THE SEC'OND WORLD WAR

IN THE EAST
THE SECOND
WORLD WAR
IN THE EAST
H. P. Willmott
General Editor: John Keegan
,. ..
-
CASSELL
For FY. 1645.
First published in Great Britain 1999
by Cassell, Wellington House, 125 Strand, London
WC2R OBB www.cassell.co.uk
Text copyright © H. P. Willmott, 1999
The moral right of the author has been asserted
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The picture credits on p. 224 constitute an extension to
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British Library Cataloguing-in-publication Data
ISBN: 0-304-352-306
Cartography: Arcadia Editions
Design: Roger Daniels
Picture research: Elaine Willis
Typeset in Monotype Sabon
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
In the preparation of this book acknowledgement must be made in four groups: first, of
course, there is the debt to family: Pauline, Gaynor and Sean, and Stephen, and my sister
Vivien. I trust that they will think that the effort that went into the preparation of this
book was justified by the result, and for their support when I was seriously ill during its
preparation I am grateful in a way that I can never fully express. In addition, and as always
in my books, I would acknowledge my debts to Everton, Sherry and Kondor and trust
they are at peace, and to Jamie and Suki not least for their insistence during my illness
that I was fit enough to walk them every day.
Second, I would wish to thank those who, over many years whether in the form of
conferences, lectures, exchange of letters or general conversation, provided me with the
basis of knowledge and critical facility that made this work possible. To attempt to list
these people is impossible, but they have the satisfaction of knowing that without them
this book could never have been written and also that they are not responsible for the
various errors that may be within its pages.
Third, I would acknowledge my debt to those of Cassell without whose patience, tact
and ability this book would probably have gone the way of the Japanese merchant marine
in the course of this conflict: specifically one would cite one's debts to Hilary Bird, Judith
Flanders, Penny Gardiner, Alice Hunt, Caroline Knight, Judith Millidge and Elaine Willis
and trust that they will accept this acknowledgement, and not try to amend it.
Fourth, a special acknowledgement has to be made to those professional colleagues
and friends who provided me with support at a time of serious illness when this book was
being prepared. Those people whom I would acknowledge as those to whom lowe a special
debt of gratitude are Tim Bean, Matthew Bennett, David Brown, Patrick Burke, Tony
Clayton, Michael Coles, Martine and Nigel de Lee, Christopher Duffy, Geoffrey Gentsch,
Paddy Griffith, Paul Harris, Jane Kingdon, Andrea and Spenser Johnson, Jackie Lambourne,
John Andreas Olsen and Tine Larsen, Richard Penrose, Ro Roberts, Raymond Sibbald,
Jack and Gee Sweetman, Tomatsu Haruo, Manjinder Uppal, John Votaw, Sally and Steven
Weingartner and Ed Yorke. I would not wish to thank one more than another, and those
who helped me the most know who they are without my elaboration: to those especially,
but to all who so aided me, lowe a special debt which I will discharge in due course. Finally,
I would make reference to one person who, alas, is no longer with us. In the final stages of
preparation, in fact the day when I started to write this section, I received notice that David
Evans had joined the majority. Inevitably this meant that his name was moved from one list,
only to be noted separately, sadly, and for all the wrong reasons. Very simply, he was a
scholar of the first order, honourable and above all, a gentle man. Sailor, rest your oar.
H. P. WILLMOTT
Englefield Green, Egham, Surrey.
19 June 1999 (being the 55th anniversary of the Battle of the Philippine Sea).
Old Glory, Mount Suribachi, Iwo jima, February 1945.
CONTENTS
•• ••
I
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
MAP LIST
CHRONOLOGY
INTRODUCTION
PERSPECTIVES
THE ROAD TO WAR
5
9
10
17
The China war - Effects of First World War-
Japanese problems in China - The Great Depression,
impact on Japan - Manchurian campaign,
consequences for Japanese system - Ali gnment,
policies in Thirties - War in China, Japanese
difficulties - Situation 1939-40 - US policy,
consequences - Japanese decisions - Problems of
interpretation. 21
2 THE FIRST MILESTONE:
SUCCESS AND VICTORY
DECEMBER 1941 - APRIL 1942
Overview - Balance of forces - Japanese advantages-
Japanese first moves - Luzon - Hong Kong-
northern Malaya - Indies and Solomons -
Singapore - Rangoon and Burma - Japanese
victories examined - Allied response- Japanese
dilemma and strategic weaknesses - Decisive
Battle doctrine, flaws - Doolittle Raid - Midway
venture.
3 THE SECOND MILESTONE:
PROBLEMS
MAY 1942 - NOVEMBER 1943
Problems of interpretation - Solomons and New
Guinea - Huon Gulf, Coral Sea - Midway,
aftermath - New Guinea and Guadalcanal
campaigns - Japanese defeats, analyses - Overall
situation end 1942 - US strategic policy, problems-
China, Burma, India - US choices - New Guinea
and Solomons campaigns - Guerre de course
49
against Japanese shipping. 83
4
5
THE THIRD MILESTONE:
THE ROAD TO DEFEAT,
FAILURE AND COLLAPSE
NOVEMBER 1943 - OCTOBER 1944
Problem of interpretation - Rabaul neutralized - south-
west Pacific, central Pacific operations-
US policy problems - Japanese policy changes-
Marianas, Philippine Sea - Burma theatre,
Imphal-Kohima - Japanese victories in China-
US options, the guerre de course - Japanese
convoy system and collapse - Leyte Gulf,
US carrier operations.
THE LAST MILESTONE:
SUPREMACY AND VICTORY
NOVEMBER 1944 - AUGUST 1945
Aspects of Japan's defeat - The Indi es, Burma,
the Philippines - Iwo Jima and Okinawa-
Invasion of J apan, problems - US strategic
12
5
bombing offensive - Fi nal phase of guerre de course -
Operation Starvation: Japan's import si tuation-
Use of atomic weapons - Soviet offensive in
Manchuria - Japanese decision to surrender -
The last anal ogy. 171
ApPENDICES
BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS
FURTHER READING
INDEX
PICTURE CREDITS
210
214
218
220
KEY TO MAPS
Military units - types General mil itary symbols
~
infa ntry - XXXXX- army group boundary
~
armoured - xxxx- army boundary
@] motorized infantry
-
front line
El
airborne
V'I'
defensive line
~
parachut e
IiJ'\-
defensive line (3D maps)
[!]
artill ery
-.--..-..-
field work
0
pocket or position
Mili tary units - size
xxxxx
-r-- field gun
0
army group
xxxx ~
paratroop drop
0
army
xxx
.oL
sunken ship
0
corps
xx
ttl
airfield
0
division
x
0
brigade
Geographi cal symbols
'"
0
regiment
.-
urban area
"
0
battal ion
road
railway
Military uni t colours

river
Allied
D
seasonal river
Bri ti sh
canal
Japanese
border

French

~ bridge or pass
Russian
D
other territory
Mi litary movements
.......- attack
-r retreat
~ airattack
MAP LIST
I. THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN: 1920-41 22-3
2 . THE PACIFIC SITUATION: DECEMBER 1941 - JULY 1942
4 6-7

PEARL HARBOR, FIRST WAVE: 7 DECEMBER 1941
52-3

PEARL HARBOR, SECOND WAVE: 7 DECEMBER 1941
54-5
5 ·
INVASION OF MALAYA: 8 DECEMBER 1941 - 31 JANUARY 1942
5 8-9
6. JAPANESE INVASION OF BURMA: JANUARY-MAY 1942
69

ATTACK ON THE PHILIPPINES: 8 DECEMBER 1941 - MAY 1942
7
0
8. BATTLE OF THE JAVA SEA: 27 FEBRUARY 1942
9
0
9 ·
BATTLE OF THE CORAL SEA: 28 APRIL - II MAY 1942
9
0
10 . ATTACK ON THE CORAL SEA: 28 APRIL - II MAY 1942
90-91
II. ADMIRAL YAMAMOTO'S PLANS TO SEIZE MIDWAY: MAY-JUNE 1942
9 2-3
12. BATTLE OF MIDWAY 2: 4 JUNE 4 .00 A .M. - 10.30 A.M.
9
2
13·
BATTLE OF MIDWAY 3: 4 JUNE 10. 30 A .M. - 6 JUNE 12.00 A.M.
93
14·
GUADALCANAL: AUGUST 1942 - FEBRUARY 1943 102-3
15·
GENERAL SITUATION IN THE PACIFIC PRIOR TO
OPERATION CARTWHEEL: END 1942 - NOVEMBER 1943 II2-1 3
16. ALLIED OFFENSIVE IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC:
FEBRUARY 1943 - APRIL 1944 132-3
17·
AIR RAID OVER SAIPAN
144-5
18. FORMATION OF JAPANESE FLEET: 19 JUNE 1944
146
19·
BATTLE OF THE PHILIPPINE SEA: 19-21 JUNE 1944 146-7
20. FORMATION OF US TASK FORCE 58: 19 JUNE 1944
147
21. JAPANESE ADVANCE IN INDIA: MARCH-JUNE 1944
150
22. ALLIED RECAPTURE OF BURMA
lSI
23·
PACIFIC SITUATION TO OCTOBER 1944 156-7
24·
BATTLE OF THE PHILIPPINES: 20-27 OCTOBER 1944 162
25·
Iwo JIMA LANDINGS: FEBRUARY 1945 182-3
26. US INVASION OF OKINAWA: 26 MARCH - 30 JUNE 1945 192
27·
TOKYO FIRE RAID, 29 MAY 1945 196-7
28. JAPANESE MERCHANT SHIPPI NG LOSSES:
7 DECEMBER 1941 - 3 1 DECEMBER 1942 ,1943,1944 AND 1945 198-9
29·
DECLINE OF JAPANESE MERCHANT SHIPPING ROUTES 1944-5
199
30 .
JAPANESE SHIPPING LOSSES BY AREA OF OPERATION:
MARCH 1945 - AUGUST 1945 202-3
THE SECOND WO RLD WAR I N THE EAST
CHRONOLOGY
CHINA 1937-45
aircraft being suppli ed by 11/ 10 Aug Changkufeng incident:
USSR, raided by J bombers. cl ash between J and Soviet
1937 12 J sinking of USS Panay. forces in di sputed border
7 jul y Lukouchiao Incident. 13 J enter Nanking: deliberate areas between Korea,
11 Local truce agreed. Tokyo terror over sevetal weeks, Manchoutikuo and USSR.
agrees to send five divisions estimated 2- 300,000 dead. 16 J secure Shangcheng,
to Kwantung Army. 14 J. install ' provisional Hwa ngchwan 17th.
29/30 Massacre of j apanese (J) government' in Peking. autumn First systematic air attacks
population of Tungchow: J. 26 Kuomintang (KMT) reject on KMT communi cations
capture town 30th, massacre negotiations with j apan. with outside world:
population, raze town. targets include Hanoi
30 J secure Tientsin. 1938 railroad, Burma Road.
31- 8 Aug J secure Peking. 10 jan J. secure Tsingtao. Oct J secure Sinyang 10th,
7 Aug J policy of 'autonomy' for Jan J a rmy mini stry proposes Canton 12th/21st.
northern China. ' restrained policy for 25 J. secure Hangkow, Sungfow,
9 Abortive Imperial Japanese protracted wa r', Yingshan, Hanyang and
Navy (IJN) attempt to secure consolidation of recent gai ns Wuchang 26th, Yingchen
Hungchiao airfield at and large-scale operations in 30th. In effect end of
Shanghai. 1939--40 aimed at destruction campaign.
11 J secure Nankow, of KMT government. 3 Nov Tokyo announces 'New
subsequentl y secure 13 Feb J. forces operating from Order in East Asia '.
Chuyungkuan pass. Tauyua n and Anyang take 13 Unthreatened Changsa razed
13 Landing of J. divi sions at Pingyaohsien, Singsiang by KMT.
Shanghai. 17th, Changchih 20th, Lishih
14 Start of fighting at Shanghai: 24th, Linfen 26th. 1939
J. clear city mid September. 16 Imperial Conference, Feb J. secure Hainan.
14/ 16 First bombing raids by J. confirms policy of restraint; Mar Burma Road opens.
naval air groups from rejected by main army 18 J. forces cross Hsiu at
Formosa and Kyushu: commands in China and Tsaohsing and take
curtailed because lack of replacement of policy on 1 Nanchang 27th.
escorts lead to prohibitive Mar. J. forces secure 21 Apr/ KMT counter-attack at
losses. A5M Claude fighter Tsinyang 21st, Yuanku 27th. 8 May Nanchang defeated.
introduced into service in Mar J. forces secure Hotsin 4th, May First air raids on Chungking.
Sept; instant drop of losses. Anyi 6th, Pinglu 9th, line of J. and Soviet forces clash
26 J. secure Huailai. Yellow river and control of around Nomonhan: maj or
3 Sep J. secure Kalgan. Shansi . action Aug., conclusive J.
31 North China Area Army 5 J secure Tamgtpucheng: defeat mid Sep.
activated. move against Hsuchow 24th; 27 Sep Start of J offensive aga inst
13 Sep J secure Tatung, secure Tierhchuang taken 8th. Changsa.
Pingtichuan 23rd, Kueisui 14 14 Start of J offensive aga inst Nov KMT offensive: desultory,
Oct, Paotow 17th a nd gain Hsuchow aimed to effect a though Kaifeng briefly re-
control of Inner Mongolia. meeting of northern and taken.
25 J defeat in Pingtichuan pass central a rmi es. 15 J. forces from Canton secure
by communists. spring First deliberate terror- Chinhsein: amphibi ous
Oct First bombing of Nanking. bombing raid on Ca nton. assaults and subsequent
5 J secure Tehchow, May J take Amoy, Foochow and capture of Pakhoi and
Shihchiachuang 10th, Swatow by amphibious Hopu.
Anyang 31st. assault. J. secure Tsowhsien. 23 J. secure Nanning.
23 Procl a mation of Suiyan J secure Hefei 14th,
independence. Yungcheng 18th: meeting of 1940
29 Separatist government in armies advancing on 2 Feb J. secure Pinyang.
Mongolia proclaimed. Hsuchow, taken 20th. Ma r Wang Ching-wei regime
31 J. secure Yucheng. Jun J. secure Kaifeng 6th, insta ll ed in Nanking.
5 Nov J. landings in Hangchow Bay. Chengchow 10th. Ch. open sprIng Operation 101, bombing
Collapse of Chinese (Ch. ) Yellow river dikes to prevent ca mpai gn against Chung-
resistance at Shanghai: further J. advances. king, other cities and air
J. secure Sungkiang 8th, J. redeployment for offensive bases in interior intended to
Paihokang 11th. up Yangtse. destroy will to resist : massed
9 J. secure Taituan. Jul Prelimina ry moves in formations, as many as 120
29 J. secure Changchow. Yangtse offensive; main bombers in single attacks.
3 Dec J. secure Tanyang. effort open in Aug. with Little success and mounting
4 La nchou, staging post for [juan secured 28th. casualties until Aug. and
10
CHRONOLOGY
appearance of A6M Zero- deportations, massacre and 17 Apr Start of Ichi-go offensive
sen. Operation 101 involves deliberate starvation. with J. advance into Honan:
182 raids and 3,715 sorties. Communists neutralized as a Peking-Chengchow-Hankow
8 May J. secure Tsaoyang. threat, wit h no major line secured by 9 May,
9/ 12 Jun J. secure Yichang. guerri lla activity in northern Loyang secured 26th. First
25 Jun J. demand for right ro land China for remainder of war. phase Ichi-go ends c. 2 Jun
forces in northern French 21 Jul IJN pronounce in favour of with J. having overrun
Indo-China conceded. war with United States. Honan at a cost of 869 dead.
18 Jul Br. closure of Burma Road 25 J. proclaim Indo-China as 27 May Second phase !chi-go
on J. demand. joint French and J. offensive. J. cross Yangtse
1 Aug First demand by IJ N within protectorate: US freeze all J. below !chang: secure Liuyang
J. high command to occupy assets in response 26th. 14 Jun., Changsa 16th/ 18th.
French Indo-China. 17 Sep Start of J. offensive against 5 Jun First combat mission by
20/10 Sep Communists' Hundred Changsa, and advance to B-29s from bases in Indi a
Regiments Campaign in positions between Laotao against Bangkok.
Hopei and Shansi. and Liuyang rivers: KMT 15 First strike against J. home
22 Sep J. occupy northern French counter-attack 27th and J. islands by China-based
Indo-China. bea ten back. B-29s.
26 US steel embargo on Japan. Oct J. secure Chengchow. 26 J. advance from Liuyang area
27 J. accede to Tripartite Pact. Dec/Jan 42 Third J. attempt to secure and capture of Hengyang
Oct/Dec J. counter-offensive Changsa defeated. airfield.
throughout Hopei and 7Dec Opening of hostiliti es in 28 First J. assault on Hengyang,
Shansi, reversing whatever Pacific and south-east Asia; subsequent siege: falls 8 Aug.
success communist offensive after Jan 1942 KMT forces 29 Preparatory operations for
commanded. committed to Burma. third phase !chi-go with
30 J. abandon Nanning. movement of forces from
Nov First 'rice ra ids' conducted in 1942 Hengyang toward Kweilin
Hupei province, followed by 7 Jun J. secure Chuhsien 10th; J. and Liuchow airfields and
raids in southern Honan effort in Cheki ang, staged forces moving north from
new year, in north-west partly as retaliation for Canton.
Kiangsi and Hupei Mar. Doolittle Raid, continues 8 Sep J. secured Lingling.
1941. Regular feature of J. end Jul. 27 Oct Third phase !chi-go.
effort 1940--44 intended to 15 Jul Ferry command between 10 Nov J. secure Liuchow and
devastate areas and inflict Indi a and China activated. Kweilin.
mass starvation across areas 24 J. secure Nanning.
that J. could not control. 1943 10 Dec Juncture of J. forces from
17 J. abandon Chinhsein. 11 Mar 14th US Air Force activated. Nanning and Tonking:
30 Axis recognit ion of Wang 16 First offensive operation by uninterrupted
regime, coll apse of last real US fighters within China communication between
J. attempt to gain negotiated theatre, first bomber Johore and Korea.
settlement with KMT. operation 19th: target both
occasions installations and 1945
1941 shi pping on Red river. 29 Jan J. secure Suichuan.
4 Jan New Fourth Army incident MaylJun J. raid into western Hupei. 4 Feb Arrival at Kunming of
at Maolin: KMT forces Withdrawal at end portrayed overland convoy via Bhamo.
attack communists, in effect as major victory, used by May Thinning and withdrawal
resumption of civil war. KMT and air power lobbies of J. forces in southern
Mar First Lend-Lease in Washington to support China to meet anticipated
arrangements between US their respective causes. Soviet offensive in
and China. 21 Aug Major air battles over Manchoutikuo.
spring- Operation 102, attempt to Hangkow, Hengyang and 8/9 Aug Soviet declaration of war on
summer repeat 1940's bombing Changsa. Japan and invasion of
effort: less successful mainly 25 Nov First US air raid on Formosa; Manchoutikuo, Inner
because naval ai rcraft being J. consideration of general Mongolia and Korea.
withdrawn after spring in offensive in central and 11112 Soviet forces through
readiness for operations in southern China in 1944. Greater Khingan Mountains.
Pacific and south-east Asia. 15 Unconditional surrender of
May J. clear northern Honan, 1944 Japan announced.
occupy Chengchow. 17 Jan J. authorization of a genera l 16 Kwantung Army decision to
summer Kill All, Burn All , Destroy offensive in China to secure ignore national surrender.
All campaign by J. army in Peking- Hankow, 17 Imperial intervention to
northern areas controlled by Canton-Hankow and ensure Kwantung Army's
communists. In this and later Hunan-Kwangsi rail lines surrender.
operations communist base and Hengyang, Kweiling, 18 Soviets secure Chengteh and
areas reduced from 44 to 25 Lingling and Liuchow Kalgan; occupy Shumshu in
million by mass airfields. Kuriles 18/23rd.
II
THE SECOND WORLD WA R IN THE EAST
19 Formal surrender of 22 J. landings in La mon Bay 1945
Kwantung Army at and Lingayen Gulf. 2 May Australian landings at
Khabarovsk. Tarakan: secure 24 Jun.
20 Soviets secure Mukden and 1942 10 Jun Australian landings in
Changchung. ?/25: Soviets 1 Jan US withdrawal into Bataan Brunei Bay: landing
invade southern Sakhalin. complete. at Labuan 20th, secure Miri.
22 Soviet secure Port Arthur. 2 J. secure Manila. 1 Jul Australian landings at
1 Sep Soviet occupation of 10/22 Main defence line on Bataan Balikpapan:three minor
Kumashir and Shikotan. broken: US withdrawal to landings staged between 3rd
Bagac-Orion line complete and 9th.
HONG KONG: I94I 26th. 4 + 13 Aug US fighter sweeps over
23/6 Feb J. offensive on Bagac- Orion Singapore from bases in
1941 line defeated. Indi es.
8 Dec J. assault ; New Territori es 3 Apr Renewed J. offensive on
and Kowloon taken by 10th. Bagac- Orion line. CENTRAL PACIFIC: I94I-5
18 J. landings on Victoria Is. 9 US surrender on Bataan.
25 Briti sh surrender. 10 J. landings on Bohol and 1941
Cebu. 7 Jan Memorandum advocating a
MALAYA AND SINGAPORE: 16 J. landings on Negros; surprise attack on Pearl
I94I- 2 surrender 3 Jun. Harbor by Yamamoto.
16/18 J. landings on Panay; 7Dec J. attack on US Pacific Fleet
1941 surrender 20 May. at Pea rl Harbor.
8 Dec J. overland invasion of Siam 29 J. landings in south-west and 9/ 11 J. secure Guam.
and landings in southern northern Mindanao. 10 J. secure Makin.
Si am and northern Malaya. 5/6 May J. attack on and US 11 J. assault on Wake defeated.
9/ 11 British abandon Kot a Bahru surrender of Corregidor. 23 J. secure Wake.
and Machang. 26 J. landings at Tacloban.
10 Two Br. capital ships sunk in Surrender of Leyte. 1942
South China Sea. 9 Jun Surrender of Samar. 1 Feb US carrier raid on Marshalls
11/ 12 Br. positions coll apse at J itra. and Gilberts.
19 Br. abandon Penang and THE INDIES: I94I-5 24 US carrier raid on Wake.
northern Malaya; airfields 4Mar US carrier raid on Marcus.
brought into J. service 20th. 1941 18 Apr Doolittle Raid.
22 J. cross Perak into central 15 Dec J. secure Miri. 4/7 Jun Battle of Midway.
Malaya, secure Ipoh 28th. 24 J. secure Jolo, Kuching on 23 Aug J. secure Nauru.
25th. 26 J. secure Ocean Island.
1942
112 Jan J. capture Telok Anson. 1942 1943
7 Br. defeated on Slim river. 1 J an J. secure Labuan, Jesselton 31 Aug US carrier raid on Manus.
11 J. landings at Porr 8th, Tarakan 10/ 12th. 17/ 19 Sep Raids on Gilberts by US
Swettenham, secure Kuala 11 J. secure Manado, Kendari land-based aircraft and
Lumpur. and Sandakan 17th. carrier force.
16 J. victory on Sungei Maur, 23 J. landing at Balikpapan, 5/6 Oct US carrier raid on Wake.
occupation of Baru Pahat. naval action 24th. 21 Nov US landings in Gilberts:
21 J. landing at Endau, collapse 24 J. landings at Kendari. Makin secured 23rd, Tarawa
of Br. position in southern 29 J. capture of Ponti anak. 28th.
Malaya. 31/3 Feb J. secure Amboina. 4Dec US carrier raid on Kwajal ein.
22 Coll apse of Br. forces 8 Feb J. landings at Macassar.
around Bakr i a nd Bukit 10 J. capture of Bandjermasin. 1944
Pelandok. 14/17 J. secure Palembang. Jan Withdrawal of last nava l
27/28 Br. debacle at Layang, 18/ 19 Lombok Strait action. units from Rabaul to Truk.
evacuation of Johore 31st. 19 J. ca rrier raid on Darwin. 31 US landings on Kwajalein;
8 Feb J. assault across Johore Strait 19 J. landings on Bali. atoll secured 8 Feb.
against Singapore. 20 J. landings on Timor. 17/ 18 Feb US ca rri er raid on Truk.
15 Br. surrender of Singapore. 27/28 Battle of Java Sea. 17121 US secure Eniwetok.
28/ 1 Mar J. landings on Java . Sunda 30 Marl US carrier raids against
THE PHILIPPINES: I94I-2 Strait action. 1 Apr Palaus and Woleai.
5 Mar J. secure Batavia. 30 Apr/ US carrier raid
1941 9 Allied surrender in Dutch 1 May on Truk.
8 Dec J. attack air bases, secure East Ind ies. 19/23 May US carrier raids on Marcus
islands north of Luzon. 12 J. secure Medan. and Wake.
10 J. landings in northern 7 Apr J. secure Ternate. 11/ 14 Jun Massed US carrier attacks
Luzon. on Marianas.
12 J. secure Legaspi. 1944 15 US landings on Saipan.
19/20 J. landings at Davao, 15 Sep US landings on Morotai. 15/ 17 US carrier raids on Bonins.
Mindanao. 15 Nov US landings on Pegun Is. 19/20 Battle of Philippine Sea.
1 2
CHRONOLOGY
24 US carrier raid on Bonins. 26 Iwo Jima declared secure: Apr J. move in western New
13 Jul Saipan declared secure. last resistance ended in Guinea and along northern
21 US landings on Guam, 18-20 June: US secure Panay. coast; Fak Fak 1st; Babo 2nd;
secured 8 Aug. 26 US landings on Cebu: Sorong 4th.
24 US landings on Tinian, city secured 16 Apr. 7 J. secure Lorengau, Manus.
secured 1 Aug. 29 US landings on Negros: Continuation of J. coastal
25/27 US carrier raid on Palaus. secured 31 May. moves in New Guinea:
31 Aug! US carrier raid on 1 Apr US landings on Okinawa. secure Manokwari 12th,
2 Sep Bonins. 6/7 First kikusu (massed Moemi 15th, Seroei 17th,
6/8 Sep US carr ier raid on Palaus. kamikaze attack) and naval Nabire 18th, Sarmi and
9/ 14 US carrier raids on southern, action off Okinawa. Hollandia 19th.
central Philippines. 9 US landings on Jolo. 28 J. secure Short lands.
15 US landings on Morotai. US 12 US landings on Bohol. 3 May J. secure Tulagi.
landings on Peleliu, secured 13 US forces secure northern 4 US carrier attack on Tulagi.
12 Oct: last resistance Dec. Okinawa. 7/8 Batrle of Coral Sea.
17 US landings on Angaur, 16/21 US occupation of Ie Shima 22Jul J. capture Buna and Gona.
Palau Islands, island secured off Okinawa. 27 J. capture Kakoda.
by 23 Oct. 17 First US carrier raid on 7 Aug US landings on Guadalcanal
22/24 US secure Ulithi. Kyushu and Shikoku and Tulagi.
10/11 Oct US carrier raids on Formosa, airfields. 9 Battle of Savo Island.
Ryukyus and northern 18 US landings in western 22/25 Battle of Eastern Solomons.
Philippines, on Formosa Mindanao. 25/7 Sep J. landings in Milne Bay,
12/ 14th. 20 Morobu peninsula cleared, subsequent evacuation.
16 US landings on Ngula. central Okinawa secured. 12/14 Sep Defeat of J. assault on
16/ 19 US carrier raids on central, 24 J. abandon Machinaro Line Bloody Ridge on
southern Philippines. on Okinawa: US repulsed on Guadalcanal.
20 US landings on Leyte. Shuri Line 28th. 16 J. capture of Ioribaiwa.
21/24 US carrier operations over 27 US occupy Baguio, Luzon. 24 Start of J. wi thdrawal on
northern, central 3 May Davao, southern Mindanao, Kakoda Trail.
Philippines. declared secure. 5 Oct Allied transport of forces to
24/25 Action in Surigao Strait. 3/4 US landings on Santa Cruz. Wanighela, and to Pongani
25 Action in Leyte Gulf, off 4/5 May J. offensive from Shuri Line on 18th.
Samar and east of Cape defeated. 9 Allied capture of Arapara,
Egano. 10 US landings in Macajalar Laruni 15th, Jaure 20th.
26 US fo ll ow-up strikes over Bay. 11/ 12 Batrle of Cape Esperance.
central, southern 11 US take Cagayan as part of 23/25 Defeat of J. assault on
Philippines. general offensive in northern Henderson Field on
29/2 Nov US carrier force withdraws Luzon, crumbling of J. Guadalcanal.
to Ulithi; 5 Nov. recommits defence: Bolete Pass taken 26/27 Battle off Santa Cruz.
to Philippines campaign and 13th, Santa Fe 27th. 12/ 13 Nov First naval battle of
withdraws 23/27th. 7 June Aparri taken; Bayombong Guadalcanal.
27/6 Dec Major J. counter-attack on 21st; Kaigan taken 12 Jul. 14/ 15 Second naval battle of
Leyte. 11 Start of US offensive against Guadalcanal.
24 First B-29 raid on home Shuri Line: J. abandon Line 30/ 1 Dec Battle of Tassafaronga.
islands from Marianas. 21st. 9 Dec Australian capture of Gona.
7Dec US landings near Ormoc. 12 Start of final US offensive on 31 J. decision to abandon
14/16 US carrier strikes on Okinawa. Guadalcanal.
northern Philippines. 17 Coll apse of J. resistance in
15 US landings on Mindoro. southern Okinawa: last 1943
actions 4 Aug. 2Jan US capture of Buna.
1945 20 Jul US landings on Balut. 10 Start of US offensive on
2/3 Jan US carrier strikes on Guadalcanal.
Ryukyus, Formosa and NEW GUINEA AND THE 11 J. offensive from Mobu area
northern Philippines; strikes SOUTH-WEST PACIFIC: 1942-5 against Wau.
continue 6/9 Jan before 2112 Feb Defeat of J. offensive at Wau.
sortie into South China Sea. 1942 1/7 Feb J. evacuation of
9 US landing in Lingayen Gulf. 23 Jan J. secure Rabaul and Guadalcanal.
21122 Last US carrier strikes Kavieng. 21 US secure Russells.
against Formosa and 8/9 Mar J. occupation of Lae and 2/4 Mar Bismarck Sea action.
Ryukyus. Salamaua, Finchhafen 10th. 6 Action off Kula Gulf.
9 Feb US forces enter Manila. 10 US carrier attack on Lae and 7/ 18 Apr J. air offensive over
15-21 US clearing of Corrigedor. Salamaua. Solomons and eastern New
19 US landings on Iwo Jima. 30 J. secure Buka and Kessa in Guinea.
28 US landings on Palawan. northern Solomons. 5 Jun Major air batrle over Russells.
3 Mar Manila declared secure. 31 J. secure Shorrland and 16 Annihilation of J. air attack
10 US landings at Zamboanga. Boela. on Guadalcana l.
13
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
21 US landings on New 17/ 18 May US landings at Arare and 23 First air raids on Rangoon.
Georgia: on Wood lark Island Wakde. Wakde secured 22nd.
23/24; on Kiriwan 28/29; and 17/26 US raids on Marshalls. 1942
on Rendova, near Salamaua, 27 US landings on Biak: island Jan Ch. forces move into eastern
on Woodlark and Trobriand secured 20 Aug. Burma.
Is. and Nassau Bay 30th. 10/ 11 Jun J. attempt ro relieve Biak 19 J. forces capture Tavoy.
2Jul US landings on New Georgia. abandoned as result of US 22 Br. decision to transfer
4/5 US and J. landings in Kula operations in Marianas. logistics from Rangoon to
Gulf. 2Jul US landings at Noemfoor. Mandalay.
6 Battle of Kula Gulf. 5 Defeat of only major J. 24 J. secureMergui.
13 Battle of Kolombangara. counter-attack at Noemfoor. 30/31 J. capture Moulmein.
5 Aug US capture Munda airfield, 10/17 Aug Series of actions around 16/20 Feb Br. worsted in battle on
New Georgia. Aitape, J. defeat. Bilin.
6/7 Battle of Vella Gulf. 28 July End of organized J. 18/23 Battle of Sittang and
15 US landings on Vella Lavella. resistance on Biak. destruction of Br. force in
27 US landings on Arundel 30 US landings on Vogelkop front of Rangoon. 15th
Island. peninsula and on Army decision to capture
3/4 Sep Australian landings at Lae. Amsterdam and Middleburg: Rangoon and not move
6 US airborne landings at landing near Sansapur 31st. directly into central Burma.
Nadzab. 4Aug End of last major J. effort 7/8 Mar Br. forces escape
12 US secure Salamaua. against Allied positions at encirclement and J. capture
16 Allies secure Lae. Aitape; area secured 1 Sep, of Rangoon.
20 J. evacuation of Vella Lavella US handover to Australians 19/30 J. desroy Ch. forces around
and Arundel. 27 Nov. Kyungon and Toungoo.
22 Australian landings at 15 Sep US landings on Morotai. 21/27 J. air strikes on Akyab and
Finchhaven repulse J. 15 Nov US landings on Pegun. Magwe.
counter-attack 26th, capture 23 J. secure Andamans.
of Finchhaven 2 Oct. Series 1945 1/2 Apr Br. outfought around Prome
of attacks on Finchhaven 29 Apr US landings on Los Negros. and Hmawza; subsequent
until 25 Oct when J. admit 11 May Initial Austra lian landing at defeat on Minha-Loikaw
defeat and evacuate area. Wewak, New Guinea: main line.
23/2 Oct J. evacuation of landings on 14th: end of 5/9 J. carrier offensive in Bay of
Kolombangara. organized resistance 23rd. Bengal.
6 Oct US landings on 10/ 19 J. capture Yenangyaung.
Kolombangara. NORTH PACIFIC: 1942-3 18/23 Battle of Loikaw.
6 Battle of Vella Lavella. 29 J. capture Kehsi Mansam
12 Start US land-based air 1942 and Lashio in eastern
campaign aimed at 7 Jun J. secure Attu and Kiska. Burma.
neutralizing and isolating 27/16 Sep J. abandon Attu and 30 J. reach Chindwin at
Rabaul. reinforce Kiska. Monywa.
27 Allied landings in Treasury 26 Oct First sinking of J. ship by a 31 J. capture Mandalay.
Islands. submarine operating from 8 May J. secure Bhamo and
1/2 Nov US carrier raids over Upper Dutch Harbor. Myitkyina.
Solomons; US landings on 29 J. reoccupy Attu. 10/14 J. capture of Kalewa: in
Bougainville and battle of effect ends 1942 campaign.
Empress Augusta Bay. 1943 Dec Br. offensive in Arakan:
5 and 11 US carrier raids on Rabaul. 16 Feb Last J. raid on Amchitka. halts short of Akyab in Jan
12 J. withdrawal of fleet units 27 Mar Battle of Kommandorskii 1943.
from Rabaul. Islands.
26 Battle of Cape St George. 11 May US landings on Atru, island 1943
26 Dec US landings on Cape secured 31st. 18 Feb Start of first Chindit
Gloucester. 8 Jun J. decision to abandon Kiska. operation; temporary
10 Jul First US raid on Kuriles by interruption of
1944 medium bombers staging communications between
2 Jan US landings at Saidor. through Attu from Adak; Mandalay and Myitkyina.
15/20 Feb NZ secured Green Islands. last such raid 13 Aug. 1945. 13/17 Mar J. successful counter-
29 US landings at Los Negros. 28 J. complete evacuation of offensive at Akyab.
6/29 Mar J. attacks on Bougainville air Kiska in Aleutians. 18 Chindit withdrawal to India
base defeated. 15 Aug Allied landings on Kiska. under intense pressure.
15/25 US secured Manus. 23 Oct Start of Ch. offensive in
20 US occupied Emirau. BURMA AND THE INDIAN Hukawng valley; advances
25 Australian forces secured OCEAN: 1941-5 halted by Nov- Dec counter-
Madang. attack.
22 Apr US landings at Aitape and 1941 30 Nov Start of Br. offensive in
Hollandia. Hollandia 16 Dec J. forces cross into Burma, Arakan; halts in front of
secured 27th, Aitape 4 May. secure Victoria Point airfield. Maungdaw.
14
CHRONOLOGY
1944 Irrawaddy at Thabeikkyin 25/26 Tokyo raided.
Jan/Feb Successful defensive battle and Kyaukmyaung 29/30 Yokohama raided.
staged by J. in Hukawng established. 17/ 18 May Nagoya raided.
valley and frustration of Ch. 18 /22 Feb Br. secure Ramree. 1/2 Jun Osaka raided.
advance. 22/ 17 Feb Br. secure Kangaw. 5/6 Kobe raided.
10 Br. secure Maungdaw. 13/21 Feb Br. bridgehead over 7/ 8 Osaka raided.
4 Feb Start of J. offensive into Irrawaddy at Nyaungu 15/ 16 Osaka raided.
north-east India with established. 17/ 18 Kagoshima, Omuta,
diversionary attack in 14 Br. bridgehead over Hamamatsu and Yokaichi
Arakan. Irrawaddy at Ngazun raided.
12 Encirclement of Br. establi shed. 19/20 Fukuoka, Shizuoka and
formations around 20/21 Mar Battle for Mandalay. Toyohashi raided.
Maungdaw: Br. counter- 21 Battle for Meiktila: 28/29 Sasebo, Okayama, Moji and
attacks break J. forces taken by Br. on 4 Mar. Nobeoka raided.
13th/24th. 2 Mar Last US bombing raid on 112 Jul Kure, Kukamoto,
3/7 Mar Defeat of J. around Singapore. Shimonoseki and Ube
Maingkwan in Hukawng 7 Ch. capture of Lashio, raided.
vall ey: Sino-US aim to clear Hsipaw on 15th. 3/4 Tokushima, Takamatsu,
Hukawng valley with 26 J. acceptance of defeat Kochi and Himeji raided.
offensive into Mogaung and at Meiktila; 6/7 Kofu, Chiba, Akashi,
Irrawaddy vall eys. withdrawal 28th. Shimizu raided.
4/6 Start of J. offensive into 4/5 Apr Last Br. operations in 9/10 Sendai, Wakayama, Sakai
north-east Indi a with Arakan. and Gifu raided.
crossing of Chindwin, not 15 J. decision to abandon 11/ 12 First B-29 operation against
detected until 12th. Arakan; completed by 30th. Korean ports.
5 Start of second Chindit 23 J. begin their evacuation of 12/13 Utsunomiya, lchinomiya,
operation. Rangoon: completed Tsuruga and Uwajima
21 Br. defeat at Sheldon's 29th/30th. raided.
Corner and Ukhrul. 2May Br. landings at Rangoon, 16/ 17 Oita, Namazu, Kuwana and
28/8 Apr Sino- US forces checked secured 3rd. Hiratsuka raided.
around Nhpum Ga, but J. 6 Juncture west of Hlegu 19/20 Fukui, Okazaki, Hitachi and
forces in area spent. of Br. forces from Choshi raided.
2/3 Apr Start of siege of Imphal. central Burma and Rangoon. 24/25 Tsu and Kawana raided.
4 J. forces reach Kohima. 15/ 16 Off Penang, only surface 26127 Omuta, Matsuyama and
18/20 Br. relief of Kohima. action involving fleet units Tokuyama raided.
17 May Sino- US forces take fought in Indian Ocean 28/29 Aomori, lchinomiya, Tsu,
Myitkyina airfield: siege of during war. Ogaki, Uji-Yamada and
town after 18th. Uwajima raided.
5 Jun Start of J. withdrawal from THE JAPANESE HOME ISLANDS 1/2 Aug Toyama, Nagaoka, Mito
Kohima. First combat AND STRATEGIC BOMBING and Hachioji raided.
mission flown by B-29s from RAIDS:
1944-5
5/6 Nishinomiya, Maebashi,
bases in India against Imabari and Saga raided.
Bangkok. 1944 6 Attack on Hiroshima using
16 Ch. forces take Kamaing. 15 Jun First B-29 raid on home atomic weapon.
19/20 Ch. forces on Salween secure islands from China. 8/9 Yawata and Fukuyama
Ku-feng and Chiang-chu. 24 Nov First B-29 raid from raided.
22 Br. relief of Imphal. Marianas. 9 Attack on Nagasaki using
26 Br.-Ch. forces take 16/ 17 Feb 45 Tokyo attacked by US carrier atomic weapon.
Mogaung. Ch. forces task force. 14/ 15 Kumagaya and Isezaki
encircle Teng-chung, 8 Jul. raided.
16 Jul J. counter-offensive on 1945 15 Announcement of
Salween; Lun-ling taken 10/ 11 Mar Tokyo raided. unconditional surrender of
25th. 11112 Nagoya raided. Japan.
3 Aug Allied forces take Myitkyina. 13/ 14 Osaka raided. 2 Sep Formal surrender of Japan
28 Br. forces take Pinbaw. 16/17 Kobe raided. to representatives of United
14 Sep Ch. forces take Teng-chung. 18/ 19 Nagoya raided. Nations in US battleship
15 Oct Start of Ch. offensive against 27/28 Start of Operation anchored in Tokyo Bay.
Bhamo. Starvation.
14 Nov/ Ch. siege and capture of 13/ 14 Apr Tokyo raided.
15 Dec Bhamo. 14/15 Nagoya raided.
12 Dec Start of Br. offensive in 15/16 Tokyo, Yokohama and
Arakan. Kawasaki raided.
19/20 Hamamatsu raided.
1945 23/24 Tokyo raided: largest single-
2Jan Br. secure Akyab. target attack by B-29s during
11114 Br. bridgeheads over campaIgn.
15
INTRODUCTION
- - - - - - - . ~ : ~ : ~ ~ ~ . ~ . ~ : = = ~ ; ~ I - . ~ - - - - -
PERSPECTIVES
OUTSIDE THE HOME ISLANDS and as a result of the
US strategic bombing campaign, the Japanese war is
not noted for urban devastation. But many Chinese
cities as well as such places as Manila were devastated
in the course of the Second World War: here, how
victory appeared to a US marine at Naha, chief city of
Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands, April 1945.
THE SECO ND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
PERSPECTIVES
I8
F
ROM A WESTERN perspective the story of the Japanese war is told in terms of a
journey marked by signposts which, over decades of repetition, have become
all but very familiar friends. Coral Sea and Midway, Kakoda, Guadalcanal and
Tarawa, the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot, Leyte Gulf and Luzon, Iwo Jima and
Mount Suribachi, Okinawa and Sugar Loaf, and finally the razing of the cities of
the home islands mark a well-trodden route, irrespective of whether the tale that '
is told is related in terms of nations, services or individuals. This is right because
the ultimate determinant in war is armed force even though force is but one
element of power and power is but one element in the process by which states
arrange their affairs.
But in terms of perspective we are further in time from the outbreak of the
Second World War than people in 1939 were from Grant's presidency and the
death of Gordon at Khartoum. It behoves one to pause and consider, when
contemplating yet another screed upon the subject of Japan and the Second
World War, time's passing and the demand that should be placed upon the
historian: to provide explanation, not mere description, of events. There have
been histories of the Second World War that have moved beyond description, but
one would suggest that there have been too many by authors who laboured under
the illusion that they explained the events they described. As the decades have
slipped by there has been a movement towards perspective, but there have also
been two other factors at work. The first has been the detail that has become
available, mainly from official records, that allowed a somewhat unfortunate
development. There have been exhaustive, sometimes exhausting, studies of
individual episodes or aspects of this conflict that have not aided reflection and
perspective. An obvious example, drawn from the European war, is signals
intelligence. One is tempted to conclude that Stephen Roskill, whose official
histories were written when such matters as ULTRA remained highly secret, none
the less managed to write a better balanced account of the Battle of the Atlantic
than some historians who seemed incapable of writing about it except in terms
of ULTRA.
The second is perhaps more serious and unfortunate. The power of image is
not to be underestimated, and the Second World War was the first cinema war.
Television has recognized this to an extent that some might suggest was
unhealthy: cable and satell ite channels repeat Second World War documentaries
ad nauseam. Whether British or American, the Second World War has an image
and appeal that cannot be denied. It was an age of heroic certainty, the triumph
of good over wicked depravity. In Britain's case there is perhaps another
dimension: if 1940 was indeed Britain's finest hour then what has followed is an
anti-climax, hence the appeal of the Second World War. This works against the
process of re-evaluation - the lifeblood of History. The process of critical
examination, detailed scrutiny of events, in pursuit of that most elusive of
substances, incontrovertible historical truth, cannot rest alongside a popular
portrayal of known truths, long-settled and which permit no questioning.
The Second World War in the East is part of a series and at the same time
complete in its own right. It attempts to set out the record of this conflict, but
seeks to avoid mere description in an attempt to provide explanation of events.
Inevitably, no single book could ever provide more than partial explanation, but
in the case of the japanese war the writer is confronted by a more profound
historiographical problem: there are few things more difficult to explain than an
inevitable defeat. It is relatively easy to deal with Germany's defeat in the Second
World War precisely because at certain times her victory seemed assured: in the
case of japan, however, there was never any chance of her avoiding defeat in the
war she initiated in 1941. Herein lies another problem that confronts the would-
be explanation: the process by which japan initiated a war with the only power
that could defeat her. States as mismatched as were japan and the United States
seldom fight one another: even more seldom do they fight wars initiated by the
weaker. Herein lies a problem of interpretation to vex perception: the process
whereby japan, from a position of local superiority and safeguarded by
provisions of naval limitation upon potential enemies, ranged against herself an
alliance that included the world's most populous state, greatest empire, most
powerful single state and greatest military power. By any standard, the conjuring
of such a coalition against herself was a remarkable achievement, however
unintended: how to explain it is quite another matter.
Two more aspects of this conflict demand address. First, the Pacific war was
very unusual in that the nature of naval power and warfare changed. Uniquely,
the Pacific war was the only occasion in history when ownership of the trident
changed hands without war between possessor and successor, and it was a war in
which the relationship between supremacy and victory changed. Before late 1943
in the Pacific supremacy was the product of victories: thereafter victories were the
product of supremacy. Between May 1942 and November 1943 the US Navy
fought for and won the initiative with a pre-war fleet: thereafter its victories were
the product of a supremacy based upon a fleet that was a wartime creation.
Second, that latter was part of an awesome achievement. In the course of the
Second World War the United States, which raised a hundred divisions, supplied
its allies with equipment, food and raw materials the cash value of which would
have been enough to have raised 2,000 infantry divisions. In one month her slips
whispered adieu to 140 merchant hulls and one yard launched its fiftieth escort
carrier one year and one day after launching its first. It was industrial power in
depth that was the basis of America's victory, yet, in the space allowed in this
work, this is a story to which only passing reference may be made. Herein are
matters that form the framework of this book and which provide explanation at
its end, but it is its start, and the origins of this war, that presently invite the
attention of the reader.
PERSPECTIVES
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CHAPTER ONE
- - - - - - ~ . ~ : ~ : ~ ~ •• ~ •• ~ : = = ~ I ~ I ~ . - - - - - -
THE ROAD TO WAR
CONTEMPORARY REPRESENTATION of the Japanese
occupation of Seoul on 11 February 1904 in the course of the
Russo-Japanese war. Previously occupied during the Chinese
war of 1894-5 and a battlefield for part of the later war,
Korea was annexed by Japan in 1910. Throughout the period
when Korea was part of the Empire, Japanese policy was
ruthlessly exploitive and repressive.
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
THE ROAD TO WAR
EASTERN ASIA AND THE
WESTERN PACIFIC
By summer 1941 the
Japanese position in the Far
East by virtue of her
conquests in Manchuria and
China and holdings in the
central Pacific gave the
impression of strength in
depth. The reality of Japan's
position was somewhat
different. Her population of
72.75 million provided a
work force of 34.1 million:
the comparative figures for
the US were 141.94 and
52.8 million. Comparative
production figures were
steel production (1937) 5.8
to 28.8 million tons: coal
production (1938) 53.7 to
354.5 million tons:
electricity production, 35
to 116.6 million mrd Kwh.
In terms of the percentage
share of world
manufacturing output
Japan's 3.5 compared to the
32.2 of the United States.
22
W
ARS USUALLY lend themselves readily to historical shorthand. Even if the
parties to a war differ in terms of when they entered or left the lists, wars
generally have easily identifiable dates and hence duration, and normally, with
the advantage of hindsight and a sense of inevitability, the road to war is well
marked and can be discerned without undue difficulty. The Second World War
in Europe provides obvious examples on all counts. It is given dates of
September 1939 and May 1945, and the immediate origins lie in the period
1933-9 and are synonymous with the person and policies of Adolf Hitler. If
longer term causes are sought, historical examination invariably does not reach
beyond the Versailles Treaty of 28 June 1919.
Such historical shorthand can be simplistic, but in any event does not
preclude genuine historical argument on any number of aspects of the war
under examination. Civil wars, however, need not necessarily lend themselves
to such summary: invariably, by their very nature their causes are
complicated, while their origins, very often, are veiled and sometimes
deliberately shrouded in heroic myths that obscure rather than
enlighten. And there are some wars which defy these general rules
of presentation.
The Second World War in the Far East is such a war. To
westerners the dates of this conflict are simple enough. It
began on 7/8 December 1941 with the Japanese attack on
Pearl Harbor and landings in southern Siam and
northern Malaya, and it ended either on 15 August
1945, when Japan announced her willingness to accept
the terms of the Potsdam Declaration that demanded
her unconditional surrender, or on 2 September 1945,
when the instrument of surrender was signed in the

