1 October 1943

1 October 1943

1 October 1943

October 1943

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File #1001: "C-LP Circular No. 20 October 1, 1943.pdf"

quarters by Cap Coastal Patrol No. 20, setting forth procedure developed
by that unit in the use of the CAP medium-high frequency radio converter,
"Referring to the schematic diagram
o f t h e c o n v e r t e r, t h e o n l y c h a n g e
made is to use capacitive coupling

to the grid of the tube, instead of
inductive coupling. We used a 0 to
3 0 m m f d v a r i a b l e p a d d e r. T h i s

change broadened the signal con
siderably, making it easier to
pick it up, also increased the
s e n s i t i v i t y r e i i i a r k a b l y. B e f o r e
this change v/as made, v/e expe»

rienced great difficulty from
receiving desired signals, after
this was dene, we had no trouble
at

2. The foregoing memorandum is presented herein for the informa
tion of all concerned.


Contents

Before the war, Bougainville had been administered as part of the Australian Territory of New Guinea, even though, geographically, Bougainville is part of the Solomon Islands chain. As a result, within the various accounts of the campaign it is referred to as part of both the New Guinea and the Solomon Islands campaigns. [5]

During their occupation the Japanese constructed naval aircraft bases in the north, east, and south of the island but none in the west. They developed a naval anchorage at Tonolei Harbor near Buin, their largest base, on the southern coastal plain of Bougainville. On the nearby Treasury and Shortland Islands they built airfields, naval bases and anchorages. [6] These bases helped protect Rabaul, the major Japanese garrison and naval base in Papua New Guinea, while allowing continued expansion to the south-east, down the Solomon Islands chain, to Guadalcanal and New Guinea and beyond. To the Allies, Bougainville would later also be considered vital for neutralizing the Japanese base around Rabaul. [7]

In March–April 1942, the Japanese landed on Bougainville as part of their advance into the South Pacific. At the time, there was only a small Australian garrison on the island which consisted of about 20 soldiers from the 1st Independent Company and some coastwatchers. Shortly after the Japanese arrived, the bulk of the Australian force was evacuated by the Allies, although some of the coastwatchers remained behind to provide intelligence. [8] Once secured, the Japanese began constructing a number of airfields across the island. [9] The main airfields were on Buka Island, the Bonis Peninsula in the north, at Kahili and Kara, in the south, and Kieta on the east coast, [9] while a naval anchorage was constructed at Tonolei Harbor near Buin on the southern coastal plain, along with anchorages on the Shortland Islands group. [10]

The airfield at Kahili was known by the Japanese as Buin Airfield, [11] and to its south was an airfield on Ballale Island in the Shortland Islands. These bases allowed the Japanese to conduct operations in the southern Solomon Islands and to attack the Allied lines of communication between the United States, Australia and the Southwest Pacific Area. [9]

At the opening of the Allied offensives, their estimates of Japanese strength on Bougainville varied widely, ranging between 45,000 and 65,000 Army, Navy, and labour personnel. [3] [Note 2] These forces constituted the Japanese 17th Army, commanded by General Harukichi Hyakutake. [12] Hyukatake reported to General Hitoshi Imamura, commander of the Japanese Eighth Area Army, headquartered at Rabaul on New Britain Island. Naval command at Rabaul was the responsibility of Vice Admiral Jinichi Kusaka, commander Southeast Area Fleet. The level of cooperation between these two officers was greater than that usually found between the branches of the Japanese armed forces. [13] On Bougainville, the Japanese forces consisted of the following formations: the 17th Infantry Group – consisting of the 81st Infantry Regiment and the III Battalion, 53rd Infantry Regiment under Major General Kesao Kijima, and elements of the 6th Division. The 17th Infantry occupied northern Bougainville, while the 6th had responsibility for the island south of Tarina. [14]

Choice of Bougainville Edit

Reduction of the main Japanese base at Rabaul was the ultimate goal of the Allied offensive in the Solomons. To achieve this, Allied planners formulated Operation Cartwheel. By 1943 Rabaul was already within range of Allied heavy bombers, but a closer airfield was needed for light bombers and escort fighters. Thus, the entire island of Bougainville did not need to be occupied only enough relatively flat land to support an airbase was required. According to Morison this "was the one and only reason why the JCS authorized Halsey to seize a section of Bougainville: to establish forward airfields for strikes on Rabaul." [15]

The area around Cape Torokina was settled on since, among other things, the Japanese were not there in force and had no airfield there. Also, Empress Augusta Bay had a somewhat protected anchorage, and the physical barriers to the east of the cape – for instance the mountain ranges and thick jungle – meant that mounting a counterattack would be beyond the capabilities of the Japanese for weeks, if not months, which would allow the US forces to consolidate after landing and give them enough time to establish a strong perimeter. [16]

Preparations for the landings Edit

Bougainville lay within the Southwest Pacific Area, so operations were nominally under the command of General Douglas MacArthur, whose headquarters were in Brisbane, Australia. Although MacArthur had to approve all major moves, he gave planning and operational control to Admiral William F. Halsey, Commander U.S. Third Fleet, headquartered at Nouméa on New Caledonia. [17] In mid-October, Halsey set 1 November as the date for the invasion of Bougainville. [18]

By early October, it was clear to the Japanese that the Allies were planning a follow-up offensive to the Allied capture of the New Georgias, although the target was uncertain. The commander of the Japanese Combined Fleet, Admiral Mineichi Koga, flying his flag aboard the battleship Musashi from Truk Lagoon, sent all of his carrier aircraft to Rabaul. These planes would combine with the land-based air force already there and bomb Allied bases and supply routes as part of a plan the Japanese called Operation RO. [18] In the event, this plan achieved very little besides further attrition to the Japanese air arm as the Japanese aircraft suffered heavy losses, [19] which later prevented the Japanese aircraft from intervening against the US landings in the Gilbert and Marshal Islands. [20]

To confuse the Japanese as to the Allies' real target, two other invasions were carried out. The Treasury Islands, just southwest of the Shortlands, were occupied 27 October by the 8th Brigade Group, 3rd New Zealand Division under the command of Brigadier Robert Row, and a temporary landing was effected on Choiseul, one of the major islands in the Solomons chain. [21] Unlike on Guadalcanal and the New Georgias, Allied planners were unable to gain valuable intelligence from coastwatchers or small Australian Army detachments as the Japanese had driven them off the island long before plans for Operation Cherry Blossom began. [22]

