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June 30, 1943
Today in World War II Pacific History
Day by day chronology

JAAF: Japanese aircraft bomb Fenton Airfield and destroy three B-24 Liberators and CW-22 Falcon. Spitfires intercept the formation.

RAAF: Spitfires from No. 452 Squadron took off to interecept the incoming Japanese air raid. Lost is Spitfire A58-2 (survived).

U.S. Army (South West Pacific Area): During the night of June 29-30, Allied amphibious forces begin landing unopposed at Nassau Bay then move north and south toward the Bitoi River and Tabali Creek. U.S. forces make contact with enemy forces in the Cape Dinga area south of Nassau Bay.

Australian Army: Begins the assault on Bobdubi Ridge and maintain pressure on the enemy in the Mubo area.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC THEATER OF OPERATIONS (Fifth Air Force) B-25s bomb Bobdubi Ridge in support of the assault and hit forces at Logui and Salamaua. Other B-25s bomb Cape Chater Airfield. Meanwhile, 43rd BG B-24's and B-17's bomb an airfield at Rabaul. Lost is B-17F "Pluto" 41-24543 (MIA). One bomber scores a hit on a cargo vessel off Cape Gloucester. The 57th Troop Carrier Squadron, 375th Troop Carrier Group arrives at Port Moresby from the US with C-47's.

Operation Toenails: The New Georgia campaign begins with amphibious landings by the "Western Landing Force" that lands U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy personnel on northern Rendova Island while other landings take place elsewhere in the New Georgia area.

U.S. Army (South Pacific): At 7:00am, the "Western Landing Force" including the 43rd Infantry Division, 172nd Infantry Regiment lands on the northern tip of Rendova. Due to bad weather, two companies of the 172nd Infantry land in the wrong location.

SOUTH PACIFIC THEATER OF OPERATIONS (Thirteenth Air Force) USAAF and other Allied fighters cover the U.S. landings northern Rendova Island. B-25's and US Navy dive bombers bomb Munda Airfield. Lost on a morning armed reconnaissance mission is B-24D Liberator 42-40254 (MIA). In the morning, B-24s from 307th BG armed with 500 pound bombs with half fused instantaneous and half with delay fused to explode 6, 12 and 36 hours to neutralize the airfield in conjunction with the New Georgia landings attempted to bomb Kahili Airfield but abort due to bad weather. The mission is rescheduled for July 1, 1943 and again aborted then completed July 6, 1943. (Reference: Consolidated Mission Report 307th Bomb Group, 13th Air Force).

USN: During the night of June 29-30 Task Force 68 (TF-68) "Merrill's Marauders" including USS Cleveland (CL-55) conducts a shore bombardment of Ballale and Shortlands.

At 3:00am, Task Unit 31.1.1 (TU 31.1.1) Onaiavisi Occupation Unit including USS Talbot (APD-7) and USS Zane (DMS-14) enters Onaiavisi Channel and lands troops at Sasavele Island (Dume) and Baraulu Island. At 2:57am, USS Zane (DMS-14) ran aground off Sasavele Island but was able to unload and managed to twist free but at 5:30am ran aground again and sustained damage and was later unsuccessfully towed by USS Talbot (APD-7) then freed by USS Rail (AT-139) and towed to safety.

At 7:00am, the "Western Landing Force" of Task Force 31.1 (TF-31.1) enters Rendova Harbor and lands U.S. forces on northern Rendova. For the first time during the Pacific War, Landing Ship Tank (LST) are used for the amphibious landings. The 24th Naval Construction Battalion (24th NCB) "Seabees" and U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) 9th Marine Defense Battalion land on northern Rendova.

With the invasion force were twelve P. T. Boats from Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 9 (MTBS-9) under the command of Lt. Commander Kelly entered Rendova Harbor with orders to establish a temporary PT Boat base and to operate as directed by Commander Naval Base Rendova. During the day, the boats searched for a suitable location and were refueled using fuel drums lightered out by Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM).

From dawn to dusk, F4F Wildcats fly "Rendova Patrols" over Rendova in the early morning, morning and early afternoon including sixteen F4F Wildcats from VF-21 plus F4U Corsairs from VMF-121 and VMF-213 that provide air cover over the Rendova area and intercept Japanese air raids against the force.

