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]


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