Forces allocated Edit

Rear Admiral Theodore Wilkinson, Commander Third Fleet Amphibious Forces, was assigned by Halsey to direct the landings at Cape Torokina from aboard his flagship, the attack transport George Clymer. [23] The ships under Wilkinson's command would disembark the I Marine Amphibious Corps, commanded by Major General Alexander Vandegrift, victor of the land campaign on Guadalcanal. Vandegrift's force, a total of 14,321 men, consisted of the 3rd Marine Division (reinforced), under Maj. Gen. Allen H. Turnage, the U.S. Army's 37th Infantry Division, under Maj. Gen. Robert S. Beightler, and the Advance Naval Base Unit No. 7. [24]

First day: 1–2 November 1943 Edit

Three groups of transports converged in Empress Augusta Bay on the morning of 1 November. The existing maps of the Bougainville coast that the Allies possessed were highly unreliable German Admiralty charts from about 1890. A few corrections had been made by reconnaissance flights and submarine scouting, but some longitudes were still wrong. Indeed, Morison recounts that "near the end of the approach, when the navigating officer of a transport was asked by the captain for his ship's position, he replied, 'About three miles inland, sir!'" [25] Morison further recounts the scene of the landing in the following passage:

To the forces, as they approached, Empress Augusta Bay presented a magnificent but somewhat terrifying spectacle. Behind the curved sweep of the shore line, a heavy, dark green jungle. swept up over foothills and crumpled ridges to the cordillera which was crowned by a smoking volcano, Mount Baranga, 8,650 feet above sea level. It was wilder and more majestic scenery than anyone had yet witnessed in the South Pacific. [26]

From the difficult landings at Guadalcanal and the New Georgias, Admiral Wilkinson had learned a significant lesson about the necessity of rapid unloading and getting his slow, vulnerable transports away from the landing area. To this end, he only loaded his transports half full and his cargo ships one-quarter full, and made sure that 30% of the troops on the beach assisted in unloading. [27] The Japanese, having been taken by surprise, were unable to mount an air assault on the invasion fleet. Admiral Wilkinson, grateful that his transports were able to land almost the entire troop contingent and a large amount of materiel unmolested by air attack, ordered them out of the area around sundown. [28]

Japanese response Edit

Japanese forces around the landing area were limited to no more than platoon strength, as they had not expected a landing in the area and their logistics system was unable to support greater numbers. [14] When word of the landings reached Rabaul, Vice Admiral Tomoshige Samejima, Commander Japanese Eighth Fleet, immediately embarked a thousand troops from the II Battalion, 54th Infantry Regiment [29] onto five destroyer-transports at Rabaul and sent them to Cape Torokina to effect a counterlanding. Escorting the transports was a force of two heavy cruisers, two light cruisers and six destroyers led by Vice Admiral Sentaro Omori. During the night voyage to Torokina, the Japanese ships were spotted by an American submarine and possibly by a search plane. Concerned that he had lost the element of surprise, Omori radioed Samejima to ask permission to send the slow-moving transports back to Rabaul, but to continue with the combat ships to attack the American transports that he assumed were still in Empress Augusta Bay. Samejima concurred, and Omori pressed ahead with his cruisers and destroyers. [30]

At the same time, Rear Admiral Stanton Merrill was steaming toward the Bay with four light cruisers and eight destroyers. The two forces met in the early morning hours of 2 November in the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay, in which the Japanese lost light cruiser Sendai and destroyer Hatsukaze. [31]

Carrier raid on Rabaul Edit

Admiral Koga was unwilling to risk his precious aircraft carriers, but decided to dispatch seven heavy cruisers to Rabaul. These arrived on 3 November. News of the cruisers' arrival in the area of operations greatly concerned Admiral Halsey: the Bougainville beachhead was still quite vulnerable and he had no heavy cruisers at all to oppose a bombardment. Taking a huge gamble, he ordered the only carrier force under his immediate command, Task Force 38 under Rear Admiral Frederick C. Sherman, to cripple or sink as much of the combat shipping in Simpson Harbor as possible. The resulting air strike, launched from Sherman's fleet carrier Saratoga and light carrier Princeton on 5 November, with fighter escorts being provided by land-based aircraft from Air Solomons command and followed up by land-based aircraft from the Fifth Air Force, [32] sank no ships but inflicted enough damage to convince Koga to withdraw the heavy cruisers, without having been able to attack the beachhead. [33] A second raid was launched on 11 November with aircraft from the Essex, Bunker Hill and Independence, along with a sizeable force of land-based B-24 bombers. The use of land-based heavy bombers against the Japanese ships proved ineffective, but the carrier-based aircraft achieved a degree of success, sinking a destroyer and damaging three destroyers and two cruisers. [34]

Early November Edit

Defense and expansion of the US lodgment at Cape Torokina involved protracted and often bitter jungle warfare, with many casualties resulting from malaria and other tropical diseases. Except for patrol skirmishes, all of the major combat to expand the beachhead occurred in the Marine sector. [35] From 6 to 19 November, the remaining regiment of the 3rd Marine Division and the US Army 37th Infantry Division were landed and the beachhead gradually expanded. [36] On their third attempt, the Japanese successfully landed four destroyer-loads of men just beyond the eastern limit of the American beachhead before dawn on 7 November. Despite the presence of US PT boats operating out of Puruata Island, the Japanese effected this landing completely undetected by the Americans. [37] Nevertheless, the Marines annihilated this force the next day in the Battle of Koromokina Lagoon. [38] In conjunction with the landing forces, the Japanese 23rd Infantry Regiment, which was assigned to the 6th Division, also began attacking the US forces, with some success on 7 November, before being beaten back the following day. [29]

While escorting one of the invasion echelons to the Torokina beachhead on 9 November, Morison recounts that some of Admiral Merrill's sailors witnessed an extraordinary incident that highlighted some of the extreme cultural differences at play in the Pacific:

On their way north, the bluejackets topside in destroyer Spence were goggle-eyed at an exhibition of Japanese bushido. Ordered to investigate a life raft, they observed what appeared to be seven bodies in it. The seven bodies suddenly sat up and started talking. One of them, apparently the officer, broke out a 7.7-mm machine gun, which each man in succession placed in his mouth, while the officer fired a round which shot the back of the man's head off. After six had been bumped off, the officer stood up, addressed a short speech in Japanese to Spence's commanding officer on the bridge, and then shot himself. [39]

Parts of two Marine raider battalions drove away Japanese who were blocking the Piva branch of the Numa Numa Trail in the 8–9 November Battle for Piva Trail. The Marines then selected sites in the area for two airstrips (the fighter strip at the beach was already being built). Also on 9 November, Major General Roy S. Geiger, USMC, took over command of the I Marine Amphibious Corps from General Vandegrift. Four days later, he assumed command of the entire Torokina beachhead area from Admiral Wilkinson. By this time, the Perimeter, as it was called, covered about 7,000 yards of beach front and had a circumference of about 16,000 yards. [40] The trails to new airstrip sites had to be cleared, and General Turnage assigned this task to the 21st Marine Regiment. A Japanese ambush in the area resulted in the 13–14 November Battle of the Coconut Grove, which ended with the Marines gaining control of the point where the Numa Numa and East West Trails crossed. [40]

