Battle of Noemfoor
The Battle of Noemfoor was a battle of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 that took place on the island of Noemfoor
Numfor is one of the Biak Islands in Papua province, Indonesia. It was the site of conflict between Japanese and the Allied forces during World War II, and was major airbase for both sides.-Geography:The island is situated just north of the large Cenderawasih Bay...

, in Dutch New Guinea, between 2 July and 31 August 1944. United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

n forces attacked to capture Japanese
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 bases on the island.


Noemfoor is an elliptical
In geometry, an ellipse is a plane curve that results from the intersection of a cone by a plane in a way that produces a closed curve. Circles are special cases of ellipses, obtained when the cutting plane is orthogonal to the cone's axis...

, almost circular shape. It is approximately 11 mi (17.7 km) in diameter and encircled by coral reef
Coral reef
Coral reefs are underwater structures made from calcium carbonate secreted by corals. Coral reefs are colonies of tiny living animals found in marine waters that contain few nutrients. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, which in turn consist of polyps that cluster in groups. The polyps...

s. The landscape is dominated by limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 and coral terraces, topped by a 670 ft (204.2 m) tall hill, which is covered by tropical rainforest
Tropical rainforest
A tropical rainforest is an ecosystem type that occurs roughly within the latitudes 28 degrees north or south of the equator . This ecosystem experiences high average temperatures and a significant amount of rainfall...

, like much of the interior. Noemfoor lies just north of Cenderawasih Bay
Cenderawasih Bay
Cenderawasih Bay , also Teluk Sarera , formerly Geelvink Bay is a large bay in northern Province of Papua and West Papua, New Guinea, Indonesia, at . The Dutch name comes after a Dutch ship and family called Geelvinck...

 (Geelvink Bay), between the island of Biak
Biak features a tropical rainforest climate with nearly identical temperatures throughout the course of the year. The average annual temperature in the city is 27 degrees celsius, which is also generally the average temperature of each day in Biak...

 and the east coast of the Doberai Peninsula
Bird's Head Peninsula
The Bird's Head Peninsula or Doberai Peninsula is a large peninsula that makes up the northwest portion of the Province of West Papua, Indonesia.-Location and geography:...

 (Vogelkop/Bird's Head Peninsula), on mainland New Guinea.

The island was occupied by Japanese forces in December 1943. The indigenous civilian population numbered about 5,000 people, most of whom lived a subsistence lifestyle in coastal villages.

The island was also hosting about 1,100 laborers taken to Noemfoor by the Japanese: a 600-strong Formosan
Taiwanese people
Taiwanese people may refer to individuals who either claim or are imputed cultural identity focused on the island of Taiwan and/or Taiwan Area which have been governed by the Republic of China since 1945...

 (Taiwanese) auxiliary labor unit and 500 Indonesian
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

 civilian forced laborers. According to the official U.S. Army history, over 3,000 Indonesian men, women, and children were shipped to Noemfoor by the Japanese military. Most came from Soerabaja
Surabaya is Indonesia's second-largest city with a population of over 2.7 million , and the capital of the province of East Java...

 (Surabaya) and other large cities on Java. These Javanese civilians were forced to construct roads and airfields, mostly by hand. Little food, clothing, shelter or medical attention were provided. Many attempted to steal Japanese supplies, and were executed. Others died from starvation and preventable disease. Survivors also alleged that sick Javanese were buried alive. The Formosan labor troops had originally numbered about 900 men. They had also worked on airfield and road construction, on ½ the ration of rice issued to regular Japanese troops. When they became ill from exhaustion, hunger, or tropical diseases, they were put in a convalescent camp. In the words of the U.S. official history: "There, their rations were again cut in half, and the shelter and blankets provided covered but a fraction of the inmates. Medical care was given only to the worse cases, and then was inadequate."

The Japanese built three airfields on the island, turning it into a significant air base.
  • Kornasoren Airfield/Yebrurro Airfield, located toward the northern end of the island
  • Kamiri Airfield, on the northwestern edge of the island
  • Namber Airfield, on the west coast of the island.

Bombing of the island by the United States Army Air Forces
United States Army Air Forces
The United States Army Air Forces was the military aviation arm of the United States of America during and immediately after World War II, and the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force....

 (USAAF) and Royal Australian Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force
The Royal Australian Air Force is the air force branch of the Australian Defence Force. The RAAF was formed in March 1921. It continues the traditions of the Australian Flying Corps , which was formed on 22 October 1912. The RAAF has taken part in many of the 20th century's major conflicts...

