On this episode, join hosts Maria and Meghan as they welcome the esteemed Judge Rob to unravel the mesmerizing saga behind Magic the Gathering's juggernaut of a format: Commander. Dive into the chronicles of this beloved format, from its humble origins to its meteoric rise as a colossus in the Magic universe. Judge Rob, a pioneer from the inception of Commander, brings to life the era when your life total could be 100, "Commanders" were known as "Generals", and the now-famous "Command Zone" was just a twinkle in a player's eye. This episode isn't just for Commander aficionados; it's a captivating journey through the birth and evolution of new game formats, illustrating how a simple idea can transform into a global phenomenon. Whether you're a seasoned planeswalker or just curious about the world of gaming, this enlightening discussion is your portal to understanding how Commander reshaped the landscape of Magic the Gathering. Strap in for an adventure into the heart of Magic's most popular format, and discover the magic that happens when creativity, community, and cards collide! Become a GLH5 Patron Today! Listen to Weekly Magic News with The Upkeep Buy Some Sweet GLHF Merch Look! It's our Magic YouTube Channel Follow us on Twitter Peep Our Insta Be our Facebook Friend Watch us play on Twitch Everything GLHF is on our Website Visit our sponsor Card Kingdom
Last time we spoke about Admiral Togo's struggle to destroy or firmly blockade the Russian fleet at Port Arthur and the bloody battle along the Yalu river. Togo had a tough time getting the Russians to come out to play with him. Ultimately Admiral Makarov had been a gleaming hope for the Russian navy, but his death spelt utter doom to them as well. Now that the Russian navy was effectively bottled up in Port Arthur and unwilling to come out again, the land campaigns of the war could begin. As the 2nd IJA were landing along the Liaodong Peninsula the 1st IJA of General Kuroki were going to have their first great battle of the war, at the Yalu river. Kuropatkin did not want to defend so south near Korea, but Alexeiev forced the issue and thus the Russians made a doomed defense at Yalu. Utterly defeated the Russians now had to flee north. #76 The Russo-Japanese War part 3: the battle of Nanshan Welcome to the Fall and Rise of China Podcast, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about the history of Asia? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on history of asia and much more so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel where I cover the history of China and Japan from the 19th century until the end of the Pacific War. The Russians collapsed at Yalu and now were fleeing northwards towards Liaoyang. It was shocking. An oriental army had beaten a european one. The Japanese confidence exploded and the Russian morale imploded. As the Russians fled they chose not to set up intermediate defensive positions in the mountains overlooking the road to Fenghuangcheng nor the Great Wall due south of the town. Instead they bypassed it all to head for Liaoyang as quickly as possible. Thus the strategically important town of Fenghuangcheng was wide open to the Japanese who would bypass it as well and kept a even pace also heading for Liaoyang. The reason for this was simple, the 1st IJA's job was to cut off the retreating Russian force from Port Arthur as their comrades in the 2nd IJA landed on the Liaodong peninsula to hit port arthur. The victory at Yalu had removed any threats upon Korea. Russia had demonstrated her inability to go on the offensive both at sea and on the land. Desperate times called for desperate measures. With the Russian pacific fleet stuck in Port Arthur, attempts began to be made for their rescue. The first idea put forward was to release the Russian Black Sea fleet, but this was problematic. Russia had recently fought a war with the Ottomans in 1877. They approached the Sultan about the issue as treaties had been made to keep the Russian fleet north of the Dardanelles forts. 12 warships would have to depart the Black Sea, and take a trip via the Suez Canal to get over to the Indian and then Pacific Oceans. It would take at least 63 days and over 65,000 tons of coal. It was an incredible gamble. If the fleet made it to the Pacific too late they may find Port Arthur captured and Vladivostok blockaded spelling catastrophe. Despite the naval losses and the loss at Yalu, Russia was still strong and could manage a defensive campaign. It was hoped if the Japanese extended further into the Kwantung peninsula and Liaoyang the Russians could recoil a bit, grab their immense reserves and launch counter attacks. But such maneuvers would require Russia to abandon Manchuria and then launch large scale counter offensives, something they were unwilling to do. On the other side, the fact the Russian fleet was not destroyed within Port Arthur was a thorn in their side. Rumors spread that the Baltic fleet would come over. Together the two fleets could overwhelm the Japanese. The Japanese had to seize Port Arthur strategically, and emotionally it was of the utmost importance to take revenge for the slighting she received during the Triple Intervention. On May 5th the 2nd IJA began to unload near Pitzuwo which lies between the Tasha and Lilan rivers. The Japanese newspress began to write of the landing and how the Japanese would next strike Nanshan. The Russians reading all the news trying to figure out the Japanese strategy began to believe they would strike anywhere but Nanshan. Meanwhile Admiral Alexeiev was ordered by the Tsar to take a train from Port Arthur for Mukden. This left General Stoessel in command of the Kwantung Peninsula, General Smirnov in command of Port Arthur's fortress and Admiral Witgeft to lead the trapped naval forces. On May 6th Alexeiev gave firm advice to Witgeft that performing attacks upon the Japanese transports currently unloading freely upon the Liaodong peninsula just some 60 miles east of him, would be “desirable”. He did not give him a direct order to do so however, so Witgeft got his war council together to discuss the matter. No senior naval officer was willing to take initiative on their name. As you can imagine it was a case where no one wanted to give the order fearing repercussions, including Alexeiev. Thus Witgeft calculated the safest decision was to do nothing and await the baltic fleet. The naval officers watched as most of their high caliber guns were removed from the ships and added to the land defenses of port arthur. General Oku's 2nd IJA consisted of the 1st, 3rd and 4th division. Their first order of business was to seize Dalny so it could be used a landing and base of operations. To get to Dalny they would have to pass over Nanshan. It was a risky endeavor as the Russians could potentially received reinforcements from the north, thus Oku began his campaign by requesting reinforcements in the form of the 5th division and 1st cavalry brigade, though he would start his campaign before they could arrive. Oku ordered the 3rd and 4th divisions to block the potential threat from the north while the 1st division advanced southwards to Chinchou. Oku's intelligence indicated the 2nd brigade of the 4th siberian rifle division led by major General Nadyein had recently been reinforce to roughly divisional strength from Port Arthur. At around 12:30pm Oku's 1st division and the Nadyeins force ran into another and after losing 150 men Nadyein pulled back to Nanshan. Oku's small victory here managed to sever rail communications of the Kwantung peninsula from the north. For those of you without a map on hand, the Liaodong peninsula and Kwantung peninsula are connected by an isthmus around 4000 yards wide. On both sides are muddy foreshore which at lower tides adds another 4000 yards of width. To the east is Dalien, to the west Chinchou bay. Southwest some 35 miles is Port Arthur with various large hill controlling its land approach. The most forward of these is Nanshan, a feature to the sea with large guns, that had to be overcome to get to Port Arthur. The position overlooked 4 miles to the east where there was the 2200 foot tall Mount Sampson and to the southwest was Nankuangling. The defense of Nanshan fell technically upon the commander of the 4th East Siberian rifle division, Lt General Fok, but in reality it would really fall upon Colonel Tretyakov of the 5th east siberian rifle regiement. General Fok was what was commonly referred to as a “police general”, a general produced during peace times. Like so many of these type of men, he rose through the ranks as a military trainer, as an administrator or just brushing the right shoulders. He was extremely suscepitable of other commanders ideas and this would really mess things up. Kuropatkin wanted to avoid another Yalu debacle so he cautioned Fok against against fighting the enemy too long at the cost of a proper withdrawal. Kuropatkin did not mean to imply Fok should withdraw at all, just that he must not allow his forces to be obliterated. Now General Stoessel also advised Fok. He told him to hold at Nanshin and go on the offensive as soon as the Japanese approached. These two contradicting pieces of advice would greatly confuse the battle for Nanshan. Two miles behind Nanshan was a small town called Maoyitui where the 13th east siberian rifle regiment and another two miles behind them was the 15th east siberian rifle regiment. South east of them was the village of Lower Nankuanling where the 14th east siberian rifle regiment were stationed. Upon the narrow point of Dalienwan was a battery of heavy guns looking over Hand Bay where the gunship Bobr was also patrolling. Bobr was sealed in by minefields hoping to lure in some IJN warships. Colonel Tretyakov had 8 companies in his front line, one and half companies in local reserve, two companies of the 13th east siberian rifle regiment in general reserve and some scout forces of the 13th and 14th east siberian rifle regiment. In all he had roughly 2700 riflemen. North of him lay 3 IJA divisions of the 2nd IJA, the 3rd IJA division was just released from her holding position as the 5th IJA division just arrived to the scene. On the 19th of May, the 10th IJA division landed at Takushan completely unmolested. The landing was done to confuse the Russians and offer flank protection. The 4th IJA division advanced from the direction of CHinchou taking the right flank, the 1st took the middle and the 3rd the left flank. The 2nd IJA had a total strength of around 38,500, 31,000 or so were riflement. The Russians had a potential 17,000 men to toss at the incoming Japanese but ultimately only 3000 would participate in the battle for Nanshan. Colonel Tretyakov had personally aided in the fortification of Nanshan during the Boxer Rebellion and war in Manchuria. At its height Nanshan was equipped to be garrisoned by two battalions and 90 guns, but its maintenance had really fallen apart. When the war broke out with Japan the Russians sought to repair and refortify Nanshan and hired 5000 Chinese coolies for the work, amongst them in disguise was Colonel Doi of the IJA. The eastern face of Nanshan held minefields and barbed wire fences over which Russians held excellent fields of fire. The western side was also defended by barbed wire fences laid across ravines, but the Russians found it unlikely the Japanese would advance from there. A continuous line of shelter trenches ran around the top of the hills providing a depth of four lines of alternative trenches. The Russians had learnt their lesson at Yalu and now dug their artillery in and connected them to telephone. Despite the excellent state of its defenses, Tretyakov was not fully happy. He recognized his western flank was a bit weak and his prospects for counter attacks or a withdrawal were unfavourable. What Tretyakov wanted and pleaded for was to release more men so he could close up his southern face and add more options to the battle, but General Fok rejected this and said to him “less heroism is required to defend this position than to retreat from it”. The 2nd IJA had 198 field and mountain artillery at their disposal, ut none of the enormous 4.72 inch howitzers at this time. The Russians had 48 quick firing field guns out of a total of 114 artillery pieces of various calibers between 3.4 to 6 inches. The Russians would enjoy the advantage of cover but only had around 150 shells per gun. This time it would be the Japanese obliged to expose their artillery when firing. Oku chose the 24th of May to begin the attack. A signal was sent to the IJN who dispatched the Akagi, Chokai, Heiyen Tsukushi to bombard the Russian positions over the next 2 days. The main assault would kick off on the 25th after naval and land artillery and softened up the Russian positions and the 4th IJA division had seized Chinchou, garrisoned by no more than 400 men. Terrible weather prevented the IJN forces from performing their naval bombardment on time, thus Oku postponed the main attack until the 26th. Up on his HQ lookout, Tretyakov watched as the torrential rain tore at the mud, uncovering countless mines. There was no time to rebury them, the rain would continue to pour until the night of the 25th. Meanwhile the 4th IJA division was trying to break through the north gate of Chinchou and failing at the task. Because of the holdup, the 1st IJA division lent two battalions who hit Chnchou's eastern gate and at 5:20am sapper blew in the gate as the Japanese stormed the city. The Russian defenders fled through the south gate, only to be cut down by the 4th IJA divisions fire. Around half a company would manage to survive and reach Nanshan's trenches. The main attack finally kicked off at 4:30am with a 3 hour artillery duel. The Japanese focused their artillery upon the exposed minefield. The IJN flotilla arrived to Chinchou bay at 6am and began adding their cannons. The gunfire was so thunderous, the 3rd IJA landing at Pitzuwo could hear it. The 4th IJA division advanced from Chinchou along the beach. The Russians took notice to the threat to their left flank and began withdrawing two batteries from hills on Nanshan to the southwest to better hit the 4th division. The IJN flotilla saw this and mistakenly believed a retreat was in progress so they moved further south intending to bombard the Russians fleeing. This left the 4th IJA division without proper artillery support and they were torn to pieces by the batteries that had been moved. Signals were frantically tossed at the IJN who moved back to their original position by 10am and resumed their bombardment. The warships would remain there until 2pm, when the tide changes forced them to pull out. The Japanese had a terrible time advancing three divisions in a narrow front. Military advice of the day would have been something along the lines as “Algerian Tactics”, a colloquial term for the type of frontal attacks the French had made during their campaign in north africa. It was basically like a Prussian advancing phalanx, but these types of tactics had become useless with the advent of trench warfare. Oku preferred a three pronged simultaneous advance. By midday, the Japanese believed the Russians were shell shocked by the artillery and IJN fire, so two battalions were sent forward to seize the first row of trenches. A correspondent for the time had this to say “At first the straggling walls of Mauchiaying give them some cover, under which they have a moment's breathing space. Then the gallant little infantry press on again up the breast of the slopes of the Russian position. It is an almost impossible task. As yet the defenders are not sufficiently shaken. An avalanche of concentrated fire from the infantry in the trenches, the machine guns in the Russian works, and the quick firing field artillery supporting the defences strike the Japanese to the full. They melt away from the glacis like solder before the flame of a blow pipe. A few who seem to have charmed lives struggle on till they reach the wire entanglements. It is a vain, if heroic, effort. Wasted within fifteen minutes, these two battalions cease to exist except as a trail of mutilated bodies at the foot of the Russian glacis.” The 1st IJA division was now halted 300 yards from the Russian trenches. Two out of the three battalions in the reserve were moved forward. The 3rd division was under enfiladed fire coming out of the southern shore. The 3rd division received the last reserve battalion to keep up their advance. The Japanese tossed over 9 charges at Nanshan throughout the day, but by 6pm the battle had reached a stalemate. Both sides had exhausted the majority of their artillery munitions. Tretyakov tossed his local reserve to his right flank and had held off the 3 Japanese divisions quite well. To his rear, General Fok held the reserve 13th, 14th and 15th east siberian regiments. Tretyakov had requested two companies, and although Fok promised to hand them over they had not come. Fok refused to hand over the forces because he was convinced the Japanese were going to land behind Tretyakov. Tretyakov's right and center were holding well, but the constant shelling was taking a toll upon his left flank. The 5th and 9th companies were down to half their numbers under the intense artillery fire and the 4th IJA division was beginning to drive them out along the coastal area. The 4th division had waded through deep water and mud under fire against the Russians. Tretyakov had asked for his expected two companies from Fok to reinforce the left flank, but only arrived at the last minute and were useless. A dispatch from Reuters said of the collapse of the left flank “when the Russians finally retreated, the water was literally crimson”. Upon breaking the left flank, the Japanese turned inland to pursue them as they fled through ravines. General Fok was at his forward flank and saw this and immediately ordered his companies to withdraw, but he failed to pass this knowledge over to Tretyakov who was trying to salvage the situation. As the Japanese advanced up the feature, their comrades in the other flank and center surged forward causing an onslaught. The Russians were tossed into confusing seeing some of their forces in the failed flank withdraw. Some began to withdraw to the next line of trenches without orders, some stood their ground. Tretyakov toured the front to assess the situation and saw a munition dump at the railway station of Tafangshen suddenly explode killing nearly 20 men. He was enraged to find out Fok ordered the dump destroyed fearing it would fall to the Japanese. He also found out for the first time, forces he had requested from Fok, around 3 regiments who were to man defenses in the south had never been committed. He had planned to use such a force in the south to swing a counter attack against the Japanese. Panic was overcoming the defenders, men began to rout, many fleeing south. Many Japanese began to bivouac on captured hills. Tretyakov attempted to restore order and managed to pull his forces together to make a more orderly withdrawal. His men had fought very well, losing 450 during the proper combat, but when the routing began he had lost 650, he was enraged and threw scorn at Fok. At 7:20pm the rising sun flag was raised over the heights of Nanshan, by 8pm the Japanese were eating their dinner upon their prize. The Japanese had 739 deaths and 5459 wounded. Amongst the dead was the 26 year old Katsusuke, the eldest son of General Nogi, a veteran of the battle for Port Arthur in 1894. He died of his wounds on May 30th of 1904. When Nogi received news of this he was about to travel over to take command of the 3rd IJA. He said this “There is to be no funeral ceremony, no mourning until the end of this war. When my surviving son and myself will be among the mourners or the mourned.' The Japanese counted their munitions, they had expended 174 rounds per gun. Thus they had expended more rounds in a single battle than what was used during the entire Sino-Japanese war. At Nanshan 34,000 shells had been tossed alongside 2.2 million rounds of small arm munitions. Such news shocked Tokyo, but it was lessons the world would soon face in 1914. To give you an idea, at the third battle of Ypres in 1917, the British would expend 4,283,550 shells within two weeks. Basically war had evolved. The Japanese had to wait for their munition columns to reach them, which would occur by May 27th and then they resume their advance to Nankuanling junction and Dalienwan. Dalny lying 8 miles away from the Nankuanling junction remained a well fortified position that could serve perhaps superior to that of Nanshan. Tretyakov's men withdrawal was in the direction of Dalny as they abandoned 82 pieces of artillery and 10 machine guns in the process. They expected to take a rest and eat at Dalny, but General Fok ordered the entire echelon to make for Port Arthur with haste. The residents of Dalny found out Nanshan had fallen when the soldiers arrived, panic broke. Over 600 Russian civilian began to flee southwards as Dalny's facilities were destroyed. General Stoessel made an official report that it had always been his intent to abandon Nanshan and dismissed the rumors of so much abandoned equipment as “old pieces of Chinese equipment from 1900”. When Tretyakov's men arrived to Port Arthur on May 30th, Stoessel shouted at them “You are a wretched undisciplined corps of traitors, cowards and blackguards. I will try the lot of you by court martial. How did you dare leave Chinchou? Don't dare to show yourself in Port Arthur, lest by your presence you infect the whole garrison with your cowardice.' Stoessel than with reluctance handed out the Cross of St George to the wounded because it was the Tsar's orders to do so. Tretyakov would later write in his memoirs ‘These were the sole recipients of rewards for the Nanshan battle, those slightly wounded receiving nothing for their bravery.' It should be noted there were three unwounded men who received the Cross of St George for their bravery and one was General Fok. On May 3th, the 3rd IJA division entered Dalny uncontested, finding the town had been ransacked heavily by local Chinese. Much of the food provisions had been dispersed, but the dockyards, 290 railway wagons, workshops were all fully intact. The great port of Dalny was now in the 2nd IJA's hands. The Japanese 1st and 11th division advanced through the 2nd IJA enroute to the 3rd IJA of General Nogi. Nogi was given the daunting task of bringing Port Arthur to her knees. Now the Russians had fallen back to a 15 mile long line of defence that ran from Shiapingtao on the east coast all the way to Anshishan on the west coast. Shiapingtao was roughly 18 miles south west of Dalny and Anshishan was around 18 miles away from Port Arthur. The first line of Russian defense was around the 800 foot high Waitoushan and 1000 foot high Prominent Peak. Prominent Peak which would later be named Sword Hill or “Kenshan” by General Nohi was vital to the security of Port Arther as it held an observation point that could see the movement of ships and overlooked Dalny. So it was one of the first major objectives required to be taken before a proper siege could be erected against the city. On June 26th, Nogi had his men fight through the passes who easily dislodged the Russian defenders upon Waitoushan, but found Kenshan a much tougher nut to crack. A Russian naval force appeared around Shiapingtao, caused a delay to the seizure of Kenshan. The Russians launched 5 counter attacks to try and retake Waitoushan and secure Kenshan but they failed. When the cause seemed hopeless, Stoessel ordered the men to fall back 4 miles to the Green Hills to prepare the next line of defense. Meanwhile General Nogi was biding his time, awaiting reinforcements and further supplies to be brought over to Dalny. By mid July he would receive the 9th division to add to his 1st and 11th. Along with this he would get two independent reserve brigades, a naval brigade and an independent mixed artillery brigade. The 3rd IJA were soon 60,000 men strong. On July 26th the 3rd IJA began an advance against the Russian defenses along the Green Hills. They would be formidable if it was not for their length and proximity to the railway offering the Japanese excellent outflanking options. It took three days to break the Russian lines. The Russians had fought very well suffering around 1000 casualties for the 4000 the Japanese incurred. Nogi ordered the men to advance quickly to not give the Russians a breath. The Russians pulled back to Fenghuangshan known also as the Wolf Hills. Tretyakov had this to say “I learnt that our men on Fenghuangshan had hurriedly retreated into the fortress without offering any serious resistance to the enemy. This was extremely unwelcome news, for now we should have to come into direct touch with the enemy round the fortress itself. “ General Nogi's men were only receiving the first appetizer of the horror to come. The hill filled path to Port Arthur enacted devastating casualties upon the 3rd IJA, but when they would face the real defensive lines of Port Arthur, such as the Orphan hills and 203 meter hill, the Japanese would learn what 20th century warfare truly had become. I would like to take this time to remind you all that this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Please go subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry after that, give my personal channel a look over at The Pacific War Channel at Youtube, it would mean a lot to me. General Nogi lost countless men and even his eldest son taking the formidable position of Nanshan. The Japanese were bleeding themselves in a new era of warfare to take back what they felt was theirs, the formidable Port Arthur. What more would it could the Japanese, and that of Nogi?
Henry Kissinger has died at 100 years old. Fred Kaplan, Slate's War Stories columnist and the author of many books, including The Bomb: Presidents, Generals, and the Secret History of Nuclear War (Simon & Schuster, 2020), examines the diplomat's massive impact on U.S. foreign policy, and addresses his huge failures and many critics, who see him as an immoral war criminal.
