My Senior Thesis- Singapore 1942

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by Vassili Zaitzev, Aug 25, 2012.

  1. Vassili Zaitzev

    Vassili Zaitzev Well-Known Member

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    Hello everybody. It's been a few months since I graduated my college. Since I was a Social Sciences Major, my requirement was to write a thesis for my last year. Judging by the thread title, I chose to research the Battle of Singapore. I posted a zip file on a previous thread about the topic, but nothing came of it. I hate to sound selfish, but I would like some feedback from the forum, which floored me on WWII knowledge when I first joined. I'll see if I can post individual documents, as it was broken into five sections. It will be a longer read, as it topped out to 76 pages. Take your time, and please let me know what you all think. Thanks!

    Edit: it appears my files are too much, so I'll place it in a zip file, hope that doesn't make too much of a hassle.
     

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  2. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    #2 oldcrowcv63, Aug 26, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2012
    VZ I've read the intro. Hopefully I'll get a chance to read more since like you, I am interested in the subject.

    Can you give me the link to the previous thread you mention on the topic?
     
  3. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    IMO this was the only problem which really mattered. The same applies to American defense of the Philippines and Dutch defense of the East Indies. The defenders had everything necessary for success except proper training and that deficiency goes all the way up to commanding officer level.
     
  4. Vassili Zaitzev

    Vassili Zaitzev Well-Known Member

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    No argument there DB, though I considered other factors, which should be in my work.
     
  5. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    #5 oldcrowcv63, Aug 27, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2012
    I've been reading Racing the Sun about the USA reinforcing its outposts as the road to war became more well defined. Quite an effort. I am not sure the USA could have done a whole lot more in the grand scheme of things, although I think Dave's suggestion that leadership failing to focus on training the locals appears to be a critical shortcoming. I haven't yet read a bio of Big Mac which I can compare with Percival but, despite reading negative comments suggesting Singapore's commander was nothing more than a policeman, I am curious to see whether they were actually just their nation's typical professional soldier class who were the patsies for their government's prewar policies. Clearly Mac did better on the PR front than Percy who appears to have been quite self effacing and not nearly the grandiose if not bombastic character of his counterpart. (To his credit)

    from wikipedia:

    "Percival's 1949 memoir, The War in Malaya, did little to quell this criticism, being a restrained rather than self-serving account of the campaign."

    That's a source, I'd like to read as well.
     
  6. proton45

    proton45 Member

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    +1
    I'll try and check it out a little later.....I'm not at my computer.
     
  7. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    34th Infantry Division (United States) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Start by using 34th Infantry Division to secure Tarawa and Guadalcanal rather then shipping it to Northern Ireland. These operations could be accomplished almost casualty free during March 1942.
     
  8. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    It better be casualty free. It only took until the end of May for the entire division to be assembled in Ulster. Last "wave" of the division didn't ship out of the US until May 13 1942. Given the sailing time from the east coast of the US to Tarawa and Guadalcanal one would hope the first "wave" faced scant opposition indeed.

    Considering that the Japanese had a presence on Makin Atoll about 100 miles to the North of Tarawa since Dec 10th, 1941 I doubt the Americans would be given a few months to get things in order in the spring of 1942 before the Japanese counter attacked.
    Assuming of course that the Japanese let the troop transports get that far to begin with.
     
  9. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Battle of Makin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    One U.S. Army infantry division vs 300 IJN defenders. That puts the odds about 35 to 1 in favor of 34th Infantry Division. If the U.S. Army cannot win on Makin during the spring of 1942 then we cannot win anywhere.
     
  10. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    So when does this division get there? The end of Feb/begining of March or some time in June? Feb/March is more like a Brigade than a Division. Until the battles of Coral Sea and Midway are over sending troop ships into Pacific could.be a real gamble.
     
  11. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    And exactly what were they going to use to make the landing. There was no Amphibious Landing Force in 1942, and the US had zero experience in laning operations. Further, Kwajalein housed a sizable (for the pacific) anti-shipping air flotilla, that really would have torn into the US landing forces, as they approached and then attempted to land (without landing craft) against a dug in fully trained enemy, that could well have been reinforced at very short notice.

    The likley outcome of this little adventure is a full division taking learn to swim classes in the middle of the pacific, and several thousand of them shot or drowned.

