Battle of Cape Gloucester

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Battle of Cape Gloucester
Part of the Pacific War of World War II
Beach at Cape Gloucester.jpg
U.S. Marines hit three feet of rough water as they leave their LST to take the beach at Cape Gloucester, New Britain. December 26, 1943. (Source: U.S. National Archives.)
Date 26 December 1943 – 22 April 1944
Location Cape Gloucester, New Britain, Territory of New Guinea
Result Allied victory
 United States
Commanders and leaders
William H. Rupertus
William J. Whaling
Julian N. Frisbie
Iwao Matsuda
Casualties and losses
310 killed
1,083 wounded
1,000 killed

The Battle of Cape Gloucester was a battle in the Pacific theater of World War II between Japanese and Allied forces which took place on the island of New Britain, Territory of New Guinea, between late December 1943 and April 1944.

The battle was a major part of Operation Cartwheel, the main Allied strategy in the South West Pacific Area and Pacific Ocean Areas during 1943–44, and was the second World War II landing of the U.S. 1st Marine Division, after Guadalcanal.[1]


The main objective of the American and Australian allies was the capture and expansion of the Japanese military airfield at Cape Gloucester.[2] This was to contribute to the increased isolation and harassment of the major Japanese base at Rabaul. A secondary goal was to ensure free Allied sea passage through the straits separating New Britain from New Guinea.


Supporting operations for the landings in Cape Gloucester began on 15 December, when the U.S. Army's 112th Cavalry Regiment was landed at Arawe on the south-central coast to block the route of Japanese reinforcements and supplies from east to west and as a diversionary attack from the future Cape Gloucester landings.

The 1st Marine Division was opposed by the Japanese 17th Division, commanded by Major General Iwao Matsuda, which was augmented by "Matsuda Force"—the 65th Infantry Brigade and elements of the Japanese 51st Division. Matsuda's headquarters was at Kalingi, along the coastal trail northwest of Mount Talawe, within five miles (eight kilometres) of the Cape Gloucester airfield.

The main operation began on 26 December with a naval barrage on the Japanese positions on Cape Gloucester by U.S. Navy and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) warships, followed by air attacks by planes from the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). These attacks and an aerial smoke screen were followed by the landing of the U.S. 1st Marine Division, at Yellow Beach 1 & 2 and Green Beach, under the command of Major General William H. Rupertus. The Marines faced swampy terrain and thick jungle, but met only rear-echelon Japanese troops.


After the operation, the main body of the Matsuda Force continued to resist Allied offensives on mainland New Guinea.



  1. ^ "1st Tank Battalion History". Official Website – 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. Archived from the original on 2009-12-27. Retrieved 2010-03-28. 
  2. ^ "Capture of the Cape Gloucester Airfields". National Park Service – Marines in World War II. Archived from the original on 2009-12-10. Retrieved 2010-03-28. 


  • Hough, Frank O., and John A. Crown (1952). "The Campaign on New Britain". USMC Historical Monograph. Historical Division, Division of Public Information, Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps. Archived from the original on 24 December 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-04. 
  • Miller, John, Jr. (1959). "CARTWHEEL: The Reduction of Rabaul". United States Army in World War II: The War in the Pacific. Office of the Chief of Military History, U.S. Department of the Army. p. 418. Retrieved October 20, 2006. 
  • Shaw, Henry I.; Douglas T. Kane (1963). "Volume II: Isolation of Rabaul". History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II. Archived from the original on 20 November 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-18. 

External links

  • "The fighting conditions during the Cape Gloucester campaign as remembered by Marine Sidney Phillips". Archived from the original on 10 April 2010. Retrieved April 4, 2010. 

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