Battle of the Treasury Islands
|Battle of the Treasury Islands|
|Part of the Pacific Theatre of the Second World War|
Russell Clark's painting Landing ships under fire, Treasury Island (3rd NZ Division), 27 October 1943
| New Zealand
|Commanders and leaders|
|Robert A. Row
|6,574 men[nb 1]
|231+ men[nb 2]
|Casualties and losses|
|226 casualties[nb 3]||223 dead
8 POW[nb 4]
The Battle of the Treasury Islands was a Second World War battle that took place between 27 October and 12 November 1943 on the Treasury Islands group, part of the Solomon Islands. The battle formed part of the wider Pacific War and involved New Zealand and US forces fighting against Japanese troops. The majority of the ground forces were provided by the New Zealand 3rd Division.
The Allied invasion of the Japanese held island group intended to secure Mono and Stirling Islands so that a radar station could be constructed on the former and the latter be used as a staging area for an assault on Bougainville. The attack on the Treasury Islands would serve the long term Allied strategy of isolating Bougainville and Rabaul and the elimination of the Japanese garrison in the area.
As part of the Allied strategy of isolating Bougainville and Rabaul and eliminating the large Japanese garrison in the area, in late 1943, as the Solomon Islands campaign progressed, the Allies decided to launch an attack on the Treasury Islands. The invasion, to be conducted primarily by the New Zealand Army, supported by American forces, was codenamed Operation Goodtime. For the operation, the New Zealand 8th Infantry Brigade Group, commanded by Brigadier Robert Row and part of the New Zealand 3rd Division, was assigned to the United States' III Amphibious Force, which assigned its Southern Force under Rear Admiral George H. Fort for the operation.
The Allies launched the invasion of the Treasury Islands at 06:06 hours on 27 October. A total 3,795 men landed in the assault wave with the remainder of the Allied force landing in four waves during the following 20 days, to reach a total of 6,574 men. The operation was the first amphibious assault launched by New Zealand troops since the Battle of Gallipoli in 1915. It was the second combat operation undertaken by the New Zealanders in the Pacific, following the Land Battle of Vella Lavella, which had taken place the previous month.
Commencing on 27 October, two infantry battalions – the 29th and 36th – landed around Falamai, on the southern coast of Mono Island, approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) away from Blanche Harbour's western entrance. Meanwhile, a detachment from a third infantry battalion, the 34th, landed on Stirling Island, to the south of Mono, while another detachment from the 34th skirted around the western side of the island and landed to the north around Soanotalu, to provide security for a radar station that would be installed there. Over the course of several hours, the beachhead around Falamai was secured amidst sporadic resistance from the Japanese and then over the following days patrols were sent out to clear the island. On 1 November the flag was raised over the ruins of Falamai, the islands' capital, and civil administration was restored. Eleven days later the islands were declared clear of Japanese forces; although Japanese holdouts were sighted in the jungles into January 1944.
The operation, in conjunction with Operation Blissful, served to divert the attention of the Japanese Seventeenth Army from the next major Allied target in the Solomon Islands campaign. The success of the operation also helped to improve the planning of subsequent landings in the Pacific. The New Zealanders' next combat operation would be the Battle of the Green Islands, in early 1944. Casualties during the operation amounted to 226 for the Allies, consisting of 40 New Zealanders killed and 145 wounded, and 12 Americans killed and 29 wounded. The Japanese lost 223 killed and eight captured.
- Consisting of 4,608 New Zealanders and 1,966 Americans.
- Strength is based on the Japanese casualty figure however occasional Japanese holdouts were sighted within the island's jungles though to December and January leaving a definite figure unknown.
- New Zealand casualties: 40 killed and 145 wounded. United States casualties: 12 killed and 29 wounded.
- 205 Japanese soldiers were killed by 12 November, the figure rising to 223 by the end of the month. 8 Japanese soldiers were taken prisoner.
- Gillespie, p. 149
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- Newell 2012, p. 47
- Gillespie 1952, p. 144
- Crawford 2000, p. 150
- Gillespie 1952, pp. 145–146
- Gillespie 1952, pp. 147–158
- Crawford 2000, p. 156
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