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  < Back to Table Of Contents  < Back to Topic: They Served

article number 680
article date 08-31-2017
copyright 2017 by Author else SaltOfAmerica
The Air Battle in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea, Part 3: Can We Build a Real Southwest Pacific Air Force?, Spring 1943
by U. S. Air Force Historical Division
   

From the 1952 book, The Army Air Forces in World War II.

* * *

Problems of Men and Materiel

The victory in the Bismarck Sea action provided, among other advantages, a much-needed boost to the morale of air force personnel.

In general, the fighting spirit of the Fifth Air Force under General Kenney’s leadership, as one competent observer reported, had been “tops,” but there were a number of problems which still threatened to become serious.

One of the most pressing problems was the question of replacements. Although the weary veterans of the 19th Bombardment Group had been sent home during the fall, there remained many Fifth Air Force flyers who had records almost as long for continuous combat and who were variously described by flight surgeons as “irritable, short-tempered and lackadaisical.”

Back-breaking labor, frequently continuing from twelve to eighteen hours a day, had also worn down ground crews and other service personnel.

In the absence of a definite policy of rotation, there seemed little prospect of relief.

Responsible officers still struggled with the problem of providing a satisfactory diet for troops in the advanced area. Units stationed near the larger Australian cities generally enjoyed good rations, but the inadequacy of shipping, refrigeration, and air transport limited the quantity and variety of food supplies that could be provided in New Guinea.

In New Guinea the troops for the most part ate out of cans. The food, although it satisfied medical requirements, was almost invariably of Australian manufacture and the men found that even American canned food soon lost its flavor.

One squadron had recorded its surprise and satisfaction over a Christmas dinner in these simple yet eloquent words:

“Ham, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, several vegetables, three kinds of dessert, three kinds of beverages, nothing was dehydrated.”

No less important was the closely related question of health. Troops stationed in New Guinea could expect a loss of fifteen to twenty pounds in weight, and the peculiarities of a tropical climate contributed to a general lowering of resistance to disease.

At Mime Bay it was almost a foregone conclusion that everyone sooner or later would be afflicted with malaria. At Port Moresby the men suffered a smaller percentage of malarial cases but were plagued by diarrhea, which seemed to be endemic to the locality.

   
Primitive working conditions. Mechanic works on Bell P-39.

The individual soldier himself contributed-to his own difficulties, for he was as yet not mentally prepared to meet all the hazards of tropical warfare. While in “malarious areas” he was supposed to wear slacks and long-sleeved shirts, to sleep under mosquito bars, to use repellents, and to take quinine or atabrine regularly, but his cooperation could not always be secured and unless each individual gave wholehearted support to preventive measures, satisfactory results could not be achieved.

The medical organization of the Fifth Air Force under Col. Bascom L. Wilson faced thus a heavy responsibility, as did those who administered the hospitals and medical depots, which operated under control of the Army’s Services of Supply. Three hospitals had been established at Port Moresby with a total of more than 2,000 beds by the close of 1942, and two more with 350 beds at Mime Bay.

Portable hospitals had followed the troops across the Owen Stanley range; the ever-busy air transports made possible a quick return for hospitalization to Port Moresby.

The arrangements that could be made in the more advanced areas naturally continued to be primitive, but at Moresby the efforts of medical officers combined with the ingenuity of the men themselves to provide mess halls, living quarters, incinerators, and latrines comparing favorably with facilities at some of the encampments in the United States.

In the absence of adequate replacements, Kenney rotated his units between Australia and New Guinea as frequently as possible. While in Australia, the men were provided with an abundance of fresh eggs, meat, milk, and vegetables. Kenney also encouraged the granting of regular leaves for trips to Sydney, Brisbane, and other Australian cities.

With a keen sense of the strain under which his men worked, General Kenney, while in Washington during March for the conference on Pacific strategy, pressed for increased allocations to his force.

It had been estimated that the ELKTON plan would require for its implementation, an immediate increase of the Fifth Air Force by two heavy, two medium, and two and one-half light bombardment groups together with three fighter, one observation, and two troop carrier groups. For the New Britain phase of the operation it was estimated that an additional fighter, one medium, two heavy, and three troop carrier groups would be required.

Instead, General Kenney got the promise of receiving by September one additional heavy group, one medium, one light, one observation, and two fighter groups and of such further increases of strength as are indicated in the following table:

   
TABLE: General Kenney’s Air Force Planned Initial Equipment Strength.