Throughout early November, the Japanese carried out air raids against the US forces around Torokina however, by 17 November losses were such that the Japanese 1st Carrier Division, which had begun with 370 planes on 1 November, was withdrawn back to Truk. The US forces were thereby able to gradually expand their perimeter out to 5.0–6.2 miles (8–10 km), eventually capturing two airfields with which they could subsequently launch their own attacks against Rabaul. Following this, the Japanese troops on Bougainville essentially became isolated. [29]

Late November Edit

At Rabaul, General Imamura was still convinced that the Allies did not mean to stay long at Torokina—he was sure it was just a stepping stone. He thus had no interest in mounting a decisive counterattack on the Allied beachhead using the substantial number of troops he already had in the southern part of Bougainville. Instead, he reinforced the Buka Island area, just off the north coast of the larger island, believing it to be the Allies' real target. Thus, the Japanese Army repeated the error of Guadalcanal, while the Navy could not convince Imamura of the Americans' real intentions. [41]

The 18–25 November Battle of Piva Forks effectively wiped out an entire Japanese infantry regiment. Even so, the beachhead was still not an entirely safe place. The day after the end of the Piva Forks action, as the sixth echelon of the invasion force was unloading at the beachhead, Japanese artillery fired on the landing ships, inflicting casualties. The Marines silenced these guns the following day. [42]

On 25 November, as the Battle of Piva Forks was ending, the Battle of Cape St. George took place in the waters between Buka and New Ireland. Three destroyer transports full of troops, escorted by two destroyers, all under the command of Captain Kiyoto Kagawa, were on their way to reinforce Buka. Admiral Halsey directed five destroyers under Captain Arleigh Burke to intercept. The encounter resulted in the sinking of destroyers Onami, Makinami and Yugumo, as well as the death of Captain Kagawa. No hits were scored on Burke's vessels. [43]

The battle was not completely one sided, though. On 28–29 November, in an effort to block reinforcements from the Japanese 23rd Infantry Regiment, the 1st Marine Parachute Battalion carried out a raid on Koiari, about 9.3 miles (15 km) east of Torokina. After landing unopposed, the Japanese counterattacked heavily and the Marines, facing being overrun, had to be rescued by landing craft, which took three attempts to get ashore. [44] [45]

Under extremely difficult conditions, the Naval Construction Battalions (CBs or Seabees) and a group of New Zealand engineers carried out work on the three airstrips. The fighter strip at the beach was the first to begin full-time operations with the first flights taking place on 10 December. The Japanese Army command at Rabaul was certain that the Allies would be moving on from Torokina Imamura ordered a build-up of the defenses at Buin, on the southern tip of Bougainville. [46]

In November and December the Japanese emplaced field artillery on the high ground around the beachhead, concentrated in a group of hills along the Torokina River overlooking the eastern perimeter. They shelled the beachhead, targeting the airstrips and the supply dumps. [47] The 3rd Marine Division extended its lines to include the hills in a series of operations that lasted from 9–27 December. One hill, dubbed "Hellzapoppin Ridge", was a natural fortress. Overlooking the beachhead, it was 300 feet (91 m) long, with steep slopes and a narrow crest. [48] The Japanese constructed extensive positions on the reverse slopes using natural and artificial camouflage. The 21st Marines attacked Hellzapoppin Ridge but were driven off on 12 December. Several air strikes missed the narrow ridge completely. [49] Finally, co-ordinated air, artillery, and infantry attacks resulted in the capture of the ridge on 18 December. [50] In the days that followed, the 21st Marines were also involved in fighting around Hill 600A, which was captured by 24 December 1943. [51]

On 15 December, the I Marine Amphibious Corps and General Geiger were replaced by the US Army's XIV Corps, led by Major General Oscar W. Griswold, the victor of the land campaign on New Georgia. On 28 December, the 3rd Marine Division, exhausted because most of the fighting had taken place in its sector, was replaced by the Army's Americal Division under Major General John R. Hodge. The 37th Division (Army), was then placed under Griswold's XIV Corps. [52]

Aerial reduction of Rabaul Edit

Rabaul had already been raided multiple times between 12 October and 2 November by the heavy bombers of General George C. Kenney's Allied Air Forces Southwest Pacific Area. Significant damage was done to ground installations, although the Japanese adapted by moving aircraft facilities underground. [53] Only low-flying techniques such as dive bombing and glide bombing could achieve the accuracy required to pinpoint these installations, as well as neutralising anti-aircraft weapons and attacking vessels in the harbor. To achieve this, the Allies began constructing several airstrips on Bougainville that would allow them to use their smaller, more manoeuvrable, aircraft against Rabaul. The fighter strip on the beach at Torokina began operations on 10 December, while the inland bomber strip "Piva Uncle" followed on Christmas Day, and the inland fighter strip "Piva Yoke" on 22 January. [54]

General Ralph J. Mitchell, USMC, took over the command of all land-based planes in the theater, called Air Command, Solomons (Airsols), on 20 November. Once the three airstrips in the Torokina Perimeter became fully functional, Mitchell moved Airsols headquarters there from Munda on New Georgia Island. [54] The first raids by Airsols aircraft had limited success. Japanese anti-aircraft fire, especially from ships, had improved greatly since Kenney's raids, and inflicted significant damage on the raiders. The Americans developed new formations and tactics that brought about increasing attrition among the Japanese fighter arm. The Japanese Navy could no longer risk exposing its ships to the relentless air attacks, and by late January, Admiral Kusaka had banned all shipping except barges from Simpson Harbor, which removed any remaining naval threat to the Torokina beachhead. [55]

By mid-February, when the Allies captured the Green Islands, the Japanese base was no longer able to project air power to interfere. From 8 March, while the Battle for the Perimeter was beginning on Bougainville, Air Solomons bombers began flying unescorted to Rabaul. [56] In describing the effect, Morison writes: "it is significant that the splendid harbor which in October 1943 had held some 300,000 tons of enemy shipping, and had sheltered powerful task forces of the Japanese Navy, was reduced to a third-rate barge depot." [57]

