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Thread: Could Japan have won if they lost?

  1. #16
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    Default Re: Could Japan have won if they lost?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    Well, there was the major US air base at Iron Range, where in 1942, at least five bomber squadrons were based. There was also Cairns, where a US transport squadron was based, and Mareeba airfield, just south of Cairns where seven US Bomber squadrons and a three US fighter squadrons were based in 1942. Altogether, there were eight US military airfields on the northeast Australian coast within range of bombers from Port Moresby. This isn't counting RAAF installations in that area.
    I was thinking more of major permanent or difficult quickly to replace targets, the destruction of which would have had a significant impact upon the Allies' ability to fight Japan. I can't think of anything apart from Townsville. Unlike the south east corner of Australia where the major industrial capacity was concentrated, and where much of the grazing and agricultural capacity sat, north Queensland was pretty barren from a critical target viewpoint. Japan could have occupied it for the whole war without, apart from obvious morale and counter-force issues, doing significant damage to Australia's capacity to wage war. Which is precisely why that area was, if necessary, part of the area to be evacuated and left to the enemy if it invaded in undefeated force, so that Australian forces could be concentrated in the south east corner to protect the things that really mattered for the long term war.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    All of which more or less confirms my contention that Port Moresby probably wasn't worth the effort the Japanese put into taking it.
    Agreed.

    Papua New Guinea wasn't worth any Japanese effort, nor (with the possible exception of Rabaul which doesn't make a lot of sense on its own) was anything after the NEI from any intelligent strategic assessment based on protecting the conquests Japan wanted, and wanted to hold until the Allies accepted its acquisition as a fait accompli, which was about the limit of misguided Japanese strategic thinking on how the war would end in its favour.

    The 'ribbon defence' notion which extended to Guadalcanal, and logically to Easter Island and the west coast of South America, made a basic strategic mistake of lacking an anchor point about which everything revolved. It was little more than eastward expansion for the sake of protecting the last expansion and achieving the improbable isolation and surrender of Australia, without regard to Japan's primary objectives which were the resources which did not extend beyond the NEI. All it achieved was to thrust a narrow and extraordinarily long salient (of isolated and hard to supply islands) into hostile territory which could not be controlled from the salient because of Japan's lack of necessary forces and resources.

    Which, coming back to the original topic, is another indication of why Japan would not have won even it lost at Pearl Harbor.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    The Japanese did not have the ships to keep Port Moresby supplied on the scale that would have been required to support either an air or naval base.
    Japan's primary problem was that it did not have the shipping to supply and exploit its conquests. This was obvious to the meanest intelligence before the war. Add in Japan's inability to replace losses and it was doomed from the outset.

    A brilliant piece of strategical thinking and planning from an island nation about to embark on the most ambitious and rapid expansion into countless islands across the seas in history.


    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    As for Japan's intentions, I don't believe they ever announced their intention to invade Australia.
    Agreed, but Japan's posturing and Tojo's statements demanded Australia surrender while its advances made it appear that it intended to invade, as indeed was the subject of hot debate in early 1942 between the 'pro' IJN and 'anti' IJA.

    Nobody at the time had the benefit of the knowledge we now have which shows that Japan couldn't invade. Much the same as we now know that Sealion wasn't going to happen, but that doesn't alter the legitimate concerns in Britain at the time that invasion was imminent or at least highly likely.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    In fact, by September, 1942, American intelligence was certain, based on radio decrypts, that Japan had neither the desire nor the capability of invading Australia.
    There were Magic decrypts which supported this view. Much has been made of this, in isolation from surrounding circumstances indicating different intentions by Japan and conveniently ignoring the fact that other Japanese codes had not been broken, by Dr Peter Stanley in some contentious articles mentioned at #6 here http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/show...stralia+invade

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    I don't know whether this insight was shared with MacArthur or not. In any case, Mac was typically dismissive of any intelligence which did not accord with his current view of the situation, or which tended to negate the importance of his own personal involvement.
    I'm rusty on this, but I think that anything coming to the Australians from US decrypts would have come through MacArthur, or at least his HQ, as the local American commander. It might be covered in Dr Stanley's article but I'm too short of time to re-read it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    Give the Devil his due, one thing MacArthur seldom did was panic. I don't think he ever feared loss of command while in Australia; he did fear not getting a regular ration of favorable press.
    My recollection is that his position was vulnerable in the second half of 1942 and that he feared that a loss in Papua would result in the loss of his command, possibly to another Army commander but more probably to the USN.

    I'm relying heavily on my imperfect and aged memory at the moment as I'm building a new house and have almost all of my remaining (i.e. what's left after I unwisely disposed of thousands of books a few years ago) books in storage.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    Seriously, I am quite convinced that Roosevelt tolerated, indeed encouraged, the absurd command arrangement in the Pacific precisely because he wanted MacArthur safely in Australia where he wasn't likely to stir up domestic political trouble for Roosevelt.
    IIRC that didn't stop Mac giving a great deal of thought to running in the 1944 Presidential election, and receiving considerable, but ultimately inadequate, support for his candidacy if he chose to run.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    Saddling the poor Australians with Mac was also one way of preventing possible bloodshed on the JCS which already Admiral King to contend with.
    Not entirely.

    Mac's arrival here was in part the consequence of our Prime Minister's entreaties to America for American forces and leadership, to keep America in our war for our survival after Britain had largely abandoned us after happily using us for its European and Mediterranean wars, and us happily being used to that point.

