Naval War in the Pacific in 1944
Originally Published March 1945
The tremendous accomplishments of our naval forces in the Pacific during the past year are told in this article, with a chronological record of our offensives.
The year 1944 saw a great amphibious offensive unfold in the Pacific. The forces of the United Nations, spearheaded and sustained by the United States Pacific Fleet, drove in massive lunges through Japan's ill-gotten conquests, moving 1,830 miles westward from Tarawa and Makin to anchor their armed might securely in the Marianas. From there systematic bombarding of Japanese industrial centers has begun.
From the jungles of New Britain, the front was pushed 1,600 miles north and west to the Philippines. As of today, the enemy's defensive is from Paramushiru, in the northern Kuriles, to Manila, 2,780 miles in extent, and is within effective range of our fleet and shore-based aircraft. To U. S. offensive forces in the Marianas and Philippines, as elsewhere in the Pacific, a constant procession of cargo vessels is carrying thousands of tons of supplies. These two points are 4,938 miles and 6,056 miles, respectively, from San Francisco. No military operation has ever embraced such dimensions.
There is evidence that the enemy counted on slow and painful forward steps by our forces, instead of swift advances. Radio Tokyo told its listeners recently that speed is an "outstanding trait" of the American people. "The enemy has come pressing upon us," Tokyo explained, "skipping three or four steps in one jump, for the stepby-step method was not speed enough for him."
In seizing positions in the pivotal Philippines, a strategic victory has been consummated. A string of island bases along the southern perimeter of Japan's inner sea has been established. From them can be launched drives against the home empire. At the same time, Japan is being cut off from the rich military resources of the Indies-the empire she coveted, won and planned to exploit.
A Battle They Had to Win
Japan's leaders are well aware of the strategic import of the battle of the Philippines. It is a battle which, according to their own propaganda, they know they must not lose. This was indicated when the Japanese Imperial Fleet, long in hiding, steamed forth in a supreme effort to destroy the forces covering the beachhead won on Leyte. The U. S. Navy then came to grips with, and thoroughly defeated, a major force of the Japanese Navy in the three actions of Surigao Straits, Samar and of Cape Engano.
These three actions constituted the second Battle of the Philippine Sea, the culminating sea engagement of the year, which was symbolic of the destruction wrought upon the Japanese military machine throughout the Pacific.
During the year, U. S. surface ships and aircraft sank two of the enemy's battleships, five of his aircraft carriers, seven of his heavy cruisers well over 300 cargo ships and transports, and about 200 other vessels, with the grand total reaching 550 ships, according to tentative figures now available. These figures do not include any ships probably sunk or damaged, or any ships de-stroyed by our submarines. They do not include any of the small cargo craft sunk. And they refer only to activity in the Pacific Ocean Areas, exclusive of the Southwest Pacific command.
Vast Tonnage Sunk
U. S. submarines sank 468 Japanese ships during the first 11 months of 1944, according to Navy Department communiques. This total includes four light cruisers and 17 destroyers. Fortythree tankers, 377 cargo ships and transports were sent to the bottom. In December, an enemy aircraft carrier was sunk by a submarine. The tonnage of Japanese ships sunk during 1944 by U. S. submarines alone is in excess of 2,500,000 tons. The number of ships damaged by submarines has not been announced.
During 1944, 6,650 enemy aircraft were destroyed in the Pacific Ocean areas. Of these, approximately 5,450 were destroyed by carrier aircraft, and 1,200 by land-based airplanes. Of the year's total, approximately 3,975 enemy aircraft were destroyed in the air, and 2,675 on the ground. These figures also do not include reports from the Southwest Pacific command.
No review of the year would be complete without mention of our land-based air forces. As we have moved the battlefront steadily across the Pacific, we have drawn after us a net of air and surface blockade, entangling, pinning down, choking the by-passed Japanese holdings. An estimated 225,000 enemy troops, and strong enemy bastions have been reduced to impotence or to ashes.
In addition to ceaseless patrolling by surface units, many hundreds of 'land-based air strikes have been necessary to enforce this blockade. Many of these strikes were in force, with heavy bomb loads dropped on important targets. Others were small. When practicable, they were closely coordinated with carrier-based attacks and amphibious landings. Together with our surface patrolling, these air strikes destroyed enemy strength in by-passed zones and made possible our rapid advance.
The year 1944 has brought success and added momentum to our advancing forces. But the Pacific is an ocean of fantastic distances. The road to Tokyo is rough and long. The enemy has just begun to defend his home empire. W0e have just begun to meet the tremendous problems of logistics, of supplying our forces-problems that grow greater with every forward step.
The vast quantity of material required to prepare the way for our advancing troops can be measured in terms of ammunition. Our naval forces alone used 36,260 tons of it in the Marianas campaign for air and surface bombardment. This does not include any ammunition used by troops ashore. At Peleliu, surface and air bombardment consumed 9,000 tons. A myriad other commodities are required to supply and sustain our advancing forces.
The decisive battles, the greatest battles, the hardest battles of the war in the Pacific are still to come. They must be fought with supreme effort on the part of all of us; in factories throughout our country, across the long sea lanes, and in the forward areas, where the men of all our armed services, and those of our Allies, are fighting-for the enemy, like ourselves, has just begun to fight.
Chronology of the War in the Pacific
31 December 1943-3 January 1944-A carrier force commanded by Rear Admiral F. C. Sherman, USN, made bombing, strafing and torpedo attacks on enemy cruisers, destroyers and ohter shipping near Kavieng, New Ireland.