Capture of the Green Islands Edit

The Joint Chiefs of Staff had determined that Rabaul was to be encircled, with invasions of the Admiralty Islands and Kavieng on the north tip of the island of New Ireland, to begin 1 April at the earliest. Admiral Halsey, anxious to maintain offensive momentum, was unwilling to leave his forces idle until then. To that end, and to provide yet another airfield close to Rabaul, Halsey ordered his amphibious forces to invade the Green Islands, a group of small coral atolls about 115 miles east of Rabaul. Reconnaissance missions determined that the native Melanesians there were well-disposed toward the Europeans, and had been alienated by the Japanese. As a result, Allied planners determined that no preliminary bombing or shelling would be carried out. [58]

On February 15, Admiral Wilkinson landed a contingent of New Zealanders from the 3rd Division under Major General Harold E. Barrowclough. Experience gained from previous landings, coupled with detailed staff work, meant that the landings were completed with relative efficiency. In addition, interference from Japanese planes was minimal. Morison attributed this to previous losses inflicted against the Japanese air arm, writing that the fact such a large fleet "could set thousands of troops ashore with impunity only 115 miles from Rabaul proved what good work AirSols had already accomplished." [59]

The Greens provided a site for a PT boat base, and during the night of 1 March, PT-319 entered Simpson Harbor and went undetected by the Japanese. This would have been inconceivable just two months earlier. In addition, a detachment of Seabees constructed an airfield, putting the Japanese base at Kavieng in range of AirSols planes for the first time. [60]

Preparations Edit

General Hyakutake, commander of the 17th Army, commanded about 40,000 men. In addition, there were also about 20,000 naval personnel in the southern part of the island under Vice Admiral Tomoshige Samejima. One of the units in Hyakutake's command, the 6th Infantry Division under Lieutenant General Masatane Kanda, was reputed to be the toughest in the Imperial Japanese Army. Initially, Hyakutake was convinced of the Allied intent to remain permanently at Torokina and as a result remained on a defensive posture. The resulting delay in Japanese offensive action gave Griswold plenty of time to deploy his men in suitable defensive positions. [61]

In December 1943, Hyakutake resolved to launch an attack on the US forces around the perimeter and throughout the early months of 1944 his staff made the necessary preparations and plans. [62] Hyakutake's attack would employ the 12,000 men of the 6th Infantry plus 3,000 reserves. His faith in the ultimate victory was such that he planned on taking Griswold's surrender at the Torokina airstrip on 17 March. The Japanese dragged the greatest concentration of field artillery they had yet assembled onto the ridges overlooking the perimeter. Griswold decided that allowing the Japanese to hold these ridges was better than stretching his own lines thin by occupying them himself. [63]

On the American side, Hodge's Americal Division and Beightler's 37th Infantry Division manned the Perimeter, while the 3rd Marine Defense Battalion and the US Army 49th Coast Artillery Battalion protected the beachhead. Griswold had learned on New Georgia that waiting for the Japanese to attack was a much surer way to victory than undertaking his own offensive operations in a jungle. [64]

Battle of the Perimeter Edit

As far as the press and the American public were concerned, the war had moved on from Bougainville. As Morison writes, "the struggle for the Perimeter went almost unnoticed outside the Pacific." [65] Hyakutake opened his all-out effort to throw the Americans off Bougainville, which came to be known simply as The Counterattack, on 9 March, and his men succeeded in capturing Hill 700 and Cannon Hill General Beightler's 37th Division recaptured these positions on the afternoon of 12 March. Griswold gave credit to the destroyers that provided bombardment of the Japanese positions, suppressing their attempts at reinforcement. [66]

Hyakutake's second thrust was delayed until 12 March. The Japanese advanced through a deep ravine to approach the Piva Yoke fighter strip, and succeeded in penetrating the Perimeter at one point. General Beightler responded by sending combined tanks and infantry to drive them back. Also, Japanese artillery that had been bombarding all three American airstrips was silenced by AirSols bombers. This action ended on 13 March. Hyakutake attempted twice more to penetrate the perimeter, on 15 and 17 March, but was driven back both times. The Japanese mounted a final attack on the night of 23–24 March, which made some progress but was then thrown back. On 27 March, General Hodge's Americal Division drove the Japanese off of Hill 260, and the battle came to a close. [67]

During the Battle of the Perimeter, Air Solomons aircraft continued bombing Rabaul completely reducing its offensive capability. According to Morison, ". AirSols delivered at least one strike on Rabaul every day that weather permitted. An average of 85 tons of bombs was dropped on the area daily from 20 February to 15 May – a total of 7,410 tons by almost 9,400 sorties." [68]

Aftermath Edit

The Japanese army, having taken heavy losses during these operations, withdrew the majority of its force into the deep interior and to the north and south ends of Bougainville. [69] On 5 April 1944, the Americal Division's 132nd Infantry Regiment, after establishing patrol sweeps along Empress Augusta Bay, successfully launched an attack to capture the Japanese-held village of Mavavia. Two days later, while continuing a sweep for enemy forces, the regiment encountered prepared enemy defences, where they destroyed about 20 Japanese pillboxes using pole charges and bazookas. Later, the 132nd, together with elements of the Fiji Defence Force, was tasked with securing the heights west of Saua River. The Allied troops captured Hills 155, 165, 500, and 501 in fierce fighting that lasted until 18 April, when the last of the Japanese defenders were killed or driven off. [70]

The Americans were reinforced by the 93rd Infantry Division, [71] the first African American infantry unit to see action in World War II. [72] The Japanese, isolated and cut off from outside assistance, primarily concentrated on survival, including the development of farms throughout the island. [69] According to Morison, amongst the Japanese troops "morale fell deplorably . after the loss of the Battle of the Perimeter Admiral Takeda, in his narrative, notes robberies, insubordination and even mutiny. Hundreds of soldiers deserted and wandered through the jungle, living on anything they could find, even on snakes, rats and crocodiles." [73]

The supply situation became so bad for the Japanese that, according to Gailey, "the normal rice ration of 750 grams of rice for each soldier was cut in April 1944 to 250 grams, and beginning in September there was no rice ration. A large portion of the available army and naval personnel had to be put to work growing food. Allied pilots took delight in dropping napalm on these garden plots whenever possible." [74]

Australian intelligence officers, after studying records, estimated that 8,200 Japanese troops had been killed in combat during the American phase of operations, while a further 16,600 had died of disease or malnutrition. [75] Of those killed or wounded in combat, the large majority had come during the attack on the US-held perimeter around Torokina, with Japanese losses amounting to 5,400 killed and 7,100 wounded before Imamura cancelled the attack. [76]