    Mac was an arrogant, self-promoting, self-aggrandising, publicity-seeking arsehole of the first order, and a failure in the Philippine defence, and his 'island hopping' strategy was not his unique invention, but the fact remains that he turned out to be a very good and very effective, and when required a personally brave under fire, commander from 1943 onwards. We could have done a lot worse.
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 09-15-2010 at 09:24 AM. Reason: typo
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  2. #17
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    Default Re: Could Japan have won if they lost?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    ....In fairness to the Japanese, it was probably driven by desperation rather than their common gratuitous torture and butchery of an enemy. When the Gona - Buna - Sanananda beachhead was being reduced by the Australians and Americans at the end of 1942, the Japanese resorted to cannibalism of their own dead....
    Yes, I believe most instances of cannibalism by Japanese troops occurred in circumstances where it was the only alternative to death by starvation. I have, however, also read of documented incidents of ritual cannibalism indulged in by well fed Japanese officers. Stories of livers being removed from still-living POW's, cooked, and eaten sometimes even name the officers responsible; a certain Colonel Tsuji, a prominent Japanese staff officer, comes to mind.

    I first heard of such events from my father, who served as a carrier pilot in the Pacific throughout the war. He said they circulated as rumors; he and many of his colleagues thought they were merely "sea stories", calculated to frighten the new guys.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    The troops probably had a generally low opinion of him, but he had some solid supporters among officers under his command.

    I've read a lot about him, both primary and secondary sources, and find it difficult to come to any firm conclusion about the man. Like MacArthur and many other important military figures, he is not a one-dimensional figure. His supporters and opponents often give diametrically opposed versions of the same event.

    The 'rabbit who runs' episode is a perfect example. His supporters say he was not hostile to the troops and his comments were misunderstood while some of those present say the troops became mutinous and a nasty event was avoided only by the control of NCOs and officers, even though some of those officers soon after declined, in what amounted to calculated and serious military rudeness bordering on insubordination to a superior, to attend a subsequent gathering with Blamey.

    In case you haven't heard of it, a sequel to the 'rabbit who runs' speech illustrates a lot about the Australian soldiers of the time, and something about Blamey. When he returned to Moresby, Blamey visited a hospital holding troops wouned on the Track. Accompanied by the usual retinue of medical staff and flunkeys, he entered a ward to find all the troops sitting up in bed munching on lettuce leaves, like rabbits. Blamey walked through the ward, saying nothing. Nothing eventuated from it.
    Yes, I read about the lettuce munching incident. I also read somewhere, can't recall the source, that, at a certain formation where the ranks passed in review before Blamey, most of the men refused the "eyes right" command. I don't remember whether this was before or after the "running rabbits" speech. One of the accounts I read of the "running rabbits" incident claimed, seriously I assume, that Blamey was fortunate on that occasion, to escape with his life.

    I gather that much of Blamey's appalling reputation with his troops stemmed from interwar politics and accusations of corruption, and that it was not enhanced by the nature of his relationship with MacArthur.
    Last edited by Wizard; 09-15-2010 at 12:51 PM.

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    Default Re: Could Japan have won if they lost?

    Mac's arrival here was in part the consequence of our Prime Minister's entreaties to America for American forces and leadership, to keep America in our war for our survival after Britain had largely abandoned us after happily using us for its European and Mediterranean wars, and us happily being used to that point.

    Mac was an arrogant, self-promoting, self-aggrandising, publicity-seeking arsehole of the first order, and a failure in the Philippine defence, and his 'island hopping' strategy was not his unique invention, but the fact remains that he turned out to be a very good and very effective, and when required a personally brave under fire, commander from 1943 onwards. We could have done a lot worse.
    Actually I'm quite impressed with 'Dougout Doug'.

    While in the Central Pacific they invade islands and pushed the Japanese out, killing them to the last man (and at grievous cost), Gen. Douglas MacArthur instead used a form of containment. He took what he needed and STOPPED!

    As a result he left an awful lot of Japanese soldiers stranded forcing them to either stay put or do a frontal assault on an entrenched enemy. Which was not unlike what they got us to do to them in the Central Pacific!

    Yes it tied of troops, but those soldiers would have been wounded or killed in vicious fighting for the very Japanese in caves that instead would have had to do the same to the Allies.

    His way was much wiser. We had plenty of manpower so no need to do the ‘Hi-diddle-right-up-the-middle’ as was done so often in the island campaigns.

    Deaf
    “We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality” Ayn Rand

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    Default Re: Could Japan have won if they lost?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    I have, however, also read of documented incidents of ritual cannibalism indulged in by well fed Japanese officers. Stories of livers being removed from still-living POW's, cooked, and eaten sometimes even name the officers responsible; a certain Colonel Tsuji, a prominent Japanese staff officer, comes to mind.
    Tsujii is a fascinating, if repellent, character, as much for his post war career as for his war time career, starting with planning the Malayan invasion and the Sook Ching massacre. He was 'Mr Everywhere Man' in 1942, bouncing around the SWPA and arrogating to himself more authority than he had, notably with his orders to commanders more senior than him to execute Allied prisoners on the basis that he was relaying orders from a more senior commander when in fact no such orders were given. I respect the commander (can't recall who) who declined to follow the orders until they were confirmed in writing, which of course never happened.

    Tsujii is said in some secondary sources to have eaten enemy livers after the Philippine victory, and perhaps elsewhere in the SWPA, and to have exhorted other officers to do the same thing. I've never been able to determine whether it is fact or fiction.

    This may be the source of the allegations, but it’s hearsay so far as the war correspondents were concerned.

    Tsuji by this time had managed to move 33rd Army headquarters 80 miles into China, to Mangshih. As a Japanese biographer related the story in 1953, he put on a remarkable banquet to which he invited several war correspondents. An air raid destroyed the bridge leading to Mangshih, so they were unable to attend, but afterward they were told that Tsuji and some other staff officers had eaten the liver of an enemy pilot. In this version, the pilot was British. The same story was told by a Japanese army officer, Major Mitsuo Abe of the 49th Division who was actually present at the macabre meal; according to him, the pilot was an American lieutenant named Parker. In this version, the banquet was spontaneous. Parker was shot down in a raid, questioned by Abe and Tsuji, and refused to give any useful information. Another air-raid killed two Japanese soldiers and persuaded the officers that they must pull back from Mangshih. There was a clamor for Parker's execution, both for revenge and for the practical consideration that there was scarcely enough transport for the Japanese staff, without taking the American along. The two officers supposedly refused to have him executed. Instead, Parker was killed while they were at dinner, "while trying to escape." It was then and there, in this version, that the pilot's liver was brought in.

