The battle of Hauwai Island (11-12 March 1944) saw the Americans capture one of the small islands north of Seeadler Harbour in the Admiralty Islands, despite the failure of their first attack.
Hauwei is one of a series of small islands about two miles north of Manus, the main island in the Admiralty Islands. The American campaign in the Admiralty Islands began with the conquest of Los Negros, the third largest island in the group, located to the east of Manus. US troops landed on Los Negros on 29 February and the island was secure by 8 March. The next step was to occupy the string of small islands that run west from the northern tip of Los Negros, forming a line parallel to the north coast of Manus. These were required as artillery bases for the invasion of Manus.
The hardest fighting came on Hauwei Island, second in line from Los Negros. A small reconnaissance party, 27 men under Warrant-Officer Robinson, landed here on 11 March and ran into unexpectedly fierce Japanese resistance just inland. The reconnaissance troop had to fight its way back to the landing beach, a short move that still took two and a half hours. The landing craft that attempted to rescue them was sunk, and they were eventually picked up by a PT boat. Eight men were killed and the rest of the party wounded in this first attack.
A second attack was planned for 12 March. This time the Americans were taking no chances. The attack was preceded by an artillery bombardment of 1,000 rounds, and the attack was supported by medium tanks. The Japanese still put up fierce resistance, but by the end of the day half of the island had been secured and the rest was cleared on 13 March. The attackers, from the US 7th Cavalry Division, had lost eight dead, while the Japanese lost 43 men killed.
Hauweu lived up to expectations as an artillery base. When the US troops on Manus were held up by strong Japanese defences near the coast road, the artillery emplaced on Hauweu helped clear their way.