Battle of Empress Augusta Bay


Battle of Empress Augusta Bay

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Empress Augusta Bay


caption= A Japanese aircraft crashes (upper center) into the ocean near the U.S. cruiser "Columbia" on November 2, 1943, during air attacks on Allied ships off Bougainville, a few hours after the Naval Battle of Empress Augusta Bay.
partof=the Pacific Theater of World War II
date=1 – 2 November 1943
place=Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville, Papua New Guinea
result=Allied victory
combatant1=flag|United States|1912
combatant2=flag|Japan|alt
commander1=Aaron S. Merrill,
Arleigh Burke
commander2=Sentaro Omori,
Matsuji Ijuin
strength1=4 light cruisers, 8 destroyers
strength2=2 cruisers, 2 light cruisers, 6 destroyers
casualties1= 1 destroyer heavily damaged,
19 killed [Morison, "Breaking the Bismarcks", p. 322.]
casualties2= 1 light cruiser,
1 destroyer sunk,
2 destroyers heavily damaged,
198-658 killed [Dull, "Imperial Japanese Navy", p. 302; Hara, "Japanese Destroyer Captain", p. 242; Morison, "Breaking the Bismarcks", p. 322; Hackett, Kingsepp, and Nevitt, "Combinedfleet.com". Sources differ on Japanese personnel losses in naval battle. Breakdown of deaths by ship and source: "Sendai"- 412 (Dull), 185 (Hackett and Kingsepp), 320 (Morison), and 335 (Hara); "Hatsukaze"- 9 (Dull) and 240 (Nevitt, Morison, and Hara); "Shiratsuyu"- 4 (Nevitt) and 5 (Hara); "Samidare"- 1 (Hara).] |

The Battle of Empress Augusta Bay, on November 1-2, 1943 — also known as the Battle of Gazelle Bay, Operation Cherry Blossom, and in Japanese sources as the Sea Battle of Bougainville Bay Shore (ブーゲンビル島沖海戦) — was a naval battle fought near the island of Bougainville. The naval battle was a result of Allied landings on nearby Bougainville in the first action in the Bougainville campaign of World War II and may also be seen as part of the Solomons and New Guinea campaigns. The battle was significant as part of a broader Allied strategy — known as Operation Cartwheel — aimed at isolating and surrounding the major Japanese base at Rabaul. The intention was to establish a beachhead on Bougainville, within which an airfield would be built.

On 1 November 1943 the US 3rd Marine Division landed at Cape Torokina in Empress Augusta Bay. The bay had been chosen because it was at the outer limit of Allied fighter plane range, and because the numerically-superior Japanese 17th Army was concentrated at other, more strategic sites in the north and the south. The Marines were backed by a force of four light cruisers and eight destroyers: "Montpelier", "Cleveland", "Columbia", and "Denver", "Charles Ausburne", "Dyson", "Stanly", "Claxton", "Spence", "Thatcher", "Converse", and "Foote", commanded by Rear Admiral Aaron S. "Tip" Merrill.

Naval battle

The Japanese responded with air attacks from Rabaul and by dispatching a powerful naval force from Rabaul commanded by Admiral Sentaro Omori: heavy cruisers "Myōkō" and "Haguro", light cruisers "Agano" and "Sendai", and destroyers "Shigure", "Samidare", "Shiratsuyu", "Naganami", "Hatsukaze", and "Wakatsuki".

The Americans evacuated most of their landing craft and troop transports and lay in wait. They made radar contact at 02:30 on 2 November 1943 and Merrill dispatched his destroyers forward for a torpedo attack, after which his cruisers would open fire from a safe distance. The destroyers were seen by the Japanese, who dodged the torpedoes, but their evasive maneuvers threw them out of formation.

At around 02:50 the American cruisers opened fire, quickly disabling "Sendai". The destroyer "Samidare" launched a torpedo attack but in doing so collided with "Shiratsuyu". "Myōkō" collided with the destroyer "Hatsukaze", slicing off her bows. The Japanese deficiency in radar meant that they a great deal of difficulty finding the American cruisers, but at 03:13 they made contact and opened fire.

