Invasion of Puruata Island, 1-2 November 1943

The invasion of Puruata Island (1-2 November) took place on the same day as the main Allied invasion of nearby Bougainville and saw a force of Marine raiders capture this small island close to the main American beachhead.

The main American landings took place around Cape Torokina on Empress Augusta Bay (on the western coast of Bougainville). Puruata Island is about half a mile from this beachhead and was garrisoned by a platoon of Japanese infantry. It was to be attacked during the first wave of the American invasion. The attack was to be carried out by the 3rd Raider Battalion (Lt Colonel Fred D. Beans), with one reinforced company in the lead and the rest of the battalion as a reserve.

The landing was opposed by light fire, and by 9.30 the Marines had established a secure perimeter around 125 yards deep. They were facing snipers, machine guns and mortars, and so at 1.30pm the rest of the battalion joined the attack, supported by some self-propelled 75mm guns. The battalion then launched an attack that saw them occupy half of the island by the end of 1 November.

On 2 November the Marines launched a two-pronged attack on the Japanese half of the island. This time they only faced rifle fire, and by 3.30pm the island was secure. Twenty-nine Japanese bodies were found, and the rest of the garrison appears to have escaped to Bougainville. The marines lost 5 dead and 32 wounded.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (22 July 2013), Invasion of Puruata Island, 1-2 November 1943 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_puruata_island.html

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