Mal
The expansion of Japan 1920-41 Colombo. C.
-
J apanese empire 1920
-
territory added by 1931
Colonial possessions 1941
D
territory added by 1933
D
British
D
territory added by 1937 Uni ted States
INDIAN OCEAlI
D
territory added by 1941
-
Dutch
-
Chinese Nationalist
-
French
control 1937
Warl ord control 1937 Portuguese
THE ROAD TO WAR
US battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay. But such chronological exactitude ignores
the obvious: the Second World War in the Far East was not one war but two, and
the war that is identifiable in terms of the 1941-5 time frame - a war fought
primarily in the Pacific and south-east Asia and between Japan and western
powers - may have been the most important single part of this conflict, but it
was not the first part of this waro
What Japan had dubbed a 'special undeclared war' had been in existence
since July 1937 in the form of 'the China Incident' ° The major fighting in this
conflict had taken place between July 1937 and November 1938 and had brought
under Japanese control much of northern China and the Yangtse valley as far as
.. -
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THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
the Wuhan cities. Japan's subsequent inability to end this war by either military
or political means bestowed a lingering legacy of open-ended commitment and
alienation from the western powers. This lay at the heart of the crisis of July-
November 1941 which was resolved by Japanese offensive operations against
Britain and the United States. Nevertheless, the Japanese official histories of the
Second World War begin not with 1941, not even with 1937, but in September
1931, with the invasion and occupation of three of Manchuria's four provinces,
and if the path between 1931 and 1937 is both difficult and indirect no-one
should doubt its existence. The link between 1931 and 1937 cannot be gainsaid,
and it is as real as the link between 1937 and 1941. But to suggest that the
situation of 1941 stemmed directly from 1931 would be contentious, and would
bestow upon events a determinism that contains paradox: few would deny such
a link, but few would accept a linear cause-and-effect relationship between the
two sets of events. In any event, most people would see the 1931-1937-1941 or
Manchuria-China-Pacific relationship as only one of many factors that were at
work in the making of a conflict between 1941 and 1945 that was fought on land
over 60 degrees of latitude and the sinking of Japanese warships over 218
degrees of longitude.
The definition of this struggle, therefore, is beset with problems: the western
terms of reference, 1941-5, do not adequately define the parameters of this war,
most certainly not for the Japanese, and even less so for the Chinese whose
(conservatively estimated) 13 million dead exceeded the combined number of
fatalities incurred by all the other parties to this conflict. Historical accuracy
demands full and proper acknowledgement of the Asian dimension of this war,
THE ROAD TO WAR
Contemporary woodcut
depicting the diversionary
attack of 11th and 21st
Infantry Regiments of
Major General Oshima's
Mixed Brigade across the
pontoon bridge over the
Taedong during the
battle for Pyongyang,
15 September 1894.
Japanese success here and
in the naval battle at the
mouth of the Yalu on the
17th ended serious Chinese
resistance in Korea:
thereafter the Japanese
took the war into China,
securing Port Arthur and
Wei-hei-wei.
25
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
Seemingly not too much to
celebrate: the parade of
15 November 1935 to mark
the visit of the US Secretary
of State George Dern and
the passing of the power
of autonomy to the
Philippines. The United
States conceded the
principle of Philippine
independence in 1934:
the flag of the new
commonwealth was publicly
displayed for the first time
at this parade.
and it is here one encounters numerous difficulti es in seeking to trace the road to
war. Where was the start line, crossed unknowingly by all concerned, in the
process that was to lead to such a terribl e conflagration throughout eastern and
south-east Asia and the Pacific in the second quarter of the twenti eth century?
There is no obvious answer to this question, though there is one set of events
and one date that, perhaps more than most, helps to explain the events of the
1930s and 1940s. The date is 1868 and the set of events is the end of the
shogunate, the Meiji Restoration, when after centuries of self-imposed and all
but total exclusion from the rest of the world, Japan accepted the reality of
western intrusion and set about the adoption of western technology and systems
in order to secure for herself a place in the international order that accorded
with national mythology and ethic. Clearly, however, such an answer, with its
implication of a determinism spread over seven decades, is likely to provoke a
few questions of its own, yet in one very obvious sense the arrangements
that Japan crafted for herself at this time were critical in one aspect of her
conduct of war in the period 1937-45. Japan, by a very large margin, was
the least organized of the major combatants of the Second World War, and
when one notes the competition for such a title that achievement is awesome.
The incoherence of the Japanese decision-making process in very large measure
stemmed from the system of government adopted in the Meiji era.
One cannot identify the road to war without acknowledging the significance
of 1868 and what Japan brought with her, in terms of governmental
organization and attitude, to the international community. Yet one would
suggest that other events and dates, even if these in their turn can trace back
THE ROAD TO WAR
T HE SECO N D WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
their origins to 1868 and the new Japan, represent more obvious and pertinent
points of departure in the process of examining the road to war. Perhaps the
most obvious of these was the Washington Conference of 1921-2 when, for the
first time, Japan and the United States measured themselves against one another
directly, albeit in a way that imposed limitations on their naval forces. In a sense
this was merely an official acknowledgement of a process that was already some
fifteen years old. During that time Japan had identified the US as the 'budgetary
enemy' with a defence expenditure that she would be obliged to shadow. For a
similar period, US naval planning had devoted inordinate attention to the
prosecution of a war in the Pacific against Japan. But if one examines
American-Japanese estrangement as critical in the process that was to lead to
war, then the American acquisition of the Philippines in 1898 is clearly
important, since it brought the very different American and Japanese interests
into relief for the first time. With the American acquisition of empire in the Far
East, the element of political distance that could have enabled Japan and the
United States to resolve differences by means other than war was lessened.
But in 1934 the United States conceded the principle of independence for
the Philippines and therefore 1898, like any date or set of events, can explain
only one part of a process of emerging hostility that paved the way for general
war. Likewise, the events and dates that mark the Japanese acquisition of empire
in the Far East can provide only similar, partial, explanation: Japan's war with
China in 1894; the war with Russia, 1904-5; the rapprochement with Russia
in 1910 that resulted in the division of Manchuria into spheres of influence
inimical to American interests and wishes. The United States viewed the Far
East, specifically China, as an area in which she had a very special and
disinterested role, and if these concerns stemmed from a somewhat ethnocentric
view and a role in the world that was self-inflicted, then she was not alone
among the great powers in harbouring such beliefs and sentiments regarding
her own worth. Her belief in American values as having universal relevance,
specifically with respect to a somewhat bemused China, was unsought, but none
the less real, though the responsibilities that were attached were never very
evident in the various crises of the 1930s. However, the basis of this self-imposed
burden - a special American interest in the Far East that could not be negotiated
away - did lie at the heart of American policy in the period before 1941.
The problems that associate themselves with such a line of enquiry as
conducted in the preceding paragraphs are twofold and obvious: first, in seeking
to explai n, the narrative merely recounts on the basis of events of which the
reader may not be aware; second, the narrative may possess a cleverness and
plausibility that is as misplaced as it is irritating. It behoves the writer, therefore,
to stop, and to make choices, and to seek to explain properly and in full from
a given perspective, subject to the caveat that
no single account can provide comprehensive
explanation, that all knowledge is imperfect.
Therefore one looks to two sets of events wherein
lie the origins of the Second World War in the Far
East - errors and omissions excepted.
There are two sets of events that are critical
factors on Japan's path to war: the First World
War, and the economic depression of the 1930s.
The consequences of the First World War were
many and profound in the Far East, not least in
removing from the area powers and influences
critical in shaping the affairs of the region over the
previous seventy or eighty years. Russia, in effect,
was eliminated as a power in the Far East for at
least a decade, and when she re-appeared she did
so in an ideological garb that ensured Japanese
enmity. The various European powers were removed
entirely or their positions, specifically their military
positions, were gravely compromised. In effect, the
First World War brought Japan a local supremacy
in the Far East that was all but unchallengeable
except by full-scale war. Peace after 1919
THE ROAD TO WAR
Contemporary Japanese
representation of the battle
fleet in action during the
Russo-Japanese war. The
last ship in the line appears
to be a member of the
Shikishima class, and the
action depicted is probably
that on 9 February 1904
when Japanese warships
bombarded Port Arthur
rather than the fleet action
of 13 April.
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
30
confirmed this position when Japan acquired German concessions in China and
colonial possessions in the Pacific north of the Equator. No less importantly, the
First World War strengthened Japan immeasurably in terms of trade and
industry since the appetite of her allies meant that she emerged from this war as
a credit nation with an industrial base and a merchant marine far greater than
she could ever have acquired by normal processes. Other than various
operations in 1914 that resulted in the elimination of Germany's holdings in the
Far East and the Pacific, plus the deployment of light naval forces to the eastern
Mediterranean in 1917, Japan was spared the cost of war.
At the same time the distraction of the great powers during 1914-18
provided Japan with opportunity. The elimination of any power that might
check Japan in the Far East after 1914 left her in a position of potentially
overwhelming advantage, specifically in dealing with a China that in 1911-12
divested herself of her imperial identity and that,
after 1916, set about the process of collapse,
disintegration and civil war with single-minded
determination. The fact that Japan overplayed her
hand in 1915 with the infamous 'Twenty-One
Demands' by which she sought to establish herself
as China's overlord did not affect the situation one
way or another. In 1915 her main demands were
deflected by the efforts of her allies and a neutral
United States, but the concessions that she none
the less obtained were very substantial and
provided her with a considerable position of
privilege and power relative to China. Moreover,
as China's divisions deepened, as local warlords
created private domains for themselves and the
country very literally fell apart under the impact
of a series of civil wars, so Japan's position was
strengthened still further, though at a price.
China's difficulties presented a Japan intent on
establishing her leadership of eastern Asia and
crafting for herself a position of pre-eminence
within China with the dilemmas of choice.
The incoherence of the Japanese decision-
making process combined with three sets of
influences and resulted in an inability to devise,
implement and supervise any single consistent
line of action towards China. The first of these
influences was the belief in Japanese national
uniqueness, and a mythology that stressed a
heaven-granted mandate to assume the leadership
. - -
of eastern Asia. The second was a view of Manchuria and northern China as
natural areas of economic interest for japan in terms of investment, raw
materials, markets and colonization. The third was an inordinate concern with
the physical occupation of space as the basis of national security: for japan
there could be no question of security ever being provided by an agreed border
between friendly neighbours.
With the onset of China's civil wars and fragmentation came a basic need
for japan to define one thing: whether or not her interests in China were best
served by Chinese weakness and division. To this was attached a second, and in
a sense more immediate, problem: which, if any, of the various warring parties
in China should be supported, and for what purpose. On the one side, the
position of japan's influence in China - indeed the position of privilege of all
the powers in China - was dependent on Chinese weakness, yet a certain
THE ROAD TO WAR
Japanese officers look
over the harbour at Port
Arthur after the fall of the
fortress and naval base on
15 January 1905. Tn the
harbour lie (left to right) the
battleship Pobyeda, the
protected cruiser Pallada
(both sunk on 7 December)
and the battleship Retvizan
(sunk 6 December 1904).
3
1
THE SE COND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
3
2
stability and order had to be maintained as a guarantee of privilege. For japan
there was the basic choice of whether to seek to preserve central government as
the basis of future co-operation, or to seek to encourage fragmentation, and to
rely upon local influences and japanese force in order to sustain japan's interests
and investments. But underlying this basic problem was an inescapable reality:
the position of leadership that japan assigned for herself in eastern Asia
precluded genuine co-operation on the basis of equality with any other
authority. And to this there was added another problem: japan sought physical
control of resources as the best means of ensuring their availability. There was
no question for the japanese of allowing a relatively backward China, racked by
corruption and inefficiency and lacking the advanced skills of a sophisticated
capitalist economy, to share control of resources: japanese ideas of leadership
and co-operation were very clear in terms of leader and led.
At the heart of this dilemma was a force of nationalism that produced
inconsistency: japan recognized the force of nationalism - her own - but not the
force of nationalism of any of her Asian neighbours. And just as in Korea she
had ruthlessly suppressed Korean nationalist aspirations, so she could not
accept Chinese nationalist resurgence as the basis of future co-operation lest it
become directed against herself. Thus in China's civil wars an irresolute japan
was caught between conflicting choices, while japanese military forces in
Manchuria and various parts of northern and central China reacted locally and
with no clear guidance. In the process they learnt a lesson of local initiative,
which permitted no repudiation on the part of nominal authorities in Tokyo,
that was to have disastrous consequences in the 1930s.
The second set of events critical to the origins of the Second World War in
the Far East was the impact of the Great Depression that followed in the wake of
the Wall Street Crash of October 1929. In relating the Great Depression to the
Far East, specifically to japan, three matters need be noted, namely the
economic devastation caused by the Depression which struck japan (a relatively
'young' industrial nation) early; the rise of anti-democratic and authoritarian
sentiments with which japan identified herself in terms of her choice of
European associates, and the twin urges for autarky and expansion as the means
of resolving the financial, industrial and economic crises wrought by the
Depression.
The two world wars have been described as the mountain ranges of
twentieth-century history and, without disputing this, one would add the
obvious rider. Mountain ridges are separated by low ground, and the Great
Depression was arguably as important in shaping the history of the twentieth
century as the two world wars. Certainly the rise of Hitler, and the general
emergence of totalitarian tendencies in Europe in the course of the 1930s, were
the direct products of the Great Depression, as was (at least in part) the
enfeeblement of the Democracies in the face of the challenge presented by the
new authoritarian ·states. In the case of japan, the hardship imposed by the
Depression bore heavily both upon the countryside and upon an army very
conscious of rural distress in the home islands. The obvious failure of economic
liberalism served to discredit political liberalism, and under the impact of the
Depression, representative and responsible government, a somewhat delicate
bloom in even the most benevolent times in Japan, became nothing more than a
condemned man under sentence.
These products of the Depression began to come together with the
Manchurian campaign of September 1931 to March 1932. The initiative for this
campaign came not from the government, but from the Kwantung Army, the
Japanese army of occupation in southern Manchuria, and was the direct
response to the desperation that gripped the home islands in the wake of the
Depression. The inability of the government to control the Kwantung Army, and
the widespread and fanatical support within Japan that the conquest of
Manchuria created, amounted to a death sentence for political liberalism in
Japan, and over the next five years 'government-by-assassination' established
itself as successive governments fell and a number of senior politicians were
assassinated. 'Government-by-assassination' was both personal and physical,
but more importantly, it was also institutional, a result of the structure of the
state as arranged in the Meiji era. In the Japan that emerged from centuries of
self-exclusion, the principle of civilian primacy, the subordination of the
military to the political and the principle of denial of systematic opposition,
had been observed not because these were institutionalized or incorporated into
the body politic, but because these features were understood and observed by
the closely-knit associates who ruled Japanese society. By the 1930s these men
had passed from the scene and, under the impact of recession, these principles
suffered the same fate, as government was reduced to a position of minor inter
pares relative to the army and the navy.
The means by which government was reduced to a position of impotence
relative to the armed services was simple. The constitution provided for service
ministers who were serving officers, and by refusing to appoint ministers or by
the threat or reality of resignation, the armed services were able to reduce
government and hence national policy to a position of dependence upon their
own will. In the course of the 1930s the services demonstrated an ever-increasing
willingness to use what amounted to the power of veto in their own interests.
The simplicity of this statement belies the complexity of the events that
witnessed and resulted in a process whereby the armed forces came to dominate
the affairs of state. However, it neither explains why this happened, nor does it
acknowledge that the armed services worked to very different agendas and
pursued aims that were as often as not diametrically opposed to one another.
At work within the military in the 1930s, and to a lesser extent in the 1920s,
was what can only be described as a culture of insubordination, with regard to
government and within the services themselves. No less importantly, under the
impact of events, factions within the services identified their own aims and
THE ROAD TO WAR
33
THE SECOND WORLD WA R IN THE EAST
34
intentions with those of their service and the state: in a process of transposition
that all but defies belief, the armed services effectively reduced state and society
to positions of subordination to themselves. The natural bonds of discipline
that should have ensured order and obedience within the army and navy, and
their proper subordination to government, dissolved for different reasons and to
different ends within the two services, but with one result: the devising of
national policy, and the ordering of national priorities, became all but
impossible.
The indiscipline within the two servlCes recalls Lamartine's famous
comment on seeing a mob in the street - 'I must follow them because I am their
leader' - since the gekokujo phenomenon was to involve the dictation of policy
by juniors to those ostensibly in
superior command. In the navy this
was built around resistance to naval
limitation. The principle established
at Washington in 1922 and restated
at London in 1930 was bitterly
resisted for professional reasons as
well as being a reflection of
nationalist patriotic resentment.
The navy believed that Japan had
been afforded second-class status in
relation to Britain and the US, and
only agreed to accept the London
treaty on condition that future
limitation would be resisted. The
navy's attitude, therefore, ensured
that after 1936 Japan was certain to
cast aside the security afforded by
restrictions placed upon American
naval construction, with all that that
entailed for relations between the
two countries, but there was an
addi tional dimension to the navy's
waywardness. As the junior service,
the navy was very conscious of its
weakness in relation to the army
and it was also very well aware of
its institutional and budgetary
vulnerability should the army secure
unchallenged control of the political
process. Within the army, divisions
ran deeper and were even more
bitterly fought than in the navy, but in one sense this was predictable: the issues
between factions within the army centred upon the state itself, the control of
society and the direction of the nation's foreign policy.
The period of fratricidal strife within the army and simultaneously
increasing military encroachment on the policy-making process was notable for
three developments that led to war itself. These were the army's negotiation of
the Anti-Comintern Pact with Germany and Italy in November 1936; the
institution of the Miyazaki Plan of 1936-7 that involved the expansion of heavy
industry with a view to enabling Japan to wage total war for three years; and the
start of Japan's 'special undeclared war' with China. Obviously the first and
third of these developments possessed singular significance, but arguably it was
T H E ROA D TO WA R
Obviously for public
consumption and symbolic
value: machine-gun position
of the Chinese 8th Army on
the Great Wall. Japanese
encroachments over the
previous five years, positions
inside the Wall and control
of the sea meant that the
Great Wall formed no real
obstacle to an advance and
had no real strategic
significance by July 1937.
35
THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
the vanous unsought consequences of the second that proved the most
significant milestone along the road to war.
Japan's ever-closer identification with Germany and Italy in the course of
the 1930s was of symbolic rather than practical value: Japan's hope that the Treaty
would serve to check the Soviet Union was to prove stillborn. The significance
of Japan's association with Germany and Italy was not missed, but in the event
this need not have been significant. What was far more significant was the
outbreak of war in China following a clash between Chinese and Japanese forces
outside Peking on 7 July 1937. At first this encounter did not seem unduly
important: there was every possibility that it could be resolved by the Japanese
in exactly the same way that numerous incidents in northern China had been
resolved over the four previous years. After overrunning Manchuria in 1931-2
the Japanese had set about a deliberate encroachment on Chinese territory:
Jehol was invaded and occupied in January-February 1933 and the Chinese
squeezed from Hopei in June 1935 and from Charar in the following month.
In the aftermath of the clash of July 1937 the Japanese, by their standards,
were restrained, confining themselves to the occupation of Tientsin and Peking.
There was good and obvious reason for such restraint, not least the paucity of
Japanese forces in northern China, but in the event the determination of the
Kwantung Army in Manchuria to further its ambitions in Inner Mongolia and
the outbreak of fighting in Shanghai on 13 August pushed Japan towards general
war: by the end of September the Japanese Army had dispatched ten divisions to
northern China and another five to Shanghai, primarily to rescue the naval
formations which had provoked the August clash in an attempt to ensure that
the army did not steal a march on its sister service in matters Chinese.
In reality, deeper forces were at work in producing Japan's 'special
undeclared war' with China, specifically China's attempts after December 1936
to resolve her civil wars in order to present a united front to future Japanese
aggression. Within the Japanese high command, therefore, there were elements
that sought to forestall such a development, and with the spread of war, and the
inability of Tokyo either to contain the conflict or to end it by negotiation,
Japanese operations quickly assumed their own momentum. Within four
months of the outbreak of general war, the Kwantung Army had secured Inner
Mongolia and installed a puppet regime at Kueisui while by the end of 1937
much of China north of the Yellow River - considered by some of the Japanese
military to be the minimum sphere of influence that was acceptable - had been
overrun. It was in central China, however, that the main story unfolded,
specifically the Japanese capture of Shanghai in November and Nanking, amid
scenes of mass murder, rape, torture and pillage, in December.
In the course of 1938 Japanese forces in northern China cleared Shansi and
Shantung and advanced to the Pinglu-Kaifeng-Hsuchow-Taierhchwang line,
while from their positions on the lower Yangtse the Japanese were able to
develop offensives that cleared Anhwei north of the river and moved into the
Wuhan cities, the Chinese having ceded the middle Yangtse in order to withdraw
into the fastness of Kweichow and Hunan. With the simultaneous seizure of
Canton, Japanese success in the course of 1938 was impressive, yet it represented
failure, and for obvious reason: the basic dilemmas which had proved so
intractable during the Chinese civil wars of the 1920s presented themselves
anew. The Japanese were confronted by the basic question of whether to seek to
destroy the Nationalist regime of Chiang Kai-shek or to preserve it as the only
authority that might deliver a negotiated settlement. They also faced the related
problem of whether to sponsor rival regimes in an attempt to put pressure on
the Nationalists to come to a settlement, or as genuine alternatives to the
Nationalist government in Chungking. But either and both of these sets of
alternatives concealed the real problem. Japan did not embark upon the
conquest of northern and central China in order to provide alternatives to her
own rule: Japan sought to secure the power of decision exclusively for herself,
and certainly never understood any force of nationalist aspiration other than
her own.
Moreover, success 111 the field merely confirmed the truth of the
Clausewitzian observation that it is easy to conquer but hard to occupy. In the
vastness of China it was impossible to force a military victory, while by the
THE ROAD TO WAR
The old and the new: the
Japanese capture of
Hsiichow, Honan province,
1 July 1938. Representation
of a light tank invites the
suggestion that it was the
only tank available to the
Japanese in this operation:
the fact was that the
Imperial Army was wholly
under-invested in armour
and mechanized-motorized
forces, as the Soviet Army
demonstrated one year later.
37
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
A sign of change: Japanese
troops disembarking at the
Shanghai bund, for long the
physical manifestation of
western power in China, in
November 1937 in readiness
for the move against
Soochow (abandoned by the
Chinese on the 19th) and
thence against Nanking.
beginning of 1938 guerrilla warfare had taken hold in many areas nominally
under Japanese control, even as banditry revived inside Manchuria as a result of
the reduction of the Japanese garrisons in order to provide for operations in
China. With the Nationalists having opted for 'a sustained strategy of attrition'
that in the end the Japanese could never counter, 1938 also saw clashes with the
Soviets, which in turn presented another conundrum: whether operations in
China were to be curtailed in order to ensure the security of Manchuria or
developed without reference to the distinct possibility of further, serious clashes
with the Soviet Union.
In such a situation, and unabl e to force battle upon the Chinese Nationalist
armies 111 the wastes of Szechwan, Kweichow and Yunnan, the Japanese
undertook the first strategic air campaign in history. Douhet, Mitchell and
Trenchard are always paraded as the high priests of air power, specificall y
strategic bombing, but interestingly the first person to have committed to paper
the idea of breaking an enemy's will to resist by a bombing campaign directed
against a civilian population was a J apanese naval officer, Nakajima Chikuhei,
in 1915. The first such employment of air power came as ea rl y as August 1937,
and in summer 1938 the Japanese undertook a terror bombing campaign against
Canton; in May 193-9 the Japanese launched their first attacks on Chungking.
In spnng-summer 1940, however, the Japanese launched Operation 101, a
systematic campaign against Chinese cities in the interior, primarily Chungking,
with a view to breaking Chinese morale. A year later, in spring-summer 1941,
the Japanese renewed their attempt with Operation 102, but this was a halting
affair as Japanese naval aircraft were in the process of being withdrawn
from China in readiness for operations in south-east Asia and the Pacific.
The two offensives produced interesting results, although not the ones that
the Japanese sought. Chinese cities, on account of their massive concentrations
of people and generally flimsy construction, were peculiarly vulnerable to
bombing, and a number of them, most obviously Chungking, were all but razed.
With their populations either driven out or underground, Chinese morale
faltered under the initial blows, but it did not break. Moreover, the Japanese
were to find that the effectiveness of their raids was directly dependent upon
fighters first having secured air superiority: before August 1940 and the
commitment of the A6M Zero-sen long-range fighter to the battle, Japanese
losses were all but prohibitive. As it was, both Operation 101 and Operation 102
were conducted on a scale that was too small to have realistic chances of success
- the total effort involved in Operation 101 was less in terms of aircraft sorties
and bomb load than those directed against Dresden in February 1945 - and,
critically, this last-resort option failed. The army and navy air forces were not
able to record a result that the Japanese military could not achieve on the
ground, and the China war remained thereafter, as it had been since 1937,
unwinnable by military means.
THE ROAD TO WAR
Representation of the
Japanese entry into
Nanking, allegedly in
November 1937. In reality,
Japanese forces occupied the
city on 13 December and
subjected its inhabitants to
infamous treatment that still
casts its shadow in both
China and Japan to the
present time.
39
THE SE CO N D WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
No less seriously, and in 1937-8 of more immediate importance, the China
war in effect wrecked the Miyazaki Plan: Japan could have her plan or her war,
but not both. But by 1938 Japanese industrial ambitions were beginning to fall
apart in any case. The idea of developing heavy industry and the resources of
Manchuria and northern China in order to ensure self-sufficiency had the twin
results of restricting merchant fleet development by ensuring its concentration
on short-haul trade and increasing Japanese dependence on foreign finished
products and credits without which major plant development was not possible.
By 1939, given Europe's movement towards war, such credit was increasingly
scarce and expensive, as was the foreign shipping required to carry the raw
materials that Japan needed for her very existence. What made Japan's position
even worse was the fact that while the China war cost a staggering $5 million a
day, her holdings on the mainland and resultant pattern of trade had the effect
of warping her trade balances. By 1939 something like 75-80 per cent of all
Japanese trade was directed to her so-called partners within the newly created
'Yen Bloc', but the credits that she earned by a ruthless manipulation of
exchange rates could not provide the hard cash she needed in order to pay for
her real needs - the purchase of industrial goods and raw materials from the
outside world - and Japan could not afford the investment essential to develop
her own resources and those of her conquered territories.
Moreover, by 1939 another problem was emerging in the form of the naval
rearmament programme initiated in 1937 with the ending of limitation treaties.
It was not that Japan could not fulfil her own programme, but that the
limitations of her shipyards had a triple consequence: she could not meet the
demands of naval and merchant shipping programmes simultaneously, at least
not on a scale sufficient for her requirements; the demands of building meant
that Japan could not undertake the rate of maintenance needed to keep the
merchant fleet fully operational; and the congestion of shipyards imposed
massive delays on the completion of even the most important fleet units.
Moreover, in the summer of 1939 Japanese forces in Mongolia were quite
literally taken apart by their Soviet opposite numbers in battle at Nomonhan,
and in the middle of these proceedings Germany chose to conclude a non-
aggression pact with the Soviets preparatory to her attack on Poland and the
start of general war in Europe.
Comprehensive defeat, disillusionment with Germany, and a new-found
respect for the Democracies that at last showed the will to resist Hitler, caused a
chastened Japan to make for the sidelines after September 1939, to wait upon
events, even though her basic problems remained unresolved. In spring 1940 one
set of uncertainties ended: Germany's victory over the Democracies rekindled
admiration and support for the Reich within Japan, specifically within the army,
and Japan's adherence to the Tripartite Pact followed in September 1940. By this
action Japan committed herself irreversibly to the new order that was in the
process of reshaping the international community, and perhaps this was
inevitable: the defeat of France in spring 1940 removed, in the form of French
Indo-China, the European colonial empires' first line of defence in south-east
Asia, thus providing Japan with maximum temptation with apparently little risk
to herself. Within weeks of the French defeat, Japan had forced the French
authorities in Indo-China and the British in Burma to close down supply routes
to the Chungking regime. In so doing Japan initiated a process that was to end
one year later with the crisis that provoked general war throughout the Pacific
and south-east Asia in December 1941. But in reality two other matters arising
from the events of June-July 1940 contributed in full to this process.
The first is well known: the passing of the Two-Ocean Naval Expansion Act
by the US Congress. The Maginot Line had been the first line of defence of both
France and French Indo-China, but it had also been the first line of defence of
the United States. The fall of France, and the overwhelming likelihood of
Britain's defeat and surrender, forced the US to look to her own defences with
the result that Congress authorized a building programme on such a scale that
all other navies would be reduced to positions of impotent irrelevance by the
time it was completed. The short-term implication of this development was
largely lost upon the United States, but not upon the Imperial Japanese Navy,
and herein lies the second matter.
In June 1940 the Imperial Navy reacted to American shipbuilding by
ordering full mobilization, a process that needed eighteen months to implement.
What in June 1940 the Imperial Navy expected to happen in December 1941 or
thereabouts has never been fully explained. Nor has there ever been a full
account of the eighteen-month refitting and modernization programme which
left just one single ship, a destroyer, not in service on 7 December 1941. But if
the Imperial Navy's 1940 expectations have never been properly explained, one
fact is obvious: the Imperial Navy could not remain at full mobilization if only
because of the massive inroads made into the strength of a merchant fleet
already inadequate to the task of fulfilling national import requirements. The
fact of the matter was, simply, that while the American rearmament programme
was provoked by the German victory in north-west Europe, it also marked the
point when the United States in effect picked up the challenge that Japan had
presented over the previous decade. And as the Imperial Navy checked its sums
one matter was clear: with the provisions of its 1937 construction programme
more or less complete by the end of 1941 and the Americans at least two or three
years from the completion of the first major fleet units authorized by the Two-
Ocean Act, at the end of 1941 the Imperial Navy would stand at the peak of its
strength relative to the United States. Indeed, in December 1941 the Imperial
Japanese Navy possessed clear superiority of numbers in every type of fleet unit
over the US Pacific and Asiatic fleets.
In a very obvious sense, what was to follow (the conclusion of a non-
aggression treaty with the Soviet Union in April 1941; the decision to occupy
French Indo-China even at the risk of a breach with the United States; the
THE ROAD TO WAR
THE SEC O N D WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
occupation of Indo-China and the American imposition of sanctions; the
futility of subsequent American-Japanese diplomatic negotiations and Japan's
final decision for war) represents the final playing-out of a script, written in, if
not before, June 1940. Admittedly, this interpretation of events is something of a
simplification, and it does not explain the one point about what happened.
States as mismatched in terms of area, population size, resources and military
strength as Japan and the United States very seldom fight one another, and even
more rarely do they fight wars initiated by the weaker side. The process whereby
Japan induced war in December 1941 has all the hallmarks of a national
kamikaze effort and provokes incredulity matched only by the detail of the
process and Japan's final decision. In summer 1941 the Japanese leadership
accepted the prospect of war with the United States as the price of a move
against British and Dutch possessions in south-east Asia, and thereby embarked
upon a war with the only power in the world that could defeat Japan. In the
process, Japan provided the United States with a casus belli that she could never
have provided for herself.
In setting out the story of the road to war, one war in 1937 and another in
1941, this chapter has sought to explain rather than describe events. But in so
doing it has incorporated two weaknesses. It has followed Japanese decisions
and actions, and it has done so on the basis that the road to war was primaril y
marked by milestones bearing kanji not Roman script. It does not follow,
however, that other powers were merely passive onlookers, that their actions, or
lack of action, did not contribute to the denouement of 1941: the estrangement
of Japan and past associates involved a journey on a two-way not one-way
street. Certainly the contribution of the United States to the process of
alienation was very real, most obviously in terms of the racist denigration to
which Japan was subjected within the United States, and the discriminatory
trade practices adopted by that country against Japan in the course of the 1930s.
But the basic historiographical point is correct : the story of the drift to war is
best related in terms of Japan's power of decision which, more than any other
factor, shaped and directed events.
The second weakness is one that besets the writing of hi story: an inability
on the part of the historian to take proper account of two phenomena, namely
the march of events and irrationality. Of course some historical works have left
themselves open to the charge that they have provided more than a little
evidence of the latter, and while one hopes that such a charge cannot be levelled
at this particular work one would note that these two commodities were present
in full measure in the events leading to the Second World War in the Far East.
The idea of the inevitability of war between Japan and the United States
pervaded the whole of the inter-war period, and certainly the events of 1940-41
seem to have acquired their own momentum. It is certainly possible to see the
Japanese choice of 'go-now-or-never' in terms of a decision dictated by
circumstances: no less certainly, it is possible to portray the decision for war in
autumn 1941 as one forced upon the Japanese high command. The American
demands in summer 1941 for a withdrawal of Japanese forces from Indo-China,
China and Manchuria as the price of a resumption of normal trade was an
impossible one for the Japanese high command, and acceptance would have
triggered civil war, if indeed anyone in Japan would have fought for a
government that was prepared to accept such humiliation. Moreover, in the
crisis of summer 1941 it was impossible for the Imperial Navy, after all the care
and money lavished upon it, to admit its powerlessness in face of the Two-
Ocean Naval Expansion Act, or to accept that its demands for an end of naval
limitation had resulted in its inability to resist relegation to second or third class
status. Yet this line of argument, which must have some validity, invites two
questions. Why was it that in 1941 the Japanese undertook no new drilling for
oil either in the home islands or in any of their overseas possessions? And what
significance attaches itself to the fact that even without the American trade
embargo of July 1941 Japan would have exhausted her currency reserves in
spring 1942 and would have been unable to continue to trade after that time?
Clearly, the line of argument that places momentum or inevitability of events at
the heart of explanation cannot provide all the answers to the questions that
have to be asked about these developments.
Thus one turns to irrationality for explanation, though perhaps a better
term might be either misplaced hope or wishful thinking. Herein, perhaps, lies
THE ROAD TO WAR
The prelude to war:
japanese soldiers outside
Saigon in October 1941.
japan 's occupation of
southern Indo- China in
summer 1941 represented
the ne plus ultra for
Washington: the imposition
of sanctions initiated the
process that led to general
war in December at a time
of japan's, not America's,
choosing.
43
THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N T H E EAST
44
1. THE AKATSUKI- CLASS FLEET DESTROYER lnazuma 2 . THE SHUMUSHU- CLASS GENERAL-PURPOSE Shumushu
5. THE KONGO-CLASS FAST BATTLESHIP Kirishima 6. THE ATAGO-CLASS HEAVY CRUI SER Takao
explanation. The Japanese leadership that guided, or misguided, the nation's
affairs in the 1930s consisted of individuals no more gifted or stupid than those
of other national leaderships, and every nation, at some time or another, has
arranged its affairs in a manner and to an end not dissimilar to that of Japan in
the period under consideration, even if to not so rapid and so disastrous a
conclusion as the one achieved by Tokyo. But certainly the Japanese leadership
in 1940-41 was thoroughly mendacious in terms of its 'situating the
appreciation', arranging hard evidence to wish away reality and to support
conclusions based upon hope, particularly in relation to the Miyazaki Plan. Its
aims had never been realized and originally it had set provision for a war with
the Soviet Union, but by 1941 it had become an article of faith within the
Japanese high command that the country could sustain a total war for three
years against the United States, and projections of oil production estimates were
altered to prove it. And in this process explanation, at least partial explanation,
for what would otherwise be incomprehensible might exist in the shape of four
sets of circumstances.
The first, and by far the most important, is a perspective of the time that has
been lost when set against the reality of American national power over the last
six decades. The world has become familiar with this power, a power that did
not exist in 1941. Second, a nation with no experience of defeat over a history
that reached back over thousands of years could not imagine defeat : a people
that believed itself to be protected and ruled by the gods, and mandated by
Heaven to assume its proper place in the world, could not envisage failure.
Third, the Japanese military, specifically the navy, did not understand the
nature of war, specifically the nature of the war that it began in 1941. It did
not understand the -difference between war and a war, between a war and a
THE ROAD TO WAR
... .
' ..
. -.-::i...,
n .. . .. .; _ 1_
3. THE ASASHIO-CLASS FLEET DESTROYER Asagumo 4. THE ATAGO-CLASS HEAVY CRUISER Atago
7. THE REBUILT KONGO-CLASS FAST BATTLESHIP Haruna, 1936 8. THE TYPE B-1 CRUISER-SUBMARINE 1-26
campaign, between a campaign and a battle, and it did not understand that a
war in the Pacific would involve a naval war - between fleets and formations and
endowed with an amphibious dimension - as well as a maritime war in defence
of shipping. All its attention was geared to battle, an obsession that over time
obscured the di stinction between battle and the other elements that relate to the
nature and conduct of war. And here lies the basis of the fourth and last
matter: the Imperial Navy, as a basic rule of thumb, knew that it could not
defeat the Americans, but hoped that its success in battle would ultimately be
translated into American acceptance of a new arrangement to Japanese
advantage.
Hope is a poor basis of a plan, and such hope as the one that the Imperial
Navy entertained was wholly unrealistic - at least in retrospect - because the
basic premise was flawed : the terms of reference of a Pacific war were not
Japan's to determine. The alternative to Japan's victory in a limited war in the
Pacific was not defeat in a limited war in the Pacific, but defeat in a total war in
the Pacific. All this, however, was very far from obvious in the opening weeks of
the war which Japan initiated with her attack on the US Pacific Fleet at its base
at Pearl Harbor on the morning of Sunday, 7 December 1941.
AFTERTHOUGHT
In setting out this account, specifically the account of Japanese naval
programmes, the author has deliberately made no reference to one matter: the
problem of block obsolescence. At the outbreak of the Pacific war the Imperial
Navy was owner of 111 destroyers. Of this total thirty - the twelve Minekaze-
class members of the 1917, 1918, 1919 and 1920 programmes, three Momi-class
members of the 1918 and 1920 programmes, six Wakatake-class members of the
J APANESE WARSHIPS IN THE
INTERWAR PERIOD
1. The Inazuma, as rebuilt:
six 5-inch guns, nine 24-inch
torpedo tubes, 34 knots.
2. The Shumushu: three
4.7-inch guns, six depth
charges.
3. The Asagumo: six 5-inch
DP guns, eight 24-inch
torpedo tubes, 38 knots.
4. The Atago: ten 8-inch
guns, sixteen 24-inch
torpedo tubes, three aircraft.
5. The Kirishima: her pre-
1914 origins are revealed by
the distinctive layout of her
X and Y turrets.
6. The Takao: ten 8-inch
guns, sixteen 24-inch
torpedo tubes, three aircraft.
7. The Haruna, after second
reconstruction in 1936: eight
14-inch guns, 30.5 knots.
8.The 1-26: 2,589 tons
maximum displacement: six
21 -inch torpedo tubes,
seventeen torpedoes, one
5.5-inch gun, one f/oatplane.
45
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
1921 programme, and nine members of the Kamikaze-class 1921 programme -
belonged to either complete classes or classes with lead ships laid down before or
in December 1921. A total of thirty-one destroyers - the twelve members of the
Mutsuki-class 1923 programme and nineteen surviving members of the Fubuki-
class of the 1923, 1926 and 1927 programmes - possessed a similar pedigree
reference December 1926, and ten units - the four members of the Akatsuki-class
of the 1927 programme and the six units of the Hatsuharu-class of the 1931
programme - reference December 1931. Thus in December 1941 no fewer than
seventy-one of the Imperial Navy's 111 destroyers were in the second half of their
service lives, and, by the least exacting standard, thirty units were at or even
beyond their sell-by dates: lest this be doubted, the Imperial Navy had nineteen
other ships drawn from pre-December 1921 classes in service, but these had been
relegated to secondary or tertiary duties and did not serve as destroyers.
It would appear, therefore, that for all its efforts in the inter-war period, by
1940 the Imperial Navy was threatened with a massive erosion of its front line
strength over the next few years. The twenty-eight-strong Yugumo class and the
sixteen-strong Akizuki class, ordered under the 1939 and 1941 programmes,
would have ameliorated but could not have forestalled a decline in real
numbers: on completion these would have replaced units being phased
out and would not have added to strength. In this there was obvious
irony. Throughout the inter-war period the Imperial Navy sought
qualitative superiority to make good its lack of numbers, and its
destroyers were superior in design and capabilities to their
contemporaries in foreign service. But by 1940 the
qualitative advantage enjoyed by each successive class was
exhausted, in part because of lack of numbers, and in
part because of the pace of change in the 1930s. In real
terms, anything before the Mutsuki and Fubuki classes
Pacific situation December 1941- July 1942
Japanese empire
D Chinese empire
Colonial possessions 1941
D
British
(Commonwealth)
United States
Aircraft carrier attack
on Pearl Harbor
Japanese offensive
~ operations
Dec 1941 - March 1942
Approximate limit of
Japanese advance
July 1942
I
Ma;n
)
c,
Colombo.
I N DI AN OCEA J
Dutch
French
Portuguese
10
and an armament that included 24-inch torpedoes was of very limited usefulness,
and arguably the Mutsukis, as members of the first class with this armament,
were of marginal value by 1941.
This long tail of ageing ships and Japan's declining strategic posmon,
especially when set against the difficulties experienced with the 1939 programme
and the provisions of the Two-Ocean Naval Expansion Act, would seem to add
extra measure to the 'go-now-or-never' thesis, but the author's inability to
provide evidence of linkage on this score led to the argument not being
employed in the account of proceedings given in this opening chapter. The
reality is noted herein, for what it is worth.
C H

