Korean War: Establishing the Pusan Perimeter (15)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 The Pusan Perimeter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[N25-31 GHQ FEC Sitrep, 22 Jul 50.] 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Strength of the Opposing Forces at the Pusan Perimeter  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obtaining the Shipping

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Loading and Unloading Problems

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Hollandia Tactical Plan

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

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

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

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

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

Humboldt Bay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tanahmerah Bay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preliminary Operations and the Approach Intelligence Operations

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

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

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

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

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

Air Operations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

World War Two: Hollandia Operation (3) Landings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Parleys at Cassibile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Decision at Rome

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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