US Army 43rd Infantry Division, 172nd Regiment Lands on Rendova

The XIV Corps Western Force's 43rd Infantry Division, 172nd Infantry Regiment began landing on Rendova at 0700 Hours. There was confusion and disorganization, but the 172nd quickly overwhelmed a 120-man Japanese detachment and established a 1,000-yard-deep beachhead. All troops were ashore in half an hour. Moving supplies ashore and inland quickly became the main problem. As rain turned the ground into red clay mud, heavy traffic ruined the island's single mile-long road, making it so muddy that a bulldozer sank. Inadequately marked supplies, dumped on the beach by troops wading ashore, piled up and became intermixed. So many trucks became mired in the mud that US Army Major General John H. Hester, the New Georgia Occupation Force (NGOF) commander, had to stop their shipment to the beachhead, and movement of supplies off the beach became slow and laborious. The Rendova landing surprised the Japanese commanders on Munda and Rabaul, who had no counterattack force ready. Artillery fire from Japanese batteries on Munda, therefore, was the only Japanese response until late morning, when air attacks began. Three air attacks on June 30 damaged only US Navy Rear Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner's flagship, the transport USS McCawley (AP-10), which was accidentally torpedoed and sunk by American PT boats later that evening. A Japanese air strike against Rendova two days later killed 30 men, wounded more than 200, and exploded fuel dumps. An attempted encore performance on July 4, however, provided the Americans with more gratifying fireworks. Sixteen Japanese bombers appeared unescorted. A mere eighty-eight rounds of antiaircraft fire brought down twelve, and waiting fighters shot down the rest. Reinforcements, the majority splashing ashore on Rendova, continued to disembark at all four beachheads until July 5, when virtually the entire NGOF was assembled. The first phase of Operation "Toenails" had succeeded.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
Natonal Archives
Date Photographed: 
Wednesday, June 30, 1943
New Georgia