    Finally, exactly how would the US have re-supplied these men even if they somehow managed to get ashore. Go read the Nimitzs sign above his desk, posted immediately upon taking command "Do we have the shipping? If not dont bother asking!" The US was not in a position to even consider any sort of amphibious assault at even half division strength until the following July

    Sometimes Dave, you just blow it out of certain parts of your anatomy.
     
  12. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Baloney.

    Flush deck fast transports in World War II
    TransDiv 12 was operational by the end of 1941 with 6 APDs. They could land one infantry battalion (720 troops total) at at time, which is plenty for a tiny operation like Makin Island during the Spring of 1942.

    It's worth noting the IJN landing on Makin used no amphibious ships at all. The IJN landing force was carried on minesweepers. Military leaders who aren't afraid to act find ways to accomplish the mission rather then making excuses to do nothing.
     
  13. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    The japanese landings were unnoppsed . thats not an amphibious landing, thats just a landing.

    APDs carried zero heavy equipment, and had no Amphibious capability in 1941-2. They were utilized as fast transports, and only later were adapted as fast attack transports, which gave them a very limited amphibious capability (and they needed support in any case) . That capability was not present in 1941, and i doubt anythig changed in early'42.

    So, your plan involves 720 men, equipped with only rifles, maybe the odd LMG and grenades and beach transport consisting of a few row boats coming across the beach, at only one point on the atoll (there were no CDTs, so they would have had to approach via the prewar access channel....the rest of the shoreline was "defended" by a coral reef. Ill bet the farm the Japanese would have the approaches mined, so (typically) half your 720 men are in the drink with their trasport sunk before they even get a chance to fight. That leaves 350 of your men (maybe, because we have no idea of the heavy wepons in place at this point, that might sink or disable one or more of the surviving APDs) to come ashore at the landing rate of say 3 boat an hour per APD (Im guessing on that one, but its a reasonable ballpark figure ....somebody should have the data on these ships somewhere). Assuming the other 320 men that are in the drink are left to drown outside the harbour, and also assuming the APDs can somehow cordinate without the crucial benefit of a command ship, the discharge rate for these poor deveils is going to be about 60 men every 20 minute (assuming none of the boats gets damaged or sunk...and being just boats they are susceptible to even small arms fire. You have to assume that all 350 of the defenders will be at that narrow landing point......so instead of the traditional 6:1 advantage needed to pull off an Amphib, we have amn attacker, with zero FS attacking at odds of about 1:4 for each wave.

    We have really good examples about what happens to half baked amphib assaults. Look at what happened to the Japanese at Wake, the Germans at Oslo and later in the Finnish Islands, and the Jaqpanese again at Milne Bay. the Americans had their fair share of failures too, but none of them are really comparable to this scenario.

    In a word, you have got to be kidding me...and whilst your final comment has laudable dash and bravado, history is absolutely littered with bruised reputations from failed operations. Not having the equipment or training or doctrine is a prime way of getting your people killed. And this is particularly so amphibious assaults. They are right up there with airborne insertions as far as difficulties are concerned
     
  14. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    #14 parsifal, Aug 28, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2012
    I forgot to mention in completeness, that we have no way of recoitering the target before the assult, so there is also no way of knowing what other beach or boom defences might be in place...underwater obstacles and the like. We would just have to assume that there were no such barriers or impediments in place, and thats dangerous.

    Without proper recon, we have no way to locate or target enemy strong point, and so, even if trained fire support was available (which there wasnt) there is no way to map or pinpoint the centres of enemy resistance, both sewar, and on the land. the landward defences would include pilboxes, weapons pits, barbed wire barriers and possibly mines,,,,,artillery positions and trenches. None of these features would be known and therefore could not be parried or suppressed in any way. Youve got US GIs hung up on beaches, being subjected to predictably heavy cross fire, full exposed attempting to fight fully dug in and trained defenders.....its a massacre just waiting to happen
     
  15. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Makin was in fact raided the following August by 2nd raider Bn (formed Feb 1942 as a special forces unit). it needs to be rem,embered that 2nd Raider Bn was a special forces unit...highly trained and by August, benefitting from special equipment. The approach was by submarine to avoid detection, again, not available in early '42.

