifth Air Force raids were met by only a small number of enemy fighter planes which made but desultory attempts at interception.[N2-90]

The Japanese did build up a small concentration of air strength farther west, at Wakde-Sarmi, and continued airfield development at still more westerly bases. The Fifth Air Force and Australian aircraft increased their efforts against these latter installations,91 while planes of Task Force 58 effectively neutralized Japanese air power at Wakde-Sarmi just prior to 22 April.

[N2-87 USSBS, op. cit., p. 179; GHQ SWPA OI 48, 24 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 24 Mar 44; Rad, CINCSWPA to CINCPOA et al., CX-10718, 15 Apr 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 15 Apr 44; AAF SWPA OI 49 (Rev), 30 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 30 Mar 44. 88 AAF SWPA Int Sum 193, 25 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 24 Mar 44; GHQ SWPA, G-2 DSEI’s 737 and 742, 26 Mar and 3 Apr 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnls, 26 Mar and 3 Apr 44; 18th Army Opns, III, 4-9, 17-20.]

[N2-89 18th Army Opns III, 35-37; AAF SWPA Int Sum 197, 8 Apr 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 7 Apr 44; GHQ SWPA, G-2 DSEI 742, 3 Apr 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 3 Apr 44. Many additional details of AAF SWPA action against Hollandia are provided in the Air Force’s official history: Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cates (Eds.), The Pacific: Guadalcanal to Saipan, August 1942 to July 1944 (Chicago, 1950), pp. 587-98.]

[N2-90 18th Army Opns, III, 41-46; Japanese Studies in WW II, 31, History of the 2nd Area Army, 1943-1945, pp. 30-40, copy in OCMH files; ALAMO Force Opns Rpt Hollandia-Aitape, pp. 45-48; AAF SWPA Int Sum 197, 8 Apr 44; GHQ SWPA, G-2 DSEI 760, 21 Apr 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 21 Apr 44. For additional information on the effects of Japanese air losses at Hollandia, see Ch. IV, below.]

[N2-91] GHQ SWPA, G-2 Est of Enemy Sit, Wakde-Sarmi, 8 Apr 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 8 Apr 44; GHQ SWPA, G-2 DSEI 760, 21 Apr 44.]

The Fifth Air Force, in a series of low-level bombing attacks, found enemy aircraft parked wing tip to wing tip along the runways. Task Force 58’s efforts at Wakde and Hollandia on D minus 1 and D Day bagged an estimated thirty-three aircraft shot down. Damage to planes on the ground at either objective was difficult to assess because of the degree of destruction previously achieved at both places by the Allied Air Forces.[N2-92]

Attack Force Preparations Meanwhile, Allied ground and amphibious forces had been engaged in final preparations and training for the coming assault and, on 8, 9, and 10 April, had undertaken last rehearsals. The 24th Division’s rehearsal at Taupota Bay, on the coast of New Guinea south of Goodenough Island, was incomplete. Little unloading was attempted, and the area selected did not permit the employment of naval gunfire support. The 41st Division had a more satisfactory rehearsal, with realistic unloading and naval fire, near Lae, New Guinea. {2-93]

[N2-92 USSBS, op. cit., p. 208; ALAMO Force Opns Rpt Hollandia-Aitape, pp. 45-46.]

[N2-93 24th Div Opns Rpt Hollandia, p. 37; CTF 77 Opns Rpt Tanahmerah Bay-Humboldt Bay-Aitape, p. 29; RTF Opns Rpt Hollandia, p. 3; PTF Opns Rpt Aitape, 22 Apr-4 Mar 44, p. 1; 41st Div Opns Rpt Hollandia, p. 1.]

Final loading began on 10 April. LCI’s of the RECKLESS Task Force left their loading points on 16 April in order to allow the troops aboard to disembark at the Admiralty Islands for a day of exercising, resting, and eating. Other vessels of Hollandia bound convoys left the Goodenough Island and Cape Cretin staging areas on 17 and 18 April. Ships carrying the PERSECUTION Task Force moved out of the Finschhafen area on 18 April and on the same day rendezvoused with the vessels bearing the 41st Division toward the Admiralties.

All convoys moved north around the eastern side of the Admiralties and, at 0700 on 20 April, the various troops assembled at a rendezvous point northwest of Manus Island. Moving at a speed of about nine knots, the massed convoys steamed westward from the Admiralties all day and at dusk turned southwest toward Hollandia.

At a point about eighty miles off the New Guinea coast between Hollandia and Aitape, the PERSECUTION Task Force convoy—the Eastern Attack Group—broke off from the main body and swung southeast toward Aitape. The ships bearing the RECKLESS Task Force proceeded to a point twenty miles offshore between Humboldt and Tanahmerah Bays. There, at 0130 on D Day, this convoy split. The Central Attack Group, with the 41st Division aboard, turned southeast toward Humboldt Bay and arrived in the transport area at 0500. The ships of the Western Attack Group, carrying the 24th Division and the remainder of the RECKLESS Task Force, moved into Tanahmerah Bay at the same time.

[N2-94 RTF Opns Rpt Hollandia, Map 1, p. 5; CTF 77 Opns Rpt Tanahmerah Bay-Humboldt Bay-Aitape, pp. 9-10; CTG 77.2 (Central Attack Group) Opns Rpt Humboldt Bay, p. 3; CTG 77.3 Opns Rpt Aitape, pp. 1-2.]

Source: Approach to the Philippines: BY Robert Ross Smith (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: Hollandia Operation (3) Landings

World War Two: Hollandia-Aitape Operation (2A): Planning and Preparation

World War Two: Italy (3-24) Italian Decision – German Troop Movements

ACHSE: What of Italian-German relations? After the Bologna conference of 15 August, the relations between the Axis partners continued to be as unsatisfactory as before. The only agreements reached had been to build German units in southern Italy up to strength and to reduce the forces of both nations in the Brenner area from the German point of view, no satisfactory solution to the problem of command had been made, and no suitable agreement reached on the distribution of forces to defend against Allied invasion. The Germans remained suspicious of Italy’s intentions. [N3-24-1: 0KW/WFSt, KTB, 1-31.V1ll.43. 15 Aug 43; MS #C-093 (Warlimont), p. 128. Z OKW/WFSt, KTB, l.-3l.VII1.43, 15 and 21 Aug 43.]

The Italian declaration of Rome as an open city the day before seemed to be related in some fashion to peace moves, and of course boded no good for the Germans. OKW realized that the Allies would recognize the status of Rome as an open city only if all movements of troops and war materials through the city ceased. Because traffic to southern Italy could not bypass the capital, however, the Germans had no way of supplying their forces in southern Italy except through Rome.

 German anxiety lessened somewhat two days after the Bologna conference because on 17 August the evacuation of Sicily was completed. With some 40,000 German troops, plus their weapons and vehicles, withdrawn from Sicily to southern Italy, the Germans no longer had to suffer the fear that had beset them ever since the overthrow of Mussolini-that an Allied landing in Calabria would cut off the XIV Panzer Corps in Sicily. After the units that had fought on the island had had some rest and enough time to make up deficiencies in materiel, the six divisions south of Rome would be a strong bulwark against an Allied invasion in the south. On that same day, 17 August, Rommel and his Army Group B took command of all the German formations in northern Italy; Rommel moved his headquarters from Munich to Garda, not far from the Brenner-Verona railway.s

 Hitler and OKW, for their part, had no plans to defend Italy south of Rome. They did not consider the task feasible without Italian aid, and Hitler still felt intuitively certain of the eventual capitulation of the Badoglio government to the Allies. Accordingly, all Army Group B unit commanders were warned to be ready to act against the Italians should the political situation change. The 7th Infantry Division was to occupy the city of Ljubljana and the Ljubljana-Tarvis pass. [N3-24-3 0KW/WFSt, KTB, r.-sI. VIII.43, 16 and 18 Aug 43; Vietinghoff in MS #T-Ia (Westphal et al. l, eh. VI, pp. 11-12.)]

German forces were to defend permanently the Pisa-Arezzo-Ancona line along the southern slopes of the northern Apennines.4 A new headquarters, the Tenth Army, would be activated in southern Italy to control the XIV and LXXVI Panzer Corps, and General der Panzertruppen Heinrich von Vietinghoff genannt Scheel was nominated commanding general on 8 August. As Hitler explained to Vietinghoff on 17 August, when the latter had been summoned to the Führer’s headquarters, “I have clear proof that Badoglio is already negotiating an armistice with the Allies.” It was possible, Hitler said, that Italian officers were not informed. Hitler believed that the Allies would soon invade the Italian mainland with large forces. The first mission of the Tenth Army after activation, therefore, would be to withdraw the German divisions in southern Italy as rapidly as possible to the area southeast of Rome. Vietinghoff was to be careful not to give the Italians any excuse for getting out of the war, and he was therefore not to withdraw prematurely. [N3-24-4]

 During the withdrawal toward Rome, Vietinghoff was to operate under Kesselring’s OB SUED. After the withdrawal to central Italy and the elimination of Kesselring’s command, Tenth Army was to come under Rommel’s Army Group B. [N3-24-5] As for Kesselring, the signal for the start of a German withdrawal from south Italy would be the seizure of Rome. This Kesselring was to achieve with the 3rd Panzer Grenadier and 2nd Parachute {Fallschirmjäger } Divisions. But if Skorzeny located and liberated Mussolini, Kesselring was to act independently of Allied action: he would seize Rome, restore Mussolini to power, re-establish fascism, and induce loyal Fascist elements to co-operate with the Germans in defending northern Italy.6

 [N3-24-4 OKWjWFSt, KTB, L-3LVIl1.43, 16 Aug 43]

[N3-24-5 Vietinghoff in MS #T-Ia (Westphal et al.), ch. VI, pp. 6-7; MS #D-I 17, Beurteilung der Lage durch die hoechsten Dienststellen im August 1943. Einsatz des AOK 10. (Vietinghoff), p. 4]

 About this same time, 17 August, Skorzeny learned that Mussolini, guarded by about 150 carabinieri, was being held on the Sardinian island of Maddalena. While he was preparing to raid Maddalena and liberate Mussolini, Skorzeny suddenly received orders from OKW to execute a parachute drop on a small island near Elba. There, OKW had been informed, Mussolini was being held. But the Italian secret service had planted this information, and Mussolini was, in reality, at Maddalena. Only after a personal appeal to the Führer did Skorzeny get OKW’s order revoked. This, however, delayed Skorzeny’s preparations, and when his plans for the Maddalena raid were completed ten days later, on 27 August, he learned that Mussolini had again been moved. [N3-24-7]

 Kesselring, inclined to believe the repeated declarations of loyalty to the alliance made by Badoglio, Ambrosio, and others, continued to view the problem of defending Italy differently from either Hitler, Rommel, or Jodl. Though he recognized the low combat effectiveness of the Italian units, he wished to gain as much as possible from Italian co-operation. Along with Rintelen, he feared that Hitler’s and Rommel’s tactless and suspicious attitude might drive the Italians into needless overt hostility. [N3-24-8]

 [N3-24-6 Lutz Koch, Erwin Rommel: Die Wandlung eines grossen Soldaten (Stuttgart: Walter Gebauer, 1950), pp. 152-53. Some rumors of this German plan reached the Italian Embassy in Berlin. See Simoni, Berlino, Ambasciata, p. 403, entry for 22 Aug 43]

[N3-24-7 MS #D-318, The Rescue of Mussolini (SS Oberstleutnant Otto Skorzeny and SS Major Karl Radl), pp. 48-134. Cf. Mussolini, Storia di un anno, pp. 22-23.]

Despite Kesselring’s Italophile views, OKW activated Vietinghoff’s Tenth Army headquarters on 22 August. Viewing the Naples-Salerno area as the one most immediately threatened, OKW gave Vietinghoff three missions: to concentrate as quickly as possible in the Naples-Salerno area a strong group of three mobile divisions, plus all units lacking organic transportation; to protect the Foggia airfields with part of the 1st Parachute {Fallschirmjäger} Division; and to oppose strongly any Allied landing in the Naples-Salerno area, but to institute only a delaying action against an invasion of Calabria south of the Castrovillari neck.[N3-24-9] 

The day after Tenth Army activation, Vietinghoff made a formal call on General Arisio, commander of the Italian Seventh Army stationed in southern Italy. The two agreed that the six German divisions in southern Italy were to be under Vietinghoff’s command and not under Arisio’s, as before. Arisio also agreed that his Italian units would form the first line of defense along the coast, leaving the more mobile German divisions to constitute a reserve for counterattack purposes. In the event of an Allied landing, and in conformity with German principles, the stronger force would assume command of all the troops within the sector where the reserve force was committed. The two generals also agreed on maintaining close liaison and co-operation.10

 [N3-24-8 OKW/WFSt, KTB, 1.-31.VIII.43, 19 and 21 Aug 43; Rintelen, Mussolin; als Bundesgenosse, pp. 246-47; MS #C-OI3 (Kesselring), p. 20.]

[N3-24-9 Telg, OKW/WFSt/Op. No. 661966/43 C. K. Chefs to OB SUED and others, 18 Aug 43, West!. Mitlelmeer Chefs. (H 22/290).]

To OKW Sardinia also seemed endangered, but the threat of an Italian capitulation to the Allies inhibited the Germans from sending additional troops to reinforce the 90th Panzer Grenadier Division and the six fortress battalions on the island. Considering a protracted defense impossible, the Germans prepared to evacuate Sardinia by way of Corsica and Elba. But the troops were not to be evacuated unless the Italians failed to co-operate or unless developments on the Italian mainland, for example an Allied invasion of the coast near Rome, threatened to cut off the Germans. [N3-24-11]

 Kesselring, by contrast, believed Sardinia in greater danger than the Naples-Salerno area. Flying to Hitler’s headquarters on 22 August, he urged that additional forces be moved to Sardinia, for the troops withdrawn from Sicily, he reasoned, gave the Naples-Salerno area sufficient protection. In effect, Kesselring was supporting a request by Comando Supremo for an additional German division for Sardinia. OKW refused. Instead, OKW instructed Kesselring to propose to Ambrosio that Sardinia be guarded exclusively by Italian troops so that German troops could take full responsibility for Corsica. The Tenth Army, OKW emphasized, was to make its main stand in the Naples-Salerno area, even if this meant giving up Puglia, the Italian heel. [N3-24-12] 

[N3-24-10 MS # D-117 (Vietinghoff), pp. 9- 200.]

[N3-24-11 OKW/WFSt, KTB, 1.-31.V1II.43, 18 Aug 43]

[N3-24-12 Estimate of the Situation by OB SUED, 18 Aug 43, OKW/WFSt, KTB, 1.-31. VIII’43, 19 Aug 43; OKWjWFSt, KTB, 1.-31.VII1.43, 22 and 2:) Aug 43.]

A day after Kesselring’s visit to Hitler, the Badoglio government sent a strong note of prote5t to Germany. Report~ from the Italian Embassy in Berlin and from other sources indicated that certain Nazis were working closely with Fascists to overthrow Badoglio and re-establish a Fascist government in Rome. On the following day, 24 August, the Italian Government arrested several former Fascist leaders, including General Ugo Cavallero, who had been Ambrosio’s predecessor at Comando Supremo. Perhaps this action averted an incipient Fascist revolt. Whether it did or not, it had the effect of causing Hitler to postpone his projected stroke against Rome.[N3-24-13]

 By this time, though, another Italo-German crisis was in the making. The forces of Rommel’s Army Group B were carrying out their movement into northern Italy, a movement that Rommel planned to complete by the end of the month. But despite the peaceful German occupation of northern Italy, relations between the two governments and the two armed services worsened when friction developed during the relief of the Italian Fourth Army in France, a relief that began on 23 August: the Germans objected to the movement of the 7th (Luidi Toscana) Infantry Division to Nice, and they insisted that Italian naval vessels evacuate Toulon. [N3-24-14]

 [N3-24-13 Simoni, Berlina, Ambasciata, p. 403; Guariglia, Ricardi, p. 651; Bonomi, Diaria, pp. 80-82.]

[N3-24-14 OKW/WFSt, KTB, I.-3I. VIII.43, 22-24 Aug 43.]

 Then on 24 August, after guerrilla bands attacked a 24th Panzer Division supply train near Lubliana, OKW instructed Rintelen to protest to Comando Supremo and to indicate to the Italians that the Germans would have to reinforce the troops protecting the Tarvis-Feistritz-Ljubljana passes. Before Comando Supremo could reply, the German 71st Infantry Division on 26 August began to move to Tarvis and toward the passes of the Julian Alps, the only ones still held and controlled exclusively by the Italians. At first threatening to use force to resist German violation of the Tarvis agreement, Comando Supremo in the end consented to the German move, just as Ambrosio had earlier acquiesced in the German occupation of the Brenner Pass, the Riviera, and the Mount Cenis pass. [N3-24-15] 

Meanwhile, the question of who was to exercise command over Italian and German forces had again arisen to trouble both nations. On 20 August, OKW had made an elaborate proposal for all theaters fronting on the Mediterranean: southern France, Italy, and the Balkans. OKW proposed Italian supreme command in Italy, German supreme command in southern France and in the Balkans, with each having the power to direct the organization of defense and the conduct of battle in case of Allied invasion. The distribution of the forces of both nations in all three areas was to be regulated from time to time by OKW and Comando Supremo. In Italy, Army Group Band OB SUED were to be under the immediate command of the King, who would issue his directives through Comando Supremo. 

The Italian Fourth and Eighth Armies in northern Italy were to be attached to Army Group B. Four days later, on 24 August, Ambrosio accepted the proposal as it related to Franco-Italian units remaining in southern France were to be under the command of Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt as Commander in Chief West. Ambrosio made considerable concessions in the Balkans. But in Italy, Ambrosio rejected the German proposal and suggested, rather, as he had before, a radical regrouping of German forces. For the time being there would be no change in the command structure of the two military forces in Italy. [N3-24-16] 

[N3-24-15 0KW/WFSt, KTB, 1.-31. VIII’43, 24-26 Aug 43; Simoni, Berlina, Ambasciata. p. 405.]

By the end of the month, the Germans had received increasing indications both of an impending Allied invasion and of the imminent Italian desertion. Which threat was the greater was difficult for the Germans to determine.

 As aerial reconnaissance reports revealed extensive Allied troop loadings in North African ports, Kesselring’s original estimate that Sardinia was the area most immediately threatened by invasion changed; these preparations were much larger than an attack on Sardinia alone required. But the distribution of Allied shipping in North Africa and Sicily, plus the pattern of Allied bombing, still seemed to indicate several possibilities Sardinia and Corsica; an attack on the southwest coast of Italy followed by a drive to cut off Calabria and to reach Naples; or an invasion of Puglia. Should the Italians abandon the alliance, the coastal region near Rome was not out of the realm of possibility, and this prospect was not pleasing. The German force near the Italian capital-two reinforced divisions-was considered sufficient to eliminate the Italian forces guarding Rome but hardly adequate to resist an Allied invasion aided by Italian co-operation.

 [N3-24-16 0KWjWFSt, KTB, 1.-31.V1II.43, 20 and 25 Aug 43.]

[N3-24-17 Situation appreciation by OB SUED, 28 Aug 43, OKW/WFSt, KTB, 1.-31. VIII·43, 29 Aug 43; See also OKW/WFSt, KTB, 1.-31. VIII.43, 26 Aug 43.]

Though an Allied invasion was an ever present danger, the Germans began to regard the prospect of Italian treachery as the graver threat. Kesselring, while not unmindful of the possibility that he could be wrong, continued to accept in good faith repeated Italian assurances. [N3-24-18] But Hitler had no such illusions. When he received from Kesselring and Rintelen favorable reports on Italian co-operation, he conjectured that Badoglio had approached the Allies, found their terms too severe, and swung back momentarily to the Axis. Convinced that the reporting of his “Italophiles” at Rome was not accurate, he sent General der Infanterie Rudolf Toussaint on I September to relieve Rintelen as military attaché, and Rudolf Rahn to replace Ambassador von M ackensen. [N3-24-19] 

Two days before, on 30 August, OKW made what turned out to be its final revision of Operation ACHSE, the plan to seize control of Italy. German units were to disarm Italian soldiers, except those who remained loyal. Italian troops who wished to fight on the German side were to be permitted to come over to the Wehrmacht; those who wished to go home were to be allowed to do so. 0B SUED was to withdraw German units from southern Italy to the Rome area, then conduct further operations in accordance with instructions from Army Group B. The latter headquarters was to reinforce the troops at all the passes leading into Italy, occupy Genoa, La Spezia, Leghorn, Trieste, Fiume, and Pola, and pacify northern Italy through the instrumentality of a revived Fascist organization. The German Navy was to take over the tasks formerly performed by the Italian Fleet, and the German Luftwaffe was to do the same for the Italian Air Force; both were to cooperate to prevent Italian warships from going over to the Allies. [N3-24-20] By the beginning of September 1943, the Germans were ready to meet the twin perils of Italian capitulation and Allied invasion.

[N3-24-18 See the account of Badoglio’s discussion with Rintelen on 29 Aug 43, OKW/WFSt, KTB, 1.-31.VII1.43, 29 Aug 43; MS #C-OI3 (Kesselring), pp. 26-27.]

[N3-24-19 Rintelen, Mussolini als Bundesgenosse, pp.249-55; OKW/WFSt, KTB, 1.-31. VIII.43, 4 Sep 43.]

The Parleys at Cassibile

Even as the Germans were taking steps to counteract a possible Italian defection from the Pact of Steel, General Castellano and his interpreter, Montanari, reached the Termini Imerese airfield near Palermo a little before 0900, 31 August. Brigadier Strong met them, and an American plane took the party to the 15th Army Group headquarters at Cassibile. Earlier that morning, General Smith, Mr. Murphy, and Mr. Macmillan had flown from Algiers to Cassibile with General Zanussi, who again had the text of the long terms of armistice which he had originally received from the British Ambassador at Lisbon.

 The Italian generals met at Cassibile, and their meeting was not altogether cordial. Resenting what he considered Zanussi’s intrusion into the negotiations, Castellano asked why Zanussi had gone to Lisbon. The reason, Zanussi replied, was the lack of a report from Castellano. 

Castellano then asked why Zanussi had requested a special plane for Lieutenant Lanza, who had not brought any important documents to Rome. The Allies, Zanussi explained, had taken the text of the long terms from him at Algiers, and had just now returned it. Zanussi seems to have briefly mentioned these additional conditions of armistice, but Castellano did not ask to see the document and Zanussi did not offer it. Castellano remained ignorant of the long terms. [N3-24-21] 

At Cassibile, Castellano, Zanussi, and Montanari conferred with Generals Alexander and Smith, Brigadier Strong, Commodore Royer Dick (Admiral Cunningham’s chief of staff), Major General John K. Cannon (NATAF’s deputy commander), and a British army captain named Deann who served as interpreter. General Smith presided and opened the discussion by asking Castellano whether he had full power to sign the military terms of the armistice. 

Castellano replied in the negative, added that he had precise instructions, and read the memorandum furnished by his government: If the Italian Government were free, it would accept and announce the armistice as demanded by the Allies. Because the Italian Government was not free but under German control (as the result of the considerable increase of German forces in Italy since the Lisbon meeting), Italy could not accept the condition that the armistice be announced before the main Allied landings. The Italian Government had to be certain that Allied landings were in sufficient strength to guarantee the security of Rome, where the King and the government intended to remain, before it would hazard the announcement of an armistice. Because of the inferiority of their equipment, the Italians could not face the Germans alone. If they did, they would be quickly eliminated. 

[N3-24-20 OKW/WFSt, KTB, 1-31.VII1.43, 29 Aug 21 Castellano, Come firmai, pp. 133-34; Za-43. nussi, Guerra e catastrofe, II, 116-17.]

Having eliminated the Italian military forces, the Germans could turn their undivided attention to the Allied invaders. Therefore, the Italian Government insisted that the Allies make their main landings north of Rome and in the force of at least fifteen divisions. 

General Smith bluntly declared the Italian proposal unacceptable. The Italian Government had two alternatives: it could accept the conditions or refuse the armistice. He explained that General Eisenhower had had great difficulty securing authorization from the Allied governments to undertake any discussions with the Italians, and these were restricted to military matters only. The Quebec Memorandum offered Italy an opening, Smith said, and General Eisenhower had full power to modify the conditions in accordance with the degree of support rendered by Italy in the war. If the Italian Government refused the offer of an armistice, with its proclamation on the day of the Allied landing-as had been planned by General Eisenhower with the approval of the British and American Governments then General Eisenhower would have no power to treat with Italian military leaders or to conclude an armistice in the future. In this case, negotiations would have to be turned over to the Allied diplomats, who would necessarily impose much harsher conditions. 

Smith was striking at Castellano’s essential program of military collaboration with the Allies by which the dynasty and the government might maintain themselves and save something from the disastrous wreck into which the Fascist regime had plunged Italy. Ruling out military discussions in the future meant the inability of Italy to participate in the war, the exclusion of any mitigation of terms in proportion to Italian aid. General Smith clearly implied that unless the Italian Government at once accepted all of General Eisenhower’s conditions, Italy’s role during the rest of the war would be passive, and her ultimate fate at the peace table would be determined purely on the basis of Allied wishes. As for the fifteen divisions that Badoglio regarded as essential, Smith said that if the Allies were in a position to land such a force, they would not be offering an armistice. The Allies intended to invade the Italian peninsula with or without Italian aid, and the Italians themselves would have to decide whether the struggle would be long and devastating or relatively brief. Perceiving that the Allies planned to commit a total of fifteen divisions in Italy rather than to invade with that many, Castellano tried to secure a modification of the Allied plan to announce the armistice at the time of the main Allied landing. 

Castellano and Zanussi both tried repeatedly to gain some indication of the place and approximate time of the principal Allied debarkation, but General Smith refused to divulge any information. Castellano then declared that he could say nothing further. He would have to refer the decision to his government, because he was obliged to follow his instructions strictly. He raised the question of whether the Italian Fleet might go to Maddalena, off Sardinia, rather than to an Allied port in order to soften the blow of its loss to the Italian people. Again Smith refused to modify the terms. 

Still trying to learn when and where the Allies would invade the Italian mainland, Castellano asked how the Allies planned to protect the Vatican City, and when they hoped to reach Rome. To no avail. And when he made the threat that the Italian Fleet would not remain idle as it had during the Sicilian Campaign, but would attack Allied convoys, Smith replied with stronger threats: whatever the German strength or the Italian attitude, the Allies would drive the Germans out of Italy regardless of any suffering on the part of the Italian people. Nothing could prevent Italy from becoming a battlefield, but the Italian Government might shorten the duration of the battle by accepting completely the Allied conditions.

 The Italian generals faced a cruel dilemma. Italy’s refusal to accept the military armistice terms, with the possibility that later military collaboration might favorably modify the terms, opened the way to an overthrow of the dynasty and the disappearance of the regime. And yet, even more immediate was the threat that the Germans would occupy Rome and seize the government unless the Allies landed close to the capital. The course of the discussion revealed to General Smith and the others that Badoglio and his emissaries feared the Germans more than the Allies. At Lisbon, Castellano had given full information on German troop dispositions in Italy; at Cassibile, he refused to do so. 

The conference terminated on an inconclusive note, though Smith had the impression that the Italian Government would not pluck up its courage to sign and announce the armistice unless the Allies gave assurances of strong landings in the Rome area as a means of protecting the government against the Germans. While adamant during the conference, General Smith was nevertheless courteous. He invited the Italian representatives to lunch, where, after an initial embarrassing silence, discussion was resumed. Smith repeated that if Italy lost this opportunity, its situation in the future would be much more difficult. Castellano reiterated his government’s contention that it would accept the armistice, no matter how harsh the terms, if the proclamation were postponed.

The Italian Government, he said, would gladly provide military cooperation, but Italy could not do this unless the Allies offered guarantees to make it possible. Now almost certain that the Allies intended to land south of Rome, Castellano remarked that Italian forces alone could not save the capital, the nerve center of the country. He urged the Allies, in their own interest, to furnish help: if Rome fell to the Germans, he warned, a costly battle would be necessary to regain the city. 

When Smith mentioned the Italian divisions disposed around Rome as being able to resist a German attack, Castellano countered that their weapons were so inferior to those of the Germans that only an Allied landing near Rome in addition to the main landing could save the capital. Smith then asked Castellano to make a specific request, bearing in mind that the Allies could not change their general plan of operations because of the long and minute preparations required for an amphibious landing. In response, Castellano requested one armored division to debark at Ostia, the old port of Rome at the mouth of the Tiber River, and one airborne division to drop nearby. 

After lunch, General Smith conferred with Generals Eisenhower (in Africa) and Alexander and with AFHQ staff officers, while Messrs. Murphy and Macmillan conversed with Castellano and Zanussi. The Allied political advisers urged the Italians to act immediately on what was the last chance of the Badoglio government to salvage something from the war. Otherwise, they said, the Allies would refuse to deal with the King and the Badoglio government and would bomb relentlessly the Major cities, including Rome. It was like preaching to the converted. The government of Rome remained more afraid of the immediate German threat than of the danger posed by the Allies. According to Castellano and Zanussi, the problem was to induce the cautious, fearful men in Rome to take the initiative against the Germans. Much as they yearned to be rid of the Germans, they feared that the Allies were not strong enough, even with Italian help, to take over and protect a large part of the country against the considerable German forces stationed there. 

The German strength in Italy, which made the Badoglio government hesitate to accept an armistice, was precisely the factor that made the surrender of Italy essential to the Allies. General Eisenhower felt that the German forces in Italy had become so powerful as to change materially the estimates on which AVALANCHE had originally been based. The reserves concentrated in north Italy constituted a mobile threat, and though Allied air could delay their movement, it could not impose a paralysis on enemy traffic.

The success of AVALANCHE, Eisenhower believed, might very likely turn upon gaining such a degree of Italian aid as would materially retard the movement of German reserves toward the battlefield. Eisenhower had no thought of abandoning AVALANCHE, but he needed every possible ounce of support from the Italians.

General Alexander, on whom would fall the immediate responsibility for the first large-scale invasion of the European mainland, was even more concerned than General Eisenhower. The Germans had nineteen divisions, he estimated, the Italians sixteen. AVALANCHE projected an initial Allied landing of three to five divisions, and a build-up over two weeks to a maximum of eight divisions. If the Italian units, fighting on their home soil, supported the Germans, the Allies might face a disaster of the first magnitude, a failure that would have catastrophic repercussions in England and in the United States.

 

Literally everything had to be done, he told Mr. Murphy, to persuade the Italians to help the Allied forces during the landing and immediately afterwards. In their anxiety to induce the Italian Government to surrender and provide military assistance, the Allies agreed to Castellano’s request for protective forces at Rome. They decided to send the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division to Rome at the time of the main invasion. Two plans for using the 82nd in AVALANCHE had not been approved-one, a plan to seize the inland communication centers of Nocera and Sarno to block the movement of German reserves (neither place was suitable for drop zones); the other, named GIANT I, to air-land and drop the division along the Volturno River to secure the north flank of the Allied beachhead (canceled because of the difficulty of supplying the airborne troops so far from the ground forces). The division was therefore available, and a new plan, GIANT II, was drawn up for a drop near Rome.

Designed to induce the Italians to surrender, a prerequisite on which the entire invasion of the Italian mainland seemed to depend, the projected airborne operation offered certain military advantages. In conjunction with the Italian divisions assembled around Rome, the Allies would thereby gain control of the Italian capital and cut off reinforcements and supplies from the German units south of Rome. The psychological effect of a quick stroke against the city might be so stimulating as to cause the Italians to turn against the Germans. Caught by surprise, the Germans might pull out of south and central Italy at once. This was the basis of the decision made by General Eisenhower, in discussion with Generals Alexander and Smith on 31 August, to accede to Castellano’s request for protecting the government at Rome.

 When Smith returned to the tent occupied by the Italian emissaries, Murphy and Macmillan departed, and the discussions continued on a military basis. Smith told the Italian generals that it would be very difficult to get an armored division to Rome but quite possible to obtain an airborne division-if the Italians could provide certain airfields. Castellano saw no difficulty in making airfields available, but he thought armored units necessary to give the whole operation what he termed consistency. If an entire armored division could not be committed near Rome at once, at least some anti-tank guns at the mouth of the Tiber were indispensable. Smith assured Castellano that he would study the feasibility of the project; perhaps an entire armored division could be landed at a somewhat later date. 

The conference then came to an end, and both parties summarized the results:

(1) The Italian Government might accept or refuse the conditions of armistice, but if it accepted it must accede to the method indicated by the Allies for the official declaration.

(2) The Allies were to make a subsidiary landing on the mainland, and against this operation the Italian troops could not avoid offering resistance.

( 3) Soon afterwards, the Allies would make their main landings south of Rome, bringing the total forces employed in both landings to at least the fifteen divisions regarded as essential by Badoglio; at the same time, the Allies would land an airborne division near Rome and one hundred anti-tank guns at the mouth of the Tiber.

(4) The Italian Government was to make known its acceptance of the armistice by radio within twenty-four hours of 2 September; if it refused, no communication was to be made. [N3-24-22]

 After leaving Cassibile at 1600 in an American plane, Castellano, Zanussi, and Montanari transferred to the Italian plane at Termini Imerese and arrived in Rome around I goo. During their flight, the two generals talked over the problem. Sharing Castellano’s conviction that the Italian Government could follow but one course-accept the armistice on the military conditions-Zanussi had supported Castellano at Cassibile. There was, however, little cordiality between the two men, because Castellano saw Zanussi as a rival.

When Zanussi tried to explain the long terms, Castellano, believing them to be no different from those contained in the papers he had received at Lisbon, refused to listen. Zanussi did not insist and Castellano still remained ignorant of the long terms. When Zanussi expressed his fear that Castellano might not be able to persuade Badoglio to accept the armistice, he offered to support Castellano’s arguments. Castellano was not particularly receptive. And when Zanussi offered to try to get Carboni to feel more favorably disposed toward Castellano, the latter was surprised. He had had no previous Intimation that Carboni bore him any hostility. [N3-24-23]

 [N3-24-22: Telg, Eisenhower to CCS, NAF 346, [ Sep 43, Capitulation of Italy, pp. [98-202; Castellano, Come firmai., pp. [35-44, and the minutes of the conference which he prints as Appendix 2, pp. 2 [9-22; Zanussi, Guerra e catastrofe, II, [[ 7-20; Ltr, Murphy to President Roosevelt, 8 Sep 43, OPD Files. Italy; Interv with Ambassador Smith, 13 May 47; Interv with Strong, 29 Oct 47; In terv, Smyth with Major General Lowell W. Rooks. 28 Sep 48; Gavin, Airborne War Fare , pp. [9-24; 82nd AB Div in Sicily and Italy, pp. 4 [-45;Warren, USAF Historical Study 74, pp. 56-57·The minutes printed in Castellano are authentic (see interview with Strong).]

Both generals realized that the Allies had made but slight concessions regarding Badoglio’s requests for a landing of fifteen divisions north of Rome and for an announcement of the armistice after the landing. It was quite apparent that the Allies had completed their plans, that they would not land north of Rome or even in that latitude. Where and when the Allies would invade the Italian mainland were questions which had not been answered. Zanussi thought the Allies might come ashore in the Formia-Gaeta sector some forty-five miles northwest of Naples, and Castellano appeared to share his opinion. The memorandum the Allies had given to Castellano indicated only the possibility that the main attack would come within two weeks.

 Castellano had not quite carried out his instructions to get the Allies to land in strength north of Rome. The Allies, it was clear, planned a subsidiary landing far to the south and a main landing closer to the capital, but still not within immediate striking distance. The Allies, General Smith had said, would land “as far north as possible, within the possibility of protection by fighter planes.” The total of all the forces employed by the Allies would approximate fifteen divisions. The decision the Badoglio government had to make could be only in these terms.

The Allies indicated not the slightest willingness to modify the plans they had formulated before Castellano had first contacted them, and they declined to make their invasion of Italy primarily an attempt to rescue the Italian Government. As for the long terms, the Allies expected the Italian Government to be fully informed of them, for Zanussi had received them in Lisbon and carried a copy with him back to Rome. But Zanussi, who was Roatta’s subordinate, was to give his copy of the terms to Roatta on 1 September with the suggestion that the paper be passed to Ambrosio. Whether Roatta did so or not, Castellano continued uninformed of the comprehensive surrender conditions, and for the moment Badoglio too was to remain in ignorance of them. [N3-24-26]

The Decision at Rome

Back in Rome on the evening of 31 August, Castellano hastened to Comando Supremo where he found Ambrosio and reported the results of the Cassibile discussions. Since Badoglio had retired for the night, Ambrosio made an appointment to see him the next morning. 

Accompanied by Ambrosio, Guariglia, Acquarone, and Carboni, Castellano on I September presented his copy of the minutes of the Cassibile conference to Badoglio and gave a detailed account of what had been said. He admitted frankly that he had been unable to obtain what the Italian Government desired-postponement of the armistice until after the main Allied landings. The Allies, he stated, would not modify their plan to invade southern Italy. The Allied leaders, he explained, considered the Italian units around Rome strong enough to defend the city. Only after he had made clear the absolute inferiority of the Italian troops in comparison with the nearby German troops had he obtained the promise of an American airborne division, one hundred pieces of artillery, and the subsequent commitment of an armored division. Sending these troops, Castellano said, would automatically entail the support of Allied aviation. Badoglio listened in silence until Castellano finished. Then he asked Ambrosio’s opinion. Ambrosio said he saw no course open other than to accept the proffered conditions.

[N3-24-26 Zanussi, Guerra e catastrole, II, 124; Castellano, Come firm ai, 160; Badoglio, Memorie e documenti, pp. 102, 132.] 

At this point, Carboni spoke out in decided opposition. It was he, Carboni, who commanded the Motorized Corps of four divisions. It was he who would have to defend Rome against the Germans. He believed that the Anglo-American assurances were not to be trusted. They were oral promises rather than a written agreement. Furthermore, he said, his troops could not withstand a German attack because they lacked gasoline and ammunition. 

Carboni’s remarks came as a disagreeable surprise to Castellano, for Carboni had favored Castellano’s mission to Cassibile, and he had not earlier mentioned his lack of ammunition and gasoline. But Zanussi had spoken to Carboni on the preceding evening and apparently had told him something of the discussions at Cassibile. Learning that he would have the unenviable task of defending Rome against the Germans with very little Allied Carboni had become depressed. Guariglia, for his part, said there was nothing to do but accept the armistice. The Italian Government was committed, he believed, because so much of Castellano’s negotiations had been placed on paper, a fact which the Allies might use to precipitate an Italo-German conflict. Apparently uncertain, Acquarone said nothing. Badoglio expressed no opinion. He would, he said, refer the problem to the King. [N3-24-27] 

That afternoon Badoglio saw the King. The Italian monarch consented to the armistice. Badoglio informed Ambrosio, who notified AFHQ by a telegram: “The reply is affirmative repeat affirmative. In consequence, known person will arrive tomorrow two September hour and place established. Please confirm.” AFHQ received this message shortly before 2300, I September. 

Though this act had the appearance of a decision, Badoglio in reality had not made up his mind. He still hesitated, still hoped that the Allies would rescue him. Unwilling to make any move against the Germans, he made no suggestion to any subordinate to start planning for eventual co-operation with the Allies. Perhaps he was upset by the replacement that very day of the German Ambassador and of the military attaché, whom Badoglio could hardly expect to be so Italophile as the men, Badoglio’s good friends, they replaced. Ambrosio also remained passive. He issued no orders, gave no word to his subordinates of the newly projected orientation of the government. 

[N3-24-27 The records of this meeting consist merely of the autobiographical accounts composed much later by some of the participants: Badoglio. Mernoric c documenti, p. 102 (brief and inexact): Carboni, L’ armisizio e la difesa di Roma, p. 26 (brief and suspect), Castellano, Come firmai, pp.146-49 (a full account but prejudiced in his own behalf); Guariglia, Ricordi. pp. 677-78. See also Zanussi, Guerra e catastrole, II, 133-:14. and II Processo Carboni-Roatta, p. 25. zs Telg, Eisenhower to CCS. NAF 348, 1 Sep 43. Capitulation of Italy, p. 20′); Castellano. Come firm ai, p. 149; Badoglio, Memorie e doeunzenti, p. 102.]

 For both Badoglio and Ambrosio, it was one thing to tell the Allies that the armistice was accepted; it was quite another to take steps to meet the consequences of the decision. Perhaps more could not have been expected. To decide to capitulate, even half-heartedly and after much soul-searching, was in itself a traumatic experience that robbed them, at least temporarily, of further initiative.

 It remained for Roatta to act. Without instructions from higher authority, he issued Memoria 44, an outline order prepared ten days earlier in anticipation of a German seizure of Rome and an attempted restoration of Fascist control. Italian troops, in the event of open German hostility, were to protect railways, command posts, and centers of communication, be ready to interrupt German traffic, seize German headquarters and depots, and sabotage German communications. Upon Roatta’s order or in case the Germans initiated hostile actions, the Italian forces on Sardinia and Corsica were to expel the Germans; the Seventh Army in southern Italy was to hold Taranto and Brindisi; the Fifth Army was to protect the fleet at La Spezia and at the same time attack the German 3rd Panzer Grenadier Division; the Eighth Army in the South Tyrol and Venezia Giulia was to attack the German 44th Infantry Division; the Fourth Army in Piedmont and Liguria was to cut the passes leading from France; and the Second Army in the northeast was to attack the German 71st Infantry Division.

 Between 2 and 5 September, officer couriers carried the order to the generals who commanded the forces under Roatta. Each recipient, after reading the warning order, was to burn it in the presence of the courier except for the last page, which was to be signed as a receipt. Roatta’s was the only action taken by the Italian Government-and this at the third level of command-as a consequence of the decision to accept the armistice.

 Ironically, Roatta had been considered somewhat pro-German in sentiment. The King, intent on playing the role of a constitutional monarch, took no further action once he had sanctioned Badoglio’s proposed course. Those immediately below him, Badoglio and Ambrosio, were timid, cautious, and undecided. Only at the third level and below were men to be found with a real appreciation of Italy’s predicament and some determination to seek a solution. I t was the paralysis of will at the top which doomed Italy.

SOURCE: Sicily and the Surrender of Italy: BY; Lieutenant Colonel Albert Nutter Garland & Howard McGaw Smyth (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: Italy (3-25)The Armistice

World War Two: Italy (3-23) Surrender Preliminaries

World War Two: Italy (3-23) Surrender Preliminaries

The Zanussi Mission: After Castellano’s departure for Madrid and Lisbon, Ambrosio continued to cooperate warily with the Germans; until Castellano brought back word that the Allies were willing to support open rupture with the Germans, the Italians could do little else.

 Roatta, Army chief of staff who was responsible for defending Italy against Allied attack, still did not know of Castellano’s mission. His recognition since May that Italian forces alone were not equal to the task of opposing an Allied invasion prompted him to keep calling for German reinforcements, ground as well as air. But the German troops in Italy were poorly distributed for defense against the Allies. Anxious to defend the entire peninsula and believing the most threatened area to be southern Italy, particularly the Naples-Salerno area, Roatta pointed out to the Germans that loss of southern Italy would open the Balkans to Allied operations. 

He proposed that the Germans group their divisions into mobile reserves deployed at several key points throughout Italy to meet various Allied capabilities. A heavy concentration of German units in northern Italv would then be unnecessarv, Roatta urged, unless, of course, the Germans intended to abandon southern and central Italy at the very outset. [N3-23-1] 

Situation appreciation by Roatta of 11 Aug Because the Germans and Italians at the Tarvis conference had not agreed on a common plan for the defense of Italy, on the command problem posed by German forces in Italy, and on the return of the Italian Fourth Army from France, Roatta proposed a new conference for purely military matters. The German Government accepted on the condition that the meeting be held at Bologna, the area where the II SS Panzer Corps was stationed. [N3-23-2]

[N3-23-1: as forwarded by Rintelen, OKW/WFSt, KTB, 1-31.VIII.43, 13 Aug 43. Cf. Roatta, Otto milioni, p. 261.

[N3-23-2:0KW/WFSt, KTB, 1-31. VIII.43, 12 Aug43; Simoni, Berlino, Ambasciata, pp. 399-400.] 

Roatta’s strategic views were not essentially different from those of Kesselring, who still believed that the Italians showed a genuine will to co-operate. Kesselring also discerned, by the middle of August, a slight but definite improvement in the morale of the Italian troops. Intent on defending the whole of Italy and believing the task feasible, he reported that it would be difficult for the Germans quickly to seize Rome and the Italian Government. 

The 26th Panzer Division’s vehicles, essential to render fully mobile the German forces around Rome (3rd Panzer Grenadier and 2nd Parachute {Fallschirmjäger} Divisions), had not yet arrived. More important, Italian forces were present around Rome in considerable strength. If Italo-German conflict started in the Rome area, the German forces in Sicily and southern Italy would be cut off. Kesselring therefore urged a postponement of the seizure operation (Operation SCHWARZ) until the Germans had incontrovertible proof of Italian negotiations with the Allies. Continued co-operation with the Italians, he felt, would gain the Germans enough time to move in sufficient reinforcements to hold the entire peninsula, thus preventing the Allies from seizing southern Italy, the springboard to the Balkans. 

The weakness of Kesselring’s position lay in his lack of troops in southern Italy. He had only a few battalions of the 1st Parachute (Fallschirmjäger) Division and certain security units in the Naples-Salerno area. The 16th Panzer Division alone could not hold both Puglia (the heel) and Calabria (the toe) . Pleading for reinforcements to enable him to station a full division in each of the most threatened areas in the south; the heel, the toe, and Naples-Salerno-he, like Roatta, regarded the heavy concentration of German troops in northern Italy as wasteful. [N3-23-3]

Jodl and Rommel, in contrast, saw the main danger not in Allied power but in Italian treason. Since southern Italy needed stronger forces, and since the movement of forces from the north would merely aggravate the supply problem, Jodl recommended an immediate withdrawal from Sicily (this was already under way). With the XIV and LXXVI Panzer Corps concentrated on the mainland, the time would be ripe for grabbing Rome. Then Kesselring’s forces would fall back northward and be absorbed by Rommel’s Army Group B. [N3-23-4] 

[N3-23-3 Kesselring’s estimate of the situation, 12 Aug43, in OKli/Op. Abt.,Westl. MittelmeeT, Chefs., 19.V.43-1I.VlI.44 (H 22/290).]

[N3-23-4 Addendum by Jodl to Kesselring’s situation The decision was left for Hitler. ]

Hitler continued to insist on the liberation of Mussolini, though General Student and Captain Skorzeny were still unable to locate him. Hitler refused to permit reinforcement of south Italy, and he instructed Kesselring to keep the 3rd Panzer Grenadier and 2nd Parachute Divisions near Rome, to move the 16th Panzer Division from the Taranto area to the Gulf of Salerno area. This left the heel unguarded, and Hitler asked Kesselring to use his influence with the Italians to induce them to assume the defense of Puglia, even though the Italians since July had sent no forces to southern Italy. Hitler refused to evacuate Sicily at once because arrangements for defending the Balkans were not yet complete. He wanted the Allies tied down in Sicily (although by this date a large part of the XIV Panzer Corps had already been ferried over to the mainland) as long as traffic could cross the strait. Eventually, the movement of the XIV Panzer Corps from Sicily to the mainland could provide a force to help defend against an Allied invasion of southern Italy.

 The military conference at Bologna on 15 August was as inconclusive and unsatisfactory, for both Italy, and Germany, as was the earlier conference at Tarvis. Diplomatic representatives, as well as Keitel and Ambrosio, were absent. Jodl represented OKW and attended in company with Rommel. The presence of Kesselring and RinteIen tended only slightly to soften the brusqueness of the German attitude. Roatta, Rossi (deputy chief of Comando Supremo), and Zanussi (of Roatta’s office) represented Italy.

When Roatta stated the need to withdraw the Fourth Army from France to Italy to help defend the Italian homeland, Jodl asked the direction of an anticipated attack-the Brenner frontier or southern Italy? Roatta refused to answer the question on the ground that it was tendentious, but he agreed to leave two coastal divisions and a corps headquarters in southern France. Acrimonious discussion took place on the northward movement of Italian divisions into the Brenner area. When Rommel was presented as commander of all German forces north of the Apennines, Roatta said that he had not been informed that the German troops in northern Italy were to remain there. who would be Rommel’s superior? Roatta asked.

The Germans then agreed to recognize Ambrosio’s supreme command on condition that the Italians recognize the German command over the forces of both nations in the Balkans and Greece. Both parties then professed to agree, but in bad faith, to reduce their forces along the Brenner frontier As for Roatta’s proposal that an additional German division be sent to Sardinia, Jodl replied that none could be spared. Jodl made no objection to moving an Italian corps from Thessaly to Albania, and three divisions from the Balkans to southern Italy. [N3-23-6] 

When the Italian representatives returned to Rome on 16 August, the King summoned Badoglio, Ambrosio, and Roatta to a special council at the Quirinal Palace and asked about the outcome of the conference. Roatta described the cold, suspicious, almost hostile attitude of the Germans, He ascribed their use of a detachment of SS troops as a guard during the meeting to their fear of an Italian ambush. Badoglio stated that it would be necessary to act toward the Germans with the greatest prudence for a few days more, in view of the negotiations initiated with the Allies. Otherwise, the Germans would descend upon Rome in force and seize the Italian Government. Roatta thus learned of Castellano’s mission. The King reaffirmed the fundamental lines of the Badoglio government, stipulated at the time of its formation: personnel limited to military men and technicians, excluding politicians; and the prevention by force if necessary of political agitation and organization to avoid “the absurdity of judging and condemning by implication the work of the King.” [N3-23-7] 

[N-3-23-60: OKW/WFSt, KTB, I.-3 I. VIII.43, 15 Aug 43; Rossi, Come arrivammo, pp. 385-401; Rintelen, Mussolini als Bundesgenosse, pp. 242-45; Rommel, Private KTB, 9 May-Sep 43, entry for 15 Aug and appended rpt.]