Last time we spoke about the planning for operation Galvanic and the battle of Sattelberg. The Americans were finally going to make their thrust into the central pacific with operation Galvanic. Admiral Raymond Spruance was given command of the Central Pacific Force and began building his war machine. The Americans would be employing a arsenal of new toys to hit the Gilbert Islands. Meanwhile the Japanese did everything they could to fortify the Gilberts, Marshalls and Carolines for the incoming American offensives, they would make them pay with blood for every island. Over in Green Hell the Australians were advancing up the Sattelberg road seizing Green Ridge, Coconut Ridge and other features. General Katagiri was once again on the defensive and it was only a matter of time before Sattelberg was under siege. Today we are going to cover all of this and more! This episode is The Bloody Invasion of the Gilberts Welcome to the Pacific War Podcast Week by Week, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about world war two? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on world war two and much more so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel you can find a few videos all the way from the Opium Wars of the 1800's until the end of the Pacific War in 1945. Last week we went through in depth the planning behind Operation Galvanic. The time had finally come to invade the Gilberts islands. To soften up the islands, carrier-borne airstrikes were made against the Gilberts and Marshalls. One of the major impacts of the raids in September and October was the evacuation of aircraft from Tarawa. Just before the raids there had been three air installations in the 3rd Special Base Force area; two airfields at Nauru and one at Tara, with a seaplane base at Makin. One of the duties assigned to these installations was to maintain patrols in the southeast corner of the Central Pacific. Patrols from Nauru covered the area south of the island, patrols from Kain covered the east and patrols from Tarawa the southeast between the other two. Yet after the removal of so many aircraft from Tarawa, now Makin had to assume full responsibility for patrolling the Gilberts area. By November there were only four amphibious reconnaissance planes left at Makin and even worse they had the dual mission of reconnaissance and anti-submarine patrol. Thus in other words there were not enough eyes on lookout. On November 10th, Admiral Spruance led out his Central Pacific force from Hawaii enroute for Tarawa aboard his flagship the heavy cruises Indianapolis. The Northern attack force, northern carrier group and interceptor carrier group all departed from the Hawaiian islands simultaneously, but they would not be traveling together. The two carrier groups moved in a parallel course followed by the Northern attack force at around 300 miles to their northwest. The two routes of approach would change around 800 miles east of the Gilberts with the Northern attack force turning to meet them. As the force made its way, Spruance warned “If … a major portion of the Japanese fleet were to attempt to interfere with Galvanic, it is obvious that the defeat of the enemy fleet would at once become paramount … the destruction of a considerable portion of the Japanese naval strength would … go far towards winning the war …” Even within the Navy there were critics of Operation Galvanic. While Spruance was taking the 5th fleet along with 30,000 marines, Vice Admiral John Towers grumbled “Spruance wants a sledgehammer to drive a tack.” The battle for Tarawa would be one of the most controversial engagements of the Pacific war. Over at Efate, Admiral Hill's Southern force departed on November 13th to rendezvous with Turner by the 18th. On November 15th, the Relief carrier force consisting of two carriers, 3 cruisers and 4 destroyers departed Espirtu Santo and the New Hebrides. They were a last minute add-on, heading towards Nauru. Thus the southern carrier group and southern attack force moved parallel to another to rendezvous with the rest by the 18th. During the two days before the landings, both the navy and army aircraft delivered last minute airstrikes. At 3am on the 18th, Admiral Pownalls task force launched 18 fighters, followed 3 hour later by 20 more fighters then at intervals of 2-3 hours, dive bombers, torpedo bombers and more fighters. All day long these aircraft strafed and bombed Nauru. By the end of the day, 90 tons of bombs had been dropped. The pilots claimed the installations on the island were in ruins, a Japanese ship was a burning wreck and 3-4 medium bombers were destroyed on the ground. The next day saw the same carrier attack with the help of land based planes from the 7th air force bombers. The airfields on Nauru were hit, shipping as well and Nauru was thought to be neutralized. On the 19th, the interceptor carrier group of Admiral Pownalls task force launched a series of air strikes against Jaluit and Mille. Over 130 tons of bombs were dropped on them. Power stations at both atolls were destroyed, hangers burned down, buildings in ruins. The runways looked unserviceable at Mille and 3 vessels in her lagoon were heavily damaged, alongside 7 grounded aircraft destroyed. On that same day, 19 b-24's from Nukufetau and Funafuti dropped 10 tons of bombs on Tarawa causing fires and damaging her airfields. 12 more B-24s from Nanomea dropped 23 tons of bombs on Makin. Aircraft from the Northern and southern carrier groups added 95 tons of bombs on Makin and 69 tons on Betio island. One enemy plane was shot down and 3 were hit on the ground near Tarawa. Before noon on the 19th, Southern Carrier groups cruisers destroyers moved in closer to Tarawa to bombard the ground forces between the air strikes. One of the most important effects of the heavy air raids was getting the Japanese to waste a considerable amount of their ammunition against the aircraft. At Tarawa the Japanese expended an estimated 1437 rounds of 127mm AA, 1312 75mm, 51160 13mm, 46 8 inch and 104 14cm ammunition. At Makin it was perhaps nearly 10,000 rounds of 13mm. The loss of the 13mm machine gun ammunition would hurt the Japanese particularly hard since it was the base weapon for the ground defenses. Shortly before 11:30pm on the 19th the convoy entered the 17 mile wide channel between Maiana and Tarawa Atolls. The ships assumed positions west of Betio. Transports took up their debarkation positions and fire support ships moved into shore for another massive bombardment. At dawn on 20 November, the USS Maryland and Colorado, sister dreadnoughts from World War I of the Colorado Class, laid down a barrage of fire upon the defenders of Betio. It provided a measure of revenge for the USS Maryland, which had been damaged during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Their combined fire power of sixteen 16-inch guns was able to quickly knock out three of the four 8-inch guns defending Betio both from the lagoon-side to the north and the open sea to the south and west. A fortunate hit on one of the Japanese guns' ordnance stores sent up a massive fireball. Rear Admiral Howard Kingman, responsible for planning the bombardment of Tarawa, would tell the press aboard his ship, “Gentlemen, it is not our intention to wreck the island. We do not intend to destroy it. Gentlemen … we will obliterate it.” The air and naval barrage of the island would last 3 hours. Aboard the USS Ashland an officer boasted “They'll [the Marines] go in standing up. There aren't fifty Japs left alive on the island.” Lt Colonel Herbert Amey leading the 2nd battalion, 2nd marines boasted to his staff “As we hit the beach the planes will be strafing very close in front of you to keep the Nips down until you get in there and knock off what's left of them. I think we ought to have every Jap off the island—the live ones —by the night of D-Day.” Despite the incredible firepower, Colonel David Shoup leading the assault troops shared some concerns with Robert Sherrod working for the Time and Life magazine “What worries me more than anything is that our boats may not be able to get over that coral shelf that sticks out about 500 yards. We may have to wade in.” Colonel ‘Red Mike' Edsons went on to say of the upcoming battle “The enemy must endeavor to hold it and make sure its capture is as costly to us as possible. This will be the first attempt to defend an atoll … as it is our endeavor at seizing one.” Before dawn the Marines woke up to a last meal of steak and eggs with fried potatoes and coffee. They all gave a final check of their combat kits, their M-1 Garand's, bayonets, 3 days of rations, water, the bedding, grenades, 125 bullets, gas masks, toiletry items, 3 pairs of socks and underwear, their entrenching tool, first aid kits and the most important item, their cigarettes. As the marines moved to their debarkation stations, military chaplains passed through the troops offering last minute homilies. “God Bless you—and go out there and bring glory to our Corps,” . Father Francis Kelley from Philadelphia and veteran of Guadalcanal ended his service with, “God Bless you and God have mercy on the Japanese.” At 6:03am the transports began lowering their boats. At 6:15am the carrier borne Hellcat fighters, Avenger and Dauntless from the USS Essex and Bunker Hill began to strafed and bomb the western beaches. At 6:40 the aircraft began departing as the battleships, cruisers and destroyers opened fire. The damage from the aerial and naval bombardments was considerable. In the immediate region of the main beaches and eastward side, little real damage was inflicted. Coconut trees, native hurts and dummy gun positions took a lot of the hits. In the area of the west tank barrier, neither the ditches nor log barricades took much damage. Just east of the main tank trap was a trench system running to the beach, this area was smashed up pretty good. One trench received a direct hit from a 2000-pound bomb which, in the words of Admiral Turner, "considerably scrambled the trench, Japs and trees for some distance." 62 enemy dead were later counted in this one area, most of whom were the victims of a combination of concussion and air bursts. In the area south of Yellow Beach and east to the East Tank Barrier all buildings were reported destroyed. Three 80-mm. antiaircraft positions at the base of King's Wharf and two light tanks revetted to act as pillboxes were severely damaged. 41 enemy dead were counted, of whom 25 were apparently killed by concussion from heavy bombs. At 8:25 the naval bombardment ended and more aircraft came in strafing. While the aircraft strafed, the 165th regiment began loading onto LCVPS and amphibian tractors carried men of the 105th regiment. At 8:15 the tractors started to head for the beach while firing rockets and machine guns against what they assumed were enemy positions. At 8:31 the tractors hit the beach and the men began to scramble ashore. Beach red 1 and 2 were quickly occupied forming the first beachhead. Following the tractors were the first three waves of landing craft at about 5 minute intervals. They were met with unfriendly studded reefs and coral boulders about 40 yards offshore. Some of the landing craft were unable to slip past the larger boulders, some were broached, stranded or forced to pull back out to sea. The failures of these landings would lead Rear Admiral Richmond Turner to create the Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT) a precursor to the US Navy Seals. The tanks were waterproofed for the landings, and managed to roll off the ramps into water. The men struggled in swells sometimes over their heads and sought cover at the edge of the beach. At best, only three boats could be landed at one time, and the fifth wave was not able to get ashore until 10:00, over an hour behind schedule. Facing the marines was 798 men led by Lt Seizo Ishikawa, the commander of the 3rd Special Base force Makin detachment. 284 of his men were from his detachment, alongside them were 100 air personnel, 138 men from the 11th construction unit and 276 men of the 4th fleet construction department detachment made up mostly of Korean laborers. They had established 3 defensive areas. The aviation personnel took up the east, the 3rd special base men the middle and the Korean laborers the west. Thus only 284 combat troops with the rest being support staff would face the onslaught. Ishikawa had established a perimeter defense around the seaplane base on the lagoon shore. They had three dual purpose 8cm guns at King's wharf with a few machine guns. Running from the lagoon to the beach were two anti tank barriers. They were wide ditches with coconut log barriers going around 13 feet wide and 5 feet deep. Numerous anti tank guns were around them, behind were concrete pillboxes, machine gun positions, rifle pits and trenches. There were also trip wires with booby traps laid everywhere someone might creep up. Luckily for General Smith, Ishikawa's defensive positions were between the two tank barriers as the Japanese had predicted the invasion of the island would be made there. Over on Betio island were 4836 men led by Admiral Keiji Shibazaki. 1122 men were from the 3rd special base force, 1247 from the 111th construction unit, 970 of the 4th fleet construction department detachment and 1497 Sasebo 7th SNLF. The Sasebo 7th were known as the Rikusentai, elite marine paratroopers modeled on the German Luftwaffe paratroop brigades. During the Pacific war, 50,0000 Rikusentai troops were deployed. They work dark green uniforms modeled on the German paratrooper counterpart, dark-brown belts and harnesses with white anchor patches. Recruits were forced to learn by heart Emperor Meiji's 1882 Imperial rescript to soldiers. The war song Umi Yukaba was also their prophetic line “Across the sea, corpses in the water … I shall die for the Emperor.” As Marine historian, Colonel Joseph Alexander concluded in his work, Utmost Savagery, three days of Tarawa in 1995 “American expeditionary forces would not encounter a more sophisticated series of defensive positions on any subsequent island until they reached Iwo Jima in 1945. Yard for yard, Betio was the toughest fortified position the Marines would ever face.” The Americans were about to see Japan's “water edge” strategy. The directive was simply “concentrate all fires on the enemy's landing point and destroy him at the water's edge.” Rear Admiral Keiji Shibazai was an aggressive young officer who demanded his troops build defenses to “withstand assault by a million men for a hundred years.” Yet it was his predecessor Rear Admiral Sichero who had 50 pillboxes and bunkers constructed across an island that was just 800 yards at its widest points and two miles in length. Shibazaki added kettle mines to impede landing boats or direct them to his kill zones. Double barbed wire fences were dug into coral shallows encircling the island 50 to 100 yards from the shore. Yet as noted by Warrant Officer Kiyosha Ota the only Japanese officer to survive the battle for Tarawa, rear admiral Shibazaki could not get a cargo ship to bring over cement and steel to reinforce to build his planned 4500 tetrahedrons to surrounded the island nor reinforce countless pillboxes. Nonetheless Betio was bristling with a armada of guns. Betio held 4 8 inch guns, 4 14cm, 4 12.7cm, 6 8cm, 10 75mm mountain guns, 6 70mm howitzers, 8 7cm dual purpose guns, 9 37mm field guns, 27 12mm guns, 4 13 mm guns and 7 tanks with 37mm guns. Betio was a fortress full of steel, concrete and coconut log emplacements, the entire island was organized for battle. Within their defensive positions the Japanese had bombproof ammunition and personnel shelters in depth. The allies would be facing beach guns, anti-tank ditches, beach barrices, numerous obstacles and booby traps. Tarawa would be the most heavily defended atoll ever invaded by allied forces in the Pacific. H hour, the landing of the first wave had been scheduled for 8am on November 20th, but Admiral Hill's transports had run into some problems. They arrived to the scene around 5:50am and began lowering their boats, but it turned out they were too far south and in range of the enemy's coastal guns. The Japanese opened fire on them forcing them back to the designated positions at the lagoon entrance. American warships meanwhile began bombarding the Japanese coastal guns and positions. The airstrikes arrived a bit late to the scene to add their payloads to the mix. Meanwhile two minesweepers the Pursuit and Requisite and two destroyers, Ringgold and Dashiell fought their way into the Tarawa lagoon to sweep for mines. The Japanese coastal guns fired upon them, seeing Ringgold suffering moderate damage from 5 inch gunfire. The choppy seas delayed the arrival of the amphibian tractors, thus H hour was moved to 9am. In the meantime at least one 8 inch coastal gun and two 120mm anti-aircraft batteries had been neutralized by the naval gunfire, and just about everything above ground or in open pits, like personnel, bombs, trucks and munitions were mostly likely destroyed. The camouflage screens over dugouts were wiped away and Shibasaki's network of telephone wire, most laid above ground was obliterated, thus his system of communication was paralyzed. Despite all of this the damage was not nearly enough. Along the beaches were rows of pillboxes, some concrete, steel and coconut made. At Red beaches 2 and 3 there were at least 5 machine guns pointing towards where the troops would land over a reef towards the shore. As Admiral Hill put it, "that was five too many." By 8:55am the tractors were still late, but Hill ceased all naval gunfire anyway allowing them to begin their approach. The volume of intensity of fire grew as the boats motored in towards the landing beaches. Shibasaki's 75mm field guns and 37mm anti-tank guns were positioned perfectly to hit the incoming boats. Neither the amtracs nor the Higgin boats had enough armor to stop the shells. William Rogal's boat took a 37mm shell to her bow and Rogal recalled “the force of the explosion threw his body to the rear of the amtrac, showering everyone on the port side with blood and brains.” As Lt Lillibridges boat came under similar fire, the shells pierced their starboard and port sides simultaneously forcing the men to toss themselves on the flat bottom. Light mortars showered them all sending shrapnel into several marines. Most of the first wave boats headed towards Red beach 1, in a cove tucked between the pier and northwestern point of the island. The approached to red beach 1 held a significant amount of crossfire by weapons of various calibers. The men began to hit the beach at 9:10am. Landing ashore was the 3rd battalion, 2nd marines who were met with tremendous fire. The marines quickly ran into a log barricade. Some of their tractors were smashed up and burning dead in the water. If those inside them were still alive they climbed over the sides to try and wade ashore. The vehicles that made it onto land soon were halted by the log barricade seen marines jump over under machine gun fire. K Company took so many casualties they were unable to move past the log barricade and now had to lie in an exposed area under constant fire. By 11am K company would push a few men over the coconut barrier, but by this point the two leading companies had suffered 50% casualty rates. Reserve company L led by Major Michael P Ryan were just landing to the east and would lose 35% of their strength before even touching the each. A platoon of M4 Shermans attached to the 3rd battalion were tossed into the water but 4 of them got stuck in potholes in the coral reef and drowned out, only 2 tanks actually made it to the beach. Meanwhile at 9:22 the 2nd battalion, 2nd marines also landed in chaos and confusion at Red Beach 2. Company F was to hit the left while company E took the right and company G would act in support. Similar to Red Beach 1, a 4 foot high log barricade had been constructed to form a sea wall. Most of the barricade lay 20 yards from the waters edge, leaving a narrow open strip of deep coral sand for the marines to traverse. Numerous pillboxes and shelters lay around the barricade in intervals. Rogal's amtrac headed to Red beach 2 through mortar bursts that showered his men with shrapnel. When the boat grounded on the sand Rogal shouted “Lets go!” and the men went over the side through machine gun fire. Rogal rushed forward and could see above the seawall to the left a machine gun emplacement, it was one of the major strong points and it would kill roughly 300 marines that day. The amtracs drove onto the beaches and lowered their ramps with most of the first wave units making it to the seawall providing some shield from enemy fire. However going any further was near suicide, a few brave souls climbed over and were shot or wounded. Men sat crouched around the wall with their heads down waiting for tanks and air support. The volume of Japanese mortar, artillery and automatic fire was tremendous. F company was decimated, but managed to grab the left half of the beach near the pier, digging in on the coral sand. E Company suffered heavy casualties and the reserve G company landed in the center and immediately pinned down. As the men were huddled along the coconut barrier they began systematically eliminating enemy positions that jutted out onto the beach. Further to the east, at 9;17am the 2nd battalion, 8th marines of Major Henry Crowe began landing at red beach 3. They were backed up by 4 medium tanks of the 2nd tank battalion, 3 of the tanks would be put out of action within 2 hours. The marines at red beach 3 enjoyed more success than the other thanks to additional naval bombardment support that had lasted just until 7 minutes of their landing. They suffered just 25 casualties as the rapidly burst through the coconut barricade by driving LVTs through it. Company E led the way continuing as far inland as the triangle formed by the main airstrip and taxiways. Colonel David Shoups 2nd marines were in dire trouble at Red Beach 2 and had to commit the reserve 1st battalion who landed there and were ordered to work their way west towards red beach 1in the hopes of aiding the 3rd battalion. By 11am, two companies in amphibious tractors came over and suffered the same fire that had decimated the other waves, but managed to get their men ashore. When General Smith heard about Shoups call for reinforcements he also sent the reserve 3rd battalion, 8th marines to relief their right flank. Boated over in LCVPs, the battalion were halted by the reef line and forced to wade ashore under heavy fire during the afternoon. Supply barges were unable to reach the beaches, forcing the reserve troops to carry the most vital supplies. Colonel Shoup had radioed the transported intermittently throughout the day asking for more ammunition ,water and medical supplies, but these calls just caused more confusion amongst the shipping. The transport commanders had been tossing boat after boat carrying supplies, but they had no real picture of the situation between their boats and the beach. Captain Henry Knowles would end up sending Major Ben Weatherwax ashore just to determine what the supply situation was. It would literally take until dawn to get a complete picture, that picture being that Shoup had received virtually none of the supplies supposed to be dispatched to him. Additionally two M4 shermans were brought up to help the battered 3rd battalion, 2nd marines who were driving across the island towards the south shore. The marines hit shelter to shelter making steady progress. The tanks got within 300 yards of the south shore when 40mm gunfire knocked them both out. The progress allowed Major Michael Ryan to discover that part of Green Beach, on the western coast of Betio was available for landing reserves. Unable to relay this to Shoup, he ultimately had to pull out and dig in to form a defensive position. While the Americans were suffering communication problems, the Japanese had a much worse one. The naval bombardment had destroyed their communications lines to the Japanese HQ, preventing Rear Admiral Shibazaki to lead, but that problem was soon solved. It was solved when a 5 inch air burst shell fired from either RInggold or Dashiell hit his HQ killing him and all the senior officers. The last message Shibazaki received before his death was from Emperor Hirohito “you have all fought gallantly. May you continue to fight to the death. Banzai”. Shibazaki had planned to launch a counterattack, but now his forces were for the first critical two days of the battle leaderless, demoralized and uncoordinated. Concurrently the 8th marines were fighting to hold the triangle position they acquired under heavy attacks from the Japanese. F Company was in a brutal fight around the Burns-Philp Wharf facing a Japanese counterattack supported by tanks. The buildings were all ablaze as tanks and flamethrowers were firing upon everything they could. By nightfall the Japanese counterattack failed. To their right Shoups 2nd marines were unable to organize a proper attack because their forces were all over the place. They held a pinned down toehold around the beach, but many units had penetrated some 125 yards inland and no pockets were fighting all over. Throughout the night, men were frantically carrying supplies ashore, but few supplies were actually reaching the beaches. There was an enormous failure in communications. Aboard the USS Maryland, the only information General Julian Smith was receiving came from reports of observers in planes, intercepted radio messages and a few direct reports from Colonel Shoup. By 1:43pm Smith ordered General Hermle to go to the end of the pier and get an estimation of the situation ashore. At 3:10 Hermle tried the best he could to relay the information but couldn't get through. Hermle recommended the 1st battalion, 8th marines be committed to Red Beach 2, but this message never made it to Smith. Meanwhile Smith ordered Hermle to take command of the troops ashore, but this message never reached him. At 4:25 Smith ordered Colonel Hall, command of the 8th marines to land on the eastern beaches, but he also never received the message so most of his men spent the night floating. Luckily by 8:19pm Colonel Hall received a message and landed at Red Beach 2, whereupon he didn't receive any further orders. Over at Makin, Admiral Turner landed the 1st and 3rd battalions, 165th regiment. General Ralph Smiths plan called for the rapid capture of Flink point and Ukiangong Point, along with the occupation of the area east of Red Beaches to the first beachhead line around 1300 yards inland. The 1st battalion would hit Flink Point and the left half of the beachhead line. The 3rd battalion would hit Ukiangong village and Point and was responsible for the right half of the beachhead line. The 1st battalion advanced, overcoming some barbed wire, log barricades and an undefended observation tower. The3rd battalion made equal progress finding little resistance. By 10:30am the beachhead line was secured, Company A and Detachment Y had been dispatched northward to occupy Flink Point, L company with Detachment X were turning south to take Ukiengong Village and to clear the point beyond it. General SMith expected some resistance at Ukiangong, but it with the point were taken unopposed. Therefor Smith elected to establish artillery positions there. Flink Point was taken by 12:40, marking the operation quite an easy success. After receiving word at 8am that the Kotabu detachment had taken the island without opposition, Turner decided to go ahead with the landings on Yellow Beach. At 10:05am the landing forces advances towards Yellow Beach. The destroyers MacDonough and Phelps began a bombardment using their 5 inch guns. The first wave of 16 amphibian tractors began approaching as they fired rockets against the beach. Following up would in a minute was the second wave of 8 LCMS carrying medium tanks, followed two minutes later by the third wave, 7 LCMs carrying medium tanks, then another 2 minutes after was the fourth wave carrying two LCVPS with troops and 4 LCMS with light tanks. The next four waves would consist of LCVPS carrying the bulk of the assault troops and a bulldozer. At 10:25 the tractors were around 600 yards off the beach when the two destroyers ceased their firing to allow a last minute strafing run by carrier planes. As the approached, the men in the tractors crouched low to avoid the rain of bullets that began at around 500 yards. At 10:41 they hit the beaches and one amphtrack ran up the seaplane ramp on Kings Wharf. Enemy shellfire struck two amphtracks killing 5 men and wounding 12. One lone tractor lost control and drove straight across the island toward the ocean shore, directly through the main Japanese defenses. It ended up in a shell crater with two of its crew killed by enemy machine gun fire, but the others managed to jump into the brush. Upon jumping out of their tractors the Americans made their way inland by crawling along the western slope of the causeway. The pier was captured quickly, Detachment Z then divided into two groups, one to take King's Wharf, the other On Chong's Wharf. Kings Wharf was taken unopposed, but On Chong's Wharf would offer some tough resistance. The 105th regiment fought their way through dugouts and bomb proof shelters to get to the Wharf by dusk. They then began mass throwing grenades into the Wharf emplacements killing many Japanese. 