World War II New Guinea Campaign: Western (Dutch) New Guinea (1944)

World War II New Guinea
Figure 1.--Holandia was the key to wesrern New Guinea. Once Holandia fell, New Guinea including the western part of the island was in Allied hands (July 1944). The press caption read, "Sobs gor mama: The smile Sgt. George C Yount, Fresno, Calif. provides is spurned as the nativ boyh yells for his mother somwhre in Dutch New Guinea." The phoograph was dated Movember 5, 1944.

The western half of New Guinea was part of the Dutch East Indies (DEI). The Japanese had occupied The Dutch portion of the island (early-1942). Mauritz Christiaan Kokkelink organized a resistance effort. Unlike the main DEI islands, there was a very small Dutch presence. Hollandia was a port along the north central coast of New Guinea on the shore of Humboldt Bay. It was close to the border with Australian New Guinea. It was the only important anchorage between Wewak to the east in Australian New Guinea and Geelvink Bay to the west in the DEI. Holandia became an important base for the Japanese in their drive east into Australian New Guinea. Holandia thus became a major objective in the Allied drive west. The Allied South West Pacific Command decided that Holandia had to be seized and developed into an important staging area for the advance west along the north coast of New Guinea aspart of the liberation of the Philippines. The Allies (Americans and Australians) in a series of operations which bypassed important Japanese strong points and seized control of northeastern New Guinea which had been an Austrlian Mandate (1942-43). General MacArthur saw the New Guinea campaign as a southen prong aimed at the eventul liberation of the Philippines. The northern prong was pursued by the Pacific Fleet under Admirl Nimitz. This confused the Japanese who did not have the resources to resit one if the prongs let alone two. The two prongs kept the Japanese off balance as they were unsure where and when the Allies would strike next. The Allies were ready to begin the Western campaign (early-1944). The Admiralty Islands were secured providing an air bases covering a seaborn inasion forece (March 1944) U.S. I Corps launched the Western Campaign (April 22, 1944). Operation Reckless landings at Holandia were launched simultaneously with Operation Persecution, amphibious landings at Aitape to the east. Holandia was the first target in the Dutch portion of New Guinea. The Japanese were unprepared and unable to hold the area. They withdrew to a defensive line in the west. This was their last substantial effort to hold the east of the island. They abandonment all positions that were not already cut off. Hollandia also provided nother important air base. With air cover, the next Allied move was 125 miles west to land on the New Guinea coast near Wakde Island (May 17). The next day the Allies landed on Wake to seize the airfield there (May 18). This was quickly followed by landings on Biak Island (May 27). Biak Island was 900 miles southeast of the Philippines. This was the first time the Allies pierced the 1,000 mile circle around the Philippines. The Japanese resisted fiercely. General Krueger, the U.S. Sixth Army Commander, could not declare the operation complete for over 2 months (August 20). The Japanese considered Biak vital. They thus made a major effort to reinforce the defenders. The Japanese Navy had not intervened to resist the Allied offensive in New Guinea. The High Command decided to assemble a naval force to resupply the Biak garrison (early-June). They achieved a limited success against a supprised Allied naval force. The Japanese were still not fully aware of the immense scale of the resources being assembeld against them. They were unaware that a huge American naval force was bearing down on the Marianas, they moved half their land-based aircraft in the Carolines and the Marianas to western New Guinea, tosupport efforts to retake Biak. To late to redeploy, the U.S. Pacific Fllet approachd the Marianas. MacArthur pressed his attack. American troops landed on Noemfoor Island, some 90 miles west of Biak (July 2). Other units moved toward the western tip of New Guinea (late-July). The next target was Morotai Islnd, a DEI island about equal distance between western New Guinea and the southern Philippines. The Allies began bombing Morotai (August) and seized the island (mid-September). The Americans were now only 300 miles from the southern Philippines. Isolated Japanese units continued to resist even after cut off. No units surender and few individuals. Fighting in western New Guinea thus continued until the end of the war. The isolated Japanese were in very bad shape, many close to starvation.

Dutch Colony

New Guinea was a huge island and along with Solomons to the east, among the most isolated places on earth. The population eaked out a Stone Age existence. The eastern half of the island was colonized by the British and Germans and at the time of World War II adminitered by the Australians. The western half of New Guinea was a Dutch colony, adjacent to the Dutch East Indies (DEI).

Japanese Occupation

The Japanese had occupied The Dutch or easern portion of the island with virtually no resistance (early-1942). Given the size of New Guinea and the limited size of the Japanese occupation force, it took some time to gain full control. Some of the offshore islands were not even occupied until late-1943 as the Allies pushed west along the northern coast.

