Defeating Japan without South West Pacific campaign and Douglas MacArthur

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by gjs238, Oct 1, 2014.

  1. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Would the Central Pacific island hopping campaign under Admiral Chester Nimitz have defeated Japan without the South West Pacific campaign under General Douglas MacArthur?
     
  2. razor1uk

    razor1uk Well-Known Member

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    Just as dependant upon this possibility is if the Japanese Diplomatic and Naval codes have still been broken or not an being intercepted by India/Ceylon, Jakarta and Austrailia, as to whichever US Pacific force(s) (Army or Navy) honcho and their own plan is 'running the show'.
     
  3. Donivanp

    Donivanp Well-Known Member

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    There are many different insights to this.
    Germany first. Although Churchill called for and tried to force everything to Germany first, Adm King is noted for pushing things to the Pacific as fast as he could. This is why the Pacific war was faster then it would have been. If this had not happened not even MacArthur stood much chance of holding the South West Pacific. The British were not happy that the flow of war material was going west instead of east from he US. There was a great amount that went to England and the European campaign, but I don't really think anyone understood Americas capability to out produce the rest of the world combined. Not even America. If Adm King had not forced his will to get equipment out to Nimitz and MacArthur then Australia, New Guinea and the whole SW pacific would have most likely been lost or at least cut off. The loss would have hampered events but there would have eventually been a victory for the US. Even doing it the King /Nimitz way. With the amount of equipment and personnel coming from the US, enough to man two ocean (more like 3 ocean) navy's with 24 fast attack carriers and 125 smaller aircraft carriers, 8 battleships, god only know how many destroyers cruisers and transports and other support ships. and the men to man them and fight in them. F4F, F6F, F4U, SB2D TBM etc.... M4A... tanks, aircraft, ships. It may have taken a little longer. possibly the B-36 would have received higher priority and a long range bomber able to hit Japan from Hawaii would have happened sooner.
     
  4. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Path to victory ran through central Pacific to Okinawa. IMO Big Mac's south Pacific effort was just a bloody side show.
     
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  5. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    #5 michaelmaltby, Oct 1, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2014
    The submarine blockade of Japan was the most effective conventional weapon/campaign that the USA used on Japan. But I believe Big Mac's vanity redeemed him as Post War Sho Gun ..... he was the right man for the job and he did it well until June, 1950 .....
     
  6. Donivanp

    Donivanp Well-Known Member

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    I fully agree the "Big Mac" was well over bloated. At first he was little more them Patton "invasion force" for D-day, the really big thing done in the SW Pac, "Big Mac's" realm was the Guadalcanal area and New Guinea. which saw too it that the Japanese did not flow into Australia. Churchill may have been keen to do Hitler first but if Australia was hit hard things would have changed. One thing to lose a colony like Singapore, quite another to lose Australia.
     
  7. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Yep...stab deep into the middle of Japanese territory and have the full brunt of the Japanese close shut on Allied forces like a bear trap...

    Brilliant.
     
  8. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    im doubtful.

    SW pac provided 80% of the ground troops, 70% of the aircraft, and the only means of applying attrition to the Japanese surface fleet during the mid war period. of course, the result in the pacific was always eventually going to turn out badly for the Japanese, so the question really to have any relevance should be changed to "could the Japanese be defeated by a single push across the central pacific?" The answer is no. The Americans lacked the experience, the (trained) manpower, the aircraft to be decisive on their own believe it or not until well into 1943, and by that time the Japanese would have been well fortified and prepred, with the opportunity given to them on a plate to recover from their earlier aircrew losses. the people who did the lions share of the fighting on land an in the air until mid'43 in the PTO, the Australians, were prevented by law from fighting in the Central pacific. We needed American assistance, but leaving out the Australians from the equation destroys the allied offensive options until far too late.
     
  9. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    I was not aware that the Australians were prevented by law from fighting in the Central pacific.
    Would certainly need to include them in non-SW Pac ops.
     
  10. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    not all. I should have made that clearer. The AIF, the all volunteer forces were able to fight anywhere, bu the CMF (citizen military forces) were not allowed to fight outside Australia or its territories.

    The Defence (Citizen Military Forces) Act (1943) was federal Australian law passed on 26 January 1943 which extended the area in which the Militia were obliged to serve from Australia and its territories to the South-Western Pacific Zone (SWPZ), a triangle bounded by the equator and the 110th and 159th meridians of longitude, for the duration of the war and up to six months of Australia ceasing to be involved in hostilities.

