Did the US save Australia from the Japanese?

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by Airborne, Nov 9, 2007.

  1. Airborne

    Airborne Banned

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    I thought this might be better as a seperate post.

    Well speaking from an Australian perspective, Japan would have ultimately devoured Australia.
    Now before anyone here starts quoting known Japanese intentions in regard to Australia, it must be remembered that it is probably true at the start of the Pacific war that to occupy Australia was just as ambitious for them as occupying the western United States.
    We are talking here about "what if?'
    Without the US factor in Japanese military planning, Australia and all it's food production capability would have been gobbled up.

    Japan did not have a very good record as to the treatment of countries it occupied. One only has to read about how they treated the peoples of Singapore, China and all the others to see how they would have behaved with our white European society.
    Our people would have been enslaved, tortured and murdered like our POWs were who fell into their merciless hands.
    Australia had a very narrow escape and we owe modern Australia today to mainly the US Navy and the destruction of the Japanese fleet.

    Britain could not help us. They could hardly help themselves with what they had on their plate in Europe and with the Battle of the Atlantic. Britain couldn't even hold Singapore.
    Australia who sent such a massive committment to aid Britain in the 1st World War got one hell of a shock at just how let down we were in our hour of need.

    After the war Australia lent towards the US and away from Britain for a big friend in a hostile world. We honoured the Anzus treaty by actively participating in any war that the US got itself into.
    The actual wording of that treaty says that we will come to the aid of each other if attacked, but that was stretched by us to include any conflict, as a way of showing Australia's gratitude for the help we received from America that we owed our very existance to.

    As for the Japanese, nothing has changed there. We do not trust them any more today than we did then.
    Their ethics today can be layed bare by just witnessing their attitude to the taking of uncountable whales for scientlfic purposes.

    Never forget.
     

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  2. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Yes the US saved Australia, but its a very nuanced "yes".

    In 1942, it was the Aussies (which I include the NZ troops) doing the fighting in NG with the US supporting.

    The USN had success in the Solomons in that year due to the coast watchers ensuring timely intelligence.

    In 1943, it was still a 50-50 affair as the US continued its build up and supplies to the ANZAC forces.

    In 1944, after the summer of that year, the war shifted northwards and the threat to Australia was zero.

    The ANZACians provided plenty of logistical support and their small navies were integral to MacArthurs amphib forces and small supporting fleet.
     
  3. WARSPITER

    WARSPITER New Member

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    Say no more. The first two posts are as close to correct as possible.
     
  4. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Could not agree more.

    Sys I am very proud of you as well! You could not have stated that better and also in a very diplomatic way! :lol:
     
  5. Emac44

    Emac44 Active Member

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    It was a combined effort. The US helped Australia from being invaded by the Japanese there is no denying it. But we Australians even with our smaller population approximately 6 million at the time and with our Military Forces spread all over the globe due to the War in Europe also helped ourselves from being invaded in the capacity that was needed and that Australia could send or use and muster for self defense.

    Stopping the overland invasion of Port Moresby through Papua New Giunea Owen Stanley's and the USN and combined with Land based Aircraft of both the RAAF USAF and Aircraft from USN in the Battle of the Coral Sea. Which stopped the invasion of Port Moresby by sea or the landings in other possible targets by the Japanese Navy. It was in my opinion a combined effort. The US taking the lion share of the effort of course. And one must not forget that the New Zealanders contributed to the capacity they could muster as well. But the benefits to Australia and New Zealand of the US sending vast troop numbers aircraft ships etc has not been forgotten. The US gained something as well. Not just a huge land base and training areas for the near future in retaking the Pacific Islands and South East Asia and saving Kiwi and Australian arses over the short intrim but most importantly a long lasting friendship and allies in the South Pacific. And the benefits have continued for all 3 countries. For example trade and business being part of the benefits for all 3 countries.

    And the US did benefit from local knowledge of the Aussies and Kiwis in the South Pacific Islands in conducting the war in the Pacific and that local knowledge came in handy when a future President of the United States of America needed to be saved along with his shipmates. Course I am referring to John F Kennedy and the crew of PT 109. But the intelligence work of the Coast Watchers mostly Aussies and Kiwis aided local intelligence for the US Forces and all Allied Forces fighting the Japanese. So I will say it again it was a combined effort and the benefits then multiplied a hundred fold today. We have a saying in Australia. Never let a mate down. It basically means you do everything possible to help a friend in need and you never forget the friendships formed and welded together.
     
  6. Watanbe

    Watanbe Member

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    Yes I agree the first two posts were excellent...however i think your closing remarks were a bit unnecessary and dissapointed me to be honest!

    "As for the Japanese, nothing has changed there. We do not trust them any more today than we did then.
    Their ethics today can be layed bare by just witnessing their attitude to the taking of uncountable whales for scientlfic purposes."
     
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  7. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    Say Aussies, if the US wasn't around to help - for instance if the Battle of the Coral Sea was lost, or Midway - would Japan have invaded and occupied Australia?