Although less than Kenney had requested, this was more than the Joint Planners, who argued the necessity of implementing to the full, the bomber offensive against Germany, had initially considered possible. There is some reason to believe that the President may have influenced the final decision.

A subject of hardly less concern to General Kenney than that of reinforcements was the question of replacements. In March, as during each of the preceding five months, the total of aircraft lost exceeded the number received.

At the close of the month, to take one example, five of the twenty-five P-40’s assigned to the 8th Fighter Squadron were credited with 400 or more flight hours, seven with 300 or more, and the rest with totals in excess of 200 hours.

An entire medium bombardment group and one light bombardment squadron were forced to remain out of combat from March through May because of the shortage of planes. One of the heavy squadrons never had more than five aircraft on hand during the same period, and a medium squadron having seven B-25’s on hand at the close of March and April could report no more than three at the end of May.

Thus, the official tabulation of one light, two medium, and two heavy bombardment groups and three fighter groups hardly gave a true picture of Fifth Air Force strength. Actually, combat strength through May was much more accurately represented as one light, three medium, and seven heavy bombardment squadrons and nine fighter squadrons.

It had been decided while Kenney was in Washington for the March conference that steps should be taken to maintain a 25 per cent depot reserve in the theater, a flow of 20 per cent of the initial equipment per month as attrition aircraft for combat units, and a plane-for-plane replacement of losses in transport aircraft.

There remained some certainty as to the type of aircraft to be supplied. It was understood that B-24’s and B-25’s would be sent for the heavy and medium groups in accordance with already established policy, but Kenney’s desire for A-20G’s to equip his light bomber units ran into difficulty.

Production was slow; moreover, Twelfth Air Force held priority of claim, and a project for the conversion of A-20’s into P-70 night fighters had caused further delays.

Kenney showed no enthusiasm for proposals that he might use A-36’s and A-25’s. Arnold suggested “some sort of swap” between Spaatz and Kenney, but the final comment at AAF Headquarters on 5 May simply stated that any A-20G’S not needed by Spaatz would go to Kenney.

Already the Fifth Air Force had lost out temporarily to the Twelfth in the competition for P-38’s After having received eight P-38’s under a replacement schedule of fifteen per month initiated in January, Kenney had word in February that because of the critical situation in North Africa he could expect no more until summer.

For the new groups promised to him in March, Kenney wanted P-38’s and next he preferred the P-47. He entered vigorous objections in April to suggestions that he might get P-40’s instead, winning assurances early in the next month from Marshall.

The 348th Group, originally scheduled for Europe, would be ready for shipment with P-47’s by 12 June. Authorization was also given to activate in the theater the 475th Fighter Group, for which P-38’s would also be available in June.

This was encouraging, but meantime reinforcements during April and May had been limited to one night fighter squadron with six P-70’s, help first requested the preceding October. And the service command had to work over the P-70 to increase its speed, ceiling, and maneuverability before it would be equal to the demands made upon it.

   
The Douglas P-70 was an night-fighter variant of the A-20.

Failure to receive the desired replacements and reinforcements found some compensation in the steadily improving work of the service command. A general maintenance policy established early in 1943 provided for the repair of fighters in New Guinea, with all bombers which could be flown sent back to Australia.

In Australia not only had provision been made for heavy maintenance but, with substantial help from Australian industry, it was now possible to provide many items of supply. Kenney had reported in January that it would soon be possible to manufacture in Australia 1,200 belly tanks per month, enough for all his fighter aircraft.

In April, he indicated that all engine overhaul could be taken care of locally, and by July it would be possible similarly to handle all propeller overhaul and the replacement of blades.

At Townsville the 4th Air Depot Group had added, with some assistance from Australian labor, sixteen new warehouses and seven repair hangars. But the group’s varied duties required work around the clock through seven-day weeks, and not until midyear did the arrival of two new depot groups relieve the pressure.

A part of the burden arose from the necessity to de-winterize many of the combat aircraft arriving from the United States for operations in the tropics. De-icing and engine-winterization equipment was standard on the C-47’s, B-25’s, and B-24’s, as on other AAF planes, and before they could be used in tropical zones, the equipment had to be removed either in the United States or in the theater.

