Japanese sniper's nest, New Guinea

Japanese sniper's nest, New Guinea

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Japanese sniper's nest, New Guinea

American troops investigate a Japanese sniper's nest during the fighting in Papua on New Guinea.

Military history of New Zealand during World War II

The military history of New Zealand during World War II began when New Zealand entered the Second World War by declaring war on Nazi Germany with Great Britain. The state of war with Germany was officially held to have existed since 9:30 pm on 3 September 1939 (local time), simultaneous with that of Britain, but in fact New Zealand's declaration of war was not made until confirmation had been received from Britain that their ultimatum to Germany had expired. When Neville Chamberlain broadcast Britain's declaration of war, a group of New Zealand politicians (led by Peter Fraser because Prime Minister Michael Savage was terminally ill) listened to it on the shortwave radio in Carl Berendsen's room in the Parliament Buildings. Because of static on the radio, they were not certain what Chamberlain had said until a coded telegraph message was received later from London. This message did not arrive until just before midnight because the messenger boy with the telegram in London took shelter due to a (false) air raid warning. The Cabinet acted after hearing the Admiralty's notification to the fleet that war had broken out. The next day the Cabinet approved nearly 30 war regulations as laid down in the War Book, and after completing the formalities with the Executive Council the Governor-General, Lord Galway, issued the Proclamation of War, backdated to 9.30 pm on 3 September. [1] [2]

Diplomatically, New Zealand had expressed vocal opposition to fascism in Europe and also to the appeasement of Fascist dictatorships, [3] and national sentiment for a strong show of force met with general support. Economic and defensive considerations also motivated the New Zealand involvement—reliance on Britain meant that threats to Britain became threats to New Zealand too in terms of economic and defensive ties.

There was also a strong sentimental link between the former British colony and the United Kingdom, with many seeing Britain as the "mother country" or "Home". The New Zealand Prime Minister of the time Michael Joseph Savage summed this up at the outbreak of war with a broadcast on 5 September (largely written by the Solicitor-General Henry Cornish) [4] [5] that became a popular cry in New Zealand during the war:

It is with gratitude in the past, and with confidence in the future, that we range ourselves without fear beside Britain, where she goes, we go! Where she stands, we stand! [6]

New Zealand provided personnel for service in the Royal Air Force (RAF) and in the Royal Navy and was prepared to have New Zealanders serving under British command. Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) pilots, many trained in the Empire Air Training Scheme, were sent to Europe but, unlike the other Dominions, New Zealand did not insist on its aircrews serving with RNZAF squadrons, so speeding up the rate at which they entered service. The Long Range Desert Group was formed in North Africa in 1940 with New Zealand and Rhodesian as well as British volunteers, but included no Australians for the same reason.

The New Zealand government placed the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy at the Admiralty's disposal and made available to the RAF 30 new Wellington medium bombers waiting in the United Kingdom for shipping to New Zealand. The New Zealand Army contributed the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2NZEF).


At the outbreak of hostilities, Australia did not have forces in place for the defence of New Guinea and the New Hebrides, due to the League of Nations mandate under which the former German territories were administered. [5] Small, mostly ad hoc units of lightly trained men were spread across the region. [5] The Australian Government made the decision to move small units to strategic locations to assist the defence. This included elements of the 7th Division, consisting mainly of men from the 2/6th Field Company, on the transport Orcades, who were sent to Java, and fought alongside Dutch forces there, but like most other minor garrisons were soon overwhelmed. [6]

Prior to the formation of New Guinea Force, in January 1942, the 30th Brigade was deployed to New Guinea arriving on the troopship RMS Aquitania, [7] with the 39th and 53rd Infantry Battalions, and took command of the 49th Infantry Battalion. [8] Initially, all Australian forces in New Guinea had been part of the 8th Military District however, in April 1942, an Army-wide reorganisation was undertaken which saw the establishment of a new command – New Guinea Force – with Major General Basil Morris in command. This force subsequently replaced the 8th Military District as the formation responsible for all Australian forces in the territories of Papua and New Guinea. [9] [10]

In August 1942, HQ I Corps was transferred from Queensland to Port Moresby and on 15 August 1942 became known as Headquarters New Guinea Force (HQ NG Force). [11] Corps troops and two brigades of 7th Division subsequently moved in. [12]

Upon arrival, the 21st Brigade, under Brigadier Arnold Potts, was dispatched to Port Moresby, from where they would help reinforce the 39th Battalion, which were fighting a rearguard action on the Kokoda Track. [13] Around the same time, the 18th Brigade, under the command of Brigadier George Wootten, was sent to Milne Bay, [14] [15] to reinforce the 7th Brigade, which was defending the airfield at the eastern tip of Papua, supported by the Royal Australian Air Force and US engineers. [16] The fighting which followed came to be known as the Battle of Milne Bay. [17]

Further formations from I Corps were rotated through the New Guinea theatre of operations under the command of New Guinea Force:

  • In April 1942, the 3rd Division had been assigned to the Australian I Corps, [11] and in early 1943 the 3rd Division arrived in New Guinea, with the 15th Brigade being sent to Port Moresby and the 4th Brigade going to Milne Bay. [18]
  • In August 1943, the 5th Division arrived in New Guinea with the 29th Brigade. The 4th Brigade of the 3rd Division was reassigned to the 5th Division and was later replaced within the division by the 29th Brigade. [18]
  • From January to May 1944, the brigades of the 7th Division returned to Australia. [19][20]
  • In August 1944, the 3rd Division's brigades were withdrawn back to Australia and assigned to the Australian II Corps. [21]

Structure [ edit | edit source ]

The 7th Division consisted of the following units: ⏏]

Members of "B" Company, 2/12th Battalion, who helped silence a Japanese mountain gun during the Battle of Prothero I & II. (Left to right) "Skinny" McQueen, Ron Lord, Eric Willey and Alan F Hackett. (Photographer: Colin Halmarick.)

Members of "C" Company, 2/9th Infantry Battalion digging into a newly-occupied part of Shaggy Ridge.

Higgins was born in England in 1920. He is the second son of the "Duke of Perth" (of Scotland) in a family that has been in the British peerage for almost 800 years. As a second son, his official title is Lord Jonathan Higgins. Higgins' older brother would be considered the "Baron of Perth". His great-aunt Matilda was lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria and claimed the family descended from Richard the Lionheart. His Father's great grandfather's aunt was the Duchess of Clyde, whose uncle on the mother's side was Earl of Throckmorton and nephew of Edward VI, son of Jane Seymour and Henry VIII.

Higgins, 1940s
Higgins, 1960s
In his youth, he was educated at several British preparatory and public schools, including the prestigious Eton College (ages 13-18) in Eton, Berkshire where he was a stellar student and the top Fencer in his class. After Eton, he attended The Royal Military College (RMC) at Sandhurst, but was expelled during his third year after being falsely accused of causing the partial paralysis of a fellow student during a school prank. It was then that he enlisted in the British Army. After the War, he graduated from the University of Cambridge as a Doctor of Mathematics in 1947.