 (RAAF) began as early as April 1944.

Noemfoor was also used as a staging area for Japanese troops moving to reinforce Biak
Battle of Biak
The Battle of Biak was part of the New Guinea campaign of World War II. It was fought between the United States Army and the Japanese Army from May 27 to June 22, 1944. It was the first major tactical use of an ambush by the Japanese during the war....

, which was invaded by the Allies in May 1944. Japanese barges could travel from Manokwari
Manokwari is a city in Indonesia. It is the largest city and, since 2003, the capital of the province of West Papua, at the western end of New Guinea. The city has many resorts and is a major tourist area. It is one of the seats of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manokwari–Sorong. It is also the...

 to Noemfoor—about 60 nmi (69 mi; 111.1 km)—during one night. Japanese forces on Biak had been defeated by 20 June.

In describing his preparations for the Western New Guinea campaign
Western New Guinea campaign
The Western New Guinea campaign was a series of actions in the New Guinea campaign of World War II. United States and Australian forces assaulted Japanese bases and positions in the northwest coastal areas of Netherlands New Guinea and adjoining parts of the Australian Territory of New Guinea...

, General Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was an American general and field marshal of the Philippine Army. He was a Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his service in the...

 wrote in his memoirs that: "[t]he Hollandia Invasion
Operations Reckless and Persecution
Operation Reckless, known as the Landing at Hollandia and Operation Persecution known as the Aitape landing, were Allied amphibious landings which commenced the Western New Guinea campaign. Both operations commenced on 22 April 1944....

 initiated a marked change in the tempo of my advance westward. Subsequent assaults against Wakde
Battle of Wakde
The Battle of Wakde was part of the New Guinea campaign of World War II. It was fought between the United States and Japan from 15 May 1944 to 18 May 1944....

, Biak
Battle of Biak
The Battle of Biak was part of the New Guinea campaign of World War II. It was fought between the United States Army and the Japanese Army from May 27 to June 22, 1944. It was the first major tactical use of an ambush by the Japanese during the war....

, Noemfoor, and Sansapor
Sansapor Airfield
Sansapor Airfield is a former World War II airfield located in the village of Mar, in West Irian Jaya Province, Indonesia. The airfield was abandoned after the war and today is almost totally returned to its natural state....

 were mounted in quick succession, and, in contrast to previous campaigns, I planned no attempt to complete all phases of one operation before moving on to the next objective."

Ultimately, Noemfoor was selected for invasion for four reasons:
  • Allied commanders believed that Japanese troops equivalent to less than one battalion
    A battalion is a military unit of around 300–1,200 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel...

     would be based there;
  • the Allies were already experiencing a shortage of amphibious vessels and Noemfoor could be seized without large-scale operations;
  • it also had the greatest number of useful airfields in the smallest area and;
  • Japanese air defences in western New Guinea were almost negligible. (At the end of June, RAAF HQ reported that although the Namber and Kamiri airfields were serviceable, they were barely being used and "a possibly generous" estimate suggested that only 19 Japanese bombers and 37 fighters remained in New Guinea.)


MacArthur selected the 158th Regimental Combat Team
158th Infantry Regiment (United States)
The 158th Infantry Regiment is a infantry unit of the Arizona National Guard. The regiment has served in World War I, World War II and Afghanistan.-History:...

, primarily units from the Arizona National Guard
Arizona Army National Guard
The Arizona Army National Guard is a component of the United States Army and the United States National Guard. Nationwide, the Army National Guard comprises approximately one half of the US Army's available combat forces and approximately one third of its support organization...

, United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

—commanded by Major General
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

 Edwin D. Patrick
Edwin D. Patrick
Major General Edwin Davies Patrick was an American general who was the commander of the 6th Infantry Division during World War II.-Biography:...

—to assault the island in Operation Cyclone, from 2 July.

In mid-June, No. 10 Operational Group RAAF
Australian First Tactical Air Force
The Australian First Tactical Air Force was formed on 25 October 1944 by the Royal Australian Air Force . Its purpose was to provide a mobile force of fighter and ground attack aircraft that could support Allied army and naval units fighting the Empire of Japan in the South West Pacific Area...

, under Air Commodore
Air Commodore
Air commodore is an air-officer rank which originated in and continues to be used by the Royal Air Force...

 Frederick Scherger
Frederick Scherger
Air Chief Marshal Sir Frederick Rudolph William Scherger KBE, CB, DSO, AFC was a senior commander in the Royal Australian Air Force...