35 Prisoners would soon be captured and by noon On Chong's Wharf was secured. Back over at the beach, 15 medium tanks landed on the beach with two becoming stuck in shell holes in the reef. The other tanks split up advancing east and west against the two tank barriers. Unfortunately they were not very well coordinated and began operating independently. Behind the tanks was the 2nd battalion, 165th regiment whose LCVPS grounded themselves on the reef. The landing troops had little to no opportunity to locate the incessant fire being poured upon them from the right flank. At the offset they believed the fire was coming from two battered and scuttled hulks resting near On Chong's Wharf. Their first effort to knock these out was made by a LCVP commanded by Joseph Kasper. The boat mounted three of its guns on the starboard side and ran for the hulks while firing all at once. Kasper was fatally wounded during the run and one of the guns jammed. The incessant fire was halting the men so at 11:25 and 12:50 carrier planes bombed and strafed the hulks. Alongside this the destroyer Dewey bombarded them scoring numerous hits, but by 12:07 was ordered to cease fire because a few hits hit friendlys. Finally at 12:57 Major Dennis Claire ordered a stop to the bombardments so he could lead E company to hit the eastern tank barrier. They met light resistance until they came to the area of Kings Wharf. There they ran into concealed pillboxes that would halt their advance for over 4 hours. The men tried rifle grenades, bazookas, artillery barrages, but the pillboxes kept returning fire. Then they tried a daring encirclement maneuver under artillery support. The men crawled and crept in a wide circle reaching the pill boxes 40 yards or so away. They attempted to use flamethrowers, but the defenders still fired back. Then some engineers brought over TNT which was tossed into the pillboxes and exploded just before some light tanks rolled up to fire using 37mm rounds. By 4pm the pill boxes finally ceased firing, 8 Americans had been killed taking them. E company advanced a bit before digging in for the night. F Company advanced across the atoll west to attack the west tank barrier. They did not encounter resistance, excluding the incredibly difficult jungle. By noon the reached the ocean shore where they reorganized their lines and made their way south alongside 5 Sherman tanks to assault the west tank barrier. F Company and the tanks ran into a tanktrap with underground shelters full of Japanese defenders. Some labor troops were also there armed with knives and a few rifles. F Company proceeded to use TNT pole charges to blow up the shelters and flame throwers which quickly became the preferred weapon to face Japanese underground defenses. During the fight F Company had 8 deaths and 6 wounded. By 1:30pm they reached the barrier. The 3rd Platoon of F Company were attacking a section due south of On Chong's Wharf where an enemy air raid shelter was. The shelter was around 30 feet long with blast proof entrances on either side. When they tossed hand grenades into the shelter the grenades were tossed right back at them. A sherman tank came up and started firing 75mm shells, but had no success. Then a flamethrower unit crept up and tried to fire, but the equipment was soaked from the landing and was not functioning. Thus they resorted to a TNT pole charge. The explosion did not collapse the shelter, but it killed all 12 Japanese inside it. Meanwhile countless units were dealing with machine gun positions aided by 3 shermans. The tanks gradually pierced the barrier and proceeded. Meanwhile the 1st battalion was advancing from the west passing Joan Lake by 2pm. From there they ran into some strong machine gun posts 150 yards west of the barrier. B Company of the 1st battalion rushed over to help F company from the east side of the west tank barrier. At this point the regimental commander, Colonel Conroy had taken a shot to the head and was dead leaving Lt Colonel Gerard Kelley, the commander of the 1st battalion in charge. Kelley's first orders were for C company to bypass the pocket in the front, while A company would reinforce B company. The Japanese defenders were now trapped in the center being gradually eliminated by the 4 shermans. By 5:55pm F Company finally destroyed the last of the enemy in the center of the line and contact was made between the two battalions. After suffering 25 deaths and 62 wounded, the 27th division had gained a good foothold on Butaritari; the West Tank Barrier had been reduced; but the enemy forces in the east still needed to be cleared. The night was a very uncomfortable one. Japanese snipers harassed the Americans the entire time; Japanese infiltrators were up to their old tricks calling out in english, throwing firecrackers and trying to jump into foxholes with knives in hand. Trigger happy Americans fired away indiscriminately, causing chaos. A man of the 152nd engineered ran along the lagoon shore at daybreak from the direction of On Chong's Wharf toward the 2nd battalions command post screaming “theres a hundred and fifty Japs in the trees!”. This caused a wave of hysteria. That morning Kelley ordered his 1st battalion to clear the remaining enemy pockets west of the barrier while the rear of the west tank barrier area was finally mopped up. To the east an air bombardment smashed the area before the eastward advance commenced. Supported by 10 shermans the Americans advanced slowly against stiff resistance, successfully overran every enemy position. Between 12-2pm they were fighting through one of the most heavily defended areas on the island. Machine gun emplacements supported by rifle pits with double apron barbed wire running back and forth were everywhere they looked. By 5pm they advanced 1000 yards at the cost of 18 deaths and 15 wounded. The next day starting at 6am the 3rd battalion advanced along the island highway towards Yellow Beach. As they reached Yellow Beach 13 medium and light tanks with some engineers fell in line with them and together they advanced towards Ukiangong Point. At 7am artillery bombarded Ukiangong Point, first targeting the east tank barrier. Until 8:20 the artillery fired nearly 900 rounds then the 3rd battalion began their assault upon forward defenses that had been abandoned during the night. By 9;15 the men seized the first 250 yards meeting only light resistance, after that it became fierce fighting. Meanwhile two detachments of the 105th regiment led by Major Herzog were dispatched to cut off the Japanese line of retreat. They performed an amphibious encirclement maneuver going through the lagoon. The men embarked on 6 LVTS and made a 3 mile dash across the lagoon to the northeastern point where they met up with friendly natives who notified them the Japanese were fleeing eastward across the reef to Kuma. They quickly seized Kuma and now the enemy on Butaritari was entirely cut off from their retreat. With artillery and tank support the 3rd battalion managed attacked the Stone Pier area. The tank commanders had learnt many lessons over the past two days and began using their big guns to reduce buildings ahead of them to infantry could toss grenades into the smaller shelters. Tank-infantry tactics were literally being developed ad hoc as the men learnt first hand lessons of war. Tanks opened up with 75mm shells knocking shelters and infantry stormed them with grenades. Soon the Stone Pier area was clear and now they began striking the east tank barrier. The east tank barrier was more heavily fortified than its western counterpart, yet the Japanese abandoned the barrier during the night. Only a few dead Japanese would be found, killed by earlier bombardments. The 3rd battalion continued past the barrier linking up with A company by 1:30pm finding no sign of the enemy. Together they advanced 2100 yards beyond the narrow neck of the island and dug in for the night. Each company created a separate defensive perimeter stretching across the width of the island in a line of about 300 yards in length. It was not long during the night when the Japanese got up to their old tricks. Following behind a group of friendly native guides, a group of Japanese infiltrators approached limiting the cries of babies. The ruse was recognized by a member of the engineer detachment who opened fire immediately killing 10 Japanese. For the rest of the night there was intermittent fire fights as infiltrators continuously attacked. The Japanese began to yell and sing songs, many sounding quite drunk. It was not just there the Japanese attacked, over on Kuma Island at around midnight 10 Japanese attacked the defense line set up by Major Bradt's men. Although certainly shaken by the night terror, over 60 Japanese would be killed by the morning of the 23rd. This nearly wiped out the remaining survivors allowing the Americans to have firm control over Makin. The Americans suffered 58 deaths, 152 wounded on Makin while the Japanese lost perhaps 800 men and the Americans captured 105 POW's. The Americans had held an unbelievable superiority during this battle. The ratio of American combat casualties to those of the Japanese though was remarkably high. With the battle concluded, most of the 27th division departed Makin on the 24th leaving Colonel CLesen Tenney to lead garrison forces. Tragedy hit that morning when the escort carrier Liscome Bay was sunk by the I-175 who had been hunting around Makin since the arrival of the Americans. This left the death toll at Makin 644, including Rear Admiral Henry Mullinnix. Back on Tarawa the marines were surprised the Japanese did not launch a major counterattack during the first night which was their typical strategy. General Smith landed his reserve 1st battalion, 8th marines on Red Beach 2, but they took some heavy casualties for this. Many of the men wading ashore were fired upon creating a scene of carnage. In central Betio Colonel Shoups marines unleashed a devastating artillery bombardment using delay fuzes in order to penetrate coral and log shelters to hit enemy positions around the triangle. A line just short of the taxiway on the airfield had formed, as the 1st battalion began to drive towards the south shore of Betio. The 1st battalion, 8th marines launched an attack against a strong defensive position at a juncture on the two right hand beaches to try and reestablish contact with the 3rd battalion 2nd marines. Other units of drove all the way across the island to secure Green Beach. The 8th marines were unable to make any progress against the strong Japanese positions. The major success of the day would be landing the reserve 1st and 2nd battalions, 6th marines at Green Beach and Bairiki island by the afternoon facing no opposition. At this point Colonel Edson landed at Red Beach 2 and took command of the marine forces until General Smith landed. Colonel Edson spent his first night consulting with Shoup and Hall before ordering a coordinated attack the following morning. Edson noted, until then air and naval gunfire had been ineffective because they did not have acute knowledge of american and enemy positions. So Edson ordered spotters to get a better picture of the area and for the 2nd battalion, 10th marines artillery to come over. The next morning the 10th marines began an artillery bombardment to aid the attack. At 8am the 1st battalion, 6th marines advance eastwards down a narrow hundred yard strip of heavily fortified ground between the airfield and south shore. They rapidly progressed and by 11:00a would reach an area held by the 1st battalion, 2nd marines. It was estimated they killed 250 Japanese during this action. After completing this action new orders were issued to continue the advance east to the end of the airfield. They began advancing at 1pm and hit strong resistance. It would take until the late afternoon to clear the way over. During the afternoon the 3rd battalion, 6th marines landed at Green Beach and began advancing up the rear to aid in the assault. Elsewhere on Betio the 8th marines were making progress reducing the strong Burns-Philp Wharf position. The 18th marine engineers helped explode portions of steel pillboxes to let their colleagues storm them. One of the positions was a large blockhouse and when captured suddenly a large Japanese counterattack emerged to retake it. The 1st battalion, 8th marines on the western beaches proceeded slowly with fighting going on well into the night. Colonel Maurice Holmes 6th marines then relieved the 8th marines on the frontlines. By nightfall on the third day of the battle, the Americans now possessed all of the western end of Betio, going as far east as the eastern end of the airfield, except for some pockets between Red Beach 1 and 2. General Julian Smith finally came ashore on Green Beach just before noon assuming command. Despite the substantial gains, it was estimated that at least 5 more days of heavy fighting remaining before Betio was subdued. Smith gave Holmes the command for the final drive to the eastern tip of Betio. With the new daunting task at hand, Colonel Holmes prepared his forces for the brutal final drive, when all of a sudden 50 Japanese launched a counterattack. By the night of the 22nd, most of the remaining Japanese, roughly 1000 men were squeezed on the eastern narrow tail of the island. At 7:30 a group of 50 Japanese began attacking American positions recently just established. The 1st battalion, 6th marines had just assumed responsibility for the whole cross island line and the Japanese managed to find a small gap in the line. The Japanese used grenades and bayonets trying to break through, but the Americans were able to quickly encircle and annihilate them. Thus the Japanese were forced to launch a second probing attack later that night bringing their artillery 75 yards near the Marine front lines in an effort to screen their charges. The second attack was a two pronged movement hitting B company on the right and A company on the left. Both Japanese groups were obliterated in what became a wild frenzy of hand to hand fighting. Then after this the heaviest counterattack was launched at around 3am. The Japanese made a frontal assault for over an hour. 300 Japanese troops hit both A and B companies and like their other comrades were obliterated come the morning. These three attacks were in effect banzai charges, last ditch efforts to break the Americans, it cost the entire Japanese garrison. Holmes plans would be unnecessary to reach the eastern tip of Betio island as little opposition was found. By 10am the 1st battalion, 8th marines and 3rd battalion 2nd marines joined together to form a semicircular attack upon the last enemy pocket. They were supported by 75mm guns that unleashed carnage upon the pillboxes before marines grabbed prisoners through burst open holes from their shelters. Tarawa saw an estimated 4690 Japanese and Korean killed, with 17 Japanese and 129 Koreans POWs captured. The Marines suffered 1009 deaths, 2101 wounded and 191 missing in action. Vandegrift would tell the New York Times on December 27th "Tarawa was an assault from beginning to end. We must steel ourselves now to pay that price". November 24th would see the rest of the Tarawa atoll get mopped up and by the 29th, Abaiang, Marakei and the Maiana atolls were occupied. On the 21st the 5th amphibious corp reconnaissance company landed on Apamama under naval gunfire support from their submarine and escorting destroyer. They would encounter resistance from 23 Japanese whom they neutralized by the next day. With this Operation Galvanic has successfully been accomplished. The operation as we will see in the future weeks provided dire lessons to the allies about what the rest of the war would look like. As Vandegrift would later remark “Tarawa was the first example in history of a sea-borne assault against a heavily defended coral atoll … In the final analysis … success at Tarawa depended upon the discipline, courage, and fighting ability of the individual Marine. Seldom has anyone been called upon to fight a battle under more difficult circumstances.” It was under these circumstances, where the de facto practice of taking no prisoners would easily become the norm. The Japanese soldiers were faking deaths, hiding grenades to take allied men down with them. Suicide attacks were increasing exponentially. Thus the age of phrase would be adopted by the marines “shoot first and ask questions later”. I would like to take this time to remind you all that this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Please go subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry after that, give my personal channel a look over at The Pacific War Channel at Youtube, it would mean a lot to me. Operation Galvanic had finally been accomplished. It cost countless lives and would be one of the major bitter lessons learnt by the Americans during the Pacific War. The enemy was going to defend every single inch of their territory until the last man. Would America have the stomach to drive it home?
Last time we spoke about operation Galvanic, the invasion of the Gilbert islands. The Americans finally assaulted Tarawa, Makin, Betio and the smaller islands of the Gilberts. Tarawa saw an estimated 4690 Japanese and Koreans killed, with 17 Japanese and 129 Koreans POWs captured. The Marines suffered 1009 deaths, 2101 wounded and 191 missing in action. Vandegrift would tell the New York Times on December 27th "Tarawa was an assault from beginning to end. We must steel ourselves now to pay that price". The heavy casualties would be met by an outraged american public who could not believe such losses were necessary to take such small and seemingly unimportant islands. Little did the American public know, the lessons of places like Tarawa, were just one of many more to come. Admiral Nimitz would spend considerable time reading furious letters from the letters of the dead boys on these islands. This episode is battle of Cape St George Welcome to the Pacific War Podcast Week by Week, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about world war two? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on world war two and much more so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel you can find a few videos all the way from the Opium Wars of the 1800's until the end of the Pacific War in 1945. The Gilberts, specifically Tarawa, provided the first “wake up call” to American about the ferocity of the war ahead of them. Correspondents were not present at Henderson Field during the Marine battle for Gaudalcanal where the Americans found themselves defenders and the Japanese attackers. 6 months of grueling battle would see casualties approximating those incurred after three days on Tarawa. Correspondent Richard Johnston was one of the first to write of the action for Time magazine “It has been a privilege to see the Marines from privates to colonels, every man a hero, go up against Japanese fire with complete disregard for their lives.“Last week some two to three thousand US Marines, most of them dead and wounded, gave the nation a name to stand beside those of Concord Bridge, the Bonhomme Richard, the Alamo, Little Big Horn and Belleau Wood. The name was Tarawa.”” Johnston was one of 25 war correspondents, 5 photographers and two artists embedded with the marines in the Gilberts. Never in history had a battle been so fully covered by the press. The amphibious landings drew immense casualty rates and during the active fighting, the mortality rate per 1000 soldiers per day was 1.78 compared to 0.36 in europe, thats nearly 5 times more. Overall casualty rates, including the wounded were 5.5 per thousand per day compared to 1.74 for europe. The war correspondents learnt a lot about the fighting qualities of their marines, but they also learnt a great deal about the enemy. The battles frequently saw hand-to-hand combat. The Americans were shocked to find the enemy were not in fact short, bucktoothed, bespectacled “Japs” as the propaganda cartoons had portrayed them. Private 1st class Robert Muhlbach recalled many of the enemy were over 6 feet tall and “They were good at defending themselves, and so we had to parry and thrust, and they were good! Those guys were so much bigger than the average Jap. They were naval landing forces [Rikusentai], like Japanese Marines, and they were larger. They were very accurate with their weapons, and good with their bayonets … They were good and we were pretty good, too. So it was two of probably the best military outfits in the war.” One Lt Thomas encountered some hand to hand fighting and said “ I had the field telephone in my hand when I was rushed by the biggest Jap I've ever seen. We grappled for a few seconds, and I managed to kick him off me and throw him to the ground. Then I picked up a 0.45 and finished him off.” General Holland Smith who commanded the marines had this to say about Tarawa “I don't see how they ever took Tarawa. It's the most completely defended island I ever saw … I passed boys who had lived yesterday a thousand times and looked older than their fathers. Dirty, unshaven, with gaunt sightless eyes, they had survived the ordeal, but it had chilled their souls. They found it hard to believe they were actually alive …” He was not to be the only high ranking commander stunned by what occurred on such a small island. Admiral Nimitz wrote to his wife “I have never seen such a desolate spot as Tarawa. General Richardson, who saw battlefields in France last year, says it reminded him of the Ypres field, over which the battle raged back and forth for weeks. Not a coconut tree of thousands was left whole …” Nimitz would read countless letters beginning with “you killed my son on Tarawa”. The mothers of 1009 marines and 687 naval personnel would never see their sons again. The invasion of the gilberts had ushered in what is commonly known as the “island hoping campaign” vs what was called Leapfrogging in the south pacific. As told to us by General Douglas MacArthur “Although we've already seen many instances of American forces launching amphibious invasions against Japanese-held islands, particularly at the Solomons, there is one difference to be made. The strategy employed in the South Pacific is often referred to as leapfrogging, and the explanation comes from General MacArthur himself, who claimed to have invented this strategy despite it predating WW2 by many decades. My strategic conception for the Pacific Theater, which I outlined after the Papuan Campaign and have since consistently advocated, contemplates massive strokes against only main strategic objectives, utilizing surprise and air-ground striking power supported and assisted by the fleet. This is the very opposite of what is termed island hopping which is the gradual pushing back of the enemy by direct frontal pressure with the consequent heavy casualties which will certainly be involved. Key points must of course be taken but a wise choice of such will obviate the need for storming the mass of islands now in enemy possession. Island hopping with extravagant losses and slow progress ... is not my idea of how to end the war as soon and as cheaply as possible. New conditions require for solution and new weapons require for maximum application of new and imaginative methods. Wars are never won in the past.”” With the capture of the Gilberts, now the allies had an assortment of new air bases for land based aircraft to be used against the Marshalls. The seabees and 7th air force engineers rapidly went to work on airfield construction at Tarawa and Makin. Yet there were many who questioned if it really was all worth it, amongst them was General Holland Smith "Was Tarawa worth it? My answer is unqualified: No." He questioned whether 1772 lives and an escort carrier was worth the additional air fields. The invasion taught a lot of bitter lessons, such as how to improve the preliminary naval bombardments and air strikes so they would be more successful; to improve the capability of naval fleets to move into a area and obtain control over it; for naval and aerial assets to remain in the area for the throughout the entire assault; the vital importance of maintaining good communications between land and sea and between the tanks and infantry which proved rather lackluster at Tarawa; the value of amphibian tractors when you had to face fortified beaches and most importantly Operation Galvanic proved to be a significant testing ground of established amphibious doctrine. The Americans had no illusions that the techniques, tactics and procedures set for in the basic US manuals for landing operations were workable under such difficult conditions. On the other side, the Japanese had prepared the Ko Brigade at Ponape consisting of the 3rd battalion, 107th regiment, 3rd battalion, 16th mountain artillery regiment, 2nd company, 52nd engineers and other units of the 1st south seas detachment to launch a counterlanding against the Gilberts, but this plan was quickly dropped. Instead the Japanese would focus their efforts on reinforcing other central pacific islands such as the Marshalls. Over on Bougainville, the Americans were enjoying a rather quiet week after the battle of the Coconut Grove and they used this time to expand their perimeter. However there was a hiccup on November 17th when convoy 31.6 bearing the 3rd battalion, 21st marines were set upon by Betty bombers. 185 marines were aboard the destroyer transport McKean and as she approached Empress Augusta Bay a Betty hit her with a torpedo off her starboard quarter. This exploded her after magazine and depth charge spaces. Flaming oil engulfed her, she lost power and communications. Her commanding officer Lt Ralph Ramey ordered abandon ship at 3:55am as she began to sink stern first by 4am. 64 crew and 52 troops died as a result of the attack. Meanwhile Colonel Hamanoue's men had been busy constructing defenses around the forks of the Piva River. By the 18th, American patrols discovered two new Japanese roadblocks on the Numa Numa and East-West trails. This led the 3rd battalion ,3rd marines to be tasked with knocking out the Numa Numa roadblock. The marines opened the following day up with an artillery barrage before rolling in with some light tanks flanking and rousing the defenders of the roadblock. 