Kenney evidently had preferred at first to do the job himself rather than run the risk of delay in deliveries, but in May he got the promise that in the future winterization items would be deleted from his aircraft.

Modification of incoming planes continued also to claim the time of service agencies. The B-24’s with which the 90th Group had been equipped lacked forward firing power. A solution worked out at Archerfield during the winter added a Consolidated tail turret to the Liberator’s nose. Kenney had asked in January for thirty-five of the turrets and had requested that the Hawaiian Air Depot be instructed to make the installation on all future deliveries.

Shipped by water, the turrets arrived late in March, and in May, Kenney asked for thirty-six more to equip recently received planes.

By this time Kenney had also decided to substitute manually operated twin .50’s for the ball turret. Proposals that the plane be sent out with this modification presented to AAF Headquarters an awkward problem involving some of the limitations inherent in mass production, for it appeared that other theaters desired that the turret be kept. Not until September was it agreed that planes for SWPA should differ in this particular from the standard.

Preparations for Another Forward Move

The development of Dobodura as a major air base during the spring and early summer of 1943 promised a more efficient employment of the aircraft available for support of the next advance. The field there had played a vital part in winning the victory at Buna, and though it would be May before a road had been opened from Oro Bay to Dobodura, plans for the field’s development were implemented in every way possible.

Wharves were built on Oro Bay for receipt of supplies moved in by small boat, the supplies reaching Dobodura by jeep and native carrier moving along improved tracks.

Troop carrier planes continued to pour men and materials onto the airstrips. During a six-week period in March and April, the average daily lift was 600,000 to 678,000 pounds a day.

The first complete service group was flown in during March to join quartermaster, service, and communications detachments previously active there.

American aircraft warning units had reached Oro Bay in February. At least one Australian radar set had operated—not too satisfactorily—in the area since December, but by March reporting platoons operated at Tufi, McLaren Harbor, and lonanda as well as Oro Bay.

   
"Obsolete" Curtis P-40. Used correctly, the P-40 battled the enemy effectively on New Guinea.

Ground crews of the 49th Fighter Group had been stationed at Dobodura in February to make it possible for the unit’s planes to fly in each morning for a day-long alert; in the evening they returned to Port Moresby. The advantages gained by this northward extension of fighter cover were such that two of the unit’s squadrons were stationed there in mid-March, a third squadron joining them in April.

This movement into a new forward area brought with it the usual difficulties. Refueling facilities were unsatisfactory; supply dumps were inaccessible, in part because of the lack of transportation equipment; and even more than at Port Moresby, spare parts were at a premium.

Shortly after arriving at Dobodura, one of the fighter squadrons reported that P-38’s out of commission were “being stripped to keep 16 for the daily alert.”

There were the usual complaints from combat personnel who had to build their own camp sites where equipment was scarce and insects many. The incidence of malaria was high. Until the latter part of June, when improved sanitation measures began to take effect, from 15 to 20 per cent of the 46th Service Group were regularly incapacitated from malaria and dengue fever.

By the time the camp site with tents, mess halls, latrines, and garbage disposal facilities had been established, living conditions were probably no worse than in the Port Moresby area. Some, in fact, preferred the new camp site.

Adjacent to some of the camps were swift little streams which solved the water problem both for bathing and, when properly treated, for drinking.

The Special Services section arranged for movies, a baseball league, a lending library, an orchestra, post office facilities, regular cable service, and a new canteen “chock full of supplies” in a corner of one of the mess halls.

Visiting shows occasionally reached Dobodura. On 21 March a USO unit, consisting of an accordion player, a violinist, a juggler, and “several boys that sang old songs which were popular when our Moms and Pops were young,” was well received. So was Joe E. Brown, who arrived two weeks later.

One of the principal operational disadvantages at Dobodura was the lack of reliable communications with ADVON Fifth Air Force at Port Moresby. The peculiar conditions caused by towering mountains and tropical weather frequently interrupted radio reception, and hence a plan to string a telephone line across the 150 miles from Port Moresby was conceived.

To those acquainted with the razorback ridges, the gorges, and the jungle, this must have seemed a next-to-impossible job; yet by May the project was under way. It took 250 natives and 100 American and an equal number of Australian signal troops, supplied principally by aerial dropping, a little more than a month to complete the task.

Communications problems were not fully solved by the herculean job of stringing a telephone line across the Owen Stanley range. The constant dampness in New Guinea rotted poles and corroded wires, and frequent storms grounded newly strung lines.

