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Ashes
05-03-2008, 10:14 PM
What about the Americans, any major mistakes?

albatrosdva
05-04-2008, 05:54 PM
Probably the biggest was not seeing the writing on the wall and being caught practically defenseless in the Philippines without sufficient means to support the troops there at the beginning of the war.

Ashes
05-05-2008, 11:58 PM
The Americans, like the French before them, let their guard down in the Ardennes, thinking that a large scale offensive was beyond the Wehrmacht, 80,000 casualties later they were proved wrong.

General Zod
05-08-2008, 08:37 PM
The Anzio landings I always wondered what would have happened if the landing force would have pushed in,instead of halting around the beach

Nickdfresh
05-08-2008, 08:43 PM
The Anzio landings I always wondered what would have happened if the landing force would have pushed in,instead of halting around the beach

They may well have been slaughtered in the German counterattack...

Nickdfresh
05-08-2008, 08:44 PM
As far as mistakes, the Tank Destroyer Doctrine is up there...

General Zod
05-08-2008, 08:50 PM
They may well have been slaughtered in the German counterattack...

True that The Allies landed three divisions there? I know it wasn't a huge landing force I always wondered about the logic in that landing

General Zod
05-08-2008, 08:52 PM
As far as mistakes, the Tank Destroyer Doctrine is up there...

Plus sending the M10's to the Pacific theater Why send an opened top fighting armored vehicle there?

Churchill
05-08-2008, 09:41 PM
Especially when the tanks there weren't that good...

Nickdfresh
05-09-2008, 09:57 AM
True that The Allies landed three divisions there? I know it wasn't a huge landing force I always wondered about the logic in that landing

If you read Rick Atkinson's "Day of Battle" on the Italian campaign, he goes in depth about it. (both "Day" and "An Army at Dawn" are excellent reads.) Unfortunately I stored my copy away, but the idea from memory (in which both Generals Alexander and Clark are culpable) was to divert German resources away from the Gustav line --to facilitate an offensive that ultimately bogged down anyways.

The landing was initially a failure as it did not divert enough German forces away to allow a breakthrough in the terrible Italian terrain, and the three divisions (which was initially only ONE, and Clark, to his credit, fought for more). But as this was at the height of the preparations for Normandy, there simply weren't enough troops to go around). The troops became bogged down after expecting the Germans to counterattack, which they did. The initial commander MG Lucas was relieved for this, perhaps somewhat unfairly. But he could have driven at least a little further inland to have created a better defensive position, but I think he was ultimately vindicated as three divisions would have quickly overextended themselves and been annihilated.

A bloody battle of attrition ensued in which the Allies ultimately got the better of the Germans in my opinion --but only after suffering heavy casualties. After Lucas was relieved, one of the better American generals, Lucian Truscott, took command and was able to "breakout" several months later and sack Rome in the controversial diversion from Alex's plan that Clark made (even Truscott is highly critical of him for countermanding a direct order, though it is debatable how many Germans could actually have been bagged and what the impact on the Italian Campaign that was loosing steam would have been anyways).

So, in some ways, the operation did achieve its ultimate objective to some extent. But as with most of the Italian Campaign, it took far longer with the diversion of resources mostly being allocated to Overlord...

Nickdfresh
05-09-2008, 10:01 AM
Plus sending the M10's to the Pacific theater Why send an opened top fighting armored vehicle there?


Actually, as with the ETO, the tank-killers were put to good use, as the high velocity 76mm gun was adept at penetrating concrete bunkers and turned out to be an effective indirect artillery fire piece. The shell actually had the surface explosive power of a 105mm howitzer, though it lacked subsurface penetration...


We can say the same thing about the "open top" in Normandy BTW, as tank destroyers were essentially used an mobile anti-tank guns and infantry support vehicles where their crews were vulnerable to snipers! :cry:

Ashes
05-11-2008, 11:38 PM
Was Clark wrong in focusing on Rome rather than trying to bag the German army in May-June 1944?

overlord644
05-14-2008, 05:57 PM
i always thought the policy of returning wounded soldiers to strange units was absurd

Churchill
05-20-2008, 04:29 PM
Ignoring that inturruption, I think that might be because the unit received reenforcements and then the units might have been full, so that there wasn't any more people allowed in.

colonel hogan
01-08-2009, 07:30 PM
our biggest mistake was how we tried to stop sabotage before pearl harbor happened in late 1941

Richie B
01-09-2009, 04:00 PM
our biggest mistake was how we tried to stop sabotage before pearl harbor happened in late 1941

What ?