Chungking
THE ROAD T O WAR
THE OPENING JAPANESE
OFFENSIVES
Beginning with attacks across
a distance of 6,000 miLes, the
Japanese offensives that
opened the Pacific war were
characterized by an
impressive synchronization
and economy of effort: in
every sector the Japanese
brought a LocaL superiority to
bear and inflicted successive
humiLiating defeats on their
various enemies.
xxxx • •. ...... .
~ • Car" 0 [ ; n ~ I s I and s _----•• -rr
SOUTH · ••
SEAS DET.
Coral Sea
t· ..
H
Fiji
,
~ . New Caledonia •
A U S T R A L A
1300 lSnon 70
,
\
0
CHAPTER TWO
•• ••
THE FIRST MILESTONE:
SUCCESS AND VICTORY
DECEMBER 1941 - APRIL 1942
WITH ONE BOAT RESCUING a sailor in the water, the
battleship West Virginia lies burning as token of
Japanese success on 'the day of infamy'. In the company
of two other battleships that were lost on 7 December
1941, she was raised and modernized to such effect that
she fought in the Surigao Strait action during the battle
of Leyte Gulf and off Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
THE FIRST MILESTONE: SUCCESS AND VICTORY
THEAKAGI
The fleet carrier Akagi.
41,300 tons (normal load);
ninety-one aircraft, six
8-inch, twelve 4.7-inch and
twenty-eight 25-mm guns,
31.25 knots. With the Kaga
the mainstay of Japanese
inter-war carrier aviation,
the Akagi saw service in
China, Pearl Harbor,
Rabaul, Darwin, south
of Java, Ceylon and
finally Midway.
50
O
N 27 APRIL r898 an American cruiser squadron sailed from Hong Kong and
four days later fought in Manila Bay an action that reached over sixteen
square miles and bought the United States an empire in the Far East. Between
7 December 1941 and 5 April 1942 Japanese forces conducted fleet operations
over 58 degrees of latitude and 123 degrees of longitude, and in so doing
inflicted upon four imperial powers defeats that were stunning in impact and,
for the victor, incomplete in nature and disastrous in consequence.
The story of the Pacific war can be told in a number of different ways, but
inevitably must begin with the five months of Japanese triumph that resulted in
the conquest of Burma, Malaya, the East Indies, Hong Kong and the Philippines
and various island groups in the western-central Pacific. In this period the
Japanese were able to secure the various outposts on which they intended to
build a perimeter defence and on which the Imperial Navy intended to conduct a
defensive war while drawing upon the riches of the 'southern resources area'. It
was a four-month campaign with few, if any, parallels in history, both in terms of
the scale and range of operations and the extent of conquest, and it was
conducted by Japanese forces with only a bare margin of numerical superiority
over their enemies. To defeat the single British divisions in Burma and Hong
Kong, the two Dutch divisions in the Indies, the three British divisions in Malaya
and Singapore and nominally four American divisions in the Philippines, the
Imperial Army, after its commitments in Korea, Manchoutikuo, China, Indo-
China, the home islands and in the Pacific were discounted, was able to free the
equivalent of just eleven divisions for offensive purposes. At sea the Imperial
Navy possessed no significant margin of superiority over its intended prey other
than in one single, crucial type of warship, the aircraft carrier, while the
narrowness of the administrative margins on which Japanese forces were obliged
to work can be gauged by the fact that something like 3.6 million tons of
merchant shipping was all that was available to support military and naval
undertakings. With shipping allowances for the transportation of troops set at
five tons per man in the tropics and three tons elsewhere, the shipping
requisitioned by the Imperial Army in readiness for the offensives in the south
represented little more than minimum requirement.
Japanese success in this opening phase of hostilities in south-east Asia and
the Pacific was fairly bought in terms of planning and preparation. The
'-
D"
SUCCESS AND VI CTORY: DECEMBER 1941 - APRIL 1942
campa1gn that unfolded in south-east Asia and along the Malay Barrier was
brilliantly conceived. Its opening operations were orchestrated across the
International Date Line and no fewer than seven time zones, and almost
possessed an aesthetic quality in terms of its synchronized, successive
movements which were distinguished by impressive economy of effort. But
Japanese success was also the product of other factors that were on the scales at
this particular time.
The Japanese chose when to begin hostilities, which gave their armed forces
a potentially overwhelming advantage in terms of the initiative, and this single
asset was compounded by three further benefits which were matched by Allied
handicaps. With the start of hostilities the Japanese were endowed with the
benefits that accrue to a concentrated attacker: Japan's enemies, in contrast,
were divided by geography and everywhere were defensively dispersed; in
virtually every theatre the Japanese possessed numerical advantage. The
Japanese possessed the advantage of single-nation status: Japan's enemies were
ill-assorted, the co-operation between them halting and ineffective, and their
difference of interest very marked. Japanese forces were very well trained
and equipped, especially in the air: Allied forces, particularly in south-east
Asia, were, at very best, of somewhat uneven quality. To these Japanese
advantages must be added another: the element of surprise which, in this
first phase of operations, took several forms. The American and British
high commands had never contemplated a Japanese ability to move across the
whole of the Pacific and its adjoining seas from Pearl Harbor to the Gulf of
Siam ·in a single opening offensive, and seriously underestimated the quality
of the forces and the equipment with which they found themselves at war.
THE JAPANESE TRIUMPH
The first Japanese moves in a war that was to last
forty-five months involved two operations
separated by 6,000 miles, namely landings by
formations of the 25th Army in southern Siam
and northern Malaya in the early hours of 8
December and, some thirty minutes later (across
the International Date Line), on the morning of 7
December, the attack by carrier aircraft on the US
Pacific fleet at its base in Pearl Harbor. The latter,
involving six fleet carriers and 460 aircraft,
resulted in the destruction or crippling of eighteen
US warships, including five battleships, and here,
for a world still accustomed to measuring naval
power 111 terms of dreadnoughts, lay the
immediate impact of the Japanese attack. In fact
the real significance of this attack was not in what
Vice Admiral Nagumo
Chuichi. In some four
months the commander of a
carrier strike force that
attacked Pearl Harbor,
Darwin in Australia and
Ceylon: in another six
months he was largely
discredited as a result of
failures at Midway, Eastern
Solomons and Santa Cruz.
51
THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
PEARL HARBOR
First wave attack
7 December 1941.
7.50 am: attack run ordered
RIGHT: American survivors
of the attack on Pearl
Harbor have testified that
one of the most inspiring
sights was the Nevada, the
only American battleship to
get under way, seeking the
7.40 am: first attack
wave (190 aircraft)
arrive off Kahuku
Point
main channel: luckily she
was not sunk so did not
block the harbour. She was
run aground, raised and
updated and fought off
Normandy, southern France,
fwo Jima and Okinawa.
Fighter attacks on
airfields.
SUCCESS AND VI CTORY: DECEMBER 194 1 - APR IL 1942
53
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
54
PEARL HARBOR
Second wave attack
7 December 1941.
9.00 am: smoke from
fires started after firs(
attack and anti-
8.57 am: arrack run
ordered
9.00 am: US B-17 arrives over
Oahu and is attacked by Zero
fighters; the B-1? survives
8.57 a m: fighters
~ m a c k Bellows Field
8.55 am: 81 dive·
bo mbers ordered
to attack
SUCCESS AND VICTORY: DECEMBER 1941 - APRIL 1942
8.40 a m: 171 aircraft of
second wave ordered
to deploy
8.55 am: 54 hori zontal
bombers cross Koolau
55
THE SECO N D WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
'We fl ew through and
over the thick clouds,
which were at two
thousand metres, up to
where day was ready to
dawn. And the clouds
began gradually to
brighten below us after
the brilliant sun burst
into the eastern sky.
I opened the cockpit
canopy and looked back
at large formations of
planes. The wings
glittered in the bright
morning sunlight.'
CAPTAIN MITSUO FUCHIDA,
7 DECEMBER 1941.
7.55 am: 139 Val di ve
bombers atcack variolls
locari ons dropping 450 plus
bombs
~ ~ ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
8.05 a m: 64 level bombers drop 360 plus bombs
on main anchorage
it either destroyed or missed, but in its scale and distance. Though the Bismarck
chase in the North Atlantic of May 1941 had involved three carriers, the greatest
single strike by carrier aircraft before Pearl Harbor - at Taranto on the night of
11/12 November 1940 - involved just twenty-one of their number. The attack on
Pearl Harbor was conducted by a self-sufficient task force over a distance of some
four thousand miles, culminating in a two-wave attack en masse. It inaugurated
a new era of naval warfare, but this was largely obscured by the immediacy of
the situation and the elements of Japanese failure that surrounded it . Japan's
action brought the United States into a war that, on account of the American
temperament, could only end in either total victory or total defeat. But if the
crippling of the Pacific Fleet confirmed the Japanese Navy in its possession of
the initiative and a marked superiority of strength in the western and central
Pacific, the attack miscarried in two vital respects: no American carrier or
submarine was damaged and the base facilities at Pearl Harbor were not
neutralized. Even more seriously, the shipping requirements of the south-east
Asia effort had prompted the Imperial Navy's refusal to consider a landing in
the Hawaiian Islands in order to occupy the only possible base for an American
effort into the western Pacific: this ordering of priorities was recognized as an
error almost as soon as the Pearl Harbor operation came to an end. As a result,
the campaign in south-east Asia was to unfold even as the Imperial Navy turned
its attention to the emands of an offensive campaign in the central Pacific.
The conduct? of amphibious operations that reached back to the Sino-
Japanese w r ad equipped Japan with a doctrine that sought out weakness, a
--1IIt::::COIlrGep' of operations that accepted natural obstacles in order to avoid contact
with major enemy forces during the most vulnerable phase of landing
operations. Thus the opening Japanese moves in south-east Asia involved the
overland entry into and occupation of Siam from French Indo-China, landings
at her ports on the Kra Isthmus from which Japanese formations were to
advance into northern Malaya, and landings on the islands on the approaches to
Luzon and on northern Luzon itself in the
Philippines. In southern Siam and the Philippines
the Japanese successfully established themselves
ashore against enemies that were both surprised and
dispersed and, through the separate campaigns that
followed, were unable to concentrate their full forces
against a numerically inferior invader. The Japanese
14th Army used positional advantage in the
Philippines to conduct landings In southern
Mindanao and southern Luzon to complement its
initial landings in northern Luzon before making its
main effort in the form of a double envelopment of
Manila, with landings at Lingayen Gulf and Lamon
Bay on 22 December. The next day the Americans
decided to abandon Manila and withdraw into the
Bataan Peninsula, and it was an admission of
failure. Bataan could provide no more than
temporary sanctuary followed by siege and
ultimately defeat; it was not a base from which
Japanese success could be contested. Japanese forces
from northern and southern Luzon linked up
around Manila on 2 January 1942, when the
Japanese high command took the decision to release
air forces and one division from the Philippines for
second-phase operations in the Indies.
By this time the British position throughout
south-east Asia had been similarly destroyed. With
the surrender of Hong Kong on Christmas Day 1941
and Japanese landings in Brunei and Sarawak over
the previous week, the last week of 1941 witnessed
the rout of British forces in northern Malaya.
Having landed at Singora and Patani, the Japanese
struck across the border against a fragmented,
7.57 am: fort y torpedo bombers deliver fo rty long lance rorpedos on
Battleship Row
SUCCESS AN D VICTORY: DECE MBER 1941 - APRIL 1942
82 ZERO FIGHTER
MITSUBISHI A6M2
NAKAJIMA B5 N2
PEARL HARBOR
Attack on Battleship Row in Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941.
57
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
Lieutenant General
Honma Masaharu,
commander of the 14th
Army, coming ashore in
Lingayen Gulf on 24
December 1941. His
failure to win a quick
victory in the Philippines
resulted in dismissal: the
reality of his army's
victory was the real reason
for his post-war execution.
58
THE JAPANESE INVASION AND CONQUEST OF MALAYA
AND SINGAPORE
The strength of Singapore's
defences forced the Japanese
to attempt an overland
advance on the fortress:
from beachheads in
southern Siam and northern
Malaya the key to success
proved to be the speed of
Japanese operations,
outflanking movement
through jungle
against a road-bound
enemy and local
superiority,
especially
in the air.
"
..
DUTCH
III
1Zi 143
Gulf of
S ; am
8 December 9.05 am:
Rendezvous 28 Ironsporn ond
escorting worships
~ ~ ~ . . . : o
SUCCESS AND VICTO RY, DECEMBER 1941 - APRIL 1942
Invasion of Malaya
8 Dec 1941-31 lan 1942
..........- Japanese advance
British 'stop lines'
o British stronghold
__ ~ British retreat
... mine field
59
THE SEC O N D WORLD WAR I N THE EAS T
The Japanese advance on
Bataan. MacArthur's
pre-war bombast to the
effect that his forces could
prevent any landing in the
Philippines was shown for
what it was by a lightly but
well-equipped Japanese
army that overran Luzon
and all positions of major
significance in the islands
with very little hindrance.
In real terms the American
withdrawal on to the
Bataan Peninsula cost the
Japanese very little.
60
piecemeal defence and by 19 December had forced the British to abandon
Penang: within another day the abandoned British airfields at Alor Star, Sungei
Patani and Butterworth had been brought into Japanese service. With forces that
had landed at Kota Bharu advancing south along the coast to secure Kuantan at
the end of the year, the Japanese were able to break the British intention to fight
a series of delaying actions around Kuala Kangsar and on the Perak River and,
with landing operations being conducted in the Malacca Strait against Kuala
Sengalor and Port Swettenham, were able to rip apart an unsupported 11th
Indian Division on the Slim River on 7 January. By 12 January Selangor had
SUCCESS AN D VI CTORY: DE CEMBE R 1941 - APRIL 1942
been cleared and Japanese forces had moved into Negri Sembilan: at the same
time formations from the 16th Army had also secured Tarakan on Borneo and
Menado on Celebes in their opening moves into the Dutch East Indies.
On 24 January Japanese task groups at Tarakan and Menado moved against
Balikpapan and Kendari respectively, while thirty degrees of longitude to the
east (2,450 miles), Japanese forces secured Rabaul on New Britain, having
captured its massive natural harbour the previous day, and Kavieng on New
Ireland. At the same time, in the Philippines, a number of Japanese attempts to
land behind American lines across the neck of the Bataan Peninsula resulted in
61
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
defeat in 'the Battle of the Points'. Nevertheless the main American defensive
effort astride Mount Natib was broken, resulting in a general American
withdrawal to the Bagac-Orion line by the 26th. In Malaya the last two weeks of
January 1942 saw the Japanese clear Negri Sembilan and Pahang and, with the
capture of Endau, Mersing and, on the 31st, Johore Bahru, complete the
clearing of the Malay Peninsula. Also on the 31st, while Japanese forces overran
Amboina and thereby exposed the whole of the Lesser Sundas to attack, sister
formations, drawn from the 15th Army, which had crossed the border into
Burma eleven days earlier, secured Moulmein in Tenasserim. Throughout south-
east Asia the Allied powers stood on the point of collapse as January gave way
to February in 1942.
That collapse became reality in the course of February 1942. Singapore
Island was subjected to assault on 8 February, and amid fearful scenes as
SUCCESS AND VI CTORY: DECEMBER 1941 - APR IL 1942
discipline and resolve disintegrated, the city was surrendered on the 15th. On the
8th Macassar was taken by forces operating from Kendari, whi le two days later
Bandjermasin was captured by a Japanese task group from Balikpapan. On
19/20 February Japanese troops landed on Bali and Timor, while Japanese
carriers struck at Darwin. Having secured Palembang on Sumatra on the 16th,
the Japanese gathered around Java, and after landings in the western and central
parts of the island, formal Allied resistance throughout the Indies came to an
end on 9 March, even as the Japanese navy attacked shipping which was trying
to reach the safety of Australian ports. In just sixty days, beginning with the
seizure of Tarakan and Menado, the Japanese had overrun the greater part of
the Indies: at exactly the time as the Indies were surrendered Rangoon changed
hands, the British having been defeated disastrously on the Sittang on 21/22
February. In what remained of March, as Japanese forces in Burma were re-
. ~
organized for an offensive that was to take them
into central and upper Burma during April and
May, other forces landed in northern Sumatra,
secured Lae and Salamaua in north-east New
Guinea and established themselves in the northern
Solomons.
With the surrender of the American garrison
on Bataan on 8 April the Japanese all but
completed one of the most remarkable victories in
history. The American garrison on Corregidor at
the entrance to Manila Bay, and Allied units on
Timor, were unreduced at this time, and the
various islands of the central Philippines, plus
most of Mindanao, remained to be occupied,
while on 5 and 9 April Japanese carrier aircraft
struck at Ceylon and eastern India in the course of
an operation that accounted for the li ght carrier
Hermes , two heavy cruisers, three other warships
and thirty-two merchantmen in what London
feared might well herald the beginning of the end
of the whole of the British position on the Indian
sub-continent and in the Indian Ocean. In the
event, the Japanese turned for home after attacks
that were never to be repeated: no Japanese carrier
ever returned to the Indian Ocean after April
1942.
THE NEW R EALITIES
The Japanese victories in south-east Asia 111 the
course of the first months of the Pacific war were
The Japanese victory parade
at Hong Kong, headed by
Lieutenant General Sakai
Takashi and Vice Admiral
Niimi. The small garrison
was obliged to surrender on
Christmas Day 1941, the
Japanese success completing
their control of virtually the
whole of China's southern
coast.
THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
JAPANESE ARTILLERY
to outlive Japan's final surrender in 1945: these victories were to inflict upon
great imperial powers defeats from which, in the long term, there was to be no
recovery even in the aftermath of Allied victory. After the war, the western
imperial powers were to re-establish themselves in their lost colonial territories
but within two decades all these possessions, with the exception of Hong Kong,
were to become independent states with further wars attending each and every
new birth of freedom and national self-determination. Yet in this fact, and in the
very fact of Japanese conquest in 1941-2, was evidence of Japan's long-term
failure, one of the many aspects of failure that, by 1945, was to be
comprehensive and all-embracing. As noted elsewhere, at the heart of this
failure on the part of Japan was an inability to recognize the force of any form
of Asian nationalism other than her own; an inability to offer the people of her
newly acquired territory anything other than a position of subservience and
dependence. In every part of south-east Asia there were nationalist
organizations that aspired to independence, many of which welcomed the
Japanese as liberators. Yet by 1945 there were resistance movements in most
south-east Asian countries, and virtually the only people who remained
associated with the Japanese were those so closely implicated with a brutal ,
rapacious Japanese military system that they had no real choice in the matter. In
terms of commanding the support of the uncommitted, being able to draw to
herself the endorsement of the subjugated peoples of empire, Japan's wartime
failure in south-east Asia was catholic in extent and range.
But these matters remained for the future as the Japanese conquest of south-
east Asia was completed: the occupation of various little towns on the northern
coast of New Guinea during April and May established the basis of the
perimeter which Japan had sought to establish around her conquest and on
which she sought to wage a defensive war until her enemies came to recognize
Japanese 70 mm Type 92 infantry gun, 1938 (left) and 3.7
inch (94mm) anti-aircraft gun (right ).
ANTI- AIRCRAFT GUN
INFANTRY GUN
SUCC ESS AND VICTORY: DECEMBER 1941 - APR IL 1942
her fait accompli. The Japanese success in this opening phase of the war was
remarkable by any standard, and there were aspects of her victory, and specific
operations such as the attack on Pearl Harbor and the sinking of the British
capital ships Prince of Wales and Repulse in the South China Sea by land-based
aircraft on 10 December 1941 that were unprecedented. What was no less
significant was the ease of Japanese victories. Only in one case, at Wake Island
on 11 December, did the Japanese encounter defeat, and here, after a less than
inspired operation conducted by 'the second eleven' that resulted in the loss of
two warships, they were able to reverse the verdict within twelve days.
Elsewhere, the Japanese victories were recorded with contemptuous ease. Only
off Balikpapan, between 23 and 27 January 1941, did the Japanese encounter
any major losses - one destroyer-transport and six naval auxiliaries and support
ships of 33,632 tons - yet even here there was to be no faltering of the pace and
timing of Japanese operations. Off the Lombok and Sunda Straits, and, most
obviously, in the battle of the Java Sea on 27/28 February, Japanese naval forces
routed the motley collection of Allied warships pitted against them.
Outnumbered Allied units, with no common communications or doctrine, were
wholly outclassed by a navy that, in terms of tactical technique, was probably
second to none at this stage of the war. It was probably fortunate that the
exceptionally ill-advised British attempt to force a night action off Ceylon in
April failed to establish contact, since there is very little doubt which way the
battle would have gone had this intention been realized. As it was, the
subsequent British withdrawal to East African ports was admission of the
Eastern Fleet's strategic impotence.
The Japanese success in south-east Asia was bought remarkably cheaply: in
the central and south-west Pacific and south-east Asia between 8 December 1941
and 30 April 1942 the Japanese lost just thirty-two warships of 61,170 tons,
eighteen naval auxiliaries of 90,931 tons, thirteen army transports of 72,488
tons and seven merchant-men of 29,694 tons; these losses were more than made
good by captured or salvaged Allied shipping. On the other side of the coin, the
Allied defeats had virtually no redeeming features. If the Dutch in the Indies can
be exempt from general criticism since the evident inability of their forces to
withstand attack by a major enemy rendered their defeat a formality, the same
cannot be said of their more powerful American and British allies. · If the
outlying British possessions were certain to fall to any Japanese move, the
British defeats in Malaya and Burma contained no mitigating factors. The
surrender of Singapore was among the worst and most humiliating ever incurred
by British arms, and defeat in Malaya was all the more shameful because the
British had anticipated virtually every aspect of the Japanese plan of campaign,
yet still managed to be out-thought and out-fought at every stage of the
proceedings. The only aspect of comfort was that defeat in Malaya and Singapore
was so rapid and all-encompassing that the British high command was denied
the opportunity to waste even more troops in the vain defence of Singapore.
65
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
Morituri te salutant.
The battleship Prince of
Wales sails from Singapore
on 8 December 1941:
two days later she and the
battlecruiser Repulse
became the first capital
ships to be sunk at sea by
aircraft when they were
caught in the South China
Sea by Japanese shore-based
aircraft .
66
SUCCESS AND VICTORY: DECEMBER 1941 - APRIL 1942
THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
THE JAPANESE CONQUEST OF
BURMA
Pre-war Burma had
represented Britain's
nineteenth defensive priority
since its defence had been
vested in the Singapore
base. With the Japanese
occupation of Indo-China its
position was compromised
and with little more than a
division it was unable to
resist a Japanese offensive
that conquered the country
with embarrassing ease and
that established Burma as
part of Japan's defensive
perimeter.
The worst, most humiliating
disaster. Singapore burning
in February 1942, and the
British party led by the
commander, Lieutenant
General Arthur Percival,
going to surrender,
15 February 1942.
68
The American defeat in the Philippines was no different. Pre-war bombast
to the effect that no Japanese forces could land anywhere in the archipelago was
revealed on the outbreak of hostilities for what it was, while the destruction of
the American air forces on the ground in the first hours of the war, and after the
example of the Pearl Harbor attack was known, elicited the same post-war
evasion of responsibility that attended the Singapore episode. Despite all the
contemporaneous and subsequent claims to the contrary, the conduct of the
defence in the Philippines was as inept as the British defence of Malaya, and was
accompanied by self-advertisement and personal conduct on the part of senior
American commanders in the Philippines that reached beyond the merely
distasteful. The withdrawal into Bataan prolonged American resistance in the
Philippines, but in no way bought time for the Allied cause anywhere else in
south-east Asia and, despite American claims, did not facilitate the defence of
Australia since the Japanese had no plans to take the war to that country in the
form of invasion and occupation of the main centres of popul ation.
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SUCCESS AND VICTORY: DECEMBER 1941 - APR IL 1942
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SUCCESS AND VICTORY: DE CEMBER 1941 - APRIL 1942
It is sometimes very difficult to remember how disastrous were the first
months of 1942 for those states that gathered themselves together and on New
Year's Day proclaimed themselves as the United Nations pledged to wage war
until the unconditional surrender of their enemies was achieved. In the first half
of 1942, in addition to the collapse of Allied arms in the western Pacific and
south-east Asia, British naval power in the eastern Mediterranean was eclipsed;
British forces incurred humiliating defeat in North Africa and German U-boats
ravaged the eastern seaboard of the United States. In the spring Soviet forces
incurred a defeat in front of Kharkov that bared the whole of the eastern
Ukraine to enemy advance. The speed with which the fortunes of war were
reversed in autumn 1942 tends to diminish the extent of Allied defeats in the
first six months of the year. But the fact that these defeats were reversed points
to one matter, both general to the Axis powers and specific to Japan: that even
at the period of her greatest success, basic weaknesses and flaws underlay
Japan's strategic position. At work was an interplay of certain unalterable facts
of time, distance, space and national resources which were to ensure her
ultimate defeat.
The reality of Japan's position, even as her forces overran south-east Asia, is
best summarized by the United Nations' declaration: it served notice that the
Pacific war would be a total, not limited, war. Japan, therefore, had to address a
basic question - how the United States was to be brought to acceptance of
Japan's conquests. There was only one answer: Japan had to undertake offensive
operations that would destroy the American capacity and will to wage war. But
this answer produced a series of dilemmas that cut across the whole basis of pre-
war planning.
JAPANESE STRATEGY
The first of these realities concerned Japan's strategic intention when she went
to war. Essentially, she wished to conduct a defensive war by overrunning south-
east Asia and then casting around her conquests a perimeter defence on which
the Americans would expend themselves in vain. This plan was no more than a
slightly modified edition of the basic idea, current throughout the 1930s, for the
conduct of a defensive war in the western Pacific, and which had shaped
Japanese design and construction programmes accordingly. Crucial to this was
the concept of 'decisive battle', to be fought in the general area of the Marianas
and Carolines against an American fleet advancing from its base in the central
Pacific. The battle was to be opened off Hawaii by submarines which would
conduct the attritional battle as the Americans advanced into the western
Pacific. Three types of submarine were built to prepare for this: scouting
submarines, equipped with seaplanes, were to find the American formations;
command-submarines were then to direct cruiser-submarines to battle. The
latter were endowed with a very high surface speed of 24 knots, the Japanese
calculation being that such speed would allow these units to outpace an
THE JAPANESE CONQUEST OF
THE PHILIPPINES
Japanese possessions to the
north, west and east of the
Philippines left the island
group hopelessly vulnerable,
and Japan's opening moves
were against the main
island, Luzon, and against
Mindanao. The assault on
the latter allowed for the
capture of bases from which
to develop operations
against northern Borneo
and the Indies.
71
THE SECO ND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
The G4M (Betty) land-based
medium bomber in
American markings: the
mainstay of Japanese
shore-based naval aviation in
the inter-war period and
critical to Japanese plans to
fight a defensive battle in the
western Pacific. First in
service in 1934, the Betty was
easily the best medium-range
bomber of her generation,
but by 1941 was balancing
on the edge of obsolescence.
American fleet advancing at economical
cruising speed and to mount successive attacks
to the limit of their torpedo capacity during
the approach-to-contact phase.
These operations were to be supported, as
the American fleet fought its way into the
western Pacific, by shore-based aircraft, and to
this end in the 1930s the Japanese developed
the Betty medium bomber that in its day
possessed a range and speed superior to any
other medium bomber in service anywhere in
the world. In addition, as the Japanese fleet
closed with its enemy its fast battleships and
heavy cruiser squadrons were to sweep aside
the enemy screening forces and allow light
cruiser and destroyer flotillas to conduct
successive, massed, night torpedo attacks on
the head of the American line. With midget
submarines also laid across the American path
in order to exact their toll upon the enemy, the
Imperial Navy anticipated that these
operations would cost the American fleet
perhaps 30 per cent of its strength before the
main action was joined. Japanese carriers
would operate 10 independent divisions
forward from the battle line, and their aircraft
were expected to neutralize their opposite
numbers by a series of dive-bombing attacks.
With the American fleet blinded, weakened and
its cohesion compromised, action would then
be joined by the battle force.
Between the wars the Imperial Navy undertook the most comprehensive
reconstruction of capital ships of any navy, stressing the importance of
possession of exceptional speed, weight of broadside and gunnery range over
potential enemies. The Yamato class, with its IS.I-inch main armament, was
evidence of their endeavour, but this was to have been an interim class: having
armed their battleships with 19.7-inch guns, the Imperial Navy sought to equip
itself with a main battle force so superior to anything that the Americans could
produce that its overwhelming victory in the 'decisive battle' would be assured.
Very curiously, the doctrine on which the Imperial Navy relied as the basis of
its conduct of operations showed no real advance over the 'seven-stage plan of
attrition' with which it had fought and won the battle of Tsushima in May 1905.
In virtually every aspect, Japanese naval doctrine in 1941 was wholly unrealistic
SUCCESS AND VICTORY: DECEMBER 1941 - APRIL 1942
and flawed beyond recall, but the various details of weakness tend to obscure
one fundamental defect: Japan went to war without a strategic policy. The
Imperial Navy had a doctrine, geared to fighting and winning one battle: it was
a doctrine of battle that masqueraded as a plan of campaign, and the plan of
campaign was a substitute for strategy. And it was not so much a doctrine with
which the Imperial Navy went to war in 1941 as the naval equivalent of a de
Dondi 's timepiece, a majestic clockwork of wheels-within-wheels that
represented the medieval European view of the universe: ingenious and
imaginative, lovingly and beautifully crafted, hopelessly misdirected and
obsolescent even as it reached the pinnacle of its achievement.
The most obvious weakness of a process whereby a vision of war became
confused with a concept of operations and thereafter with a method of fighting
73
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
The greatest of all the
dreadnoughts, the Yamato,
on trials off Sata Point,
western Inland Sea,
30 October 1941. She
displaced 71,659 tons full
load. Armed with nine
18.1-inch, twelve 6.1-inch,
twelve 5-inch guns and
endowed with a maximum
speed of 27.7 knots, each of
her main turrets weighed
more than a destroyer.
lay in the Imperial Navy's neglect of maritime as opposed to naval requirements
of trade and shipping at the expense of the fleet. But the most immediate
weakness was the concept of a perimeter defence that exposed individual
outposts to defeat in detail. No single base, with the possible exceptions of Truk
and Rabaul, could be equipped on the scale needed to meet an enemy which was
certain to possess the initiative and choice of offensive operations. The concept
of perimeter defence consisted of gaps held apart by individual bases, each of
which was too weak to resist the scale of attack to which they were certain to be
subjected.
A second weakness, scarcely less obvious, concerned shipping resources:
Japan lacked the shipping resources needed to sustain the bases in the central
and south-west Pacific on which she depended for her first line of defence. A
nation and navy unable to provide for the extension of their defensive zone into
the Marshalls in the 1930s certainly lacked the means to sustain the new bases in
the Gilberts and south-west Pacific in 1942, while the lack of heavy engineering
equipment meant that plans for airfield construction in the new outposts of
empire were, at best, somewhat ambitious. The extension of these
responsibilities across thousands of miles of empty ocean, away from the
resources of south-east Asia and the trade routes with the home islands, merely
compounded Japanese difficulties.
A third weakness exacerbated the other two, namely that for the concept of
'perimeter defence' to work, the fleet had to be permanently ready to intervene
SUCCESS AND VI CTORY: DECEMBER 1941 - APRIL 1942
to support any garnson that was subjected to assault. This was simply
impossible. With the entire fleet in service from December 1941, sooner or later
ships would have to be taken out of action for repair and refitting, which could
not but undermine the fleet's state of readiness.
There were, in addition, a number of other weaknesses, not least the fact
that the Imperial Navy went to war in the knowledge that its doctrine was
flawed in one critical respect. In 1939 an exercise revealed that Japan's
submarines could not achieve the success which was critical to overall victory. In
1940 the exercise was repeated, but even with the rules of engagement amended
to assist the submarines, they were still unable to meet requirements. The force
itself was too small, and a maximum speed of 24 knots did not provide its units
with a sufficient margin of superiority to carry out successive attacks on an
enemy fleet. But the Imperial Navy went to war in 1941 with no change of role
for the submarine force, and with the assumption that its effectiveness in the
/
. ;
THE SE COND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
76
process of attrition was assured. Moreover, Japanese success in this attritional
process was clearly based on a certain passivity on the part of American forces:
in fact, Japanese plans were based on tactical formation long abandoned by the
US Navy. And, most surprising of all, the Imperial Navy's battle plan had never
been subjected to a fleet exercise before the outbreak of war.
Lurking in the wings, however, were other weaknesses, some suspected and
others not. Japan's very limited aircraft replacement capacity, and her equally
limited aircrew training programmes, rendered the whole question of
maintaining a fleet in readiness problematical. In addition, the support of a
defensive perimeter had to involve prolonged operations by main fleet units, the
type of operations that the US Navy began to conduct in the last quarter of
1943. The Imperial Navy could not undertake prolonged operations. Its carriers,
with crews of 1,400 officers and men compared to the 2,700 embarked in
American carriers, were one-shot, but even more importantly, the Imperial Navy
lacked the auxiliary shipping needed to support fl eet operations at the forward
point of contact. In no single class of ship was this more obvious than fleet
oilers, Japan having just nine at the outbreak of hostilities.
The seriousness of Japan's situation can be gauged by the fact that to make
good its weakness of oiler numbers the Imperial Navy chartered at the expense
of the merchant fleet, but in December 1941 Japan possessed just forty-nine
tankers of 587,000 tons. By way of comparison, in 1939 Britain had 425 tankers
of 2,997,000 tons and the United States 389 tankers of 2,836,000 tons. This
slenderness of Japanese resources, however, was but a reflection of a general
inadequacy of shipping resources, a fact both noted elsewhere and a major
source of weakness in terms of Japanese strategic policy and war-making
capability. Before the war Japan needed 10 million tons of merchant shipping in
order to sustain herself, but with only three-fifths of this amount under her own
flag she was dependent for her needs upon foreign shipping which, but for
captures, was denied her with the start of hostilities. Given that the Imperial
Army held 519 ships of 2,161,000 tons and the Imperial Navy 482 ships of
1,740,200 tons at the outbreak of war, plus the fact that in March 1942 some
12.61 per cent of Japanese shipping was laid up for want of routine maintenance
and refitting, the Japanese shipping position 111 spnng 1942 was a disaster
waiting to happen.
But this lack of shipping was only one aspect of Japanese mercantile
problems: no less serious was an inability to use what shipping was avai lable to
full effect. After the services had taken what they required, what was left to the
merchant marine was not necessarily what was best suited to the demands of
trade, but, critically, there was no effective means of controlling what shipping
was available. The two services operated thei r shipping independently of one
another and quite separately from civilian agencies with results that, in light of
shipping shortages, were bizarre. It was not unknown for ships of different
services to sail common routes together, one in ballast outward and the other
SUCCESS AND VICTORY, DECEMBER 1941 - APRIL 1942
in ballast on the return voyage. Such
wastefulness, however, went along-
side an inability to provide for the
proper protection of shipping as
was shown by the utter inadequacy
of escort forces in terms of their
numbers, their lack of organization,
their technological backwardness
and their lack of co-ordination with
land-based air power.
The extent of Japan's weakness
in these fields can be seen by the
fact that in December 1941 the
Imperial Navy had just four
purpose-built escorts III service.
None of the fourteen escorts of
the Modified Type A class, ordered
in the Emergency War Programme of
that year, were within two months of
being laid down. The total number
of oceanic and local trade-protection
units in commission in December
1941 was 32 escorts of all types and
26 chasers, with another 30 escorts
projected and another 16 chasers
either being built or about to be
laid down.
In reality lack of numbers was only one aspect of Japan's problems. No less
serious for the Imperial Navy was qualitative inadequacy. The only purpose-
built escorts in 1941 were singularly ill-provided for escort duties. Its units
initially embarked only eighteen depth charges, and it was not until autumn
1942, at a time when the British had some 2,100 ships equipped with
asdiclsonar, that the class was equipped with any form of underwater detection
- hydrophones. The Imperial Navy lacked any ahead-throwing weapon system,
and its depth charges were wholly inadequate in terms of weight of explosive
and rate of sinking. The Imperial Navy had no influence mines, or any form of
airborne anti-submarine weapon other than the bomb. Moreover, it was not
until autumn 1944 that Japanese escorts began to be fitted with the Type 13
search radar, and Japanese escorts were equipped with only one radio
transmitter that had to work on both high and low frequencies despite the fact
that escorts were often required to work on both simultaneously. At no stage of
the Pacific war was the Imperial Navy able to provide escorts with the high-
capacity No.4 transmitter that was essential for long-range operations in distant
Fleet Admiral Isoroku
Yamamoto. The longest-
serving commander of the
Combined Fleet in the
history of the Imperial
Navy: with a reputation as a
moderate in intemperate
times, ostensibly he was sent
to sea in 1939 in order to
avoid the attention of
various extremists. He
served at Tsushima and
presided over the Midway
and Guadalcanal debacles,
but whether he deserved the
favourable treatment
afforded him by Clio is
debatable.
77
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
waters. Such were some of the more obvious Japanese technological failings;
suffice to summarize thus: that in materiel terms, the Imperial Navy entered
the war as ill-equipped to fight a trade defence campaign in 1940 as the
Italian Navy.
Such were the most serious and immediate weaknesses that beset Japan even
in the moment of success: collectively they provide the basis of understanding of
the events that were to unfold, specifically after November 1943. But in early
1942, as Japanese attention turned to the question of how the war was to be
prosecuted, they - and other matters - began to intrude upon Japanese
deliberations. The vulnerability of forward bases was demonstrated by the
American carrier operation that resulted in the destruction of the entire
torpedo-bomber force based at Rabaul on 20 February. Having secured
Finschhafen in February, Japanese forces from Rabaul moved on 8 March to
occupy Lae and Salamaua; two days later shipping still gathered in Huon Gulf
was caught by American carrier aircraft and incurred such losses that the
Japanese, with very little shipping in theatre, were forced to abandon further
operations in eastern New Guinea and the Solomons. For the first time in the
war Japanese plans and timetable were decided by something other than
Japanese choice. In May, sinkings by submarines alone were greater than the
monthly losses that the Japanese high command in 1941 had deemed to be
tolerable. In this single month, when there was very little shipping committed to
the support of operations, the Japanese lost twenty-two service auxiliaries and
civilian merchantmen of 107,991 tons. The significance of such losses, incurred
even before the battle of the perimeter was joined, lay in the fact that the
Imperial Navy had anticipated losses of 2.7 million tons of shipping over three
years, a figure that very strangely represented its estimation of national
replacement capacity of 900,000 tons a year: the fact that merchant shipping
output never exceeded 497,742 tons in any year between 1931 and 1941 was
seemingly ignored. But in April 1942 such matters were set at nought by an
intrusion, an intimation of reality.
In the immediate aftermath of the Huon Gulf action, the thoughts of the
Japanese naval high command turned to the possibility of using fleet carriers to
support future operations in the south-west Pacific. By this time, however,
attention was also being forced back to the central Pacific, specifically to Pearl
Harbor. Pecking around the periphery of conquests, American carrier activity
served notice, in the form of raids on Kwajalein, Wake and Marcus, of Japanese
vulnerability in the central Pacific, while the movement of American forces into
the south-west Pacific and to Australia pointed to an inexorable widening of the
war. Japan realized that there was little option but to take the war to the United
States, to seek out and destroy American carrier forces. After bitter dispute, the
Imperial Navy agreed upon the detachment of a carrier division to the south-
west Pacific to cover operations in the Solomons and against Port Moresby,
before the main endeavour unfolded in the form of a diversionary offensive into
SUCCESS AND VICTORY: DECEMBER 1941 - APRIL 1942
the Aleutians, followed by the occupation of Kure and Midway Islands at the
western end of the Hawaiian chain. The capture of Midway was seen as the
prelude to fighting and winning the 'decisive battle' against the American carrier
formations that would be obliged to fight for these islands. Thereafter, Japanese
formations were to head for Truk in readiness for a general offensive in the
south-west Pacific that would result in the capture of New Caledonia, Fiji and
Samoa before the resumption, in August, of operations in the central Pacific; the
capture of Johnston Island was to be the prelude to the main effort against the
major islands of the Hawaiian group.
This plan of campaign was settled at a time when the main Japanese carrier
force was in the Indian Ocean, an interesting comment on Japanese priorities in
April 1942, and just before notice of reality was served in the form of the
Doolittle Raid of 18 April when American medium bombers operating from the
carrier Hornet attacked Tokyo, Kube, Nagoya and Yokohama. The damage
caused was minimal, but the humiliation inflicted upon the Imperial Navy was
profound: the immediate effect was to silence the reasoned and well-justified
opposition to the plan of campaign then being finalized in various naval
headquarters. In truth, this pl an was nonsense on a number of separate counts.
Because the Japanese knew from the scale of the attack of 10 March that two
American fleet carriers were operating in the south-west Pacific, the dispatch of
just the fleet carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku to this theatre was neither here nor
there. The forming of a submarine scouting line off Hawaii was almost useless
given the fact that units were deployed at intervals beyond interlocking detection
range. The plan for the occupation of Kure and Midway made little sense when
the two carriers that were to transport aircraft there in readiness for main force
action were the same carriers earmarked for operations in the Aleutians. The
division of Japanese strength between widely separated task groups unable to
offer mutual support, and the refusal of the fleet command to state whether the
occupation of Midway or dealing with any American task force that sought to
intervene represented the operational priority in the opening phase of this effort
compounded matters. In addition, the raid on Ceylon should have provided
cause for reflection. Having flown off their strikes, the Japanese found British
fleet units at sea and were subjected to counter-attack by land-based aircraft. On
both counts, Japanese luck held: two British heavy cruisers were dispatched and
the Japanese carriers escaped unscathed, but the basic problem that had been
glimpsed - inadequate reconnaissance and a division of resources between
conflicting priorities - remained unaddressed and unresolved at the heart of the
Midway plan. All these points were swept aside in the aftermath of the Doolittle
Raid as a result of two corrupting influences: what was subsequently called
'Victory Disease', born of recent, overwhelming success but which in truth had a
much longer pedigree; and the hypnotic, filter-up filter-out phenomenon so
often associated with the planning of major offensives - especially in retrospect,
and especially after such operations have failed.
79
THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
80
The weakness of Japanese
strategic intention:
US Dauntless dive-bombers
over Wake, October 1943. An
island base in the defensive
perimeter, Wake was attacked
by aircraft from three fleet
and three light fleet carriers
and subjected to a cruiser
bombardment. In two days
and at a cost of twenty-six
aircraft from a total of 738
SUCCESS AND VICTORY: DECEMBER 1941 - APR IL 1942
ABOVE: Lieutenant Colonel
James Doolittle fastening
medals to the tail fins of
bombs that were to be
dropped by B-25 medium
bombers operating from
the fleet carrier Hornet on
18 April 1942. By striking at
a number of Japanese cities,
the Doolittle Raid forced the
Imperial Navy to focus its
attention on the central
Pacific and provided
impetus for the ill-fated
Midway endeavour.
81
CHAPTER THREE
THE SECOND MILESTONE:
PROBLEMS
MAY I942 - NOVEMBER I943
MISPLACED SYMBOLISM: the explosion of an American
ammunition dump on Guadalcanal, 26 November 1942.
Given the desperately narrow administrative margins on
which both sides worked during the campaign for the
island, the loss of such stores could have been very
serious but for the fact that November 1942 saw the
destruction of Japanese intentions, primarily in the
naval actions fought in Ironbottom Sound.
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN TH E EAST
THE SECOND MILESTONE: P ROBLEMS
The Mikuma after having
been devastated by a series
of carrier aircraft strikes off
Midwayan 6 June 1942.
The heavy cruiser was the
only Japanese warship to be
sunk in the final phase of
the battle.
M
ILITARY HISTORY is cursed by the concepts of ' the decisive battle' and
'turning points'. In the story of the Second World War, and specifically
the Second World War in the Far East, such concepts are meaningless. If Japan's
defeat was assured from the time that her carriers struck Pearl Harbor, then no
single battle fought in this war can be defined as decisive or the turning point of
the war: the concepts of inevitability on the one hand, and of 'decisive battles'
or 'turning points' on the other, are mutually exclusive. No action or battle,
unless it was the attack on Pearl Harbor, marked the point where the road
divided: the battles in this war were milestones, not signposts, on the road.
Decades of repetition have ensured that the battle fought off Midway
Islands in June 1942 is widely regarded as the turning point of the Pacific war.
This battle undoubtedly possesses singular importance, as it was the first
irreversible victory won by Allied arms in the Second World War. But it was
neither a decisive battle nor a turning point, even though it did mark the end of
a flood tide of Japanese victories. With only slight exaggeration, before Midway
the Japanese met nothing but victory, and after Midway the Americans
commanded only success. The importance of Midway lies not in an
interpretation of this battle as the 'decisive battle' or 'turning point' of the
Pacific war, but as key to a three-fold understanding: of naval warfare; of the
PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 - NOVEMBER 1943
war in the Pacific; and of the campaigns that were fought, specifically in the
period between May 1942 and February 1943, but more generally between May
1942 and November 1943. These three matters provide the basis of this and
following chapters.
Any consideration of naval warfare necessarily involves the examination of
the relationship between victory and supremacy. In any consideration of British
naval mastery the conventional wisdom holds that supremacy was the result of
victory. In reality, though individual victories have to be won; victory was the
product of supremacy. The Pacific war is very unusual: it was a war in which the
relationship between victory and supremacy changed. In the first two years of
the Pacific war two inter-war navies fought one another for possession of the
initiative and for supremacy, and in the process the US Navy secured the
initiative. Its success, however, was neither the product of, nor did it provide
supremacy. After November 1943 a fleet that was very largely a wartime creation
exercised a supremacy that provided victories. Lest the point be doubted, of the
111 units in the task groups that raided the Tokyo area in February 1945 just
four were in commission before the raid on Pearl Harbor, and the havoc wrought
by Allied action in the seas that washed the island empire in the last weeks of the
war was not the cause of victory but the product of supremacy. This is the key to
an understanding of this conflict, a war that ended in November 1943 in terms
of the certainty of decision. By the time that the Americans gathered off the
Gilberts a force that was assured of success, the issue of victory and defeat, both
specifically in the Gilberts but more generally in the war as a whole, had been
resolved: thereafter the only questions that remained to be answered were the
method and timing of Japan's final defeat, and the cost that would be exacted in
the process.
The defeat that Japan incurred in the Pacific had two dimensions, namely the
defeat of her armed forces in and among the various island groups of the south-
west and central Pacific, and the destruction of her seaborne trade. Herein lies
paradox: Japan could have been brought to defeat as a result of the destruction of
the Imperial Navy but which left her merchant marine intact, and Japan could
have been brought to defeat as a result of the destruction of her merchant marine
but which left the Imperial Navy untouched. But the two elements of defeat did
not unfold simultaneously, and Japanese shipping losses before November 1943
were not of the order that ensured defeat. But Japan was brought to final defeat,
and Japan could only have been brought to assured defeat, by the parallel
destruction of the Imperial Navy and the merchant fleet and Japan's seaborne
lines of communication. In this context, the two elements of Japan's defeat in the
Pacific, naval and maritime, were properly complementary.
Herein lay the significance of such battles as the one fought off Midway in
June 1942 which cost the Imperial Navy four fleet carriers and a heavy cruiser.
Midway was the most important single battle fought between the outbreak of
the Pacific war and the battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944, but its
OVERLEAF: The ubiquitous
SBD Dauntless on the flight
deck of an Essex-class
carrier. Only in the years
immediately before the
outbreak of the Second
World War did the dive-
bomber emerge as
potentially the decisive
instrument in carrier
warfare, and in most carrier
battles it was the Dauntless
in its scouting and attack
roles that was at the
forefront of American
endeavours.
85
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
86
PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 - NOVEMBER 1943
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
The first US carrier loss of
the Pacific war: the Lexington
at Coral Sea, 8 May 1942. At
12.47 p.m., over an hour after
last contact with the enemy,
the first explosion destroyed
most of her communications
and killed many of her
damage control personnel.
Without power her pumps
would not work, and a series
of internal explosions
progressively devastated her.
88
importance lies in its being one of a series of battles, fought between May 1942
and February 1943, that formed the watershed of the Pacific war and which
resulted in the Americans winning the initiative throughout the Pacific.
This watershed of the Pacific war consisted of two battles, the Coral Sea
and Midway Islands, as well as the campaigns in eastern New Guinea and the
lower Solomons. The two campaigns were very different, the one primarily
fought on land and the other primarily at sea and in the air, but in one critical
respect they shared a common characteristic. Both developed more from the
momentum of events rather than from deliberate choice, as the two main parties
to the war were obliged to take the war as they found it in the summer of 1942
rather than as they would have wished.
PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 - NOVEMBER 1943
THE BATTLE OF THE CORAL SEA
In May 1942 the Japanese renewed their effort in eastern New Guinea which had
been halted by the American carrier raid on Lae and Salamaua in March. Even
with a carrier division in support, this second effort was frustrated at the battle
of the Coral Sea. The Imperial Navy's attempt to secure bases in the lower
Solomons and on the eastern approaches to Port Moresby, and to move against
these objectives with divided forces that were unable to support one another, left
its formations liable to defeat in detail. After scattering Japanese units in the
lower Solomons on 4 May, the single American carrier task force deployed to
oppose Japanese moves in this theatre sank the light carrier Shoho on the 7th
and forced the formation bound for Port Moresby to retire. On the 8th, in the
The Lexington's engine
room was abandoned at
4.30 p.m. and the final
order to abandon ship was
given at 5.07 p.m.: recovery
of survivors was
completed at 6.53 p.m.
The coup de grace was
administered by a
destroyer and she sank at
7.52 p.m. with an
explosion felt fourteen
miles away.
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
T HE I NDIES AND SOUTH-WEST PACIFIC
The Japanese drive into the Indies
took the form of successive
operations through the northern and
central Indies: the battle of the Java
Sea completed a Japanese victory
that was assured by the time the
battle was fought; the battle of
A
:r:Ok xxxxx
0' 7 '\I" 0' TERAUCH! Sai gon
[SOUTHERN[ t camranh Bay

IS. Sam,
, Panay
-;;J-
J
10°s------, c- - ;;: 0 ·XX'X-- -- --
"'
1\ Gulf of JG]
- w,,--
Palawa", N oho/ ·,'
, ( Slam / IMAMURA South China Sea
egros ,..v
the Coral Sea was the first
battle in history when ships
of the opposing forces never
saw one another.
Battle of the Java Sea
27 February 1942
O'G-- -
Jm De Ruyter Jintsu.nd
sunk sunk r 0.50 pm B destroy,,,
y
oJIL oJIL PBI1h anti HOlJSIon Nachi Hogu,o
,_., fa Batavia -:::: ..... N.ka and
uu::; ""' ;::.:... __ -t-=:<:: _ 5.00 pm---=- 6 destroy""

= .. Electra
sunk 6.00 pm
10.00 pm
_ -::!;=:e. - ...!. J a vaS e a
Encounter
fa Suraboy.
oJIL
Jupifer fa S.r.bey.
sunk 9.25 pm
Sulu Sea
xx
Mala,ya
\
J a v a
\
Battle of the Coral Sea
28 Apri l - 11 May 1942
I
o ",
Midnight 4-5 May
o
I
_ S e + _ COVERING FORCE N
)'l' .... 1 - Shaho (Carrier) -iY ew .
• 'Losuia I :-t),gra
Trogriand 8.00 am B.17s operaflng =;, Rusf!p Is. Tula i
C c;)0-E I Woo lark 6 Moy from Austrolia oHack Shoho
"-.' J.ll ·aa 800;' 9.00 am 7 May: . 9.30 am
' B,a.niara r'M 00 ------ Zuikaku! 6 May
o - On ay t' . am
M"'-a Bay M " .!:L', re lIes 9 May
agan ISI1J1!b 11.35 pm 7 May:
2-2.45 pm: Tf 44 ,i'" + ' ", Sh.g!0sunk
support under heo d \' LOlllc,a(Je=
I!It!!tllil!LslloULbJtsed_aimo Jom
ar
ArchIpelago ,
8.00 am - _ ._ _ , _ l· 25 pm 7 May 10 00 7
BMoy "........ , ...... . om
, ... _ , TF 44 moves nllltito _ _ group lou
, - - - - - to harass Port Moresby - .. _
N , 8.00 am Invasion Group 8.00'a
/
q
Yorktown
- --------"---, " 8.00 pm ,
f
' j 7 May 7 May
r" 8 May
- 1,
Rendezvous on completion of
8.00 am 5 May raid on Tulagi by Yorktown's
'",
Coral Sea 8.00 pm 8 May: oir group
oJIL Lexington sunk 11.30 am 6 May Lexington, Yorktown
oJIL l.1.Mgy.siink···· ···: 8 cruisers
-+-------ll---Neoshodrihing ..... 12.30 pm 7 destroyers
Sims (destroyer sunk
Neosho (oiler) damaged air aHacks
158 '0 160 0
o 100km
'---'-------J
,
100 miles
148°0 150' 0 152'0 154'0 156'0 162°0
x
l IVISION!
GUCHI

UI
SOUTH SEAS
Palau Is.
Sonsorol
Palau
:;eo
.
;orong
12 April
19 April
Yapen, .
,

·Fakfak
:xxx
AIRA.EET!
GUMO
Am
Tanimbar
.
Sarmi •
Holl andia
19 April
Dutch

Merauke .
7 April
Papua
Arafura
Sea
Torres Strait
Somerset .
Darwin
lir raid 19 February
Gulfof
Carpentaria
The early commanders in
the south-west Pacific: Vice
Admiral Jack Fletcher (left),
Admiral Raymond Spruance
(right) and Fleet Admiral
William J. Halsey (below).
Micronesia
from
Truk
Kapingamarangi
xxxx
! FIRST AIR A.EET!
-
10 Marlh 1942
US larrier airnall stri kes
Japanese shipping in Huon Golf
Wi llis Is.
NAGUMO
Ont ong Jav
Coral Sea Is.
Chesterfield Is.
Rockhampton •
A U S T R A L
Tropic of Capricorn
130'0
Attack in the Coral Sea
I January - I I May 1942
--
Japanese movement
--..- Allied movement
-+
Japanese ai r strikes
-+
Allied air strikes
D
Japanese units
4 Japanese sinking ship
""-
Allied sinking ship

Allied units
A
30'1)
Brisbane .
Sydney .
• Melbourne
Bass Strait
40 [}
Furneaux
Group
Tasmania
Hobart
150'0
PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 - NOVEMBER 1943
ds
Santa
Cruz Is.
160'0
FIJI
from Pearl Harbor ,ti
Vanua
Levu
Levu
Handavu
Loyalty Is.
Norfolk I.
Three Kings Is.

North Island
Wellington •
NEW
ZEALAND
South Island
i
170'0
91
160
I
181"0
THE SECO N D WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY
The Japanese planned to
secure Midway and then
fight and win a battle
against American forces
obliged to offer battle
because of Japanese
possession of these islands.
Their deployment was
flawed on three counts: the
various task forces could not
support one another, the
carrier force had few
reconnaissance aircraft, and
American reading of
Japanese signals allowed a
deployment of submarines
and carriers to contest the
Japanese attempt to secure
Midway.
92
lOOkm
I
I i
100 miles
180°0
D
NAGUMO
first naval battle in which surface units did not come into contact with one
another, this American formation lost the fleet carrier Lexington, one destroyer
and one oiler, but extensively damaged the Shokaku and rendered the Zuikaku's
air group hors de combat. Tactically a draw, the battle of the Coral Sea was
strategicall y a clear Allied victory because the Japanese attempt to secure Port
Moresby by seaborne assault was forestalled, never to be renewed. Even more
importantly, the battle cost the Imperial Navy two of the six fleet carriers
required for the Midway operation as well as 75 per cent of their bomber pilots
and planes.
MIDWAY
Arguably Japanese losses in the Coral Sea were a major factor in the Japanese
defeat off Midway in the following month: without the Shokaku and Zuikaku
the main Japanese carrier formation committed to the Midway operation
possessed no margin of superiority over the two American task groups that
D
KONDO
/
179°0
I
. TFI 7
FLqCHER
--1-
po am: Hornet and Enterprise torpedo
attack, 24 shot down
7.05 am: Us, torpedo bombing attack repelled
r
1 bomber returns --
., Yorktown
, , , ., Enterprise
., Hornet
SPRUANCE
N

t
Barrie of Midway 2

Admiral Yamamoto's plans
to seize Midway May- June 1942
--
Japanese striking forces
-
Japanese carrier
--.-
Japanese air strikes
jL sinking ship

US fleet movements
-
US carrier
Volcano Is.
/
MarCZl
6.00 pm: sinking Hiryu
aHa eked by Midway
based 8,17s
PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 - NOVEMBE R 1943
. am: Hiryu Miku
obondonedt'-sink:2 ' 6- une
-.- --
·','0- '- iOOkm • " f I I ,
100',,"Ie<' \.\ X f. 12.05 pm:
10 \ \f · Hiryu
\ \" • • ; SPRUANCE
D :;=-r- k ---3 30'
NAGUMO ' .. "i : ' "f oe 5:00pm: 24 Enterprise YorlydWn
700 pm: Kaga --+----.... \ dive·bombers aHack, obcIndaned
abandoned, scu1!le.dJ June- '.. • 3 shot down, Hiryu -fl'nally sink; 7 June
1
- " ca/ches fire ;;
fO.16 001-10 30 am: • \ I ' Enterprise ;
Enterprise torpedo bombers .. \ \ • .. .. .. dive· bombing aHack ;' ,
attock, Kaga, Saryu, Akagi \ \ 5 June: cru,isers <:0:"" ; ; Spruance Withdraws
hit, 16 shot'down \', Mikuma and d 'd ;' to Midway, deCldmg
, '. am'collide eS- , 7 --nllrtDllDrSue-- -+-- 29'
Nagumo OWOltS arrival of '6..' _ -+-- \ to pursue only wlthm; \'I
Kondo, hoping for us pursuit ---- \ Midway air ;' t
l
and decisive engagement _ .'- ' .... ' ·.cover ;'
I
--_-t-- ¥AMXMOTO D " _..... ,;'
KURITA I "
, I
.... June:
no sign of us fleet engaging. , / __
Operation Midway cancelled 12,00 am 4 June .. Battle of Midway 3
j
exposing fleet to air a ,
Withdrawal to or ered
I
KONDO ,
........... .'
Akagi _
Kaga _
Soryu _
Hiryu _
Admiral Nagumo
1 st Carrier Stri king Force
,2nd Fleet /

)
o Wake
I
/ ---=-==-
----+-
I
165'0
179' 0
l-
I
180'0
Ai r Patrol limit
/ ............
178' 0
¥.o ....uI
O
'l( 9 fOlce
1nd cOlliel SIn In
p
A
0
,
Admiral !:
Spruance
Task Force 16
Japanese submarine
Screenin!l, Force
4 June 10.30 am--6 June 12.00 am
177'0
I
I
C
C
I
E
1
165'0
F
A
Yorktown
176'0
---
I
N
C
Hawaiian f)
Islands
THE SECON D WORLD WAR IN THE EAST