    As the war correspondents heard the story, the liver was cut up and roasted on skewers. "The more we consume," Tsuji proclaimed, "the more we shall be inspired by a hostile spirit towards the enemy." Some officers merely toyed with their portions, some ate a bit and spit it out. Tsuji called them cowards and ate until his own portion was finished.
    http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums...p/t-19564.html

    There’s some interesting stuff on cannibalism as ‘not a war crime’ and instances of cannibalism, including Tsujii’s, here http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=21498


    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    One of the accounts I read of the "running rabbits" incident claimed, seriously I assume, that Blamey was fortunate on that occasion, to escape with his life.
    There certainly seems to have been considerable anger and some movement in the ranks during his speech.

    Not wise to upset armed men, who have recently returned exhausted from killing people, by accusing them of being cowards.


    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    I gather that much of Blamey's appalling reputation with his troops stemmed from interwar politics and accusations of corruption
    I don’t know that they would have been all that well informed on it.

    Blamey was chief of the Victorian state police between the wars where he pursued a strong anti-communist line, which wasn’t uncommon for public officials in the Western world at the time. He was also involved in a secret army based on WWI veterans who would assume military control in the event of a communist insurrection. His attitudes probably weren't all that different to MacArthur's around the same period when Mac ordered the assault on the Bonus Army.

    Ultimately Blamey was caught out lying about a police incident and forced to resign. This was in large part because he got the press off-side over previous issues, particularly a still unexplained incident soon after his appointment where his police badge was presented to police by a man apprehended during a raid on a brothel. The press was merciless when he was caught out lying in the later incident. More here http://www.pacificwar.org.au/KokodaC...olice_job.html

    As Blamey’s divisions weren’t all from Victoria it’s likely that most troops didn’t know much or anything about his past as police commissioner as news reporting was much more parochial in those days.

    It’s more likely that the following issues under his command in North Africa and Greece caused the initial contempt, which was reinforced by the ‘rabbit that runs’ speech and other issues in the SWPA.

    The first issue starts in North Africa and finishes in Papua. Chester Wilmot, later a significant war journalist in Europe, believed Blamey was corruptly profiting from his office as commander in North Africa. Presumably Wilmot got this from other sources, which suggests that it may have filtered down to the troops.

    Blamey hated the press and with good reason. The Melbourne newspapers were unrelenting in pursuing the still unexplained, thirties scandal of Police Commissioner Blamey’s official badge tuning up in bordello.

    Later Blamey’s gave a good as he got. Using the powers of wartime controls and censorship, he destroyed Chester Wilmot’s career in Australia. When Wilmot persisted in investigating Blamey’s corruption in the Middle East, he was thrown out of New Guinea his military accreditation withdrawn.

    Ironically Blamey’s revenge backfired because Wilmot was free to work for the BBC, cover the Normandy landing and hence write ‘Struggle for Europe’.

    Slessor had something to say about Blamey and it was not flattering. In his only other war poem ‘An Inscription for Dog River’ Slessor tells how Blamey had an inscription cut in the rock marked the capture of Damour by Australian troops under his command.
    “Having bestowed on him all we had to give
    In battles few can recollect,
    Our Strength, obedience and endurance,
    Our wits, our bodies, our existence,
    Even our descendants’ right to live –
    Having given him everything, in fact,
    Except respect”.
    http://cewbean.com/Sekuless.htm

    Back in Port Moresby, Wilmot was caught up in the clash between the commander-in-chief, General Sir Thomas Blamey, and the commander of New Guinea Force, Lieutenant General (Sir) Sydney Rowell. When Blamey sacked Rowell, Wilmot protested to Prime Minister John Curtin. His representations failed and in November Blamey cancelled his accreditation as a war correspondent. The stated reason was that Wilmot was undermining the authority of the commander-in-chief by continuing to express in public his suspicions that Blamey had engaged in corrupt conduct in the Middle East. It is more likely, however, that Wilmot was removed from Papua because a report on the campaign that he had written for Rowell (who included it in his dispatch) implied inefficiency on the part of Blamey's headquarters.

    Rumours circulated that Blamey planned to have Wilmot conscripted into the army. Offered a position with the British Broadcasting Corporation's programme, 'War Report', he started work in London in May 1944. He landed in Normandy by glider with the British 6th Airborne Division on D-Day (6 June) and soon became one of the most famous of the correspondents reporting from Europe. After covering many of the major British operations, he recorded the ceremony at Lüneberg on 4 May 1945 in which German forces surrendered to Field Marshal Sir Bernard (Viscount) Montgomery.
    http://adbonline.anu.edu.au/biogs/A160666b.htm

    The second issue involves favouritism towards Blamey’s only surviving son. When the 6th Division evacuated, defeated, from Greece, Blamey took his son, a major of no military importance, on the last plane out with other senior officers. That sort of conduct is always going to be resented by the rank and file left to fend for themselves. Although, in fairness to Blamey, the rank and file were evacuated in relatively good order because one of the first things Blamey did when he arrived in Greece, realising it was probably a doomed campaign, was to identify the embarkation point to be used if evacuation became necessary. This was typical of his thoroughness and forward thinking as an excellent staff officer, but a less good field commander.

    The third issue may be that news of Blamey’s probable depression and extended period of ineffective leadership in the early part of his command in North Africa may have got down to the troops.