16 Japanese would be killed. With the Numa Numa position secured, the men advanced over to hit the East-West roadblock. That same morning the 2nd battalion, 3rd marines crossed the Piva and captured the roadblock at the forks area. During the afternoon, a reinforced platoon seized some high ground to the left of the East-West Trail. The platoon led by Lt Steve Cibek dug in on top of the feature that would provide excellent observation over the area. The Japanese would toss attacks at their hill for 3 days prompting reinforcements to be brought up to help Cibeks men. On the 21st, General Geiger decided to expand the perimeter again, this time to Inland Defense line “easy”. The 21st marines would now take up a position between the other two regiments. They would however run into some strong resistance from the bulk of Colonel Hamanoue's focus with their 3rd battalion getting pinned down after crossing the Piva by heavy mortar fire. Their 2nd battalion in the center ran head on into a Japanese defensive line astride the East-West trail. There were around 20 pillboxes and the 2nd battalion were forced to pull back. Unexpectedly the Japanese pursued them, trying to envelop the line held by the 1st battalion, but they failed and were cut down by machine gun fire. This allowed the 1st battalion to extend their lines north towards what was now being called Cibek's ridge. Geiger then halted the advances on November 22nd and shifted his units the following day to plug up some gaps in the line. He further planned to launch a new assault on the 24th. The 24th began with a heavy artillery bombardment as the 2nd and 3rd battalions, 3rd marine began advancing under the supporting first of the 1st battalion. At H-hour, 9:00am, a Japanese battery located on the forward slope of a coconut grove began to accurately smash the 1st battalions assembly locations. As one observer noted “Shells poured into the first lines, into the attacking battalions' areas, the forward Regimental C.P. area, the rear C.P., the trail. The noise was much greater now-not only the deafening roar, but, added to it, the sharp terrifying sound of a shell exploding close by ... the agonizing moans of men shouting for corpsmen, for help, for relief from burning torture ... the maniacal screams and sobs of a man whose blood vessels in his head have burst from the blast concussions of high explosives devised by the clever brain of civilized man. The Third Battalion took it. The C.P. area took it to the tune of fourteen men killed and scores wounded in a period of five minutes." The 1st battalion quickly became pinned down. Fortunately Cibeks men were able to locate the battery and used 155mm howitzers to destroy it. At first the advance saw little resistance, as described by one historian of the 3rd marines "For the first hundred yards both battalions advanced abreast through a weird, stinking, plowed-up jungle of shattered trees and butchered Japs. Some hung out of trees, some lay crumpled and twisted beside their shattered weapons, some were covered by chunks of jagged logs and jungle earth, a blasted bunker, their self-made tomb. The Marines pressed forward on their destructive mission toward their clearly defined day's objective." Yet Japanese reserves were rushed to the scene and began engaging the 3rd marines. The 3rd marines were facing extremely accurate enemy artillery and mortar fire taking heavy casualties. The advancing americans would have to destroy a series of bunkers one by one while at the same time repelling the enemy's counterattacks. After already suffering 70 casualties going a quarter mile the Americans fired upon log bunker after log bunker one by one. The Japanese targeted American flamethrower units killing a number of them. Around every defense point Japanese snipers in trees and on elevated platforms fired upon them. Nambu machine guns were firing at all times. The terrain eventually dictated hand to hand and tree to tree combat. Though grueling, the Americans reached their first objective. The men reorganized their positions and unleashed a new artillery barrage with the two battalion advancing yet again against fierce resistance. It was not just the enemy they faced, the terrain in this area was dominated by swamps. General Geiger then postponed the attack to secure the terrain above the proposed airfield site so he could provide his men with a Thanksgiving meal. For thanksgiving the turkey meals were sent forward to the front with parties organized, braving Japanese sniper fire. One observer recalled “Some of the meat got there, some didn't. But it was a good stunt and a necessity; no one would have been forgiven if it had been left to rot down at the Division Commissary just because we had a battle! The men sat on logs eating their turkey. Nearby a Jap lay rotting in the swamp. Heads and arms of dead Japs floated in the near-by jungle streams. Not a very enjoyable setting, but these were tired, ravenously hungry men who had been fighting all day. And it was Thanksgiving. Those who were able to get it enjoyed their turkey.” By nightfall the resistance was crumbling and the Americans were grabbing a mile beyond the objective line before digging in. Mop up operations would be around the clock, but the battle of Piva forks had effectively come to an end, thus securing the site for a projected bomber field. The battle cost the Japanese dearly. Hamanoue's 23rd regiment ceased to exist as a well organized fighting unit. The marines counted 1107 dead Japanese, though it is likely the number was much higher. The 3rd marines suffered 115 casualties, thus earning some relief from the 9th marines for many days. On November 25th, the 1st battalion, 9th marines advanced past Cibeks ridge and unexpectedly ran into heavy machine gun fire from a small feature directly in front. They charged at the feature and tossed grenades, but the Japanese were able to repel their attack, thus the feature was named Grenade Hill. Meanwhile General Hyakutake feared that the invasion of Cape Torokina was only a stepping stone for a large invasion against Buka. He persuaded Admiral Kusaka to further reinforce Buka. Previously Major General Kijima Kesao's 17t infantry group had been dispatched on 5 destroyers to protect Bougainvilles northern sector. No Captain Kagawa Kiyoto would perform a run to Buka on the 24th. Luckily for him his run went uncontested and he was able to unload 900 men of the 1st mobile raiding unit and a detachment of the 17th engineer regiment. At the same time he evacuated over 700 aviation personnel no longer required on Buka as her airfield was destroyed. Kiyoto's movement however was soon discovered by the Americans. Admiral Halsey, never one to let up a fight, immediately dispatched 5 destroyers, the Ausburne, Claxton, Dyson, Converse and Spence under Captain Burke to intercept them. Kiyoto had departed Buka shortly after midnight, while Burke lurked near them. American radar gave Burke an enormous advantage in first detection and he knew how to use it. At 1:41am after the initial radar contact was gained at 22,000 yards, Burke turned east to close in more. The Japanese were oblivious as Burkes force closed in at just 5500 yards when at 1:55am he ordered all his destroyers to fire 5 torpedoes each before the force made a hard turn to the south to avoid retaliation. Lookouts on the Japanese flagship Onami only spotted the American destroyers when it was too late. Kiyoto's force were absolutely shredded by the torpedo volley. Onami took several hits and sunk without a single survivor; Makinami took a single torpedo hit and managed to stay afloat, but greatly crippled. Burkes force pushed it to the limit going 33 knots to overtake the IJN vessels as they tried to flee while firing upon them using 5 inch guns. Yugiri turned to fire 3 torpedoes, but Burke foresaw the maneuver and executed a well timed evasion. The torpedoes exploded in the wake of Burkes flagship. It devolved into a running gun battle until 2:25 when the Japanese dispersed. 60 miles off Cape St George, Burke's three destroyers concentrated their 5 inch guns on Yugiri which received a critical hit at 3:05am crippling her speed. Yugiri was outgunned and outmaneuvered, so her captain turned her around to fire their remaining torpedoes and engage in a suicidal gun battle. At 3:15 Yugiri received another hit causing a tremendous explosion and would sink by 3:28. Meanwhile the crippled Makinami was finished off with torpedoes and gunfire. The two other Japanese destroyers managed to flee westwards, but Burke could not pursue as it was too close to Rabaul. The Japanese suffered terrible losses, aboard Onami all but 228 men died; aboard Makinami all but 28 out of 200 perished, from Yugiri there were 278 survivors out of 497 crew and troops. For the Americans, it was a brilliant victory and it demonstrated how far the IJN's super human night fighting ability had fallen to allied radar innovation. Burkes victory was described “as an almost perfect action” and he was awarded a Navy Cross. But now we have to head over to Green Hell where the battle for Sattelberg was raging. General Katagiri's counteroffensive that was launched back on November 22nd did not produce the results he was expecting. General Wootten predicted the 238th regiment would attack from the north while the bulk of the 79th regiment would hit from the northwest. Both of these forces had to cross the Song River to hit their main target, Brigadier Porters position at Scarlet Beach. The 2/43rd battalion took the lionshare of the assault with their B company under Captain Gorden successfully repelling the attempts by the 238th regiment to infiltrate. At around 8am, 15 Japanese tried to get between his right flank and the sea. By 9am some telephone lines to the HQ were cut, gradually the Japanese infiltrators were hunted and killed. Meanwhile the Fujii detachment had been created to take back Pabu hill. Unable to get past the Australian machine gun positions, Japanese mortars and 75 mm guns from Pino Hill began to bombard them. The Australians took heavy casualties but would not budge. Lt Colonel Thomas Scott sent small parties to harass the Japanese rear when they attempted an offensive. Fearing the 2/32nd battalion would soon be trapped, Porter sent his reserve D company over to reinforce them. However as D company crossed the Song river, Colonel Hayashida began to attack the Australian perimeter, applying considerable pressure on the positions held by the 2/43rd. Around noon, D company intercepted a Japanese thrust across the Surpine Valley. At 1pm D company saw the enemy force near some huts and began calling artillery strikes down upon them. As they attacked the Japanese it forces them into a more confined area near a creek. The Australians surrounded them, but the Japanese used captured anti-tank mines as booby traps. The Australians backed off somewhat trying to contain the Japanese into a pocket as they hit them with mortars. By 5:40 the Australians dug in and during the night the Japanese would withdraw after losing 43 men. November 22nd saw the Japanese suffer 89 deaths while the Australians only had 1. With this Wooten felt the Japanese counteroffensive was most likely defeated and prepared to respond against what seemed to be Katagiri's last attempt to turn the tide of battle. For the Japanese, the attack of D company had completely disorganized their counteroffensive. They had estimated the Australians had sent 3 to 4 battalions instead of a single company to reinforce Pabu Hill and this action had the dual effect of cutting off the road between Wareo and Bonga. Colonel Hayashida had no choice but to redirect units of his regiment to defend the northern bank of the song and try to prevent the reinforcement of Pabu. Despite the actions of the Fujii detachment, the Australians stubbornly continued to resist and this led the Japanese to believe they were increasing in strength at Pabu Hill and enjoyed resupply via aircraft drops. Meanwhile the Japanese fighting power was decreasing due to their overfiring of guns and mortars from Pino Hill. Their rations were at a ⅓ standard amount, local supplies like potatoes were nearly all gone and casualties were high. The fighting around Scarlet Beach would continue until November 28th, when the Japanese withdrew towards Wareo. Katagiri's counteroffensive was unable to affect the 26th brigades advance upon Sattelberg and fell apart. Over at the Sattelberg front, Brigadier Whitehead resumed his advance on the 22nd, with the 2/48th, supported by Matilda tanks advancing up the Sattelberg road, while the 2/23rd advanced west to the Turn Off Corner position. The 2/23rd were attempting to go across a 3200 foot Feature to gain high ground over Sattelberg. The 2/48th reached a creek southwest of Sattelberg when suddenly they were halted by a landslide and four mines laid out by the Japanese. The 2/23rd after passing the corner, hit the enemy defending the 3200 feature by encircling and gradually annihilating them. Whitehead believed they held favorable terrain to dig in for the night, but would be met with strong artillery bombardment causing heavy casualties upon the 2/32nd and 2/48th. Further north the 2/24th were trying to break through towards Palanko but the 2nd battalion, 80th regiment managed to thwart their every effort at outflanking them. Both sides suffered heavy casualties of the course of a few days of battle.On the 23rd, the 2/48th spent the day trying to find a way through the rugged jungle grounds leading to Sattelberg, finally discovering an uncontested hairpin bend to the right that led to the Red Roof Hut Spur. By this point Katagiri was aware his forces on Sattelberg were not being supplied well and could not hope to resist for much longer. He began preparing to withdraw the 80th regiment over to Wareo as a result. On the 24th Whitehead sent two companies to creep up the approach of Sattelberg from the south while the Japanese continued hammering them using artillery and bombers. Meanwhile the 2/23rd launched a diversionary attack. The attack would employ what was colloquially called a “chinese attack”, ie; to make as much noise as possible. However the action quickly turned into a real firefight over the 3200 Feature. The Japanese made a surprising counter attack from the feature which inadvertently led to the Australians seizing the feature to their surprise. During the afternoon, the 2/48th reached Red Roof Hut where they found 20 Japanese deeply entrenched in two man pits with log covers. The Japanese opened fire upon them quickly pinning them down. The Japanese rolled grenades and fired machine guns at short range , as the Australians gradually surrounded them. Try as the might the Australians were unable to kill or dislodge the Japanese prompting White to signal at 5:50pm "Plan for tomorrow. 2/48 with tanks to go through Lyne 's company. 2/23 to hold firm." Just as the 2/48th were about to withdraw, Sergeant Tom Derrick made a daring attack against the right flank, rapidly advancing through Kunai grass before his men tossed their grenades into the Japanese entrenchments. By nightfall, Red Roof Hut was seized and the Australians dug in about 150 yards from Sattelberg itself. At the same time the 2/24th found the Japanese defenders who had halted them had abandoned their position. When they checked the area they found evidence the Japanese were eating ferns and the core of bamboo. The state of their corpses and the many documents and diaries they found indicated the Japanese supply situation was extremely dire. The men defending Sattelberg were being supplied from bases at Nambariwa which relied on fishing boats, submarines and airdrops, because their barges were too vulnerable to air and naval attacks. The supplies Australians saw airdropped to the Japanese were hardly enough. It was here the Australians found a diary entry from the 79th regiment I've read a few times "Every day just living on potatoes. Divided the section into two groups, one group for fighting and the other to obtain potatoes. Unfortunately none were available. On the way back sighted a horse, killed it and roasted a portion of it… At present, our only wish is just to be able to see even a grain of rice." Another diarist of the 80th Regiment jubilantly wrote in mid-November: "Received rice ration for three days… It was like a gift from Heaven and everybody rejoiced. At night heard loud voices of the enemy. They are probably drinking whisky because they are a rich country and their trucks are able to bring up such desirable things—I certainly envy them." On the morning of the 25th, the 2/48th discovered the enemy positions in front of them also abandoned. Soon the Australians were entering the abandoned shell of Sattelberg. Meanwhile with the aid of tanks, the 2/24th were rapidly advancing towards Palanko, capturing it by nightfall. Further to the left, elements of the 2/23rd and 2/4th commando squadron found Mararuo abandoned. The 80th regiment was fleeing towards Wario as a broken force. With this the battle of Sattelberg had come to an end. The battle for sattelberg cost the Japanese roughly 2000 casualties. Once the Australians entered Sattelberg a signal was sent to the 2/32nd on Pabu that “Torpy sits on Sat”. Torpy was a nickname for Brigadier Whitehead, based on the Whitehead Torpedo. Whitehead had also been one of the commanding officers of the 2/32nd battalion. Such nicknames were used in signals to disguise messages in case the enemy intercepted them. The capture of sattelberg was another turning point in the New Guinea campaign. General Adachi would note “Local resistance in small pockets continued in order to keep the Australian troops in action and prevent the 9th Division from being free to make an attack on Cape Gloucester and Marcus Point (east of Gasmata) should resistance cease altogether. While delaying action was being fought at Finschhafen the 17th Division was being moved by land and sea from Rabaul to Cape Gloucester to resist the anticipated attack in that area… The most advantageous position (Pabu) for the launching of a successful counter-attack was given up; also Pabu provided excellent observation for artillery fire, and after its capture the position of the Japanese forces was precarious. Even after the failure of the attack on Scarlet Beach we still retained some hopes of recapturing Finschhafen, but at this point the idea was abandoned.” The Japanese now believed that Finschhafen was completely lost and there was not much hope of halting the Australian advance. General Berryman now urged Wootten to begin a drive north along the coast to try and cut off the Japanese lines of retreat and secure the eastern coast before the expected American led invasion of New Britain. Thus Woottne next decided to clear the Wareo-Gusika ridge first, predicting the Japanese might launch a counterattack against his rear. On the 26th Wootten ordered the 24th brigade to seize the area from Gusika towards the Kalueng Lakes; for the 2-th brigade to seize Nongora and Christmas Hills; the 26th brigade to advance north from Sattelberg towards Wareo; and for the 4th brigade to guard the approach to Scarlet Beach and the Heldsbach area. Yet before the Australians could start their new offensive they had to first clear out Pino Hill and secure the road towards Pabu. Two companies of the 2/32nd with four matilda tanks led by Colonel Scott were given the job. Meanwhile Colonel Hayashida launched a last ditch effort to take back Pabu. Reserve company 8 of the 2nd battalion, 78th regiment with the support of two 75 mm guns and mortars were given the task. As the bombardment raged over Pabu, the 30 Japanese attempted to infiltrate from the northwest and southwest. The Japanese ran into well dug positions, and the Australians caused them 20 casualties for their efforts. The Australian defenders had called in artillery support which bombarded the ring area around Pabu successfully foiling the attack. Meanwhile Pino Hill was hit with 2360 artillery shells, then by fire from four matilda tanks, before the Australian infantry stormed the feature to find it abandoned. On the 27th Wootten altered his offensive plan. Now he sought a three pronged assault against the Gusika-Wareo ridge. Berryman, Whitehead and Wootten were visiting Sattelberg on the 27th when they looked at the rugged country towards Wareo. They all knew it would be another logistical nightmare. Berryman stated it would be unwise to commit the 20th brigade through the center and that instead they should launch a two pronged attack using the 26th and 24th brigades against Wareo proper and the Gusika-Wareo ridge. Thus now the 26th and 24th brigades would hit the Gusika Wareo area and the 20th brigade would support the coastal thrust. On that same day, the 2/28th battalion advanced along the coast to take up a flanking position near the Gusika-Wareo ridge. The 2/28th made it just 500 yards south of Bonga when they were halted by strong Japanese resistance. It would take Matilda tank support to cross over a creek and begin reducing the Japanese positions. The Australians stormed over and a platoon seized a feature called “the exchange position” left undefended. The next day saw the relief of the 2/32nd battalion who advanced north while the 2/43rd took over their position on Pabu. The Pabu defenders had suffered 25 deaths and 51 wounded, but would count over 195 dead Japanese. On the 29th, the 2/43rd fanned out finding Japanese resistance west of Pabu. The Australians attempted to encircle and annihilate the Japanese positions, but were unable and gradually had to pull back to Pabu. To the east the 2/28th seized Bonga and sent patrols towards Gusika who found it abandoned so the entire battalion moved forward and took up a position at a former Japanese supply base along the coast. Meanwhile the 26th brigade were advancing north of the Song River and managed to seize Masangkoo and Fior. On the 30th, Wootten commenced the main offensive; the 2/28th crossed the Kaleung river and advanced to the Lagoon area; the 2/43rd seized the Horace and Horse mountain area; the 2/15th crossing the Song River and advanced towards Nongora and th 2/23rd crossing the Song River to cut off the main Kuanko track. Only the 2/28th would be met with strong resistance from the Japanese who were now panicking as the fall of Gusika had completely cut off their supply route towards Wareo. It was a very dire situation for the Japanese as they retreated. I would like to take this time to remind you all that this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Please go subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry after that, give my personal channel a look over at The Pacific War Channel at Youtube, it would mean a lot to me. The battle of Cape St George earned Captain Burke a incredible victory and yet again proved the IJN's night fighting abilities were no longer up to par. The battle for Sattelberg was finally over and with it any hope for the Japanese to take back the Finschhafen area, yet agian they fled north in New Guinea.
Last time we spoke about the invasion of the Treasury Islands. The time had come to begin operations against Bougainville, but in order to do so the allies had a few tricks up their sleeves. In order to make sure the landings at Cape Torokina at Empress Augusta Bay went safely, the allies would perform raids against Choiseul and the Treasury islands. It was hoped such actions would work as a diversion and confused the Japanese as to where the real operations were aimed. The landing on Mono saw some New Zealanders and Americans annihilate a 200 strong Japanese garrison. On Choiseul Paratroopers boldly raided a force 6 times larger than them. The raid was a success and thanks to John F Kennedy the Paratroopers were grabbed off the island before the Japanese could obliterate them. In the end the landings at Cape Torokina were a success and now a battle would be unleashed. This episode is the battle of Empress Augusta Bay Welcome to the Pacific War Podcast Week by Week, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about world war two? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on world war two and much more so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel you can find a few videos all the way from the Opium Wars of the 1800's until the end of the Pacific War in 1945. So last time we covered the planning behind Operation Cherryblossom, the landings at Cape Torokina. As a means of confusing the enemy, the allies also chose to invade the Treasury islands and raided Choiseul. With Operation Cherryblossom in full swing, so begins the Bougainville campaign which we are going to be diving into now. At the end of October, after successfully invading the Treasury islands and the extremely bold attack upon Choiseul where the Paratroopers were outnumbered 6-1, combined with General Kenny's 5th air force and AirSols neutralizing Rabaul and nearly every airfield on Bougainville, the landings at Cape Torokina were finally launched. In a final act to aid operation cherryblossom, Admiral Sherman's Task force 38 departed Espiritu Santo on October 28th and Admiral Merrills Task Force did the same from Florida island on November 1st. They hoped to rendezvous near the Buka Passage three days later so they could prepare an attack against the Buka and Bonis airfields. During the morning of November 1st, Admiral Merrill's cruisers arrived to their station and began firing upon the arifields. Then Sherman's carriers arrived off Buka passage to launch two separate air strikes. The first airstrike consisting of eighteen fighters, fifteen dive bombers, and eleven torpedo bombers hit Buka just after daylight. The second consisting of fourteen fighters, twenty-one dive bombers, and eleven torpedo bombers hit Buka again at midmorning. The airstrikes managed to shoot up a number of small ships within the harbor. Meanwhile after firing 2700 5 and 6 inch shells all over Buka and Bonis's airfields, Merrils task force 39 departed the Shortlands to bombard Poporang, Ballalo and Faisi. On November 2nd, Sherman performed air strikes against Buka and Bonis's fields before departing south for Guadalcanal. Within those two days the Americans estimated they had destroyed around 30 aircraft and several small ships at the cost of 11 aircraft lost. The attacks had rendered the two Japanese airfields closest to Empress Augusta Bay basically unusable for when the landings would be made. The Japanese were now convinced that any invasion of Bougainville would have to be countered with all the aircraft and ships available within the southern theater. Yet they could not concentrate their entire naval and air forces against the Solomons, because the American and Australian forces on New Guinea would most likely be performing a landing on New Britain at any moment. Admiral Koga also expected the Americans to attempt a landing in the Gilbert or Marshalls. Thus the two pronged allied strategy was serving to freeze the Japanese army units within the New Guinea and Solomon areas. Meanwhile Admiral Wilkinson's task force 31 were making final preparations for transport the 3rd Marine division. The amphibious assault would be facing a landing area defended by roughly 270 men. Once they overcame them, a defense perimeter would have to be hastily made because it was certain the Japanese commander on Bougainville would hammer them hard. General Vandergrift's plan was to land the 3rd and 9th marine regiments of Colonel George McHenry and Colonel Edward Craig and the 2nd raider battalion of Lt Colonel Joseph McCaffery abreast on 11 designated beaches covering a distance of 8000 or so yards. The 3rd raider battalion lt be Lt colonel Fred Beans would land at the same time on Puruata island to overcome an estimated 70 Japanese defenders there. Wilkinson wanted to land the forces abreast as quickly as possible and to have the transport unload the supplies off the bay by nightfall because he expected a rapid Japanese response, similar to what had occurred at Savo island. On October 28th, General Turnage's men departed the New Hebrides in 20 combat transports and cargo ships commanded by Commodore Lawrence Reifsnider. The convoy proceeded using different routes, hoping to prevent the Japanese from discovering the size of their force, the three transport divisions would rendezvous with Wilkinsons destroyers by October 31st. Once linked up they would approach Bougainville under the cover of naval PBYs and Liberators. During the morning of November 1st, Minesweepers led by the destroyer Wadsworth were sent in to clear mines from the landing areas and to determine how dangerous the shoals were. The minesweepers found no mines, but did find plenty of uncharted shoals. Wadsworth radar confirmed that Cape Torokina's position within their naval charts was misplaced. Wadsworth had a number of tasks ahead of her. In addition to helping with the fire support at a range of around 3000 yards, she was to use her radar to confirm the actual location of Cape Torokina, Puruata island and the landing beaches. The coast of Bougainville had been chartered by the German Admiralty in 1890. The Germans had placed Cape Torokina and Mutupina Point around 9 miles southwest of their actual locations. Thankfully the submarine USS Guardfish reported that the air force and naval charts had misplaced Cape Torokina by around 7 miles and this is why Wadsworth was sent to investigate. Unsexy logistical stuff, but gravely important, as you don't want to waste any time during an amphibious landing searching for a lost beach. Wilkinson decided not the land the men until after daylight when it was possible to detect the offshore shoals. Shortly before sunrise, the minesweepers and destroyers began their bombardment. The Sigourney and Wadsworth fired at ranges of 13,000 yards upon Puruata Island, while the Terry bombarded closer to the shore of Cape Torokina. As each transport passed the cape, they fired 3 inch anti-aircraft guns hoping to hit Japanese positions or at least minimize their artillery. By 6:45am the transports began arriving off the beaches around 3000 yards from the shore. At 7:10am the LCVP's began taking men ashore. Simultaneously Wilkinsons destroyers began systematically bombarding the perimeter while 31 bombers from New Georgia bombed and strafed the landing areas. Within a few minutes around 7500 troops, roughly half of the total force were scrambling ashore and unloading with great speed and smoothness. The preliminary bombardment had failed however to smash the well concealed Japanese machine gun nests located on the southern beaches. These machine gun nests unleashed their lead upon the landing craft. The landing craft bearing a third of the force had immediately come under fire from Puruata island and some pillboxes on Cape Torokina. The 3rd raiders in particular were hit by machine gun fire from Puruata. Around 4 land craft were sunk from this, 10 others were badly damaged, over 70 men would be lost in the process. The 9th marines landed themselves on 5 beaches to the north and were lucky to find little resistance from the Japanese. Once ashore they sorted themselves out quickly and began to move inland to discover the terrain was a nightmare. The beaches where they were led straight into some impassable swamp land. Nevertheless where there is a will there is a way, the marines began using fallen logs and debris to traverse the swamp until they came across some solid ground. By midmorning they would establish a narrow perimeter and began patrolling the greater area. They would establish a strong outpost on the Laruma River by 1pm. The boat crews were experienced a lot of issues with the high surf, combined with a lock of experience amongst them. Some of the LCVPS found themselves smashing into another, some dropped their men in deep water, some did not lower their ramps properly and the marines were forced to toss themselves over the sides into waist deep water. More than 30 landing craft were wrecked during the initial phase of the operation. Around 64 LCVPS and 22 LCMS were beached, many with damage beyond repair. The 3rd marines and 2nd raiders would have a hell of a time landing. The 3rd marines landing south of the Koromokina river, they had no issues with shoals, nor the high surf, but they had landed directly in front of the main Japanese defenses. There was roughly 300 Japanese, but they did not have permanent defenses along the beaches of Yellow 2, Blue 2, and Blue 3. As the 3rd marines landed they began fighting with some Japanese killing many and sending them fleeing into the Jungle. Patrols were quickly organized who worked alongside the 2nd raiders patrols to fan out. The raiders upon landing found tougher resistance in the form of a reinforced platoon operating out of two bunkers and trenches located 30 yards inland. Once the raiders had blasted out the bunkers, the remaining Japanese began to retreat into the jungle. Like the 9th marines they would find swamp lands ahead of Yellow 1 making it difficult to advance. By midmorning the raiders reached the Buretoni Mission Trail. The main Japanese resistance hit the men who landed at Blue 1, just adjacent to Cape Torokina. There the Japanese had constructed 25 large and small log and earthen pillboxes around the perimeter of the cape. There were trenches connecting the pillboxes, some of the larger pillboxes measuring 6 feet by 6 feet, containing 75mm field guns. Each pillbox was covered by earth and camouflaged using jungle plants. Only 3 pillboxes had been hit by the naval and aerial bombardments prior to the landings. When the Americans hit the beaches in the area they immediately were forced to charge into the enemy bunkers. The Japanese 75 mm gun at Cape Torokina caused havoc upon the attackers. It was a well placed log and sand bunker and its approaches were protected by two smaller bunkers with a series of trenches manned by numerous Japanese. Sergeant Robert Owens of A company, 3rd marines grabbed 4 marines and charged the two small bunkers directly upon the mouths of some machine guns. The marines entered an emplacement through a fire port and drove the gun crew out. The surrounded trenches concentrated their fire on the brave marines, Sergeant Owns would be found later dead riddled with bullets. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for the action. Lt Colonel Joseph McCaffery was immediately mortally struck four times in the chest as he led the marines forward, he was replaced temporarily by Major Alan Shapley for the 2nd raiders. Despite the horrible losses the Americans cleared the Japanese positions and pushed further inland to pursue and kill the fleeing defenders. It is worthy to mention over 24 Doberman Pinschers, the official dog of the USMC between 1943-1945 from the 1st marine dog platoon proved invaluable during this point of the battle. The dogs were able to point out hidden snipers concealed in underbrushed. 549 War dogs would return from the war with only 4 not being able to return to civilian life, all very good boys. The 3rd raiders landing at Puruta had nearly all their boats shot at, but it was mostly small machine gun fire and did little to no damage. The Japanese had 3 or 4 deep well sandbagged emplacement on the seaward side where their machine guns nests fired upon the raiders. It took the raiders two hours upon landing to secure their beachhead around125 yards inland. Beans committed his reserves early in the afternoon, supported by some 75mm guns borrowed from the 9th marines, they moved halfway across the island, encountering sporadic Japanese sniper fire. The Japanese were outnumbered, by 3:30pm their resistance all but ended. The marines suffered 5 deaths and 32 wounded, around 29 dead Japanese would be found. They estimated another 70 Japanese escaped to Bougainville. Soon after all the landing craft began to pull out, the Japanese began launching air strikes. For around two hours the transports and supply ships were zigzagging for their lives to evade dive bombers and fighters coming from Rabaul. The first air strike consisted of 9 Vals and 44 Zeros, they hit at around 7:35am almost immediately after the landings were made. General Twinning's 8 Kittyhawks and 8 P-38s managed to fight them off, downing 7 Japanese aircraft. The Wedsworth received a near miss during the battle. 10 minutes later, AirSols beat off another attack taking down another 8 Japanese aircraft. During the last attack, roughly 70 Japanese aircraft came in around 1pm and were met by 34 AirSols fighters. After all three attacked, the Japanese has used around 120 aircraft and lost 26, inflicting no serious damage to allied ships nor the marines ashore. But the air attacks did result in major delays for the unloading of supplies for some hours. To try and speed up the unloading process, Wilkinson stripped some men from the assault units to help unload cargo ashore. Additionally Wilkinson employed a method of light combat loading. It would take some days for the beaches to be fully sorted out, while the naval forces departed Empress Augusta Bay before nightfall to return to Guadalcanal. Thus 14,000 men and 6200 tons of supplies had been successfully placed ashore in 8 hours. By the end of the first day the marines had contested a ⅓ sector and reached their initial objectives, digging in uncomfortably for the night under torrential rain. The divisional perimeter was established by forward landing teams, who had very little to work with for maps. To the extreme left of the perimeter would be Company G of the 9th marines, who were in a vulnerable spot along the Lrauma river. Lucky for them the Japanese were quite disorganized and many were located southeast of Cape Torokina. At dusk there was only sporadic sniper fire directed at the ⅓ in the vicinity of the cape plantation and later an attack was made against the 2nd raiders at a roadblock they established along Mission Trail. General Turnage was now the official owner of a new lodgement on Bougainville. Generals Imamura and Hyakutake were quite slow to react to the landings. They sent the Iwasa detachment led by Major General Iwasa Shun, commanding the 6th infantry group. Backing him up would be the 1st and 3rd battalions of the 23rd regiment. Their first task was to hit the new enemy beachhead. As predicted by the allies, Admirals Kusaka and Samejima mustered every naval and aerial strength they had to try and smash the invaders. As part of Operation RO, Admiral Koga had sent over 250 aircraft from the 5 carriers of Admiral Ozawa's air fleet. Koga specifically stated the bulk of these were only going to be loaned for a short time, obviously they would have to return to the main fleet. Well the invasion of Bougainville certainly upset the plans, the planes would not be coming back on schedule. As Admiral Fukudome SHigeri, Koga's Chief of staff would later note “although the planes were not originally to be used in such offensive operations, we could not just stand by and not employ them." By midday on October the 31st, the Japanese had discovered the American task force that had departed Guadalcanal en route for Bougainville. The IJN were determined to interrupt the operation. Kusaka sent a cruiser-destroyer task force led by Vice admiral Omori Sentaro. Departing Rabual Omori had the two heavy cruisers, Myoko and Haguro; two light cruisers, Sendai and Nagara; and two destroyers. Now Omori was the commander of Cruiser division 5 of the Combined fleet, not of the 8th fleet. He just happened to be at Rabaul covering the movement of the 17th division at the time, he was given command of his division and the main strength of the 8th fleet. Omori sailed out at 3pm in the direction of the Shortland islands believing that to be the allied target. Poor weather hindered his force and his search planes failed to locate any allied ships. Thus by 9am on November the 1st he was on his way back to Rabaul. Yet right as his ships were turning around, suddenly they received reports that the Americans had hit the beaches of Cape Torokina. Omori was quickly reinforced with a destroyer squadron and a destroyer transport group consisting of the Amagiri, Fumizuki, Uzuki, Yunagi and Minazuki each carrying 200 troops of a 1000 special trained raider group of the 17th division. This was the 2nd mobile raiding units from the 2nd battalion, 54th regiment led by Major Miwa Mitsuhiro. They were going to perform a counter landing against the marines at Mutupino point near the village of Toroko, due south of the marine beachhead. Within 6 hours, Omoro departed once again to hit the enemy fleet, but he lacked a real battle plan. At 6:30pm Omori rendezvoused with the transports at the St. George channel and together they proceeded towards Bougainville. At 7:20 the convoy was spotted by an american bomber who dropped a bomb nearly hitting the Sendai. Based on this Omori knew the Americans knew he was coming so he concluded a counterlanding was far too dangerous. Instead he decided to send the slower destroyer transports back to Rabaul. Omori believed the enemy transports were still in Empress Augusta Bay, thus if he could sneak in and destroy them, the marines would be stuck on the island without much of their supplies and without hope of quick rescue. Meanwhile Merrills task force 39 had retired to the vicinity of Vella Lavella, but soon received news of Omori's incoming convoy. Halsey had to order his only naval force in the area to go out once again to protect the beachhead and intercept the enemy. Merrills crews had been at it for more than 24 hours by this point and were quite exhausted. Now Merrill's force went in very cautiously, because they were aware the Japanese would be outgunning them and of course the IJN held the dreaded long lance torpedoes. Thus Merrill chose to detach his destroyers who would go out in front to see if they could intercept Omori's forces before the long lances could be put to use. He intended to take the fight to the west of Empress Augusta Bay where he could block the enemy from the beachhead. He had his leading destroyers 3 miles ahead and deployed his forces along a north-south axis with the cruisers in the center, maintaining a range of 19,000 yards or more from the deadly IJN destroyers and their feared long lances. His plan was to exploit the offensive capabilities of his destroyers by letting them unleash their attacks before he would have his cruisers unleash their 6 inch guns. He hoped his destroyers would be able to sneak into range and hit the Japanese destroyers before they could launch their torpedo salvos. Omori was at a disadvantage intelligence wise, he had no idea about Merrills forces whereabouts. Moreover he had to rely on spotter planes because he was forewarned their radar would give away their location to the enemy if used. As Omori would later tell interrogators “We had some modified aircraft radar sets in action but they were unreliable. I do not know whether the sets or operators were poor, but I did not have confidence in them.” Thus he had no idea of the position or size of the American flotilla, still he believed the enemy transports were in the bay, though in reality they would be nearly 40 miles south. Omori still lacking any real battle plan arrayed his force in three columns with his two heavy cruisers Myoko and Haguro in the center; Ijuins screen of light cruiser Sendai; and destroyers Shiratsuyu, Samidare and Shigure to the left and rear admiral Osugi Morikazu's screen of light cruiser Agano; and destroyers Wakatsuki, Hatsukaze and Naganami. As the Japanese approached the area, task force 39 were sailing 20 miles west of the beachhead. Merrills flagship Montpelier was the first to make radar contact with the enemy at 2:30 on November 2nd. Omori's fleet was 35,900 yards out. Merrill's changed his course to head due north then reversed south with his cruisers to find a favorable position to try and cross Omori's T. Merrill sent Commander Bernard Austins destroyed out to hit the Japanese southern flank while Captain Burke was ordered to take an intercept course that would force the Japanese to be in a vulnerable position for the destroyers to launch torpedoes into their left flank. At 2:45am a Japanese aircraft finally spotted the Americans and began dropping flares over them to allowed the light cruiser Sendai to lead the northern column over. However by this point it was all but too late for the Japanese. Burke had closed in on their left flank and launched 25 torpedoes at Ijuin's column. After launching the torpedoes Burke had his ships separate and it would be an hour before they could all be gathered again to form a full circle and return to their firing positions. The battle would be very chaotic, the US destroyers experienced a hard time trying to maintain contact with each other and several times would fire upon each other by accident. All 25 torpedoes would miss, because Omori ordered his ships to make a hard right turn. At 2:50 the Samidare launched a full salvo of 8 torpedoes which missed their main targets but a single torpedo managed to hit the destroyer USS Foote blowing up a large part of her stern. Cruiser Cleveland and destroyer Spence would accidentally run into each other doing light damage trying to avoid the damaged Foote. Merrill could no longer wait for the results of the destroyer attacks and ordered his cruisers to open fire at 2:50am. Merrills cruisers would unleash a continuous fire using their 6 inch guns while maintaining a coordinated figure 8 pattern to confuse the enemy and avoid torpedoes. The tactic had been very well rehearsed and the commanders were perfectly in tune with another. James Fahey, a sailor aboard Merrill's flagship Montpelier, described the long night illuminated by lightning, flares, star shells, and muzzle flashes. “The big eight inch salvos, throwing up great geysers of water, were hitting very close to us. Our force fired star shells in front of the Jap warships so that our destroyers could attack with torpedoes. It was like putting a bright light in front of your eyes in the dark. It was impossible to see. The noise from our guns was deafening.” The Sendai was the first to be hit taking a 6 inch shell to her rudder before it exploded near her boiler rooms. Sendai experienced a series of explosions and quickly sank. The destroyers Samidare and Shiratsuyu behind the Sendai collided with another trying to evade the naval gunfire and would end up taking positions around the stricken Sendai already sinking by this point. Merrill then shifted the focus to the other two Japanese columns forcing Osugi's column to head west running across Omori's cruisers. The Hatsukaze tried to move between two heavy cruisers and collided with the Omori's flagship Myoko at 3:07. Hatsukaze was so crippled by the collision she was much easier to hit as a result was found by Burkes reformed 45th destroyer division by 5:30am and 5 of the destroyers proceeded to batter her with shells until she sank at 5:40am. The Myoko meanwhile was hit by 6 shells, but fortunately for her 4 of them were duds, not causing enough damage to slow down the flagship. Next the USS Spence and Thatcher ran into another, but were able to carry on the fight. Both sides were having trouble running into each other, Merrills cruisers performing the 8 pattern at high speed allowed them to evade most gunfire. At 3:20 Omori opened fire with his heavy armament, both torpedoes and naval gunfire from his cruisers. The torpedoes missed, but 3 dud shells hit Denver into her forward section, causing water to slow the ship down. The other cruisers were forced to slow their speed to match her. Light cruisers Columbia received a 8 inch shell hit, luckily it also failed to explode. The Japanese fire was becoming heavier and more accurate forcing Merrill to respond with a smoke screen in front of his cruisers. Merrill made sure to keep his distance from the Japanese. When their range closed in on 13,000 yards at 326 am he ordered a 180 degree turn to the north. The radical maneuvering by Merrills cruisers made it extremely difficult to accurately fire upon them, but also for Merrills cruisers to hit Omori's. At 3:30am Omori decided to retire in the mistaken belief that his Long Lances had sunk or heavily damaged Merrill's cruisers. Omori had received a false report claiming “one torpedo hit on leading US cruiser, two torpedo hits on second US cruiser, two torpedo hits on third US cruiser. Shell fire also reported on US Force.” In the meantime Burkes destroyers had re-entered the fray of battle and began firing upon the doomed Sendai. After they pursued the Shiratsuyu and Samidare but both destroyers got extremely lucky when Commander Austin confused Burke into believing that the ship he saw turning northwards was actually the Spence. By 4:00am the Sendai was sinking taking with her 185 crew. Ijuin and 311 other survivors would later be rescued on November 3rd by Submarine RO-104. The Hatsukaze would be the last to sink at 5:40am. As dawn was breaking, Merrill urgently called for all available fighters to come to his aid as he expected the Japanese to toss the kitchen sink of air forces at him. Just before 8am a formation of 80 Zeros and 18 dive bombers arrived and began attacking his cruisers desperately performing anti-aircraft maneuvers. The allied aircraft were delayed by bad weather resulting in only 8 Hellcats, 1 marine corsair, 3 P-38s and 4 New Zealander P40s showing up. The allied pilots would claim to down 16 Japanese aircraft, though in reality it would only be 8. Merrills forces performing a defensive circular cordon would claim to down 17 further Japanese aircraft. The Japanese managed two hits, one causing minor damage to the USS Montpelier. The Japanese had lost their chance to stop the invasion of Bougainville. Merrills handling of the battle, particularly his figure 8 maneuver, had negated the dreaded super weapon of the enemy, the Type 93 long lance torpedo. It was to be the last major surface engagement of the Solomons area. Halsey would later reflect on the Japanese attempt to hit the landing forces at Cape Torokina “was the most desperate emergency that confronted me in my entire term as COMSOPAC (Commander South Pacific).” Commodore Reifsnider was ordered to bring his transports back to Cape Torokina to resume the unloading. The unloading of the cargo would be completed by 3pm. Vice admiral Omori's force withdrew back to Rabaul. It was soon joined by four more cruisers and a number of destroyers from Truk. The reluctant Admiral Koga according to Admiral Fukudome decided to commit some of the very best units from the undamaged 2nd fleet “to cooperate with the carrier-based planes which had been sent from Vice-Admiral Ozawa's fleet in order to check the [US] Bougainville operations.” 7 heavy cruisers, the Takao, Maya, Atago, Suzuya, Mogami, Chikuma, and Chokai; a light cruiser, the Noshiro; four destroyers; and a number of service ships would depart Truk on November 3. The once dominant IJN fleet so surely footed in the early days of the war now was hesitant and indecisive. Nevertheless, Koga would unleash another attack against Empress Augusta Bay. Koga placed the new naval force under Admiral Kurita who would attempt to intercept futher American forces enroute to Bougainville. On November 4th, Wilkinson would be bringing the 21st marines aboard 8 destroyer transports and 8 LSTs. 3548 men led by Colonel Evans Ames, alongside 5000 tons of supplies and equipment escorted by destroyers Waller, Saufley, Philip, Renshaw, Eaton and Sigourney. Halsey received word of the new Japanese force and realized the situation was critical. If Halsey did not turn back the incoming threat, his forces on Bougainville would not receive their planned reinforcements. Halsey was thus ready to take a risk, he was going to send carriers. As Halsey would later write “perhaps the success of the South Pacific War, hung on it being stopped.”. Against conventional wisdom, that carriers should not be exposed to land-based aircraft attacks, he ordered Rear Admiral Sherman's task force built around the USS Saratoga and Princeton to face a force of possibly 200 Japanese aircraft. The risks for Hasley were personal as well as professional “I sincerely expected both air groups to be cut to pieces and both carriers stricken, if not lost. (I tried not to remember my son Bill was aboard one of them), but we could not let the men at Tokorina be wiped out while we stood by and wrung our hands.” Halsey's Chief of Staff, Admiral Carney, recalled that before making the decision to attack with his carriers, his commander “suddenly looked 150 years old.” Shermans task for now designated Task Group 50.4 consisted of carrier Saratoga; light carrier Princeton; and destroyers Stack, Sterett, Wilson, Izard, Conner, Bell, Charrette, Boyd, Bradford and Cowell. He would be supported by General Twinings AirSols in any way possible. Halsey also requested MacArthur allow Kenney's 5th air force to join in on the battle. On November 5th, aided by some bad weather, a surprise air raid was performed against Rabaul. Sherman's carrier force was 230 miles away from Rabaul near Cape Torokina when they began launching aircraft at 9am. The Saratoga launched 16 Avengers and 22 Dauntless. Princeton launched 7 Avengers. The carrier aircraft were escorted by 52 hellcats making a formation of 97 aircraft in all. This was their entire payload . The aircraft flew at a low level as they approached Rabaul anti-aircraft defenses by 10:20. They kept a tight formation, flying right through the flak which prevented the 70 Zeros from intercepting them properly. As we have seen during this series, the Japanese anti-aircraft guns were honestly pretty terrible. Added to this, the American aircraft enjoyed much better armor than their Japanese counterparts, particularly the Zero fighter. Commander Henry Caldwell led the bombers towards Blanche Bay where they peeled off at 14,500 feet. The Dauntless dive bombed the targets before them as the Avengers time their approaches to hit the same targets at the same time. Within just 30 minutes the attack absolutely devastated the Japanese plans. Heavy cruiser Maya was trying to leave the harbor during the attack but took a 500 lb bomb hit to her catapult area which set off a series of explosions, blowing up her engine rooms and causing heavy casualties. As Maya was left fully disabled, the Mogami managed to clear the harbor but took a torpedo hit. Her number 1 and 2 turrets were flooded, forcing her crews to scramble to put out fires. The Atago suffered three very near misses, which damaged her hull, armament, and machinery. The Takao took a bomb to her starboard side, damaging her hull and machinery. TheChikuma received only slight damage and was able to depart for Truk at 20:38. The Suzuya, which was just preparing for refueling, tried to evade and was only slightly damaged. Aside from this the other light cruisers and destroyers did not receive any damage. 70 sailors died aboard the Maya, 23 died aboard the Mogami, Takao and Atago. Captain George Chandler, a P-38 fighter pilot described how “There were B-24 bombers up high and B-25 bombers attacking right down on the deck dropping ‘frag' bombs on the airplanes along the runways … we did our best work at high altitude, but we also took part in combat a thousand feet off the ground.” Taking advantage of Hasleys daring attack, General Kenney sent 27 B-24's and 67 P-38s to bomb the warehouse area on the western side of the harbor. They were challenged by only 15 Zero's who would lose two in the process. The Japanese facilities were wrecked by the attack. The Americans lost 5 bombers and 5 fighters while taking down 11 Zeros. The cautious Admiral Mineichi Koga withdrew his forces back to Truk. The Japanese Naval threat to the invasion of Bougainville was ended. A Japanese naval officer later admitted that they had given up on Bougainville mainly because of “the serious damage received by several Second Fleet cruisers at Rabaul by carrier attack …” The success of the raid on Rabaul left Halsey ecstatic. “It is real music to me and opens the stops for a funeral dirge for Tojo's Rabaul.” Sherman grabbed all of his returning places expecting a Japanese counterstrike. A Japanese scout plane discovered Sherman's task force around midafternoon and Kusaka immediately dispatched eighteen torpedo bombers after the Americans. At around dusk the Japanese discovered what they believed to be the task force and attacked. Although they later claimed a great air victory, in reality they hit at an LCI and a PT boat escorting an LCT back from Cape Torokina. A torpedo lodged in the engine room of the LCI and killed one man. That was the extent of the damage to the "task force." In return, the Japanese lost one plane. It was hardly an even exchange, and no compensation at all for the havoc wreaked earlier upon the 2nd Fleet. Halsey yet again showed what a formidable and aggressive commander he could be, his gamble paid off greatly. The Americans had secured their naval superiority in the South Pacific and it would remain that way for the rest of the war. I would like to take this time to remind you all that this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Please go subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry after that, give my personal channel a look over at The Pacific War Channel at Youtube, it would mean a lot to me. Admiral Merrill performed an excellent battle against a larger IJN force. Admiral Hasley lived up to his reputation, he performed a bold gamble and it paid off big time. Now the Americans would dominate the South Pacific for the rest of the Pacific War.