94
opposed it. In reality, however, a number of other factors were also at work in
deciding the outcome of the battle of Midway. The division of Japanese forces
between two strategic objectives - the western Hawaiian Islands and the
Aleutians - and recourse to separated formations that could not provide mutual
support was critically important in ensuring Japanese failure and defeat off
Midway. Moreover, the carrier force's lack of adequate strength with which to
deal with two operational objectives - the suppression of Midway's air groups
and the destruction of American carrier groups - and the inadequate
reconnaissance provision of the Japanese carrier force were no less important in
settling the outcome of this action. But with second-line carrier aircraft
embarked because of an inability to replace earlier losses, the whole Japanese
undertaking in the central Pacific hung on a thread, no more obviously than
with the Japanese plan of campaign.
The Imperial Navy planned to secure Midway and to fight and win a battle
off the islands, but the only battle that it could have won was the battle it
planned to fight. The fact that the battle did not unfold in accordance with
Japanese plans left the leading carrier formation exposed to crushing defeat
without other formations being able to intervene. If this was perhaps one of
the most important single causes in the Japanese defeat off Midway, then the
reason why the battle did not develop along the lines that had been planned -
the Americans' ability to offer battle as a result of their capacity to read
Japanese signals - was no less important, as was outrageous good fortune which
favoured the American carrier groups on the morning of 4 June. Off Midway
the full measure of Japanese failure in terms of manifest deficiencies of planning
and conduct of operations can be gauged by one simple fact: that despite
committing eight carriers, eleven battleships, twelve heavy and nine light
cruisers, sixty-four destroyers, eighteen submarines and 433 aircraft to this
enterprise, only one American warship was attacked in the course of the
battle of Midway. And in common with so many of their efforts, the Japanese
perversely managed to sink two American warships, the fleet carrier Yorktown
and the destroyer Hammann - the latter by a torpedo that had been aimed at
the carrier.
THE CAMPAIGN IN THE SOLOMON ISLANDS
In the aftermath of Midway a lull was imposed on the Pacific war as both sides
reorganized in readiness for the next phase of operations. Abandoning any
attempt to carry the war deeper into the south-west Pacific, the Japanese
planned to consolidate their present holdings and to develop their bases in the
lower Solomons and eastern New Guinea. In the vastness of their conquest was
an apparent assurance of security, especially as the Japanese had calculated that
the United States would not be able to undertake any major offensive in the
south-west Pacific until the second quarter of 1943, a view shared by American
planning staffs. The. Japanese high command assumed that it still retained a
PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 - NOVEMBER 1943
local initiative in this theatre and therefore had time to attend to the
requirements of its perimeter bases and garrisons.
The American position was somewhat different, but not markedly so. The
Midway victory brought a halt to months of defeat and humiliation, but the
priority afforded the European war ensured that only very limited offensive
commitments could be accepted in summer 1942. A lack of assault and support
shipping, as well as combat-ready formations, precluded any significant
undertaking in the central Pacific. But the American high command was
determined to exploit the advantage gained at Midway. With a single division
available for offensive purposes, its attention was directed to the lower Solomons
at the very time when Japanese concentration was fixed upon eastern New
Guinea, specifically to the task of securing Port Moresby to prevent a gathering
of Allied strength in this area. Thus the main battlefields of the next six to eight
months were marked out, and with them the sequence of events that was to
result in the breaking of Japanese naval power.
The abandoned Japanese
fl eet carrier Hiryu on the
morning of 5 June 1942 off
Midway Islands. After the
crippling of three carriers
on the previous day the
Hi ryu had attempted to
continue the battle against
three US carriers and her
aircraft attacked the
Yorktown on two separate
occasions before she was
overwhelmed.
95
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
Interdependence and
victory: Hell's Corner,
Guadalcanal. The critical
elements in the American
victory in this campaign
were the defensive - not
offensive - victories won
around Henderson Field and
the ability of aircraft,
primarily naval aircraft,
based on the airfield to deny
Japanese warships use of
the waters of the lower
Solomons.
These two campaigns were to unfold at the same time, and operations in the
Solomons and New Guinea were to continue until the very end of the war. The
main part of both campaigns, however, was over by February 1943, by which
time the Japanese had been forced to evacuate their surviving troops from
Guadalcanal, their forces had been annihilated on the Kakoda Trail, and
checked around Wau, the Allies being left free to develop their offensive into and
beyond Huon Gulf. In the event, and despite the annihilation of a Japanese
military convoy in the Bismarck Sea in March 1943 that dissuaded the Japanese
high command from attempting the direct supply of its formations in Huon
Gulf after that time, it was not until September 1943 that Allied forces moved to
secure Lae and Salamaua and to move into the Markham Valley and beyond
Cape Cretin. It was in the following month, October 1943, that Allied forces,
after a slow six-month struggle in the central Solomons, were able to move into
the upper Solomons. The American carrier raids on Rabaul on 5 and 11
November, plus the actions fought by light forces in the northern Solomons that
same month, closed this second phase of the Pacific war, at the end of which the
Japanese position across the whole of the south-west Pacific had been
compromised. Despite a recasting of plans with the inauguration of the so-
called New Operational Policy in September, the Japanese outer line of defence
in the south-west and central Pacific stood on the brink of collapse.
The American intention was to move to secure the Japanese positions on
Tulagi and Guadalcanal in the Solomons in early August and to occupy the
Dobodura area by an overland advance from Port Moresby that was to begin in
the middle of that same month. But by occupying Buna and Gona on 21/22 July
the Japanese forestalled the Allies, swept aside feeble Australian resistance
around the beachheads and pressured rapidly inland to secure Kakoda on the
27th. Thereafter Japanese progress faltered, and for four reasons. First, before
their landings the Japanese fondly believed that the Kakoda Trail was a motor
track over the forbidding Owen Stanley mountain range, but in fact it was no
more than a jungle trail which the Japanese could not hope to negotiate with
their available forces and logistics. Second, the Japanese plan to support their
move through the mountains by landings in Milne Bay miscarri ed, and their
forces were landed in the middle of an Allied base. Despite being heavily
outnumbered, the Japanese none the less inflicted on their opponents a series of
defeats that varied between the outrageous and farcical, though in the end only
one outcome was possible. The Japanese recognized this and evacuated their
surviving forces, with pride on both sides severely dented (25 August/6
September). Third, Australian resistance on the Trail came together very quickly
after a series of small but disastrous actions once raw formations were steadied
by the arrival of battle-experienced forces from the Middle East. The Japanese
were able to advance to the Ioribaiwa Ridge, within sight of Port Moresby, on 14
September, but on the 24th began to withdraw down the Trail. By mid October
the Japanese had withdrawn to positions in front of Kakoda, but at this stage
PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 - NOVEMBER 1943
97
THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
Australian troops passing
knocked-out Japanese light
tanks at Milne Bay,
August-September 1942. In
an attempt to renew their
offensive against Port
Moresby after Midway the
Japanese unknowingly
landed in an Allied base in
Milne Bay on the eastern tip
of New Guinea. In a battle
that lasted two weeks,
Japan's last amphibious
offensive in the south-west
Pacific was broken.
were in very real danger of being overwhelmed
as their enemies sought to outflank their
positions by an advance up the Minami Valley
and by airlifting forces from Milne Bay and
Port Moresby to positions on the north coast
from which to move against Buna and Gona.
By the end of November the Japanese forces,
approximately 5,500 men, had been restricted
to two separate areas both less than a mile in
depth within the beachhead. While Australian
formations cleared Gona by 18 December, it
was not until 22 January 1943 that Japanese
resistance at Buna came to an end. Within
another three weeks the Japanese attempt to
overrun the Australian positions around Wau
was defeated, the Allied ability to airlift forces
to the Wau-Mobu area being critical to the
defeat of a much superior Japanese formation.
The fourth reason for the Japanese defeat
In eastern New Guinea in the second half of
1942 was that after 7/8 August, Japanese
attention and resources within the south-west
Pacific were divided as a result of the American
occupation of Tulagi and Henderson Field on
Guadalcanal. As battle was joined in the lower
Solomons, the campaign in eastern New
Guinea assumed secondary status for the
Japanese, with the result that their defeat
along the Kakoda Trail, given the Allies' local
superiority of resources, was assured. The fact
was that the Japanese lacked the means to
support two efforts in theatre, and as events
unfolded they were shown to lack the means to
support even one effort to full effect.
The basis of this weakness, and the basis
of an understanding of what was to happen in
the lower Solomons over the next six months,
lies in recognition of one reality of naval
warfare. A fleet's vulnerability is never greater
than when obliged to operate in direct support
of ground forces, when its freedom of action is
restricted. The greatest danger exists not when
the battle on landis fluid, but when there is
PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 - NOVEMBER 1943
99
THE SECOND WO RLD WAR I N T H E EAST
The final scene at Buna on
2 January 1943 when
American troops finally
completed the destruction
of Japanese forces that had
been committed to the
overland offensive against
Port Moresby. Japanese
forces trapped on Huon
Gulf fought literally to
annihilation.
100
deadlock ashore. In the lower Solomons campaign these terms of reference
applied to both sides. The Imperial Navy was obliged to try to reduce what
amounted to an American fortress: the commitment of American forces ashore
to a defensive battle around one airfield imposed upon Allied naval formations a
lingering commitment 'in harm's way'. Though not appreciated at the time, the
issue of victory and defeat was resolved very quickly by the Americans bringing
Henderson Field into service, and securing local air superiority that became
increasingly marked with the passing of time. Without any forward bases, and
obliged to operate aircraft from Rabaul at the very limit of their endurance, the
Japanese effort between August and November 1942 very slowly unravelled in
the face of this local but ever-growing American advantage in the air. The defeat
of successive offensives against Henderson Field and the loss of balance and
organization of their naval formations both reflected and compounded this
basic failure.
Over fifty actions involving warships from one or both sides were fought in
the course of the Guadalcanal campaign, which was the first test of the Japanese
concept of perimeter defence, but for one fact. Possession of the island base was
in enemy hands, and the obligations of defensive and offensive action were
directly contrary to what the Japanese had intended. There were, moreover, two
other points of difference between what the Imperial Navy had anticipated and
reality, namely the speed of decision and the timely intervention of Japanese
battle forces in support of their formations ashore. Initially, the situation seemed
to suggest that these two matters were of small account: the battle off Savo
Island (9/10 August) saw a Japanese cruiser formation overwhelm part of the
Allied force off Guadalcanal, sinking four heavy cruisers. Critically, however,
fear of being caught in the area at dawn by enemy aircraft meant that the
Japanese formation withdrew without setting about the assault shipping
gathered off Guadalcanal. This omission was crucial because the Americans
were then able to establish themselves securely ashore, annihilate a Japanese
detachment put ashore on 18/19 August and fly fighters into Henderson Field on
the 20th without interference from the Japanese battle forces. With its main
forces in the Inland Sea at the time of the American landings in the lower
Solomons, it was not until the third week after the American occupation of
Henderson Field that the Imperial Navy was able to deploy carrier forces in
theatre. The battle of the Eastern Solomons, 23/25 August, again witnessed the
Imperial Navy's use of dispersed formations, and again with the same result as
Coral Sea and Midway. The Japanese light cruiser Ryujo and a destroyer were
sunk, and the Japanese fleet carriers were eliminated from further proceedings
as a result of the losses incurred by their air groups: one American fleet carrier
was lightly damaged.
Over the next weeks the Imperial Navy was to correct the imbalance of
losses with its submarines badly damaging the Saratoga (31 August) and sinking
the Wasp (15 September). It also succeeded in taking Henderson Field under fire
PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 - NOVE MBER 1943
ror
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
GUADALCANAL
Guadalcanal covered an area
of some 2,060 square miles
but the struggle for its
possession concerned itself
with some 20 or so square
miles of coastal plain on the
northern coast. The interior
of the island, through which
Japanese forces had to move
against the US position astride
the Lunga, consisted of
, # #
BEACH RED
, ,
air support from
carrier task force
xx
us ~ I MARlNES
VANDEGRIfT
.. ,,=!!!!--...
'. =c!'! -==-
I02
heavily eroded ridges covered
by thick tropical forest . The
campaign's outcome was
largely decided by American
defensive success along the
southern perimeter,
specifically in breaking the
offensives of 12/14 September
and 24/25 and 25/26 October.
With the Japanese unable to
overrun or even neutralize
BEACH RED EXTENSION
"
us ~ IV MARINES
HUNT
(Combat Group A)
Henderson Field, their long-
term failure in the campaign
was assured: their defeat
became reality with the
American victories in the first
and second naval battles of
Guadalcanal in mid
November. Only in the very
last phase of the campaign
did US forces move beyond
the Matanikau.
25km
I
I
15miles
9 August 1942:
Savo Bonle of Sovo Island
Island,
\
\
PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 - NOVEMBER 1943
;;.
y\e1
\0 C
"tl t\2. C Lengo Channel
So-\- 18Aug
29 Aug - 11 Sept 1942 '{942 T anu
\
1", Poi t
2-3 Nov 1942 /! •
CD
Te r'
Guadalcanal
7 August: US Marines land. Rapidly
expanding from the bridgehead they
scatter the Japanese garrison
8 August: a defensive perimeter is
formed around (he captured airfield
9 August: j apanese air strikes and
intervention by naval units force
US Navy to withdraw, leaving
Mari nes isolated. They receive
long-range air support and
supplies brought in by destroyers
during the ni ght
Guadalcanal
August 1942 - February 1943
--.,....- Japanese movement
...........- US movement
US stronghold
Sealark Channel
CD
20 August: the airfield, now named
Henderson Field, is completed and
(he first Marine aircraft arrive to
give local air suppo rt
20 Aug - 14 Sept: continuous
skirmi shing culminating in the
japanese attack on Bloody Ridge,
which is driven off by the Marines.
Despite further j apanese attacks the
US bui ld up continues and from t he
end of October the Marines gain
the initiative
I03
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
HAND GRENADES
US MARK 2 ' PINEAPPLE'
FRAGMENTATION HAND-GRENADE
J APANESE TYPE 97
HAND-GRENADE
: i ! .I
,
JAPANESE TYPE 3 ANTI-TANK
GRENADE
On the Kakoda Trail, at
Buna and at Milne Bay,
Australian forces, by
breaking Japanese offensives
in eastern New Guinea,
recorded perhaps Australia's
finest achievement of the
war. Australia, alone among
combatant nations, had no
conscription: yet one in two
Australian males aged 18 to
45 enlisted voluntarily. At
peak 89.4 per cent of all
males aged 14 and over were
in the services or employed
directly in war work.
PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 ~ N OVEMBER 1943
THE SECO N D WORLD WAR IN T HE EAST
The last salvo of the US
light cruiser Helena, sunk
by torpedoes fired by
Japanese warships at the
battle of Kula Gulf, 6 July
1943. This was the first of
four closely-fought battles
for the central Solomons by
the end of which the
Americans possessed clear
advantage over the Japanese
at sea.
1 0 6
m a series of night bombardments and putting army formations ashore on
Guadalcanal. But a major offensive against the airfield encountered withering
defeat on Bloody Ridge on 12 September. Thereafter, as the seriousness of the
situation in the lower Solomons slowly impressed itself upon the high
command, the Japanese made a major effort to build up their forces on
Guadalcanal in readiness for a renewal of the offensive: at the same time capital
ships were sent into the waters that washed Guadalcanal in an attempt to
neutralize Henderson Field by sustained, deliberate and heavy fire. Despite
being worsted in a skirmish between cruiser forces that was dignified with the
title of the battle of Cape Esperance, 11/12 October, these Japanese efforts were
generally successful: equality of numbers on the island and a reduced American
effectiveness in the air were achieved by the time that the Imperial Navy
committed its carrier forces to a second attempt to eliminate the American
outpost on Guadalcanal.
The battle of Santa Cruz, 26/27 October, with the American carrier Hornet
and destroyer Porter sunk, and the carrier Enterprise damaged, against one
Japanese fleet carrier and one light fleet carrier damaged, was perhaps one of
PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 - NOVEMBER 1943
only two carner battles in the war when the Japanese had the better of an
exchange with the Americans. But like the battle in the Coral Sea, the margin of
success, plus the fact that the army's second attempt to overrun Henderson Field
failed on the 23rd, was too slender to permit an effective exploitation of
advantage. The losses incurred by the Japanese air groups, as well as a shortage
of fuel, prevented the Japanese from pressing their advantage. In the aftermath
of what was, in effect, a drawn battle, the Japanese took the decision to intensify
their ferrying operations and to commit battleship and cruiser formations by
night, and bomber formations by day, to the t ask of neutralizing Henderson
Field. With the Americans also committing heavy units to its defence, the result
was a three-day series of actions that broke the Japanese effort in this theatre.
In the first engagement, 12/ 13 November, fought at times at ranges at which
torpedoes could not arm and battleship guns could not be depressed to bear
upon the enemy, the Japanese lost the battleship Hiei and two destroyers,
compared to the Americans' two light cruisers and three destroyers, with two
further ships rendered hors de combat. In the second engagement, 14/ 15
November, another Japanese battleship, the Kirishima, was lost in one of the
only two capital ship actions of the Pacific war, the Americans losing three
destroyers. The loss of a battle division in these actions in many ways spelt the
end of the Japanese effort, but what was no less serious in the long term was the
annihilation of a troop convoy the Japanese tried to fight into Guadalcanal
under the cover of its battle force. With eleven destroyers committed to the
support of eleven transports, six of the transports were lost on 14 November
and another four ran themselves ashore and were bombed to destruction on the
following day. The loss of 70,179 tons of high-quality shipping in a single
LSTs at Guadalcanal.
Though naturally it was the
fighting for Guadalcanal
that ultimately decided the
outcome of the campaign, it
was the Americans' greater
ability to supply and
reinforce their garrison and
air formations on the island
that largely determined
events.
T H E SECOND WOR LD WAR I N T H E EAS T
108
THE WASP
The Wasp. 18,500 tons
(deep load), eighty-four
aircraft, eight 5-inch, twenty
20-mm guns, 29.5 knots.
Compliance with Treaty
regulations was achieved
primarily at the expense of
anti-torpedo protection.
PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 - NOVEMBER 1943
24-hour period on a single mission was something
that Japan could not afford. But Japan's position
was even worse than these bare figures would
indicate. These losses came after the destruction
of 154,074 tons of service and merchant shipping
in October - more than twice Japan's replacement
capability - and at a time when an estimated
700,000 tons of shipping were committed to
operations 10 the south-west Pacific. Neither the
losses of 13/ 15 November, nor a shipping
commitment of this magnitude, could be borne,
certainly not indefinitely and in waters commanded
by enemy land-based air power. On 31 December
the Japanese high command took the decision to
abandon the struggle for Guadalcanal and to
evacuate its remaining forces from the island.
The surviving Japanese troops on Guadalcanal
were evacuated, without loss, in the first eight days
of February 1943, ending the campaign in the lower
Solomons. Within a couple of weeks the Americans
moved to occupy and prepare an airstrip 10 the
Russells, foreshadowing how the campaign in the
Solomons, indeed in the Pacific as a whole, was to
unfold. But the campaign in the Solomons was over
for the moment, and three matters are of
significance 10 understanding its results and
implications. The first of these points is the nature
of land-based air power on Henderson Field that
was crucially important in deciding the outcome of
this campaign. In any consideration of the war at
sea in the Second World War, the importance of
land-based air power can hardly be understated, but
the struggle for Guadalcanal is notable for the fact
that the aIr power available on Henderson
Field was primarily naval air power, and very often
carrier aircraft based ashore, not conventional land-
based air power. What was so important in the
sinking or damaging of Japanese ships, and which
so limited Japanese freedom of action, was the
ability of naval aircraft to attack at low level, rather
than the high- and medium-altitude attacks of heavy
or medium land-based bombers.
Second, a qualitative balance began to establish
The fleet carrier Enterprise
at the battle of Santa Cruz,
26 October 1942. With her
sister ship Hornet lost, this
was one of the few carrier
actions in which the balance
of losses favoured the
Japanese but not to the
extent that they were able to
seize the initiative in the
lower Solomons.
I09
THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
THE G4M BETTY AND B-25
MITCHELL
On paper the two aircraft
were well matched though
with full loads the B-25
weighed almost twice as
much as the G4M.ln terms
of speed and ceiling there
was little to choose between
them. In terms of armament
and payload the Mitchell
carried fourteen cannon and
maximum bomb load of
3,200-lbs to the five guns and
1,764-lb payload of the
Betty. In range the Betty held
a clear advantage, 3,748
compared to 1,500 miles, but
this advantage was too
dearly bought in terms of
armour and self-sealing
tanks. Japanese industry
produced 2,446 all G4M
types: American industry
9,816 all B-25 types.
itself at sea during the campaign. At the outset, the Imperial Navy possessed
clear superiority over its opponents, as the victory off Savo Island
demonstrated. By the campaign's end, and even allowing for the action off
Tassafaronga (30 November) when the Japanese inflicted a stinging reverse
on a considerably superior American cruiser formation, a rough parity of
quality prevailed. The Americans learnt from their mistakes and recast
their tactics accordingly: in addition, they possessed a clear advantage in
radar and communications. The qualitative improvement of American
naval forces in the course of this campaign was purchased by defeats
and losses, but in the event Tassafaronga, where the US Navy was very
fortunate not to lose four heavy cruisers, proved to be the last clear-cut
Japanese naval victory of the war. The first two of the three battles fought
in mid year in the central Solomons - at Kula Gulf on 6 July and at
Kolombangara on the 13th, and the action off Vella Lavella on 6 October -
saw honours and losses more or less shared. But in the battles fought in
Vella Gulf on 6/7 August and, in the upper Solomons in November, in
Empress Augusta Bay and off Cape St George, the Americans clearly
outfought the Japanese, not least because of their employment of divided
B-25 M ITCHELL
The G4M Betty (left) never really had a
proper replacement. It was a mark of
Japanese industrial weakness that the
Betty, like most of the aircraft in front-
line service in 1941, could not be
replaced by improved marks or new
aircraft types during the Pacific War.
PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 - NOVEMBER 1943
forces and synchronized attacks which were hitherto the monopoly of the
Imperial Navy.
The third and last point of significance about the Guadalcanal campaign is
that ironicall y it provided vindication of the Japanese perimeter defence
concept: unfortunatel y for the Imperial Navy, it was the US Navy that made it
work. By seizing Tulagi and Henderson Field, and then committing their main
formations to the defence of these bases, the Americans imposed upon the
Imperial Navy the campaign that the Japanese had assumed the Americans
would have to fi ght, and have to fight under such conditions that its defeat was
assured. The reasons for such a state of affairs was varied, though four were
uppermost in ensuring that the Imperial Navy fought under conditions that all
but guaranteed defeat: the inadequacy of individual bases and their inability to
sustain themselves in the face of a massively superior enemy; the loss of the
initiative that ensured that the Imperial Navy was obliged to react to events at
the cost of the balance and timing of its operations; the Japanese lack of air
superiority in the immediate battle area; and the inadequacy of Japanese
The American landings on
Rendova in the central
Solomons were just one of
five landings in the south-
west Pacific on 30 June 1943:
the others were near
Salamaua and in Nassau
Bay and on Woodlark and
the Trobriands. In one two-
week period, between
21 June and 4 July, the
Americans conducted no
fewer than ten landing
operations in this area,
building on successes won
on Guadalcanal and New
Guinea and the breaking of
Japanese air power in the
central and lower Solomons
between April and mid June.
III
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
The keys to Allied advances in the south-west Pacific
theatre were, first, the American ability to neutralize
Japanese land-based air power before moving to secure
objectives by amphibious assault and, second, bringing
into service airfields from which the next moves could be
supported and covered. Bougainville was subjected to
assault on 1 November 1943. The construction of the
first of three airfields began on the 9th: it was readied for
operations on 9 December.
112
u
110'0
CHI N A
E..
Ch
S,
Okinawf.
Luzon Strait
Luzon

PHIUPPINE ISlANDS
,... Samar
Panay Leyte
Palawan"P-" NegTo1johoL
Sulu Sea Mindanao
Sandakan ·Davao
Celebes Sea Morota;
Borneo .iomini • Kema
• Biak HaJmehera
Banka Balikpapan •
Bandjermasin • , Celebes Bum Ceran:
y Kendari..
DUTCH EAST INDIES • Amboina
Bata"Vt a. Java Sea Macassar
. ,Kragan FI S
• \- ') ores ea
Tjilatjap -Bali Jumbaw Flores
Sumba Dutch Timor
Christmas Is. Timor Sea
A U
60'8--r f
INCHURIA
R
/
130"0
I Vladj ostok

Hokkaido
Sea of Japan. 1.
Honshu
an • Tokyo
Osaka. Mivake
Hacbiso
Shikoku
Nishino
I Sumisu
Tori
Saru-Can
Muko
Chichi lima
?;" Haha Shima
140'Q
rDaito
,!,DDaito
• M arCIlS Is.
'ce Vela
Ulithi
rap
lwoJima

Northern Pagan
Anatahan
Saipan
Rota
Guam
+
Truk Is.
Nomoi
Caroline I slands
Nukuoro
Wi/lisIs.
Coral Sea Is.
A
Eniwetok
Atoll
Ujelang
Atoll
+
PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 - NOVEMBER 1943
15()"[]
170' Q
Komandorskiye
Ostrova
Bering
Sea
Is. Aleutian Islands
Is
26 March 1943 ....... -,. jM-ay-I-94-3-
v
Midway l so
KureAtoll
Arcti, Ord.
_ 150 '0 140 '0
( USA I
Gulf of Alaska
General situation in the Pacific,
prior to Operation Cartwheel
End 1942 - November 1943
Japanese attacks end 1942
Japanese attacks early 1943
Allied attacks
major US supply routes
Lisianski Is.
-Y"
0 Qi ·
Laysan Is. I q
lSI
((;
Niihau KavBah s)
Honolulu. :<\olokai
MaUl
Gardner Is.
L
Wake Is . •

Johnston Atoll
Sa/lltt
Atoll
Butaritari November 1943
Marakei ..
Tarawa Howland Is.
Nauru - --"Nonuti Baker Is.
Banaba Beru
Arorae
Nov. 1943
Nanumea
Nanumanga Niutao
Niu Vaitopu
Nukufetau Funafuti
Niulakita
Birnie Is.
Hull Is.
Samoa
VpoJu
Tonga
Amarican
S.mo.
Niue
Palmyra Is. (US)
Washington 15. rBr)
Fanning Is. (Br)
Christmas Is. (Br)
Jarvis/s.
Malden Is .
Starbuk Is.
Northern Cook }s.
Caroline /s.
Flint /s.
King George /s.
Society Is. (Fr)
Bora Bora
T ahit, Papeete
mnch Polynesi.
Maria Is.
Rurntu
Rimotara Tubuai
Raivavae
Tubai I s .
II3
THE SECON D WORLD WAR I N T HE EAST
II4
logistical support in terms of sustained operations. The wisdom of trying to
prosecute a campaign at the most distant part of the defensive perimeter was
also questionable, but merely brought to the fore the intrinsic problem of
seeking to fight a defensive campaign against a superior enemy with choice in
the conduct of its offensive operations. This point raises another in its turn:
most of the battles that constituted the campaign were not the battles that the
Imperial Navy had planned to fight. The Japanese seemed unable to adapt their
battle plans to the reality of the conflict. If the Imperial Navy in the inter-war
period failed to distinguish between a war, a campaign and a battle, and in this
phase of the war fought the wrong campaign, the development of air power
meant that the battles it fought both here in this theatre and throughout the war
were not the battles for which it had prepared. In the course of this campaign
the Imperial Navy lost just one cruiser, the Furutaka, in a surface action, and of
the sixteen heavy and twenty-two light cruisers lost during the war, just four
were destroyed in action with enemy surface forces, another two being shared
between warships and aircraft. In contrast, land-based aircraft sank two light
cruisers and shared in the destruction of one heavy cruiser and one light cruiser
and carrier aircraft accounted for seven heavy and seven light cruisers and had
claims on the credit for the destruction of three other units.
The period of Japanese defeat off, over and on Guadalcanal and in eastern
New Guinea came at a time of British victory at El Alamein, the Anglo-
American landings in north-west Africa and the Soviet counter-offensives in
front of Stalingrad and Rzhev which collectively marked the Allies' wresting the
strategic initiative from their European enemies. This coincidence of Axis
defeats provides opportunity to consider the position of the Allied powers in the
Far East at the end of 1942, and the policy decisions, mainl y American, that
were to shape the events of the next thirty-two months which were to end with
Japan's total defeat.
ALLIED STRATEGY
The outbreak of the Pacific war forced upon the United States the obligation of
leadership in the prosecution of the war against Japan and vested her with the
power of decision relative to Britain in matters affecting this war and, in the
longer term, the European war as well. The outbreak of war also rendered the
United States the dominant western influence within China.
American strategic policy at the time of national entry into the Second
World War was dominated by three considerations: the primacy of the Europe-
first commitment; a confidence that the United States had the measure of Japan;
and the belief that Japan's defeat had to embrace both Asian and Pacific
dimensions. The latter was crucial because the belief that Japan could not be
defeated without the Imperial Army on the mainland being part of that defeat
was to lead the United States into a search for both an expanded Chinese and a
Soviet dimension to -the Japanese war. The latter proved easy to secure. At the
PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 - NOVEMBER 1943
Tehran conference in November 1943 the Soviet high command gave an
undertaking to enter the war against Japan within three months of Germany's
defeat, although ironically by the time that the Soviet Union was in a position to
honour this undertaking American enthusiasm for Soviet intervention was past.
The China part of the American equation, however, proved much more difficult,
and the American effort in this direction calls to mind the definition of the
Japanese involvement in that country: the China quagmire.
The simplicity of American expectations of China's role III the defeat of
Japan was to involve a host of problems that crystallized over the next three
years at different levels. The twin intentions to arm and equip Chinese field
armies with a view to their conducting major offensive operations, and to stage
a strategic bombing campaign against the Japanese home islands from bases in
southern and central China, involved a baffling array of inter-alliance, strategic,
logistical and bureaucratic problems. American intentions were supposedly
The Casablanca conference,
January 1943: Roosevelt,
Churchill and their leading
military advisers King,
Marshall, Pound (First Sea
Lord until October 1943),
Air Chief Marshal Sir
Charles Portal, Brooke,
Field Marshal Sir John Dill
(head of British military
delegation in Washington)
and Vice Admiral Lord
Louis Mountbatten, chief
of combined operations.
THE SECO ND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
rI6
complementary, but in fact emerged as rivals to one another, and in any event
they fell foul of the wishes of the Nationalist regime in Chungking that had no
real interest in fulfilling the role that Washington ordained. Chungking regarded
the Communists, not the Japanese, as the real enemy, and while willing to accept
American aid was reluctant to undertake offensive operations that would
consume military resources that were to be preserved for the post-war settling of
accounts with the domestic foe.
Chungking, therefore, was quite willing to play host to an American air
effort. But without any major military undertaking and the securing of the
bases from which such an offensive would be mounted, a strategic bombing
campaign could only miscarry. Moreover, the desire to stage an air offensive
from China took no account of the implications that flowed from the basic
premise that underpinned American (mis)calculations. China could only be
supported and readied for her appointed tasks from India, and if the Americans
were prepared to mount an airlift from bases in India that did not exist, the fact
remained that, in the long term, China could only be supplied on the necessary
scale by overland communications that ran through Burma. Thus the British
reconquest of Burma formed a basic American requirement, and was one that
Britain was not merely unable to undertake, but was determined to resist.
For the British, the reconquest of Burma represented a most hazardous
undertaking, involving an advance across the mountains and through the jungles
that separated India and Burma against an enemy served by good lines of
communication through the Sittang and Irrawaddy valleys. But even if upper
Burma was cleared sufficiently to permit the building of a road into China, the
demands of the defence of that road against an intact enemy in central Burma
would be equal to the capacity of the road itself, it being axiomatic that lower
Burma could not be cleared of a Japanese enemy by an overland offensive staged
from north-east India. Geography suggested that only an amphibious effort
directed against Rangoon as the first stage of an offensive into central and upper
Burma offered any realistic prospect of clearing Burma and developing an
overland line of supply into China. But the demands of the European war
ensured that the British could not undertake such an operation. In reality,
however, the British high command had no wish to undertake such a
commitment: Japanese strength in Burma, plus the existence in south-east Asia
of other, more important objectives than Rangoon, were positive incentives to
the British to bypass Burma in order to seek out enemy weakness, not that
Washington agreed with this analysis. To add to the perversity of this situation,
the American requirements for an airlift into China and an offensive into upper
Burma were dependent upon a logistical infrastructure in north-east India that
did not exist, and which the American high command was determined should
not be developed at the expense of two undertakings that it wanted to see
effected immediately. To further complicate matters, the engineer support
needed for any offensive into upper Burma was not available, given the need to
PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 - N OVEMBER 1943
develop north-east India in order to make such an offensive possible. The
China-Burma combination thus threw up a series of clashes of priorities that
confounded Anglo- and Sino-American deliberations, and which bred mutual
exasperation and distrust.
In the Pacific, the American position was scarcely less difficult because there
the US Army and Navy were involved in war with the real enemy. Bureaucratic
and personnel considerations meant that after March 1942 the American effort
in the Pacific was to be divided between the two services. At the heart of this
inherently unsound arrangement was the Navy's refusal to put the Pacific Fleet
under the command of a general, and one general in particular, and the Army's
wilful refusal to allow the Navy the position of pre-eminence that the very
nature of the Pacific war should have ensured. Thus were created Admiral
Chester Nimitz's Pacific Ocean Areas and General Douglas MacArthur's South
West Pacific Command and, like the two strands of American intention with
respect to China, for most of the war these commands were as much rivals as
partners. Throughout the war there was a series of attempts by South West
Pacific Command to subordinate its naval counterpart and the Pacific Fleet to
itself, while the army high command sought to impose a joint organization upon
Their only meeting, physical
and not one of minds:
Generalissimo Chiang
Kai-shek, President Franklin
D. Roosevelt and Prime
Minister Winston Churchill
at Cairo, November 1943.
Il7
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
II6
complementary, but in fact emerged as rivals to one another, and in any event
they fell foul of the wishes of the Nationalist regime in Chungking that had no
real interest in fulfilling the role that Washington ordained. Chungking regarded
the Communists, not the Japanese, as the real enemy, and while willing to accept
American aid was reluctant to undertake offensive operations that would
consume military resources that were to be preserved for the post-war settling of
accounts with the domestic foe.
Chungking, therefore, was quite willing to play host to an American air
effort. But without any major military undertaking and the securing of the
bases from which such an offensive would be mounted, a strategic bombing
campaign could only miscarry. Moreover, the desire to stage an air offensive
from China took no account of the implications that flowed from the basic
premise that underpinned American (mis)calculations. China could only be
supported and readied for her appointed tasks from India, and if the Americans
were prepared to mount an airlift from bases in India that did not exist, the fact
remained that, in the long term, China could only be supplied on the necessary
scale by overland communications that ran through Burma. Thus the British
reconquest of Burma formed a basic American requirement, and was one that
Britain was not merely unable to undertake, but was determined to resist.
For the British, the reconquest of Burma represented a most hazardous
undertaking, involving an advance across the mountains and through the jungles
that separated India and Burma against an enemy served by good lines of
communication through the Sittang and Irrawaddy valleys. But even if upper
Burma was cleared sufficiently to permit the building of a road into China, the
demands of the defence of that road against an intact enemy in central Burma
would be equal to the capacity of the road itself, it being axiomatic that lower
Burma could not be cleared of a Japanese enemy by an overland offensive staged
from north-east India. Geography suggested that only an amphibious effort
directed against Rangoon as the first stage of an offensive into central and upper
Burma offered any realistic prospect of clearing Burma and developing an
overland line of supply into China. But the demands of the European war
ensured that the British could not undertake such an operation. In reality,
however, the British high command had no wish to undertake such a
commitment: Japanese strength in Burma, plus the existence in south-east Asia
of other, more important objectives than Rangoon, were positive incentives to
the British to bypass Burma in order to seek out enemy weakness, not that
Washington agreed with this analysis. To add to the perversity of this situation,
the American requirements for an airlift into China and an offensive into upper
Burma were dependent upon a logistical infrastructure in north-east India that
did not exist, and which the American high command was determined should
not be developed at the expense of two undertakings that it wanted to see
effected immediately. To further complicate matters, the engineer support
needed for any offensive into upper Burma was not available, given the need to
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
.....
,
: . ~ " I I
b.. . .
Fleet Admiral Chester
Nimitz, Commander-in-
Chief US Pacific Fleet and
Pacific Ocean Area and
post-war Chief of Naval
Operations.
rIS
Nimitz's command while ensuring that the power of decision within South West
Pacific Command remained in army hands. Rather strangely, these efforts were
largely successful. Even more strangely, these efforts came to success on the back
of victories won by the US Navy and the Pacific Fleet: in real terms, the US
Army's contribution to victory by the time that South West Pacific Command
had its way in summer 1944 with the definition of the clearing of the Philippines
as the American national priority was minimal.
But if inter-service rivalries were very much part of the American policy-
making scene from the outset of war, the division
of the Pacific into two service commands
perversely proved to American advantage.
National resources permitted the development of
two offensives across both the central and the
south-west Pacific in 1944. These cancelled out the
potential advantage of Japan's central position
from which to check the American efforts.
However, as the Guadalcanal campaign came to
an end, the American intention for the moment
was limited and cautious. Originally, the
Guadalcanal commitment had been adopted as
the first step in an effort that was culminate with
the capture of Rabaul, and in February 1943 this
remained the American intent.
For much of 1943 relatively little change on
the map occurred. While the Americans reclaimed
the Aleutian Islands that had been lost in June
1942 - Attu in May and Kiska in August - the war
was taken into the central Solomons by the
landings in the New Georgia group in June and on
Vella Lavella in August. On the same day as the landings in New Georgia the
New Guinea effort began with landings on Woodlark, in the Trobriands and in
Nassau Bay; Lae and Salamaua were secured in September. But by October
1943, when Finschhafen was secured, the move into the upper Solomons
represented major change in two respects. By this time the American high
command had settled on a bypass strategy that would avoid Japanese strength
and leave Rabaul 'to wither on the vine'. The move against the Treasuries and
Bougainville was one part of a double effort; the other part, the landings in the
Gilbert Islands, represented the opening of the central Pacific offensive.
The central Pacific offensive was one of two massively significant
developments in 1943. The first was that by November 1943, the US Pacific Fleet
possessed the means to take the war to Japanese strength. By this time American
shipyards had more than made good the losses that had been incurred to date.
For the landings in the Gilberts the Americans were to deploy no fewer than six
PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 - N OVEMBER 1943
fleet, five light fleet and eight escort carriers, and such numbers proved that, in
real terms, the decision of the war had been reached with the opening of this
offensive. Such was the disparity of numbers, and such was the widening
disparity in quality of equipment, that these landings were assured of success:
the Americans were able to isolate an objective from outside support and
overwhelm it before the Japanese could intervene effectively. Inevitably, there was
to be a cost exacted in the process, but what was to be remarkable about
material and human losses was not their heaviness, but how economically
victory was purchased. In any week of her war with Germany between June
1941 and May 1945, the Soviet Union lost more dead than the total American
fatalities in the Pacific war. By November 1943, the Americans, in the special
conditions of naval warfare, secured a numerical and qualitative superiority and
stumbled across the basic 'the-more-you-use-the-less-you-lose' principle that
they made their own. The subsequent advance across the central Pacific
The scene on Tarawa: if
anything the scenes on the
reef where so many
amphibians came to grief
were much worse. Tarawa
was the one occasion when
the casualty lists were more
or less even, though the
Japanese lists mostly
consisted of dead: thereafter
the balance of losses
overwhelmingly favoured
the amphibious assault.
II9
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
JAPANESE TRANSPORT LOSSES
BY COMPARATIVE PERIODS
AND BY AREAS OF OPERATION
Japanese naval, military and
civilian shipping losses by
comparative periods (below)
and by area of operation
(opposite). After the cheaply
won successes of the
opening phase, Japanese
losses quickly reached
prohibitive proportions:
estimated replacement
capacity was 75,000 tons per
month. The most serious
losses were incurred by
service shipping: their losses
were disproportionate
because of the slenderness
of shipping allocated to the
armed forces, and had to be
replaced by shipping drawn
from trade.
120
21
108.868 96.726
December 1941
-April 1942
Average loss per month
11 shjps
52.216 tonnes
cb
Civilian shipping
Military shipping
Naval shipping
111 number of ships sunk
379.199 total tonnage
represented the application of a superiority and technique wholly absent from
their conduct of operations during the Guadalcanal campaign.
The second of the two developments that took place in the course of 1943
concerned the campaign against Japanese shipping. After relatively minor losses
in the opening five months of hostilities, the pace of sinkings quickened
considerably between May 1942 and February 1943, and in the eight months
that followed again appreciably increased. Compared to sinkings in the Battle of
the Atlantic, the scale of Japanese losses was relatively modest, but, of course,
this was not the relevant yardstick. By November 1943 the rate of loss bordered
on the prohibitive. But no less significant was the pattern of sinkings, a pattern
that has been largely obscured in post-war histories by the fact that Japanese
shipping losses increased massively after October 1943 and the raising of the
General Escort Command and Japanese attempts to introduce convoy for
shipping. A very careful analysis of Japanese losses will reveal that increasing
losses after October 1943 had very little to do with the general introduction of
convoy but conformed to patterns of sinking that had been established before
this time. The critical points to note in terms of sinkings were the heaviness of
service shipping rather than civilian shipping losses, the relative decline of
importance of the northern and south-west Pacific theatres as reflected in the
decline of losses in these areas, and the simple fact that by October 1943 the
central Pacific had emerged as the real graveyard of service shipping despite the
fact that to date it had not played host to any significant offensive. Civilian
shipping losses were not light between December 1941 and October 1943, but
89
64
'l!I
@
345. 982
322.407
111
~ I @
379.199
May 1942
- February 1943
Average foss per month
21 ships
97.919 [onnes
Japanese Transport losses
by comparative periods
31 0. 801
March 1943
- October 1943
67
382. 561
PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 - NOVEMBER 1943
Japanese Transport losses
by areas of operation
1 March 1943 - 31 October 1943
Navy Shipping
Total tonnage sunk:
296.706
Military Shipping
Civilian Shipping
North Pa cific U Home Waters East China Sea _ Central Pacific
_ Southwest Pacific Southwest Asia _ Indian Ocean China / unknown theatres
they were certainly not disastrous. The concentration of merchantmen losses in
home waters and the East China Sea reflected the peculiarity of geography that
forced shipping coming into Japan to use ports on the exposed east coast. What
was especially serious about these losses was the evident inability of the Imperial
Navy to protect shipping in an operational area that was smaller than the North
Atlantic. The fact was that by October 1943 Japanese shipping had to negotiate
certain narrows and was increasingly vulnerable to a submarine offensive that
had assumed momentum after a very uncertain start.
What was at work by October 1943 in ensuring ever-greater American
inroads into Japanese shipping strength was a combination of three matters
relating to the submarine campaign. The first was American correction of
various material defects, most obviously faulty torpedoes, which had hampered
operations from the start of hostilities. The second was American correction of
organization and doctrine that had handicapped operations in the first two
years of war. For example, the priority afforded fleet operations meant that
attacks upon large merchantmen, such as fleet oilers, did not figure highly in
American calculations with the result that such targets were afforded a single
torpedo, an insufficient investment for attacks on large, well-built merchantmen.
By the third quarter of 1943 realism in such matters as torpedo allocation had
121
THE SECO N D WORLD WA R I N THE EAST
Submarines accounted for
4,446,227 tons of service and
civilian shipping, some
53.48 per cent of overall
Japanese losses. Of this total
1,977,198 tons was sunk in
south-east Asia, 898,302 tons
(of which all but 63,851 tons
consisted of service shipping)
in the central Pacific,
897, 484 tons in Japanese
home waters, and 557, 696
tons in the East China Sea.
I22
..
intruded upon Ameri can doctrinal deliberati ons. The third was the simple fact
that by summer 1943 American submarine operati ons had ass umed a scale that
for the first time was significant. In June 1943 the number of sailings from Pearl
Harbor exceeded twenty in a month for the first time, and in September 1943 the
number of submarines at Pearl Harbor allowed monthl y sailings to be sustained
at that level. Thi s fact , when combined with sailings from Australian bases,
meant that from autumn 1943, the Ameri cans were able to maintain a
significant number of submarines on st ati on, and the American ability to read
J apanese shipping signals increased their effectiveness by an estimated one-third.
What all these changes - material , doctrine and growing numbers - meant
was that by the third quarter of 1943 the American submarine force had readi ed
CHAPTER FOUR
••
THE THIRD MILESTONE:
THE ROAD TO DEFEAT,
FAILURE AND COLLAPSE
NOVEMBER 1943 - OCTOBER 1944
THE FRONT LINE ON WAKDE ISLAND, 18 May 1944. After
landings on the previous day at Arare on the New Guinea
mainland, the Americans moved against Wakde in order to
secure its airfield. Wakde was secured within five days but
the Arare-Toem area was not cleared until September: after
both had served their purpose in supporting the moves into
the Philippines, they were abandoned in February 1944.
THE SECOND WO RLD WAR I N THE EAST
THE THIRD MILESTONE: THE ROAD
TO DEFEAT, FAILURE AND COLLAPSE
Prime Minister General
Tojo Hideki. Such was the
diffusion of power within
the Japanese political
system that Tojo, in
addition to being prime
minister, took on the
education and munitions
portfolios and also became
army minister: after
February 1944 he was also
the Army's chief of staff.
126
I
N A SPEECH to the Diet on 27 December 1943, the Japanese prime minister,
General Tojo Hideki, warned that 'the real war is just beginning'. To a
country which had been told that the war had been won in 1942, and weaned on
a fare of Anglo-American incompetence and Japanese invincibility, the warning
was as much a shock as it was a total misrepresentation of reality. The war was
already lost: it was the defeats that were about to begin.
By a judicious selection of material, any period of time can be presented as
being endowed with special circumstance: in a sense mendacity is the historian's
trademark. But there are moments in history 'when the world turns', and,
clearly, 1944 was such a moment in time. It was the year of the coming of age of
the United States, when she entered into her inheritance as the greatest power in
the world. It was the year that witnessed the emergence of the Soviet Union as
the greatest military power in Europe. It was the year that sealed the defeat of
Germany and Japan, their last faint chances of somehow avoiding ruin being
destroyed, specifically in the series of defeats that overwhelmed both in the
single month of June. It was a year that, by virtue of these developments, saW
what had been the most powerful of the continents reduced to the status of the
object of deliberations of two states, both more powerful than herself and which
were historically apart from and a part of Europe.
The events of the Pacific war did not unfold in a manner that permits
chronological neatness: there was no exact correlation between campaigns and
battles and the structure of the calendar. There is a certain appropriateness in
the fact that on 6 June 1944 American forces came ashore at Normandy and
American carrier task groups sailed from Majuro in the Marshalls for the battle
of the Philippine Sea, but that apart, 'the year of defeats' that sealed the fate of
the remaining Axis powers, and specifically Japan, lacks 'annual exactitude'.
The year in which defeat assumed reality for Japan was between 20 November
1943 and 25 October 1944, between the American descent upon Japanese bases
in the Gilberts and the battle of Leyte Gulf, after which the final American
victory in the Philippines (and hence astride Japan's lines of communication
with the southern resources area) was only a matter of time. It was a period that
witnessed two of the greatest naval battles in history, the second of which
included probably the most destructive single day in naval warfare. In addition,
this period saw perhaps the greatest destruction of shipping other than warships
in a single day with the American raid on Truk on 17 February 1944; it saw
Japanese shipping butchered to the extent that by the end of 1944, Japanese
mercantile resources were inadequate to meet minimum national requirements;
and it ended with the Americans in a position to take the war to Japanese home
waters, with the Japanese stripped of every form of resistance but one.
THE ROAD TO DEFEAT, FA ILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 - OCTOBER 1944
Between November 1943 and October 1944 Japan was defeated not in two
struggles, namely in the central and south-west Pacific, but in five. The period is
dominated by events in the two main theatres of operation, which rightly
overshadow all other matters in terms of scale, di stance and importance. But
this period witnessed the continuing campaign against shipping, the defeat of
the Japanese offensive into north-east India that exposed upper Burma to
invasion, and the start of the land-based bombing of the Japanese home
islands. In addition, the Japanese launched an offensive throughout southern
China directed against the airfields from which this bombing effort was staged.
All these efforts command attention in their own right, and somewhat oddly,
perhaps the most important of these in the sense
of long-term consequence was the one effort III
which the Japanese commanded a measure of
success.
The campaign III southern China proved of
crucial importance, if not in the outcome of the
Second World War then In weakening the
BELOW: Vice Admiral Marc
A. Mitscher.
LOWER: Japanese naval yard
at Dublon Island under
attack during the carrier
raid on Truk. In Operation
Hailstone 35 transports and
merchantmen were sunk.
In one 24-hour period,
17 February 1942, the
Japanese lost three months'
shipyard production.
I27
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
Yunnan, 1943. Chinese
nationalist formations
marching to the Salween
front. Despite the good order
shown in this photograph,
Chinese route marches were
notorious both for natural
wastage and casual
executions carried out by
Chinese nationalist officers,
and by the state of troops
on arrival.
128
Chungking regime. The Imperial Army's offensive, code named Ichi-Go, was the
largest Japanese land operation of the war, involving 620,000 Japanese troops,
and served to undermine the credibility of Kuomintang authority even as the
end of the Japanese war became discernible. Elsewhere, the defeat of the
Japanese 'March on Delhi' in front of Imphal and Kohima, the first stage in
what amounted to a clearing of Burma by June 1945, rehabilitated British
prestige on the sub-continent and throughout south-east Asia; it provided an
Indian Army that was soon to be ripped apart by the partition of the Raj with a
very real, final victory that paid in full for past defeats and humiliation. At the
same time, the campaign against Japanese shipping, as noted earlier, assumed
critical proportions. In stating matters thus, one acknowledges the nature of
T H E ROAD TO DEFEAT, FA ILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 - OCTOBER 1944
victory in total war: while certain efforts clearl y are more important than others,
every little counts in the product of the whole, and very little is to be gained in
any attempt to assess relative contributions beyond recognition of different worth,
ACROSS THE WESTERN PACIFIC
This period of the war was to open with two related effort s over three months:
the destruction of the more important Japanese garrisons in the Gilberts and
Marshalls, and a seri es of operations in New Guinea and the Bismarcks that
resulted in the bypassing and isolation of Rabaul. Then, after a two-month
respite from landing operati ons, while American carrier forces rampaged
throughout the central Pacific as far west as the Palaus, the Americans
conducted landings at Aitape and Hollandia on the northern coast of New
Guinea on 22 April 1944. From these positions the Americans moved against
Japanese holdings in western New Guinea in May, before the main effort in the
central Pacific unfolded in mid June with landings in the Mariana Islands. With
the Japanese having abandoned the policy of forward defence and dignified the
Vogelkop-Truk-Marianas line with ne plus ultra status, the landings in the
Marianas forced the Imperial Navy to give battle. Its subsequent defeat at the
battle of the Philippine Sea bared the whole of the western Pacific to an
Indian soldiers in the
fighting conditions of
north-east India and
northern Burma. Such
vegetation, limiting an
advance to a single soldier
at arm's length, partly
explains British and
Japanese reluctance to
consider offensive
operations in this theatre.
1 2
9
THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
Island, flight deck and two
F6F Hellcats of the US fleet
carrier Essex. In the course
of the strategic advance
across the Pacific, the
carrier air group became
increasingly defensive with
more fighters and fewer
strike aircraft .
13°
American advance. With the Marianas and bases for a strategic bombing
offensive against the Japanese home islands secured, the revelation of Japanese
weakness throughout the Philippines as a result of the carrier raids of 9/10 and
12/ 14 September prompted the American decision to abandon the proposed
landings on Mindanao in favour of an accelerated move into the Visayans. With
the landings in the Palaus too far advanced to be cancelled, the result was that
American forces landed on Leyte on 20 October. This landing marked the end of
an advance of some 2,200 miles in thirteen months since Huon Gulf had been
secured, and it provoked one last despairing effort by the Imperial Navy to fight
THE ROAD TO DEFEAT, FA ILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 - OCTOBER 1944
'the decisive battle' in which it continued to
believe until it ceased to exist. The battle of Leyte
Gulf was, in fact, a three-part affair, the actions
off Cape Engano and in the Surigao Strait
complementing the action in Leyte Gulf itself. In
reality, this battle was really only one part of an
effort that had begun with the American carrier
raids on Formosa and the Philippines two weeks
before, and which continued for a full month after
the main-force engagements and immediate
follow-up operations between 23 and 28 October.
The American victory at Leyte Gulf ensured
ultimate victory throughout the Philippines and
exposed the approaches and the home islands to
direct Allied attack.
With the moves by Allied forces into the
Treasuries and northern Choiseul in the Solomon
The landings on Makin
by troops from the 27th
Infantry Division,
20 November 1943: the
landings were supported
with fire support from four
battleships and four
cruisers, with three escort
carriers operating in
support . Makin was secured
within four days but the
fight for the island was
overshadowed by the battle
for neighbouring Tarawa.
THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
THE SOUTH-WEST PACI FIC I943-4
In 1943 relatively few islands
or towns changed hands as
both sides reorganized in the
aftermath of the campaigns
on Guadalcanal and in
eastern New Guinea. None
the less the Americans
conducted a series of
further landings at:
Arare 17 May
Wakde 18 May and
Biak 27 May
~
N
1J;P <
0
P,;,
E
P A
8'
- ~
~
"-
operations that ensured
control of the central
Solomons and eastern New
Guinea, before beginning a
series of operations in
November 1943 aimed at
neutralizing and bypassing
Rabaul: this was achieved by

xx Wewak
J:;SJ 51
• Bogia xx
4J)ACHr @]
February-March 1944 with
the acquisition of Manus and
Emirau. Thereafter, with US
carrier forces operating in the
central Pacific, the Americans
were free to develop their
offensive operations along the
north coast of New Guinea.
xx

B
xx Karkar Is.
lJ
I
p
II
...
• Kil ori
~
f
""
G u / f
Pap
xx J:;SJ 41 26 April
J:;SJ 20 Et? • Al exishafen
xxx . Madang
ADACHI 00 24 April
~
~
o f
u a
if'
<"
..,
Kokbda .,.,)
• Mawatta Trail," ... .)-
l'
Port Moresby q ~ .., e
-- JOO
Torres Strait
Cape York
Cor a / Sea
AUSTRALIA
144
146'
148'
I32
m
s
Emirau I s.
-
New Hanover
HI
xx
. 32
MICHAELMAS TF
150
k
Kavieng

