Operation Cartwheel

The War in the Pacific

Australasia 1943.1215

Operation Cartwheel

Australia, New Zealand and World War II in the South Pacific (15 December 1943)

Historical Map of Australia, New Zealand & the Southwest Pacific

Their successes in New Guinea and Guadalcanal encouraged the Allies to push north through the Solomons. Meanwhile a second American force under the US Navy began a thrust into the Central Pacific by landing in the Gilbert Islands.

Main Events

New Georgia Campaign

On 21 June US marines land near Segi Point, in Japanese-occupied New Georgia, and advance inland towards Viru Harbour, where they are reinforced by more marines on 30 June. At the same time other units land on the adjacent islands of Rendova and Vanganu. Though the landings are unopposed on land, Japanese aircraft harass them in multiple naval actions and resistance in the interior is fierce. It is not until late August that New Georgia is pacified.

Landing at Lae

Australian troops from the 9th Division, supported by US naval forces from the VII Amphibious Force, land at two beaches to the east of Lae, in the Territory of New Guinea. The landing was conducted in conjunction with a US-Australian airborne landing at Nadzab, with the two forces converging to capture Lae from the Japanese on 16 September.

Landings at Cape Torokina

Men of the 3rd US Marine Division land at Cape Torokina, on Bougainville Island in the Territory of New Guinea, under the direction of Rear Admiral Theodore Wilkinson. Unloading 14,000 troops in just eight hours, Wilkinson leaves the marines to overwhelm the Japanese defenders, who resist until they are all killed.

Battle of Tarawa

In the first United States offensive in the Central Pacific region, 35,000 US troops, including 18,000 Marines, land on Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands, facing immediate serious opposition from the some 4,800 Japanese defenders (including laborers). The Japanese resist almost to the last man, with only 17 soldiers and 129 laborers captured.

Battle of Arawe

As part of Operation Cartwheel, US forces land at Arawe, in Japanese-occupied southwest New Britain in the Territory of New Guinea. The landing catches the Imperial Japanese Army by surprise and the Americans quickly secure a beachhead. In response, the Japanese mount a number of air raids on the invaders, while their army launching an unsuccessful counterattack in late December. The US respond with their own offensive in mid-January 1944, after which the Japanese decide to abandon Arawe and withdraw north.

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