Jonathan has "several" brothers (never named) and a sister (never named) who lives in Sussex with her four children. His father, Albert Stanley Higgins, sired numerous children out of wedlock during his travels in World War I, which include Elmo Ziller (American), Fr. Paddy McGuiness (Irish), Don Luis Mongueo (Spanish), Soo Ling (Chinese), Elizabeth Whitefeather (unknown) and Catoomba Noomba (African).

Higgins became the majordomo of Robin's Nest in 1972. He has never been married and has no known children.

Higgins' Timeline

1920 - Jonathan Quayle Higgins is born (exact birthplace is unknown).

1925-1926 (Age 5 to 6) - Attended an unnamed British preparatory school as a child.
- Foiled Again (3.8)

1927-1931 (Age 7 to 11) - At the age of 7, attended a military school for boys on the "rainy, windswept coast of. " [England].
- Tran Quoc Jones (5.9)

1928 - Higgins' father, Albert Stanley Higgins, was military attache to the embassy in Peking. He was asked to escort a contingent of Episcopal nuns to Hentiy (Mongolia) where they were to establish a mission. Along the way, they were ambushed by Mongolian bandits, lead by a beautiful raven-haired woman. She had never seen an Englishman before and found Albert fascinating, so fascinating that she was willing to let the nuns go in exchange for certain favors. She took Albert to a cliff overlooking the sea and. 9 months later Soo-Ling was born (Higgins' half-sister).
- Faith and Begorrah (3.23)

1932-1936 (Age 12 to Age 16) - Educated at the prestigious public school for boys Eton College (ages 13-18) in Eton, Berkshire. He was a stellar student and the top Fencer in his class. At 16, he played Hamlet in the school play as a last-minute replacement when the boy originally cast suddenly became ill. He also directed a production of Gilbert & Sullivan's The Mikado.
- The Case of the Red Faced Thespian (4.12) & Foiled Again (3.8)

1937-1939 (Age 17 to 19) - Student at The Royal Military College (RMC) at Sandhurst. He was "sent down" in the winter of his third year when he was falsely accused of causing the partial paralysis of a fellow student during a school prank. The following spring, he enlisted in the British Army where he would later become Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM).
- Holmes Is Where the Heart Is (4.18) & Compulsion (5.14)

1937 (Age 17) - After finishing his upper second at Sandhurst, Higgins' father treated the family to a trip to the resort town of Blackpool to celebrate. There they saw some theater shows, including a Quick-change act by The LaSalle Sisters. Higgins, however, didn't have the heart to tell his father that Blackpool was a bit gaudy for his tastes.
- Limited Engagement (4.5)

1937 - In the Suez, the Egyptians had him completely surrounded.
- Past Tense (3.5)

1939 (Age 19) - Engaged to be married to Lady Ashley, a woman who is "built like the Prince Albert Memorial". Shortly after they were engaged, Higgins entered the service. Lady Ashley decided that she didn't want to wait for Jonathan and took up with a podiatrist. She sent Higgins a Dear John Letter. They meet up again some 45 years later in Oahu in 1982.
- Computer Date (2.14) & Echoes of the Mind (5.1 & 5.2)

1940 (Age 20) - In Alexandria, as a young Lance-Corporal, he was forced to feign matrimony (reason undisclosed) with not one, but three daughters of a Bedouin Prince. "As a young Lance-Corporal who had experienced but one affaire de coeur in [his] 22 years, the prospect of an impending wedding eve with three hot-blooded Bedouin was indeed an awesome one. Fortunately, as the youngest daughter dosed the dying campfire and plunged the tent into pitch blackness, Higgins recalled a particularly relevent chapter from Rommel's classic treatise on tank warfare.
- I Do? (3.17)

1940 - Participated in an assault up the Khyber Pass against Afghan fighters.
- Emerald's Are Not a Girl's Best Friend (Simon & Simon crossover episode)

1941 - Shot in El Alamein, Egypt, learned he has the rare type AB negative blood type, which is present in only

1941 - Just after the Siege of Tobruk in the Western Desert Campaign, Higgins' unit captured an SS Officer. Higgins' comrades "worked on him for a week", but nothing. Then they brought Higgins in to do the interogation. Here, Higgins has his headset audio cut off by Rick.
- Texas Lightning (2.18)

1942 - For the first six months, he was in Turbia (fictional), a picturesque principality high in the Pyrenees, where monks had a vow of silence. He drove one to cursing him.
- The Big Blow (3.22)

  • Under Field Marshal Harold Alexander's command in the British/American 15th Army Group , a group of Tuaregs captured him. He was unable to bribe them. It was 130 degrees in the shade. He was tied out in the heat without a hat in the desert, and was always afraid of the sun after that experience.
    - J. "Digger" Doyle (1.17)
  • In August of 1942, enduring heat, malaria, and bad food as the Allies prepared to take Tripoli, he tried to raise morale by organizing a basketball game and created what was later known as the 'floating zone', or sphere defense.
    - Basket Case (3.15)
  • Also in August of 1942, Inky Gilbert, owner of a carnival, went berserk and ran at a machine gun nest. Brother Donald ran after Inky and was badly burned. Higgins held position. Don became Gus Zimmer, carny legend.
    - I Never Wanted to Go To France, Anyway (6.12)
  • A lad tried to warn of a regiment of Germans on their left flank, but he had lied too often and was ignored only Higgins escaped alive.
    - Smaller Than Life (4.3)
  • Raided a Jerry supply dump with the lads and ran into some Bedouin women with a dromedary that spit all the time.
    - J. "Digger" Doyle (1.17)
  • Accidentally kills a fellow British soldier at night, who fails to properly identify himself.
    - On Face Value (4.19)

1943 - Fought in the Allied invasion of Sicily. He was personally presented with a walking stick by "Monty" (General Montgomery) himself!
- Heal Thyself (3.12)

1943 - In the summer of 1943, he transferred from the North African campaign to the Kokoda Track Campaign in New Guinea. He was attached to the Australian 7th Division to push the enemy back against the line of mountains on the island, on the 100-mile Kokona Trail one inch of rain fell in five minutes, and the black mud was full of disease. He was there six months. Starving, out of bullets, lost for one day, he found Sato Osawa's men. They exchanged rations for Sato's quinine. That entire day, Sato and Jonathan didn't exchange a single word. They talked after the war when he found Sato in a Russian camp, and later exchanged letters. They would see each other briefly at Robin's Nest in 1982.
- The Eighth Part of the Village (3.4)

1943 - Malaysia, 1943, our regiment was hopelessly outnumbered and faced certain death. In our ranks was a young Lt. Ian Bowerly and during a lull in the battle he recited Gunga Din, I suppose to keep up our courage in face of the inevitable. His eloquent recitation grew increasingly louder until it thundered through the jungle. To our amazement, the Japanese troops walked forward. Although they spoke no English they were entranced by the poem. They allowed us all to leave the area unharmed except for poor Mr. Bowerly. As we made our escape we could hear him reciting other Kipling favorites, literally for miles. To this day, his fate remains unknown."
- Who is Don Luis Higgins . (6.19)