,bar Islands
Lahir Is.
• Rabaul
XXXXX
I sAREA I
IMAMURA
Fen; Is .
S olomon
Wood/ark Is.
Louisiade
Archipelago
154
Sea
THE ROAD TO DEFEAT, FAILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 - OCTOBER 1944
Major Generals Holland
Smith and Charles Corlett
in the attack transport
Cambria. Corlett was army
divisional commander at
Kwajalein, Holland Smith a
somewhat tempestuous
Marine Corps commander
of exceptional ability but
little patience and tact. His
dismissal of an army
general of the same name
on Saipan led to bitter
inter-service recriminations.
s
Choiseul Is.
PACIFIC
OCEAN
+
XXX
Allied offensive in the
South Pacific
February 1943 - April 1944
--..;tf" Allied advance
Japanese units
~ airborne landing
Ee airfield
156
-
EASTER
LANDING
FORCE
§
=
1000
200
Om
158
0
XX
_ 103
/
Santa
lsave/Is.
/
Guadalcanal
Islands
Rennell Is.
160
0
q"
Malaita Is.
\
162
0
133
THE SECO N D WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
The landings on Cape
Gloucester, western New
Britain, by the 1st Marine
Division on 26 December
1943. Conducted without
carrier and battleship
support, Operation
Dexterity was one of the
last Allied operations that
completed the ring around
Rabaul. By the war's end
Japanese forces on New
Britain were confined to no
more than a close perimeter
around Rabaul.
134
Islands as the prelude to landings in Empress Augusta Bay on 1 November 1943,
the Allied victory began to assume substance. The Japanese, who had put
carrier air groups ashore at Rabaul intending to contest any enemy move into
the upper Solomons, sent a cruiser force into the Bay and initiated a closely
fought night action which was narrowly won by the Americans. The Imperial
Navy then committed another cruiser force to Rabaul, but the American carrier
raid of 5 November mauled the formation two hours after it arrived at the base.
In addition, this strike, plus the raid of 11 November, accounted for the greater
part of the air groups at Rabaul. These reverses, plus the clear American victory
in the destroyer battle off Cape St George on 25 November, forestalled the
possibility of sustained Japanese resistance in the upper Solomons. On
Bougainville the 3rd Marine and 37th Infantry Divisions side-stepped the main
concentrations of Japanese forces and secured fighter and bomber strips around
Cape Torokina from which to cover operations into the Bismarcks; the Japanese
6th Infantry Division's attempt to overrun American positions was broken
during March 1944. With Allied forces in New Guinea moving to secure Cape
Gloucester on 26 December and Saidor on 2 January 1944, the 3rd New Zealand
Division's landings in the Green Islands on 15 February and the American
landings in the Admiralties two weeks later isolated Rabaul. Forces from South
West Pacific Command occupied Manus in the Admiralties in February 1944,
and the occupation of Emirau by the 4th Marine Division on 20 March
completed the encirclement and neutralization of Rabaul. Largely intact
Japanese forces on New Britain withdrew into the base, where they were to
remain mostly unmolested and helpless until the end of the war.
The ease with which these various efforts unfolded prompted two demands
on the part of South West Pacific Command, first that the next moves in this
theatre should be directed to Aitape and Hollandia, some 400 miles beyond
present positions, and second that these offensives, and South West Pacific
Command itself, should be afforded priority in the conduct of the Pacific war.
With the Japanese holding the equivalent of a corps around and in front of
Wewak, the Aitape-Hollandia initiative was to be afforded a planning code
name - Reckless - that would have been sufficient comment upon it, but for two
facts of life: the ability to read Japanese signals had alerted the Americans to the
weakness of Japanese forces in the Aitape and Hollandia areas, and by this time
the Allies possessed sufficient land-based air power to neutralize Japanese air
formations in these areas without undue difficulty. Despite appearances to the
contrary, the Aitape-Hollandia proposal was both reasoned and reasonable, a
somewhat unusual state of affairs with reference to MacArthur and South West
Pacific Command headquarters.
The second demand, however, was somewhat different. The product of
planning future operations, it grew from the inter-service rivalries within the
American high command that had resulted in the establishment of two
commands in the Pacific, but its immediate origin lay in the reaction, both
THE ROAD TO DEFEAT, FAILURE AND COLLAPSE : NOVEMBER 1943 - OCTOBER 1944
135
THE SE,CON D WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
. ,
• j-;
--'.
> •
public and military, to the Gilberts campaign. Very simply, between 21 ",rid 29 '
Novem((e;American forces drawn from
secured six -atolls in this group, and in so doing opeIillfd the way to
offensives into the and Caroliries. In breaking one-h y :paft of
Japan's outer perimeter ddences the Americans a' ver'y '-,
but it wa\ a of losses;
speClfIcallYJ those lnClifred- 9Y the 2nd, Manne DIVlS19D on Tarawa; In_truth, a
total of' 3,301 casualties '9n Tarawa light.ciri of the numbers
employed m this operation': the outcry this
. \
-(
. 'j
., " .;
. '.
.J THE ROA'DTO D£FEAT, FAILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 - OCTOBER 1944
J-. .
unreasonable expectation and' the fact that date in' the Pacific war American
had been . light. In very large measure, the problems
that attached , themselves to the endeavour stemmed from a number of
planning erro s' and the fact that this" was the first set-piece amphibious 'assault
undertaken American in th'e war: the.. subsequent. in the
Marshalls, 31 January - 4. February 1944, was· to demonstrate vastly improved
/ technique, most obviously in terms of clo'se air 'and support. Such was the
. ease with which Kwajalein was secured tha't.. forces were moved'
forward to secure Eniwetok on 17 February.
Tarawa, November 1943. The
first major assault landing
conducted by American
forces, the offensive in the
Gilberts was noted for errors
of planning without due
allowance for water depths
and exits fr;m beaches and
by inadequate fire support.
None the less by the time of
the offensive in the Marshalls, I
and with more escort carriers
fjec.oming available for the
close support rdie, most of
the that marred
Sa
been reinedied.
-t o
. \
...
,
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
THE ROAD TO DEFEAT, FAILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 - OCTOBER 1944
This second demand was resisted by a navy high command that argued that
no offensive into the western Pacific could be developed without clearing the
island groups of the central Pacific, and that there could be no offensive from
the south-west Pacific inside the line of the Carolines and Marianas that left the
Japanese in possession of these islands. The logic of this argument was
unanswerable, and the wonder of South West Pacific Command's demand was
that it was ever seriously considered. But, inevitably, even in success the central
Pacific priority had to make certain concessions: whether the Philippines were
OPPOSITE: A Liberator of the
VII Air Force over Kwajalein
in October 1944. Compare
the US installations with
those of the Japanese on
31 January 1944 and after
bombardment, 3 February.
VOUGHT F4U-2 CORSAIR
to be cleared or bypassed was not resolved; the
Marianas argument was underpinned by the
decision to stage a future strategic bombing
offensive in the islands; and the Pacific Fleet's
carriers would support the Aitape-Hollandia
operation on New Guinea. But what was more
immediately relevant, confirmation of the central
Pacific priority was attended by the decision to
bypass rather than attempt to take Truk. The
carner force was thus freed for offensive
operations throughout the central Pacific. The
occupation of Eniwetok took place on the same
day that the carrier force struck Truk in a raid
anticipated by the Imperial Navy and which it
knew, given the losses of its carrier air groups
and cruiser force at Rabaul, it could not resist.
The main Japanese fleet units had been with-
drawn to the Palaus and thence to Singapore or
the home islands, ruining Japanese strategic
intention in the process. With no fleet at Truk to
provide support, Japanese formations at Aitape
and Hollandia were overwhelmed by the
First flown in May 1940, the Corsair was
superior to most land-based fighters. Various
problems delayed deliveries until mid 1942
and ensured that first deployment was to
shore-based squadrons. Ultimately deployed
to carriers, the Corsair saw service as a
fighter, night-fighter and fighter-bomber.
American forces which landed on 22 April after six major Allied bombing raids
between 30 March and 16 April had destroyed 351 Japanese aircraft in these
areas. Such was the extent of success that American forces were able to move
against Arare on 17 May and Wakde the next day.
ABOVE TOP: Kwajalein,
31 January 1944.
ABOVE BOTTOM: Kwajalein,
3 February 1944.
139
THE SECO N D WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
The American move against
Japanese islands was
notable for modest but
cumulatively important
losses inflicted on Japanese
air strength and shipping.
Kwajalein was a major
Japanese air and
submarine base: the raid of
5 December 1943 by groups
numbering three fl eet and
two light fleet carriers
resulted in the destruction of
five naval transports of
24,190 tons and fifty-five
Japanese aircraft.
These efforts compromised Japanese strategic intentions and plans that were
being recast even as American preparations for the Arare/Wakde landings were
put in hand. The loss of Hollandia exposed Japanese holdings around Sarmi
when it was the Japanese intention to hold this area as part of their main line of
resistance in the south-west and central Pacific. Accordingly, the Japanese
revised their plans to ensure that their main defensive effort was made on the
Vogelkop, Sarmi being held as a forward base. However, the equivalent of one of
two divisions dispatched to New Guinea was lost at sea off north-east Celebes
on 6 May. As a result, the Japanese high command on the 9th designated
Halmahera in the Indies and Sorong as the new centres of resistance in this
theatre. In effect, the Japanese ceded a thousand miles of coastline in seventeen
days, but to no real purpose or effect. No individual or group of positions,
whether in western New Guinea or the Indies, could be sustained in the face of
assault . Moreover, because the Imperial Navy recognized that its carrier force
could not hope to meet its American counterpart on an equal basis, the
conferring of a ne plus ultra status on the Guinea-Truk-Marianas line went
hand-in-hand with the intention to use shore-based air power to balance
accounts. By holding certain bases and using shore- and carrier-based air
formations to complement one another, the Japanese high command anticipated
that it would be able to give battle on the basis of equality when the Americans
moved against the Palaus. In reality, the only real chance the Japanese had of
meeting the Americans on an equal footing was if the US attacked the Palaus
without striking Japanese air bases on either or both flanks. There was no good
reason for the Americans to move against the Palaus without first eliminating
these air bases, most obviously those in the Marianas. American operations in
THE ROAD TO DEFEAT, FAILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 OCTOBER 1944
February and March, and then against Hollandia, underlined their ability to
isolate and overcome any garrison and base before Japanese naval and land-
based air forces could intervene in their defence.
THE BATTLE OF THE PHILIPPINE SEA
With the Marianas the main American objective, the next phase of operations
opened with the 41st US Infantry Division's landings on Biak Island, New
Guinea, on 27 May. At the same time heavy fighting was taking place on the
mainland around Arare and Toem in the aftermath of the Wakde landing.
Despite having chosen Halmahera as its main centre of resistance and thereby
tacitly having written off Biak, the Imperial Navy somehow convinced itself that
it could fight its 'decisive battle' in defence of Biak. Its attempts to do so were
both halting and, in light of the seriousness of its intention, somewhat bizarre.
By the time the Japanese were able to gather adequate forces for even a minor
effort at Biak, the Americans showed their hand with the start of carrier
operations that Japanese air power in the Marianas and isolated
these islands from any possibility of effective support from the Bonins. On
15 June American forces came ashore on Saipan. By dusk on the 22nd the whole
of the southern part of the island, with the exception of one headland, had been
cleared. With the capture of Garapan on 2 July generally regarded as marking
the final phase of operations on Saipan, the island was declared secure on the
LEFT: Admiral Richmond
Kelly Turner, amphibious
task force commander in
operations in the central
Pacific.
RIGHT: Vice Admiral Ozawa
Ji saburo. Generally regarded
as one of the Imperial
Navy's best junior admirals
in the early stages of the
war, Ozawa's misfortune
was to be dealt a losing
hand by the time he reached
command. His carrier force
was out-fought at the
Philippine Sea and played
the sacrificial role at Leyte:
he was one of the very few
admirals of any navy to
have preserved his
reputation despite having
had two flagships sunk
under him.
THE SECOND WO RLD WAR I N THE EAST
OPPOSITE: Landings on Cape
Sansapor on 31 July 1944
completed the American
advance along the northern
coast of New Guinea from
Huon Gulf in just eleven
months and carried the war
to the eastern Indies and
southern Philippines.
A dead Japanese soldier and
a destroyed tank in northern
Saipan in late June 1944.
The Americans declared
Saipan secure on 9 July after
a defence by a 32,000-strong
garrison that died almost t o
the last man. Some 22,000
Japanese civilians on the
island killed themselves
rather than be taken captive.
9th. Guam was assaulted on 21 July, Tinian on the 24th and both islands were
secured within a month. Their being cleared, and the whole of the southern
Marianas being secured, was the product of a supremacy established when the
Japanese attempt to contest the landings on Saipan was broken in the battle of
the Philippine Sea on 19/20 June.
The battle of the Philippine Sea was one of two major battles between June
and October 1944 marred by controversies which obscured the fact that in both
actions the Americans secured overwhelming victories. In the case of the battle
of June 1944, the American carrier force won a three-fold victory. By fighting
defensively and en masse, American carrier air groups annihilated their opposite
numbers to the extent that the Japanese carrier air groups were never
reconstituted before the ei1d of the war. No less importantly, off Saipan the
American carrier task forces secured overwhelming advantage in terms of
position and timing relative to the campaign on the Marianas. In addition, the
Americans won a forward base for operations into the western Pacific from
which a bombing campaign against the home islands could be staged.
Against these realities of numbers, position and time, the escape of the bulk
THE ROAD TO DEFEAT, FAILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 - OCTOBER 1944
THE SECON D WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
AIR RAID OVER SAIPAN
The landings on Saipan,
15 June, were the largest
undertaken by the US Navy
thus far in the war: the 551
ships of TF42 put ashore
67,451 men on the island.
Fire support was provided
by 7 battleships, 11 cruisers,
8 escort carriers and
38 destroyers. The covering
force, which was to fight
and win the battle in the
Philippine Sea, mustered
7 fleet and 8 light carriers,
7 fast battleships, 21 cruisers
and 97 destroyers.
CD
o
15 June, 4 aln: Warships bombard
Japanese positions and roads leading
to Kanoa beach
5.42 am: landings begin
Amphibious support vehicles
di sembark from landing ships
Four support gunboats approach the
beach followed by further landing
shi ps and craft at approximatel y
8 minute intervals . By just after
9.00 am 8,000 marines are on shore
144
..........-
USS Powell
reefs
:. CD
USS (alifornia
RED 1
Mt Tapotchan
reefs
-","',-a-
USS Monssen
' .... '" .. ~
RED 2
USS (oughlan
RED 3
o
--
GREEN 1
GREEN 2
- ,...,. -
---
GREEN 3
' / J " 1.
0
, nulanopo IS
BLUE 1
.'
- " ' ~ " 0
USS Birmingham
THE ROAD T O DEFEAT, FAILURE AND CO LLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 - OCTOBER 1944
, I
,
BLUE 2
YELLOW 1
YELLOW 2
. ..... -
Nafutan Point
reefs
Agingan Point
YELLOW 3
145
THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
Formation of Japanese Fleet
19 June 1944
~ aircraft carrier
battleship/cruiser
destroyer
F f> flagship
---
"'p-
_ ... -
... -
~
... -
MAIN BODY
THE BATTLE OF THE
PHILIPPINE SEA
100 mites
The course of this battle
was decided by two factors:
the prevailing wind from the
east that meant that the
Saipan landings were
conducted on the west coast
and the US carrier force had
to stand between the
amphibious forces and the
approaching Japanese. With
reconnaissance aircraft of
superior range, the Japanese
carrier groups were able to
strike at the Americans
while their own carriers
were invulnerable to air
attack: none the less the
Japanese lost two carriers to
submarine attack during the
course of their offensive
operations. By standing on
the defensive and
concentrating their fi ghters
to meet incoming Japanese
attacks, the Americans
fought and won a defensive
victory that was
overwhelming: Japanese
carrier air groups were never
reconstituted in the
remainder of the war.
146
-
-
...
- -
- - ~
- ...
-
-
-
- ...
-
VANGUARD
Main body of
Japanese Fleet (Ozawa)
romola, Musoshi
and escor1s
(Ugoki)
o l00 km
~
I
100 miles
N
t
7.10 pm 21 June:
""" Hiyo is hit, sinks
8 30 21 J
. ~ two hours later
. pm une .
us Fleet returns
\ ~
/
1.00 pm 17 June:
Battle of the Philippine Sea
19-21 June 1944
....,...... Allied movement
Allied air strike
....... Japanese movement
Japanese air strike
~ ship attacked
.....a.... submarine
~
3.00 am 19 June I ........ ...
Albacore .'
........ .
r e ~
10.00 am 19 June:
third strike
FIRST MOBILE FLEET
OZAWA
9 carri ers
5 battleships
13 cruisers
28 destroyers
450 aircraft
135
Cavallo
Western Carolilll
J 5 I and 5
140
of the Japanese carrier force was of no ver y great consequence, and in any event
much of the criticism of the American conduct of operati ons that all egedl y
allowed the Japanese task forces to escape was misconceived on two counts. The
extent of Japanese carrier losses was not known at the time and, with three fl eet
carriers - the Shokaku, the Taiho and the Hiyo - sunk, was much more serious
than was anticipated. In addition, given that in thi s battle the Japanese held the
advantage of position because American forces could not close unl ess all owed to
do so, the success recorded on 19/20 June was probabl y as much as could be
reasonably expected.
The day when American forces came ashore on Saipan (15 June 1944) was
also the day of the first strategic bombing raid on the Japanese home islands
conducted by American land-based heavy bombers, previous raids on the
outlying Kuriles excepted. The attack on the steel works at Yawata on Kyushu
was staged from bases within China. Given the fact that the first American
bomber operations within China were in March 1943 and by November had
reached as far as Indo-China, Hainan and Formosa, the various developments
that ran parallel to the twin drives across the Pacific demand proper
TASK FORCE 58
M1TSCHER
Noon 18 June
15 ca rriers
7 battleships
20 cruisers
67 destroyers
902 aircraft
'iii
Pagan
Anatahan
Saipan
;--'; 6.19 am 19 June
Tinian
Rota
19 June: air aHacks
an Guam
145
145
The very symbol of victory.
Astern of the fleet carrier
Essex are the light carrier
Langley, the fleet carrier
Ticonderoga and the
battleships Washington,
North Carolina and South
Dakota. In company were
four cruisers and eighteen
destroyers. TG 38.3 was
about to enter Ulithi ,
23 November 1944.
THE ROAD TO DEFEAT, FAILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 - OCTOBER 1944
Formation of US Task
Force 58
19 June 1944
aircraft carrier
battleship
cruiser
destroyer
20 miles
=-
="""=
= = =


=
-
12 mi les
15miles
- ==
= = ....
=--
-- =
= ==

===
=-

c;;a

=- =
147
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
In order to take the war to
Japanese home waters the
US Navy had to keep its
fleets at sea for periods
unknown since the passing
of sail: the Okinawa
campaign, for example,
involved the carrier force
being at sea continuously
between 14 March and
13 June. This was only
possible by a vast logistical
tail across the whole of the
Pacific in order to ensure the
supply, effectiveness and
morale of main forces. Here,
an LST, built in Chicago, is
photographed passing
bombs to the fleet carrier
Hancock.
consideration at this point. The American endeavour in China set in train a
series of events that were to result in the American diplomatic debacle that
coincided with the devastating victory in the battle of Leyte Gulf. As it was, on
15 June 1944 on the continental mainland, it was Japan that stood on the brink
of both a victory and a defeat: a victory throughout southern China, the last
Japanese victory of the war and one, like all the others since 1937, which availed
Japan nothing; and a defeat in north-east India and Burma that was all but total
and overwhelming.
THE BURMA CAMPAIGN
The defeat on the Indian sub-continent had its origins in the events of 1942-3,
specifically the shared British and Japanese view that offensive operations across
the mountains that formed the border between Burma and India had little to
recommend them. Without any means to undertake a major offensive, in the
November 1942 - May 1943 campaigning season, the British undertook
what was to become known as the First Arakan offensive, in which the
equivalent of two divisions were totally outfought and suffered humiliating
defeat at the hands of two Japanese regiments. At the same time, however, the
THE ROAD TO DEFEAT, FA ILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 - OCTOBER 1944
British infiltrated raiding columns into the
Myitkyina-Mandalay area in an operation that
achieved in newspaper inches infinitely more than
it ever recorded on the ground. In real terms this
operation achieved nothing of any significance
other than pushing the local Japanese command
into consideration of a spoiling offensive into
India: given the certainty of eventual British
superiority in this theatre, a Japanese defensive
policy could only postpone defeat. Thus with the
1943-4 dry season, the Japanese Burma Area
Army opened a two-part offensive effort, a
diversi onary attack in the Arakan by one division
drawn from the 28th Army, and the main effort,
by three divisions from the 15th Army, on the
Kalewa-Homalin sector that was to reach Imphal
and Kohima by late March and early April 1944
respectively. But despite being able to surround
both places the Japanese found their offensive
stalled for two reasons: this time, there was no
general British withdrawal when outflanked as
there had been in 1942 and 1943, and air transport
allowed isolated British forces to be reinforced and
supported so that the Japanese formations
Cutting Japanese lines of
supply in Burma: a
detachment preparing to
blow up a rail bridge during
the first Chindit operation
in the Myitkyina-Mandalay
area, February-March 1943.
This operation registered
only temporary
inconvenience but was a
factor in the process that
led to the Japanese army
undertaking its ill-
considered 'March on Delhi'
in 1944.
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
THE R ECONQUEST OF BURMA
Facing three Allied
offensives, the Japanese
planned to fight the main
defensive battle around
Mandalay. The British
response was to conduct a
series of landings in the
Arakan and to make the
main offensive effort below
Mandalay. The Japanese
attempt to respond to the
latter resulted in their being
forced into two major
actions at Mandalay and
Myitkyina: their defeat at
both exposed the whole of
Burma to reconquest in the
1944-5 season.
THE MARCH ON DELHI
After a successful though
costly holding operation in
the Arakan, the main
Japanese offensive in 1944
narrowly missed trapping
major British forces south of
lmphal before reaching
forward to Kohima and
lmphal. The Japanese effort
at Kohima was broken
inside a couple of weeks but
at lmphal a four-month
siege was conducted with
British forces sustained by
air supply: the Japanese
refusal to admit defeat in
front of lmphal
compromised their ability to
offer a serious and sustained
defence of Burma in 1945.
Japanese advance in India
March- June 1944
Japanese advance
Allied airlift
EV Alli ed parachute drop
o Allied pockets
surrounding them paradoxically found themselves besieged. Japanese success
depended on the capture of supplies, and their refusal to admit failure resulted
in the destruction of Japanese formations in front of Imphal and Kohima over
the next three months. While Kohima was relieved as early as 18 April, the
Japanese siege of Imphal was not broken until 22 June, by which time they had
lost two-thirds of the force of 85,000 men with which they had entered India.
What made the J apanese defeat in north-east India worse was the fact
that the campaign unfolded at the same time as two other offensives within this
theatre, a Sino-American thrust into upper Burma, specifically directed through
the Hukawng, Mogaung and Irrawaddy valleys against Myitkyina and the 18th
Infantry Division, and a Chinese offensive on the upper Salween River. The first
effort was closely fought, and resul ted in the capture of the airfield at Myitkyina
on 17 May and of Kamaing one month later, although the town of Myitkyina
was not taken until 3 August. On the Salween the understrength 56th Infantry
N a

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THE ROAD T O DEFEAT, FAILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 - OCTOBER 1944
- Tamanthi
_ Shingbwiyang
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I M A -
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INDIAN
Thabeikkyin
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Paoshan
C H N A
All ied recapture of Burma
December 1944 - 5 May 1945
Allied advances:
Dec 1944 - 21 Feb 1945
.. .,,-
Chinese advance to 7 March
US advance to 7 March
British advance
21 February - 30 March 1945
British advance
31 March - 5 May 1945
-Mong Nawng
__ Front line 9 April 1945
-Mong Kung
INDI AN
Myong Pawn
SIAM
(THAILAND)
--JI""'" Japanese counter-attacks
.. _.,.... Japanese withdrawal
FRENCH
INDO-
CHINA
- Rahaeng
THE SECOND WO RLD WAR I N T HE EAST
As the tide of war turned
against them Japanese
military formations found
themselves committed to
the defensive with no real
addition to their strength
compared to the period
1941-2 when various
materiel weaknesses were
disguised by possession of
the initiative and local
superiority of force.
Division, part of the Japanese 33rd Army, was able to fight a senes of very
successful rearguard actions that denied a force of some 72,000 Chinese troops
control of Ku-feng and Chiang-chu until 19/20 June, and it was not until
September that the Chinese were able to secure Tengchung. By that time
the Japanese had survived the immediate crisis in Burma, albeit at a very
heavy price. The Imphal- Kohima attack cost the Japanese the means and
opportunity to meet the Myitkyina and Salween offensives: defeat at Imphal-
Kohima denied the Japanese the means to defend Burma in 1945 because the
losses incurred in 1944 could not be replaced. In seeking to insure themselves
against defeat by an offensive in 1944, the Japanese ensured their own defeat in a
defensive battle in 1945.
THE ROAD TO DEFEAT, FAILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 - OCTOBER 1944
But what added a special significance to these events was the Chinese
dimension. In the Myitkyina offensive Chinese divisions performed very
respectably, but on the Salween the Chinese performance was at best indifferent.
Moreover, the Salween offensive was undertaken by the Chungking authorities
only after intense American pressure, Washington for the first time tiring of
Nationalist procrastination and evasion. The American threat to suspend aid
forced Chungking's hand and the Japanese invasion of Honan province in
April exacerbated the situation still further. In a little more than a month the
Japanese were able to secure the Chengchow-Hankow line and thereby open
a direct supply line between Peking and Yoyang, by which stage the main
Japanese effort, staged from the Ichang-Yoyang area against Changsha and
Aerial resupply was the key
to Chindit survival, but this
was small change compared
to the efforts made to insure
British forces against defeat
in the Arakan, Imphal and
Kohima when supply aircraft
were diverted to Burma
from the Mediterranean.
The advance from the
Chindwin almost to
Rangoon was made possible
only by supply aircraft.
153
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
ABOVE: General Sir William
Slim, commander of the
British 14th Army, with Air
Marshal William Cory ton,
deputy commander of
Allied air forces, Mandalay,
in 1945. The air forces in
India and Burma tended to
be 'the forgotten air forces',
but their operations were
critical to Allied success.
RIGHT: Seemingly at a loss
for something vitriolic to say,
Lieutenant General Joseph
Stilwell on the banks of the
Tanai in northern Burma.
Clearing the Japanese from
this area was the first step in
the move into the Hukawng
valley, completed by late
January 1944.
154
THE ROAD TO DEFEAT, FAILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 - OCTOBER 1944
Hengyang with formations from the 1st and 12th Armies, was about to begin.
This offensive began on 27 May (the same day Biak Island was invaded) and
from the outset seemed to have a hypnotic, paralysing effect upon Chungking's
armies. Changsha fell on 16 June after token resistance, and Hengyang was
assaulted on the 28th, but here the Japanese were frustrated by Chinese
commanders of ability and independence of thought that rendered them
anathema to Chungking. Hengyang finally fell on 8 August without the
Nationalist regime making any effort to relieve it. Thereafter, the Japanese
offensive was resumed, though much of its pace had been lost, and it was not
until November that Kweilin and Liuchow were taken. With Japanese forces
from coastal enclaves and in northern Indo-China joining the offensive, Tokyo
was able to announce gains that had resulted in the establishment of
uninterrupted overland communications between Manchoutikuo and Singapore
on 28 November, though in effect this counted for nothing. Without the means
to establish secure rail communications, the whole of the Japanese effort
throughout central and southern China after April 1944 was effort wasted.
These gains, plus other minor acquisitions that were made after December 1944
with the Japanese occupation of Tushan and Tuyun, were relinquished in spring
and summer 1945 as Japanese forces in China were thinned in order to provide
for the defence of Manchoutikuo. The Soviet Union's declaration in April 1945
that it would not renew the 1941 non-aggression treaty when it expired was
taken to mean Soviet intervention in the autumn, hence the transience of
whatever success Operation !chi-Go commanded.
The events on the Salween river and throughout central and southern
China provoked a double crisis for
the Chungking regime, both with
the United States and domestically.
The defeats of 1944 could not be
dismissed lightly since the situation
was very different from the one that
had prevailed in the previous period
of defeat, 1937-8. In 1944 China
was not without allies. She had
armies that had been well supplied,
and possessed in Chiang Kai-shek a
leader who claimed and was
afforded international stature and
whose legitimacy in large measure
rested upon national resistance to
the invader. Such resistance was
conspicuously lacking in 1944, and
the collapse in certain parts of
central and southern China was
Inseparable from the
nickname 'The Peanut' given
him by Stilwell, Chiang Kai-
shek is seen here seeking to
inspire the Chinese people.
155

111
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
THE PACIFIC SITUATION 1944
By 1944 the US Navy had
such carrier and amphibious
strength that it could sustain
a dual offensive across the
Pacific. The Japanese were
forced to give battle for the
Marianas and then the
Philippines. Until mid 1944
American policy favoured
bypassing Luzon, but in
the event the landings in
Leyte were the prelude
to a major campaign
in the islands.
"11_
.
u
S
marked by the massacre of fleeing Nationalist troops by enraged local
populations who for years had been subjected to Nationalist corruption and
incompetence. Nationalist passivity and evasion of military responsibility had
reaped its inevitable result by 1944, with a government and military that was
largely incapable of offering either effective, honest administration, or any form
of serious resistance to the Japanese. It was in such circumstances that
Washington wholly misjudged the situation. In July the Roosevelt
administration demanded that Chiang Kai-shek's American chief of staff be
vested with command of all Nationalist forces. The Americans, however, refused
Sou t h
Ch ina
S
R
PAC I F I C OCE A N
Wake /so
Midway
Island
· Saigon Sea
\.,,- N. Borneo

Malaya Sarawak
• Kuala Eumpur
Borneo
D u t c h E a s t n
• Palembang

t
Batavia
Java Sea
INDIAN
Kupang .
OCEAN
Espiritll • 23 Murch
Santo Fiji
110
170
A U S T R A L A
New Caledonia
or
Pacific situation
to October 1944
D
Japanese territory or area of
Japanese occupation
--""
Japanese offensive
approximate limit of
Japanese defence
..
..
D
Allied held territory
-...- US offensive
~
...... ...,.
US carrier operati ons,
17- 23 February
- ... ..,. US carrier operations,
23 March - 6 April
~ US carrier operations,
13 April - 4 May
D
neutral terri tory
THE ROAD TO DEFEAT, FAILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 - OCTOBER 1944
to consider ending aid to Chungking or to seek
Chiang's removal from the scene. In such
circumstances Chiang's refusal to accede to the
American demand and his insistence on the recall of
Washington's would-be commander in China could
have only one result: American acquiescence at the
end of October 1944, in the last days before the
presidential election in the United States and at the
same time as the Americans fought and won the
battle of Leyte Gulf. In effect, Washington was
rendered the pnsoner of Chungking for the
remainder of the war.
AMERICAN STRATEGY AND J APANESE
SHIPPING
It has already been noted that the American victory
in the Philippine Sea exposed the whole of the
Japanese position in the western Pacific to further
American advances, and this, plus the fact that
'1 shall return.' The return of
General MacArthur to the
Philippines at Leyte, October
1944. On MacArthur's left is
his chief of staff, Lieutenant
General Richard Sutherland:
eighth from the left is
Colonel Carlos Romula,
who made his name in
1942 as a broadcaster from
the Philippines. Precedence
and etiquette should have
decreed that the person
leading the party was
Sergio Osmena, president
of the commonwealth of
the Philippines, seen here
on the left .
157
THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
JAPANESE SHIPPING LOSSES
BETWEEN MARCH 1943
AND NOVEMBER 1944
The quickening pace of
the war against shipping
is shown by losses that all
but tripled between the
period March-October
1943 and July-November
1944. What is also
significant about the
figures is the impact of
service shipping losses in
the period November
1943 - June 1944 and the
massive inroads made
into Japanese resources by
carrier aircraft after
November 1943.
Japanese shipping losses
by agency of Destruction
March 1943 - November 1944
Naval Shipping
D Military Shipping
D Civilian Shipping
296,836 tonnage sunk
93 number of ships lost
1 July-
30 November 1944
538,498
120
Tokyo was brought within range of American heavy bombers based in the
Marianas, marked the end of the Pacific war in positional terms: the fall in July
of the Tojo administration that had taken Japan to war in 1941 was tantamount
to recognition of this fact. But victory off, over and in the Marianas brought to
Washington the problems of choice in the future prosecution of the war, and
three factors were critically important here. First, the basic idea of an advance
across the Pacific in order to effect a landing in China to join with Chinese
Nationalist forces died with the events of spring and summer 1944 in China,
and with it wavered the priority afforded the capture of Formosa. Second, in
summer 1944 the American high command moved from the premise that an
invasion of the Japanese home islands might be necessary to the conclusion that
the invasion of the home islands would have to be undertaken. It therefore
became clear that the possession of bases in the western Pacific from which to
stage landings would be essential. Third, the South West Pacific Command's
insistence upon the reconquest/liberation of the Philippines, rather than
bypassing the islands, had a singleness and simplicity of purpose that
alternatives lacked. In the immediate aftermath of the battle of the Philippine
Sea, the US Navy considered the suggestion of an immediate move against
Okinawa which was all but undefended at that time. It may be that in securing
Guam and Tinian the US Navy passed up the very real opportunity of taking
Iwo Jima without undue difficulty, but the lack of any clear priority for the
navy meant that the army-backed Philippines option was endorsed and
accelerated in September once the extent of Japanese weakness in these islands
was realized.
Thus were resolved American priorities and timetable, and the irony of the
343,897
71
301,231
58
132,488
45
113,940
28
37,537
23
45,487
' 11
Nil
367,823 483,725
1 November 1943 -
30 June!944
89 116.5
515,726
108.5
292,104
45
6,377
2.5
THE ROAD TO DEFEAT, FAILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 - OCTOBER 1944
process has been noted elsewhere: the endorsement of a US Army agenda came
on the back of operations on the part of the US Navy, the scale and scope of
which represented something that was new in the conduct of war at sea: not
since the age of sail had a fleet been able to conduct sustained operations
continuously into waters nominally controlled by its enemy, though this aspect
of operations was only one part of the significance of this foray. The other part
has been but seldom acknowledged, and it relates directly to the campaign
against Japanese shipping.
In setting out the story of the destruction of Japanese shipping, the creation
of an escort command by the Imperial Navy in November 1943 - with the
princely total of eleven ageing destroyers, sixteen escort destroyers and four
gunboats under command - holds a special place, albeit for a somewhat
perverse reason. The Japanese implementation of convoy without any
understanding of the principles of convoy and without adequate numbers to
provide proper escorts has been generally regarded as critical in ensuring
increased, not reduced, losses. There is no disputing the general point, at
least not in the long term: with many Japanese convoys being afforded only one
or two escorts of very uncertain quality, the introduction of convoy
concentrated targets without making any provision for a commensurate increase
for their defence. But a very careful analysis of Japanese shipping losses in the
months after the formation of the General Escort Command, in the period
between November 1943 and June 1944, reveals that the real increase in losses
was incurred not among merchantmen but by the shipping allocated to the two
armed services.
Moreover, and specifically in this period between Tarawa and Saipan, even
2.016 2.700
2 1
49,680
17
13,504
5
670
f
7,299
2
826,058
236
527,841
120
539,026
127
1,120,530
226.5
159
THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
o
As US escort carriers withdrew from Leyte on
25 October no fewer than seven of their number
were struck by kamikaze aircraft, with the result
that one, the St Lo, was sunk and four extensively
damaged: the Sr Lo was hit even as a F6F Hellcat
tried to land on her.
160
o
. ,;
THE ROAD TO DEFEAT, FAILURE AND COLLAPS E: NOVEMBER 1943 - OCTOBER 1944
allowing for the increase of losses incurred by the merchant marine and the very
significant increase of losses in south-east Asia, the real increase of losses was
not registered on routes to and from the southern resources area but in the
central Pacific by service shipping. What was equally significant was that, while
sinkings by submarines and land-based aircraft doubled, the real increase in
Japanese losses was caused primarily by carrier aircraft in the course of main-
force operations, and by submarines deployed in support of those operations
rather than committed to the guerre de course against shipping. The same point
applied to Japanese losses to carrier aircraft after June 1944, but in this period
the increased toll on shipping exacted by submarines reflected their increased
numbers, their operating from forward bases in the Marianas and their
increasingly aggressive tactics that were in large measure the product of an
awareness of American superiority in all aspects of materiel and training.
The story of the campaign against Japanese shipping in this phase of the
Between 25 October
and 13 January 1945
144 ships were hit by
kamikazes with 19 sunk
and 70 damaged
extensively: 3 fleet carriers
were forced to withdraw
from the battle. Of(
Okinawa, of 525 US
warships in action 22 were
sunk and 254 incurred
some form of damage with
another 14 landing craft
and auxiliaries sunk and
another 11 7 damaged.
161
24 October: 5
USS Princeton
f"1 sunk by Japanese
shore-based
aircraft
"c ®.Apa rri Cape Engano
• Gonzaga
®
• Tuguegarao
• Bontoc
) Luzon "\-
• San Fernando ,...
NORTIlERN (DECOY) FORCE
OZAWA
'"" ,
®. __ +-+'--J.L._--1I--_
Tarlac. . -Cabanatuan.k
\,
® Clarke® /'
Sublc . / Ield-A® •• c. Q
Bala'nga • Manila
®®
I
SOUTHERN FORCE 21 J.?
- ---- --f---- [[) 25 October:
PACIFIC
Battle of Cape
Engano,
Northern Fleet
engaged
L _--=S::.: H::: IM::;A-====- , _-\-___ -!,
\,s--, e
Batang8§,e® r Lucena;;S
'" /

• Kalapau ;, ,
Mindoro
.lit.. Burias
'-. .......... ---
San Jos " l Sibuyan
" Taqlas
# '\"
--c2-=:-'F,er''' -r --
L"

.J '0. ....,
, Yo(- V
.l

• Puerto
Pri ncesa
in
two Japanese cruisers an
damage one. A
sinks after run iRg aground
Battle of the Philippines
20-27 October 1944
........ Allied movement
Allied air strike
..... Japanese movement
Japanese air strike
Japanese airfield
major Japanese
warship sunk (unless
otherwise stated)


Panay

.. .. erar 0
.... ____
.... (, \
Butuan
_ • Del Monte C
24 October: Southern Force 1 __ -'-_____ ---LJ ®® ®
withdraws without entering the lIigan . ffi ffi .
Surigao St.ra its • ____ Ei7 / -l • 8>5119 0
)- /,oke \, B -

6 &nao M t n dan a 0
\ . <:' " . Malabang
ParanQ'. .
('.J'> ! Kabacan Oavao
Kotabat. • ® .
G u I f
--:7ti\- ,.
u
,
. \\
Sarangani
\
sea
s .'
I e b
c
120
0
THE ROAD TO DEFEAT, FAILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 - OCTOBER 1944
war may be best related by reference to the progressive collapse of convoy routes
primarily under the impact of American operations. In the space of eight
months, from December 1943 until August 1944, thirteen routes were all
abandoned because of the immediate military situation, but scarcely less
significant were the other routes that were closed for different reasons. The
direct route between the home islands and the Palaus was abandoned as early as
March 1944 because of shortage of escorts, shipping instead being directed from
the home islands to Formosa and thence to the Palaus in a newly initiated
convoy system. The delays inherent in such an arrangement were accepted, at
least until July when this route in turn had to be abandoned with shipping
redirected through Manila. The direct route between Balikpapan and Manila
was abandoned in June 1944 as a result of the predatory activities of American
submarines in the Sulu and Celebes Seas, while October 1944 saw the Imperial
Navy close the Singapore-Medan route in part because of British submarine
operations in the Malacca Strait. But evidence of the increasingly desperate
Japanese position was provided in August 1944 with the closing of the
Takao-Hainan and Hong Kong-Hainan routes because of shipping shortages
and, in the case of the former, by the need to divert what shipping was available
from the iron ore trade to bauxite. With the Manila-Saigon route abandoned in
September as a result of lack of escorts, the American advance into the western
Pacific in summer 1944 in effect resulted in the collapse of the Japanese 'centre'.
The Japanese lines of communication in the Sea of Japan and Yellow Sea and
within south-east Asia remained more or less intact, and, indeed, nine such
routes remained at least nominally operational until the end of the war. The
problem for the Imperial Navy was the routes between the two, between the
home islands and the area which supplied the natural resources vital to the
Japanese war effort.
The part that American carriers played in this process can be understood by
reference to four of their operations in this period. First, the raid on Truk, the
main Japanese base in the central Pacific, accounted for 3 light cruisers, 3
destroyers and 5 other warships of 34,267 tons, and 33 auxiliaries and
merchantmen of 199,525 tons. Second, the raid on Koror, in the Palaus, on
30 March accounted for 12 minor warships of 5,634 tons and 22 ships, all but
one drawn from the services, of 126,817 tons. Third, in the operations that
formed the softening-up phase prior to the battle of the Philippine Sea, carrier
aircraft accounted for 5 warships of 4,741 tons and 13 transports of 45,358 tons:
to these totals, moreover, have to be added 5 destroyers of 9,077 tons and 8 naval
and 3 military ships of 64,920 tons that were sunk by American submarines in
this same phase of operations, plus 4 submarines and a minelayer sunk by
warships of the screens. Fourth, the carrier raids on the Philippines in September
1944 that prompted the decision to advance the timetable for the landing at
Leyte accounted for 19 warships, 53 service ships and merchantmen of 199,854
tons, and an estimated 1,000 Japanese aircraft. In terms of destruction of
OVERLEAF: An interesting
photograph in two respects.
First, airborne landings
were somewhat rare during
the Pacific war, but Kamiri
airstrip, seized by the
landing on Noemfoor on
2 July 1944, witnessed two:
both jumps resulted in high
casualties amid airfield
equipment on the 3rd and
on an already compacted
runway on the 4th. The
airfield received its first
aircraft on 21 July. Second,
the photograph is a fake,
though why it should be so
is unclear: there are
authentic photographs of
these jumps. This consists
of two, probably three,
obviously put together for
press release.
THE BATTLE OF LEYTE GULF
After a series of strikes in
September by carrier air
groups that compromised
Japanese defensive
capability in the islands, the
US landed on Leyte. With a
deployment area equivalent
in size to western Europe,
the Japanese committed
three forces to the defence of
Leyte: one was offered as
bait while two forces were to
move through the Visayans
to attack American shipping
on Leyte. The defensive
battle was not well
conducted, with American
forces watching the Visayans
withdraw even as the
Japanese forces negotiated
the islands: the one force
that did reach Leyte Gulf
was subjected to major
losses as it tried to escape,
after having achieved very
little in the way of sinking
US warships.
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
THE ROAD TO DEFEAT, FA ILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 - OCTOBER 1944
THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
Once, a photograph of a
carrier and the guns of a
battleship would have
carried clear implications of
defender and defended: by
1944, however, roles had
been reversed. Here the Iowa
is having a quiet word with
an Essex-class newcomer
fresh from the yard.
OPPOSITE: The Japanese
Kagero-class fleet destroyer
Amatsukazi under attack,
and about to be sunk,
by a B-24J Mitchell from
the 345 Bombardment
Group, 14th Air Force, off
Amoy, southern China,
6 April 1945.
r66
shipping the impact and importance of carner force operations cannot be
understated, especially as the Japanese services were obliged to replace their
losses by requisitioning from an already inadequate merchant marine. The only
occasion when the American carriers deliberately sought out merchantmen and
were not directly tied to the requirements of an assault landing was in J anuary
1945. In the course of a ten-day rampage through the South China Sea and off
the Ryukyus, carrier aircraft accounted for 58.5 service ships and merchantmen
of 222,653 tons, two dozen warships being sunk en passant. When the sinkings
of supporting submarines and warships are added to such results, the
importance of main force operations as a complement to the guerre de course
cannot be doubted. And to this point can be added another, and one which
equally leaves little to doubt. In 1944 Japanese shipyards produced 1,699,000
tons of new shipping, an amount almost double the 900,000 tons assumed by
Japanese pre-war planning to represent maximum output in any year. By any
standard, the 1944 production represented a remarkable effort, but it was still
not enough to safeguard national interest, not least because by March 1944 the
amount of shipping laid up was equivalent to the 1941 proj ected annual
THE ROAD TO DEFEAT, FAILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 - OCTOBER 1944
THE SE COND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
THE ZUIKAKU
On a full load displacement
of 32,105 tons, in October
1944 the Japanese fl eet
carrier Zuikaku could
carry a maximum of
eighty-four aircraft, a
defensive armament of
ninety-six 25-mm guns
and six 28-barreLled rocket
launchers. With a top speed
of 34.25 knots, she and her
sister ship Shokaku were
the best Japanese carriers
to be built. The Shokaku
was sunk by a submarine
in the Philippine Sea, the
Zuikaku by carrier aircraft
off Cape Engano during
the Leyte action.
168
production total, or 18.96 per cent of national shipping resources. This apart,
Japanese shipping production was simply set aside by the overwhelming extent
of losses: in 1944 Japanese losses totalled 983 service and merchant ships of
3,937,541 tons, or nearly fourth-fifths of the shipping with which Japan began
that year.
LEYTE GULF
The operations of the American carrier force outside battle is essential to an
understanding of the battle of Leyte Gulf, the greatest single battle in naval
history and one fought over 115,000 square miles between fleets that deployed
across an area three times as large. The conventional account of the battle would
exlain it in terms of two decisions, the first of which was to accelerate operations
in the Philippines with the substitution of landings on Leyte in the place of those
that had been planned for Mindanao: the landings at Noemfoor and Sansapor in
July, on Morotai and Peleliu on 15 September, and the occupation of Ulithi on
23 September may be added to the account for good measure. The second
decision, and the one on which attention had invariably concentrated in terms of
the action itself, was that taken by Halsey. His decision led to the American
carrier support formations in Leyte Gulf being left uncovered and subjected to
attack by Japanese surface forces on 25 October when the carrier and battle
forces of Halsey's 3rd Fleet were withdrawn. This attention, both in the
immediate aftermath of the battle and for decades afterward, was largely
muddled. The issue of divided command was paraded as explanation of the
unfortunate sequence of events whereby the San Bernardino Strait was left
unguarded, but this was essentially irrelevant: the issue was not command but
role and responsibilities.
The battle itself is generally considered in terms of 24-25 October, yet the
real significance of Leyte is not simply what happened in the four days of the
overall battle between the 23rd and 26th - when the fleet carrier Zuikaku, the
light fleet carriers Chitose, Chiyoda and Zuiho, the battleships Musashi, Fuso
and Ymashiro, 6 heavy and 4 light cruisers, 9 destroyers, 1 submarine and
2 amphibious ships were sunk - but in the desparity of forced deployed for battle
and Japanese losses not just in this battle but in the subsequent follow-up phase,
On the first score, opposed to the 4 carriers, 9 battleships, 20 cruisers and
35 destroyers of the Japanese 1st Mobile Fleet were 46 carriers, 12 battleships, 25
THE ROAD TO DEFEAT, FAIL URE AN D COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 - OCTOBER 1944
destroyers, 162 destroyers, 56 escorts, 29 submarines and almost as many
American oilers with the 3rd and 7th Fleet as Japan as a nation had possessed in
1941. Expressed another way, at Leyte the Americans had more destroyers than
the Japanese had carrier aircraft. The relationship between numbers and the
outcome of battle was never more obviously demonstrated. On the second score,
the sheer scale of destruction in this battle, and specifically in the course of the
various actions fought on 25 October, has served to obscure the extent of the
Japanese defeat and American victory both before and after the main force action
when American carrier aircraft ranged over the Philippines against Japanese
warships and shipping stripped of support.
Between 29 October and 30 November 1944 the Imperial Navy lost 50
warships of 129,511 tons - including the battleship Kongo - in Philippine and
immediately adjacent waters during American follow-up operations. In addition
a total of 48 service ships and merchantmen of
201,216 tons were lost in these same waters and
in these same operations. The context of these
losses can be gauged by the fact that total
Japanese losses in all theatres and to all causes
in this same period numbered 65 warships of
224,547 tons and 105 service and merchant
ships of 440,171 tons. Lest the point be
forgotten, before the outbreak of hostilities the Imperial Navy calculated
shipping losses would be in the order of 900,000 tons in any year.
In other works this author has used the analogy of history being like a piece
of string in that it consists of strands woven together to produce the whole,
but unlike a piece of string the strands of history are neither equal nor regular in
the weave. Japan's defeat, and the reasons for that defeat, conform to this
analogy, and the battle of Leyte Gulf marks the point where the various strands
of Japan's defeat recognizably began to be woven together. Defeat in battle was
clearly the most important of the strands, and after Leyte Gulf the Imperial
Navy was never again able to offer battle with a balanced force: after November
1944 the Imperial Navy was reduced to coastguard status and was barely able to
perform even that role.
But the real point of Leyte lay in the coming together of all of the elements
that contributed to victory and defeat in total war: military defeat at sea, on
land and in the air; the dimensions of time and position in the conduct of war;
the failure of Japan's strategic intent in Burma and China, and more generally
throughout the conquered territories in being unable to win the endorsement of
fellow Asians for her war effort; the faltering Japanese industrial, financial and
trading effort; the Japanese inability to protect shipping. It is impossible to state
with any finality when Japan's defeat became assured, perhaps 7 December
1941, perhaps November 1943. But October 1944 saw the various elements of
defeat come together and into place.
CHAPTER FIVE
--+--; . -
THE LAST MILESTONE:
SUPREMACY AND VICTORY
NOVEMBER 1944 - AUGUST 1945
THE DECISIVE FACTOR IN WAR: the will
of infantry to move forward.
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
THE LAST MILESTONE:
SUPREMACY AND VICTORY
THE YAMATO
The fl eet fl agship and bearer
of the ancient name of
Japan, the Yamato was
endowed with a 16.1-inch
belt, a triple bottom and
elaborate sub-division which
resulted in 1,147 watertight
compartments. In 1943 she
lost two secondary turrets in
order to accommodate
more tertiary AA weapons,
and in April 1945 carried
146 25-mm guns.
T
HREE VERY separate matters contribute to a full understanding of the final
phase of the Pacific war. The first is the sortie of the battleship Yamato in
support of the garrison on Okinawa and her sinking in attacks by 179 strike
aircraft from the carriers of Task Force 38 in the East China Sea on 7 April 1945.
The sortie of the Yamato was ordered in full awareness that she would not
survive the mission, and the fact that she carried enough fuel for only a one-way
voyage is well known. Less well known is the fact that she was ordered to sail
because the Imperial Navy considered it dishonourable for the ship that bore the
ancient name of Japan to survive the surrender of the country. Equally obscure
is the fact that the foray was mounted after the Imperial Navy relieved the
merchant fleet of one month's supply of fuel. This was at a time when every ton
of oil was needed for the merchant marine if Japan was to have any chance of
avoiding mass starvation and when 200,000 barrels of oil - compared to the 20
million with which Japan had gone to war - remained in stock. At the Tokyo
War Crimes Tribunal it was the Imperial Army that bore the brunt of national
guilt and failure but, other than the demise of the Yamato , few if any episodes
better illustrate the conceit and irresponsibility of an Imperial Navy that was
infinitely more culpable than the Imperial Army for the war that began in
December 1941. The Imperial Navy wrecked limitations treaties that afforded
Japan security and in 1941 insisted on war with the United States. When that
war was lost and its own failure apparent, it contemptuously subordinated
nation and society to its own concept of service honour rather than seek,
however unavailingly, to discharge its duty to the state it was supposed to serve.
The second concerns exceptionally heavy Japanese shipping losses in the last
months of the war, between 1 April and 15 August 1945, when Japan lost 210
warships of 440,293 tons, 77 service auxiliaries and transports of 224,532 tons
and 400 merchantmen of 741,574 tons. Although these losses were not much
greater than those incurred by the Allies in the single month of November 1942,
allowing for ships laid up or damaged beyond economical repair, they amounted
to three-fifths of the real total of tonnage available to Japan on 31 March 1945.
SUPREMAC Y AND VICTORY: NOVEMBER 1944 - AUGUST 1945
But what is perhaps even more significant about these losses concerned
cause and location. Leyte Gulf represented the swan song of the American
submarine campaign against Japanese shipping. The American return to the
western Pacific meant that the campaign against Japanese shipping in 1945 was
to be spearheaded by land- and carrier-based aircraft that could carry this effort
::0::>-.. . . . . . . . •
.. ' .. .... ' ..
.... .. .
into waters denied submarines, and could conduct
their operations more quickly and directly than
could the latter. The submarine campaign in 1945
therefore slowed as these other forms of taking the
war to the Japanese merchant fleet moved to
centre stage.
Moreover, as submarines fell from their
position of pre-eminence, mines accounted for a
minimum of 25 warships of 31,840 tons and 170
The light carrier Zuiho
under attack, 25 October
1944. The Japanese Navy's
policy of converting a
number of fast oilers and
liners to serve as carriers
resulted in some of the
worst carriers of the Second
World War, mainly because
of practically non-existent
damage control systems.
The Zuiho was one of the
better of these and was in
the Philippines and at
Midway, Santa Cruz and the
Philippine Sea before being
sunk at Leyte.
173
THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N T HE EAST
The destruction of the
Yamato. In the company of
one light cruiser and eight
destroyers, she was
committed to a one-way
mission in support of forces
on Okinawa. Caught 130
miles from Kagoshima with
no air cover, she was
overwhelmed by aircraft
from nine carriers, being hit
by perhaps as many as
eleven torpedoes and seven
bombs. Her light cruiser and
four destroyers were also
sunk, 7 April 1945.
I74
service and merchant ships of 302,172 tons as Japan's defences were very
literally engulfed. With the Americans using five different influence systems and
a total of 200 different types, the scale and diversity of their mining ensured that
Japanese defensive measures were all but overwhelmed. But what is even more
telling about the losses in the last months of the war is that in Jul y 1945 a total
of 123 merchantmen of 254,549 tons were sunk, and, as testimony of the totality
of Japan's defeat and the extent to which she had lost any real element of
strategic mobility, 120 merchantmen were lost in J apanese home waters: just
three merchantmen of 2,820 tons were lost in all other theatres other than the
seas that washed Japan. Put at its most simple and with scarcely any
exaggeration: in July 1945 nothing moved outside Japanese home waters, and
between a third and a half of what did move in home waters was sunk.
The third matter concerns the circumstances that surrounded the meeting of
the Supreme War Council scheduled for the evening of 8 August 1945 to discuss
whether or not to accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration of the United
Nations demanding Japan's immediate and unconditi onal surrender. Thi s
meeting was called two days after the American attack on Hiroshima with an
atomic bomb. With Soviet entry into the war and the attack on Nagasaki only a
matter of hours away, the meeting had to be cancelled because 'one of Council's
members had more important business el sewhere' . It is difficult to discern
any matter that could have represented ' more important business' than
SUPREMACY AND VICTORY: NOVEMBER 1944 - AUGUST 1945
consideration of the question of the nation's immediate and unconditional
surrender. The episode was final comment on the Japanese system and
organization in the Second World War that very literally defies belief.
The final phase of the Japanese war is perhaps best examined under six
headings: the series of defeats that separately and together overwhelmed the
Imperial Army; the annihilation of the Imperial Navy; the campaign against
Japanese shipping; Japan's industrial and economic prostration by war's end;
the strategic bombing campaign against the home islands; and the Soviet
intervention. There is an obvious interconnection between these subjects. But
while it is somewhat difficult to disentangle the various strands of defeat,
immediate attention must be directed to the most obvious and direct: the defeat
of the Imperial Army in the field.
The fleet carrier Amagi was
rendered hors de combat on
24 July 1945 when, in
addition to routine
operations involving
570 Superfortresses, no
fewer than 1,747 carrier
aircraft attacked the Kure
naval base and ships in the
Inland Sea on that day,
accounting for 1 battleship,
1 fleet and 2 escort carriers,
1 heavy cruiser, 1 chaser,
3 naval transports and
9 merchantmen.
175
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
A British patrol from the
14th Army in the battle of
the Sittang Bend in the final
stages of the campaign in
Burma: at war's end some
110,000 Japanese troops
remained in Burma east of
the Sittang but their
effectiveness had been
destroyed by defeat and lack
of supplies.
Leaving aside events in Manchuria in August 1945, the Imperial Army was
defeated in the course of five separate campaigns: in the Pacific on the islands of
Iwo Jima and Okinawa; in Burma, the Philippines and the Indies. Of these, the
individual defeats in south-east Asia demand little consideration because at this
stage of proceedings anything that happened beyond the inner zone of Japan's
defences was of no real account, at least in terms of the outcome of the war.
The most obvious proof of this was in the Indies where Australia, which with
New Zealand had been casually and ungraciously denied a central Pacific role
by the United States as the war moved away from their shores, found
employment for her forces with the landings at Tarakan on 1 May, in Brunei Bay
on 10 June and at Balikpapan on 1 July. More substantially, in Burma in
December 1944 a British advance from Sittaung and Kalewa resulted in the
establishment of three bridgeheads over the Irrawaddy River during January and
February. Signals intelligence enabled the British 14th Army to fight with an
exact knowledge of the Japanese order of battle and intentions and, accordingly,
it was able to drive through Nyaungu against Meiktila while the main Japanese
strength was pinned- around and in Mandalay. In two separate battles, both
SUPREMACY AND VI CTORY: NOVEMBER 1944 - AUGUST 1945
lasting about one month, Japanese forces in upper
Burma and those directed against Meiktila were
destroyed. By the end of March 1945 the collapse
of Japanese resistance throughout upper and
central Burma, plus the availability of transport
aircraft, enabled the British offensive to extend
into lower Burma. In the course of April what had
been considered impossible over the previous two
years, the reconquest of Burma by means of an
overland offensive from north-east India, was
achieved, though in fact the Arakan was cleared
by a series of landing operations and Rangoon
was taken (1/3 May) by amphibious assault ahead
of both the monsoon and the columns advancing
from the north. Even after the loss of Rangoon
some 115,000 Japanese troops remained in Burma,
but these were mostly in Tenasserim or east of the
Salween River and were powerless to have any
influence on proceedings. The war was to end
with the British in effect having cleared Burma
and preparing for landings in Malaya. What this
effort achieved with respect to original terms of
reference is interesting. The first overland convoys
reached Chungking via Tengchung on 20 January
and via Bhamo on 4 February, but the overland
If air resupply was crucial to
the British advance in
Burma in 1945, scarcely less
important were rivers that
formed the natural lines of
communication and supply.
Supplies brought overland
from the Imphal area to the
Chindwin were vitally
important in sustaining the
initial advance of British
forces to Mandalay. The
photograph shows a supply
convoy of American-
supplied DWCKS on the
lower Chindwin, with
orders being given in
semaphore.
177
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
Chinese forces in the final
stages of the battle for
Bhamo in northern Burma,
November-December 1944.
Bhamo was cleared after a
month-long siege on
15 December 1944: with the
Burma Road thus cleared of
Japanese forces the first
overland convoy to
Kunming since 1942 arrived
in February 1945.
supply route on which the Americans lavished so
much money and emotional investment handled
just 7.19 per cent of all material supplied to China
between February and October 1945.
RETURN TO THE PHILIPPINES
The Philippines campaign ran parallel to these
efforts. The US 6th Army undertook six major
landing operations in the Visayans and on Luzon.
These were the initial landings on Leyte in
October 1944 and the subsequent landings in
Ormoc Bay on 7 December 1944 which had the
effect of breaking Japanese resistance on Leyte.
The landings on Mindoro on 15 December 1944
served as a stepping stone to the main endeavour
in the Philippines campaign, namely the liberation
of Luzon, which opened with the landings in
Lingayen Gulf on 9 January; and the landings on
Samar and Palawan in February 1945, which
complemented the main efforts directed towards
Luzon, and marked the start of the clearing of the
SUPREMACY AND VICTORY: NOVEMBE R 1944 - AUGUST 1945
central passage through the islands. Thereafter the American offensive in the
group divided into two parts. Less importantly, after 19 February 1945 no fewer
than twel ve major assaults and some thirty other landings were conducted in the
central and southern Philippines with the aim of freeing both the people and the
sea routes through the islands. For the most part these operations were on a
modest scale and directed against an enemy defensively dispersed, which had
committed and lost its best formations in the defence of Leyte. Despite having
some 110,000 troops in these islands at the end of the war, the Japanese were
unable to offer effective resistance anywhere in the Visayans and by August 1945
retained organized formations only in central Mindanao.
The Burma and China
theatres necessitated the
building of a modern
communications system, in
what had previously been a
peaceful backwater of
north-east India. Probably
everything shown in this
photograph - road, huts,
telephone lines and vehicles
- was American made and
supplied.
179
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
180
The campaIgn III the northern Visayans and on Luzon was the more
important of the two efforts in the Philippines, and in effect its outcome was
assured with the Japanese defeat on Leyte, acknowledged on 19 December with
the decision to abandon the struggle for control of an island where 202,000 US
combat troops found employment. With this victory the Americans were left
free to strike at will throughout the Philippines with all the advantages bestowed
by a central position. In fact, their main effort was directed, like the Japanese
effort of 1941, to Lingayen Gulf and across the central plain to Manila. Again
like the Americans in 1941, the defence did not seek to deny the capital but to
concentrate in the field with a view to drawing as many enemy formations as
possible into a protracted campaign. In 1945 the Japanese chose to make their
main defensive effort not on the Bataan Peninsula, but in the mountains of
north-east Luzon. The fragmentation of Japanese forces meant that Manila was
defended in the course of a month-long campaign that reduced the city to the
dubious status of the most heavily damaged Allied capital in the world after
Warsaw by the time it was finally liberated on 3 March. Thereafter the
Americans were able to clear central and southern Luzon without difficulty and
take possession of everything of real political and military value on the island.
The campaign on Luzon was to continue until July 1945 when US formations
were withdrawn from major operations, though at the end of the war, 15 August
1945, the equivalent of five American divisions still remained in the field in the
Philippines. With sixteen American divisions committed at some stage or
another to the overall campaign in the Philippines, the campaign in the islands
was the first large-scale campaign undertaken by the US Army in the Pacific war
and cost the Japanese about 400,000 lives. Whether the final result confirmed
the claims that had been made by South West Pacific Command in justification
for a policy of clearing the Philippines is questionable. What is undeniable,
however, is that the defeat of the Japanese in battle in the Philippines facilitated
the rehabilitation of American power both in the archipelago and more
generally in south-east Asia after the war in a way which a bypassing of the
islands probably could never have achieved. In the short term securing Leyte
Gulf and Manila Bay provided Allied naval forces with bases from which to
carry the war into the Ryukyus and Japanese home waters.
Iwo JIMA AND OKINAWA
The other two campaigns that contributed to Japanese military defeat were
somewhat different. The story of the final phase of the war in the Pacific has
invariably been told in terms of the American landings on and clearing of Iwo
Jima and Okinawa, and rightly so: singly and together they possessed critical
importance. These two campaigns represent the final closing of the ring around
Japan. The campaign on Iwo Jima began on 19 February 1945, that on Okinawa
on 1 April: the islands were declared secured on 26 March and 30 June
respectively. On the -eight square miles of Iwo Jima, where the Japanese had
SUPREMACY AND VICTORY: NOVEMBER 1944 - AUGUST 1945
deployed the reinforced 109th Infantry Division with about 25,000 troops as
garrison, some 2,400 Japanese personnel were killed or captured after the island
was declared secure, and resistance continued into June. The value of the island
was nevertheless revealed as early as 4 March when the first of 2,251 B-29
emergency landings took place, and one week later US fighters began operations
from airfield complexes that ultimately covered half the island. The first fighter
escorts for B-29 bombers were flown from Iwo Jima on 7 April, and, less well
known, the first raids by fighters, escorted by B-29s from the Marianas, were
flown on 16 April. Okinawa, however, was somewhat different from Iwo Jima. It
was to provide the US with airfields from which the campaign against the home
islands was supplemented, but its real value lay in the forward anchorages it
afforded. More importantly, its position astride Japan's lines of communication
with south-east Asia meant that no oil tanker reached Japanese waters from the
southern resources area after March 1945.
Okinawa, like Saipan, housed a substantial Japanese civilian population
indoctrinated with tales of American brutality, and the offensive was very
different from other island campaigns. The Japanese 32nd Army, with some
131,000 troops under command, in effect ceded the central and northern part of
the island in order to concentrate forces for a defensive campaign on the Shuri
Line, and here lay the major significance of this campaign. Japanese policy was
to force the Americans to fight a protracted campaign within range of aircraft
concentrated in the home islands. The air campaign was the most important
single part of a final despairing Japanese attempt to influence events to their
advantage by an equalization of resources ' by other means'. War, as von
Clausewitz has taught us, is a contest of moral and physical resources by means
of the latter, and is a political phenomenon: thus it follows that the
determinants of war are political rather than physical. A careful reader would
have noticed that elsewhere it was noted that the Japanese defeat in the Second
World War was comprehensive but for one dimension, which was left undefined.
This was a willingness to accept death as the means and end of resistance. The
Japanese ethic saw and accepted death as a means of resistance in the sense that
after 25 October, off Leyte Gulf, Japanese forces, in the form of kamikaze units,
died in order to fight. On this single day, suicide attacks sank one and damaged
seven escort carriers, three extensively. Throughout the first four months of the
campaign in the Philippines, suicide aircraft struck at American warships, but if
the greatest single day's achievement of this form of attack was on 25 November
when the fleet carriers Essex and Intrepid and the light fleet carrier Cabot were
forced from the battle with serious damage, it was in the campaign for Okinawa
that the greatest kamikaze effort was mounted, and to no avail. Sailors who
fought to live defeated airmen who died to fight, and in so doing pointed to the
limitations of political and moral factors in the conduct of war, and to the fact
that there was no effective substitute for conventional air power. Moreover, with
the loss of some 3,000 aircraft in the Philippines and another 7,000 in the
181
...
19-28 February:
long range bombers
fly in support from
bases on Saipan
xx
xx

