Lat 5° 31' 0S Long 148° 31' 0E Cape Gloucester is located on the western tip of the northern coast of New Britain. Known to the Japanese as "Tuluvu". Today located in West
New Britain Province of Papua
New Guinea (PNG).
On December 17, 1942 at dawn destroyer Tachikaze and Patrol Boat No. 39 landed 350 Japanese troops at Cape Gloucester, under cloud cover. The detachment under the overall command of Major Kiyomitsu Mukai, the construction battalion commander, rapidly secured Cape Gloucester Airfield (No 1 Strip) and established a 40 km beachhead area. Starting in late 1942, the area was attacked by Allied aircraft conducting bombing and strafing missions.
Allied missions against Cape Gloucester
December 23, 1942 - January 29, 1944
The Americans wanted to capture Cape Gloucester to gain an airfield nearer to Rabaul. On December
15, the U. S. Army's 112th Cavalry
an assault on the Arawe to the
southeast of Cape Gloucester as a diversionary attack to distract
the Japanese from the main Marine landing at Cape Gloucester.
On December 26, 1943, the First
Marine Division commanded by Major General William H. Rupertus
(veteran of Haiti, China and Guadalcanal) landed at Cape
Gloucester after a brief naval bombardment and aerial smoke screen,
landing at Yellow Beach 1 & 2 and Green
Beach. The Marines faced swampy terrain and thick jungle,
but met only rear-echelon Japanese troops. Some criticized the landing unnecessary, as the
Allies already had total control of the Huon
of New Guinea.
Two new weapons
were introduced during the battle: the M1 Garand rifle and M4A1 Sherman
tank. Also, L-4 and L-5 Liaison planes were used for spotting, supply drops
and message relay. Once secured, the Marines advanced
eastward along the north coast capturing the Willaumez Peninsula. Once the area was secured, the Marines were
relived by the U. S. Army 40th Division, commanded by Major General
Rapp Brush who were later relieved by the Australian 5th Division.
Cape Gloucester Airfield (Tuluvu)
Located at the northern most tip of Cape Gloucester.
Its construction was begun by the Australians, finished by the
Japanese and improved by the Americans after liberation.
Ran aground July 27, 1943 off Cape Gloucester, sunk by Army aircraft July 28
B-25D "Here's Howe" Serial Number 41-30279
Hit by US Navy anti-aircraft fire and crashed.
B-25D "Crabb 2nd" Serial Number 41-30517
Hit by US Navy anti-aircraft fire ditched and crew made it ashore in raft
USS Brownson (DD-518)
Sunk December 26, 1943 by Val dive bombers off Cape Gloucester off Yellow Beach
(Yellow Beach 1 & 2)
to the east of Cape Gloucester airfield. Yellow Beach 1 (Webber)
was the site of the initial landing at 7:46am. The landing at Yellow
Beach 2 (Williams) followed at 7:48am. Remains of some
landing craft are present on the beach. While
moving inland into a large swamp, Captain Joseph A. Terzi commander
of Company K was killed by fire from a camouflaged bunker and posthumously
awarded a Navy Cross for valor leading the attack. Today, between the strip and the government
station are abandoned American Armored Personnel Carriers (APC).
Point located to the south-east of the Yellow Beach
landing areas, including Target Hill, Suicide Creek and Hill 150,
Hill 660 and Aogiri Ridge.
High ground located to the left flank of the Yellow beaches, near
Silimati Point. Captured December 26, 1943 by assault
battalions of the 7th Marines.
Counter attacked by Col. Kenshiro Katayama 141st Infantry. Japanese
believed only 2,500 Marines were ashore (10% of the actual number).
Scaling up the hill on the night of January 2-3, 1944 they attacked
failing to probe the line first and were repulsed.
Site of diversionary landing by 1,500 Marines that landed December
26 at 07:48a but met no opposition. Hampered by weather and unable
to find the trail they were supposed to block, they were not attacked
until dawn on December 30, one Marine Gunnery Sgt Guiseppe Guilano,
Jr. earned the Navy Cross for firing a 30 cal mg from the hip at
attackers. The attack left 6 KIA, 17 WIA Marines and 89 KIA and 5
Blue Beach (Hell's Point)
Landing beach three miles to the west of Yellow Beach, closer
to the airfield. 1st Marines, 3rd Battalion (Col Hawkins) landed
at the flank of the point. Defended by the Japanese with bunkers, it
was attacked by Marines and Sherman tanks. 9 KIA 36 WIA Marines an
estimated 260 KIA Japanese. After the defense was destroyed, the landing
beach was used beginning on the morning of December 29.
Near the airstrip many huts use Marston
Matting for fencing.
This creek is located to the north-west of Target Hill. Japanese had defenses
built around this location. On January 3, tanks first tried to cross but
were unable. A bulldozer worked to create a lip allowing Sherman tanks to
cross while fired on by the Japanese. The next morning the tanks crossed
and proceeded to Aogiri Ridge.
(Hill 150, Walt's Ridge)
This ridge was located to the west of Hill 150. The Japanese
had a supply dump at this location. Marines proceeded towards this
objective after crossing Suicide Creek. Resistance persisted, including
the wounding of Lt. Col. David MacDougal (CO 5th Marines, 3rd Battalion)
and his EO, Major Joseph Skoczylas, forcing Col Puller to temporarily
assume command, before Col. Lewis Walt assumed command. The largest
weapon that Marines could get to the ridge was 37mm gun that had to
be pushed up the ridge while gunners were killed or wounded. Clinging
to their holds, the Marines repulsed counterattacks. Renamed Walt's
ridge for their commander's leadership, who received the Naval Cross
for his actions.
Hill 660 (Manjuyama)
Located to the south-east of Aorgigi Ridge and
Hill 150. After occupying Hill 150 and Aorogiri Ridge, Marines advanced
again without tanks support and were forced to scale the hill while Japanese
fired downward from hastily constructed trenches. On January 16, 1944 two
companies of Japanese counter attacked the hill, but were killed by mortar
and artillery fire. Survivors tried to break the line but failed. The
capture of Hill 660 ended the assault.
Japanese strong point that was flanked by the Marines, then abandoned by the Japanese.
Captured by company C & D of the 5th Marines.
Air War by Richard Dunn
The National "War
On Our Shores" by
Sam Vulum July 17, 2001
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December 26, 2018