Truk invasion denied by U.S. (2-19-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (February 19, 1944)

Truk invasion denied by U.S.

Knox calls landing report enemy propaganda

Washington (UP) –
U.S. naval and air forces have scored a “big victory” in their mighty aerial assault against the formidable Jap naval base of Truk, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox said yesterday as he described as enemy propaganda reports that U.S. troops had attempted landings.

“This was a strike by carrier-based planes,” he told a news conference, and indicated there had been no direct contact between opposing warships.

He added that the full scope of the triumph will not be known until the powerful U.S. task forces can break their radio silence.

The Secretary said he did not know whether the attack was still in progress.

Mr. Knox revealed that the bold thrust was under the overall charge of Adm. Raymond Spruance, who directed the brilliantly successful invasion of the Marshalls a fortnight ago.

He said the assault was:

…but another in the overall campaign to destroy for all time Japan’s ability to wage war, whether it be on the sea, on land or in the air.

He said:

Now that we’ve started, we aren’t going to stop.

Mr. Knox labeled the assault evidence that the power of the Navy and its air arm is such that “we are now able to go on the offensive and strike the enemy at the time and place that we select;” that it is “of such magnitude in the Pacific area as to make itself felt from the Bering Sea down to Australia.”

He revealed that in recent months, the Allies have been sinking four times as much enemy merchant tonnage as they are losing by enemy action – “and that ignores the fact that we are building far more than we are losing.”

Mr. Knox said U.S. forces would conquer Truk, “eventually.” But he declined to say whether the Navy actually intended to seize the base eventually, or bypass it.

The Secretary announced appointment of VAdm. John W. Greenslade as head of the new office of Pacific Coast Coordinator of Naval Logistics to handle problems of supply which are expected to become of increasing importance as the Pacific War grows in intensity.

Adm. Greenslade, a native of Bellevue, Ohio, until recently was commander of the Western Sea Frontier.

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