1 January-Under cover of heavy air and naval bombardment, elemetns of the 6th Army under General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander, Allied Forces, Southwest Pacific Area, landed at Saidor, on the north coast of New Guinea. The landings were unopposed, and control of the Saider area and airstrio was soon gained.
8-25 January-Enemy troop and supply concetrations and staging points in the northern Solomons were subjected to six surface bombardments. Four were in board daylight. There was no air or surface opposition , and negligible reply fron shore batteries. Two strikes on Southern Empress Augusta Bay, two on norhteastern Bougainville and one on Choiseul Bay were conducted by destroyers. One on the Shortland area was by cruisers and destroyers.
29-30 January-During the night USS Burns, a destroyer operating with our naval forces in the Marshall Islands, encountered and sank an enemy convoy of four vessels, including a 6,000-ton oiler, a 4,500-ton cargo ship and two smaller vessels. U. S. carrier and heavy surface forces heavily attacked Jap bases in the Marshall Islands with unopposed occupation of Majuro atoll by Amphibious Reconnaissance Company of 15th Amphibious Corps (now Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion of Fleet Marine Force, Pacific). Majuro was the first pre-warn Japanese territory to be taken by United States forces. In preparation for main aasault on Roi and Namur Islands in Kwajalein atoll, Marines landed on five smaller islets flanking Roi, meeting with little opposition. In preparation for assault ion Kwajalein Island, at the southern tip o the atoll, by the Seventh Infantry Division, U. S. Army troops landed on island flanking Kwajalein Island. Opposition was slight.
1 February-Fourth Marine division landed on Roi and Namur Islands, about 45 miles north og Kwajalein Island, in Kwajalein atoll. Seventh Infantry Division landed on Kwajalein Island.
1-6 February-Powerful force of battleships, cruisers, destroyers, carriers and landed-based aircraft supported Kwajalein landings. Fleet air attacks were carried out also on other atolls of the Marshalls and on Wake Island. Roi, Namur, Kwajalein, Ebeye, Loi, Gugegwe, Bigej and Eller Island, all in Kwajalein atoll, were captured. (Kwajalein is the wolrd's largest atoll, 66 miles long, 18 miles wide and including more than 30 islets.
4 February-Cruisers and destroyers commanded by Rear Admiral W. D. Baker, USN, bombarded Japanese installaations on Paramushiru, in the Kurile Island-the first surface bombardment of this Japanese base by our forces.
8 February-Organized resistance ceased on Kwajalein atoll. Japanese killed: 8,112, prisoners 437. Our casualties: 286 killed, 1,148 wounded, 82 missing.
10-12 February-Eniwetok bombarded by our carrier aircraft.
12 February-Arno Atoll, Marshall Island, occupied. No opposition.
14 February-First heavy land-base air attack on Ponape, base in the Carolines. U. S. and New Zealand troops under General MacArthur landed on Green Islands, off southern New Ireland. Naval attack force was commanded by Rear Admiral T. S. Wilkinson, USN. Resistance was light. This thrust flanked Rabaul.
16-17 February-Enemy positions and installations on Eniwetok atoll were bombed and strafed by carrier aircraft and shelled by heavy surface units. Covering the Eniwetok landings, a U. S. carrier and battleship force struck a heavy surprise blow at Truk. On the 16th, our aircraft strafed and bombed airfields and enemy aircraft; and strafed, bombed and torpedoed snipping in Truk lagoon. Enemy air power was paralyzed; 129 enemy aircraft were shot down, 82 were destroyed on the ground, 70 were damaged on the ground, according to photographic evidence. (No Jap aircraft were airborne the second day of the attack.) Meantime, a force, including battleships and cruisers, made a sweep around the atoll, attacking Japanese merchant and naval vessels in the vicinity of Truk. There were few targets left by the 17th, and on that day our force retired. Sunk by our air and surface action were 2 light cruisers, 3 destroyers, 2 patrol craft, 1 ammunition ship, 8 freighters, 7 oilers, 2 barges. Damaged were 16 other vessels (only 14 out of a total of 55 vessels at Truk escaped undamaged). This antishipping assault was the heaviest yet delivered by our fleet air arm in terms of bomb tonnage, sorties flown, and targets available. Our losses: 25 aircraft lost, 1 ship moderately damaged.
17 February-Eniwetok landings began with establishment of artillery positions on islands flanking Engebi Island.
18 February-22nd Marines and 106th Infantry seized Engebi Island. Opposition was light.
19-21 February-Eniwetok Island was invaded and seized by the 106th Infantry Regiment and the 104th Artillery Battalion.
22-23 February-Parry Island, Eniwetok atoll, was invaded and seized by the 22nd Marines and the 4th Tank Battalion. This completed our control of Eniwetok atoll. Japanese killed, 2,665; prisoners, 66. Our casualties, 169 killed, 521 wounded, 26 missing.
17-29 February-U. S. destroyers bombarded Kavieng, New Ireland and Rabaul, New Britain, and conducted anti-shipping sweeps in the Bismarck area. These were our first surface bombardments of these enemy bases. There was no air nor surface opposition, and only "slight resistance from shore batteries.
19 February-On or about this date, the Japs evacuated their air forces from Rabaul and virtually stopped defending the Bismarcks with air-craft. Interception of our aircraft over Rabaul virtually ceased after 19 February.
20 February-Aircraft from our carriers strafed and bombed enemy installations on Jaluit atoll, Marshall Islands.
21-22 February-A carrier force under command of Rear (now Vice) Admiral Marc A. Mitscher, USN, bombed and strafed enemy installations on Saipan, Tinian, Rota, and Guam, in the Marianas. Air battles were fought with enemy aircraft. Virtually all of the enemy's aircraft in the Marianas were destroyed or damaged (total about 135). Of the few enemy ships located, 2 were destroyed and 9 damaged. Our losses were 6 aircraft.