Last time we spoke about the naval battle of Empress Augusta Bay. Operation Cherry Blossom kicked off taking the Japanese by complete surprise. All of the diversionary actions had managed to confused the Japanese into thinking the Shortland Islands were the real target. Wilkinsons flotilla managed to land 14,000 men and 6200 tons of supplies at Cape Torokina. When the Japanese finally received news of the landings they tossed massive air attacks and prepared a counter landing force. The air attacks were not nearly enough to put a dent on the unloading process. Vice admiral Omori set out to intercept the Americans, but was caught off guard by Admiral Merrills figure 8 maneuver that saw two Japanese warships sunk, many heavily damaged and hundreds of Japanese killed. The Japanese tried a second time to hit the Americans, but Admiral Halsey unleashed his carriers to quell the action. This episode is the Counterattack on Bougainville Welcome to the Pacific War Podcast Week by Week, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about world war two? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on world war two and much more so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel you can find a few videos all the way from the Opium Wars of the 1800's until the end of the Pacific War in 1945. Things were looking bad for the Japanese at the start of the Bougainville campaign. Many Japanese lay dead on the island from the futile attempt to counter the landings. In the depths of Empress Augusta bay lay other bodies and warships. Rabaul was being pulverized systematically. The Japanese needed to dislodge the enemy from the island lest it become another Guadalcanal. General Turnage's marines had successfully made their landings and now they would expand their perimeter. The naval battle of Empress Augusta Bay combined with Admiral Sherman's carrier raid against Rabaul's harbor had delivered a crippling blow the IJN's power in the region. Admiral Kusaka's air force at Rabaul had been reduced to 270 aircraft including the last minute 100 aircraft he was loaned from the IJN carriers. To make matters worse, on November the 5th, Admiral Halsey received a new task group led by Rear Admiral Alfred Montgomery. Task Group 50.3 consisted of carriers Essex and Bunker Hill; light carrier Independence and destroyers Edwards, Murray, McKee, Kidd, Chauncey and Bullard. On November 8, the destroyers Stack, Sterett and Wilson were also given to this group, though they would be withdrawn by November 14. These new carriers were packing heat. Essex carried 36 Hellcats, 36 SBDs and 19 TBFs; Bunker Hill 24 Hellcats, 33 SB2C Helldivers and 18 TBFs, plus 24 Corsairs ran CAP for her from Ondoanga and Segi Point; Light Carrier Independence carried 24 Hellcats and 9 TBFs, plus 12 Hellcats (CAP from Ondoanga and Segi Point). With all of that Halsey had an additional 45 torpedo bombers, 69 dive bombers and 120 fighters to continue putting the hurt on Rabaul. The only catch for all of this was Halsey lacked an adequate destroyer screen to protect these super weapons, thus he would be unable to fully utilize them until a bit later on.Halsey was also reinforced with Rear-Admiral Laurance DuBose's Cruiser Division 13 consisting of light cruisers Santa Fe, Birmingham, Mobile and Biloxi; and destroyers Harrison, John Rodgers, McKee and Murray. Admiral Merrill's exhausted task force was given some much needed R&R beginning on November 7th. Back over at the beachhead, General Vandegrift was so certain the operation was 100% successful he handed the keys to the car to Turnage and returned with Admiral Wilkinson to Guadalcanal, of course he was about to receive a promotion and would soon be on his way to Washington. Turnage now sought to expand the beachhead further inland to give the marines more defense in depth, as it was expected the Japanese would launch major attacks to dislodge them. He shifted the 3rd Marines, whose units had suffered the most casualties thus far to the left sector of the beachhead. He then moved the more fresh 9th marines to the right where he believed was the most likely area the Japanese would hit the hardest. Still meeting no enemy resistance, these shuffling actions were accomplished by November 4th. Simultaneously many units also extended the perimeter. By the end of November 3rd, the 2nd raider battalion extended their part of the perimeter 1500 yards or so. The only real action anyone saw for awhile was patrol skirmishes and some fighting over roadblocks. The 2nd Raiders were under the temporary command of Major Alan Shapley who took responsibility for a few roadblocks; companies rotated out of their positions every couple of days. The key roadblock positions were found along the Piva and Mission trails. The 3rd raiders were working out ways to lure out a small group of Japanese holding out on Torokina island. On November 3rd, 3rd defense battalion and a 105 mm battery of the 12th marines fired upon the small island for 15 minutes. The 3rd raiders followed this up to storm the suspected Japanese position to find nothing but corpses. An outpost was established by M company of the 9th marines far to the left of the main perimeter which was hoped to guard against surprise attacks coming over the Laruma river. Turnages patrols at this point became a daily chore for all units on Bougainville. These patrols would go on for 20 grueling months. The thick undergrowth and lack of well defined trails made it extremely easy for the Japanese to set up ambushes at their leisure. Thus to combat this, the marines had to turn to some very good boys, K9 companies. The war dogs used their superior senses to hunt and track down the enemy during patrols. During the early stages of the Bougainville campaign the dogs were able to locate a number of small groups of Japanese. The Bougainville campaign despite being a warzone would not see as brutal fighting as say places like Peleliu. On Peleliu many of the war dogs literally were driven mad, but for Bougainville the dogs had a less intensive time. The patrols scouted as far north as Laruma and south to the Torokina River finding no meaningful resistance. By the 5th of November, the perimeter was extended inland a further 3 miles. Now 5 battalions were manning a 10,000 yard front, with the bulk of the raider battalions located on Puruata island and at cape Torokina in the reserves. Wilkinson's convoy would bring over another 3548 troops of the 21st marines and 5080 tons of supplies on November 6th. Because the beaches were already so cluttered up with supplies everything and they still lacked developed facilities, the incoming LST's had to land their cargo on Puruata island where there was open beaches. There was still no shore party to organize the unloading and a supply jam would hit the smaller island just like it was on Bougainville. Turnage now had nearly 20,000 men to man a pretty small beachhead. On the other side, the Japanese were under the belief, no more than 5000 Americans hand landed on Bougainville, getting those guadalcanal vibes aren't we? Admiral Kusaka still sought to send over the specially trained amphibious 2nd mobile raiding unit of Major Miwa Mitsuhiro, 1000 men strong. He hoped to perform a counter landing north of the American beachhead. If the special unit could disrupt the marines enough perhaps the Iwasa detachment could march overland to join up and together they would dislodge the Americans. On the 6th the destroyers Amagiri, Uzuki Yunagi and Fumizuki departed Rabual carrying 475 of the special unit with 375 support troops. The small convoy was escorted by Admiral Osugi's destroyer squadron consisting of Urakaze, Kazagumo, Wakatsuki, Makinami, Naganami, Onami and Hayanami. Fortunately for them, the naval force managed to sneak past a PT Boat guard force of 8 PT boats operating out of Puruata Island. On November 7th and 4am the IJN destroyers doubled back and unloaded the troops onto 21 landing barges to make a run for the beach. The 8 PT boats operating patrols in the area had established a new base on Puruata island, but not a single one of the discovered the Japanese landing force. Sailors aboard one of the PT boats reported seeing a strange craft, which might have been one of the barges and consequently a PT boat did check out the report. Yet before it arrived the Japanese were already landed ashore and about to charge into the left flank of the perimeter. The landing craft was seen by a Marine anti-tank platoon along the beach, but they did not fire upon it, thinking it to be American. Thus in the end the amphibious assault was a complete surprise to the Americans. The small Japanese force had landed on the beaches between the Laruma and Koromokina rivers. Not only were the Americans surprised, the Japanese were also surprised to find out the American perimeter extended further west than expected, as a result they would be unable to assemble into a unitary force before a firefight broke out. The Japanese had landed so close to the marine beachhead, the 5th company, 54th regiment were cut off from the Laruma outpost at 6am and were forced to attack the left flank of the perimeter. The Japanese raiders came ashore scattered along two miles of beach on either side of the Laruma River. Major Miwa Mitsuhiro gathered the men he could and sought to take advantage of the element of surprise they held. At 6:30am a skirmish broke out against Company K's 3rd platoon. The platoon had been out patrolling inland towards the Laruma river right at the same time as the landing. The platoon ran right into the force killing some japanese before the platoon leader disengaged realizing the size of the enemy. He took his men into the swamps going eastward, it would turn into a 30 hour grueling adventure. Company K of the 9th marines then were attacked by company 5 of the 54th regiment in a 5 hour long firefight. The guns of the 12th marines and the 90 mm anti-aircraft weapons of the 3rd defense battalion managed to fire upon the invaders who were forced to pull back to some captured foxholes. Company K then launched a counterattack. They found the Japanese dug in 150 yards west of the Laruma river. Fierce fighting broke out, but Company K could not dislodge them. At 1:15pm companies B and C of the 1st battalion, 3rd Marines came in to relieve the exhausted defenders and launched an attack through Company K's position. Major John Brady's men attacked the Japanese in the entrenchments. Company C hit the right flank as B hit the left. Both ran into heavy machine gun fire. The men requested tank support and soon the tanks 37mm were firing upon the Japanese at point blank range causing tremendous casualties. Meanwhile the 1st battalion of the 21st marine led by Lt Colonel Ernest Fry had just landed on Puruata island and they were given orders to spearhead a new assault upon the Japanese. Two LCPRS were sent to evacuate the Laruma outpost and by the night time the marines and Japanese were having shouting matches as they fired upon another. The Japanese yelled "Moline you die" and the Marines made earthy references to Premier Tojo's diet. Marine Captain Gordon Warner was fluent in Japanese, so he could quickly reply to the Japanese, apparently he even yelled believable orders prompting a bayonet charge. He would receive the Navy Cross for destroying machine gun nests with a helmet full of hand grenades, but lost a leg in the battle. Sergeant Herbert Thomas, would give his life near the Koromokina. His platoon was forced prone by machine-gun fire, and Thomas threw a grenade to silence the weapon. The grenade rebounded from jungle vines and the young West Virginian smothered it with his body. He posthumously was awarded the Medal of Honor. The attack would come to a halt, to allow a strong bombardment to hit the Japanese positions provided by the 12th marines. The following morning saw another bombardment by 5 batteries of the 12th marines before Lt Colonel Fry led two companies through the 3rd marines position to attack. They crashed into a concentrated area around 300 yards wide and 600 deep. Light tanks supported the attack. However they would only find slight resistance alongside over 250 dead Japanese. Major Miwa had pulled the men out heading further inland to try and join up with Major General Iwasa Shun's soon to be counteroffensive. The battle cost the marines 17 dead and 30 wounded, but took a hell of a toll on the Japanese. After this action the defensive line behind the Koromokina Lagoon was strengthened. On november 9th, allied dive bombers hit the area to clear it of possible Japanese infiltrators. Patrols in the area would find more Japanese dead and the Marines would ultimately claim over 377 dead Japanese. Over on the Japanese side, the Iwasa Detachment were marching towards the Mission and Numa Numa Trails. These two positions would allow them to thwart a lot of the possible American advance, which they still believed were smaller than they actually were. Back on November 5th the E company of the 2nd raiders had skirmished with some Japanese at the Piva Trail roadblock. The actions alerted Colonel Edward Craig and he ordered most of the raiders to head north to support the position. On November 7th, Colonel Hamanoue Toshiaki led the 1st battalion to hit part of the roadblock managed by H company. This would be occurring simultaneously with the amphibious assault on the Koromokina. H company supported by some mortars from the 9th marines were able to beat off the attack, giving Major Alan Shapley's G company enough time to come and reinforce the position. By the afternoon, the raiders were forcing the Japanese to retreat over to Piva village where they dug in. Hamanoues men then began to use their new position to fire mortars and artillery into the marine perimeter. The next day, General Iwasa ordered two battalions to attack the position supported by a mortar barrage. However the swamp land on either side of the trail prevented proper flanking maneuvers so the Japanese were forced into a frontal attack. Companies E and F easily repelled the attack receiving aid from the 3rd raiders. The Americans formed a horseshoe defensive formation connecting the roadblock to the main perimeter. The new position was reinforced with mortars from the 9th marines and some light tanks of the 3rd tank battalion. The Japanese suffered heavy casualties for their efforts. E and F company then attempted flanking maneuvers through the treacherous swamps and did manage to hit the Japanese. The heavy fighting eventually resulted in a stalemate and both sides pulled back. The marines had 8 deaths and 27 wounded while it is estimated the Japanese had 125 deaths. On November 9th Major General Roy Geiger arrived at Bougainville to take command of the 1st Marine amphibious corps. Turnage now turned his attention to clearing the Piva Trail as it could threaten the building of the planned airstrips. He ordered the 2nd battalion, 9th marines led by Lt Colonel Roert Cushman into a support position and two raider battalions to clear the trail. Beginning at 7:30am on the 9th, artillery of the 12th marines began to pound the area as the Raiders advanced forward through the narrow trail between the two swamps. Some Japanese had survived the artillery bombardment and began moving 25 yards within the marines position. The raiders ran directly into them beginning a firefight. The action saw a series of thrusts and counter thrusts at point blank range. The Japanese were trying to breakthrough the marine defenses just as the raiders were coming up to smash them. It was fierce fighting and Private 1st Class Henry Gurke of the 3rd raiders was maning one of the tow man foxholes in the forefront that met the attack. To protect his partner Private 1st class Donald Probst firing with a BAR, Gurke pushed Prost aside and tossed himself over a grenade that was thrown into their foxhole. Gurke was killed, saving his friend. Probst would receive a Silver Star Medal and Gurke posthumously received the Medal of Honor. As the brawl raged on Colonel Craig sent in his reserves to check a flanking maneuver right of the roadblock. The marines gradually overcome Iwasa's men causing them to pull back again to Piva village. By midafternoon, the Marines reached the junction of the Piva and Numa Numa trails and would dig in for the night. The marines suffered 12 dead and 30 wounded, while patrols would counter over 140 dead Japanese bodies. If accurate this meant the Japanese had suffered 500 casualties during this four-day combined counteroffensive. To strengthen their new position, bombers from Munda began bombing the 50 yard area on either side of the Piva trail going as far north as Piva village. Afterwards the 1st and 2nd battalions of the 9th marines settled into new defensive position along the Numa-Numa trail and began tossing patrols forward. Meanwhile Turnage and Geiger were seeing the arrival of the first echelon of General Beightlers 37th division. Wilkinsons transports landed the 148th regiment, 5715 troops and 3160 tons of supplies. In response Kusaka tossed 15 Kates and 60 zeros to try and hit the transports during the afternoon. They managed to land a hit on the transport Fuller, killing 5 men and wounding 20, but ultimately it did nothing much. The beach situation had improved a bit, so the 129th and 145th regiments, some 10,277 men were beginning to land alongside 8500 tons of supplies between november 11th and 12th. Im sure by hearing these numbers for the landings you are already realizing how dramatically things had shifted for the allies in the Pacific. There was no way for Japan to challenge such landings at this point, the Americans were simply out producing them in every imaginable way. Admiral Halsey now sought to smash Rabaul again on the 11th. He planned to launch a three pronged air raid. Sherman's and Montgomery's carriers from the south and General Kenney's bombers from New Guinea. Yet terrible weather hit New Guinea as it typically dose, preventing Kenney's aircraft from participating. Thus the carriers would go it alone. Sherman launched his aircraft in the vicinity of Green island 225 miles from Rabaul. Shermans aircraft ran into 68 Zeros over the harbor. The bombers tried to hit the already damaged heavy cruisers Chokai and Maya, but missed. However within the inner harbor was the light cruisers Agano, and single torpedo landed a critical hit, blowing off a large portion of her stern, flooding her engine room. Montgomery launched his aircraft 160 miles southeast of Rabaul. Essex and Bunker Hill tossed 80 aircraft each, Independence tossed 25 and 24 additional Corsairs came to provide CAP. Lt Commander James Vose led 33 Curtiss SB2C Helldivers, the new dive bomber replacing the Dauntless throughout the fleet. The Naganami was hit by a torpedo and forced to be towed into the harbor. The Suzunami was hit by a dive bomb attack and would sink near the entrance to Rabauls harbor. Strafing from the fighters and bombers inflicted additional damage against light cruiser Yubari; and destroyers Urakaze and Umikaze. 6 zeros were also shot down. While Shermans pilots had managed to withdraw from their raid using rain squalls, Montgomery's group would not be so lucky. Admiral Kusaka responded to the raids by launching one of the largest anti-carrier strikes of the War. The wave consisted of 11 G4M bombers, 27 D3A dive bombers, 14 B5N torpedo bombers and 67 Zeros. Despite radar alerts of the incoming air strike, Montgomery decided to get his aircraft aloft and perhaps carry out another strike. Montgomery was confident in his CAP and his task force was operating a new carrier formation. The carriers were grouped together rather than separated, forming a triangle in a 2000 yard circle with 9 destroyers spaced around evenly around 4000 yards. They would also be utilizing new anti-aircraft fuses. The Japanese pounced on the task force in a battle that would last 45 minutes. The CAP engaged the zeros while the Japanese bombers tried to hit the carriers. Bunker Hill suffered 5 near misses, one one puncturing the hull of the Essec in a number of places. Independence received 4 near misses. It was minor damage and it came at the cost of 2 zeros, 14 kates and 24 vals, absolutely terrible for the Japanese. The action did however stop Montgomery from launching a second strike. In just a week Kusaka had lost 43 zeros out of 82; 38 vals out of 45; 34 kates out of 40; 6 D4Y Susui “comets” out of 6 and 86 pilots out of 192. Such losses were absolutely crushing. Admiral Koga would be forced into a terrible situation later with the invasion of the Gilberts due to a shortage of aircraft. Koga was forced to pull out his surviving carrier planes from Rabaul and replace them with inferior planes and pilots from the Marshalls. But that's it for Bougainville for we are now traveling back to the China theater. At dusk on November 2nd, General Yokoyam began his offensive into the Changde area. His 39th division advanced southwest of Yidu, followed by the 13th division headed to Nanmu; the 3rd division with the Sasaki detachment headed for Wanjiachangzhen; and the 68th and 116th divisions plus the Toda Detachment attacked the Anxiang. After routing some smaller forces out of the way, the 13th and 3rd divisions attacked the 79th army along the Nanmu-Wangjiachangzhen line on november 5th, while the 116th and 68th divisions hit the 44th army near Anxiang. Commander of the 10th army group, Lt General Wang Jingjiu assembled the 66th army at Niajiahezhen and ordered Major General Wang Jiaben to resist the enemy at all costs. The Chinese were absolutely crushed by the two Japanese divisions and were forced to retreat towards Moshi with the Japanese in hot pursuit. Meanwhile the 116th and 68th divisions hit both flanks of Anxiang breaking General Wang Zuanxu's lines held by the 29th army. Zuanxu had to order a withdrawal and from that point the 116th pursued the 44th army towards Jinshi where they annihilated a small part of the unit. To the north on November the 9th the Miyawaki Detachment was advancing to Nanmu and the Sasaki detachment to Xinguanzhen, white the 3rd and 13th divisions were catching up to the 79th army in the Moshi area. The 13th division attacked Moshi while the 3rd division attacked Xinmin. During this battle the 79th army was effectively destroyed as a fighting force. After this, Yokoyama ordered the 3rd division and Sasaki detachment to attack Shimen where the 73rd army was defending. Yokoyama also ordered the 116th division to attack Chongyang and for the 68th division to advance by river towards Hanshou. This was all done in preparation for the upcoming attack against Changde, being defended by Major General Wang Yaowu's 74th and 100th armies. On November 14th, the Japanese offensive hit Shiman, seeing the defeat of the 73rd army in just two days. On the 19th, the second phase of the offensive began with the 3rd division joining up with the 116th to attack Chongyang. Simultaneously, the 13th division and Sasaki detachment began an occupation of Tzuli. On the 21st the assault of Chongyang began seeing the 51st and 58th divisions of the 74th army crushed. From Chongyang the Japanese forces immediately began an advance towards Changde. The 13th division met tough resistance from the remnants of the 29th army group led by Wang Zuangxu. The Chinese were able to utilize the mountainous terrain to their benefit hitting the Japanese with artillery. The 68th division defeated the 100th army at Hanshou and then annihilated its remaining survivors around Junshanpuzhen. This left only Major General Yu Chengwan's 57th division defending Changde. Unbeknownst to Yokoyama, General Xue Yue had dispatched reinforcements led by Lt Generals Li Yutang and Ou Zhen to try and halt the Japanese offensive. By November 23rd, Yokoyama's assault on Changde began. The 3rd, 68th and 116th divisions surrounded the city. Two days later the 30,000 Japanese began attacking Yu Chengwan's brave 8300 defenders. The defenders were hit with artillery and aerial bombardment. With each attack the Chinese were pushed back little by little until they only held 300 meters around their main command post. Yu Chengwan's only hope was to hold on until the reinforcements arrived to try and make a breakthrough, but by December the 1st the 3rd and 68th divisions performed a pincer attack defeating them. On December 2nd, Yu Chengwan was forced to evacuate the city. Changde fell on the 3rd of December and Yokoyama celebrated the success by ordering chemical and biological units to attack cities in the region. Whenever the Japanese found too much resistance they had Unit 516 deploy chemical weapons in liquid or gas forms including mustard gas, lewisite, cyanic acid gas and phosgene. Some of the weaponry was still in experimental stages. Artillery was used to launch shells filled with the gas into cities inflicting massive civilian casualties. Most of the artillery shells contained mustard gas and lewisite. The effect of the chemical weapons caused massive panic to both humans and livestock. Its alleged bubonic plague was also deployed and spread within a 36 km radius of Changde city. It is estimated 300,000 civilians would be killed in Changde alone, alongside 50,000 soldiers. The Japanese began to withdraw on December 9th, but by this time Ou Zhen launched a counteroffensive and managed to reclaim the city. By December 24th, the 11th Army returned to their original positions, for the Japanese it was another hit and run offensive, aimed to cause massive death. The Japanese suffered 1274 deaths and 2977 wounded, though these are their claims and they most likely lost more. The Chinese estimated 14,000 had died with 10,000 being captured. I would like to take this time to remind you all that this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Please go subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry after that, give my personal channel a look over at The Pacific War Channel at Youtube, it would mean a lot to me. The Japanese counteroffensive against the Marine beachhead on Bougainville was not going according to plan. Admiral Halsey gave Rabaul another crushing air raid and now the Japanese air power in the pacific was dwindling dangerously. Within China the horror of Japan and their chemical and biological units continued.
Last time we spoke about the Japanese counteroffensive against the Marine beachhead on Bougainville. Things were looking bad for the Japanese before they got even worse. The Japanese had underestimated the amount of Marines on Bougainville and sent Major Mitsuhiro with his special units to try and hit the marine left flank, later to join up with the Iwasa detachment. Mitsuhiro's men were in for a hell of a surprise when they attacked a larger force than expected. They took heavy losses before pulling back into the interior of the island to search for Iwasa. Meanwhile Iwasa also bit off more than he could chew with a counteroffensive targeting the Piva trail. In the end the marines not only repelled the attacks, but also greatly expanded their perimeter. We also spoke about the battle of Changde seeing the forces of Yokoyama crush multiple Chinese armies and unleash chemical and biological warfare in the area. This episode is the Battle of Sattelberg Welcome to the Pacific War Podcast Week by Week, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about world war two? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on world war two and much more so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel you can find a few videos all the way from the Opium Wars of the 1800's until the end of the Pacific War in 1945. Vice Admiral John Henry Towers the commander of pacific air force circled a plan to recapture Wake island and use it as a springboard to latte assault the Marshalls that were around 500 miles south. Admiral Spruance favored opening a new campaign much father southeast, where the fleet could count on more land base air support in the south pacific. Spruance wanted to launch an offensive into the Gilbert Islands, some 600 miles southeast of the Marshalls. Admiral Nimitz was swapped by this and in turn twisted King's arm. And thus was born Operation Galvanic, the simultaneous capture of the Ellice islands, the Gilbert Islands and Nauru set for November 15th. Since his victorious return from the battle of Midway a year earlier, Admiral Raymond Spruance had privately longed for a major command at sea. But it was an admirals way to lobby for a job and he would not be surprised when Nimitz told him one morning in May of 1943 “There are going to be some changes in the high command of the fleet. I would like to let you go, but unfortunately for you I need you here” Spruance replied “Well, the war is an important thing. I personally would like to have another crack at the Japs, but if you need me here, this is where I should be.” The next day the two met again and Nimitz said “I have been thinking this over during the night. Spruance, you are lucky. I've decided that I am going to let you go, after all.” Nimitz reported to King the new assignment during their meeting in San Francisco a month later. On May 30th, Spruance received the rank of vice admiral and shortly after was detached from the CINCPAC staff and placed in command of the Central Pacific Force, later to be designated the 5th Fleet. It would be the largest seagoing command in the history of the US Navy. Spruance would have little more than four months to plan the largest and most complex amphibious operation yet attempted. Naval forces and landing troops would be taken from far flung parts of the south pacific and USA mainland. His key commanders had not yet been identified. Spruance immediately recruited a chief of staff with a lot of experience and initiative, his old friend and shipmate, Captain Charles “Carl” Moore. Moore had been serving in Washington as a member of Admiral King's war planning staff. Spruance asked Moore to select other key staff officers, poaching many from naval HQ. Moore would arrive to Pearl Harbor on August 5th and took up a spare bedroom in Nimitz and Spruance house atop Makalapa Hill. Now Spruance was the type of manager that delegated everything possible, he once said “Looking at myself objectively, I think I am a good judge of men; and I know that I tend to be lazy about many things, so I do not try to do anything that I can pass down the line to someone more competent than I am to do it.” Moore was perfectly fine with this philosophy. Some would say Spruance was a bit lazy, the man did seem to bore rather easily and was a compulsive walker, often spent days just walking, grabbing staff with him. Moore wrote about such an instance once that occurred a few days after he arrived to Hawaii “Raymond is up to his tricks already, and yesterday took me on an eight mile hike in the foothills. It was hot and a hard pull at times, and particularly so as we carried on a lively conversation all the way which kept me completely winded.” On this occasion Moore tried to talk to Spruance about operation Galvanic, but Spruance kept changing subjects. A few days later Moore would write to his wife “Yesterday Raymond stepped up the pace and the distance and we covered over 10 miles in three hours. My right leg caught up with my left and both were wrecked by the time I got back. . . . If he can get me burned to a crisp or crippled from walking he will be completely happy.” Spruance wanted Kelly Turner to command his amphibious fleet. Turner at that point held a year of hard experience in the South Pacific. He was the navy's preeminent amphibious specialist. Spruance knew the man well both at sea and at the Naval War College. Spruance told Nimitz in Juen“I would like to get Admiral Kelly Turner from Admiral Halsey, if I can steal him,” However with the northern Solomons campaign in high gear, Halsey was not too keen to release Turner. Nimitz sent a personal note to Hasley explaining that he had been ordered to wage a new offensive in the central Pacific: “This means I must have Turner report to me as soon as possible.” Unfortunately