|The US Liberation of Hawaii|
|Part of World War II,|
|United States|| Empire of Japan
Kingdom of Hawaii
|Commanders and leaders|
| ???|| Tomoyuki Yamashita†
Ever since the first failed attempt to retake the islands in mid 1942, the US had been preparing itself for the eventual return to the Hawaiian Islands. Nearly seven months of preparation, the US was finally ready. Launching the biggest fleet in history, it dwarfed the Nagumo Strike Force that tore up the Pacific in early 1942. The fleet then engaged and destroyed the Japanese Task Force defending the islands, clearing the way for a great air assault on the islands. This attack then paved the way for the US ground forces who landed and engaged the air and land elements of the 25th Army, under General Yamashita, and the Royal Hawaiian Army. After reaching the city of Honolulu, the US Army was engaged in vicious street to street fighting with a regiment of the SNLF which reduced the city to ruin and killed many of the cities inhabitants. After fierce fighting, the Japanese were defeated and the Kingdom of Hawaii was dissolved, The Hawaiian islands were annexed back into the United States. The Liberation of Hawaii marked the first time in the war, the Japanese fought a land campaign, and lost.
Background[edit | edit source]
Even before the 2nd Battle of the North Pacific even got under way, the US had been secretly constructing an airfield on the island of Kauai, under the very noses of the Japanese who never bothered with the other islands. After the US Navy smashed the Japanese Navy north of Hawaii, the US Army Air Force launched the opening phase on the islands campaign by a coordinated mass strike against military targets on Oahu with B-17 and B-24 bombers. The attack achieved complete surprise and many of the Japanese own rifles were destroyed in their armories. After the bombing raid, they then flew onto the air strip where they landed and underwent refueling and repairs. The Japanese Army Air Force struck back, and although they destroyed many bombers on the ground, it wasn't enough. Realizing the Yankees were on their way, the IJA moved north. During their rule, the Japanese had employed POW's to work on defenses and tank traps, so unlike the Americans who defended the island from their own invasion, the Japanese were prepared. After the bombing raid, the bombers continued to take off and bomb Oahu in preparation for the liberation.
The Oahu Campaign[edit | edit source]
Battle for the Skies[edit | edit source]
After the bombing raid by the US Army, the US Navy then spear headed an aerial assault on Oahu to take on elements of the Japanese Army Air Force. Hellcat fighters led the charge, while Wildcats provided cover for the bombers and dive bombers. The Army had at it's disposal the Zero fighters from Zuikaku, and the survivors of the naval battle, along with their own Hayabusa fighters, famous from its battles in Malaya. Unfortunately, the damage to the airfields by the bombing raid prevented the Japanese from launching their full air power, and things only got worse. While the Japanese had built revetments and camouflaged them, they failed to do the same for their repair equipment, allowing it to be easily destroyed and preventing them from repairing the damage. In spite of the pilots of the Oscar fighters being incredibly skilled and having battle experience in China, the fighters had poor armor and no self-sealing fuel tanks; which weren't it's only problems. Not only was it noticeable slower than the Zero, it's armament of two rifle caliber machine guns were horribly inadequate against the heavily armored Hellcats, who's own six .50-caliber guns insured that no Oscar pilots survived being shot down; However, there were a few instances where US Navy pilots found this task incredibly difficult. The one technological advantage the Army had, which would allow them to even the odds, was the new Hien fighter. Although it was a capable match for the Hellcat, the planes weren't available in enough in quantities to turn the tide of battle. Within the first two day, all the Army's attack planes and bombers were destroyed. Within the next three, the IJAAF ceased to exist. Although devastated, the planes of the Japanese managed to damage a few support ships of the US Task force, and just before the loss of Wheeler Field, a lone Japanese Zero was able to sneak through the fleet's CAP's to bomb the escort carrier USS Copahee before making a suicide attack against the fleet carrier US Bunker Hill.
The Oahu Landing[edit | edit source]
After the victory at sea, the US Liberty Ships carrying an invasion force of two Marine divisions and three Army divisions made steam for the northern beaches of Oahu, launching their Higgins Boats. Awaiting them, were the Japanese infantry, dug in well, but American dive bombers pummeled their positions as the US landed. The Japanese opened up with artillery as they boats approached but it only allowed the ships blasting the shore to zero in on their positions. As the Marines landed, the infantry charged them, but were quickly mowed down. The situation rapidly deteriorated as the US landed their tanks, and the survivors were forced to regroup and retreat. With the US Marines now ashore, the first US Infantry troops quickly followed. They reorganized themselves and pushed south, quickly overrunning Haleiwa and just as rapidly repairing it.
