Naval History and Heritage Command

National Museum of the U.S. Navy

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Battle of Cape Gloucester:  December 1943-January 1944

(Codename:  Operation Backhander)

On December 26, 1943, Task Force 76, commanded by Rear Admiral Daniel F. Barbey, USN, landed First Marine Division, commanded by Major General William H. Rupertus, USMC, at Cape Gloucester, New Britain.  Providing off shore bombardment was Task Force 74, commanded by Rear Admiral Victor A. Crutchley, USN.  This landing was the first time Seventh Amphibious Force employed control officers to guide landing craft through reefs and designated beaches.   A small landing was also done on the opposite side of the island to cut off an enemy escape route.   The island was secured on January 16, 1944, though troops participated in "mopping-up" operations until April.

Image:  127-GW-983-71610:   "Prayer For Their Buddies".   This chaplain says a benediction for U.S. Marines who lost their lvies in the capture of the airport at Cape Gloucester, January 1944.  Official U.S. Marine Corps Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.