A few days afterward, Ambrosio suggested to Badoglio the advisability, in view of Castellano’s mission, of issuing written instructions to the top commanders to inform them of Castellano’s mission and to outline the course the armed forces were to pursue in case of an armistice. Badoglio disapproved. He wished to keep the secret of negotiations with the Allies limited to the smallest possible circle. He told Ambrosio, “We must not give Germany the least possibility of discovering our intentions.” [N3-23-8]

[N3-23-7 Mussolini, Storia di un anno, p. 25; Zanussi, Guerra e catastrophe, II, 77; Roatta, Otto milioni..p. 294; Monelli, Roma I943, pp. 298-99.]

[N3-23-8 Monelli, Rama I943, p. 299; MS #P-058,Project 46, I Feb-8 Sep 43, Question II.]

 Roatta, because he had not been informed of Castellano’s mission before he met with the Germans at Bologna, had been something of a dupe-a mere tool for negotiating with the Germans while Ambrosio himself was making contact with the Allies. Roatta could not object to the new course of the government, but he questioned whether Castellano was the most appropriate choice as emissary. In any event, Roatta wished to learn more about what was going on. [N3-23-9 Zanussi, Guerra e catastrofe, II, 75.] 

Roatta found an ally in General Carboni, commander of the Motorized Corps protecting Rome and known for his pro-Allied sympathies. Appointed by Ambrosio director of Military Intelligence Service on 18 August in the hope that Carboni would be able to disentangle the close connection between Italian and German intelligence offices, Carboni quickly picked up the news of Castellano’s departure. 

Though Roatta may have had some doubts as to Castellano’s suitability for the mission, Carboni had none. He hated Castellano, whom he blamed, along with the Duke of Acquarone, for Carboni’s having been passed over for an appointment in Badoglio’s cabinet. Believing that Castellano was inadequate for the task and untrustworthy besides, Carboni urged that a more reliable envoy be sent to control Castellano and to prevent that ambitious Sicilian from trying to grab all the glory in representing Italy “in dealings with” the Allied powers. Carboni appealed to Badoglio, Acquarone, Ambrosio, and Roattao But all apparently wished to await Castellano’s report. After more than a week passed without word, they began to fear that the Germans had discovered Castellano. Roatta then took the lead in urging that a second dove of peace be released from the ark, with the same mission as the first. [N3-23-10] 

A suitable man was at hand. With no clearly defined functions in Roatta’s office, General Zanussi could be spared. His absence would be no more noticeable to the Germans than Castellano’s. Like Castellano, Zanussi thoroughly believed in changing sides. He had written several memorandums for his colleagues and superiors, indicating that a switch to the Allied side was the only sensible course after the overthrow of Mussolini. 

Ambrosio probably wanted to keep the dispatch of a second emissary secret from Badoglio, but in the end he decided to let the Marshal know. Badoglio approved, as he had earlier assented to Castellano’s mission. But because Guariglia, Minister of Foreign Affairs, would probably object to what he might consider another military usurpation of a diplomatic function, the Foreign Office was not approached for a passport. [N3-23-11] As credentials, Carboni suggested that Zanussi take with him a British prisoner of war, Lieutenant General Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart was selected. He was a good choice, for he was well known and easily recognized-he had lost an eye and an arm in the service of his country. If the Germans discovered him in Zanussi’s company, it would be obvious that the mission concerned merely the exchange of prisoners. Lieutenant Galvano Lanza di Trabia, Carboni’s aide, was to go along as the interpreter.[N3-23-12] 

[N3-23-10 Giacomo Carboni, L’armistizio e la difesa di Roma: Verita e menzogne (Rome: Donatello de Luigi, 1945), pp. 18, 23-24; Zanussi, Guerra e catastrofe, II, 82; Roatta, Otto milioni, pp. 294-95.]

[N3-23-11 Guariglia, Ricordi, p. 67]

[N3-23-12 Happy Odyssey: The Memoirs of Lieutenant General Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart (London: Cape Publishers, 1950), pp. 225-29; Zanussi, Guerra e catastrofe, II, 83-85; Roatta, Otto milioni, pp. 295-96.]

On 22 August, two days before Zanussi departed from Rome, Ambassador Prunas in Lisbon informed Guariglia that Castellano had made contact with the Allies and would soon report. Expecting Castellano’s quick return, Guariglia saw no reason to inform Badoglio or Ambrosio. Because Ambrosio and Badoglio had kept the Zanussi mission secret from Guariglia, they did not know that Castellano had already carried out his mission by the time Zanussi had left.

 Like Castellano, Zanussi carried no written orders. Ambrosio briefed him, but his instructions were broad and vague. If Castellano had disappeared, Zanussi was to take his place. If Castellano were still in Lisbon, Zanussi was to support him in his quest to concert plans with the Allies for a war against the Germans. Zanussi informed Roatta of Ambrosio’s instructions. Carboni passed along some advice-first, Ambassador Prunas could be trusted, and second, it was important to urge the Allies not to fight their way up the Italian peninsula but to land in force north of Rome.[N3-23-13]

Castellano at Lisbon

General Casteilano had arrived in Lisbon at 2200, 16 August. On the next day he called on Sir Ronald Hugh Campbell, the British Ambassador. Campbell told Castellano he would inform him of developments just as soon as he, Campbell, received instructions to negotiate. A day later Campbell learned that Osborne, British Minister to the Holy See, had verified to the Foreign Office the letter of introduction he had prepared for Castellano. Sir D’ Arcy had also obtained a signed statement from Badoglio to the effect that Castellano was authorized to speak for the Marshal. [N3-23-14] 

[N3-23-13 Zanussi, Guerra e catastrophe, II, 87.]

On the same day, 18 August, Major General Walter B. Smith, the AFHQ chief of staff, and Brigadier Kenneth W. D. Strong, the AFHQ G-2-appointed by General Eisenhower to meet with Castellano were flying to Gibraltar in civilian clothes and without titles. From there they went to Lisbon, where they arrived on the morning of 19 August. That evening, at 2200, Smith and Strong, accompanied by Mr. George F. Kennan, U.S. Charge d’ Affaires, met Castellano and Montanari at the British Embassy. 

After an introduction by the British Ambassador, General Smith opened the discussion by stating that on the assumption that the Italian armed forces were ready to surrender, he was authorized to communicate the terms on which General Eisenhower was prepared to agree to a cessation of hostilities. The terms, Smith said, constituted a military armistice only and had to be accepted unconditionally. Somewhat surprised by this abrupt statement, Castellano said he had come to discuss how Italy could arrange to join the United Nations in expelling the Germans from Italy. 

[N3-23-14 Castellano, Come firmai, p. 98; copy of Telg, Foreign Office to Lisbon, 18 Aug 43, Capitulation of Italy, p. 89.]

[N3-23-15 The conference is described in: Minutes of a conference held at the residence of the British Ambassador at Lisbon on August 18, 1943 at 10 P.M., Capitulation of Italy, pp. 85-88. These are condensed minutes, not a verbatim record. They were telegraphed to Washington and London in Telg, NAF 334, 21 Aug 43, Capitulation of Italy, pp. 112-17. The second part of the conference, which concerned purely military matters, is summarized in Telg, Eisenhower to Marshall, NAF 335, 21 Aug 43, Capitulation of Italy, pp. 126-27.

At the end of the conference, Castellano was handed a copy of the minutes and asked to check them for accuracy; it appears in translation in his Come firmai as Appendix I, pages 211-15 (his resume of the military discussions is in pages 215-18); in addition, he gives his account of the conference which in some points supplements the minutes (pages 102-09). The copy of the minutes in Capitulation of Italy (pages 85-88) and NAF 334 dates the conference 18 August, which is incorrect. Smith and Strong arrived in Lisbon only on the morning of 19 August. The correct date is the 19th, as given by Castellano, and by Churchill in a speech to the House of Commons on 21 September 1943.]

 Smith replied that he was prepared only to discuss the terms of Italy’s surrender. The status of the Italian Government and Anny operations against the Germans were, he declared, matters of high governmental policy to be decided by the heads of the United States and British Governments. But the Allies ‘ were ready to assist and support any Italian who obstructed the German military effort. General Smith then read the armistice conditions point by point, the short terms that had been furnished General Eisenhower on 6 August. [N3-23-16]

 [N3-23-16: Appendix C for the text of the short terms. Clause 3 now read: “All prisoners or internees of the United Nations to be immediately turned over to the Allied Commander-in-Chief, and none of these may now or at any time be evacuated to Germany.” On instruction from President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill the words indicated by italics were substituted for the original phrase, “from the beginning of THE SURRENDER PRELIMINARIES]

To permit careful translation of the documents and an opportunity for study, the British and Americans withdrew from the room leaving Castellano and Montanari alone. 

When the group reassembled, Castellano stated that he had no power to accept the armistice but that he wanted an explanation of certain terms for his government’s information. With regard to prisoners and internees, practical limitations might hinder the extent to which the Italians could prevent the movement of such personnel to Germany, though the Italians would make every effort to comply with this condition. General Smith replied that the United Nations understood the problem, but expected the Italian authorities to do their best. 

When Castellano requested clarification of the clause on Italian ships and aircraft, Smith explained that this meant surrender of the fleet and of the planes, their future disposition to be decided by General Eisenhower. Castellano mentioned the lack of fuel that might prevent some warships and planes from complying. The authorities, Smith said, had to make every effort to provide sufficient fuel. As for Allied use of Italian airfields and ports, Castellano pointed out that most of the airfields were already in German hands; those remaining under Italian control were small and scattered. 

As for withdrawing Italian armed forces to Italy and moving units stationed inland in the Balkans, this might prove an impossible task. Smith assured Castellano that the Allies did not expect the impossible; certain Italian divisions, however, the negotiations,” in order to avoid any possible inference that they were negotiating” with the Badoglio government, (Telg, USFOR to AFHQ, repeated to Lisbon, No. 4522, 19 Aug 42.) were near enough to the coast to permit their removal to Italy by Allied ships. Castellano inquired about the meaning of setting up an Allied military government and also about the decision to give General Eisenhower an overriding authority over the Italian Government would the Italian Government retain sovereignty? Smith reiterated that his instructions referred only to the terms of a military armistice. He was not empowered to discuss questions relating to the future government of Italy. He said that the Allies would establish military government over parts of Italian territory, and he observed that this was being exercised in Sicily in a fair and humane manner.

 Castellano cited the danger to the person of the King. Accepting the terms might prompt the Germans to hold the King as a hostage and even to threaten his life. It was suggested that the King might leave Italy on an Italian naval vessel. Castellano was assured that the King would be treated with all due personal consideration. 

The discussion then returned to the essential point in Castellano’s proposal: the manner and extent of Italian military collaboration with the Allies against Germany. The Allied representatives reiterated that the clauses of the armistice were a military capitulation, not an agreement for Italy’s participation in the war on the Allied side. Immediately thereafter, however, Smith read to Castellano a paragraph based on the Quebec Memorandum: The extent to which these terms of armistice would be modified in favor of Italy would depend on how far the Italian Government and people did in fact aid the United Nations against Germany during the remainder of the war, but that wherever Italian Forces or Italians fight the Germans, destroy German property or hamper German movements they will be given all possible support by the forces of the United Nations. He then asked Castellano to weigh carefully the significance of the paragraph and explained that the Allied terms had been drawn up by General Eisenhower and approved by the Allied governments without considering the possibility of active Italian participation in the war against Germany.

 As President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill had declared at Quebec, with Stalin’s approval, the conditions enforced would be modified to Italy’s advantage in proportion to the sum total of Italy’s participation in the war. Without using the unconditional surrender phrase, without modifying the impression demanded by the predominant Allied powers, Smith skillfully used the Quebec telegram as an inducement to secure Italian capitulation. 

Castellano returned to the point he had emphasized to Hoare in Madrid: the Italian Government, without effective aid from the Anglo-Americans, was unable to turn against the Germans. If Italy accepted and put into effect the armistice terms, the Germans would counter with immediate reprisals. Italy was an occupied country, and Italians were alarmed by the degree of control already exercised by the Germans. Nor was Castellano exaggerating, he said, in order to try to convince the Allies to accept his proposal to co-ordinate military plans. Though the Luftwaffe was relatively weak, it could wreak great damage on Italy. The strength of the German Army was impressive. The war, Castellano believed, would continue for some time because the Germans had not used up their reserves in their recent Russian operations. Castellano hated the Germans because of their abominable behavior toward Italian troops in Russia. Each time Kesselring visited Ambrosio, it was an occasion for a row. 

Despite the fact that the Italian secret services worked closely with German intelligence, and despite the fact that many pro-German officers were in the Italian Army, including Roatta, Castellano believed that Badoglio was quite capable of directing policy as the situation required. When Castellano again cited the German threat to use gas, the Allied representatives pointed out the folly of such an act because the Allies would themselves counter with gas. In any event, the effect of a few days’ vindictive action by the Germans would be far less serious for Italy than a long war of attrition. 

[N3-23-17 Ambassador Campbell, a professional diplomatist, was much impressed with the skill displayed by General Smith as a negotiator. See Interv, Smyth with Mr. George F. Kennan, 2 Jan 47.] 

Stating that he now fully understood both the terms of the armistice and the supplementary information derived from the Quebec telegram, Castellano added that he was not authorized to accept the terms but would submit them to his government. He said that it would be useful for the Italian Government to know when or where the Allies planned to invade the mainland because German countermeasures would probably make it necessary for at least part of the government to leave Rome simultaneously with the armistice announcement. It was in the Allied interest, he believed, to prevent capture of that government which, he again insisted, wanted to reach an understanding. General Smith replied that Castellano, as a soldier, would understand why it was impossible to reveal Allied plans in detail. 

Castellano therefore repeated that he would limit his function to that of acting as bearer of the Allied terms to his government. They then discussed arrangements for a direct channel of communication, and it was proposed that if Badoglio should accept the terms, General Eisenhower would announce the armistice five or six hours before the main Allied landing on the Italian mainland. Castellano objected vigorously. Such short notice, he declared, would not allow his government enough time to prepare for the landing. He asked for longer notice, preferably two weeks. Smith thought a longer advance notice might be possible, and he assured Castellano that he would present the Italian views to General Eisenhower. But Smith maintained the point that public announcement of the armistice would have to precede the principal Allied landing by a few hours only.

 All agreed that the Italian Government was to signify its acceptance of the armistice by a radio message. If it proved impossible for the Italians to do so directly, the government was to send a message to the British Minister at the Holy See as follows: “It Governo italiano protesta contro il ritardo nella comunicazione delle liste complete die nomi dei prigionieri catturati in Sicilia. (The Italian Government protests against the delay in the communication of the complete list of names of Italian prisoners captured in Sicily. ) 

The Italian Government was to communicate its acceptance by 28 August. If no reply came by 30 August, the Allies would assume that the terms had been refused. Acceptance of the armistice terms meant also acceptance of the method of announcement as then determined-a radio announcement by General Eisenhower with five or six hours preliminary warning to Italy. For a secret channel of communication with AFHQ, Castellano was to receive a portable radio, a code, and instructions on their use. All communications from the Italian Government to AFHQ were to be in the Italian language. In case of acceptance, Castellano was to meet again with General Eisenhower’s representatives in Sicily, and the precise hour of the meeting and the course of Castellano’s flight to Sicily was stipulated: from Rome at 0700, 31 August, to reach Termini Imerese shortly before 0900. 

After copies of the armistice terms and of the AFHQ memorandum based on the CCS directive were furnished to Castellano, Ambassador Campbell and Mr. Kennan withdrew and the discussion turned to purely military matters. Brigadier Strong began to question Castellano on German troop dispositions, first in general, then in detail. Castellano offered only general information until he observed Strong’s map, which had accurate information on it. Castellano then gave detailed unit locations, hoping thus, as he stated later, to show his good faith. Strong asked no questions about Italian units, but Castellano noted that the AFHQ map showed them quite as correctly as the maps of the Operations Section of Comando Supremo. 

Castellano estimated the total German military strength in Italy as 400,000 men. More troops could come from France. The Germans intended to defend on a line from Genoa to Ravenna and to fall back, if necessary, to the Po. They also planned to hold Sardinia and Corsica. Castellano painted a pitiful picture of the Italian armed forces. The fleet had enough oil for only one action. The air force was very short of materiel, though the fighter elements were quite good. All airfields except a few small ones were under German control. The Italian Army was short of gasoline, entirely dependent on the Germans for fuel, very short of anti-tank guns, anti-tank ammunition, and even of such items as boots. If Italy detached itself from the German alliance, the nation would require supplies of wheat and coal from the Allies. 

The Italian general urged the Leghorn area as the best place for an Allied landing. German lines of communication were extremely vulnerable, particularly along the Brenner route, and Castellano recommended attacking the Brenner Pass. The Italians planned to withdraw their troops from Corsica, he explained, but not from Sardinia. At the Bologna conference of 15 August, Roatta had discussed plans for defending Italy with Rommel and Jodl, but, of course, Castellano was ignorant of the results. 

Though a number of German commanders wished to get rid of Hitler, loyalty to the Führer was so widespread throughout the armed forces, Castellano believed, that overthrow appeared unlikely. The Gestapo was an important factor in preventing the collapse of German morale. 

In conclusion, Castellano mentioned his part in Mussolini’s downfall-how Grandi had been induced to take the lead in the Fascist Grand Council only to be double crossed when Badoglio was named Mussolini’s successor. On the whole, Castellano made a favorable impression. He seemed earnest and sincere, and he had an intense hatred of the Germans. Yet the Allied representatives wondered why he had neither credentials nor formal written instructions from Badoglio. Nor was AIlied confidence in the new Italian regime enhanced by Castellano’s disquisitions on honor, peculiar accompaniment to his description of the double-cross of Grandi and the idea of turning against Germany and jumping into the Allied camp. [N3-23-18]

 The conference lasted all night, breaking up at 0700, 20 August, nine hours after it had started. Smith shook hands with Castellano and expressed the hope that their meeting would prove to be the beginning of a new collaboration between their countries. Smith and Strong then flew back to Algiers and AFHQ. Castellano and Montanari remained in Lisbon to await the arrival of the Italian Ambassador to Chile, whose ship was several days late. 

After reflecting on the conference, Castellano realized that the situation was far different from that imagined in Rome at the time of his departure. He and Ambrosio had believed that Italy was still in a position to bargain. Actually, it was too late. They had thought that the British and Americans would be receptive to the proposal that Italy switch sides. 

Allied suspicion and distrust came as a sobering shock. Castellano had, however, been able to avoid the humiliating phrase, “unconditional surrender.” And the Quebec telegram offered assurance that the terms of capitulation would be modified in Italy’s favor if the government and people rendered effective aid to the Allies. Castellano believed that the Allied invasion of the Italian mainland would be short and successful because of Allied air superiority. He had great faith in Anglo-American generosity. 

[N3-23-18 See Telg, AFHQ to CCS, NAF 336, 22 Aug 43, Capitulation of Italy, pp. 126-27; Interv, Smyth with Ambassador Walter B. Smith, 13 May 47, and with Brigadier Kenneth D. Strong, 29 Oct 47]

On the following morning, 21 August, Castellano presented himself at the Italian legation in Lisbon, where D’Ajeta was astonished to see him. D’Ajeta took him immediately to Prunas, the Italian Minister, who could not conceal his disappointment that such important negotiations had taken place without his knowledge and participation. Prunas on 22 August sent two cables to Guariglia and informed him that Castellano had made contact with the Allies and would soon report. 

The British Embassy delivered to Montanari the radio and code for future communications. On Ambassador Campbell’s advice, Castellano, who had been thinking of returning to Rome by plane, took his place among the party of officials who left Lisbon by train on 23 August. The Italian Ambassador to Chile carried Castellano’s papers across French territory, restored them at the Italian frontier. Reaching Rome on the morning of 27 August, Castellano made haste to report to his superiors. [N3-23-19 Castellano, Come firmai, pp. 116-25.]

Zanussi’s Negotiations In Lisbon and Algiers

Three days earlier, the second Italian emissary, General Zanussi, together with General de Wiart, had arrived in Madrid. More fortunate than Castellano, Zanussi traveled by plane. The next morning, 25 August, he was in Lisbon. He promptly got in touch with Prunas, who was not overjoyed to see him. Prunas cautioned Zanussi to be on his guard, not only against German spies, out also against some members of the Italian legation.

Though Zanussi learned that Castellano has been successful in meeting members of General Eisenhower’s staff, and was even then on his way back to Rome, he asked to see the British Ambassador. Sir Ronald replied through an intermediary, since he saw no reason why he should meet another Italian general. The Allied terms were already in Castellano’s hands. Still, he asked Zanussi to remain in Lisbon until he, the Ambassador, was certain that there was no message for him. General Carton de Wiart, the British “prisoner-of-war,” offered to return to Rome with Zanussi since it began to appear that Zanussi had come on a futile mission.[N3-23-20] 

At Quebec on 26 August, Churchill and Roosevelt had at last agreed on the long terms for Italy. The Foreign Office therefore instructed Campbell to present the comprehensive document to Zanussi and to explain that it embodied both the short terms, already in Castellano’s possession, and the political and economic terms that Castellano had been told to expect. He was also to suggest that Zanussi fly back to Rome immediately with the text of the long terms. [N3-23-21] 

Accordingly, on the morning of 27 August, Campbell met Zanussi and gave him the long terms. Zanussi immediately noticed the absence of reference to Italian military co-operation with the Allies, and asked why no mention of this had been made. Campbell read the Quebec telegram to him; this at least left the door open for eventual Italo-Allied co-operation. 

[N3-23-20 Zanussi, Guerra e catastrophe, II, 91-94; Telg 1721, 26 Aug 43, Campbell to Foreign Office, and Telg 1723, Campbell to Foreign Office. 26 Aug 43, both in OPD Exec 2, item 5, tab 50; Carton de Wiart. Happy Odyssey, p. 230.]

[N3-23-21 Telg 1352, Deputy Prime Minister to Campbell, 26 Aug 43. OPD Exec 2, item 5, tab 50. See also, pp. 448-50.]

Zanussi and his interpreter retired to their hotel to study the comprehensive conditions of capitulation. [N3-23-22] 

The British Government had acted with extraordinary speed in getting the text of the long terms into Zanussi’s hands. So fast had the government acted that Ambassador Campbell at Lisbon had the comprehensive document before AFHQ received it. When Eisenhower’s headquarters later that day received the document, Allied commanders became thoroughly alarmed. The main invasion of the Italian mainland, planned for the Salerno area, was less than two weeks away. It was a risky operation, particularly because the rate of German reinforcement was seriously changing the estimates on which the landing plan had been based. The success of the operation, it seemed, was becoming increasingly dependent on getting the Italian Government to surrender beforehand. Not only did Italian opposition have to be eliminated before the landing, but Italian assistance during the critical period of getting troops ashore now appeared necessary.

 Even Eisenhower had doubts that Castellano would be able to persuade the Italian monarch and high command to accept surrender on the conditions of the short terms; now the CCS had insisted on introducing the long terms with the harsh initial statement of unconditional surrender and had ordered their use in all additional negotiations with Badoglio. General Eisenhower therefore appealed to the Joint Chiefs for some leeway.

[N3-23-22 Telg, 27 Aug 43, British Embassy at Lisbon to Foreign Office, OPD Exec 2, item 5, tab 53; Zanussi, Guerra e catastrofe, II, 91-94.]

 The President relented, and Eisenhower received authorization to proceed with the surrender negotiations on the basis of the short military terms. After getting the Italians to accept and sign this document, Eisenhower could submit the comprehensive paper to the Italian Government. [N3-23-23] Anxiety still persisted at AFHQ, however. The Allied commanders hoped to receive some sort of message from Castellano re-establishing contact with the Italian Government. Presumably Zanussi was a representative of Roatta, who was believed to have strong pro-German tendencies.

Castellano had told Smith and Strong at Lisbon that Roatta had not been taken into the confidence of the Badoglio government, though Castellano had added that he presumed Roatta, as a soldier, would loyally follow the government if it shifted to the Allied side. Zanussi had no credentials whatsoever, whereas Castellano at least had brought a letter of introduction from Osborne. Did the two emissaries represent two distinct factions within the Italian Government, one in close co-operation with the Germans? Or was the Zanussi mission bona fide, and were Roatta and Ambrosio working semi-independently toward the same end? [N3-23-24]

 [N3-23-23 Telg, CCS to Eisenhower, FAN 203, 27 Aug 43, with text of long terms; Telg, Eisenhower to CCS, NAF 342, 28 Aug 43; and Telg 6398, ACWAR to Eisenhower, 29 Aug 43, all in Capitulation of Italy, pp. 137, 160-64.]

[N3-23-24 Telg, Eisenhower to CCS, NAF 342, 28 Aug 43, and Telg, Eisenhower to Lt Cen Sir Noel Mason-MacFarlane, 28 Aug 43, both in Capitulation of Italy, pp. 160-64.]

 What General Smith feared most was that Zanussi would make immediate use of the diplomatic channels of the Lisbon Embassy to inform Roatta of the long terms and thereby nullify Castellano’s negotiations. Smith therefore made arrangements to get Zanussi out of the hands of the diplomatists and into military hands before Zanussi could do any damage. While Carton de Wiart was kept out of sight and later returned to London, Zanussi was invited to visit the Allied camp. Zanussi accepted. Relieved of his copy of the long terms, and flown first to Gibraltar under the assumed name of Pierre Henri Lamartine, Zanussi, accompanied by his interpreter, departed Gibraltar in the early afternoon of 28 August; to his surprise he found himself that evening at Algiers. [N3-23-25] 

Castellano later asserted that General Eisenhower at first planned to admit the Italian armed forces to full collaboration with the Allies and that Eisenhower was about to explain his plans in full when Zanussi’s intervention rendered AFHQ suspicious, thereby inhibiting the Allies from divulging their plans to Castellano. Castellano also believed that AFHQ contemplated shooting Zanussi as a spy. But this was mere speculation; at no time did Eisenhower and Smith consider revealing Allied plans to Castellano, and they had no Smith was prepared to hold Zanussi in case he turned out to be, under questioning, something other than genuine emissary. [N3-23-26] During several conferences with General Smith, Brigadier Strong, and Mr. Robert D. Murphy, General Eisenhower’s U.S. political adviser, Zanussi gave considerable information about the German forces in Italy, information that checked quite well against that obtained from other sources. He did not, however, divulge the Italian order of battle, though he convinced the Allied officers that he was genuine and sincere in his efforts to arrange the armistice. 

As “Chief of Staff of Roatta,” he was in a position to know the military situation, and he seemed as thoroughly persuaded as Castellano the necessity for Italy to make an arrangement with the Allies. Like Castellano, Zanussi labored under the incubus of the German threat to overthrow the Badoglio government and occupy Italy.

[N3-23-25 Carton de Wiart, Happy Odyssey, p. 231; Interv with Smith, 13 May 47; Telg 6990, AFHQ to Gibraltar, 28 Aug 43, and Telg 25227, Gibraltar to Lisbon, repeated AFHQ, Aug 43, both in Capitulation of Italy, pp. 156–57. Cf. Zanussi, Guerra e catastrofe, II, 90–99.]

[N3-23-26 Castellano, Come firmai, pp. 174–75; Interv with Smith, 13 May 47.] 

Zanussi saw five possible developments, each of which made it essential to act in concert with the Allies: ( 1) if Germany took the initiative and attacked the Badoglio government, it would be in the interest of the Allies and the Italians to join forces and prevent the return of fascism or the advent of communism in Italy; (2) though the Italians did not favor an Allied attack on Germany through the Italian mainland, a campaign requiring an estimated fifteen to twenty divisions, the Italians wanted their armed forces to have a specific role in any such campaign; (if the Allies directed their attack into the Balkans, the Italians wished to co-operate; (4) if the Allies avoided the Italian mainland and occupied Sardinia and Corsica, they should make no request for direct Italian assistance, for in that case the Germans would immediately occupy Italy; (5) if the Allies bypassed Italy and attacked the Germans on the Continent beyond Italy’s borders, the Germans might withdraw some divisions from Italy, which would make it possible for Italy to fight the Germans unaided. 

Zanussi’s exposition indicated careful consideration of Italy’s plight and the conclusion that Italy had no way out except by joining forces with the Allies. He made no objection to the specific clauses of the terms-military, political, or economic-demanded by the Allies, but he was certain that Badoglio would object strenuously to the formula of unconditional surrender as stated in the preamble and in the initial article of the long terms. Could not the Allies secure everything they wished, he asked, without imposing this unnecessary indignity, which might even result in a refusal of the armistice by the Badoglio government? [N3-23-27 Telg, AFRQ to CCS, NAF 344, 30 Aug 43, Capitulation of Italy, pp_ 166-il; Zanussi, Guerra e catastrote, II, 101-oB.]

Zanussi painted a gloomy picture of the Italian political situation, the government was dominated by old men who were tainted by long association with the Fascist regime and who were incapable of vigorous action. He compared Badoglio to Marshal Henri Petain, and asked how long the Germans would allow Italy any freedom whatsoever. Badoglio’s slowness, he said, had given the Germans time to occupy the country. At any moment the Germans might decide to oust Badoglio and set up a Quisling government under Farinacci. The only hope, according to Zanussi, was in the younger Army officers, all of whom, he declared, were fed up with the Germans and would welcome collaboration with the Allies. He insisted that the Italians would defend Rome at all costs if the Germans tried to seize control, and he cited the movement of five or six Italian divisions into positions from which they could protect the capital. Although these troops had no written orders, Mussolini’s overthrow told them what was expected of them.

 Assertions that Rome would be defended were not altogether consistent with Zanussi’s expressions of fear for the safety of the members of the government. He and his friends, he said, “for months have given much study and thought to these eventualities [and] have considered the means necessary to effect the escape from German control of the Government and King.” These old men, he said, were rather helpless in their expectation of being rescued by the Allies, and Zanussi felt that some scheme to rescue them ought to be planned. If the Allied landing on the mainland would not be able, in conjunction with the Italian Army, to protect Rome, the King and government leaders might escape on a naval vessel from La Spezia to Sardinia. There, he said, “the four Italian divisions could easily overcome the German division present, especially if the Allies could provide a little support.” Zanussi regarded Ambrosio as the only man who could possibly replace Badoglio, though he admitted that the chief of Comando Supremo lacked the marshal’s prestige.

 The Italian Government, Zanussi explained, was not only obsessed by fears for its own immediate safety but greatly alarmed that the German High Command, realizing that the war had been lost, might throw Germany into the arms of the Soviet Union. In this case, Italy, in the Anglo-American camp, would face a Russo-German combination at its front door with Britain and America far away. Zanussi stated his opinion that the House of Savoy had to be preserved to avert chaos in Italy; the dynasty, he said, had been a stabilizing influence for six centuries. [N3-23-28 Telgs W-B750 and W-Bi51, FREEDOM to AGWAR, 30 Aug 43, Capitulation of Italy, pp_1 79-B4] 

As a result of these conversations with Zanussi, General Eisenhower decided to permit Zanussi’s interpreter, Lieutenant Galvano Lanza, to return to Italy with a message from Zanussi to Ambrosio-a letter urging the Italian Government to accept immediately the military terms of the armistice; indicating that the clauses of the long terms were relatively unimportant as compared to the main issue of how much practical assistance Italy would give the Allies against Germany; and recommending that the Italian Government trust the good faith of the Allies and send Castellano to Sicily in accordance with the agreement reached in Lisbon. 

On 29 August Lanza was to take the letter to Sicily, and there he was to be transferred to an Italian plane for the remainder of the journey to Rome. The text of the long terms, which Zanussi had received in Lisbon, was not entrusted to Lanza, for AFHQ, besides having no official confirmation of Zanussi’s mission, did not wish to run the risk of having the document fall into German hands. Zanussi, therefore, retained his copy of the long terms, which had been returned to him.

In reporting his action, General Eisenhower urged the American and British Governments to delay communicating the text of the long terms to the other United Nations governments. He expressed astonishment at the thought of a public armistice ceremony in the Compiegne tradition when negotiations were still not only tenuous and delicate but also being conducted with emissaries who had come at great risk to themselves and to the members of the Italian Government. [N3-23-29 Telg W-8726, AFHQ to AGWAR, 30 Aug 43, Capitulation of Italy, pp. 175-76.]

As increasing information on the buildup of German forces in Italy came to AFHQ’s attention, it became increasingly necessary, it seemed to Eisenhower, to have the Italian surrender as a condition essential for the success of AVALANCHE, the projected invasion of Italy at Salerno. The co-operation of Italian forces, even though those forces had little fighting power, could well prove the difference between defeat and success and could possibly assure a rapid advance up the Italian mainland.

Thoughts in Rome

In Rome, meanwhile, Castellano had returned on the morning of 27 August, just three days after Zanussi’s departure. Finding Ambrosio temporarily gone from the capital, Castellano spoke briefly with Ambrosio’s deputy, General Rossi, and arranged to see Marshal Badoglio. Guariglia and Rossi were also present to hear Castellano report on the Lisbon meeting. 

When Castellano explained that the Allies insisted on announcing the armistice at their own discretion in order to have it coincide with their main landing on Italy, Guariglia was much upset. Declaring that Castellano had not been authorized to state Italy’s intention to attack the German forces-a statement Castellano countered by saying that he had received no precise instructions-Guariglia advocated a different approach. Since it appeared that the Allies intended to invade the Italian mainland, the government should wait until after the landing had been made and the Allies were within striking distance of Rome. At that time, when the Allies were in position to rescue the Italian Government, and only then should the Italian Government request an armistice. Badoglio listened to all that was said, but said nothing himself. At the end of the meeting, Badoglio took Castellano’s documents of the Lisbon conference and consigned them to Guariglia.[N3-23-30] Later that day Castellano managed to get in touch with Ambrosio by telephone. 

Ambrosio promised to return to Rome on the next day. At Comando Supremo, Castellano learned that Zanussi had been sent to Portugal to make contact with the Allies. This development disturbed him because he feared it would complicate the negotiations. Furthermore, he was not reassured by the lack of frankness on the part of those who had sent Zanussi-Roatta denied his knowledge of the affair, as did Carboni. 

Ambrosio, on the morning of 28 August, was in Rome as promised, and he listened to Castellano’s account. Ambrosio then took Castellano and Carboni to Badoglio’s office, where he found Guariglia. The Minister of Foreign Affairs again declared that Castellano had had no authorization to offer Italian military collaboration, and he protested once more against agreeing to announce the armistice at the time of the Allied invasion. In any case, Guariglia considered the negotiations to be essentially political. On that basis, he argued, his ministry alone should conduct diplomatic negotiations. Ambrosio and Carboni advocated continuing the negotiations through Castellano. No decision was reached. 

A few hours later Guariglia prepared a memorandum as a counterproposal to the Allies. While not objecting to any of the Allied terms, Guariglia’s memorandum stressed the fact that Italy was unable alone to separate from the Germans. Consequently, it was essential that the Allies land before the armistice and in sufficient force to guarantee the safety of the Italian Government against German reaction. When Ambrosio and Castellano studied Guariglia’s proposal, Castellano, though agreeing with Guariglia’s analysis, said that he had already explained the situation and the Italian position to the Allied generals at Lisbon. The decision, therefore, rested with the Italian Government.

[N3-23-30 Castellano, Come firmai, pp. 125-26; Badoglio, M emorie e documenti, p.101; Guariglia, Ricordi, pp. 663-65.] 

Ambrosio and Castellano saw Badoglio again on 29 August. Badoglio said that he would have to consult with the King before reaching a decision. Badoglio, Ambrosio, and Guariglia then arranged for an audience. When they arrived at the Quirinal Palace, they met Acquarone, who asked Ambrosio for a detailed account of Castellano’s mission and for a copy of the Allied terms. Acquarone took these to the King. 

Acquarone returned to tell the three who waited that before the King gave the final word, Badoglio, as Head of Government, should reach a decision and suggest a definite course of action. The three men discussed the matter but had reached no decision when the King received them for a brief audience. 

Immediately after seeing the King, Ambrosio called Castellano and asked how a reply could be sent to the Allies, a reply which would not refuse the armistice and at the same time not accept the conditions stipulated at Lisbon. The King and his advisers did not, apparently, object to the terms of the armistice, but they feared that if they surrendered without knowing where, when, and in what strength the Allies would land, they would expose themselves to capture by the Germans-particularly if the Allies were not planning to land in strength near Rome. Castellano replied that the Allies demanded a yes or no answer. The message could be sent through Osborne (in the Vatican) or by means of the radio he had brought from Lisbon. 

After speaking briefly with Guariglia and Ambrosio once more, Badoglio departed, leaving to the others the decision on how to arrange the details of the message. 

After further discussion with Guariglia, Ambrosio called Castellano again. Admitting that the Allies in Lisbon had clarified all points, Ambrosio nevertheless felt it essential to secure an agreement that the proclamation of the armistice would be made only after the Allies had landed in force. He directed Castellano to encode and transmit a message to the Allies to embody this request. Castellano did not dispatch the message.

 For at that moment Carboni came in with news that he had word from Zanussi, believed to be in Lisbon (though in actuality Zanussi was in Algiers). Zanussi said he had documents of the greatest importance and requested that a plane. Be sent to the Boccadifalco airfield near Palermo, Sicily, in order to bring those documents to Rome. Though it was not clear how Zanussi in Lisbon could have gotten papers to Sicily, Castellano dispatched a plane as requested, then inforn1ed the King and Badoglio of his action.[N3-23-31] 

[N3-23-11 Castellano, Come firm ai, pp. 126-30; Guariglia, pp. 672-74. Castellano’s is the only account detail. There is no mention of particulars by Badoglio (Memore e documenti, page 101), and by Rossi (Come arrivammo, pages [26-27). Carboni’s account (L’armistizio e la difesa di Roma, pages 24-25) is quite fantastic and in glaring contradiction to all the other evidence. It is testimony only of Carboni’s violent hatred of Castellano.] 

The plane dispatched by Castellano reached Palermo safely, picked up Lanza, and returned to Rome the same day, 29 August. But Lanza carried only two letters, one to Ambrosio recommending acceptance of the armistice conditions as explained to Castellano, the other to Carboni urging him to support those who were trying to arrange an armistice. Since Zanussi had not wired the text of the long terms from Lisbon, Badoglio and his advisers remained in ignorance of it.[N3-23-32] 

Summoning Ambrosio, Guariglia, and Castellano to him on the morning of 30 August, Badoglio gave Castellano a revised version of the Guariglia memorandum as his written instructions. Castellano was to make contact with the Allies again and present the following points. If Italy had still enjoyed liberty of political and military action, the government would have requested an armistice immediately and accepted the conditions offered. But Italy was not able to do this at once because the Italian military forces in contact with the German forces inside and outside Italy were inferior to these forces. Unable to withstand a collision with the Germans, the Italian forces would be crushed in a very brief time. The whole country, but Rome above all, would be exposed to German reprisal. Since the Germans intended, at whatever cost, to fight in Italy, Italy was bound to become a second Poland. Consequently, Italy was able to request an armistice only when, because of landings by the Allies with sufficient forces and at appropriate places, the conditions were changed, or when the Allies were in a position to change the military situation in Europe. 

Marshall Badoglio canceled the penultimate paragraph of the memorandum. In its stead he wrote out with pencil on a piece of paper which he gave to Castellano the following points as guidelines for his discussion with the Allied generals:

“Report the memorandum.

  1. In order not to be overwhelmed before the English [sic] are able to make their action felt, we cannot declare our acceptance of the armistice except after landings have taken place of at least 15 divisions, with the greater part of them between Civitavecchia and La Spezia.
  2. We will be able to place at their disposition the following airfields . . .
  3. The fleet goes to Maddalena; learn the approximate period in order that preparations may be made.
  1. Protection of the Vatican.
  2. The king, the heir apparent, the queen, the government and the diplomatic corps remain at Rome.
  3. The question of prisoners.”

Badoglio instructed Castellano to indicate the airfields still in Italian hands and on which Allied planes might land. Castellano was to explain that the German authorities had asked repeatedly about the status of Allied prisoners, and that the Italian Government had put off the Germans with various excuses. But German insistence made further delay difficult, if not impossible.

[N3-23-32 Castellano, Come firm ai, p. 130; Zanussi,Guerra e catastrofe, II, rro.] 

Happy at last to have a piece of paper and precise instructions, Castellano made haste to confirm, by means of his secret radio, his appointment with the Allied generals. [N3-23-33 Castellano, Come firmai, pp. 130-32. Cf. Badoglio, Memorie e documenti, p. 101; Guariglia, Ricordi, p. 675.]

SOURCE: Sicily and the Surrender of Italy: BY; Lieutenant Colonel Albert Nutter Garland & Howard McGaw Smyth (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: Italy (3-24) Italian Decision – German Troop Movements

World War Two: Sicily (3-22) Messina-Quebec Memorandum – Italian Surrender Overtures

World War Two: Hollandia-Aitape Operation (AP-2A): Planning and Preparation

The first step in the Southwest Pacific Area’s drive to the Philippines—the seizure of the Hollandia region of Dutch New Guinea—could have far-reaching consequences.

Anchorages at Hollandia were known to be capable of basing many of the largest combat vessels, cargo ships, and troop transports. Inland plains in the area were thought to provide almost unlimited potentialities for airdrome development.

Aircraft operating from fields at Hollandia could dominate most Japanese airdromes in western New Guinea and nearer islands of the Indies, could fly reconnaissance and bombing missions against the western Carolines, including the Palaus, and could provide support for subsequent landing operations along the north coast of New Guinea. Small naval vessels, such as motor torpedo boats (PT’s), operating from Hollandia area bases, could interdict Japanese barge traffic for miles both east and west of that region. Finally, the Hollandia region was capable of development into a major supply base and staging [N2-1] area for the support of subsequent Allied operations farther to the west.

General Headquarters, Southwest Pacific Area, and its subordinate commands were to have no easy task in planning the advance to Hollandia; but by March 1944 these headquarters had accumulated two years’ experience with the complex air, sea, and ground operations that characterized the war in the Pacific. Indeed, the planning for Hollandia provides an excellent case study for most amphibious undertakings in the Southwest Pacific. For this reason a detailed discussion of the work undertaken by the various theater commands, the problems they faced, and the means by which these problems were solved is included here. The planning for subsequent operations within the Southwest Pacific is treated in less detail with emphasis placed principally on the differences from the Hollandia planning.

[N2-1 The term “staging” used in the Pacific theaters during World War II had a broader meaning than that usually applied in Europe or the zone of interior. In the Pacific a staging base was the point of departure for an amphibious operation. At such a base not only would troop units be assembled, but supplies and equipment of all types would also be gathered to be loaded for either immediate or future use at objective areas.]

Solving the many problems faced by the Southwest Pacific commands in planning the advance to Hollandia was made more difficult by the interrelationship of many of those problems. A direct

move to Hollandia from eastern New Guinea, bypassing Wewak and Hansa Bay, could not be undertaken unless carrier-based air support were madeavailable from the Pacific Fleet. It was also possible that a more powerful enemy force might be encountered at Hollandia than had been met during any previous landing operation in the Pacific theaters. This meant that a larger Allied force than had ever before been assembled for any single amphibious operation in the Pacific would have to be sent against Hollandia. The size of this force would complicate logistic planning and preparations and would necessitate the use of more assault shipping than was available within the Southwest Pacific Area. Finally, the advance was to be made into terrain about which many important details were unavailable and unobtainable. Thus, all interested commands of the Southwest Pacific Area were to have a thoroughgoing test of their training or past experience.

Theater Organization

General MacArthur’s Southwest Pacific Area headquarters was an inter-Allied, inter-service command exercising operational and policy-making functions. The staff was organized generally along U. S. Army lines except that many technical and administrative special staff sections were not included.

Administrative services for U. S. Army forces within the theater were concentrated at Headquarters, United States Army Forces in the Far East, also commanded by General MacArthur. Logistic and technical service functions for U. S. Army forces were under Headquarters, United States Services of Supply, Southwest Pacific Area, which also had certain inter-Allied and interservice logistic responsibilities. Allied combat operations were conducted through four operational headquarters subordinate to General MacArthur—the Allied Air Forces, the Allied Land Forces, the Allied Naval Forces, and ALAMO Force.

Allied Air Forces was commanded by Lieutenant General George C. Kenney (USA). Its major component parts during the early period covered in this volume were the U. S. Fifth Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force Command, Allied Air Forces. Later, the U. S. Thirteenth Air Force was redeployed from the South Pacific Area to pass to the control of the Allied Air Forces, Southwest Pacific Area. At the time of the Hollandia operation, General Kenney was also in direct command of the Fifth Air Force, while the Royal Australian Air Force Command was under Air Vice Marshal William D. Bostock (RAAF), who also had operational control over the few Dutch air organizations in the theater.

The Allied Naval Forces was commanded by Vice Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid (USN), whose organization comprised the U.S. Seventh Fleet (commanded directly by Admiral Kinkaid) and ships assigned from the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Netherlands Navy. Admiral Kinkaid’s chief subordinate for amphibious operations was Rear Admiral Daniel E. Barbey (USN), who was the commander of the VII Amphibious Force, Seventh Fleet.

Allied Land Forces was commanded by General Sir Thomas Blarney (AIF), who was also the commander in chief of the Australian Army and who had operational control over the very few Dutch ground force troops in the Southwest Pacific Area. ALAMO Force was commanded by Lieutenant General Walter Krueger (USA), also the commander of the U. S. Sixth Army. The staffs of ALAMO Force and Sixth Army were identical.

As Sixth Army, General Krueger’s command was subordinate to General Blarney’s Allied Land Forces, but as ALAMO Force it was subordinate only to General Headquarters. Allied Land Forces, while retaining operational control of U. S. Army troops in continental Australia for defensive purposes, controlled during the period of operations described in this volume the offensive operations of only those ground task forces primarily Australian in character. Conversely, ALAMO Force directed offensive operations of ground organizations comprising principally U. S. Army troops. [N2-2]

In mid-April there were almost 750,000 troops in the various ground, air, and naval services under General MacArthur’s command. Included in this total were approximately 450,000 U. S. Army ground and air personnel. Major ground combat components of the U. S. Army were 7 divisions (6 infantry and 1 dismounted cavalry), 3 separate regimental combat teams, and 3 engineer special brigades. Australian ground forces comprised 5 infantry divisions and enough division headquarters, brigades, or brigade groups (the latter equivalent to a U. S. Army regimental combat team) to form two more divisions. [N2-3]

Within the boundaries of the Southwest Pacific Area were approximately 350,000 Japanese, of whom 50,000 were hopelessly cut off in the Bismarck Archipelago. In the New Guinea area were 5 Japanese divisions (3 of them greatly understrength); in the Netherlands East Indies 3 divisions and 2 independent mixed brigades (the latter somewhat larger than a U. S. Army regimental combat team); and in the Philippines 1 division and 4 independent mixed brigades. [N2-4]The Hollandia Area : The Terrain

The Allied organizations which were to move against the Hollandia area were to find there an excellent site for a major air and supply base, including the only good anchorage between Wewak in Australian New Guinea and Geelvink Bay, 450 miles northwest in Dutch New Guinea. [N2-5] The coast line in the Hollandia area is broken by Humboldt and Tanahmerah Bays, which lie about twenty-five miles apart.

Between the two are the Cyclops Mountains, dominating the area. This short range rises to a height of over 7,000 feet and drops steeply to the Pacific Ocean on its northern side. South of the mountains is Lake Sentani, an irregularly crescent-shaped body of fresh water about fifteen and a half miles long. Between the north shore of the lake and the Cyclops Mountains is a flat plain well suited to airdrome construction, while other airfield sites are to be found on coastal flatlands just east of Humboldt Bay. South of Lake Sentani are more plains, which give way to rolling hills and a largely unexplored mountain range running roughly parallel to the coast about thirty or forty miles inland. Hollandia is a wet area. In the Humboldt Bay region the average annual rainfall is 90-100 inches; around Tanahmerah Bay 2 Milner, Victory in Papua, describes the establishment of the command in the Southwest Pacific Area.

[N2-3 G-3 GHQ SWPA, G-3 Monthly Sum of Opns, May 44, 31 May 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 31 May 44.]

[N2-4 G-2 GHQ SWPA, G-2 Monthly Sum of Enemy Dispositions, Apr 44, 30 Apr 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 30 Apr 44. See also below, Ch. IV.]

[N2-5 Terrain information in this subsection is based principally on AGS SWPA Terrain Study 78, Locality Study of Hollandia, 6 Mar 44. in OCMH files; 130-140 inches; and in the Lake Sentani depression 60-70 inches..]

April is neither the wettest nor the driest month—those distinctions are reserved to February and September, respectively. But rain and mud can be anticipated at Hollandia during April, when the average rainfall is eight and one-half inches and about thirteen rainy days are to be expected. The rivers in the area flood after heavy rains, but flood conditions usually last only a few hours.

The Hollandia region was well suited for defense. The Cyclops Mountains presented an almost impassable barrier on the north while the width of New Guinea, with its rugged inland mountain chains, prevented an approach from the south. Movement of large bodies of troops along the coast either east or west of Hollandia was nearly impossible.

Thus, the only practical means of access to the most important military objective in the area, the Lake Sentani Plain, was by amphibious assault at Humboldt Bay, on the east, or Tanahmerah Bay, on the west. From these two bays Lake Sentani could be approached only over many hills and through numerous defiles. Roads inland through these approaches were little better than foot trails prior to the war, but it was believed that they had been somewhat improved by the Japanese.

Landing beaches were numerous in the Humboldt Bay area, but there were few along the shores of Tanahmerah Bay. Almost all beaches in the region were narrow, backed by dense mangrove swamps, and easily defensible from hills to their rear and flanks. Measured by standards of jungle warfare, the distances from the beaches to the center of the Lake Sentani Plain were long, being eighteen miles by trail from Humboldt Bay and about fourteen miles from Tanahmerah Bay.

Japanese Developments at Hollandia

Hollandia had little claim to prominence before the war. Once it had been a center of trade in bird-of-paradise feathers, but this commerce had declined after 1931. In the late 1920’s and early 1930’s the Netherlands East Indies Government had promoted colonization and agriculture in the area, but labor trouble and sickness had caused these ventures to be practically abandoned by 1938. The town of Hollandia, situated on an arm of Humboldt Bay, then ceased to be commercially important and served only as the seat of local government and as a base for several exploring expeditions into the interior of Dutch New Guinea.

