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Royal New Zealand Air Force



Throughout November and December the Allied positions on the Treasuries and Bougainville were steadily consolidated and reinforced. On the Treasuries, as soon as the islands had been secured, a radar station was erected which effectively located Japanese aircraft attempting to operate against Allied shipping en route to Bougainville. The construction of an airfield was also begun immediately and a naval base for small craft was developed.

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On Bougainville the 3rd Marine Division was reinforced on 5 November by the 37th Division under Major-General Robert S. Beightler, and thereafter additional men and supplies arrived at frequent intervals. Opposition developed as the enemy was able to bring forces into the area, either down the coast by barge from Buka or overland from Numa Numa on the east coast and Kahili in the south. The first determined counter-attack came a few days after the landing and was delivered by 500 to 600 Japanese from Buka against the Americans' north-west flank. After heavy fighting and some initial success the enemy was thrown back. There was fierce fighting again towards the end of November in an engagement known as the Battle of Piva Forks. Despite opposition and the difficult nature of the country, the beach-head was expanded until, by the end of November, it was as large as it could be, having regard to the number of troops available to defend it. In December Army units started to take over the defence of the area when the Americal Division, under Major-General John R. Hodge, relieved the 3rd Marine Division.

Two days after the first landing naval construction battalions began building an airstrip 100 yards from the coast on the south side of Cape Torokina. It was first used on 24 November. Before the end of the year two other larger strips had been built at Piva, a couple of miles inland.