The U.S. lost fourteen fighters with ten pilots rescued including:
VF-21 losses (3 planes lost, 1 pilot rescued): F4F Wildcat pilot Henry (MIA): F4F Wildcat 11862 pilot Lt(jg) Thomas A. Ruth (MIA) and F4F Wildcat 03441 piloted by Thrash (rescued).
VMF-121 losses (3 planes lost, 1 pilot rescued): F4U Corsair 02453 pilot Lt. Foxworth (MIA), F4U Corsair 02628 pilot Captain Gordon (MIA) and F4U Corsair 02580 pilot Captain Baron (survived).
VMF-213 losses (2 planes lost, 1 pilot rescued): F4U 02518 pilot Major Gregory J. Weissenberger (rescued) and F4U 02598 pilot Lt Milton E. Peck (MIA).

In the early afternoon, flagship USS McCawley (APA-4) was hit by an aerial torpedo amidships and the damaged vessel was taken under tow and later that night mistakenly sunk by torpedoes from PT boats.

That evening, the PT Boats conducted their first mission from Rendova Harbor patrolling north of Rendova Island to the Roviana Lagoon to screen landing craft. Also to patrol east and west of Mbalumbalu Island in Blanche Channel to intercept Japanese forces expected to attempt to reinforce Viru Harbor and were advise no friendly vessels would be operating in the area. This patrol detected a large transport on radar and the first section of six PT Boats made a torpedo attack claiming multiple hits that caused it to sink. In fact, they sank USS McCawley (APA-4).

IJN: In the early morning, G4M1 Betty piloted by PO Rokuro Saito from 705 Kokutai spots a U.S. force of transports, destroyers and landing craft 10 miles south of Rendova and reports them and afterwards is shot down by F4F Wildcats from VF-21. Immediately, a series of air raids are planned to attack what is correctly perceived to be a significant amphibious operation against the central Solomon Islands.

The first air raid was in the morning against Rendova was by fifteen A6M Zeros from 582 Kokutai plus twelve A6M Zeros from 204 Kokutai led by CPO Hideo Watanabe with twelve of the attacking Zeros armed with bombs and reached the area after 50 minutes and were intercepted by U.S. fighters and were unable to bomb the force and dog fights unfolded. Japanese claims: 582 Kokutai claimed ten shot down and two probables. 204 Kokutai claimed fourteen shot down and four probables (other sources report 30 fighters and 1 bomber shot down with 8 uncertain plus 1 cruiser and 2 destroyers sunk). Japanese losses: none (other sources list 3 Zeros failed to return). 582 Ku lost (unclear if first or third air raid) PO1c Nobutaka Yanami, PO2c Takamichi Sasamoto.

The second air raid was in the early afternoon against Rendova, twenty-six G4M1 Bettys armed with torpedoes (seventeen from 702 Kokutai led by Lt Cdr Genzo Nakamura and nine G4M1 Bettys from 705 Kokutai) escorted by twenty-four A6M Zeros from 251 Kokutai spotted the U.S. transports in Blanche Channel. The Japanese were intercepted by U.S. fighters from the "Rendova Patrol" including F4F Wildcats and F4U Corsairs and targeted by anti-aircraft fire from the ships that decimated the formation. Only about ten Bettys managed to release their torpedoes that resulted in only a single hit damaged USS McCawley (APA-4) amidships, although two more torpedoes passed nearby.

Claims: The Japanese claimed 1 destroyer and 4 transports set afire (only USS McCawley (APA-4) was damaged). The escorting Zeros claimed eight U.S. fighters shot down and one probable.

Losses: In total, 19 Bettys and 17 crews were lost (other sources claim 17 lost). 702 Ku lost thirteen including G4M1 Betty Tail 2-343 crashed on Rendova. Only three 702 Ku Bettys landed safely and a fourth ditched with the crew rescued. Escorting A6M Zeros from 251 Ku lost eight (other sources list ten) including Lt Ichiro Mukai (Hikotai Leader), Lt(jg) Takeyoshi Ohno, Lt(jg) Mitsuteru Hashimoto, PO2c Hiroshi Iwano, PO2c Nobuo Konishi, PO2c Uichiro Ando, PO2c Kazu Fukui, PO2c Shun-ichi Hiromori.

The third air raid was in the early evening against Rendova, ten D3A Val dive bombers escorted by twenty-four A6M Zeros from 582 Kokutai and 204 Kokutai led by Lt(jg) Usaburo Suzuki. Over the target, intercepted by U.S. fighters. The Japanese Zeros made no claims and suffered no losses.

The fourth air raid was in the evening by thirteen F1M Petes from 938 Kokutai and lost seven (US claimed 18 float planes shot down).

As a result of these air raids, the Japanese 1st Base Air Force lost of quarter of their air strength and were unable to stop the U.S. landings in the area and forced Admiral Jinichi Kusaka to request reinforcements from Saipan.

