Skip to comments.U.S. SHIPS AND PLANES HIT ATOLLS IN SAVAGE ATTACK ON MARSHALLS (1/31/44)
Posted on 01/31/2014 4:57:25 AM PST by Homer_J_Simpson
Americans invade Marshalls
Monday, January 31, 1944 www.onwar.com
US landings and naval support in the Marshall Islands [photo at link]
In the Marshall Islands... American landings begin on the islands of Kwajalein Atoll. Admiral Spruance is in overall command and General Holland Smith commands the various landing forces. Elements of US 4th Marine Division (Smith) land on Roi, Namur and nearby islets. Task Force 53 (Admiral Connolly) provides transport and naval support, including battleships and escort carriers. The landing on Roi makes rapid progress. On Namur there is heavy Japanese resistance. Meanwhile, there are also landings on Majuro Atoll by the US 27th Infantry Regiment. Admiral Hill’s task force provides naval support. The Majuro Atoll is captured quickly and is immediately prepared to become a base for American forces. Also, the carriers of Task Force 58 (Admiral Mitscher) continue attacks on Eniwetok and Maleolap.
On the Eastern Front... Soviet forces advancing west from Leningrad reach the outskirts of Kingisepp.
In Italy... The US 5th Army continues offensive operations against the German-held Gustav Line. Caira is captured by forces of US 2nd Corps. The Free French Corps recaptures Monte Abate.
January 31st, 1944 (MONDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: London and south-east England have been hit by the Luftwaffe for the first time for months in a series of night raids, codenamed Operation Steinbock [Ibex], which began on 21-22 January. The usefulness of this “Little Blitz” to Germany’s propaganda machine - as an antidote to constant RAF assaults on the Reich - is worth the cost; up to eight aircraft lost in a single raid. On the first raid 447 sorties were flown (the planes included the He177 heavy bombers), during which only 32 tons of bombs were dropped for the loss of nine planes.
The total number of bombers involved is thus fewer than the 600 claimed by Germany (an RAF assessment is 200), but the raids seem to confirm intelligence reports that the Germans are still building aircraft at a rate which makes good their losses. If confirmed, such a situation would cast doubt on the belief of Sir Arthur Harris that strategic bombing alone will end the war. This claim is also under fire after the heavy losses which the RAF has suffered (as well as inflicted) in the raids on Berlin.
Escort carrier HMS Trouncer commissioned.
Minesweeping trawler HMS Pine torpedoed and sunk by a German motor torpedo boat in the English Channel.
Frigates HMS Cam and Holmes commissioned.
ITALY: Anzio: Swift German reaction to the Anzio landings is threatening to turn the tables completely on the huge Allied army which landed here nine days ago. The element of surprise has gone. Instead ofthe dash to Rome, activity has been limited to cautious attacks with heavy Allied casualties. Field Marshal Kesselring has now pulled reserves from all over Italy to ring the beach-head.
US Rangers waded four miles in darkness along a half-dry irrigation canal to attack the village of Cisterna, but were detected at the last moment and came under withering tank fire. Only six men survived. The British 24 Guards Brigade met stiff resistance on the night of 29-30 January at the small hamlet of Carroceto, where the 29th Panzergrenadier Regiment was dug in and waiting; and the Sherwood Foresters have suffered huge casualties in an assault on Campoleone.
BURMA: Chinese forces capture Taro.
US landings begin.
This was Operation FLINTLOCK. Kwajalein Atoll is invaded by both Army and Marine forces. U.S. Marines seized five islands in the northern section of the atoll while U.S. Army troops seize four islands and islets in the southern part of the atoll.
Prior to the scheduled invasion of Majuro Atoll by Army troops, Marine scouts are put ashore and secure the atoll without a fight.
Glen Boren notes in his diary:
TASK FORCE 38.3
During the night, we moved up to Engebi island and launched a pre-dawn attack. 8 to 10 “Betty” aircraft were caught on the ground and set on fire. One was caught starting to taxi out for take-off but did not make into the air. The airfield was ruined.
