Reg Newell. Operation Goodtime and the Battle of the Treasury Islands, 1943: The World War II Invasion by United States and New Zealand Forces. Jefferson: Mcfarland, 2012. 241 pp. $39.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-7864-6849-2.
Reviewed by Allyson Stanton (Florida State University)
Published on H-War (July, 2014)
Commissioned by Margaret Sankey
A great deal concerning the Pacific theater of action in World War II has been overlooked by historians and forgotten by all but the participants who still survive. Such islands as Midway and Iwo Jima are remembered largely because of their place in popular culture through such films as The Battle of Midway (1942) and Sands of Iwo Jima (1950), as well as monuments housed in Washington DC and replicated throughout the nation. Islands such as those in the Treasury Islands saw little recognition when immersed in fighting, and have nearly faded from popular memory since. New Zealand historian Reg Newell has attempted to bring forth the memory of the battle for these microscopic islands in the northern part of the Solomon Island Chain.
Rather lengthily titled, Operation Goodtime and the Battle of the Treasury Islands, 1943: The World War II Invasion by United States and New Zealand Forces is actually a rather abbreviated campaign narrative, with less than seventy pages of the total two hundred devoted to analysis of the fighting. Within this limited presentation, Newell provides a basic understanding of the entire conflict, with a thorough and lengthy description of a few minor details. One of the few truly Allied operations in the Pacific, the invasion of the Treasury Islands relied heavily on New Zealand ground troops. The United States Navy oversaw the planning but relied on the 3d Division of the New Zealand Army, 3NZ, to do the fighting on the ground. Men from the Naval Construction Battalion--the Seabees--landed with the 3NZ for the purpose of installing radar equipment and other similar tasks, but ended up fighting next to the New Zealanders when fighting intensified.
Troops began landing on the main island of the chain, Mono Island, on October 27, 1943 under the command of New Zealand Brigadier Robert Row. The key resistance encountered by the Allied troops came from three machine gun nests. The toughest fighting, though, occurred on the night of November 29-30 when a Japanese counterattack overran their lines before the combined efforts of the New Zealanders and Seabees pushed the Japanese back out. A second counterattack came the next night, but failed entirely. This successfully brought an end to the organized resistance of the Japanese in the Treasuries, and Brigadier Row declared the islands officially secured on November 2, 1943. Newell argues that Operation Goodtime was a successful diversion to the Bougainville campaign. He also emphasizes the significance of the use of Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) for the first time, leading to their increased use in subsequent campaigns.
Although the title refers to both the United States and New Zealand, Newell is really only concerned with the 3NZ and the course of its rather brief existence. Very little is presented on the United States’ participation in this campaign, largely due to the prominent role of the New Zealand division. Even less is written concerning the Japanese forces--all of which is taken from secondary sources. By itself, this would be minor and insignificant; however, many other issues emerge throughout the book. Grammatical errors, strange organization, and heavy repetition also mar Newell’s work. Despite these issues, Newell does provide an intricate and detailed narrative of the Allied diversion in the Treasury Islands, filling a gap in the historiography that had been left unfilled by other scholars.
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Allyson Stanton. Review of Newell, Reg, Operation Goodtime and the Battle of the Treasury Islands, 1943: The World War II Invasion by United States and New Zealand Forces.
H-War, H-Net Reviews.
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