28 February-Troops under General MacArthur landed at Los Negros, in the Admiralty Islands, from a naval force commanded by Rear Admiral W. E. Fechteler, USN. This advance into the Admiralties was the first step toward development of strategic airfields and a major fleet anchorage in these islands. It further flanked Rabaul. Resistance was light and the Momote airstrip was quickly seized.
4 March-Mindiri, 30 miles west of Saidor, on the New Guinea coast, was invaded by troops under General MacArthur.
7 March-Jap ground forces attacked our positions in Torokina area on Bougainville. Fighting continued until 25 March, when the Japs abandoned their effort and retired. Troops under the Supreme Commander, Allied Forces, Southwest Pacific Area, landed on Willaumez Peninsula, near Talasea, on northern coast of New Britain, 160 miles from Rabaul. Opposition was quickly overcome.
9 March-Wotho atoll, Marshall Islands, was secured.
11 March-Ujae atoll and Lib Island, in the Marshall Islands, were secured.
13 March-Lae atoll, Marshall Islands, was secured.
14 March-Manus Island, Admiralty group, invaded by troops under General MacArthur. Ships of the 7th Fleet supported with shore bombardment; aircraft of the Southwest Pacific air forces gave air cover. Lorengao airbase was captured in 72 hours. (Occupation of the Admiralty Islands was virtually completed by the end of April.)
15 March-B-24s of the Central Pacific air force made first land-based air attack on Truk. The island was not blacked out. Installations were bombed; fires were started.
16 March-Gasmata, on the south shore of New Britain, opposite Willaumez Peninsula, was invaded by troops under General MacArthur. No opposition was encountered.
17-18 March-U. S. destroyers bombarded Wewak, New Guinea. (This base and shipping in that area were subjected to heavy, continued, shorebased attacks from 11-27 March.)
18 March-Mille Island, Mille atoll, Marshall Islands, was bombed by carrier aircraft and shelled by heavy surface units.
19 March-Fourth Marines landed unopposed on Emirau Islands, St. Matthias group (75 miles northwest of Kavieng), thus completing the encirclement of Rabaul, Kavieng, and other enemy positions in the Bismarck Archipelago and Solomon Islands. Diversionary bombardment of Kavieng was conducted by heavy surface ships, which poured in more than 1,000 tons of shells. Operation was under general direction of Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., USN, Commander, South Pacific area and South Pacific Force of the U. S. Fleet. 22 March-U. S. Pacific Fleet destroyers bombarded Mussau Island, largest of St. Matthias group, 15 miles northwest of Emirau. Ailinglapalap atoll, Marshall Islands, was secured.
23 March-Namu atoll, Marshall Islands, was secured.
24 March-Ebon atoll, Marshall Islands, was secured.
26 March-Namorik atoll, Marshall Islands, was secured.
27 March-Kili Island, Marshall Islands, was secured. U. S. Pacific Fleet destroyers bombarded Kapingamarangi (Greenwich) atoll, north of New Ireland.
29-31 March-In the deepest penetration yet of enemy defenses, carrier forces under tactical command of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, USN, heavily attacked the Palau Islands, with additional strikes at Yap, Ulithi and Woleai, in the western Carolines. The approaching force was detected, and many enemy ships, including heavy units, fled from Palau anchorages. However, on 20-30 March, 29 Japanese ships were sunk at Palau: 3 destroyers; 2 large, 6 medium and 9 small freighters; 3 large, 1 medium and 1 small tanker; and 4 smaller vessels. Eighteen other vessels were severely damaged, some of them fired or beached, and 114 Jap aircraft were shot down; 46 destroyed on the ground. Yap and Ulithi were hit on the 30th. At Yap, 1 small craft was sunk; at Ulithi, 1 sunk, 1 damaged. At Woleai, on the 31st, 7 aircraft were destroyed on the ground, 3 barges destroyed. Installations at all four locations suffered heavy damage. Our losses were 25 aircraft lost in combat.
30 March-Bikini atoll, Marshall Islands, was secured.
1 April-Ailuk atoll, Marshall Islands, was secured.
2 April-Mejit atoll and Jemo Island (uninhabited), Marshall Islands, were secured.
3 April-Rongelap, Likiep, Ailinginae and Rongerik atolls (latter two uninhabited), Marshall Islands, were secured.
5 April-U. S. troops land on Ram Buyto, in the Admiralty Islands, without opposition. Utirik, Bikar and Taka atolls (latter uninhabited), Marshall Islands, secured.
11 April-"Major portion" of New Britain is ours, according to announcement from General MacArthur's headquarters. Formerly strong enemy positions at Cape Hoskins and Casmata have been abandoned, and the Japanese have fled for a last stand at Rabaul.
15 April-Alaska and Aleutians separated from 13th Naval District and made the 17th Naval District. Rear (now Vice) Admiral John H. Hoover, USN, was designated Commander, Forward Area, Central Pacific, by Admiral C. W. Nimitz, USN, with command over all forces assigned to the Forward Area, including land-based air forces. 18 April-Saipan, Tinian and Aguijan Islands in the Marianas were bombed in daylight by PB4Y8s of Fleet Air Wing 2 and B-24s of 7th AAF. 19
April-Sabang, enemy base off the northern tip of Sumatra, was bombarded by an Allied task force of carriers, battleships, cruisers, destroyers and submarines. Among the capital ships was the USS Saratoga. Admiral Sir James Sumerville, Royal Navy, commanded the force. This was the first time in World War II that ships of the Pacific Fleet have operated with British units on an offensive mission in the Indian Ocean.