    Kris
     
  8. Watanbe

    Watanbe Member

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    hmmm nobody really knows I guess...it makes sense because realistically Australia was the next step and was making quite a large contribution to the Pacific war. However I think that Australia would be a very hard country to invade for a nation like Japan! Australia is a hard country to defend yes with a very large coastline but the massive size of the country would make it difficult to overcome and id imagine the population would put up one hell of a fight!

    Australia however also remember has vast raw materials while the japanese in general have very little, if they could capture australia and gain access to its raw materials they could become quite important and also as said above the food stocks!
     
  9. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    In the spring of 1942, the Japanese were at the end of a very long supply line. While they had the capability to invade NG and perhaps the northern reaches of Australia, they couldnt exploit it to any high degree.

    The most probable thrust after a NG victory (assuming the Battle of Coral Sea was a tactical and strategic victory) would be to cut the supply lines from the US and Australia. That would entail heading towards the SE on the Solomons axis. Just maintaing a bomber airfield means you doinate the sea for a 500 miles radius
     
  10. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    It all really depends on whether you assume the US was in the war, or somehow willing to stand separate from a Japanese war against the British Empire (including Australia) and do nothing *no matter what*.

    In the real situation the US was fighting to defeat Japan. The Anglo-Saxon countries are about as close to 'friends' as countries can be, but still countries have interests not friends. They don't really 'save' anybody.

    I think your descriptions by year are not so accurate though. Sure, in land fighting in New Guinea the Australians carried the weight in 1942, but the overall war was a sea-air one, and Australia itself had little naval or air power of its own, and the British little to spare v Japan. The critical battles of 1942 were sea battles between IJN and USN with major impact of each one's air arms but only marginal roles for the sea and air power of the US allies (the disastrous early campaigns had a lot of Allied participation, but the key carrier battles and Guadalcanal campaign, where Japan's sea/air power was mainly tied down and attrited, pretty little. As you said, even the Aussie land role was less central in 43-45.

    US non-entry is a completely different war. It requires suspending belief, not only about US attitudes but Japanese; they would have to trust a neutral US enough to leave the Philippines in US hands right astride Japanese sea lines of communications. But just assuming that scenario, Japan can easily conquer Australia if that's what they really want to do, unless perhaps Britain makes huge sacrifices in the European theater to send the bulk of the RN and much airpower to the Pacific. Australia itself had almost no airpower at home ca. April 1942, famous 75 sdn (P-40 unit in NG at the time) was practically alone, USAAF fighter units defended Australia itself (Darwin) against Japanese air attacks (from Timor) in 1942. And the lack of internal communication in the vast Australian continent would mean an attacker with sea superiority could leapfrog along the coasts using ports as if a chain of islands, only having to fight a real land campaign over short *land* supply lines from bases established on the edge of the populated portion of Australia, with a stranglehold on Australia's SLOC's with Britain and (the neutral) US. Australia alone couldn't stop such a Japanese attack ca. 1942.

    This had been the basic strategic worry particular to Australia, as opposed to Britain itself. A direct US-Australia relationship and confidence in a high degree of US-Japan tension was the strategic answer to it. That went all the way back to Japan's naval rise, Britain's alliance with Japan in 1902, the Great White Fleet tour of the USN, etc.

    Joe
     
  11. Watanbe

    Watanbe Member

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    thats a very good post and all very true. I still think that Australia would be a very difficult nation to invade, particularly in the 1940's. It would be to hard to supply the army in Australia and there is simply too much land to conquer.

    If they did invade and Australia recieved support I think it could of proven to be a disaster for the Japanese!

    Of course all highly hyperthetical!
     
  12. HealzDevo

    HealzDevo Active Member

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    #12 HealzDevo, Nov 10, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2016
    For my little extract I am assuming that the USA stays neutral during much of the Pacific And European War. It was the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour that finally bought the USA into the War. I am also assuming that if the USA stays out of Pacific it is much less likely to worry with a European War even to the extent of Lendlease not really being active.

    The US provided a lot of necessary help to Australian troops in the Pacific. The US had a heavy bombing component and also provided long-range fighters such as the P-38 Lightning which helped in the Pacific Campaign. A lot of the terrain that was being fought over was unknown. My mother tells me the American Command used to call my Grandfather into the Australian and American Headquarters when he was on leave from the US Small ships to explain and detail sections of map for them. He was an Australian serving as an American during the Papua New Guinea Campaign.

    Also without US air and Naval support in the Pacific, Japan does not actually need to invade Australia to control it. With sufficient submarines, a very successful campaign of attrition could be conducted. Even with the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, a lot of the better designs for fighters and bombers in Australia were coming from overseas. Then the Japanese carriers can just come across and conduct attrition raids. The Zeros were a match for early aircraft such as the P-40s and such that made up the bulk of the early Pacific airforces... Britain wouldn't be much help in the early period of the War being involved in throwing every possible resource at protecting itself from Operation Sealion. America coming into Europe with lend-lease helped by providing extra resources to throw at the Germans, including heavy bombers capable of conducting daylight raids on German cities. An Allied bombing campaign without the American B-17s would have bled Britain and the Empire dry of qualified pilots assuming the pilots got to Europe... Conveys would be at the mercy of submarines- both German and Japanese torpedo attacks.

