Wednesday, 23 November 2011

new georgia islands

Giving a lecture today to some people on Patriotism I said that there would be no possible way that I'd get killed for it  the reason being that if David Cameron handed me a rifle my reply would be "Yes Sir I'll be right behind you". Only one son of the American senators took part in front line action in the Gulf War so hey fuck you Mr Poltician but I've got a life to lead, beers to drink, women to meet and the whole ca-bang, you go first I'll follow up. That way you'll never have to go to war. Most politicians are in B.Company, b here when you go and be here when you get back , if you get back. Nevertheless I like the history of war , everything is in it. This is about the Marines.[linked image]
The New Georgia group of islands was about one hundred miles north of Guadalcanal. The five large islands were originally bypassed by the Japanese in favor of skipping to Guadalcanal, but as the American Marines garrisoned the captured Henderson Field,
the strategy was revised as more land-based planes were needed to strike Guadalcanal. On 24 Nov 1942 a large Japanese convoy sailed for a small clearing on the western side of New Georgia island, currently used by a small coconut plantation. Although the convoy attracted American attention as early as 28 Nov, American intelligence saw nothing there based on aerial photographs besides a few scattered small buildings. Finally, on 3 Dec, a sharp-eyed American intelligence expert saw something: the Japanese were building an airfield underneath the neat rows of coconut trees. Whenever a tree needed to be uprooted, overhead wires were laid and dressed with leaves so that the appearance of a tree was maintained in the same location. On 6 Dec, American aircraft from Henderson Field paid a low-level visit to the location and confirmed the existence of the airfield after strafing at the Japanese engineers and troops there.
On 9 Dec, the first major operation against the newly constructed Munda Field was mounted. 18 B-17 bombers began a series of raids by various types of aircraft on Munda. On 13 Dec PBY Catalina aircraft began their occasional night time bombings.
On 4 Jan 1943, while US Army infantry were advancing on Guadalcanal on a planned offensive, Halsey sent a fleet to bombard Munda Field to divert any aerial reinforcement that might be sent to disrupt the Army offensive. The bombardment force consisted of three light cruisers and two destroyers under the command of Rear Admiral Walden Ainsworth; the support group behind them had three light cruisers, one heavy cruiser, and three destroyers under the command of Rear Admiral Mahlon Tisdale. Shortly after 0100 in the early morning of 5 Jan, the bombardment commenced. For the next 50 minutes they had deposited nearly 3,000 rounds of 6-in shells and 1,400 rounds of 5-in shells on the Japanese airfield. The next morning, American reconnaissance aircraft visited Munda Field and reported a heavily damaged airfield and no sign of enemy anti-aircraft fire. A retaliatory strike by air came as the ships were steaming home, but it only damaged one of the turrets atop the New Zealand destroyer Achilles that sailed with the support group.
Munda Field was not the only airfield the Japanese constructed in the New Georgia island group. Another field, Vila, was built on the southern tip of Kolombangara. In the evening of 23 Jan, Ainsworth made another trip up the slot to New Georgia. At 0200 on 24 Jan, his bombardment group consisted of two light cruisers and four destroyers began firing. In the following hour the two light cruisers nearly sent 2,000 rounds of 6-in shells at the direction of the airfield, and the destroyers added 1,500 rounds of 5-in. A few return fires came from coastal batteries, but they were generally ineffective. The Japanese then tried to defend from the air, but a convenient squall together with radar-directed anti-aircraft gunnery saved the American ships.
After day break on 24 Jan, 24 SBDs, 17 TBFs, and 18 F4Fs took off from Henderson Field to follow up on the attack. The American aircraft dropped 23 tons of bombs on Vila by 0800.
Although the "Ainsworth Express" runs, augmented with aerial bombardments, were effective in damaging the Japanese airfields, overall the Japanese engineers were as capable in repairing damaged airfields as
the American Marine engineers were with Henderson. The attacks achieved short term objectives by disrupting Japanese capabilities to launch land-based aircraft, but in the long run Halsey knew that the only way he could halt the operations from these new fields was to take them from the Japanese. That was something he was not ready to do, yet.

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