First Battle of Guam 1941, and Second 1944


Battle of Guam (1941)

he First Battle of Guam, was an engagement during the Pacific War inWorld War II, and took place on 8 December 1941 on Guam in the Mariana Islands between the Empire of Japan and the United States. The Americangarrison was defeated by Japanese forces which resulted in an occupationuntil the Second Battle of Guam in 1944.

Background

Japanese Special Forces landed about 5,500 men on Guam on 10 December 1941. The bulk of the Japanese forces belonged to the 4,886-strong 55th Infantry Group. But the 370-man 5th Company, 2nd Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF), based at Saipan, was the only unit to engage in combat during the operation.

U.S. forces on Guam consisted of about 547 Marines, Insular Force guardsmen, and navy personnel but they only had about 160 weapons including three .30 in (7.62 mm) machine guns and four Thompson submachine guns. Among the American units were 271 U.S. Navy personnel, mostly unarmed, including Guamanian messman and four Navy nurses. Guam’s U.S. Navy cargo ship Gold Star with a 137-man crew was also present. The U.S. Marine Barracks had only 153 Marines assigned under Lieutenant Colonel William K. MacNulty. This was just a company armed with only a few M1918A1 BAR rifles and M1903 Springfield rifles. The unarmed and unpaid Guam Militia was mostly a ceremonial marching unit, and played no part in the defense of Guam.

First Battle of Guam
Part of the Pacific Theater of World War II
Japan Guam Landing 1941.gif
A Japanese illustration of the main landing on Guam by the 144th Infantry Regiment, South Seas Detatchment. Painting byEzaki Kohei.
Date 8—10 December 1941
Location GuamMariana IslandsPacific Ocean
Result Japanese victory
Belligerents
United States Japan Empire of Japan
Commanders and leaders
George J. McMillin Tomitaro Horii
Strength
Land:
547
marines,
sailors
Sea:
minesweeper,
patrol boats,
freighter
Land:
5,900
infantry,
marines
Sea:
heavy cruisers,
destroyers,
gunboats,
submarine chasers,
2 minesweepers,
tenders
Air:
unknown air forces
Casualties and losses
17 killed,
35 wounded,
406 captured,
1 minesweeper scuttled,
1 patrol boat scuttled,
1 patrol boat captured,
1 freighter damaged
1 killed,
6 wounded,
aircraft destroyed
  • Thirteen Americans civilians and five POWs were killed by Japanese forces during the battle.
  • Three Japanese infiltrators were captured by American forces but were released upon the surrender of the island.

Battle

At 04:45 on 8 December, the Governor of the island, George J. McMillin was informed about the attack on Pearl Harbor. At 08:27, Japanese aircraft from Saipan attacked the Marine Barracks, the Piti Navy Yard, Libugon radio station, Standard Oil Company, and the Pan American Hotel. During the airstrike, the minesweeper Penguin was scuttled after shooting down a Japanese plane. One officer was killed and several men wounded. The air raids all over Guam continued into the morning and afternoon before subsiding at 17:00.

The next day at 08:30, Japanese air attacks resumed with no more than nine aircraft attacking at a time. Previous targets mentioned were attacked as well as the Government House in Agana and several villages. That evening, a Japanese invasion fleet, comprising four heavy cruisers, fourdestroyers, two gunboats, and six submarine chasers, two minesweepers, and two tenders, left Saipan for Guam.

At 02:15 on 10 December, the 370-man 5th Company, Maizuri 2nd SNLF landed on Dungcas Beach on Agana Bay north of Agana and attacked and quickly captured the Insular Force Guard in Agana. It then advanced on Piti moving toward Sumay and the Marine Barracks. The South Seas Detachment began landing on the north flank of Tumon Bay on the upper northwest coast and moved towards Agana. The principal engagement took place on Agana’s Plaza de Espana at 04:45 when a few Marines and Insuler Force Guardsmen fought with the 5th Company. After token resistance, the Marines surrendered at 05:45. Governor McMillin officially surrendered at 06:00, but a few skirmishes took place all over the island before news of the surrender spread and the rest of the island forces surrendered as well. The American patrol boat YP-16 was scuttled by means of fire during the event and YP-17 was captured by Japanese naval forces. An American freighter was also damaged by the Japanese.

Marine losses were five killed and 13 wounded. The U.S. Navy lost eight killed, The Guam Insular Force Guards lost four, and a total of 22 wounded. Only one Japanese Marine was killed and six wounded, all of them from the 5th Company, 2nd SNLF.

Japanese landings on Guam.

Battle of Guam 2nd (1944)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and others

The Second Battle of Guam (July 21 — August 8, 1944) was the American capture of the Japanese held island of Guam (in the Mariana Islands) during the Pacific campaign of World War II.