    On 20 October 1939, a decade after the Scullin government abolished universal military training, and some six weeks after Australia had entered World War II, Prime Minister Robert Menzies issued a press statement announcing the reintroduction of compulsory military training with effect from 1 January 1940. The arrangements required unmarried men turning 21 in the call up period to undertake three months training with the Militia. Under the Defence Act (1903), they could not be compelled to serve outside Australia or its territories. For this purpose, a separate, volunteer force, the Second Australian Imperial Force (AIF) was raised for service overseas.

    Then Leader of the Opposition and leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP), John Curtin, voiced his opposition in Parliament to the move by the Menzies’ Government and reiterated ALP opposition to compulsory military service overseas.

    However, when Curtin became prime minister in 1941, he sought to amend the ALP platform in order to allow members of the Militia to serve overseas. It was a difficult process for him. There were several reasons for this. For the purpose of military efficiency, the Commander in Chief, Sir Thomas Blamey had transferred large numbers of combat-experienced officers from the AIF to the Militia; the limits on where conscripts could serve hampered military planning; and there were large numbers of American conscripts arriving in Australia to assist in its defence. These troops were mostly receiving specialist training at the only jungle warfare training establishment then available to all the allied forces, located at Canungra military barracks, Queensland Despite rumours at the time, there is no evidence that Generals Blamey or MacArthur or the United States government ever recommended any change to the Australian government but there was vocal criticism of the government's policy in parliament led by Arthur Fadden.

    Curtin argued that the US had saved Australia, and the Goverrnment had had a desperate fight to get aid for Australia. He did not want to live those months again. Now the position was that there was a barrage of criticism in Australia and United States was directed at Australia that it would have Americans defend Darwin, but not Australians fight for the Philippines.

    On 5 January 1943 the Federal Conference of the ALP passed the following compromise resolution:

    "That, having regard to the paramount necessity of Australia's defence, the Government be authorised to add to the definition of the territories to which the Defence Act extends the following words: ‘and such other territories in the South-west Pacific Area as the Governor-General proclaims as being territories associated with the defence of Australia"

    War Cabinet approved a bill to give effect to the motion on 26 January 1943. The bill provided for the use of Australian conscripts in the South-Western Pacific Zone (SWPZ) during the period of war. It also provided that this approval would lapse within six months of Australia ceasing to be involved in hostilities. Efforts by the opposition to amend the bill to allow the Governor General to alter the zone by proclamation, and by Labor MPs to add a clause requiring a referendum failed.

    It proved fairly difficult to extend or change the boundaries of the SWPZ because of those operational limitations, something the Americans were only too aware of. because Australia was a democracy, there were limits as to how much you could mess with men's lives and where they might be serving their military service. It never was extended to the philipinnes for example, and presented the Americans with problems concerning commitment of militia forces to the invasion of japan, but by then, the Us really had not much need of them.

    There were no limits on the deployment of the Navy or air force.

    One important thing to note which I didn't raise, the human cost of the central pacific drives was much higher than in the SWPZ. at Saipan alone, there were more allied casualties than during the whole of the 2 year campaign for the Solomons and NG combined. if you add in Iwo, Okinawa, and the Marshalls, the costs for the limited number of formations involved becomes very heavy.....if you extrapolate that by guesstimating what the Japanese might do if they could concentrate their efforts along a relatively narrow front, it may well be that the cost to the ground formations would be too high, and the ground formations may well not be able to overcome the Japanese island garrisons there.
     
  11. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    #11 gjs238, Oct 2, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2014
  12. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    They did invade Australia and it was the militia formations that met them initially and were still there at the final defeats of Gona. Between March and December 1941, the Australian Government moved three militia battalions to Port Moresby to defend this vital northern gateway to Australia. The average age of these militia recruits was eighteen and a half years. Unlike the second Australian Imperial Force (2nd AIF), which had been recruited to fight the Germans and Italians in Europe and North Africa, the military service of the militia soldiers was strictly limited to the defence of Australia and its island Territories. To many in the 2nd AIF, who could not foresee Japan's entry into World War II on the side of Germany and Italy in December 1941, the militia wore the uniforms of soldiers but without the risk of ever being involved in combat. This distinction between AIF and militia service led to the young militia recruits being branded "chocolate soldiers" or "chocos" by some AIF members. The scornful term "choco" was intended to convey a suggestion that the militia recruits would melt if exposed to the pressures of real combat. As if to underline their second class status in the eyes of many senior AIF commanders, the militia recruits were denied adequate training and equipment, and treated with a cavalier disregard for their welfare and feelings. These attitudes produced ill feeling between the AIF and the militia which Australia could simply not afford.

