By Edward J Drea; Combat Studies Institute (U.S.)
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Extra info for Defending the Driniumor : covering force operations in New Guinea, 1944
Orders received Troop A, 2d Squadron, attempted a forced landing at Arawe, New Britain, using rubber boats. Japanese 25-mm gunfire sank all but three of the fragile craft before they reached shore. S. Navy minesweeper commander who sailed his ship into the cove and smashed the Japanese batteries with gunfire averted disaster. The survivors regrauped, eventually rejoined the 112th, and fought on New Britain for the next six months. The jungle fighting, sickness, and incessant enemy bombing whittled the units down to about 1,100 from their authorized strength of 1,728.
L. A. Marshall described as Qatural fighters,” and they excelled in combat. But, for most, it was a constant strain to check their natural inclination for serf-preservation. Given their dismal prospects for survival, why would they fight? Self-preservation 51 motivated them as did the fear of severity of court-martial. The essential motivations that kept these men going were “‘pride (self-respect) and the strong bond with [their] fellow soldiers”4 They fought by themselves for themselves, and little else beyond that mattered.
L* The main reason for the slow pace was a lack of gasoline-powered transport. The 18th Army lacked both trucks for overland movement and barges for sea transport. A forced march was their last resort Beyond the sheer physical demands of such a move, they made their trek under increasingly dangerous circumstances. Intensified Allied aerial activity made all movement hazardous. While sudden tropical downpours would temporarily curtail the air threat, the rain would wash out jungle tracks and turn swamps into small lakes, further impeding the westward progress of the Japanese.