The Japanese occupied the Hollandia area early in April 1942 but paid little attention to the region until almost a year later, when Allied air reconnaissance disclosed that the enemy was constructing airfields on the Lake Sentani Plain. This development progressed slowly until late 1943, by which time successive reverses in the air and on the ground in eastern New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago, together with increasing shipping losses in the same region, began to demonstrate to the Japanese the vulnerability of their air and supply bases east of Hollandia.6 In late 1943 and early 1944 the enemy built three airfields on the Lake Sentani Plain and started a fourth at Tami, on the seacoast east of Humboldt Bay. Their reverses in eastern New Guinea prompted the Japanese to withdraw their strategic main line of resistance to the west, and the Hollandia airdromes were developed as the forward anchor of a string of air bases stretching from the southern Netherlands East Indies into the Philippine Islands.

The Japanese 4th Air Army, principal enemy air headquarters in New Guinea, established at Hollandia an air base which ultimately became so large that it was surpassed in size and strength only by the air center earlier developed by the Japanese at Rabaul. At Hollandia the 4th Air Army and its operating echelon, the 6th Air Division, felt comparatively safe, for prior to 1944 that area lay beyond the effective range of Allied land-based fighter planes.

[N2-6 ALAMO Force, G-2 Estimate of the Enemy Situation, Hollandia-Aitape Operation, 10 Mar 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 2-14 Mar 44; Japanese Studies in World War II, No. 43, 18th Army Operations, III, 17-20, copy in OCMH files. The latter document is one of a series prepared in Japan by Japanese Army and Navy officers after the war and translated by ATIS SCAP. Copies of the translations as well as copies of most of the Japanese originals are on file in the OCMH. Dubious or questionable parts of the translations were checked against the Japanese originals before use was made of the documents.]

In addition, because of shipping losses east of Hollandia, the Japanese began to develop Humboldt Bay into a major supply base and transshipment point. Large ships would unload at Hollandia, whence cargo would be carried by barge to points southeast along the coast of New Guinea as far as Wewak, 215 miles away. Much of the cargo of the large ships remained at Hollandia to build up the base there. Continuous Japanese shipping activity throughout western New Guinea indicated to General MacArthur’s Intelligence (G-2) Section that reinforcements were pouring into that area—reinforcements which might reach Hollandia. At the same time, it seemed possible that the Japanese 18th Army might send reinforcements to Hollandia from eastern New Guinea. Time favored whatever development the Japanese were undertaking at Hollandia. It was highly important that the Allies seize the area before the enemy could build it into a formidable fortress.

[N2-7 18th Army Opns, III, 17-20; Amendment 2, 17 Mar 44, to GHQ SWPA, G-2 Est of Enemy Sit with Respect to an Opn Against Hollandia, 1 7 Feb 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 29 Feb 44; GHQ SWPA, G-2 Daily Summary of Enemy Intelligence [DSEI] 719, 720, and 759, 11 Mar, 12 Mar, and 20 Apr 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnls, 11 Mar, 12 Mar, and 20 Apr 44, respectively. ]

The Decision to Take Aitape

Preliminary planning for an advance to Hollandia had been undertaken in General Headquarters during late February 1944. On 3 March representatives from major commands in both the South and Southwest Pacific Areas gathered at General Mac Arthur’s command post in Brisbane, Australia, to discuss the problems involved in carrying out the direct advance to Hollandia without seizing an intermediate base in the Hansa Bay-Wewak area. It was immediately apparent to the Brisbane conferees that the A Japanese area army is equivalent to the U. S. Army’s field army; a Japanese army roughly equals a U. S. Army corps. Some special Japanese organizations, such as the Southern Army and the Kwantung Army, are equivalent to the U. S. Army’s army group. A Japanese air army was theoretically equivalent to a U. S. Army air force, such as the Fifth Air Force; and the Japanese air division, while having no exact equivalent in the U. S. forces, would occupy the same relative command position as a U. S. bomber command or fighter command. Actually the Japanese 4th Air Army contained fewer planes than the average U. S. air group, basic problem was that of obtaining air support.

Obtaining Carrier-Based Air Support

Previous operations in the Southwest Pacific Area had been undertaken within effective range of Allied land-based fighter cover, but Hollandia was beyond this range, since the nearest Allied base was Nadzab in Australian New Guinea, almost 500 miles southeast of the objective. On the other hand, the Japanese had completed one airfield and were constructing two others in the Wakde Island-Sarmi area of Dutch New Guinea, only 125 miles northwest of Hollandia. Neither the Wakde-Sarmi nor the Hollandia fields could be kept neutralized by long-range bomber action alone. Fighter sweeps against both objectives would be necessary before D Day at Hollandia.

Since land-based fighters could not accomplish these tasks, the long jump to Hollandia could be undertaken only if carrier-borne air support could be obtained. The Southwest Pacific’s naval arm had no carriers permanently assigned to it. Therefore, carriers had to be obtained from sources outside the theater. [N2-8]

In their 12 March directive the Joint Chiefs had instructed Admiral Nimitz to provide support for the Hollandia operation. [N2-9] Now, in accordance with these instructions, Admiral Nimitz proposed that he provide air support for Hollandia by undertaking carrier-based air strikes against Wakde-Sarmi and Hollandia prior to D Day. In addition, he would provide air support for the landings and, for a limited period thereafter, operations ashore. This support was to be made available by two groups of fast carriers assigned to Task Force 58 of the U. S. Fifth Fleet, an operational part of Admiral Nimitz’ Pacific Fleet. [N2-10]

Initially, General MacArthur planned to have these carriers conduct fighter sweeps against Hollandia and the Wakde-Sarmi area on D minus 1 and D Day of the Hollandia operation. On D Day carriers would support the landings at Hollandia and then would remain in the objective area to furnish cover for ground operations and unloading of supplies and troops through D plus 8 or until fields for land-based fighters could be constructed at Hollandia. [N2-11] This plan was opposed by Admiral Nimitz on the grounds that it would invite disaster. In western New Guinea the Japanese were building many new airfields to which they could send large numbers of planes from other parts of the Netherlands East Indies or from the Philippines. There was no assurance that Allied carrier-based aircraft and land-based bombers could keep these enemy fields sufficiently neutralized to prevent the Japanese from staging large-scale air attacks against the Hollandia area. Admiral Nimitz therefore refused to leave the large carriers in the objective area for the period desired by the Southwest Pacific Area. Instead, he would permit Task Force 58 to remain in the Hollandia region only through D plus 3. [N2-12]

[N2-8 Min of Conf, 3 Mar 44, held at GHQ SWPA between representatives of GHQ SWPA, COMSOPAC, ANF SWPA, et al, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 3 Mar 44; Rad, CINCSWPA to CINCPOA, C-2853, 14 Mar 44, CM-IN 9841.]

[N2-9 Rad, CofS (for JCS) to CINCSWPA, 5171, and to COMGENCENPAC (for CINCPOA), 989, Mar 44, CM-OUT 5137.]

[N2-10 Rad, CINCPOA to CINCSWPA, 14 Mar 44, CM-IN 9944; Rad, CINCPOA to COMINCH, 17 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 18 Mar 44.]

[N2-11 GHQ SWPA, Hollandia Outline Plan, 29 Feb 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 2-14 Mar 44. 12 Memo, Asst ACofS G-3 ALAMO for ACofS G-3 ALAMO, 31 Mar 44, no sub, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 31 Mar-1 Apr 44.]

General MacArthur reluctantly accepted this condition, although it left unsolved the problem of obtaining air support at Hollandia from D plus 3 until land-based fighters could be sent there. Many solutions were proposed for this problem.

Land-Based Air Support

General Headquarters, Southwest Pacific Area, had once given serious consideration to a plan to drop parachute troops on the Japanese-held airfields north of Lake Sentani. Since a large Japanese force was estimated to be defending Hollandia, there was no assurance that this action would be tactically successful. Even if the paratroopers captured the airfields quickly, there could be no assurance that enough men and engineering equipment could be flown to the Lake Sentani Plain in time to construct a fighter strip there before Task Force 58 was scheduled to retire. This plan was therefore abandoned. [N2-13] The Allied Air Forces proposed the establishment of land-based fighters on Wuvulu Island, which lies about 125 miles northeast of Hollandia. This plan was also given up.

Little was known about terrain conditions on Wuvulu, the island was much closer to Japanese bases than to Allied, and its seizure would disclose the direction of the main attack. Furthermore, the Wuvulu operation would absorb ground forces, amphibious shipping, and engineering equipment sorely needed for the Hollandia campaign. [N2-14]

A plan to develop a fighter strip at Tanahmerah (inland in south-central Dutch New Guinea and not to be confused with Tanahmerah Bay) was likewise proposed and discarded. The terrain at the inland Tanahmerah was poor and the transportation of supplies and engineering equipment to the site would present major problems. Since Tanahmerah lies south and Hollandia north of the great unexplored inland mountain range which laterally bisects New Guinea, bad weather over this range, by no means unusual, might prevent fighters based at Tanahmerah from supporting landings at Hollandia. [N2-15] Also given serious consideration was the possibility of seizing a field in the Wakde-Sarmi area simultaneously with Hollandia. The principal obstacle to the execution of this plan was lack of sufficient assault shipping and landing craft to insure tactical success. Information about the Wakde-Sarmi area was exceedingly meager, but it was estimated by General Mac Arthur’s G-2 Section that enemy strength there was growing rapidly. [N2-16]

It was finally decided to obtain land-based air support for Hollandia by seizing an airfield site on the northern New Guinea coast east of the main objective. The location chosen was a lightly held area already partially developed by the Japanese near Aitape, which lies in Australian New Guinea about 125 miles east-southeast of Hollandia.

[N2-13 Ibid.; GHQ SWPA, Hollandia Outline Plan Draft, 28 Feb 44, and Rad, ALAMO to GHQ SWPA, WF-1012, 7 Mar 44, both in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 2-14 Mar 44.]

[N2-14 Rad, GHQ SWPA to ALAMO, XC-1855, 8 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 8 Mar 44; Rad, ALAMO to GHQ SWPA, WF-1453, 10 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 10 Mar 44; Rad, ALAMO to GHQ SWPA, WF-1555, 10 Mar 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 2-14 Mar 44.]

[N2-15 GHQ SWPA Conf, 3 Mar 44; GHQ SWPA, Hollandia Outline Plan, 29 Feb 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 2-14 Mar 44.]

[N2-16 GHQ SWPA Conf, 3 Mar 44; GHQ SWPA Memo, no addressee, 1 Mar 44, sub: Considerations Affecting the Plan to Seize Humboldt Bay Area with Strong Support of Carriers, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 2-14 Mar 44; GHQ SWPA, G-2 Est of Enemy Sit, Wakde-Sarmi Area, 8 Apr 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 8 Apr 44.]

The Aitape Area

Aitape had been occupied by the enemy in December 1942. [N2-18] Before the war the town was the seat of local government and an interisland trading point of but small commerce. The entire region is a coastal plain, varying from five to twelve miles in width, swampy in many places and cut by numerous streams. The only prominent terrain feature on the coast is a small hill at Aitape. There are no natural eastern or western boundaries in the area. To the north lies the Pacific Ocean, and south of the coastal plain rise the foothills of the Torricelli Mountains. Offshore, about eight miles east of Aitape, are four small islands. Good landing beaches exist throughout the region, the best a few miles east of Aitape. The absence of suitable terrain features makes difficult the defense of the area against amphibious assault. The many rivers could provide some defense against lateral movement, but these rivers vary greatly in width and depth according to the amount of rainfall. April marks the end of the wettest season in the Aitape region, where rainfall averages about 100 inches per year. Though June is one of the dryest months, July is one of the wettest, with almost eight inches of rain. Torrential tropical downpours rather than prolonged rains are to be expected at Aitape.

Japanese development in the area centered around airfield construction near Tadji Plantation, about eight miles east-southeast of Aitape. At least three fields were begun by the enemy near Tadji at one time or another, but terrain conditions and lack of equipment prevented the Japanese from completing more than one of these strips.

They used this field as a staging area for aircraft flying between Wewak and Hollandia and as a dispersal field for planes evacuated from heavily bombed airdromes east of Aitape. Intelligence reports indicated that Japanese ground defenses in the Aitape area were weak. It therefore seemed probable that there would be little opposition to a landing and that the assault force, once ashore, could quickly seize the airstrip area. It was estimated that Allied engineers could rehabilitate one of the Tadji strips for the use of fighter planes within forty-eight hours after the initial landings. Aircraft based on the Tadji strips would be within easy supporting distance of Hollandia, able to provide air cover after the carriers departed from Hollandia. [N2-19]

The seizure of the Aitape area had an additional important aspect besides providing land-based support for Hollandia. Once established ashore at Aitape, Allied forces could provide ground flank protection for Hollandia against any westward movement on the part of the Japanese 18th Army.

[N2-17 GHQ SWPA Conf, 3 Mar 44; Rad, GHQ SWPA to ALAMO, XC-1753, 5 Mar 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 2-14 Mar 44.]

[N2-18 The description of the Aitape area is based principally on AGS SWPA Terrain Handbook 21, Aitape-Vanimo, 21 Mar 44, copy in OCMH files.]

[N2-19 GHQ SWPA, G-2 Est of Enemy Sit, PERSECUTION [Aitape], 24 Jan 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 26 Jan 44; Memo, ACofS G-3 GHQ SWPA for CINCSWPA, 25 Mar 44, sub: Air Tasks for the Hollandia Opn, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 31 Mar-1 Apr 44.]

Additional Air Support Problems

Although the decision to seize the Tadji airstrips assured that the departure of Task Force 58 would not leave ground operations at Hollandia without air support, other air support problems arose. The seizure of the Aitape area itself required air support, but Aitape, like Hollandia, was beyond the most effective range of Allied land-based fighters. Not enough large carriers had been made available to support the Hollandia landings (providing support for operations there for a few days and carrying out air strikes against Japanese bases in western New Guinea) and also to support the landing at Aitape.

Eight escort carriers (CVE’s), together with the large carriers, had been made available by Admiral Nimitz to support the Hollandia operation. At first General MacArthur planned to use the escort carriers for close support missions at both Hollandia and Aitape, [N2-20] but it was decided that Task Force 58’s carriers could provide all the air support necessary in the Hollandia area. Therefore the eight CVE’s were to be used to support only the assault at Aitape and to cover ground operations in that area until one of the Tadji strips could be rehabilitated. They were to be released for return to the Central Pacific Area no later than D plus 19 of the Hollandia and Aitape landings, and earlier if possible. [N2-21]

In order to carry out all the air support missions which might become necessary, it was extremely important that the maximum possible number of fighters be based on the Tadji strips at an early date. Originally it was planned to send one fighter group of the U. S. Fifth Air Force to Tadji, a group containing both P-38 and P-40 aircraft; but it was expected that the airstrips, if in operation by D plus 1, would be rough and lacking many normal airfield facilities. It was therefore decided to send No. 78 Wing of the Royal Australian Air Force to Tadji. This Australian unit, which was comparable in size to an American group, was equipped solely with P-40 aircraft, planes peculiarly suited to operations under the rough conditions and incomplete facilities that could be expected at Tadji. [N2-22]

The Forces and Their Missions

Once it had become certain that close air support for the assaults at Hollandia and Aitape could be obtained, it was possible to undertake detailed logistical and tactical planning. D Day, originally set for 15 April, was postponed to 22 April, with the approval of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Tide conditions along the north-central coast of New Guinea, the schedule of carrier operations already planned by Admiral Nimitz, and logistic problems within the Southwest Pacific Area combined to force this change in date.

[N2-20 GHQ SWPA Conf, 3 Mar 44; GHQ SWPA OI 46, 18 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 18 Mar 44.]

[N2-21 Memo, G-3 GHQ Opns Div for ACofS G-3 GHQ, 25 Mar 44, no sub, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 25 Mar 44; Memo, ACofS G-3 GHQ for CINCSWPA, 25 Mar 44, sub: Air Tasks for the Hollandia Opn, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 31 Mar-1 Apr 44; GHQ SWPA OI 46 (Rev), 28 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 28 Mar 44. ]

[N2-22 Rad, GHQ SWPA to ALAMO, CX-10218, 30 Mar 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 28-30 Mar 44; Rad, Advon5AF to GHQ SWPA, R-6915-F, 31 Mar 44, and Rad, ALAMO to GHQ SWPA, WF-118, 1 Apr 44, last two in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 31 Mar-1 Apr 44.]

On 22 April the air, sea, and land forces of the Southwest Pacific, supported by Task Force 58, were to seize the Hollandia and Aitape areas, isolating the Japanese 18th Army to the east. The operations of forces assigned to the Southwest Pacific Area were to be co-ordinated by General MacArthur’s headquarters in accordance with the principles of unity of command. The action of Task Force 58 was to be governed by mutual agreement and co-operation between General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz. At Aitape minor air and naval facilities were to be established. At Hollandia a major air base, a logistics base capable of supporting and staging 150,000 troops, and a small naval base were to be constructed. [N2-23]

The Air Plan and Organization

Long-range or strategic air support, both before and during the Hollandia-Aitape operation, was to be provided by Task Force 58 and the Allied Air Forces, Southwest Pacific Area. Task Force 58, commanded by Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher (USN), consisted of the large carriers and escorting battleships, cruisers, and destroyers. The escort carriers scheduled to support the Aitape landing were to operate as Task Force 78 under the command of Rear Admiral Ralph E. Davison (USN). [N2-24]

Prior to 22 April the land-based bombers of the Allied Air Forces were to undertake neutralization of enemy air installations along the northern coast of New Guinea as far west as the Wakde-Sarmi area. Japanese air bases on islands in the Arafura Sea, on the Vogelkop Peninsula, and in the Caroline Islands were all to be hit by Allied Air Forces bombers. The missions against the Carolines were to be carried out for the most part by planes of the XIII Air Task Force, an advanced group of the Thirteenth Air Force, the latter then in process of moving from the South, Pacific to the Southwest Pacific Area. Aircraft under control of the Allied Air Forces were also to provide aerial reconnaissance and photography as required by the ground and naval forces participating in the operation. [N2-25]

Land-based fighters of the Allied Air Forces were to cover convoys within range of Allied Air Forces bases, while Allied shipping beyond this range was to be protected by aircraft from escort carriers. In order to prevent the Japanese from deducing the direction and objective of the operation, General Headquarters had decided to route the assault convoys from assembly points in eastern New Guinea north to the Admiralty Islands and thence west-southwest toward Hollandia and Aitape. Since this extended route would take the convoys into ocean areas which could not be covered by land-based fighters, the escort carriers had been assigned their additional support role. [N2-26]

Medium bombers (B-25’s and A-20’s) of the Allied Air Forces, based in eastern New Guinea, were to undertake such close support missions at Hollandia and Aitape on D Day and thereafter as might be requested by the ground force commanders and permitted by distance and weather. Escort carrier aircraft would, if necessary, fly close support missions at Hollandia as well as at Aitape after Task Force 58 left the former area. Task Force 58 planes were to operate against targets designated by General Headquarters and requested by the ground commanders at Hollandia. The primary mission of Task Force 58, however, was to destroy or contain Japanese naval forces which might attempt to interfere with the Hollandia operation. The air support missions of the force were secondary to the destruction of the Japanese fleet. [N2-27]

[N2-23 GHQ SWPA OI 46, 18 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 18 Mar 44.]

[N2-24 ANF SWPA Opn Plan 4-44, 1 Apr 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 6-7 Apr 44; CTF 58 Opn Plan 5-44, 9 Apr 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 21 Apr 44.]

[N2-25 GHQ SWPA OI 46, 18 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 18 Mar 44; AAF SWPA OI 49 (Rev), 30 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 30 Mar 44.]

[N2-26 Memo, ACofS G-3 GHQ SWPA for CINCSWPA, 25 Mar 44, sub: Air Tasks for the Hollandia Opn, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 31 Mar-1 Apr 44; ANF SWPA Opn Plan 4-44, 1 Apr 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 6-7 Apr 44; GHQ SWPA OI 46 (Rev), 28 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 28 Mar 44.]

Most of the air support tasks assigned to land-based aircraft of the Allied Air Forces were to be carried out by the U. S. Fifth Air Force. Forward area operations were assigned to the Advanced Echelon, Fifth Air Force, commanded by Major General Ennis C. Whitehead. Many missions against the islands of the Arafura Sea and the Geelvink Bay area were to be undertaken by Air Vice Marshal Bostock’s Royal Australian Air Force Command. American air missions were to be flown principally from Fifth Air Force bases in eastern New Guinea. Australian planes, aided by bombers of the Fifth Air Force and a B-25 squadron of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Air Force, were to strike most of their targets from fields at Darwin in northern Australia. [N2-28]

In addition to conducting a fighter sweep of the Hollandia and Wakde-Sarmi fields prior to D Day and covering the landings at Hollandia, Task Force 58 was assigned another important air support mission. Carrier strikes by the U. S. Fifth Fleet during February had driven the main body of the Japanese fleet west from its forward base at Truk in the Carolines. In March the Japanese began to reassemble naval power in the Palau Islands, some 800 miles northwest of Hollandia. This new naval strength constituted a potentially serious threat to the success of the Hollandia operation. It was therefore considered imperative to conduct a carrier strike against the Palaus in order to drive the enemy fleet still farther west, an operation scheduled by Admiral Nimitz for about 1 April. After the strike against the Palaus, Task Force 58 was to retire from the Carolines and western New Guinea until 21 April, D minus 1 of the Hollandia operation, when it was to return to sweep the Wakde-Sarmi and Hollandia fields. [N2-29]

Admiral Nimitz requested that Southwest Pacific aircraft cover the strike against the Palaus by undertaking reconnaissance and bombardment missions over those islands and others in the Carolines during the passage of Task Force 58 to and from its objective. He also asked for missions against Japanese air and naval installations in the Bismarck Archipelago and along the northern coast of New Guinea. There were not sufficient long-range aircraft available to the Allied Air Forces to carry out all the missions requested by Admiral Nimitz and at the same time continue necessary bombing and reconnaissance preparations for the advance to Hollandia. Therefore a squadron of PB4Y’s (the naval version of the Army B-24) was transferred from the South Pacific to the Southwest Pacific. These planes were stationed initially in eastern New Guinea and then sent to the Admiralties when the fields there became operational. Other long-range missions in support of the Palau strike were carried out by Fifth Air Force B-24’s and PBY’s (two-engined patrol bombers) of the Allied Naval Forces, Southwest Pacific Area. [N2-30]

[N2-27 AAF SWPA OI 49 (Rev), 30 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 30 Mar 44; Change No. 1, 10 Apr 44, to CTF 58 Opn Plan 5-44, 9 Apr 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 21 Apr 44; ANF SWPA Opn Plan 4-44, 1 Apr 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 6-7 Apr 44; Rad, GINCPOA to Com5thFlt et al, 27 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 27 Mar 44.]

[N2-28 AAF SWPA OI 49 (Rev), 30 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 30 Mar 44.]

[N2-29 GHQ SWPA Conf, 3 Mar 44; Memo, GHQ SWPA, no addressee, 1 Mar 44, sub: Considerations Affecting the Plan to Seize Humboldt Bay Area with Strong Support of Carriers, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 2-14 Mar 44; Rad, Com5dFlt to CINCPOA, 8 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 9 Mar 44; CINPAC-CINCPOA Opn Plan 1-44, 18 Mar 44, in G-3 Jnl, 19 Mar 44; Rad, CINCPOA to Com5thFlt, et al., 27 Mar 44, CM-IN 19262.]

Aircraft of the South Pacific Area (the operations of this area were under General Mac Arthur’s strategic direction) were to continue aerial blockade of the Bismarcks and Solomons. The same air units were to assist in reconnaissance missions required to cover the operations of both Task Force 58 and the movement of Southwest Pacific forces to Hollandia and Aitape. Finally, with naval forces of the South Pacific assisting, the South Pacific air was to halt Japanese sea-borne reinforcement and supply activities within the area. [N2-31]

Naval Plans

The Allied Naval Forces was to transport and land the assault troops and supporting forces, together with their supplies, and to furnish necessary naval protection for the overwater movement to the objectives. Admiral Kinkaid’s command was also to conduct hydrographic surveys of harbors and approaches at Hollandia and Aitape, undertake mine-sweeping at both objectives, and carry out submarine reconnaissance as required by General Mac Arthur. Admiral Kinkaid delegated control of both ground and naval forces during the amphibious phase of the operation to Admiral Barbey. In case of an engagement with Japanese fleet units, Admiral Kinkaid would assume direct command of Allied Naval Forces combat ships supporting the Hollandia-Aitape operation, but otherwise Admiral Barbey would remain in control. [N2-32]

For the Hollandia-Aitape operation Admiral Barbey’s command was designated Task Force 77. It contained all the attack shipping available to the Allied Naval Forces and also covering and support forces of escort carriers and American and Australian cruisers and destroyers. Task Force 77’s attack shipping and fire support vessels were divided into three main sections—the Western, Central, and Eastern Attack Groups. The first two were responsible for the Hollandia area landings, while the Eastern Attack Group was to carry assault troops to Aitape. [N2-33]

Naval fire support for the landings was primarily a responsibility of Task Force 77, but the battleships, cruisers, and destroyers of Task Force 58 were also to be ready to provide fire support for the landings and operations ashore at Hollandia, should such additional bombardment prove necessary. [N2-34] In case of fleet action, Admiral Mitscher’s Task Force 58 would retain its independence and would not come under the control of General Mac Arthur or of the latter’s naval commander, Admiral Kinkaid. Task Force 58 could depart the Hollandia area at a moment’s notice to carry out its primary mission, destruction or containment of threatening Japanese fleet units. Conversely, the combat ships and escort carriers of the Allied Naval Forces would not pass to the controls on made for unified air or naval command in the objective area—a situation similar to that which obtained six months later at Leyte Gulf.

[N2-30 of Admiral Mitscher. There was no provi- Rad, CINCPOA to CINCSWPA, 14 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 18 Mar 44; Rad, CINCSWPA to COMSOPAC, XC-2255, 20 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 20 Mar 44; GHQ SWPA OI 48, 24 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 24 Mar 44; Rad, GHQ SWPA to ANF SWPA and AAF SWPA, CX-10113, 27 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 27 Mar 44.]

[N2-31 GHQ SWPA OI 46 (Rev), 28 Mar 44; GHQ SWPA OI 46, 18 Mar 44; GHQ SWPA OI 48, 24 Mar 44.]

[N2-32 GHQ SWPA OI 46 (Rev), 28 Mar 44; ANF SWPA Opn Plan 4-44, 1 Apr 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 6-7 Apr 44.]

[N2-33 Ibid.; CTF 77 Opn Plan 3-44, 3 Apr 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 4-5 Apr 44. 34 ANF SWPA Opn Plan 4-44, 1 Apr 44; CTF 58 Opn Plan 5-44, 9 Apr 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 21 Apr 44.]

The Ground Forces

Ground operations at Hollandia and Aitape were to be under the control of ALAMO Force, commanded by General Krueger. [N2-35] General Headquarters’ early plans, which were based on the assumption that Hollandia would be a single objective, had assigned to ALAMO FORCE one and one-third reinforced divisions, totaling about 32,000 combat and service troops. When intelligence estimates indicated that nearly 14,000 Japanese troops, including two infantry regiments, might be stationed at Hollandia by D Day, it became obvious that General Krueger would need more strength.

When Aitape was added to the Hollandia plan, another need for increased strength became apparent. Japanese forces at Aitape were estimated at 3,500, including 1,500 combat troops. Since the Japanese used Aitape as a staging area for troop movements between Wewak and Hollandia, it was considered possible that before 22 April enemy strength at Aitape might fluctuate from one to three thousand above the estimated figure. [N2-36]

As a result of these estimates, two and one-third reinforced divisions, totaling almost 50,000 troops, were made available to General Krueger for the assault phase of the Hollandia-Aitape operation. [N2-37] Responsibility for ground operations at Hollandia was delegated by General Krueger to Headquarters, U. S. I Corps, which for this undertaking was designated the RECKLESS Task Force. Commanded by Lieutenant General Robert L. Eichelberger, I Corps headquarters had seen action during the Papua Campaign. Since then it had been based in Australia, operating as a training and defense command. Early in 1944 the corps headquarters had moved to Goodenough Island, off the eastern tip of New Guinea, to prepare for the now canceled Hansa Bay operation. At Hollandia General Eichelberger was to control the action of the 24th and 41st Infantry Divisions (the latter less one regimental combat team). The 24th Division, when alerted for the Hollandia operation, was finishing amphibious and jungle training at Goodenough Island in preparation for the Hansa Bay campaign. Elements of the 41st Division, which was commanded by Major General Horace H. Fuller, had participated in the Papua Campaign, while other parts of the unit had gained experience in the Lae-Salamaua operations. At the time it was alerted for Hollandia, the 41st Division was rehabilitating and retraining in Australia. [N2-38]

[N2-35 GHQ SWPA OI 46 (Rev), 28 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 28 Mar 44.]

[N2-36 Memo, GHQ SWPA, no addressee, 1 Mar 44, sub: Considerations Affecting the Plan to Seize Humboldt Bay Area with Strong Support of Carriers, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 2-14 Mar 44; GHQ SWPA, G-2 Est of Enemy Sit, PERSECUTION [Aitape], 24 Jan 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 26 Jan 44; GHQ SWPA, G-2 DSEI’s 710-761, in G-3 GHQ Jnls, 1 Mar-22 Apr 44; GHQ SWPA, G-2 Est of Enemy Sit, 22 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 22 Mar 44.]

[N2-37 GHQ SWPA OI 46 (Rev), 28 Mar 44.]

[N2-38 ALAMO Force FO 12, 23 Mar 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 20-23 Mar 44; GHQ SWPA, G-3 Hist Div, Chronology of the War in the SWPA, copy in OCMH files; Memo, CINCSWPA for COMSOPAC, Comdr AAF SWPA, Comdr ANF SWPA, et al, 9 Feb 44, sub: Outline Plan Hansa Bay Opn, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 9 Feb 44; RECKLESS Task Force (hereafter cited as RTF) Opns Rpt Hollandia, p. 6.]

Two regimental combat teams of the yet untried 24th Division, commanded by Major General Frederick A. Irving, were to land at Tanahmerah Bay, while two regimental combat teams of the 41st Division were to go ashore at Humboldt Bay. [N2-39] At Aitape, the 163rd Infantry of the 41st Division was to make the initial landings.

Operations at Aitape were to be controlled by Headquarters, PERSECUTION Task Force, commanded by Brigadier General Jens A. Doe, Assistant Division Commander, 41st Division. The PERSECUTION Task Force, organized on 23 March, was an Allied headquarters especially set up for the Aitape operation. It was to exercise its command functions directly under ALAMO Force and was on the same level of command as the RECKLESS Task Force. [N2-40]

[N2-39 RTF FO 1, 27 Mar 44, atchd to RTF Opns Rpt Hollandia; RTF Opns Rpt Hollandia, p. 6. ]

[N2-40 ALAMO Force FO 12, 23 Mar 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 20-23 Mar 44; PERSECUTION Task Force (hereafter cited as PTF) FO 1, 6 Apr 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 5-6 Apr 44.]

Until a beachhead was secured in the Aitape area, control of the landing and operations ashore was to be vested in Admiral Barbey as the Attack Force commander, who was to be represented at Aitape by the Commander, Eastern Attack Group, Captain Albert G. Noble (USN). General Doe was to assume command of operations at Aitape upon the seizure of the beachhead, at which time the PERSECUTION Task Force was automatically to pass from the control of the Navy to ALAMO Force.

At Hollandia the control of operations was to pass from the commanders of the Western and Central Attack Groups to the commanders of the 24th and 41st Divisions, respectively, when those units had secured their beachheads. Admiral Barbey was to retain control over ground action in the Hollandia area until General Eichelberger saw fit to move his headquarters ashore. The task force would then revert from naval control to the supervision of ALAMO Force. [N2-41]

To reinforce the 24th and 41st Divisions for the Hollandia-Aitape operation, three separate field artillery battalions, four engineer combat battalions, seven (plus) antiaircraft battalions, a tank destroyer battalion, and the bulk of three engineer boat and shore regiments were made available. Other reinforcing units included a medium tank company of the 1st Marine Division, then on New Britain, and another from the 1st Cavalry Division, which was operating on the Admiralty Islands. Among the service organizations assigned to the operation was No. 62 Works Wing, Royal Australian Air Force, to which was assigned the task of rehabilitating an airfield at Aitape by D plus 1. [N2-42]

General Headquarters Reserve for the operation was the 6th Infantry Division, then finishing training for amphibious and jungle warfare at Milne Bay, New Guinea. About a week before the landings the 503rd Parachute Infantry, veteran of one combat jump in eastern New Guinea, was designated as an additional General Headquarters Reserve.

ALAMO Force Reserve for the Hollandia-Aitape operation was originally the 127th Infantry (and regimental combat team attachments) of the 32nd Division. It was brought out of reserve and assigned to the PERSECUTION Task Force to arrive at Aitape on D plus 1 because, as D Day approached, General Krueger became increasingly concerned over the capabilities of the Japanese 18th Army, concentrating a strength of fifty to sixty thousand at Wewak, only ninety-four miles east-southeast of Aitape. The G-2 Section of General MacArthur’s headquarters estimated that a large part of the 18th Army could march overland from Wewak to Aitape in two weeks, an opinion not shared by the Operations Section (G-3) of the same headquarters. The 18th Army, according to General MacArthur’s G-2, could be expected to make determined efforts to recapture the Aitape area. [N2-43]

[N2-41 ALAMO Force FO 12, 23 Mar 44; ANF SWPA Opn Plan 4-44, 1 Apr 44; GHQ SWPA OI 46 (Rev), 28 Mar 44.]

[N2-42 Annex 1, Tentative Troop List, 13 Mar 44, to GHQ SWPA Warning Order 4, 7 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 7 Mar 44; ALAMO Force FO 12, 23 Mar 44.]

[N2-43 GHQ SWPA, G-2 Est of Enemy Sit, Hollandia, 22 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 22 Mar 44; Amendment 2, 17 Mar 44, to GHQ SWPA, G-2 Est of Enemy Sit with Respect to an Opn Against Hollandia, 17 Feb 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 29 Feb 44; GHQ SWPA, DSEFs 710-761,1 Mar-22 Apr 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnls, 1 Mar-22 Apr 44; remarks of Major General Stephen J. Chamberlin, ex-ACofS G-3 GHQ SWPA, at Hist Div SSUSA Seminar, 23 Jan 48, copy in OCMH files. General Willoughby, General MacArthur’s G-2, as late as 4 March opposed the jump to Hollandia because he doubted the ability of distant land-based and local carrier-based aircraft to protect Allied forces until land-based planes could be established at Hollandia, and he advised adhering to the earlier plans for an operation against the Hansa Bay-Wewak area. General Chamberlin had much more faith in the carriers. General Willoughby’s views are to be found in Memo, ACofS G-2 GHQ SWPA to ACofS G-3 GHQ SWPA, 4 Mar 44, no sub, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 3 Mar 44. The G-3’s reply is attached.]

General MacArthur considered General Krueger’s commitment of the 127th Regimental Combat Team to operations at Aitape at least premature, if not unnecessary. The theater commander had planned to relieve the 32nd Division, then at Saidor on the Huon Peninsula, with Australian troops. The division was to be staged at Saidor for an operation against the Wakde-Sarmi area in quick exploitation of expected success at Hollandia and Aitape. General MacArthur believed, however, that Aitape might ultimately have to be reinforced. Reluctant consent was therefore given to General Krueger’s plan and General MacArthur made provision to use other units at Wakde-Sarmi. ALAMO Force Reserve then became the 32nd Division less two regimental combat teams—the 127th at Aitape and another which was to remain in the Saidor area for an indeterminate period. [N2-44] RECKLESS Task Force Reserve at Hollandia was the 34th Infantry (and combat team attachments) of the 24th Division. PERSECUTION Task Force Reserve during the landings at Aitape was the 1st Battalion, 163rd Infantry. [N2-45] Ground forces of the South Pacific Area were to continue their campaigns in the Solomon Islands and the Bismarck Archipelago during the Hollandia-Aitape operation.

New Guinea Force, commanded by General Blarney and consisting principally of Australian troops, was to continue pressure against 18th Army elements southeast of Wewak. This action was expected to help prevent the 18th Army from moving westward at will either to attack or to bypass the Aitape area. New Guinea Force was also to defend all of eastern New Guinea it then occupied. [N2-46]

Logistics

Logistic support of the Hollandia-Aitape operation was the responsibility of the United States Army Services of Supply, Southwest Pacific Area. The magnitude of the logistic problem is illustrated by the fact that the grand total of all Southwest Pacific Area forces assigned directly to the Hollandia-Aitape operation was over 84,000 men.

There were approximately 50,000 ground combat troops and almost 23,000 personnel of all types of service units. Allied Air Forces units scheduled to move forward to Hollandia and Aitape during the opening stages of the operation, including both ground and air echelons, totaled over 12,000 men. Of the 84,000 troops assigned to the operation, about 52,000 men were to land in the objective areas by the evening of D plus 3, considered the. end of the assault phase. [N2-47] Never before had an operation of this size been undertaken in the Southwest Pacific Area.

Other problems existed, some of them directly and others indirectly related to the size of the force. Heading the list was the theater’s chronic and sometimes acute shortage of ships. There were to be three widely separated beaches, each far more distant from supply bases than had been the case in earlier operations in the theater. The necessity for hurried airdrome construction at the objectives made it imperative that large quantities of engineering equipment and matériel be sent to Hollandia and Aitape during the first two or three days of the operation. Plans to develop Hollandia into a major air center and logistic base involved a long-range program of construction. Staging the troops was complicated by the fact that the units were scattered from points in southern Australia to the Admiralty Islands and from the Huon Peninsula to western New Britain.

[N2-44 GHQ SWPA OI 46, 18 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 18 Mar 44; ALAMO Force FO 12, 23 Mar 44; Rad, ALAMO to 32nd Div, no number, 13 Apr 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 13 Apr 44; Memo, ACofS G-3 GHQ SWPA for CofS GHQ SWPA, 14 Apr 44, no sub; Rad, ALAMO to GHQ SWPA, WF-2393, 14 Apr 44; Rad, GHQ SWPA to ALAMO, C-10671, 14 Apr 44. Last three documents in G-3 GHQ Jnl, 14 Apr 44.]

[N2-45 RTF FO 1, 27 Mar 44; PTF FO 1, 6 Apr 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 5-6 Apr 44.]

[N2-46 GHQ SWPA OI 46, 18 Mar 44, and OI 46 (Rev), 28 Mar 44; GHQ SWPA OI 48, 24 Mar 44.]

[N2-47 Annex 1, Tentative Troop List, 13 Mar 44, to GHQ SWPA Warning Order 4, 7 Mar 44, in G-3 GHQ Jnl 7 Mar 44; GHQ SWPA OI 46, 18 Mar 44, and OI 46 (Rev), 28 Mar 44; ALAMO Force FO 12, 23 Mar 44.]

Source: Approach to the Philippines: BY Robert Ross Smith (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: Hollandia-Aitape Operation (2B): Planning and Preparation

World War Two: Papuan Campaign(19); Final Offensive / Victory

World War Two: Retaking Guam (4-20) Island Secured

By the evening of 4 August, General Geiger had concluded that the Japanese in northern Guam were falling back on Mount Santa Rosa, which is east of Yigo and a good six and a half miles northeast of Mount Barrigada. To deny the enemy enough time to complete his defenses in this area, Commander, III Amphibious Corps, directed his forces to chase and close with the Japanese as rapidly as possible.

77th Division: 5-6 August

The 77th Division plan for 5 August called for the 306th Infantry to replace the 307th on the division left and the 305th Infantry to continue its push to the northeast, sending at least one battalion to the O-4 line, which crossed the island about a mile south of Yigo. The 307th Infantry was to complete the advance to positions assigned the day before and then go into division reserve until its men were sufficiently rested.

On the division right, Colonel Tanzola’s 305th Infantry floundered ahead through the heavy jungle, the individual units having little or nor idea of their actual positions. The only means the troops had of obtaining their approximate positions was by shooting flares and, by prearrangement, having their supporting artillery triangulate on the flares. Then the artillerymen would plot the position of the flares on their maps and radio the information to the infantry. The lost and weary soldiers moved slowly through the dense jungle, following thin, winding trails or hacking their way through the thick vegetation. Only an occasional Japanese was encountered, and the jungle as usual proved the great obstacle to the advance. The two forward battalions, 2nd Battalion in front of the 1st by more than 1,000 yards, moved in column through the undergrowth and quickly lost themselves in the vegetation.

Unable to see more than a short distance around them, each unit was unaware of its location and could not orient itself on the relatively flat terrain nor find its position on the inadequate maps available. Even regimental headquarters was apparently ignorant of the location of subordinate units, nor could artillery spotter planes locate the troops. Late in the morning the 2nd Battalion was reported to have reached G line, an advance of about 1,100 yards, and by the middle of the afternoon the battalion thought it had reached the O—4 line, about 2,000 yards farther ahead.

The 1st Battalion was thought to be 1,000 or 2,000 yards behind the ad. The positions were no more than guesses. Indeed, the 2nd Battalion began cutting a trail to the coast on a 90° azimuth in an attempt to make an exact determination of its position. At nightfall the map location of the two battalions was still in doubt. They were somewhere east-northeast of the F line, with the 2nd Battalion apparently still in the lead. Regimental headquarters and the 3rd Battalion were apparently somewhere along the eastern portion of either the O-3 line or the F line.

Heavy rainfall during the late afternoon and evening of 5 August increased the discomfort of the troops. The downpour stopped around midnight, but the night was still dark and overcast. Shortly before 0200, men of Company A, holding the northern portion of the 1st Battalion perimeter, heard the noise of approaching tanks and infantry, American tanks were reportedly in the neighborhood, and the troops assumed that the force they heard was a friendly one moving back from the ad Battalion. The men in their foxholes kept careful watch, however, and as the full moon came from behind a cloud the Americans saw revealed in its light two Japanese tanks and an estimated platoon of enemy infantry setting up machine guns. Company A opened fire at once and silenced the Japanese infantry, but the two tanks drove against the line of the perimeter.

One cut to the right off the trail, the other to the left, then both drove into the perimeter away from the trail which the 1st Battalion was astraddle. Firing their weapons as they came, the Japanese tanks broke through the defenders and pushed through the perimeter. Once inside, one of the vehicles stopped and threw a stream of fire around the area while the other drove farther on. A platoon of American tanks from C Company, 706th Tank Battalion, attached to the 1st Battalion, could not fire for fear of hitting the American infantry.

The enemy infantry outside the battalion perimeter had been killed or drive off, but inside the perimeter the Japanese tanks continued to raise havoc. The tank that circled inside the area probably did the most damage as men struggled to escape from its path or threw ineffective small arms fire at its steel sides. Bazooka men were so excited that they neglected to pull the safety pins in their ammunition. Soon the two tanks rejoined and doubled back to the north again through A Company’s perimeter. As they left the area a last defiant rifle shot killed a Japanese soldier who had ridden one of the tanks through the entire action.

Behind them the tanks left a trail of ruin. Equipment was smashed or bullet riddled; one or two jeeps were badly crushed, and the area was a shambles. All six enlisted men in an artillery observation party were either killed or wounded and the officer observer was injured. Casualties in the 1st Battalion, mainly in Company A, were heavy. A total of forty-six men were wounded, of whom thirty-three had to be evacuated; fifteen were killed.

The Japanese tanks escaped unscathed, although the losses among the enemy infantry, caught in the first burst of A Company’s fire, were probably high. On the next morning (6 August) the 305th Infantry continued in its attempt to reach the O-4 line. Its 3rd Battalion was kept in force reserve in accordance with corps and division plans for pushing the pursuit to the northeast, but the remaining two battalions were able to drive for the O-4 line. Neither the 1st nor the 2nd Battalion knew its exact position.

The 2nd Battalion had found and was following a tiny path near the coast that led into “impenetrable jungle” so thick that “a man cannot even step off a trail without cutting.” To avoid following this path, the battalion attempted to work to the northwest, and General Bruce gave his permission for the unit to move out of the regimental zone and into the area of the 306th Infantry, if this proved necessary.

As the battalion advanced along a narrow trail in a thin column of companies, the lead scout suddenly came face to face with an enemy soldier. The American sent back a warning to the rest of the column, while simultaneously the Japanese shouted the alert to his own unit, the same tank-infantry force that had the night before attacked the 1st Battalion, 305th Infantry, with such success. The chance meeting started a fierce fire fight. The initial advantage was with the Japanese, for the two enemy tanks were in hull defilade, their 57-mm. cannon and machine guns covering the trail, while the American infantrymen were strung out along the narrow trail in an exposed position.

The advantage was ably exploited by the enemy. His machine gun fire raked the trail while shells burst in the trees and sent punishing fragments into the column of American troops. Company E, the lead unit, hastily deployed on both sides of the trail, but the same rise in ground that gave hull defilade to the enemy armor prevented the Americans from locating the Japanese riflemen supporting the two tanks.

The intense enemy fire brought down a number of Americans. Medics attempted to move forward to aid the wounded, and the supporting platoon of mediums of Company C, 706th Tank Battalion, advanced up the trail to hit the enemy. The lead American tank halted, and riflemen formed a skirmish line on either side of it.

Heavy machine guns of H Company were brought up next to the tank, but sweeping Japanese fire put these guns out of action before they could fire more than a few bursts. The enemy fire, especially the tree bursts from which there seemed no defense and no protection, soon began to drive the riflemen back from around the tank. The driver of the Sherman, fearing to be left alone, reversed his course and in so doing almost precipitated a panic in the entire American line. However, the battalion executive officer, Captain Charles T. Hillman, with the aid of a sergeant from H Company, began to rally the troops. Both men were wounded, Hillman fatally, but by their efforts troops of the 2nd Battalion were able to form a line just a few yards behind the first American position.

To the American rear, meanwhile, other soldiers were attempting to put the 81-mm. mortars into operation. Tree bursts and continued enemy machine gun fire made this dangerous and difficult, and the heavy jungle overhead made it equally dangerous to attempt to fire the mortars. One piece finally got into action, however, and began lobbing a steady barrage of shells at the Japanese position.

Once the mortar was in action the enemy was finished. Japanese fire began to slacken and then suddenly ceased. Squads of American infantry that had moved out on flanking maneuvers on either side of the trail closed in on the enemy position without opposition. They found the two Japanese tanks deserted and three dead Japanese.

Most of the Japanese riflemen of this particular tank-infantry team had apparently been killed during the fight with the 1st Battalion the night before. The tanks and few remaining infantrymen would seem to have been attempting to regain their own lines when they encountered the 2nd Battalion. Outnumbered, and eventually outgunned, the Japanese had rendered a good account of themselves in the short battle. Casualties on the American side were not as heavy as might have been expected, for only four Americans were killed, but at least fourteen, possibly as many as thirty, were wounded.

Other than this fight, the daylight hours of 6 August witnessed no serious engagements in the 305th Infantry area. A few scattered Japanese were encountered but, as on the previous day, the main enemy force was still the jungle to the north. Both battalions continued to have difficulty threading their way through the heavy vegetation, and both were still unsure of their exact positions. The 1st Battalion, which did not have to retrace its steps, appears to have done less wandering and to have moved rapidly forward northeast in the left half of the regimental zone. Shortly after noon, advance elements were on the O-4 line and in contact with men of the 3rd Battalion, 306th Infantry, on the left.

By midafternoon the entire 1st Battalion, 305th Infantry, was on the objective line. The 2nd Battalion was also moving forward with a clearer knowledge of its location and by dusk, at the latest, it too was on the O-4 line. Its wanderings had brought it to the right of the regimental sector, and it dug in on the right (southeast) of the 1st Battalion.

While the 1st and 2nd Battalions had been advancing to the O-4 line on 6 August, regimental headquarters and the 3rd Battalion, in force reserve, had moved to positions on the F line. An attached platoon of the 77th Reconnaissance Troop continued to patrol the open right flank of the 305th Infantry down to the sea. It discovered evidence of enemy patrols in the area, and in a brief encounter with a small Japanese force in midafternoon killed one soldier. One of the enemy patrols that eluded the American patrol, or perhaps some Japanese stragglers from elsewhere in the jungled 305th Infantry area, got as far as the regimental command post before two were killed and the others driven off. On 5 and 6 August the 305th Infantry had thrashed its way through the heavy Guam jungle, across poorly mapped and unfamiliar terrain, and against sporadic, but on two occasions punishing, Japanese resistance, to positions along the O-4 line.

The regiment suffered nearly a hundred men wounded on the two days, and about twenty-five killed. The regiment estimated that it had killed about a hundred Japanese and had knocked out the two enemy tanks that had invaded the regimental zone of action.

To the left, the movement of the 306th Infantry around the right flank and in front of the 307th Infantry was impeded more by the thick vegetation and poor trails and the lack of decent maps than by the Japanese opposition. The maneuver would have been arduous under any circumstances, because of the complicated trail net that involved several 90° turns. It was so difficult to keep track of the units within the regiment that a division artillery liaison plane was called on to spot infantry positions.

Colonel Smith’s regiment began its move at 0630 on 5 August in a column of battalions, the 1st in the lead, followed by the 3rd. It advanced generally unopposed along a trail from the Barrigada area past the east side of Mount Barrigada. By noon the 1st Battalion, 306th Infantry, had reached the trail running east from Finegayan that had marked the 307th Infantry’s objective line the previous day. Moving eastward along the trail, the men reached another trail that led north to a juncture with the coral road that ran from Finegayan east-northeast to Yigo. As the 1st Battalion turned north toward the Finegayan-Yigo road shortly after noon, it began to run into a few scattered enemy riflemen.

