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Bougainville, 1943-1945

The Forgotten Campaign

Harry A. Gailey

Publication Year: 2013

" The 1943 invasion of Bougainville, largest and northernmost of the Solomon Islands, and the naval battles during the campaign for the island, contributed heavily to the defeat of the Japanese in the Pacific War. Here Harry Gailey presents the definitive account of the long and bitter fighting that took place on that now all-but-forgotten island. A maze of swamps, rivers, and rugged hills overgrown with jungle, Bougainville afforded the Allies a strategic site for airbases from which to attack the Japanese bastion of Rabaul. By February of 1944 the Japanese air strength at Rabaul had indeed been wiped out and their other forces there had been isolated and rendered ineffective. The early stages of the campaign were unique in the degree of cooperation among Allied forces. The overall commander, American Admiral Halsey, marshaled land, air, and naval contingents representing the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. Unlike the other island campaigns in the Pacific, the fighting on Bougainville was a protracted struggle lasting nearly two years. Although the initial plan was simply to seize enough area for three airbases and leave the rest in Japanese hands, the Australian commanders, who took over in November 1944, decided to occupy the entire island. The consequence was a series of hard-fought battles that were still going on when Japan's surrender finally brought them to an end. For the Americans, a notable aspect of the campaign was the first use of black troops. Although most of these troops did well, the poor performance of one black company was greatly exaggerated in reports and in the media, which led to black soldiers in the Pacific theater begin relegated to non-combat roles for the remainder of the war. Gailey brings again to life this long struggle for an island in the far Pacific and the story of the tens of thousands of men who fought and died there.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-5


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pp. 6-7

List of Maps

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p. vii-vii

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pp. 1-6

Historians are continually trying to impose order on the past, to simplify events that would otherwise appear chaotic. By nature and by training, they are inclined to search for first causes that would explain all subsequent events. Among military historians ...

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1. Japanese Advances and Retreats

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pp. 7-21

Few examples in the history of warfare would match the success of the Japanese during the first six months of World War II. Once Imperial General Headquarters made the decision that Japan's future could be secured only by aggressive ...

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2. Allied Planning

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pp. 22-38

The need to neutralize Rabaul was constantly in the minds of the planners in Australia, Hawaii, and Washington throughout 1942. Any "Europe first" policy of the Joint Chiefs, which resulted in a relative shortage of men and materiel for the Pacific theaters. Even with ...

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3. The Treasuries and Choiseul

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pp. 39-59

Admiral Halsey's final decision, relayed to General MacArthur on 1 October, making Empress Augusta Bay the prime target on Bougainville confirmed the importance of the Treasury Islands. As early as mid-September these two small islands, Mono and Stirling, lying ...

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4. Establishing the Beachhead

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pp. 60-77

The Japanese were fully aware of how Allied activity in the Solomons endangered Rabaul, their main naval and air base in the southern Pacific, but they were in a difficult position. The loss of New Georgia and the occupation of Kolombangara had left only the two ...

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5. Naval Actions

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pp. 78-92

The major threat to the beachhead established by the marines on Bougainville would not come from the Japanese army units there. General Hyakutaki was very slow to react to the lodgment at Cape Torokina, and even had he been more ...

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6. Expanding the Perimeter

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pp. 93-119

The marines on the narrow beachhead adjacent to Cape Torokina were totally unaware of the crucial naval and air battles that did so much to secure their operations. They were, almost to a man, tired and wet and still apprehensive that the ...

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7. The Rear Areas

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pp. 120-131

As the army and marine riflemen at first expanded and then consoli dated the perimeter, personnel in the rear areas were engaged in a variety of tasks that enabled the frontline troops to carry out their missions. Of all the noncombat ...

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8. Consolidating the Perimeter

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pp. 132-148

The forward movement of the 3d Marine Division and the subsequent XIV Corps, had replaced General Geiger on 15 December. This was the first step in Admiral Halsey's revised plan to relieve all marine units on Bougainville and ...

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9. The Japanese Counterattack

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pp. 149-168

General Hyakutake's offensive began early in the morning of 8 March with the bombardment of parts of the beachhead and the Piva air strips. The Japanese artillery concentrated its fire on Piva Yoke instead of the forward areas of the ...

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10. The 93d Division Affair

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pp. 169-183

The Japanese were in full retreat by 28 March. The Magata force, with an estimated strength of over fifteen hundred men, utilized the Numa Numa Trail and withdrew toward the northern part of Bougainville. The remnants of the ...

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11. The Final Phase

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pp. 184-211

Actions elsewhere in the South and Southwest Pacific theaters during the spring of 1944 would relegate the Bougainville operations to tertiary importance. The occupation of the Green Islands in February, followed by the seizure ...


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pp. 212-213


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pp. 214-224


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pp. 225-228


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pp. 229-104


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pp. 114-254

E-ISBN-13: 9780813143439
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813117485

Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2013