I2$J 5 Marine (reserve)
- -- --
..... ......... V Amphibious Corps SCHMIDT
SUPREMACY AN D VI CTORY: NOVEMBER 1944 - AUGUST 1945
Aircraft Ay ground 01---- .;
attack mi ssions from
the carriers of Task
Force 58
------- ---
------
Tachiiwa Point
FEBRUARY 1945
commitment of 8 battleships,
8 cruisers, 10 escort carriers in
support landings by two marine
divisions of V Amphibious
Corps: some 30,000 men were
landed on 19 February 1945 .
Mount Suribachi was taken on
23 February and the island
declared secure on 16 March,
but the last Japanese defenders
were not eliminated until the
end of May. The first
emergency B-29 landing on the
island was on 4 March .
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
THE R ANDOLPH
The Essex-class fl eet carrier
Randolph: 34,880 tons (deep load),
ninety-one aircraft, twelve 5-inch,
thirty-two 40-mm, forty-six 20-mm
guns, 32.7 knots. She first saw
action in February 1945 in the raid
on the home islands but an
unwanted claim to fame lies in the
fact that she was the only carrier to
be hit by a kamikaze while in base,
at Ulithi on 11 March 1945.
- - - - - - ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ - - - - - - - - - - -
SU PR EMACY AND VICTORY: NOVEMBER 1944 - AUGUST 1945
struggle for Okinawa, recourse to kamikaze tactics
meant that the Japanese could not simultaneously
prepare for a conventional air battle in defence of
the home islands and undertake kamikaze
offensives off Okinawa: even the most successful
kamikaze effort over the Philippines and Okinawa
could only have one outcome, namely the
exhaustion of Japanese air strength and the
certainty of its self-immolation by the end of 1945.
Moreover, while the shock wrought by the
employment of suicide forces was very real, it was
one that lessened with time, and certainly by the
end of the Okinawan campaign the Americans, by
a recasting of tactics and deployment, could beat
the kamikazes. In terms of readiness for the
invasion of the home islands, the Americans had
moved into a position of strength that ensured
that the air battle would be won, though very little
attention is ever paid to what such a simple
statement of the situation involved. The number
of carriers gathered off Okinawa is sometimes
cited as evidence of this strength - and sixty fleet,
light and escort carriers saw employment off the
Ryukyus - but perhaps the more pertinent
measure of strength was the 90,662 missions flown
by American carriers in the course of the Okinawa
campaign: of this total 53,077 were flown by the
fleet and light fleet carriers between 14 March and
8 June, while the remaining 37,585 were flown by
escort carriers prior to the end of June. With such
numbers in hand, and with British carriers
arriving on station, the Americans planned that
_________________ -L _____ _ .
Self- defence for an Essex-
class carrier in three forms:
the quadrupled 40-mm,
single 20-mm and single
5-inch guns. By summer
1945 the US Navy had
decided upon a standard
3-inch tertiary weapon as
the best compromise
between rate of fire and
weight of shell as counter
to the kamikaze.
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
186
SUPREMACY AND VICTORY; NOVEMBER 1944 - AUGUST 1945
the landings on Kyushu would be directly supported by a carrier force of ten
fleet and light fleet carriers while another force, with twenty fleet and light fleet
carriers, was assigned the covering role. In short, if war is a contest of physical
and moral forces, the latter cannot offset too severe a material deficit, and this
was the reality that unfolded in the Philippines and the Ryukyus between
October 1944 and June 1945. Tacit acknowledgement of this was provided by
the fact that 7,400 prisoners were taken on Okinawa, the first occasion when
Japanese soldiers surrendered in any appreciable numbers.
In the course of the Okinawan campaign the American carrier task force
was continuously at sea for ninety-two days; even the short-haul British carrier
force was at sea in two separate periods of thirty-two and thirty days. Such
capability was unprecedented since the age of sail, and the logistical effort
needed to sustain such undertakings was immense. No less serious, and in a
sense more relevant for what was to come, was the effort needed to conduct
assault landings. With the preliminary bombardment lasting seventy-two days,
certain of the ships bound for Iwo Jima began loading in the previous
November, and one of the divisions committed to this battle went ashore with
food sufficient to supply the city of Colombus, Ohio, for thirty days and with,
The final phase of the
campaign on Okinawa:
marines clearing the caves in
southern Okinawa, 14 June
1945. The eighty-two-day
campaign for the island left
110,000 Japanese dead.
Some 7,400 chose captivity,
the first appreciable
prisoner haul of the war.
OPPOSITE: The New
Mexico-class battleship
Idaho in action off Okinawa
in late March 1945. The pre-
invasion bombardment forces
assembled off Okinawa after
26 March 1945 included ten
old battleships, the total in
second-line service, more
than the number then in
British service.
THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
188
SUPREMACY AND VI CTORY, NOVEMBER 1944 - AUGUST 1945
Though most of the
landings in the Philippines
other than on Leyte and
Luzon were relatively small,
the operations in Mora Gulf
on 17 April 1945, while not
involving carriers and
capital ships, none the less
saw the commitment of two
infantry divisions. Rocket-
firing landing craft,
converted from standard
LeT (2) or (3), were
notorious for their
eccentricities of handling,
but when aligned correctly
could saturate a beach area
over a frontage of 750 yards.
THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
perhaps somewhat excessively, enough cigarettes to supply every single man with
twenty a day, every day for eight months. With hospitals prepared on Saipan and
Guam to receive casualties, the scale of support needed for the two armies,
14,000 combat aircraft and naval forces (including 100 carriers) that were to be
involved in landings in Honshu begins to come into perspective, as does one
other matter, an historical fact that could be regarded as trivia but for its
obvious significance in terms of illustrating the extent of national disparity of
strength and resources both in the war as a whole but specifically at this stage of
proceedings. In the campaign off Okinawa, between March and June 1945,
SUPREMACY AND VICTORY: NOVEMBER 1944 - AUGUST 1945
American naval forces were supplied with a greater
amount of petrol, oil and lubricants than japan as a
nation imported in the whole of 1944.
ATTACKING THE HOME ISLANDS
The securing of the Marianas, the Philippines and
Okinawa provided the Americans with the bases
from which to stage the invasion of the home
islands, and it was the American intention to move
initially against Kyushu in November 1945 and then
against Honshu, specifically across the Kondo Plain
to Tokyo, in March 1946. The prospect of landings
in the home islands did not command enthusiasm
on two counts. First, in the course of 1945 the
japanese deployment of forces within the home
islands was closely monitored by American
intelligence, and with the Imperial Army
anticipating where enemy forces would be obliged
to land the American high command drew the
obvious conclusions. The second was self-evident:
the example of japanese resistance on such places as
Saipan, Iwo jima and Okinawa was regarded as a
On 19 March Japanese land-
based aircraft bombed the
fleet carriers Wasp and
Franklin. Though the Wasp
was able to extinguish her
fires quickly and was fully
operational within fifty
minutes of being hit, the
Franklin was crippled by
five hours of explosions that
at one stage left her dead in
the water. Under tow her
fires were extinguished and
power ultimately regained,
and by noon on the 20th the
carrier was able to make
14 knots and she reached
Ulithi under her own power
on 24 March. With 832 dead
and 270 wounded, the
Franklin was the most
heavily damaged carrier to
survive the war, though she
never returned to service
other than in a ferrying
capacity. Not the least
remarkable aspect of her
survival was that she was
crippled while 55 miles from
the coast of Japan but none
the less was able, with the
help of her companions in
TG 58.2, to survive and
clear the danger area.
OKINAWA CAMPAIGN
Realizing the impossibility of offering resistance on beaches,
the Japanese intention was to cede most of Okinawa while
standing on prepared lines in the south of the island.
The Japanese hoped to conduct a protracted
defence that would result in the
Americans having to commit
the carrier force to prolonged
operations within range of
conventional air and kamikaze
strikes mounted from the
home islands. The margin of
superiority available to the
Americans at this stage of
proceedings confounded
Japanese intentions.
xxx
_ AMPH
GEIGER
xxx
LXXlVI HODGE
xx
-
xx
Keise Is.
\


11 April yo April
'- Cape Chamu
The scene off Haguishi
beach, Okinawa, where
troops from XXIV Corps
landed on 1 April 1945. The
concentration of shipping so
close to the shore so early in
proceedings indicates that
the Japanese made little
attempt to oppose the
landings at the water's edge:
by the end of the first day
the Americans had secured a
beachhead 3 miles deep and
10 miles in frontage.
- I
Kutaka Is
;;/'
PACIFIC
OCEAN
Hedo Cape
I? 13April
26' 30'
US invasion of Okinawa
26 March - 30 June 1945
==
American attack
The 'Shur; Line',
Japanese defence line
SUPREMACY AND VICTORY: NOVEMBER 1944 - AUGUST 1945
foretaste of what could be expected in the event of the invasion of the home
islands. In this respect, the Japanese aim in the conduct of last-ditch defence in
the islands proved both successful and self-defeating. The Japanese hoped and
intended to wear down American resolve, to force the Americans to the
conclusion that a negotiated end to the war was preferable to a campaign on the
main islands. In reality, there was little basis for such hopes. The quality of
Imperial Army formations in the home islands was somewhat uneven: the
classes of 1944 and 1945 were all but untrained, and even the good divisions
lacked the transport, communications and armour synonymous with
effectiveness. Moreover, in planning for the defence of the home islands the
Imperial Army, which rejected the idea of arming the civil population for a war
Beach scene on Okinawa,
13 April 1945. With a
minimum of forty-four
landing ships and craft in
sight, the scale and
complexity of logistic
support begins to come into
perspective: in fact, by mid
April American logistical
problems were mounting as
demand outstripped earlier
logistical estimates.
193
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
In five major raids between
10 March and 25 May 56.3
of Tokyo's 110.8 square
miles were destroyed. Two-
fifths of Japan's 'big six'
cities - Tokyo, Osaka,
Yokohama, Nagoya, Kobe
and Kawasaki - were
destroyed in the course of
eighteen firestorm raids
prior to 15 June 1945.
194
to the death, was simply unable to force civilian evacuation of landing areas,
and in any event it faced an impossible dilemma in planning the conduct of the
defence against amphibious landings. If it attempted to defend the home islands
at the water's edge, then its formations would be subjected to the full force of
American materiel advantage; on the other hand, formations held inland were
highly unlikely to be able to get into battle in time to affect its outcome other
than in swelling the total of Japanese casualties. In this respect the example of
the Okinawa campaign was salutary. Such was the disruption of Japanese
airfields and command facilities in the home
islands as a result of American carrier operations
that it took the Japanese a week after the
American landings on Okinawa to organize air
strikes in direct support of the 32nd Army: there is
no reason to suppose that the Japanese could have
done any better in the event of landings in the
home islands. In reality, and despite the
hesitations of the American high command, there
was never any real prospect of the Imperial
Army's securing the success that had eluded the
German armed forces in Normandy.
Iwo Jima and Okinawa caused the Americans
to hesitate but not to flinch, in part because they
had other means of taking the war to the home
islands. These were the combination of bombing
SUPREMACY AND VICTORY: N OVEMBER 1944 - AUGUST 1945
and, after 14 July 1945, bombardment by warships, primarily American. The
warships were a bonus, their symbolism being both obvious and ironic: in a
war that for the British began with the loss of two capital ships in the South
China Sea on 10 December 1941, the bombardment of Hamamatsu on the night
of 29/30 July was the last occasion when a British battleship fired her guns
111 anger.
The bombing campaign, however, was of a different order in terms of scale,
impact and results, even if it began very uncertainly and was attended initially
Japanese Type D Koryu
submarines in a wrecked
dock at Kure naval yard,
September 1945. The
Japanese planned to have
570 Koryus in September for
the defence of the home
islands: in the event only
115 had been completed.
195
THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
/
Harry S. Truman became
president of the United States
on 12 April 1945 on the death
of Franklin D. Roosevelt. He
attended the Potsdam
Conference in July and
authorized the use of atomic
weapons after the Allied
declaration of the 26th was
rejected by the Japanese.
TOKYO FIRE RAID, 29 MAY 1945
Japanese cities, with their
narrow streets, closely
packed and lightly
constructed buildings with
few parks, were peculiarly
vulnerable to firestorm
raids. Tokyo was subjected
to five raids that devastated
56.3 of its 110 square miles.
One-third of neighbouring
Kawasaki was razed in a
single attack: 44 per cent of
Yokohama was levelled in
the course of two raids.
o
CD
First wave of bombers (B-29s) drop
high explosive bombs ro cause
structural damage
Following waves drop incendiary
bombs, to set alight damaged areas
Japanese anti-aircraft fire anemprs
ro disrupt the bombing run and
destroy attacki ng aircraft
Japanese fighters intercept bombers,
bombers respond with defensive fire .
Later in the bombing campaign only
tail guns would equip the 8-29,
allowing a greater bomb load to be
carried
Superfortresses over Japan:
seven of the 454 B-29s
committed against
Yokahama on 29 May
when some 6.9 square miles
or slightly more than one-
third of the city was
destroyed in a firestorm
attack. 517 bombers were
initially committed but
only 454 found their target:
this attack was the first to
be afforded protection by
P-51 Mustangs of VII
Fighter Command.
-.
>
<,
SUPREMACY AND VICTORY: NOVEMBER 1944 - AUGUST 1945
-......-i-e
--
. ~ -
-> •
-"";. - -'"'
- "
-.
- 3
7
te
I .•.
I97
THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
OPPOSITE: A Japanese
military transport under
attack in Ormoc Bay in the
course of the Leyte
campaign, November 1944.
JAPANESE MERCHANT
SHIPPING LOSSES
The changing pattern of
Japanese shipping losses can
be ascertained by reference to
the location of sinkings over
different periods of the war.
Suffice to note one matter: by
war's end Japanese shipping
was at a standstill outside
home waters despite the vast
areas that remained under
Japanese control. By July
1945 Japan's strategic
mobility was no more, and
she could not have sustained
herself in terms of basic
food requirements beyond
November.
1. Japanese merchant
shipping losses
7 December 1941 - 31 December 1942
7 De c 1941 - 30 April 1942
1 May - 31 August
1 September - 31 December
Japanese territory
T otallosses: 89 ships
by failure. Between November 1944 and February 1945 the attacks on the home
islands from bases in the Marianas were conducted on too small a scale - only
one wing was available for operations - and at altitudes too hi gh to be effective.
Furthermore, air defence inflicted a debilitating 5 per cent loss rate on the B-29
Superfortresses. After March, and in spite of the distractions of the mining
commitment and operations against airfields on Kyushu and Shikoku in support
of the Okinawa enterprise, the American bombing offensive became
increasingly effective to the extent that by the end of the war 43.46 per cent of
sixty-three major Japanese cities had been laid waste, 42 per cent of Japan's
industrial capacity had been destroyed and some 22 million people had been
killed, injured or rendered homel ess.
Such devastation, inflicted in just five months, was primarily the result of
three factors, namely the increase in the number of aircraft committed to
the bombing campaign, the deployment of area bombardment tactics and the
peculiar nature of Japanese cities. After March 1945 the Americans abandoned
precision bombardment in favour of low-altitude attacks, notable for the
employment of incendiaries. Lack of road space and parks, heavy population
density and the relative flimsiness of Japanese construction meant that Japanese
cities were peculiarly vulnerable to fire storms, as the extent of destruction
indicated only too well. The hi gh, or low, point of this effort - the Tokyo raid
2. Japanese merchant
shipping losses
1943
1 January - 30 April
1 May - 31 August
1 September - 31 December
Japanese territory
PA C IFI C
Caroline IS.'-(}nds ~
o
o
o co
180
New
Caledonia
180
3. Japanese merchant
shipping losses
1944
1 January - 30 April
1 May - 31 August
1 September - 31 December
Japanese territory
SUPREMACY AND VICTORY: NOVEMBER 1944 - AUGUST 1945
routes abandoned by:
1 January 1944
1 May 1944
1 September 1944
4 Japanese merchant
shipping losses
1945
1 January - 30 April
1 May - 15 August
Japanese territory
T DtallDsses: 550 ships
o C E AN
1 January 1945
1 May 1945
15 August 1945
still in operation at the
end of the war
180
-t-- -t-
..... S?'omon Islands .
New
Caledonia
180
PA C I.FI C OCEAN
--f--% --r
,,,-
'S-
qaroline Isjands ,: ~
..0; '%:
~
;;;
180
199
THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
' If all the radiance of a
thousand suns were to burst
at once into the silent sky,
that would be like the
coming of The Mighty One.
I am become Death, The
Shatterer of Worlds. '
The Bhagavad Gita, xi, 12,
32.
The attack on Nagasaki
(top) and the aftermath at
Hiroshima (right ).
200
SUPREMACY AND VI CTORY: NOVEMBER 1944 - AUGUST 1945
2 01
THE SECOND WO RLD WA R IN THE EAST
JAPANESE MERCHANT
SHIPPING LOSSES
The introduction of convoy
of shipping in November
1943 did nothing to curb
Japanese losses: the system
itself collapsed as the
Americans reached into the
western Pacific. At war's end
the only convoy routes
remaining to the Japanese
were short-haul from the
Asian mainland. Of
Japanese merchant shipping
losses almost four-fifths,
both by numbers and
tonnage, were lost in home
waters and the southern
resources area: by numbers
almost half of merchant
shipping losses were in
home waters.
202
of 9/10 March 1945 which left 124,711 killed or
injured and 1,008,005 homeless - is well known, and
the critical importance of the B-29 Superfortress is
acknowledged, specifically the growth of XX
Bomber Command to a strength of five wings by the
end of hostilities. But the B-29 offensive was only
one part of the final air assault on the home islands,
and was complementary to the efforts of heavy,
medium and fighter-bombers from Iwo Jima and
Okinawa, as well as naval aircraft. With fighters
from carriers operating combat air patrols over
Japanese airfields, and air groups providing ECM
and harassing night attacks, the Americans
overwhelmed Japan's air defences to the extent that
they were able to announce targets in advance, with
obvious effect on Japanese morale. The revelation of
Japan's defencelessness, a patent inability to resist
declared American intention, was a major factor in
the progressive demoralization of Japanese society
in the course of 1945. In the words of one
commentator, it 'continued to fight throughout 1945
from habit', but the debilitating effect of the air
offensive can be gauged by absenteeism rates that
touched 80 per cent in major industrial enterprises
and even 40 per cent in Kyoto, which was never
bombed. That only 68 per cent of the Japanese
population in July 1945 believed that the war was
lost may seem highly implausible, but the fact was
that only 2 per cent of the population was of such
an opinion one year earlier: the greater realism
induced by taking the war to the Japanese home
islands was clearly the product of the strategic
bombing offensive.
Moreover, there was another matter intimately
associated with this campaign: the air offensive
most certainly affected both Japanese will and
ability to resist, and it also completed the process of
blockade. Strategic air forces had mined the
Shimonoseki Strait through which most shipping
entered the Inland Sea by spring 1945. This was part
of a process that fulfilled its operational code name
- Starvation. By spring 1945 Japanese industry was
in or about to enter 'end-run production' , and the
Total losses
379, 199 382,581
111 67
\. 296,836 )

516,274
154.5
\.

826,058
\ 236
539
,026 }

171,41i8
48
6,392 9,728
3 6

5,528
3
l 1.s:" J

China/other/
riverine/unknown
March 1943 - August 1945
Naval Shipping
Mi litary Shipping
Civilian Shipping
296,836 tonnage sunk
93 number of ships lost
East China Sea
SUPREMACY AND VICTORY: NOVEMBER 1944 - AUGUST 1945
Japanese
home waters North Pacific

11 ,534 12.923
" 5
1 March-
31 October 1943
1 November 1943 -
30 June 1944
1 July-
30 November 1944
1 December 1944 -
30M.reh 1945
PACIFIC OCEAN
Southwest Pacific


R A L A
1100
/
20
3
THE SECOND WORLD WA R I N T HE EAST
JAPANESE SHIPPING LOSSES
Between December 1944
and March 1945, Japanese
shipping losses remained at
crippling levels mainly
because carrier and land-
based aircraft maintained
their rate of sinkings. In the
war's final phase losses
increased primarily because
of mining while the
returns of carrier aircraft,
increasingly committed to
the air battle over the home
islands, declined.
Japanese shipping losses
by agency of Destruction
Jul y 1944 - August 1945
CJ Naval Shipping
D Military Shipping
D Civilian Shipping
296.836 tonnage sunk
93 number of ships lost
I December 1944 -
30 March 45
bombing offensive was increasingly directed against unused capacity rather than
production. By war's end the J apanese power industry was able to produce
double requirements, such was the extent of idleness in Japanese manufacturing
industry for want of raw materials. Indeed, such was the Japanese double failure
in terms of the protection of shipping and cities that after the end of the war the
US strategic bombing survey suggested that, all other considerations being
discounted, Japan could not have sustained herself beyond November 1945.
Certainly in terms of the conduct of the strategic air offensive, in summer 1945
the US Army Air Force was warning of its rapid exhaustion of suitable targets to
attack. As it was, the Japanese high command admitted its helplessness with the
acknowledgement that 'the most troublesome possible course' that the Allies
could follow would be to suspend all operations other than air bombardment.
Japan faced the certainty of mass starvation in winter 1945-6 had the war
continued into the new year, such was the utter inadequacy of the administrative
margins on which she was obli ged to work by summer 1945.
The potentially disastrous consequences of defeat dawned on the Japanese
high command in the course of 1945. Its real concern was not so much defeat as
social revolution in its aftermath, and increasingly in 1945 there was recognition
of the threat presented by Soviet intervention. In the spring and summer of
1945, therefore, the Japanese high command made increasingly desperate
attempts both to deflect the Soviet Union from intervention in Manchuria and to
188,206
50
194.685
67.5
48.347 63,783 70.313
14
46.499
13.5
Nil
2 0 4
1 April -
15 August 1945
1 December 1944 -
30 March 45
I April -
15 August 1945
12 14.5
14.968
9
Submarines
(from all bases)
243.113
148
17.546
11
Mines
41 .513
11
Carrier aircraft
Natural causes
2.534
3
495
1
17.490
9
Land-based aircraft
45.632
25
97,248
63
844
2
16.289
8
5.819
1
6.420
5
Other/
Unknown causes
398
1
Warships
518,964
177
741.574
400
171.458
48
188.429
55
142,2
44
Total losses
82.324
33
SU PR EMAC Y AN D VICTO RY: N OVEMBE R 1944 - AUGUST 1945
The Volume of Bulk Imports into Japan, 1940-45 The data for 1945 apply to the period from 1 January to l 5 August (228 days) .
The transparent bar represents the equivalent for a full year.
Iron and Steel Iron Ore Scrap Coal Bauxite
c
8
.::
~
"0
>
-g
~
,
0
-5
g
8
c
E
,
"0
>
1,000
800

