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Thread: The World War II Thread

  1. #31
    Throwing this out to anyone but especially USS- I consider myself pretty well versed in the American side of the campaign in the ETO. My knowledge of the Soviet side of the war is so-so. On the Pacific campaign, I feel pretty ignorant. I've read criticisms of MacArthur, and have a general idea of the island hopping and Pearl and Midway.

    In your opinion(s) was the U.S. pacific campaign well planned/executed? I'm asking because reading these accounts of the different island battles and the costs of each makes me wonder why we didn't focus more on denying the Japanese access to certain islands and bypassing some of them altogether and leaving the Japanese troops stationed there isolated. Was each island system that critical for overall success? Did we have to root them out of each fortress? I can see taking islands that were vital for projecting air power, but some battles seem like we went in killed everyone and then left never to return. What was the risk of leaving them alone but basically imprisoned and focusing on closing in on the home islands?

  2. #32
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    Homer, IMO a good place to look at the questions you've posed is the battle of Peleliu


  3. #33
    Island hopping was supposed to bypass some Japanese strongholds and leave them to rot on the vine. The challenge was, that at least some of these islands had to be taken, if only because they had an airstrip, or land suitable for building one.

    After the Guadalcanal campaign, the Japanese started building bases in the central Solomons in the New Georgia group of islands, particularly airbases at Munda on New Georgia and on Kolombangara. The U.S. paid a fairly high price in a difficult jungle campaign to take Munda, so much so that there was little appetite to take Kolombangara. It was proposed to jump over Kolombangara and land on Vella Lavella, which had only a small Japanese outpost, and on the other side of the island from where a landing was proposed and, thus, island hopping as a strategy was born. Afer Vella Lavella, the next move was to Bougainville, but to a part of the big islands where the Japanese did not have any troops. Then, instead of trying to capture the big Japanese base at Rabaul, the allies elected to surround it with U.S. airfields.

    Similarly, in New Guinea, MacArthur took Buna and Gona on the north shore of the Papuan Peninsula in a bloody campaign. The next operation in New Guinea was to take Lae, because there was no other suitable place to jump to, however he elected to land troops outside of Lae and march them in to take the base. After that MacArthur landed in the Admiralty Islands as his part of surrounding Rabaul. Once that was done Doug jump over the Japanese base at Wewak to land at Hollandia.

    In the Central Pacific, Admiral Nimitz wanted to capture bases in the Marshall Islands, but to do that it was felt that bases in the Gilberts had to be taken to allow land based bombers to pound the Marshalls in preparation. The Fifth Fleet under Admiral Spruance took three atolls in the Gilberts: Tarawa, Makin and Abemama. The last one was unopposed, the second took three days against moderate opposition, and the first was a savage fight. The Japanese at Tarawa believed no one could defeat them in a thousand years, but what really hurt the Marines was the unexpectedly low tides over the coral reef off the landing beaches. After Tarawa, the U.S. decided it needed more tracked landing vehicles, and this, along with other lessons paid off when the Fifth Fleet captured Kwajalein in a shorter, less costly battle.

    In prepareing for the Marshall Islands campaign, some of Nimitz's subordinates argued for the need to take outer islands, closer to the Gilberts before Kwajalein could be taken. They argued that the bases on the outer islands presented too big a threat to a landing at Kwajalien in the central Marshalls. But Nimitz listened to the arguments by his carrier commanders that the flattops could neutralize those threats if they were granted the mobility to elminate those threats at their source. In the Gilberts the carriers had been tied to the beaches instead of allowed to move up to the outer Marshalls and strike them. Nimitz listened to his staff and said, "We're going to Kwajalein" and the carriers vindicated his decision by neutralizing the outer islands in a matter of hours. Kwajalein went so well that it was decided to move immediately to take Eniwetok in the western Marshalls while the carriers conducted strikes against the main Japanese base at Truk as well as against the Mariana Islands. These operations went so well that it was decided to not take Truk but move instead to land in the Marianas. These decisions shortened the war significantly.

    The Marianas were a key defense line for the Japanese empire. Like the U.S. carriers at Midway, the Japanese fleet had to come out to defend the Marianas. This led to the first carrier battle in more than 18 months, and a major defeat for the Japanese fleet. Taking the Marianas provided bases for B-29s to bomb the home islands of Japan. Midway between the Marianas and Japan, on a straight line, lay Iwo Jima. Japanese radar on Iwo forced the B-29s to take a dogleg around the islands to avoid detection, which increased the length of the missions, all the more dangerous as they were mostly over empty ocean -- In Europe, the bombers flew mostly over land. Additionally, Japanese planes based on Iwo were able to raid the Marianas to bomb the B-29's airfields. Taking Iwo would remove the threat to the airfields, remove the need for the dogleg and the possiblity of early warning to Tokyo, as well provide an emergency landing field for damaged B-29s, or those too low on fuel to make it to the Marianas. Finally, P-51 Mustangs could be based on Iwo to escort the B-29s to Japan, or to make raids of their own. Most of these things are forgotten now, or discounted, because of the high cost the Japanese exacted of the Marines who captured Iwo Jima.