Strategic decisions Edit

The invasion of the Philippines had been scheduled for January 1945 but the rapid pace of Allied victories in the Pacific caused General MacArthur to bring forward the Philippines operation to October 1944. MacArthur would need all the ground troops he could get for the Leyte landings, so by mid-July MacArthur had decided to withdraw Griswold's XIV Corps from Bougainville for rest and refit, to be replaced by the Australian II Corps. [77]

The Australian Government and military chose to conduct aggressive operations on Bougainville with the goal of destroying the Japanese garrison. This decision was motivated by a desire to bring the campaign to a conclusion and so free up troops to be used elsewhere, liberate Australian territory and the inhabitants of the island from Japanese rule, and demonstrate that Australian forces were playing an active role in the war. [78]

Handover Edit

Lieutenant General Sir Stanley Savige's Australian II Corps was a force of just over 30,000 men. It consisted of the Australian 3rd Division (7th, 15th and 29th Brigades) under the command of Major General William Bridgeford, as well as the 11th Brigade and the 23rd Brigade. [77]

On 6 October, the first elements of the headquarters detachment of the 3rd Division landed. By mid-November, the 7th Brigade had relieved the U.S. 129th and 145th Infantry Regiments. On 22 November, Savige formally took command of Allied operations on Bougainville from Griswold. By 12 December, the replacement of frontline American troops by Australians was complete, and with the exception of a few service troops, all American service personnel had departed by 1 February 1945. [79] The 3rd Division and 11th Brigade, reinforced by the Fiji Infantry Regiment, were posted to Bougainville. The 23rd Brigade garrisoned the neighbouring islands. [80]

Australian offensive operations Edit

The Australians determined that Japanese forces on Bougainville, now numbering approximately 40,000, still had approximately 20 percent of their personnel in forward positions and that although understrength, were organized in combat-capable formations, including the 38th Independent Mixed Brigade and General Kanda's tough 6th Division. [75] Savige issued his instructions on 23 December. Offensive operations would consist of three separate drives: [81]

  • In the north, the 11th Brigade would force the Japanese into the narrow Bonis Peninsula and destroy them.
  • In the centre, the enemy was to be driven off Pearl Ridge, a feature from which both coasts of the 30-mile-wide island could be seen. From there, aggressive patrols could be launched to disrupt Japanese communications along the east coast.
  • The main Australian drive would take place in the south where the bulk of the Japanese forces (Kanda's 6th Division) was located. It was to this goal that Savige assigned Bridgeford's 3rd Division.

Central front Edit

The Battle of Pearl Ridge (30–31 December) revealed how far Japanese morale and stamina had fallen. The ridge was taken by a single battalion of Australians, suffering few casualties in the process. It was afterwards discovered that the position had been held by 500 defenders rather than the 80–90 that had originally been estimated. [82] Activity in the central sector was from that point on confined to patrols along the Numa Numa Trail. [83]

Northern front Edit

Pursuant to General Savige's 31 December order to begin operations in the northwestern sector at the first opportunity, General J.R. Stevensons's 11th Brigade advanced along the coast, reaching the village of Rukussia by mid-January 1945. [82] However, since the coastal plain was dominated by Tsimba Ridge, the Genga River could not be crossed in force until the Japanese had been dislodged from the crest of that ridge. In the resulting Battle of Tsimba Ridge, the Australians encountered determined resistance in heavily fortified positions, and it was not until 9 February that the last Japanese dug in on the western edge of the ridge were rooted out. [84]

During the remainder of February and March the Australians drove the Japanese north past Soraken Plantation. Eventually, the approximately 1,800 Japanese fell back to a strong defensive line across the neck of the Bonis Peninsula. Because the 11th Brigade was exhausted from three weeks of jungle combat, frontal assaults were ruled out and an attempt was made to outflank the Japanese positions with an amphibious landing on 8 June. However, the landing force found itself pinned down and on the verge of being exterminated. Although Japanese losses were probably higher in the resulting Battle of Porton Plantation, the defenders received a boost in morale and the Australian command called off offensive operations in this sector for the time being. [85] It was instead decided to contain the Japanese along the Ratsua front [86] while resources were diverted to the southern sector for the drive towards Buin. [87]

Southern front Edit

On 28 December, General Savige issued orders to the 29th Brigade to begin the drive toward the principal Japanese concentration around Buin. After a month's fighting, the Australians were in control of an area extending twelve miles south of the Perimeter and six miles inland. [88] Employing barges to outflank the Japanese, they entered the village of Mosigetta by 11 February 1945 and Barara by 20 February. The Australians then cleared an area near Mawaraka for an airstrip. [89]

By 5 March, the Japanese had been driven off a small knoll overlooking the Buin Road the Australians named this promontory after Private C.R. Slater who had been wounded during the fighting. During the 28 March – 6 April Battle of Slater's Knoll, the Japanese launched a strong counterattack during which several determined Japanese attacks against this position were repulsed with heavy losses. In Gailey's words, "General Kanda's offensive was a disaster . Indeed, the entire series of attacks by the Japanese is as inexplicable as the Australians' desire to conquer all the island." Having learned a costly lesson about the ineffectiveness of banzai charges, Kanda pulled his men back to a defensive perimeter around Buin and reinforced them with the garrisons from the Shortlands and the Fauros. The concentration was not complete until July. [90]

Savige took two weeks to allow his forces to recuperate and resupply before restarting the drive on Buin. After repelling more futile Japanese attacks in the 17 April – 22 May Battle of the Hongorai River, his men crossed the Hari and Mobai Rivers. However, shortly after reaching the Mivo River their advance came to a halt as torrential rain and flooding washed away many of the bridges and roads upon which the Australian line of communications depended. This rendered large scale infantry operations impossible for almost a month and it was not until late July and into early August that the Australians were able to resume patrolling across the Mivo River. [91] Before Savige could mount a substantial assault, news arrived of the dropping of the atomic bombs, after which the Australian forces mainly only conducted limited patrolling actions. [92]

Conclusion Edit

Combat operations on Bougainville ended with the surrender of Japanese forces on Bougainville on 21 August 1945. The Empire surrendered in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945. The last phase of the campaign saw 516 Australians killed and another 1,572 wounded. 8,500 Japanese were killed at the same time, [93] while disease and malnutrition killed another 9,800 and some 23,500 troops and labourers surrendered at the end of the war. [75] Of the casualties suffered during the second phase of the campaign, historian Harry Gailey wrote: "it was a terrible toll for an island whose possession after March 1944 was of no consequence in bringing the war to a close . That the Australian soldiers performed so well when they had to know that what they were doing was in the larger sphere unnecessary and unappreciated at home says much for the courage and the discipline of the ordinary Australian infantryman". [94]