EddieO
01-17-2009, 07:03 PM
What ?

I believe he's referring to aircraft being stored wingtip to wingtip at Pearl Harbor to prevent sabotage, rather than having them stored in such a way as to protect them from aerial bombing

HAWKEYE
01-17-2009, 09:56 PM
Two words: Hürtgen Forest

The Hürtgen Forest cost the U.S. First Army at least 33,000 killed and incapacitated, including both combat and noncombat losses; Germans casualties were between 12,000 and 16,000.
Historical discussion revolves around whether the American battle plan made any strategic or tactical sense. One analysis is that U.S. strategy underestimated the strength and determination remaining in the psyche of the German soldier, believing his fighting spirit to have totally collapsed under the stress of the Normandy breakout and the reduction of the Falaise Pocket. American commanders in particular misunderstood the impassability of the dense Hürtgen Forest and its effects of reducing artillery accuracy and making air support impracticable. In addition, American forces were concentrated in the village of Schmidt and neither tried to conquer the strategic Roer(Rur) Dams nor recognized the importance of Hill 400 until an advanced stage of the battle.

Another word: Peleliu:
Totally useless battle that wasted American lives for nothing.

kamehouse
01-18-2009, 03:43 AM
Famous blunder from duty officer Lieutnant Kermit Tyler while unexplained blips on the radar were reported to him at Pearl Harbor:"well,don't worry about it"

Richie B
01-18-2009, 04:45 AM
I believe he's referring to aircraft being stored wingtip to wingtip at Pearl Harbor to prevent sabotage, rather than having them stored in such a way as to protect them from aerial bombing

Thanks for the translation :mrgreen:

Digger
01-18-2009, 05:46 AM
The misguided belief heavy bombers without fighter rscort would always get through. The failure of the bombing offensive against the Reich in the latter half of 1943 was a costly , misguided consequence of this short sighted doctrine.

Carl Schwamberger
01-18-2009, 08:47 PM
Not sending more officers as observers or participants in the battles the Britsh were fighting in Africa & the Soviets in Russia in 1941-42. Some were sent and some valuable infrmation obtained, but sending several thousand for four to six months then returning the survivors to the US Army units would have reduced a bit the 'green' edge of the US Army. Out of simple iggnorance some mistakes were made in the selection of tactics and doctrine. A largish batch of captains and colonels with a few months of battle experince would have avoided some of the errors.

HOS Bandit
10-16-2010, 10:40 PM
Making Clark a General was the BIGGEST Mistake!

Nickdfresh
10-17-2010, 08:41 AM
One of the biggest mistakes absent from this thread would be the horrific American "replacement" system that inserted half-trained newbs into veteran units still on the line. The results of which were the standard war-movie cliches of the grizzled old vets not wanting to get to know anyones' name they didn't know originally. Many replacements were treated as virtual outcasts and forced to group together on the battlefield away from old-timers and they often did stupid things in combat that got them killed or wounded at much higher rates than the veterans. The better system was something like what the British Army did--to gradually insert the rookie soldiers behind the lines once a unit had been withdrawn to a rear area so the veterans could sort of bond with the fresh troops and teach them the deficiencies and limitations of their training and how actually to survive in combat...

Nickdfresh
10-17-2010, 08:52 AM
Making Clark a General was the BIGGEST Mistake!

Gen. Mark Clark was by no means a great general. But, he was also not the incompetent villain he is sort of cast as in the canon of British military history. While Clark was certainly a pompous, political general and was generally unliked not only by his British Allies--but by many within his own command--he was also a solid commander that generally made sound decisions within the limitations imposed on him resulting from commanding in a theater clearly being made second-fiddle to Operation Overlord.