    "The Makin Island Raid (occurred on 17–18 August 1942) was an attack by the United States Marine Corps on Japanese military forces on Makin Island (now known as Butaritari Island) in the Pacific Ocean. The aim was to destroy Japanese installations, take prisoners, gain intelligence on the Gilbert Islands area, and divert Japanese attention and reinforcements from the Allied landings on Guadalcanal and Tulagi.

    The raid was among the first American offensive ground combat operations of World War II. The force was drawn from the 2nd Raider Battalion and comprised a small battalion command group and two of the Battalion's six rifle companies. Because of space limitations aboard ship, each company embarked without one of its rifle sections. Battalion headquarters, A Company and 18 men from B Company—totaling 121 troops—were embarked aboard the submarine Argonaut and the remainder of B Company—totaling 90 men—aboard Nautilus. The raiding force was designated Task Group 7.15 (TG 7.15).

    The Makin Atoll garrison consisted of the Japanese seaplane base led by Sgt. Major Kanemitsu with 73 naval air force personnel with light weapons.

    The Marines were launched in LCRL rubber boats powered by small, 6 hp (4.5 kW) (not available in early '42) outboard motors shortly after 00:00 (midnight) on 17 August. At 05:13, Companies A and B of the 2nd Raider Battalion—commanded by Lt. Col. Evans Carlson—successfully landed on Butaritari. The landing had been very difficult due to rough seas, high surf, and the failure of many of the outboard motors. Lt. Col. Carlson decided to land all his men on one beach, rather than two beaches as originally planned. At 05:15, Lt. Oscar Peatross and a 12-man squad landed on Butaritari. In the confusion of the landing, they did not get word of Carlson's decision to change plans and land all the Raiders on one beach. Thus, Peatross and his men landed where they originally planned. It turned out to be a fortunate error. Undaunted by the lack of support, Peatross led his men inland.

    At 07:00, with Company A leading, the Raiders advanced from the beach across the island to its north shore before attacking southwestward. Strong resistance from Japanese snipers and machine guns stalled the advance and inflicted casualties. The Japanese then launched two banzai charges that were wiped out by the Raiders, thus killing most of the Japanese on the island. At 09:00, Lt. Peatross and his 12 men found themselves behind the Japanese who were fighting the rest of the Raiders to the east. Peatross's unit killed eight Japanese and the garrison commander Sgt. Major Kanemitsu, knocked out a machinegun and destroyed the enemy radios; but suffered three dead and two wounded. Failing to contact Carlson, they withdrew to the subs at dusk as planned.

    At 13:30, 12 Japanese planes—including two flying boats—arrived over Butaritari. The flying boats—carrying reinforcements for the Japanese garrison—attempted to land in the lagoon, but were met with machinegun, rifle and Boys anti-tank rifle fire from the Raiders. One plane crashed; the other burst into flames. The remaining planes bombed and strafed but inflicted no U.S. casualties.

    At 19:30, the Raiders began to withdraw from the island using 18 rubber boats, many of which no longer had working outboard motors. Despite heavy surf seven boats with 93 men made it to the subs. The next morning several boatloads of Raiders were able to fight the surf and reach the sub; but 72 men, along with just three rubber boats, were still on the island. At 23:30, the attempt by most of the Raiders to reach the submarines failed. Despite hours of heroic effort, 11 of 18 boats were unable to breach the unexpectedly strong surf. Having lost most of their weapons and equipment, the exhausted survivors struggled back to the beach to link up with 20 fully armed men who had been left on the island to cover their withdrawal. An exhausted and dispirited Carlson dispatched a note to the Japanese commander offering to surrender, but the Japanese messenger was killed by other Marines who were unaware of Carlson's plan.

    At 09:00 on 18 August, the subs sent a rescue boat to stretch rope from the ships to the shore that would allow the remaining Raiders' boats to be pulled out to sea. But just as the operation began, Japanese planes arrived and attacked, sinking the rescue boat and attacking the subs, which were forced to crash dive and wait on the bottom the rest of the day. The subs were undamaged. At 23:08, having managed to signal the subs to meet his Raiders at the entrance to Makin Lagoon, Carlson had a team led by Lt. Charlie Lamb build a raft made up of three rubber boats and two native canoes, powered by the two remaining outboard motors. Using this raft, 72 exhausted Raiders sailed 4 miles from Butaritari to the mouth of the lagoon, where the subs picked them up.