Lieutenant Colonel Joseph A. Remus’ men advanced north along the trail against increasing Japanese opposition, and by the time they reached the Yigo road shortly after 1400 the resistance had become quite strong. The enemy consisted for the most part of individual riflemen and machine gun positions.

The Japanese astride the road itself were driven off without too much difficulty, but these or other enemy soldiers filtered through the jungle and struck the flank of Company A, which was leading the battalion advance. The assault, while thrust home with vigor, was not made in great force, and the Americans were able to drive off the enemy as tanks came up to help complete the job. The entire action along the Yigo road took more than two hours before the enemy was finally destroyed or driven off. Company A had been supported by the battalion’s 81-mm. mortars and by a platoon of B Company, 706th Tank Battalion, as well as by the artillery. It had killed nearly a score of Japanese while the company itself had lost one man killed and seven wounded.

It was about 1630 before the 1st Battalion could pick up the advance again. Unable to find Road Junction 363, forward elements pushed west a few hundred yards beyond where their map showed the junction to be and then fell back to night positions at a point about where the battalion had first hit Yigo road. The 3rd Battalion, meanwhile, had turned east according to plan when it reached the Yigo road in midafternoon. Encountering scattered light resistance, Colonel Kimbrell’s troops were able to move only a few hundred yards east along the road and northeast into the jungle before halting for the night.

The day’s advance was not sufficient for the 306th Infantry to make contact with the marines, who were still about 1,000 yards to the west of the 1st Battalion. That night, during a heavy rainfall, the Japanese made several attempts to infiltrate the perimeter, but all were beaten back.

Shortly after 0700 on 6 August the 306th Infantry, according to orders, pushed off again. The 1st Battalion started west on the Finegayan-Yigo road in search of Road Junction 363 and the trail north. The battalion moved slowly, apparently against light opposition. With the aid of an artillery spotter plane it was able to locate the road junction, which it reached shortly after 0900. The trail to the north led through heavy jungle and was evidently not very wide or clear. The battalion turned north to follow it, sending a patrol of company size farther west along the Finegayan-Yigo road in an attempt to make contact with a Marine patrol pushing east along the road. Slowly northward the soldiers pushed, cutting through the thick vegetation that bordered and overgrew the trail. By about 0930 they had encountered a Japanese force about 150 to 200 yards north of Road Junction 363. Company B, leading the advance, engaged the enemy, taking a few casualties. Tanks and supporting weapons were then brought up to drive the rest of the Japanese off.

Continuing in the same direction, Remus’ battalion encountered little or no enemy opposition, but by about 1330, when the troops were still roughly half a mile from the division boundary, the trail gave out. From here on the men had to cut their way through the heavy jungle, packing coral limestone down so that vehicles could follow the advance. By 1700 the battalion had reached the division boundary on G line. When the men dug in for the night their perimeter was but 300 yards from that of the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, and contact, either visual or by patrol, had been established.

Meanwhile, the company of the 1st Battalion that had continued to push west along the Finegayan-Yigo road had moved easily against little or no resistance during the morning. By about 1100 the Army patrol had met a similar Marine patrol that had pushed east from Marine lines, thus establishing contact about 400 yards west of Road Junction 363.

While the 1st Battalion was pushing north and west, the 3rd Battalion drove east along the Finegayan-Yigo road. Kimbrell’s men had moved about 1,000 yards up the road from their morning position on G line when, shortly after 0800, the lead scout of I Company noticed the muzzle of an enemy 47-mm. gun in the bushes ahead of him. The infantry column halted and deployed as quietly as possible while a platoon of Shermans of B Company, 706th Tank Battalion, moved up. The enemy position was well camouflaged and the lead American tank discovered it was facing a Japanese medium tank at about the same time that the enemy vehicle opened fire. The first round flattened a bogie wheel on the American tank, but answering fire from the 75-mm. gun on the Sherman was much more effective. Three rounds set the Japanese tank aflame, and the Sherman’s machine guns and a quick rush by the American infantry took care of the enemy soldiers around the Japanese tank. Nearly a score of Japanese were killed with no American losses.

With the enemy ambush thus effectively demolished, the 3rd Battalion picked up the advance again. By about 1000 it had reached Road Junction 385, just 400 yards from the O-4 line, and within half an hour the men had crossed the objective line and were reported by an air observer to be only about 1,200 yards from Yigo itself. Since an advance up Yigo road by only the 3rd Battalion, 306th Infantry, would have exposed the unit to flank attack and disturbed division plans for the next day, the battalion was called back to the O-4 line.

Darkness found the 3rd Battalion dug in in its assigned position and in contact with the 305th Infantry to its right (southeast). Thus, on 6 August, the 306th Infantry completed its mission by gaining the O-4 line and establishing contact with the marines. Moreover, Yigo road was now open as far as the O-4 line. Casualties in the regiment on the 6th were two killed and fourteen wounded, mostly in the 1st Battalion.

One additional casualty occurred in midafternoon when Colonel Douglas McNair, chief of staff of the 77th Division, was fatally wounded by an enemy rifleman while reconnoitering for a new division command post about 600 yards east of Road Junction 363. McNair had gone forward accompanied by an officer from the Reconnaissance Troop armed with a carbine, a sergeant armed with a BAR, and an escort of two light tanks. The party suddenly came upon a small shack almost concealed in the brush and the men thought they detected movement inside. “Spray it, Sergeant,” said the Colonel, and the sergeant peppered the shack. But one shot was fired in retaliation and it caught McNair in the chest. He died almost instantly. One of the tanks then rushed forward and demolished the shack and burned it. In the ruins were the bodies of three Japanese soldiers.

[NOTE: The account of the details of Colonel McNair’s death is given in Ltr, Brig Gen Isaac Spalding to General A. G. Smith, n.d., incl, OCMH. McNair’s death came but two weeks after his father, Lieutenant General Lesley J. McNair was accidentally killed by friendly bombers in France.]

Meanwhile, on 5 August, the 307th Infantry had rested and reorganized. The regiment moved forward only a few hundred yards, and so did not reach the O-3 line. Patrols from the 1st Battalion established contact with the marines at the division boundary on the trail east of Finegayan that had been the regimental objective on 4 August. However, this point of contact was still 2,100 yards behind the 3rd Division’s right flank, which hung in the air.

The next morning, as planned, the men of the 307th pushed off again to the rear of the 306th, with the intention of giving General Bruce a three-regiment front before nightfall. Moving slowly in a column of battalions, 3rd leading with 1st close behind it and 2nd bringing up the rear, the 307th Infantry followed the same route that the 306th had taken. The rain of the previous night had left the trail muddy and the men sank ankle-deep into the ooze. The jungle continued to hamper off-trail movement. These two factors, combined with the fact that the 307th Infantry had to wait until all elements of the 306th had passed it, made the going slow.

By noon of the 6th the 307th Infantry had reached the trail junction that gave access to the trail leading north to Yigo road. Shortly thereafter, with all 306th Infantry elements passed, Colonel Manuel’s regiment continued its advance, going north to Yigo road and then turning east to follow the 3rd Battalion, 306th Infantry, along this main route. By midafternoon the lead battalion of the 307th Infantry—the 3rd—had reached the O-4 line and had tied in with 306th Infantry troops already there. The other units followed, and by nightfall the 3rd Battalion, 307th Infantry, was on the O-4 line between the 306th and 305th Infantry Regiments, with the 2nd Battalion and regimental headquarters on the Yigo road 800 yards to the rear and the 1st Battalion on the road another 800 yards farther back.8 The 77th Division now had three regiments on the line. In conformance with plans already issued for the continuation of the attack, General Bruce could throw his entire division (less 3rd Battalion, 305th Infantry, which was in force reserve) into the assault.

3rd Marine Division 5-6 August

Meanwhile, on the corps left, the 3rd Marine Division, attacking on a three-regiment front, was groping its way through jungle just about as thick as that slowing the progress of the Army troops. On the division left and center the 3rd and 21st Marines met no organized resistance on 5 August, but on the right the 9th Marines fought hard to clear the remaining Japanese out of the Finegayan area and open Road Junction 177 to permit supplies to move north toward forward dumps at Dededo.

On the 6th the same general pattern was repeated. The two regiments on the west gained as much as 5,000 yards against only nominal opposition. The 9th Marines, pushing north from Finegayan, succeeded in keeping abreast of the rest of the division, though it continued to meet scattered resistance and had to dispose of 700 Japanese defenders in the Finegayan area in the process.

During this movement General Turnage approached the ever worrisome problem of unit contact in much the same manner as had General Bruce. In view of the tremendous difficulties involved in maintaining continuous physical contact in the nightmarish jungles of northern Guam, Turnage ordered his regimental commanders to advance in column along the trails. Patrols were to fan out 200 yards on either side of the trails to wipe out enemy troops that might possibly be lurking in the underbrush, but physical contact was to be established only at indicated points where lateral roads or cleared spaces made it feasible.

Capture of Mount Santa Rosa 7-8 August

By the close of 6 August the final defensive line that General Obata had tried to set up across northern Guam had been pierced and overrun in so many places that it constituted no line at all. Only isolated pockets of Japanese remained to contest the American advance, and these were without adequate weapons, out of touch with higher headquarters, and often virtually leaderless. The Japanese, like their attackers, were harassed and obstructed by the jungle that surrounded them. As Colonel Takeda later reported, “They were obliged to fight in the jungle where it was very hard to cooperate and communicate with each other. Therefore they could not fight satisfactorily to show their whole strength. And as the American armoured troops drove along the highways and trails in jungle to cut off the front line into several pockets, our troops were forced to be isolated.” So much for the supposed inherent superiority of the Japanese in jungle warfare.

With less than one third of Guam still remaining in Japanese hands, General Geiger issued orders to complete the destruction of the enemy on the island. These orders—ready since the morning of 5 August, but not made effective until the afternoon of the 6th—called for an all-out attack on the morning of 7 August. Geiger planned to put almost his entire force into the final assault, holding out only one battalion from each division as force reserve.

The 77th Division would make the main effort, seizing Mount Santa Rosa and the northeastern portion of the island. On its left and supporting it, the 3rd Marine Division would drive northeast to the sea. Finally, on the far left would come the 1st Marine Provisional Brigade, protecting the 3rd Division flank and securing the northernmost tip of the island by patrols.

The corps commander stressed the necessity for maintaining contact between units, since the Japanese might well mount a last desperate counterattack to spring the crushing American trap. With the Army troops making the main offensive effort, General Geiger for the first time directed that responsibility for maintaining contact would be from left to right—the 1st Brigade would be responsible for maintaining contact with the 3rd Division, and the 3rd Division would be charged with keeping touch with the 77th. Warships and aircraft—P-47’s and B-26’s from Saipan—had been softening up Mount Santa Rosa for several days, and the bombardment, reinforced by corps and division artillery fire, would continue on the day of the attack. The corps assault plan was to go into effect at 0730, 7 August.

The corps plan of attack did not reach General Bruce until the late afternoon of 5 August, but in anticipation the 77th Division staff had already worked out a scheme of assault to be put into action once the O-4 line was secured. Distributed and explained to subordinate units shortly before noon of the 5th, the division plan fitted in well with the over-all corps scheme.

General Bruce’s plan of attack—including modifications worked out up to the morning of 7 August—called for a wheeling maneuver on the part of his division, three regiments in line pivoting on their right. The object of the attack was Mount Santa Rosa, a height of nearly 900 feet, in front of the 77th Division. When the wheeling maneuver was completed, Bruce’s regiments would have surrounded the mountain on three sides—south, west, and north—pinning the Japanese defenders against the sea.

On the left of the division attack was the 306th Infantry with an attached company of Shermans of the 706th Tank Battalion. The 306th was to advance along the division’s left boundary until it had passed Mount Santa Rosa and then swing east to seize an objective area north of the mountain from the town of Lulog seaward to Anao on the coast. Patrols from this regiment would push northeast above the main body to the coast farther north.

Since the 306th Infantry had to cover far more ground than either of the other two regiments, it would advance without regard to contact in order to accomplish its mission. On the right of the 306th was the 307th Infantry. For its action in the fairly open, rolling terrain around Yigo, the regiment had a company of medium tanks attached and the 706th Tank Battalion (less two companies) in support. The 307th would continue to attack up the Finegayan -Yigo road to capture Yigo and then swing east and northeast to block the western side of Mount Santa Rosa. In order to hold these gains and prevent any enemy escape, the 307th was authorized to commit all three of its battalions without maintaining a reserve. On the division right the 305th Infantry (less 3rd Battalion in force reserve) had only a short distance to cover in its move to seal the southern approaches to Mount Santa Rosa and support the 307th Infantry. In spite of this advantage the regiment was handicapped by having only two of its battalions in the assault and also in having no tanks attached.

The line of departure for the 77th Division was from 400 yards to a mile in front of the 306th and 307th Infantry positions on the O-4 line, with the shortest distance between the two lines on the left, in front of the 306th. The 305th Infantry, with only a small area to cover, would attack from the O-4 line. The 306th and 307th Regiments would begin the advance to the line of departure at 0730; the 305th would remain in position until ordered forward.

The 1st Battalion, 306th Infantry, would start for the line of departure half an hour early, at 0700. This battalion had not reached the O-4 line on 6 August, but had halted on the G line, a good 2,000 yards from the O-4 line. The extra half hour was apparently to enable the 1st Battalion to move abreast of the 3rd.

H Hour, the time of the general division attack from the line of departure, was set tentatively by General Bruce at approximately 1200. The 77th Division assault was to be supported by a tremendously heavy air, artillery, and naval gunfire preparation. For an hour, beginning at 0900, P-47’s and B-26’s would bomb and strafe Mount Santa Rosa. Twenty minutes before H Hour division artillery reinforced by corps artillery would begin a barrage lasting until the attack began. All four battalions of division artillery were to fire a round per gun per minute, all concentrations to fall in the zone of action of the 306th and 307th Infantry Regiments. At the same time that the artillery preparation began, a one-hour naval bombardment of the Mount Santa Rosa area would start, with the warships firing from south to north and moving their fire beyond the area immediately in front of the infantry by H Hour. After H Hour division artillery, supported by the corps weapons, was available on call. The immense air, artillery, and naval gunfire preparation, it was hoped, would leave the Japanese defending the Mount Santa Rosa area too weakened or dazed to put up more than a feeble resistance against the 77th Division attack.

The turning maneuver planned for the 77th Division was a difficult one to carry out. Its execution was made even harder by a misunderstanding on the part of Bruce’s staff as to the precise location of the boundary between the Army and Marine divisions. Tentative division plans worked out before the receipt of General Geiger’s orders used the operational boundaries between the 3rd and 77th Divisions prescribed by corps on 2 August.

The boundary then established ran along a road that branched off to the northeast from the main Finegayan-Yigo road at Liguan, passed Mount Mataguac, and ended at the junction with Yigo-Chaguian road about 2,000 yards north of the mountain. Since corps had not projected the boundary beyond the end of Liguan road, the 77th Division staff on its own initiative extended the boundary line to the northeast—from the road junction cross-country to Salisbury and thence along the Salisbury-Piti Point Road to the coast.16 Unless corps called for a change in operational boundaries, this line would stand. Unfortunately for those concerned, a boundary change is precisely what was directed by General Geiger.

The new operational boundary established by corps on 5 August was, beyond the town of Salisbury, exactly as 77th Division planners had assumed: along the road running from that town to the coast. While the Army was responsible for the road, it was to be used jointly by soldiers and marines. In an apparent effort to make as much of this road as possible available to the 3rd Division, however, General Geiger shifted the interdivisional boundary below Salisbury eastward to a line that ran from a crossroads southwest of Mount Mataguac to a point on Yigo-Salisbury road midway between the two towns, and from there along the road to Salisbury.

Thus a large diamond-shaped area, about two miles long, between Mount Mataguac and Salisbury was transferred from the 77th Division to the 3rd Marine Division. That a new boundary had been drawn was made explicit in the III Amphibious Corps order that the 77th Division received on the afternoon of 5 August. “Boundary,” read the order, “between 77th and 3rd Mar Div changes . . . ,” and then proceeded to describe the new boundary.

The boundary was described again further on in the order when a reference was made to use of the Salisbury road. While no overlay accompanied the order, the map co-ordinates, repeated twice, and the use of the word “change” made it quite clear that a new boundary had been established.

Nevertheless, when the 77th Division field order and final overlay for the 7 August attack were drawn up on the afternoon of the 6th, the original boundary line was incorporated in both the order and the overlay.18 The zone of action of the 306th Infantry, making its sweep around Mount Santa Rosa on the division left, was therefore partially within the 3rd Marine Division’s operational area.

Promptly at 0700 on 7 August the 1st Battalion, 306th Infantry, began advancing along the Liguan trail toward the line of departure. At 0730 the 3rd Battalion, on its right, began to advance cross-country, the 2nd Battalion remaining in its reserve position. In the 307th zone, in the center of the division, that regiment’s 3rd Battalion led the way along the Yigo road on schedule, with the 1st and 2nd Battalions prepared to follow. The two battalions of the 305th Infantry on the O-4 line stood by in position.

By 0900 or a few minutes thereafter, just as American aircraft began pummeling Mount Santa Rosa, the 1st Battalion, 306th Infantry, and the 3rd Battalion, 307th, had reached the line of departure. The 3rd Battalion, 306th Infantry, advancing overland between them, did not reach the line until 1000. The 305th Infantry, meanwhile, had asked and received permission at 0905 to begin moving its 2nd Battalion forward from the O-4 line. Ten minutes later, with a bulldozer cutting the way through the thick jungle, the 2nd Battalion moved out to start the regimental advance.

The first resistance of the day was encountered by the 3rd Battalion, 307th Infantry, as it moved up Yigo road just before it reached the line of departure. As the battalion began fanning out to occupy a line about 800 to 1 ,000 yards below Yigo, it received enemy rifle and machine gun fire from concealed positions in the woods ahead. About 0840 the first Japanese fire struck Captain William B. Cooper’s Company I, which was leading the advance. In the face of the enemy fire, it was almost 0930 before I Company could deploy along the line and begin to advance against the Japanese positions. The other companies had bunched up on the road, making it difficult for the entire battalion to deploy and for the attached tanks of Company A, 706th Tank Battalion, to move forward. Nevertheless, once I Company had formed, it began to push back the enemy. By shortly after 1000 some of the Japanese had been killed and the rest were falling back. The Americans had suffered eleven casualties, but the 2nd Battalion was on the line and ready to push off.

With all his attack battalions on the line of departure and the other units moving forward behind them, General Bruce was able to set H Hour definitely at 1200. Division units and corps headquarters were notified accordingly.

The artillery preparation began promptly at 1138—General Bruce had advanced the time by two minutes—with the three 105-mm. howitzer battalions of division artillery opening fire on targets in front of the 306th and 307th Infantry Regiments. At 1148 the shelling stopped for two minutes and then at 1150 all four battalions of division artillery and the three 155-mm. battalions of corps artillery delivered a heavy ten-minute preparation. To add to the weight of metal falling on enemy positions on the forward slope and atop Mount Santa Rosa, naval gunfire support vessels were also sending their big shells crashing inland. Meanwhile, the infantry and tanks made ready to attack.

The major opposition to the day’s advance of the 77th Division was to come in the center of the 307th Infantry zone of operations. Here, a tank-infantry assault had been planned to take advantage of the relatively open terrain around Yigo. The 706th Tank Battalion (less Companies A and B) was to spearhead this assault as soon as the artillery fire lifted at 1200. At that time the light tanks of Company D were to push up the Yigo road as fast as possible and enter the town with C Company’s mediums right behind them. The infantry was to act in close support of the armor, with the medium tanks of Company A, attached to the 307th, providing general support. Once Yigo was seized, the two companies of the 706th Tank Battalion were to occupy the high ground east-northeast of the town, thus opening the way for the 307th Infantry to swing against the western slopes of Mount Santa Rosa.

Co-ordination between the 706th Tank Battalion and the 307th Infantry was something less than satisfactory. While the plan for the use of the tanks had been worked out late on 6 August, it was then too early to set the time of H Hour. At 0700 on 7 August the tank battalion (less A and B Companies) began moving from its assembly area to positions behind the 307th Infantry, prepared to move into the line as soon as H Hour was announced. At 1040 General Bruce sent word to the 706th that H Hour would be at noon, but the message never reached Colonel Stokes, the tank commander. Not until 1145 did Stokes get word to report to the 307th Infantry command post and not until his arrival, nearly ten minutes later, did he learn the attack was scheduled to commence at 1200.

With only a few minutes to go before H Hour, the two companies of tanks scheduled to spearhead the attack were still some distance behind the line of departure. At 1155 Stokes radioed Company D, which was to have led the drive, to move up and carry out the plan of action. Meanwhile, the officers of the 3rd Battalion, 307th Infantry, poised on the line of departure to follow the tanks, had been growing anxious about the failure of the armor to appear. The battalion commander had orders to follow closely on the heels of the artillery. At 1156 the barrage was falling at a good distance from the line of departure and the infantry commander informed the regimental command post that he was about to move out. Without the tanks, then, at H Hour minus 3 minutes the 3rd Battalion crossed the line of departure and began advancing on Yigo.

As the light tanks of Company D pushed hastily forward on Yigo road, they found their way blocked by the confusion of men and vehicles before them. Unable to move through the thick jungle on either side of the road, the tanks had to make their way between soldiers, vehicles, and the company of medium tanks attached to the 307th Infantry.

It was thus 1207 before D Company reached the rear of the 3rd Battalion, and nearly 1220 before the tanks could pass through the leading infantry and begin to fan out in the more open terrain. The advance by this time had covered about 250 yards from the line of departure without resistance. However, less than 500 yards from the edge of Yigo, the Americans began to meet rifle fire from enemy troops driven south from the town by the volume of the pre-attack artillery preparation.

Japanese small arms fire increased in intensity as the light tanks of D Company echeloned to the right, and the mediums of C Company moved up along the road behind them. The light tanks overran or pushed by several dugouts and pillboxes, leaving them for the infantry to clean out. Just short of the southern edge of Yigo, D Company swept across a slight rise of ground east of the road and began to receive fire of a heavier caliber from enemy positions concealed in the woods along and west of the road. It was apparent that the Japanese here had weapons too heavy for the light tanks, and a call went back for the mediums. Just as Company C reached the area, the Japanese succeeded in stopping the light tank farthest to the left. A few minutes later a second light tank was knocked out.

The enemy troops were well concealed in the woods to the left, and it was not until its mediums began to receive fire that C Company could determine the location of the Japanese positions. The mediums swung to put fire on the Japanese before following D Company on toward Yigo, but two of C Company’s tanks were also knocked out by enemy fire. As the two companies of the 706th began to push into the shell-flattened town, the 3rd Battalion, 307th Infantry, attacked the Japanese positions along and west of the road. The infantrymen advanced cautiously into the woods, using rifles, machine guns, and grenades. It was slow work, and at 1330 the troops still had not cleaned out the area. The tanks, with their mission to push through Yigo, had reorganized and were entering the town in force. The attached medium tanks of the 307th were still back with the rest of the regiment, and the task of destroying the enemy defenses was left to Major Lovell’s battalion.

Suddenly, unexpected assistance appeared from the west. The 3rd Battalion, 306th Infantry, advancing on the west flank of the 307th had heard the firing below Yigo, and Colonel Kimbrell, battalion commander, had taken a platoon of K Company to investigate. The Japanese had neglected to protect their rear and the K Company platoon caught them completely unawares, killing those enemy troops that had not been disposed of by the 3rd Battalion, 307th. Other elements of K Company, 306th Infantry, struck enemy positions in the woods farther north, and the entire area south of Yigo was soon cleared.

The Japanese position had been a strong one, built around two light tanks with a 37-mm. or 47-mm. antitank gun between them. In addition, the enemy had been equipped with two 20-mm. antitank rifles and six light and two heavy machine guns. No report on Japanese casualties is available, but undoubtedly they were heavy.

There were probably a score of casualties in the 3rd Battalion, while the 706th Tank Battalion reported two killed, ten wounded, and one man missing. By 1408 the leading elements of the 3rd Battalion, 307th Infantry, were at the southern edge of Yigo, while the two companies of the 706th Tank Battalion had reached Road Junction 415, some 250 yards farther up the road at the northern edge of Yigo. A quarter of an hour later the tanks reported Yigo clear of Japanese, and the 307th Infantry commander ordered his 3rd Battalion to press through the town. By 1450 Yigo was secured, the 3rd Battalion had reached Road Junction 415, and the two tank companies had moved unopposed up to the high ground east-northeast of the village.

Now that enemy resistance had been broken, Lovell’s 3rd Battalion, 307th, moved east along the road from Road Junction 415, the men advancing about 1,000 yards during the late afternoon. The 1st Battalion, ordered up a few hours earlier, also moved through Yigo and followed the 3rd, The 2nd Battalion moved to Yigo, where Major Mackin, battalion commander, set up his command post. In the village were found fifteen abandoned Japanese trucks and other mobile equipment, as well as several ammunition and food dumps, showing that the site had recently been a major part of the Japanese defense scheme. No Japanese resistance was encountered during the afternoon. However, the 3rd Battalion was mistakenly strafed by American planes in midafternoon though, fortunately for the infantrymen, no one was hurt. Nightfall found the 307th Infantry in control of Yigo and a large area to the northeast, east, and southeast. This figure is obtained by subtracting the number of casualties suffered in the morning from the total casualties for the regiment on 7 August, No breakdown can be made.

While the 307th Infantry fought its way through Yigo on the afternoon of 7 August, the regiments on its flanks were also advancing, although with much less difficulty. The 306th Infantry, to the left, crossed the line of departure on time at noon. With the 3rd Battalion on the right, 1st on the left, the regiment advanced against scattered light resistance. Well over a hundred Japanese were claimed killed, while only three Americans were wounded. In its rapid movement up the Yigo road, the 3rd Battalion employed a type of tank-infantry tactics peculiarly adapted to the jungles of Guam. To the lead company of infantrymen was assigned a tank platoon. One tank moved through the brush on one side of the jungle trail, a second on the other side, and the remainder followed along the trail about a hundred yards to the rear.

The object of this unorthodox formation was to permit the tanks to support each other, protect the lead tanks from mines located on the trail, and widen the trail for the infantrymen who would follow. With each vehicle went four infantrymen on foot to serve as guides, spotters, and protectors. In this manner, the 3rd Battalion pushed on through Yigo and then northeast about 900 yards along the Salisbury road. There, it dug in for the night.

The 1st Battalion advanced along the Liguan road to the crossroads southwest of Mount Mataguac where the new corps boundary left the trail. Although General Bruce had ordered the 306th Infantry to advance some 600 yards farther up the Liguan trail, the 1st Battalion during the afternoon ran into resistance from about forty Japanese with two machine guns just below the crossroads. With the help of the attached Company B, 706th Tank Battalion, the battalion eliminated the opposition but did not advance much farther.

[N4-20-36 The 77th Division reported to corps that the advance here had actually carried to the point where Bruce had ordered it, that is, 600 yards beyond the crossroads, but the overwhelming weight of evidence indicates that this report was incorrect, 306th RCT Unit Jnl, 7 Aug 44; 77th Inf Div G-3 Jnl, 7 Aug 44, passim; 77th Inf Div G-2 Rpts 15, 16, 7, 8 Aug 44, in 77th Inf Div G-2 Jnl File, 7-10 Aug 44; 3rd Marine Div D-3 Jnl, 7 Aug 44, passim; 306th RCT Rpt, p.4; 706th Tk Bn Rpt, p. 9,]

Had the 1st Battalion continued, it would have entered what was actually Marine territory under the new boundaries. This might have caused difficulties, since the 9th Marines had moved past the crossroads along and east of the Liguan trail, in an area that the 77th Division still thought to be within the Army zone of operations. However, since the 1st Battalion, 306th Infantry, had not yet advanced beyond the point of the boundary change, there had been no trouble so far.

On the division right the 305th Infantry (less the 3rd Battalion) also advanced unopposed. With bulldozers blazing a trail through the thick jungle, the 2nd Battalion covered 1800 yards during the day and by nightfall was digging in about a mile northwest of Lumuna Point. The 1st Battalion, meanwhile, remained with regimental headquarters on the O-4 line, preparing to pick up the advance on 8 August.

No opposition impeded the movement of the 2nd Battalion, 305th Infantry, on 7 August. The only untoward incident of the day occurred around 1500 when American aircraft hitting Mount Santa Rosa mistakenly dropped a bomb on F Company, causing some casualties. Presumably, these were the same planes that strafed the 3rd Battalion, 307th Infantry, about the same time.

[N4-20- 37 Regimental casualties for the day, half a dozen killed and more than a score wounded, presumably were taken for the most part by the 3rd Battalion, which, in corps reserve, was engaged in flushing out the area around the division command post where Colonel McNair had been hit on 6 August. In this mission the battalion encountered and engaged Japanese estimated to be a company in strength, 77th Inf Div G-3 Jnl, 7 Aug 44, Entries 33, 71; 305th RCT Rpt, p. 3, and attached bn rpts; 77th Inf Div G-2 Rpts 15, 16, 7, 8 Aug 44, in 77th Inf Div G-2 Jnl File, 7-10 Aug 44; 305th RCT Overlay Showing Situation as of 1400, 7 Aug 44, and Overlay Showing Situation as of 0800, 8 Aug 44, Entries 437 and 443, in 305th RCT Jnl File, 4-11 Aug 44. ]

The night of 7-8 August found the 77th Division dug in in positions from which it could launch a final attack on Mount Santa Rosa the next day. Despite the day’s successes, there was some apprehension among the Americans as to possible Japanese moves during the night. As early as noon on 7 August, General Bruce had requested permission to move the 3rd Battalion, 305th Infantry, then in corps reserve, to Road Junction 415 at Yigo in midafternoon in order to get set for any enemy counterattack. A counterblow at Yigo, either down the Salisbury road or from Mount Santa Rosa, would almost certainly be initially aimed at this important junction. Bruce’s request was denied, but that night General Geiger informed subordinate units that he was expecting a counterattack in force and that the 3rd Battalion, 305th Infantry, and the Marine battalion in reserve with it were on call.

Fortunately for the Americans, the Japanese mounted no major attacks during the night. Possibly the speed of the American advance during the day, combined with the heavy artillery bombardment that continued as harassing fire during the night, prevented a major enemy counterblow. Whatever the reason, the Japanese made only a few local counterattacks and attempts to infiltrate during the night.

The first of these came shortly before 1920 when a small group of the enemy took advantage of the rapidly gathering dusk between sunset and moonrise to attempt to infiltrate the 1st Battalion, 307th Infantry, east of Yigo. Alert infantrymen spotted the Japanese, however, and nine of the enemy were killed trying to penetrate the position.

At 0230 corps sent another warning of a possible major Japanese counterattack to the 77th Division. Within an hour the biggest enemy attack of the night struck the 3rd Battalion, 306th Infantry. In the exposed position on the Salisbury road north of Yigo, these men had already been the target of two small enemy probing attacks. The first had been beaten off about the time of the attack on the 1st Battalion, 307th Infantry; the second had come around midnight and, in the bright moonlight, had been repulsed. The final attack against the 3rd Battalion began between 0300 and 0330.

This time, the enemy force consisted of three medium tanks and riflemen estimated to be of platoon strength. First came the Japanese tanks, firing their machine guns and cannon into the battalion perimeter.

The defenders were safe in their slit trenches from the flat-trajectory machine gun fire, but the high-explosive cannon shells burst in the trees above, raining fragments down on the Americans. Attempts to knock out the tanks with bazookas and flame throwers were aborted by fire from the accompanying Japanese infantry. Two machine gunners finally got the first tank by waiting until it was almost upon them and then closing in with their light machine gun to fire into the tank through an aperture. They burnt out the barrel of their gun, but they also killed all the Japanese in the tank. A rifle grenade knocked out a second tank. This apparently discouraged the occupants of the third tank, since they drove their vehicle off with one of the other tanks in tow. The enemy infantry, deprived of their support, quickly followed. The 3rd Battalion, 306th Infantry, had killed eighteen Japanese while itself sustaining losses of six killed and more than a dozen wounded. The enemy attack, the largest of the night, had failed to penetrate the American position guarding the northern approach to Yigo.

While the Army and Marine troops were forging ahead on 7 August, General Geiger issued orders directing that the pursuit of the enemy be continued at 0730 on 8 August. Later, he added, “Admiral Nimitz arrives 10 August. Push Japs off Guam before then.”

The 77th Division plan for 8 August called for a continuation of the drive begun on the 7th. The 306th Infantry would complete its envelopment of the northern flank of Mount Santa Rosa with its 1st and 3rd Battalions while the 2nd Battalion followed with the command post. In the center of the division line, the 307th Infantry would attack with the 1st and 3rd Battalions abreast to seize Mount Santa Rosa; the 2nd Battalion was to be prepared to execute an enveloping attack up the southern slopes to bring the assault to a successful conclusion. Finally, the 305th Infantry (less 3rd Battalion in corps reserve) would continue to close in on Mount Santa Rosa and seal it off from the south. There was no plan for a division artillery preparation, although all battalions were available for call fire. As directed by corps, the infantry would attack at 0730.

General Bruce’s force opened the assault on schedule. In the zones of operations of the 305th and 307th Infantry Regiments, the attack proceeded rapidly and with little or no difficulty. The 305th Infantry, on the division right, encountered only slight opposition in its short advance to the regimental objective area. The 2nd Battalion pushed forward about 1,000 yards to secure the left (northwest) half of the objective area, while the 1st Battalion followed the 2nd for a while and then, in the early afternoon, swung east to secure the rest of the objective zone. The 3rd Battalion, still in corps reserve, moved forward to set up defensive positions behind the 307th Infantry at Yigo and the important Road Junction 415. Casualties in the 305th Infantry were five killed and six wounded, while the regiment claimed to have killed twenty-five of the enemy. Like the 305th Infantry, the 307th in the center of the division experienced little difficulty in its drive on 8 August. By H Hour the 1st Battalion had pulled abreast and to the right of the 3rd, approximately 1,000 yards east of Road Junction 415.

Although the forward displacement of artillery battalions and some confusion as to unit locations prevented a brief artillery preparation requested by the regiment, the two battalions stepped off on schedule unopposed. About 0800, when potential opposition was revealed by a captured document indicating an enemy gun position before the 1st Battalion, artillery fire was quickly brought to bear on the target.

By about 0830, when General Bruce arrived for a check at the 307th command post, the attack was well under way. Bruce himself went forward to look over the situation and immediately ordered the regimental commander to throw his 2nd Battalion into the planned envelopment from the south. Moreover, to exploit the situation further, he directed that the attached company of medium tanks (Company A), as well as all other supporting regimental units, be used in the attack.

When the 2nd Battalion went into action, the regiment made quick arrangements with the 305th Infantry to prevent a collision between the 2nd Battalion, 307th, and the left battalion of the 305th, since the trail that the 2nd Battalion was to follow led through the objective area of the 305th Infantry.

With the 307th Infantry attack well under way, twenty minutes after the 2nd Battalion had been committed; General Bruce enlarged the regimental mission. The regiment was not only to carry out its earlier mission of seizing Mount Santa Rosa but was also to push on from that height to the sea beyond. Within an hour Bruce also directed all available tanks of the 706th Tank Battalion (less Companies B and C) to join the company of mediums already with the 307th Infantry. By pushing through as fast as possible, the division might well end the fight in short order.

By 1050 the three battalions of the 307th Infantry were on a north-south line about 2,000 yards east of the Yigo area, having covered approximately 1,000 yards from the morning’s line of departure. Each battalion was astride a trail leading up the western slopes of Mount Santa Rosa, 3rd Battalion on the left (north), 1st in the middle, and 2nd on the right. So far Japanese opposition had been negligible, but a prisoner captured by the 1st Battalion—the first taken in over a week by the division—revealed strong potential resistance ahead. Talking freely, the captured Japanese stated that there were 3,000 of his compatriots in caves on Mount Santa Rosa. If this information were correct, the 307th Infantry might be in for a tough fight. Accordingly, the regimental commander, with the immediate approval of General Bruce who was impatient for the 307th to seize Mount Santa Rosa, ordered a new maneuver to wipe out any Japanese left on that height. The 2nd Battalion was to continue with its planned envelopment from the south while the 1st and 3rd Battalions were to follow a trail to the northeast until they were due north of Mount Santa Rosa and then attack south to hit the enemy from the north. The result would be a double envelopment that, it was hoped, would crush the enemy between its two wings.

The elaborate preparations proved unnecessary, for if 3,000 Japanese had ever been on Mount Santa Rosa they were no longer there. It is little wonder. Since 3 August, Admiral Conolly’s fire support ships had been bombarding the mountain day and night. Seventh Air Force P-47’s and B-25’s, flying down regularly from Isely Field on Saipan, had intensified the destruction. The infantry and tank advance in the 307th Infantry sector was almost completely unopposed.

By 1240 the northern half of Mount Santa Rosa was in American hands, and as the regiment moved to secure the rest of the mountain the 1st Battalion continued to push on to the sea. Shortly before 1400, with the entire height under regimental control, the command post of the 307th Infantry began displacing forward to the summit of Santa Rosa. By 1440 the 1st Battalion commander reported he had reached the cliffs along the sea and could look down into the water. Regimental patrols were ranging over the entire Santa Rosa area. As night fell the regiment was still mopping up small isolated groups of the enemy, patrolling, and digging in. It had not encountered any large force of Japanese. The day’s action had cost the 307th Infantry only one man killed and a dozen wounded; less than fifty Japanese were claimed killed.

The relatively easy time enjoyed by the 305th and 307th Infantry Regiments on 8 August was shared in part by the 306th Infantry, but the latter regiment had difficulties arising out of miscalculation as to the location of the division boundary on its left and a failure to observe the regimental boundary on the right. Colonel Smith’s regiment jumped off on time from the positions it had secured the night before: 3rd Battalion on the right, on the Salisbury road about 900 yards above Yigo; 1st Battalion on the left, in the vicinity of the crossroads southwest of Mount Mataguac marking the point where the boundary change began. The 2nd Battalion, near the regimental command post on the Finegayan-Yigo road about a mile below Yigo, was prepared to follow and join the action when necessary. The regimental advance would also be supported by Company B, 706th Tank Battalion, which at that time was still attached.

The two lead battalions of the 306th moved forward unopposed, the 3rd advancing along the Salisbury road and the 1st continuing along the Liguan road from the crossroads. The advance of the 1st Battalion led it into the Marine zone, and the fact that the 9th Marines had cleared this area on the previous day probably accounted for the lack of resistance to the Army battalion.

By 0910 the 1st Battalion had advanced about 1,000 yards up the trail, and had been in contact with the marines since 0840. To the east the 3rd Battalion had made a similar gain, while the 2nd Battalion jumped off in column at 0900 to follow the 3rd.

By about 0930 the 3rd Battalion was well into its turning movement, cutting a trail east from the Salisbury road at a point about 2,400 yards above Road Junction 415. At the same time, the 1st Battalion apparently was either beginning its turn to the east to follow the 3rd or was preparing to begin its turn. It was encountering slight opposition.

About 0955, however, General Bruce, then at the 307th Infantry command post and eager to exploit that regiment’s gains, ordered a change in the mission of the 306th Infantry. One battalion was to drive all the way east to the coast, instead of halting on the north side of Mount Santa Rosa; another battalion was to push northeast on the Salisbury road all the way to Pati Point at the far northeast corner of Guam; the remaining battalion would set up a roadblock on the Salisbury road, midway between Salisbury and Yigo where another trail came down from Chaguian to the northwest. Thus the 3rd Battalion would continue its drive east; the 1st Battalion, instead of following, would advance on Pati Point; and the 2nd Battalion roadblock at the junction of the Chaguian trail and the Salisbury road would protect the rear of the other two battalions.

In its movement to the east, the 3rd Battalion and supporting tanks met no opposition. The path they were cutting, however, led the battalion southeast rather than east. A slight southeast movement was necessary, but the troops went too far and, before they realized it, were in the 307th Infantry zone of operations. By 1110 the battalion found itself on a trail on the northwest slope of Mount Santa Rosa, nearly 1,000 yards south of the regimental boundary and blocking the planned route of advance of the 3rd Battalion, 307th Infantry, to the northern flank of the mountain.

The trail that the 3rd Battalion, 306th Infantry, now blocked led northeast toward the Lulog area. If the battalion could follow this trail with the same speed as the day’s earlier advance, it would soon reach its objective and be out of the way of the 307th Infantry. However, about this time the 3rd Battalion’s leading elements began to encounter light, scattered, enemy opposition, which slowed the advance.

Most of the Japanese had little desire to fight. Still stunned by the terrific artillery, air, and naval bombardment, many of them simply huddled in caves or huts and waited to be killed. A few offered desultory resistance; some committed suicide. When enemy strongpoints were encountered, however, well co-ordinated infantry-tank teams, with flame throwers and pole charges, quickly dealt with the resistance.

The advance of the 3rd Battalion, 306th Infantry, was still not fast enough to suit either the 307th Infantry or General Bruce. Meanwhile, the men of the 3rd Battalion, 306th, were not too happy when tanks with the 307th accidentally began firing in their direction. This fire was stopped, but the 306th infantrymen were ordered to move out of the area, or at least off the main trail, as soon as possible. By early afternoon the 3rd Battalion had either left the trail or advanced far enough to permit the 307th Infantry to secure its operational area unhindered. Indeed, midafternoon found the 3rd Battalion, 306th Infantry, in full possession of the Lulog area and with strong patrols between that point and the sea. By nightfall the entire Lulog-Anao Point area was in the hands of Kimbrell’s men.

While the 3rd Battalion, 306th Infantry, struggled to keep out of the way of the 307th Infantry, Colonel Smith’s other two battalions of the 306th were having difficulties of their own. West of the Salisbury road, the 1st Battalion was moving cross-country unopposed in a general northeasterly direction in what it believed was 77th Division territory. Its aim was apparently to regain the Salisbury road and then follow the road in the direction of Pati Point. About 1030, however, the battalion reported that Marine units on the Chaguian trail—who were actually in what the marines correctly believed to be their own zone—were blocking the Army advance. Moreover, the marines on the Chaguian trail, and along another trail leading from the Chaguian trail northeast toward Salisbury that the soldiers apparently had themselves hoped to follow, claimed that they were going to Pati Point.

Reporting this to corps, General Bruce said he had no objection to following the marines on up, but he asked that the 3rd Marine Division troops clear rapidly so that the soldiers could continue their mission. This was agreeable to corps headquarters. The marines were directed to move forward rapidly, and the Army troops were ordered to follow.

Shortly after 1100 General Bruce decided that if the marines were going to Pati Point in force there was no need of sending more than a small group of Army troops in that direction. By now he had received the report that 3,000 Japanese might still be on Mount Santa Rosa, and in his desire to insure the success of the 307th Infantry’s drive he made another change in the orders for the 306th. Instead of setting up a roadblock on the Salisbury road, the 2nd Battalion, 306th Infantry, was to follow the 3rd Battalion in its advance east, prepared to support the latter or, if necessary, to move to the aid of the 307th Infantry. The 1st Battalion, meanwhile, would send only one company up the Salisbury road, and that solely to maintain contact with the marines. The rest of the 1st Battalion was to join the regimental command post group, which had moved up with the 2nd Battalion, apparently to be used as the regimental commander saw fit. The 1st and 2nd Battalions, 306th Infantry, moved to carry out their new assignments.

Shortly after noon lead elements of the 2nd Battalion moving up the Salisbury road reached the turn-off point where the 3rd Battalion had begun cutting its trail to the east that morning. A few minutes later the 1st Battalion (less one company) began moving back toward the regimental command post, just below the junction of the Chaguian trail and the Salisbury road.

Beginning about 1215 and continuing for approximately two hours, troops of the 306th Infantry in the confused area along the Salisbury road found themselves under fire from a quarter they least expected. About 1215, 2nd Battalion elements making the turn to the east began receiving rifle and machine gun fire that they thought might have been from Marine weapons.

Half an hour later Company F, bringing up the rear of the battalion, was engaged at the junction of the Chaguian trail and Salisbury road by a force that the soldiers were convinced was composed of marines. Notified of this, the 3rd Marine Division replied that it had no troops in that immediate area but that the firing might have been done by some Japanese troops left over from a scrap the marines had had there that morning. By the time this information was relayed back to F Company, however, the fire fight had stopped as mysteriously as it had begun. No sooner was this over than pack howitzer fire began to fall on the regimental command post below the road junction. This time there was no mistake; fragments taken from the wounds of one soldier proved conclusively to be from a Marine weapon. Again, not long after this shelling had been stopped, an Army motor column moving up the Salisbury road came under machine gun fire, which the soldiers again blamed on the marines.

The climax of the confusion came about 1400, when a battalion of the 9th Marines began moving east off the Salisbury road on the trail that the 3rd Battalion, 306th Infantry, had cut that morning. Earlier, Marine and Army units had conflicting overlays to show that each was in its own zone of operations, but this time there was no doubt that the Marine battalion was in the Army zone. The Marine commander, however, in the apparent belief that he was still on the Salisbury road, stated that he had permission to be where he was and refused to withdraw. Finally, the 306th Infantry commander was able to persuade a Marine staff officer of the error and the Marine commander reluctantly agreed to turn his battalion around and march it back.

By about 1500 everything appeared to have been straightened out. The shooting had stopped; there were no Army troops in the Marine area; there were no Marine troops in the Army area. The 1st Battalion (less the company charged with maintaining contact with the marines) and the regimental command post group had moved east on the heels of the 2nd Battalion, which was now advancing against extremely light and scattered resistance behind the 3rd Battalion. Completion of the regimental mission was relatively easy, and at 1715 the 306th Infantry reported itself dug in across the northern face of Mount Santa Rosa. The 3rd Battalion had reached the sea at Anao Point; the 2nd Battalion was tied in to its west; the regimental command post was at Lulog; and the 1st Battalion was along the trail west of the command post. The day’s action had cost the regiment 11 men killed and 24 wounded, while 172 Japanese were claimed killed.

As if the confusion between American units during the daylight hours of 8 August had not been enough, just at sunset the 1st Battalion, 306th Infantry, west of Lulog, and the 3rd Battalion, 307th Infantry, to the south on Mount Santa Rosa, were involved in another tragic incident. About 1830 both battalions began receiving mortar fire. This was either Japanese fire or, more probably, fire from American weapons being zeroed in for the perimeter defense that night. Unfortunately, the fire hitting the 306th Infantry troops came from the south, where the 3rd Battalion, 307th Infantry, was digging in, while the shells that landed in the 307th area came from the north, where 306th Infantry troops were preparing their defenses. Both battalions reported a counterattack and opened fire with small arms in the direction of the presumed assault, which only served to increase the illusion of a counterattack. Tanks of the 306th Infantry began shooting, and both battalions called down artillery fire.

Fortunately for those involved, the confusion was short lived. Within the space of a few minutes it became apparent that the troops were exchanging shots with their fellow Americans, and all firing was halted. The 902nd Field Artillery Battalion had fired a brief barrage and both infantry battalions had done considerable firing on their own. The result was at least ten casualties in the 3rd Battalion, 307th Infantry, and a smaller number of casualties in the 1st Battalion and regimental command post of the 306th Infantry.

The Marines: 7-8 August

On the morning of 7 August, General Geiger for the first time had all three of his units deployed abreast for the attack. The 1st Provisional Brigade, which had spent the past days resting and patrolling southern Guam, was now fed into the line to the left of the 3rd Marine Division and made responsible for securing the northwest coast of the island including Mount Machanao and Ritidian Point. The mission of the 3rd Marine Division, in the center of the corps attack, was to continue to push to the north and northeast until it reached the sea in the vicinity of Tarague Point.

The 7th of August was a relatively quiet day for both Marine units. The 3rd Division came across a few antitank guns guarding a roadblock in the neighborhood of Road Junction 390 but quickly reduced it without casualties. By 1530 elements of the division reached the O-5 line along the trail that ran southeast from Road Junction 460 to the Yigo-Salisbury road. There, the entire division dug in for the night after a day’s advance of about 6,000 yards. On the left, the brigade’s 4th Regiment kept pace and succeeded in occupying a line running due west of Road Junction 460. Pausing there, General Shepherd late in the afternoon brought in the 22nd Marines to take over the western (left) half of the brigade line.

The next day the chief obstacle facing the Marines was again jungle rather than Japanese. The only reported fighting in the zone of the 3rd Division was around a roadblock manned by nineteen enemy soldiers. These were quickly eliminated. Nightfall found the division on a line north of Salisbury about a mile and a half from the sea. At the same time the 22nd Marines forged ahead up the west coast in the wake of a series of well-placed aerial bombing attacks. By midafternoon marines of the 22nd Regiment reached Ritidian Point, the northernmost point of Guam.

The End on Guam

By nightfall of 8 August the end of fighting on Guam was virtually at hand. The gains of the 77th Division around Mount Santa Rosa, the advance of the 3rd Marine Division to within a mile and a half of the sea, the occupation by the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade of the entire northwest coast of the island to Ritidian Point—all spelled the doom of the remaining Japanese. That night even Radio Tokyo conceded that nine tenths of Guam had fallen to American troops.

The capture of Mount Santa Rosa by the 77th Division marked the end of organized resistance on Guam, for this was the last Japanese stronghold on the island, and the enemy now had no important rallying spot. Only a little more than 500 Japanese dead were discovered on Santa Rosa, far less than the number of enemy troops there at the beginning of the attack, and far less than General Bruce had expected to encounter. Apparently the extremely heavy pre-assault bombardment forced most of the defenders to flee the area. The Japanese were denied their last major defensive area on Guam and were driven north into the jungle in a completely disorganized state.

On the evening of 8 August General Geiger ordered the pursuit to continue at 0730 the following morning. Accordingly, on 9 August, the 77th Division moved out on schedule to complete its mission. The 306th Infantry patrols sent northward to the sea to flush the area between Lulog and the north coast encountered only scattered and light resistance. The 307th Infantry on Mount Santa Rosa patrolled vigorously between that height and the seacoast to the east. The 305th Infantry (less 3rd Battalion) moved to an assembly area south of Barrigada. Nowhere in the division zone on 9 August was any organized resistance encountered. The same held true for the 10th.

