Sicily & Southern Italy, 1943–44

Battle of the Bismarck Sea

By Allyn Vannoy

Though Japanese forces in New Guinea had been defeated along the Kokoda Trail and at Buna and Wau by the end of 1942, they continued contesting the island’s southeastern part. Having been forced to abandon Guadalcanal in the southern Solomons and Buna in New Guinea, they still strove to reinforce their positions at Lae and Salamaua. They therefore sent reinforcement convoys from Rabaul, on New Britain, to those locales.

During 5–8 January 1943, the Japanese sent a convoy of five transports and five destroyers from Rabaul to Lae via the southern coast of New Britain. Only one ship was sunk en route by a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Catalina. That was the transport Nichiryu Maru, and the accompanying destroyers were able to rescue 739 of the 1,100 troops on board. Another transport was sunk after arriving at Lae.

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Kesselring’s War: Sicily & Southern Italy, 1943–44

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Articles:

  • Kesselring’s War: Sicily & Southern Italy, 1943–44 On 9 July 1943 two Allied armies landed on Sicily. Instead of the quick victory their high command had anticipated, that campaign and its sequel on the mainland turned into a contest of attrition in which the Germans conducted a strategically successful delay action. The German commander responsible for that turn of events was Albert Kesselring.
  • Battle of the Bismarck Sea Japanese forces on New Guinea had been defeated along the Kokoda Trail and at Buna and Wau by the end of 1942, but they continued to contest the southeastern part of the island. Having been forced to abandoned Guadalcanal in the southern Solomons and Buna on New Guinea, they still strove to reinforce their positions at Lae and Salamaua. They therefore sent reinforcement convoys from Rabaul, on New Britain, to those locales. The result was the Battle of the Bismarck Sea on 2–4 March. Here is our analysis.
  • Checkmate on the Vistula: The Lublin-Brest Operation, 1944 The Soviets’ Lublin-Brest Offensive was a subsidiary effort within Operation Bagration, which destroyed 28 German divisions and cleared their forces from central and eastern Poland between 18 July and 2 August 1944. First Belorussian Front reached the Vistula River, only to then be outmaneuvered by Army Group Center, leading to a controversial two-month stalemate there at the gates of Warsaw.
  • Operation Isabella, Spain 1942: What If? It is well known that, soon after the start of the war in September 1939, Spain’s dictator Francisco Franco officially decreed his country’s neutrality. Few know the late-summer 1942 sequel to that episode, in which Spain came close to being invaded by the Germans under the codename “Operation Isabella.” Fewer still understand what a blunder Hitler made in cancelling that plan.

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