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USMC July 10, 1943
Justin Taylan 2003
Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as 140mm Naval Gun Type III (1914) / 14cm Type 3 "Sea Coast Gun" serial number unknown. Transported to the South Pacific.
During May 1943 one of four 140mm Naval guns emplaced at Enogai (Enogai Point) on New Georgia. This gun (no. 1) did not have a gun shield and was emplaced at the edge of Kula Gulf. Leaves were added as camouflage to the front of the gun. To the east is gun (no. 2) and beyond is gun (no. 3) and gun (no. 4).
The four gun battery had the field of fire and range to cover northward into Kula Gulf, eastward over Enogai Inlet and Rice Anchorage and westward to the eastern end of Blackett Strait towards Kolombangara Island. The guns were manned by personnel from the Takemura Heavy Artillery Unit and defended by Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) Kure 6th Special Naval Landing Force (Kure 6th SNLF).
In early June 1943, a patrol by U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) amphibious scouts led by Captain Clay A. Boyd with support from an Allied coastwatcher and Solomon Island scouts conducted a reconnaissance of New Georgia and learned of the guns at Enogai and reported their location. Likely, Boyd's force did not observe the guns and only learned about them from villagers. For unknown reasons, this report was ignored or discounted as photographic reconnaissance and photo interpretation led Americans to believe the Japanese had emplaced Naval guns at Bauroko (Bairoko) and not this location. As a result, these guns were never targeted by U.S. warships conducting shore bombardment or air raids.
On July 5, 1943 at 12:49am USS Strong DD-467 in Kula Gulf was hit by a torpedo from Niizuki and sinking. To help rescue her crew, USS Chevalier DD-451 rammed the damaged destroyer to rescue her crew. Meanwhile, the the 140mm guns at Enogai (likely gun no. 1 and gun no. 2 guns overlooking Kula Gulf) fired star shells to illuminated the destroyers and opened fire with high explosive (HE) shells scored hits on damaged and sinking USS Strong DD-467 and forced USS Chevalier DD-451 to break off rescue operations. In response, USS O'Bannon (DD-450) began counter-battery fire in an effort to silence the guns but failed to hit them.
Meanwhile, at roughly 1:15am despite heavy rain, Japanese lookouts at Enogai spot U.S. transports of the "Northern Landing Force" (NLG) off Rice Anchorage and at least two 140mm Naval Guns at Enogai (likely the two emplaced on Enogai Inlet gun no. 3 and gun no. 4) open fire on the vessels then fired on the landing area but their fire was inaccurate and long. The only damaged inflicted was USS Waters (DD-115) that had her main truck (rigging at the top of her mast) shot away.
On July 7, 1943 when U.S. Marines occupy Maranusa I, they captured a map of the defenses at Enogai including the locations of the 140mm guns.
On July 10, 1943 starting at 6:30am the U.S. Marine Corps 1st Raider Battalion, 1st Marine Raider Regiment (reinforced) attacked the Enogai area from the south. During the battle, none of the 140mm Naval guns were fired at the attackers. It is unclear if this is because they could not traverse to the south where the Marines were attacking, or for some other reason. By 1:00pm the Marines were within 600 yards (1,800' / 548.6m) of Enogai Point. Before the Marines captured Enogai, the Japanese removed the breechblock from each gun but made no other effort to disable each of the guns. By 3:00pm, By 3:00pm, nearly all Japanese resistance was overcome aside from small pockets of resistance in the Company A sector to the west.
After the battle, they captured all four guns intact but missing their breechblocks. After the battle, a group of Marines posed with the captured gun no. 1. A Marines digging his foxhole found a breechblock buried in the ground. A search of the area unearthed the other three, allowing the Marines to reattach them and make all four guns operative.
After the battle, the Marines manned the guns to help guard the seaward approaches to Enogai and Enogai Inlet until the end of the New Georgia campaign. It is unclear if any of the guns were fired after July 5, 1943.
The gun still remains in situ at Enogai. The barrel is pointed upward at roughly a 45° angle.
Note, the designation "No. 1" is assigned by Pacific Wrecks to differentiate each of the four guns emplaced at Enogai Point. Two guns, No. 1 and No. 2 being the furthest west overlooking Kula Gulf and No. 3 and No. 4 further to the east overlooking Enogai Inlet.
1st Raider Regiment, Combat Report
Marines in the Central Solomons Chapter 4: From Rice to Bairoko pages 96-100, 101 (captured map of defenses including guns),112, 114, 116-121 footnotes 3, 17
(Footnote 3) "Although Boyd had reported the location of these batteries in early June, aerial photograph interpretation had led the planners to believe that the enemy had concentrated his heavy guns in the Bairoko area. Bairoko therefore received all of Ainsworth's attention while Enogai was ignored. Cloaked by heavy rain, gun flashes at Enogai escaped the observation of shipboard spotters. Incidentally the only hit was suffered by the Waters, which had her main truck shot away. Karig, op. cit., 213; Boyd interview."
U.S. Army in WWII The Reduction of Rabaul Chapter VII The Offensive Stalls pages 98, 103, footnote 6, 17
(Page 103) "They captured They captured 3 50-caliber antiaircraft machine guns, 4 heavy and 14 light machine guns, a searchlight, rifles, mortars, ammunition, 2 tractors, some stores and documents, and the 4 140-mm coastal guns that had harassed the landing at Rice Anchorage. The guns were intact except that their breechblocks had been removed. Luckily, a marine digging a foxhole uncovered one, and a hasty search of the area turned up the other three. The marines used these guns to help guard the seaward approaches to the newly won position."
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