for Hasley, Turner also took some of their best staff officers with him. Major General Holland Smith would command the invasion troops, designated the 5th amphibious corps or ‘VAC”. Smith was one of the pioneers of amphibious warfare. He had persuaded the navy to adopt Andrew Higgen's shallow draft boats as landing craft and successfully trained several divisions in amphibious operations over at Camps Elliot and Pendleton in California. He fought hard to get combat command in the Pacific and was backed up by Secretary Knox and Admiral King. Nimitz did not know the man well, but Spruance had worked with him in the 1930's when they were both stationed in the Caribbean. Turner and Smith would make quite the combustible pair. Both men were aggressive, ambitious and quite overbearing. They were both used to running things without competition. Both were prone to fits of rage and this earned them the nicknames “terrible turner and Howlin'mad'smith”. At Guadalcanal Turner once offended General Vandegrift by infringing upon his command, this led Spruance to wonder “whether we could get the operation planned out before there was an explosion between them.” Smith had met Kelly Turner once in Washington and he found the admiral to be precise and courteous, describing him as “an exacting schoolmaster, affable in an academic manner. He could be plain ornery. He wasn't called ‘Terrible Turner' without reason.” For Operation Galvanic, Turner expected to be above Smith in the chain of command. This was consistent with how Operation Watchtower went about. But Smith wanted direct command of all amphibious troops throughout the operation, prior, during and after the landings, and he wanted to directly report to Spruance. Spruance wanted nothing to do with such arguments and because of his laissez-faire style this meant Moore would be acting as referee between Turner and Smith. Here is what Moore had to say of it “Holland Smith particularly complained about Kelly Turner. He was a whining, complaining type. He loved to complain. He loved to talk and loved to complain, and he would come and sit on my desk and growl about Turner. ‘All I want to do is kill some Japs. Just give me a rifle. I don't want to be a commanding general. Just give me a rifle, I'll go out there and shoot some Japs. . . . I'm not worried about anything else around here.' See, that kind of a line. I was trying to soothe him down, and Turner would come and complain about that blankety-blank Smith, couldn't get any cooperation out of him, and so forth.”Through these referee'd battles a compromise was met. Turner would be in command of the landing forces until the shore commander went ashore and assumed command of the troops. When turner was informed, all the troops ashore would fall under the command of the 5th amphibious corps and thus report to Smith. This model was accepted by both men and would remain in force throughout the Pacific War. So at this point its important to note the US Navy had still not fully recovered from the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, and was still in the process of building the largest fleets the world had ever seen. You have probably heard this phrase many times: “World War Two would be won through British brains, American brawn, and Russian blood.” As said at the Tehran conference of December 1943 by Joseph Stalin. That brawn was simply incredible. From the start of the war until the end of 1943, the US would commission 7 aircraft carriers, the Essex, Lexington, Yorktown, Bunker Hill, Intrepid, Wasp and Hornet. Of the new Essex-class, 9 light carriers would be commissioned the Independence, Princeton, Belleau Wood, Cowpens, Monterey, Cabot, Langley, Bataan and San Jacinto. Of the new Independence class there would be 35 escort carriers, no worries not going to list them all haha. There would also be 6 new battleships the South Dakota, Indiana, Massachusetts, Alabama, Iowa and New Jersey; 4 new heavy cruisers, the Baltimore, Boston, Canberra and Quincy; 16 light cruisers, 212 destroyers, 234 destroyer escorts and 92 submarines. To match this in the same period, Japanese commissioned two aircraft carriers the Junyo and Hiyo; one light aircraft carrier the Ryuho; 4 escort carriers the Unyo, Chuyo, Kaiyo and Shinyo; 2 superbattleships the Yamato and Musashi; 4 light cruisers the Agano, Oyodo, Noshiro and Yahagi; 22 destroyers, 15 destroyer escorts and 61 submarines. Thus it was absolutely clear, the Americans had a significant advantage in naval production. On September 4th, the 5th amphibious corps of Smith were officially established. Smith proceeded to train and control the units assigned to operation Galvanic which included Major General Julian Smith's 2nd Marine division and Major General Ralph Smith's 27th division, that's a lot of Smiths. As the 5th amphibious force and corps were still undergoing organization during the planning phase of the Gilberts operations, much of the burden for tacticaling planning fell initially onto the staffs of the two divisions involved. Julian Smith was informed in august his job was to capture the Tarawa and Apamama atolls. Ralph Smith was told he was to invade Nauru, but Holland Smith believed Nauru offered too many problems. Nauru was 390 miles west of the Gilberts and would place strain on available shipping. Simultaneous landings in the two places would further widen the dispersal of supporting fleet element, a dangerous division of forces in view of the presumed possibility of a Japanese naval counterattack. Finally, the terrain on Nauru would make an amphibious assault and the land fighting extremely costly to be warranted by the strategic advantages to be gained. Makin Atoll was considered no less suitable than Nauru as an air base for operations against the Marshalls and was thought to be considerably less well defended. Makin was also only about 105 miles north of Tarawa making it possible to concentrate the supporting fleet in one area and thus avoid the danger of excessive dispersion. So in early October, Spruance and Nimitz made the decision to invade Makin Atoll instead. Unfortunately the Americans did not have great intelligence on the Gilberts, so they had to do some photographic coverage of Tarawa and Makin between July and October 1943. The USS Nautilus contributed a lot to the intelligence effort by obtaining hydrographic and each conditions for both atolls, such as their surfs, reefs, beaches, lagoon entrance, current data, tidal data and so forth. The unsexy logistical stuff no one talks about. If you want to invade a beach, you have to know about said beach. During September and October a total of 16 former residents and travelers of the islands were attached to Turners staff to help out. Many of these were Australian, New Zealanders, Fijian naval reserve officers, officials of the Western pacific high commission, Australian army reserve officers and enlisted men and a few civilians. Another source of information was given by Lt Colonel James Roosevelt who had taken part in the raid upon Makin. For the landings at Makin, Turner's task for 54 and 53. He would have at his disposal 4 destroyer transports, one Cargoship, one LSD and 9 LSTS to transport the reinforced 165th regiment of Colonel Gardiner Conroy. He would be supported by the 7th army defense battalion, detachments of the 105th infantry regiment, 27th division, units of the 193rd tank battalion, 152nd engineer battalion, coastal artillery and anti-aircraft batteries of the 98th and 93rd Coastal artillery battalions, a platoon from the 5th Amphibious corps reconnaissance company, sundry medical, signal, ordnance, quartermaster and bomb disposal detachments. Their screening force would be 4 older battleships, 4 heavy cruisers, 13 destroyers and 3 escort carriers. The Tarawa force would be given one destroyer transport, 1 attack transport, 12 Destroyer transports, 3 AKA's, one LSD and 12 LST's under Rear Admiral Harry Hill, screened by 3 battleships, 3 heavy cruisers, 3 light cruisers, 21 destroyers and 5 escort carriers. Turner would also make a legendary decision. He appointed Colonel Eareckson, the veteran of the Aleutian Islands campaign to be commander of the support Aircraft, thus establishing a centralized system of ground control for support aircraft in amphibious operations. Eareckson became famous for his innovative tactics such as using radar equipped B-17's to guide P-38's to attack Kawanishi flying boats during the Aleutian islands campaign. He also pioneered low level bombing raids through the brutal aleutian weather. Aerial support, both at the tactical and strategic level would be provided by Rear admiral Charles Pownalls carrier task force 50 formed around 6 lage and 5 small carriers and by Rear admiral John Hoovers shore based aircraft; consisting of task groups 57.2/3/4. Both forces had to destroyer aircraft and air/harbor facilities at Tarawa, Mille, Jaluit, Makin and Nauru while simultaneously providing air support. Hoover also was responsible for conducting photographic reconnaissance over the Marshalls. After the air strikes and naval bombardment obliterated the Japanese defenses and installations, Turner planned to assault the beaches with the troops ferried using amphibian tractors, followed up by LCVPS and medium tanks in LCMS. For Tarawa, Ralph Smith's plan was a bit more elaborate and extreme, he was going to attempt something never done before. The amphibious assault of Tarawa had unique problems. There was no immediate means of achieving depth of deployment. The landing forces would initially be pinned down on a long narrow beach. The island offered basically no room for flank maneuvers and the aerial and naval bombardments would do little. Ralph assigned a major role to troops of a different regiment than the one that made up the main landing force. Detachments X and Y, of the 3rd Battalion, 105th Infantry and 193rd Tank Battalion, led by Maj. Edward T. Bradt would be the first to land on the west coast of Butaritari, designated Red Beaches. This would be followed up quickly by the 1st and 3rd Battalions. On the right, the 3rd Battalion Landing Team would land on Red Beach 2 and seize the right half of the division beachhead to about 1,600 yards inland. Then they would move right to clear the area around Ukiangong Village and Ukiangong Point. Over on the left, the 1st Battalion Landing Team would land on Red Beach 1, seize the division beachhead in its zone of action and move left to capture the area from the north end of Red Beach to Flink Point. Meanwhile the reinforced 2nd Platoon of Company G, 165th Regiment, and 19 marines of the 4th Platoon of the 5th Amphibious Corps Reconnaissance Company were going to land on Kotabu island, lying just north of Flink point. This would secure the seward approaches into the lagoon. After two hours while the troops consolidated their beachhead the Z detachment of the 105th regiment led by Captain William Ferns would land on Yellow beach 2 on the north side of the island between On Chong's and King's Wharfs. The detachment would split into two groups, one heading east to clear Kings wharf the other west to clear On Chong's wharf. After this a wave of the 165th battalion would advance west. Comparing the two, Julian's plan was a lot more simple, it called for the landing at Betio of 3 battalions; the 2nd battalion, 8th marines, 2nd battalion and the 2nd and 3rd battalions 2nd marines. Colonel David Shoup and Colonel Elmer Hall would lead the 3 battalions.The 1st battalion, 2nd marines would be held in reserve. The corps reserve for Tarawa, Makin or Apamama would be Colonel Maurice Holmes 6th marines. Once the beachhead was secured, troops would advance across the island to the south, seizing the airfield and mopping up enemy positions along the major beaches To further prepare for Operation Galvanic, Admiral Pownall led three carriers, the Lexington, Princeton and Belleau Wood to strike the Gilberts on September 18th. Supported by 38 Liberators flying out of Canton, Funafuti and Guadalcanal, Pownall made 6 separate and unopposed air strikes against Tarawa. A ton of fuel and ammunition was destroyed, several buildings were wrecked and a small freighter was sunk. Attacks on Makin saw three flying boats lit on fire with some damage done to shore installations. What was more important than these strikes was the photographic coverage that accompanied them. Zero fighter interception was found at either, though two Japanese medium bombers were shot down northwest of Makin. According to the diary of a Japanese laborer, 28 laborers were killed during a strike on Makin, most likely from a direct bomb hit to a shelter. On Beito they hit a runway, though it would be quickly repaired. Pownall tried to keep the strikes going but now saw an interception from 18 zeros which shot down 5 of his aircraft. To follow up the raid on the Gilberts, Admiral Montgomery hit Wake with one of the largest carrie strike forces to date. The Essex, Lexington, Yorktown, Cowpens, Independence and Belleau Wood with support from land based aircraft hit Wake on October 5th and 6th. Over 67 Japanese planes were reported to be destroyed in the air and on the ground. Shore installations were also battered heavily. Then beginning on november 13th, land-based bombers of Admiral Hoover made nightly raids against Tarawa, Makin, Nauru and some central Marshall islands. Meanwhile between November 13-17th, Major General Willis Hale's 7th air force's heavy bombers flew 141 bombing sorties against the Gilberts and Marshalls. They dropped over 173 tons of bombs, destroying at least 5 Japanese aircraft and inflicting heavy damage to their facilities and installations. Against the Americans, the Japanese forces in the area initially were that of Rear Admiral Abe Koso's 6th base force operating on Kwajalein. Koso commanded the 61st guard unit on Kwajalian, 62nd guard unit on Jaluit, 63rd guard unit on Taroa, 64th guard unit at Wotje, 65th guard unit at Wake, 43rd guard unit at Nauru, a detachment of the 63rd guard unit at Ocean island and another detachment of the 51st guard unit on Makin. For the Marshalls he had the 22nd air flotilla consisting of 46 Zeros, 40 kates, 3 vals, 5 flying boats and 11 reconnaissance aircraft. The raid of Makin back in 1942 alerted the Japanese to its significance so they sent the 6th Yokosuka SNLF to help occupy the Gilberts. During the spring of 1943, the IJN created the 3rd special base force of Rear-Admiral Shibazaki Keiji who would defend Tarawa, Makin, Apamama, Nauru and Ocean island. The Sasebo 7th SNLF would be sent to Tarawa, the 2nd Yokosuka SNLF to Nauru. The Japanese went to work on Makin and Tarawa constructing concrete and log emplacements for guns of all sizes. They used coconut tree logs to build tank barricade, tank pits, laid underwatch obstacles and dugouts for riflemen and machine gunners. On Makin the airbase was expanded and by july 1943 was able to take land based bombers. The Marshalls, Marianas and Carolines alongside other islands would be reinforced in preparation for expected American offensives. Four new south sea detachments were formed and tow mobile amphibious brigades that would be used for counterlandings. The Japanese were outmanned and outgunned, but they would make the Americans pay in blood for every inch of land, island by island. Now it is time for us to travel back to Green Hell as the allies were preparing to hit Sattelberg. By November 9th, the Australians knew the Japanese had two out posts west of Jivevaneng, at Green and Coconut ridges with another strong patrol base at Steeple Tree Hill. Whitehead decided to deploy the 2/24th battalion on the right to guard the enemy along the Palanko road; the 2/48th would take up the center advancing along the sattelberg road supported by the 1st tank battalion and the 2/23rd would take the left advancing along Sisi. Major General Frank Berryman would be appointed the new commander of the 2nd corps, as General Morshead was appointed commander of the New Guinea Force. The date for the new offensive was set for November 17th. A preliminary advance was made by a company along the sattelberg road to seize the enemy held Green Ridge. Under the support of heavy machine gun and artillery fire. At 8:20am two batteries and the company of the 2/2nd machine gun battalion fired upon Green Ridge. Captain Isaksson's company of the 2/48th then moved up, but were unable to properly follow up the bombardment. The men advanced at a slow rate up the ridge because of thick bamboo. Both the nearby near and far features were strongly defended and would only be captured by 10 and 12:4-pm respectfully. The capture of the Far feature took the machine gunners 26,000 rounds to keep the enemy heads down for the infantry to storm their positions. Captain Brocksopp's company occupied Green Ridge, Isakssons took White Trunk Tree lying on the junction of Sattelberg road and the Sisi track by 1:40pm. 5 men were killed in the process, 18 Japanese died on Green Ridge. At first light on November 17th, four Matilda tanks led by Major Samuel Hordern led the way to the start line converted under the noise of a deadly rocket barrage. Beginning at 6:30am rocket propelled bombs were fired from jeeps. These 30 pound bombs had a maximum range of 1200 yards. Several of them ended up being duds, but those that did explode had a very lethal effect, killing within a radius of 50 yards. On top of this came artillery and mortar bombardments, until Horderns tanks began smashing Coconut ridge with the infantry close behind them. A company of the 2/23rd would find Sisi unoccupied and continued north to help defend Green Ridge. Around 50 yards up the track the Australians found the first signs of opposition, a heavy machine gun post. The tanks fired blindly at the enemy defenses, mostly pillboxes and foxholes. Despite the terrifying attack, the Japanese held their ground and replied using machine guns, mortars and grenades, until the tanks blew them and their defenses to pieces. Halfway to Coconut ridge, the Matilada's had to halt to refill their ammunition. Within all of the excitement, the tank crews had run out of ammunition for their Besa guns. The Besa's had been firing bursts of around 50 rounds when they could have been firing 10s. Three deeps loaded with ammunition at Jivevaneng rushed forward as the tanks backed up some 60 yards to protect their approach. All of this was coordinated using walkie talkies, an absolutely crucial technology of the war. Meanwhile the 2/24th continued north to attack Japanese positions along the Palank road and to the south the 2/23rd met resistance halfway to Steeple Tree. At 10:20am, Horderns tanks were resuming their advance, eliminating pockets of resistance one by one. Upon reaching the Kunai Knoll on the southern Coconuts, two Matilda's became disabled. Upon seeing the halting tanks, the Japanese unleashed as much firepower as they could pinning down the infantry alongside their tanks. Lt Colonel Robert Ainslie ordered the men to advance on without the tanks. The men stormed the slopes of the Kunai Knoll, forced to crawl forward under heavy fire. It became a fierce battle, the Australians were unable to make much ground and forced to dig in for the night. Two companies dug in on the slopes of the Kunai Knoll while a third dug in near White Trunk Tree. Despite the terrifying tank attack, the Japanese did not flinch and fought throughout the day to halt the Australian advance. However during the night the Australians unleashed an artillery bombardment forcing the Japanese to abandon the ridge. The next morning, the Australians found the ridge abandoned and went to work repairing the two disabled tanks so they could continue the advance. Three more Matildas wielding 2 pounders and 3 inch Howitzers were brought up. The 2/2rd now advanced towards Mararuo, pushing the Japanese up a spur. The tanks advanced again, allowing the Australians to go another 250 yards until they were met again with heavy resistance. The Japanese held very strong positions upon the 2600 foot Steeple Tree Hill. Their system of defense was to have positions at every possible line of approach near bamboo obstacles. The Japanese would wait to fire until the infantry were just a few yards away to cause maximum damage. Armed with 37mm anti-tank guns the Japanese did all they could to neutralize the tank menace. By nightfall the attackers were forced to pull back to Coconut ridge and during the night the Japanese launched counter attacks using grenades and small arms. The next morning at 8am the Australians resumed their advance. The tanks led the way, but they were met with extremely fast and well coordinated anti-tank measures. At around 100 yards from the start line, the advance was halted by an anti-tank ditch 6 feet wide and 4 feet deep. Major Moodie's engineers of the 2/13th field company were able to dislodge the tanks and soon the tanks were overrun an 81mm mortar position. The tanks ran havoc upon a Woodpecker and two light machine gun positions, then after another 150 yards ran into another tank ditch around 10am. Lt Farquhars platoon charged past the tanks to give the engineers room to dislodge them only to see the tanks hit another ditch when they came forward again. The men fashioned two fougasses out of 4 gallon drums filled with petrol to hit the defenders of one of the slopes later to be named Fougasse Corner. A fougasse by the way is a projectile weapon, typically using a 40 gallon drum with a flammable substance like petrol. They would be inclined and when triggered using an explosive charge, shot a flame going perhaps 10 feet up, 3 feet wide for about 30 yards. Picture a really big flamethrower burst. This was unleashed on the slope causing roughly 20 casualties. The Japanese would leave 46 of their dead abandoning the slope when the Australians charged into them. The Japanese then launched a counterattack against the Fougasse Corner leading to more casualties, but were repelled. To the north, the 2/24th launched an attack on a knoll near the summit of the 2200 Feature. After an artillery bombardment, Lt Caples platoon took the unoccupied knoll, but soon the Japanese began encircling them. They fought until 2:30pm when the Australians finally established a secure position on the knoll. Meanwhile, General Katagiri was preparing to send the 79th regiment to attack the mouth of the Song River. Katagiri was facing a dire supply situation. Although 2-3 barges came up daily to bring supplies to Kanimi and Lakona, once the supplies landed they had to be carried overland and that was the crux of the problem. The main roads, Kanimi to Ago to Lakona to Wario to Sattelberg and secondary roads leading to Zageheme and Merikeo were all steep and mountainous, taking 5 days to traverse. This led the supply line to the front lines to be inconsistent. From the Diary entry of an unknown Japanese infantry man at Sattelberg October 15th "I eat potatoes and live in a hole and cannot speak in a loud voice. I live the life of a mud rat or similar creature" At the same time the 2/15th battalion had sent a diversionary force led by Major Newcomb with orders to "in conjunction with the opening of the attack towards Sattelberg… you are to command a diversionary force, broaden the apparent front of the attack on Sattelberg by simulating a new threat towards Wareo" The 2/15th set out on November 17th and reached Garabow the next day. They began bombarding it to cause the distraction. This was done to support Whiteheads offensive while in the east Brigadier Porter was going to cut the enemy's main supply line by attacking along the coast. Porter sent the 2/32nd battalion to take some high ground at Pabu. On November 19th, the 2/32nd were able to seize Pabu, avoiding any enemy, finding the hill unoccupied. The next morning the 2/32nd began patrolling and found large numbers of Japanese 500 yards to their west, and that said enemy then found them. Katagiri feared a possible attack upon Bonga so he decided to launch a secondary counteroffensive on November 21st. Meanwhile the 2/48th resumed their advance, this time without Horderns tanks who could not traverse past 250 yards because of bamboo obstacles. By 9:30am the tanks were able to bypass the obstacles and caught up to the infantry. At 10am, Whitehead gave the order “Go ahead as fast as possible” and 50 minutes later the skirmishing began upon the first enemy positions. The Australians pushed on slowly in a sluggish battle but were able to capture Steeple Tree by the late afternoon. At the same time the 2/23rd were trying to drive the enemy away from the southern approaches to Steeple Tree, gradually linking up with the 2/48th. To the north the 2/24th once again found themselves halted. The Japanese had created strong bamboo obstacles along the slopes that were difficult to traverse. In an attempt to force the issue, Wootten committed another troop of tanks to assist the 2/24th, but it would take a lot of time before the Matildas could climb the 2200 Feature. But the Japanese were caught between two enemy forces and were forced to pull back to Sattelberg during the night. The next morning the 2/48th resumed their advance while the 2/23rd patrolled towards Mararuo. Meeting no opposition the troops moved ahead quickly. At 4:35pm the enemy unleashed machine gun fire at point blank range upon them. The 2/48th tossed mortars and their tank support who crushed the enemy defenses, rapidly overwhelming the enemy, sending them scattering. But on November 22nd, Katagiri finally launched his counterattack using the bulk of the 79th regiment against Porters positions along the Song. Katagiri also sent the Fujii detachment led by Lt Colonel Fujii to attack Pabu. It just so happened Davies Company had left Pabu to search for the main Japanese supply road, and they came across Horace's Hoof in the afternoon. A company sized force of the Fujii detachment began their attack forcing Davies company back towards Pabu. But that is it for New Guinea as we now need to travel over to Bougainville. Generals Geiger and Turnage ordered a group of naval and marine engineers with construction personnel led by Civil Engineer corps officer Commander William Painter to construct airfields in the interior of the island. They were escorted by units of the 21st marines and used aerial photographs to find an area about 3 miles inland, roughly 1 mile beyond the defensive perimeter where suitable sites were located for two airstrips to be made. Unable to expand the perimeter properly because of the swamps around them, Turnage directed the 21st marines to establish a strong outpost at the junction of the East-West and Numa Numa trails to cover the new airfield sites. On November 13th, the inexperienced 2nd battalion, 21st marines of Lt Colonel Eustace Smoak set out with E company in the lead. Unbeknownst to them, Colonel Hamanoue had just realized the tactical value of said junction and sent a battalion to occupy Coconut Grove the previous day. The men had managed to establish a solid defensive perimeter. At 11:05 Company E ran right into an ambush. The Japanese unleashed machine gun and mortar fire with sniper support from the treelines. E companies commander sent a report back to Colonel Smoak, one of many panicked and incoherent reports he would receive from said company. This was the first combat experience for the 2nd battalion, 21st marines. Smoak rushed forward and established his command post close to the action. He ordered F company to relieve E company who had suffered heavy casualties. F company however, advanced too far to the right and suffered a lot of casualties in a disorganized manner. Unable to get artillery support, Smoak ordered his units to begin digging in for the night. The next morning, 5 light tanks of the 1st battalion, 21st regiment came up to support Smoak. While Smoak organized his forces, a air strike hit the Coconut grove area at 9:05am consisting of around 20 Avengers carrying 100lb bombs using 1 second delay fuses. The marines then performed an artillery barrage before resuming their advance upon the grove. The Japanese fired upon the tanks, managing to disable two of them. At this point Smoak ordered the disorganized assault to halt and began regrouping his men to attack again. This time they were able to break the Japanese resistance and by late afternoon established a perimeter around the Coconut Grove. The marines found 40 dead Japanese, the baptism under fire for the 2nd battalions, 21st marines cost them 20 dead men and 39 wounded. I would like to take this time to remind you all that this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Please go subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry after that, give my personal channel a look over at The Pacific War Channel at Youtube, it would mean a lot to me. Operation Galvanic was being prepared and in the meanwhile, a large number of air raids were hitting numerous places in the central pacific. The advance to sattelberg was getting closer day by day, the boys on Bougainville were finding inhospitable Japanese around every corner.
