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Retaking the Pacific after Pearl Harbour

Here is a sample of how the chaplain John D. Wolf could give a history lesson in a nutshell…

On October 24, 1944, he announced that the ship was about to head for New Guinea. He says:

It was here that the decisive land battle has been fought that actually decided the fate of Japan in the South Pacific.
In March of 1942, MacArthur decided to hold on to Port Moresby, southeast tip of New Guinea, the last harbor north of Australia still controlled by the Allies. The Japanese needed Port Moresby as a base to launch an invasion against Australia. So they started four drives, failing in all four at the battles of the Coral Sea, Milne Bay, Buna and Sanananda, and the Owen Stanley Mountains [where Allied forces, mainly Australian, fought in the jungle on the 96 km Kokoda Track, in the then Australian territory of Papua]. The Battle of the Coral Sea was the Navy’s first complete victory of the war and together with Midway can be cited as the turning point in the war. At Coral Sea we lost the Lexington, a destroyer and tanker.

Our toehold on New Guinea wasn’t secure however, until after the Battle of the Bismarck Sea when 136 Allied planes virtually wiped out a Japanese convoy that was attempting to reinforce Lae.

Then came the victories of Lae, Salamaua and Finschhafen, the neutralization of the Bismarcks, the capture of the Admiraltys and Emirau.

The Hollandia attack was backed by relentless aerial surprise attacks. The Japanese had built a big base at Aitape and a bigger one at Hollandia [a port on the north coast of New Guinea, and part of the Dutch East Indies]. Three brilliantly executed attacks on Hollandia destroyed or irreparably damaged all 288 planes there.

Then we made the boldest move of the Southwest Pacific War. On April 22nd, 1944, the strongest assault force ever assembled in this area, struck New Guinea at three points. The Japanese took to the hills and we seized the three big airdromes at Hollandia. This maneuver had caught the Japanese flat footed. Expecting an attack on Wewak they had transferred 3000 Marines there and left Hollandia guarded by service troops.

From then on it was just more of the same. On the 30th of July, when we landed at Sansapor [in Dutch New Guinea] we have occupied all strategic centers in New Guinea. Then it was Morotai [Dutch East Indies] and then Leyte [The Philippines]. For these later operations Hollandia has served as the headquarters of General MacArthur…


See Amen! Until Tomorrow. Retaking the Pacific after Pearl Harbor, by John D. Wolf. (Fairway Press, Ohio).