    Although initially a volunteer citizen army, following the fall of Singapore on 15 February 1942, the Curtin Labor government ordered full mobilisation on 19 February 1942. Thereafter, all males aged 18-35, and all single males aged 35-45, became liable to conscription into the militia.

    During the first half of 1942, the Commander of the 8th Military District, Major General Morris, had no experienced AIF troops under his command at Port Moresby. His main force was the 30th Australian Infantry Brigade, a militia formation comprising the 39th, 49th and 53rd Australian Infantry Battalions. With the exception of the 53rd Battalion, the militia were led by experienced AIF officers and NCOs, but the troops were almost all raw recruits.

    Papua, as opposed to new Guinea was australian territory, whereas new Guinea, the northern half of the island, was a protectorate under our control. Militia units could have fought in either part, but were not permitted to leave Australian territory. AIF units were different, and the amendment in Curtins administration allowed that service to be extended to any part of the SWPA command. So it was flexible, but I dont think the Australians would have allowed the SWPA zone to be redefined to allow it to include the central pacific.

    After the war, Japan was occupied, it was AIF (which morphed into our regular army) that were used to form part of the BCOF. The main occupation force amounted to 16000 men, all of them Australian, and built around the 34th Brigade. This was a regular army unit.

    In the SWPA there were basically four armies that participated

    Approximately 250,000 Japanese were sent to fight in New Guinea.

    The Australians

    When the Pacific War broke out the Australian Army consisted of two parts: an expeditionary force of volunteers called the 2nd Australian Imperial Force (2nd AIF); and the Citizen Military Force (usually known simply as the Militia) which included conscripts and could not be sent outside Australia or Australian-administered territories such as Papua. In December 1941 most of the 2nd AIF was fighting the Germans and Italians in North Africa as part of the British 8th Army. Therefore much of the initial defence of Australia's possessions in New Guinea fell to the Militia units who were not as well equipped or trained as the units of the 2nd AIF. This situation improved as the AIF units were brought back from North Africa and the Militia units were placed on a more professional footing. New Guinea became the main focus of Australia's war effort between 1942 and 1944 and at least 400,000 Australians served there. This does not include forces that remained in Australia. This figure includes large numbers of Royal Australian Air Force and Royal Australian Navy personnel whose planes and ships supported the efforts of the soldiers on land.

    The Americans

    Japan's conquest of Southeast Asia in late 1941/early 1942 made Australia a vital part of the United States' strategy to defeat Japan. The first advance party of American troops arrived in Brisbane on 22 December 1941 and for the next two years Australia became the main base for American forces in the South West Pacific. By 1943 the American presence in Australia reached a peak of 340,000 Army, but till well into 1943, this figure was well below 50000 men. It included Air Force and Naval personnel. Further not all of these Americans were involved with the fighting in New Guinea many of them did see action there. American engineers and other support troops were sent to Port Moresby in mid-1942 and in September of that year the first American combat units joined the Australians in the battles for Buna and Sanananda, but performed very poorly. it soon became apparent they required extensive further training and many units were sent back to either New Zealand, noumea, or more comonly Australia to receive that training. By the end of 1943 American combat troops outnumbered Australian ones in the New Guinea theatre. In August 1944 the Americans withdrew their combat units from New Guinea in preparation for the invasion of the Philippines and left the Australians in charge of all remaining operations in the area.

    The New Zealanders

    For the first two years of the Pacific War the New Zealanders fought alongside the Americans in the Solomon Islands while the Australians fought alongside the Americans in New Guinea. However by 1944 bomber squadrons of the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) were taking part in air raids against the major Japanese base of Rabaul on the Island of New Britain. In September 1944 the Australians took over from the Americans the responsibility for pinning down the Japanese garrisons on New Britain and Bougainville. While the Americans went to the Philippines the New Zealanders stayed behind to work with the Australians. For the rest of the war RNZAF fighter-bomber and bomber squadrons provided air support to Australian ground forces on Bougainville and New Britain.

    Without this massive effort, the japanese would have had much greater freedom to concentrate their land and air based defences around the central Pacific. At Phil sea for example, the Japanese would not have been distracted by events to the south and the American carrier fleets would have been facing at least 3x the numbers of aircraft and around 10x the numbers of ground troops. The americans vey much were relying on the Australians to pin the majority of japanese forces in NG, but the Australians couldnt do this on their own. hence the importance of the SWPA
     
  13. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    #13 gjs238, Oct 2, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2014
    Since the death blows to Japan came from the CP, why do you think the Japanese remained so stubborn in the SWPA?
    Perhaps the Japanese had the same idea - that they were tying down Allied assets that would otherwise be concentrated on the Home Islands?