Clark's attempt to sack Rome prior to D-Day instead of attempting encirclement of the enemy is pretty egregious. But it should be noted that he did so not for his own vainglorious image, but in an effort to keep Italy in the headlines so his armies would not be starved of men and equipment after the landings in France. He would also later claim that cutting the infamous Italian national "Highway 6" north of Rome would not have made that much of a difference as many of the Heer units fled on back-roads. I'm not defending his position incidentally, but he had a point...

Rising Sun*
10-17-2010, 08:55 AM
One of the biggest mistakes absent from this thread would be the horrific American "replacement" system that inserted half-trained newbs into veteran units still on the line. The results of which were the standard war-movie cliches of the grizzled old vets not wanting to get to know anyones' name they didn't know originally. Many replacements were treated as virtual outcasts and forced to group together on the battlefield away from old-timers and they often did stupid things in combat that got them killed or wounded at much higher rates than the veterans. The better system was something like what the British Army did--gradually insert the rookie soldiers behind the lines once a unit had been withdrawn to a rear area so the veterans could sort of bond with the fresh troops and teach them the deficiencies and limitations of their training and how actually to survive in combat...

IIRC the American Army also put recovered wounded into a pool so that they wouldn't necessarily be returned to their unit, while the British usually returned recovered wounded to their unit. The effects on unit cohesion are obvious.

I don't know if it was an issue in WWII, but in Vietnam a significant problem was that the US Army (don't know about USMC in either war but I have suspicion it might have been different) rotated junior officers through platoons and companies for short terms of as little as a month or two to get their field time up for promotion, with obvious effects on small unit cohesion so far as confidence in and following junior leaders went.

Nickdfresh
10-17-2010, 08:59 AM
IIRC the American Army also put recovered wounded into a pool so that they wouldn't necessarily be returned to their unit, while the British usually returned recovered wounded to their unit. The effects on unit cohesion are obvious.

I don't know if it was an issue in WWII, but in Vietnam a significant problem was that the US Army (don't know about USMC in either war but I have suspicion it might have been different) rotated junior officers through platoons and companies for short terms of as little as a month or two to get their field time up for promotion, with obvious effects on small unit cohesion so far as confidence in and following junior leaders went.

I've also read that in an effort to get as many West Pointers exposure to "the only war we had" in Vietnam, junior officers had six month tours to the enlisted mens' one year in country. This also caused much resentment and certainly contributed to the "one-way-trip-to-the-ceiling" fragging incidents towards the end...

Rising Sun*
10-17-2010, 09:18 AM
I've also read that in an effort to get as many West Pointers exposure to "the only war we had" in Vietnam, junior officers had six month tours to the enlisted mens' one year in country. This also caused much resentment and certainly contributed to the "one-way-trip-to-the-ceiling" fragging incidents towards the end...

Perhaps, but being an officer was a lot more demanding than being a grunt.

For a start, grunts usually didn't frag other grunts. ;)

I can't recall my sources, but I'm fairly sure that the US Army (not USMC) sent sundry base officers to nominal field / combat postings in SVN to get some sort of combat or field time for promotion. I very, very vaguely recall that three months was the minimum time for whatever qualification was involved.

Wizard
10-17-2010, 08:02 PM
Famous blunder from duty officer Lieutnant Kermit Tyler while unexplained blips on the radar were reported to him at Pearl Harbor:"well,don't worry about it"

Lt. Kermit Tyler was NOT the "duty officer" in the Fighter Direction Center on the morning of December 7, 1941. The Center was, in fact, not operational and there was no duty officer assigned. Tyler had no experience as a Fighter Controller, and had been detailed to the Center to "look around and become familiar with the procedures"; it was only his second visit to the Center, and he had received no explanation of what he was to do in case of an alert, nor any briefing on operational procedures, or the location and schedules of friendly aircraft. What little information Tyler had gleaned from what he saw and heard had led him to believe that nothing out of the ordinary was happening.

If any blame should be attached to the facts surrounding the Pearl Harbor Fighter Control Center on the morning of December 7, 1941, it should be apportioned to General Short and Admiral Kimmel for failure to accord the establishment of a fighter direction system more urgency than they did.