20-23 April-Forces of the 5th Fleet provided air and surface support for landings of Southwest Pacific forces at Sitape and Hollandia, on the northern coast of New Guinea. Fifth Fleet carrier aircraft bombed and strafed Japanese airfields at Wakde, Sawar and in the Hollandia area. Fifth Fleet cruisers and destroyers bombarded Japanese airfields at Wakde and Sawar at night. Ground installations, fuel and ammunition dumps were destroyed in these strikes. It is estimated that 5th Fleet aircraft-whose operations were coordinated with those of the Southwest Pacific Air Forces-destroyed 88 Japanese aircraft on the ground, 34 in the air; and 1 small cargo vessel and 6 small craft. Fifth Fleet losses: 10 aircraft in combat.
21 April-Under cover furnished by ships of the 5th and 7th Fleets, and shore-based aircraft of the Southwest Pacific forces, troops under command of General MacArthur went ashore at Humboldt Bay and Tanamerah Bay to secure Hollandia, and also at Aitape. Opposition was light. Beachheads were quickly secured, and by the 28th all airfields and airdromes at both areas were in our hands. This move effectively isolated at least 60,000 Japs of the Japanese 18th army between Aitape and Madang, and made it possible to blockade them as enemy troops in the Solomons, the Bismarck Archipelago and the Marshalls were being blockaded. In this operation, the 5th Fleet units were under tactical command of Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher, USN, and the 7th Fleet units were under Rear Admiral D. E. Barbey, USN. Erikub and Aur atolls, Marshall Islands, were secured.
23 April-Ujeland atoll, Marshall Islands, was secured without opposition. This completed the Marshalls operation. In period of about 12 weeks, our forces had captured about 90 per cent of the enemy possessions in the Marshalls, and completely dominated the 330,000 square miles of sea and air in their environs. So effective had been our air and surface covering operations that, of the 24 atolls and 3 islands taken, only Kwajalein and Eniwetok had been heavily defended. Enemy casualties: 10,902 killed and 523 prisoners of war. Our casualties: 566 killed and missing, 1,683 wounded. Japanese bases on the following four atolls, completely bypassed, blockaded and pounded by daily air attacks, were left to "wither on the vine"; Jaluit, Mille, Wotje, Maloelap.
24 April-Madang, on the coast of northeast New Guinea, occupied by Australian and United States troops. On the 26th, these troops occupied Alexishafen, in the same area. This seizure gave Allied forces control of Vitiaz Strait, off northeast New Guinea, and major base and port facilities.
29-30 April-Returning from the Hollandia operation, 5th Fleet units under Vice Admiral Mitscher attacked Truk. Carrier aircraft heavily bombed and strafed ground installations, doing extensive damage. Other enemy losses: 63 aircraft shot down, 60 destroyed on the ground; 4 small craft sunk. We lost 27 aircraft.
30 April-Pacific Fleet cruisers and destroyers bombarded Satawan, in the Namoi group, Caroline Islands. The target area, which the Japanese had been developing as an air base, was thoroughly covered with heavy projectiles. Rear Admiral J. B. Oldendorf, USN, commanded the forces.
1 May-Battleships of the 5th Fleet, supported by carrier aircraft, bombarded Ponape, in the Carolines. Numerous buildings in Ponape town, the sea plane base, and the wharf area were destroyed. (Ponape and other Japanese bases in the Carolines had suffered increasingly heavy shore-based air attacks during the months of March and April. Such attacks were further stepped up during May.)
13-14 May-Land-based bombers heavily attack Jaluit, Marshall Islands.
16-19 May-Wakde Islands, 115 miles west of Hollandia along the New Guinea coast, seized by U. S. Army units under the Supreme Commander, Allied Forces, Southwest Pacific area.
17 May-Soerabaja, Java, attacked by carrier aircraft of the Allied naval forces which had attacked Sabang on 19 April. This raid coincided with landings at Wakde. Damage inflicted: At least 10 enemy ships damaged, some heavily, and 26 aircraft destroyed. Ground installations damaged. Our losses: 1 aircraft. Destroyers bombarded Maloelap.
19-20 May-Pacific Fleet carriers bombed and strafed enemy installations on Marcus Island in two-day air attack.
20 May-Cruisers and destroyers bombarded enemy positions in the Shortland Islands, just south of Bougainville.
21 May-Land-based aircraft heavily bombed Wotje, Marshall Islands.
22 May-Destroyers bombarded Wotje.
23 May-Carrier aircraft bombed Wake Island.
26 May-Destroyers bombarded Mille, Marshall Islands.
27 May-Biak Island, 180 miles west of Wakde off New Guinea coast, invaded by U. S. Army units under command of General MacArthur. They were supported by bombing and naval bombardment by ships of the 7th Fleet. From Biak, Davao in the Philippines is less than 80 miles and the Palau Islands are slightly over 500 miles
29 May-Medina, on northern coast of New Ireland, was bombarded by Pacific Fleet destroyers.
9 June-Japanese base at Fangelawa Bay, New Ireland, was bombarded by Pacific Fleet destroyers.
10 June-Aircraft of a fast carrier task force struck at enemy airpower on Saipan, Tinian, Rota, Pagan and Guam in the Marianas. Installations, positions and parked aircraft were bombed and strafed. Approximately 150 enemy aircraft were destroyed, about three-fourths of them in the air. Our losses: 11 aircraft.
11 June-Japanese convoy of about 20 vessels fleeing the Marianas was attacked by our carrier aircraft west of Pagan. Most of the ships were sunk or heavily damaged. Another enemy convoy consisting of 6 vessels was similarly attacked west of Guam, and damaged. Other shipping in the Marianas area was attacked by our aircraft. Ground installations on Saipan, Tinian, Rota, Pagan, and Guam were bombed and strafed.
