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Old 09-15-2009, 12:51 PM
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Bougainville Combat Wounds

1. Overview

As part of the latter stages of Operation Cartwheel, Allied forces intended to establish air bases on Bougainville to assist in the isolation and neutralization of Rabaul. Thus, in November 1943 United States Marine forces landed at Cape Torokina on Bougainville and established a beachhead within which the Allies constructed three airfields. The Marines were later replaced by U.S. Army soldiers in January 1944. The U.S. Army was replaced by Australian Militia troops in October 1944. The campaign ended with the surrender of Japanese forces in August 1945.

A Fijian medical orderly administers an emergency plasma transfusion during heavy fighting on Bougainville.
2. Campaign
2. 1. November 1943 - November 1944

Allied operations to retake Bougainville (operation Cherry Blossom) from the Japanese 17th Army began with Landings at Cape Torokina by the U.S. Marine 3rd Division on November 1, 1943. The Allies intended to establish a beachhead around Cape Torokina, within which an airfield would be built. Allied forces did not plan, at this time, to try to capture the entire island of Bougainville from Japanese forces. An attempt by the Imperial Japanese Navy to attack the U.S. landing forces was defeated by the US Navy in the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay, on November 1 and November 2. A subsequent attempt by Japanese land forces to attack the Allied beachhead was defeated in the Battle of Koromokina Lagoon.

April 5, 1945: The view forward of Australian positions on Slater's Knoll, Bougainville; the soldier in the foreground is aiming an Owen submachinegun.

Protracted and often bitter jungle warfare followed, with many casualties resulting from malaria and other tropical diseases. U.S. Marine operations to expand the Allied beachhead resulted in the Battle for Piva Trail, Battle of the Coconut Grove, Battle of Piva Forks, and the Battle of Hellzapoppin Ridge and Hill 600A. The Marines were eventually replaced by the U.S. Army's Americal Division and other Army units.

The U.S. Army defended the beachhead against a major Japanese counterattack from 9 March 1944 to 17 March 1944, at Hill 700, Cannon Hill, and Hill 260. The counterattack was defeated with heavy losses for the Japanese army, which then withdrew the majority of its force into the deep interior and to the north and south ends of Bougainville.

On 5 April 1944, the Americal Division's 132nd Infantry Regiment, after establishing patrol sweeps along Empress Augusta Bay, successfully launched an attack to capture the Japanese-held village of Mavavia. Two days later, while continuing a sweep for enemy forces, the Regiment encountered prepared enemy defenses, where they destroyed some twenty Japanese pillboxes using pole charges and bazookas. Later, the 132nd, together with elements of the Fiji Defence Force, was tasked with securing the heights west of Saua River. The Regiment and its allies captured Hills 155, 165, 500, and 501 in fierce fighting that lasted until 18 April, when the last of the Japanese defenders were killed or driven off. [6]

The Japanese, isolated and cut off from outside assistance, primarily concentrated on survival, including the development of farms throughout the island. The Americans were reinforced by the 93rd Infantry Division, the first African American infantry unit to see action in World War II. The Allies concentrated on constructing multiple airfields in the beachhead, from which they conducted fighter and bomber operations over Rabaul, Kavieng and other Japanese-held bases in the South Pacific area. Air support over Bougainville was provided largely by the Royal New Zealand Air Force, the US Marine Corps aviation squadrons, and the USAAF, under the control of an organization called "AIRSOLS" - Air Solomons - Vice Admiral Aubrey Fitch, US Navy.
2. 2. November 1944 - August 1945

Between October and December 1944, the U.S. ground forces handed over operations on the island to the main body of the Australian II Corps, a Militia formation. The Australian 3rd Division and the 11th Brigade were on Bougainville, reinforced by the Fiji Infantry Regiment. The Australian 23rd Brigade garrisoned neighbouring islands.

The second phase of the Allied campaign developed into three separate drives: in the north, it was planned that Japanese forces would be forced into the narrow Bonis Peninsula and contained; in the centre the seizure of Pearl Ridge would give the Australians control of the east-west thoroughfares and protection against further counterattacks, while also opening the way for a drive to the east coast; and the main campaign in the south, where the bulk of the Japanese forces were concentrated.

Major battles for the Australians included the Battle of Genga River (in the north) and the Battles of Slater's Knoll and Hongorai River (in the south).

Corporal Sefanaia Sukanaivalu of Fiji was posthumously awarded a Victoria Cross (VC) for his bravery at Mawaraka on June 23, 1944. During 1945, Corporal Reg Rattey (at Slater's Knoll) and Private Frank Partridge (at Ratsua) won Australia's last VCs of World War II and the only VCs awarded to militia soldiers.

Combat operations on Bougainville ended with the surrender of Japanese forces on Bougainville on 21 August 1945. The Empire surrendered in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945.

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  #2  
Old 09-15-2009, 12:56 PM
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Re: Bougainville Combat Wounds


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Old 09-15-2009, 01:55 PM
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Re: Bougainville Combat Wounds

Awesome pics. Great info too

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Old 09-15-2009, 01:59 PM
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Re: Bougainville Combat Wounds

good stuff and loads info!

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Old 09-16-2009, 04:45 PM
DorisDaze
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Re: Bougainville Combat Wounds

Info comes from US Department of Defense, the investigation into wounding from shrapnel and bullets has paved the way for R&D of body and vehicle armour as well as SWAT and improved medical treatment (including medivac). In modern conflicts such as Iraq many of the photographed injuries would be far less severe and the body count would be much lower.

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Old 09-16-2009, 04:59 PM
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Re: Bougainville Combat Wounds

One caption says: "Large defect in skull."

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Old 09-16-2009, 05:26 PM
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Re: Bougainville Combat Wounds

I admire the bravery of Army and Marine people who
risked those wounds...and the Navy corpsmen who helped
care for them. And my sympathy for Japanese soldiers who
were put in untenable situations by criminal commanders.

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