To the west, marines of the 3rd Division and 1st Provisional Brigade encountered only a little more difficulty. During the early morning hours of 9 August, the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, came under attack by five enemy tanks accompanied by infantrymen. The marines withdrew into the jungle without suffering any casualties and by daylight the enemy force had disappeared. That day the 3rd Marines gained another 1,500 yards, which put it roughly about the same distance from the sea. At the same time, the 9th Marines completed its particular assignment by reaching Pati Point. On the corps left, the brigade extended its control southeast from Ritidian Point as far as Mergagan Point.

The next day, 10 August, with only a small pocket between Mergagan Point and Pati Point left to be occupied, General Geiger at 1131 announced that organized resistance on Guam had ended. The announcement was timed to correspond with the arrival on Guam of Admirals Nimitz and Spruance and Marine Generals Holland Smith and Vandegrift aboard Spruance’s flagship Indianapolis.

The official conclusion of the campaign did not mean it was actually over, for soldiers and marines were to spend many dreary weeks before they finally cleaned out the enemy-infested jungles and mountains of Guam. Even though all signs of Japanese organized resistance were crushed, General Obata killed (on 11 August), and the island overrun, there still remained unaccounted for a large number of Japanese who had fled into the jungles in small groups and continued to harass the American garrison, even until after the end of the war. Two officers, who were eventually captured, Colonel Takeda and Major Sato, vainly attempted to organize these survivors, but they remained for the most part isolated stragglers. Almost all were too preoccupied with the eternal search for food to think of fighting, and their weapons and ammunition were saved for hunting until they rusted for want of lubricating oil. American patrols killed a few every day; others succumbed at last to the siren song of American psychological warfare and gave themselves up.

Eventually, the entire Japanese garrison on Guam, numbering about 18,500, was killed or captured. In exchange, American casualties as of 10 August 1944 came to 7,800, of whom 2,124 were killed in action or died of wounds. Of this total, the Army accounted for 839, the Navy for 245, while the remaining 6,716 were marines.

SOURCE: Campaign in the Marianas; BY: Philip A. Crowl (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: Hollandia-Aitape Operation (2A): Planning and Preparation

World War Two: Retaking Guam (4-19) Pursuit to the North – Japanese Withdrawal

World War Two: Sicily (3-22) Messina-Quebec Memorandum – Italian Surrender Overtures

Wasting little time in congratulations, General Truscott urged his men on after General Fries’ back-pedaling German division. Tired from their exertions at the Naso ridge, the men of the 3rd Division wearily resumed their eastward trek. The preceding five-day battle had been slow, costly, and difficult. The 7th Infantry reported losses of fifteen officers and four hundred men killed, wounded, and missing, a figure approximated by each of the other infantry regiments. 

South of the mountains, General Bradley, the II Corps commander, brought the 1st Division back into line. Eddy’s 9th Division drew the secondary road leading from Floresta northeastward through Montalbano to Furnari. Huebner’s 1st Division was to pass through the British 78th Division east of Randazzo, then turn north to Bivio Salica. If they were able to move fast enough, Bradley believed, the divisions just might catch the German division up north and squeeze it against the 3rd Division. 

During the evening of 12 August, German units all across the front withdrew to Hube’s previously designated first phase line. This line was to be held at least until nightfall on 13 August, whereupon the units were to withdraw again to the east, nearer Messina. Thus, on the north coast, by the morning of 13 August, the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division as it pulled back some fifteen miles lost contact with the 3rd Division. Before moving into the new line east of Falcone (twenty-eight miles east of Cape Orlando)-a line which extended south almost to Novara di Sicilia-German engineers effectively blocked the coastal highway by partially demolishing the highway tunnel at Cape Calava and, just to the east, by blowing a 150-foot section of the road, bracketed 300 feet high on a cliff, into the sea. It was a masterful demolition job; overcoming it was to become a landmark of American engineer support in Sicily. 

Yet even this stratagem would not save the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division, General Patton felt, if a new plan reached fruition. On the same day (12 August) that Truscott executed the link-up with Bernard’s amphibious force near Brolo, Patton had set his staff to preparing still another dash around the Germans’ right flank. With the Navy’s promise to supply more landing craft, and with General Alexander’s permission to use the 2nd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry, Patton planned a full-scale operation well behind the German defenders. Late on 12 August, Patton’s staff came forth with the plan, calling for a landing any time between 14 and 18 August in the Bivio Salica-Barcellona area. The Seventh Army would retain control of the participating units until such time as those units actually landed. [N2-21-2] 

This attempt to cut off the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division, and possibly other German units, was to be much more ambitious than either of the earlier amphibious efforts. Patton hoped to cut Highway 113 as well as the secondary road along which the 1st Division would be advancing. The battalion of paratroopers was to drop at 2000, D minus 1, near Barcellona to prevent German forces from moving to the west to relieve the encircled German units, and to seize and hold the highway bridge just west of Barcellona until the seaborne force landed. Colonel Ankcorn’s 157th RCT (from the 45th Division), reinforced by a company of medium tanks and a company of 4.2-inch mortars, was to land near Bivio Salica, join with the paratroopers, then attack westward to link up with the 3rd Division. 

[N2-21-2 Seventh Army Directive, 12 Aug 43, in Seventh Army Rpt of Opns, p. D-1S; see also, Seventh Army G-3 Jnl, entries 3, 20, 28, and 39, 12 Aug 43.] 

As the Seventh Army staff completed the details for the new end run, the three American divisions then on line kicked off to clear the Messina peninsula. On the north coast, the 15th and 30th Infantry Regiments crossed the Brolo River, the 30th toward Cape Calava, the 15th cross-country toward Patti. Neither advance was seriously contested. 

The 15th Infantry had a more difficult task, for its route led through the mountainous interior over difficult terrain. Yet, the 15th reached Patti long before the 30th, entering the town at 1530. Along the highway, the 30th Infantry had come to an abrupt halt upon reaching the partially demolished tunnel and blown out road section at Cape Calava. Pausing just long enough to start his foot troops inland around the obstacle and across the neck of the cape, Colonel Rogers loaded two Dukws (which had been in a follow-up motor column for just such a purpose as this) with water, signal equipment, and a few communications personnel and chugged around the cape, rejoining the foot elements east of that point. The 10th Engineer Battalion moved up to restore the highway for vehicular traffic. By hanging “a bridge in the sky” the engineers were able to permit a jeep-carrying General Truscott-to cross the wooden structure eighteen hours after starting work. Six hours later, after a bit of shoring here and there, heavier vehicles began to cross. [N2-21-3]

 By 0300 the following morning, 14 August, the 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry, after a night’s march, entered Oliveri. The 29th Panzer Grenadier Division had again pulled back to the east. It was now on General Hube’s second phase line, with the northern hinge resting on the coast town of Furnari. The 15th Panzer Grenadier Division was well on its way toward completing its transfer to the Italian mainland. Parts of the other German divisions were also moving toward the embarkation points. In fact, by nightfall on 14 August, only one reinforced infantry battalion held the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division’s front. This battalion was to hold the second phase line until dark on 15 August.

[N2-21-3 Ernie Pyle, Brave Men (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1944 ), pages 65-73, gives a vivid account of the construction of this bridge. See a lso Truscott, Command Missions, pp. 241-42. As General Truscott points out in his comments on this MS, it was just as well the Germans did not destroy the tunnel a t the same time they were blowing the section of road. “The race to Messina would have ended right there,” says Truscott.]

 At Messina, the German ferrying service had swung into full operation with the arrival of the first troops from the front on the night of 11 August. During this first night, Captain von Liebenstein’s craft ran at full capacity until 2045, when the pace slowed and then stopped, partly because British Wellingtons bombed the strait, partly because troops were slow in reaching the ferrying sites. Despite renewed attacks by Allied bombers, the evacuation resumed during the early morning of 12 August after additional troops from the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division arrived. On the second night of Hube’s evacuation efforts, the night of 12 August, telephone communications between Messina and the mainland failed, and some confusion resulted in getting the naval craft and the ground troops together on the Messina side. Ferrying craft stood by at one of the landing places for three hours, only to leave shortly before the troops finally arrived.

 Ferrying did not get under way again until 0200, 13 August. Strong Allied air attacks, persisting until 0500, made it impossible to use the ferries at the narrow part of the strait. But, then, contrary to the original plan of crossing troops only at night, Liebenstein ordered the ferrying continued throughout the 13th. By evening of 13 August, a total of 15,000 men, 1,300 vehicles, 21 tanks, and 22 assault guns had completed the crossing.

 While Liebenstein’s fleet of small craft lifted German troops and materiel across the strait, the Italian ferrying service operated as best it could with its somewhat limited equipment. The train ferry caught fire on 12 August and was out of commission for forty-eight hours. Motor raft’s saved the situation and transported 20,000 men at the rate of 1,000 a trip. In an attempt to relieve the situation, the Italians loaded one of the other inoperable train ferries with heavy artillery, planning to tow it across to the mainland. But after all that work, the Italians could not find a towboat. Eventually, they scuttled the craft to keep the artillery piece, from falling into Allied hands.

 The Italians now accepted Hube’s previous offer to transport their remaining heavy equipment in German craft. But at the same time, to keep the equipment from falling to the Allies, Hube issued additional instructions to all German units to take charge of any Italian materiel that could not be moved by the Italians.

 Thus, many pieces of Italian equipment were saved but, at the same time, lost to the Italians, for on the mainland the Germans simply appropriated them for their own divisions. In fact, after completing its evacuation on the evening of 14 August, the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division found that it had more and better wheeled equipment than at the beginning of the campaign, for the simple reason that the troops had acquired Italian motor vehicles of all kinds before leaving Sicily. Instances were also reported of German commanders who retained Italian personnel, put the men into German uniforms, and refused to let them return to their own units.

 Despite these difficulties, the evacuation of Italian personnel from Sicily was virtually completed by 16 August. Generale di Brigata Ettore Monacci, commander of Italian army troops at the Naval Base Messina, was the last to leave Messina after setting mines to blow up the port’s installations. All told, the Italians evacuated between 70,000 and 75,000 men; from 227 to 500 vehicles; between 75 and 100 artillery pieces; and 12 mules.

The German ferrying service continued operations on the evening of 13 August -the third night-even though British Wellington bombers were again out in force. While these bombing attacks time and again forced cessation of the ferrying service across the neck of the strait, at the wider parts the service proceeded pretty much according to schedule. Concluding that these continued heavy bombing attacks made it almost impossible to conduct any sort of satisfactory ferry service in the narrow part of the strait at night, Liebenstein ordered daylight ferrying service only in this zone, though round-the-clock transfers would continue in the wider parts of the strait. Until the end of the operation, most of the remaining German troops on Sicily were ferried to the Italian mainland during daylight hours. Though the frequent Allied air attacks caused some damage to the embarkation points, the damage was light and quickly repaired, particularly because no heavy bombers appeared over the strait during the day. And thanks to Baade’s massed guns, Allied NATAF flyers operating during daylight hours encountered great difficulty in aiming accurately enough to cause any serious damage to either ships or landing points.

 [N2-21-9 MS #R-145 (Bauer), pp. 46-47. Craven and Cate (Europe: TORCH to POINTBLANK, page 473) list Allied air force claims as follows: 23 ferrying craft destroyed; direct hits on 43 more; near misses on 204. On the other hand, the Axis forces listed their losses as follows: 8 Italian and 7 German craft sunk (only 1 of which was lost in action); 5 Italian and I German craft damaged. See also, Roskill, The War at Sea, vol. III, pt. I, p. 150; Monson, Sicily-Salerno-Anzio,p. 215.] 

Though quite unknown to the Axis, both German and Italian ferrying services were being aided, inadvertently to be sure, by the actions of certain commanders in the Allied hierarchy of command. Almost since the beginning of the Sicilian operation, General Montgomery had had ample opportunities to launch amphibious end runs around the German defenses in the Catania plain area. Rather than make use of “the priceless asset of sea power, and flexibility of maneuver,” Montgomery chose instead to slug his way forward up the difficult east coast road, first with one division, then with two, and then again with one. Montgomery steadfastly refused to launch any amphibious end runs. 

Furthermore, there was the failure on the part of the Allied air commanders to assess correctly Hube’s evacuation plan: they believed almost to the end that the Axis forces would cross the strait only during the hours of darkness, and that NATAF alone could handle any daylight evacuation attempts. Almost one-half of the available Allied air power-the 869 aircraft that belonged to N ASAF –was used in only a limited way to stop the evacuation.

 True, British Wellington bombers, flying an average of eighty-five sorties each night against Messina, did force Liebenstein to shift from night crossings to day crossings. But except for three daylight U.S. B-17 attacks on Messina, up to 8 August there were no other calls on the NASAF heavies to bomb Messina, the evacuation beaches, the embarkation points, and Baade’s gun emplacements, until it was too late. In fact, on 11 August, the NATAF commander had even released the heavy bombers from any commitment in the Messina Strait area. On 13 August, when the Germans shifted to daylight crossings, “the land battle [on Sicily] was going so well” that NASAF scheduled a huge raid on the Littorio airfield and Lorenzo marshaling yards near Rome, committing 106 B-17’s, 102 B-26’s, 66 B-25’S, and 135 P-38’s to this mission.

[N2-21-11 In August 1943, NASAF had 181 U.S. heavy bombers, 130 British and 278 U.S. medium bombers, and 280 fighters and fighter-bombers. NATAF had 112 U.S. medium bombers, 94 British and 43 U.S. light bombers, and 344 British and 377 U.S. fighters and fighter-bombers. See chart in Roskhi, The War at Sea, vol. III, pt.1, p. 148.]

 Despite numerous signs of Axis withdrawal and evacuation, it was not until 14 August that General Alexander felt the German evacuation had really begun. He radioed this belief to Air Chief Marshal Tedder, but NASAF was committed too deeply to striking at mainland targets to be turned loose against Messina. It did release some medium and light bombers, as well as fighters and fighter-bombers, to assist the NATAF in a round-the-clock pounding of Messina, the strait, and the Italian toe. 

The NATAF had undoubtedly tried hard to disrupt Hube’s schedule, but the pilots found it almost impossible to penetrate the antiaircraft defenses. “The immense concentration of flak on both sides of the Narrows makes it impossible to go down and really search for targets thoroughly with fighter bombers,” reported the Desert Air Force (the U. S. XII Air Support Command’s counterpart) . “It also greatly restricts the use of light bombers. The Hun knows very well that if we really put up a lot of bomber formations into his main flak concentration, we should have the whole lot unserviceable in no time.” [N2-21-13] Without the support of the U.S. B-17’s during the daylight hours, and with Admiral Cunningham’s refusal to commit any large warships in the strait area to form a “positive physical barrier,” the NATAF pilots faced an almost impossible task. Thus it was that Hube’s evacuation proceeded fairly close to schedule. By 14 August it was too late to catch any sizable number of enemy ground troops forward of Messina. General Patton, however, continued with his plans for launching another amphibious end run.

 [N2-21-12 Quotation and figures from Craven and Cate, eds., Europe: TORCH to POINTBLANK, p. 474]

 During the evening of 13 August, the Hermann Gӧring Division gave up Taormina (twenty-nine miles from Messina) and fell back to Hube’s second phase line, anchored at the small town of Santa Teresa. Here, twenty miles south of Messina, the German division had orders to hold through the evening of 15 August. Leaving a strong rear guard at Santa Teresa, General Conrath started the rest of his division back to the ferrying sites.

 The British 50th Division followed slowly, impeded by efficient German demolition and mine work. The British 78th Division swung around Mount Etna, cleared Highway 120 between Randazzo and Linguaglossa, five miles from the east coast highway. But contact was not regained with the Hermann Gӧring Division until late on 15 August, by which time even the German rear guards had started to pull back to Hube’s third phase line just short of Messina. 

In the center of the Allied front, both the U.S. 1st and 9th Divisions encountered little trouble in closing out their roles in the Sicilian Campaign. Leaving Floresta early on 14 August, DeRohan’s 60th Infantry pushed northeast along the secondary road leading to the north coast, and that same afternoon his patrols made contact with the 3rd Division at Furnari. On the same day, the 18th Infantry (1st Division) passed through Randazzo, through the British 78th Division, and turned north on the secondary road leading through Novara di Sicilia. This movement soon turned largely on how fast the division’s engineers could remove mine fields and construct bypasses. The 18th Infantry moved slowly along the road-there was no enemy opposition–‘and across the ridges to Novara di Sicilia.

[N2-21-13 Ltr, Desert Air Force to NATAF, 15 Aug 43, in 0407/0/490.] 

Just after noon, General Bradley telephoned General Huebner the information that Truscott’s units had already passed Bivio Salica and had, therefore, pinched out the 1st Division. There was little point in going any farther, although 18th Infantry patrols did link up with the 3rd Division later in the day. 

On the north coast road, the 3rd Division pushed on, nearing the very place where General Patton planned to pull off his combined amphibious-airborne operation-Barcellona. At 0930, 15 August, the 7th Infantry, which leapfrogged the 15th Infantry, punched into Barcellona. Continuing its drive to the east, brushing aside a series of roadblocks defended by a few German machine gunners and mortar men, the regiment pushed all the way to the point where the coastal highway swings inland across the northeastern tip of the island to Messina. At daylight, 16 August, the 7th Infantry was ready to turn for Messina, only twelve miles away.

 At Messina, the German evacuation proceeded unimpeded. Hube, confident that his troops could fend off the advancing Allied armies and determined to get as much equipment as possible off the island, had decided on 14 August to extend the evacuation by one night. In order not to upset the announced timetable, he ordered the additional night inserted between the previously ordered third and fourth nights. Thus, the evening of 14 August became known simply as the additional night, while 15 August was still designated as the fourth night, and 16 August as the fifth. [N2-21-14]

 When both German divisions reported contact regained with the Allied armies on 15 August, Hube completed arrangements to transfer the last elements of the divisions still on Sicily to the Italian mainland during the evening of 16 August. The Hermann Gӧring and 15th Panzer Grenadier Divisions were, after arrival in Calabria, to march to the north. The 1st Parachute Division, the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division, and Colonel Baade’s headquarters were to remain in Calabria attached to the LXXVI Panzer Corps. Even as the 7th Infantry neared the turn in the road leading to Messina on 15 August, General Patton was calling General Bradley to inform the II Corps commander that the 157th RCT was to land on the morning of 16 August, not at Bivio Salica as originally planned but at Spadafora, ten miles farther to the east.

 The airborne battalion was not going to participate, Patton said, since the 3rd Division had already passed Barcellona. General Patton apparently felt that, even if the amphibious landing caught no Germans, it would put additional troops on shore to help speed Truscott’s advance into Messina. The thought of taking Messina, of beating the Eighth Army to this prime objective of the entire campaign, may well have appealed even more strongly to the Seventh Army commander than the spectacular dash across western Sicily.

[N2-21-14 It was probably due to this device that some German commanders later claimed to have completed the evacuation in five nights. Hube’s order of 4 August 43 in Baade Diary, 1800, 15 Aug 43, p. 107.] 

Not pleased with Patton’s idea of using the 157th RCT at this late stage of the campaign in what he considered a useless operation, knowing that the 7th Infantry was encountering only light rear guard resistance and could outrun any amphibious force, Bradley protested the operation. Determined to go ahead despite General Bradley’s statement that “we’ll be waiting for your troops when they come ashore,” Patton sent his deputy, General Keyes, to Truscott’s command post to co-ordinate the details. 

Like Bradley, Truscott was astonished when Keyes outlined the Seventh Army plan. The 7th Infantry was even then approaching Spadafora and undoubtedly would be past that town by the time the 157th R CT started landing. Fearing that the amphibious landing taking place in the middle of the 7th Infantry’s column might lead to confusion and possibly some internecine fighting, Truscott bitterly remonstrated with the Seventh Army deputy commander. But, as before the Brolo landing, Keyes was reluctant to cancel the amphibious end run, knowing full well that General Patton counted on the favorable publicity such a spectacular operation would bring to the Seventh Army. 

Finally, after Truscott stated flatly that he would halt the 7th Infantry and withdraw it west of Spadafora in order to prevent any conflict with Colonel Ankcorn’s units, Keyes relented. Though the operation would still take place, it would be staged at Bivio Salico on the originally assigned beaches. Truscott reluctantly agreed, although he preferred to see the landing canceled.[N2-21-17] 

On the same day, 15 August, General Montgomery had finally decided that the Eighth Army, too, would launch an amphibious operation. Early on 16 August, tanks from the British 4th Armored Brigade and a Commando unit were to land at Cape d’ Ali, cut off what Germans they could, and speed the Eighth Army’s advance into Messina. Almost four hundred British troops were to be involved, and they too had a strong desire to beat the Americans into Messina. [N2-21-18] The same evening, the Hermann Gӧring Division rear guards began moving out of Santa Teresa, heading for Hube’s third phase line, anchored at Scaletta, three miles beyond Cape d’ Ali. [N2-21-19] 

Despite the increase in Allied air attacks on 15 and 16 August, the evacuation of German troops and materiel had continued without serious interruption. General Hube and General Fries, commander of the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division, crossed to Calabria at 0530 on the 16th. Before leaving, General Fries deployed his now less than zoo-man rear guard in two widely separated positions: half at Acqualadrone to block the road around the northeastern tip of Sicily; the others at the Casazza crossroads, four miles west of Messina. These two positions protected the ferrying sites. 

[N2-21-17 Truscott, Command Missions, pp. 242-4:1: ONI, Sicilian Campaign, p. 110.]

[N2-21-18 Tregaskis, Invasion Diary, pp. 74, 86; Montgomery, Eighth Army, p. III; Nicholson, The Canadians in Italy, p. 171.]

[N2-21-19: OB SUED, Meldungen, 0250, I7 Aug 43. This, and the ensuing British landing are reported belatedly on 17 August. but dated 15 August. It is confirmed on the German map for 15 August 1943.] 

In the Seventh Army sector, Bradley’s and Truscott’s prediction of the day before held true when, early on the morning of 16 August, the 1st Battalion, 7th Infantry passed through Spadafora. By early afternoon, the 7th was on the highway to Messina. Colonel Ankcorn’s 157th Infantry, meanwhile, had splashed ashore near Bivio Salica just after midnight, 16 August. Except for the loss of eleven men in a landing craft accident, the landing was uneventful. That afternoon, Truscott ordered Ankcorn to send one battalion to follow the 7th Infantry and assist in the capture of Messina; the remainder of Ankcorn’s command was to stay at Bivio Salica. 

By the time the 157th Infantry battalion caught up with the 7th Infantry, the latter unit had already cleared the German rear guards at the Casazza crossroads and controlled the ridge line overlooking Messina. The 30th Infantry had swung past the 7th along the road around the northeastern tip of the island. It was nearing Messina from the north. By this time, too, Truscott had a battery of 155-mm. howitzers (Battery B, 9th Field Artillery Battalion) firing across the strait onto the Italian mainland. Just after dark, after driving off a small patrol from Company I, 7th Infantry, which was probing toward Messina, the last German rear guards along both roads pulled back to the outskirts of Messina on the edge of the last ferrying site that was still operating. 

On the east coast highway, Montgomery’s landing caught the tag end of the Hermann Gӧring Division’s withdrawing rear guard unit, which halted and stopped the British column just north of Scaletta. Not until dark on 16 August, as the Germans again started back for Messina, did the British column move forward, finally passing through Tremestieri, two miles south of Messina, at daylight 17 August. 

Here again the British column halted, this time because of a demolished bridge over a deep ravine. By now it was broad daylight-about 08I5-and the Commando leader, a lieutenant colonel and distant relative of the British Prime Minister, decided to bypass the obstacle in a jeep and start for Messina. He was determined to get to the city before the Americans. [N2-21-20] The British officer might have spared himself a bouncing, jostling ride. The evening before, a reinforced platoon from Company L, 7th Infantry, under the command of 1st Lieutenant Ralph J. Yates, had pushed into the city proper. Early next morning, patrols from the other 7th Infantry battalions plus a platoon from the 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry, entered Messina. Except for occasional rifle fire, they met no resistance.

 The last of the German defenders had crossed to the Italian mainland just about two hours earlier. In Calabria, General Hube reported at 0635, 17 August, “Operation LEHRGANG completed.” The last Axis troops to leave Sicily were eight men of an Italian patrol picked up by a German assault boat about an hour later. [N2-21-21] 

[N2-21-20 For an account of the British operation, see Tregaskis, Invasion Diary, pp. 74-89.] 

On the ridge line overlooking the city, General Truscott received Messina’s civil dignitaries at 0700, and one hour later, Colonel Michele Tomasello, who offered to make the formal military surrender. However, because he had been told by General Keyes to wait for General Patton before entering Messina, Truscott sent General Eagles, his assistant division commander, into the city with Tomasello to prepare for the surrender of the city after Patton arrived, to supervise the activities of the various American units then roving about the port city, and “to see that the British did not capture the city from us after we had taken it.” General Patton came onto the ridge at 1000, asked “What in hell are you all standing around for?,” took his place in a car at the head of a motor cavalcade, and roared down into the city, accompanied all the way by enemy artillery fire from the Italian mainland. 

[N2-21-21 Faldella, Lo sbareo, p. 275; OB SUED, Meldungen, 2000, 17 Aug 43. The Germans evacuated from Sicily 39,569 men, of which number 4,444 were wounded; 9,605 vehicles; 94 guns; 47 tanks; 1,100 tons of ammunition; 970 tons of fuel; and 15,700 tons of miscellaneous equipment and supplies. See Translation of Report on the Evacuation of Sicily (August 1943) by Vice Admiral Friedrich von Ruge (1946), and an. A, in folder X-III, OCMH; Baade Diary. For details of the last two days’ fighting by the 3rd Division, see AAR’s of the units involved, including that of the 157th Infantry Regiment (which claims the honor of having the first American troops in Messina); II Corps Rpt of Opns; 3rd Inf Div G-3 Jnl; II Corps G-3 Jnl.]

At the southern edge of Messina, the British armored column had finally caught up with the Commando officer, who had, by this time, made contact with General Eagles and learned that the Americans had beaten him to the prize. Continuing through the southern outskirts and into the center of Messina, the British column clanked its slow way forward, arriving in a large park just after General Patton had accepted the city’s surrender. The senior British officer walked over to General Patton, shook hands, and said: “It was a jolly good race. I congratulate you.” [N2-21-23] The Sicilian Campaign was over. The Western Allies had reached the southern gateway to the European continent.

Conclusions

The Allied invasion of Sicily and subsequent reduction of the island accomplished the objectives laid down by the Combined Chiefs of Staff at Casablanca in January 1943: to make more secure the Allied lines of communication in the Mediterranean; to divert as much German strength as possible from the Russian front during the critical summer period; and to intensify pressure on Italy. More, the invasion of Sicily on 10 July and the attendant heavy bombing raids on key Italian cities and installations led directly to the overthrow of Mussolini and of the Fascist regime, Italy’s first step toward leaving the war. Allied armies had taken from the Axis Powers the Sicilian bridge to the European mainland, and had placed on one end of that bridge a force which constituted a serious threat to all Axis-held portions of the European continent. All this had been accomplished at a cost of less than 20,000 men-7,402 in the Seventh Army, 11,843 in the British Eighth Army. Measured against Axis losses of 12,000 German dead and captured and 147,000 Italian dead, wounded, and captured, the Allied losses were slight. [N2-21-24]

[N2-21-23 Tregaskis, Invasion Diary, p. 89; Comments of Truscott on MS; Comments of Eagles on MS.]

 From the American point of view, the Seventh Anny-the first United States field anny to fight as a unit in World War II-had done more than well. Landing on exposed beaches, its airborne mission an almost complete failure, initially facing the bulk of the German defenders, hit by strong Axis counterattacks within hours after landing, the men of the Seventh Anny had clawed their way inland. 

Within seventy-two hours after the initial seaborne landings, the army had established a firm and secure beachhead. Stopped by General Alexander from continuing on to Messina, the Seventh Army refused to relinquish all thought of offensive action and punched its way across the western tip of the island and into Palermo. Allowed to turn to the alternately bucking and plunging, it traveled the mountainous roads on and near the north coast to enter Messina just a few hours before the Eighth Army.

[N2-21-24 The Seventh Army had a peak strength on Sicily of 217,000 men; the Eighth Army, a peak strength of 250,000 men. See Morison, Sicily-Salerno-Anzio, p. 223n.] 

There were many noteworthy accomplishments in the thirty-eight days of fighting. Chief among these was the performance of the American fighting man. What he may have lacked in North Africa, if indeed he lacked anything but experience, he more than made up for in Sicily. On this Italian island, the American infantryman was a first-class fighter, in top physical condition, aggressive, always pushing ahead. The tenacious defense by the 1st Division at Gela; the aggressive, hard-moving actions by the 157th and 179th Combat Teams at Comiso, Scoglitti, and Vittoria; the 3rd Division’s capture of Agrigento; the 505th Parachute Infantry at Biazza Ridge; the sweep across western Sicily, where daily thirty- and forty-mile foot marches were common; the fighting at Bloody Ridge and San Fratello; Troina; Randazzo; Brolo; all stand in testimony to this man’s fighting ability.

 Scarcely less notable were the accomplishments of the supporting arms. All of these played key parts in keeping the infantrymen moving forward. From the first day of the campaign, the field artillery battalions, divisional and non-divisional, provided tremendous support, and their actions in Sicily were marked by a high degree of success. Events clearly demonstrated that well-trained artillery units could maintain effective and continuous fire support despite the difficulties imposed by mountainous terrain, scarcity of good position areas, limited and congested roads, and, at times, a rapid rate of advance. Probably the most important lesson learned by the artillerymen was the necessity for vigorous and aggressive employment requiring continued rapid displacements in order to maintain fire support in a fast-moving situation. At no time did the artillery fail to deliver requested fires, although there were times when the infantrymen complained that they were not receiving enough. While the island’s road net did not permit all of the artillery units to stay near the front lines at all times, their fires were massed when real resistance was encountered. As many as nine battalions of artillery were placed on a single important target; four and five battalions frequently were used on a single target. By the end of the campaign, in II Corps alone, over 120,000 rounds of 105-mm. howitzer, 34,000 rounds of 155-mm. howitzer, and 6,000 rounds of 155-mm. gun ammunition had been expended.

 Vital, too, was the information gained on the value and versatility of the artillery observation aircraft. These small aircraft -grasshoppers, puddle-jumpers-proved most effective in carrying out fire missions and, in addition, served in a variety of important secondary roles despite the difficulties posed by scarce and restricted airfields. The rugged, mountainous country and the difficult and limited road net precluded any mass action by the one armored division which participated in the campaign.

 Thus, the Major role of the tanks took the form of rapid pursuit action and, where necessary, of assistance to the infantry in small units. The confined areas and narrow valleys flanked by high mountains provided little space for large-scale armored operations. The main operation of the 2nd Armored Division as a whole was the rapid and successful dash for Palermo which involved a pursuit action from Agrigento to the latter city in only three days.

 The administrative and technical services also provided outstanding support to the infantrymen. Engineer support rendered throughout the Seventh Army’s various zones of action bordered on the spectacular. After operating the assault beaches, Engineer units pushed inland to repair airfields, roads, and bridges, and sometimes to act as infantrymen. Despite extensive road demolitions (the Axis forces on Sicily demolished 130 highway bridges and cratered roads in 40 places), mines, and enemy opposition, the Engineer units managed to maintain the Seventh Army’s limited road net in a most satisfactory manner and contributed largely to the successful ground operations.

Military police of the Seventh Army, too, operating with a limited number of units, contributed to the successful ground operations by relieving the combat units of the staggering total of 122,204 prisoners of war, of whom almost 75,000 were evacuated to North Africa, while another 34,000 were granted island paroles. The almost 9,000 Seventh Army Signal Corps troops rehabilitated 4,916 miles of telephone wire; laid almost 1,800 miles of spiral-four cable; and handled over 8,000 radio messages. The Seventh Army Medical Corps personnel, usually the unsung heroes of any campaign, processed 20,734 hospital admissions of U.S. personnel and established two field and six evacuation hospitals. Of the total admissions, 7,714 were for wounds or injuries; the other 13,320 were for diseases, with malaria and diarrhea accounting for two-thirds of these. Roughly half of the hospital cases were evacuated to North Africa, an equal number each by air and water.

 Outstanding, too, was the close cooperation between the ground forces and the supporting naval units. Even with the mistakes made at some of the assault beaches-notably in the 180th Infantry’s sector-the amphibious phase of the operation was an almost unqualified success.

 Certainly no complaints could be raised by the ground forces about the naval gunfire support so lavishly rendered during the first forty-eight hours.25 Naval gunfire 25 The U.S. cruisers which participated in HUSKY fired a total of 7,537 six-inch rounds rendering close support on the southern beaches, and another 5,651 six-inch rounds on the north coast.

 The twenty-four U.S. destroyers fired a total of support on both the 10th and 11th of July played a key role in throwing back the strong Axis counterattacks near Gela, and in paving the way for a resumption of the inland movement the following day. Throughout the campaign, American naval elements continued to furnish support for the Seventh Army divisions, and not only in the form of naval gunfire support.

 On the north coast in particular, in addition to the three amphibious end runs, the Navy furnished landing craft to ferry troops, supplies, and artillery pieces around badly damaged sections of the coastal highway to facilitate the ground advance. And while some complaint might be registered over the lack of continuous naval gunfire support at Brolo, this would have to be weighed against the performance of the naval gunners at Gela, Niscemi, Biscari, Scoglitti, Agrigento, and San Fratello.

 None of this should be construed to mean that HUSKY was a perfect military campaign, that there were no flaws in the planning and execution of the operation. In analyzing the Sicilian Campaign, one might naturally question why the original plan was ever changed: why the Allied armies were bunched on the southeastern coast instead of landing at widely separated points and then converging on Messina.

 The final plan was based on anticipation of strenuous Italian resistance. The whole approach toward Sicily was cautious and conservative. Emphasis was on ensuring success and on the avoidance of calculated risk or gamble for high stakes at little cost. The plan was also designed to avoid the possibility of enemy ground force superiority at any point. If any sub-task force landing were to fail or miscarry through enemy interference, the adjacent landings would guarantee numerical superiority over the defenders. 

The final HUSKY plan was for a power drive, a frontal assault along a single sector of the coast. At no time during the course of planning of the Sicilian invasion did the Allied commanders aim to achieve an envelopment of the defending forces to launch the initial attacks behind the flanks of the enemy. Even the two-pronged attack envisaged in the initial plan was designed to gain port facilities, not to get between the enemy and Messina. In the final plan, the two Allied armies were to land abreast and to advance together.

 This was to minimize the danger of having the enemy concentrate against one task force at a time. The risks in the plan were strictly in the matter of supply and mainly affected the Seventh Army. Sound, cautious, conservative, the final plan was well designed to achieve the occupation of Sicily, the objective set by the Combined Chiefs. At the same time, Alexander’s idea of first consolidating a firm base on the southeast corner offered little scope for maneuver with the object of destroying the enemy garrison.

 In essence, the plan as finally designed was Montgomery’s. No one except Montgomery was particularly happy with it. The strategic conception inherent in the plan was both disadvantageous to and disparaging of the American force. Although the original two-pronged attack was based solely on logistical considerations, it implied a twofold advance on Messina. Each army, having gained its port, would advance by its own route to Messina, the hinge of Sicily. The defending forces were expected either to concentrate against one attacking force, leaving the route of advance open to the other, or to withdraw quickly to the northeastern corner of the island where the two Allied armies would converge. The final plan changed all this, and embodied an altogether different conception.

There would be but one thrust against Messina-the drive through Catania along the east coast highway by the Eighth Anny. The Seventh Army would protect the flank and rear of Montgomery’s forces. Only reluctantly and under pressure did General Alexander finally consent to release the Seventh Army from a subordinate and purely supporting mission.

 The numerous changes in the HUSKY plan during the February-May period came about as a direct result of the command structure which had been specifically spelled out by the Combined Chiefs of Staff at Casablanca. For the second time-the first had been in North African Allied military operation was to be conducted under the control of a triumvirate of commanders, rather than under the direction of one. General Alexander (Eisenhower’s deputy) was made responsible for the ground operations; Air Chief Marshal Tedder for air operations; Admiral Cunningham for naval activities. 

General Eisenhower was to act as a sort of chairman of the board, to enter into the final decision-making process only when the board members presented him with unsolved problems. If the three board members agreed on policy, there was little that Eisenhower could do to change the policy unless he was willing to dispense with the board members’ services. Eisenhower was raised involuntarily far above the operational level; only indirectly could he influence the course of operations once that course had been agreed on by his committee of three. 

The committee system of command would have been more palatable if the headquarters had not been physically separated-if the committee members had established and maintained a joint headquarters at a single location. But with the invasion of Sicily, Alexander established his headquarters on the island; Tedder’s headquarters remained in North Africa, near Tunis; Cunningham’s naval headquarters was at Malta; and General Eisenhower’s staff remained in Algiers. While the separation had little effect on the conduct of the campaign during the month of July, although it appears logical to assume that a joint headquarters might have prodded General Montgomery into doing more on the east coast in the way of amphibious end runs, one result of maintaining such widely separated headquarters became painfully evident during the last ten days of the operation, when the Axis forces began evacuating the island. A joint plan was not drawn up to prevent an enemy evacuation from the island. Each of the three services operated independently of the others, doing what it thought best to prevent the evacuation. Since the issue was not presented to the chairman of the board (General Eisenhower), the issue remained unsolved, and the Germans and Italians completed one of the most successful evacuations ever executed from a beleaguered shore. 

Furthermore, there was the question of air support: whether or not Allied air plans were meshed sufficiently with ground and naval plans. Simply put, the Allied air forces in the Mediterranean refused to work out detailed plans in co-operation with the army and navy. This was particularly true in the case of the Seventh Army-to a much lesser degree in the Eighth Army, where Montgomery’s relations with the British Desert Air Force were somewhat different from Patton’s relations with the U.S. XII Air Support Command. 

The official air force historians explain the airman’s views: It should be noted that the air plan dealt for the most part with broad policies and that it had not been integrated in detail with the ground and naval plans. This was deliberate, and the result of sound strategical and tactical considerations emphasized by experience in the Tunisian and Western Desert campaigns. There would be no parceling out of air strength to individual landings or sectors. Instead, it would be kept united under an over-all command in order to insure in its employment the greatest possible flexibility. It would be thrown in full force where it was needed, and not kept immobilized where it was not needed. Too, the chief immediate task of the air arm was to neutralize the enemy air force, a fluid target not easily pinpointed in advance. [N2-21-26] 

Primarily concerned with other matters -neutralizing enemy air, strategic targets, armed reconnaissance’s, cover over the beaches-the Allied air commanders devoted little thought and attention to providing close air support to the ground forces during the campaign. During the first critical forty-eight hours, no close air support missions were flown in support of the Seventh Army, and no close support missions were handled by the air support parties with the II Corps and with the assault divisions until 13 July. Even then the cumbersome system of requesting missions, with attendant delays in transmission and in identifying targets, proved almost unmanageable. It resulted in the scrapping of many requested and approved missions, and sometimes worked out in disastrous ways for friendly forces. As regards the execution of the plan, questions might well be raised as to the conduct of the ground phases of the campaign.

[N2-21-26 Craven and Cate, eds., Europe: TORCH to POINTBLANK, p. 445; see also, Slessor, The Central Blue, pp. 417-27.]

 The ground assault started auspiciously on 10 July with the greatest amphibious attack ever undertaken by any armed force. Within seventy-two hours after the initial seaborne landings, the two Allied armies advancing abreast had practically secured their designated objectives. On the east coast, the Eighth Army entered Augusta on the morning of 12 July.

 Thus far, its advance had not been seriously contested. The bulk of the defending forces, particularly the German contingent, was off to the west, one portion counterattacking the Seventh Army near Gela and Biscari, the other part hurriedly moving eastward to block any further American advances inland from Licata. Catania was almost in sight. 

The only force of any consequence opposing Eighth Army’s two assault corps was the German Group Schmalz, and this force was almost certainly not strong enough to stop an aggressive thrust north from Augusta. The Seventh Army, for its part and after the initial Axis counterattacks at Gela, had pushed on strongly, so strongly that its left task force-the reinforced 3rd Division-had run out of objectives and was poised to strike inland at the key communications center of Enna. Highway 124, the important east-west highway, was almost in Seventh Army’s grasp. Several huge gaps had been created in the Axis line, gaps that were being held halfheartedly by remnants of the Livorno and Napoli Divisions. 

It was at this very point on the evening of 12 July, when the Allied armies were in the best position of the entire campaign for finishing off the Axis defenders quickly and pushing on through to Messina, that General Alexander, for some unknown reason, permitted General Montgomery to change the Eighth Army’s plans. Instead of moving along a single Major axis of advance, throwing his army’s entire weight against the German defenders at Catania, Montgomery split his assault corps into a two-pronged effort, one prong continuing along the east coast highway, the other prong swinging to the west across Seventh Army’s front around Mount Etna. At the same time, Alexander changed the Seventh Army axis of advance from the north to the west and again relegated Patton’s force to the passive role of guarding Montgomery’s flank and rear. For all practical purposes, Seventh Army could have stayed on the beaches; its brilliant assault achievements were completely nullified by the new British plan. Why Alexander permitted this to happen has never been satisfactorily explained.

 Seventh Army was moving ahead nicely; it almost had Highway 124; the German and Italian forces in front of it had been practically dissolved or withdrawn. The German forces from the west, not really strong enough to contest an advance all along the line, were still scrambling to the east in a desperate effort to close the tremendous gap in the center of the Axis line. No enemy force of any size opposed either the 1st or 45th Divisions. General Bradley, the II Corps commander, was ready and willing to take Highway 124 and Enna, thus encircling the German defenders facing Eighth Army. In North Africa, the remainder of the 82nd Airborne and 2nd Armored Divisions lay ready to sail for Sicily to reinforce the American effort. But apparently it was Alexander’s distrust of the American fighting man that permitted him to accept Montgomery’s plan of a two-pronged British advance, of dividing Eighth Army in the face of the enemy. Or it may be that General Eisenhower’s opinion of Alexander-“At times it seems that he alters his own plans and ideas merely to meet an objection or a suggestion of a subordinate, so as to avoid direct command methods” -was correct. [N2-21-27] Alexander’s permission given to Montgomery to launch Eighth Army on its ill-fated two-pronged offensive constituted the turning point in the Sicilian Campaign. 

From this date on the course of the campaign could not have proceeded much differently. The Axis forces, suddenly relieved of the tremendous American pressure along most of their front, were now given enough time to prepare strong defensive positions in the mountainous interior, and the rest of the campaign turned into little more-except for Patton’s spectacular dash into Palermo, almost a publicity agent’s stunt-than digging the enemy out of strongpoints and knocking him off mountain tops. It was not until 23 July, when General Alexander finally turned Seventh Army toward Messina, that even these tactics paid off.

 Questions, too, might be raised about the tragic confusion which marked the four Major Allied airborne operations. The scattering of the American paratroopers and British glider-men on the evening of D minus 1, followed by the shooting down of large numbers of friendly aircraft on the evenings of 11 and 13 July 1943, almost brought American airborne efforts in World War II to an end. Much disillusionment set in following the disastrous airborne operations, and many responsible officers became convinced that the basic structure of the airborne division was unsound.

 [N2-21-27 Memo for personal file, II Jun 43, Diary Office CinC, Book VI, pp. A-472-A-474.]

 Sicily was an especially bitter disappointment for men who had put great faith in airborne operations. General Swing, American airborne adviser at AFHQ, attributed the unsatisfactory results to five principal causes: insufficient planning in co-ordinating routes with all forces several weeks earlier; the inability of troop carrier formations to follow the routes, given, partly because of poorly trained pilots, and partly because of the complicated routes; the rigid requirement that naval forces fire at all aircraft at night coming within range, regardless of their efforts to identify themselves; the unfortunate circumstance wherein an enemy bombing raid coincided with the arrival of the airborne force; and the failure of some ground commanders to warn the men manning antiaircraft weapons of the expected arrival of the troop carrier formations.[N2-21-28]

General Browning, British airborne expert and the AFHQ airborne adviser, was sharp in his criticism of the aerial navigation: In spite of the clear weather, suitable moon, the existence of Malta as a check point only 70 miles from Sicily and the latter’s very obvious and easily recognizable coast line, the navigation by the troop carrier aircrews was bad. 

The troops comprising both British and American Airborne Divisions are of a very high quality and their training takes time and is expensive. They are given important tasks which may acutely affect the operations as a whole. It is essential both from the operational and moral point of view that energetic steps be taken to improve greatly on the aircrews’ performance up to date. Intensive training in low flying navigation by night, especially over coast lines, must be organized and carried on continuously. 

[N2-21-28 Memo, Swing, 16 Jul 43, sub: Comments on Night Opns, 82nd AB Div, Night of D plus 1 to D plus 2. Photostat inc! with Ltr, Swing to Ward, 5 May 50.] 

This must form part of the aircrews’ training before thev reach a theater of war and the standard set must be very high. [N2-21-29] General Ridgway, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, stated weeks later that “both the 82nd Airborne Division and the North African Air Force Troop Carrier Command are today at airborne training levels below combat requirements.” He emphasized that airborne and troop carrier units were “unprepared to conduct with reasonable chances of success night operations either glider or parachute, employing forces the size of Regimental Combat Teams.” [N2-21-30] 

A report on the Sicilian airborne operations by the Fifth Army Airborne Training Center was more blunt: The (82nd) Division was in superb physical condition, well qualified in the use of infantry arms, in combined ground operations, and in individual jumping. It was extremely deficient in its air operations. The (52nd) Troop Carrier Wing did not cooperate well. Training was, in general, inadequate. Combat efficiency for night glider operations was practically zero. The combined force of (82nd) Airborne Division and troop carrier units was extremely deficient.

Allied airborne operations did live up to some expectations, but they might have been far more vital in the conquest of Sicily had the airborne troops been dropped, not between the reserves and the beach defenses, but en masse on the central plateau, where they could have assembled with little interference and then struck aggressively at the enemy’s rear. [N2-21-32] In some respects Allied airborne operations in Sicily bear certain similarities to the German airborne invasion of Crete. 

[N2-21-29 Browning Rpt, 24 Jul 43, Incl 6 with AFHQ Proceedings of Board of Officers.]

[N2-21-30 Ltr, Ridgway to OPD, 6 Nov 43, in AFTCC 353 (AB Training), quoted in AAF, 1 Troop Carrier Command, The Operational Training Program, pp. 296-97.]

[N2-21-31 Brief of Rpt of AB Opn, HUSKY, 17 Sep 43, Incl with OPD Memo 319.1 (r5 Aug 43) for CofS U.S. Army, 20 Sep 43; quoted in AGF Study 25, p. 47; also see extracts of Billingslea Rpt, in AB Overseas Rpts, ATTNG, AB Br.] 

In each case the attacker considered the operation a disappointment, while the defender considered the operation a more or less spectacular success. Each operation was something of a turning point in the airborne effort of both sides. For the Germans, Crete was the end of Major airborne operations. For the Allies, Sicily was only the beginning of airborne operations on an even larger scale. 

After Sicily, however, it was not certain that airborne divisions were here to stay. The reaction of the Army Ground Forces in the United States was that the airborne program had been overemphasized. They could see no immediate requirement for the airborne strength which had been assembled, and were willing to abandon the idea of special airborne divisions. AGF suggested that the airborne divisions then in being be reorganized as light divisions. Parachute units would be removed and the light divisions would be given a variety of special training. Whenever an airborne operation was contemplated, then the light division could be trained, preferably in the theater, for that specific operation. 

Parachute units would be organized into separate battalions, after the fashion of the armored infantry battalions, and would then be grouped as necessary for training and tactical employment. [N2-21-33] At the same time, writing from North Africa, General Eisenhower also suggested a reorganization: I do not believe in the airborne division. I believe that airborne troops should be reorganized in self-contained units, comprising infantry, artillery, and special services, all of about the strength of a regimental combat team. Even if one had all the air transport he could possibly use the fact is at any given time and in any given spot only a reasonable number of air transports can be operated because of technical difficulties. 

[N2-21-32 As suggested by General Swing in a letter to General Wards May 1950.] 

To employ at any time and place a whole division would require a dropping over such an extended area that I seriously doubt that a division commander could regain control and operate the scattered forces as one unit. In any event, if these troops were organized in smaller, self-contained units, a senior commander, with a small staff and radio communications, could always be dropped in the area to insure necessary coordination. [N2-21-34] 

Opposing this trend was General Swing, who had served as an airborne adviser in Allied Forces Headquarters and who was now at the Airborne Command in the United States. He protested that these views were based upon a campaign marked by certain adverse conditions which were remediable. He pointed to the Markham valley operation in New Guinea (September 1943) as an example of what could be done with proper training and planning. 

His conclusion was that airborne divisions were sound and that the successful employment of those divisions required careful and exact planning and co-ordination with the Major ground effort. In this connection, General Swing recommended, as he bad done earlier, that an airborne staff section be established in each theater to assist the theater commander in taking full advantage of the capabilities of airborne units. [N2-21-35] 

[N2-21-33 Memo, CG AGF for CofS U.S. Army, 22 Sep 43, sub: Rpt of Board on AB Opns, file 353/17 (AB)]

[N2-21-34 Ltr, Eisenhower to Marshall, 20 Sep 43, Misc Exec File, bk. 12, case 80; extracts in CPS 91/1, 19 Oct 43, ABC 322 (23 Sep 43)]

 In a later study of the subject, the American and British Combined Staff Planners saw nothing in combat experience, either British or American, which indicated that the division was not the proper organization for airborne troops. Taking cognizance of the expressed views of Eisenhower, Swing, and others, the planners recommended that no changes be made in that structure until further experience indicated’ the need for a change.

 This recommendation was accepted by both Americans and British. It had been a near thing for the airborne effort. For with the loss of the division structure and a reversion to battalion size units only, the airborne units would have been no more effective than if they had retained the same mission originally contemplated for them in the days before the war-the seizure of an airhead for the benefit of air-transported infantry units.