Importance

Unlike the DEI, New Guinea did not have the key resources that caused the Japanese to launch the Pacific War and seize the Southern Resource Zone (SRZ). Even so, New Guinea became a primary battle fround of the Pacif War. In the first year of the War, the Japanese saw it as a necessary steping stone in the occupation or isolatation of Australia--the last imprtant Allied bastion in the South Pacific. After the Japanese offensives wre stopped at Midway and Guadalcanal, the Allies saw it as a stepping stone to attacks on the Japanese held DEI and the liberation of the Philippines.

Resistance

Mauritz Christiaan Kokkelink organized a resistance effort. Unlike the main DEI islands, there was a very small Dutch presence.

Holandia

Hollandia was a port along the north central coast of New Guinea on the shore of Humboldt Bay. It was close to the border with Australian New Guinea. It was the only important anchorage between Wewak to the east in Australian New Guinea and Geelvink Bay to the west in the DEI. Holandia became an important base for the Japanese in their drive east into Australian-administered New Guinea. Holandia thus became a major objective in the Allied drive west. The Allied South West Pacific Command decided that Holandia had to be seized and developed into an important staging area for the advance west along the north coast of New Guinea as part of the liberation of the Philippines--MacArthur's priority objective.

Allied Twin Pacific Prongs

The Allied Pacific War strategy was to develop a two prong strategy in attacking the Japanese Empire and its vast Pacific conquests. The southern prong was to seize yhe Solomons, neutralize NRaaul and then drive west along the southern coast of New Guinea. The Allies (Americans and Australians) in a series of operations which bypassed important Japanese strong points and seized control of northeastern New Guinea which had been an Austrlian Mandate (1942-43). General MacArthur saw the New Guinea campaign as a southen prong aimed at the eventul liberation of the Philippines. The northern prong was pursued in the Central Paciic by the Pacific Fleet under Admiral Nimitz. This confused the Japanese who did not even have the resources to resit one of the prongs let alone two. The two prongs kept the Japanese off balance as they were unsure where and when the Allies would strike next.

Military Operations in Eastern New Guinea

The Allies after seizing western New Guinea were ready to begin the Western campaign (early-1944). The Admiralty Islands were secured providing an air bases covering a seaborn inasion forece (March 1944) U.S. I Corps launched the Western Campaign (April 22, 1944). Operation Reckless landings at Holandia were launched simultaneously with Operation Persecution, amphibious landings at Aitape to the east. Holandia was the first target in the Dutch portion of New Guinea. The Japanese were unprepared and unable to hold the area. They withdrew to a defensive line in the west. This was their last substantial effort to hold the east of the island. They abandonment all positions that were not already cut off. Hollandia also provided nother important air base. With air cover, the next Allied move was 125 miles west to land on the New Guinea coast near Wakde Island (May 17). The next day the Allies landed on Wakde to seize the airfield there (May 18). This was quickly followed by landings on Biak Island (May 27). Biak Island was 900 miles southeast of the Philippines. This was the first tome the Allies pierced the 1,000 mile circle around the Philippines. The Japanese resisted fiercely. General Krueger, the U.S. Sixth Army Commander, could not declare the operation complete for over 2 months (August 20). Th Japanese considered Bial vital. They thus made a major effot to rinforce the defenders. The Japanese Navy had not intervened resisted the Allied offensive in New Guinea. The High Command decided to assemble a naval force to resupply the Biak garrison (early-June). They achievd a limited success against a supprised Allied naval force. The Japanese were still not aware of the immense scale of the resources being asembeled against them. They were unaware that a huge American naval force was bearing down on the Marianas, they moved half their land-based aircraft in the Carolines and the Marianas to western New Guinea, to support efforts to retake Biak. To late to redeploy, the U.S. Pacific Fllet approachd the Marianas. MacArthur pressed his attack. American troops landed on Noemfoor Island, some 90 miles west of Biak (July 2). Other units moved toward the western tip of New Guinea (late-July). The next target was Morotai Islnd, a DEI island about equal distance between western New Guinea and the southern Philippines. The Allies began bombing Morotai (August) and seized the island (mid-September). The Americans were now only 300 miles from the southern Philippines. Isolated Japanese units continued to resist even after cut off. No units surender and few individuals. Fighting in western New Guinea thus continued until the end of the war. The isolated Japanese were in very bad shape, many close to starvation.






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Created: 7:08 AM 6/27/2014
Last updated: 7:43 PM 12/16/2016