History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II

Volume 2: Isolation of Rabaul


Henry I. Shaw, Jr.,

Major Douglas T. Kane, USMC

Historical Branch, G-3 Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps


. . . For Those Who Served




Part I: Strategic Situation—Spring 1943

Chapter 1: Setting the Stage

Chapter 2: The Opening Moves

Chapter 3: Order of Battle

Part II: TOENAILS Operation

Chapter 1: Objective: New Georgia

Chapter 2: ELKTON Underway

Chapter 3: Munda Victory

Chapter 4: The Dragons Peninsula Campaign

Chapter 5: End of the Campaign

Part III: Northern Solomons Operations

Chapter 1: Continuing the Pressure

Chapter 2: Diversionary Assaults

Chapter 3: Assault on Cape Torokina

Chapter 4: Holding the Beachhead

Chapter 5: Advance to Piva Forks

Chapter 6: End of a Mission

Part IV: The New Britain Campaign

Chapter 1: New Britain Prelude

Chapter 2: The Enemy: Terrain and Troops

Chapter 3: DEXTERITY Landings

Chapter 4: Capture of the Airfields

Chapter 5: The Drive to Borgen Bay

Chapter 6: Eastward to Iboki

Chapter 7: Talasea and Beyond

Chapter 8: Conclusion

Part V: Marine Air Against Rabaul

Chapter 1: Target: Rabaul

Chapter 2: Approach March

Chapter 3: Knockout by Torokina

Part VI: Conclusion

Chapter 1: Encirclement

Chapter 2: Appraisal


Appendix A: Bibliographical Notes

Appendix B: Guide to Abbreviations (omitted)

Appendix C: Military Map Symbols (omitted)

Appendix D: Chronology

Appendix E: Fleet Marine Force Status, 30 April 1943

Appendix F: Table of Organization E-100—Marine Division

Appendix G: Marine Task Organization and Command List

Appendix H: Marine Casualties

Appendix I: Unit Commendations



I. Rabaul Strategic Area

II. The New Georgia Group

III. Western New Britain, Showing Major Rivers and Mountain Ranges

IV. Seizure and Defense of the Airdrome

V. Rabaul and Its Airfields, November 1943

VI. Pilots’ Strip Map, New Georgia to New Ireland

Inline Maps

1. Seizure of the Russell Islands, 21 February 1943

2. Kiriwina and Woodlark Islands, Showing CHRONICLE Landings

3. Seizure of Viru Harbor, 28 June–1 July 1943

4. Seizure of Wickham Anchorage, 30 June–3 July 1943

5. Munda Campaign, XIV Corps, 2-15 July

6. Munda Campaign, XIV Corps, 25-30 July

7. Munda Campaign, XIV Corps, 2-4 August

8. Dragons Peninsula, Northern Landing Group, 4-19 July

9. The Attack on Bairoko, Northern Landing Group, 20 July

10. Vella Lavella Bypass and Mop-up on Arundel

11. Bougainville

12. Treasury Islands Landing, I Marine Amphibious Corps, 27 October 1943

13. Choiseul Diversion, 2nd Parachute Battalion, 28 October–3 November 1943

14. The Landing at Cape Torokina, I Marine Amphibious Corps, 1 November 1943

15. Expansion of the Beachhead, I Marine Amphibious Corps, 1 November–15 December 1943

16. Japanese Counterlanding, Laruma River Area, 7 November 1943

17. Battle for Piva Trail, 2nd Raider Regiment, 8-9 November

18. Coconut Grove, 2nd Battalion, 21st Marines, 13-14 November

19. Battle of Piva Forks, First Phase, 19-20 November

20. Battle of Piva Forks, Final Phase, 21-25 November

21. Hellzapoppin Ridge, Nearing the End, 6-18 December

22. BACKHANDER Staging Area, 1st Marine Division Dispositions, 18 December 1943

23. BACKHANDER Objective Area, Showing Japanese Dispositions, 26 December 1943

24. Arawe Landing, 15 December 1943

25. Sketch Map of the STONEFACE Trail Block, 30 December 1943

26. Advance to Suicide Creek

27. Capture of Aogiri Ridge

28. Capture of Hill 660

29. Japanese Withdrawal Routes, January–March 1944

30. Volupai-Talasea Operations, 6-11 March 1944, 5th Marines Route of Advance

31. Rabaul and Kavieng

32. Seizure of the Green Island, Showing Landing Plan at Nissan, 15 February 1944

33. Principal Landings in the Admiralties, 24 February–15 March 1944

34. Kavieng and Emirau


Simpson Harbor and Rabaul—Marines of the 3rd Raider Battalion—Burial Ceremony at Viru Harbor—155-mm Guns of the 9th Defense Battalion—Gun Crew of the 9th Defense Battalion—Avenger Torpedo Bombers—Marine Light Tank on New Georgia—Casualties Evacuated by PBY—Column of Marine Raiders Near Enogai—New Zealand Troops Land on Vella Lavella—Munda Airfield—Landing Craft Readied for Bougainville D-Day—Marines Wading Ashore at Bougainville—Puruata Island and Torokina Airfield—Mud Clings to Ammunition Carriers—Admiral Halsey and General Geiger—Field Telephone Lines Are Laid—Numa Numa Trail Position of 2/21—Marine Wounded Are Carried From Hill 1000—Piva Airfields—Field Artillery Fires by Marine 155-mm Guns—Troopers of the 112th Cavalry Land at Arawe—Marines Move Ashore at Cape Gloucester—Shore Party Marines Build a Sandbag Ramp—105-mm Howitzers of 4/11 Support the Attack—Marine Riflemen Attack Toward the Airfield—Medium Tank Crosses Suicide Creek—75-mm Half Track and 37-mm Gun at Hill 660—Japanese Flags Captured by Marines—Patrol of Marines Near Borgen Bay—Army Amphibian Engineers and Marines at Iboki—Captured Japanese Zero—Japanese Val Dive Bombers—Japanese Antiaircraft Crews During a B-25 Attack—Parafrag Bombs Drop on Vunakanau Airfield—Mechanics of VMF-211 Repair a Corsair—Marine TBFs Loaded for a Rabaul Strike—Marine SBDs Headed for Vunakanau—Seabee Equipment Unloaded on Green Island—First Wave Ashore on Los Negros—Town of Rabaul on 22 March 1944—Corsairs at Emirau Airfield—Leyte Invasion Fleet in Seeadler Harbor—Marine Mitchells Fly Over Crater Peninsula