Photograph of landing ships at Saidor

U.S. Army. Via

Saidor (146.46E 5.63S) is a small village on the north coast of New Guinea near the base of the Huon Peninsula.

Battle of Saidor. By late 1943 the Japanese had constructed a small airstrip at Saidor but had provided only a weak garrison. Control of this airstrip would allow 5 Air Force to project power further into the approaches to Vitiaz and Dampier Straits, between the Huon Peninsula and New Britain, and would trap 12,000 Japanese troops of 20 Division at Sio (147.371E 5.955S), some 75 miles (120 km) to the east.

On 24 December 1943, MacArthur ordered VII Amphibious Force to seize Saidor. Barbey was given just nine days to plan and carry out the assault, scheduled for 2 January 1944. The assault force would built around 126 Regiment (Martin). Barbey hastily assembled 300 vehicles, 1800 tons of supplies, and 7200 troops at Goodenough Island, with sealift provided by nine of the APDs that had just been employed at Cape Gloucester, several LCIs, and two LSTs. Escort was provided by nine destroyers and Crutchley's cruiser force. The Japanese Navy was preoccupied with a carrier strike by Sherman against Kavieng and did not attempt to contest the landings.

Some 2400 troops were ashore by 0815 on 2 January 1944. The only Allied casualty was a junior naval officer hit by equipment knocked loose by the shock from the firing of his ship's own guns. A few Japanese aircraft from Wewak attacked at 1600, but by then the Allied landing ships were fully unloaded and dispersed and the raid inflicted no significant damage.

On 3 January Adachi tried to reach Sio from Madang to supervise a retreat, but could not get through Allied lines. He then tried riding a submarine (I-177) to Sio, enduring a depth charging before making port on 8 January. The trapped troops assembled at Gali (146.722E 5.802S), 37 miles (60 km) west of Sio, only to be bombarded by Allied destroyers. Sio fell on 15 January, and on 23 January the surviving Japanese troops began moving along inland trails to Madang. Some 2000 failed to survive the march and the remainder were in very poor shape when they reached Madang in mid-February.


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