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

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