Japanese defeat in the Battle of Khalkhin Gol

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by Jenisch, Mar 9, 2012.

  1. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    #1 Jenisch, Mar 9, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2012
    Hello,

    Many historians point out a drastic material inferiority of the IJA as being responsible for their defeat in such battle, and the reason they didn't joined with Hitler in 1941.

    While the Japanese "defects" are certainly very good history lessons, my impression is that the historians are too much hard with the Japanese.

    For example, let's look at same data of the Soviet offensive:

    Zhukov assembled a powerful armored force of three tank brigades (the 4th, 6th and 11th), and two mechanized brigades (the 7th and 8th, which were armored car units with attached infantry support). This force was allocated to the Soviet left and right wings. The entire Soviet force consisted of three rifle divisions, two tank divisions and two more tank brigades (in all, some 498 BT-5 and BT-7 tanks[20]), two motorized infantry divisions, and over 550 fighters and bombers.[21] The Mongolians committed two cavalry divisions.[22][23][24]

    By contrast, at the point of attack the Kwantung Army had only Lieutenant General MichitarĊ Komatsubara's 23rd Infantry Division, which with attached forces was equivalent to two light infantry divisions. Its headquarters had been at Hailar, over 150 km from the site of the fighting. Japanese intelligence had also failed to detect the scale of the Soviet buildup or the scope of the imminent offensive.


    Battles of Khalkhin Gol - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    As we can see, the Japanese were not only vastly outnumbered, but they also simply didn't detected the Soviet offensive to act accordingly. The IJA Intelligence certainly must be criticized for this, but in no way the Army, there's simply no sense!

    Also, while the Japanese casualities were very high (in Alvin Coox Nomonhan book, there's a mention from about 20,000 casualities from the IJA archives), the Soviet casualities are quiet similar. Which is quiet impressive, given that most Japanese casualities were inflicted in an offensive were they simply didn't have idea that would happen. One can think how much more difficulties the Soviets would face if the Japanese were aware and with "crack" troops in the area, including the IJNAF.

    Another point I would like to make is about the IJA tactics. The IJA infantry tactics were intended for flank the enemy in a favourable terrain, and this terrain was in Eastern Manchuria, were one year earlier General Kotoku Sato managed to achive it's objective against vast Russian numerical (and total aerial, no IJA aircraft involved) in the Battle of Lake Khasan. He was only drived back because the guys in Tokyo didn't wanted to risk an escalation of the conflict.

    I cannot denied the IJA serious problems like in the artillery and many other areas. But even in such areas, caution is needed, because the Red Army didn't had a spetacular performance in Finland either, and it was capable of absorve lessons, specially when the Barbarossa started.

    There are many other points I missed. However, my basic intention is argument that Nomonhan was not really the "test battefield" for the IJA against the Soviets that many historians claim.
     
  2. proton45

    proton45 Member

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    I have wondered what would have happened if the air arm of the IJA had continued to press their bombing campaign against the USSR air fields. If they had managed to achieve air superiority over the USSR...this may have given them an edge in coordinated attacks against Soviet ground forces. But instead Tokyo forbid them from continuing their campaign against the airfields, despite their early successes. Momentum was lost...
     
  3. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    I also have this doubt. I also already read somewhere that Stalin was preparing a force to bomb Tokyo! If this had happened, the IJNAF, that was in charge of long range bombing, inevitably would enter in the fight to attack the Russian airfields from the long range aviation.

    Here's an interesting post from a member from another forum about the IJA performance there:

    The battle had several distinct phases, and the Japanese came within a whisker of winning several times. Before they got screwed over by logistics or their own High command.

    The Quality of the units in Nomonhan was also somewhat suspect, with the 23rd Division being one of the worse units in China.

    When the Elite 26th Regt was on the west side of the river they got attacked by a huge amount of armour. Infantry in the open with 4x 37mm ATG's, and 12x Regimental guns dating from 1906. There is No Cover, its just a flat plain with some grass.
    Result was the Infantry took out around 70 odd tanks (10-30 more killed by the guns, I forget the exact number), and caused the Russians to withdraw. Then they had to withdraw as they had no supplies left.

    Equally on the east bank the Japanese did what they do best. They launched a series of infantry assaults at night. Pulling back into cover during daytime to avoid the massed Soviet arty. They managed to destroy 7 of the 8 Soviet Bridges. Some were destroyed by suicide teams infiltrating short distances. The last ridge would have been reached in another night or two's attack. Which was well within the capabilities of the 23rd Div.
    However the high command ordered the attack to pull back to its start line. This was due to them wanting to carry out a coordinated grand offensive with the Japanese heavy artillery now being emplaced.

    In the final phase of the battle the Ioki Detachment Gave such a kicking to overwhelming soviet forces, that the Unit commander was relieved of his command. The Soviets attacked with an armoured Division, and get stopped dead by a Japanese cavalry company with some light support. The Soviets had to use reserve units including Airborne troops, but still found it tough going.


    I was always suspect of the criticism of Japan's military in WWII. They certainly had their defects (like everyone else), but they were definately not the bunch of fanatics just doing Banzai attacks and building weaker planes with no armor (even such things had reasons!).
     
  4. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    It's my understanding that was the deciding factor. The Imperial Japanese Army fought a series of major battles vs KMT China during 1939. Khalkhin Gol was an unwanted sideshow that got whatever crumbs could be spared from the main event.

    March 1939. Battle of Nanchang. 7 IJA artillery regiments plus 2 separate artillery battalions.
    17 Mar - 9 May 1939. Battle of Nanchang. 120,000 IJA troops involved.
    20 Apr - 24 May 1939. Battle of Suixian-Zaoyang. 113,000 IJA troops involved. A Chinese victory.
    13 Sep - 8 Oct 1939. Battle of Changsha. 100,000 IJA troops. A Chinese victory.