1943 - Separated from his unit in a skirmish and spent 9 days alone hunted by the Japanese. Though he was shot when he tried to leap from a tree onto their squad leader, and he was armed only with a knife, he held all three men prisoner.
- Autumn Warrior (7.13)

1944 - Early in the year, he was in Italy (north of Salerno) at the Battle of Monte Cassino, a "bloody mess". He and Lt. Carlton Houghtailing were pinned down by sniper fire for 16 days in an abandoned mushroom cellar. They ate nothing but mushrooms, which caused deleterious effects for Lt. Houghtailing by the sixth day he had forgotten his own name, by the tenth he was convinced they were Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.
- Basket Case (3.15)

1944 - In the Pacific, he spent hours before battles doing water colors. A lovely island maiden dragged him into her hut to view her primitive art. He spent several wonderful weeks with her and mastered the technique, but not her talent.
- One Picture is Worth (7.3)

1944 - Organized a surfing competition (using discarded airplane wings) off the Moroccan coast to boast the morale of his unit. Higgins finished 6th behind Corky Bostwick, Binky Farmbush . [cut off]. Claimed it was one of the most memorable moments of his life, because he was able to tempt death without actually killing anyone.
- Dream A Little Dream (4.20)

1944 - Prior to D-Day, he was involved in unspecified duties for Operation Hambone*, deception operations to support the Allies invasion of Normandy.
* More commonly refered to as "Operation Copperhead".
- Pleasure Principle (8.3) & Resolutions (8.12)

1944 - June 6th, D-Day at Gold Beach, where he briefly met his half-brother Elmo Ziller. "Get your ruddy posterior down before it's shot off!", Higgins shouted when he saw him.
- The Elmo Ziller Story (2.21)

1944 - On July 23rd, Higgins was in Mexico City with MI6. The Third Reich put some top secret documents into a Mexican bank (the "Banco Internacional") for safekeeping. Higgins' assignment was to hire a notorious criminal to steal them, a man who appeared to be robbing just another bank. Higgins chose notorious bankrobber Garwood Huddle, the "Unarmed Bandit". After the heist, Garwood returned all of the money and refused to accept any payment. "It was his contribution to the war effort."
- The Legacy of Garwood Huddle (5.4)

1944 - Played America's top seed tennis player in the Army, Tappy Larsen. He parachuted into the Urals with a demolition team to infilitrate German lines.
- Mixed Doubles (3.10)

  • Higgins is British liaison to Merrill's Marauders in Burma. While helping to train one of the local Burmese defense forces, Higgins befriends American William Wainwright who is in Merrill's Marauders. During the monsoon season, William constructed a "snowshoe" contraption made out of vines and leaves to keep the troops from sinking into the "knee deep muck". Two hours after they cleared the camp, an air strike leveled everything around. Several hundred soldiers owe their life to the inventiveness of William Wainwright.
    - A Girl Named Sue (8.7)
  • Participated in the rebuilding of the Burma Road with a U.S. Army engineer, Colonel Len Carlson - "Carlson. Even now the name has the power to evoke the most powerful emotions. Sometimes I wake in the middle of the night with a start, imagining that he is there in the room with me, dominating everything, all power coalesced, somehow, in that one man's indomitable spirit."
    - The Great Hawaiian Adventure Company (8.9)
  • He was involved in the Burma Railway (the "Death Railway") and worked on the infamous River Kwai bridge.
    - Past Tense (3.5)
  • Participated in "Operation Neville", an assault on a bridge over the Irrawaddy river (as part of the Irrawaddy River operations in early 1945). The operation failed, due in part to the fact that Higgins' men spent most of the night before drinking a potent concoction called "Bullfight Brandy".
    - The Look (4.9)
  • One of Higgins' comrades in the Burma Campaign was a lad named "Tanker" Moran. He got the name when he single-handedly took on a Japanese tank and took it out. Now, he's selling jam in Devonshire [England].
    - Did You See the Sunrise (1) (3.1)
  • Stationed in Rangoon (capital of Burma) for an undisclosed amount of time. "Life was quiet, peaceful, tranquil, until Lt. Hilton-Thorpe was transferred in. Then it became a ghastly and depressing business."
    - Mr. White Death (3.9)
  • While in Burma, Higgins and a zaftig American Army clerk invented a library cataloging method that improved on the Dewey Decimal System in a night of literary passion when they found themselves alone, after hours, at the base library.
    - Rapture (6.11)
  • In the effort to push the Japanese out of Burma, his unit came across the home village of their native guide, which was completely destroyed by the Japanese. The guide was so distraught that he attacked the unit's captain in a successful attempt to get Higgins and his men to kill him.
    - Distant Relative (4.4)

1945 - Immediately after the war, in Palestine, Higgins led a patrol that had orders to shoot Jewish refugees. He came across Rabbi Asher Solomon and others on a tramp steamer lifeboat as it came to shore. Higgins disobeyed a standing order to "shoot on sight" and marched away from the refugees. Years later, they met outside a British museum where Jonathan tells him, "I was obeying a higher law that does not permit me to shoot unarmed refugees".
- Torah, Torah, Torah (5.21)

1945 - In the summer, he transferred from Beirut, Lebanon to Gwangju, South Korea.
- The Woman on the Beach (2.3)

1946 - In Suez, Egypt where he headed the British Relocation Committee, which brought 12 refugee children to Hawaii.
- Never Again. Never Again (1.7) & This Island Isn't Big Enough (6.16)

1946 - Briefly attended the Nuremberg Trials in Germany.
- Never Again. Never Again (1.7)

1946 - Liason to the Soviet Army of Occupation in Vienna. The Soviets tried to recruit him as an agent, but they failed, of course.
- From Moscow to Maui (2.4)

1946(?) - After the war, he did a brief stint with MI5 (British Military Intelligence, Section 5). They captured a German general trying to flee Europe disguised as an Albanian countess. He got caught because he was too attractive to be an Albanian countess!
- Tigers Fan (8.4)

1946 - Briefly in Shanghai, "just after The War". He learned Chinese Acupressure techniques.
- Beauty Knows No Pain (1.18)

1947 - Graduated from University of Cambridge as a Doctor of Mathematics.
- The Big Blow (3.22)

1947 - In Pakistan, where he encountered Lt. Teddy Fabishaw, a good officer but one with an unfortunate compulsion to worship lizards. Teddy lost his commission when he was caught with a Colonel's daughter performing an unspeakable act with an iguana!
- Home From the Sea (4.1)

1948 - In the spring, General Chiang Kai-Shek gave him a Ming vase. He was a military advisor attached the Indian 5th Infantry Division. The general who refused his advice is now a dishwasher in a mediocre Mandarin restaurant in Stockton, California.
- The Big Blow (3.22)

1948 - During his first tour of India, "one of the lads ran afoul of a minor Rajah.
- Legacy From a Friend (3.19)

1948 - In India, he learned hypnosis. He later used it when his sister lost the family brooch.
- Missing in Action (1.9)

