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Sansapor


Digital relief map of Sansapor area

Sansapor (132.08E 0.49S) was an obscure village and copra plantation on the Vogelkop Peninsula of western New Guinea until June 1944. MacArthur desired an airfield in or near the Vogelkop to cover the leap to Halmahera, but aerial reconnaissance had determined by 17 June 1944 that there were no suitable sites at Waigeo (130.52E 0.23S), MacArthur's initial choice. A scouting party had already been dispatched on submarine S-47 and was diverted to the Sansapor area, arriving 23 June and spending a week in the area. The scouting party reported that there were good landing beaches and airfield sites on the coastal plain. The nearest Japanese force was a group of about 100 troops at a barge station at Sansapor village.

The terrain at Sansapor consisted of a narrow, swampy coastal plain overlooked by steep hills rising to Mount Tonkier (4300' or 1300 meters) twelve miles (19 km) inland. The dominant terrain feature in the immediate area was 350' (106m) Mount Sowewe. The higher ground was covered with light scrub or jungle growth.

Operation GLOBETROTTER. MacArthur ordered the landings on 4 July 1944 and assigned 6 Division (Sibert) as the assault force. Fechteler would command the transport forces, which consisted of 11 destroyers, 19 LCIs, 8 LSTs, 4 patrol craft, and a fleet tug. 5 Air Force raided the Vogelkop and Halmahera airfields to neutralize Japanese air opposition, beginning on 27 July, the same day that the transport force set out from the Wakde area. Because of the lack of enemy activity, Sibert and Fechteler concluded that they could achieve complete tactical surprise, and made no preliminary bombardment. This proved correct: When the landing force came ashore at Mar (132.192E 0.412S) on 30 July 1944, there was no sign of the Japanese. The next day, landing craft shifted troops to Sansapor, from which the enemy had fled, and set up a radar station. Middleburg Island (132.197E 0.370S) was also occupied, and a fighter strip with a 6000' (1830m) Marston runway was ready on 17 August. The medium bomber strip at nar was ready by 3 September.

With Sansapor occupied, the Japanese garrison of Manokwari was cut off and attempted to retreat to Sorong. A number of these troops were intercepted and annihilated east of Sansapor in late August. By the end of the month, the operation was declared complete, with casualties of 34 killed and 85 wounded, plust another nine dead from scrub typhus. Japanese casualties were uncertain but may have been as much as several hundred during the retreat from Manokwari.

Allied order of battle, 22 April 1944

Southwest Pacific Area (MacArthur)     

 
7 Fleet (Kinkaid)


 
Task Force 77 (Barbey)



 
Task Group 77.2 Attack Group (Fechteler)     
6 Division (Sibert)




DD Swenson




Transports






APD Herbert






APD Kilty





APD Ward





APD Crosby





APD Dickerson





APD Schley





19 LCI
8 LST
4 PC
1 AT





Destroyers






DD Stevenson





DD Stockton





DD Welles





DD Radford






DD Hobby





DD Nicholson





DD Wilkes





DD Grayson





DD Gillespie





DD La Vallette





DD Jenkins


Task Force 74 Covering Group "A" (Crutchley)




CA Australia




CA Shropshire




DD Warramunga




DD Arunta



DD Ammen



DD Mullany


Task Force 75 Covering Force "B" (Berkey)




CL Phoenix




CL Nashville



CL Boise



Destroyer Squadron 24





DD Hutchins




DD Bache




DD Daly




DD Abner Read





DD Bush


Task Force 73 Aircraft Seventh Fleet



Task Group 73.1 Seeadler Harbor Group




AV Tangier




AVP Heron




AVP San Pablo




VP-33 13 PBY-5




VP-52 13 PBY-5




VB-106 11 PB4Y-1 Liberator



Task Group 73.2 Langemak Bay Group




AVP Half Moon




VP-34 10 PBY-5

Following their victory, the Allies completed Middleburg Airfield on 17 August 1944 with a 5400' (1645 meter) runway. A second 6000' (1830 meter) runway was completed at Mar by 3 September and was later extended to 7500' (2290 meters).

References
Morison (1953)

Rottman (2002)


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