    There are also some who question the need for MacArthur to return to the Philippines. But even if you leave out the political considerations of abandoning the Filipino people, there were still valid reasons for landing in the Philippines. Air bases in the archipelago would put air power athwart the shipping lanes in the South China Sea which Japanese merchant shipping used to transport oil and other materials from the East Indies to the home islands. However, after MacArthur landed on Luzon and liberated Manila, he persisted in trying to liberate the remainder of the archipelago, which may not have been necessary.

    The only campaign that I think was a mistake was Peleliu in the Palaus. The Marines landed on Peleliu to secure MacArthurs flank for his return to the Philippines, originally planned as a landing on Mindanao. But when the carriers raided the central Philippines in September 1944, they encountered such light opposition that Admiral Halsey recommended bypassing Mindanao and landing on Leyte. At the same time he recommended the cancellation of the landing on Peleliu. Nimitz, MacArthur and the Joint Chiefs agreed on the Leyte landing, but Nimitz insisted on the Peleliu landing, which turned out to be very costly as the defenders dug into the rocky ridges behind the airstrip. Peleliu provided no benefit to follow-on operations, while a large fleet anchorage was captured in a bloodless assault at Ulithi Atoll.
    Last edited by USS Utah; 01-02-2014 at 12:54 AM.
    "It'd be nice to please everyone but I thought it would be more interesting to have a point of view." -- Oscar Levant

  4. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Devildog View Post
    Homer, IMO a good place to look at the questions you've posed is the battle of Peleliu

    The Peleliu episodes might have been the best of that miniseries.
    "It'd be nice to please everyone but I thought it would be more interesting to have a point of view." -- Oscar Levant

  5. #35
    Great synopsis, I'm bookmarking this for my boy. So they did start to ignore islands that weren't strategic or that they could blockade. I had the impression that they fought over a lot of rocks that they ended up not needing. The little I have read of the Pacific campaign makes it seem so much worse than the ETO. I know all war is hell, but I think I'd rather have been in the Euro campaign after reading about conditions in the Pacific.

  6. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by Homer Crimson View Post
    Great synopsis, I'm bookmarking this for my boy. So they did start to ignore islands that weren't strategic or that they could blockade. I had the impression that they fought over a lot of rocks that they ended up not needing. The little I have read of the Pacific campaign makes it seem so much worse than the ETO. I know all war is hell, but I think I'd rather have been in the Euro campaign after reading about conditions in the Pacific.
    I'm not so sure after reading Rick Atkinson's The Day of Battle on the Italian campaign.

    If you're interested, I could recommend a few books on the Pacific War:

    Eagle Against the Sun by Ronald Spector

    How they Won the War in the Pacific: Nimitz and His Admirals by Edwin P, Hoyt.

    The Pacific War by John Costello

    Coral and Brass by General Holland Smith

    Goodbye Darkness by William Manchester

    The chapters on the Pacific War in Samuel Eliot Morison's A Two Ocean War -- and, of course, the Pacific War volumes of his History of United States Navy Operations In World War II.

    At the public library you might be able to find the TimeLife World War II series volumes The Rising Sun, Island Fighting, Return to the Philippines and The Road to Tokyo.
    Last edited by USS Utah; 01-02-2014 at 01:06 AM.
    "It'd be nice to please everyone but I thought it would be more interesting to have a point of view." -- Oscar Levant

  7. #37
    Educating Cyrus wuapinmon's Avatar
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    USS Utah,

    Did you see that episode of Pawn Stars with the restored Enigma Machine?
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  8. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by wuapinmon View Post
    USS Utah,

    Did you see that episode of Pawn Stars with the restored Enigma Machine?
    No, I've never watched Pawn Stars.
    "It'd be nice to please everyone but I thought it would be more interesting to have a point of view." -- Oscar Levant

  9. #39
    German man charged over WW2 Oradour massacre in France

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25656746


    An 88-year-old German man has been charged with involvement in one of the most infamous World War Two massacres. The charges relate to Oradour-sur-Glane in central France, where 642 people were murdered by SS troops in 1944 ... The ruins of the village have been preserved just as they were after the massacre, as a permanent memorial.
    I have visited Oradour-sur-Glane twice, once as a missionary and the second time on vacation with my wife. It is a very humbling and sorrowful experience.

  10. #40
    The Queen has been found:

    https://news.usni.org/2018/03/05/vid...-uss-lexington

    The Queen of the Flattops, that is.
    Last edited by USS Utah; 03-05-2018 at 06:06 PM.
    "It'd be nice to please everyone but I thought it would be more interesting to have a point of view." -- Oscar Levant

  11. #41
    "It'd be nice to please everyone but I thought it would be more interesting to have a point of view." -- Oscar Levant

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