1948 - In Mandalay, when Burma gained independence. One of the lads got involved with the daughter of an oriental tea merchant. He was an aide to a former British governor and wanted to investigate, but political implications tied his hands. They eventually found the lad's decomposed body. It was awful, as he was the finest cricket player they had!
- The Taking of Dick McWilliams (2.10)

1948 - In Madagascar, he was able to cure the double vision of a Corporal Abbott by means of Acupressure.
- Squeeze Play (4.7)

1949 - In India, he was Lord Mountbatten's batman while the regular batman recovered from a mishap with a sacred cow. While getting figs for Monty, he saw a holy man who looked exactly like his mother! It was "bloody frightening"!
- Mac's Back (5.3)

1949 - In Benares, he coached the regimental rugby team, working closely with military doctors. One time, Corky Bostwick brought two untouchables on the team.
- One More Summer (2.17) & The Case of the Red Faced Thespian (4.12)

1949 - His polo pony in Gwangju had an injured fetlock treated with Lidocaine. The Sunday of the Queen's birthday party, Corky Bostwick lost control of a mare when the stallion on the other team gave a passionate whinny.
- One More Summer (2.17)

1950 - Spent time in a dreadful prison cell in Calcutta.
- Luther Gillis: File #521 (4.2)

1951 - Deep sea fishing in the Florida Keys with Ernest Hemingway in his ketch when the shortwave warned them of an approaching hurricane. Jonathan later helped Ernest rewrite The Old Man and the Sea.
- The Big Blow (3.22)

1951 - Stationed in Hong Kong, Sergeant Major to Brig. Allistair Ffolkes, British Army.
- No Need to Know (1.5)

1951 - In Korea, had to transfuse blood for a Turk hit by a sniper while penned down for two days in a frozen rice paddy he used a stalk of bamboo. The sniper killed the Turk two days later.
- All For One (1) (5.15)

1951 - Also in 1951, he was in New Guinea, where a Lt. Hilton Thorpe was staked out, covered with honey, with his eyelids slit. After that ordeal, the lieutenant had to wear sunglasses and hated sweets.
- Past Tense (3.5)

1952 - In Liverpool, where he became a wrestling aficionado after watching his first professional match there - one that featured Yuri Karamazov (fictional), "the Russian Bear".
- Mr. White Death (3.9)

1953 - Early in 1953, he was in Vietnam with French forces, and was chief consultant for Rand McNally when they updated the map. He stayed at the Hotel Royale.
- All For One (2) (5.16)

1953 - He was in Kenya and learned the ways of the Masai. He was present during the Mau Mau Uprising. They had been in the bush for one week when they found two missing Privates, horribly mutilated. It was a full moon. At midnight, they found the Mau Mau killers, but Jonathan was slashed in the thigh by a panga. He sent the lads on. They tracked the Mau Mau to the village of Berebe, where they massacred men, women, children. Higgins reported it and requested court martials for himself (even though he wasn't present) and his men, but he was absolved and the others just sent out of the country. The men included Private Buckminster, Private Taylor, and Private Edwin Clutterbuck, Lance Corporal, among others.
- Black on White (3.6)

1953 - MI6 temporarily assigned Higgins to help Scotland Yard when a lady's rugby team in the Midlands was terrorized by a demented chap with a passion for soiled sweatsocks.
- Mixed Doubles (3.10)

1954 - In the spring, he was in Kenya again, where he was the youngest in a squad of six spending three months watching the Andrews farm. He and the Andrews daughter Elizabeth took long walks in the grass, read Shelley, and listened to the BBC. But he was transferred to the front again. Four months later she married Dan Davies, a member of the new squad.
- Luther Gillis: File #001 (5.10)

1956 - He was in the Suez in on a camel patrol - tracking down the forces of the Egyption 3rd Division - when their guide, a 12 year-old Bedouin, was captured by a roving band of desert bandits and was tortured to death (without revealing the location of the British forces).
- Under World (5.5)

1957 - In Geneva, he ran the Arlington Arms, a quiet hotel frequented by Dukes, Earls and, occasionally, Viscounts.
- Past Tense (3.5)

1958 - He spent almost a month in a rat-infested, 3-by-6 foot, jail cell outside of Calcutta.
- Foiled Again (3.8)

1960 - In Malaya, during the Malayan Emergency. He was attached to the 6th Queen Elizabeth's Own Gurkha Rifles regiment *. It was here that he met Vivian Brock Jones (the Duchess of Whitt) for the first time.
* The time period and location is not stated in this flashback scene, but based on Vivians age and the shoulder patch seen on Higgins (a British/Gurkha unit), this is most likely the time period and location of this event.
- Letter to a Duchess (4.6)

1961 - In the Congo for most of the year with a U.N. peacekeeping force.
- All For One (1) (5.15)

1962 - In Cairo, he was briefly attached to the British Museum there and learned a thing or two about repairing vases.
- China Doll (1.3)

1967 - In North Wales, with the Army Investigative Unit. He had a fascinating case: A private killed a corporal in the latrine because the sergeant told the private all corporals are gay but straighten up again when they get their stripes.
- J. "Digger" Doyle (1.17)

1972 - Hired by Robin Masters to be the majordomo of Robin's Nest in Oahu after the previous majordomo, Lowell Xavier Jamison, was fired.
- The Case of the Red Faced Thespian (4.12)

1975 - Meets fellow Briton Agatha Chumley in Oahu, who goes on to become his best friend.
- Echoes of the Mind (2) (5.2)

1976 - Higgins and Robin Masters compete in a Hawaiian yacht race together. They lost their jib two days out and Robin broke his arm when a whale rammed the boat. They finished in 8th place.
- Fragments (5.6)

1976 - In Oahu, reunites with old friend David Worth, who believes he is Sherlock Holmes. With Higgins playing the Watson part, they embark on a zany adventure involving multiple disguises, a Chinese gang, British secret agents, and an opium den.
- Holmes Is Where the Heart Is (4.18)

1979 - Introduced to Thomas Sullivan Magnum IV, who moves into the guest house at Robin's Nest at Robin Master's request.

1980-1988 - Still majordomo at Robin's Nest, he is involved in numerous adventures with Thomas & The Gang and develops a close friendship with all of them, particularly Magnum.