    As I see it without American Air support in the Pacific, large areas of the Pacific are at risk of being swept up by the Japanese. Large amounts of oil, rubber, and other resources get subverted into the Axis cause. This hampers the Allied cause as artificial substitutes have to be developed to take the place of scarce resources, as attempted to happen in Germany in 1944-1945. Meanwhile, forces are getting pushed by buildups in other areas. The Japanese finally have the resources to build lightweight Zeros, other fighters and bombers in sufficient numbers to do massive damage. So in this version, Pearl Harbor gets launched latter in greater numbers, and succeeds in producing very significant damage, even if the Aircraft Carriers are not there. The repair facilities are damaged, and it requires a major rebuild of the base to bring it back to operational standards while it is getting harassed by Japanese raids. I still think that in the later scenario, Australia may be lucky to survive a Battle of Britain type siege possibly long enough for the Americans to finally counter the Japanese offensives; although it may take a while if America gets involved in fighting a German Axis with Far East Resources flowing in... I think that the end result is still the Allies win, but the result is much bloodier... I can't see the US staying totally neutral if it is challenged in the Pacific which is virtually the USA's Naval Backyard...
     
  13. Shinpachi

    Shinpachi Well-Known Member

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    It is always interesting for me to know that not a few former Allied people still tend to mix up IJN with IJA even after more than half a century has passed away. IJA hated Anglo-Saxons as colonists very much but IJN because it had been brought up by the British Royal Navy.
    It was IJN's role to attack Australia in order to rivet Australian troops inside their territory but the IJN commanders knew well that they were unable to occupy Australia without help of IJA but IJA was busy in China and Indochina. Invasion of Australia was armchair theory from the beginning.

    At the same time, Royal Australian Navy Commander Gerard Muirhead-Gould had shown his great chivalry to Japanese people in June 1942 by launching the official navy funeral for the 4 IJN midget-sub crews who died in the Sydney Harbour in the previous month. IJN was much impressed with this very British style chivalry to refrain from attacks against the mainland. Australians saved their land by themselves.
     
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  14. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    Having visited that part of the world Japan and Australia are a huge distance apart and Australia is Fffffing huge.
     
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  15. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    The US wouldnt be blind for events in the Pacific. Pearl Harbor's defenses would be modernized and would be huge. And even if in no mood to get into a shooting war, the US was going to build the two ocean navy which would dwarf the IJN.
     
  16. HealzDevo

    HealzDevo Active Member

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    Even with modernized Pearl Harbor defences and a bigger navy, it would be hard to see that Japan would not be able to mobilize even more resources, if it didn't have to tangle with the USA early on. The Japanese pretty well almost took the rubber and oil resources available in that area. Even up until 1945 and the end of the war there was a prediction that a massive portion of any invasion force to the mainlands of Japan would suffer catastrophic losses. I foresee a much harder fight with the same outcome eventually of a defeated Japan. Keep in mind that the Pearl Harbor plan that went into operation was a changed version with less resources than the original that achieved great success. I am not saying that the USA would be totally blind but imagine Japan being able to commit more resources to an attack on Hawaii...

    Also it wasn't actually until after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor that the mobile floating aircraft carrier became a major doctrine in the US. At that time it was more a matter of necessity to shift to the carriers as so many battleships were out of the war for a year or more. So would we see more floating battleship targets for Japanese dive-bombers and submarines? More destroyers or cruisers? Also early in the war, the US Navy was not particularly effective, losing ships to friendly fire and mistakes. How many more aircraft carriers do you envision being built or converted considering that the US naval doctrine was one of floating Battleships and the power of a navy.

    In this case, the war would be more bloody and dangerous, because air power would be more likely to mean at least for a long period in the early war, seizing islands to build up aircraft, one at a time...
     
  17. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Two BIG problems with this scenario.
    1. the Japanese were unlikely to leave the Philippines alone while taking everything around them. The US had something like 29 submarines based in the Philippines in late 1941 in addition to surface assets. US had been building air strips in the Philippines during the late 30s. Those subs and their base were a serious threat to the Japanese supply lines. The Philippines were also seeing the largest build of B-17s in US service in the fall of 1941.
    2. The US laid down 5 Essex class carriers in 1941, all before Pearl Harbor. 15 Cleveland class Cruisers were laid down in 1941 or before as were 4 Baltimore Class Cruisers. The first four Iowa's were laid down before Pearl Harbor. The US Fleet Build up had really started in 1940, Every day the Japanese delayed the Americans got stronger. The 2 North Carolina's had commissioned in 1941 and 3 of the 4 South Dakota class had been launched in 1941. Had the US not gone to war several of the old WW I battleships would probably been taken out of service.

    There was no way the Japanese could out-build the United States, letting the US finish it's fleet expansion program and aircraft expansion programs (FDR had called for 50,000 planes in the summer of 1940) meant the Japanese could NOT play a waiting game.
     
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