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    Enogai (Enogai Point) New Georgia | Western Province Solomon Islands
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USMC July 10, 1943

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USMC July 11, 1943

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Justin Taylan 2003
Location
Enogai is located on Enogai Point on the north coast of New Georgia Island in the central Solomon Islands. Borders Enogai Inlet to the east and beyond Rice Anchorage. To the south is Boekineru, Triri and Maranusa. Borders Leland Lagoon to the west and beyond Dragons Peninsula and Bauroko (Bairoko). Borders Kula Gulf to the north and Kolombangara Island to the northwest. Prewar and during the Pacific War part of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate (BSIP). Today located in Western Province in the Solomon Islands.

Wartime History
During May 1943 occupied by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) personnel from Kure 6th Special Naval Landing Force (Kure 6th SNLF) that were to establish a barge base in Enogai Inlet. To defend the area, the Japanese emplaced four 140mm Naval Guns at Enogai Point manned by the Takemura heavy artillery unit. Four 140mm naval guns (Type 3) Sea Coast were emplaced on Enogai Point: two facing Kula Gulf and two facing Enogai Inlet. Their field of fire covered northward into Kula Gulf, eastward to Rice Anchorage and westward to Dragons Peninsula. The guns were supported by a searchlight and two tractors. The Japanese also had three .50 caliber machine guns for anti-aircraft defense, heavy machine guns, light machine guns and mortars. After July 9, 1943, reinforced by Imperial Japanese Army (IJN) 13th Infantry Regiment, 4th Company that landed at Bauroko (Bairoko).

In early July 1943, the Enogai area was targeted by air strikes and bombardment. U.S. intelligence estimated roughly 400 Japanese defended the area. The capture of Enogai was an objective of the U.S. Northern Landing Group (NLG) during the New Gerogia campaign.

American missions against Enogai
July 5, 1943–August 4, 1943

On July 5, 1943 after midnight at at Rice Anchorage to the east, the U.S. Northern Landing Group begins landing. At 12:49am USS Strong DD-467 was hit by a torpedo fired by Japanese destroyer Niizuki, while the 140mm naval guns at Enogai fired star shells to illuminated the damaged ship and opened fire with High Explosive (HE) shells and began hitting the damaged ship and caused USS Chevalier DD-451 to break off rescue operations. In response, USS O'Bannon began counter-battery fire in an effort to silence the guns.

At roughly 1:15am despite pouring rain, Japanese lookouts at Enogai spot U.S. transports off Rice Anchorage and at least two 140mm Naval Guns at Enogai (likely Gun No. 3 and Gun No. emplaced on Enogai Inlet) open fire on the vessels then fired on the landing area but the shells are inaccurate and long. The only damaged infliced was USS Waters (DD-115) that had her main truck (rigging at the top of her mast) shot away.

Ashore, the U.S. Northern Landing Group (NLG) under the command of Colonel Harry B. Liversedge "Harry the Horse" including the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) 1st Raider Battalion, 1st Marine Raider Regiment (reinforced) and he U.S. Army 37th Infantry Division, 145 Infantry Regiment and 148th Infantry Regiment 3d Battalion and begins advancing from Rice Anchorage westward towards Enogai. At roughly 1:15am despite pouring rain Japanese lookouts at Enogai spot U.S. transports 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. Ashore, the Americans begin advancing westward towards Enogai Inlet. At 5:00pm, U.S. planes strafe and bomb Enogai.

On July 7, 1943 the 1st Raider Battalion reaches Triri to the south and encounters the first Japanese resistance and occupies the village. On July 8, 1943 1st Raider Battalion turns Triri over to the U.S. Army 145th Infantry Regiment and tries to advance northward towards Enogai in vain and returns. Meanwhile, 17 SBD's and 18 TBFs armed with 1,000 pound or 2,000 pound bombs strike known enemy installations at Enogai and Enogai Inlet.

On July 9, 1943 the 1st Raider Battalion (reinforced) advances from Triri toward Enogai using another route, but is halted by enemy fire from Enogai Point.

On July 10, 1943 in the early morning, Col. Griffith ordered a coordinated assault towards Enogai by all elements of the 1st Marine Raiders. Before dawn, Captain Wheeler instructed a patrol led by Lt. Bunn to the bank of Enogai Inlet to see if it could be used as an axis of advanced and they reported it to be a good route. At 6:30am Griffith ordered all three companies A, C and B into position to advance line abreast from left to right (west to east) as 60mm mortars emplaced in a large bomb cratered fired on suspected enemy potions. At 7:00am all three companies began advancing under supporting fire from machine guns, but the area where B company was advancing had thick jungle and did not allow fire support.

Company B advanced furthest to Baekineru and killed 12 Japanese and captured a heavy machine guns and five light machine guns as as the Japanese withdrew northward to Enogai Point. Meanwhile, Company A and C faced heavier resistance from Japanese infantry and machine guns supported by mortars and by 1:00pm were within 600 yards (1,800' / 548.6m) of Enogai Point. A platoon from Company D under 1st Lt. Thomas D. Pollard pass through Company C zone to assault Enogai village.

