World War II Solomons Campaign: Bougainville (November 1943-March 1944)

Figure 1.--Throughout the Solomons campaign, Japanese brutality resulted in the local population mostly supporting the Americans. This press photo was dated February 12, 1944. The caption read, "All American--A native boy on Bougainville smokes an American pipe to prove he is 'all same white fella'. He is one of a group of natives who made their way from behind Japanese line where the garrison was starving. His attempt at Americanism seems to amuse MP Sgt. Bernard Gayler of Newport, Vt,"

A month after Pearl Harbor attack, the Japanese occupied Rabaul and attacked Buka Island just north of Bougainville (January 1942). The Australians withdraw from Bougainville and the other islands, but leave in place coast watchers who provide valuable reports on Japanese movement during the naval Battles in the Slot and around the Solomons. After securing New Georgia (October 1943), the Allies began to target Bougainville where another airfield coukld be built. This was preceeded landings at Mono and Stirling in the Treasury Islands (October 25-27). A Marine division landed then landed on the west coast of Bougainville at at Torokina on Empress Augusta Bay (November 1, 1943). An Army division landed to support them. Annoter Army division replsced the Marines (December 1943). The Marines an Army secured the beachhead at Empress Augusta Bay (Late-November). It provided the area needed for an airfield. The Americans did not attempt to seize the entire island. American air power destroyed Japanese planes and the airfield in the north. American air and sea power isolated the substantial Japanese garrison. Taking the Green Islands made it impossible for the Japanese to resupply Bougainville (February 14, 1944). The Japanese mustered their forces and launched a surprise offensive (March 1944). They suffered substantial losses and used up most of their supplies. as a result, the Allies succeed in isolating the Japanese forces on Bougainville-Buka who without supplied do not have the capacity to contest control of the island. They spent the rest of the War primarily attempting to obtain food. The American position on Bougainville also isolated all remaining Japanese forces in the Solomons. The air base on Bougainville gave the United States the ability to further intensify the pounding of Japanese air and naval facilities at Rabaul. Australia taken over occupation of Torokin (October-December 1944). After the Emperor announced the Japanese surrender, the isolated Japanese forces on Bougainville-Buka who were starving surrendered to the Australians (August 1945).


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Created: 12:04 PM 2/2/2011
Last updated: 4:09 PM 1/4/2015