Moreover, it was understood that the move to Dobodura was only the first of a series of forward jumps that would take combat, service, and troop carrier units hundreds of miles ahead of previously established bases. General Kenney’s Fifth Air Force headquarters had to be retained in Brisbane where it could coordinate its activities with GHQ.

   
Douglas C-47’s carried troops and supplies.

Port Moresby remained the most desirable location for ADVON. Yet, if authorization had to be obtained from Port Moresby or Brisbane for every strike by aircraft based on the north side of the Owen Stanleys, operations would be disastrously delayed.

A new headquarters was thus considered necessary for operational control over the units at Dobodura.

Accordingly, General Kenney in March 1943 created the First Air Task Force or, as it was originally known, the Buna Air Task Force. This new organization consisted of a headquarters and such units as might be attached for an indefinite period, or for a particular operation only, to the organization.

When a fighter or bomber unit was thus attached, the appropriate command (V Fighter or V Bomber) retained administrative control, but operational control went to the task force.

Theoretically, General Whitehead, as commander of ADVON, directed the operations of all combat units in northeastern New Guinea. Actually, however, the commander of the task force could assume, when necessary, the responsibility for dispatching his own units on combat missions.

The plan met with some resistance in Washington, where it was felt that the Southwest Pacific had requested too many headquarters personnel in higher grades. General Kenney insisted that the three headquarters for the Fifth Air Force, exclusive of the commands, were necessary, and wrote that “G-3 has no idea of the details of the problem out here.”

The task force, however, was never officially authorized by the War Department, and personnel for task force headquarters had to be taken from other organizations. For example, Col. Frederic H. Smith, Jr., appointed task force commander, continued to be listed on official rosters as deputy chief of staff of the Fifth Air Force.

For some time the organization consisted principally of the one fighter group, but by the end of June, in addition to service units, it had a total of seven squadrons—one P-38, two P-40, one Beaufighter, one A-20, one B-25C1, and one unmodified B-25.

Of less immediate importance was the organization of a troop carrier wing as a headquarters intended for operation on the same echelon as the fighter and bomber commands. The War Department authorized the wing, in response to a request from General MacArthur, “to insure proper coordination of increased air transport activities,” and it had been constituted as early as 26 February.

But the Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, activated on 13 March, consisted at first of only one officer and one enlisted man with no more to do than keep a morning report.

On 3 May the organization was moved from Brisbane to Port Moresby, “less personnel and equipment,” where, on 20 May, eight officers under the command of Col. Paul H. Prentiss, former commander of the 374th Troop Carrier Group, were assigned to it. For the next three months the wing had only one group, the 374th, assigned to it, and Colonel Prentiss’ entire staff, with one or two exceptions, was taken from that group.

Thus the organization functioned for the time being merely “as an added channel, in A-3, for operational orders from Fifth Air Force.”

Kenney had been promised a total of three and a half troop carrier groups, and he foresaw a rapidly increasing burden of work for them. Of first importance was the supplying of Dobodura, where Japanese air attacks were creating “a constantly decreasing enthusiasm on the part of the shipping people and the Navy about running supplies even as far north as Oro Bay.”

The transport planes still carried a heavy responsibility for the supply also of the Australian troops in the Wau area; a road had been under construction since February to connect the Lakekamu River with Wau, but it would not be complete until late August.

And these current activities, in Kenney’s opinion, were little more than preliminary to a major role to be played by the troop carriers in the planned seizure of Lae.

   
Curtis C-46 transports saw much action in the Pacific.

In plans for the reduction of Lae and the expulsion of the enemy from other positions on the Huon Gulf, the Kanga Force at Wau had its own vital part to play. From its inland base, it would infiltrate enemy positions around Mubo and keep the Japanese sufficiently engaged to prevent their withdrawal of forces to oppose amphibious attacks along the coast.

The task thus assigned of keeping the enemy busy was already a familiar one, and in the continuing contest some of the Australians had reached a village within five miles of Salamaua by 5 May. In this grubbing advance, the Diggers depended heavily upon air drops for supply and upon air support in lieu of artillery.

An air support party maintained headquarters near that of the Australian 17 Brigade, where operational plans could be agreed upon. Requests for air attacks were dispatched to Port Moresby, where General Whitehead either sent out the desired mission or relayed the request to the First Air Task Force. Targets were located by smoke shells or by use of a grid system based on aerial photographs.