At some point early in his career, Higgins was on a fact-finding mission just outside of Moscow in the dead of winter. A Russian infantryman returning from the front was informed that his wife and child had died from starvation. Higgins watched as the man beat his fist into a brick wall until every bone in his hand was crushed!
- Laura (7.18)

In Persia, he was midwife to a young Kurdistani peasant girl who spoke no English. He had to render her unconscious.
- The Big Blow (3.22)

He was in Salzburg "back in. ", but he breaks off without detail.
- The Legacy of Garwood Huddle (5.4)

In Albania, he was imprisoned in a zipper factory with Bertie Farnbush and his maiden sister, and used her hairpin to escape.
- The Return of Luther Gillis (4.16)

In the Congo with a peacekeeping force. He interrogated Major Horling, a cold-blooded killer who worked with Morgan Lyden. Lyden would later kidnap Jonathan (along with T.C.) in 1982. Magnum and Rick successfully rescue them.
- Past Tense (3.5)

Served in the Sudan and was surrounded by 300 furious Sudanese when Binky Sliberton accidentally walked into a hut of one of the local witch doctors.
- Past Tense (3.5)

In Northern Ireland, he was with MI6, attached to General Cornwall, the strategist. At the Queen's Birthday Ball, Bannister, a male operative who used drag, showed up in the same gown as Lady Ashley and caused a big scandal.
- The Jororo Kill (2.13)

He was accidentally shot by a Belgian while on a White Rhino hunting safari in Kenya. The Belgian, Francois Forney, carried him on his back for four days to reach medical treatment at a base camp.
- Under World (5.5)

Spent 28 days of unrelenting misery in a Kanji tiger cage!
- Emerald's Are Not a Girl's Best Friend (Simon & Simon crossover episode)

Was once stranded on an island off the northern coast of Africa, wounded and unconscious for a week. When he awoke, he rescued himself by turning an airplane fuselage into an outrigger canoe and sailing to safety.
- Operation: Silent Night (4.10)

In Africa, his unit was once surrounded by cannibals for 39 days before surrendering. Faced with being boiled alive, the commanding officer, Major Tewksbury, challenged the Cannibal King to a duel to the death with the soldiers' freedom as the prize. Although Tewksbury was of royal blood himself, he was no match for the King. he never knew what hit him.
- Jororo Farewell (4.11)

Attempted to swim across the English Channel. He almost made it, but had to give up because of a nosebleed.
- Home From the Sea (4.1)

In Northern India (with Alex Clutterbuck) looking for a lost Heathen Temple. The stone temple was said to be over 1,000 years old, and housed a statue of a Tibetan monkey and a sacred cow "engaged in a most obscene act".
- Two Birds of a Feather (3.20)

In the Fiji islands, he watched an old man successfully troll the sea with just one long strain of "monkey vine".
- Autumn Warrior (7.13)

While in the Gulf of Martaban, Higgins and his comrades pulled a Lt. Crosley out of the ocean. When they removed his diving helmet, he began "babbling on about the beautiful women he'd seen living in the sea". Sirens was the term he used. He said he saw an entire city of them, including a caravan of elephants!
- Rapture (6.11)

Studied the Kudu buck, a woodland antelope found throughout eastern and southern Africa, carefully and upclose during a trip to the Zambezi river, somewhere in the African plain.
- Dead Man's Channel (2.2)

Higgins was at Lizard Island (off the coast of Australia) when a young Kanaka (Polynesian) boy fell down a river embankment, straight into the mouth of a waiting crocodile! After killing the croc with a single well-placed shot, Higgins improvised a poultice for the boy's wounded leg consisting of a mix of local herbs and river-bed clay, which effected a miracle cure.
- Straight and Narrow (7.4)

In a time and place unspecified, Higgins made the mistake of cooking fish for his host, Abdul ben Bashi. Bashi, raised in the desert, didn't recognize the fish and thought Higgins had cooked his pet iguanas. He ordered Higgins to be stripped and staked out in the sun to bake until dead. In the face of this punishment, Higgins had the wit to request wryly that in deference to the modesty of Bashi's wives, he not be stripped.
- Autumn Warrior (7.13)

A soldier under his care, Private Channing, spent five days in a coma. Ten minutes after all hope was given up and a priest sent for, Channing opened his eyes and started asking for a pint of stout (location unknown).
- Limbo (7.22)

Trampled by a herd of wild South American capybaras. "It was in Peru, perhaps Bolivia."
- No More Mr. Nice Guy (4.13)

Had the frustration of writer's block syndrome. He sat for days searching for just the right superlatives to describe one Major Reginald "Humpy" Weddington. "Humpy" had overcome great adversity in his quest to become an officer. He was very short, very rotund, and he had lost his left ear in a freak rugby accident.
- Kiss of the Sabre (5.11)

Saw the legendary blues singer Alberta Hunter perform at the Dorchester Hotel in London. After seeing her show, he followed her career very closely.
- Paradise Blues (4.15)

Shoot me an email if you'd like to have something added or corrected

Battle [ edit | edit source ]

Starting on 4 January 1942, Rabaul came under attack by large numbers of Japanese carrier-based aircraft. After the odds facing the Australians mounted significantly, Lerew signalled RAAF HQ in Melbourne with the Latin motto "Nos Morituri Te Salutamus" ("we who are about to die salute you"), ⎚] the phrase uttered by gladiators in ancient Rome before entering combat. ⎛] On 20 January, over 100 Japanese aircraft attacked in multiple waves. Eight Wirraways attacked and in the ensuing fighting three RAAF planes were shot down, two crash-landed, and another was damaged. Six of Australian aircrew were killed in action and five wounded. One of the attacking Japanese bombers was shot down by anti-aircraft fire. ⎜] ⎗] As a result of the intense air attacks, Australian coastal artillery was destroyed and Australian infantry were withdrawn from Rabaul itself. The following day, an RAAF Catalina flying boat crew located the invasion fleet off Kavieng, Ώ] and its crew managed to send a signal before being shot down. ⎗]

As the Australian ground troops took up positions along the western shore of Blanche Bay where they prepared to meet the landing, Δ] ⎝] the remaining RAAF elements, consisting of two Wirraways and one Hudson, were withdrawn to Lae. Once the aircraft had departed with a number of wounded, the Australians destroyed the airfield. ⎞] The bombing continued around Rabaul on 22 January and early that morning a Japanese force of between 3,000 and 4,000 troops landed just off New Ireland and waded ashore in deep water filled with dangerous mudpools. The 2/1st Independent Company had been dispersed around the island and the Japanese took the main town of Kavieng without opposition after a sharp fight around the airfield the commandos fell back towards the Sook River. Η] That night, the invasion fleet approached Rabaul and before dawn on 23 January, the South Seas Force entered Simpson Harbour and a force of around 5,000 troops, mainly from the 144th Infantry Regiment, commanded by Colonel Masao Kusunose, began to land on New Britain. Δ] ⎗]

A series of desperate actions followed near the beaches around Simpson Harbour, Keravia Bay and Raluana Point as the Australians attempted to turn back the attack. ⎟] The 3rd Battalion, 144th Infantry Regiment was held up at Vulcan Beach by a mixed company of Australians from the 2/22nd and the NGVR, but elsewhere the other two battalions of the South Seas Force were able to land at unguarded locations and began moving inland. ⎗] Within hours, Scanlan ordered "every man for himself", and Australian soldiers and civilians split into small groups, up to company size, and retreated through the jungle, moving along the north and south coasts. ⎠] During the fighting on 23 January, the Australians lost two officers and 26 other ranks killed in action. ΐ]