    The fourth issue is Blamey’s drinking and sexual affairs in North Africa, which were two things of great interest to the troops and two things they didn’t get much of. Again, things that breed resentment where the brass gets the cream and the grunts get nothing.
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 09-15-2010 at 09:02 PM. Reason: typo
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  5. #20
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    Default Re: Could Japan have won if they lost?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    and that it was not enhanced by the nature of his relationship with MacArthur.
    MacArthur held Blamey in contempt because of his personal qualities as a drunk and lecher. I wish I could recall the quote by Mac on that point.

    MacArthur did all he could to deprive Blamey of all power as his deputy, and did it well. Blamey was seen by many Australians as a toady to MacArthur, which I think is unfair to Blamey.

    Blamey did all he could, and did it very effectively, to prevent Australian units being used piecemeal by the British in North Africa and to ensure that Australian troops remained under Australian military and government control in the face of assumptions by British commanders that they could do what they liked with Australian units. He tried to do something similar under MacArthur but MacArthur had the upper hand as the commander favoured by our Prime Minister and pretty much sidelined Blamey by about the end of 1943 as he converted the SWPA war into an American / MacArthur undertaking rather than an Allied one.
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    Default Re: Could Japan have won if they lost?

    Quote Originally Posted by Deaf Smith View Post
    Actually I'm quite impressed with 'Dougout Doug'.
    Yeah, he impressed a lot of people, especially those who took his war time press dispatches at face value.

    Quote Originally Posted by Deaf Smith View Post
    While in the Central Pacific they invade islands and pushed the Japanese out, killing them to the last man (and at grievous cost), Gen. Douglas MacArthur instead used a form of containment. He took what he needed and STOPPED!
    Rubbish!

    MacArthur would sometimes by-pass Japanese garrisons in the New Guinea campaign, leaving them to "wither on the vine", but this was not something he invented. It was first suggested by Navy planners on Nimitz's staff, and first implemented in the Central Pacific offensive.

    In the Philippines, MacArthur, in defiance of direct orders from the JCS, conducted more than a dozen major amphibious assaults on non-essential islands because he wanted to "liberate" all of the Philippine islands. These assaults caused thousands of needless American casualties and contributed nothing to the defeat of Japan. Had the Japanese garrisons been left alone, they would simply have sat out the rest of the war and surrendered, as so many others did, in August and September, 1945.

    Quote Originally Posted by Deaf Smith View Post
    As a result he left an awful lot of Japanese soldiers stranded forcing them to either stay put or do a frontal assault on an entrenched enemy. Which was not unlike what they got us to do to them in the Central Pacific!
    Exactly the same thing was done in the Central Pacific; only the most essential central Pacific islands were invaded; the others were by-passed and the garrisons left in a starving condition. Mac made plenty of mistakes in his Cartwheel campaign, that cost US and Australian casualties. Nimitz made some mistakes too, his worst being the invasion of Peleliu which was probably not required. Neither command had any monopoly on error-free planning.

    Quote Originally Posted by Deaf Smith View Post
    Yes it tied of troops, but those soldiers would have been wounded or killed in vicious fighting for the very Japanese in caves that instead would have had to do the same to the Allies.
    But Mac didn't care, most of the "tied up" troops were Australian, and he didn't want them messing up his personal PR campaign by copping some of the favorable headlines in important advances.

    Quote Originally Posted by Deaf Smith View Post
    His way was much wiser. We had plenty of manpower so no need to do the ‘Hi-diddle-right-up-the-middle’ as was done so often in the island campaigns.

    Deaf
    He was able to use the tactics he did not because he was wiser, but because the geography and tactical situations were different. Mac seldom faced the kind of small, heavily fortified islands that forced Nimitz forces to make the only possible kind of frontal assault that produced heavy casualties for a relatively short period of time.

    MacArthur constantly trumpeted his "lower casualty rates" during the war to justify his demand to be named overall commander in the Pacific. But historian Richard Frank, who studied casualty rates of all the Pacific theaters for his book "Downfall", found that Mac's casualty rates were no better, and in some cases worse, than were Nimitz's. Overall, in the Pacific War just as many Americans were killed and wounded under Mac as were under Nimitz. Moreover, it was found that Mac's troops were usually less well trained and had poorer leaders, and this was found to be a contributing factor in Mac's casualty rates. This was something that a better commander would have corrected; Mac never did.

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    Default Re: Could Japan have won if they lost?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    The second issue involves favouritism towards Blamey’s only surviving son. When the 6th Division evacuated, defeated, from Greece, Blamey took his son, a major of no military importance, on the last plane out with other senior officers. That sort of conduct is always going to be resented by the rank and file left to fend for themselves.
    Maybe Blamey was rather restrained in this respect.

    I just watched a WWII documentary which referred to Patton sending a force deep into enemy territory to rescue his son in law from a German prison camp, which was not something I had ever heard of before.

    The essence of the allegations is here: http://www.taskforcebaum.de/main1.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Task_Force_Baum
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    Default Re: Could Japan have won if they lost?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    I was thinking more of major permanent or difficult quickly to replace targets, the destruction of which would have had a significant impact upon the Allies' ability to fight Japan. I can't think of anything apart from Townsville. Unlike the south east corner of Australia where the major industrial capacity was concentrated, and where much of the grazing and agricultural capacity sat, north Queensland was pretty barren from a critical target viewpoint. Japan could have occupied it for the whole war without, apart from obvious morale and counter-force issues, doing significant damage to Australia's capacity to wage war. Which is precisely why that area was, if necessary, part of the area to be evacuated and left to the enemy if it invaded in undefeated force, so that Australian forces could be concentrated in the south east corner to protect the things that really mattered for the long term war.
    Well, aside from airfields, that is probably correct. No major sea ports, manufacturing centers, or even vital raw materials extraction operations, just miles and miles of....miles and miles!

    Which would mean that had the Japanese captured Port Moresby and developed an offensive airbase, it would have resulted in an attritional air war against Allied air bases in north Australia. And that would have been a war the Japanese would have lost as the Allies built up their air forces in 1943

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    Agreed.