12 June-Attacks by carrier aircraft on the Marianas were continued. Battleships conducted a day-long bombardment of Saipan. Night of 12-13 June: Destroyers bombarded Saipan and Tinian.
13 June-Carrier air strikes on the Marianas were continued. Battleships bombarded Saipan and Tinian. Pacific Fleet cruisers, destroyers and aircraft attacked enemy installations on Matsuwa Island in the Kuriles.
14 June-Covered by heavy air and surface bombardment, our troops went ashore at Saipan, main Japanese base in the Marianas and headquarters of the Japanese Commander in Chief, Central Pacific Area. Vigorous opposition had developed. Fighting on Saipan ranked with the severest in the Pacific war, but its seizure constituted a major breach in the Japanese line of inner defenses. The expeditionary force included the 2nd and 4th Marine Divisions and the 27th Infantry Division, United States Army. The Saipan operation, like the other invasions in the Marianas, was under the general direction of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, USN, Commander, Fifth Fleet, with Vice Admiral Richmond K. Turner, USN, in charge of the expeditionary forces. (Saipan is 3,300 miles from Pearl Harbor, 1,000 miles from Eniwetok, and 1,260 miles from Tokyo.) During the evening, Japanese aircraft attacked our ships in the Saipan Area. Fifteen aircraft were shot down. Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands and Chichi Jima and Haha Jima in the Bonins were attacked by our carrier aircraft. Installations were bombed and strafed. Jap losses: 39 aircraft shot down, 25 destroyed on the ground. Two freighters were sunk, several heavily damaged. Our losses: 8 aircraft. This was our first carrier strike on the Volcanos and Bonins.
15 June-Installations on Iwo Jima were bombed and strafed by our carrier aircraft. There was no airborne opposition but antiaircraft fire was heavy. We lost 3 aircraft. Carrier strikes continued on the Marianas area. China-based B-29s bombed Yawata, steel center on northern Kyushu, in Japan. This was the first attack by land-based aircraft on the main Japanese Islands, and the first time B-29 bombers were used in an offensive invasion. Vice Admiral J. H. Newton, USN, relieved Admiral William F. Halsey, USN, as Commander South Pacific Area and South Pacific Force. Admiral Halsey remained Commander 3rd Fleet.
16 June-Carrier aircraft continued to bomb enemy installations in the Marianas in support of our expanding beachhead.
17 June-U. S. forces on Saipan captured Aslito (later Isely) air field.
18 June-Aircraft from Japanese carrier striking force attacked our sea forces covering the Saipan operation in the first stage of the Battle of the Philippine Sea. The enemy attack continued for several hours. The Japanese aircraft were intercepted and a high percentage of them shot down. Enemy losses for the day: 402 aircraft, all but 17 of which were destroyed in the air; two carriers damaged. Our losses: 17 aircraft, and superficial damage to two carriers and a battleship.
19 June-Aircraft from our carriers attacked the Japanese carrier striking force, in the second stage of the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Jap losses: 1 aircraft carrier, 1 light aircraft carrier, 2 destroyers, 1 tanker sunk; 1 aircraft carrier, 1 destroyer and 1 tanker possibly sunk; 1 aircraft carrier, 1 or 2 light aircraft carriers, 1 battleship, 2 heavy cruisers, 1 light cruiser, 1 destroyer and 3 tankers damaged; 26 Japanese aircraft were shot down. Our losses: 93 aircraft (many of their personnel were rescued from these planes, a large percentage of which had been forced to land on the water in the darkness that night). From this date until 7 July, Guam and Rota were attacked each day by at least one strike from our carrier forces. On that day continued heavy surface bombardment-coordinated with the air strikes-began.
20 June-Our fleet attempted to pursue and to contact the enemy fleet which was in a full speed retreat. The enemy eluded our search. 22-23 June-Installations on Pagan were bombed and strafed by our carrier aircraft.
23 June-Our carrier aircraft struck at Iwo Jima. Japanese losses: 68 aircraft near Iwo Jima, 46 in unsuccessful thrusts at our carrierstotal 114 aircraft lost in the air. Our losses: 5 aircraft.
25-26 June-Kurabu Zaki, an important enemy base on Paramushiru in the Kuriles, was bombarded at night by our cruisers and destroyers.
26 June-Guam was bombarded by surface units.
30 June-1 July-Guam again bombarded by surface units.
1 July-Under cover of naval and air bombardment troops under command of General MacArthur landed at Kamiri on Noemfoor Island, 100 miles west of Biak Island off Dutch New Guinea. Key Kamiri airfield was captured without much opposition 1 hour and 51 minutes after the landing.
2-3 July-Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands and Haha Jima in the Bonins were heavily attacked by carrier aircraft. Bombs, machine guns and rockets were used. On the 3rd Iwo Jima was shelled by surface units. Meanwhile Iwo Jima was attacked by a fast carrier task group. In these strikes 9 ships were sunk, 8 damaged, together with a larger number of small craft. Twenty-six Japanese aircraft were shot down and 128 were left inoperable on the ground. We lost 22 aircraft.
6 July - Several thousand Japanese troops launched a desperate counterattack on our forces at Saipan. Our casualties were severe, but the charge was thrown back with more than 1,500 enemy troops killed.
7 July-Guam was bombarded by surface units. From this time until the landing on the 20th, Guam was under constant surface bombardment, with coordinated strikes by our carrier aircraft. Continued attacks were also made on Rota.
