Into the Shadows Furious: The World War II Assault on New Georgia

Into the Shadows Furious: The World War II Assault on New Georgia

Into the Shadows Furious: The World War II Assault on New Georgia

Into the Shadows Furious: The World War II Assault on New Georgia

Synopsis

By the spring of 1943, now that Guadalcanal had finally been secured, it was time to move farther up the Solomons in the drive against Rabaul, the major Japanese headquarters & air base situated at the northeastern end of New Britain. The next obstacle up "the slot" from Guadalcanal was the Japanese air base at Munda on the island of New Georgia. The plan was simple: the Army's 43d Division lands on suitable beaches situated east of the Munda airbase & attacks west to secure the airbase while a brigade-size force of Marines lands to the north of Munda & drives south to capture Bairoko Harbor, thereby preventing evacuation of the Japanese defenders by sea. American planners were unaware, however, that the Japanese commander, Maj. Gen. Sasaki, had prepared a series of strong defensive positions & roadblocks on the trails east from Munda, the same trails that the Americans were counting on to speed their attack. These defenses, combined with incredibly difficult terrain, slowed the 43d Division to a crawl. New Georgia was not secured until August 25, three weeks behind schedule. And, General Sasaki had managed to evacuate to safety the bulk of his forces. With evocative, almost surrealistic prose, author Altobello places the reader on the trails to Munda with the American soldiers from this now almost forgotten campaign: "The jungle hissed as the men readied themselves for their first encounter with fear. Everything around them shimmered with movement from the jungle's huge population of small creatures. The earth itself seemed to crawl."

Excerpt

Any discussion of the Southwest Pacific and South Pacific Areas in World War II must begin with the mighty Japanese stronghold at Rabaul on the extreme northeastern tip of New Britain in the Bismarck Islands. in January 1942, an insignificant Australian garrison was overwhelmed there, and the Japanese quickly began construction of three more airdromes, adding to the two that were already in place. Blessed with one of the best harbors in this vast region, it was rapidly stocked with thousands of tons of the finest ships in the Imperial Navy. Its five airfields soon accommodated hundreds of fighters and bombers in support of the more than one hundred thousand infantry who were with a large surplus of tanks and artillery. Possession of Rabaul gave the Japanese access to and domination over the Solomon Islands to the southeast and New Guinea to the southwest. Even more menacing, Rabaul was only 436 miles from Port Moresby on the southern coast of Papua New Guinea, the Allied base that was the protective shield for Australia. If Port Moresby were lost, the Japanese would be only three hundred short miles from the vulnerable Australian coast. Rabaul thus became a threatening fist waving in the direction of Darwin, Townsville, Brisbane, and points farther south.

So many ships and warplanes were sent to Rabaul that by May 1942 it rivaled Truk as the principal citadel of Japanese military power in the Pacific. Australian prime minister John Curtin was understandably anxious, for his best divisions were away fighting in the Middle East. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. responded by ordering the 32nd and 41st Infantry Divisions to Australia. Additional Allied troops were sent to the Fijis, New Zealand, New Caledonia, the New . . .

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