See link for testimony regarding Pearl Harbor air defense warning system; http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/myths/radar/index.html

burp
10-18-2010, 04:40 AM
For me:
- Operation Market Garden;
- landing at Anzio;
- focusing on mobility of tanks while ignoring defence needs;
- think that strategy of Giulio Douhet (http://comandosupremo.com/douhet.html) of using carpet bombing of city is the right choice to weak moral;
- use Mafia as ally;

Deaf Smith
10-18-2010, 06:52 PM
They simply didn't listen to Gen. Chennault on how to combat the Japanse airforces. With that knowledge the HUGE losses we sustained for the first six months fighting the Japanse would not have happened.

They didn't ask Charles Lindbergh how he got the range out of his airplane. With that knowledge they could have had fighter escort in the ETO from day one.

And all because of EGO. Not Chennault's, not Lindbergh's, but the top brass in the military.

Deaf

Wizard
10-18-2010, 08:45 PM
They simply didn't listen to Gen. Chennault on how to combat the Japanse airforces. With that knowledge the HUGE losses we sustained for the first six months fighting the Japanse would not have happened.

This is mostly a myth.

There were aviation officers in the US Armed Forces who believed that Chennault's intelligence report unduly exaggerated the capabilities of the Japanese fighters, which it did to a certain extent, but plenty of US airmen read the report and started thinking about tactics to counter superior Japanese fighters.

Chennault's report circulated among naval officers in February, 1941. My father, who was then a USN carrier pilot, claimed he read it and discussed it with his colleagues. Also, John Thach, another USN carrier pilot is quoted in "Fire In The Sky", by Eric Bergerude, as having read Chennault's report and giving it serious thought. Thach credits the report with causing him to think up tactics which resulted in better results against the Japanese than otherwise would have been the case. It was one of the reasons that many US air units adopted the "Finger-four" fighter formation before the outbreak of war.

The air losses the US sustained in early fighting against Japanese air forces were largely due to obsolete aircraft, inexperienced pilots, and planning staff.


They didn't ask Charles Lindbergh how he got the range out of his airplane. With that knowledge they could have had fighter escort in the ETO from day one.

And all because of EGO. Not Chennault's, not Lindbergh's, but the top brass in the military.

Deaf

It was not as simple as that and really had nothing to do with ego. The reason the USAAF did not develop long range fighter escorts before the war was because the bomber cult wanted all funding to into bomber development and did not want to admit that strategic bombers needed escorts;

"Yet bomber advocates wanted no competitors for funds and influence and sought to keep Chennault's followers in their place. The worst self-inflicted wound centered around fighter escort. Some bomber advocates (probably most) believed escort was unnecessary altogether....The idea that fighters should be designed to possess great range of their own was considered a threat to the whole bomber doctrine, because if escort was required then the implication was that fighters were a threat and bombers not invincible. Therefore the Air Corps simply forbade the development of long-range fighters. Although auxiliary drop tanks were already in use in the 1920's, they were banned in the 1930's....the Navy never made such a mistake..."

"Fire In The Sky", Eric Bergerude, page 234.

muscogeemike
10-18-2010, 09:14 PM
They simply didn't listen to Gen. Chennault on how to combat the Japanse airforces. With that knowledge the HUGE losses we sustained for the first six months fighting the Japanse would not have happened.

They didn't ask Charles Lindbergh how he got the range out of his airplane. With that knowledge they could have had fighter escort in the ETO from day one.

And all because of EGO. Not Chennault's, not Lindbergh's, but the top brass in the military.

Deaf

I agree that Chennault was ignored and this resulted in many more casualties than may have been incurred otherwise, the success of the AVG proves his tactical theories were valid. But I not so sure of his strategic views. Gen Chennault’s over reliance on Air Power resulted in his losing ground , men, bases and aircraft when the Japanese conducted offensives in 1944 and 1945. Despite his efforts when the war ended the Japanese still held a great part of China.
Even if the US had heeded Chennault’s tactical advise there is no reason to assume that the British would have. Greg Boynton (Ba Ba Blacksheep) related that British commanders in Burma threatened their pilots with punishment if they used the same tactics as the AVG.
In the first six months after Pear Harbor I think the superiority of Japanese Equipment and training would have overcome what resistance we could provide, especially in the air, no matter what tactics we used.
As to Charles Lindbergh he was persona no grata due to his pro-Nazi activities prior to the war. But he was later consulted and he went to the Pacific where he flew combat missions (may have even shot down Japanese planes).