    Papua New Guinea wasn't worth any Japanese effort, nor (with the possible exception of Rabaul which doesn't make a lot of sense on its own) was anything after the NEI from any intelligent strategic assessment based on protecting the conquests Japan wanted, and wanted to hold until the Allies accepted its acquisition as a fait accompli, which was about the limit of misguided Japanese strategic thinking on how the war would end in its favour.

    The 'ribbon defence' notion which extended to Guadalcanal, and logically to Easter Island and the west coast of South America, made a basic strategic mistake of lacking an anchor point about which everything revolved. It was little more than eastward expansion for the sake of protecting the last expansion and achieving the improbable isolation and surrender of Australia, without regard to Japan's primary objectives which were the resources which did not extend beyond the NEI. All it achieved was to thrust a narrow and extraordinarily long salient (of isolated and hard to supply islands) into hostile territory which could not be controlled from the salient because of Japan's lack of necessary forces and resources.

    Which, coming back to the original topic, is another indication of why Japan would not have won even it lost at Pearl Harbor.
    I definitely concur with this assessment.

    But I have seen some relatively well-informed people argue two related points; the first being that the more territory the Japanese were able to seize, the better their bargaining position, if peace negotiations could be opened with the Americans. The second argument is that the Japanese military had no alternative but to stay on the offensive because neither the IJA nor the IJN had enough aircraft or ships to adequately defend even a minimal defensive perimeter sufficient to hold onto the NEI, which was the whole object of the war.

    My personal opinion is that this is simply illogical. After Pearl Harbor, no one in the US was willing to even suggest negotiations with the Japanese, and the US Navy, which, through Admiral King on the JCS, was largely driving Pacific war strategy, had always advocated total war against Japan. The prospect of a negotiated end to the war was dead the second the first bomb fell on Pearl Harbor.

    As for a continual offensive, Japan simply did not have the material resources to pursue such a strategy. Sooner or later, as their resources were stretched thinner and thinner, they would stumble and fail, giving the US an opening to seize the initiative. Midway, of course, was the inevitable outcome of a policy of the continuous offensive.



    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    Japan's primary problem was that it did not have the shipping to supply and exploit its conquests. This was obvious to the meanest intelligence before the war. Add in Japan's inability to replace losses and it was doomed from the outset.

    A brilliant piece of strategical thinking and planning from an island nation about to embark on the most ambitious and rapid expansion into countless islands across the seas in history.
    Agreed.

    Considering that Japan had been unable to successfully conclude a four-year war with a much less powerful nation, the nonchalant attitude of the Japanese leadership toward war with America has always baffled me.

    Japanese perceptions of a "gutless, effeminate, pacifistic America", and a "nation of shop-keepers", are, of course, well known, but the very subjectivity and imprecision of such attitudes should have set alarm bells ringing in the more sophisticated circles of the leadership. I find it ironic that the two men who, among the Japanese leaders, knew more about Americans than any others, Matsuoka and Yamamoto, forced such terrible blunders as the signing of the Tripartite Pact and the Pearl Harbor attack.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    There were Magic decrypts which supported this view. Much has been made of this, in isolation from surrounding circumstances indicating different intentions by Japan and conveniently ignoring the fact that other Japanese codes had not been broken, by Dr Peter Stanley in some contentious articles mentioned at #6 here http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/show...stralia+invade
    If I recall correctly, John Prados mentions that IJA codes were never broken precisely because they were never extensively used in the Pacific areas where they were likely to be intercepted and provide material that would allow cryptographers to unravel the codes. The Japanese naval codes, the use of which would have been mandatory in any invasion of Australia, however, had been broken and were being assiduously read and scrutinized throughout most of 1942 for any hint of an operation aimed directly at Australia; no such hint ever surfaced. After Midway, Allied intelligence realized that, regardless of Japanese intentions, Japanese capabilities precluded any serious invasion of Australia.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    I'm rusty on this, but I think that anything coming to the Australians from US decrypts would have come through MacArthur, or at least his HQ, as the local American commander. It might be covered in Dr Stanley's article but I'm too short of time to re-read it.
    Not according to what I have read. Most American intelligence in the Pacific area during WW II was conducted by the US Navy. The British had operated a sigint operation out of Singapore prior to the loss of that location and had cooperated with the Americans. The Dutch also had their own intelligence operations and these also cooperated with the Americans and British. The Australians had their own (independent of the British) sigint operations in the western Pacific.

    After Singapore and Corregidor had fallen, the remnants of the British "Far East Combined Bureau" (FECB), and the US Navy's CAST Station (formerly on Corregidor) were combined with the RAN cryptography unit headed by CMDR Eric Nave, to form "Fleet Radio Unit Melbourne" (FRUMEL). MacArthur continued to operate the Army Central Bureau sigint operation independently of FRUMEL, but, as in the Philippines, there was an interchange of intel information. Interestingly enough, Mac's Army Central Bureau maintained a "Purple" machine the output of which went only to MacArthur.

    FRUMEL and FRUPAC (Nimitz's intel operation in Hawaii) communicated intel information to each other and both Nimitz and MacArthur as well as the commander of the British Far Eastern Fleet, and both eventually became units of the Joint Intelligence Center/Pacific Ocean Area (JICPOA). FRUMEL and FRUPAC were both tied into Admiral King's intel center in Washington, so, in theory, if it was known in Washington or London, it was also known in Hawaii and Melbourne. Of course, intel information was disseminated on a "need to know" basis which tended to limit the distribution of assessments, but both FRUPAC and FRUMEL interchanged all raw data between themselves and could make their own assessments.

    It did not follow however, that just because Australian intelligence (a term used to encompass all intel agencies) knew of something that Australian military or political leaders also knew about it. Throughout the war, the same applied to the leaders of almost all countries as intelligence organizations were notoriously security minded and tried to limit dissemination of information as much as possible.