8 July-Organized resistance ended on Saipan. This was one of the most significant victories won by U. S. forces in the Pacific. It led directly to the fall of the Tojo cabinet in Tokyo. Mopping up continued. Through 9 December, 26,571 Japanese had been killed and 2,099 captured on Saipan. B-29s based on the continent of Asia bombarded the Japanese naval base at Sasebo and the steel center of Yawata, in Japan. This was the second B-29 raid on the Japanese homeland, the first having occurred on 15 June.
12 July-Second Marine Division landed on Maniagassa Island, 2 miles off the northwestern coast of Saipan.
13 July-Iwo Jima was bombed by aircraft of the Central Pacific shore-based air forces. This was the first raid on the Nanpo Shoto by landbased aircraft of the Pacific Ocean Areas.
15-17 July-Guam was shelled at close range by battleships, cruisers and destroyers in the heightening campaign to obliterate gun emplacements and other installations. Tinian was shelled during the night of the 15-16th by destroyers.
20 July-Supported by carrier aircraft and heavy surface bombardment, our troops invaded Guam, largest and southernmost of the Marianas, establishing beachheads on both sides of Apra Harbor. The landing forces included the 3rd Marine Division, the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade and the 77th Infantry Division. There was little opposition to the landings themselves, but determined opposition developed inland. From this date until 7 August, our battleships, cruisers and destroyers furnished fire support to the troops ashore on Guam. Carrier aircraft also provided continued support.
21 July-Artillery and naval gunfire were directed against Tinian.
23 July-Second and Fourth Marine Divisions landed on Tinian, supported by carrier and land-based aircraft and artillery and naval gunfire. Casualties in the landing forces were light. As at Guam, naval gunfire and carrier aircraft support was provided our troops on Tinian in the days following the assault.
24-27 July-Carrier aircraft of a fast carrier task group attacked enemy installations in the Palau Islands. Also attacked were Yap, Ulithi, Fais, Ngulu and Soror, in the western Carolines.
29 July-Tinian town was captured. Apra Harbor, site of former U. S. Naval Base on Guam, was again put into use by our ships.
29-30 July-Supported by Allied naval and air forces, troops under General MacArthur landed on the 29th on the islands of Amsterdam and Middleburg and at Cape Opmari, near Sansapor in northwestern Vogelkop, near the western tip of Netherlands New Guinea. These islands are nearly 200 miles beyond our base on Noemfoor Island, and slightly more than 600 miles southeast of the Philippines. On the 30th, we landed at Cape Sansapor. There was little opposition to these landings. This move by-passed Manokwari, pivotal enemy base in the Vogelkop Peninsula, and effectively neutralized New Guinea as an enemy base of operations.
31 July-Organized resistance ceased on Tinian. Mopping up continued. Through 9 December, 6,932 Japanese had been killed, 321 taken prisoner on Tinian.
2 August-American flag was formally raised on Tinian.
3-4 August-Air and surface units of a fast carrier task force virtually wiped put a Japanese convoy and raided airfields and installations in the Bonin and Volcano Islands. (Muko Jima, Chichi Jima, Haha Jima, Ane Jima, Iwo Jima.) Japanese losses were 11 ships sunk, 8 ships damaged; 6 aircraft shot down, 7 destroyed on the ground. We lost 16 planes.
9 August-Organized Japanese resistance ended on Guam. Mopping up continued. Through 9 December, 17,436 Japanese had been killed and 512 captured on Guam.
30-31 August and 1 September-Chichi Jima and Haha Jima, in the Bonins, and Iwo Jima in the Volcanos, were bombed and strafed by aircraft of a fast carrier task force on 30th and the 1st, Chichi Jima and Haha Jima were bombarded by cruisers and destroyers. Japanese losses were: 6 ships sunk, 4 ships probably sunk, 3 ships damaged; 11 aircraft shot down, 35 destroyed on the ground. Installations, airfields and supply dumps were damaged. We lost 5 aircraft.
31 August-Admiral Nimitz announced that Lt. General Millard F. Harmon had assumed command of all Army Air Force units operating in the Pacific Ocean Areas.
3 September-Cruisers and destroyers did extensive damage to enemy installations on Wake Island by surface bombardment. There was no air opposition.
5 September-Aircraft of a fast carrier task group bombed Palau Islands. Installations were damaged; 17 small craft were left burning.
5-7 September-Carrier aircraft bombed and strafed Yap and Ulithi, in the western Carolines.
6 September-Enemy installations in the Palau Islands were shelled by cruisers and destroyers of the Pacific Fleet.
8 September-Carrier aircraft attacked Mindanao Island in the Philippines. Sixty-eight enemy aircraft were shot down, 32 loaded freighters in convoy were sunk by combined air and surface attack; 20 ships in Davao Gulf were damaged; 20 small craft were sunk, 17 damaged.
9 September-Carrier aircraft attacked Angaur, Peleliu and Koror Islands, in the Palau Group, and bombed installations and shipping.
10-11 September-Babelthuap, Peleliu and Angaur were attacked by carrier aircraft of the Pacific Fleet. On the 11th, these islands were bombarded by battleships.
11-13 September-Carrier aircraft shot down 15G enemy aircraft and destroyed 277 on the ground in strikes at Leyte, Cebu, Negros and Panay Islands in the Visayas group, Philippines. Forty enemy ships were sunk, 44 damaged. Ground installations were damaged.