There are times when the only choices you have are bad ones.

forager
10-20-2010, 01:03 AM
My father was wounded in Market Garden with the 506th.
He was repaired and reissued to the 506th before the bulge.

muscogeemike
10-20-2010, 02:11 PM
Mistakes in WWII

Mistakes b the US in the Pacific - I can think of two prior to the War:
1. The decision to move the Pacific Fleet to Pearl Harbor. If the capital ships had remained dispersed along the W. Coast, at the very least, the Japanese would have had a much harder task and the probability of success would have been much lower. At best they would not have risked the attack.
2. Poor logistical planning by Gen McAuther and his staff. Huge amounts of supplies, of all types, were destroyed by the Allies because the material could not be transported. If these supplies would have been available to the US and Philippine forces on the Bataan Peninsula the course of the war might well have been altered. I have read the Japanese were about tapped out when Gen Wainwight surrendered.

Wizard
10-20-2010, 04:39 PM
Mistakes in WWII

Mistakes b the US in the Pacific - I can think of two prior to the War:
1. The decision to move the Pacific Fleet to Pearl Harbor. If the capital ships had remained dispersed along the W. Coast, at the very least, the Japanese would have had a much harder task and the probability of success would have been much lower. At best they would not have risked the attack.

If keeping the Pacific Fleet from being attacked by the Japanese had been the primary aim, moving it to the Atlantic would have guaranteed it's complete safety and would have made more sense. But that was not the primary objective. Moving the Pacific Fleet's base to Oahu can only be considered a mistake in the narrowest tactical sense; it was more of a calculated risk with unforeseen results that paid off handsomely for Roosevelt.

Roosevelt was certainly aware of the risk; Admiral J.O. Richardson, the Pacific Fleet commander, was very vociferous about that matter, but Roosevelt had also read Mahan and knew that a fleet that couldn't be put to occasional risk was useless, and given that certain defensive steps could, and should, have been taken, the risk was judged minimal. Ultimately, the move forced the Japanese to take an action that meant it could not pursue it's strategy for ending the war successfully; in effect, the Japanese lost the war on the morning of December 7, 1941.


2. Poor logistical planning by Gen McAuther and his staff. Huge amounts of supplies, of all types, were destroyed by the Allies because the material could not be transported. If these supplies would have been available to the US and Philippine forces on the Bataan Peninsula the course of the war might well have been altered. I have read the Japanese were about tapped out when Gen Wainwight surrendered.

It wasn't just poor logistical staff work by MacArthur's staff that caused the problem; it was much worse. The original plan had been to fortify and prepare the Bataan peninsula as a fallback position where the US forces could hold out for an extended period of time while awaiting rescue. The plan called for field fortifications and supply dumps with enough food, ammo, fuel, and medical supplies to last for many months.

However, MacArthur did not like the plan because he felt it was "defeatist". MacArthur believed that he could use his troops in a battle of of maneuver to successfully defend Luzon. Accordingly, he asked Marshall for permission to ignore the Army's long-standing defense plan; Marshall gave his permission. MacArthur, however, badly overestimated his own abilities and completely underestimated the abilities of his opponents; this was especially true of his airpower which he allowed to be almost completely destroyed on the ground in the first twenty-four hours of the campaign.

By the time MacArthur was willing to admit his mistake, there was little time to either fortify Bataan or move the required supplies. Poor staff work did play a role as thousands of tons of food and other supplies were left in warehouses to be either bombed or captured by the Japanese. In fact, MacArthur's troops were barely able to get onto the Bataan peninsula with their artillery and an ammo reserve; food, fuel for their vehicles, and medical supplies were grievously short. The resulting battle was lost due more than anything to hunger and lack of ammo, and resulted in many American and Filipino POW's dying of malnutrition because they were already suffering from it when they were captured.