•••
600 ..
400
200
Zinc
20
15
10
Salt
1,500
.. I ....
-
-
1,000
500
11
r--,
7,000
6.000 2,000
6,000
5,000
1,500 5,000
4,000
4,000
3,000 1,000
3,000
2,000
2,000
500
1,000
1,000
Lead Tin Phosphite/Phosphates
100
700
25
600
80
20
500
60
15 400
10
40
300
200
20
100
Rice Grains
2,500
800
1,000
2,000
800
600
1,500
600
400
1,000
400
••
200
500
200
use her as the means of seeking some form of mediation in order to end the war.
Though the Soviet Union did not inform the United States of these efforts,
the US interception of Japanese diplomatic signals ensured that the Americans
knew of this contact, and in this period there was a growing convergence of
American and Japanese wishes. In the last year of the war there was increasing
American confidence that the Japanese war could be won without Allied
assistance, and with the end of the German war and the first signs of emerging
differences between the wartime Allies, the general view of the Truman
administration was that Soviet intervention was neither necessary nor desirable.
The successful testing of an atomic weapon at Alamogordo on 16 July 1945
800
600
400
200
Dolomite/Magnesite
500
400
300
200
100
Rubber
60
50
40
30
20
10
VOLUME OF IMPORTS
Japan's economic defeat can
be gauged by the fact that in
1945 the volume of imports
exceeded that of 1945 only
with respect to soy, grains
and rubber: only soy showed
an increase over 1944
imports. Japan, by summer
1945, was both industrially
and in terms of nutritional
needs all but finished.
205
THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
22 August 1945 and the
entry of Soviet armoured
forces into Port Arthur. For
all the signs of
development, the local
Manchurian population
does not seem too upset by
the end of Japanese rule.
206
immeasurably strengthened the American belief that Soviet involvement in
the Japanese war was unnecessary. The Potsdam Declaration of 26 Jul y 1945
calling upon Japan to surrender immediately and unconditionally on pain of
immediate and utter destruction was underwritten in the knowl edge that the
means of such destruction was available. But the Japanese high command,
without knowing what underlay this threat and without any guarantee of the
institution of monarchy and the person of the Emperor, believed it had no
alternative but to discount the Allied demand, and there was nothing that could
be done at this stage to forestall the Soviet determination to playa full part in
the war in the Far East.
SURRENDER
Thus was set the final scene of the Japanese war, namely the use of atomic
weapons against Hiroshima (6 August) and Nagasaki (9 August) and the Soviet
declaration of war. The Soviets began five military efforts in the last days of the
war, and indeed fighting between Soviet and Japanese forces lasted throughout
August, despite the announcement of Japan's surrender on 15 August. The main
Soviet undertaking was in Manchuria, with a secondary effort directed across
the Gobi Desert into northern China: the tertiary efforts were into Korea,
against southern Sakhalin and in the Kuriles. In Manchuria the Soviets
commanded overwhelming advantages of numbers, position, concentration and,
critically important, professional technique. With second-string forces allocated
to holding attacks on the main (and obvious) lines of advance, the primary
SUPREMAC Y AND VI CTORY, NOVEMBER 1944 - AUGUST 1945
offensive into Manchuria was launched from Mongolia by a tank army that in
eleven days advanced a distance that was equivalent of that between Caen and
Milan, and across comparable ground. Unless one considers that the Japanese in
Manchuria were defeated before this campaign began, the outcome became
clear in the first two or three days, with the Japanese outfought on every sector
and outmanoeuvred by Soviet armoured forces moving through the passes of the
Great Hingan Mountains. With the lavish employment of airborne troops, the
Soviets were able to secure all the major cities of Manchoutikuo by the time that
the final ceasefires were arranged. On Sakhalin and in the Kuriles the Soviets
were no less successful, even though their landings were bitterly resisted on
certain of the Kurile islands.
Even after the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki there were semor
Japanese officers determined to continue resistance, to seek exoneration from
failure in some awesome battle on the sacred soil of Japan that would somehow
result in either victory or the redemption of personal, service and national
honour via annihilation. Within the Supreme War Council there was a greater
realism, although it was hopelessl y indecisive: in the absence of any Allied
guarantee of the Imperi al institution and the person of the Emperor, there was a
resistance to acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration. Soviet
The Japanese surrender
extended over many months
as isolated forces and
garrisons were slowly
contacted prior to
capitulation and
repatriation. In the Indies
there were local surrenders
at Rabaul, on Bougainville
and at Balikpapan, Morotai,
Labuan, Singapore, Wewak,
Kuching, Nauru and Port
Blair. Also surrendered, by
Colonel Kaida Tatuichi and
his chief of staff Major
Muiosu Slioji, was the
3,235-strong Japanese
garrison in Dutch Timor at
the ceremony in the
Australian sloop Moresby at
Koepang on 11 September
1945.
20
7
THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N T H E EAST
Surrender. Watched by the
Supreme Allied Commander
General MacArthur and his
chief of staff, and by
representatives of the
United States, China,
Britain, the Soviet Union,
Australia, Canada, France,
the Netherlands and New
Zealand, General Umezo
Yoshigiro signed the
instrument of surrender 'by
command and on behalf of
the Japanese General
Headquarters'.
208
intervention added to the desperation of the Japanese position because the
Council recognized that Japan had to surrender while the power of decision
remained with the Americans and if she was to avoid occupation by Soviet
forces. But despite such considerations and the fear of social revolution if the
war and defeat came to home soil, the Council could not agree on any settled
policy: it was to take the personal decision of the Emperor to end the war. The
decision provoked mutiny on the part of certain units in the capital that was
suppressed, and it was the Emperor's unprecedented broadcast to the nation,
plus the dispatch of various members of the Imperial family to major
commands to enforce compliance, that ensured that the decision to surrender -
'to bear the unbearable' - was obeyed, the inevitable suicides excepted. On 28
August American and British naval forces entered Tokyo Bay, and thus began a
process of formal surrenders that were to extend across the whole of what
remained of Japan's overseas empire and lasted into spring 1946.
The main surrender took place in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945, and
brought an end to a war that, along with its European counterpart, was the
most destructive and costly in history. In these few poor pages, the author has
SUPREMACY AND VICTORY: NOVEMBER 1944 - AUGUST 1945
attempted to explain rather than describe the unfolding of the Second World
War in the Far East, and in so doing would acknowledge one obvious
historiographical problem: there are few things more difficult to explain than
inevitable defeat. Herein lies the one point of major difference between the
European and Far East wars: Germany's defeat was not inevitable, but, surely,
Japan's defeat was assured from the very start of hostilities. Yet at the end, one
is thrown back upon description because it is through analogy that one can best
understand the events of the war as a whole and the events of the last weeks and
months of the Pacific struggle.
The coasts of the Pacific, and specifically the Japanese islands, lie exposed
to the full force of the tsunami, a giant wave of destruction that throws itself
ashore, a movement of water sometimes across the vastness of the Pacific from
one continent to another triggered by seismic disturbance or the eruption of
underwater volcanoes. In both the conflict overall and specifically the last five
months of the war, Japan was overwhelmed by a man-made tsunami of high-
explosive hatred that reached across the whole of the Pacific as a result of a
seismic disturbance, within American society and industry, induced at Pearl
Harbor on one Sunday morning in December 1941. It was a tsunami that was
without precedent. At various times in history states have been overpowered by
invading armies - Germany in 1945 being the obvious, most pertinent example.
But never before had a country been overwhelmed from the sea and across such
distances, and this is the evidence of the full range of Japanese failure and
American achievement in the Second World War in the Far East . In the tsunami
that engulfed Japan - state, society, industry, the military and indeed the home
islands - is both explanation and description of this conflict.
The arrival of the
delegation that was to sign
the instrument of their
country's surrender: the
Missouri, in Tokyo Bay, on
the morning of 2
September 1945. The
delegation was led by
Foreign Minister
Shigemitsu Mamoru and
General Umezo Yoshigiro,
Chief of the Army General
Staff: three officials from
the Foreign Ministry, three
army and three naval
officers were in attendance.
The Japanese delegation
was piped on board the
Missouri: on departure it
was afforded customary
honours. The war was over.
209
THE SE COND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
ApPENDICES
A pPENDI X A: M AJ OR N AVAL A CTI ONS OF THE P ACIFI C W AR
Carriers Battleships Cruisers Destroyers
Fleet Light Escort Heavy Light
07 Dec 41 Pearl Harbor
Im£erial Ja£anese Navy - / 6 -/ - - / - - / 2 - / 2 - / 1 - / 9
United States Navy - / - - / - -/ - 2 / 8 - / 2 3 / 6 3 / 31
27 Feb 42 Java Sea
Im£erial Ja£anese Navy - / - - / - - / - - / - - / 2 - / 1 - / 19
United States Navy - / - - / - - / - - / - - / 2 2 / 3 3 / 9
07 May 42 Coral Sea
Im£erial J a£anese Navy - / 2 1 / 1 - / - - / - - / 6 - /- - / 7
United States Navy 1 / 2 - /- - / - - / - - / 5 -/- 119
04 Jun42 Midway Islands
Im£erial Ja£anese Navy 4 / 4 1 / 1 - / - - / 9 1110 -/ 4 - / 32
United States Navy 113 - / - - / - - / - - / 7 - / 1 1115
09 Aug 42 Savo Island
Im£erial Ja£anese Navy - / - - / - - / - - / - - / 6 - / 2 - / 1
United States Navy - / - - / - - / - - / - 4 / 4 -/ - - / 6
24 Aug 42 Eastern Solomons
Im£erial J a£anese Navy - / 2 111 - / - - / 3 -/ 9 - / 2 1122
United States Navy - / 3 - / - - / - - / 1 - / 5 - / 2 - / 18
11 Oct 42 Cape Esperance
Im2erial Ja2anese Navy - / - - / - - / - - / - 113 - /- 112
United States Navy - /- - /- - / - - / - - / 2 1 / 2 - / 5
26 Oct 42 Santa Cruz
Im£erial Ja£anese Navy - / 3 - / 1 - / - - / 2 - / 8 112 -/ 30
United States Navy 1 / 2 -/ - -/ - - / 1 - / 3 - / 3 1114
12 Nov 42 First Guadalcanal
Im£erial Ja£anese Navy - / - - / - - / - 112 - /- - / 1 2 / 11
United States Navy - / - - / - - / - - / - - / 2 - / 2 3 / 8
14 Nov 42 Second Guadalcanal
Im£erial Ja£anese Navy - / - - / - - / - 111 -/ 2 - / 2 118
United States Navy -/ - -/- -/ - - / 2 - / - -/- 3 / 4
30 Nov 42 Tassafaronga
Im2erial Ja£anese Navy - /- - / - - / - - / - - /- - /- 118
United States Navy - / - - / - - / - - / - 1 / 4 -/ 1 - / 6
06 Jul 43 Kula Gulf
Im£erial Ja£anese Navy - / - - / - - / - - / - - / - - / - 1110
United States Navy / - - / - - / - -/ - - / - 1 / 3 - / 4
13 Jul43 Kolombangara
Im£erial Ja£anese Navy - / - - / - - / - - / - - / - 111 -/ 5
United States Navy - / - - / - - / - - / - - / - - / 3 1110
06 Aug 43 Vella Gulf
Im2erial Ja2anese Navy -/ - - /- - / - -/ - - / - - / - 3 / 4
United States Navy - / - - / - - / - -/ - - / - -/- - / 6
06 Oct 43 Vella Lavella
Im£erial Ja£anese Navy -/ - - / - - / - - / - - /- - / - 119
United States Navy - / - -/ - - / - - / - -/- - / - 1 / 6
210
THE PEACE SETTLEMENT AN D BEYOND
Carriers Battleships Cruisers Destroyers
Fleet Light Escort Heavy Light
01 Nov 44 Empress Augusta Bay
Im2erial Ia2anese Navy - / - - / - - / - - / - - / 2 112 116
United States Navy -/- - / - - / - -/- - / - - / 4 -1 9
26 Nov 43 Cape St. George
Im2erialla2anese Navy - / - - / - - / - - / - - / - - / - 3 / 5
United States Navy -/- -/- - / - - / - - / - -/- -/ 6
20Jun44 Philippine Sea
Im2erial la2anese Navy 3 / 5 - / 4 - 1- -/5 -/ 11 -/2 - / 27
United States Navy - / 8 - 17 - 1- - 17 - / 14 - / 18 -/67
23 Oct 44 Leyte Gulf
Im2erialla2anese Navy 11 1 3 / 3 - 1- 3 / 9 6 / 15 4 / 5 11 / 35
United States Navy - / 9 1 / 8 2 / 29 -- / 12 -/ 5 -/ 20 4 / 162
06 Apr 45 Okinawa
Im2erial la2anese Navy -/- - / - -/- 11 1 - /- 11 1 4 / 8
United States Navy - / 5 - / 4 - / - - / 4 - / - - / 8 2 / 26
24 Jul45 Inland Sea
Im2erialla2anese Navy 1I na na 1 I na 3 I na 21 na 1 I na na
United States Navy -/ 12 - / 6 - / - - / 9 - / 1 - / 21 -/80
The major actions of the Pacifi c war are listed by date in the form -/-, with the first figure being the losses and the second
figure being the number of each type of ship involved in the battle. Submarines are not listed. Damaged units are not listed,
and similarly unlisted are ships sunk in related but separate actions: e.g. the loss of the destroyer Nagatsllki on 6 July 1943 in
the aftermath of the battle of Kula Gulf is not included in total of losses of that action. Ships that were damaged in the
named action and subsequently lost (e.g. the Yorktown at Midway) are included in totals.
ApPENDIX B: WARTIME C OMMISSIONING/ COMPLETION OF MAJOR U NITS
Dec 1941 1942 1943 1944 Jan-Sep 1945 Total
IJ N / USN IJ N / USN IJ N / USN IJ N / USN IJ N / USN IJ N / USN
Carri ers
Fleet -1- 2 / 1 - / 6 5/7 - / 4 7 / 18
Light - / - 2 / - 1/9 1/- -/- 4 / 9
Escort - / - 2 / 11 2 / 24 - / 33 - / 9 4 1 77
Battleships - / - 2 / 4 - / 2 - / 2 - 1- 2 1 8
Crui sers
Heavy -/- -/- - / 4 - / 1 - / 8 - / 13
Light - / 1 1/8 3 /7 3 / 11 - / 6 7 / 33
Destroyers - / 2 10 / 84 12 / 126 7 / 76 3 / 61 32 /349
Destroyer escorts -/- -/- 18 / 234 20 / 181 20 / 5 58 /420
Corvettes - / - - / - - / 65 72 / 8 39 / - 111 I 73
Submarines -/ 2 20 / 34 36 / 56 35 / 80 20 / 31 116 /203
211
THE SECO N D WORLD WAR I N THE EAST
ApPENDIX C: THE BATTLE OF LEYTE GULF
The landings on Leyte and the ensuing battle of Leyte
Gulf, 23- 26 October 1944, represented something that
was unprecedented in the conduct of US operations in
the Pacific war, and indeed the precise pattern of
operations was never repeated in subsequent
operations. To date US landings had been preceded by
softening-up operations by carrier forces which were
primarily aimed at ensuring air supremacy and the
isolation of the objective from outside support. In the
course of these operations US carrier forces registered
en passant success against local escort forces and
shipping, most of the latter being service shipping. In
the case of the Leyte, however, American preliminary
operations registered very considerable success against
merchant shipping on account of the position of the
Philippines astride Japan's main trade routes with the
southern resources area.
Striking at the Ryukyus and Formosa in addition to
the Philippines, US carrier operations for the first time
struck directly at the Japanese merchant marine, and in
the course of these and subsequent follow-up
operations contributed to the prohibitive losses
inflicted on Japanese merchantmen obliged to operate
without fleet support in waters largely controlled by
enemy aIr power.
During the battle itself American attention to
merchant shipping was minimal, seventeen ships of
some 90,000 tons being sunk, but in subsequent
operations a total of 48 service and merchant ships of
212,476 were sunk in Filippine and adjacent waters. Of
these only18 ships of 68,913 tons belonged to the
merchant fleet, the smallness of such numbers
reflecting the relatively small number of merchantmen
operating in these waters in the immediate aftermath
of the collapse of Japanese sea lines of
communications.
The pattern of operations - submarine and carrier
operations as a preclude to battle and then the
devastating follow-up phase - never repeated itself: the
Iwo Jima operation lacked a mercantile dimension: the
Okinawa operation sealed off Japan from the south
and hence there was no follow-up operations against
shipping.
212
OPPOSING FORCES AT THE
BATTLE OF LEYTE GULF
Carriers
Fleet
Light
Escort
Aircraft al c
Battleships
Cruisers
Heavy
Light
Destroyers
Destroyer escorts
Frigates
Minelayers
Mine Sweepers
Submarines
Oilers
Imperial
Japanese
Navy
1
3
116
9
15
5
35
US Navy
and
Allies
9
8
29
1,561 +
12
5
20
162
43
13
3
29
22
41
T H E PEACE SETTLEMENT AND BEYOND
JAPANESE NAVAL AND SHIPPING LOSSES SEPTEMBER-NoVEMBER 1944
In September/earl y October 1944 J apanese light forces
and service and mercantil e shipping, shorn of the
di stant support of a fl eet , suffered very heavy losses as
Ameri can carri er forces fought for and won air
superi ority over the Philippines. The Imperi al Navy's
attempted interventi on proved di sastrous: in the
preliminary, main and mopping-up phases of the
battl e, bet ween 23 and 28 October, it lostl fleet and
3 li ght fl eet carri ers, 3 battl eships, 6 heavy and 4 li ght
cruisers, 11 destroyers, 2 submarines and 2 amphibi ous
units. Thereafter, deprived of both local ai r cover and
fl eet support, in the peri od 29 November
1944 the Imperi al Navy lostl fl eet carri er, 1 escort
carrier, 1 battl eship, 2 heavy and 2 light cruisers,
11 dest royers, 7 escort destroyers, 8 chasers,
5 submarines, 5 minesweepers, Inetlayer, 1 minelayer,
6 gunboats, 2 destroyer-transports and 12 assa ult
ships, plus one other unit , either in the Philippines or
during the withdrawal of units to the home islands
from the south. The decline of shipping losses in
theatre in November refl ected a reducti on of shipping
in these waters: the hi gh level of Japanese warship
losses outside the theatre reflected the inclusion in
these returns of the sinking of the 64,800-ton fl eet
carrier Shinano off central Honshu by the submarine
Archerfish on 29 November.
JAPANESE NAVAL AND SHIPPING LOSSES S EPTEMBER- NoVEMBER 1944
Warships and Naval Mili tary Civi li an Overall Shi pping
Amphibious Units Shippi ng Shi pping Shi pping Losses
No. ships/tonnage No. shipsltonnage No. ships/tonnage No. shipsltonnage No. ships/tonnage
1 September - 22 October 1944
Total losses in theat relrelated waters 49 29,652 28 133,415 44 190,478 59 179, 109 131 342, 176
Losses in other theatres 26 37,166 17 53,076 14 48,783 34 113,024 65 214,883
23-28 October 1944
Leyte Gulf and associated act ions 32 324,891 5 33,883 4 12,586 8 45,877 17 92,346
Losses in other theatres 950 3 13,760 2 1,526 11 32,478 16 47,764
29 October - 30 November 1944
Total losses in theatre 49 119,655 12 52,262 18 91,301 18 68,913 48 212,476
Total losses in other t heatres 18 107,346 19 78,664 9 37,366 27 112,665 55 228,695
Overall losses in theatre/ related waters 130 474,198 45 219,560 66 294,365 85 293,899 196 646,998
Overall losses in al l other waters 45 145,462 39 145,500 25 87,675 72 258,167 136 491,342
Losses on dates or in areas unknown 2 2,328 6,067 2 2, 417 3 8,484
TOTAL LOSSES IN ALL THEATRES 177 621,988 85 371, 127 91 382,040 159 554,483 335 1,146,824
2I3
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS
BROOKE, FIELD MARSHAL SIR ALAN (1883-1963)
Chief of the Imperial General Staff, 1941-6. De facto
spokesman of the chiefs of staff in dealing with Churchill
and the Americans, Brooke commanded widespread respect
because of his competence, his determination and his
ability to handle (with considerable difficulty) Churchill.
Embodiment of Anglo-American trust and understanding:
he never understood the Americans, and the Americans
never trusted him. With reference to the latter, he deserved
better.
CHIANG KAI-SHEK, GENERALISSIMO (1877-1975)
China's head of state though in effect primus inter pares
along with various regional warlords over whom he
exercised nominal suzerainty. Leader of the Kuomintang
(Nationalists) after 1925 and during the civil war with the
communists. Detained by dissident Manchurian forces in
December 1936 in the Sian Incident and forced to end the
civil war: national leader in dealing with Japanese
aggression. Wartime Nationalist passivity, militar y
incompetence and corruption exacted its toll: defeated in
the resumed civil war after 1945, the Kuomintang was
expelled to Formosa in 1949.
CHURCHILL, WINSTON (1874-1965)
Prime Minister of Britain 1940-45. The personification of
British defiance and greatness in 1940-41, matters Pacific
were necessarily of lesser consequence to Britain after
December 1941: he displayed a penchant for increasingly
divisive action as his powers of decision-making diminished
and was rightl y regarded with considerable suspicion by the
US military by the final years of the war.
CUNNINGHAM, ADMIRAL OF THE FLEET SIR ANDREW
(1883-1963)
First Sea Lord 1942- 6. Victor of Matapan and commander
of the Mediterranean Fleet in adversity, he served in
Washington and then in the Mediterranean under
Eisenhower before becoming Chief of Naval Staff.
Generally reserved and withdrawn in dealing with
Churchill except in his diary entri es, he headed a navy that
emerged in 1944-5 as the only British service that could
arrive in strength in the Pacific before the scheduled end of
the Pacific war.
CURTIN, JOHN (1885-1945)
Prime Minister of Australia who in the crisis of earl y 1942
in effect placed his country under American protection and
thereafter within the American sphere of influence even at
the expense of Australia's traditional relati onship with
Britain. He was closel y associated with MacArthur and
was despised by Churchill: Anglo-Australian relations were
better 'on the ground' than suggested by oft en rancorous
official exchanges.
DOOLITTLE, LIEUTENANT GENERAL JAMES (1896- 1995)
Born in Alaska, Doolittle joined the Army Air Service in
1917 and made his name in the inter-war period with a
series of speed and endurance trials. Returning to the Army
Air Force in 1941 in a staff post, he commanded the raid of
April 1942 before taking command of the 15th Air Force
and strategic air forces in north-west Africa. He took
command of the 8th Air Force in Britain in 1944 and at the
end of the European war was posted to Air Force
headquarters in Washington.
FLETCHER, VICE ADMIRAL FRANK JACK (1885-1973)
Commander of US carrier forces at the Coral Sea, Midway
and Eastern Solomons before being side-l ined: he ended the
war in command of the North Pacific backwater. In period
of command lost two carriers sunk and two badly
damaged, and Fletcher acquired reputation that wavered
between bad luck and inepti tude. If his period of command
in the Solomons was less than distinguished, he none the
less commanded in the first three carrier battles in history
and was never on the losing side.
FUCHIDA, COMMANDER MITSUO (1902-76)
One of the Imperial Navy's leading aviators in the pre-war
period, Fuchida led the attack on Pearl Harbor and was
-
heavil y involved in the planning of the Midway operation
though illness prevent his active involvement in that ill-
fated venture. He was assigned to obscurity through a
series of staff positions and survived the war. For many
years his book Midway: The Battle that Doomed Japan
(1955) was the standard reference for the japanese side of
the action. After the war he became a convert to
Christianity and became an American citizen.
HALSEY, FLEET ADMIRAL WILLIAM]., jR (1882- 1959)
Rough and no nonsense approach, disdain for the japanese
and sheer aggressiveness made him tailor-made for the
media. Carrier commander in early operations but missed
Midway: appointed to command in southern Pacific at the
crisis of Guadalcanal campaign, he drove his forces
forward to victory: subsequently side-lined until 1944.
Poorly served by his staff, hi s conduct at battle of Leyte
Gulf and handling of Third Fleet off Japan drew much
criticism at the time: the sheer scale of operations by
1944-5 was probably too much for him.
KING, FLEET ADMIRAL ERNEST JOSEPH (1878- 1956)
Chief of Naval Operations 1942- 6. By his own admission,
an admiral of the son-of-a-bitch variety. Exceptionally able,
his virtually unaided insi stence on the central Pacific
offensive resulted in the collapse of the South West Pacific
initiative in 1944. Bitterly anglophobic and inclined to
personal indulgence, he commanded respect and fear.
Perhaps little realized, the winner and survivor of the
Guadalacanal campaign.
KOGA, ADMIRAL MINEICHI (1885-1943)
Successor of Yamamoto as commander of the Combined
Fleet, Koga was dealt a losing hand as the US Navy
acquired the means to carry the war into the western
Pacific with a strength that was irresistible. Koga presided
over the defeat in the northern Solomons and the
neutralization of Rabaul, and was obliged to order the
abandonment of Truk. With the Palaus neutralized after
March 1944, Koga 's task of seeking ' the decisive battle' was
all but impossible: he was kill ed in an aircraft accident
during the withdrawal from the Palaus.
BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS
MACARTHUR, GENERAL OF THE ARMY DOUGLAS A.
(1880-1964)
Supreme Allied Commander South West Pacific Command.
An individual of great complexity and contradictions who
has excited extremes of admiration and loathing in roughly
equal measures. Very fortunate to have survived an abysmal
conduct of the defence of the Philippines characterized by
self-advertisement and exacting of great wealth from
Commonwealth authorities: he owed his survival to
Washington's desire that he remain in the Pacific. Obsessed
by own Command and personal interest, and surrounded
by an entourage that was generally distrusted, he was to
lead South West Pacific Command to a series of victories
that culminated in his taking the surrender of japan on
behalf of the Allied Powers. Dismissed by Truman during
the Korean War for trying to repeat personal behaviour of
the Pacific war.
MARSHALL, GENERAL OF THE ARMY GEORGE C.
(1880-1947)
Chief of Staff, US Army 1939-46. Raised to the pantheon
of US heroes and beyond reproach or criticism, Marshall
was 'the organizer of victory' in terms of raising ground
and air forces. Adept in inter-service in-fighting, his
strategic judgement may be questioned, not least in terms
of lack of forward planning between 1939 and 1942. Post-
war Secretary of State, and architect of the Marshall Plan
of American aid that facilitated the recovery of western
Europe.
MITSCHER, VICE ADMIRAL MARC A. (1887-1947)
Very fortunate to have survived a less than satisfactory
performance as captain of the Hornet at Midway, Mitscher
rose to become the pre-eminent carrier commander,
primarily under Spruance as fleet commander. He declined
nomination to the post of Chief of Naval Operations after
the war and served as commander of the 8th and Atlantic
Fleets until his death in 1947.
NAGUMO, VICE ADMIRAL CHUICHI (1887- 1944)
Made his pre-war mark in the surface navy with a
specialiation in torpedoes and as one of the more
unpleasant hard-liners: he is known to have threatened at
21
5
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST
least one colleague with murder. Commanded the First
Carrier Striking Force at Pearl Harbor and in subsequent
actions until dismissed in the aftermath of Santa Cruz:
there is no evidence to suggest that he ever understood
carrier warfare and he certainly never left any mark either
upon carrier operations or the Imperial Navy's carrier force.
Committed suicide as naval commander on Saipan in 1944.
NIMITZ, ADMIRAL CHESTER W. (1885-1966)
Commander-in-Chief US Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean
Areas. Somewhat overshadowed during the war by his
subordinate commanders at sea on the one hand and King
on the other, Nimitz possessed (with one exception) sound
strategic judgement and an ability to pick the right
commanders and work subordinates as a team. Post-war
Chief of Naval Operations.
ROOSEVELT, FRANKLIN D. (1882-1945)
Thirty-second and, with Lincoln, greatest president of the
United States (1933-45). He ptovided hope to a nation in
the grip of the Depression and led the United States through
its defeats to victory in the Second World War and into its
inheritance as the greatest power in the world. Often
regarded as 'hands-off' in the formulation of military
power during the war, his was the critical decision on many
episodes: he died on the eve of final victory over Germany.
SLIM, GENERAL SIR WILLIAM (1891- 1970)
Not a regular soldier, Slim enlisted in 1914 and served in
the Middle East before joining the Indian Army in 1920. He
commanded a brigade in Eritrea and a division in Iraq and
Syria, and took part in the occupation of Iran in 1941. He
assumed forces in the middle of a disastrous retreat in
March 1942, and was obliged to sort out the second
Arakan debacle. Army commander in 1943, he commanded
at the defence of Imphal and Kohima (1944) and in the
campaign that cleared most of Burma (1945). Post-war
chief of staff and Governor-General of Australia 1953-60.
SMITH, GENERAL HOLLAND (1882-1967)
One of the inter-war period's pioneers in developing
concepts involving the offensive use of sea power in the
form of amphibious landings, specifically the opposed
216
landing. He was appointed to command amphibious forces
in the Atlantic theatre in 1941 before assuming the same
post in the Pacific in 1943. He was amphibious commander
in the Marshalls and Marianas before being returned to the
United States for a training command after the celebrated
Smith v. Smith affair on Saipan. Aggressive, impatient,
brusque but used to getting his way through sheer force of
argument, the name Howlin' Mad was well earned.
SPRUANCE, ADMIRAL RAYMOND A. (1886- 1969)
With a reputation for thinking, Spruance was a surface
officer appointed to carrier command at Midway:
thereafter he served as Nimitz's chief of staff before taking
command of the Fifth Fleet in 1944. His conduct at the
battle of the Philippine Sea drew widespread and largely
unjustified criticism at the time. He commanded during the
gruelling Okinawa campaign. Self-effacing, modest, and
possessed of mastery of detail, he became president of the
Naval War College after the war.
STILWELL, LIEUTENANT GENERAL JOSEPH (1883- 1946)
Ultimately Deputy Supreme Commander South East Asia
Command, Chief of Staff to Chiang Kai-shek and
commander China-Burma-India theatre with authority
over 10th and 14th Army Air Forces. An old China hand,
Stilwell was sent to and marched out of Burma with
defeated forces : thereafter he collected appointments as
Washington slipped into 'the China quagmire' and the
morass that was Burma. At the centre of a number of
conflicting areas of responsibility, ' Vinegar Joe' was known
for his vituperative treatment of most things British and all
things Chiang Kai-shek. Dismi ssed from China in autumn
1944, his removal saw the clearing of a very able China desk
that had kept US policy in touch with realities.
Commanded in the last stages on Okinawa, and was
present, along with suitably acidic comment, in the
Missouri at the surrender ceremony.
TRUMAN, HARRY S. (1894-1972)
Became thirty-third president of the United States
(1945- 53) on the death of Roosevelt . There is little doubt
that growing difficulties with the Soviet Union and
possession of atomic weapons prompted the decision to use
the latter in August 1945. A virtual unknown when he
became president though he grew in stature in office, his
name will always be associated with the Truman Doctrine
and onset of the Cold War.
TOjO, GENERAL HIDEKI (1884-1948)
Prime Minister of Japan 1941-4. Champion of hard-line
militarism in the inter-war period, his appointment to
office was widely regarded as the prelude to war. In reality
the real decisions that were to lead to the Pacific war had
been taken before he assumed office, and thereafter he
presided over rather than directed national affairs. After a
failed suicide attempt, he was tried, convicted and hanged
for war crimes, but only after a trial in which he assumed
full responsibility for Japan's various actions but displayed
a naivety and disingenuousness that was revealing.
TOYODA, ADMIRAL SOEMA (1885- 1957)
Toyoda's only real impact as successor to Koga and the last
commander of the Combined Fleet was to commit his
forces to an offensive at Biak in early June 1944: the
American descent on the Marianas provided evidence of
the irrelevance of this effort. Under his command, the
Imperial Navy fought and suffered overwhelming defeats in
the Philippine Sea and off Leyte Gulf: in effect by war's end
it had ceased to exist.
TURNER, ADMIRAL RICHMOND KELLY (1885-1961)
Director of the war plans division at the outbreak of war,
Turner became naval commander of most American
amphibious efforts. An undoubted ability in terms of
organization and command was matched by an appalling
temper, overbearing egotism, unthinking obstinacy and
over-familiarity with the bottle, the latter of which
ultimately proved fatal. It has been suggested that Turner
more than most bore responsibility for the Pearl Harbor
debacle and sought to blame others for his failure to pass
on warnings of Japanese intentions, but the point can never
be proved.
UGAKI, VICE ADMIRAL MATOME (1890-1945)
Generally regarded as one of the leading hard-liners of the
pre-war Navy, Ugaki was chief of staff of the carrier forces
BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS
in the opening phase of the war. Thereafter he became
commander of battleship forces, but his prominence lay in
two matters. He was one of the founders of the kamikazes
and committed suicide on the day of Japan's surrender, and
he left a diary which is enlightening: an inability to
contemplate anything but victory before the Philippine Sea
and the statement after Hiroshima that Japan had to
prolong the war in order to develop atomic weapons of her
own indicate an utter lack of appreciation of the power of
Japan's enemies.
YAMAMOTO, FLEET ADMIRAL ISOROKU (1884-1943)
Commander of the Combined Fleet 1943-5. Best known of
Japanese commanders, whether military or naval, and
generally regarded as an influence of moderation when that
commodity was in short supply. He initiated the Pearl
Harbor strike and was the decisive factor in enforcing both
this operation and the Midway endeavour on a reluctant
naval staff. He presided over the defeat in the Guadalcanal
campaign, and was responsible for the singularly
unsuccessful air campaign in the south-west Pacific in April
1943. Deliberately murdered by the Americans when his
aircraft was shot down, he was fortunate to die before the
real defeats began. Refused posthumous ennoblement.
YAMASHITA, GENERAL TOMOYUKI HOBUN (1885-1946)
Commander of the 25th Army which conducted the
campaign that resulted in the singularly impressive
conquest of Malaya and Singapore in 1941-2. He was
personally and politically persona non grata with Tokyo,
and after having been side-lined was appointed commander
in the Philippines where he was responsible for conducting
a protracted defence of Luzon: his forces were still in the
field at the end of the war. Specifically blamed for the
devastation of Manila, for which his forces were not
responsible, he was subsequently hanged for war crimes:
his real offence would seem to have been competence
though his forces were responsible for the massacre of
allegedly more than 120,000 people in the aftermath of the
fall of Singapore.
21
7
FURTHER READING
FURTHER READING
218
The task of providing a reading list is fraught with peril, and for obvious reason:
what is omitted can be as contentious as what is included, and the order in which
works are cited to some people may indicate precedence and usefulness. One
cannot make provision on the first score: one would deny the second, though on
this point I would note one work as special and cite it as worthy of opening this
section. David C. Evans and Mark R. Peattie, Kaigun. Strategy, Tactics and
Technology in the Imperial Navy 1887-1941 (Annapolis, Naval Institute Press,
1997), invites two comments. The first, simply, is to ask how historians managed
before its publication, and such a question invites an answer to the effect: not as
well as they will do in future. The second is to state that one has only ever read
one text superior to it on this subject. That text was the original manuscript, not
the one that was published. One would express the hope that Mark will be able to
produce from what was deleted from the original manuscript a companion volume
that will do justice to that manuscript, to Kaigun, to David's memory and to his
own lifetime of scholarship and achievement.
To note the basic standbys: the US Army, Air Force and Marine Corps official
histories, some now in their fifth decade and many reprinted in the last ten years,
still stand critical examination and present themselves as the best available
introductions to their various subjects. Less aged, and infinitely more valuable, is
Grace Pearson Hayes, The History of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in World War II.
The War against Japan (Annapolis, Maryland, Naval Institute Press, 1982): it is to
the formulation of American (and to a lesser extent Allied) policy as Kaigun is to
the inter-war Japanese Navy. The thought, however, was to set out a further
reading list concentrating upon the renderings of more recent years, until one
realized that E. B. Potter's Nimitz (Annapolis, Maryland, Naval Institute Press)
was published as long ago as 1976 and The Quiet Warrior: A Biography of
Admiral Raymond A. Spruance (Boston, Little, Brown), in 1974. That autobi-
ography none the less does commend itself, rather more than the same author's
biography of Halsey which somehow managed to avoid a real judgement on
Halsey's conduct at the battle of Leyte Gulf. Martha Byrd's interesting Chennault.
Giving Wings to the Tiger (Tuscaloosa, University of Alabama Press, 1987),
deserves consideration on several counts, not least an examination of dimensions
of the war - air power per se and the China theatre - seldom afforded much
consideration in most western accounts of the war against Japan.
In terms of battles one notes that in the last two decades only two books
would seem to commend themselves, namely William T. Y'Blood's final word, Red
Sun Setting. The Battle of the Philippine Sea, and Denis and Peggy Warner's
Disaster in the Pacific. New Light on the Battle of Savo Island (both Annapolis,
Maryland, Naval Institute Press, 1981 and 1992 respectively), though with respect
to the latter one is not fully convinced that content quite equalled claim. While on
such matters one would note, for all the wrong reasons, James Rusbridger and
Eric Nave, Betrayal at Pearl Harbor. How Churchill Lured Roosevelt into World
War II (New York, Touchstone, 1991), as a book in which claim most definitely is
not proven. Various works on intelligence matters must also be noted, and this
writer leaves it to the reader to decide upon respective merits, suffice to note (in
alphabetical order) Edward J. Drea, MacArthur's ULTRA. Codebreaking and the
War against Japan, 1942- 1945 (University Press of Kansas, 1992), W.]. Holmes,
Double-Edged Secrets. US Naval Intelligence Operations in the Pacific during
World War II, Rear-Admiral Edwin T. Layton, USN (Ret) with Captain Roger
Pineau USNR (Ret) and John Costello, 'And I Was There.' Pearl Harbor and
Midway - Breaking the Secrets (New York, Morrow, 1985), John Prados,
Combined Fleet Decoded. The Secret History of American Intelligence and the
Japanese Navy in World War II (New York, Random House, 1995), and Alan
Stripp, Code Breaker in the Far East (London, Cass, 1989).
Among the general interest books one would commend four books for what
they bring that is new. Meirion and Susie Harries, Soldiers of the Sun. The Rise
and Fall of the Imperial Japanese Army (New York, Random House, 1991), is full
of interesting detail: Jerry E. Strahan, Andrew Jackson Higgins and the Boats that
won World War II (Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University Press, 1994) may have
overstated the case but none the less provide a perspective that is seldom afforded
due consideration, and on kindred matters one would commend John B.
Lundstrom's The First South Pacific Campaign: Pacific Fleet Strategy, December
1941 - June 1942 and The First Team. Pacific Naval Air Combat from Pearl
Harbor to Midway (Annapolis, Maryland, Naval Institute Press, 1976 and 1984
respectively) for the opening phase of the war. John]. Stephan, Hawaii under the
Rising Sun. Japan's Plans for Conquest after Pearl Harbor (Honolulu, University
of Hawaii, 1984), provides a fascinating account of what might have been.
In the same vein Thomas B. Allen and Norman Polmar, Code-name
Downfall. The Secret Plan to Invade Japan and why Truman Dropped the Bomb
(New York, Simon and Schuster, 1995) invites attention though one would state
one's own preference for John Ray Skates' masterly The Invasion of Japan. The
Alternative to the Bomb (University of South Carolina Press, 1994). Likewise,
Lieutenant Colonel Merrill L. Bartlett, USMC (Ret ), (Editor), Assault from the
Sea. Essays on the History of Amphibious Warfare (Annapolis, Maryland, Naval
Institute Press, 1983), provides in its relevant sections valuable insights into its
subject, while on this subject one cannot but note Richard Frank, Guadalcanal.
The Definitive Account of the Landmark Battle (New York, Random House,
1990), which, if not the final word on the subject, comes perilously close
to being so, even if the distinction between a battle and a campaign is not
necessarily very clear.
Finally I acknowledge two favourites. The subjects are desperately neglected
but Rear Admiral Worrall Reed Carter, USN (Ret ), Beans, Bullets and Black Oil.
The Story of Fleet Logistics afloat in the Pacific during World War II, (Washington
DC, GPO, 1953) provides a basis of understanding of naval operations that has
not lost its relevance, and to which I return all too frequently. And last of all, and
perhaps least, I would ask the reader's indulgence in commending my own Grave
of a Dozen Schemes. British Naval Planning and the War against Japan,
1943-1945 (Annapolis, Maryland, Naval Institute Press, 1996) as perhaps one of
the better books dealing with the British dimension of this conflict. I would note,
however, that it should come with a health warning: the subject is most
complicated, and perhaps the work too accurately recreates these complexities:
indeed one reviewer perceptively if accidentally referred to it as Grave of a
Thousand Schemes. It most definitely is not light reading on a pleasant autumnal
evening, but, as always in such matters, this recommendation is made on the
normal basis: for what it is worth, if anything.
FURTHER READING
21
9
INDEX
INDEX
Figures in italic refer to ca ptions
Admiralty Islands, 134
aircraft:
B-25 Mitchell, 110, 167
B-29 Superfortresses, 197, 198,202
Betty bombers, 72,72,110
Corsair, 139
dive-bombers, 86-7
j apa nese, 57, 72,72,110
kamikaze aircraft, 160-61,181-5,
184
Liberator, 138
parachute landings, 153, 164- 5
US naval air power, 109
US production, 123
Aitape, 129, 134, 139
Alamagordo,205
EI Alamein, 114
Aleutian Islands, 79, 94, 118
All ied strategy, 114-18
Amagi,175
Amatsukazi,167
Amoy, 167
Anti-Comintern Pact (1936),35-6
Arakan, 153, 177
Arare, 139--40, 141
atomic weapons, 174, 196,200- 1,
205-6
Australia, 78, 176
Darwin attacked, 63
in japanese strategy, 68
New Guinea campaign, 96, 98,
98- 9, 104-5
B-25 Mitchell, 110, 167
B-29 Superfortresses, 197, 198,202
Balikpapan, 65, 163, 176
Bataan Peninsula, 57, 60-61, 61- 2, 63,
68, 180
' Battle of the Points' (1942),62
Betty bombers, 72, 72, 110
Bhamo, 177, 178
Biak Island, 141, 155
Bismarck Arch., 129, 134
Bismarck Sea, 96
Bloody Ridge, 106
Bonin Islands, 141
Borneo, 61
Bougainville, 112, 118, 134
Britain:
bombards Hamamatsu, 195
defeat in Burma, 63, 65, 69
defeats in Mediterranean, 71
loses capital ships, 65, 66-7
loss of Singapore, 65, 68
Malayan campaign, 57-61, 62, 65
naval supremacy, 85
220
re-conquest of Burma, 116- 17, 128,
148- 9,151,153,176,176,177
re-conquest of Malaya, 177
withdrawal to East Africa, 65
Brooke, Field Marshal Sir Alan, 115,
214
Brunei,57
Brunei Bay, 176
Buna, 98,101,104
Burma, 50, 129, 154
British defeat in, 63, 65, 69
re-conquest of, 116- 17, 127, 128,
148- 9,149,150,151,152,153,
176-8, 176, 178-9
supply routes closed, 40--41
Burma Road, 178
Cabot, USS, 181
Cairo conference (1943), 117
Cape Esperance, battle of (1942), 106
Cape St. George, 110, 134
Caroline Islands, 71, 136, 139
Casablanca conference (1943), 115
Celebes, 61, 140
Celebes Sea, 163
Ceylon, 63, 65, 79
Changsha,153
Chengchow, 153
Chiang-chu, 152
Chiang Kai-shek, 37,117,155,155,
156- 7,214
Chikuhei, Nakajima, 38
China:
America bombs j apanese home
islands from, 127, 146
American strategy, 28- 9, 114,
115- 16, 156-7
casualties, 25
civil wars, 30- 31, 32, 36
Japanese campaign in southern
China, 127-8, 148, 153- 6
Japan's 'special undeclared war'
with, 23--4, 35, 35, 36--40, 37-9
Japan's strategy post-First World
War, 30-32
Salween offensive, 150- 52, 153, 155
Chindits, 149, 153
Chindwin, 153
Chitose, 168
Chiyoda, 168
Choiseul,131--4
Chungking, 116, 153, 155, 156- 7, 177
Churchi ll , Winston, 115, 117, 214
Clausewitz, Karl Marie von, 37,181
Communists, Chinese, 116
convoys, 159, 163,203
Coral Sea, battle of (1942),88,88-90,
89-92,107 -
Corlett, Major General Charles, 133
Corregidor, 63
Corsair, 139
Cory ton, Air Marshal William, 154
Cunningham, Admiral Sir Andrew,
214
Curtin, John, 214
Darwin, 63
Dauntless dive-bomber, 86-7
' deci sive battles', 71,84,131
Depression, 29, 32-3
Dern, Secretary of State, 26-7
Dexterity, Operation, 135
Dill, Field Marshal Sir John, 115
dive-bombers, 86-7
Doolittl e, Lt Colonel James, 81
Doolittl e Raid (1942), 79,81
Dublon Isl and, 127
Dutch East Indi es, 61, 65
East Africa, 65
East China Sea, 121, 122, 172
East Indi es, 50, 61, 63, 65, 90- 91,140,
176
Eastern Solomons, battle of (1942),
100
Emirau,134
Empress Augusta Bay, 110, 134
Engano, Cape, 131
Eniwetok, 137, 139
Enterprise, USS, 106, 108-9
Essex, USS, 130, 147, 181
Fiji,79
Finschhafen, 118
firestorm raids, 196-7, 198- 202
First Arakan offensive, 148-9, 151
First World War, 29- 30
Fletcher, Vice Admiral Frank Jack, 91,
214
Formosa, 131, 146, 158, 163,212
France, 40,41
Franklin, USS, 191
French Indo-China, 40--41, 43, 146,
155
Fuchida, Captain Mitsuo, 56,
Furutaka, 114
Fuso, 168
Galvanic, Operation, 137
Garapan, 141
gekokujo,34
General Escort Command (Japan),
120, 159
Germany:
Anti-Cominrern Pact (1936), 35-6
defeat, 115, 126,209
Ex-German concessions, 29
and the Normandy landings, 194
U-boats,71
Gilbert Islands, 74,85,118- 19,126,
129,136,136- 7
Gloucester, Cape, 134, 135
Gobi Desert, 206
Great Hingan Mountains, 207
Green Islands, 134
Guadalcanal, 82, 96, 97, 98, 100,
102-3,106,107-11,107,114,118,
120
Guam, 142, 158, 190
Hailstone, Operation, 127
Hainan, 146, 163
Halmahera, 140, 141
Halsey, Admiral William J. Jr., 91, 214
Hamamatsu, 195
Hammann, USS, 94
Hancock, USS, 148
Hankow,153
Hawaii, 56, 71, 79, 94
Helena, USS, 106
Henderson Field, 96, 98,100-6,107,
109,111
Hengyang, 153, 155
Hiei,107
Hirohito, Empetor, 206, 207, 208
Hiroshima, 174,200-1,206,207
Hiryu,95
Hitler, Adolf, 22, 32, 40
Hiyo,146
Hollandia, 129, 134, 139, 140, 141
Homalin, 149
Honan,153
Hong Kong, 50, 57,62- 3,64, 163
Honshu, 190, 191
Hornet, USS, 79, 81,106
Hukawng valley, 150, 154
Huon Gulf, 78, 96, 130
Ichi-Go, Operation, 128, 155
Idaho, USS, 187
Imperial Army:
campaign in southern China, 128
defeat, 175- 8
divisions within, 35
Japanese Burma Area Army, 149
Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, 172
US bombs home islands, 191
Imperial Navy:
battle of the Coral Sea, 88, 88- 90,
89-92,107
battle of Leyte Gulf, 157, 160--62,
168- 9,210- 13
battle of Midway, 84-8, 92--4, 92-3,
95
battle of the Philippine Sea, 129-30,
141,142--6
convoys, 159, 163,203
defeat, 85, 175
Doolittle Raid, 79
full mobilization, 41, 43
losses, 114, 121, 158-9, 159--69,
172--4,198-9
misunderstands nature of war, 44-5
Pearl Harbor, 56
rearmament, 34-5, 40, 72
responsibility for war, 172
Solomon Islands campaign, 100-14,
102- 3,134
strategy, 71-3, 78- 9
strength, 65
submarines, 194- 5
warships, 44-5, 45-6, 50, 50, 72,
74-5,77- 8,168-9,172- 3
weaknesses, 74-8
Inlphal, 128, 149, 150,150, 152, 153
incendiary raids, 196- 7, 198- 202
India, 63,116- 17,127,128,129,148,
150,150
Indian Army, 128
Indian Ocean, 63, 79
Inland Sea, 202
Intrepid, USS, 181
Iowa, USS, 166
Ironbottom Sound, 83
Irrawaddy River, 150, 176
Italy, 35-6
Iwo Jima, 6,158,176,180- 81,182- 3,
191-3,194,202
Japan:
advantages, 51
American strategy, 114
causes of war, 22--47
and China, 30-32
conquest of south-East Asia, 50-71
decision-making process, 27, 30
economic defeat, 202--4, 205
failure and collapse, 126-69
failure to understand foreign
nationalism, 37,64
final defeat, 85, 169, 175,204-5,
209
First World War, 29- 30
Great Depression, 29, 32- 3
Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombed,
200-1,206
home islands bombed, 127, 131,
146, 158, 175, 185-7, 191-204,
196- 7
industrial power, 22, 39--40
kamikaze, 160--61, 181-5, 184
long-term failure, 64
Manchurian campaign, 24, 33, 36
Meiji Restoration, 26- 7, 33
naval rivalry with US, 27- 8
New Operational Policy, 96
Pearl Harbor, 45, 51- 6, 52- 5
power of armed services, 33--4
Russo-Japanese war, 20, 28, 28- 9,
31
INDE X
shipping losses, 65, 109, 120- 23,
120- 22,126,128,158-9,159--69,
172--4,198-9,203,204,210- 13
' special undeclared war' with
China, 23--4, 35, 35, 36--40, 37- 9
strategy, 71-3, 78- 9,111-14
surrender, 22-3, 206-9, 207- 9
weaknesses, 43, 74-8,114
see also Imperial Army; Imperial
Navy and individual battles and
campaigns
Japan, Sea of, 163
Japanese air forces:
aircraft, 57, 72, 72, 110
' special undeclared war' with
China, 38-9
weaknesses, 76
Java, 63
Java Sea, battle of (1942),65,90
Jisaburo, Vice Admiral Ozawa, 141
Johnston Island, 79
Kaida Tatuichi, Colonel, 207
Kakoda Trail, 96-8, 104
Kalewa, 149, 176
Kamaing, 150
kamikaze aircraft, 160--61, 181-5, 184
Kamiri, 164-5
Kawasaki, 194, 197
King, Admiral Ernest J., 115, 214
Kirishima, 107
Kobe, 194
Kohima, 128, 149, 150, 150, 152, 153
Kolombangara, 110
Kondo Plain, 191
Kongo,169
Korea, 20,206
Koror,163
Koryu submarines, 194-5
Ku-feng, 152
Kube,79
Kula Gulf, battle of (1943),106,110
Kuomintang, 128
Kure, 79, 194-5
Kurile Islands, 146,206,207
Kwajalein, 78,137,138--40
Kwantung Army, 33, 36
Kweilin, 155
Kyoto, 202
Kyushu, 146, 187, 191, 198
Lae, 63, 78, 89,96, 118
Langley, USS, 147
Lexington, USS, 88-9, 92
Leyte, 178, 180,199
Leyte Gulf, battle of (1944), 126,
130-31, 148, 157, 157, 160--62, 163,
168-9,173,181,210-13
Liberator, 138
Lingayen Gulf, 178, 180
Liuchow, 155
Lombok Straits, 65
221
I N DEX
London Naval Treaty (1930),34-5
Luzon,57,156,178,180
MacArthur, General Douglas A., 60,
117,134,157,208,215
Maginot Line, 41
Makin, 131
Malacca Strait, 163
Malaya,50,51,56,57-61,58-9,62,
65, 177
Mamoru, Shigemitsu, 209
Manchoutikuo, 155,207
Manchuria, 24, 28, 33, 36, 37- 8, 204,
206- 7
Mandalay, 149, 151, 176
Manila, 57, 163, 180
Manila Bay, 63, 180
Manus, 134
'March on Delhi', 128, 149, 150
Marcus, 78
Mariana Islands, 71,129,130,139,140,
141- 2,144- 5,158,161,181,191,
198
Marshall, General George c., 115,215
Marshall Islands, 126, 129, 136, 137
Masaharu, Lt General Honma, 58
Medan, 163
Mediterranean, 71
Meiji Restoration, 26-7, 33
Meiktila, 176- 7
merchant shipping, 76- 7,85,109,126,
159-61,172,174,203
Midway, battle of (1942),79,84-8,84,
92--4,92- 3,95,95
Mikuma, 84
Milne Bay, 104
Mindanao, 57, 63, 130, 168, 179
Mindoro, 178
Mineichi, Admiral Koga, 214-15
Missouri, USS, 23, 209
Mitscher, Vice Admiral Marc A., 127,
215
Miyazaki Plan (1936-7),35,39--40,44
Mogaung valley, 150
Mongolia, 36,40,207
Moro Gulf, 188-9
Morotai, 168
Mountbatten, Lord Louis, 115
Muiosu Slioji, Major, 207
Musashi, 168
Myitkyina, 149, 150, 151, 152, 153
Nagasaki,174,200,206, 207
Nagoya, 79, 194
Nagumo Chuichi, Vice-Admiral, 51,
215
Nanking, 39
Nassau Bay, 118
Nevada, USS, 53
New Britain, 61, 134,135
New Caledonia, 79
New Georgia Islands, 118
222
New Guinea:
Australian campaign in, 96, 98,
98-9,104-5
battle of the Coral Sea, 89
Japanese defeat in, 88, 95-8, 101,
114,118,129,132,134,139--40,
143
Japanese occupy, 63, 64, 78, 94
New Ireland, 61
New Operational Policy, 96
New Zealand, 134, 176
Niimi, Vice Admiral, 62-3
Nimitz, Admiral Chester W., 117-18,
118, 136,215
Noemfoor, 164-5, 168
Normandy landings (1944), 126, 194
North Africa, 71,114
North Carolina, USS, 147
Nyaungu, 176
oil, 43, 172, 181
Okinawa, 16, 148, 158, 161, 172, 176,
180-93,186-7,192-3,194,198,202
Operation 101,38,39
Operation 102,38-9
Ormoc Bay, 178,199
Osaka,194
Oshima, Major General, 25
Osmena, Sergio, 157
Pacific Fleet see US Navy
Pacific Ocean Areas command, 117,
136
Palau Islands, 129, 130, 139, 140, 163
Palawan, 178
parachute landings, 153, 164- 5
Pearl Harbor, 22, 45, 51- 6, 52-5, 65,
68,78,84,122,209
Peking, 153
Peleliu, 168
Percival, Lt General Arthur, 66
perimeter defence strategy, 71,111- 12
Philippine Sea, battle of (1944),88,126,
129- 30,141-8,146-7,157,158,163
Philippines, 50
independence,26-7,28
Japan invades, 57,60-61,61-2,63,
68, 70
re-conquest, 118, 125, 126, 130, 131,
157, 158, 176, 178-80, 188-9, 191
US strategy, 139
Port Arthur, 31, 206
Port Moresby, 78,89,92,95,96,98
Portal, Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles,
115
Porter, USS, 106
Potsdam conference (1945), 174, 196
Potsdam Declaration (1945),22,206,
207
Pound,115
Prince of Wales, HMS, 65, 66-7
Pyongyang, battle of (1894),24-5
Rabaul, 78,96,100,118,129,134,
134,139
Randolph, USS, 184- 5
Rangoon, 116, 153, 177
Reckless, Operation, 134
Rendova, 111
Repulse, HMS, 65, 66
resistance movements, 64
Romula, Colonel Carlos, 157
Roosevelt, Franklin D., 115, 117, 156,
196,215
Royal Navy, 77
Russell Islands, 109
Russia:
First World War, 29
Russo-Japanese war (1904-5),20,
28,28-9,31
see also Soviet Union
Ryujo, 100
Ryukyu Islands, 16, 166, 180, 185,212
Saidor,134
Saigon, 163
St La, USS, 160
Saipan, 141-2, 142, 144-5, 146, 146,
159, 190, 191- 3
Sakai, Lt General, 62-3
Sakhalin, 206,207
Salamaua, 63, 78,89,96, 118
Salween River, 128, 150-52, 153, 155,
177
Samar, 178
Samoa, 79
San Bernardino Strait, 168
Sansapor, Cape, 143, 168
Santa Cruz, battle of (1942), 106- 7,
108-9
Saratoga, USS, 100
Sarawak,57
Sarmi,140
Savo Island, 100, 110
Seoul,20
Shanghai, 36, 38
Shikoku, 198
Shimonoseki Strait, 202
shipping:
convoys, 203
Japanese losses, 65,109,120-23,
120-22,126,128,158-9,159-69,
172--4,198-9,203,204,210- 13
lack of resources, 74
merchant shipping, 76- 7, 85,109,
126,159- 61,172,174,203
see also Imperial Navy; US Navy
Shoho,89
Shokaku,79,92,146,168
Shuri Line, 181
Siam, 51, 56- 7
Singapore, 50,58- 9, 62- 3,65,68, 139,
155, 163
Sittang Bend, battle of the (1945), 176
Sittaung, 176
Slim, General Sir William, 154
Smith, Major General Holland, 133
Solomon Islands, 63, 78, 88, 94--6, 97,
98-114,102- 3,106- 7,111,131-4,
132
Sorong,140
South China Sea, 65,166,195
South Dakota, USS, 147
South West Pacific Command,
117- 18, 134, 139, 158, 180
Soviet Union, 38, 126
Anti-Comintern Pact (1936),35-6
casualties, 119
defeat at Kharkov, 71
and Japanese defeat, 114--15, 155,
204--8,206
Japanese plan for war against, 44
see also Russia
Spruance, Admiral Raymond A., 91,
215
Stalingrad,l14
Starvation, Operation, 202
Stilwell, Lt General Joseph, 154,
215-16
submarines, 71-2, 75-6, 78, 79,121- 3,
122,161,163,166,173,194- 5
Sulu Sea, 163
Sumatra,63
Sunda Straits, 65
Superfortresses, 197, 198,202
Supreme War Council (Japan), 174--5,
207-8
Surabachi,Mount,182,183
Surigao Strait, 131
Sutherland, Lt General Richard, 157
Taiho,146
Takao, 163
Tarakan, 176
Tarawa, 119, 136,136- 7, 159
Tassafaronga, 110
Tehran conference (1943), 115
Tenasserim,177
Tengchung, 152, 177
Ticonderoga, USS, 147
Timor, 63, 207
Tinian, 142, 158
Toem,141
Tojo Hideki, General, 126, 126, 158,
216
Tokyo, 79,85,158,191,194,196-7
Tokyo Bay, 208
Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, 172
Torokina, Cape, 134
Toyoda Soema, Admiral, 216
Treasury Islands, 118, 131
Trobriand Islands, 118
Truk, 126,127, 129, 139, 140, 163
Truman, Harry S., 196, 205, 216
tsunamis,209
Tsushima, battle of (1905),72
Tulagi,111
Turner, Admiral Richmond Kelly, 141,
216
Tushan, 155
'Twenty-One Demands', 30
Two-Ocean Naval Expansion Act
(USA, 1940),41,43,47
Ugaki Matome, Admiral, 216
Ukraine, 71
Ulithi, 168, 184
Umezo Yoshigiro, General, 208, 209
United Nations, 71,174
United States of America:
advances in south-west Pacific,
112-13
aircraft, 123, 138- 9, 202
battle of the Coral Sea, 88, 88 90,
89-92, 107
battle of Leyte Gulf, 126, 130- 31,
148,157,157,160-62,163,168- 9,
173, 181,210-13
battle of Midway, 79, 84--8, 84,
92-4,92- 3,95,95
battle of the Philippine Sea, 88, 126,
129-30,141-8,146-7,157,158,
163
battle for Wake Island, 80-81
bombs Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
174,200-1,206
bombs Japanese home islands, 127,
131, 146, 158, 175, 185-7,
191-204,196-7
casualties, 136- 7
causes of Pacific war, 41- 3
central Pacific offensive, 118-20
and Chiang Kai-shek, 156-7
European war, 95
Guadalcanal, 82, 96, 97, 98, 100,
102-3,106,107- 11,107,114,118,
120
industrial power, 19,22
inter-service rivalries, 117- 18, 134,
159
Two Jima and Okinawa campaigns,
180-91,182- 3,186- 7,192-3,194
Japanese shipping losses, 120-23,
159-68,173-4,210-13
Japanese strategy against, 71- 2
naval rivalry with Japan, 27-8
New Guinea campaign, 95-8,101,
129,139-40, 142
parachute landings, 164-5
Pearl Harbor, 45, 51-6, 52- 5
and the Philippines, 26- 7, 28, 57,
60,61- 2,63,68,70
policy towards China, 28-9,114--16
re-conquers Philippines, 125, 126,
130,131,157,158,178-80,188-9,
191
Solomon Islands campaign, 94-6,
97,100-14,102-3,106-7,111,
118,134
INDEX
strategy, 114--18, 139, 157- 9
Two-Ocean Naval Expansion Act
(1940),41,43,47
widens Pacific war, 78
US Army:
re-conquers Philippines, 180
rivalry with Navy in Pacific,
117- 18, 134, 159
US Army Air Force, 204
US Navy, 76
logistics, 148
naval supremacy, 85
rearmament, 41
rivalry with Army in Pacific,
117- 18, 134, 159
strategy in western Pacific, 139
strength, 118-19, 156
submarines, 121-3, 122
warships, 108- 9, 184- 5
see also individual battles and
campaigns
Vella Gulf, 110
Vella Lavella, 110, 118
Versailles Treaty (1919),22
'Victory Disease' , 79
Visayan Islands, 130, 163, 178, 179- 80
Vogelkop, 129, 140
Wakde Island, battle of (1944), 124,
139-40,141
Wake Island, 65, 78, 80- 81
Wall Street Crash (1920),32
Washington, USS, 147
Washington Conference (1921-2), 27,
34
Wasp, USS, 100,108- 9, 191
weapons:
anti-aircraft guns, 64
grenades, 104
infantry guns, 64
West Virginia, USS, 48
Wewak,134
Woodlark, 118
Yamamoto Isoruku, Admiral, 77, 216
Yamashiro, 168
Yamashita Hobum, General, 216
Yamato, 74- 5,172,172-3,174
Yellow Sea, 163
'Yen Bloc', 40
Yokohama, 79, 194, 197
Yorktown, USS, 94
Yoyang, 153
Yunnan, 128
Zuiho, 168,173
Zuikaku, 79, 92,168,168-4
223
PI CTURE CREDITS
PICTURE CREDITS
224
AKG: endpaper, and pp. 20, 24-5, 26-7, 28, 31, 34-5, 37, 38, 39, 53,101,117,119,
135,167,179,190,194,196,206,207,208; Corbis-Bettman/UPI: pp. 6, 16,43,68
(centre), 80-81,91 (centre), 97,111,124,126,131,155,157,166; ET Archive: pp.
48,58,74-5,82,86-7,99,108,123,130,136-7,154 (top), 176, 186, 187, 188-9,
191, 195,200-1,209; Imperial Japanese Navy: pp. 44 (left), 51, 95,141 (right );
Imperial War Museum: pp. 44 (right), 45, 62, 66, 67, 68 (bottom), 104-5, 115, 128,
129,142,143,149,152,153,154 (bottom), 164-5, 170, 177, 178, 188-9, 192, 193,
197,200; Philip Jarrett: pp. 57, 73; National Archives, Navy Department: pp.
60-61; US Army Air Force: pp. 81, 112, 138, 139, 182, 199; USMC: pp. 107, 133;
US Navy: pp. 84, 88, 89, 91 (top), 118, 122, 127, 140, 141 (left), 147, 148, 160-61,
173,174,175,184; US Naval Historical Centre: pp. 77,106
Drawings on the title page and on pages 50, 56-7, 64,104,108,110,168-9,172-3,
184-5, and charts on pp. 120, 121, 158-9,202-3,204, and 205 are by Peter Smith
and Malcolm Swanston of Arcadia Editions Ltd.
ENDPAPER: At 9.25 on the morning of 2 September 1945: Tokyo Bay. As the Japanese
deLegation Left the Mi ssouri on board the destroyer Lansdown the sun broke through the
overcast as 450 U.S. carrier aircraft flew over the ALLied warships. That evening aLL ALLied
deLegations were invited to Beating the Retreat on board the flagship Duke of York by the
massed bands of units of the British Pacific Fleet . As was the tradition, proceedings were
brought to a close with the sunset hymn. During the singing of the verse: 'So be it, Lord, thy
throne shaLL never Like earth's proud empires pass away; Thy kingdom stands, and grows for
ever, TiLL aLL thy creatures own thy sway' the flags of aLL delegations were Lowered in unison.
SymboLism was compLete.

THE SEC'O ND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST

P.. - .THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST H. Willmott General Editor: John Keegan CASSELL ...

except in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright. 125 Strand. First published in Great Britain 1999 by Cassell.co. P. 1999 The moral right of the author has been asserted Design and layout copyright © Cassell The picture credits on p.uk Text copyright © H. 224 constitute an extension to this copyright page. Willmott. 1645. Designs and Patents Act 1988 or under the terms of a licence issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency. All rights reserved. Wellington House. Applications for the copyright owner's written permission should be addressed to the publisher. 90 Tottenham Court Road.For FY. British Library Cataloguing-in-publication Data ISBN: 0-304-352-306 Cartography: Arcadia Editions Design: Roger Daniels Picture research: Elaine Willis Typeset in Monotype Sabon . No part of this title may be reproduced or transmitted in any material form (including photocopying or storing it in any medium by electronic means and whether or not transiently or incidentally to some other use of this publication ) without the written permission of the copyright owner. London W1P 9HE. London WC2R OBB www.cassell.

Sailor. of course. lectures. Paddy Griffith. honourable and above all. I would not wish to thank one more than another. provided me with the basis of knowledge and critical facility that made this work possible. Judith Millidge and Elaine Willis and trust that they will accept this acknowledgement. and to Jamie and Suki not least for their insistence during my illness that I was fit enough to walk them every day. Very simply. over many years whether in the form of conferences. sadly. tact and ability this book would probably have gone the way of the Japanese merchant marine in the course of this conflict: specifically one would cite one's debts to Hilary Bird. I would acknowledge my debts to Everton. is no longer with us. In the final stages of preparation. a special acknowledgement has to be made to those professional colleagues and friends who provided me with support at a time of serious illness when this book was being prepared. Andrea and Spenser Johnson. Michael Coles. and Stephen.ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS In the preparation of this book acknowledgement must be made in four groups: first. and not try to amend it. Jackie Lambourne. Tomatsu Haruo. Gaynor and Sean. Raymond Sibbald. and as always in my books. lowe a special debt which I will discharge in due course. and for all the wrong reasons. there is the debt to family: Pauline. Sally and Steven Weingartner and Ed Yorke. Patrick Burke. alas. Caroline Knight. Inevitably this meant that his name was moved from one list. To attempt to list these people is impossible. John Andreas Olsen and Tine Larsen. I received notice that David Evans had joined the majority. I would wish to thank those who. Finally. Geoffrey Gentsch. Richard Penrose. rest your oar. only to be noted separately. exchange of letters or general conversation. but they have the satisfaction of knowing that without them this book could never have been written and also that they are not responsible for the various errors that may be within its pages. in fact the day when I started to write this section. Manjinder Uppal. Jane Kingdon. Christopher Duffy. Sherry and Kondor and trust they are at peace. and those who helped me the most know who they are without my elaboration: to those especially. and my sister Vivien. Martine and Nigel de Lee. P. Jack and Gee Sweetman. I would make reference to one person who. he was a scholar of the first order. Tony Clayton. 19 June 1999 (being the 55th anniversary of the Battle of the Philippine Sea ). Alice Hunt. Ro Roberts. John Votaw. H. Paul Harris. Surrey. a gentle man. but to all who so aided me. Third. I trust that they will think that the effort that went into the preparation of this book was justified by the result. Those people whom I would acknowledge as those to whom lowe a special debt of gratitude are Tim Bean. Penny Gardiner. Matthew Bennett. Egham. WILLMOTT Englefield Green. and for their support when I was seriously ill during its preparation I am grateful in a way that I can never fully express. Second. . Fourth. Judith Flanders. David Brown. In addition. I would acknowledge my debt to those of Cassell without whose patience.

Iwo jima. . Mount Suribachi.Old Glory. February 1945 .

Alignment.APRIL 1942 Overview .New G uinea and Guada lcanal campaigns . flaw s .------ •• •• ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS MAP LIST 5 9 10 4 THE THIRD MILESTONE: THE ROAD TO DEFEAT.~:~:~=. impact on Japan .Overall situation end 1942 . Coral Sea . problems . Japanese difficulties .US strategic policy.OCTOBER 1944 Problem of interpretation .Manchurian campaign.Hong Kongnorthern Malaya .Allied response. consequences . 49 ApPENDICES BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS FURTH ER R EADING INDEX PICTURE CREDITS 210 214 3 THE SECOND MILESTONE: PROBLEMS MAY 1942 . 171 2 THE FIRST MILESTONE: SUCCESS AND VICTORY DECEMBER 1941 . 21 5 THE LAST MILESTONE: SUPREMACY AND VICTORY NOVEMBER 1944 . consequences for Japanese system . 218 220 .The Indies.Fi nal phase of guerre de course Operation Starva tion: Japan's import si tuationUse of atomic weapons . Imphal-Ko hima .Rabaul neutralized .US strategic bombing offensive .Burma theatre.Japanese policy changesMarianas.Decisive Battle doctrine.Midway venture. afterma th .Japanese decision to surrender The last anal ogy.AUGUST 1945 Aspects of Japan's defeat .Japanese victories in ChinaUS options.Rangoon and Burma .Japanese convoy system and collapse .Leyte Gu lf.Guerre de course 83 against Japanese shipping.Iwo Jima and OkinawaInvasion of J apan. Burma.Japanese dilemma and strategic weaknesses . problemsChina.Japanese decisions .Huon Gu lf.Luzon . the guerre de course .New Guinea and Solomons campaigns .Problems of interpretation.Doolittle Raid .Solomons and New Guinea .NOVEMBER 1943 Problems of interpretation .War in Chin a. US carrier operations.US policy.CONTENTS ------+.Balance of forces .The Great Depression. Burma. FAILURE AND COLLAPSE NOVEMBER 1943 .Japanese defeats.Japanese advantagesJapanese first moves . the Philippines . policies in Thirties . ~ ~~~lrJ~.Japanese victories examined . analyses .southwest Pacific.Effects of First World WarJapanese problems in China .Indies and Solomons Singapore .US choices . India .Midway. 12 5 CHRONOLOGY INTRODUCTION PERSPECTIVES I 17 THE ROAD TO WAR The China war . Philippine Sea .Situation 1939-40 . central Pacific operationsUS policy problems .Soviet offensive in Manchuria .

KEY TO MAPS M ilitary units .attack -r retreat ~ airattack .- Milita ry units .-.- urban area roa d railway ba ttal ion Milita ry uni t colo urs • D river Allied seasonal rive r Briti sh canal Japanese • • D border French ~ bridge or pass Russian othe r territory Milita ry movements .types Ge nera l milita ry symbols .army group boundary ~ infa ntry armoure d motorized infantry ~ @] El ~ airborne parachute V'I' IiJ'\- -r-~ .xxxx- army boundary front line defensive line defensive line (3D maps) field work pocket or position fie ld gun pa ratroop drop [!] artillery -.XXXXX........--.size 0 xxxxx 0 xxxx army group army ...oL 0 xxx sunken ship airfield 0 xx corps division brigade regiment 0 x ttl 0 0'" 0" Geographical symbols .

M.30 A . 3· 4· 5· 6.MAY 1942 BATTLE OF THE JAVA SEA: 27 FEBRUARY 1942 BATTLE OF THE CORAL SEA: 28 APRIL .JULY 1942 PEARL HARBOR. SECOND WAVE: 7 DECEMBER 1941 INVASION OF MALAYA: 8 DECEMBER 1941 . 27· 28. II.6 JUNE 12.AUGUST 1945 202-3 .00 A .M. GUADALCANAL: AUGUST 1942 . BATTLE OF MIDWAY 3: 4 JUNE 10.1943.APRIL 1944 13 2-3 144-5 146 17· 18 . ALLIED OFFENSIVE IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC: FEBRUARY 1943 .10. FIRST WAVE: 7 DECEMBER 1941 PEARL HARBOR. AIR RAID OVER SAIPAN FORMATION OF JAPANESE FLEET: 19 JUNE 1944 BATTLE OF THE PHILIPPINE SEA: 19-21 JUNE 1944 FORMATION OF US TASK FORCE 58: 19 JUNE 1944 JAPANESE ADVANCE IN INDIA: MARCH-JUNE 1944 ALLIED RECAPTURE OF BURMA PACIFIC SITUATION TO OCTOBER 1944 BATTLE OF THE PHILIPPINES: 20-27 OCTOBER 1944 Iwo JIMA LANDINGS: FEBRUARY 1945 US INVASION OF OKINAWA : 26 MARCH . 30 A . 13 · 14· 15· II2-1 3 16.NOVEMBER 1943 22-3 4 6-7 5 2 -3 54-5 5 8-9 69 70 90 90 90-9 1 9 2 -3 92 93 102-3 2.FEBRUARY 1943 GENERAL SITUATION IN THE PACIFIC PRIOR TO OPERATION CARTWHEEL: END 1942 .1944 AND 1945 14 6 -7 147 150 lSI 15 6 -7 162 182-3 192 196 -7 19 8-9 199 29· 30 . 29 MAY 1945 JAPANESE MERCHANT SHIPPING LOSSES: 7 DECEMBER 1941 .00 A. . .MAP LIST I. 19· 20.30 JUNE 1945 TOKYO FIRE RAID.M. 12. 7· 8. THE EXPANSION OF JAPAN: 1920-41 THE PACIFIC SITUATION: DECEMBER 1941 . 23· 24· 25· 26. DECLINE OF JAPANESE MERCHANT SHIPPING ROUTES 1944-5 JAPANESE SHIPPING LOSSES BY AREA OF OPERATION: MARCH 1945 . 9· 10 .I I MAY 1942 ADMIRAL YAMAMOTO'S PLANS TO SEIZE MIDWAY: MAY-JUNE 1942 BATTLE OF MIDWAY 2: 4 JUNE 4 .31 JANUARY 1942 JAPANESE INVASION OF BURMA: JANUARY-MAY 1942 ATTACK ON THE PHILIPPINES: 8 DECEMBER 1941 .3 1 DECEMBER 1942 .M. 22.I I MAY 1942 ATTACK ON THE CORAL SEA: 28 APRIL . 21.