Already, too, preliminary advances had been made along the coast. In mid-March a battalion of the 162d Combat Team of the 41st Infantry Division had moved from the Buna-Gona area toward the mouth of the Mambare River in accordance with a plan to deny the use of that area to the Japanese.

It had little more than reached this point when intelligence was received which indicated that the enemy had withdrawn to points north of Morobe, some seventy-five miles farther up the coast. This Japanese withdrawal invited a further Allied advance into the harbor at Morobe itself and to the airstrip at Dona, a few miles to the south and suitable for emergency landings and for regular use by liaison planes.

Accordingly, the MacKechnie Force, consisting principally of the 1st Battalion of the 162d Regiment, was activated on 28 March and specifically directed to secure these points. It began its move on 31 March, landed at the mouth of the Waria River and at Dona, and on 3 April other elements splashed ashore in Morobe harbor.

Three days later Col. Archibald R. MacKechnie, the commander from whom the force received its designation, reported that his men were in control of the harbor, that he was preparing to maintain the Dona airstrip as an emergency landing field, and that patrols had found no signs of the enemy south of Mai Ama, ten miles northwest of Morobe harbor.

Although this important advance, which brought American forces within seventy-five miles of Salarnaua, had been accomplished against little or no enemy opposition, the increasing number of air attacks on advanced Allied bases demonstrated the growing concern of the Japanese.

A series of heavy Japanese raids began on 9 March, when Wau was hit with little effect by approximately twenty-six bombers and twenty-one fighters.

Two days later an equally heavy force bombed Horanda airdrome at Dobodura, killing two enlisted men and destroying three aircraft on the ground. Allied interceptors claimed at least nine of the enemy planes, with the loss of one American P-40.

Again at Oro Bay, fifteen more bombers damaged installations during the night of the 14th. Three days later eighteen bombers escorted by thirty-two fighters bombed Porlock Harbor.

But the most destructive raid of the month occurred on the 28th, when some forty bombers escorted by a large formation of fighters once more struck at Oro Bay. The local fighter sector picked up a large enemy plot and sounded the red alert at 1113. Thirty-one American fighters took off and destroyed six Hamps, five Zekes, and two Vals. One P-40 and its pilot were lost, and enemy bombs crashed into a new wharf, sank two small ships, and killed several men.

   
Variants of the North American B-25 medium bomber, with different options of firepower, were an important part of General Kenney’s Air Force.

There followed a brief lull in enemy activity over New Guinea as the Japanese directed their attention to the Solomons. But intelligence, pointing to the greatest air strength ever assembled by the enemy in the Southwest Pacific, warned of new attacks.

Some of this strength, it was soon made evident, was intended for use against Guadalcanal, but on 11 April “45 enemy dive bombers and fighters” were intercepted off Oro Bay by fifty P-40’s and P-38’s. Seventeen of the enemy planes were shot down, but the bombers had scored two direct hits on a 2,000 ton Allied merchant vessel and other hits on a corvette and a small supply ship.

On the next day an even larger enemy force raided Port Moresby. There was adequate warning from the fighter sector, and our planes claimed fifteen enemy bombers and nine or ten fighters at a cost of two American fighters, but the Japanese in Port Moresby’s 106th air raid scored heavily on ground targets. Parked aircraft, inadequately protected by revetments, suffered severely.

One Beaufighter and three B-25’s were destroyed and fifteen other aircraft were damaged, some of them badly. Bombs hit runways on Wards, Berry, and Schwimmer airdromes, and set fire to a fuel dump at Kila. Australian and American personnel working at the dump were burned to death, their screams a nerve-shattering experience for those who squatted within earshot in rain-filled slit trenches.

After one more heavy but ineffective raid against Milne Bay, this series of attacks came to an end. Allied intelligence, after assessing enemy strength in the entire northeastern area, reported a decline from 611 on 7 April to 466 on 4 May and cautiously hazarded the prophecy that this indicated a diminished threat of aerial attacks.

Certainly the tempo of Japanese attack for a time diminished. Fighter squadrons became almost bored in performing routine patrol duty, ground alert, and transport and bomber escort missions. At Dobodura, bingo parties were introduced and a loudspeaker system was rigged up so that enlisted men of the 49th Fighter Group could have “musical programs dished up with their chow.”