Whether or not a more timely and better planned move to the Bataan peninsula would have significantly altered the war is highly speculative. True, the American and Filipino troops probably would have held out longer, but they were serving no useful strategic purpose, and were simply an annoyance to the Japanese. The Japanese could easily have afforded to wait for reinforcement and resupply before launching any final offensive against Bataan. On the other hand, there was little chance of even well-supplied troops holding out on Bataan until the Americans could launch a successful counter-offensive.

Rising Sun*
10-21-2010, 08:38 AM
Whether or not a more timely and better planned move to the Bataan peninsula would have significantly altered the war is highly speculative. True, the American and Filipino troops probably would have held out longer, but they were serving no useful strategic purpose, and were simply an annoyance to the Japanese. The Japanese could easily have afforded to wait for reinforcement and resupply before launching any final offensive against Bataan. On the other hand, there was little chance of even well-supplied troops holding out on Bataan until the Americans could launch a successful counter-offensive.

Even with MacArthur's consistently botched defence, the Japanese eventually stalled in the Philippines in attempting to reduce the Filipino/American forces in what the Japanese intended to be the final phase.

While a range of factors not exclusively attributable to the defence caused this, it remains that if MacArthur had been stronger, in the sense of being better supplied by better planning and execution, in those defensive positions he might have been able to exploit the weaknesses of the stalled Japanese.


The 14th Army was indeed, as Homma remarked at his trial in Manila four years later, "in very bad shape." Altogether Homma had in his army at that time, he estimated, only three infantry battalions capable of effective action. Had MacArthur chosen that moment to launch a large-scale counterattack, Homma told the Military Tribunal which sentenced his to death, the American and Filipino troops could have walked to Manila "without encountering much resistance on our part." http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-P-PI/USA-P-PI-19.html

Such a turnaround at that early stage of the war would have had a huge morale effect on the Filipino / American forces in the Philippines and upon Allied forces and peoples more widely.

More importantly, the failure to control the Philippines would have been crucial for Japan, opening the risk of American land, sea and air forces being able to operate in the centre of Japan's recent conquests.

Most probably this would have led to Japan concentrating forces on the Philippines, but in turn this would have altered future operations because of the diversion of Japan's relatively meagre southward advance forces to the Philippines.

If it took Japan another six months or so to win in the Philippines, assuming it won, that probably would have resulted in the Guadalcanal and Papua campaigns not occurring, not least because the difficulties in the Philippines might have been an antidote to the 'victory disease' which led to those ambitious eastward thrusts.

As you say, it's all speculative and nobody can be certain what effect it would have had on the future conduct of the war, but if MacArthur had been sufficiently adventurous to strike (with better supplied forces than he had) when Homma's forces were weakest it would certainly have been a potential tipping point in the early phase, and perhaps longer term phases, of Japan's war.

Wizard
10-21-2010, 07:47 PM
Even with MacArthur's consistently botched defence, the Japanese eventually stalled in the Philippines in attempting to reduce the Filipino/American forces in what the Japanese intended to be the final phase.

While a range of factors not exclusively attributable to the defence caused this, it remains that if MacArthur had been stronger, in the sense of being better supplied by better planning and execution, in those defensive positions he might have been able to exploit the weaknesses of the stalled Japanese.

It is extremely unlikely that MacArthur's troops, even with the benefit of all of the supplies originally available to them on Luzon, could have launched any kind of successful counter-offensive once they had withdrawn to Bataan. It must be remembered that the Japanese enjoyed complete control of the sea and air. Any American counter-offensive on Luzon would have been road-bound, and at the mercy of Japanese air attack. Moreover, MacArthur had already declared Manila an "open city", and there was no place for his troops to go; there was no objective more defensible than Bataan which they already occupied.

As your own source states;

"What the proponents of a general counteroffensive failed to consider was the fact that a local victory could not change the strategic situation in the Philippines. So long as the Japanese controlled the sea and air MacArthur's forces would be unable to gain a decisive victory. Even if they fought their way back to Abucay, Layac, or Manila, they would ultimately have to retire to Bataan again, for the Japanese could reinforce at will.

