With the Gilbert and Marshall Island and eastern New Guinea in their hands, the American forces in the Pacific moved westward on two lines, converging on the Philippines. General MacArthur’s Southwest Pacific command worked along the coast of New Guinea. Admiral Nimitz and the fleet continued their conquest of Micronesia. Sea, land, and air forces cooperated. The method called at first for a preliminary bombardment by carrier-planes, or if possible, by land-based planes. When the position had been sufficiently “softened,” landing an occupation followed, or, if it seemed preferable, the position might be by-passed and left to “wither-on-the-vine,” cut-off from supplies and assistance from the homeland.
By such means the American and Australian forces, with assistance from the fleet, took Hollandia, and later Biak Island in New Guinea. By August MacArthur was at the tip of the island, and the Japanese left behind were negligible. In September he occupied Morotai and neutralized Halmahira in the sea between New Guinea and the Philippines.
Meanwhile the fleet had been moving westward. The Carolines, with the fabulously strong base at Truk (Chuuk), was the next objective. Truk was repeatedly bombed until it was temporarily harmless. Halsey’s Third Fleet assistance MacArthur’s advance and carried out carrier-based bombing raids as far as Luzon.
On 14 June 1944 Marines were put ashore at Tinian in the Marianas within range of Japan itself. The danger brought out a Japanese naval force, which was defeated with heavy loss by Admiral Spruance. Saipan resisted for several weeks; in August the capture of near-by Guam was announced. The Palau Islands were taken in September. Admiral Halsey extended his activities to Formosa (Taiwan) and the Ryukyu Islands, but the Japanese fleet avoided an action.
Dirk Anthony Ballendorf