At 9:00am R4Ds arrived and made several dry runs then air dropped supplies at treetop height that landed in the vicinity of Triri  that was serving as the command post for the assault marked by smoke grenades by the Raiders. The air dropped supplies included water, rations, ammunition and mortar shells that were quickly sorted and carried to the frontlines.

Meanwhile, the defending Japanese and confused, divided into two pockets and and overcome. Some desperate Japanese vainly attempted to swim towards Snake Island at the mouth of Enogai Inlet and were cut down by gunfire. By 3:00pm, nearly all Japanese resistance was overcome aside from small pockets of resistance in the Company A sector. Around 4:00pm, the first air dropped supplies including food were distributed to the Marines at the front lines who had not eaten for more than 30 hours.

By 5:00pm, as sunset approached the remaining Japanese were surrounded and contained and the Raiders dug defensive positions and their command post moved to Enogai Point and a radio link established with the U.S. Army on New Georgia to requested planes to evacuate wounded Marines.

At Enogai, the Marines captured four intact four 140mm naval guns, three anti-aircraft guns, four heavy and 14 light machine guns plus rifles, small mortars, ammunition, food, clothing, two tractors, artillery scopes, and a searchlight. The enemy dead were identified as members of the Kure 6th Special Naval Landing Force (Kure 6th SNLF), Takemura heavy artillery unit, and 4th Company of the 13th Infantry. The Japanese lost an estimated 350 killed. The Marines lost 50 dead, 4 missing and 91 wounded. In American hands, the Enogai Point area became known as Enogai Base and reinforcements and supplies were landed at Enogai Inlet to support the ongoing offensive.

On July 11, 1943 the Marines completed mopping up the Enogai area and began patrolling down the Enogai-Bairoko Trail towards Bairoko. The depleted 1st Raider Battalion was reorganized into two full strength companies: B Company and D Company plus two understrength companies: A Company and C Company that would remain in at Enogai to man defensive positions.

On July 18, 1943 at 1:00am destroyer-transports USS Ward (APD-16), USS Kilty (DD-137), USS McKean (APD-5) and USS Waters (APD-8) enter Enogai Inlet to land the 4th Raider Battalion under Colonel Currin including 35 officers and 666 enlisted men as reinforcements.

Type 3 (1914) 140mm Naval Gun (Enogai No. 1)
Located furthest to the west, it was at this gun that Marine Radiers posed for photo after its capture.

Type 3 (1914) 140mm Naval Gun (Enogai No. 2)
Located to the west, at Enogai.

Type 3 (1914) 140mm Naval Gun (Enogai No. 3)
Located to the east, around the point at Enogai overlooking Enogai Inlet

Type 3 (1914) 140mm Naval Gun (Enogai No. 4)
Located furthest to the east, around the point at Enogai overlooking Enogai Inlet

Ewan Stevenson recalls:
"I visited these guns about 1984 and then again in 1994. In '84 I went there with the manager of the Kolombangara Levers Timbers company. The projectiles were scattered around at that time."

Justin Taylan adds:
"I visited this site with Danny Kennedy of Dive Gizo, John Innes, Gareth Coleman and Marcus Browning. We located all four guns, fighting positions, expended ammunition and bottles.  None of the shells were present, locals said they had collected them and brought them to the nearby village. Many Japanese bunkers and fighting positions were present made of fuel drums filled with pieces of coral."

References
Marines in the Central Solomons Chapter 1 Introduction page 2
Marines in the Central Solomons Chapter 2 Plans and Preliminary Operations pages 30, 31, 35
Marines in the Central Solomons Chapter 3 Marine Support in the Munda Drive
pages 65, 73 (July 7, 1943)
Marines in the Central Solomons Chapter 4: From Rice to Bairoko pages 96-104, 105-108 (Attack on Enogai), 111 (July 17-18, 1943 4th Raider Battalion landing) 114, 116-121 footnote 3
U.S. Army in WWII The Reduction of Rabaul Chapter VII The Offensive Stalls pages 99, 100 (map 8), 101-105 (Capture of Enogai Inlet), 120, 126
U.S. Army in WWII The Reduction of Rabaul Chapter VIII Griswold Takes Over pages 127-131 (July 11-20, 1943)
The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II Northern Solomons pages 10, 15-16
New Georgia The Second Battle For the Solomons (2019) pages 16 (Enogai SNLF), 74, 77, 80, 82, 105, 107 (map Rice Anchorage), 109-110 (July 5, 1943), 115, 156 (map Dragons Peninsula), 157 (July 6, 1943 air raid, Japanese reinforcements), 157-162 (battle), 166 (map) 167-170, 179 (July 6, 1943 air raid), 193 (July 23 Burke unload), 240 (two bulldozers from Segi to Enogai to cut a road to Bairoko), 334 (index Enogai)

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