The effort required for a general offensive might well have jeopardized the primary mission of the Philippine garrison--to hold Manila Bay as long as possible. To accomplish this task it was necessary to conserve carefully all human and material resources....Moreover, the advance, if it proved successful, would bring additional problems: it would lengthen the front line, increase the area to be defended and the line of communication, leave exposed beaches to the rear, and greatly complicate an already difficult supply situation. It was for these reasons that all proposals for an offensive, while feasible tactically and desirable for reasons on morale, were strategically unsound."

http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/newreply.php?do=newreply&p=172330


Such a turnaround at that early stage of the war would have had a huge morale effect on the Filipino / American forces in the Philippines and upon Allied forces and peoples more widely.

More importantly, the failure to control the Philippines would have been crucial for Japan, opening the risk of American land, sea and air forces being able to operate in the centre of Japan's recent conquests.

Yes, Allied morale would have improved temporarily and Japanese morale would have suffered. But no counter-offensive by MacArthur's troops, no matter how well it was supplied locally, nor how successful it might have proved, could have total Japanese control of the sea and air surrounding the Philippines. For that reason, any counter-offensive was doomed from the start. Any local success by MacArthur on Luzon would not have substantially upset the Japanese timetable for the conquest of the Southern Resources Area (SRA).


Most probably this would have led to Japan concentrating forces on the Philippines, but in turn this would have altered future operations because of the diversion of Japan's relatively meagre southward advance forces to the Philippines.

The conquest of Luzon was not critical to the Japanese as long as they could neutralize the American air and sea forces on Luzon and prevent any disruption in their communications with the SRA. This had already been accomplished in early December, 1941. Rather than diverting forces from their offensive in the NEI, the Japanese would have probably shipped a fresh division from Manchuria or north China since the Soviet Union was preoccupied with the German attack and posed no real threat to Japan's position in northern Asia.


If it took Japan another six months or so to win in the Philippines, assuming it won, that probably would have resulted in the Guadalcanal and Papua campaigns not occurring, not least because the difficulties in the Philippines might have been an antidote to the 'victory disease' which led to those ambitious eastward thrusts.

As you say, it's all speculative and nobody can be certain what effect it would have had on the future conduct of the war, but if MacArthur had been sufficiently adventurous to strike (with better supplied forces than he had) when Homma's forces were weakest it would certainly have been a potential tipping point in the early phase, and perhaps longer term phases, of Japan's war.

I think it's a stretch to assert that the Japanese thrusts into New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago was due to "victory disease". After all, Rabaul was seized by the Japanese beginning in January, 1942, and the operation was planned before the Japanese had even made their main landings on Luzon. The seizure of Lae-Salamaua was begun in early March before MacArthur left the Philippines. Clearly, the Japanese did not attach a great deal of significance to the American stand on Bataan or the other Philippine islands, nor were their later assaults predicated on complete victory in the Philippines.

Carl Schwamberger
12-14-2010, 09:37 AM
Not making a greater effort to interdict the Axis withdrawl from Siclly, or Sardinia for that matter. Despite reading a half dozen books on the Sicillian & Italian campaigns it is still not clear to me why this was not planned for from the start.

Dixie Devil
12-14-2010, 11:03 AM
Not making a greater effort to interdict the Axis withdrawl from Siclly, or Sardinia for that matter. Despite reading a half dozen books on the Sicillian & Italian campaigns it is still not clear to me why this was not planned for from the start.

They should have listened to Patton :army:

Nickdfresh
12-15-2010, 01:51 PM
Not making a greater effort to interdict the Axis withdrawl from Siclly, or Sardinia for that matter. Despite reading a half dozen books on the Sicillian & Italian campaigns it is still not clear to me why this was not planned for from the start.

I agree. From what I've read, it seemed the Allies were not dissimilar to the Germans in their seeming view prior to the British evacuation of Dunkirk: that Allied relative air superiority and naval supremacy would seriously inhibit the transfer of German arms and troops to the mainland. And that perhaps the assumption was that the German maritime capabilities were more limited than they actually were? Unfortunately, it seems the reverse was true...

But then again, some have made the case that the over emphasis on the entire Italian Campaign was itself a major Allied blunder...