Jan. 31 1944
Hit Engebi again There was some cloud cover over the island when Lt. Runyon and his wingman Ens Harris arrived. Lt Runyon ducked down through the first hole in the clouds and then Ens. Harris took the next hole. This put Runyon a little ahead of Harris. Harris straffed a building and it exploded right under Runyon and blowing his aircraft up quite a bit and turning him over.. He did recover and made it back OK.
During the day, 40 or 50 bombs with 6 hour delayed fuses were dropped We figured they should have exploded around 2230 hours. The pilots reported no return firing in the afternoon.
Glen has given us something that no official history can give us, i.e., the viewpoint of a participant. Now to the book stuff.
Aircraft of Task Group 58.3, USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) with Carrier Air Group Seventeen (CVG-17), USS Cowpens (CVL-25) with Light Carrier Air Group Twenty Two (CVLG-22) and USS Monterey (CVL-26) with CVLG-30, attack targets in Eniwetok Atoll, especially Engebi Airfield on Eniwetok Island. All 15 , Navy Type 1 Attack Bombers, Allied Code Name “Betty,” on the airfield are destroyed. The carrier aircraft also fly 400 sorties against Roi, Namur and Kwajalein Islands, which will be invaded tomorrow, and against Wotje Atoll.
An F6F Hellcat pilot of Fighting Squadron Twelve (VF-12) in USS Saratoga (CV-3) shoots down a Mitsubishi A6M, Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighter, Allied Code Name “Zeke,” near Taroa Airfield on Maloelap at 1130. During the night of 30/31 January, B-24s of the Seventh Air Force’s VII Bomber Command begin continuous small attacks on Kwajalein Atoll. At 2000 hours, the escort carriers of Task Unit 53.1.6 (the Northern Attack Force Carrier Unit) are released from convoy escort duties and prepare for pre-landing and ground support missions tomorrow. The Task Units involved in the invasion are:
Task Unit 51.2.5, the Joint Expeditionary Force Air Support Unit composed of:
USS Nassau (CVE-16) with Composite Squadron Sixty Six (VC-66)
USS Natoma Bay (CVE-62) with VC-63
Task Unit 52.9.1, the Southern Attack Force Carrier Support Unit composed of:
USS Coral Sea (CVE-57) with VC-33
USS Corregidor (CVE-58) with VC-41
USS Manila Bay (CVE-61) with VC-7
Task Unit 53.1.6, the Northern Attack Force Carrier Support Unit composed of:
USS Chenango (CVE-28) with Escort Carrier Air Group Thirty Five (CVEG-35)
USS Sangamon (CVE-26) with CVEG-37
USS Suwanee (CVE-27) with VC-60
Task Force 57, the land-based air and defence force
Task Group 57.2, the USAAF strike command
11th Bombardment Group (Heavy) with 36 B-24s
30th Bombardment Group (Heavy) with 35 B-24s
41st Bombardment Group (Medium) with 64 B-25s
21st Fighter Squadron with 25 P-39s
45th Fighter Squadron wtih 25 P-39s and P-40s
46th Fighter Squadron with 25 P-39s and P-40s
531st Fighter-Bomber Squadron with 24 A-24s
Task Group 57.3, the search and patrol group
Bombing Squadron One Hundred Eight (VB-108) with 12 PB4Ys
VB-109 with 12 PB4Ys
VB-137 with 12 PVs
VB-142 with 12 PVs
Marine Scout- or Dive-Bombing Squadron One Hundred Fifty One (VMSB-151) with 18 SBDs
VMSB-331 with 18 SBDs
Patrol Squadron Fifty Three (VP-53) with 12 PBYs
VP-72 with 12 PBYs
VP-202 with 12 PBMs
Photographic Squadsron Three (VD-3) with 6 PB4Ys
Scouting Squadron Fifty One (VS-51) with 6 SBDs
VS-65 with 6 SBDs
VS-66 with 6 SBDs
Plus the tenders USS Casco (AVP-12), USS Curtiss (AVP-4) and USS Mackinac
Attacks by land-based aircraft from Tarawa and Makin, in the Gilbert Islands, had heavily damaged Japanese airfields, and most of the remaining aircraft were destroyed or put out of action by carrier raids earlier this month. Then, for three days before the landings, US battleships blasted the islands on each side of Kwajalein atoll.