12 September-Carrier aircraft hit Angaur, Peleliu and Ngesebus, in the Palau Islands.
13 September-Supported by fleet, air and surface units, the 1st Marine Division landed on Peleliu in the Palau Islands. The amphibious operations were commanded by Vice Admiral T. W. Wilkinson, USN, Commander, Third Amphibious Force. Expeditionary troops were commanded by Major General Julian C. Smith, USMC. Ground opposition was fairly stiff. The fast carrier task force supporting the operation was commanded by Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher, USN. At almost the same hour, our troops, under command of General MacArthur, landed on Morotai, in the Halmaheras. Opposition was negligible, and an airfield was captured the first day.
15 September-Carrier aircraft bombed enemy positions and installations on Babelthuap and Peleliu, in the Palau Islands.
16 September-The 81st Infantry Division, U. S. Army, invaded Angaur, southernmost of the Palau Islands, under cover of air and surface bombardment. Opposition was light. Military government was set up on Peleliu Island.
19 September-Organized resistance ceased on Angaur Island.
20-21 September-Elements of the 81st Infantry Division, covered by ships of the Pacific Fleet, occupied Ulithi atoll, in the western Carolines. They were unopposed. The Pacific war came back, after 2½ years, to the island of Luzon, with a smashing two-day attack by carrier-based aircraft of the Pacific Fleet. Japanese losses: 40 ships sunk, 11 ships probably sunk, 6 small craft sunk, 11 small craft damaged, 2 floating drydocks damaged, 169 aircraft shot down, 188 aircraft destroyed on the ground, 45 aircraft damaged on the ground, 3 aircraft damaged by ships' gunfire. Extensive, widespread damage to military targets. Our losses: 11 aircraft.
23 September-Carrier planes of the Pacific Fleet struck at Cebu, Leyte, Negros, Luzon, and Nactan, in the Visayas Group of the Philippine Islands. Japanse losses were 22 ships sunk, 43 ships damaged, 20 to 30 small craft sunk or damaged; 7 aircraft shot down, 29 destroyed on the ground.
27 September-First Marine Division landed on Ngesebus and Kongauru, in the Palau Islands, with the usual air and surface bombardment cover. Both islands were quickly secured.
30 September-Military government was proclaimed on Angaur. Military government was set up on Kongauru and Ngesebus Islands.
8 October-Marcus Island was bombarded by surface units of the Pacific Fleet. Elements of the 81st Infantry Division landed on Garakayo, in the southern Palau Islands. The island was secured the following day.
9 October-For the first time of the war, carrier aircraft of the Pacific Fleet attacked the Ryukyu Archipelago. The strikes were in great force. Forty-six enemy ships and 41 small craft were sunk. Twenty ships were probably sunk; 20 ships damaged. Twenty-three enemy aircraft were shot down, 59 destroyed on the ground; 37 were damaged on the ground. Ground installations were heavily damaged. Our losses: 8 aircraft.
10 October-Troops of the 81st Infantry Division landed on Bairakaseru Island, Palau. There was no opposition. Our carrier planes attacked Luzon Island in force.
12 October-Organized resistance on Peleliu ceased. Mopping up continued. Through 9 December, total Japanese casualtes on Peleliu and Angaur were 13,354 killed, 433 taken prisoners.
11-15 October-Aircraft of a fast carrier task force struck Formosa in force 11-13 October. Air battles ensued which lasted until the 15th. Enemy losses were 416 aircraft destroyed; 32 ships sunk, 13 probably sunk, 55 damaged. We lost 66 aircraft. Ground installations were extensively damaged. (Following our carrier attacks on Formosa and Luzon, Tokyo announced a great Japanese victory, claiming 11 U. S. carriers were sunk, 6 damaged; 2 battleships sunk, 1 damaged; 3 cruisers sunk, 4 damaged, etc. These figures were raised in a broadcast of 25 November to the following: 50 carriers, 20 battleships, 2 battleships or cruisers, 30 cruisers, 16 cruisers or destroyers, 7 destroyers and 22 unidentified craft sunk or damaged. (See entry for 17 October below.)
13 October-Luzon was attacked by carrier aircraft. No airborne opposition.
15 October-Carrier aircraft struck again at Manila Bay area. Ngulu atoll, in the western Carolines, was occupied. Resistance was slight.
16 October-Carrier aircraft attacked Manila area. Japanese losses were 20 aircraft shot down, 30-40 destroyed on the ground.
17-18 October-Carrier aircraft attacked northern Luzon and the Manila area. Fifty-six enemy aircraft were destroyed; four ships were sunk, 23 damaged. Our losses were 7 aircraft.
17 October-The Commander-in-Chief, U. S. Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas, announced that no U. S. battleship or aircraft carrier had been damaged in the Formosa and Luzon battles. Two medium-sized ships had been damaged.
19 October-Carrier aircraft of a fast carrier task force bombed, rocketed and strafed targets in the Visayas group, Philippine Islands. The U. S. 6th Army, under command of General MacArthur, began landings on Leyte, supported by the largest concentration of Allied forces yet assembled in the Pacific. This goaded the Japanese Navy to action. Three powerful enemy task forces converged on the landing beaches from the South China Sea and the Japanese home islands. Thus the stage was set for the second Battle of the Philippine Sea.