Patton

The campaign had done more from an American viewpoint than deal tbe enemy a serious blow and prove the abilities of the American soldier. The campaign also had produced an American field commander, who, on the one hand, by his severe, élan, and professional ability, had captured the fancy of his troops and the American public, and on the other hand, because of some of his actions, had incurred severe, even hostile, criticism from his superiors, his troops, and the public. This commander was General Patton. 

[N2-21-35 Ltr, Swing to CG AGF, 4 Oct 43, sub: Overseas Rpts on AB Opns, AGF AB Mise 1942-1945/15, ATTNG, Air 2nd AB Brigade. 36 App. A, CPS 91/1, 19 Oct 43, ABC 322 (23 Sep 43).] 

Having first emerged as a colorful, capable leader in North Africa, Patton in the Sicilian Campaign had developed as the American answer to Montgomery. Part of Patton’s distinction was sheer histrionics-the characteristic riding breeches and the pearl-handled pistols that set him apart, gave him a trademark. Of a piece with this was the fervor with which he pursued a relatively empty but nonetheless spectacular objective like Palermo. But, as even his severest critics would admit, Patton had done a masterful job. 

He had created a battle-worthy field army and shaped it in his own image-tenacious, bold, aggressive, resourceful, an army imbued with Patton’s own passion for beating the British to Messina. Yet in the process, under the pressure of the same consuming drive which brought achievement, Patton had proven himself cold, uncompromising, and even cruel in dealing with any subordinate who seemed to be remiss or who might hinder him in attaining his goals. 

If the subordinate was a division commander, like General Allen, who felt the lash of Patton’s tongue on the beaches near Gela, or like General Truscott, who questioned what he considered too much haste in the end run at Brolo and drew for his protests stinging rebuke, there would be no widespread repercussions. But when these hard, personal methods, exaggerated by moments of rage, reached down to private soldiers in a war-swollen army, closely, even jealously watched by the people at home, the situation could be different.

Patton and the “slapping incidents”

Two incidents involving hospitalized privates came close to damaging the morale of the Seventh Army and even closer to knocking Patton from the military pedestal to which the Sicilian Campaign had elevated him. These two incidents did not affect the actual conduct or outcome of the campaign, but, like the debacle of the airborne reinforcement, their scandalous nature and the attendant publicity have made them an integral part of the story of the campaign, sometimes to the point of eclipsing the achievements of the Seventh Army in Sicily and of Patton himself. These were the two so-called “slapping incidents” involving General Patton and two soldiers whom he suspected of malingering. [N2-21-37] 

The first of the incidents took place on 3 August in the receiving tent of the 15th Evacuation Hospital (Lieutenant Colonel Charles N. Wasten), then in the 1st Division’s area near Nicosia, during one of Patton’s periodic visits to medical installations supporting Seventh Army. Patton, in company with General Lucas, entered the receiving tent escorted by Colonel Wasten and other medical officers assigned to the hospital, spoke to various patients, and especially commended the wounded men. 

Then he came upon a private from Company L, 26th Infantry, who had just recently arrived in the hospital area with a preliminary diagnosis made at the clearing station of “psychoneuroses anxiety state moderate severe.” [N2-21-38] Approaching, Patton asked the soldier what the matter was. The man replied: “I guess I can’t take it.” Patton immediately flew into a rage, cursed him, slapped the private soldier across the face with his gloves, and finally grabbed him and threw him out of the tent. [N2-21-39] In General Lucas’s words: “we stopped at an Evacuation Hospital before reaching Nicosia to visit the wounded boys and try to cheer them up. Brave, hurt, bewildered boys. All but one, that is, because he said he was nervous and couldn’t take it. Anyone who knows him can realize what that would do to George. The weak sister was really nervous when he got through.” [N2-21-40] 

[N2-21-37 Information on the slapping incidents has been drawn from the official reports of the incidents, actions taken by General Eisenhower, and Patton’s actions found in Diary Office CinC, Book IX, pp. A-9 I 5-A-922; papers and telegrams in reference to the incidents in Smith Papers, box 5; Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe, pp.’79-8,3; Bradley, A Soldier’s Story, pp. 160-62; Butcher, My Three Years With Eisenhower, pp. 393, 403, 450 ; Semmes, Portrait of Patton, pp. 165-66, 168-72; Lucas Diary, pp. “I, “3-15, 141-43.] 

Patton concluded the inspection of the hospital’s facilities, toured the front lines, and returned to his headquarters where he had the following memorandum prepared and distributed to his senior commanders: It has come to my attention that a very small number of soldiers are going to the hospital on the pretext that they are nervously incapable of combat. Such men are cowards, and bring discredit on the Army and disgrace to their comrades who [sic] they heartlessly leave to endure the danger of a battle which they themselves use the hospital as a means of escaping. You will take measures to see that such cases are not sent to the hospital, but are dealt with in their units.  

[N2-21-38 Rpt, Lt Col Perrin H. Long to Surgeon, NATOUSA, 16 Aug 43, sub: Mistreatment of Patients in Receiving Tents of the 15th and 93rd Evacuation Hospitals, Diary Office CinC, Book IX, pp. A-915-A-916.]

[N2-21-39 Long Rpt, 16 Aug 43, Diary Office CinC, Book IX, pp. A’915-A-916; Semmes, Portrait of Patton, pp. 165-66; Cf. Lucas Diary, pp. 114-15]

[N2-21-40 Lucas Diary, p.111. After the war, General Lucas wrote that he could see nothing serious about the incident at the time. ”There are always a certain number of such weaklings in any Army,” he noted in his diary, “and I suppose the modern doctor is correct in classifying them as ill and treating them as such. However, the man with malaria doesn’t pass his condition on to his comrades as rapidly as does the man with cold feet nor does malaria have the lethal effect that the latter has.” Lucas Diary, pp. 113-14.]

Those who are not willing to fight will be tried by Court-Martial for cowardice in the face of the enemy. [N2-21-41] Apparently, this particular incident caused no serious repercussions on the island or at Allied Force Headquarters in North Africa. Nor did General Lucas mention the incident to General Eisenhower on his return to North Africa on 6 August. Patton, himself, was not overly concerned with the incident, and in his diary noted: “I gave him the devil, slapped his face with my gloves and kicked him out of the hospital. . . . One sometimes slaps a baby to bring it to.” [N2-21-42] 

The soldier, in the meantime, had been picked up by a hospital corpsman after being thrown out of the receiving tent and had been taken to a ward tent where he was found to be running a high fever and where he gave a history of chronic diarrhea. Two days later, the final diagnosis in his case was made: chronic dysentery and malaria, and on 9 August the man was evacuated to North Africa. [N2-21-43] 

Just the day after the ailing soldier was sent off the island, General Patton dropped in unexpectedly at the 93rd Evacuation Hospital (Colonel D. E. Currier) where he was met by Major Charles B. Etter, the hospital’s receiving officer, and taken to the receiving tent, where fifteen patients had just arrived from the front. 

[N2-21-41 Seventh Army Memo to Corps, Div, andSeparate Brigade CO’s, 5 Aug 43, 107-10.2,NARS.]

[N2-21-42 Semmes, Portrait of Patton, pp. 165-66.]

[N2-21-43 Long Rpt, 16 Aug 43, Diary Office CinC,Book IX, pp. A-9 15-A-9 16; AFHQ Out MsgW-629 I to AGWAR, 27 Nov 43, Smith Papers,box 5.] 

Patton started down the line of cots, asking each man where he had been hurt and how, and commending each. The fourth man Patton reached was a soldier from Battery C, 17th Field Artillery Regiment, who had been previously diagnosed at a clearing station as suffering from a severe case of shell shock. He was huddled on his bunk and shivering. Patton stopped in front of the bed and, as was his way, asked the soldier what the’ trouble was. The man replied, “It’s my nerves,” and began to sob. Patton, instantly furious, roared, “What did you say?” The man again replied, “It’s my nerves,” and continued, “I can hear the shells come over, but I can’t hear them burst.” 

Patton turned impatiently to Major Etter and asked, “What’s this man talking about? What’s wrong with him, if anything?” Etter reached for the soldier’s chart but before the doctor could answer Patton’s questions, Patton began to rave and rant: “Your nerves, Hell, you are just a goddamned coward, you yellow son of a bitch.” At this point, Colonel Currier and two other medical officers entered the receiving tent in time to hear Patton yell at the man, “You’re a disgrace to the Army and you’re going right back to the front to fight, although that’s too good for you. You ought to be lined up against a wall and shot. In fact, I ought to shoot you myself right now, goddam you! ” With this, Patton reached for his pistol, pulled it from its holster, and waved it in the soldier’s face. Then, as the man sat quivering on his cot, Patton struck him sharply across the face with his free hand and continued to shout imprecations. 

Spotting Colonel Currier, Patton shouted, “I want you to get that man out of here right away. I won’t have these other brave boys seeing such a bastard babied.” Re-holstering his pistol, Patton started to leave the tent, but turned suddenly and saw that the soldier was openly crying. Rushing back to him, Patton again hit the man, this time with such force that the helmet liner he had been wearing was knocked off and rolled outside the tent. 

This was enough for Colonel Currier, who placed himself between Patton and the soldier. Patton turned and strode out of the tent. As he left the hospital, Patton said to Colonel Currier, “I meant what I said about getting that coward out of here. I won’t have those cowardly bastards hanging around our hospitals. We’ll probably have to shoot them sometime anyway, or we’ll raise a breed of morons.” [N2-21-44] 

General Patton left the hospital area, still fuming “about the cowardice of people who claimed they were suffering from psychoneuroses” and exclaiming that “they should not be allowed in the same hospital with the brave wounded men,” and went forward to General Bradley’s headquarters where he casually mentioned what had just happened. [N2-21-45] So casual was Patton about the incident that General Bradley tended to disregard the whole matter. [N2-21-46] For the soldier, the preliminary diagnosis made of his case was later fully confirmed by the 93rd Evacuation Hospital’s psychiatrist. [N2-21-47] 

[N2-21-44 The accoun t of this episode has been reconstructedfrom Long Report, 16 Aug 43, DiaryOffice CinC, Book IX, pp. A-gIS-A-gI6; Reportby Demaree Bess (Associate Editor, SaturdayEvening Post) submitted to General Eisenhoweron I 9 Aug 43; Eisenhower, Crusade inEurope, p. 180; Bradley, A Soldier’s Story, pp.160-61.]

[N2-21-45 Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe, p. 180.]

[N2-21-46 Bradley, A Soldier’s Story, p. 160.] 

Two days later, on 12 August, Bradley had cause to remember Patton’s casual mention of the incident. Colonel Currier had submitted a report through the II Corps surgeon on the incident at his hospital, and General William B. Kean, Bradley’s chief of staff, rushed it into the II Corps commander’s trailer. No one else at II Corps headquarters had seen the communication, which was a full report of the occurrence. Bradley instructed Kean to lock the report in a safe and to do nothing more about the matter. [N2-2148] Other than going directly to Eisenhower with the report, which would mean jumping channels, there was little else General Bradley could do. He was still under Patton’s command, and forwarding the report to Seventh Army headquarters probably would have accomplished nothing. This was General Eisenhower’s problem and General Bradley apparently did not want to be a party to accusing the Seventh Army commander of any wrongdoing. By this time, however, the incident was common knowledge all over the island. 

An account of it had been carried back orally to Allied Force Headquarters press camp by three reputable newsmen who had been covering the fighting on Sicily. One of the correspondents stated that there were at least 50,000 American soldiers on Sicily who would shoot Patton if they had the chance; a second felt the Seventh Army commander had gone temporarily insane. Just a few days later, another correspondent brought in a detailed written report of what had happened at Colonel Currier’s hospital. Thus far, none of the correspondents had filed a story on either of the slapping episodes. They realized the seriousness of the incidents, and the impact such a story would have on the public in the United States; they were willing to hush the story at their end for the sake of the American effort.  

[N2-21-47 Bess Rpt, Diary Office CinC, Book IX, pp.A-9 I 7-A-9 I 9.]

[N2-21-48 Bradley, A Soldier’s Story, p. 160.] 

General Eisenhower had already acted in the matter. On 16 August the Supreme Allied Commander had in his hands a detailed report of the two incidents prepared by NATOUSA’s surgeon’s office. General Eisenhower was shocked by the report, but determined to give Patton a chance to explain. On the following day, 17 August, Eisenhower wrote a personal letter to his senior American subordinate, a letter which offered Patton a chance to deny the allegations made against him, but which also included a strong rebuke if all, or any part of, the allegations proved correct. 

Though General Eisenhower planned no formal investigation, in the letter to Patton, delivered personally by a general officer, he indicated his feelings. “I am well aware of the necessity for hardness and toughness on the battlefield,” Eisenhower wrote. “I clearly understand that firm and drastic measures are at times necessary in order to secure desired objectives. But this does not excuse brutality, abuse of the sick, nor exhibition of uncontrollable temper in front of subordinates.” 

While Eisenhower felt that Patton’s “personal services” as commander of Seventh Army had been of immense value to the Allied cause during the Sicilian fighting, he stated bluntly that “if there is a very considerable element of truth in the allegations accompanying this letter, I must so seriously question your good judgment and your self-discipline as to raise serious doubts in my mind as to your future usefulness.” The Allied commander then stated that if any of the allegations were true, Patton was to make amends, “apology or otherwise,” to the individuals concerned, and stated baldly that “conduct such as described in the accompanying report will not be tolerated in this theater no matter who the offender may be.” At the same time, General Eisenhower ordered General Lucas to Sicily to talk to Patton, and sent the theater inspector general to the island to see what effect Patton’s conduct had had on Seventh Army. 

[N2-21-49 AFHQ Out Msg W-629 I to AGWAR, 27 Nov 43, Smith Papers, box 5; AFHQ Out MsgW-6017 to AGWAR, 24 Nov 43, same file;Butcher, My Three Years With Eisenhower, pp.393, 40 3.] 

Lucas arrived in Palermo on 21 August and spoke in a “kindly but very firm” tone to the Seventh Army commander. By this time, Patton had received Eisenhower’s letter, and Lucas found him “chastened” and agreeable to “everything I suggested including never doing such things again.” Lucas knew of General Eisenhower’s strong feelings about Patton’s actions and realized Patton was in serious danger of being relieved. As far as the inspector general was concerned, he felt that no great harm had been done to Seventh Army by Patton’s conduct. 

Patton, apparently not fully realizing the seriousness of his actions at the evacuation hospitals-“evidently I acted precipitately and on insufficient knowledge” -felt that “my motive was correct because one cannot permit skulking to exist.” He regretted what had happened more because of making “Ike mad when it is my earnest desire to please him.” But he set about making amends before answering General Eisenhower’s letter. He talked to the two soldiers, explained his motives, and apologized for his actions. “In each case I stated I should like to shake hands with them, and in each case they accepted my offer.” Then, acting on General Lucas’ suggestions, Patton talked to the medical personnel who were present when the incidents occurred and expressed his regrets for “my impulsive actions.” And, finally, he addressed all Seventh Army divisions and expressed his regret “for any occasions when I may have harshly criticized individuals.”

On 29 August, Patton sent his reply to General Eisenhower, assuring the senior American commander in the theater that he had had no intention of “being either harsh or cruel in my treatment of the two soldiers in question. My sole purpose was to try and restore in them a just appreciation of their obligation as men and as soldiers.” Continuing, Patton recalled a World War I incident when a close friend lost his nerve “in an exactly analogous manner.” After suffering years of mental anguish, Patton wrote, his friend had committed suicide. “Both my friend and the medical men with whom I discussed his case assured me that had he been roundly checked at the time of his first misbehavior, he would have been restored to a normal state.” It was recalling this incident, Patton stated, that caused him to “inaptly” try “the remedies suggested,” and, “after each incident I stated to officers with me that I felt I had probably saved an immortal soul.

 Patton’s admission of the allegations contained in the 16 August report placed General Eisenhower in a most difficult position: were the incidents sufficiently damaging to Patton and to his standing in Seventh Army to relieve him? Eisenhower could rationalize the incidents, although he admitted that Patton’s behavior was undeniably brutal. He knew that Patton was impulsive and was, when the incidents occurred, in a “highly emotional state.” Eisenhower wanted Patton “saved for service in the great battles still facing us in Europe.” He did not want to get rid of the general “who had commanded an army in one of our country’s most successful operations and who is the best ground gainer developed so far by the Allies.” Weighing one set of facts against the other, General Eisenhower concluded that Patton was too valuable a man to lose, and he determined to keep him in command of Seventh Army.

He then called in the group of reporters who had brought the story over from Sicily, explained what actions had been taken, and his reasons for keeping Patton in command of Seventh Army. The correspondents were satisfied and voluntarily declined to file stories back to the States. As far as AFHQ was concerned, the matter was closed. 

Although much was later said about the Patton incidents when a reporter, fresh from the United States, got wind of the story and released it over the radio in November 1943, Eisenhower did not waver in his decision to back General Patton. Writing then, Eisenhower said simply, “I still feel my decision sound,” and refused to rescind it. But the incidents did convince General Eisenhower that the horizon of Patton’s command role was limited. In a later message to General Marshall, Eisenhower stated emphatically: “In no event will I ever advance Patton beyond Army command

SOURCE: Sicily and the Surrender of Italy: BY; Lieutenant Colonel Albert Nutter Garland & Howard McGaw Smyth (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: Italy (3-23) Surrender Preliminaries

World War Two: Sicily (2-21) End of the Campaign: The Race to Messina

World War Two: Sicily (2-21) End of the Campaign: The Race to Messina

Wasting little time in congratulations, General Truscott urged his men on after General Fries’ back-pedaling German division. Tired from their exertions at the Naso ridge, the men of the 3rd Division wearily resumed their eastward trek. The preceding five-day battle had been slow, costly, and difficult. The 7th Infantry reported losses of fifteen officers and four hundred men killed, wounded, and missing, a figure approximated by each of the other infantry regiments. 

South of the mountains, General Bradley, the II Corps commander, brought the 1st Division back into line. Eddy’s gth Division drew the secondary road leading from Floresta northeastward through Montalbano to Furnari. Huebner’s 1st Division was to pass through the British 78th Division east of Randazzo, then turn north to Bivio Salica. If they were able to move fast enough, Bradley believed, the divisions just might catch the German division up north and squeeze it against the 3rd Division. 

During the evening of 12 August, German units all across the front withdrew to Hube’s previously designated first phase line. This line was to be held at least until nightfall on 13 August, whereupon the units were to withdraw again to the east, nearer Messina. Thus, on the north coast, by the morning of 13 August, the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division as it pulled back some fifteen miles lost contact with the 3rd Division. Before moving into the new line east of Falcone (twenty-eight miles east of Cape Orlando)-a line which extended south almost to Novara di Sicilia-German engineers effectively blocked the coastal highway by partially demolishing the highway tunnel at Cape Calava and, just to the east, by blowing a 150-foot section of the road, bracketed 300 feet high on a cliff, into the sea. It was a masterful demolition job; overcoming it was to become a landmark of American engineer support in Sicily. 

Yet even this stratagem would not save the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division, General Patton felt, if a new plan reached fruition. On the same day (12 August) that Truscott executed the link-up with Bernard’s amphibious force near Brolo, Patton had set his staff to preparing still another dash around the Germans’ right flank. With the Navy’s promise to supply more landing craft, and with General Alexander’s permission to use the 2nd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry, Patton planned a full-scale operation well behind the German defenders. Late on 12 August, Patton’s staff came forth with the plan, calling for a landing any time between 14 and 18 August in the Bivio Salica-Barcellona area. The Seventh Army would retain control of the participating units until such time as those units actually landed. [N2-21-2] 

This attempt to cut off the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division, and possibly other German units, was to be much more ambitious than either of the earlier amphibious efforts. Patton hoped to cut Highway 113 as well as the secondary road along which the 1st Division would be advancing. The battalion of paratroopers was to drop at 2000, D minus 1, near Barcellona to prevent German forces from moving to the west to relieve the encircled German units, and to seize and hold the highway bridge just west of Barcellona until the seaborne force landed. Colonel Ankcorn’s 157th RCT (from the 45th Division), reinforced by a company of medium tanks and a company of 4.2-inch mortars, was to land near Bivio Salica, join with the paratroopers, then attack westward to link up with the 3rd Division. 

[N2-21-2 Seventh Army Directive, 12 Aug 43, in Seventh Army Rpt of Opns, p. D-1S; see also, Seventh Army G-3 Jnl, entries 3, 20, 28, and 39, 12 Aug 43.] 

As the Seventh Army staff completed the details for the new end run, the three American divisions then on line kicked off to clear the Messina peninsula. On the north coast, the 15th and 30th Infantry Regiments crossed the Brolo River, the 30th toward Cape Calava, the 15th cross-country toward Patti. Neither advance was seriously contested. 

The 15th Infantry had a more difficult task, for its route led through the mountainous interior over difficult terrain. Yet, the 15th reached Patti long before the 30th, entering the town at 1530. Along the highway, the 30th Infantry had come to an abrupt halt upon reaching the partially demolished tunnel and blown out road section at Cape Calava. Pausing just long enough to start his foot troops inland around the obstacle and across the neck of the cape, Colonel Rogers loaded two Dukws (which had been in a follow-up motor column for just such a purpose as this) with water, signal equipment, and a few communications personnel and chugged around the cape, rejoining the foot elements east of that point. The 10th Engineer Battalion moved up to restore the highway for vehicular traffic. By hanging “a bridge in the sky” the engineers were able to permit a jeep-carrying General Truscott-to cross the wooden structure eighteen hours after starting work. Six hours later, after a bit of shoring here and there, heavier vehicles began to cross. [N2-21-3]

 By 0300 the following morning, 14 August, the 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry, after a night’s march, entered Oliveri. The 29th Panzer Grenadier Division had again pulled back to the east. It was now on General Hube’s second phase line, with the northern hinge resting on the coast town of Furnari. The 15th Panzer Grenadier Division was well on its way toward completing its transfer to the Italian mainland. Parts of the other German divisions were also moving toward the embarkation points. In fact, by nightfall on 14 August, only one reinforced infantry battalion held the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division’s front. This battalion was to hold the second phase line until dark on 15 August.

[N2-21-3 Ernie Pyle, Brave Men (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1944 ), pages 65-73, gives a vivid account of the construction of this bridge. See also Truscott, Command Missions, pp. 241-42. As General Truscott points out in his comments on this MS, it was just as well the Germans did not destroy the tunnel a t the same time they were blowing the section of road. “The race to Messina would have ended right there,” says Truscott.]

 At Messina, the German ferrying service had swung into full operation with the arrival of the first troops from the front on the night of 11 August. During this first night, Captain von Liebenstein’s craft ran at full capacity until 2045, when the pace slowed and then stopped, partly because British Wellingtons bombed the strait, partly because troops were slow in reaching the ferrying sites. Despite renewed attacks by Allied bombers, the evacuation resumed during the early morning of 12 August after additional troops from the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division arrived. On the second night of Hube’s evacuation efforts, the night of 12 August, telephone communications between Messina and the mainland failed, and some confusion resulted in getting the naval craft and the ground troops together on the Messina side. Ferrying craft stood by at one of the landing places for three hours, only to leave shortly before the troops finally arrived.

 Ferrying did not get under way again until 0200, 13 August. Strong Allied air attacks, persisting until 0500, made it impossible to use the ferries at the narrow part of the strait. But, then, contrary to the original plan of crossing troops only at night, Liebenstein ordered the ferrying continued throughout the 13th. By evening of 13 August, a total of 15,000 men, 1,300 vehicles, 21 tanks, and 22 assault guns had completed the crossing.

 While Liebenstein’s fleet of small craft lifted German troops and materiel across the strait, the Italian ferrying service operated as best it could with its somewhat limited equipment. The train ferry caught fire on 12 August and was out of commission for forty-eight hours. Motor raft’s saved the situation and transported 20,000 men at the rate of 1,000 a trip. In an attempt to relieve the situation, the Italians loaded one of the other inoperable train ferries with heavy artillery, planning to tow it across to the mainland. But after all that work, the Italians could not find a towboat. Eventually, they scuttled the craft to keep the artillery piece, from falling into Allied hands.

 The Italians now accepted Hube’s previous offer to transport their remaining heavy equipment in German craft. But at the same time, to keep the equipment from falling to the Allies, Hube issued additional instructions to all German units to take charge of any Italian materiel that could not be moved by the Italians.

 Thus, many pieces of Italian equipment were saved but, at the same time, lost to the Italians, for on the mainland the Germans simply appropriated them for their own divisions. In fact, after completing its evacuation on the evening of 14 August, the I 5th Panzer Grenadier Division found that it had more and better wheeled equipment than at the beginning of the campaign, for the simple reason that the troops had acquired Italian motor vehicles of all kinds before leaving Sicily. Instances were also reported of German commanders who retained Italian personnel, put the men into German uniforms, and refused to let them return to their own units.

 Despite these difficulties, the evacuation of Italian personnel from Sicily was virtually completed by 16 August. Generale di Brigata Ettore Monacci, commander of Italian army troops at the Naval Base Messina, was the last to leave Messina after setting mines to blow up the port’s installations. All told, the Italians evacuated between 70,000 and 75,000 men; from 227 to 500 vehicles; between 75 and 100 artillery pieces; and 12 mules.

The German ferrying service continued operations on the evening of 13 August -the third night-even though British Wellington bombers were again out in force. While these bombing attacks time and again forced cessation of the ferrying service across the neck of the strait, at the wider parts the service proceeded pretty much according to schedule. Concluding that these continued heavy bombing attacks made it almost impossible to conduct any sort of satisfactory ferry service in the narrow part of the strait at night, Liebenstein ordered daylight ferrying service only in this zone, though round-the-clock transfers would continue in the wider parts of the strait. Until the end of the operation, most of the remaining German troops on Sicily were ferried to the Italian mainland during daylight hours. Though the frequent Allied air attacks caused some damage to the embarkation points, the damage was light and quickly repaired, particularly because no heavy bombers appeared over the strait during the day. And thanks to Baade’s massed guns, Allied NAT AF flyers operating during daylight hours encountered great difficulty in aiming accurately enough to cause any serious damage to either ships or landing points.

 [N2-21-9 MS #R-145 (Bauer), pp. 46-47. Craven and Cate (Europe: TORCH to POINTBLANK, page 473) list Allied air force claims as follows: 23 ferrying craft destroyed; direct hits on 43 more; near misses on 204. On the other hand, the Axis forces listed their losses as follows: 8 Italian and 7 German craft sunk (only 1 of which was lost in action); 5 Italian and I German craft damaged. See also, Roskill, The War at Sea, vol. III, pt. I, p. 150; Monson, Sicily-Salerno-Anzio,p. 215.] 

Though quite unknown to the Axis, both German and Italian ferrying services were being aided, inadvertently to be sure, by the actions of certain commanders in the Allied hierarchy of command. Almost since the beginning of the Sicilian operation, General Montgomery had had ample opportunities to launch amphibious end runs around the German defenses in the Catania plain area. Rather than make use of “the priceless asset of sea power, and flexibility of maneuver,” Montgomery chose instead to slug his way forward up the difficult east coast road, first with one division, then with two, and then again with one. Montgomery steadfastly refused to launch any amphibious end runs. 

Furthermore, there was the failure on the part of the Allied air commanders to assess correctly Hube’s evacuation plan: they believed almost to the end that the Axis forces would cross the strait only during the hours of darkness, and that NATAF alone could handle any daylight evacuation attempts. Almost one-half of the available Allied air power-the 869 aircraft that belonged to N ASAF –was used in only a limited way to stop the evacuation.

 True, British Wellington bombers, flying an average of eighty-five sorties each night against Messina, did force Liebenstein to shift from night crossings to day crossings. But except for three daylight U.S. B-17 attacks on Messina, up to 8 August there were no other calls on the NASAF heavies to bomb Messina, the evacuation beaches, the embarkation points, and Baade’s gun emplacements, until it was too late. In fact, on 11 August, the NATAF commander had even released the heavy bombers from any commitment in the Messina Strait area. On 13 August, when the Germans shifted to daylight crossings, “the land battle [on Sicily] was going so well” that NASAF scheduled a huge raid on the Littorio airfield and Lorenzo marshaling yards near Rome, committing 106 B-17’s, 102 B-26’s, 66 B-25’S, and 135 P-38’s to this mission.

[N2-21-11 In August 1943, NASAF had 181 U.S. heavy bombers, 130 British and 278 U.S. medium bombers, and 280 fighters and fighter-bombers. NATAF had 112 U.S. medium bombers, 94 British and 43 U.S. light bombers, and 344 British and 377 U.S. fighters and fighter-bombers. See chart in Roskhi, The War at Sea, vol. III, pt.1, p. 148.]

 Despite numerous signs of Axis withdrawal and evacuation, it was not until 14 August that General Alexander felt the German evacuation had really begun. He radioed this belief to Air Chief Marshal Tedder, but NASAF was committed too deeply to striking at mainland targets to be turned loose against Messina. It did release some medium and light bombers, as well as fighters and fighter-bombers, to assist the NATAF in a round-the-clock pounding of Messina, the strait, and the Italian toe. 

The NATAF had undoubtedly tried hard to disrupt Hube’s schedule, but the pilots found it almost impossible to penetrate the antiaircraft defenses. “The immense concentration of flak on both sides of the Narrows makes it impossible to go down and really search for targets thoroughly with fighter bombers,” reported the Desert Air Force (the U. S. XII Air Support Command’s counterpart) . “It also greatly restricts the use of light bombers. The Hun knows very well that if we really put up a lot of bomber formations into his main flak concentration, we should have the whole lot unserviceable in no time.” [N2-21-13] Without the support of the U.S. B-17’s during the daylight hours, and with Admiral Cunningham’s refusal to commit any large warships in the strait area to form a “positive physical barrier,” the NATAF pilots faced an almost impossible task. Thus it was that Hube’s evacuation proceeded fairly close to schedule. By 14 August it was too late to catch any sizable number of enemy ground troops forward of Messina. General Patton, however, continued with his plans for launching another amphibious end run.

 [N2-21-12 Quotation and figures from Craven and Cate, eds., Europe: TORCH to POINTBLANK, p. 474]

 During the evening of 13 August, the Hermann Gӧring Division gave up Taormina (twenty-nine miles from Messina) and fell back to Hube’s second phase line, anchored at the small town of Santa Teresa. Here, twenty miles south of Messina, the German division had orders to hold through the evening of 15 August. Leaving a strong rear guard at Santa Teresa, General Conrath started the rest of his division back to the ferrying sites.

 The British 50th Division followed slowly, impeded by efficient German demolition and mine work. The British 78th Division swung around Mount Etna, cleared Highway 120 between Randazzo and Linguaglossa, five miles from the east coast highway. But contact was not regained with the Hermann Gӧring Division until late on 15 August, by which time even the German rear guards had started to pull back to Hube’s third phase line just short of Messina. 

In the center of the Allied front, both the U.S. 1st and 9th Divisions encountered little trouble in closing out their roles in the Sicilian Campaign. Leaving Floresta early on 14 August, DeRohan’s 60th Infantry pushed northeast along the secondary road leading to the north coast, and that same afternoon his patrols made contact with the 3rd Division at Furnari. On the same day, the 18th Infantry (1st Division) passed through Randazzo, through the British 78th Division, and turned north on the secondary road leading through Novara di Sicilia. This movement soon turned largely on how fast the division’s engineers could remove mine fields and construct bypasses. The 18th Infantry moved slowly along the road-there was no enemy opposition–‘and across the ridges to Novara di Sicilia.

[N2-21-13 Ltr, Desert Air Force to NATAF, 15 Aug 43, in 0407/0/490.] 

Just after noon, General Bradley telephoned General Huebner the information that Truscott’s units had already passed Bivio Salica and had, therefore, pinched out the 1st Division. There was little point in going any farther, although 18th Infantry patrols did link up with the 3rd Division later in the day. 

On the north coast road, the 3rd Division pushed on, nearing the very place where General Patton planned to pull off his combined amphibious-airborne operation-Barcellona. At 0930, 15 August, the 7th Infantry, which leapfrogged the 15th Infantry, punched into Barcellona. Continuing its drive to the east, brushing aside a series of roadblocks defended by a few German machine gunners and mortar men, the regiment pushed all the way to the point where the coastal highway swings inland across the northeastern tip of the island to Messina. At daylight, 16 August, the 7th Infantry was ready to turn for Messina, only twelve miles away.

 At Messina, the German evacuation proceeded unimpeded. Hube, confident that his troops could fend off the advancing Allied armies and determined to get as much equipment as possible off the island, had decided on 14 August to extend the evacuation by one night. In order not to upset the announced timetable, he ordered the additional night inserted between the previously ordered third and fourth nights. Thus, the evening of 14 August became known simply as the additional night, while 15 August was still designated as the fourth night, and 16 August as the fifth. [N2-21-14]

 When both German divisions reported contact regained with the Allied armies on 15 August, Hube completed arrangements to transfer the last elements of the divisions still on Sicily to the Italian mainland during the evening of 16 August. The Hermann Gӧring and 15th Panzer Grenadier Divisions were, after arrival in Calabria, to march to the north. The 1st Parachute Division, the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division, and Colonel Baade’s headquarters were to remain in Calabria attached to the LXXVI Panzer Corps. Even as the 7th Infantry neared the turn in the road leading to Messina on 15 August, General Patton was calling General Bradley to inform the II Corps commander that the 157th RCT was to land on the morning of 16 August, not at Bivio Salica as originally planned but at Spadafora, ten miles farther to the east.

 The airborne battalion was not going to participate, Patton said, since the 3rd Division had already passed Barcellona. General Patton apparently felt that, even if the amphibious landing caught no Germans, it would put additional troops on shore to help speed Truscott’s advance into Messina. The thought of taking Messina, of beating the Eighth Army to this prime objective of the entire campaign, may well have appealed even more strongly to the Seventh Army commander than the spectacular dash across western Sicily.

[N2-21-14 It was probably due to this device that some German commanders later claimed to have completed the evacuation in five nights. Hube’s order of 4 August 43 in Baade Diary, 1800, 15 Aug 43, p. 107.] 

Not pleased with Patton’s idea of using the 15 7th RCT at this late stage of the campaign in what he considered a useless operation, knowing that the 7th Infantry was encountering only light rear guard resistance and could outrun any amphibious force, Bradley protested the operation. Determined to go ahead despite General Bradley’s statement that “we’ll be waiting for your troops when they come ashore,” Patton sent his deputy, General Keyes, to Truscott’s command post to co-ordinate the details. 

Like Bradley, Truscott was astonished when Keyes outlined the Seventh Army plan. The 7th Infantry was even then approaching Spadafora and undoubtedly would be past that town by the time the 157th R CT started landing. Fearing that the amphibious landing taking place in the middle of the 7th Infantry’s column might lead to confusion and possibly some internecine fighting, Truscott bitterly remonstrated with the Seventh Army deputy commander. But, as before the Brolo landing, Keyes was reluctant to cancel the amphibious end run, knowing full well that General Patton counted on the favorable publicity such a spectacular operation would bring to the Seventh Army. 

Finally, after Truscott stated flatly that he would halt the 7th Infantry and withdraw it west of Spadafora in order to prevent any conflict with Colonel Ankcorn’s units, Keyes relented. Though the operation would still take place, it would be staged at Bivio Salico on the originally assigned beaches. Truscott reluctantly agreed, although he preferred to see the landing canceled.[N2-21-17] 

On the same day, 15 August, General Montgomery had finally decided that the Eighth Army, too, would launch an amphibious operation. Early on 16 August, tanks from the British 4th Armored Brigade and a Commando unit were to land at Cape d’ Ali, cut off what Germans they could, and speed the Eighth Army’s advance into Messina. Almost four hundred British troops were to be involved, and they too had a strong desire to beat the Americans into Messina. [N2-21-18] The same evening, the Hermann Gӧring Division rear guards began moving out of Santa Teresa, heading for Hube’s third phase line, anchored at Scaletta, three miles beyond Cape d’ Ali. [N2-21-19] 

Despite the increase in Allied air attacks on 15 and 16 August, the evacuation of German troops and materiel had continued without serious interruption. General Hube and General Fries, commander of the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division, crossed to Calabria at 0530 on the 16th. Before leaving, General Fries deployed his now less than zoo-man rear guard in two widely separated positions: half at Acqualadrone to block the road around the northeastern tip of Sicily; the others at the Casazza crossroads, four miles west of Messina. These two positions protected the ferrying sites. 

[N2-21-17 Truscott, Command Missions, pp. 242-4:1: ONI, Sicilian Campaign, p. 110.]

[N2-21-18 Tregaskis, Invasion Diary, pp. 74, 86; Montgomery, Eighth Army, p. III; Nicholson, The Canadians in Italy, p. 171.]

[N2-21-19: OB SUED, Meldungen, 0250, I7 Aug 43. This, and the ensuing British landing are reported belatedly on 17 August. but dated 15 August. It is confirmed on the German map for 15 August 1943.] 

In the Seventh Army sector, Bradley’s and Truscott’s prediction of the day before held true when, early on the morning of 16 August, the 1st Battalion, 7th Infantry passed through Spadafora. By early afternoon, the 7th was on the highway to Messina. Colonel Ankcorn’s 157th Infantry, meanwhile, had splashed ashore near Bivio Salica just after midnight, 16 August. Except for the loss of eleven men in a landing craft accident, the landing was uneventful. That afternoon, Truscott ordered Ankcorn to send one battalion to follow the 7th Infantry and assist in the capture of Messina; the remainder of Ankcorn’s command was to stay at Bivio Salica. 

By the time the 157th Infantry battalion caught up with the 7th Infantry, the latter unit had already cleared the German rear guards at the Casazza crossroads and controlled the ridge line overlooking Messina. The 30th Infantry had swung past the 7th along the road around the northeastern tip of the island. It was nearing Messina from the north. By this time, too, Truscott had a battery of 155-mm. howitzers (Battery B, 9th Field Artillery Battalion) firing across the strait onto the Italian mainland. Just after dark, after driving off a small patrol from Company I, 7th Infantry, which was probing toward Messina, the last German rear guards along both roads pulled back to the outskirts of Messina on the edge of the last ferrying site that was still operating. 

On the east coast highway, Montgomery’s landing caught the tag end of the Hermann Gӧring Division’s withdrawing rear guard unit, which halted and stopped the British column just north of Scaletta. Not until dark on 16 August, as the Germans again started back for Messina, did the British column move forward, finally passing through Tremestieri, two miles south of Messina, at daylight 17 August. 

Here again the British column halted, this time because of a demolished bridge over a deep ravine. By now it was broad daylight-about 08I5-and the Commando leader, a lieutenant colonel and distant relative of the British Prime Minister, decided to bypass the obstacle in a jeep and start for Messina. He was determined to get to the city before the Americans. [N2-21-20] The British officer might have spared himself a bouncing, jostling ride. The evening before, a reinforced platoon from Company L, 7th Infantry, under the command of 1st Lieutenant Ralph J. Yates, had pushed into the city proper. Early next morning, patrols from the other 7th Infantry battalions plus a platoon from the 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry, entered Messina. Except for occasional rifle fire, they met no resistance.

 The last of the German defenders had crossed to the Italian mainland just about two hours earlier. In Calabria, General Hube reported at 0635, 17 August, “Operation LEHRGANG completed.” The last Axis troops to leave Sicily were eight men of an Italian patrol picked up by a German assault boat about an hour later. [N2-21-21] 

[N2-21-20 For an account of the British operation, see Tregaskis, Invasion Diary, pp. 74-89.] 

On the ridge line overlooking the city, General Truscott received Messina’s civil dignitaries at 0700, and one hour later, Colonel Michele Tomasello, who offered to make the formal military surrender. However, because he had been told by General Keyes to wait for General Patton before entering Messina, Truscott sent General Eagles, his assistant division commander, into the city with Tomasello to prepare for the surrender of the city after Patton arrived, to supervise the activities of the various American units then roving about the port city, and “to see that the British did not capture the city from us after we had taken it.” General Patton came onto the ridge at 1000, asked “What in hell are you all standing around for?,” took his place in a car at the head of a motor cavalcade, and roared down into the city, accompanied all the way by enemy artillery fire from the Italian mainland. 

[N2-21-21 Faldella, Lo sbareo, p. 275; OB SUED, Meldungen, 2000, 17 Aug 43. The Germans evacuated from Sicily 39,569 men, of which number 4,444 were wounded; 9,605 vehicles; 94 guns; 47 tanks; 1,100 tons of ammunition; 970 tons of fuel; and 15,700 tons of miscellaneous equipment and supplies. See Translation of Report on the Evacuation of Sicily (August 1943) by Vice Admiral Friedrich von Ruge (1946), and an. A, in folder X-III, OCMH; Baade Diary. For details of the last two days’ fighting by the 3rd Division, see AAR’s of the units involved, including that of the 157th Infantry Regiment (which claims the honor of having the first American troops in Messina); II Corps Rpt of Opns; 3rd Inf Div G-3 Jnl; II Corps G-3 Jnl.]

At the southern edge of Messina, the British armored column had finally caught up with the Commando officer, who had, by this time, made contact with General Eagles and learned that the Americans had beaten him to the prize. Continuing through the southern outskirts and into the center of Messina, the British column clanked its slow way forward, arriving in a large park just after General Patton had accepted the city’s surrender. The senior British officer walked over to General Patton, shook hands, and said: “It was a jolly good race. I congratulate you.” [N2-21-23] The Sicilian Campaign was over. The Western Allies had reached the southern gateway to the European continent.

Conclusions

The Allied invasion of Sicily and subsequent reduction of the island accomplished the objectives laid down by the Combined Chiefs of Staff at Casablanca in January 1943: to make more secure the Allied lines of communication in the Mediterranean; to divert as much German strength as possible from the Russian front during the critical summer period; and to intensify pressure on Italy. More, the invasion of Sicily on 10 July and the attendant heavy bombing raids on key Italian cities and installations led directly to the overthrow of Mussolini and of the Fascist regime, Italy’s first step toward leaving the war. Allied armies had taken from the Axis Powers the Sicilian bridge to the European mainland, and had placed on one end of that bridge a force which constituted a serious threat to all Axis-held portions of the European continent. All this had been accomplished at a cost of less than 20,000 men-7,402 in the Seventh Army, 11,843 in the British Eighth Army. Measured against Axis losses of 12,000 German dead and captured and 147,000 Italian dead, wounded, and captured, the Allied losses were slight. [N2-21-24]

[N2-21-23 Tregaskis, Invasion Diary, p. 89; Comments of Truscott on MS; Comments of Eagles on MS.]

 From the American point of view, the Seventh Anny-the first United States field anny to fight as a unit in World War II-had done more than well. Landing on exposed beaches, its airborne mission an almost complete failure, initially facing the bulk of the German defenders, hit by strong Axis counterattacks within hours after landing, the men of the Seventh Anny had clawed their way inland. 

Within seventy-two hours after the initial seaborne landings, the army had established a firm and secure beachhead. Stopped by General Alexander from continuing on to Messina, the Seventh Army refused to relinquish all thought of offensive action and punched its way across the western tip of the island and into Palermo. Allowed to turn to the alternately bucking and plunging, it traveled the mountainous roads on and near the north coast to enter Messina just a few hours before the Eighth Army.

[N2-21-24 The Seventh Army had a peak strength on Sicily of 217,000 men; the Eighth Army, a peak strength of 250,000 men. See Morison, Sicily-Salerno-Anzio, p. 223n.] 

There were many noteworthy accomplishments in the thirty-eight days of fighting. Chief among these was the performance of the American fighting man. What he may have lacked in North Africa, if indeed he lacked anything but experience, he more than made up for in Sicily. On this Italian island, the American infantryman was a first-class fighter, in top physical condition, aggressive, always pushing ahead. The tenacious defense by the 1st Division at Gela; the aggressive, hard-moving actions by the 157th and 179th Combat Teams at Comiso, Scoglitti, and Vittoria; the 3rd Division’s capture of Agrigento; the 505th Parachute Infantry at Biazza Ridge; the sweep across western Sicily, where daily thirty- and forty-mile foot marches were common; the fighting at Bloody Ridge and San Fratello; Troina; Randazzo; Brolo; all stand in testimony to this man’s fighting ability.

 Scarcely less notable were the accomplishments of the supporting arms. All of these played key parts in keeping the infantrymen moving forward. From the first day of the campaign, the field artillery battalions, divisional and non-divisional, provided tremendous support, and their actions in Sicily were marked by a high degree of success. Events clearly demonstrated that well-trained artillery units could maintain effective and continuous fire support despite the difficulties imposed by mountainous terrain, scarcity of good position areas, limited and congested roads, and, at times, a rapid rate of advance. Probably the most important lesson learned by the artillerymen was the necessity for vigorous and aggressive employment requiring continued rapid displacements in order to maintain fire support in a fast-moving situation. At no time did the artillery fail to deliver requested fires, although there were times when the infantrymen complained that they were not receiving enough. While the island’s road net did not permit all of the artillery units to stay near the front lines at all times, their fires were massed when real resistance was encountered. As many as nine battalions of artillery were placed on a single important target; four and five battalions frequently were used on a single target. By the end of the campaign, in II Corps alone, over 120,000 rounds of 105-mm. howitzer, 34,000 rounds of 155-mm. howitzer, and 6,000 rounds of 155-mm. gun ammunition had been expended.

 Vital, too, was the information gained on the value and versatility of the artillery observation aircraft. These small aircraft -grasshoppers, puddle-jumpers-proved most effective in carrying out fire missions and, in addition, served in a variety of important secondary roles despite the difficulties posed by scarce and restricted airfields. The rugged, mountainous country and the difficult and limited road net precluded any mass action by the one armored division which participated in the campaign.

 Thus, the Major role of the tanks took the form of rapid pursuit action and, where necessary, of assistance to the infantry in small units. The confined areas and narrow valleys flanked by high mountains provided little space for large-scale armored operations. The main operation of the 2nd Armored Division as a whole was the rapid and successful dash for Palermo which involved a pursuit action from Agrigento to the latter city in only three days.

 The administrative and technical services also provided outstanding support to the infantrymen. Engineer support rendered throughout the Seventh Army’s various zones of action bordered on the spectacular. After operating the assault beaches, Engineer units pushed inland to repair airfields, roads, and bridges, and sometimes to act as infantrymen. Despite extensive road demolitions (the Axis forces on Sicily demolished 130 highway bridges and cratered roads in 40 places), mines, and enemy opposition, the Engineer units managed to maintain the Seventh Army’s limited road net in a most satisfactory manner and contributed largely to the successful ground operations.

Military police of the Seventh Army, too, operating with a limited number of units, contributed to the successful ground operations by relieving the combat units of the staggering total of 122,204 prisoners of war, of whom almost 75,000 were evacuated to North Africa, while another 34,000 were granted island paroles. The almost 9,000 Seventh Army Signal Corps troops rehabilitated 4,916 miles of telephone wire; laid almost 1,800 miles of spiral-four cable; and handled over 8,000 radio messages. The Seventh Army Medical Corps personnel, usually the unsung heroes of any campaign, processed 20,734 hospital admissions of U.S. personnel and established two field and six evacuation hospitals. Of the total admissions, 7,714 were for wounds or injuries; the other 13,320 were for diseases, with malaria and diarrhea accounting for two-thirds of these. Roughly half of the hospital cases were evacuated to North Africa, an equal number each by air and water.

 Outstanding, too, was the close cooperation between the ground forces and the supporting naval units. Even with the mistakes made at some of the assault beaches-notably in the 180th Infantry’s sector-the amphibious phase of the operation was an almost unqualified success.

 Certainly no complaints could be raised by the ground forces about the naval gunfire support so lavishly rendered during the first forty-eight hours.25 Naval gunfire 25 The U.S. cruisers which participated in HUSKY fired a total of 7,537 six-inch rounds rendering close support on the southern beaches, and another 5,651 six-inch rounds on the north coast.

 The twenty-four U.S. destroyers fired a total of support on both the 10th and 11th of July played a key role in throwing back the strong Axis counterattacks near Gela, and in paving the way for a resumption of the inland movement the following day. Throughout the campaign, American naval elements continued to furnish support for the Seventh Army divisions, and not only in the form of naval gunfire support.

 On the north coast in particular, in addition to the three amphibious end runs, the Navy furnished landing craft to ferry troops, supplies, and artillery pieces around badly damaged sections of the coastal highway to facilitate the ground advance. And while some complaint might be registered over the lack of continuous naval gunfire support at Brolo, this would have to be weighed against the performance of the naval gunners at Gela, Niscemi, Biscari, Scoglitti, Agrigento, and San Fratello.

 None of this should be construed to mean that HUSKY was a perfect military campaign, that there were no flaws in the planning and execution of the operation. In analyzing the Sicilian Campaign, one might naturally question why the original plan was ever changed: why the Allied armies were bunched on the southeastern coast instead of landing at widely separated points and then converging on Messina.

 The final plan was based on anticipation of strenuous Italian resistance. The whole approach toward Sicily was cautious and conservative. Emphasis was on ensuring success and on the avoidance of calculated risk or gamble for high stakes at little cost. The plan was also designed to avoid the possibility of enemy ground force superiority at any point. If any sub-task force landing were to fail or miscarry through enemy interference, the adjacent landings would guarantee numerical superiority over the defenders. 

The final HUSKY plan was for a power drive, a frontal assault along a single sector of the coast. At no time during the course of planning of the Sicilian invasion did the Allied commanders aim to achieve an envelopment of the defending forces to launch the initial attacks behind the flanks of the enemy. Even the two-pronged attack envisaged in the initial plan was designed to gain port facilities, not to get between the enemy and Messina. In the final plan, the two Allied armies were to land abreast and to advance together.

 This was to minimize the danger of having the enemy concentrate against one task force at a time. The risks in the plan were strictly in the matter of supply and mainly affected the Seventh Army. Sound, cautious, conservative, the final plan was well designed to achieve the occupation of Sicily, the objective set by the Combined Chiefs. At the same time, Alexander’s idea of first consolidating a firm base on the southeast corner offered little scope for maneuver with the object of destroying the enemy garrison.