In contrast, Australian historian Karl James has argued that the 1944–45 Bougainville campaign was justifiable given that it could not be known at the time that Japan would surrender in August 1945, and there was a need to both free up Australian forces for operations elsewhere and liberate the island's civilian population. [95] Of the civilian population, according to James it is estimated that potentially up to 13,000 of the pre-war population of 52,000 died during the war. [96] Hank Nelson estimated that 25 percent of the civilian population died during the war, with most deaths occurring after 1943. [97]

Three Victoria Crosses were awarded during the campaign, one to a Fijian and two to Australians. Corporal Sefanaia Sukanaivalu of Fiji received the award posthumously for his bravery at Mawaraka on 23 June 1944 he was the first, and is currently only Fijian to have received the award. [98] Corporal Reg Rattey received the award for his actions during the fighting around Slater's Knoll on 22 March 1945, while Private Frank Partridge earned his in one of the final actions of the campaign on 24 July 1945 during fighting along the Ratsua front. [99] [100] Partridge was the only member of the Militia to receive the VC which was the last of the war awarded to an Australian. [101]


Today in History: Born on October 1

Robert Gould Shaw, commander of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment during America's Civil War.

Vladimir Horowitz, Russian-born American virtuoso pianist.

Jimmy Carter, 39th president of the U.S. (1977-1981)

Julie Andrews (Julia Elizabeth Wells), actress and singer whose films include Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music.

Tim O'Brien, novelist (The Things They Carried, In the Lake of the Woods).

Dave Arneson, game designer co-created Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game with Gary Gygax, establishing the roleplaying game genre.

Randy Quaid, actor (The Last Detail won Golden Globe for his portrayal of Pres. Lyndon Johnson in LBJ: The Early Years).

Jeff Reardon, pro baseball pitcher known as "The Terminator" for his intimidating pitching mound presence and 98 mph fastball.

Mark McGwire, "Big Mac," pro baseball player who broke Roger Maris' single-season home run record admitted in 2010 to using performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career.

Max Matsuura (Masato Matsuura), record producer, president of Avex Group, one of Japan's largest music labels.


1943 – Dino Valenti is born in New York. He wrote the Youngbloods hit “Get Together,” and was the personality Quicksilver Messenger Service formed around in one of its later incarnations. An ill-timed drug bust meant he missed out on the band’s glory years, but he recorded his own self-titled stream-of-consciousness solo album in 1968. [&hellip]

1943 – Steve Miller is born in Milwaukee. His biggest song is “Abracadabra,” which hits No. 1 for two weeks in 1982. Steve Miller (born October 5, 1943, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) is an American guitarist and singer/songwriter. Beginning his career in blues and blues rock, Miller’s music later changed to a softer, more pop-oriented sound [&hellip]

Help Stu in his battle with Cancer!


The Response of Churchill and the War Cabinet

What we do know is that in a report to the War Cabinet on 4 August 1943, the Secretary of State for India, Leo Amery, noted the spread of famine in Bengal. In his briefing, he specifically stressed the effect upon Calcutta and the potential effect on the morale of European troops stationed in India. At this stage, the cabinet offered only a relatively small amount of additional food shipments. Indeed, they explicitly referred to it as "a token shipment".

Three weeks later, The Statesman newspaper published graphic images of starving famine victims in Calcutta, bringing the situation to the attention of the world. It was probably several weeks before copies of the newspaper reached London.

Churchill appointed Field Marshal, Lord Wavell as Viceroy and Governor of India on 1 October 1943. In briefing the cabinet on Wavell's appointment, Churchill stated that Wavell's duty was to:

". make sure that India was a safe base for the great operations against Japan which were now pending, and that the war was pressed to a successful conclusion, and that famine and food difficulties were dealt with.”

"Peace, order and a high condition of war-time well-being among the masses of the people constitute the essential foundation of the forward thrust against the enemy . The hard pressures of world-war have for the first time for many years brought conditions of scarcity, verging in some localities into actual famine, upon India. Every effort must be made, even by the diversion of shipping urgently needed for war purposes, to deal with local shortages….Every effort should be made by you to assuage the strife between the Hindus and Moslems and to induce them to work together for the common good."

He stated that the goal was to be:

“the best possible standard of living for the largest number of people.”

In terms of famine relief, Churchill initially urged Australia to provide assistance. In response, Australia promised to supply 350,000 tons of wheat.

The Canadian Prime Minister, MacKenzie King, also offered to provide aid, but Churchill replied that:

“Wheat from Canada would take at least two months to reach India whereas it could be carried from Australia in 3 to 4 weeks.”

Winston S. Churchill to William Lyon Mackenzie King, 4 November 1943.

In India, Viceroy Field Marshal Lord Wavell, then mobilised the military to transport food and other aid to the stricken areas.

When in 1944, the Secretary of State for India, Leo Amery, requested a further one million tons of grain to ease the ongoing famine, Churchill stated that:

“for the four years ending 1941/42 the average consumption was 52,331,000 tons, i.e., 2½ million tons less than the figure cited by the Secretary of State. This difference would, of course, more than make good the 1½ million tons calculated deficit.”

Furthermore, he noted that diverting a further million tons of grain at that time would not be practicable:

“given the effect of its diversion alike on operations and on our imports of food into this country, which could be further reduced only at the cost of much suffering.”

One piece of evidence that is missing from most of the modern claims that Churchill was responsible for the famine, is the observation made by the War Cabinet report that the shortages in Bengal had been:

“partly political in character, caused by Marwari supporters of Congress [Gandhi’s party] in an effort to embarrass the existing Muslim Government of Bengal.”

Another cause, they added, was corrupt local officials:

“The Government of India were unduly tender with speculators and hoarders.”

The speculation mentioned had arisen after the Japanese invasion of Burma in 1942 had cut off India’s main supply of rice imports.

Nonetheless, the records show that Churchill and the War Cabinet continued to do their best to divert available resources to provide assistance to India. Shipping remained one of the key problems, and the cabinet recommended that:

(a) A further diversion to India of the shipments of food grains destined for the Balkan stockpile in the Middle East. This might amount to 50,000 tons, but would need War Cabinet approval, while United States reactions would also have to be ascertained

(b) There would be advantage if ships carrying military or civil cargo from the United States or Australia to India could also take a quantity of bagged wheat.

In April 1944, we know that Wavel was reporting that the situation in India was still dire. At this point, Churchill even wrote to President Roosevelt to ask for assistance:

I am seriously concerned about the food situation in India . Last year we had a grievous famine in Bengal through which at least 700,000 people died. This year there is a good crop of rice, but we are faced with an acute shortage of wheat, aggravated by unprecedented storms . By cutting down military shipments and other means, I have been able to arrange for 350,000 tons of wheat to be shipped to India from Australia during the first nine months of 1944. This is the shortest haul. I cannot see how to do more.