    As an Allied Theater Commander, MacArthur was privy to most, but by no means all, high level intelligence data. More than most military leaders, Mac seemed inclined to be skeptical of sigint intelligence and tended to be dismissive of data which was contrary to his view of the situation. The complaint was often heard from CAST, and later FRUMEL, personnel that Mac and his staff didn't know what to do with the intel data they were given, or that they simply disregarded it. This may have reflected Mac's distrust of anything that originated within US Navy circles, or it may have simply been his nature.

    CONTINUED BELOW..........

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    Default Re: Could Japan have won if they lost?

    CONTINUED FROM ABOVE..............

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    My recollection is that his position was vulnerable in the second half of 1942 and that he feared that a loss in Papua would result in the loss of his command, possibly to another Army commander but more probably to the USN.

    I'm relying heavily on my imperfect and aged memory at the moment as I'm building a new house and have almost all of my remaining (i.e. what's left after I unwisely disposed of thousands of books a few years ago) books in storage.
    Perhaps it's a matter of interpretation, but I have never read of any anxiety on Mac's part about being relieved of command during WW II, except possibly in the few weeks of the disastrous defense in the Philippines. Mac had a number followers among conservative newspaper editors in the US who dutifully published all the nonsense that Mac's press office released about his brilliant, heroic, courageous, bla, bla, bla...... Roosevelt's many detractors in the US ate that up and made any action Roosevelt might want to take in regard to MacArthur political dynamite, particularly if it was contrary to Mac's wishes.

    Beyond that, the Republican Party, speculating on candidates for high political office, kept Mac's name conspicuously on he list of potential presidential candidates. Roosevelt knew that Mac was popular among conservatives and had excellent relations with conservative newspaper editors, and thus felt he was potentially a serious political competitor. In any case, he didn't want MacArthur in the US contesting his decisions at every turn. If Roosevelt wanted to relieve Mac, he would have had to find some other equally important post for the man, just to keep him out of domestic politics.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    IIRC that didn't stop Mac giving a great deal of thought to running in the 1944 Presidential election, and receiving considerable, but ultimately inadequate, support for his candidacy if he chose to run.
    Mac actually was in the running and, initially, had enough party support to have a good shot at the nomination. But Mac really didn't understand American political party dynamics and made a number of minor mistakes in the early running. What eventually ended his candidacy was a private letter he wrote which was highly critical of Roosevelt's conduct of the war. Mac made a number of valid points in the letter, which unfortunately became public, but the Republicans felt that criticism of Roosevelt, during the course of the war, was unpatriotic, and that the letter from one of Roosevelt's (nominal) subordinates would be viewed by many Americans as a "stab in the back" by MacArthur. The Republican Party thus called on Mac to end his candidacy and Mac, realizing his support was eroding, did so.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    Not entirely.

    Mac's arrival here was in part the consequence of our Prime Minister's entreaties to America for American forces and leadership, to keep America in our war for our survival after Britain had largely abandoned us after happily using us for its European and Mediterranean wars, and us happily being used to that point.

    Mac was an arrogant, self-promoting, self-aggrandising, publicity-seeking arsehole of the first order, and a failure in the Philippine defence, and his 'island hopping' strategy was not his unique invention, but the fact remains that he turned out to be a very good and very effective, and when required a personally brave under fire, commander from 1943 onwards. We could have done a lot worse.
    America could have done much better by Australia, too. MacArthur was in Australia, not because he was the best man for the job, but because it was convenient for Roosevelt to keep him out of the US.

    After having been used by the British, and then essentially left to their own devices, the Australians fell into the clutches of another opportunistic character who used them to advance his own agenda. Granted, that the early campaigns directed by MacArthur were primarily for the defense of Australia, but MacArthur's misuse and mistreatment of Australian troops after the Japanese drive on New Guinea was contained was just as bad, if not as consequential, as that of the British.

  10. #25
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    Default Re: Could Japan have won if they lost?

    Wizard, I don't have time to respond to every part of your last post at the moment, so I'll start with the easiest bit (which upon completion took a great deal longer than I anticipated).

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    America could have done much better by Australia, too.
    America didn't have any obligation to do well by Australia.

    Despite all the propaganda for public consumption and morale about fraternal ties etc, America used us as a base for its operations in its own interests. If the positions were reversed, we would have done exactly the same as all nations, quite reasonably, act in their own interests.

    As Australia did in WWII in a little-known example of Australia's imperiousness when dealing with a less powerful neighbour, when to meet the Japanaese threat to Australia we sent troops into Timor against Portugal's wishes.


    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    After having been used by the British, and then essentially left to their own devices
    I think that's a bit harsh on the British.

    At the start of WWII many Australians had a conception of themselves as British living in an outpost of the Empire. They were all British subjects at that time. Australian citizenship wasn't invented until after WWII. http://www.citizenship.gov.au/_pdf/c...policy_law.pdf In my childhood in the 1950s and even after our government under Prime Minister Curtin had separated us from Britain during the war http://john.curtin.edu.au/education/...lenge2006.html , our school atlases still had a good part of the globe covered in the pink possessions of the British Empire and we were instructed in that proud (if rather sanitised) imperial history. One of the highlights of my early childhood was Empire Day in early June each year, when we celebrated the Empire (originally Queen Victoria’s birthday, despite her being a Hun) with a cracker night. http://www.nla.gov.au/pub/nlanews/20...08/story-4.pdf Even now that holiday is celebrated as the Queen’s Birthday but, alas, without the crackers due to the fun police having removed all things which might be fun or even remotely connected to it. (We also had another cracker night on 5 November each year to commemorate Guy Fawkes’ attempt in 1605 to blow up the Houses of Parliament, which shows how committed we were to cracker fun before the fun police got control.) As a child I encountered occasional teachers and adults who, though their families had been here for some generations, referred to Britain as 'Home' and ‘the mother country’.