 In essence, the plan as finally designed was Montgomery’s. No one except Montgomery was particularly happy with it. The strategic conception inherent in the plan was both disadvantageous to and disparaging of the American force. Although the original two-pronged attack was based solely on logistical considerations, it implied a twofold advance on Messina. Each army, having gained its port, would advance by its own route to Messina, the hinge of Sicily. The defending forces were expected either to concentrate against one attacking force, leaving the route of advance open to the other, or to withdraw quickly to the northeastern corner of the island where the two Allied armies would converge. The final plan changed all this, and embodied an altogether different conception.

There would be but one thrust against Messina-the drive through Catania along the east coast highway by the Eighth Anny. The Seventh Army would protect the flank and rear of Montgomery’s forces. Only reluctantly and under pressure did General Alexander finally consent to release the Seventh Army from a subordinate and purely supporting mission.

 The numerous changes in the HUSKY plan during the February-May period came about as a direct result of the command structure which had been specifically spelled out by the Combined Chiefs of Staff at Casablanca. For the second time-the first had been in North African Allied military operation was to be conducted under the control of a triumvirate of commanders, rather than under the direction of one. General Alexander (Eisenhower’s deputy) was made responsible for the ground operations; Air Chief Marshal Tedder for air operations; Admiral Cunningham for naval activities. 

General Eisenhower was to act as a sort of chairman of the board, to enter into the final decision-making process only when the board members presented him with unsolved problems. If the three board members agreed on policy, there was little that Eisenhower could do to change the policy unless he was willing to dispense with the board members’ services. Eisenhower was raised involuntarily far above the operational level; only indirectly could he influence the course of operations once that course had been agreed on by his committee of three. 

The committee system of command would have been more palatable if the headquarters had not been physically separated-if the committee members had established and maintained a joint headquarters at a single location. But with the invasion of Sicily, Alexander established his headquarters on the island; Tedder’s headquarters remained in North Africa, near Tunis; Cunningham’s naval headquarters was at Malta; and General Eisenhower’s staff remained in Algiers. While the separation had little effect on the conduct of the campaign during the month of July, although it appears logical to assume that a joint headquarters might have prodded General Montgomery into doing more on the east coast in the way of amphibious end runs, one result of maintaining such widely separated headquarters became painfully evident during the last ten days of the operation, when the Axis forces began evacuating the island. A joint plan was not drawn up to prevent an enemy evacuation from the island. Each of the three services operated independently of the others, doing what it thought best to prevent the evacuation. Since the issue was not presented to the chairman of the board (General Eisenhower), the issue remained unsolved, and the Germans and Italians completed one of the most successful evacuations ever executed from a beleaguered shore. 

Furthermore, there was the question of air support: whether or not Allied air plans were meshed sufficiently with ground and naval plans. Simply put, the Allied air forces in the Mediterranean refused to work out detailed plans in co-operation with the army and navy. This was particularly true in the case of the Seventh Army-to a much lesser degree in the Eighth Army, where Montgomery’s relations with the British Desert Air Force were somewhat different from Patton’s relations with the U.S. XII Air Support Command. 

The official air force historians explain the airman’s views: It should be noted that the air plan dealt for the most part with broad policies and that it had not been integrated in detail with the ground and naval plans. This was deliberate, and the result of sound strategical and tactical considerations emphasized by experience in the Tunisian and Western Desert campaigns. There would be no parceling out of air strength to individual landings or sectors. Instead, it would be kept united under an over-all command in order to insure in its employment the greatest possible flexibility. It would be thrown in full force where it was needed, and not kept immobilized where it was not needed. Too, the chief immediate task of the air arm was to neutralize the enemy air force, a fluid target not easily pinpointed in advance. [N2-21-26] 

Primarily concerned with other matters -neutralizing enemy air, strategic targets, armed reconnaissance’s, cover over the beaches-the Allied air commanders devoted little thought and attention to providing close air support to the ground forces during the campaign. During the first critical forty-eight hours, no close air support missions were flown in support of the Seventh Army, and no close support missions were handled by the air support parties with the II Corps and with the assault divisions until 13 July. Even then the cumbersome system of requesting missions, with attendant delays in transmission and in identifying targets, proved almost unmanageable. It resulted in the scrapping of many requested and approved missions, and sometimes worked out in disastrous ways for friendly forces. As regards the execution of the plan, questions might well be raised as to the conduct of the ground phases of the campaign.

[N2-21-26 Craven and Cate, eds., Europe: TORCH to POINTBLANK, p. 445; see also, Slessor, The Central Blue, pp. 417-27.]

 The ground assault started auspiciously on 10 July with the greatest amphibious attack ever undertaken by any armed force. Within seventy-two hours after the initial seaborne landings, the two Allied armies advancing abreast had practically secured their designated objectives. On the east coast, the Eighth Army entered Augusta on the morning of 12 July.

 Thus far, its advance had not been seriously contested. The bulk of the defending forces, particularly the German contingent, was off to the west, one portion counterattacking the Seventh Army near Gela and Biscari, the other part hurriedly moving eastward to block any further American advances inland from Licata. Catania was almost in sight. 

The only force of any consequence opposing Eighth Army’s two assault corps was the German Group Schmalz, and this force was almost certainly not strong enough to stop an aggressive thrust north from Augusta. The Seventh Army, for its part and after the initial Axis counterattacks at Gela, had pushed on strongly, so strongly that its left task force-the reinforced 3rd Division-had run out of objectives and was poised to strike inland at the key communications center of Enna. Highway 124, the important east-west highway, was almost in Seventh Army’s grasp. Several huge gaps had been created in the Axis line, gaps that were being held halfheartedly by remnants of the Livorno and Napoli Divisions. 

It was at this very point on the evening of 12 July, when the Allied armies were in the best position of the entire campaign for finishing off the Axis defenders quickly and pushing on through to Messina, that General Alexander, for some unknown reason, permitted General Montgomery to change the Eighth Army’s plans. Instead of moving along a single Major axis of advance, throwing his army’s entire weight against the German defenders at Catania, Montgomery split his assault corps into a two-pronged effort, one prong continuing along the east coast highway, the other prong swinging to the west across Seventh Army’s front around Mount Etna. At the same time, Alexander changed the Seventh Army axis of advance from the north to the west and again relegated Patton’s force to the passive role of guarding Montgomery’s flank and rear. For all practical purposes, Seventh Army could have stayed on the beaches; its brilliant assault achievements were completely nullified by the new British plan. Why Alexander permitted this to happen has never been satisfactorily explained.

 Seventh Army was moving ahead nicely; it almost had Highway 124; the German and Italian forces in front of it had been practically dissolved or withdrawn. The German forces from the west, not really strong enough to contest an advance all along the line, were still scrambling to the east in a desperate effort to close the tremendous gap in the center of the Axis line. No enemy force of any size opposed either the 1st or 45th Divisions. General Bradley, the II Corps commander, was ready and willing to take Highway 124 and Enna, thus encircling the German defenders facing Eighth Army. In North Africa, the remainder of the 82nd Airborne and 2nd Armored Divisions lay ready to sail for Sicily to reinforce the American effort. But apparently it was Alexander’s distrust of the American fighting man that permitted him to accept Montgomery’s plan of a two-pronged British advance, of dividing Eighth Army in the face of the enemy. Or it may be that General Eisenhower’s opinion of Alexander-“At times it seems that he alters his own plans and ideas merely to meet an objection or a suggestion of a subordinate, so as to avoid direct command methods” -was correct. [N2-21-27] Alexander’s permission given to Montgomery to launch Eighth Army on its ill-fated two-pronged offensive constituted the turning point in the Sicilian Campaign. 

From this date on the course of the campaign could not have proceeded much differently. The Axis forces, suddenly relieved of the tremendous American pressure along most of their front, were now given enough time to prepare strong defensive positions in the mountainous interior, and the rest of the campaign turned into little more-except for Patton’s spectacular dash into Palermo, almost a publicity agent’s stunt-than digging the enemy out of strongpoints and knocking him off mountain tops. It was not until 23 July, when General Alexander finally turned Seventh Army toward Messina, that even these tactics paid off.

 Questions, too, might be raised about the tragic confusion which marked the four Major Allied airborne operations. The scattering of the American paratroopers and British glider-men on the evening of D minus 1, followed by the shooting down of large numbers of friendly aircraft on the evenings of 11 and 13 July 1943, almost brought American airborne efforts in World War II to an end. Much disillusionment set in following the disastrous airborne operations, and many responsible officers became convinced that the basic structure of the airborne division was unsound.

 [N2-21-27 Memo for personal file, II Jun 43, Diary Office CinC, Book VI, pp. A-472-A-474.]

 Sicily was an especially bitter disappointment for men who had put great faith in airborne operations. General Swing, American airborne adviser at AFHQ, attributed the unsatisfactory results to five principal causes: insufficient planning in co-ordinating routes with all forces several weeks earlier; the inability of troop carrier formations to follow the routes, given, partly because of poorly trained pilots, and partly because of the complicated routes; the rigid requirement that naval forces fire at all aircraft at night coming within range, regardless of their efforts to identify themselves; the unfortunate circumstance wherein an enemy bombing raid coincided with the arrival of the airborne force; and the failure of some ground commanders to warn the men manning antiaircraft weapons of the expected arrival of the troop carrier formations.[N2-21-28]

General Browning, British airborne expert and the AFHQ airborne adviser, was sharp in his criticism of the aerial navigation: In spite of the clear weather, suitable moon, the existence of Malta as a check point only 70 miles from Sicily and the latter’s very obvious and easily recognizable coast line, the navigation by the troop carrier aircrews was bad. 

The troops comprising both British and American Airborne Divisions are of a very high quality and their training takes time and is expensive. They are given important tasks which may acutely affect the operations as a whole. It is essential both from the operational and moral point of view that energetic steps be taken to improve greatly on the aircrews’ performance up to date. Intensive training in low flying navigation by night, especially over coast lines, must be organized and carried on continuously. 

[N2-21-28 Memo, Swing, 16 Jul 43, sub: Comments on Night Opns, 82nd AB Div, Night of D plus 1 to D plus 2. Photostat inc! with Ltr, Swing to Ward, 5 May 50.] 

This must form part of the aircrews’ training before thev reach a theater of war and the standard set must be very high. [N2-21-29] General Ridgway, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, stated weeks later that “both the 82nd Airborne Division and the North African Air Force Troop Carrier Command are today at airborne training levels below combat requirements.” He emphasized that airborne and troop carrier units were “unprepared to conduct with reasonable chances of success night operations either glider or parachute, employing forces the size of Regimental Combat Teams.” [N2-21-30] 

A report on the Sicilian airborne operations by the Fifth Army Airborne Training Center was more blunt: The (82nd) Division was in superb physical condition, well qualified in the use of infantry arms, in combined ground operations, and in individual jumping. It was extremely deficient in its air operations. The (52nd) Troop Carrier Wing did not cooperate well. Training was, in general, inadequate. Combat efficiency for night glider operations was practically zero. The combined force of (82nd) Airborne Division and troop carrier units was extremely deficient.

Allied airborne operations did live up to some expectations, but they might have been far more vital in the conquest of Sicily had the airborne troops been dropped, not between the reserves and the beach defenses, but en masse on the central plateau, where they could have assembled with little interference and then struck aggressively at the enemy’s rear. [N2-21-32] In some respects Allied airborne operations in Sicily bear certain similarities to the German airborne invasion of Crete. 

[N2-21-29 Browning Rpt, 24 Jul 43, Incl 6 with AFHQ Proceedings of Board of Officers.]

[N2-21-30 Ltr, Ridgway to OPD, 6 Nov 43, in AFTCC 353 (AB Training), quoted in AAF, 1 Troop Carrier Command, The Operational Training Program, pp. 296-97.]

[N2-21-31 Brief of Rpt of AB Opn, HUSKY, 17 Sep 43, Incl with OPD Memo 319.1 (r5 Aug 43) for CofS U.S. Army, 20 Sep 43; quoted in AGF Study 25, p. 47; also see extracts of Billingslea Rpt, in AB Overseas Rpts, ATTNG, AB Br.] 

In each case the attacker considered the operation a disappointment, while the defender considered the operation a more or less spectacular success. Each operation was something of a turning point in the airborne effort of both sides. For the Germans, Crete was the end of Major airborne operations. For the Allies, Sicily was only the beginning of airborne operations on an even larger scale. 

After Sicily, however, it was not certain that airborne divisions were here to stay. The reaction of the Army Ground Forces in the United States was that the airborne program had been overemphasized. They could see no immediate requirement for the airborne strength which had been assembled, and were willing to abandon the idea of special airborne divisions. AGF suggested that the airborne divisions then in being be reorganized as light divisions. Parachute units would be removed and the light divisions would be given a variety of special training. Whenever an airborne operation was contemplated, then the light division could be trained, preferably in the theater, for that specific operation. 

Parachute units would be organized into separate battalions, after the fashion of the armored infantry battalions, and would then be grouped as necessary for training and tactical employment. [N2-21-33] At the same time, writing from North Africa, General Eisenhower also suggested a reorganization: I do not believe in the airborne division. I believe that airborne troops should be reorganized in self-contained units, comprising infantry, artillery, and special services, all of about the strength of a regimental combat team. Even if one had all the air transport he could possibly use the fact is at any given time and in any given spot only a reasonable number of air transports can be operated because of technical difficulties. 

[N2-21-32 As suggested by General Swing in a letter to General Wards May 1950.] 

To employ at any time and place a whole division would require a dropping over such an extended area that I seriously doubt that a division commander could regain control and operate the scattered forces as one unit. In any event, if these troops were organized in smaller, self-contained units, a senior commander, with a small staff and radio communications, could always be dropped in the area to insure necessary coordination. [N2-21-34] 

Opposing this trend was General Swing, who had served as an airborne adviser in Allied Forces Headquarters and who was now at the Airborne Command in the United States. He protested that these views were based upon a campaign marked by certain adverse conditions which were remediable. He pointed to the Markham valley operation in New Guinea (September 1943) as an example of what could be done with proper training and planning. 

His conclusion was that airborne divisions were sound and that the successful employment of those divisions required careful and exact planning and co-ordination with the Major ground effort. In this connection, General Swing recommended, as he bad done earlier, that an airborne staff section be established in each theater to assist the theater commander in taking full advantage of the capabilities of airborne units. [N2-21-35] 

[N2-21-33 Memo, CG AGF for CofS U.S. Army, 22 Sep 43, sub: Rpt of Board on AB Opns, file 353/17 (AB)]

[N2-21-34 Ltr, Eisenhower to Marshall, 20 Sep 43, Misc Exec File, bk. 12, case 80; extracts in CPS 91/1, 19 Oct 43, ABC 322 (23 Sep 43)]

 In a later study of the subject, the American and British Combined Staff Planners saw nothing in combat experience, either British or American, which indicated that the division was not the proper organization for airborne troops. Taking cognizance of the expressed views of Eisenhower, Swing, and others, the planners recommended that no changes be made in that structure until further experience indicated’ the need for a change.

 This recommendation was accepted by both Americans and British. It had been a near thing for the airborne effort. For with the loss of the division structure and a reversion to battalion size units only, the airborne units would have been no more effective than if they had retained the same mission originally contemplated for them in the days before the war-the seizure of an airhead for the benefit of air-transported infantry units.

Patton

The campaign had done more from an American viewpoint than deal the enemy a serious blow and prove the abilities of the American soldier. The campaign also had produced an American field commander, who, on the one hand, by his severe, élan, and professional ability, had captured the fancy of his troops and the American public, and on the other hand, because of some of his actions, had incurred severe, even hostile, criticism from his superiors, his troops, and the public. This commander was General Patton. 

[N2-21-35 Ltr, Swing to CG AGF, 4 Oct 43, sub: Overseas Rpts on AB Opns, AGF AB Mise 1942-1945/15, ATTNG, Air 2nd AB Brigade. 36 App. A, CPS 91/1, 19 Oct 43, ABC 322 (23 Sep 43).] 

Having first emerged as a colorful, capable leader in North Africa, Patton in the Sicilian Campaign had developed as the American answer to Montgomery. Part of Patton’s distinction was sheer histrionics-the characteristic riding breeches and the pearl-handled pistols that set him apart, gave him a trademark. Of a piece with this was the fervor with which he pursued a relatively empty but nonetheless spectacular objective like Palermo. But, as even his severest critics would admit, Patton had done a masterful job. 

He had created a battle-worthy field army and shaped it in his own image-tenacious, bold, aggressive, resourceful, an army imbued with Patton’s own passion for beating the British to Messina. Yet in the process, under the pressure of the same consuming drive which brought achievement, Patton had proven himself cold, uncompromising, and even cruel in dealing with any subordinate who seemed to be remiss or who might hinder him in attaining his goals. 

If the subordinate was a division commander, like General Allen, who felt the lash of Patton’s tongue on the beaches near Gela, or like General Truscott, who questioned what he considered too much haste in the end run at Brolo and drew for his protests stinging rebuke, there would be no widespread repercussions. But when these hard, personal methods, exaggerated by moments of rage, reached down to private soldiers in a war-swollen army, closely, even jealously watched by the people at home, the situation could be different.

Patton and the “slapping incidents”

Two incidents involving hospitalized privates came close to damaging the morale of the Seventh Army and even closer to knocking Patton from the military pedestal to which the Sicilian Campaign had elevated him. These two incidents did not affect the actual conduct or outcome of the campaign, but, like the debacle of the airborne reinforcement, their scandalous nature and the attendant publicity have made them an integral part of the story of the campaign, sometimes to the point of eclipsing the achievements of the Seventh Army in Sicily and of Patton himself. These were the two so-called “slapping incidents” involving General Patton and two soldiers whom he suspected of malingering. [N2-21-37] 

The first of the incidents took place on 3 August in the receiving tent of the 15th Evacuation Hospital (Lieutenant Colonel Charles N. Wasten), then in the 1st Division’s area near Nicosia, during one of Patton’s periodic visits to medical installations supporting Seventh Army. Patton, in company with General Lucas, entered the receiving tent escorted by Colonel Wasten and other medical officers assigned to the hospital, spoke to various patients, and especially commended the wounded men. 

Then he came upon a private from Company L, 26th Infantry, who had just recently arrived in the hospital area with a preliminary diagnosis made at the clearing station of “psychoneuroses anxiety state moderate severe.” [N2-21-38] Approaching, Patton asked the soldier what the matter was. The man replied: “I guess I can’t take it.” Patton immediately flew into a rage, cursed him, slapped the private soldier across the face with his gloves, and finally grabbed him and threw him out of the tent. [N2-21-39] In General Lucas’s words: “we stopped at an Evacuation Hospital before reaching Nicosia to visit the wounded boys and try to cheer them up. Brave, hurt, bewildered boys. All but one, that is, because he said he was nervous and couldn’t take it. Anyone who knows him can realize what that would do to George. The weak sister was really nervous when he got through.” [N2-21-40] 

[N2-21-37 Information on the slapping incidents has been drawn from the official reports of the incidents, actions taken by General Eisenhower, and Patton’s actions found in Diary Office CinC, Book IX, pp. A-9 I 5-A-922; papers and telegrams in reference to the incidents in Smith Papers, box 5; Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe, pp.’79-8,3; Bradley, A Soldier’s Story, pp. 160-62; Butcher, My Three Years With Eisenhower, pp. 393, 403, 450 ; Semmes, Portrait of Patton, pp. 165-66, 168-72; Lucas Diary, pp. “I, “3-15, 141-43.] 

Patton concluded the inspection of the hospital’s facilities, toured the front lines, and returned to his headquarters where he had the following memorandum prepared and distributed to his senior commanders: It has come to my attention that a very small number of soldiers are going to the hospital on the pretext that they are nervously incapable of combat. Such men are cowards, and bring discredit on the Army and disgrace to their comrades who [sic] they heartlessly leave to endure the danger of a battle which they themselves use the hospital as a means of escaping. You will take measures to see that such cases are not sent to the hospital, but are dealt with in their units.  

[N2-21-38 Rpt, Lt Col Perrin H. Long to Surgeon, NATOUSA, 16 Aug 43, sub: Mistreatment of Patients in Receiving Tents of the 15th and 93rd Evacuation Hospitals, Diary Office CinC, Book IX, pp. A-915-A-916.]

[N2-21-39 Long Rpt, 16 Aug 43, Diary Office CinC, Book IX, pp. A’915-A-916; Semmes, Portrait of Patton, pp. 165-66; Cf. Lucas Diary, pp. 114-15]

[N2-21-40 Lucas Diary, p.111. After the war, General Lucas wrote that he could see nothing serious about the incident at the time. ”There are always a certain number of such weaklings in any Army,” he noted in his diary, “and I suppose the modern doctor is correct in classifying them as ill and treating them as such. However, the man with malaria doesn’t pass his condition on to his comrades as rapidly as does the man with cold feet nor does malaria have the lethal effect that the latter has.” Lucas Diary, pp. 113-14.]

Those who are not willing to fight will be tried by Court-Martial for cowardice in the face of the enemy. [N2-21-41] Apparently, this particular incident caused no serious repercussions on the island or at Allied Force Headquarters in North Africa. Nor did General Lucas mention the incident to General Eisenhower on his return to North Africa on 6 August. Patton, himself, was not overly concerned with the incident, and in his diary noted: “I gave him the devil, slapped his face with my gloves and kicked him out of the hospital. . . . One sometimes slaps a baby to bring it to.” [N2-21-42] 

The soldier, in the meantime, had been picked up by a hospital corpsman after being thrown out of the receiving tent and had been taken to a ward tent where he was found to be running a high fever and where he gave a history of chronic diarrhea. Two days later, the final diagnosis in his case was made: chronic dysentery and malaria, and on 9 August the man was evacuated to North Africa. [N2-21-43] 

Just the day after the ailing soldier was sent off the island, General Patton dropped in unexpectedly at the 93rd Evacuation Hospital (Colonel D. E. Currier) where he was met by Major Charles B. Etter, the hospital’s receiving officer, and taken to the receiving tent, where fifteen patients had just arrived from the front. 

[N2-21-41 Seventh Army Memo to Corps, Div, andSeparate Brigade CO’s, 5 Aug 43, 107-10.2,NARS.]

[N2-21-42 Semmes, Portrait of Patton, pp. 165-66.]

[N2-21-43 Long Rpt, 16 Aug 43, Diary Office CinC,Book IX, pp. A-9 15-A-9 16; AFHQ Out MsgW-629 I to AGWAR, 27 Nov 43, Smith Papers,box 5.] 

Patton started down the line of cots, asking each man where he had been hurt and how, and commending each. The fourth man Patton reached was a soldier from Battery C, 17th Field Artillery Regiment, who had been previously diagnosed at a clearing station as suffering from a severe case of shell shock. He was huddled on his bunk and shivering. Patton stopped in front of the bed and, as was his way, asked the soldier what the’ trouble was. The man replied, “It’s my nerves,” and began to sob. Patton, instantly furious, roared, “What did you say?” The man again replied, “It’s my nerves,” and continued, “I can hear the shells come over, but I can’t hear them burst.” 

Patton turned impatiently to Major Etter and asked, “What’s this man talking about? What’s wrong with him, if anything?” Etter reached for the soldier’s chart but before the doctor could answer Patton’s questions, Patton began to rave and rant: “Your nerves, Hell, you are just a goddamned coward, you yellow son of a bitch.” At this point, Colonel Currier and two other medical officers entered the receiving tent in time to hear Patton yell at the man, “You’re a disgrace to the Army and you’re going right back to the front to fight, although that’s too good for you. You ought to be lined up against a wall and shot. In fact, I ought to shoot you myself right now, goddam you! ” With this, Patton reached for his pistol, pulled it from its holster, and waved it in the soldier’s face. Then, as the man sat quivering on his cot, Patton struck him sharply across the face with his free hand and continued to shout imprecations. 

Spotting Colonel Currier, Patton shouted, “I want you to get that man out of here right away. I won’t have these other brave boys seeing such a bastard babied.” Re-holstering his pistol, Patton started to leave the tent, but turned suddenly and saw that the soldier was openly crying. Rushing back to him, Patton again hit the man, this time with such force that the helmet liner he had been wearing was knocked off and rolled outside the tent. 

This was enough for Colonel Currier, who placed himself between Patton and the soldier. Patton turned and strode out of the tent. As he left the hospital, Patton said to Colonel Currier, “I meant what I said about getting that coward out of here. I won’t have those cowardly bastards hanging around our hospitals. We’ll probably have to shoot them sometime anyway, or we’ll raise a breed of morons.” [N2-21-44] 

General Patton left the hospital area, still fuming “about the cowardice of people who claimed they were suffering from psychoneuroses” and exclaiming that “they should not be allowed in the same hospital with the brave wounded men,” and went forward to General Bradley’s headquarters where he casually mentioned what had just happened. [N2-21-45] So casual was Patton about the incident that General Bradley tended to disregard the whole matter. [N2-21-46] For the soldier, the preliminary diagnosis made of his case was later fully confirmed by the 93rd Evacuation Hospital’s psychiatrist. [N2-21-47] 

[N2-21-44 The account of this episode has been reconstructed from Long Report, 16 Aug 43, Diary Office CinC, Book IX, pp. A-gIS-A-gI6; Report by Demaree Bess (Associate Editor, Saturday Evening Post) submitted to General Eisenhower on 19 Aug 43; Eisenhower, Crusade inEurope, p. 180; Bradley, A Soldier’s Story, pp.160-61.]

[N2-21-45 Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe, p. 180.]

[N2-21-46 Bradley, A Soldier’s Story, p. 160.] 

Two days later, on 12 August, Bradley had cause to remember Patton’s casual mention of the incident. Colonel Currier had submitted a report through the II Corps surgeon on the incident at his hospital, and General William B. Kean, Bradley’s chief of staff, rushed it into the II Corps commander’s trailer. No one else at II Corps headquarters had seen the communication, which was a full report of the occurrence. Bradley instructed Kean to lock the report in a safe and to do nothing more about the matter. [N2-2148] Other than going directly to Eisenhower with the report, which would mean jumping channels, there was little else General Bradley could do. He was still under Patton’s command, and forwarding the report to Seventh Army headquarters probably would have accomplished nothing. This was General Eisenhower’s problem and General Bradley apparently did not want to be a party to accusing the Seventh Army commander of any wrongdoing. By this time, however, the incident was common knowledge all over the island. 

An account of it had been carried back orally to Allied Force Headquarters press camp by three reputable newsmen who had been covering the fighting on Sicily. One of the correspondents stated that there were at least 50,000 American soldiers on Sicily who would shoot Patton if they had the chance; a second felt the Seventh Army commander had gone temporarily insane. Just a few days later, another correspondent brought in a detailed written report of what had happened at Colonel Currier’s hospital. Thus far, none of the correspondents had filed a story on either of the slapping episodes. They realized the seriousness of the incidents, and the impact such a story would have on the public in the United States; they were willing to hush the story at their end for the sake of the American effort.  

[N2-21-47 Bess Rpt, Diary Office CinC, Book IX, pp.A-9 I 7-A-9 I 9.]

[N2-21-48 Bradley, A Soldier’s Story, p. 160.] 

General Eisenhower had already acted in the matter. On 16 August the Supreme Allied Commander had in his hands a detailed report of the two incidents prepared by NATOUSA’s surgeon’s office. General Eisenhower was shocked by the report, but determined to give Patton a chance to explain. On the following day, 17 August, Eisenhower wrote a personal letter to his senior American subordinate, a letter which offered Patton a chance to deny the allegations made against him, but which also included a strong rebuke if all, or any part of, the allegations proved correct. 

Though General Eisenhower planned no formal investigation, in the letter to Patton, delivered personally by a general officer, he indicated his feelings. “I am well aware of the necessity for hardness and toughness on the battlefield,” Eisenhower wrote. “I clearly understand that firm and drastic measures are at times necessary in order to secure desired objectives. But this does not excuse brutality, abuse of the sick, nor exhibition of uncontrollable temper in front of subordinates.” 

While Eisenhower felt that Patton’s “personal services” as commander of Seventh Army had been of immense value to the Allied cause during the Sicilian fighting, he stated bluntly that “if there is a very considerable element of truth in the allegations accompanying this letter, I must so seriously question your good judgment and your self-discipline as to raise serious doubts in my mind as to your future usefulness.” The Allied commander then stated that if any of the allegations were true, Patton was to make amends, “apology or otherwise,” to the individuals concerned, and stated baldly that “conduct such as described in the accompanying report will not be tolerated in this theater no matter who the offender may be.” At the same time, General Eisenhower ordered General Lucas to Sicily to talk to Patton, and sent the theater inspector general to the island to see what effect Patton’s conduct had had on Seventh Army. 

[N2-21-49 AFHQ Out Msg W-629 I to AGWAR, 27 Nov 43, Smith Papers, box 5; AFHQ Out MsgW-6017 to AGWAR, 24 Nov 43, same file;Butcher, My Three Years With Eisenhower, pp.393, 40 3.] 

Lucas arrived in Palermo on 21 August and spoke in a “kindly but very firm” tone to the Seventh Army commander. By this time, Patton had received Eisenhower’s letter, and Lucas found him “chastened” and agreeable to “everything I suggested including never doing such things again.” Lucas knew of General Eisenhower’s strong feelings about Patton’s actions and realized Patton was in serious danger of being relieved. As far as the inspector general was concerned, he felt that no great harm had been done to Seventh Army by Patton’s conduct. 

Patton, apparently not fully realizing the seriousness of his actions at the evacuation hospitals-“evidently I acted precipitately and on insufficient knowledge” -felt that “my motive was correct because one cannot permit skulking to exist.” He regretted what had happened more because of making “Ike mad when it is my earnest desire to please him.” But he set about making amends before answering General Eisenhower’s letter. He talked to the two soldiers, explained his motives, and apologized for his actions. “In each case I stated I should like to shake hands with them, and in each case they accepted my offer.” Then, acting on General Lucas’ suggestions, Patton talked to the medical personnel who were present when the incidents occurred and expressed his regrets for “my impulsive actions.” And, finally, he addressed all Seventh Army divisions and expressed his regret “for any occasions when I may have harshly criticized individuals.”

On 29 August, Patton sent his reply to General Eisenhower, assuring the senior American commander in the theater that he had had no intention of “being either harsh or cruel in my treatment of the two soldiers in question. My sole purpose was to try and restore in them a just appreciation of their obligation as men and as soldiers.” Continuing, Patton recalled a World War I incident when a close friend lost his nerve “in an exactly analogous manner.” After suffering years of mental anguish, Patton wrote, his friend had committed suicide. “Both my friend and the medical men with whom I discussed his case assured me that had he been roundly checked at the time of his first misbehavior, he would have been restored to a normal state.” It was recalling this incident, Patton stated, that caused him to “inaptly” try “the remedies suggested,” and, “after each incident I stated to officers with me that I felt I had probably saved an immortal soul.

 Patton’s admission of the allegations contained in the 16 August report placed General Eisenhower in a most difficult position: were the incidents sufficiently damaging to Patton and to his standing in Seventh Army to relieve him? Eisenhower could rationalize the incidents, although he admitted that Patton’s behavior was undeniably brutal. He knew that Patton was impulsive and was, when the incidents occurred, in a “highly emotional state.” Eisenhower wanted Patton “saved for service in the great battles still facing us in Europe.” He did not want to get rid of the general “who had commanded an army in one of our country’s most successful operations and who is the best ground gainer developed so far by the Allies.” Weighing one set of facts against the other, General Eisenhower concluded that Patton was too valuable a man to lose, and he determined to keep him in command of Seventh Army.

He then called in the group of reporters who had brought the story over from Sicily, explained what actions had been taken, and his reasons for keeping Patton in command of Seventh Army. The correspondents were satisfied and voluntarily declined to file stories back to the States. As far as AFHQ was concerned, the matter was closed. 

Although much was later said about the Patton incidents when a reporter, fresh from the United States, got wind of the story and released it over the radio in November 1943, Eisenhower did not waver in his decision to back General Patton. Writing then, Eisenhower said simply, “I still feel my decision sound,” and refused to rescind it. But the incidents did convince General Eisenhower that the horizon of Patton’s command role was limited. In a later message to General Marshall, Eisenhower stated emphatically: “In no event will I ever advance Patton beyond Army command

SOURCE: Sicily and the Surrender of Italy: BY; Lieutenant Colonel Albert Nutter Garland & Howard McGaw Smyth (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: Sicily (3-22) Messina-Quebec Memorandum – Italian Surrender Overtures

World War Two: Sicily (2-20)Brolo – Naso Ridge – Braia

World War Two: Retaking Guam (4-19) Pursuit to the North – Japanese Withdrawal

When news reached General Takashima of the disastrous defeat suffered by his troops in the counterattack of 25-26 July, he ordered the survivors to withdraw from the Fonte area and to establish a new defensive line farther north. As an intermediate step the troops were to assembly around Ordot, then they were to move north and establish positions along a line between Dededo and Barrigada. While this shift was taking place, a rear-guard force was to be left in the vicinity of Ordot to fight a delaying action until the new defensive line could be established.

Takashima was killed shortly after he issued this order. However, his successor, General Obata, had been kept fully informed of the tactical situation and had no particular trouble taking over. Obata established his headquarters at Ordot on 28 July and remained there for about a day supervising the transfer of troops and equipment to the defensive line. During that time he had under his immediate command in the Ordot area approximately 1,000 Army infantry troops, 800 Navy shore combat troops, and 2,500 others, including the 29th Division Tank Unit, and the 48th Independent Mixed Brigade artillery unit, which had six guns. Just how many other Japanese were scattered through the rest of the island at the time it is impossible to determine.

By the 30th, organized Japanese movement to the north had begun in earnest, and General Obata established his headquarters to the north of the new line at a three-pronged road junction northwest of Mount Barrigada. That same day he reaffirmed his intention to be guided by Takashima’s defensive plan. Along the newly prepared line he deployed his troops in two sectors. A right sector unit was located in the vicinity of Dededo, and a left sector unit was placed on the southwest slopes of Mount Barrigada. In case these new dispositions failed to stop the attackers—and Obata must have been aware of the hopelessness of his situation—a final defense line was to be drawn up just below Ipapao. If this too should succumb, Obata designated Mount Santa Rosa as the site of a last stand. A day later he moved his headquarters again, this time to Mount Mataguac, and on 1 August he set up a hastily organized unit to defend Mount Santa Rosa and its environs. This bobtailed organization, called the Mount Santa Rosa Garrison Force, was composed entirely of naval units, including laborers. The entire force was organized into four and a half companies.

Three of these were placed under command of a Captain Otori and ordered to defend Mount Mataguac, site of Obata’s new command post. The remainder, composed of one company of infantry and two machine gun squads, was assigned to Mount Santa Rosa, where it would construct dummy positions “to fool U.S. troops.” [N4-18-5 ] Obviously, the intention of the Japanese commander on Guam was to make the inevitable American victory as expensive as possible. His compatriots on Saipan had succeeded in doing this by orderly withdrawals to the northward where two separate and fairly well-organized lines were drawn across the breadth of the island.

Obata apparently hoped to accomplish somewhat the same result, but his problem was more difficult and the means at his disposal less promising. Guam was considerably wider than Saipan and there were fewer men left to defend it. The American troops were hot in pursuit and no delays such as had held up the 27th Infantry Division in Death Valley were to give the 31st Army commander on Guam an opportunity to reorganize. To add to his troubles, Obata was constantly being harassed by American naval and aerial bombardment. As postwar Japanese testimony indicates: “The enemy air force seeking our units during the daylight hours in the forest, bombed and strafed even a single soldier. During the night, the enemy naval units attempting to cut our communications were shelling our position from all points of the perimeter of the island, thus impeding our operation activities to a great extent.”

Drive to the O-2 Line 31 July-1 August

General Geiger was fully aware of the route of the Japanese retreat and geared his plans accordingly. Late on the afternoon of 30 July, he ordered the 3rd Marine Division and 77th Infantry Division to commence the pursuit on the morning of the 31st. The corps commander planned to swing his line across Guam, pivoting on its left flank until he had occupied the waist of the island, and then push north, For this he would use both the 3rd and the 77th (initially less the 306th Infantry) Divisions. General Geiger established two objective lines, the first (O-1) ran from the shore just east of Agana along the Agana-Pago Bay road to the town of Famja, where the road curved southeast along the high ground south of the Pago River. The second line (O-2) began at a point on the western shore little more than [N4-18-4] It consisted of the 263rd Air Unit, the 521st Naval Air Unit with attached personnel, the 217th and 218th Construction Units, the 5th Field Hospital, the 5th Construction Unit, a weather observation unit, an air depot unit, an air ordnance unit, and the 30th Labor Unit.

The O-1 line and ran inland through Road Junction 218, reaching the east coast about a mile west of Fadian Point. The drive was scheduled to begin at 0630, 31 July, with the 3rd Marine Division on the left as the hub of the turning maneuver. The 3rd Division had but two to five miles to cover from its line of departure, while the 77th Division would have to advance nearly ten miles from the Tenjo-Alifan ridge. In force reserve was the 22nd Marines (less 3rd Battalion), while the 1st Provisional Brigade (less force reserve but initially plus the 306th Infantry) would hold the Force Beachhead Line, protect the corps right, and continue patrols throughout southern Guam.

[N4-18-5 Ltr. Takeda to McQueen, 20 Feb 52; Japanese Studies in World War II, 55, p. 49; POW Interrogation 47, Interrogation of Leading Seaman Shirakawa Yukio, in TF 56.2 Interrogation Rpts; III Phib Corps Rpt Guam, Incl D, G-2 Rpt 12, 31180 K – 011800K and Rpt 18, 061801K -071800K. ] * [N4-18-6 Japanese Studies in World War II, 55, p. 50. 7 The word pursuit as used here does not imply that the enemy was completely disorganized and routed. Nor does it imply that the attacking troops could move rapidly against few obstacles. General Bruce has suggested that a more accurately descriptive phrase to cover this phase of the battle for Guam would be “pursuit by direct pressure.” Ltr, Bruce to Gen A. C. Smith, 11 Feb 55, Incl 1, OCMH.]

In compliance with this plan, General Bruce directed the 77th Division to move off in column of regiments, with its initial objective the O-1 line along the high ground south of the Pago River. First to move out would be the 307th Infantry, with 3rd Battalion of the 305th Infantry, a reinforced company of the 706th Tank Battalion, and other supporting units attached. Behind the 307th would come the 305th Infantry, less its 3rd Battalion, but otherwise similarly reinforced. The 307th Infantry would move east about two thirds of the distance from the Force Beachhead Line to the east coast and then turn north.

The 305th Infantry, behind it, would cover the division south flank and turn northeast so as to go into position abreast and east of the 307th Infantry. Thus the division would present a two-regiment front facing north, 305th Infantry on the right, 307th on the left. When the 306th Infantry was relieved from its attachment to brigade, it would follow the division advance. The 105-mm. howitzers of the 902nd Field Artillery would give direct support to the 307th Infantry, while the rest of the division artillery would be in general support. The boundary between the 77th Division and the 3rd Marine Division roughly paralleled the Sigua River to the point where it joined the Pago River, and from there the boundary continued generally northeast.

The Army Advance

On the morning of 31 July the 77th Division moved out on schedule. The 1st Battalion, 307th Infantry, led the advance, followed by the 3rd Battalion, and, finally, by the 2nd in reserve. Echeloned to the right was the attached 3rd Battalion, 305th Infantry. Encountering no enemy opposition, the advance moved fairly well. Only the roughness of the terrain and the weight of their loads slowed the troops. Men slid down the steep slopes of ravines and gorges, struggled through tangled undergrowth where it was next to impossible to see other units, and sweated it out in the humid heat. By noon the 305th Infantry, relieved on the final beachhead line by the 4th Marines, had joined the advance, and the 3rd Battalion, 305th Infantry, had rejoined its parent regiment.

So far enemy resistance had been nonexistent, for the handful of Japanese flushed out of their holes were more concerned with saving themselves than with killing Americans. Shortly before noon, General Bruce pushed up his schedule and ordered the two attack regiments to occupy the O-1 line by that night.

During the afternoon the 77th Division troops moved ahead, still encountering little resistance. The 307th Infantry occupied its section of the O-1 line during the early afternoon, while the 3rd Battalion, 305th Infantry, followed by the 1st Battalion, drove farther east toward its assigned objective along that line. As afternoon passed into the dusk of early evening, Captain Lee P. Cothran’s Company I, leading the 305th Infantry’s advance, reached the high ground overlooking Pago Bay. Earlier in the day, a patrol from the 77th Reconnaissance Troop had reported that there were no enemy forces in the vicinity. The men of I Company pushed rapidly down the trail toward the town of Yona, about 1,500 yards southwest of the mouth of the Pago River, where the company commander sought secure positions for the night. As the lead scouts neared the town, they saw two Japanese run across the trail. The enemy soldiers disappeared into the thick vegetation that bordered the trail just as a squad of the 2nd Platoon opened fire. Small arms fire from Yona answered.

Forming a skirmish line, Company I began moving into the town. The Japanese were surprised. Some returned the fire, but others, in varying stages of undress, fled from the village. Those that remained apparently acted as a rear guard to cover the retreat of their comrades, for the Japanese firing at I Company made little or no attempt to move from their huts and dugouts.

Soon K Company joined the fight and, thus reinforced, I Company moved into and through Yona, ending the brief struggle. Of an estimated 50 to 100 Japanese in the village, five were killed and the rest made good their escape. Shortly thereafter the 1st Battalion joined the 3rd Battalion in the area, and the 305th Infantry dug in for the night along its sector of the O-1 line.

It had been a hard, hot, agonizing march. Luckily only a handful of Japanese had shown up to oppose the advance. There was another compensation. At the town on Asinan, on the south bank of the Pago River about a mile from its mouth, troops of the 307th Infantry discovered a concentration camp in which the Japanese had assembled some 2,000 Chamorros. Although the enemy had left the area, the natives were apparently still too frightened to depart, and greeted the men of Company L, first into the area, as liberators.

The scene was a moving one, as sick, hungry, but joyful Chamorros exhibited tiny and hitherto hidden American flags. While the troops pressed rations and cigarettes on them, the natives told of their oppression under the enemy and of their constant faith that the Americans would return. “We long time wait for you to come,” said one.

The 77th Division advance had been so rapid on 31 July that less than two hours after noon of that day General Bruce ordered the 305th and 307th Infantry Regiments to occupy the O-2 line on 1 August.

With the 305th on the right, the two regiments would move out at 0700. The decision to press on with all speed to the O-2 line was based not only on the lack of enemy resistance and the necessity of putting pressure on the enemy before he could reorganize, but on the need to secure a supply route. The Army troops had left the Force Beachhead Line with only small loads of rations in order to lighten their burdens over the rough terrain ahead. Building a supply route behind the advance or landing supplies at Pago Bay proved unfeasible, and it was obvious that the 77th Division would have to be supplied over the main road from Agana to Pago Bay. The Marine advance into Agana on 31 July placed half of this road in American hands, but not until the O-2 line was seized would the rest of it be secured.

If the 77th Division wanted food, it would have to occupy the O-2 line and its half of the cross-island road. “Capture that road,” said General Bruce to the 307th Infantry’s Colonel Hamilton, “and we’ll bring up your breakfast.” With some minor exceptions, 1 August was a repetition of 31 July. The 77th Division’s advance was unopposed. Hungry and thirsty now, and somewhat more weary, the men nevertheless made good progress. By noon a portion of the Agana-Pago Bay road had been seized by the 307th Infantry, and soon the promised breakfast was on the way. Meanwhile, some of the troops appeased their hunger with captured Japanese canned salmon and candy. To satisfy their thirst, the men dropped halazone tablets into the unpleasant-tasting creek water. Others, more enterprising, mixed Tom Collinses from captured sake, K ration lemon powder, and sugar.

By evening the 77th Division was safely deployed along the O-2 line. On the right was the 305th Infantry with its 2nd Battalion on the right, 3rd on the left, and 1st in reserve. Just west of the point where Price Road—the northern branch of the Agana-Pago Bay road—crossed the O-2 line, began the zone of responsibility of the 307th Infantry. That regiment also had two battalions on the line, the 3rd on the right, the 1st on the left; its 2nd was in reserve. So far, the advance to the north had been easy.

The 3rd Marine Division Zone

The same was true for the marines. On 31 July Turnage’s men jumped off at 0630, 9th Marines on the right, 21st in the center, and 3rd on the left. The 9th pushed through Ordot, eliminating the small enemy detachment that had been left there to guard supplies and equipment. That afternoon two Japanese tanks showed up to give battle but were quickly disposed of, and by midafternoon Colonel Craig’s unit had dug in on the O-1 line. Craig’s only real problem was one that was to occur with increasing frequency as marines and soldiers pressed further into the jungle—the matter of contact. The 9th Marines was in physical contact with the Army division on the day’s objective line on its right, but not with the 21st Marines on its left. Finally, before nightfall, patrols from the two Marine regiments met about 300 yards to the left of the 9th Marines boundary, and Craig sent Company C to plug the gap.

Meanwhile, the 21st Marines had reached the corps objective line as had the 3rd Marines on the left. In the course of the day’s advance the 3rd had overrun Agana, capital city of Guam, and seized control of the western end of the Agana-Pago Bay road. Altogether, the Marine division had pushed forward more than 5,000 yards. On 1 August a comparable advance was made against neligible opposition, and the division halted just short of Tiyan airfield, the 21st Marines, which had been in the center, being pinched out.

Supply Problems

The chief problem facing Geiger’s troops at this point was supply. The Army and Marine Corps divisions had both moved so rapidly on the last day of July and the first of August that supply dumps were left far in the rear—as much as sixteen miles in the case of the 77th Division.

The problem in the Army’s zone had been foreseen and steps were taken in an attempt to solve it. General Bruce proposed to construct a main supply route from the Agat area across the island. From Agat, a main road ran inland, connecting with trails that lead southeast to the coast. The western terminus of the new supply route that Army planners envisaged would be on this road about 1,000 yards southeast of Agat. From this point the new route would run generally along the high ground to the south of the Pago River in an easterly direction to Yona and Pago Bay. From there, it was planned; the supply route would turn north to follow the advance of the division up the island.

Soon after the 77th Division landed, Companies A and C, 302nd Engineer Combat Battalion, began working on the new road. Like the infantrymen, the engineers found nature on Guam to be their worst enemy. The soft clay of central Guam proved an insufficient foundation for the road, and torrential rains and heavy traffic combined to make it a quagmire. Because of the consistency of the ground and the need for speed, once the move out of the beachhead area was begun the engineers could not follow good road-building practice.

It was impossible to build roads on a higher level than the surrounding ground, since the soft clay would not support such a route. Instead, after culverts of coconut logs or oil drums had been emplaced, a two-lane road was bulldozed out, excess dirt being pushed to either side. This road was actually below the surrounding ground, and water drained onto rather than off of it. As heavy traffic rutted the road, the bulldozers pushed off the mud until a firm base was reached farther down. “Such a road,” commented the S-3 of the 302nd, “is soon lost.” With no other equipment than that organic to a division Engineer battalion, with the need for speed, and with men and equipment of the unit hard-pressed to complete other tasks within their mission, the 302nd Engineers had its troubles.

The rapid advance of the 77th Division on 31 July made it obvious to General Bruce, “that we could not hope to supply the division over this route.” Late that afternoon the 302nd Engineers was ordered to abandon its attempt to construct a main supply route across the island. By this time the engineers had built about three and a third miles of road, and their labors had brought them to the southern slopes of Mount Tenjo. Remaining unfinished were nearly six miles of planned road.

The decision to abandon work on the project meant that the 77th Division had to rely on the main Agana-Pago Bay road, which was captured on 1 August, Since this road would also serve the 3rd Marine Division and corps artillery, indeed had been doing so since the capture of its western half the day before, the strain on it as the main supply route would be tremendous. The road had once been good. It was hard surfaced and two lane, but the rigors of the weather and poor maintenance had considerably reduced its efficiency, and in the summer of 1944 it was a “tortuous route” requiring constant maintenance.

The steady stream moving along this overloaded supply artery threatened to burst it but, by constant day and night movement of every vehicle the weary supply people could lay their hands on, the situation was kept fluid. In the absence of Japanese air and artillery opposition night movement could be carried out with lights on—a tremendous advantage. By dint of hard work and detailed planning, aided not a little by Japanese inability to construction and maintenance difficulties prevented extension of this road as far as Pago Bay, interfere, the Agana-Pago Bay road was made to serve as a main supply route for the whole III Amphibious Corps. “The books would say it can’t be done,” wrote General Bruce, “but on Guam it was done—it had to be.”

The Marine 3rd Division was in a slightly more advantageous position as far as supply was concerned because its supply dumps were closer to its own front lines and because the coastal road through Agana was within its zone of action. Nevertheless, traffic along the route was extremely congested and, furthermore, the road had been littered with Japanese aerial bombs and single-horned mines. To improve the situation, the 25th Naval Construction Battalion and the 19th Marines (the Engineer regiment of the 3rd Marine Division) concentrated all their efforts on improving existing roads and trails and removing the mines. However, the progress of supplies to the front lines was by no means satisfactory, and on 2 August General Geiger requested that a harbor reconnaissance be made of Agana Bay on the west coast and Pago Bay on the east coast, If these could be opened to boat traffic, some of the heavy load on Guam’s poor and inadequate road system might be reduced.

To Barrigada and the O-3 Line 2-4 August

On the evening of 1 August General Geiger informed the forces under his command that the enemy, by all indications, had fallen back to the vicinity of the town of Yigo, in the eastern half of Guam, roughly eight miles northeast of the O-2 line. The two divisions were to make all possible speed to regain contact with the Japanese, while Task Force 53 was to work over enemy concentrations in the north with naval gunfire. Geiger’s hope was that he could close with the Japanese in northern Guam before they could construct effective defenses there. Each division made ready for its mission. Meanwhile, corps artillery shifted to take targets farther north under fire, and a force of two battleships, five cruisers, ten destroyers, and four LCI(G)’s cruised off Guam’s northern coasts to carry out their part of the attack. Since the advance was in the nature of a pursuit, no artillery preparation was to precede it. Since the Japanese were withdrawing northward, corps artillery and naval gunfire support were concentrated on northern targets and neither of the infantry divisions planned a pre-assault bombardment. Later that night General Geiger issued additional orders, directing the ground attack to begin at 0630, 2 August, with the initial objective a phase line (O-3) crossing the island about four miles northeast of the O-2 line.