Merrill turned away under cover of smoke, and Omori, believing that he had sunk a heavy cruiser, considered that he had done enough and turned away to the east. The damaged "Sendai" and "Hatsukaze" were later found and sunk by gunfire. After the Japanese ships returned to Rabaul, they were joined by four large cruisers and more destroyers from Truk in order to reattack the Allied landing forces at Bougainville. On November 5, however, two U.S. aircraft carriers raided Rabaul, heavily damaging four heavy cruisers and forcing them to retreat back to Truk, ending the Japanese warship threat to the Allied landing forces at Bougainville.

References

Books

*cite book
last = Brown
first = David
authorlink =
year = 1990
title = Warship Losses of World War Two
publisher = Naval Institute Press
location =
id = ISBN 1-55750-914-X

*cite book
last = D'Albas
first = Andrieu
authorlink =
year = 1965
title = Death of a Navy: Japanese Naval Action in World War II
publisher = Devin-Adair Pub
location =
id = ISBN 0-8159-5302-X

*cite book
last = Dull
first = Paul S.
authorlink =
year = 1978
chapter =
title = A Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1941-1945
publisher = Naval Institute Press
location =
id = ISBN 0-87021-097-1

*cite book
last = Hall
first = Cary Hardison
authorlink =
year = 1987
chapter =
title = The war cruises of the USS Columbia, 1942 to 1945: Personal recollections, with some augmentations by shipmates
publisher = War Memories Pub. Co
location =
id = ASIN B00071N658

*cite book
last = Hara
first = Tameichi
authorlink = Tameichi Hara
year = 1961
chapter =
title = Japanese Destroyer Captain
publisher = Ballantine Books
location = New York & Toronto
id = ISBN 0-345-27894-1

*cite book
last = Kilpatrick
first = C. W.
authorlink =
coauthors =
year = 1987
chapter =
title = Naval Night Battles of the Solomons
publisher = Exposition Press
location =
id = ISBN 0-682-40333-4

*cite book
last = Lacroix
first = Eric
authorlink =
coauthors = Linton Wells
year = 1997
chapter =
title = Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War
publisher = Naval Institute Press
location =
id = ISBN 0-87021-311-3

*cite book
last = Jones
first = Ken
authorlink =
coauthors =
year = 1997
chapter =
title = Destroyer Squadron 23: Combat Exploits of Arleigh Burke's Gallant Force
publisher = Naval Institute Press
location =
id = ISBN 1-55750-412-1

*cite book
last = McGee
first = William L.
authorlink =
coauthors =
year = 2002
chapter = Bougainville Campaign
title = The Solomons Campaigns, 1942-1943: From Guadalcanal to Bougainville--Pacific War Turning Point, Volume 2 (Amphibious Operations in the South Pacific in WWII)
publisher = BMC Publications
location =
id = ISBN 0-9701678-7-3

*cite book
last = Morison
first = Samuel Eliot
authorlink = Samuel Eliot Morison
coauthors =
year = 1958
chapter =
title = Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier", vol. 6 of "History of United States Naval Operations in World War II
publisher = Castle Books
location =
id = ISBN 0-7858-1307-1

*cite book
last = Potter
first = E. B.
authorlink =
coauthors =
year = 2005
chapter =
title = Admiral Arleigh Burke
publisher = Naval Institute Press
location =
id = ISBN 1-59114-692-5

*cite book
last = Roscoe
first = Theodore
authorlink =
coauthors =
year = 1953
chapter =
title = United States Destroyer Operations in World War Two
publisher = Naval Institute Press
location =
id =ISBN 0-87021-726-7

External links

*cite web
last = Parshall
first = Jon
coauthors = Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp, & Allyn Nevitt
year =
url = http://www.combinedfleet.com/kaigun.htm
title = Imperial Japanese Navy Page (Combinedfleet.com)
work =
accessdate = 2006-06-14

* [http://www.microworks.net/pacific/battles/empress_augusta_bay.htm Description by Vincent O'Hara]
* [http://www.navweaps.com/index_oob/OOB_WWII_Pacific/OOB_WWII_Augusta-Bay.htm Order of battle]
* [http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/wwii/facts/bougbttl.txt JO1 Lorraine Ramsdell (US Navy Reserve), "The Battle of Bougainville" ]
* [http://www.ww2db.com/battle_spec.php?battle_id=8 WW2DB: Solomons Campaign]

Notes


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