The South West Pacific theatre, during World War II, was a major theatre of the war between the Allies and Japan. It included the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies (except for Sumatra), Borneo, Australia and its mandate Territory of New Guinea (including the Bismarck Archipelago) and the western part of the Solomon Islands. This area was defined by the Allied powers' South West Pacific Area (SWPA) command. In the South West Pacific theatre, Japanese forces fought primarily against the forces of the United States and Australia. New Zealand, the Netherlands (mainly the Dutch East Indies), the Philippines, United Kingdom, and other Allied nations also contributed forces.
Allied command[edit | edit source]
The U.S. General Douglas MacArthur had been in command of the American forces in the Philippines in what was to become the South West Pacific theatre, but was then part of a larger theatre that encompassed the South West Pacific, the South East Asian mainland (including Indochina and Malaya) and the North of Australia, under the short lived American-British-Dutch-Australian Command (ABDACOM). Shortly after the collapse of ABDACOM, supreme command of the South West Pacific theatre passed to MacArthur who was appointed Supreme Allied Commander South West Pacific Area on 30 March 1942.[lower-alpha 1] In the other major theatre in the Pacific region, known as the Pacific Ocean theatre, Allied forces were commanded by US Admiral Chester Nimitz. Both MacArthur and Nimitz were overseen by the US Joint Chiefs and the western Allies Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCoS).
Japanese command[edit | edit source]
Most Japanese forces in the theatre were part of the Southern Expeditionary Army (南方軍 Nanpo gun ), which was formed on November 6, 1941, under General Hisaichi Terauchi (also known as Count Terauchi). The Nanpo gun was responsible for Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) ground and air units in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. The Combined Fleet (聯合艦隊 Rengō Kantai ) of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) was responsible for all Japanese warships, naval aviation units and marine infantry units. As the Japanese military did not formally utilize joint/combined staff at the operational level, the command structures/geographical areas of operations of the Nanpo gun and Rengō Kantai overlapped each other and those of the Allies.
Major campaigns in the theatre[edit | edit source]
- Battle of the Philippines (1941–42)
- Dutch East Indies campaign, 1941–42
- Solomon Islands campaign 1943–45
- New Guinea campaign, 1942–45
- Battle of the Coral Sea 4–8 May 1942
- Kokoda Track campaign 1942
- Battle of Buna-Gona 1942
- Battle of the Bismarck Sea 2 March 1943
- Landing at Nassau Bay 1943
- Salamaua-Lae campaign 1943
- Huon Peninsula campaign 1943
- New Britain campaign 26 December 1943
- Admiralty Islands campaign 29 February 1944
- Aitape-Wewak campaign 22 April 1944
- Invasion of Hollandia 22 April 1944
- Battle of Biak 27 May 1944
- Battle of Noemfoor 2 July 1944
- Battle of Morotai 15 September 1944
- Battle of Timor 1942–43
- Philippines campaign (1944–45)
- Borneo campaign (1945)
See also[edit | edit source]
Notes[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Cressman, Robert J. (2000). The Official Chronology of the U.S. Navy in World War II. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-149-1.
- Dull, Paul S. (1978). A Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy (1941–1945). Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press.
- Potter, E.B.; Nimitz, Chester W. (1960). Sea Power. Prentice-Hall.
- Silverstone, Paul H. (1968). U.S. Warships of World War II. Doubleday and Company.
- Sulzberger, C.L. (1966). The American Heritage Picture History of World War II. Crown Publishers.
Further reading[edit | edit source]
- Drea, Edward J. (1998). In the Service of the Emperor: Essays on the Imperial Japanese Army. Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-1708-0.
- Eichelberger, Robert (1989 (reissue)). Our Jungle Road to Tokyo. New York: Battery Press. ISBN 0-89839-132-6.
- Griffith, Thomas E., Jr. (1998). MacArthur's Airman : General George C. Kenney and the War in the Southwest Pacific. Lawrence, Kansas, U.S.A.: University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-0909-1.
- Krueger, Walter (1979). From Down Under to Nippon: Story of the 6th Army in World War II. Zenger. ISBN 0-89201-046-0.
- United States Army Center of Military History. "Japanese Operations in the Southwest Pacific Area, Volume II – Part I". Reports of General MacArthur. http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/MacArthur%20Reports/MacArthur%20V2%20P1/macarthurv2.htm#contents. Retrieved 2006-12-08. - Translation of the official record by the Japanese Demobilization Bureaux detailing the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy's participation in the Southwest Pacific area of the Pacific War.
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