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    Wakde Island Irian Jaya Indonesia

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February 28, 1943
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May 15, 1944
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1944

Location
Lat 1° 55' 60S Long 139° 1' 0E  Island located roughly 225 miles east of Biak Island. Offshore is Insoemanai Island (Insoemar).

Wartime History
During April 1942, occupied by the Japanese during their occupation of the Netherlands East Indies. Developed into an airfield by the Japanese, construction activity was first noted by American reconnaissance aircraft during February 1943 and by June a single coral surfaced runway 5,400' x 390' was constructed. By September, the Japanese had expanded the base further with a radio station and quarters for 1,000 personnel.

During 1944, the Japanese force consisted of 763 defenders had constructed 100 pillboxes and bunkers and used 12 caves defending their positions with armaments from aircraft including 20mm cannons and machine guns.

American Liberation
On May 15, 1944 after an unopposed landing at nearby Arara, US Navy Task Force 77, commanded by RAdm William M. Fechteler, landed an amphibious force on Wakde Island during "Operation Straight Line" the US Army 41st Infantry Division, 163rd Regimental Combat Team (RCT) with the 3rd Engineer Special Brigade, 593d Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment (EBSR) landed on the island. After two days of bitter fighting and moping up, the US Army prevailed at the cost of 40 KIA and 107 WIA. Nearly the entire Japanese force died in the battle: 759 KIA and only 4 POWs were taken alive.

On May 18, 1944 Wakde was declared secured. By May 31, 1944, two battalions of the 163rd were pulled off Wakde and rushed to Biak, where the other elements of the 41st Division landed four days earlier and were engaged in heavy fighting. On September 1, 1944, the US Army 33rd Infantry Division, 123rd Regimental Combat Team RCT relieved the 41st Division and defended Wakde Island and the Toem-Sarmi sector until January 26, 1945.

American & Japanese missions against Wakde
April 7, 1944 - July 10, 1944

Today
During November 2005, several Japanese researchers, along with Indonesian security apparatus members and local people, have found thousands of skeletons of Japanese soldiers inside a cave on Wakde Island. Along with the skeletons, the researchers discovered weapons, military helmets, manual telescopes and other equipment. [Japan Today | Japan Times ]

Wakde Airfield
Built by the Japanese, occupied by American forces and developed into a major base

References
Japanese Operations at Wakde Island by Richard Dunn

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Last Updated
August 27, 2014

 

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