, was designated the controlling Allied air force unit for Operation Cyclone. The USAAF units attached to 10 OG for the invasion comprised: the 58th and 348th Fighter Groups and the 307th, 309th and 417th Bombardment Groups.

The 8,000-strong invasion force — composed primarily of the 158th RCT and No. 62 Works Wing RAAF — was known as Cyclone Task Force. A 40-strong contingent of Dutch
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 civil administration personnel was also included.

Facing them were approximately 2,000 Japanese troops, mostly from the 219th Infantry Regiment as well as some from the 222nd Infantry Regiment, who had been in transit to Biak. The garrison was commanded by Colonel
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

 Suesada Shimizu, also CO of the 219th Regiment.

At the beginning of July 1944, various kinds of Japanese aircraft were at the Noemfoor airfields. It appears that elements of 61° Hiko Sentai
in Japanese language is a word for a military unit and may be literally translated as "squadron", "task force", "group" or "wing". The terms "regiment" and "flotilla", while sometimes used as translations of Sentai, are also used to refer to larger formations....

("No. 61 Air Group"/"61st Flying Regiment") in particular, flying Mitsubishi Ki-21
Mitsubishi Ki-21
The was a Japanese bomber during World War II. It began operations during the Second Sino-Japanese War participating in the Nomonhan Incident, and in the first stages of the Pacific War, including the Malayan, Burmese, Dutch East Indies and New Guinea Campaigns...

 ("Sally") bombers, were based at Kamiri. (However, Japanese aircraft played no significant role in the ensuing battle; see below.)


From 04:30 on 2 July, warships from the U.S.-Australian Task Forces 75 and 74
Task Force 74
The US Task Force 74 was a US Navy task force of the United States Seventh Fleet that was deployed to the Bay of Bengal by Nixon administration in December 1971, at the height of the 1971 Indo-Pak War...

—under Rear Admiral
Rear Admiral
Rear admiral is a naval commissioned officer rank above that of a commodore and captain, and below that of a vice admiral. It is generally regarded as the lowest of the "admiral" ranks, which are also sometimes referred to as "flag officers" or "flag ranks"...

 Russell S. Berkey
Russell S. Berkey
Russell Stanley Berkey was an Admiral in the United States Navy during World War II.Admiral Berkey was a native of Indiana and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1916. Following graduation he served on board the battleship...

Naval artillery
Naval artillery, or naval riflery, is artillery mounted on a warship for use in naval warfare. Naval artillery has historically been used to engage either other ships, or targets on land; in the latter role it is currently termed naval gunfire fire support...

 Japanese positions on Noemfoor. TF 74 was commanded for the first time by Commodore
Commodore (rank)
Commodore is a military rank used in many navies that is superior to a navy captain, but below a rear admiral. Non-English-speaking nations often use the rank of flotilla admiral or counter admiral as an equivalent .It is often regarded as a one-star rank with a NATO code of OF-6, but is not always...

 John Collins, making him the first graduate of the Royal Australian Naval College to command a naval squadron
Squadron (naval)
A squadron, or naval squadron, is a unit of 3-4 major warships, transport ships, submarines, or sometimes small craft that may be part of a larger task force or a fleet...

 in action.

At 08:00, the 158th RCT was taken to the beach by TF 77
Task Force 77
Task Force 77 has been the aircraft carrier battle/strike force of the Seventh Fleet in the United States Navy since the Seventh Fleet was formed....

, made up of LCM
Landing Craft Mechanized
The Landing Craft Mechanized or Landing Craft Mechanical was a landing craft designed for carrying vehicles. They came to prominence during the Second World War when they were used to land troops or tanks during Allied amphibious assaults....

s and LCT
Landing craft tank
The Landing Craft, Tank was an amphibious assault ship for landing tanks on beachheads. They were initially developed by the British Royal Navy and later by the United States Navy during World War II in a series of versions. Initially known as the "Tank Landing Craft" by the British, they later...

s under R.Adm. William Fechteler
William Fechteler
William Morrow Fechteler was an admiral in the United States Navy who served as Chief of Naval Operations during the Eisenhower administration. He was the son of Rear Admiral Augustus F. Fechteler.-Biography:...

. The initial landings were near Kamiri airfield, on the northwest edge of the island. Although the island is surrounded by "an almost solid ring" of coral, newspapers reported "almost no loss" of troops before reaching the shore.

