A Marine Corps legend-in-the-making and a future U.S. President were key players in a diversionary operation whose objective was to raise as much hell as possible.
The South Pacific. Fall 1943. After six grueling months of fighting for Guadalcanal, Admiral William F. Halsey’s forces had made a cautious push into the central Solomons and now were poised to accelerate their advance. The Allies aimed to isolate the major Japanese base at Rabaul, New Britain. Airfields on nearby islands would enable Halsey to keep up pressure with constant air raids.
The island of Bougainville was big enough to accommodate as many strips as the admiral cared to build. Halsey’s South Pacific Area Command (ComSoPac) remained confident in its capabilities to capture Bougainville, but a forceful enemy response could be expected. The admiral therefore decided to conduct an array of subsidiary operations to confuse the Japanese, keep them off balance, and prevent them from reinforcing Bougainville.