Operation Squarepeg

The Allied Invasion of the Green Islands, February 1944

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About the Book

 In late January 1944 a force of New Zealand soldiers and Allied specialists undertook a daring behind the lines reconnaissance of the Japanese-held Green Islands of Papua New Guinea. The New Zealand Army’s largest amphibious operation of World War II followed two weeks later. The Japanese contested the invasion with air power and inflicted heavy damage on the American cruiser USS St. Louis. After landing, the New Zealanders pushed inland and encountered fanatical Japanese defenders entrenched in thick jungle.
Allied engineers—including the famed Seabees—then built airfields, roads and shipping facilities. The seizure of the Green Islands completed the encirclement of the main Japanese base in the South Pacific at Rabaul. A memorable but overlooked action of the Pacific War, “Operation Squarepeg” involved a diverse force of Allied sailors, soldiers and airmen that included Charles Lindbergh and future U.S. president Richard Nixon.

About the Author(s)

Reg Newell has a doctoral degree from Massey University, Palmerston North (with a dissertation on New Zealand’s Third Division in the Pacific) and continues researching the Pacific War. He lives in Upper Hutt, New Zealand.

Bibliographic Details

Reg Newell
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 221
Bibliographic Info: 59 photos, maps, chronology, glossary, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7838-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2832-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments vi

Introduction 1

One. The Strategic Landscape, January 1944 3

Two. The Opposing Forces 10

Three. The “Commando Raid”—A Reconnaissance in Force 18

Four. Planning an Amphibious Invasion 52

Five. Bloody St. Valentine’s Day—The Ordeal of USS St. Louis 67

Six. Invasion 72

Seven. The Push Inland 103

Eight. Japanese Resistance 107

Nine. Tank and Infantry Action at Tanaheran 110

Ten. Aftermath and Consolidation 121

Eleven. Significance and Legacy 172

Chronology 175

Glossary 180

Appendices 194

I: New Zealand Order of Battle for the “Commando Raid,”

30 January 1944 194

II: New Zealand Order of Battle, Operation Squarepeg,

15 February 1944 194

III: New Zealand and American Units Involved in Operation

Squarepeg, 15 February 1944 195

IV: U.S. Naval Forces Involved with Operation Squarepeg,

15 February 1944 196

V: U.S. Navy Task Organization for Squarepeg 197

VI: Specifications of the Valentine Tanks of 3NZ Division Tank Squadron 197

VII: Echelons to the Green Islands 197

Chapter Notes 198

Bibliography 207

Index 211