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To Admiral William F. Halsey
April 3, 1944 [Radio No. W-17832.] Washington, D.C.
For Halsey from Marshall.
I should appreciate your passing the following from me on to Army Corps commander at Empress Augusta Bay: “Congratulations to you and all the troops involved in the fighting on Bougainville. Judging from reports it is evident that the hostile offensive was met with skill and offensive blows with the utmost economy of life on our side and extremely heavy Japanese losses. The close fighting on Bougainville coupled with that on New Britain and Manus Island and the naval and air strikes on Truk, Rabaul, Wewak, Hollandia and finally Palau and Woleai, present a picture of catastrophe to the Japanese high command.”1
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed radio message.
1. The American beachhead at Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville, was held by Major General Oscar W. Griswold’s Fourteenth Corps (Thirty-seventh and Americal divisions). The Japanese launched a counterattack on March 8 which was halted by March 27. Effective Japanese resistance on Bougainville ended, although skirmishing continued into early April. United States ground forces landed on New Britain Island on December 15 and 26, 1943; on February 23, 1944, the Japanese began to retreat toward Rabaul. In the Admiralties, U.S. Army forces landed on Manus Island on March 15. Serious fighting ended there on March 18, although the Admiralties Island Group was not declared secure until May 18. (John Miller, Jr., CARTWHEEL: The Reduction of Rabaul, a volume in the United States Army in World War II [Washington: GPO, 1959], pp. 280-95, 340-48, 351-78; Samuel Eliot Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, 22 July 1942-1 May 1944, a volume in the History of United States Naval Operations in World War II [Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1950], pp. 425-31.)
Meanwhile, Southwest Pacific Area ground-based and U.S. Navy carrier-based air forces launched major operations designed to eliminate Japanese offensive power south and east of the Philippines. A naval carrier task force launched devastating attacks on the key Japanese base at Truk in the Caroline Islands on February 16 and 17. On February 19 they attacked Rabaul, and the next day the Japanese withdrew their remaining fighter planes, ending Rabaul’s offensive capability. (Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, pp. 402-3.)
In preparation for the April 22 Allied amphibious landings in the Hollandia region of New Guinea, Allied air units attacked Japanese forces at Wewak and Hollandia in March and early April. In late March, U.S. Navy Task Force planes attacked the Palaus and other targets in the western Carolines, destroying 150 Japanese planes, six combat ships, and 104,000 tons of merchant or naval auxiliary shipping. (Robert Ross Smith, The Approach to the Philippines, a volume in the United States Army in World War II [Washington: GPO, 1953], pp. 20-27, 48-53.)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 385-386.