Land Battle of Vella Lavella World War II

US troops on Vella Lavella, mid-September 1943

The Battle of Vella Lavella was fought from 15 August – 6 October 1943 between Japan and the Allied forces from New Zealand and the United States. Vella Lavella, an island located in the Solomon Islands, had been occupied by Japanese forces early during the war in the Pacific. Following the fighting around Munda Point, the Allies recaptured the island in late 1943, following a decision to bypass a large concentration of Japanese troops of Kolombangara.

After a landing at Barakoma on 15 August, US troops advanced along the coasts, pushing the Japanese north. In September, New Zealand troops took over from the Americans and they continued to advance across the island, hemming the small Japanese garrison along the north coast. On 6 October, the Japanese began an evacuation operation to withdraw the remaining troops, during which the Naval Battle of Vella Lavella was fought. Following the capture of the island, the Allies developed it into an important airbase which was used in the reduction of main Japanese base at Rabaul.