Three assault groups struck today, and by 9.30am Majoru was secured without the loss of a single man. Tricky approaches through gaps in the coral reefs made the landings more difficult at Roi and Namur Islands where the 4th Marine Division attacked. The Japanese combined fleet at Truk lacking carrier pilots, could only look on helplessly. On Kwajalein some 3,000 Japanese had survived the preliminary bombardment. They made attempts to push the invaders back into the ocean, but soon found themselves hopelessly outnumbered.
CANADA: Minesweeper HMCS New Liskeard launched.
Escort carrier USS Bismark Sea laid down.
Destroyer escorts USS Dufilho and Douglas A Munro laid down.
Destroyer USS Douglas H Fox laid down.
Escort carrier USS Sargent Bay launched.
Destroyer USS Robinson commissioned.
Aircraft carrier USS Franklin commissioned.
Destroyer minelayer USS Thomas E Fraser laid down.
ATLANTIC OCEAN: U-592 Sunk at 1000hrs on in the North Atlantic south-west of Ireland, in position 50. 20N, 17.29W, by depth charges from the British sloops HMS Starling, Wild Goose and Magpie. 49 dead (all hands lost). (Alex Gordon)
U-608 shot down an RAF 172 Sqn Wellington.
“Hitler Says Soviet Menaces All the Nations of Europe.”
Even a stopped clock, etc. “Russian Army Approaching Estonia,” and the Baltic republics wouldn’t be independent until the 1990s.
"Even in the horrific conditions prevailing in the concentration camps, inmates sought to preserve some semblance of humanity.
This woolen pin, made by an inmate at the Bergen-Belsen, Germany, camp, was presented to Ruth Wiener as a birthday gift."
Winston is still thinking in terms of battleships as a measure of naval power.
During the final build-up for a home islands invasion Eniwetok become the busiest harbor in the world.
My father passed through there on his way home in 1946.
Page 4, at those prices I could do weekly shopping for around 10 bucks.
Only if you had enough rationing points.
I noticed that overcoats are on markdown. The stores are already looking forward to spring stock.
Noticed in the paper that the allies bombed Hamburg, Brunswick and Berlin.
We actually tried to win that war, and were willing to kill, God forbid, enemy civilians.
Over 12 years into the “war on terror” we have lost ground.
Nice picture of the PIAT there. You can see the first generation hollow shaped charge warhead. I’m not sure if the British used copper to form the jet back then, but I’m sure they are using some sort of metal cone if they are getting 4 inches of penetration. This is a precursor to the modern RPG that we see in use all over the world today.
Their position was not entirely unreasonable. Estonia had not been independent since the Middle Ages, Latvia since the Great Northern War and Lithuania since the Partitions of Poland. The post-WWI settlement was out of the Allies' (especially Wilson) determination to break up the empires and grant independence to ethnic groups formerly governed in them. That said, it was a very welcome development that the breakup of the Soviet Union allowed the Baltics to regain independence.
Baldwin has an interesting piece about mechanized warfare and lessons to be learned from the Eastern Front. I suspect Baldwin and Patton are very like-minded about the subject.
Baldwin strongly suspects that the Germans and Russians are playing major league ball and we’re still in the minors. I’m sure he’s getting good information from Ralph Parker in Moscow. Too bad the Soviets are not sharing access to the front with the American military mission. We really don’t know exactly what is going on tactically over there.
I suppose we were lucky the Russians allowed a military mission at all, given their harassment of the Brits in the North.
True. Borders have always moved around, and "Back to Point A" is not necessarily more legitimate than "Back to Point B, C, X, or Q."
That is interesting. I wonder if they just translated the German for “National Socialist” to “Nazi” as a kind of shorthand. That would be sloppy, to say the least.
Most likely just shortened in the translation. It happens a lot. I was reading a translated work by St. Augustine of Hippo one time and the phrase “every Tom, Dick, and Harry” was in it. Now I know that this was not the exact translation of the Latin text. It just wouldn’t be something that would be said in the 4th century.
Another word that Hitler never used was Blitzkrieg. He always said it was a silly word.
I love these threads....thanks so much for all your work.
Even where secrecy is enforced with execution, it nonetheless shouts the state secrets from the rooftops.
Use it confidently, systematically, and decisively as the world becomes ever more dangerous.