20 October-Carrier aircraft strafed and bombed enemy aircraft and shipping targets in the Philippine Islands.
22-27 October-Second Battle of the Philippine Sea. This was one of the decisive victories of the war in the Pacific. Enemy losses: 2 battleships, 4 carriers, 6 heavy cruisers, 3 light cruisers, 3 small cruisers or large destroyers, 6 destroyers. Severely damaged, may have sunk: 1 battleship, 5 cruisers, 7 destroyers. Damaged: 6 battleships, 4 heavy cruisers, 1 light cruiser, 10 destroyers. U. S. losses: Sunk: the light carrier Princeton; 2 escort carriers, the Saint Lo and the Gambier Bay; 2 destroyers, the Johnston and the Moel; 1 destroyer escort, the Samuel B. Roberts; and a few lesser craft. Our units involved were from the Third and Seventh Fleets. In this battle, the Japanese fleet was divided into three forces: FORCE "A": 5 battleships, 10 heavy cruisers, 1 light cruiser, 13-15 destroyers. Two heavy cruisers were sunk west of Palawan on the 22nd as Force "A" proceeded north. A third, damaged, turned back. On the 23rd, Force "A" was attacked by our carrier aircraft in the Mindoro Straits. One light cruiser was sunk, and 1 battleship and 1 light cruiser were heavily damaged and turned back. Several other ships were hit. This force continued through the San Bernardino Straits on the 24th, however, and on that date was met by escort carriers and other light units of the Seventh Fleet east of Samar. Aircraft of the Third Fleet entered the engagement about noon. At least one enemy heavy cruiser was sunk, 1 destroyer left dead in the water. The entire Japanese force turned back. Later in the day, the force again was attacked by our aircraft, and a damaged cruiser was sunk by our surface units. On the 25th, this fleeing force again was attacked by carrier aircraft and 1 heavy cruiser and 1 light cruiser were sunk and other vessels damaged. FORCE "B": 2 battleships, 2 heavy cruisers, 7 destroyers and possibly 2 light cruisers. This force was attacked in the Sulu Sea on the 23rd by our carrier aircraft and damaged. As it passed through Surigao Straits (night of October 24-25), it was attacked by our force and all units sunk or decisively defeated. FORCE "C": 1 carrier, 3 light carriers, 2 battleships with flight deck aft, 5 cruisers, 10 destroyers. This force, proceeding southward oft' the east coast of Luzon, was surprised by our Third Fleet carrier planes early on the 24th. All carriers were sunk. One battleship with a flight deck aft was damaged, 2 cruisers or destroyers sunk. One damaged cruiser was sunk during the next night by a U. S. submarine.
28 October-Carrier aircraft attacked southern Luzon and the Central Philippines. Enemy losses: 3 cargo vessels sunk, 1 cruiser probably sunk, 2 cruisers and 1 tanker damaged; 78 aircraft shot down, 12 destroyed on the ground.
1 November-A carrier group of the Third Fleet was attacked in the western Pacific by enemy aircraft. Damage was inflicted on several ships. Ten of the attacking aircraft were destroyed.
4 November-Carrier aircraft of the Third Fleet attacked Manila Harbor and five nearby airfields. One hundred and ninety-one enemy aircraft were destroyed. Two enemy cruisers, 3 destroyers and several cargo ships were damaged.
5 November-Carrier aircraft of the Third Fleet continued attacks on Luzon. In addition to the enemy's aircraft losses of 4 November, 249 aircraft were destroyed. Three cargo vessels and an oiler were sunk, and six other vessels were damaged. Ground installations were heavily damaged.
7-8 November-Approximately 200 Japanese landed on Ngeregong Island, northeast of Peleliu, where a small Marine patrol had previously landed. The Marines were evacuated without loss.
10 November-Iwo Jima was bombarded by ships of the Pacific Fleet. Carrier aircraft of the Third Fleet attacked a 10-ship enemy convoy just outside Ormoc Bay, destroying 7 ships, probably sinking 2 others, and damaging the other ship. Fifteen enemy aircraft were downed; we lost 9.
12 November-Carrier aircraft attacked shipping in Manila Bay. One light cruiser, 4 destroyers, 11 cargo ships and oilers were sunk. Twenty-eight enemy aircraft were downed, 130-140 strafed on the ground.
14 November-Troops of the 81st Infantry Division reoccupied Ngeregong, in the Palau Islands, which had been heavily attacked with bombs and gunfire. There was no resistance.
18 November-Aircraft from a carrier task force struck shipping and airfields in and around Manila, and 10 ships were damaged, 1 sunk, and 100 enemy aircraft were destroyed on the ground.
21 November-Matsuwa, in the Kuriles, was bombarded by a naval task force. Shore batteries did not reply.
24 November-Carrier based aircraft of the Third Fleet attacked Luzon. Eighteen vessels were sunk and 15 were damaged. Eighty-seven enemy aircraft were destroyed. In the first B-29 raid on Japan from our newly established super-bomber base on Saipan, high explosives and incendiaries were poured on the Toyko waterfront area and on the Murashina aircraft plant.
6 December-Japanese aircraft raided B-29 base at Saipan. Six enemy aircraft shot down. One B-29 was destroyed, 2 damaged.
7 December-A very heavy attack on Iwo Jima was carried out by a large force of B-29s, together with 108 Liberators and 30 Lightnings. On the same day, surface units bombarded the island.
8 December-Cincpac communique announced that Lt. General Millard F. Harmon had been assigned to command the Strategic Air Force, Pacific Ocean Areas, including all shore-based aircraft of the Pacific Ocean Areas normally employed on offensive missions.
11 December-Great Britain announced that a British Pacific Fleet would be sent to the Pacific theater, under command of Admiral Fraser.
13-15 December-Carrier aircraft of the Pacific Fleet bombed and strafed harbor and airfield installations on Luzon. Enemy losses: 34 ships sunk, 36 damaged; 61 aircraft destroyed in the air, 208 destroyed on the ground. We lost 27 aircraft.
15 December-Army troops under General MacArthur invaded Mindoro Island, south of Luzon.
19 December-Admiral C. W. Nimitz, Cincpac and Cincpoa, assumed the rank of a Fleet Admiral.
20 December-Organized resistance on Leyte has ended.