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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Theater Organization

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Japanese Developments at Hollandia

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Decision to Take Aitape

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

Obtaining Carrier-Based Air Support

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Land-Based Air Support

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Aitape Area

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Air Support Problems

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

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

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

The Forces and Their Missions

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

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

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

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

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

The Air Plan and Organization

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Naval Plans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ground Forces

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Logistics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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