P.R. from the Pacific Theater

As the fight against the Japanese continued in the Pacific Theater, military commanders kept asking U.S. government officials for one vital thing to keep them going: more resources. Due to the “Europe First” policy, the United States was sending the majority of its resources to the European Theater, making it very difficult for Fifth Air Force to get more men to relieve weary air and ground crews, airplanes and parts. Still, they did the best they could with what they had. General George C. Kenney, first appointed to the Pacific Theater at the end of July 1942, was acutely aware of the shortages and never stopped pushing Washington to get his men what they needed. 

After the huge victory over the Japanese in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea and subsequent successes, self-congratulatory compilations were put together. General Kenney, and more importantly Gen. Douglas MacArthur, knew that the best way to get additional resources to the Pacific Theater was through good press getting back to the Joint Chiefs and President Roosevelt. After the dramatic strike on Rabaul on November 2, 1943, Kenney wanted to dismiss any notion of that mission’s outcome as disastrous. He had a large book created to show off the successes of that mission as well as some of its spectacular photography. The book was then given to influential government officials to build up Kenney’s case for sending more resources to the Pacific Theater and increase Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s favorability among his superiors.

NARA photo 51507AC Capt Alan Haemer - Rabaul Book
Former commercial artist Capt. Alan Haemer, at work in the Graphic Presentation section of the Fifth Air Force Statistical Control Unit, shows off the giant book created after the November 2, 1943 mission to Rabaul. (U.S. National Archives)

How much it helped either cause is difficult to say. Even so, these compilations of mission highlights continued to be made throughout 1944 and into 1945. Prepared by the 345th Bomb Group’s Intelligence Section, this is the cover of one such collection from the 345th’s mission on April 6, 1945.

Cover from 345th mission highlights

5 thoughts on “P.R. from the Pacific Theater

  1. Terrific post! By coincidence, I am planning a Gen. Kenney post for this Monday. The 11th Airborne had close ties over the Pacific years, especially with the 54th Troop Carrier Wing!!

    Liked by 1 person

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