June 30, 1943 – This Day During World War ll – The Landings on Rendova

June 30, 1943 – The Landings on Rendova was a military amphibious assault on Rendova Island in the Solomon Islands on 30 June 1943 by United States Army and Navy forces during the New Georgia Campaign of the Pacific War. In the assault, U.S. forces overwhelmed a small Japanese military garrison and secured the island. The U.S. occupied the island to use it as a staging and artillery base to support an offensive against Japanese forces guarding an airfield at Munda Point on nearby New Georgia.
Before dawn on 30 June the destroyer transports USS Dent and USS Waters landed the ‘Barracuda’ scouting team from the 172nd Regimental Combat Team on Rendova. Their task was to secure the main landing beaches at the northern end of the island, and prepare for the main landings. The landing site was to be marked with a light that had been placed by scouts who had been on the island for several days, but rain put out the light and the Barracudas landed at the wrong place. The ‘Barracudas’ didn’t reach the landing beaches until well after the start of the main invasion, after re-embarking on their original transports and sailing down the coast.
At sunrise on 30 June (about 7.00am) the rest of the 172nd Infantry and a company of Solomon Islanders under Major Martine Clements of the local constabulary transferred from four transport ships into landing craft and supported by eight destroyers headed towards the beach. The main landings went well. The Japanese were caught by surprise and couldn’t reach the beaches in time to man their defences. Instead they attempted to hold a line 100 yards inland from the beach. The 172nd killed about a quarter of the Japanese garrison, including their commander. The Barracudas arrived after about an hour, and the Japanese were soon forced away from the beaches. The survivors of the Japanese garrison now fade from the picture, and were chased down by Fiji Commandoes or escaped by canoe to Munda.
The Japanese at Munda were unable to interfere in the landings. Their coastal guns were pointing in the wrong directions, while their mountain artillery lacked the range to reach the islands. Their aircraft had been moved back to Rabaul to protect them from the constant Allied air raids. When the Munda gun batteries were finally able to open fire, it was on the destroyer screen. The USS Gwin was hit, and was sent back to defend the transport ships, while the remaining destroyers silenced the Japanese guns. The Gwin laid a smoke screen to protect the transport ships, and unloading continued without a pause. By 11.00 unloading was half complete, and a new problem was beginning to develop. As the Americans attempted to move inland their vehicles turned the ground into deep mud. Many of the supplies thus had to left on the narrow beach. Despite these difficulties the first 105mm gun battery was soon completed, and at 17.00 opened fire on Munda.
The first Japanese aircraft didn’t appear until 11.15 when 27 Zeroes were detected flying down the Slot. They were intercepted and nearly wiped out, but their approach did delay the unloading by an hour. Even so all 50 tons of supplies were onshore by 15.00 and the fleet began to withdraw. A more serious air strike was detected at 15.30, this time consisting of 25 Mitsubishi G4M Bettys and 24 Zeroes. This force headed for Rendova. After finding no transports there the Japanese aircraft headed along the southern coast of New Georgia. They were intercepted by 16 F4U Corsairs from Marine Fighter Squadron 221, but ten managed to get through to attack the fleet. The transport McCawley was hit in the engine room and stopped dead in the water. She was being towed away when a nearby PT boat, believing her to be Japanese, torpedoed and sank her.
Rendova was now securely in American hands, although the island came under frequent air attack

U.S. Army soldiers come ashore on Rendova Island on 30 June 1943.

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