    Those sentiments, being exactly the opposite of the independent citizens of the American Republic, were much stronger in my parents' and grandparents' generations before WWII. That is not to say that there were not strong elements which opposed this view and involvement in both world wars, at least as far as the European component was concerned. This opposition was primarily among the minority Irish Catholics and socialist / communist elements which, with considerable justification, saw the wars as British, European or capitalist wars of insufficient relevance to Australia to warrant sending our troops to fight in them.

    Australians served Britain willingly in the war against Germany to 1941, and without being used by the British any more than they were willing to be used. This was at personal levels in the 2nd AIF, RAN, and RAF as well as at national levels of providing food and other resources to Britain (although Churchill complained that Australia was unfairly profiting from this), including military gifts such as 20,000 .303 Lee Enfields to replace losses in France and which gift when Japan attacked acquired greater significance as we tried to mobilise.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    …the Australians fell into the clutches of another opportunistic character who used them to advance his own agenda
    It was more complicated than that.

    Australia, or at least its Prime Minister John Curtin, knew it was a minnow in the war between great powers; that it didn’t rate much in the dealings of the major Allies; and that it could be ignored or gobbled up in the strategies of the major Allies and left stranded in the face of Japan’s advance and apparent intention of invading, and undoubted intention of subjugating, Australia.

    To the extent that we fell into MacArthur’s clutches, it was because we wanted to, and because we wanted America involved to protect us. Much as we did a couple of decades later when we encouraged America to get involved in Vietnam for our own protection in the age of the domino theory, which theory resonated with us more than anyone else because we were at the end of the line. Unless someone wanted New Zealand, which seems rather unlikely.

    There is a good survey of the serious writings on Curtin and MacArthur’s relationships here http://john.curtin.edu.au/macarthur/assessment1.html Note that at the bottom right of the linked page you can click on Next to take you to the next page. I have read Horner’s and Day’s books mentioned in the link, and others of their works, and think that they are very well researched and reasoned accounts.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    Granted, that the early campaigns directed by MacArthur were primarily for the defense of Australia, but MacArthur's misuse and mistreatment of Australian troops after the Japanese drive on New Guinea was contained was just as bad, if not as consequential, as that of the British.
    Leaving aside any Australian sentiments about national pride, the greatest and unforgiveable flaw in MacArthur’s use of Australian troops from 1944 onwards was simply that he failed to use a huge body of well trained and well equipped Australian troops, often led by battle hardened officers and NCOs and with battle hardened troops in their ranks. While there is modest justification for his purported concerns about the lack of commonality in equipment, munitions and so on between American and Australian troops, these were logistical issues which were no more difficult to resolve than supplying American units with, say, the different calibres of infantry ammunition routinely used by them.

    MacArthur’s ‘misuse’ of those troops was compounded by using them to release for his westward thrust some not terribly efficient American units from static positions facing neutered, semi-starved, and isolated Japanese forces whose primary concern was tending their vegetable gardens so they could subsist on those meagre rations. Australia’s aggressive attacks upon the Japanese in these situations created resentment in Australian forces and civilians about unnecessary Australian casualties to no purpose.

    This contrasts with British ‘misuse’ of Australian troops which thrust them into action, and notably on the Western Front in WWI where Australian troops were at times employed as shock troops, and with some effect. By WWII this did not happen, in large part due to Blamey being resolute in trying to keep his formations intact in the face of British demands for units from those formations in the Middle East.

    At least the British used Australian forces under their command as fighting troops, where MacArthur used them to bear the brunt in New Guinea when it suited him while building up his own forces and then sidelined the Australians while pursuing his personal American legend.

    Britain made much more effective use of Australian troops than MacArthur. Perhaps this was because, even if there was some residual disdain towards colonial troops in some British quarters, Australian troops were never placed under a British commander who was so self-centred and so committed to pursuing his own legend as MacArthur that he couldn’t bear any contribution by Australian troops.

    I think this may come down to a degree of indiscipline and tolerance of public self-promotion in American forces and government control of them which allowed MacArthur and Patton, and perhaps others of whom I am unaware, to present themselves favourably to the public and a potential electorate through their publicity machines.

    I can’t think of a British equivalent to MacArthur or Patton so far as self-promotion is concerned, or at least one who was even remotely equivalent in creating such an image, even if the nature and office of all very senior commanders is that they are political animals and politically adept. That is not to say that some such as Montgomery were not political animals and politically adept, but just that they never managed to create the same unwarranted public persona that MacArthur and Patton managed to creat
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

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    Default Re: Could Japan have won if they lost?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    .....America didn't have any obligation to do well by Australia.

    Despite all the propaganda for public consumption and morale about fraternal ties etc, America used us as a base for its operations in its own interests. If the positions were reversed, we would have done exactly the same as all nations, quite reasonably, act in their own interests...
    Of course nations act in their own self interest; always have, always will. Presidents act in their own self interest, as well, doing their damndest to justify their acts in terms of what's best for the nation. That doesn't change the fact that the US had better men than MacArthur to help defend Australia and defeat the Japanese. And it doesn't change the fact that MacArthur ended up in Australia because it was personally convenient for Roosevelt to keep the man as far away from the US as possible.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    I think that's a bit harsh on the British.

    At the start of WWII many Australians had a conception of themselves as British living in an outpost of the Empire. They were all British subjects at that time. Australian citizenship wasn't invented until after WWII. http://www.citizenship.gov.au/_pdf/c...policy_law.pdf In my childhood in the 1950s and even after our government under Prime Minister Curtin had separated us from Britain during the war http://john.curtin.edu.au/education/...lenge2006.html , our school atlases still had a good part of the globe covered in the pink possessions of the British Empire and we were instructed in that proud (if rather sanitised) imperial history. One of the highlights of my early childhood was Empire Day in early June each year, when we celebrated the Empire (originally Queen Victoria’s birthday, despite her being a Hun) with a cracker night. http://www.nla.gov.au/pub/nlanews/20...08/story-4.pdf Even now that holiday is celebrated as the Queen’s Birthday but, alas, without the crackers due to the fun police having removed all things which might be fun or even remotely connected to it. (We also had another cracker night on 5 November each year to commemorate Guy Fawkes’ attempt in 1605 to blow up the Houses of Parliament, which shows how committed we were to cracker fun before the fun police got control.) As a child I encountered occasional teachers and adults who, though their families had been here for some generations, referred to Britain as 'Home' and ‘the mother country’.

