Battle of Lone Tree Hill

The Battle of Lone Tree Hill (aka Battle of Wakde-Sarmi)
Part of Western New Guinea Campaign, World War II
Date14 June – 1 September 1944
LocationLone Tree Hill in the Toem-Wakde-Sarmi salient
Result American victory; the Americans gain a major staging point and air-base at Wakde airdrome
United States United States Japan Empire of Japan
Commanders and leaders
United States General Walter Krueger Japan Lieutenant General Hachiro Tagami
Casualties and losses
400 dead
1,500 wounded
15 missing
3,870 dead
11,000 dead from sickness starvation,
51 captured
17 tanks lost[1]
Location within Indonesia

The Battle of Lone Tree Hill, also known as the Battle of Wakde-Sarmi, is the name given to a major battle in 1944 in Dutch New Guinea, between United States and Japanese forces.

Following the loss of Hollandia, to the east, in April 1944, the Toem-Wakde-Sarmi area was an isolated coastal salient for the Japanese. Nevertheless, elements of the Japanese 223rd and 224th Infantry Regiments, commanded by Lieutenant General Hachiro Tagami, were concentrated at Lone Tree Hill, overlooking Maffin Bay, and were blocking any further advance by the 158th Regimental Combat Team of the U. S. Army. The Japanese were in well-prepared positions, which included fortified caves. Meanwhile, the main body of the Japanese 223rd Infantry Regiment had outflanked the US units, and a battalion of the Japanese 224th Infantry Regiment, was retreating from Hollandia, towards the Toem-Wakde-Sarmi area.

Lone Tree Hill rose from a flat, coastal plain about 6,000 feet (1,800 m) west of the main jetty in Maffin Bay. The hill was named for a single tree depicted on its crest by U.S. maps; it was a coral formation, covered with dense tropical rain forest and undergrowth. It was about 175 feet (53 m) high, 3,600 feet (1,100 m) long north to south, and 3,300 feet (1,000 m) wide east to west. The north side was characterized by a steep slope. The eastern slope was fronted by a short, twisting stream which the Americans named Snaky River.

On 14 June, the US commander, General Walter Krueger, sent the U.S. 6th Infantry Division, to relieve the 158th RCT. After ten days of hard fighting, the US forces took Lone Tree Hill. The Japanese suffered more than 1,000 dead, including some trapped in collapsed caves. The U.S. Army suffered about 700 battle and 500 non-battle casualties. With Lone Tree Hill in American possession, Maffin Bay became a major staging base for six subsequent battles: Biak, Noemfoor, Sansapor, Leyte and Luzon.


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