Farewell parties were held for the first large group of “49ers” to be returned to the United States after a year of combat. Early in May, 100 bags of Christmas cards and packages arrived just in time to help enliven a program put on by the enlisted men to commemorate Mother’s Day.

Storms proved more disturbing than Japanese raids. Tropical winds and rain rotted the tents, soaked beds, blew down trees, and seemingly stimulated the activity of tropical insects.

At Moresby, too, there was a period of relative quiet in which the 35th Fighter Group celebrated “Over the Hump” week in honor of its first year of combat service in New Guinea.

But on 13 May a new series of attacks began with ineffective night raids. On the following day more than twenty bombers and twenty-five fighters hit Dobodura and destroyed a bitumen dump and a gasoline barge. Forty-three American fighters shot down at least seven bombers and nine fighters. One P-38 was lost, and its pilot was last seen swimming about twenty miles offshore in shark-infested waters.

Meanwhile other enemy formations attacked Wau four times a week. Sallys and Bettys, generally protected by Zekes or Hamps, swept in over the mountains at such low altitudes that Allied signal units had little chance to give warning; at the same time Japanese pilots sabotaged the efforts of Allied controllers by maintaining a constant chatter on fighter radio frequencies.

The heaviest raid occurred on 17 May, when twenty-five or more Bettys destroyed the headquarters, signal office, and operations office of the Australian 17 Brigade. The Japanese returned on the following day, and again three days later.

In this last raid “they paid their own way.” Twelve Moresby-base P-38’s had taken off to escort a flight of C-47’s toward Wau, but the controller immediately after the take-off switched their mission to a scramble over Salamaua. There they intercepted more than fifteen Oscars, Zekes, and Hamps. Seven of the Japanese fighters were shot down. No American planes were lost.

General Kenney’s air forces lacked the strength to develop an all-out assault against the bases from which the enemy mounted these offensive efforts. Much of the heavy bomber strength had to be used to fly long, lonely reconnaissance flights.

One squadron of B-24’s based on Darwin provided much intelligence of enemy activity in the Netherlands East Indies.

   
Consolidated B-24’s and its variants began arriving in numbers in the southwest Pacific.

The heavies from Port Moresby, frequently “topping off” at Dobodura, patrolled the sea lanes in the Bismarck Sea.

Moresby based F-4’s, P-38’s converted for photography, continued to photograph New Guinea as far to the northwest as Wewak and most of New Britain, including Rabaul; and in May the longer-range F-5 began to reach Kavieng.

B-25’s also flew their share of noncombat missions.

Indeed with a few notable exceptions, three medium bombardment squadrons were engaged entirely in short reconnaissance missions, antisubmarine patrol, and convoy escort during March, April, and May. This meant that the majority of combat missions had to be carried out by the one squadron equipped with the modified B-25, by an A-20 squadron, and by such heavy bombers as could be spared from, reconnaissance. In addition, General Kenney could fail back upon the RAAF A-20, Beaufighter, and Beaufort squadrons.

Heavy bombers struck occasionally and in some force against Rabaul, more frequently and in the company of mediums against Gasmata and Cape Gloucester. The sea lanes were scoured for Japanese convoys, but few ventured within range of concentrated bombing force.

Heavy bombers had some success, however, in attacking shipping at anchor.

The most sensational claims were made for a series of attacks against a convoy of some thirteen ships that had been tracked into the harbor of Kavieng in New Ireland. In a period of four days beginning on April, twenty-one B-17’s and nine B-24’s harassed the ships at anchor, attacking from medium and low altitude.

The greatest damage was claimed by B-17’s skip-bombing from 75 to 250 feet. Hits were recorded on a merchant vessel, several destroyers, and two “probable” cruisers. The cruisers, in fact, were listed as sunk. A later evaluation, however, indicates that only a 5,854-ton passenger-cargo vessel actually went to the bottom without hope of salvage.

By the end of May, the groundwork for a major offensive had been laid. American troops of the 162d Regiment were securely ensconced on the coast at Morobe. Australian patrols with air support were gradually eliminating Japanese pockets of resistance between Wau and Salamaua. The air forces were maintaining the blockade of the coast from Finschhafen south and were keeping some pressure on Japanese bases.

Best of all, from the AAF point of view, was the promise of early reinforcement.

   
Australian built Bristol Beauforts would find useful action throughout the Pacific war.
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