I have had much hesitation in asking you to add to the great assistance you are giving us with shipping but a satisfactory situation in India is of such vital importance to the success of our joint plans against the Japanese that I am impelled to ask you to consider a special allocation of ships to carry wheat to India from Australia . We have the wheat (in Australia) but we lack the ships. I have resisted for some time the Viceroy’s request that I should ask you for your help, but . I am no longer justified in not asking for your help.

Winston S. Churchill to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 29 April 1944.

Roosevelt replied to Churchill saying that while he had his “utmost sympathy”, his Joint Chiefs had said they were:

“. unable on military grounds to consent to the diversion of shipping . Needless to say, I regret exceedingly the necessity of giving you this unfavorable reply.”

Roosevelt to Churchill, 1 June 1944.

Of course, it must be remembered that this was in the context of America's war against Japan in the Pacific and the build-up to D-Day in the European theatre.


Description

Like the 3rd and 38th Bomb Group projects, our research on the 43rd Bomb Group developed so much material that we either had to edit out hundreds of pages of text and photos from the book, or split it into two volumes. We’ve opted for the latter, in order to present a comprehensive and truly definitive history of the 43rd during WWII.

Activated less than a year before Pearl Harbor the 43rd was created in the rush to quickly build up American air power as the country’s involvement in another global war loomed. It soon moved to Bangor, Maine where it grew into a full-sized bomb group. Only a single prototype of America’s mightiest heavy bomber at that time, the B-17, nicknamed the Flying Fortress, was available to the unit at Bangor and that aircraft was soon destroyed in a crash. In February 1942, only weeks after the beginning of the war with Japan, the 43rd’s ground echelon prematurely deployed overseas aboard the greatest ocean liner of the time, the Queen Mary, in an epic, unescorted voyage across the Atlantic and Indian Oceans that skirted Africa and the southern perimeter of Asia to Australia.

However, it was not until mid-year that the air echelon began deploying to the Southwest Pacific Theater as B-17s became available and crews trained on the aircraft could be assigned. Initially flying missions out of Australia in B-17Es and Fs, the air echelon of the 43rd trained with and eventually absorbed the battered remnants of the 19th Bomb Group, which had been worn out as a combat unit during the early fighting in the Philippines at the end of 1941 and during the first ten months of 1942 over the Netherlands East Indies and Rabaul. When the tired veterans from the 19th returned to the States in late-1942 to recuperate and rebuild the unit, many of its remaining planes and less-experienced personnel were turned over to the 43rd to continue the fight. A cadre of experienced 19th Bomb Group pilots remained behind to help fill out the leadership positions within the unit.

The 43rd began full-scale operations under its own headquarters in mid-November 1942 from bases in northern Australia and later, Port Moresby, New Guinea, conducting missions in the northern Solomons, Papua New Guinea and against Japanese island bases on New Britain and New Ireland, winning a Distinguished Unit Citation for its participation in the Papuan Campaign. For the next year, the 43rd was one of the two heavy bombardment groups in MacArthur’s Fifth Air Force, that carried the war to the Japanese at Salamaua, Lae, Wewak and Rabaul.

During this period, on a special mapping mission in the Solomons on June 16, 1943, the crew of a B-17 piloted by Capt. Jay Zeamer was awarded two Medals of Honor, and the rest Distinguished Service Crosses, becoming the most decorated aircraft flight crew in U.S. history. This is the only book to contain the full and complete story of the mission using all available sources. After participating in the watershed Battle of the Bismarck Sea, for which the unit was also awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation, the Group began gradually re-equipping with the B-24 Liberator after the decision was made to discontinue support for two heavy bomber types in the theater, thereafter diverting all B-17 aircraft resources to Europe.

Ken’s Men Against the Empire: The B-17 Era tells an amazing and important story of the early air war in the Pacific, created from all available surviving unit records integrated with the stories, records and accounts of hundreds of veterans who served with the nascent unit. The narrative is supplemented by hundreds of photographs, five comprehensive appendices, three spectacular color paintings and 24 detailed color profiles by aviation artist Jack Fellows. As Volume 4 of the Eagles over the Pacific book series, the story of the B-24 Era will continue in Volume II.


1 October 1943 - History

The governments of the United States of America, United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and China

United in their determination, in accordance with the declaration by the United Nations of January, 1942, and subsequent declarations, to continue hostilities against those Axis powers with which they respectively are at war until such powers have laid down their arms on the basis of unconditional surrender

Conscious of their responsibility to secure the liberation of themselves and the peoples allied with them from the menace of aggression

Recognizing the necessity of insuring a rapid and orderly transition from war to peace and of establishing and maintaining international peace and security with the least diversion of the world's human and economic resources for armaments

1. That their united action, pledged for the prosecution of the war against their respective enemies, will be continued for the organization and maintenance of peace and security.

2. That those of them at war with a common enemy will act together in all matters relating to the surrender and disarmament of that enemy.

3. That they will take all measures deemed by them to be necessary to provide against any violation of the terms imposed upon the enemy.

4. That they recognize the necessity of establishing at the earliest practicable date a general international organization, based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all peace-loving states, and open to membership by all such states, large and small, for the maintenance of international peace and security.

5. That for the purpose of maintaining international peace and security pending the re-establishment of law and order and the inauguration of a system of general security they will consult with one another and as occasion requires with other members of the United Nations, with a view to joint action on behalf of the community of nations.

6. That after the termination of hostilities they will not employ their military forces within the territories of other states except for the purposes envisaged in this declaration and after joint consultation.

7. That they will confer and cooperate with one another and with other members of the United Nations to bring about a practicable general agreement with respect to the regulation of armaments in the post-war period.

DECLARATION REGARDING ITALY

The Foreign Secretaries of the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union have established that their three governments are in complete agreement that Allied policy toward Italy must be based upon the fundamental principle that Fascism and all its evil influence and configuration shall be completely destroyed and that the Italian people shall be given every opportunity to establish governmental and other institutions based on democratic principles.

The Foreign Secretaries of the United States and the United Kingdom declare that the action of their governments form the inception of the invasion of Italian territory, in so far as paramount military requirements have permitted, has been based upon this policy.

In furtherance of this policy in the future the Foreign Secretaries of the three governments are agreed that the following measures are important and should be put into effect:

1. It is essential that the Italian Government should be made more democratic by inclusion of representatives of those sections of the Italian people who have always opposed Fascism.

2. Freedom of speech, of religious worship, of political belief, of press and of public meeting, shall be restored in full measure to the Italian people, who shall be entitled to form anti-Fascist political groups.