77th Division: 2 August

In compliance with these orders, General Bruce directed the light tanks of the 706th Tank Battalion to open the advance with a reconnaissance to the O–3 line. The infantry attack elements of the 77th Division—the 305th and 307th Infantry Regiments—were not to move out until 0700.

The first major objective of the 77th Division drive was the village of Barrigada, in a large clearing about two miles northeast of the center of the divisional position on the O-2 line. The town was important to General Bruce for two reasons. First, about a hundred yards northwest of Road Junction 306, in the center of the town, was a reservoir and pump capable of supplying the thirsty troops with 20,000 gallons of water daily. Up to now streams and creeks had been the main source of water, but there were few watercourses in the northern part of Guam into which the division was moving. Moreover, water points established by the engineers near the beaches were too far away from the front lines for rapid delivery, a situation made worse by the fact that all supplies were carried along the overworked Agana-Pago Bay road. Weapons and ammunition had first priority on this artery, and with two divisions as well as corps troops being supplied along it there was not much room to bring up large quantities of water. On the morning of 2 August, for instance, the 305th Infantry put in an urgent plea for water.

We haven’t had any since yesterday,” it reported. [N4-18-27] The capture of the Barrigada reservoir would solve the problem. Furthermore, even before they reached Barrigada, the troops would be in control of the entire length of Price Road, the northern branch of the Agana-Pago Bay road, and thus obtain an additional route over which supplies might be carried to the front-line troops. Seizure of Road Junction 306 would give the 77th Division a link from Price Road to Barrigada, and a direct route from Agana to Barrigada.

[N4-18-27 77th Inf Div G-4 Jnl, 2 Aug 44, Msg 1. It was not until nearly 1500 that a water point could be moved forward to take care of the 305th Infantry’s requirements. Ibid., Msg 5; Guam, 77th Div (MS), pp. 122-23.]

The capture of Barrigada was assigned to the 307th Infantry, on the left of the division line. Maintaining contact on its left with the 3rd Marine Division, the regiment was to push through the town and continue generally northeast for a little over a mile to seize Mount Barrigada—a jungle covered mountain, 674 feet in height. With its 3rd Battalion on the right, its 1st on the left, and its 2nd in reserve, the regiment was to advance in a series of three phase lines to Mount Barrigada. The first of the lines, the so-called C line, would place the as yet uncaptured portion of Price Road in 77th Division hands and, if the marines on the left did their share, breakfast for the 307th could be brought up along Price Road as soon as it was captured. From the C line, with full stomachs, the 307th Infantry would advance on order, the 3rd Battalion, on the right, passing through the center of Barrigada, with the 1st Battalion moving up to the west of the town.

[N4-18-28 A request by the 307th Infantry that it be allowed to stop once Price Road was secured in order to receive the expected food had been approved by General Bruce. 307th RCT Summary of Events, p. 3, and Overlay Showing Scheme of Maneuver for 2 Aug, in Opn Overlays, both in 307th RCT Guam Opn, FORAGER Rpt.]

The 305th Infantry, to the right of the 307th, would attack northeast at the same time. Responsible for the area between the 307th Infantry and the east coast of Guam, the 305th planned to strike with its 2nd Battalion on the right, its 1st in reserve, and its 3rd Battalion on the left, in contact with the 307th. The 305th Infantry would advance east of Barrigada and Mount Barrigada, and thus would not, if the plan were followed, be engaged in the fight for the town itself.

Promptly at 0630 about a dozen light tanks of D Company (reinforced), 706th Tank Battalion, moved out from the 77th Division lines and advanced in column northwest along Price Road. On the alert for 2,000 Japanese reported north of Barrigada, they turned east at the point where the road from Barrigada met Price Road. No sooner had the tanks made this turn, a little over a mile west of Road Junction 306, than they were fired on by a small group of enemy soldiers. After putting machine gun fire on the enemy and on likely areas of concealment, the reconnaissance force turned and drove back to the division line with their report of contact. It was 0730.

At 0800 the light tanks moved out again on a second reconnaissance. To supplement the armor, General Bruce requested an aerial reconnaissance of the area around Barrigada and northward. The tanks moved rapidly ahead, in close radio contact with the division advance command post, and pushed along the same route they had taken on their first reconnaissance. About 0845 they brushed aside an estimated twenty-five Japanese defending a roadblock at Road Junction 306 and, following orders, by 0900 had turned to continue north on the road to Finegayan. Two thousand yards up the road the tankers found their way blocked by three Japanese trucks. The tankers knocked out the trucks, killing about thirty-five enemy soldiers, then moved back to Barrigada and turned east to investigate matters in that direction.

Despite enemy mines and a Japanese pillbox that proved to be undefended, the tanks advanced a few hundred yards with no resistance. When one tank got hung up on a stump, however, the whole column was halted on the narrow road. At this point the enemy put in an appearance in force. About 1045 some 150 Japanese attacked the tanks with hand grenades and 20-mm. and machine gun fire. The tanks returned the fire with a vengeance and managed to drive off their attackers without any American casualties. They then returned to their own lines.

While the tanks had been making their reconnaissance, the attack echelons of the 77th Division moved out. At 0700 the 305th Infantry, on the right, and the 307th Infantry, on the left, crossed the line of departure and began the general advance. From right to left were the 2nd and 3rd Battalions, 305th Infantry, and the 3rd and 1st Battalions, 307th Infantry. Moving forward against little or nor resistance, the men reached C line, securing Price Road, by 0830. Supplies were moved in quickly and 10-in-1 rations issued to the hungry troops of the 307th. While the 307th Infantry was eating and reorganizing, General Bruce sent word to the 305th Infantry to hold and reorganize on the C line, abreast of the 307th. Both regiments would resume the attack at 1030.

The plan of attack for 2 August had not called for the 305th Infantry to a halt on the C line. Consequently, sometime between 0930 and 1000 when that regiment received General Bruce’s order to halt along C line,33 the 305th had already sent a reinforced company of the 3rd Battalion beyond. Company I, reinforced by the heavy machine guns and mortars of M Company, was advancing in front of the battalion and by about 0930 the point of the company had just reached the edge of a clearing in a small draw about 300 yards southeast of Barrigada.

Reconnoitering the area, the lead squad of the 2nd Platoon came under enemy small arms fire from the direction of the town and took some casualties before it could fall back on the rest of its platoon and form a skirmish line. Soon the 1st Platoon had joined the 2nd and a fire fight began between the Americans and what appeared to be a small group of Japanese with a machine gun. The Japanese were well concealed in the thick foliage at the edge of the draw, and attempts to flank the position were halted by effective fire from the same or another enemy machine gun.

Company M’s machine guns and mortars joined the struggle, but the enemy troops were so well hidden and their fire discipline was so perfect that the American fire had little effect. Moreover, a few enemy riflemen managed to infiltrate the M Company positions. By 1030 the Americans estimated that a company of Japanese, well equipped with automatic weapons, was dug in in good positions to command the clearing. The presence of these enemy troops, possibly some of the same soldiers who in a few minutes would ambush the tank patrol, was ample proof that the Japanese controlled the road east of Barrigada and were therefore free to bring in reinforcements along that route. At the time, the men of the 3rd Battalion, 305th Infantry, were in no position to challenge effectively the enemy control there.

Meanwhile, at 1030 the 307th Infantry and the remainder of the 305th began their advance in accordance with Bruce’s orders. On the right, where the Japanese positions had already been discovered, the 305th Infantry built up a line on I Company. On the left, however, the advance of the 307th Infantry had not uncovered the main enemy positions by 1030. It was here, on the left of the 77th Division, that the major action of 2 August was to occur. The formation of the 307th Infantry was, from right to left, Companies K, L, A, and, in contact with the marines. Each battalion kept a rifle company in reserve, and the 2nd Battalion was in regimental reserve. The direction of the attack was northeast, aimed at Mount Barrigada, which meant that the 3rd Battalion would push through the town of Barrigada while the 1st Battalion would move past it on the west, in position, if necessary, to flank any Japanese in the town.

As the regimental attack got under way, a number of enemy riflemen opened fire on Company A. The resulting delay in the company advance was in large measure to abort the attack of the 307th Infantry on 2 August.

By the time A Company had driven the Japanese off before it, the rest of the line had advanced beyond it. Drawn slightly to its right by the enemy, and further confused by its poor maps, Company A took up its advance in the wrong direction. Instead of following its assigned azimuth of 45°, the company veered to the right and followed generally along the road linking Price Road and Barrigada, or on an azimuth of nearly 80°. A wide gap between C Company, on the division left, and A Company, which in turn was now moving into the 3rd Battalion zone, resulted. Once contact between these units was lost, it was extremely difficult to regain, not only because of the dense undergrowth but also because the 1st Battalion’s radio batteries had become so weak that its radios were ineffective beyond a range of two hundred yards.

As the troops approached Barrigada, Company A pushed in on the left of Company L, which in turn crowded K Company over against the 305th Infantry zone. The axis of the 3rd Battalion attack was thus shifted away from Barrigada and toward the area south of the town. Company A was moving toward Barrigada, but the three companies were crowded into the center and right half of the 3rd Battalion area, in a line not wide enough for two companies, much less for three. Moreover, on the left of A Company was a gap of 1,000 yards between that unit and C Company, which was still advancing to the northwest of Barrigada.

By about 1130 Company A reached the edge of the clearing just west of Barrigada and almost immediately was taken under heavy small arms fire by Japanese troops in the town. Deploying on a north-south line near a temple in the southwest corner of the clearing, about 225 yards west of Road Junction 306, the men of A Company began to extend to their right only to run into members of L Company, also moving into the clearing. By the time the Americans could get into line they were squeezed into an abbreviated front. Company A could only bring one platoon to bear on the enemy and, while Company L could place its entire force in action, K Company had almost been driven into the 305th Infantry’s zone and was facing that portion of the enemy opposing the 305th, rather than the Japanese in front of the 307th Infantry.

Thus the Americans attacking the western half of the Japanese position, like those attacking to the east, were unable to force their way forward into the enemy line, By about noon, most of the 1st Battalion reserve—a large portion of B Company—had been committed to regain contact with C Company, northwest of Barrigada. The 2nd Platoon, B Company, was ordered to drive north around Barrigada, on the left of A Company, and capture a two story green house with a concrete base that was located less than 200 yards north of Barrigada on the east side of the Barrigada-Finegayan road. From here the platoon would be in a good position to put fire on the enemy flank.

The 2nd Platoon, B Company, moved across a large, open, grassy field on the left of Company A. Advancing by short rushes in groups of two or three men, the troops reached Finegayan road without incident. Since they had not been fired upon and all appeared quiet to their front and flank, the men began to cross the road. As the first small group reached the other side, however, an enemy machine gun in the woods east of the green house took the platoon under fire. The men of the 2nd Platoon threw themselves into the ditches on either side of the road and sent back a request for a section of machine guns, which was moved up under heavy fire.

It was now nearly 1400. About this time, the weapons of Companies A and L scored a hit and set afire a grass shack on the road east of Barrigada near the point where the light tanks had been ambushed that morning. An enemy medium tank inside was forced to leave in a hurry, and, with three Japanese on top, drove west along the road toward the 307th Infantry’s line. Raking the American position with cannon and machine gun fire, the tank moved up the road in the face of machine gun, BAR, and rifle fire. The three passengers were quickly knocked off, but the tank was still undamaged when it reached Road Junction 306 and turned north to confront the men of the 2nd Platoon, B Company.

Caught in the open, some of the Americans dashed forward to the house, while the others pressed themselves helplessly against the bottom of the ditch. The tank threw a burst of machine gun fire at the prostrate men, killing one and wounding two, but then turned back to the road junction. Here it turned west again and moved along the Agana road toward Company A, 307th Infantry. A machine gunner emplaced in the temple opened fire on the tank, which retaliated by plunging into the side of the building, shifting gears, and forcing its way out the other side. The tracks missed the American gunner by a close margin, but the roof of the temple caved in and pinned him to the ground. The tank, meanwhile, undamaged but with a piece of thatched roof partially obscuring its vision slit, continued on and into the American lines.

Rifles, machine guns, BAR’s, and grenades were powerless against the tank. The three bazookas in the A Company line—the only weapons that might have stopped it—were of no avail since two failed to go off and the gunner of the third was so excited that he failed to pull the safety until it was too late. For a moment the tank got hung up on a coconut log, but even then it remained impervious to American bullets and continued to fire wildly. In another moment it was free again and swept on down the road through a battalion command post and aid station and, about 1415, on through the command post of the 307th Infantry.

So far luck had been with the Japanese tank on its impromptu dash. It had succeeded in raising havoc on the 307th Infantry lines, forcing the men to fall back in search of better cover. Wounded men and scattered equipment marked its trail. What happened to it next is difficult to establish firmly. The tank left the 307th Infantry sector around 1430 and apparently moved west into the 3rd Marines’ sector, since a lone Japanese tank was destroyed there late in the afternoon by two American mediums.

Since the tank dash was not part of a planned Japanese attack, but rather an extemporaneous move on the part of the driver, the enemy forces made no attempt to follow up their advantage. However, those men of the 2nd Platoon, B Company, who had sought shelter in the green house were exposed to the same enemy fire that had opposed the platoon advance across the road. From a pillbox and from other emplacements in the woods, the Japanese sent machine gun and automatic weapons fire through the thin walls of the house. The men were helpless, and a runner made his perilous way back to company headquarters and received permission for the exposed platoon to withdraw.

It was agreed that Company A would cover the withdrawal, but before the 2nd Platoon, Company B, could begin to fall back, American artillery fire began to drop around the house. The battalion commander tried desperately to have the shelling stopped, the men in the house who could still move made a dash for safety, and most of A Company also fell back to escape the artillery fire. Enough men stayed, however, to cover the withdrawal of the 2nd Platoon, B Company, and the evacuation of the wounded.

It was by then 1500. With the exception of C Company, which had reached a point north and west of Barrigada, the men of the 307th Infantry had been stopped short of their day’s objective. The gap in the line was still open and should the Japanese choose to take advantage of it they might inflict heavy damage. Accordingly, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas B. Manuel, who had replaced Colonel Hamilton as regimental commander when the latter was evacuated for illness, asked General Bruce for permission to commit the reserve 2nd Battalion (less one company) of the 307th Infantry. This was granted immediately, and Bruce ordered the 306th Infantry, the division reserve, to send one battalion forward to a position of readiness should it too be needed.

Probably General Bruce would have sent more forces into the 307th Infantry area, even had they not been requested. The heavy jungle growth retarding and confusing the advance of C Company had resulted in a loss of contact between Army and Marine troops in the early afternoon. General Turnage was forced to commit a portion of his reserves in an attempt to regain contact. Indeed, shortly after 1400 General Geiger had radioed a terse message to General Bruce: “You are holding up advance of 3rd Mar[ine] Div[ision],” he said. “Make every effort to advance your left flank to maintain contact.” General Bruce replied with a brief description of his difficulties in the 307th Infantry sector. “I do not,” he said, “expect to capture Mt. Barrigada today.” He would consolidate for the night on a line just north of Barrigada village and attack again the next morning. To his own troops, after approving use of the 307th Infantry’s reserve, Bruce sent orders to complete the capture of Barrigada, tie in with the marines, and hold for the night.

Bruce’s realization that he could not take Mount Barrigada on 2 August was not based on consideration of the situation on his left alone, since his advance on the right had been equally frustrated. By 1330 Company K, 305th Infantry, reinforced with five light tanks of Company D, 706th Tank Battalion, moved out in attack. It had taken the 305th Infantry until that time to strengthen I Company’s position on the left and deploy in the thick woods.

Company K and the tanks moved from behind Company I and up and parallel to it. To reach the enemy positions, it was necessary to cross a slight draw, all fairly open ground. The attackers adopted a formation in which the tanks took the lead, each with a small group of infantrymen for close-in protection, while two platoons of infantry moved in the rear of the armor. Four tanks and their accompanying infantry moved across the draw without opposition. As soon as the fifth tank exposed itself, however, it became a target for machine gun and cannon fire. This had no effect on the tank, but the ricochets off its sides hit the infantrymen around it. The riflemen threw themselves into the dirt, and the lead tanks tried to return the fire, but the Japanese were so well concealed that the tankers could discover no targets and had to fire blind.

With their accompanying infantry pinned down, the tanks did not dare to advance farther toward the Japanese positions and shortly thereafter pulled back to less exposed positions. The men of K Company, hugging the ground in the slight cover of the draw, were unable to move in any direction. There was no indication that the Japanese positions had in any way been reduced, and the Americans still had no precise idea of their location. The tank-infantry attack had gained nothing.

One more attempt was made to knock out these enemy positions with armor. Carrying as a guide an officer of Company I, 2nd Lieutenant Edward C. Harper, who had already crawled forward on his belly to reconnoiter the enemy line, one light tank moved to within five yards of the presumed Japanese position and opened fire with its machine guns. The enemy fire proved to be more effective, however, and Japanese machine gun or possibly 20-mm. bullets hit the tank’s trailing idler and drive shaft and put a hole in its armor plating. Unable to move forward, the tank backed, only to have one of its tracks drop off. Thus ended this attempt. Covered by two medium tanks of Company C, 706th Tank Battalion, which had just come up, the tankers jumped out of their vehicle and ran back to safety. The mediums then destroyed the abandoned light tank.

The Japanese position was still intact, and the 3rd Battalion, 305th Infantry, did not yet have a clear idea of the enemy dispositions. Accordingly, the riflemen still out in the draw were ordered to fall back, and artillery fire was requested. The men in the draw made their way out by a circuitous route, not without casualties, but the 3rd Battalion was denied artillery support on the grounds that shelling might hit 307th Infantry elements on the left.

There was one last chance. Four medium tanks of C Company, 706th Tank Battalion, with Lieutenant Harper again acting as a guide, moved out abreast. Advancing on the enemy position, they fired 75-mm. shells at the Japanese. The fire destroyed some of the enemy’s camouflage that had hidden a tank, which the mediums quickly knocked out. Under protection of the tanks several American wounded who had previously been trapped were evacuated, but by this time it was almost dark, and any hope of following up the attack vanished. Moreover, A and B Companies, which had been moving up during the afternoon to join the 3rd Battalion attack, had been so delayed by scattered enemy fire that they were not yet ready to begin an attack, even if one had been possible. It was fully dark before the two companies were in position between the 3rd and 2nd Battalions. The 305th Infantry thus had little success on 2 August. Only on the extreme right, in the 2nd Battalion sector, had its advance been unopposed, though the 2nd Battalion had not ventured forward of the line held by the 3rd, lest contact between the units be broken.

On the left of the 77th Division, the 307th Infantry was to make one more attempt before dark. Shortly after 1500 the 2nd Battalion (less F Company) began to move up to fill the gap in the 307th line. Within an hour or an hour and a half, with Company E advancing to make contact with C Company and Company G pushing toward Barrigada, contact was established along the line. The gap still was not completely filled since the line curved inward, leaving a salient that might still be occupied by enemy troops.

Late in the afternoon the regimental commander planned to send a small force of tanks and Company G to evacuate wounded from the green house area. The plan called for an enveloping attack. The 2nd Platoon was to follow four light tanks of D Company, 706th Tank Battalion, along the Agana-Barrigada road to Road Junction 306 and then, turning north, to approach the house from the south. At the same time the 1st Platoon would move east parallel to the 2nd Platoon advance and 200 or 300 yards north of it, to hit the Finegayan road north of the house. The two platoons would thus move around the edges of the open field across which B Company had made its unsuccessful attack a few hours earlier.

Unfortunately for the success of the plan, the officers concerned were not sufficiently briefed. Consequently, when the tanks moved through the 1st Battalion and along the Agana-Barrigada road, the 2nd Platoon was not behind them. Instead the platoon leader, following what he believed to be his orders, had begun to move his men across the open field, a move that the planners had specifically meant to avoid.

When the 2nd Platoon was halfway across the field and still somewhat protected from enemy fire to the east, a runner reached it with the correct orders but it was too late for the infantrymen in the field to move back and catch up with the tanks which had by then almost reached Road Junction 306. Accordingly, the platoon leader decided to continue his advance across the field in an attempt to arrive at the green house simultaneously with the tanks. Moreover, should the tanks be held up at the road junction, he believed his men would be in position to break up any resistance in front of the tank advance.

The platoon leader’s plan worked. The 2nd Platoon reached the green house just as the tanks arrived. Heavy Japanese fire was coming from the woods, but although the infantry had no way of communicating with the tank crews to designate targets, fire from the tanks greatly reduced the volume of enemy fire. The 2nd Platoon soon formed a line just east of the house, and the tanks began evacuating wounded.

Meanwhile, the 1st Platoon, G Company, had moved across the northern edge of the field. Before the 1st Platoon was across the field, the tanks at the house began to fall back with the wounded they had gone to rescue. The volume of American fire was thus noticeably lessened, and from the woods to the north Japanese riflemen and machine gunners, who had remained quiet all day, opened fire on the flank of the two American rifle platoons. Another machine gunner east of the house also began shooting, and the two platoons were caught in a cross fire.

As the men of G Company’s 1st and 2nd Platoons fell back or vainly searched for cover, the heavy Japanese fire began to take its toll among the exposed Americans. One of the men managed to get back to company headquarters with a call for help, and the 3rd Platoon was sent forward to assist. It pushed across the field and into Barrigada village. Leaving a squad at Road Junction 306, the rest of the men advanced north on the Finegayan road pouring a heavy volume of rifle, BAR, and machine gun fire at the enemy. Machine guns and mortars from H Company moved up and joined the fight, and soon two tanks were back to lend their heavier fire.

The rescue force did not know where the 1st Platoon was, and so had concentrated on getting to the 2nd Platoon, which was around the green house. Moreover, fearing to hit the 1st Platoon, the force had concentrated its fire to the east, rather than to the north. This sufficed to cover the evacuation of the wounded men of the 2nd Platoon, in the gathering dusk, and with their men now low on ammunition, the leaders of the 2nd and 3rd Platoons withdrew their units, although not without sustaining a few more casualties.

The 1st Platoon, to the north, was still pinned down and still suffering casualties. The rescue force, this time with three tanks and led by the regimental commander, now moved out to the aid of the beleaguered men who were scattered across the northern half of the field, most of them casualties.

Covered by heavy fire from the tanks, the rescuers began evacuating the wounded. The 1st Platoon had suffered twenty-six casualties, most of them killed, including the commander, 1st Lieutenant James T. Whitney. As darkness closed in, the last men of G Company returned to their line of departure and dug in for the night. With the coming of night, the 77th Division had yet to take Barrigada village.

The American line ran roughly from southeast to northwest, with the woods just north-northwest of Barrigada forming an enemy salient. The Japanese positions had been barely dented, although by dark American attacks had developed the enemy defenses fairly well. At least the Americans knew where the Japanese were, which had not been the ease twelve hours earlier. To acquire this information had cost a total of 102 casualties: 6 killed, 18 wounded, and one missing in the 305th Infantry, and 22 killed and 55 wounded in the 307th Infantry. The two regiments claimed a total of 105 Japanese killed, almost all by the 305th Infantry. Contact with the 3rd Marine Division was at best tenuous, for while a platoon of C Company, 307th Infantry, was with the marines, it was out of contact with the rest of its own company.

On the evening of 2 August the Japanese still controlled most of Barrigada village and the roads leading north (to Finegayan) and east. The 77th Division G-2 section made a cautious estimate that the enemy resistance might indicate that the Americans had struck forward positions of a Japanese line defending northern Guam. On lower echelons, the troops were restless in their foxholes, mindful of the great banzai attack on Saipan that had overrun and ripped up American lines on that island.

The night passed without incident, but General Bruce’s plan of action for 3 August was a more cautious one than that of the previous day. This time the 77th Division commander called for an artillery preparation on the enemy before him. Division artillery—supported by a battalion of 155’s from corps artillery—would begin firing at 0630. At 0700, as the big guns shifted their fire to targets farther north and northeast, the 305th and 307th Infantry Regiments would renew their attack. General Bruce hoped to push on to Mount Barrigada and the O–3 line, if necessary bypassing and containing resistance at the town of Barrigada itself in order to reach his objective. There was to be no change in regimental boundaries, but the battalions were regrouped.

On the right of the division line, southeast of Barrigada, the 305th Infantry would continue its push to the northeast. Its 2nd Battalion maintained its position on the right while on the left the 1st Battalion replaced the 3rd, which had done the bulk of the regiment’s fighting on 2 August.49 On the division left, the 307th Infantry was to drive northeast through Barrigada. Its 3rd Battalion remained tied in with the 305th Infantry. The 1st Battalion, however, was so spread out that the 2nd Battalion, part of which had already seen action on 2 August, replaced it as the left flank unit of the 77th Division. This replacement was actually carried out in the late afternoon and night of 2-3 August at the direction of Brigadier General Edwin H. Randle, assistant division commander, present at the regimental command post during the afternoon.

In planning the advance for 3 August, General Bruce gave some attention to the problem of contact between units. On 2 August the main body of his troops had been out of contact with the 3rd Marine Division, and the drive northeast through the thick jungles of Guam promised to make lateral liaison progressively more difficult While Bruce was well aware of this problem and gave it due consideration, he did not feel that it was the primary issue. The Army general subscribed to the theory that, in jungle fighting, close contact between units, though desirable, should not be insisted upon to the sacrifice of rapidity of advance and destruction of the enemy. Under such conditions, according to this theory, it is often preferable to push ahead quickly over whatever trails and roads there are through the jungle and maintain lateral contact only by patrols and connecting files or only where favorable terrain permits.

Bruce had served in Panama in 1933 and while there had developed a set of principles governing jungle warfare, some of which were later incorporated into the Army manual on the subject and all of which he impressed on the 77th Division during training. As he himself later expressed it, “The Japanese were skillful in penetrating ‘lines’ and attacking flanks and rear. I pointed out that it was far better to get through the jungle regardless of flanks until they [the attacking troops] arrived at a trail or road where liaison and contact could be established with adjacent units. I emphasized the lack of vision in woods or jungle precluded the ordinary concept of fighting in the open. In brief, my idea . . . was to push boldly forward and then take up a strong all around defense at night.”

Bruce’s thoughts were made clear on the morning of 3 August when he submitted his plan for the day’s action to the III Amphibious Corps. “I intend to push hard with my right unit past [Mount Barrigada] without regard to contact. I suggest 3rd Div(ision) unit on my left push up past mountain. This may cause a gap which I will fill with my reserve. Otherwise progress will be slow because of the difficult terrain.” Almost immediately corps headquarters approved this method of attack, and Bruce was ordered to “keep pushing to hit main enemy body. Do not hold up for small pockets which can be mopped up later.” By this time the 77th Division attack was already well under way.

77th Division: 3 August

At 0700 on the morning of the 3rd, as 77th Division Artillery shifted to forward targets, the two infantry regiments began to move slowly forward. The 307th Infantry, advancing with Company A, 706th Tank Battalion, in support, reported that the artillery preparation had inflicted numerous casualties on a platoon-sized enemy patrol that had approached the American positions. However, the advance of the 2nd Battalion, on the left, was slowed by short artillery rounds that disrupted communications and killed some men in the command post area and wounded others, including the battalion commander, Colonel Learner, who was replaced by Major Thomas R. Mackin, battalion executive officer.

The division advance was slow but, initially, steady, for most of the Japanese defending Barrigada had pulled back during the night or under the morning’s artillery fire. Only scattered resistance met the Americans as they moved forward, and in the 305th zone on the right the troops had more trouble with the difficult, heavily wooded terrain than they did with the scattered enemy. On the division left the 2nd Battalion, 307th Infantry, pushed through Barrigada clearing it with relative ease but was halted by automatic weapons fire north of the town shortly after 0900. The 3rd Battalion was generally astride and east of the Barrigada-Finegayan road, 200 or more yards from Barrigada and in contact with the 305th Infantry.

The seizure of the village of Barrigada, anticlimatic after the frustrating struggle of the previous day, put the important Barrigada reservoir in American hands on 3 August. Working rapidly, the 302nd Engineers established a water point and had it in operation by 1430 to assure a ready supply for the thirsty troops.

Meanwhile the 3rd Battalion, 307th Infantry, supported by the tanks of Company A, 706th Tank Battalion, had pushed farther northeast through the Japanese defenses.

The advance was extremely slow, however, because the thick, almost trackless jungle made for hard going. Moreover, at 1130 the battalion commander, Major Lovell, had to be evacuated because of sunstroke and was replaced by his executive officer, Major Joseph Hanna. By now the regimental commanding officer and each of the battalion commanding officers had been evacuated because of wounds or illness. On the left (southwest) of the 3rd Battalion, the 2nd Battalion was still moving extremely slowly, but its right had reached Finegayan road at Road Junction 410, about 1,000 yards from Barrigada. At noon the entire 307th Infantry halted to reorganize for another attack in the afternoon. The 305th Infantry, meanwhile, was east-southeast of Barrigada, pushing very slowly northeast through the dense and virtually uncharted jungle.

It had become apparent that the bulk of the enemy resistance was north to northeast of Barrigada in front of the 3rd Battalion, 307th Infantry, exactly where General Bruce had expected it. Bruce’s original plan had been to continue the push on his right with the 305th Infantry, regardless of how much the 307th might be held up. With conditions now anything but favorable for such a maneuver, the division commander changed his plan to take advantage of the success at Barrigada village.

All four division artillery battalions would support an attack by the 307th Infantry with a five-minute concentration and a rolling barrage. The shelling would start at 1330, at the rate of a round per gun per minute. At 1335 it would lift 100 yards and an additional 100 yards every two minutes thereafter, maintaining the same rate of fire. As the artillery fire climbed Mount Barrigada, the infantry would follow close behind to seize the height.

On the heels of the artillery fire, the 307th Infantry attacked. Two platoons of tanks spearheaded the advance, breaking a trail through the thick jungle as the troops moved against scattered resistance on the lower slopes of Mount Barrigada. As the men pushed forward resistance lessened, and by 1500 the 3rd Battalion was on the summit, 2,400 yards northeast of the town of Barrigada. A 400-yard gap lay between K and I Companies, but the regiment had ample time to reorganize and close the gap before nightfall.

Echeloned to the left rear (southwest) of the 3rd Battalion was the 2nd Battalion. The 2nd Battalion’s advance had been held up somewhat because it had to resupply itself with water. Company E, for instance, had received no issue of water for at least twenty-four hours. Another reason for the delay was the denseness of the vegetation. The failure of the 2nd Battalion to keep up with the 3rd had left a gap between the two units and, on the left, the 2nd Battalion was out of contact with the 3rd Marine Division. In addition to falling behind, Mackin’s men had moved somewhat to the right in an attempt to maintain contact with the 3rd Battalion. Responsibility for the loss of contact between Army and Marine troops did not lie entirely with the 2nd Battalion, 307th Infantry, however. General Bruce’s plan and Geiger’s approval of it had been passed on to the 3rd Marine Division that morning. General Turnage immediately ordered the 9th Marines, on the right of his division line, “to break contact with the 77th and push ahead as rapidly as possible.” Thus as early as 0845 on 3 August, contact between Marine and Army units was as good as lost.

During the day the 2nd Battalion, 307th Infantry, made numerous attempts to regain contact with the 3rd Battalion as well as with the Marine division—all unsuccessful. By 1230 General Turnage was worried enough about the gap between Marine and Army troops to rescind his earlier order to the 9th Marines and halt the advance on the right. Meanwhile, the 307th Infantry continued its efforts to regain contact with the 3rd Marines and late in the afternoon a platoon of medium tanks with men of the 2nd Battalion riding on their decks moved north along the Finegayan road toward the Marine lines. However, Japanese mines and an enemy roadblock less than 1,000 yards beyond Road Junction 410 frustrated the attempt, and the 9th Marines began to protest that Army fire on this roadblock was falling within their positions. Thus at nightfall gaps still remained between the two battalions of the 307th Infantry and between the 307th and the 9th Marines. To fill the latter and protect his right flank, General Turnage released a battalion of the 21st Marines from reserve to the 9th Marines.

While the 307th Infantry was advancing on 3 August with varied success, the 305th Infantry, to its southeast, had continued to push slowly across the thickly overgrown terrain. By this time the tropical rain forest had grown so thick that the only way the men could make any progress at all was by reversing the guns on their medium tanks and tank destroyers and using the vehicles as trail blazers. Struggling through the luxuriant vegetation, the regiment soon found roads dwindling to trails and trails disappearing altogether. Small pockets of enemy resistance in the heavy jungle involved the Americans in a number of minor engagements, with companies or smaller units fighting independent actions. The regimental right did not extend all the way down to the water’s edge, but rather held along the top of a bluff, which paralleled the coast about 1,000 yards inland. An attached platoon of the 77th Reconnaissance Troop patrolled the slope of the bluff. By the end of the day the 305th Infantry was southeast of Mount Barrigada, almost on line with the 307th Infantry on its left. The regiments were in contact with each other.

For most of the 77th Division, the day’s advance had netted disappointingly short gains of from 2,000 to 2,500 yards, the 2nd Battalion, 307th Infantry, having advanced less than 1,500 yards. The reserve 306th Infantry was in position 1,500 yards south of Barrigada. It had not been used to fill the gap between Army and Marine units, though General Bruce had indicated that morning that he might so employ the unit, because the gap was at most 800 yards wide and Bruce felt that it could be closed once the enemy roadblock on the Finegayan road was broken. The 3rd Marine Division, meanwhile, had pushed rapidly ahead, held back only on its right flank in order to keep in contact with the 77th Division. Casualties in the two Army regiments attacking on 3 August were four killed and twenty wounded in the 305th Infantry and eight killed and thirty-three wounded in the 307th. A total of 161 enemy dead was claimed by the two units.

Disappointed with the speed of the 77th Division advance on 3 August, General Bruce issued his orders for the next day’s operations. He hoped on 4 August to secure Mount Barrigada and pull his troops up to the O-3 line. The attack was to continue at 0700. The only change in the assault formation was in the 307th Infantry sector where the 1st Battalion would push through the 2nd to replace it on the regimental left. The 3rd Battalion would hold in position until the 1st was abreast of it. The 306th Infantry was to maintain contact with the 305th, follow behind that regiment mopping up the area, and be prepared to turn north toward Mount Santa Rosa once Mount Barrigada had been passed, pinching out the 307th Infantry and replacing it on the line.

77th Division: 4 August

The 77th Division attack got under way on 4 August after a night that saw American lines raided by small groups of Japanese, despite harassing fire placed on enemy-held road junctions by division and corps artillery. Actually, the infantry attack was taken up only by the 305th Regiment, for the 307th Infantry spent the morning reorganizing its assault formation and attempting to regain contact with the marines.

Shortly after 0600 the 1st Battalion, 307th Infantry, began to move through the 2nd in order to relieve that unit on the regimental left. Less than three quarters of an hour later, a platoon of the 1st Battalion, with a single tank of Company A, 706th Tank Battalion, in support, set off along the Finegayan road to reduce the Japanese roadblock between Army and Marine positions. The 3rd Battalion held firm but sent patrols over the northern part of Mount Barrigada. By 0700, when the 305th Infantry began its attack, the 307th had already made a good beginning in its own sector.

The attempts to gain contact and to pull the 307th Infantry lines abreast of the 3rd Marine Division—both part and parcel of the same general scheme to align and tie in the entire corps front—met both tragedy and failure. By about 0800, little more than an hour after the tank-led patrol had set out for Marine positions, it was halted by the same Japanese roadblock that had stopped similar attempts the previous afternoon and evening. The roadblock was well covered by machine guns, and the 2nd Battalion commander requested artillery fire to knock out the Japanese position. The request was turned down, and instead Major Mackin was ordered to use tanks to break through the roadblock. A few minutes later a platoon of tanks set off up the road leading an infantry patrol. Shortly after 1030 the tank-infantry force succeeded in smashing the Japanese position as well as a second roadblock a little farther along the road. Just before 1100 the American patrol came upon a third block. Taking no chances, the men in the tanks opened fire immediately, but with unfortunate results.

The roadblock was not manned by enemy troops, but rather by Americans of Company G, 9th Marines, who had established the block in accordance with 3rd Division orders to protect the right flank of the Marine division. The 3rd Marine Division had been warned of the approach of the Army patrol and was expecting it; the Army troops, on the other hand, had been told that red smoke grenades would be used as a signal to indicate friendly positions, although Company G, 9th Marines, was apparently unaware of this signal. The marines, recognizing the Army troops, did not fire; the soldiers, not seeing any signal, did. Seven marines were wounded before the Marine company commander, Captain Francis L. Fagan, stopped the action by running down the trail to the Army troops and waving his helmet. Only through this mishap was contact between the two divisions at last re-established.

Even so, it was tenuous and short-lived. The main body of the 9th Marines had picked up the advance again at 0700 that morning and by now was well ahead of the point of contact; there was thus no tie-in of the front lines of Army and Marine units. The 1st Battalion, 307th Infantry, had passed through the 2nd by about 0900 and continued to move forward unopposed.

Heavy undergrowth, however, blocked the way as the battalion moved very slowly up the western slopes of Mount Barrigada. At 1230 the 1st Battalion was still slightly to the left and rear of the 3rd, and not yet in contact with it. On the regimental left contact with the marines was again lost as the assault troops of both services pushed on past the roadblock on Finegayan road. General Geiger therefore ordered the 3rd Marine Division to halt its advance until the 77th Division could straighten its lines and close the gap. He so informed General Bruce, who in turn passed the word on to the 307th Infantry. Shortly after 1245 the 1st Battalion was abreast of the 3rd, and the 307th was ready to take up the attack.

Even before receiving General Geiger’s prodding message, General Bruce ordered the regiment to drive forward to a trail, roughly paralleling and just short of the O–3 line, which ran generally east out of Finegayan. The division commander suggested that the advance be made in one or two columns per battalion for the drive through the jungle, with the regiment reorganizing along the trail, where it would dig in for the night. A Marine patrol would make contact with the 1st Battalion on the regimental left at a point on the trail about 1,100 yards southeast of Finegayan.

About 1300, as the 307th Infantry prepared to attack, the regiment was a little more than 1,000 yards short of its objective line. With hopes that this attack would be successful, General Geiger directed the 3rd Marine Division to continue on to the O-3 line if the left of the 77th Division moved up. It was the hope of the III Amphibious Corps commander to tie down his entire front along the O-3 line that night.

During the afternoon the 307th Infantry moved slowly toward its objective. Crossing the line of departure sometime between 1300 and 1400, the regiment moved in columns through the thick jungle against scattered, light opposition. Contact between the two battalions was maintained mostly by radio, although occasional openings in the heavy undergrowth permitted visual contact from time to time. Shortly after 1600, men of the 3rd Battalion hit the trail that General Bruce had designated as their objective, and within an hour or so the entire battalion was on it. The 1st Battalion, to the left, was a little slower in coming up, the jungle in its sector being extremely heavy. Medium tanks of the 1st Platoon, C Company, 706th Tank Battalion, strained their engines to knock down trees and break trails through the thick vegetation. By 1800 at the latest, however, the 1st Battalion appears to have been in position.

As usual, there was the question of contact with the marines on the left, and as usual there was no contact. Both the 9th Marines and the 1st Battalion, 307th Infantry, sent patrols along the trail, the marines pushing southeast from and the soldiers northwest toward Finegayan. The jungle was thick and enemy elements engaging the American patrols prevented free movement. As dusk settled on the battlefield, the soldiers and marines, in radio contact with each other, decided to postpone further attempts to make physical contact until the next morning.

Though not in contact with the marines, the 307th Infantry had gained its objective, the trail just below the O-3 line. About 1800 the 3rd Battalion was a little too far to the right of the 1st Battalion and out of contact with it, except by radio. By dark, however, the 3rd Battalion had extended to its left and made contact with the 1st Battalion.

On the right of the 77th Division, meanwhile, the 305th Infantry moved up to and, indeed, beyond the O–3 line in its zone. Unhampered by problems of contact or of straightening its line, the regiment was opposed only by the difficult terrain and scattered enemy resistance. Attacking at 0700 on the heels of a five-minute artillery preparation, the 305th Infantry made its main effort on the left with its 1st Battalion advancing on a narrow front. On the right, the 2nd Battalion moved over a wider area, and patrols covered the 1,000-yard slope of the bluff between the regimental right and the sea. The mission of the 305th Infantry was to seize a strong position on its left on the O–3 line and push on toward the O–4 line so as to allow the 306th Infantry to slip across the front of the 307th Infantry on the left of the division line.

Moving slowly through the thick jungle with tanks and bulldozers clearing the way, Colonel Tanzola’s regiment advanced in a column of companies within each battalion. Resistance during the morning was negligible, the biggest problem was to find the way through the jungle. Maps were completely useless when it came to showing trails and roads, and the paths that the Americans followed twisted and turned, branched and forked, stopped dead and started up again with amazing frequency and inconsistency. Perhaps as much time was taken in choosing a route as in following it, and when the men had to push cross country more tanks with dozer blades and more bulldozers had to be called on. Moreover, frequent patrolling on cross trails was necessary in order to maintain contact between nearby units. Not much progress had been made by noon, and by 1300 the regiment had barely pulled abreast of Mount Barrigada’s summit.

Shortly thereafter tanks and infantry leading the 1st Battalion advance were halted by dense undergrowth at a bend in the trail they were following. While stopped, one of the men of the point suddenly spotted a small party of Japanese and opened fire. The men in front formed a skirmish line to fight off the enemy at ranges so close that the Japanese, well concealed in the thick woods, could easily reach them with grenades. While the advance squads were so engaged, the remainder of the lead company, Company C, with tanks to beat a path through the undergrowth, circled the enemy position, and fell upon it from the rear. Thus outmaneuvered, the Japanese left some of their weapons and many supplies and hastily retreated. They had been cooking when the Americans surprised them, and when the 1st Battalion moved into the area the food was still warm. The 1st Battalion then picked up the advance again.

During this action the 2nd Battalion on the regimental right had continued to push ahead almost unopposed and by 1600 was just short of the O–3 line. As the advance continued, Adair’s men shifted more and more to the left because that was where the emphasis of the 305th Infantry attack lay and because the terrain and vegetation forced them that way. By late afternoon the 2nd Battalion had moved in front of the 1st to cross the O-3 line. When, about 1800, the two battalions dug in for the evening, the 1st was on the O–3 line on the regimental left and tied in with the 307th Infantry, and the 2nd Battalion was about 1,250 yards ahead—one third of the way to the O-4 line. The reserve 3rd Battalion was on the southeast slopes of Mount Barrigada, perhaps a mile behind the 1st. Patrols covered the area from the regimental right flank to the sea.

By the night of 4 August the 77th Division had reached the O–3 line and, on the right of the 305th Infantry, had pushed a battalion well forward of the line. The 306th Infantry, under Lieutenant Colonel Aubrey D. Smith, remained in reserve just below Barrigada, conducting reconnaissance and laying plans for its move the next morning to replace the 307th Infantry on the division left. Casualties in the two attacking regiments on 4 August were, for the 305th Infantry, four killed and thirteen wounded, and for the 307th Infantry, nine killed, seventeen wounded, and one missing. The 305th Infantry claimed fifty-nine enemy killed, and the 307th Infantry claimed none at all.

The advance of the 77th Division from the O-2 to the O-3 line had taken three days and had cost about two hundred casualties, of which slightly more than fifty were fatal. It had been an advance against two enemies, the Japanese and the jungle, and it would be difficult to say which of the two had been the more effective in slowing the American drive. On the first day the Japanese themselves were the more successful in frustrating the 77th Division attack, although the jungle terrain contributed to the mix-up on the American left.

On the following two days it was definitely the thick, heavy undergrowth that thwarted progress. In places the jungle was almost trackless; the few existing trails led nowhere and only served to confuse the troops. The Japanese proved only slightly more than a nuisance, their main achievement being to prevent soldiers and marines from regaining contact with each other, and here of course the almost impenetrable jungle must be given almost equal credit.

The denseness of the Guamanian vegetation, inadequate maps, and aerial photographs obscured by cloud cover, all combined to make the location of individual units a nightmare. Unit commanders rarely knew exactly where they were, and the reports they sent back to higher echelons could not be relied on. This not only hampered attempts to maintain contact between units, but sometimes also resulted in American artillery fire falling on friendly troops. Consequently, even when Japanese shelling hit 77th Division positions the men often refused to believe it was not American fire. General Bruce had to remind his troops that the enemy had heavy-caliber weapons and that the Japanese frequently masked the sound of their own artillery by firing at the same time that the American guns were fired. He warned the infantry regiments to “stop accusing our own artillery of firing on [our] own troops until the ‘facts are known.’ “

To add to the disagreeableness of the heavy jungle and of the chance of friendly shells hitting them, the men of the 77th Division were faced with other discomforts.

This was the rainy season on Guam. Intermittent drizzles, or heavy, drenching showers, fell regularly. When it was not raining, the blazing heat of the tropical sun in the steaming, insect-infested jungle bathed the men in their own perspiration. At night lower temperatures and foxholes filled with water chilled the same troops who had sweated during the day. Flies and mosquitoes tormented them with pestiferous malevolence. One veteran of the campaign later recalled there were “billions of flies—dead Japanese and animals all over —with inevitable results, something new on Guam.” Even the frogs, which normally kept Guam’s fly population under control, couldn’t cope with the stepped up proliferation caused by such wholesale human death and decay. All of nature seemed to combine to make life more difficult for the tired soldiers. As they moved north the sticky red mud, which smeared uniforms, equipment, and hands and faces with a thick dirty coating, gave way to hard coral and limestone five inches below the surface and made foxhole digging a major excavation problem. “The hike was tough,” commented one American after a particularly trying day, “the heat terrific, the insects maddening and the digging backbreaking.” To add to his troubles he was soon taken under fire by an enemy rifleman who had infiltrated the American lines after dark. There were few pleasures in the life of an infantryman on Guam.

The Marines: 2-4, August

Nightfall of 2 August saw the 3rd Marine Division in full possession of Tiyan field but more rapid progress, which might have been expected in view of the negligible character of enemy resistance, was frustrated by the jungle and by the difficulties of establishing contact with the Army troops on the right. On 3 August the 9th Marines on the right of the two-regiment front flushed a covey of Japanese, estimated to be about platoon size, near Road Junction 177, southwest of Finegayan village. Within half an hour the stronghold was overrun by tanks and infantrymen and 105 dead Japanese were counted. By 1300, after a second brief encounter with a smaller number of the enemy, the road junction was secured, and the marines prepared to spend the night in Finegayan. Any further advance was considered impracticable because firm contact with the Army troops still had not been established.

On 4 August the 21st Marines was fed into the middle of the division line, making it again a three-regiment front with the 9th Marines on the right, 3rd on the left. To fill the ever widening gap along the division boundary, General Turnage ordered the 3rd Battalion, 21st Marines, and 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, to move over and protect his right flank. In pursuance of these orders, the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, established a roadblock on the Finegayan-Barrigada road, and it was this position that was fired on by the patrol sent out by the 77th Division.

Later in the afternoon, when it appeared that the problem of contact was still unresolved, General Turnage ordered the 21st Marines to take over the zone of the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, and halt about a thousand yards short of the O-3 line. The 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, drew up before a roadblock along the Finegayan-Barrigada road, which the Japanese were still defending with antitank guns, 75-mm. guns, machine guns, and rifles. Meanwhile, on the division left the 3rd Marines had made good progress against light resistance and had reached the O-3 line from Naton Beach inland to a point north of Dededo.

During the day, for the fifth time since their arrival on Guam, American troops were molested by their own planes. This time two B-25’s opened up on the command post of the 3rd Battalion, 21st Marines, and strafed other marines along the Finegayan-Barrigada road.

While the two divisions in the attack had been moving through the jungle against what was left of the main line of enemy resistance, the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade had been assigned the duty of patrolling southern Guam to flush the scattered remnants of enemy soldiers lurking there in the bush. Altogether, three companies were employed, A of the 22nd Marines and A and F of the 4th Marines.

Late on the afternoon of 3 August, General Shepherd was ordered to move the entire brigade (less the 1st Battalion, 22nd Marines, the 9th Defense Battalion, and the 7th Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion) to the vicinity of Toto, where it would act as force reserve and prepare to support the final push to the north. The excluded units would be formed into a separate task force with the mission of protecting Geiger’s southern flank and, with the help of Guamanian volunteers, would continue the job of capturing or eliminating Japanese stragglers still in the southern part of the island.

As the marines and soldiers of the III Amphibious Corps prepared to launch their final drive to the northern tip of the island, General Obata was engaged in a withdrawal to his final defense line. The Dededo-Barrigada line had crumbled before the American attack—in fact in documents do not appear that the Japanese had had time to set up anything resembling an organized defensive line there at all. From his new headquarters atop Mount Mataguac, to which he had retreated as early as 31 July, the Commanding General, 31st Army, now summoned his last feeble strength to pit itself against the American juggernaut as it moved inexorably toward Mount Santa Rosa, Mataguac, and Yigo.

SOURCE: Campaign in the Marianas; BY: Philip A. Crowl (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: Retaking Guam (4-20) Island Secured

World War Two: Retaking Guam (4-18) Assault Completed 25-30 July

Today’s Funny for Mar. 28: How to Live a Long Life

How to Live a Long Life


A passer-by noticed an old lady sitting on her front step: “I couldn’t help noticing how happy you look! What is your secret for such a long, happy life?”

 

“I smoke 4 packs of cigarettes a day”, she said. “Before I go to bed, I smoke a nice big joint. Apart from that, I drink a whole bottle of Jack Daniels every week, and eat only junk food. On weekends I pop a huge number of pills and do no exercise at all.”

“This is absolutely amazing at your age!”, says the passer-by. “How old are you?”

“Twenty four.”

–Turok’s Cabana