Last time we spoke about the beginning of the Russo-Japanese war. The Japanese knew to have any chance in the war against the Russians, they needed to deliver a deadly surprise attack against her fleet within the harbor of Port Arthur. Admiral Togo took the combined fleet and dispatched a force under Uriu to neutralize Chemulpo and land forces of the IJA 12th division. Meanwhile Togo ordered 10 destroyers to toss torpedoes at the Russian warships at anchor in Port Arthur, landing a few hits. It seemed to the Japanese that the Russians were fully paralyzed, so Togo elected to bring the combined fleet in to bombard the Russians into submission. Instead of being paralyzed the Russians counter fired using shore batteries causing the Japanese to back off. War was declared afterwards by both parties and now battles would rage over land and sea to see which empire would claim dominance over Asia. #74 The Russo-Japanese War part 2: the battle of Yalu Welcome to the Fall and Rise of China Podcast, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about the history of Asia? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on history of asia and much more so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel where I cover the history of China and Japan from the 19th century until the end of the Pacific War. The combined fleet set out again on February 14th after just two days in port. The Fuji was still in dry dock in need of further repair. Other than Fuji, the fleet was back at sea in force. Despite taking numerous hits, it turned out the Russian shells were not as effective as the Japanese ammunition which used a new compound called Shimose, refined into a powder that gave the IJN shells a greater velocity, thus much more effective on impact. In the meantime, only a brave attack by two Japanese destroyers was brought upon the Russians at Port Arthur. Other than that nothing much had come about. While at Sasebo, Admiral Togo discussed with his fellow commanders the situation. Port Arthur's harbor had basically become a large lake harbored the Russian ships, but at any moment they could be unleashed into the ocean. Togo needed to destroy the warships or trap them inside, and he came up with a daring plan. Togo sent out a special order, soliciting for volunteers for an extremely dangerous, practically suicidal mission. 2000 sailors volunteered, many writing their names in blood. The plan was quite simple, the volunteers were going to take ships and sink them at the entrance to the harbor. The ships selected were some very old steamers, capable of just 10 knots. On the evening of February 23rd, 5 old steamers set a course for Port Arthur with some torpedo boat escorts. Before the first light of the 24th, the Russian lookouts saw what appeared to be a steady convoy calmly approaching the harbors mouth. A Russian convey was long being awaited, thus many assumed it was them. Some Russian ships came in closer to examine the newcoming vessels closer and upon showering them with searchlights, the captain of the Retvizan quickly realized they were Japanese. Retvizan began opening fire, prompting the old steamers to run frantically through a gauntlet. The Japanese crews were blinded by searchlight as the guns of the Retvizan and shore batteries rained hell upon them. The leading steamer, the Mokoko Maru was hit by Retvizan at point blank range just due east of the harbor entrance. She sank quickly and the other steamers would face a similar fate one by one as they approached. Volunteer crews were shot to pieces or abandoned ship. Those who survived the shelling were rescued by torpedo boats. The mission was a terrible failure. The Russians did not quite understand what had occurred. Certainly the ships were no battleships, but some assumed it was another torpedo attack attempt and thus believed some warships had been sunk. Admiral Alexeiev desperate to boost morale send a message to the Tsar claiming a great naval victory. After further investigation, the steamers were found to be what they were and Alexeiev had to send a correction to the Tsar. Now all of this was going down in Port Arthur, but the Russians did have another force at their cold water port of Vladivostok. Under the command of Rear Admiral Jessel were the armored cruisers Gromoboi, Rurik, Boegatyr and Rossiya. Rear Admiral Kamimura was leading a cruiser squadron with torpedo boats around Tsushima. His duty was that of a picquet force to meet the Russian enemy if they came out to play. Alexeiev gave Jessel orders not to steam more than a single day from port. Jessel had thus only managed to sink two unarmed Japanese merchantmen with his small patrols. Now upon the land, the former Minister of War, General Kuropatkin was appointed the land commander in Manchuria. He would depart St Petersburg on March 12th and arrive to Harbin by the 28th. For the sea, the disgraced Admiral Starck was to be replaced with Vice Admiral Makarov. The Russian government was trying to showcase to its troops, that the very best officers would lead them, it was a much needed boost of confidence. However Tsar Nicolas II also appointed Alexeiev as the Viceroy of the Russian far east, which gave Alexeiev higher authority than all government ministries in the region, making him beholden only to the Tsar himself. Alekseyev was a key member of the “Bezobrazov Circle” a politically motivated investment group led by Aleksandry Mikhailovich Bezobrazov whom sought to create a commercial enterprise, modeled after the British East India Company, reigning over Manchuria and Korea. A skilled lobbyist, Bezobrazov was the one who persuaded Tsar Nicolas II for Alekseiv's appointment. This would prove ruinous. Makarov departed his previous command at fort Kronstadt and received news cruisers Novik, Bayan and Askold were damaged. While enroute he received a report the Bezstrashni and Viestnitelni were intercepted by Japanese picquet forces while returning to port. They were attacked trying to race to Port Arthur and Vistnitelni was unable to get away, being destroyed around Pigeon bay. Thus the new commander was getting this picture of his forces accumulating unacceptable losses without even engaging the enemy. Makarov unlike Starck was not so conservative, he sought real action. Makarov was what you would call “a sailors sailor”. He was in excellent shape, was a noted naval tactician and had a copy of a book on his adversary Admiral Togo in his cabin at hand. During his voyage to the far east, Starck retained command and continued to fly his flag upon Petropavlovsk. Makarov would hoist his aboard the soon to be repaired Askold by march 14th. Soon Retvizan and Tsarevitch were patched up adequately to be battleworthy and destroyer flotillas were sent out of the harbor to hunt the Japanese. On March 10th, the blockading forces were attacked by the Russians. The Japanese were surprised at the sudden aggressiveness of the Russians, Togo believed they were finally willing to come out and battle. At the beginning of the war most eyes were set on seeing the performance of torpedoes, they were a relatively new weapon. They actually proved to be quite a disappointment. The weapon that would really make its mark was the seamine. The Japanese made continuous efforts to sent destroyers out at night to lay mines near the entrance of Port Arthur. The Russians did their best to watch these actions and when the tides rose high they would employ grappling hooks to clear fields. This simply pushed the Japanese to lay mines 10 feet below the surface. This resulted in mines actually being placed at various depths, thus when the tides were much higher most ships could pass right over, but if the tides lowered, this led to collisions. Now back to March 10th, that night the Japanese attempted a ruse. A flotilla of 4 IJN destroyers approached Port Arthur and began parading outside to trying to lure out some Russian warships. Now emboldened, the Russians sent out 6 warships to chase the Japanese who lured them in the direction of Laoteshan. While they were chasing, another IJN destroyer flotilla came from behind and began mining the waters at the harbors entrance at around 4:30am. Eventually the Russian shore batteries saw what was going on and began to fire on the mining destroyers who made their quick escape. The Russian warships chasing the other flotilla heard the gunfire and quickly turned back. The 4 IJN mining destroyers got into position to attack the incoming Russians. 4 out of the 6 Russian warships dodged this and ran for the harbor, but the Ryeshitelni and Stereguschi found themselves blocked. It was 4 against 2 as the destroyers battling it out. The Ryeshitelni was hit a few times causing steering problems but she managed to flee to the harbor, the Stereguschi however was not so lucky. A 1 pounder shell struck a steam pipe in her boiler and engines causing an explosion that killed most of her engine room staff. Stereguschi's captain tried to keep her on course, but her speed dropped and she was soon raked by all 4 Japanese destroyers. Her crew tried to fire back, until only 4 men of the crew were even capable of moving anymore. The IJN destroyer Sasanami let loose a cutter boat to board her as the Stereguschi was captured. The boarding party stepped over corpses and human body parts as they raised the Rising Sun flag. Suddenly the Russian cruisers Bayan and Novik were charging towards the mined harbor entrance. The Sasanami crews leapt back aboard to flee the scene as the Russians opened fire upon them. It was a bit of excitement to be sure, but Makarov wanted real action, he sought to give battle. He began a intensive training of the fleet, performed tours and raised morale. Meanwhile on March 22nd the Fuji and Yashima were now stationed in Pigeon bay to fire to enforce the blockade effort. Suddenly they found themselves being fired upon by the Russians and saw cruiser Askold flying Makarov's flag. Fuji took a minor hit and had to return to Sasebo for repairs. Togo and his fellow commanders now were realizing the Russians were growing in stature. Meanwhile the IJA guards division was only beginning to unload ashore in Korea. The Russian navy charging out of Port Arthur serious threatened the Japanese troop transit, Togo had to stop them. The same suicidal plan was employed again. The crews were taken from 20,000 volunteers, another 4 old steamers were allocated to the mission. This time each ship was ballasted with cement and stones alongside a fail safe detonating system. On the night of march 26th, the 4 old steamers sailed 10 knots for the entrance to the harbor. Just before 2:30am their escorts departed and at 3:30am they were two miles from the harbor mouth when they were detected. A gun went off on Electric Hill signaling the presence of the enemy. Search lights blasted everywhere as the 4 steamers began a marathon while dodging incoming shell fire. The frontrunner, Chiyo was making good progress until the Russian destroyer Silny came in close and torpedoed her side. The steamers behind her were fired madly upon causing massive casualties as one by one sank. Two Japanese escort destroyers tried to fire torpedoes at the Silny and maged to hit her in the engine room. In the end both sides took casualties, but Port Arthur remained open. Makarov's patience was waning, on April 12th he was aboard the cruiser Diana searching for lost Russian destroyers who had been sent out to hunt the Japanese but failed to return. Diana's lookout spotted a ship and her captain requested permission to open fire. Makarov was not sure if the ship was the enemy or one of his own, so he simply said to approach it cautiously. Unbeknownst to Makarov it was another ruse. Togo had been studying the Russian warship maneuvers, schedules and behaviors. He had noticed a pattern, when ships approached port arthur, the Russians would come out to investigate them by going north and south and east to west under the protective range of the shore batteries. He had formed a plan, led by the Koryu Maru who was hiding in the area ready to lay mines at the harbor mouth. 48 mines had been laid at the harbor mouth. As daylight was coming upon the morning of April 13th, Makarov's force got close enough to the unidentified ship to realize it was the lost Strashni and she was being fired upon by 4 IJN destroyers. Strashni was being hit at point blank range, the majority of her crew were dead, she was a goner. Alerted by the naval fire, Makarov took the fleet in to battle. Cruiser Bayan was the first to arrive, joined by Askold, Diana and Novik. The Japanese quickly withdrew from them heading towards the main fleet. The slower Russian battleships were making their way with Petropavlosvk flying Makarovs flag, next to her was Poltava. They passed over the minefield without mishap. Makarov had ordered the area swept the previous night, but the sweep never occurred, he just got very lucky. Admiral Dewa watched the Russian fleet as they departed the harbor, Sevastopol, Peresvyet and Pobieda followed behind the flagship. Dewa sent word to Togo to spring the trap. Dewa opened fire drawing the Russians further south while Togo brought up the first division hoping for battle. When Makarov saw Togo's battleships on the horizon he quickly ordered his fleet to pull back under the range of their shore batteries. Aboard the Petropavlovsk was the grand duke Cyril, a cousin to the tsar, a famous artist named Vasili Verestchagin and Captain Crown. Makarov had expected a historic moment and wanted to share it with others. As Makarovs fleet got closer to the harbor he ordered the smaller warships to go inside it while the larger ships formed a line of battle. When the Japanese approached within 6 miles they would fall under the range of the shore batteries, Makarov expected a massacre upon them. Then at 9:43am a terrible explosion hit the bows of the Petropavlovsk rocking her, a second explosion ripped open a magazine and a third blew up her boiler. The ship quickly keeled over and went down bow first, as her propellers continued to spin. Within two minutes the flagship had hit 3 mines and fell under the waves, a complete disaster. The Japanese were only 10,000 yards away, cheering the explosive sounds. Togo ordered the men to take their caps off in silence when they realized it was Petropavlovsk that had struck the mines and sunk. At 10:15am Pobieda hit a mine, the Russians thought it was some sort of submarine attack and began firing wildly out the sea. When the Russians regained order they got back into the harbor one by one. Pobieda was the last to limp in. 630 men died aboard the Petropavlovsk, including Admiral Makarov, Vasili Verestchagin and Captain Crown, the Grand Duke Cyril had been launched off the warship from the explosion and although severely injured would survive. The death of Makarov shattered the morale of the Russian navy and in the motherland added fuel to an emerging revolutionary clamor. The Japanese fleet were anchored off Elliot island on the 14th when they received the confirmed news of Makarovs death. Togo read out the telegram from Reuters and he ordered his fleet to fly their flags at half mast to give a day of mourning for an honored opponent that they esteemed a samurai for his aggressive behavior. Makarovs death signaled an end to aggressive naval actions for quite some time. On May 3rd Togo launched further blocking actions. 8 steamers tried to perform the same suicidal mission as down twice before and failed like the others. Togo was so ashamed by the loss of life from these 3 missions that he stated the third mission had been a success, lying to the army. He did this under immense pressure, for it was his job to secure the sea lanes so Japanese troops could be safely landed along the Liaodong Peninsula. Luckily for him, the death of Makarov basically kept the Russian fleet bottled up in Port Arthur. Unluckily for him the Japanese saw their own losses to sea mines begin in May. On the 12th a destroyer hit a mine at Talienwan; the next day the battleship Hatsuse ran into a minefield laid out by the Amur and just like the Petropavlovsk was lost within a minute. She had hit two mines, one blew up her magazine, breaking apart her deck. The battleship Yashima closed in to help her but also hit a mine, but was able to limp away out of the sight of the Russians before she too sank. News of these ship losses were not released to the Japanese public. Chemulpo had been seized easily, the 12th division began landing there with ease. Now the 2nd, 12th and Guards division were of the 1st IJA, mobilized before the offset of the war. The Japanese held the advantage of being able to send troops faster via the sea, for the Russians the trans siberian railway still took a considerable amount of time. Thus the Japanese wanted to hit hard and fast, so alongside the 12th division the 2nd and guards were hoped to make a landing quickly after. The 12th division with some components of the 2nd division landed between the 17th and 22nd of February and began a quick march towards Pyongyang. The Japanese first entered Pyongyang on February 21st who quickly ran out some Cossacks. They set up supply posts enabling the rest of the 12th division to follow suit by the early march. Pyongyang became a focal point for supplies and provisions, the Japanese employed numerous Koreans for the logistical war effort. They bargained for provisions at a fair rate, for example purchasing pigs. A coolie army was hired, nearly 10,000 men strong. They were paid wages above the market norm and leaders amongst them received red bands to signify privileged positions within the Imperial Japanese Transport Corps. On March 18th the 12th division advanced from Pyongyang to Anju dislodged two squadrons of Cossack cavalry there. Patrols from the first IJA indicated Chinampo lying around the mouth of the Taitong diver would make for an excellent landing point for men and supplies. Thus the commander of the 1st IJA, General Kuroki dispatched some forces of the guards and 2nd division from Hiroshima to land and secure Chinampo on March 13th. By the end of March the entire 1st IJA had landed in Korea. By this point the Japanese were confused at the lack of Russian interference, unbeknownst to them the Tsar had issued a directive to Alexeiev to overt any Russian action against the Japanese in Korea. The Russians still believed there was a chance the Japanese would just skirmish on the borders and not advance into Manchuria. Thus Alexeiev ordered the forces to allow the Japanese to land “on the whole extent of the western coast of Korea as high as Chemulpo and to permit their exploration as far north as the Yalu”. While the Japanese were consolidating their logistical supply bases in Korea, the Russian logistics were facing countless problems. The Russians simply did not have the logistical organization that the Japanese had, they were basically living off the land. The Russians were coming into conflict with the local Manchurian populations who were actively resisting them. This was largely due to the recent war they just fought in Manchuria, Japanese funding Honghuzi forces and the Chinese and Koreans simply sympathize more with their fellow asian Japanese against the Russians. Honghuzi guerilla forces were working with Koreans along the northern border to harass the Russians, attacking and pillaging their supply lines. The Japanese war plan sought to have its 1st IJA attack and advance over the Yalu, while the 2nd IJA led by General Oku would land near Nanshan to cut Port Arthur off from the mainland. Now Kuroki's 1st IJA may have had better supply lines, but to move the entire army north into Manchuria was still a logistical nightmare. To be more efficient the 1st IJA would focus its bulk along the western part of Korea where sea access was easier. The port of Rikaho was selected as a new forward landing and supply base. After securing it the Japanese continued north towards the Yalu and by the second week of April were in the same spot their forebears had taken in August of 1894. By April 21st they were concentrating due south of Wiju drawing supplies from Chinampo, Boto and Rikaho. At this point many foreign military observers and correspondents were arriving. There was a deep hunger to study how new modern weaponry and tactics would work out on the battlefield, both the Russians and Japanese would have foreigners amongst them taking notes. It was an interesting time after all. Since the American Civil War, Taiping Rebellion and even Franco-Prussian War of 1870, military technology had advanced exponentially. There would be as many as a hundred foreign military observers from over 16 different nations in Manchuria and Korea during the war. This would also be exploited heavily for spying. Many of the observers were British who held obvious sympathies with the Japanese and thus would covertly hand over information. Now back on February 15th, General Kuropatkin presented the Tsar his campaign plan to win the war against Japan, a war might I note he never favored having. Kuropatkin estimated he would require 6 months to achieve a force of 200,000, the number he believed was necessary to undertake an offensive. Thus he sought to spend the 6 months assessing the Japanese strength while establishing strong defenses to the north of their perceived limit of advance. Basically he wanted to trade space for time, he did not seek to establish defenses too far south. But Kuropatkin was not the top brass, it was Alexeiev and Alexeiev ordered Kuropatkin not to abandon any territory. Thus Kuropatkin was forced to form a line of defenses near the Yalu. He dispatched General Zasulich, the new Eastern Detachment commander on April 22nd with specific orders “to retard the enemy in his passage; to determine his strength, dispositions and lines of march; to retreat as slowly as possible into the mountains”. Opposite and across the Yalu from Wiju is Chuliencheng, the town sits about 2 miles north of the river. The Yalu splits into two rivers and at the split point are a chain of islands. There were no bridges between the two banks, thus crossings would need to be made by small junks and sampans. Taking some of the islands in the Yalu was imperative to ease crossing points. At Fenghuangcheng the Yalu divided and going north became the Ai river. At the junction was a 500 foot high hill called Tiger's head another important strategic location the Japanese would have to seize. Closer to the mouth of the Yalu on the northern side was the fortified town of Antung, which the Russians believed was extremely vulnerable to a Japanese landing attack. The Russian forces at the Yalu consisted of the 3rd Siberian Army corps alongside our old friend General Mishchenko's trans-baikal cossack brigade. At Antung, led by Major General Kashtalinksi were 2580 riflemen, 400 cavalry scouts, 16 field guns and 8 machine guns. On the right flank 4 miles to the north at Tientzu was a reserve of 5200 riflemen and 16 guns; at Chuliencheng led by Major General Trusov were 5200 riflemen, 240 cavalry scouts and 16 guns. The right flank extended from the mouth of the Yalu to Takushan all under Mishchenkos command who held 1100 cavalry, 2400 riflemen, 8 field guns and 6 horse drawn guns. The left from going from Anpingho to Hsiapuhsiho around 40 miles northeast on the Yalu was 1250 cavalry, 1000 riflement and 8 mountain guns. Excluding the reserves, there were over 16,000 riflemen, 2350 cavalry, 630 cavalry scouts, 40 field guns, 8 mountain guns and 6 horse drawn guns covering a distance of over 170 miles. Facing them around Wiju would be a Japanese force of 42,500 men. The Russians had spread themselves out thinly along the river. At the base of numerous hills were Russian trenches, uncamouflaged, in full view from the opposite bank. The Russian artillery likewise was in full view, a large mistake. The Japanese had employed spies, often disguised as fisherman going along the rivers mapping out the Russian artillery positions, by the 23rd the Japanese had acquired the full layout and order of battle. General Kuroki made sure to conceal his strength and more importantly his main crossing point. Using screens of large trees and kaoliang, if you remember the boxer series that is a tall type of millet, well they used this type of cover to move their artillery and troops in secrecy. The Russians occupied the islands in the Yalu called Kyuri, Oseki and Kintei. On the 25th 6 batteries were brought up to support an infantry attack. IJN gunboats began harassing the forces at Antung as a diversion, trying to deceive the Russians into thinking their right flank was where the fighting would be had. At 9:45pm two battalions of the 2nd division crossed using pontoons to Kintei island completely unopposed. Sappers immediately went to work constructing bridges. At 4am a force of 250 soldiers of the Guards division landed and attacked 150 Russians on Kyuri, dislodging them at the cost of 12 men. The Russians quickly abandoned Kyuri and Kintei seeing them as lost causes, but suddenly without orders the men atop Tiger Hill also began withdrawing when they saw men leaving the islands. The Japanese engineers began constructing 10 bridges using pontoons as a feint attack was launched against Chuliencheng. A bridge was erected made up of native boats placed side by side going across the Yalu. This bridge was a decoy. Russian artillery fired upon numerous positions giving their locations away as the concealed Japanese artillery systematically took them out one by one. Over at Antung a small flotilla of 6 gunboats continued to harass the fort and trenches. The local commander was convinced the Japanese would land and attack, again this was a deception. After a few days Kuroki had all he needed to unleash a blow. He sought to advance to Tangshancheng, between Fenghuangcheng and Antung. He had orders to work in concert with the 2nd IJA's landing, this meant he was to a cross the Yalu on April 30th. However, Generals Oku, Kuorki and Admiral Togo met on April 25th where it was determined the deadline had to be pushed until May 1st or 2nd. Thus Kuroki was ordered to delay his attack until May 3rd. Kuroki concentrated his attention towards the weak Russian left flank. He required a crossing point over the Yalu to reconnoiter between the Yalu and Ai rivers. The Russians believed crossing the Ai would require boats, but the Japanese found a crossing point over at the right bank around Sukuchin. Kuroki had the 12th division focus on the right flank, the Guards in the middle to cross the Yalu via the Kyuri and Oseki islands to take a position on Chukodai island to the north and south of Tiger Hill, the 2nd division would hit the weak left. On May 1st the Japanese received some new toys from Chinampo, 20 4.72 inch howitzers organized into 5 batteries. Under the cover of darkness, these huge guns were placed into camouflaged trenches. Meanwhile back on the 29th of april the 12th division covertly crossed the Yalu during the night and moved 3 batteries into Chukyuri to cover the bridge making effort. At 11am on May 1st the Japanese artillery began firing, covering the 12th divisions as they crossed the right bank brushing aside light Russian opposition. Zasulich received word of this and tried to order reinforcements to Anpingho, but he still believed the activities of the 12th division to be a feint, a IJN flotilla was harassing Antung still. The reinforcements were thus delayed heavily. On april 29th and 4pm Zasulich despatched a battalion of the 22nd east Siberian rifle regiment with some mounted scouts and 2 guns to cross the Ai river and retake Tiger Hill. The Russians easily dislodged the Japanese platoon atop the hill who quickly joined their comrades over on Kyuri island. The next morning the Japanese could see the Russians digging in on Tiger Hill, so the Guards divisional artillery on a hill south of a bridge leading to Kyuri island opened fire on them. There was no artillery response from the Russian artillery. At 10am two groups of sappers set out in boats to survey the waters opposite of Chukodai and at 10:30 were fired upon by a battery on some high ground north east of Chuliencheng. 6 4.72 inch batteries of the 12th division responded and within 16 minutes the Russian battery was neutralized suffering the deaths of 5 officers and 29 men. Another Russian battery east of Makau began firing and was smashed quickly by the Guards artillery. Major General Kashtalinski took command of the Chuliencheng sector from Major General Trusov who became ill on April 28th. So severely had the Russian artillery and infantry suffered from the Japanese artillery, that at 11pm on April 30th, Kashtalinski requested permission from Zasulich to withdraw to some hills behind Chuliencheng. Zasulich refused this as Alexeiev's orders were clear, not to give up any ground. Zasulich then received news, the men on Tigers Hill had abandoned it fearing encirclement, some elements of the Guards and 12th division linked up and took it. The 12th division were advancing in three columns towards the Ai river during the night and as Thomas Cowen of the Daily Chronicle reported “The men had to march, wade, wait their turn at a plank bridge or shallow ford, help each other up a slippery bank, pass, in single file sometimes, through a willow copse, wait, climb, jump, mud-scramble, and march again, for about six hours, getting into positions, ‘lining out' in front of the long-extending Russian trenches. No light was allowed, nor a voice above an undertone, for the most part there were no roads to march on, but the men had to cross fields, grope in the gloom for strange paths, or struggle past obstructions where no path could be found, using dry water-courses as tracks till they led into pools, over stubbly cornfields, in and out among tenantless farm buildings, up country lanes and hillside footpaths, each officer and NCO peering into the gloom, feeling his way to the appointed spot, consulting a rough sketch plan and drawing his men after him.” At 3am the Russian 12th regiment reported back to Zasulich that they heard the sounds of wheels on the islands and believed artillery were crossing bridges, he did nothing. At 5am the morning fog dissipated and the Russians could now see opposite of them at Chuliencheng to Salankou at a distance of 6 miles, 3 Japanese divisions were in trenches waiting to pounce on them. Regimental priests egan sermons just before the scream of Japanese howitzers broke the morning quiet. The Japanese artillery were focused first on hunting Russian artillery, eventually some batteries at Makau fired back and within a few minutes were silenced. After this the Japanese artillery focused its full weight upon the Russian infantry in their trenches absolutely devastating them. In view of the lack of Russian artillery fire, Kuroki changed his plans somewhat and ordered the 12th division to perform an encirclement maneuver prior to the Guards and 2nd divisions attacks. By 7am all 3 Japanese divisions were advancing. The Japanese stormed out of their trenches and rushed along the 200 yard wide waters of the Ai to the various crossing points like ants going through funnels. The Japanese troops carrying packs full with rations for 3 days moved as fast as they could through the water before being hit by the first Russian volley at a range of around 500 yards, about halfway across the river. It was an extreme range for the Russian rifles, but with the Japanese so packed up it was brutal. The Japanese did not loss momentum and soon were charging through Russian volleys up the river bank and knolls. Japanese officers began screaming ‘take cover and fire at will”. The 2nd division suffered tremendous casualties around Chuliencheng. The Japanese leapfrogged forward using fire and movement to great effect and soon were crashing into the forward Russian positions. When the Russians abandoned their forward positions for interior lines the Japanese artillery devestated them. The 12th east Siberian rifle regiment made a brave but hopeless counterattack and were swept aside. By 10am the main body of the Russian force were in a full retreat at Chuliencheng. The Japanese tried to storm a the road leading to Fenghuangcheng due north of Chuliencheng, but the full weight of the Russian retreat dislodged them. General Kashtalinski watched in horror as the right flank collapsed, however there was still hope. If Colonel Gromov held the left flank, they could maintain thir foothold on the Yalu. Colonel Gromov and his men were holding a position on the forward slopes overlooking the Ai river in the area of Potetientzu. His command held two battalions of the 22nd regiment and his focus was upon the right side where the guards division were now getting over the river and penetrated his thinly held line. Gromov then received news the 12th division were beggining to get over their part of the river. Gromov went over to see it for himself and he estimated there to be around 5 or 6 battalions advancing directly upon his position. He had no choice, he orderd a partial withdrawal, and as best as he could he tried to maintain order but a general withdrawal emerged as the Japanese gradually turned his flank. Gromov's intent was to pull back to Chingkou, but the rapid advance of the Japanese forces him to saddle between Chingkou and Laofangkou. Other than Gromov's two battalions, the Russians were maintaining a reasonble withdrawal to defensive lines further back around the Hantuhotzu stream around two miles beyond the Ai. The force at Antung were being shelled by the IJN gunboats, aside from that they alongside the reserves at Tientzu had done basically nothing in the battle thus far. Kuroki ordered the Guards to occupy some hills above Hamatang, the 2nd division to advance upon Antung and the 12th to advance southwards to Taloufang. The 12th swept right through Chingkou en route to Hamatang smashing Gromov's men. General Kashtalinksi's men held the Guards and 2nd division back along the Hantuhotzu giving General Zasulich time to withdraw his troops at Antung to Tientzu. To over this withdrawal two battalions of the 11th east siberian regiment and a battery were detached to bolster Kashtalinski's position along the Hantuhotzu. The Guards and 2nd division had to wait for their artillery to catch up to them as the 12th were putting pressure on Gromov's men. At 12:15pm Gromov was forced to pull back to Liuchiakou and he sent a messenger to report such to General Kashtalinski's HQ. At 1pm a messenger of General Zasulich arrived at Gromov's HQ ordering him to retreat via Laochoutun. Meanwhile the messenger failed to get to Kashtalinski until 4pm, thus Kashtalinski would have literally no idea and thought everything was holding. Later Gromov would be courtmartialled for withdrawing the way he did. He would be exonerated later, but before that occurred he would shoot himself in shame. Around 12pm Kashtalinski received word to his surprise that Gromov was withdrawing from Chingkou with the 22nd regiment in disarray and that the Japanese had seized Liuchiakou. His scouts were also telling him the Japanese were advancing on Laofangkou. Kashtalinski wanted to see this for himself douting his own scouts. What he saw was a complete disaster and he quickly ordered an immediate withdrawal from Hantuhotzu to Tientzu. His rearguard was the 11th company of the 22nd regiment who took up a position on a 570 foot high hill east of Hamatang. At around 2pm the 5th company of the 24th IJA regiment, the 12th divisions vanguard smashed into the southeast part of the Hamatang defensive line. Soon the 5th company held a blocking position forcing the retreating Russians to move further south of the 570 foot hill. Three batteries of the 12th division the narrived and began smashing Hamatang as the Guards and 2nd divisions men stormed forward positions. The 11th east Siberian regiment buckled and began fleeing into the valley beyond Hamatang already 26 officers and 900 men had been killed. The valley was around a mile wide, extremely open with fields extending up hillsides. There was basically no cover at all and when the Japanese took the heights they had an excellent view into the valley to fire upon the fleeing Russians. Suddenly the regiments priest in full regalia, grabbed a large cross and stood up. The surrounding surviving Russians around him stood up and the priest led the men through the valley to safety as he cried out “god have mercy” for Russians were being blown to pieces all around them. The priest was hit by 3 bullets before he fell bleeding over his cross as soldier grabbed him and carried him to the other side. The firing gradually lessened as the Japanese shouted banzais atop their hills and saluted the Russians withdrawing before them. The hero priest was evacuated to the Red Cross hospital at Mukden where he made a full physical recovery, though psychological he did not, he reportedly went insane. The carnage was not found so great everywhere. 650 men of the 24th and 56th regiments who were holding out on a hill south east of Hamatang were pounced upon by a company of the guards division who screamed Banzai charging with their bayonets. The Russains lifted up a white flag and the Japanese allowed them to surrender. At 5:30pm the sun was setting across the battlefield, it had been a truly bloody sight. 2700 Russians lay dead, wounded or captured. The Japanese reported 1036 casualties. The Russians had lost 45 artillery pieces, 8 machine guns and 19 wagons full of munitions. The Japanese did not pursue the Russians fleeing to Liaoyang or Fenghuangcheng. I would like to take this time to remind you all that this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Please go subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry after that, give my personal channel a look over at The Pacific War Channel at Youtube, it would mean a lot to me. The Russian fleet was trapped firmly with the harbor of Port Arthur allowing the Japanese to commence their land campaigns. The first major battle was at along the Yalu river which turned a crimson red with the blood of both sides. It was going to be a terrible war.