3. All institutions and organizations created by the Fascist regime shall be suppressed.

4. All Fascist or pro-Fascist elements shall be removed from the administration and from institutions and organizations of a public character.

5. All political prisoners of the Fascist regime shall be released and accorded full amnesty.

6. Democratic organs of local government shall be created.

7. Fascist chiefs and army generals known or suspected to be war criminals shall be arrested and handed over to justice.

In making this declaration the three Foreign Secretaries recognize that so long as active military operations continue in Italy the time at which it is possible to give full effect to the principles stated above will be determined by the Commander-in-Chief on the basis of instructions received through the combined chiefs of staff.

The three governments, parties to this declaration, will, at the request of any one of them, consult on this matter. It is further understood that nothing in this resolution is to operate against the right of the Italian people ultimately to choose their own form of government.

DECLARATION ON AUSTRIA

The governments of the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and the United States of America are agreed that Austria, the first free country to fall a victim to Hitlerite aggression, shall be liberated from German domination.

They regard the annexation imposed on Austria by Germany on March 15, 1938, as null and void. They consider themselves as in no way bound by any charges effected in Austria since that date. They declare that they wish to see re-established a free and independent Austria and thereby to open the way for the Austrian people themselves, as well as those neighboring States which will be face with similar problems, to find that political and economic security which is the only basis for lasting peace. Austria is reminded, however that she has a responsibility, which she cannot evade, for participation in the war at the side of Hitlerite Germany, and that in the final settlement account will inevitably be taken of her own contribution to her liberation.

STATEMENT ON ATROCITIES
Signed by

The United Kingdom, the United States and the Soviet Union have received from many quarters evidence of atrocities, massacres and cold-blooded mass executions which are being perpetrated by Hitlerite forces in many of the countries they have overrun and from which they are now being steadily expelled. The brutalities of Nazi domination are no new thing, and all peoples or territories in their grip have suffered from the worst form of government by terror. What is new is that many of the territories are now being redeemed by the advancing armies of the advancing armies of the liberating powers, and that in their desperation the recoiling Hitlerites and Huns are redoubling their ruthless cruelties. This is now evidenced with particular clearness by monstrous crimes on the territory of the Soviet Union which is being liberated from Hitlerites, and on French and Italian territory.

Accordingly, the aforesaid three Allied powers, speaking in the interest of the thirty-two United Nations, hereby solemnly declare and give full warning of their declaration as follows:

At the time of granting of any armistice to any government which may be set up in Germany, those German officers and men and members of the Nazi party who have been responsible for or have taken a consenting part in the above atrocities, massacres and executions will be sent back to the countries in which their abominable deeds were done in order that they may be judged and punished according to the laws of these liberated countries and of free governments which will be erected therein. Lists will be compiled in all possible detail from all these countries having regard especially to invaded parts of the Soviet Union, to Poland and Czechoslovakia, to Yugoslavia and Greece including Crete and other islands, to Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France and Italy.

Thus, Germans who take part in wholesale shooting of Polish officers or in the execution of French, Dutch, Belgian or Norwegian hostages of Cretan peasants, or who have shared in slaughters inflicted on the people of Poland or in territories of the Soviet Union which are now being swept clear of the enemy, will know they will be brought back to the scene of their crimes and judged on the spot by the peoples whom they have outraged.

Let those who have hitherto not imbrued their hands with innocent blood beware lest they join the ranks of the guilty, for most assuredly the three Allied powers will pursue them to the uttermost ends of the earth and will deliver them to their accusors in order that justice may be done.

The above declaration is without prejudice to the case of German criminals whose offenses have no particular geographical localization and who will be punished by joint decision of the government of the Allies.


Today in Holocaust History

The rescue of the Danish Jews occurred during Nazi Germany's occupation of Denmark during World War II. When Hitler ordered that Danish Jews be arrested and deported on 1𔃀 October 1943, many Danes took part in a collective effort to evacuate the roughly 8,000 Jews of Denmark by sea to nearby neutral Sweden. The rescue allowed the vast majority of Denmark's Jewish population to avoid capture by the Nazis and is considered to be one of the largest actions of collective resistance to repression in the countries occupied by Nazi Germany. As a result of the rescue and Danish intercession on behalf of the 5% of Danish Jews who were deported to Theresienstadt transit camp in Bohemia, over 99% of Denmark's Jewish population survived the Holocaust.

The Jews were smuggled out of Denmark by transporting them by sea over the Øresund (the strait that separates the Danish island Zealand from the southern Swedish province of Scania) from Zealand to Sweden — a passage of varying time depending on the specific route and the weather, but averaging under an hour on the choppy winter sea. Some were transported in large fishing boats of up to 20 tons, but others were carried to freedom in rowboats or kayaks. The ketch Albatros was one of the ships used to smuggle Jews to Sweden. Some refugees were smuggled inside freight cars on the regular ferries between Denmark and Sweden, this route being suited for the very young or old who were too weak to endure a rough sea passage. The underground had broken into empty freight cars sealed by the Germans after inspection, helped refugees onto the cars, and then resealed the cars with forged or stolen German seals to forestall further inspection.

Some of the refugees never made it to Sweden a few chose to commit suicide, some were captured by the Gestapo en route to their point of embarkation, others were lost at sea when vessels of poor seaworthiness capsized, and still others were intercepted at sea by German patrol boats. However, the Danish harbour police and civil police generally cooperated with the rescue operations. During the early stages, the Gestapo was undermanned and the German army and navy were called in to reinforce the Gestapo in its effort to prevent transportation taking place but by and large they proved less than enthusiastic in the operation and frequently turned a blind eye to escapees.

The Danish resistance movement as a collective, rather than as individuals, have been honoured at Yad Vashem (Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority) in Israel as being part of the "Righteous Among the Nations." Also honored are a handful of Danes who were not members of the official resistance movement, and Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz - a German attache who warned the Danish Jews about their intended deportation in 1943. It is estimated that he prevented the deportation of 95% of Denmark's Jews in the resulting rescue of the Danish Jews.

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)


Below are some of the most important historical events that happened on 12 October 1943.

1279 &ndash Nichiren, a Japanese Buddhist monk, founder of Nichiren Buddhism, inscribes the Dai-Gohonzon.

1492 &ndash Christopher Columbus's expedition makes landfall on a Caribbean island he names San Salvador (likely Watling Island, Bahamas). The explorer believes he has reached East Asia (OS 21 Oct).

1915 &ndash Ford Motor Company under Henry Ford manufactures its 1 millionth automobile at the River Rouge plant in Detroit.


Watch the video: 21 October, 1943: 75th Anniversary