    Those sentiments, being exactly the opposite of the independent citizens of the American Republic, were much stronger in my parents' and grandparents' generations before WWII. That is not to say that there were not strong elements which opposed this view and involvement in both world wars, at least as far as the European component was concerned. This opposition was primarily among the minority Irish Catholics and socialist / communist elements which, with considerable justification, saw the wars as British, European or capitalist wars of insufficient relevance to Australia to warrant sending our troops to fight in them.

    Australians served Britain willingly in the war against Germany to 1941, and without being used by the British any more than they were willing to be used. This was at personal levels in the 2nd AIF, RAN, and RAF as well as at national levels of providing food and other resources to Britain (although Churchill complained that Australia was unfairly profiting from this), including military gifts such as 20,000 .303 Lee Enfields to replace losses in France and which gift when Japan attacked acquired greater significance as we tried to mobilise.
    I don't think it's being harsh on the British at all.

    Regardless of how willing the Australians were to let the British use them, the fact remains that's exactly what the British did. The Australian feelings about being members of the British Empire with a strong sense of obligation to defend that empire were never without the understanding that the "Mother country" would also come to the aid of Australia should that ever be necessary. But it turned out that when the chips were down Britain was unable and unwilling to send aid to Australia.

    I might add that I am well aware of Australia's history and relationship with Britain, courtesy of my wife who, though she was born in the then British colony of Sarawak, later became an Australian citizen

    [QUOTE=Rising Sun*;171648]It was more complicated than that.

    Australia, or at least its Prime Minister John Curtin, knew it was a minnow in the war between great powers; that it didn’t rate much in the dealings of the major Allies; and that it could be ignored or gobbled up in the strategies of the major Allies and left stranded in the face of Japan’s advance and apparent intention of invading, and undoubted intention of subjugating, Australia....[?QUOTE]

    Not really all that complicated. I understand why it happened, and realize Curtin and Australia simply took the options which they judged best for Australia. But MacArthur was indisputably in control, at least as far as military matters stood, and MacArthur being MacArthur, he did his best to promote his own interests, often at the expense of Australian troops.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    ....Britain made much more effective use of Australian troops than MacArthur. Perhaps this was because, even if there was some residual disdain towards colonial troops in some British quarters, Australian troops were never placed under a British commander who was so self-centred and so committed to pursuing his own legend as MacArthur that he couldn’t bear any contribution by Australian troops.

    I think this may come down to a degree of indiscipline and tolerance of public self-promotion in American forces and government control of them which allowed MacArthur and Patton, and perhaps others of whom I am unaware, to present themselves favourably to the public and a potential electorate through their publicity machines.

    I can’t think of a British equivalent to MacArthur or Patton so far as self-promotion is concerned, or at least one who was even remotely equivalent in creating such an image, even if the nature and office of all very senior commanders is that they are political animals and politically adept. That is not to say that some such as Montgomery were not political animals and politically adept, but just that they never managed to create the same unwarranted public persona that MacArthur and Patton managed to creat
    Patton never came close to MacArthur in terms of self-promotion. In fact, I can think of no other American military figure in history who approached MacArthur's penchant for self-aggrandizement, and very few individuals from any country who suffered from such an ego as his. Mac was indeed unique and should probably be considered a dysfunctional personality type. As a military commander, MacArthur was definitely over rated due almost entirely to uncritical acceptance of his own claims, most of which have turned out to be fraudulent.

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    Default Re: Could Japan have won if they lost?

    The Japanese "Bushido" cogitation was strong but the Japanese force was impossible to won the american japanese war.
    The united states has infinity supply and several soldier,advanced tanks,stronger navy.
    The japanese attack was suprised the americans.
    If we thinking about a war "Japan vs. United States" was a good joke,or total suicide no more.
    Last edited by imi; 10-01-2010 at 08:14 AM.

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    Default Re: Could Japan have won if they lost?

    I'm not understand Japan why attack the United States,it was total faliure from the beginning

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    Default Re: Could Japan have won if they lost?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    Wouldn't transferring ships from the Atlantic, in sufficient force to meet Japan effectively on the defensive let alone controlling the Pacific, have caused problems for the 'Germany First' policy and delayed that war?
    By the time of Iwo Jima, the fleet assembled offshore was equal in size to all of the navies of all of the countries of the rest of the world, and this didn't include any of the rest of the ships in the Pacific or the Atlantic or the Mediterranean.

    The Atlantic fleet for most of the war didn't make much use of cruisers and battleships - it was a war of corvettes, destroyers and sub-chasers for the most part until the invasion of North Africa, Sicily, Italy and later, Normandy.

    In terms of overall resources, the US effort in the Pacific never exceeded 10% of the total American effort during WW2. The Japanese might reflect on the fact that they were beaten badly by an enemy who invested such a small amount of its national treasure in the effort.

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    Default Re: Could Japan have won if they lost?

    Quote Originally Posted by imi View Post
    I'm not understand Japan why attack the United States,it was total faliure from the beginning
    Self delusion is the answer. They deluded themselves with their own propaganda saying they were superior (not unlike the Nazis.) And the ones at the top, at least some of them, believed it! They really thought an ‘indomitable spirit’ could defeat machineguns and bombs.

    And don’t think this is the first, or last, time in history that has happened. Those that don’t study history tend to repeat it, and there are plenty of those who don’t even know what happened 100 years ago, much less one thousand!

    Deaf
    “We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality” Ayn Rand

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