Record of Events, Fighter Command, Guadalcanal, February 1, 1943 to July, 25, 1943 (HQ MAG 12, 1st MAW) 25 July 1943 pages 4-5
(Page 4) "June 30th marked the actual start of the New Georgia offensive. A 32 plane fighter patrol was maintained from dawn to dusk over Rendova.
The first air activity on this day occurred on the morning when a fighter sweep of 30-40 Zeros were reported approaching Rendova [actually the first encounter was with a search Betty and involved VF-21's first 16 plane patrol]. 28 additional fighters were scrambled immediately upon receipt of this information, thereby making a fighter patrol of 60 planes. The planes then on patrol shot down 16 Zeros in this phase of the days actions. [VF-21 had 16 F4Fs in this action]. The second enemy air attack took place in the early afternoon when an estimated 30 twin engine bombers [G4M1 Bettys] with fighter escort attempted a torpedo attack on our shipping in the vicinity of Rendova. This attack was turned back by the patrolling fighters with no torpedo hits being registered on the shipping. [sic, a torpedo damaged USS McCawley (APA-4)].
(Page 5) "Later in the afternoon a dive bombing attack (Handwritten in margin: The McCawley was hit by a torpedo plane) was launched against the same shipping targets. Hits on transport and a DD were their only success against shipping for the day.
The last attack of the day, June 30th was made by an undetermined number of float planes, 18 of which were shot down.
The result of the actions of June 30th were 101 planes shot down for the loss of 14 of our planes with all but five pilots recovered."
Japanese Monographs No. 122 "Outlines of Southeast Area Naval Air Operations Part III (November 1942-June 1943)"
Consolidated Mission Report 307th Bomb Group, 13th Air Force
"This [B-24 307th BG bombing] mission was originally planned for June 30th, for the specific purpose of neutralizing Kahili Airdrome in aid of offensive instituted that day against Jap positions in the New Georgia Islands. This accounts for the delayed fuse bombs, used for the first time by our planes in this theatre."
Mitsubishi Type 1 Rikko 'Betty' Units of WWII (2001) by Osamu Tagaya page 74
(Page 74) "Confronting a new enemy landing [at Rendova], the air command felt compelled to strike back at the earliest opportunity by whatever means possible. Once again, the rikko crews were ordered out on a daylight torpedo mission, and it is a tribute to their stoic bravery that the attack was pressed home - 17 Type 1s of 702 Ku and nine from 705 were led by the 702 Ku Hikotaicho, Lt Cdr Genzo Nakamura. Precious minutes lost in the search for the ships, which were eventually found in Blanche Channel, between Rendova and New Georgia, brought a swarm of F4Us and F4Fs.
Three rikko from 702, including Nakamura, managed to return, whilst a fourth aircraft ditched and the crew were saved. Thirteen others never came back. 705 counted four missing and one crash-landed. In all, 19 out of 26 aircraft, and 17 crews, were lost. About ten rikko fought their way through the fighters and flat to launch torpedoes, but their only score was a single torpedo hit against the transport USS McCawley, flagship of their old nemesis Kelly Turner."
New Georgia The Second Battle For the Solomons (2016) by Ronnie Day page 95-96, 304 (footnote 24)
Japanese Naval Air Force Fighter Units and Their Aces, 1932-1945 (2011) by Ikuhiko Hata, Yasuho Izawa and Christopher Shores pages 57 (June 30, 1943), 393 (pilots lost June 30, 1943)
At Close Quarters PT Boats in the United States Navy (1962) pages 114-116 (June 30, 1943)
ATIS "Air Operations" Doc No 60677 - June 30, 1943
"30 [June 1943] - A land medium bomber on patrol sighted 6 transports, 8 destroyers, 100 amphibious boats, 10 miles south of Rendova.
(Air Raid 1) 27 fighters attacked Rendova and encountered 40 enemy fighters / claims: 30 fighters, 1 bomber shot down (8 uncertain) 1 cruiser and 2 destroyers sunk / 3 fighters failed to return.
(Air Raid 2) 26 land medium bombers [G4M1 Bettys] and 24 fighters attacked Rendova and encountered 60 to 80 enemy fighters / 18 planes shot down / 17 land medium bombers and 10 fighters failed to return
(Air Raid 3) 8 bomber [D3A Vals] and 21 fighters attacked Rendova / 1 destroyer and 1 transport set afire / 1 bomber made a forced landing"
Thanks to Richard Dunn for additional information

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