    IMO IJA difficulties in 1939 China are probably what emboldened Stalin to provoke the Manchurian border disputes. He knew the best Japanese units were tied down elsewhere, allowing the cream of the Red Army to confront second rate IJA units.
     
  5. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    #5 Jenisch, Mar 10, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2012
    Neither side wanted war in that particular period. While Japan was in a vast war in China, and with deteriorating relations with the Western Powers, Stalin was with troubles accumulating with the Reich, and just because such problems with the Reich, Stalin needed to keep the Japanese as far away from the USSR as possible, since a two-front war worried him for much time.

    In my view, the Russians should be much thankful to Roosevelt's hard line against the Japanese, since if it didn't existed, the Japanese would overrun the European colonies in the Pacific, isolate China and with little doubt would join with Hitler against them. Japan's economy, boosted by the conquests achived, would be able to put a very possible irresistible military force against the Soviet Union, already hard pressed by Germany. The IJN also would be able to destroy any Soviet maritime trade worldwide.
     
  6. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I agree.

    The massive U.S. military build up in the Philippines which began 26 July 1941 got Japan's attention during the fall of 1941. That's what allowed Stalin to weaken military garrisons in Siberia and Manchuria, providing additional forces for the defense of Moscow.
     
  7. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    #7 Jenisch, Mar 10, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2012
    I agree. I have the view that the Soviets managed to stop the German assault in 1941, but in indirect cooperation with the foreign policy from the US. Had the Japanese opened another front for them, perhaps it would be too much to hold. This serves as good lessons for (a): don't try to do large modifications in your military (the purges) in the hope that diplomacy or other enemies from the potential agressor will keep you safe; always be up-dated, and (b): you appreciate have stong allies, what both the Communists and Democracies rapidly learned by their mistakes (France commiting errors similar to the ones from Stalin).
     
  8. Shinpachi

    Shinpachi Well-Known Member

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    #8 Shinpachi, Mar 10, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2012
    Hello Jenisch.

    Thanking for your earlier another thread about the Nomonhan Incident, I can find no more new facts than how hard and seriously Russians fought the battle to protect their territory letting Japanese give up their unserious ambition about northern territories.

    If you may be interested more in the battles between Soviet Union and Japan during the ww2, I recommend yuo to research once about the Battle of Shumshu.
    On 18th August 1945 after the date of 15th when Japan accepted the Potsdam Declaration, the Soviet Union who signed a peace treaty with Japan in April 1941 which was to be expired in 1946 suddenly invaded the Shumshu Island of Chishima Islands (Russian name: Kuril Islands)to occupy. Japanese garrisons on the island overwhelmed Soviet troops and successufully stopped their invasion. This was the first case for the Japanese that a winner surrendered a loser because of time-over.
     
  9. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    Thank you for the suggestion Shinpachi.

    You Japanese have a balanced view of what happened in that conflict. Until today, I have never seen the Western historiography show any view different from the Japanese than they were archaic combatents always condemned to defeat against the Soviets.
     
  10. Shinpachi

    Shinpachi Well-Known Member

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    #10 Shinpachi, Mar 11, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2012
    I would be grateful if you, Jenisch, may bear it in your mind that Russia and Japan are not exchanging any peace treaty after ww2 because the territorial issue about the northern four islands, seeing from Japan, are not solved yet. Not a few Japanese, including nationalists, are very emotional about it

    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXG5B2vpNJc but I can't be so here as this forum is an international place. To compare with it, the Nomonhan is too old for us to argue today.
     
  11. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    I understand the dispute Shinpachi.
     
  12. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    "... You Japanese have a balanced view of what happened in that conflict."

    With respect, I'm not sure about that statement, Jenisch. I think your statement would be more accurate and of value, worded as:

    You Japanese have a REALISTIC view of what happened in that conflict.

    MM
     
  13. Shinpachi

    Shinpachi Well-Known Member

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    If we are realistic, MM, we will never trust the peace treaty even if exchanged in the future:)
     
  14. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    "... we will never trust the peace treaty even if exchanged in the future ..."

    Yes. That is a realistic appraisal, Shinpachi, (if I understand you correctly ... :)).

    No treaty is worth its weight in paper if the intentions behind the treaty aren't sincere and realistic :).

    Molotov Ribbentrop 1939 exemplifies how both parties can conceal their true feelings about each other for their own short-term advantages.

    Canada and the USA don't have a "Treaty" -- we do have a series of treaties governing various aspects of trade, agriculture, manufacturing and management of The Great Lakes etc. etc. These treaties evolve as science, and technology and world trade evolve -- and THAT is how treaties are supposed to work, IMHO.

    So -- don't put your faith in A Treaty. :)

    MM
     
  15. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    #15 Jenisch, Mar 11, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2012
    Indeed.

    On this video: The World At War: Banzai! Japan 2/5 ::

    At 8:35, Matsuoka's secretary explains the Japanese position towards the Soviet Union.

    The Soviets always posed a treat for Japan and it's conquests. They provided vast support for Chiang until 1941, perhaps they avoid him to colapse. And not need to mention the support for Mao, that would (and did) appear as soon as Stalin untied his hands in Europe. The IJA planned to pull out of China the majority of it's troops as soon as Chiang was defeated, or submited itself to Japan. Stalin would represent a serious treat for stability in dominated China.
     
  16. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    The World At War: Banzai! Japan 2/5

    Won't run, Jenisch, not for me at least ... :)

    MM
     
  17. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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  18. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    Great historic review of Japan expansion .... wonderful footage.

    Thanks. Jenisch :)

    MM
     
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