    USMC casualties were given as 18 killed in action and 12 missing in action. Of the 12 Marines missing in action, one was later identified among the 18 Marine Corps graves found on Makin Island. Of the remaining eleven Marines missing in action, nine were inadvertently left behind or returned to the island during the night withdrawal. They were subsequently captured, moved to Kwajalein Atoll, and executed by Japanese forces. Two are MIA.

    Carlson reported that he had personally counted 83 Japanese bodies and estimated that 160 Japanese were killed based on reports from the Makin Island natives with whom he spoke. Additional Japanese personnel may have been killed in the destruction of two boats and two aircraft. Morison states that 60 Japanese were killed in the sinking of one of the boats. (Japanese records dispute these figures They appear to bre a significant over-estimate of Japanese losess)

    Although the Marine Raiders succeeded in annihilating the Japanese garrison on the island, the raid failed to meet its other material objectives. No Japanese prisoners were taken, and no meaningful intelligence was collected. Also, no significant Japanese forces were diverted from the Solomon Islands area. In fact, because the vulnerabilities to their garrisons in the Gilbert Islands were highlighted by the raid, the Japanese strengthened their fortifications and defensive preparations on the islands in the central Pacific — one of the objectives of the raid, insofar as it would dissipate Japanese material and manpower — which may have caused heavier losses for U.S. forces during the battles of the Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaigns. However, the raid did succeed in its objectives of boosting morale and testing Raider tactics."
     
  16. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    I do not believe that this is the critique of his thesis that VZ was looking for,
     
  17. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Looks pretty good to me. A small book worth the investment would be Russell Grenfells "Main Fleet To Singaore" (Oxford University press originally published 1951, paperback 1987). It looks at the competing strategies that bounced around witin the admiralty, the fateful and misguided decision to send an unbalanced Task Force (fce z) to Singapore, primarily for deterrent value, the implications of not having a carrier to protect the fleet. Its a good read, only 230 pages, well written.


    my opinion about the main factors that led to the defeat of the British at Singapre were

    1) complete dominance of the air and sea by the japanese
    2) poor command and control at the top.
    3) superior tactics and training by the Japanese forces
    4) superior mobility for the japanese forces, particulalry in the jungle, despite their lower level of motorization
    4) perhaps somewhat controversially, superior logistics for the japanese forces. They had better serviceability, fuel stocks, access to reserves
    5) leadership in the Japanese camp that was far more dynamic and innovative. The socalled supply shortages for the IJA at the end of the battle were never really an issue that threatened the outcome....the Japanese were simply diverting their limited resources and re-supply capacity to strategically more significant battle zones. By the time it fell, Singapore had been reduced to the level of an abject backwater
     
  18. Vassili Zaitzev

    Vassili Zaitzev Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the comment Parsifal. From my research, I would have to contest Point 4 with you analysis. In his memoirs, Colonel Tsuji stated that Yamashita's logistics were stretched from the rapid advancement. In fact, I recall that while planning, Yamashita sent two of his divisions away due to lack of supply. The captured supply stocks did alleviate this, while the capturing of trucks allowed Yamashita to link one of his divisions very quickly with the other two(this is off the top of my head).
     
  19. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    I dont deny that the japanese ran their supply reserves to a very thin margin. and you are right that the rapid advance also caught the japanese by surprise. And, it is even true that that at the end the japanese were very short of supply at the front end.

    However there is something missing from all of this. The japanese had other fronts from january, and decided to bring several of their key offensives forward because of hw well things were going in Malaya (and somewaht okay in the PI). because of that ruaway success, the japanese elected to bring these offensives forward, and that placed a strain on thir logisitics, that had to be met. Part of that demand was met by stripping out elements of the 25th army, including a sizable proportion of its transport. That of course had an effect on the supply state of Yamashita's command.

    however, if the allies had shown any signs of life in that early period, the japanese would have responded. For a start they would not have brought forward their later phase 2 offensives, and may even have called in their substantial reserves located in Chinese japanese and manchurian ports. These exepedients, however were never needed. Ergo, the claims that the japanese nearly lost because of their supply is also flawed.
     
  20. muscogeemike

    muscogeemike Member

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    I agree with you in all but the US having “no experience in landing (amphibious?) operations”. The US started amphibious landings in the Revolution War and continued them in the Mexican War, the Spanish War and probably others. I admit the experience gained from these actions were probably forgotten or would not apply to “modern” operations - but we did have experience.
     
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