Second Battle of Guam
Part of World War IIPacific War

First flag on Guam
Two U.S. officers plant the American flag on Guam eight minutes after U.S. Marines and Army assault troops landed
Date July 21 – August 8, 1944
Location GuamMariana Islands
Result American Victory
Belligerents
United States United States Japan Empire of Japan
Commanders and leaders
United States Roy Geiger Japan Takeshi Takashina
Japan Hideyoshi Obata
Strength
36,000 22,000
Casualties and losses
1,747 killed,
6,053 wounded
18,040+ killed,
485 POWs

 

Background

Guam is the largest of the Marianas, 30 miles (48 km) long and 9 miles (14 km) wide. It had been a United States possession since its capture from Spain in 1898 until it was captured by the Japanese on December 11, 1941, following the Attack on Pearl Harbor. It was not as heavily fortified as the other Mariana Islands such as Saipan that had been Japanese possessions since the end of World War I, but by 1944 it had a large Japanese garrison.

The Allied plan for the invasion of the Marianas called for heavy preliminary bombardment, first by carrier aircraft and planes based in the Marshall Islands to the east, then once air superiority was gained, close bombardment by battleships. Guam was chosen as a target because its large size made it suitable as a base for supporting the next stage of operations towards the PhilippinesTaiwan and the Ryukyu Islands; the deep-water harbor at Apra was suitable for the largest ships; and the two airfields would be suitable for B-29 Superfortress bombers.

The invasion of Saipan was scheduled for June 15, 1944, with landings on Guam tentatively set for June 18. The original timetable was optimistic. Stubborn resistance by the unexpectedly large garrison on Saipan, and alarge Japanese carrier attack led to the invasion of Guam being postponed for a month.

Battle

File:Bombardment of Guam.jpg

Bombardment of Guam on 14 July 1944 before the battle, as seen from USS New Mexico

Guam, ringed by reefs, cliffs, and heavy surf, presents a formidable challenge for an attacker. On July 21 the Americans landed on both sides of the Orote peninsula on the western side of Guam, planning to cut off the airfield.

File:Battle of Guam map.jpg

Map of Guam showing major towns, roads, topography, surrounding reefs and bays.

The 3rd Marine Division landednear Agana to the north of Oroteat 08:28, and the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade landed near Agatto the south. Japanese artillery sank 20 LVTs, but by 09:00 tanks were ashore at both beaches. The 77th Infantry Division had a more difficult landing. Lacking amphibious vehicles, they had to wade ashore from the edge of the reef where they were dropped by their landing craft.

File:USMC-M-Guam-OFC.jpg

US Marines move inland.

By nightfall the Americans had established beachheads about 2,000 meters deep. Japanese counter-attacks were made throughout the first few days of the battle, mostly at night, using infiltration tactics. Several times they penetrated the American defenses and were driven back with heavy loss of men and equipment. Lieutenant General Takeshi Takashina was killed on July 28, and Lieutenant General Hideyoshi Obata took over the command of the defenders.

Supply was very difficult for the Americans in the first days of the battle. Landing ships could not come closer than the reef, several hundred yards from the beach, and amphibious vehicles were scarce. However, the two beachheads were joined up on July 28, and the Orote airfield and Apra harbor were captured by July 30.

The counterattacks around the American beachheads had exhausted the Japanese. At the start of August they were running out of food and ammunition and had only a handful of tanks left. Obata withdrew his troops from the south of Guam, planning to make a stand in the mountainous central part of the island. But with resupply and reinforcement impossible because of American control of the sea and air around Guam, he could hope to do no more than delay the inevitable defeat for a few days.

Rain and thick jungle made conditions difficult for the Americans, but after an engagement at Mount Barrigada from August 2 to August 4, the Japanese line collapsed; the rest of the battle was a pursuit to the north. As in other battles of the Pacific War, the Japanese refused to surrender, and almost all were killed.

Three Marine amphibian tractor battalion officers that played an important role in the invasion of Guam. From left to right, Maj. Erwin F. Wann, Maj. W.W. Butler and Lt. Col. Sylvester Stephens.

Aftermath

File:Coast Guard Marines at Guam - ca. July 1944.jpg

US Marines show their appreciation to the Coast Guard.

A few Japanese soldiers held out in the jungle. On December 8, 1945, three U.S. Marines were ambushed and killed. On January 24, 1972, Sergeant Shoichi Yokoi was discovered by hunters. He had lived alone in a cave for 27 years.

After the battle, Guam was turned into a base for Allied operations. Five large airfields were built by the Seabees, and B-29 bombers flew from the island to attack targets in the Western Pacific and on mainland Japan.

Japanese POW

Four U.S. Marines were awarded the Medal of Honor for their heroic actions during the Battle of Guam: PFC Luther Skaggs Jr., PFC Frank Witek (posthumously), PFC Leonard F. Mason (posthumously) and Captain (later General) Louis H. Wilson, Jr..

Liberation Day continues to be celebrated on Guam every July 21.

 

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