Only the RAAF had made evacuation plans. Although, initially ordered to turn his ground staff into infantrymen in a last-ditch effort to defend the island, Larew insisted that they be evacuated and organised for them to be flown out by flying boat and his one remaining Hudson. ⎡] Australian soldiers remained at large in the interior of New Britain for many weeks, but Lark Force had made no preparations for guerrilla warfare on New Britain. Without supplies, their health and military effectiveness declined. Leaflets posted by Japanese patrols or dropped from planes stated in English, "you can find neither food nor way of escape in this island and you will only die of hunger unless you surrender". ⎗] Over 1,000 Australian soldiers were captured or surrendered during the following weeks after the Japanese landed a force at Gasmata, on New Britain's south coast, on 9 February, severing the Australians' line of retreat. ⎗]

The following officers served as commanding officer of New Guinea Force: [4] [5]

  • Early 1941 – August 1942: Major General Basil Morris – Became ANGAU commander after the arrival of I Corps
  • August – September 1942: Lieutenant General Sydney Rowell
  • September 1942 – August 1943: Lieutenant General Edmund Herring[notes 6]
  • January 1943 – May 1943: Lieutenant General Sir Iven Mackay (Acting)
  • August 1943 – January 1944: Lieutenant General Sir Iven Mackay
  • November 1943 – January 1944: Lieutenant General Sir Leslie Morshead (Acting)
  • January 1944 – April 1944: Lieutenant General Sir Leslie Morshead
  • April 1944: Lieutenant General Stanley Savige – Commander II Corps[notes 7]
  • 1944: Lieutenant General Frank Berryman
  • 1944󈞙: Lieutenant General Leslie Morshead

Japanese sniper's nest, New Guinea - History

Battle of Balikpapan
The Battle of Balikpapan was the concluding stage of the Operation Oboe. The landings took place on 1 July 1945. The Australian 7th Division, composed of the 18th, 21st and 25th Infantry Brigades, wit . More h support troops, made an amphibious landing, codenamed Operation Oboe Two a few miles north of Balikpapan, on the island of Borneo. The landing had been preceded by heavy bombing and shelling by Australian and US air and naval forces. The Japanese were outnumbered and outgunned, but like the other battles of the Pacific War, many of them fought to the death.

Major operations had ceased by July 21. The 7th Division's casualties were significantly lighter than they had suffered in previous campaigns. The battle was one of the last to occur in World War II, beginning a few weeks before the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki effectively ended the war. Japan surrendered while the Australians were combing the jungle for stragglers.

Battle of Leyte
The Battle of Leyte in the Pacific campaign of World War II was the amphibious invasion of the Gulf of Leyte in the Philippines by American and Filipino guerrilla forces under the command of General D . More ouglas MacArthur, who fought against the Imperial Japanese Army in the Philippines led by General Tomoyuki Yamashita from 17 October 1944 - 1 July 1945. The operation code named King Two launched the Philippines campaign of 1944&ndash45 for the recapture and liberation of the entire Philippine Archipelago and to end almost three years of Japanese occupation.

Preliminary operations for the Leyte invasion began at dawn on 17 October with minesweeping tasks and the movement of the 6th Rangers toward three small islands in Leyte Gulf. Although delayed by a storm, the Rangers were on Suluan and Dinagat islands by 0805. On Suluan, they dispersed a small group of Japanese defenders and destroyed a radio station, while they found Dinagat unoccupied. The next day, the third island Homonhon, was taken without any opposition. On Dinagat and Homonhom, the Rangers proceeded to erect navigation lights for the amphibious transports to follow. Meanwhile reconnaissance by underwater demolition teams revealed clear landing beaches for assault troops on Leyte. Independently, the 21st Infantry Regiment on 20 Oct. landed on Panaon Strait to control the entrance to Sogod Bay.

Following four hours of heavy naval gunfire on A-day, 20 October, Sixth Army forces landed on assigned beaches at 10:00. X Corps pushed across a 4 mi (6.4 km) stretch of beach between Tacloban airfield and the Palo River. 15 mi (24 km) to the south, XXIV Corps units came ashore across a 3 mi (4.8 km) strand between San José and the Daguitan River. Troops found as much resistance from swampy terrain as from Japanese fire. Within an hour of landing, units in most sectors had secured beachheads deep enough to receive heavy vehicles and large amounts of supplies. Only in the 24th Division sector did enemy fire force a diversion of follow-up landing craft. But even that sector was secure enough by 13:30 to allow Gen. MacArthur to make a dramatic entrance through the surf onto Red Beach and announce to the populace the beginning of their liberation: "People of the Philippines, I have returned! By the grace of Almighty God, our forces stand again on Philippine soil."

US 1st Cavalry troops wade through a swamp in Leyte
By the end of A-day, the Sixth Army had moved 1 mi (1.6 km) inland and five miles wide. In the X Corps sector, the 1st Cavalry Division held Tacloban airfield, and the 24th Infantry Division had taken the high ground on Hill 522 commanding its beachheads. In the XXIV Corps sector, the 96th Infantry Division held the approaches to Catmon Hill, and the 7th Infantry Division held Dulag and its airfield.

General Makino spent the day moving his command post from Tacloban, 10 mi (16 km) inland to the town of Dagami. The initial fighting was won at a cost of 49 killed, 192 wounded, and six missing. The Japanese counterattacked the 24th Infantry Division on Red Beach through the night, unsuccessfully.

Campaign in the Leyte Valley
The Sixth Army made steady progress inland against sporadic and uncoordinated enemy resistance on Leyte in the next few days. The 1st Cavalry Division of Maj. Gen. Verne D. Mudge secured the provincial capital, Tacloban, on 21 October, and Hill 215 the next. On 23 October, Gen. MacArthur presided over a ceremony to restore civil government to Leyte. 1st and 2nd Cavalry Brigades initiated a holding action to prevent a Japanese counterattack from the mountainous interior, after which the 1st Cavalry was allowed to move on. The 8th Cavalry established itself on Samar by 24 Oct., securing the San Juanico Strait.

US infantrymen move cautiously toward a machinegun nest
On the X Corps left, the 24th Infantry Division under Maj. Gen. Frederick A. Irving, drove inland into heavy enemy resistance. After days and nights of hard fighting and killing some 800 Japanese, the 19th and 34th Infantry Regiments expanded their beachhead and took control of the high ground commanding the entrance to the northern Leyte Valley. By 1 November, after a seven-day tank-infantry advance supported by artillery fire, both regiments had pushed through Leyte Valley and were within sight of the north coast and the port of Carigara, which the 2nd Cavalry Brigade occupied the next day after Suzuki ordered a withdrawal. In its drive through Leyte Valley, the 24th Division inflicted nearly 3,000 enemy casualties. These advances left only one major port on Leyte&mdashOrmoc City on the west coast&mdashunder Japanese control.