Although there were extensive Japanese defensive preparations in the Kamiri area, there was little resistance at Kamiri Airfield. In the words of the U.S. Navy official history: "Japanese encountered around the airfield were so stunned from the effects of the bombardment that all the fight was taken out of them." Kamiri was captured within hours of the landing. Reports indicated that approximately 45 Japanese soldiers were killed, and about 30 Japanese planes captured, although all of these were damaged as a result of the earlier bombardment and bombing.

The following day, as a precaution against Japanese resistance elsewhere, the 2,000 paratroopers of the U.S. 503rd Parachute Regiment were dropped onto the island.

The second base captured by US forces, Yebrurro airstrip was secured by 4 July. That same day, the first elements of No. 10 Operational Group arrived on Noemfoor. There were no Japanese air attacks until the night of 4 July, when a light bomber dropped three bombs near Kamiri, without effect. A few days later, four single-engined fighters dropped about 40 incendiary bombs, causing some damage to Allied materiel.

On 5 July, there was an unsuccessful counter-attack by Japanese ground forces. That same day, a detachment of U.S. forces from Noemfoor also secured the smaller neighboring island of Manim. Namber Airfield came under Allied control, without resistance, on 6 July. The island was officially declared secure on 7 July. However, individual Japanese soldiers continued guerrilla activities, and it was 31 August before all fighting had ceased.


On 9 July, The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

put the total number of Japanese killed at 871 and those captured at 24, and stated that 144 Javanese forced laborers, held by the Japanese had been freed. American losses were categorized as "very light."

By 31 August, Cyclone Task Force had lost 66 killed or missing and 343 wounded. It had killed approximately 1,714 Japanese and taken 186 prisoners.

According to the U.S. Army official history, only 403 of the original 3,000 Javanese civilian laborers were alive by 31 August. About 10-15 were reported to have been killed accidentally by Allied forces. The rest had died from mistreatment before the invasion.

About 300 Formosan labor troops had died before the invasion. Others fought the Allies, allegedly as a result of Japanese coercion. Over 550 surrendered; more than half of these were suffering from starvation and tropical diseases. Less than 20 were reported killed by Allied action.

According to the U.S. Army historian, Allied personnel found evidence that human bodies, of Japanese, Formosan and Allied personnel, had been partly eaten by starving Japanese and Formosans.


Allied airfield repair and construction work by the RAAF and U.S. Army Engineers
United States Army Corps of Engineers
The United States Army Corps of Engineers is a federal agency and a major Army command made up of some 38,000 civilian and military personnel, making it the world's largest public engineering, design and construction management agency...

 began on 2 July.

On the afternoon of 6 July, before the formal cessation of hostilities on the ground, an RAAF P-40 fighter squadron had landed at Kamiri, supporting operations on Noemfoor and becoming the first of many Allied air force units to be based there.

Namber Airfield was assessed as too rough and badly graded to be effectively used by Allied aircraft. It was abandoned in favor of expansion and improvements at Kornasoren. On 25 July, a USAAF P-38 Lighting fighter group
Group (air force)
A group is a military aviation unit, a component of military organization and a military formation. Usage of the terms group and wing differ from one country to another, as well as different branches of a defence force, in some cases...

 was able to land there. By 2 September, two parallel 7000 ft (2,133.6 m) runways had been completed; soon afterwards, B-24 Liberator
B-24 Liberator
The Consolidated B-24 Liberator was an American heavy bomber, designed by Consolidated Aircraft of San Diego, California. It was known within the company as the Model 32, and a small number of early models were sold under the name LB-30, for Land Bomber...

 heavy bombers began operating from Kornasoren Airfield, against Japanese petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 facilities at Balikpapan
Balikpapan is a seaport city on the eastern coast of the island of Borneo, Indonesia, in the East Kalimantan province, a resource-rich region well known for its timber, mining, and petroleum export products. Two harbors, Semayang and Kariangau , and the Sepinggan International Airport are the main...

, Borneo
Borneo is the third largest island in the world and is located north of Java Island, Indonesia, at the geographic centre of Maritime Southeast Asia....


Allied aircraft based on Noemfoor played an important role in the battles of Sansapor
Sansapor Airfield
Sansapor Airfield is a former World War II airfield located in the village of Mar, in West Irian Jaya Province, Indonesia. The airfield was abandoned after the war and today is almost totally returned to its natural state....

 and Morotai
Battle of Morotai
The Battle of Morotai, part of the Pacific War, began on September 15, 1944, and continued until the war ended in August 1945. The fighting began when United States and Australian forces landed on the south-west corner of Morotai, a small island in the Netherlands East Indies , which the Allies...

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