Battle for the North[edit | edit source]
With Haleiwa gone, and all airfields in the north under heavy attack, the majority of Japanese air power was forced back to Hickam Field. This meant they couldn't provide close air support for their own troops who were being mercilessly pounded from the air. Occasionally, the wild counter attacks of the Japanese would break though, but would just as quickly be forced back. During these counter attacks, the US forces discovered the grisly fate on those who had tried to surrender. Meanwhile, Yamashita, who had located his HQ from Honolulu to Pearl City, made the decision to pad out the front line with Navy men, seeing as all Japanese ships were destroyed, and Tokyo wasn't sending any help. Meaning that he would have to fight to the death, Yamashita was furious, but none the less obeyed. Meanwhile, as the US geared up for an attack on Schofield Barracks, the Japanese attempted to keep the US off balance with night raiding parties. These attacks achieved little and US pushed on to within shelling distance of Wahiawa. As the US prepared for its attack, King Stanley Owana Laanui sent his own Royal Hawaiian Army into the action in hopes of shoring up Japanese defenses, while Captain Sanji Iwabuchi and the SNLF took command of the defense of Honolulu. The Hawaiian Army was thrown into the fight for Schofield Barracks with mixed results. While some units fought fanatically to the death, others chose instead to throw down their arms and surrender, leading to mixed opinions of the army from both sides. The Yankees then charged the barracks with tanks; though a few were lost to suicide attacks. This assault broke the Japanese lines and forced them to retreat, leaving what little remained of the army base in US hands. A few days later, they liberated what was left of Wahiawa.
Battle for the South[edit | edit source]
Half of the island had now been liberated. US Forces then regrouped for a major push south. Using close air support, the Marines then captured Wheeler Field, giving them a land air base in the south part of the island. By now, Japanese air power had ceased to exist. The US Navy then swung southward and began to bombard Pearl Harbor. This was the precursor to an amphibious assault by the Marines and Army against the harbor and city there. With both shore and air support the US troops landed and quickly overran the harbor, before heading into the city. This left Honolulu Harbor the only available port for the Japanese. Although offered an escape by submarine, King Stanley and his wife Queen Cynthia Laanui, along with the Japanese high command, chose to stay behind. General Yamashita, who had chosen to stay in Pearl City, was killed in battle as the city fell.
The Battle for Honolulu[edit | edit source]
The fall of Pearl Harbor was seen to all as the final nail in the coffin for Japanese rule over Hawaii. What was left of Japanese forces withdrew into the city of Honolulu, and prepared to make a last stand. What was left of the Japanese Army High Command, along with the King and Queen of Hawaii, as well as the remnants of the Hawaiian Army, all bunkered up in the basement of the Iolani Palace and prepared for the inevitable. Meanwhile, the US finally attacked the city, but the defences of the SNLF twice repulsed them. A third charge, backed up with mortars and artillery broke through their defences and a vicious street by street battle began. As the battle raged, and the city was destroyed, the IJA was separated from the SNLF as it retreated towards Iolani Palace, while Captain Iwabuchi and his men retreated to the Waikiki. Up at the Iolani Palace, the US Marines assaulted the building with mortars and artillery. The Japanese and Hawaiian's retreated into the Palace, forcing the Americans to clear out the building floor by floor. As they did so, King Stanley and his wife committed suicide. The few Japanese troops left retreated through the residential areas of the city before being forced out of the city and into Waikiki. There, they were caught between a pincer attack from the US ground forces and an amphibious assault on Waikiki beach. Having done all he could, Captain Iwabuchi lead the remaining Japanese Marines in one last banzai charge. He died alongside his men and the charge it's self come to nothing. With Iwabuchi dead, all that was left were mop-up operations. The whole island had finally been liberated, but at a great cost in civilian lives.
Aftermath[edit | edit source]
With the death of the King and Queen, the Kingdom of Hawaii effectively ceased to be. The Japanese flag was hauled down and the Stars and Stripes was once more raised. People who had collaborated with the Japanese found themselves at the vengeance of the locals, and some where killed by mob brutality. Not only had thousands of average civilians had been effected by the occupation, but so had the whole islands themselves. Gone were the pineapple and sugar cane fields, and replaced with rice patties. The flag of Hawaii, which had been used for the Kingdom of Hawaii was quickly shunned by all, as everyone saw it as a symbol of the Japanese rule, rather than an independent Hawaii. The US forces were quick to rebuild all key military installations even as the battle had raged on. Pearl Harbor was cluttered with the wrecks of two fleets but was hastily being made ready for use at a speed which astounded what little Japanese prisoners had been taken. Of the thousands of Japanese personnel who were on the islands, only a few hundred survived. Those who were left realized that the aim of the fanatical defense which had been to break American resolve had not only failed, but helped spur them on towards Japan.
References[edit | edit source]