A US 105 mm (4.1 in) howitzer fires at Catmon Hill
From the XXIV Corps beachhead Gen. Hodge had sent his two divisions into the southern Leyte Valley, which already contained four airfields and a large supply center. Maj. Gen. James L. Bradley's 96th Infantry Division was to clear Catmon Hill, a 1,400 ft (430 m) promontory, the highest point in both corps beachheads, and used by the Japanese as an observation and firing post to fire on landing craft approaching the beach on A-day. Under cover of incessant artillery and naval gunfire, Bradley's troops made their way through the swamps south and west of the high ground at Labiranan Head. After a three-day fight, the 382nd Infantry Regiment took a key Japanese supply base at Tabontabon, 5 mi (8.0 km) inland, and killed some 350 Japanese on 28 October. Simultaneously two battalions each from the 381st Infantry Regiment and 383rd Infantry Regiments slowly advanced up opposite sides of Catmon Hill and battled the fierce Japanese resistance. When the mop-up of Catmon Hill was completed on 31 October, the Americans had cleared 53 pillboxes, 17 caves, and several heavy artillery positions.

US armored car at Labiranan Head
On the left of XXIV Corps, the 7th Infantry Division under Maj. Gen. Archibald V. Arnold moved inland against the Japanese airfields of San Pablo 1 and 2, Bayug, and Buri, using "flying wedges" of American tanks, the 767th Tank Battalion, which cleared the way for the infantrymen. Between Burauen and Julita, the 17th Infantry overcame fanatical but futile resistance from Japanese spider holes, who placed satchel charges on the hulls of the American tanks. A mile north, 32nd Infantry soldiers killed more than 400 Japanese at Buri airfield. While two battalions of the 184th Infantry patrolled the corps' left flank, the 17th Infantry, with the 184th's 2nd Battalion attached, turned north toward Dagami, 6 mi (9.7 km) above Burauen. Using flamethrowers to root the enemy out of pillboxes and a cemetery, US troops captured Dagami on 30 October, which forced Gen. Makino to evacuate his command post further westward. Meanwhile, on 29 October, the 32nd Infantry's 2nd Battalion, preceded by the 7th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop, moved 15 mi (24 km) south along the east coast to Abuyog for a probe of the area, and then over the next four days patrolled west through the mountains to Baybay, all without opposition.

Japanese counterattacks
With 432,000 Japanese soldiers in the Philippines, General Yamashita decided to make Leyte the main effort of the Japanese defense, and on 21 Oct. , ordered the 35th Army to coordinate a decisive battle with the Imperial Japanese Navy. The 16th Division was to be reinforced by the 30th Infantry Division from Mindanao, landing on Ormoc Bay. The 102nd Infantry Division would occupy Jaro, where the 1st and 26th Infantry Divisions were concentrating. Battalions from the 55th and 57th Independent Mixed Brigades were on Leyte by 25 Oct.

As the Sixth Army pushed deeper into Leyte, the Japanese struck back in the air and at sea. On 24 October, some 200 enemy aircraft approached American beachheads and shipping from the north. Fifty American land-based aircraft rose to intercept them, and claimed to have shot down between 66 and 84 of the attackers. Day and night air raids continued over the next four days, damaging supply dumps ashore and threatening American shipping. But by 28 October, counterattacks by US aircraft on Japanese airfields and shipping on other islands so reduced enemy air strength that conventional air raids ceased to be a major threat. As their air strength diminished, the Japanese resorted to the deadly kamikazes, a corps of suicide pilots who crashed their bomb-laden planes directly into US ships. They chose the large American transport and escort fleet that had gathered in Leyte Gulf on A-day as their first target and sank one escort carrier and badly damaged many other vessels.

Four Japanese snipers shot and killed in the muddy water of a bomb crater
A more serious danger to the US forces developed at sea. The Imperial Japanese Navy's high command decided to destroy US Navy forces supporting the Sixth Army by committing its entire remaining surface fleet to a decisive battle with the Americans. The Imperial Navy's plan was to attack in three major task groups. One, which included four aircraft carriers with few aircraft aboard, was to act as a decoy, luring the US 3rd Fleet north away from Leyte Gulf. If the decoy was successful, the other two groups, consisting primarily of heavy surface combatants, would enter the gulf from the west and attack the American transports.

Owen was born on 27 May 1905, [1] in Nagambie, Victoria. He worked as a bank officer in civilian life and served as a militia officer in the years prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. [2]

Owen enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) on 8 July 1940, with the service number VX45223. [3] He was posted to the 2/22nd Infantry Battalion, with the rank of major, in command of 'A' Company. [4]

Battle of Rabaul Edit

The 2/22nd Infantry Battalion was sent to the town of Rabaul, on the island of New Britain, in early 1941. This was the closest Australian base to the Japanese, and considered unlikely to be successfully defended. In late January 1942, the 1,400-strong Rabaul (Australian) garrison was quickly overwhelmed by the Japanese. [5] Owen's 'A' Company was positioned at Vulcan beach, and bore the brunt of the main Japanese landing. After fighting for several hours, Owen ordered his men to break contact, as they would otherwise have been cut off. [6]

With the remainder of the Australian garrison, Owen and his men escaped from Rabaul. They faced a harrowing battle for survival in the mountains and along the southern coast. More than 150 men were massacred after being taken prisoner around Tol and Waitavalo plantations, up to 100 others died of illnesses, and about 800 surrendered and were taken back to Rabaul by the Japanese. Owen was one of only 400 to get off New Britain. [7] [8] He arrived in Port Moresby and after a period of recuperation in Australia was promoted to lieutenant colonel and assumed command of the 39th Battalion on 7 July 1942. [9]

Kokoda Track Campaign Edit

The 39th Battalion was preparing for deployment to the mountain village of Kokoda, as the first step in an Allied plan to occupy the north coast of Papua. The first troops departed the day after Owen assumed command. After the Japanese landed on the north coast on 21 July, Owen was flown up to Kokoda, from where 'B' Company was already engaging the enemy. [10] Facing overwhelming odds, the Australians were pushed back. Owen ordered the burning of the supply dump at Kokoda and a retreat to Deniki. [11] After realising the Japanese had not occupied Kokoda, he led his men back into the village in an attempt to reopen its airfield to receive reinforcements and supplies. The aircraft dispatched to Kokoda were not able to land. The Japanese started attacking in force on the evening of 28 July. [12]

Owen was mortally wounded at 0300 hrs on the morning of 29 July 1942, as the Japanese stepped up their attacks on the dug-in Australians. He was shot just above the right eye while in his forward weapon pit. Taken back to a hut that was being used as an aid post, he was examined by the medical officer, Captain Geoffrey 'Doc' Vernon. His situation was deemed hopeless and when the Australians were forced to withdraw from their location at 0430 hrs, Owen could not be moved. He was cleaned up and left as comfortable as possible. [13]

On 9 August, Owen's body was found and buried [14] at Kokoda by members of 'A' Company, 39th Battalion, when they retook Kokoda for a short period between 8 and 10 August 1942. [15] Later in the war, the temporary Australian war graves at the various battle sites along the Kokoda Track were consolidated at Bomana, north-west of Port Moresby. [16] As a part of this, Owen's body was reburied. [17] He posthumously received the United States Distinguished Service Cross and was Mentioned in Despatches. [18] [19]

