|Preface||Chapter 14||Chapter 16|
For permission to quote from official summaries which delineate the tactical and strategic events and pattern of the later periods, the authors are deeply indebted to various officers of higher commands whose names are unknown to your narrators. The scope of these summaries and the always penetrating and occasionally searing wit of these able, anonymous authors, are now, as when first published, a fresh breeze blowing through a haze and fog of turgid generalization and belabored histrionics. While some of the ground covered by these excerpts is not strictly relevant to the Group's activities, they are included for their humor and illustration of the enemy's curious psychology and conduct. And so before we relate the details of the Group's next movement and the next chapter in its offensive, a quick look at the actions of preceding and following months in other sectors is needed, together with a brief resume of the tactical situation and over-all strategy illuminate the background and the stage upon which our action was to take place.
The over-all "situation review" showed that as each week passed it became evident the enemy's thoughts were centralized on the defense of the Empire itself. With the fall of Saipan and the loss of Noemfoor, the Allied front became deeper and broader. The enemy had conceded that his naval losses on June 20th were substantial, and it was evident that his airfields in western New Guinea bad been abandoned as permanent bases. While he had hardly hoped to delay the day when he had to face a direct thrust to the Philippines, he probably considered the interim well spent if he could use the Ambon-Ceram Boeroe area as a trap. It was clear that our capture of Saipan had limited the freedom of movement of his major fleet units. Although expected to give priority to the defense of the Philippines, he was unlikely to neglect the inner Netherlands East Indies either. The oilfields of Tarakan, Balikpapan, and Miri were of great importance to his mechanized operations, and the northern and western Borneo airfields were useful both as steps on the ferry route to Malaya-Sumatra-Philippines and for coverage of the sea routes from the north. To the Jap, the south was of the greatest importance, for if the Allies gained a foot-hold in the Philippines and in consequence throttled sea communications along the Sulu and Celebes Seas, he could attempt to maintain contact with Balikpapan from the south only as long as the Makassar Straits were open.
HERE IS THE PACIFIC WAR CALENDAR FROM 1937 TO THE END OF THE WAR
July 7--Japanese begin "China incident."
Oct. 25--Chinese Government moves to Chungking.
Dec. 7--Japs attack Pearl Harbor.
Dec. 12--Guam falls to Japs.
Dec. 24--Wake Island surrenders.
Jan. 2--Manila falls.
Feb. 15--Japs take Singapore.
March 8--British give up Rangoon.
March 9--Japanese overrun Java.
March i7--MacArthur becomes Allied Commander, Southwest Pacific.
April 9--Japs capture Bataan.
April i8--Doolittle bombs Japan.
May 6--Corregidor surrenders.
May 7--Two-day Battle of Coral Sea ends; each side loses one carrier in first flattop battle of history
June 3--Battle of Midway, decisive engagement of entire Pacific war, costs Japs two to four carriers sunk and eleven ships damaged: Yorktown goes down.
June 12--Japs land in Aleutians.
Aug. 7--Marines land on Guadalcanal.
Dec. 1--Beaten for third time, Jap Fleet withdraws from Solomons.
Jan. 3--Americans take Buna, New Guinea.
Feb. 8--Historic Battle of Guadalcanal ends in victory.
March 4--Airmen destroy twelve--ship Jap convoy in Battle of Bismarck Sea.
May 11--Attu invaded, secured in 21 days.
June 30--South Pacific offensive begins with landings on Rendova, Solomons.
Aug. 15--Americans and Canadians find Japs gone from Kiska, Aleutians.
Sept. 12--Salamau, New Guinea, taken; Lae falls six days later.
Nov. 1--Bougainville invaded.
Nov. 20--Invasion of Gilbert Islands (Tarawa) opens Central Pacific offensive.
Jan. 3i--Americans land on Kwajalein, Marshall Islands.
Feb. 29--MacArthur invades Admiralties; they become greatest Southwest Pacific naval base and staging area for Philippines.
March 22--Japs attack India as Stilwell pushes into Burma.
April 22--MacArthur lands at Hollandia and Aitape, New Guinea.
June 15--Marines invade Saipan.
June 16--B-29s bomb Yawata, Japan, from China.
June 20--Carrier planes break great Jap task force in Battle of Philippine Sea west of Marianas.
July 21--Gaum invaded; Tinian on the 24th.
Sept. 15--Marines land in the Palaus.
Oct. 2o--MacArthur returns to the Philippines, landing on Leyte.
Oct. 23-25--In three separate engagements in Battle for Leyte Gulf Japs lose 24. ships, including two battleships, four carrier, six heavy cruisers, three light cruisers, three small cruisers or large destroyers, and six destroyers; Imperial Fleet no longer a threat.
Nov. 24--B-29S from Saipan bomb Tokyo.
Jan. 9-Americans land on Luzon, reaching Manila in 26 days.
Feb. 19--Iwo Jima invaded.
April I--Americans land on Okinawa.
July 26--Potsdam ultimatum calls on Japan to surrender.
Aug. 6--Americans drop atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
Aug. 9--Russia enters war against Japan; atomic bomb strikes Nagasaki.
Aug. 10--Japan offers to surrender.
Aug. 14--Japs say they'll accept terms.
At the time the Crusaders entered the Southwest Pacific Area, the Jap, believing that the most pressing threat came for the east and southeast, had built up considerable air and ground strength in the Philippines, Halmaheras, and Celebes to meet it. Of approximately 1000 airplanes in the SWPA, he had over 700 in those areas. Our work was well cut out for us ! !
After July 22nd there was a lull, but not a cessation of activity in the Russells and at Stirling. Engineering sections completed Installations of half bomb-bay tanks, a modification that provoked considerable speculation. Preparation for our scheduled move got under way at all squadrons.
By now experienced In living in the field and in the headaches of Army Moving-Day, we were better equipped to decide what to give priority, what to discard, and how to handle bulky equipment. Line and personal property went into boxes, crates, and bags, as everyone got down to the essentials he would need for the trip. Rations for the boat trips were received and stacked. Tents and lean-tos came down, with the mess halls last. Between July 30 and August 6 the Air Echelons took off in C-47s from the Russells and Treasury on the 1400-mile hop to the new and insufferably dusty Cyclops and Sentani strips at Hollandia.
For three weeks, Ground Echeloners loaded the former American Export Liner Extavia, the Sea Perch, the George Boutwell, the U. S. S. Ripley, the Mandan Victory and The Balch. Most of the heavy motor equipment went on the last vessels, which took the "stay-behind-to-clear up-gangs." This variety of ocean-going bottoms presented a conglomeration of problems and experiences.
We now take leave of the ground men and turn our attention to the Air and Flight Echelons who were the cast of our Hollandia program. Shortly we shall again pick up our sea voyagers and, we hope, do full justice to their story.
|Preface||Chapter 14||Chapter 16|