    PS: Just asking :)
     
  14. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    That has no meaning in a primarily naval war where land combat was for small islands located hundreds of miles apart. All that counts was the huge USN superiority over IJN from 1943 onward.
     
  15. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    SO what I am gathering from this, is that there was no need for the U.S. Army or Army Airforces, then?

    All of the Pacific could have been won by the use of Naval air power and surface warfare?
     
  16. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    "....All of the Pacific could have been won by the use of Naval air power and surface warfare?"

    No, naval airpower lacked the means of delivering Nuclear attack .... so the battle for islands in reality was a battle for landing spots within range of the Home Islands.

    But ... bear in mind ... Japan had a huge (million plus) army in China .. that was largely undefeated in China ... and that could move at will as proved when the Chinese B-29 bases were overrun .... this army surrendered in a rather orderly fashion after the Emperor accepted unconditional surrender.

    I can't stress how effective the US submarine campaign against Japanese bound resources and raw materials was ..... man-for-man it was the best return on investment
    that America received
     
  17. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    You and I both know that in order to take and hold territory, it takes the poor bastard in the foxhole. No matter how some people look back and make assumptions based on opinion. The reality was, that the U.S. Army was nessecary in taking and holding Japanese occupied land. Over 41,000 U.S. soldiers (and over 24,000 U.S. Marines) died doing so.

    As far as the blockade was comcerned, the U.S. submarine fleet could only catch so many Japanese ships...it was effective, but not perfect. So it came down to the poor bastards on the ground to go ashore and deal with the Japanese face-to-face.

    So the pressure that the U.S. (and Allied) forces put on the Japanese by pushing up from the south, while the U.S. Navy (and Allied assets) confronted the IJN across the board. As far as staging areas for nuclear attacks, this wasn't even on the board until the end...the Army and the Navy were trying to get a toe-hold from the start, then as things progressed, they were able to establish bases for long-range bombing and fighter sweeps. Once they were within range of the home islands, it was the intention to conduct a bombing campaign to cripple the Japanese's ability to continue, just like the bombing campaign against Germany.
     
  18. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Air and sea power caused the turning of the tide, but it cannot win wars on its own. After 1942 the japanese war strategy was actually counting on that....hoping and calculating that the US could not bring the necessary logistic support together to land the necessary forces required. Every division committed to the pacific away from the main logistic nodes (like Australia and Hawaii) on average required 20x the amount of shipping to support each man, as compared to the ETO. it was an expensive operation in terms of merchant shipping. if the Americans dallied, that would give the Japanese time to fortify and reinforce their garrisons. The Japanese were hopelessly out of touch with reality...the US, with or without allies could defeat the Japanese, it was just a matter of time and cost. also though, if the Americans messed about for too long it would have been the russians, not the US that took the japanese surrender and occupied the Home islands, and who knows what might have happed from that...

    My point about the SWPA isnt that it was necessary to win the war against the japanese....if the Americans chose, they could have done it via Tibet.....its whether the central pacific strategy was the optimum strategy in the sense of shutting down the SWPA in its favour. I very much dont think that was optimum for US victory
     
  19. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Not sure that the "death blows" did come from the CP. Japan lost the initiative from two separate campaigns in 1942. First was from midway, in which their own offensive potential was dealt a severe blow. the second was from Guadacanal where the relentless attrition of their fleet and their air service put them on the downhill slide to defeat. Once they realized what was happening, it was too late.

    The slogging match that started with Guadacanal didn't end there. if it had, japan would have been able to stage a recovery. it continued with New Georgia and then Bougainville, also in the finistere mountains, lae, Madang and Wau. Subsequently US seventh flt and US army forces ruptured the various Japanese defensive lines and maintained the pressure on the Japanese until the Gilberts opened the CP operations keeping the Japanese reeling and unable to build reserves throughout 1943. Throughout all of this the japqanese air reserves were being constantly bled white forcing them severalo times to raid their carrier forces for pilots.

    There wasn't really a single "decisive" campaign that turned the tide for the Japanese. There were several, but underlying all of these camapaigns were losses that the Japanese simply could not afford. Take these attritional losses out of the equation, or delay for some reason, and you give the Japanese opportunity to recover. And that has indeterminate effects on the outcomes on the final campaigns of mid 44 and on.
     
  20. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Basically, the Solomons as a whole, ended up being a Sucking Chest-wound to the Imperial Japanese war effort.
     
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