World War Photos

Troops inspect a bunker after capturing the Kwajalein Marine patrol and Japanese aircraft wrecks at Roi Airfield 7th Infantry Division at Japanese radio and power HQ American flag Kwajalein Atoll
24th Marines assault troops pinned down on a Namur beach 4th Marine Division Machine Gun crew advancing on Namur 4th Division Marine Lt Willis amid ruins on Namur Island Marines landing on Kwajalein Atoll in LVT 31 January 1944 2
Japanese soldier surrenders to Marines on Namur Marine fires on Japanese sniper from Kwajalein shell hole Marines search thru wreckage on Namur Island Row of Shermans
Bodies of fallen Japanese soldiers in trench on Namur Island U.S .Coast Guardsmen with captured Japanese at Kwajalein 1944 7th Division troops attack Japanese pillbox on Kwajalein 7th Division M10 and machine gunners advance on Kwajalein
Japanese soldier surrendering to troops of the 4th Marine on Roi-Namur near concrete blockhouse American flag over ruins of Japanese Headquarters on Namur LVT landing 7th Division troops on Enubuj Landing crafts tanks supplies troops on Kwajalein
Marines at camp after the capture of Kwajalein Marines of V Amphibious Corps pull an injured Japanese soldier from a bunker 4th Division Marines scan the front on blasted Roi Namur Island Battle of Kwajalein 4
7th Infantry Division soldiers and 767th Tank Battalion M10 advance on Kwajalein Landing Crafts transporting troops to Kwajalein Beach Battle of Kwajalein Marines Marines unload equipment on Namur Beach
Soldier with flamethrower views fallen soldiers on Namur Kwajalein on day before bombardment LSTs bringing Seabees and supplies to Kwajalein Avengers flying over Marines advancing to the north end of Namur
Aerial view of US Invasion of Namur and Roi Islands 23rd Marines on Roi watch giant explosion on Namur Battle of Kwajalein 3 M5A1 of Co B, 4th Tank Battalion, roll ashore at 13.00 on Green 2 Namur Island
7th Infantry Division soldiers advance on Kwajalein Marines in action Troops check IDs on fallen soldiers on Kwajalein Corpsmen carry a wounded Marine on a stretcher
Unloading LCM with tractor at Roi 4th Division Marines check Japanese dead at Roi Airfield Bulldozer aids USS LST-241 Roi Island 1st Battalion 24th Marines in action on Namur
Battle of Kwajalein 2 Crane unloads landing craft from USS Leedstown on Kwajalein M5A1 light tanks stalled on Green 2 Namur Marines landing on Kwajalein Atoll in LVT 31 January 1944
4th Division Marines land under fire February 13, 1944 Aerial view of shell torn Kwajalein with U.S. ships offshore 1944 Troops and reconstruction materials on Kwajalein Beach 4th Div Marines work to coax Japanese from pillbox on Namur
LVTs come in to the beach at low tide on Enubuj in the Kwajalein Atoll, landing 7th Division troops and equipment Marines in machine gun nest on Namur Marines landing on beach at Namur 4th Marine Division search for Japanese snipers on Namur
Soldier in action with flame thrower on Namur Island Marines attacking pillbox on Kwajalein Red Cross gives cigarettes to 4th Division Marines on Kwajalein 4th Division Marines guard Japanese soldier on Roi Namur
Marines move inland after landing on Roi Island

The Battle of Kwajalein was a battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II, fought from 31 January 1944 to 3 February 1944 on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
After the capture of Makin and Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands, the next step in the United States Navy’s campaign in the central Pacific was the Marshall Islands. These islands had been German colonies until World War I, then assigned to Japan in the post-war settlement as the “Eastern Mandates”. After the loss of the Solomon Islands and New Guinea in 1943, the Japanese command decided that the Gilbert and Marshall islands would be expendable: they preferred to fight a decisive battle closer to home. However, at the end of 1943 the Marshalls were reinforced to make their taking expensive for the Americans. By January 1944 the regional commander in Truk, Admiral Masashi Kobayashi, had 28,000 troops to defend the Marshalls, but he had very few planes.
Expecting the US to attack the outermost islands in the group first, most of the defenders were stationed on Wotje, Mille, Maloelap, and Jaluit atolls to the east and south. This disposition was revealed to the Americans by ULTRA decryptions of Japanese communications, and Nimitz decided instead to bypass these outposts and land directly on Kwajalein. To do this, sea and air superiority were necessary. Accordingly, on 29 January 1944 US carrier planes attacked the Japanese airfield on Roi-Namur, destroying 92 of the 110 Japanese planes in the Marshalls.
The American forces for the landings were Rear Admiral Richmond K. Turner’s 5th Amphibious Force, and Major General Holland M. Smith’s V Amphibious Corps, which was comprised of the 4th Marine Division commanded by Maj. Gen. Harry Schmidt, the 7th Infantry Division commanded by Maj. Gen. Charles H. Corlett, plus the 22nd Marine, 106th Infantry, and the 111th Infantry regiments. The 4th and 7th Divisions were assigned to the initial landings at Kwajalein, while the 2nd Battalion of the 106th was assigned to the simultaneous capture of Majuro Atoll, about 490 km to the southeast. The rest of the 106th and the 22nd Marines were in reserve for Kwajalein, while awaiting the following assault on Eniwetok, scheduled for three months later.
The 7th Infantry Division began by capturing the small islands labeled Carlos, Carter, Cecil, and Carlson on 31 January, which were used as artillery bases for the next day’s assault. Kwajalein Island is 4 km long but only 800 m wide. There was therefore no possibility of defence in depth and the Japanese planned to counter-attack the landing beaches. They had not realized until the battle of Tarawa that American amphibious vehicles could cross coral reefs and so land on the lagoon side of an atoll accordingly the strongest defences on Kwajalein faced the ocean. Bombardment by battleships, B-29 bombers and artillery on Carlson was devastating. The US Army history of the battle quotes a participant as saying that “the entire island looked as if it had been picked up 20,000 feet and then dropped”. By the time the 7th Division landed on Kwajalein Island on 1 February 1944 there was little resistance: by night the Americans estimated that only 1,500 of the original 5,000 defenders were still alive.
On the north side of the atoll, the 4th Marine Division followed the same plan, first capturing islets Ivan, Jacob, Albert, Allen, and Abraham on 31 January, and landing on Roi-Namur on 1 February. The airfield on Roi (the eastern half) was captured quickly, and Namur the next day. The worst setback came when a Marine demolition team threw a satchel charge of high explosive into a Japanese bunker which turned out to be a torpedo warhead magazine. The resulting explosion killed twenty Marines and wounded dozens more. Only 51 of the original 3,500 Japanese defenders of Roi-Namur survived to be captured.
The relatively easy capture of Kwajalein demonstrated US amphibious capabilities and showed that the changes to training and tactics after the bloody battle of Tarawa had been effective. It allowed Nimitz to speed up operations in the Marshalls and invade Eniwetok Atoll on 17 February 1944.
The Japanese learned from the battle that beachline defenses were too vulnerable to bombardment by ships and planes. In the campaign for the Mariana Islands the defense in depth on Guam and Peleliu was much harder to overcome than the thin line on Kwajalein.

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Watch the video: Japanese Snipers during the Second World War 1941-1945