The War in the Pacific

The volumes of the United States Army in World War II devoted to the war in the Pacific form a comprehensive account which should be of interest both to soldiers and civilians. Each volume is complete in itself and can be read independently. (Cross references guide the reader to other volumes for additional information.) The emphasis throughout is on the U.S. Army, but operations of the U.S. Navy, Air Forces, and Marines, as well as those of Allied nations, are covered in summary where they are related to the Army's operations or when they had an important or decisive effect on the outcome. The level of treatment and the amount of detail included vary with each volume and are determined by the nature of the operation. Each book includes sufficient material on strategy, logistics, and the activities of supporting arms and services to make clear why an operation was undertaken and how it was supported.

The plan of the Pacific subseries was determined by the geography, strategy, and the military organization of a theater largely oceanic. Two independent, coordinate commands, one in the Southwest Pacific under General of the Army Douglas MacArthur and the other in the Central, South, and North Pacific (Pacific Ocean Areas) under Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, were created early in the war. Except in the South and Southwest Pacific, each conducted its own operations with its own ground, air, and naval forces in widely separated areas. These operations required at first only a relatively small number of troops whose efforts often yielded strategic gains which cannot be measured by the size of the forces involved. Indeed, the nature of the objectives-small islands, coral atolls, and jungle-bound harbors and airstrips- made the employment of large ground forces impossible and highlighted the importance of air and naval operations. Thus, until 1945, the war in the Pacific progressed by a double series of amphibious operations each of which fitted into a strategic pattern developed in Washington.

In recognition of this fact, the Pacific subseries is organized chronologically by campaigns corresponding approximately to the divisions of command and to the strategical objectives set by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. First in the subseries (the volumes are unnumbered) is The Fall of the Philippines which describes fully the Japanese air attacks on the opening days of the war, the invasion that followed, the withdrawal to Bataan, the tragic defeat there and on Corregidor, the campaigns in Mindanao and the Visayas, and the final surrender in May 1942.

The next two volumes deal with the operations in the Solomons and New Guinea conducted simultaneously (August 1942-February 1943) but under separate commands.

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Guadalcanal: The First Offensive describes the campaign in the Solomons by Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr.'s South Pacific forces; Victory in Papua details the long struggle of General MacArthur's Southwest Pacific forces to oust the Japanese from Buna on the southeast coast of New Guinea. Final success in these two campaigns in February 1943 removed the danger to the Allied line of communications running from the United States to Australia and prepared the way for an offensive against Rabaul, the great Japanese base in New Britain.

Neutralization and encirclement of that bastion were accomplished between June 1943 and March 1944 in a series of operations described in CARTWHEEL: The Reduction of Rabaul. These operations consisted of simultaneous and coordinated drives along the New Guinea coast and up the Solomons "ladder" by forces of the South and Southwest Pacific under MacArthur's direction. Included in the volume are accounts of the campaigns against New Georgia, Bougainville, Lae, Salamaua, Finschhafen, Cape Gloucester, and the Admiralties.

While the offensive against Rabaul was in progress, Admiral Nimitz's forces in the Central Pacific took the offensive and between November 1943 and March 1944 seized successively positions in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands (Makin, Tarawa, Kwajalein, and Eniwetok). These operations, described in Seizure of the Gilberts and Marshalls, advanced Allied forces 2,700 miles across the Pacific. Operations in the Marianas during the following June and July are covered in a separate volume, Campaign in the Marianas, which describes operations against Saipan, Tinian, and Guam, take-off point for the B-29 raids against Japan.

In the Southwest Pacific General MacArthur's forces, starting with the landing at Hollandia in New Guinea in April 1944, advanced by a series of amphibious hops up the New Guinea coast until by September they had reached Morotai, at the threshold of the Philippines. These operations, which include the seizure of Aitape, Wakde, Biak, Noemfoor, and Sansapor as well as the Central Pacific Campaign in the Palaus, are described in The Approach to the Philippines.

The liberation of the Philippines is described in two volumes. The first, Leyte: The Return to the Philippines, carries MacArthur's forces, augmented by a U.S. Army corps from the Central Pacific, into the heart of the archipelago in October 1944. From there, the troops of the Southwest Pacific went on to take Mindoro, Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao in a series of operations described in the volume entitled Triumph in the Philippines. The bulk of this volume deals with the recapture of Luzon, the most important island in the archipelago.

The forces of the Central Pacific, meanwhile, had continued their drive toward the Japanese home islands, capturing Iwo Jima in February 1945 (an operation not covered in this series since no Army troops were involved) and landing in the Ryukyus at the end of March. This last campaign, which went on until July, a month before the Japanese surrender, is described in Okinawa: The Last Battle.

A capstone volume, Strategy and Command: The First Two Years, views the background and progress of the war in the Pacific from the perspectives of Washington as well as of

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the theater commanders. It deals with the major strategic, organizational, and logistical plans and problems through December 1943 that affected U.S. Army operations in the Pacific and set the pattern for the war against Japan.

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