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MARK R. HENRY, MIKE CHAPPELL
THE US ARMY IN WORLD WAR II. THE PACIFIC

PACIFIC THEATRE CAMPAIGN SUMMARY

While the main purpose of this book is to describe uniforms and equipment, a brief campaign summary may help readers put this material in context.

Leyte, 1944: these men use the packboards usually associated with mountain troops to carry gear through the jungle. The foreground GI appears to be hauling the special rubberised case for carrying electronics and other water-sensitive gear.

Philippines

The Japanese began amphibious landings on the islands culminating in the 22 December 1941 landing on Luzon. The half-trained Filipino army rapidly retreated and Manila fell on 26 December. Gen Douglas MacArthur made a planned withdrawal to the defence of the Bataan peninsula. The combined Filipino/US defenders were slowly pushed back and finally forced to surrender on 9 April 1942. The fortified island of Corregidor held out until Japanese amphibious assaults forced surrender on 6 May. MacArthur had failed to properly victual Bataan and Corregidor, but the defence had cost the Japanese five precious months.

New Guinea

In the winter of 1942 the Australian 7th and US 32nd Divisions, fighting in some of the worst jungle terrain in the world, forced the Japanese back from Port Moresby and into the defence of Buna. With almost no armour or artillery, the Allies finally seized Buna in January 1943. The US lost 60% of their force to disease along with 2,700 battle casualties. After a year of lighting, enveloping US amphibious landings at Aitape/Hollandia in April 1944 defeated the Japanese 18th Army at a cost of just 5,000 men. The US 41st Division's capture of Biak island in June 1944 was among the last pitched battles of the campaign. Skillful combined Australian/US operations would continue in New Guinea until its final subjugation in August 1944.

Japan, 1945: soldiers of the 'Americal' Division - note shoulder patch worn on khakis by the lieutenant, far right - receive medals before they return to the States. The men wear HBTs and helmet liners; NCO stripes began to reappear after VJ-Day.

Solomon Islands

The US Army joined the Marines in the battle for Guadalcanal in October 1942 with the deployment of the 23rd Division. By January 1943 the 25th Division along with the 2nd Marine and 23rd Divisions were on the offensive; by February the island was secure, for the loss of 6,000 US casualties and an additional 9,000 sick.

The Army landed on New Georgia in July 1943 with the 37th and 43rd Divisions; joined by the 25th Division, they overcame fierce resistance and secured the island by the end of August.

In November 1943, Marines seized a five-by-ten mile perimeter around Empress Augusta Bay on Bougainville. Defence of the newly won terrain was left to the 23rd and 37th Divisions. By mid-1944 the island was secured.

New Britain

With the strategic Rabaul at the north end of the island, the 1st Cavalry Division and US Marines landed at the south (Cape Gloucester) in December 1943. By March 1944 the 40th and 1st Marine Divisions had advanced up the coasts, but this had cost MacArthur over 2,000 casualties for little real gain. The Australians then took over and contained Rabaul. The 1st Cavalry Division had gone on to capture Los Negros island (Admiralties) in late February 44.

Okinawa, 1945: a rare capture of a Japanese soldier. This GI has a 'WP' grenade hanging from his M1936 suspenders; his helmet chinstrap is tucked up into the issue elastic neoprene band. Interestingly, he has three wristwatches on his left arm.

Aleutians

After receiving desert training, the 7th Division landed on the cold, wet Japanese-held island of Attn in May 1943. Rooting out the 2,500-man enemy garrison cost the 7th 1,700 battle casualties and 2,100 men to non-battle causes, especially trench foot. The Japanese finished the battle with banzai charges and only 29 men survived the fighting to be captured. A combined US/Canadian force (including the 1st Special Service Brigade) landed on nearby Kiska island in August 1943, to find that the 4,500-strong Japanese garrison had been evacuated in late July.

Philippines, early 1942: an American officer in khaki chinos, with an M1928 Thompson, standing next to his Filipino counterpart. Both wear the M1917A1 helmet with web chinstrap; the Filipino officer wears medic's yoke suspenders, and a revolver in a civilian holster. US officers commonly served in the newly formed Filipino units. See Plate A.

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