J policy of 'a utonom y' for northern C hina .8 Aug 7 Aug 9 1938 10 jan Jan J. divi sions a t Shanghai. J secure Sinyang 10th. J. Procl a mation of Suiyan independence. J. Imperial Conference. Yingshan . Operation 101. First air raids on Chungkin g. Manchoutikuo a nd USSR . raided by J bombers. J. J. First deliberate terrorbombing raid on Ca nton . Burma Road. secure Ha ngkow. Anyang 31st. Kuominta ng (KMT) reject negotiations with j apan. as many as 120 bombe rs in sin gle attacks. capture town 30th. Linfen 26th. First systema tic air attacks on KMT co mmuni cation s with outside world: targets includ e H a noi railroad. Singsiang 17th. force s operating from Tauyu a n a nd An ya ng take Pin gyaohsien . J sinking of USS Panay. secure Nanning. Start of J offensive aga in st Hsuchow aimed to effect a meetin g of northe rn and central a rmi es. secure Kaifen g 6th. J defea t in Pingtichuan pass by communists. naval air groups from Formosa and Kyushu: curtailed because lack of escorts lead to prohibitive losses. Little success and mounting casua lties until Aug. secure Changchow. with [juan secured 28th. In effect end of campa ign. Oct 25 11 3 Nov 13 13 Feb 13 14 14/16 Changkufeng incid ent: cl ash between J and Soviet forces in di sputed border a reas between Korea. sec ure Sungkiang 8th. force s secure Tsinya ng 21st. KMT offensive: desultory. 11/10 Aug 16 a utumn 30 31. and Jun 9 29 3 Dec 4 10 Jul . secure H ain a n. co nsolidation of recent gains and large-scale ope ra tions in 1939--40 aimed at destruction of KMT gove rnment. a nd Soviet forces clash around No monh an: maj or action Aug. redeployment for offensive up Yangtse. J. KMT counter-attack at Na nchan g defeated. Burma Road opens. Paotow 17th a nd gain control of Inner Mongo lia. bombing ca mpai gn aga inst Chun gkin g. secure Tsingtao. J secure Tientsin. advances. J. Abortive Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) attempt to secure Hungchiao airfield at Shanghai. J. secure Kalga n.300. C h. secure Huailai. J secure H efei 14th. J. J secure Tehchow. J. J. staging post for 12 13 1937 7 july 11 14 26 29/30 aircraft being suppli ed by USSR. Tokyo a nn o unces 'New Order in East Asia '. forces cross Hsiu at Tsaohsing and take Nanchang 27th. J. A5M C la ude fighter introduced into service in Sept. clear city mid September. ) res ista nce at Shanghai: J. J. J. J a rmy mini stry proposes ' restrained policy for protracted wa r'. J enter Nanking: deliberate terror over sevetal weeks. conclusive J. in sta ll ' provisional government' in Peking. C hangchih 20th. Yingchen 30th. J. secure Tsowhsien.THE SECOND WO RLD WAR I N THE EAST CHRONOLOGY CHINA 1937-45 Lukouchiao Incident. defeat mid Sep. Tierhchuang taken 8th. First bombing raid s by J.000 dead . main effort open in Aug. Ca nton 12th/21st. secure Pin ya ng. Kueisui 14 Oct. J sec ure Peking. Wang Chin g-wei regime in sta lled in Na nking.. ma ssacre population. J. Anyi 6th. Mar 21 Apr/ 8 May May 26 3 Sep 31 13 Sep 5 27 Sep Nov 14 25 Oct 5 15 spring May 23 23 29 31 5 Nov 1940 2 Feb Mar sprIng J. La ncho u. Tokyo agrees to send five divisions to Kwa ntung Army. instant drop of losses. tho ugh Kaifeng briefly retaken. line of Yellow river and control of Shansi. estimated 2. raze town . J. 1939 Feb Mar 18 16 J. Yuanku 27th. Lishih 24th. Landing of J. Pinglu 9th. secure Taitu a n. Yungcheng 18th: meetin g of armies adva ncin g on Hsuchow. J secure Tatung. Hwa ngchwa n 17th. Collapse of C hin ese (Ch. Shihchiachua ng 10th . subsequently secure C hu yungku a n pass. Foochow a nd Swatow by amphibious assault. North China Area Army activa ted. open Yellow river dikes to prevent further J. M assacre of j apa nese (J) population of Tungchow: J. secure Ta nyang. H a nya ng a nd Wuchang 26th. First bombing of Na nking. Paihokang 11th. Chengchow 10th. Sungfow. J. forces from Canto n secure Chinhsein : a mphibi ous assa ults a nd subsequ ent capture of Pakho i a nd Hopu. other cities a nd air bases in interior intend ed to destroy will to resist: massed form ations. taken 20th. J. confirms policy of restraint. Prelimin a ry moves in Yangtse offensive. forces secure Hotsin 4th . J ta ke Amoy. Local truce agreed. Start of J offensive aga in st Cha ngsa. secure Yucheng. J. Start of fighting at Shanghai: J. J secure Na nkow. J secure Sha ngcheng. rejected by main army co mmands in China and replacement of policy on 1 Mar. J secure Tamgtpucheng: move aga inst H suchow 24th. landings in Hangchow Bay. Separatist government in M o ngolia proclaimed. secure Pingtichuan 23rd. Unthreatened Changsa razed by KMT.

Kweiling. first bomber operation 19th: target both occasions installations and shipping on Red river. forces from Nanning and Tonking: uninterrupted commun ication between Johore a nd Korea. First strike against J. reversing whatever success communist offensive commanded. attempt to secure Changsa defeated.. J. Ferry command between Indi a and China activated. occupy Shumshu in Kuriles 18/23rd. consideration of genera l offensive in central and southern Chin a in 1944. Unconditiona l surrender of Japan announced.CHRONOLOGY 8 May 9/12 Jun 25 Jun 18 Jul 1 Aug 20/10 Sep 22 Sep 26 27 Oct/Dec 30 Nov 17 30 appearance of A6M Zerosen. accede to Tripartite Pact. IJN pronounce in favour of war w ith United States. First demand by IJ N within J. 1941. J. army in northern areas controlled by communists. Inner Mongolia and Korea. Soviets secure Chengteh and Kalgan. secure Suichuan. clear northern H onan. secure C hengchow. followed by raids in southern H onan new year. authorization of a genera l offensive in China to secure Peking. massacre and deliberate starvation. J. protectorate: US freeze all J. offensive against C hangsa. Changsa 16th/ 18th. J. in effect resumption of civil war. cross Yangtse below !chang: secure Liu yang 14 Jun . J. secured Lingling. Third phase !chi-go. Loyang secured 26th. J. secure Yichang. II Mar 21 Aug springsummer 8/9 Aug 25 Nov 11112 15 May summer 1944 17 J an J. Thinning and withdrawal of J. Soviet declaration of war on Japan and invasion of Manchoutikuo. occupy C hengchow. assets in response 26th. Regular feature of J. assault on Hengyang. 1945 29 Jan 4 Feb May 1941 4 Jan New Fourth Army incident at Maolin: KMT forces attack communists. Kwantung Army decision to ignore national surrender. effort 1940--44 intended to devastate areas and inflict mass starvation across areas that J. Destroy All campa ign by J. attempt to repeat 1940's bombing effort: less successfu l mainly because naval ai rcraft being withdrawn after spring in readiness for operations in Pacific and south-east Asia. First comba t mission by B-29s from bases in Indi a aga in st Bangkok. cou ld not control. forces in southern China to meet anticipated Soviet offensive in Manchoutikuo. Axis recognition of Wang regime. secure Chuhsien 10th. Hengyang a nd Changsa. 21 Jul 25 17 Sep Oct Dec/Jan 42 7Dec deportations. secure Liuchow and Kweilin. J. Start of J. Opening of hostiliti es in Pacific and south-east Asia. counter-offensive throughout Hopei and Shansi. occupy northern French Indo-Chin a. coll apse of last real J. attempt to gain negotiated settlement with KMT. Third J. 8 Sep 27 Oct 10 Nov 24 10 Dec 14th US Air Force activated. Preparatory ope rations for third phase !chi-go with movement of forces from Hengyang toward Kweilin and Liuchow airfield s and forces moving north from Canton. secure Tsaoyang. First 'rice ra id s' conducted in Hupei province. continues end Jul. Communists' Hundred Regiments Campaign in Hopei and Shansi. J. Operation 101 involves 182 raids and 3. after J an 1942 KMT forces committed to Burma. Juncture of J. having overrun H onan at a cost of 869 dead. demand . J. effort in C heki ang. raid into western Hu pei. advance into H onan: Peking-Chengchow-Hankow line secured by 9 May. J. Canton-Hankow and Hunan-Kwangsi rail lines and H engyang. abandon Nann in g. 15 Jul 1943 11 Mar 16 Start of Ichi-go offensive with J. staged partly as retaliation for Doolittle Raid. Operation 102. Withdrawal at end portrayed as major victory. in north-west Kiangsi and Hupei Mar. demand for right ro land forces in northern French Indo-China conceded. First offensive operation by US fighters within Ch in a theatre. First J. J. bea ten back. 16 17 18 . First phase Ichi-go ends c. Major air battles over Hangkow.715 sorties. US steel embargo on J apan. J. Br. secure Nanning. Soviet forces through Greater Khingan Mountains. First US air raid on Formosa. J. with no major guerri lla activity in northern C hina for remainder of war. J. Kill All. First Lend-Lease arrangements between US and China. Second phase !chi-go offensive. 2 Jun with J. advance from Liuyang area and capture of H engyang airfield. Commun ists neutralized as a threat. Lingling and Liuchow airfields.Hankow. Imperia l intervention to ensure Kwantung Army's surrender. J. home islands by China -based B-29s. 17 Apr 27 May 5 Jun 15 26 28 29 1942 7 Jun J. proclaim Indo-Ch in a as joint French an d J. subseq uent siege: falls 8 Aug. J. high command to occupy French Ind o-China. J. Arrival at Kunming of overland convoy via Bhamo. a nd advance to positions between Laotao and Liuyang rivers: KMT counter-attack 27th and J. J. Burn All . closure of Burma Road on J. used by KMT and air power lobbies in Washington to support their respective causes. abandon C hinh se in . J. In this and later operations communist base areas reduced from 44 to 25 million by mass MaylJun J.

J. cap ture of Ponti a nak . Soviet secure Port Arthur. ca rrie r raid on Darwin.THE SECON D WORLD WA R IN THE EAST 19 20 22 1 Sep Formal surrender of Kwantung Army at Khabarovsk. offensive on Bagac.2 1941 8 Dec 7Dec 9/11 10 11 23 J. US fighter sweeps over Singapore from bases in Indi es. Br. 12 . secure Jolo. cross Pera k into central Malaya . airfield s brought into J. Massed US carrier attacks on Marianas. Battle of Midway. sec ure Ternate. secure Ocea n Isla nd . ato ll secured 8 Feb. New Territori es and Kowloon taken by 10th. secure M anila . Br. J. J. secure Amboina. Kend ari and Sandakan 17th. overland invasion of Siam and la ndin gs in southern Si a m and northern Malaya. secure Medan. Tarawa 28th. Battle of Philippine Sea. capital ships sunk in South C hin a Sea. landin gs in La mon Bay and Lingayen Gulf. surrend er of Singapore. US carrier raid on Wake. 1942 1 J an 11 23 24 29 31/3 Feb 8 Feb 10 14/17 18/19 19 19 20 27/28 28/1 M a r 5 Mar 9 1943 J. landings at Porr Swettenham. Renewed J. service 20th. US carrier raid o n Truk. J. 29 5/6 May 26 9 Jun 9/11 10 11/12 19 1942 1 Feb 24 4Mar 18 Ap r 4/7 Jun 23 Aug 26 US carrier ra id on Marshalls a nd Gilberts. secure Miri. Br. attack air bases. US la ndin gs in G ilberts: M ak in secured 23rd. la ndin gs at Kendari. landings at Tacloban. J. J. J. Allied surrender in Dutch East Ind ies. J. US landings on Kwajalein. US carrier raid o n Marcus. la ndings in northern Luzo n. surrender 3 Jun. victory on Sungei Maur. J. Br. debacle at Layang. J. J. landings at Davao. Two Br. landin g at Balikpapan. assa ult . J. 27/28 8 Feb 15 17121 30 Marl 1 Apr 30 Apr/ 1 May 19/23 May THE PHILIPPINES : I94I-2 1941 8 Dec 10 J. Coll apse of Br. J. 1 Jul HONG KONG: I94I 23/6 Feb 3 Apr 9 10 16 16/18 4 + 13 Aug 1941 8 Dec 18 25 J. secure islands north of Luzon. J. US carrier raid o n Wake. THE INDIES: I94I-5 1941 15 Dec 24 22 J. secure Batavia. la ndings at M acassar. a band o n Penang a nd north ern M a laya. J. Soviet occupation of Kumashir and Shikotan. secure Ipo h 28th. secure M a nado. J. la ndings in south-west and northern Mind a nao. US surrender on Bataan. ca pture Telok Anson. US ca rrier raid on Truk. Raids on Gilberts by US la nd -based aircraft and carrier force. forces arou nd Bakr i a nd Bukit Pela ndok. J. attack on US Pacific Fleet at Pea rl Harbor. J. secure Makin. British surrender. J. naval action 24th. 22 1944 Jan 31 17/ 18 Feb Withdrawa l of last nava l units from Rabaul to Truk. J. US carrier raids aga in st Palaus and Woleai. 12 7 Apr 11/14 Jun 15 15/17 19/20 12 19/20 1944 15 Sep 15 Nov US la ndin gs on Morotai. surrend er 20 May. US landin gs o n Pegun Is. Battle of Java Sea. capture of Bandjermasin. secure Miri. US secure Eniwetok. Kuchin g o n 25th. Australian landings in Brunei Bay: la nding at Labu an 20th. J. J. J. J. landings o n Victoria Is. landings o n Bali. J. Doolittle Raid. CENTRAL PACIFIC: I94I-5 1941 7 J an Memorandum advocating a surprise attack on Pearl H arbor by Yamamoto. US carrier raids o n Marcus and Wake. Surrender of Leyte. J. offensive on Bagac. J. positions coll apse at J itra. defeated o n Slim river. Sunda Strait action . US carrier ra id s on Bonins. la ndings on J ava . J. assa ult on Wake defeated. MALAYA AND SINGAPORE: I94 I. landin gs on Timor. J. Australian lan dings a t Balikpapan:three minor la ndin gs staged between 3rd and 9th. US carrier raid o n Kwajal ein. J. secure Ku ala Lumpur. Tarakan 10/12th. Soviets secure Mukd en a nd C ha ngchung. J. sec ure Palembang. Main defence line on Bataan broken: US withdrawal to Bagac-Orion line complete 26th. Mindanao. secure Labuan. collapse of Br.Orion lin e. 1942 1 Jan 2 10/22 US withdrawal into Bataan complete. evacuation of Johore 31st. position in southe rn Malaya. J. 1945 2 May 10 Jun Australian la ndin gs at Tarakan: secure 24 Jun . landings on Boho l and Cebu. ?/25: Soviets invade southern Sakhalin. J. J. J. secure Na uru. Surrender of Samar. Lombok Strait action. land ing a t End a u. 1942 112 J a n 7 11 J. secure Legaspi. Br. assa ult across Johore Strait against Singapore. J. 22 J. la ndin gs on Negros. Jesselton 8th . 31 Aug 17/19 Sep 16 21 5/6 Oct 21 Nov 4Dec US carrier raid o n Manus. secure Guam. landings on Panay. US landings on Saipan. J. J. British abandon Kota Bahru and M achan g. occupation of Baru Pahat. J. a ttack o n a nd US surrender of Corregidor. J.Orion line defeated. secure Wake.

J. 20 Jul Iwo Jima declared secure: last resistance ended in 18-20 June: US secure Panay. secure Rabaul and Kavieng. Allied capture of Arapara. capture Kakoda. US landin gs on Jolo. Start of J. US forces enter Manila. Palau Islands. Coll apse of J. US landings on Cebu: city secured 16 Apr. Moemi 15th. J. secure Short lands. capture of Ioribaiwa. offensive from Shuri Line defeated. coasta l moves in New Guinea: sec ure Manokwari 12th. Annihilation of J. landings in Milne Bay. and to Pongani on 18th. US landings on Mindoro. strikes continue 6/9 Jan before sortie into South China Sea. Battle of Eastern Solomons. US landings on Peleliu. Formosa and northern Philippines. J. US fo ll ow-up strikes over central. Defeat of J. Apr 7 28 3 May 4 7/8 22Jul 27 7 Aug 9 22/25 25/7 Sep 12/14 Sep 16 24 5 Oct 9 11/12 23/25 26/27 12/13 Nov 14/15 30/1 Dec 9 Dec 31 move in western New Guinea and along northern coast. US landin gs on Guadalcanal and Tulagi. Jaure 20th. 9 Feb 15-21 19 28 3 Mar 10 21 2/4 Mar 6 7/18 Apr 5 Jun 16 US capture of Buna. Second naval battle of Guadalcanal. Start of US offensive on Guadalcanal. J. Davao. on Formosa 12/14th. offensive at Wau. US landings near Ormoc. Allied transport of forces to Wanighela. First US carrier raid on Kyushu and Shikoku airfields. Batrle of Cape Esperance. Saipan declared secure. Continuation of J. US landings on Bohol. defence: Bolete Pass taken 13th. US clearing of Corrigedor. abandon Line 21st. Battle off Santa Cruz. Fak Fak 1st. US landings on Leyte. J. Bismarck Sea action. island secured by 23 Oct. US landings at Zamboanga. secured 1 Aug. occupation of Lae and Salamaua. J. J. US carrier operations over northern. secure Tulagi. southern Mindanao. secure Shorrland and Boela. off Samar and east of Cape Egano. US carrier raids on southern. J. Kaigan taken 12 Jul. offensive from Mobu area against Wau. Last US carrier strikes against Formosa and Ryukyus. 5 Nov. Ryukyus and northern Philippines. Bayombong 21st. J. Battle of Savo Island. US landings in western Mindanao. subsequent evacuation. secure Lorengau. Finchh afen 10th. central Philippines. First naval battle of Guadalcanal. assault on Bloody Ridge on Guadalcanal. US landings on Guam. Manus. J. Defeat of J. secure Buka and Kessa in northern Solomons. J. southern Philippines. Sorong 4th. 1943 2Jan 10 11 NEW GUINEA AND THE SOUTH-WEST PACIFIC: 1942-5 1942 23 Jan 8/9 Mar 10 30 31 2112 Feb 1/7 Feb 9 21122 J. First kikusu (massed kamikaze attack) and naval action off Okinawa. Action off Kula Gulf. US secure Russells. US carrier raids on Formosa. US carrier attack on Lae and Salamaua. US landings on Morotai.CHRONOLOGY 24 13 Jul 21 24 25/27 31 Aug! 2 Sep 6/8 Sep 9/14 15 17 22/24 10/11 Oct 16 16/19 20 21/24 24/25 25 26 29/2 Nov 27/6 Dec 24 7Dec 14/16 15 US carrier raid on Bonins. US forces secure northern Okinawa. US occupy Baguio. US landings on Angaur. US landings on Tinian. Manila declared secure. US carrier raid on Palaus. Battle of Tassafaronga. decision to abandon Guadalcanal. recommits to Philippines campaign and withdraws 23/27th. Laruni 15th. Start of US offensive against Shuri Line: J. secured 8 Aug. US carr ier raid on Palaus. resistance in southern Okinawa: last actions 4 Aug. US landings on Iwo Jima. assault on Henderson Field on Guadalcana l. US landings on Okinawa. southern Philippines. Seroei 17th. secured 12 Oct: last resistance Dec. US secure Ulithi. air offensive over Solomons and eastern New Guinea. J. Santa Fe 27th. US carrier force withdraws to Ulithi. First B-29 raid on home islands from Marianas. US landing in Lingayen Gulf. US carrier attack on Tulagi. wi thdrawal on Kakoda Trail. Batrle of Coral Sea. US landings on Ngula. US carrier raid on Bonins. J. Luzon. Action in Surigao Strait. counter-attack on Leyte. abandon Machinaro Line on Okinawa: US repulsed on Shuri Line 28th. centra l Okinawa secured. air attack on Guadalcana l. capture Buna and Gona. US carrier strikes on northern Philippines. US landings on Santa Cruz. Action in Leyte Gulf. J. Nabire 18th. 26 26 29 1 Apr 6/7 9 12 13 16/21 17 18 20 24 27 3 May 3/4 4/5 May 10 11 7 June 11 12 17 1945 2/3 Jan US carrier strikes on Ryukyus. Major J. Morobu peninsula cleared. Babo 2nd. Aparri taken. J. Sarmi and Hollandia 19th. Australian capture of Gona. crumbling of J. central Philippines. declared secure. Start of final US offensive on Okinawa. J. 13 . US occupation of Ie Shima off Okinawa. US carrier raids on central. Major air batrle over Russells. US landings in Macajalar Bay. US landings on Palawan. Defeat of J. US take Cagayan as part of genera l offensive in northern Luzon. evacuation of Guadalcanal. US landings on Negros: secured 31 May. US landings on Balut. J.

on Woodlark and Trobriand Is. End of organized J. decision to transfer logistics from Rangoon to Mandalay. J. on Kiriwan 28/29. Initial Austra lian landing at Wewak. 1943 18 Feb Start of first Chindit operation. US landings on Vogelkop peninsula and on Amsterdam and Middleburg: landing near Sansapur 31st. area secured 1 Sep. End of last major J. forces escape encirclement and J. US landings at Noemfoor. J. forces move into eastern Burma. US landings on Morotai. capture of Kalewa: in effect ends 1942 campaign. J. capture of Finchhaven 2 Oct. abandon Attu and reinforce Kiska. J. Br. J. J. secureMergui. J. desroy Ch. offensive in Hukawng valley. Wakde secured 22nd. First sinking of J. 15th Army decision to capture Rangoon and not move directly into central Burma. secure Victoria Point airfield. Hollandia secured 27th. near Salamaua. worsted in battle on Bilin. US capture Munda airfield. J. US landings at Los Negros. 23 First air raids on Rangoon. 17/18 May 17/26 27 10/11 Jun 2Jul 5 10/17 Aug 28 July 30 4Aug 15 Sep 15 Nov US landings at Arare and Wakde. Start of Ch. J. US handover to Australians 27 Nov. J. temporary interruption of communications between Mandalay and Myitkyina. J. 14 . Chindit withdrawal to India under intense pressure. US landings on Kolombangara. offensive in Arakan: halts short of Akyab in Jan 1943. landings in Kula Gulf. and on Rendova. J. US landings at Aitape and Hollandia. US carrier raids on Rabaul. J. Battle of Kommandorskii Islands. island secured 31st. capture of Rangoon . 1944 2 Jan 15/20 Feb 29 6/29 Mar 15/25 20 25 22 Apr US landings at Saidor. secure Attu and Kiska. subsequent defeat on Minha-Loikaw line. US occupied Emirau. advances halted by Nov. First US raid on Kuriles by medium bombers staging through Attu from Adak. Battle of Vella Gulf. Br. 1942 Jan 19 22 Ch. 28 15 Aug 13/17 Mar 18 23 Oct BURMA AND THE INDIAN OCEAN: 1941-5 1941 16 Dec 30 Nov J. withdrawal of fleet units from Rabaul. 24 30/31 16/20 Feb 18/23 7/8 Mar 19/30 21/27 23 1/2 Apr 1945 29 Apr 11 May US landings on Los Negros. Br. US and J. US secured Manus. Battle of Kolombangara. capture Kehsi Mansam and Lashio in eastern Burma. Allied landings on Kiska. complete evacuation of Kiska in Aleutians. J. US airborne landings at Nadzab. offensive in Arakan. US carrier raids over Upper Solomons. secure Andamans. reach Chindwin at Monywa. Br. forces cross into Burma. Start of Br. US landings on Pegun. outfought around Prom e and Hmawza. New Georgia. resistance on Biak. Australian landings at Finchhaven repulse J. force in front of Rangoon. capture Yenangyaung. NZ secured Green Islands. evacuation of Vella Lavella and Arundel. US secure Salamaua. J. secure Bhamo and Myitkyina. successful counteroffensive at Akyab.Dec counterattack. last such raid 13 Aug. 1945. forces capture Tavoy.THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST 21 2Jul 4/5 6 13 5 Aug 6/7 15 27 3/4 Sep 6 12 16 20 22 23/2 Oct 6 Oct 6 12 27 1/2 Nov 5 and 11 12 26 26 Dec US landings on New Georgia: on Wood lark Island 23/24. Battle of Kula Gulf. US landings on Vella Lavella. J. J. US landings on Biak: island secured 20 Aug. capture Mandalay. evacuation of Kolombangara. US landings on New Georgia. Battle of Vella Lavella. Australian forces secured Madang. Start US land-based air campaign aimed at neutralizing and isolating Rabaul. New Guinea: main landings on 14th: end of organized resistance 23rd. J. Australian landings at Lae. counter-attack at Noemfoor. J. US landings on Cape Gloucester. effort against Allied positions at Aitape. decision to abandon Kiska. halts in front of Maungdaw. US landings on Bougainville and battle of Empress Augusta Bay. US landings on Atru. J. 5/9 10/19 18/23 29 NORTH PACIFIC: 1942-3 1942 7 Jun 27/16 Sep 26 Oct J. US raids on Marshalls. and Nassau Bay 30th. Br. attacks on Bougainville air base defeated. J. US landings on Arundel Island. J. Battle of Sittang and destruction of Br. ship by a submarine operating from Dutch Harbor. Allies secure Lae. J. Series of attacks on Finchhaven until 25 Oct when J. raid on Amchitka. carrier offensive in Bay of Bengal. J. admit defeat and evacuate area. defeat. air strikes on Akyab and Magwe. 30 31 8 May 10/14 Dec 29 1943 16 Feb 27 Mar 11 May 8 Jun 10 Jul Last J. capture Moulmein. reoccupy Attu. Defeat of only major J. counter-attack 26th. forces around Kyungon and Toungoo. Battle of Loikaw. Battle of Cape St George. Allied landings in Treasury Islands. Series of actions around Aitape. attempt ro relieve Biak abandoned as result of US operations in Marianas. Aitape 4 May.

siege and capture of Bhamo. Tsu. capture of Lashio. Shizuoka and Toyohashi raided. Takamatsu. Kobe raided . Tokyo. Br. Kochi and Himeji ra ided. Chiba. Moji and Nobeoka raided. Nagoya raided. Attack on Hiroshima using atomic weapon. Off Penang. Hamamatsu and Yokaichi raided. Announcement of unconditional surrender of Japan . Last US bombing raid on Singapore. J. withdrawal 28th. Okazaki. Oita. Defeat of J. forces 13th/24th. Nagoya raided. J. Br. Fukuoka . forces on Salween secure Ku-feng a nd Chiang-chu. First B-29 operation against Korean ports. Sino. Mito and Hachioji raided . begin their evacuation of Rangoon: comp leted 29th/30th. 8 Jul. Br. Formal surrender of Japan to representatives of United Nations in US battleship anchored in Tokyo Bay. Sendai. Juncture west of Hlegu of Br. Start of J. secured 3rd. advance. not detected until 12th. Nagaoka.CHRONOLOGY 1944 Jan/Feb Successful defensive battle staged by J. secure Maungd aw. C h. only surface action involving fleet units fought in Indian Ocea n during war. Start of second Chindit operation. counterattacks break J. Kofu. Nagoya raided. forces take Pinbaw.-Ch. in Huk awng valley and frustration of Ch. bridgehead over Irrawaddy at Ngazun esta blished. J. 25/26 29/30 17/18 May 1/2 Jun 5/6 7/8 15/16 17/18 19/20 28/29 112 Jul 3/4 6/7 9/10 11/12 12/13 16/17 19/20 24/25 26127 28/29 5 Jun THE JAPANESE HOME ISLANDS AND STRATEGIC BOMBING RAIDS: 1944-5 1/2 Aug 5/6 6 8/9 9 14/15 15 1944 First B-29 raid on home islands from China. Tsu and Kawana raided. First combat mission flown by B-29s from bases in India against Bangkok. Osaka raided. Kobe raided. Shimonoseki and Ube raided. Ch.US forces checked around Nhpum Ga. Kuwana and Hiratsuka raided. Attack on Nagasaki using atomic weapon. forces in area spent.US forces take Myitkyin a airfield: siege of town after 18th. offensive in Arakan. Akashi. Yokohama and Kawasaki raided. Br. J. Maebashi. Br. acceptance of defeat at Meiktila. 16/17 Feb 45 Tokyo attacked by US carrier task force. secure Kangaw. Br. Allied forces take Myitkyina . Start of Ch. defeat at Sheldon's Corner and Ukhrul. forces take Teng-chung. Br. Tokyo raided. lchinomiya. Nagoya raided. Kure. Encirclement of Br. Ch. lchinomiya. Sino. Sakai and Gifu raided . forces take Mogaung. Yokohama raided. J. Namazu. Osaka raided. Ch. Hamamatsu raided. forces encircle Teng-chung. Osaka raided. Start of J. Hitachi and Choshi ra ided. Ogaki. counter-offensive on Salween. Kukamoto. Imabari and Saga raided. Br. bridgehea ds over Tokyo raided . Omuta. Fukui. landings at Rangoon. Uji-Yamada and Uwajima raided. Omuta. forces reach Kohima. Start of siege of Imphal. forces take Kamaing. Lun-ling taken 25th. Start of Operation Starvation. Tsuruga and Uwajima raided. Utsunomiya. Tokyo raided: largest singletarget attack by B-29s during campaIgn. around Maingkwan in Hukawng va lley: Sino-US aim to clear Hukaw ng valley with offensive into Mogaung and Irrawadd y va ll eys. Aomori. Ch. 15 . offensive into north-east Indi a with crossing of C hindwin. Yawata and Fukuyama raided. Battle for Meiktila: taken by Br. on 4 Mar. Br. Shimizu raided. Wakayama. operations in Arakan. Osaka raided. secure Akyab. secure Ramree. 24 Nov First B-29 raid from Marianas. offensive against Bhamo. Kagoshima. 18 /22 Feb 22/17 Feb 13/21 Feb 10 4 Feb 14 12 20/21 Mar 21 2 Mar 7 26 3/7 Mar 4/6 4/5 Apr 15 23 5 21 28/8 Apr 2May 6 2/3 Apr 4 18/20 17 M ay 15/16 Irrawaddy at Thabeikkyin and Kyaukmyaung established. Tokushima. Okayama. Last Br. Sasebo. Nishinomiya. Hsipaw on 15th. Br. relief of Kohima. offensive into north-east India with diversionary attack in Arakan. formations around M a ungdaw: Br. bridgehead over Irrawaddy at Nyaungu establish ed. Ch. Br. decision to a bandon Arakan. completed by 30th. but J. Start of J. Br. 15 Jun 16 19/20 22 26 16 Jul 1945 10/11 Mar 11112 13/14 16/17 18/19 27/28 13/14 Apr 14/15 15/16 19/20 23/24 3 Aug 28 14 Sep 15 Oct 14 Nov/ 15 Dec 12 Dec 1945 2Jan 11114 Br. forces from central Burma and Rangoon. Start of Br. relief of Imphal. Matsuyama and Tokuyama raided. Kumagaya and Isezaki raided. withdrawal from Kohima. 2 Sep Tokyo raided. Battle for Mandalay. Toyama.

.

~I-. :~:~~~.~. the Japanese war is not noted for urban devastation.INTRODUCTION -------. chief city of Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands. how victory appeared to a US marine at Naha. ----~ ~ PERSPECTIVES OUTSIDE THE HOME ISLANDS and as a result of the US strategic bombing campaign. But many Chinese cities as well as such places as Manila were devastated in the course of the Second World War: here.~:==~. . April 1945.

Television has recognized this to an extent that some might suggest was unhealthy: cable and satellite channels repeat Second World War documentaries ad nauseam. But in terms of perspective we are further in time from the outbreak of the Second World War than people in 1939 were from Grant's presidency and the death of Gordon at Khartoum. the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot. Guadalcanal and Tarawa. and the Second World War was the first cinema war. Iwo Jima and Mount Suribachi. but one would suggest that there have been too many by authors who laboured under the illusion that they explained the events they described. This is right because the ultimate determinant in war is armed force even though force is but one element of power and power is but one element in the process by which states arrange their affairs. drawn from the European war. In Britain's case there is perhaps another dimension : if 1940 was indeed Britain's finest hour then what has followed is an anti-climax. when contemplating yet another screed upon the subject of Japan and the Second World War. It behoves one to pause and consider. As the decades have slipped by there has been a movement towards perspective. studies of individual episodes or aspects of this conflict that have not aided reflection and perspective . of events. and finally the razing of the cities of the home islands mark a well-trodden route. This works against the process of re-evaluation . the triumph of good over wicked depravity. the Second World War has an image and appeal that cannot be denied. Kakoda. mainly from official records.the lifeblood of History. but there have also been two other factors at work. The first has been the detail that has become available. An obvious example. It was an age of heroic certainty. over decades of repetition. services or individuals. Coral Sea and Midway. The power of image is not to be underestimated. none the less managed to write a better balanced account of the Battle of the Atlantic than some historians who seemed incapable of writing about it except in terms of ULTRA. Okinawa and Sugar Loaf. One is tempted to conclude that Stephen Roskill. hence the appeal of the Second World War. time's passing and the demand that should be placed upon the historian: to provide explanation. Whether British or American. Leyte Gulf and Luzon. The process of critical I8 . irrespective of whether the tale that ' is told is related in terms of nations.THE S E C O N D WORLD WAR I N THE EAST PERSPECTIVES F ROM A WESTERN perspective the story of the Japanese war is told in terms of a journey marked by signposts which. have become all but very familiar friends. sometimes exhausting. There have been histories of the Second World War that have moved beyond description. There have been exhaustive. whose official histories were written when such matters as ULTRA remained high ly secret. not mere description. that allowed a somewhat unfortunate development. The second is perhaps more serious and unfortunate. is signals intelligence.

States as mismatched as were japan and the United States seldom fight one another: even more seldom do they fight wars initiated by the weaker. First. yet. Two more aspects of this conflict demand address. detailed scrutiny of events. Uniquely. the Pacific war was the only occasion in history when ownership of the trident changed hands without war between possessor and successor. the Pacific war was very unusual in that the nature of naval power and warfare changed. By any standard. there was never any chance of her avoiding defeat in the war she initiated in 1941. Herein lies another problem that confronts the wouldbe explanation: the process by which japan initiated a war with the only power that could defeat her. most powerful single state and greatest military power. but seeks to avoid mere description in an attempt to provide explanation of events. long-settled and which permit no questioning. food and raw materials the cash value of which would have been enough to have raised 2. however unintended: how to explain it is quite another matter. from a position of local superiority and safeguarded by provisions of naval limitation upon potential enemies. and the origins of this war. greatest empire. this is a story to which only passing reference may be made. incontrovertible historical truth. Before late 1943 in the Pacific supremacy was the product of victories: thereafter victories were the product of supremacy. ranged against herself an alliance that included the world's most populous state. Second. It is relatively easy to deal with Germany's defeat in the Second World War precisely because at certain times her victory seemed assured : in the case of japan. Inevitably. which raised a hundred divisions. In the course of the Second World War the United States. Between May 1942 and November 1943 the US Navy fought for and won the initiative with a pre-war fleet: thereafter its victories were the product of a supremacy based upon a fleet that was a wartime creation. Herein are matters that form the framework of this book and which provide explanation at its end.PERSPECTIVES examination.000 infantry divisions. . however. that presently invite the attention of the reader. and it was a war in which the relationship between supremacy and victory changed. in the space allowed in this work. no single book could ever provide more than partial explanation. It attempts to set out the record of this conflict. The Second World War in the East is part of a series and at the same time complete in its own right. the conjuring of such a coalition against herself was a remarkable achievement. cannot rest alongside a popular portrayal of known truths. that latter was part of an awesome achievement. supplied its allies with equipment. In one month her slips whispered adieu to 140 merchant hulls and one yard launched its fiftieth escort carrier one year and one day after launching its first. It was industrial power in depth that was the basis of America's victory. but it is its start. in pursuit of that most elusive of substances. Herein lies a problem of interpretation to vex perception: the process whereby japan. but in the case of the japanese war the writer is confronted by a more profound historiographical problem: there are few things more difficult to explain than an inevitable defeat.

LA GUERRE RUSSO-JAPONAISlj: OCCUPATION DE SEOU!J PAR L'ARMEE 'JAPONAISE . Gmols. t.Sei2I~me annM.:r O~PAnTF. G moil.U .4(r. 2 fr.00. GO. 3 fr .. 5 fr.)lr TS : ~'( - ' 2'IDoi. 'H1ti~ pages: CINQ centimes ~ Qimanche 28 Fevrier 1904 ' Le PetU P&riaien 6 c •• tim •• roo. --. . PARIS ABONNEMENTS PARIS J.100111 -_OJ SUPPLEMENT LITTERAlRE ILLUSTRE DIRECTION: 11!. 2:i mHO' POIITAL!':: i2 mob .110 786. rue d'Enghien (10').

Korea was annexed by Japan in 1910. Previously occupied during the Chinese war of 1894-5 and a battlefield for part of the later war. ~:~:~~ ~ ~:==~I~ ~-----I. . Throughout the period when Korea was part of the Empire. Japanese policy was ruthlessly exploitive and repressive. •• •• THE ROAD TO WAR CONTEMPORARY REPRESENTATION of the Japanese occupation of Seoul on 11 February 1904 in the course of the Russo-Japanese war.CHAPTER ONE ------~.

the road to war is well marked and can be discerned without undue difficulty. historical examination invariably does not reach beyond the Versailles Treaty of 28 June 1919. and normally.7 to 354. while their origins. The reality of Japan's position was somewhat different.6 million mrd Kwh. If longer term causes are sought. Civil wars.8 million tons: coal production (1938) 53. In terms of the percentage share of world manufacturing output Japan's 3.1 million: the comparative figures for the US were 141. very often. Colonial possessions 1941 control 1937 Warl ord control 1937 - D British United States INDIAN Dutch OCEAlI French Portuguese 22 . To westerners the dates of this conflict are simple enough. when the instrument of surrender was signed in the By summer 1941 the Japanese position in the Far East by virtue of her conquests in Manchuria and China and holdings in the central Pacific gave the impression of strength in depth. 35 to 116. are veiled and sometimes deliberately shrouded in heroic myths that obscure rather than EASTERN ASIA AND THE WESTERN PACIFIC enlighten.2 of the United States.8 million. It began on 7/8 December 1941 with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and landings in southern Siam and northern Malaya. And there are some wars which defy these general rules of presentation.5 compared to the 32. Comparative production figures were steel production (1937) 5. by their very nature their causes are complicated. The Second World War in the Far East is such a war.75 million provided a work force of 34. Such historical shorthand can be simplistic.THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST THE ROAD TO WAR W ARS USUALLY lend themselves readily to historical shorthand.5 million tons: electricity production. or on 2 September 1945.8 to 28. wars generally have easily identifiable dates and hence duration. The Second World War in Europe provides obvious examples on all counts. C. but in any event does not preclude genuine historical argument on any number of aspects of the war under examination. however. need not necessarily lend themselves to such summary: invariably. It is given dates of September 1939 and May 1945. when Japan announced her willingness to accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration that demanded her unconditional surrender. and it ended either on 15 August 1945. and the immediate origins lie in the period 1933-9 and are synonymous with the person and policies of Adolf Hitler.94 and 52. Her population of 72. with the advantage of hindsight and a sense of inevitability. • Mal D D D The expansio n of Japan J apanese emp ire 1920 te rritory adde d by 1931 territory add ed by 1933 territory added by 1937 territo ry ad ded by 1941 Chin ese Nation alist 1920-4 1 Colombo. Even if the parties to a war differ in terms of when they entered or left the lists.

-. --.THE ROAD TO WAR US battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay... and the war that is identifiable in terms of the 1941-5 time frame . :..tt " /~>/--.. Arafu ra Sea -"'::'-~.. n .. I .:.0 \ ...1....-.~ . __ I Malaya • Kuala Lumpur Sarawak 6>.. NoBorneo"". 'j a pan ese' ' m and aJo . ". _ __ _ _ 1- . JitJ Ii\ \ . '.. . \ ----\-- ..o... 1940 Japane5e .may have been the most important single part of this conflict...c0odl_ _~_ _ _ _ _~~"'__ _ ____':.. • Guam (to """ I I I I I I I . \ '---------------" M ariana Is.....\ I . of French Indo-China ~ '" ~ ..0 0DI _ _~_ _ _ _ _~_~. ~::o ~. I a nd .. . Fiji A U S T R A L A \ New Caledo nia "0 1 3..a war fought primarily in the Pacific and south-east Asia and between Japan and western powers ..I . ......0 ~.. <at' n· ~. '-' So u th C hi na S ea /0~.. \ Gilbert Is...... established bases Manila. "~\..4.N \ \ \ ..'il'... \ \ \ \ \ \ \ " \ \ I w.:ake1s .. . I \ \ \ \ \ \ P AC I F I C OCE.': I . e W.~~ . 0> .'C a" t 0 . 0.._ . . but it was not the first part of this waro What Japan had dubbed a 'special undeclared war' had been in existence since July 1937 in the form of 'the China Incident' ° The major fighting in this conflict had taken place between July 1937 and November 1938 and had brought under Japanese control much of northern China and the Yangtse valley as far as .-~ "" . \ .l.. I I 5 Marshali is.. ~ . \ \ - \- . 0. But such chronological exactitude ignores the obvious: the Second World War in the Far East was not one war but two. > ~ in the northern ~art ._I 15 . \ \ \ \ 0' Saipan • U!J-._'<.~ l:.... .._ .

Nevertheless. and it is as real as the link between 1937 and 1941. the Japanese official histories of the Second World War begin not with 1941.THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST the Wuhan cities. but in September 1931. and if the path between 1931 and 1937 is both difficult and indirect no-one should doubt its existence. not even with 1937. The link between 1931 and 1937 cannot be gainsaid. Japan's subsequent inability to end this war by either military or political means bestowed a lingering legacy of open-ended commitment and alienation from the western powers. But to suggest that the situation of 1941 stemmed directly from 1931 would be contentious. This lay at the heart of the crisis of JulyNovember 1941 which was resolved by Japanese offensive operations against Britain and the United States. and would bestow upon events a determinism that contains paradox: few would deny such . with the invasion and occupation of three of Manchuria's four provinces.

do not adequately define the parameters of this war.THE ROAD TO WAR a link. 15 September 1894. most people would see the 1931-1937-1941 or Manchuria-China-Pacific relationship as only one of many factors that were at work in the making of a conflict between 1941 and 1945 that was fought on land over 60 degrees of latitude and the sinking of Japanese warships over 218 degrees of longitude. securing Port Arthur and Wei-hei-wei. but few would accept a linear cause-and-effect relationship between the two sets of events. is beset with problems: the western terms of reference. most certainly not for the Japanese. 25 . 1941-5. Contemporary woodcut depicting the diversionary attack of 11th and 21st Infantry Regiments of Major General Oshima's Mixed Brigade across the pontoon bridge over the Taedong during the battle for Pyongyang. Jap anese success here and in the naval battle at the mouth of the Yalu on the 17th ended serious Chinese resistance in Korea: thereafter the Japanese took the war into China. and even less so for the Chinese whose (conservatively estimated) 13 million dead exceeded the combined number of fatalities incurred by all the other parties to this conflict. In any event. therefore. Historical accuracy demands full and proper acknowledgement of the Asian dimension of this war. The definition of this struggle.

Where was the start line. crossed unknowingly by all concerned. The date is 1868 and the set of events is the end of the shogunate. Japan accepted the reality of western intrusion and set about the adoption of western technology and systems in order to secure for herself a place in the international order that accorded with national mythology and ethic. The United States conceded the principle of Philippine independence in 1934: the fla g of the new commonwealth was publicly displayed for the first time at this parade. though there is one set of events and one date that. with its . in the process that was to lead to such a terrible conflagration throughout eastern and south-east Asia and the Pacific in the second quarter of the twentieth century? There is no obvious answer to this question. helps to explain the events of the 1930s and 1940s. such an answer. and it is here one encounters numerous difficulties in seeking to trace the road to war. the Meiji Restoration. when after centuries of self-imposed and all but total exclusion from the rest of the world.THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST Seemingly not too much to celebrate: the parade of 15 November 1935 to mark the visit of the US Secretary of State George Dern and the passing of the power of autonomy to the Philippines. however. Clearly. perhaps more than most.

by a very large margin. Japan.THE ROAD TO WAR implication of a determinism spread over seven decades. to the international community. was the least organized of the major combatants of the Second World War. even if these in their turn can trace back . is likely to provoke a few questions of its own. One cannot identify the road to war without acknowledging the significance of 1868 and what Japan brought with her. yet in one very obvious sense the arrangements that Japan crafted for herself at this time were critical in one aspect of her conduct of war in the period 1937-45. Yet one would suggest that other events and dates. The incoherence of the Japanese decision-making process in very large measure stemmed from the system of government adopted in the Meiji era. in terms of governmental organization and attitude. and when one notes the competition for such a title that achievement is awesome.

Perhaps the most obvious of these was the Washington Conference of 1921-2 when. With the American acquisition of empire in the Far East. But in 1934 the United States conceded the principle of independence for the Philippines and therefore 1898. the element of political distance that could have enabled Japan and the United States to resolve differences by means other than war was lessened. But if one examines American-Japanese estrangement as critical in the process that was to lead to war. In a sense this was merely an official acknowledgement of a process that was already some fifteen years old . albeit in a way that imposed limitations on their naval forces. then the American acquisition of the Philippines in 1898 is clearly important. During that time Japan had identified the US as the 'budgetary enemy' with a defence expenditure that she would be obliged to shadow. represent more obvious and pertinent points of departure in the process of examining the road to war. Likewise. For a similar period. can explain only one part of a process of emerging hostility that paved the way for general war.T HE SE C O N D WO RLD WA R I N THE E AS T their origins to 1868 and the new Japan. like any date or set of events. Japan and the United States measured themselves against one another directly. US naval planning had devoted inordinate attention to the prosecution of a war in the Pacific against Japan. since it brought the very different American and Japanese interests into relief for the first time. the events and dates that mark the Japanese acquisition of empire . for the first time.

explanation: Japan's war with China in 1894. the narrative may possess a cleverness and plausibility that is as misplaced as it is irritating.did lie at the heart of American policy in the period before 1941. and when she re-appeared she did so in an ideological garb that ensured Japanese enmity. the narrative merely recounts on the basis of events of which the reader may not be aware. that all knowledge is imperfect. as an area in which she had a very special and disinterested role. the war with Russia. and if these concerns stemmed from a somewhat ethnocentric view and a role in the world that was self-inflicted. though the responsibilities that were attached were never very evident in the various crises of the 1930s. the First World War brought Japan a local supremacy in the Far East that was all but unchallengeable except by full-scale war. second.a special American interest in the Far East that could not be negotiated away . subject to the caveat that no single account can provide comprehensive explanation. specifically China. then she was not alone among the great powers in harbouring such beliefs and sentiments regarding her own worth. The consequences of the First World War were many and profound in the Far East. The various European powers were removed entirely or their positions. the basis of this self-imposed burden . therefore. In effect. in effect. in seeking to explai n. However. . The last ship in the line appears to be a member of the Shikishima class. and the action depicted is probably that on 9 February 1904 when Japanese warships bombarded Port Arthur rather than the fleet action of 13 April. not least in removing from the area powers and influences critical in shaping the affairs of the region over the previous seventy or eighty years.THE ROAD TO WAR in the Far East can provide only similar.errors and omissions excepted. Her belief in American values as having universal relevance. specifically their military positions. and to make choices. and to seek to explain properly and in full from a given perspective. Peace after 1919 Contemporary Japanes e representation of the battle fleet in action during the Russo-Japanese war. but none the less real. was unsought. was eliminated as a power in the Far East for at least a decade. There are two sets of events that are critical factors on Japan's path to war: the First World War. to stop. Russia. It behoves the writer. Therefore one looks to two sets of events wherein lie the origins of the Second World War in the Far East . the rapprochement with Russia in 1910 that resulted in the division of Manchuria into spheres of influence inimical to American interests and wishes. and the economic depression of the 1930s. partial. The United States viewed the Far East. were gravely compromised. The problems that associate themselves with such a line of enquiry as conducted in the preceding paragraphs are twofold and obvious: first. 1904-5. specifically with respect to a somewhat bemused China.

disintegration and civil war with single-minded determination. as local warlords created private domains for themselves and the country very literally fell apart under the impact of a series of civil wars. so Japan's position was strengthened still further. The elimination of any power that might check Japan in the Far East after 1914 left her in a position of potentially overwhelming advantage. as China's divisions deepened.THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST confirmed this position when Japan acquired German concessions in China and colonial possessions in the Pacific north of the Equator. set about the process of collapse. China's difficulties presented a Japan intent on establishing her leadership of eastern Asia and crafting for herself a position of pre-eminence within China with the dilemmas of choice. Other than various operations in 1914 that resulted in the elimination of Germany's holdings in the Far East and the Pacific. though at a price. Moreover. The incoherence of the Japanese decisionmaking process combined with three sets of influences and resulted in an inability to devise.- 30 . At the same time the distraction of the great powers during 1914-18 provided Japan with opportunity. Japan was spared the cost of war. No less importantly. The first of these influences was the belief in Japanese national uniqueness. plus the deployment of light naval forces to the eastern Mediterranean in 1917.. specifically in dealing with a China that in 1911-12 divested herself of her imperial identity and that. implement and supervise any single consistent line of action towards China. The fact that Japan overplayed her hand in 1915 with the infamous 'Twenty-One Demands' by which she sought to establish herself as China's overlord did not affect the situation one way or another. In 1915 her main demands were deflected by the efforts of her allies and a neutral United States. after 1916. but the concessions that she none the less obtained were very substantial and provided her with a considerable position of privilege and power relative to China. the First World War strengthened Japan immeasurably in terms of trade and industry since the appetite of her allies meant that she emerged from this war as a credit nation with an industrial base and a merchant marine far greater than she could ever have acquired by normal processes. and a mythology that stressed a heaven-granted mandate to assume the leadership .

problem: which. Tn the harbour lie (left to right) the battleship Pobyeda. The third was an inordinate concern with the physical occupation of space as the basis of national security: for japan there could be no question of security ever being provided by an agreed border between friendly neighbours. the position of japan's influence in China . yet a certain Japanese officers look over the harbour at Port Arthur after the fall of the fortress and naval base on 15 January 1905. The second was a view of Manchuria and northern China as natural areas of economic interest for japan in terms of investment.THE ROAD TO WAR of eastern Asia. of the various warring parties in China should be supported.indeed the position of privilege of all the powers in China . and in a sense more immediate. the protected cruiser Pallada (both sunk on 7 December) and the battleship Retvizan (sunk 6 December 1904). To this was attached a second. markets and colonization. if any. With the onset of China's civil wars and fragmentation came a basic need for japan to define one thing: whether or not her interests in China were best served by Chinese weakness and division. and for what purpose. raw materials. On the one side. 31 .was dependent on Chinese weakness.

specifically to japan. or to seek to encourage fragmentation. The two world wars have been described as the mountain ranges of twentieth-century history and. Thus in China's civil wars an irresolute japan was caught between conflicting choices. the hardship imposed by the 32 . racked by corruption and inefficiency and lacking the advanced skills of a sophisticated capitalist economy. to share control of resources: japanese ideas of leadership and co-operation were very clear in terms of leader and led. without disputing this. The second set of events critical to the origins of the Second World War in the Far East was the impact of the Great Depression that followed in the wake of the Wall Street Crash of October 1929. namely the economic devastation caused by the Depression which struck japan (a relatively 'young' industrial nation) early. the rise of anti-democratic and authoritarian sentiments with which japan identified herself in terms of her choice of European associates. In the process they learnt a lesson of local initiative. while japanese military forces in Manchuria and various parts of northern and central China reacted locally and with no clear guidance. In relating the Great Depression to the Far East. Certainly the rise of Hitler. that was to have disastrous consequences in the 1930s. one would add the obvious rider. three matters need be noted.THE SE C OND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST stability and order had to be maintained as a guarantee of privilege. were the direct products of the Great Depression. For japan there was the basic choice of whether to seek to preserve central government as the basis of future co-operation. and the twin urges for autarky and expansion as the means of resolving the financial.her own . But underlying this basic problem was an inescapable reality: the position of leadership that japan assigned for herself in eastern Asia precluded genuine co-operation on the basis of equality with any other authority. and the general emergence of totalitarian tendencies in Europe in the course of the 1930s. and to rely upon local influences and japanese force in order to sustain japan's interests and investments. so she could not accept Chinese nationalist resurgence as the basis of future co-operation lest it become directed against herself. and the Great Depression was arguably as important in shaping the history of the twentieth century as the two world wars. And to this there was added another problem: japan sought physical control of resources as the best means of ensuring their availability. which permitted no repudiation on the part of nominal authorities in Tokyo. Mountain ridges are separated by low ground. In the case of japan .but not the force of nationalism of any of her Asian neighbours. as was (at least in part) the enfeeblement of the Democracies in the face of the challenge presented by the new authoritarian ·states. At the heart of this dilemma was a force of nationalism that produced inconsistency: japan recognized the force of nationalism . There was no question for the japanese of allowing a relatively backward China. And just as in Korea she had ruthlessly suppressed Korean nationalist aspirations. industrial and economic crises wrought by the Depression.

However. 'Government-by-assassination' was both personal and physical. and to a lesser extent in the 1920s. became nothing more than a condemned man under sentence. At work within the military in the 1930s. and was the direct response to the desperation that gripped the home islands in the wake of the Depression. but because these features were understood and observed by the closely-knit associates who ruled Japanese society. under the impact of recession. the armed services were able to reduce government and hence national policy to a position of dependence upon their own will. By the 1930s these men had passed from the scene and. nor does it acknowledge that the armed services worked to very different agendas and pursued aims that were as often as not diametrically opposed to one another. had been observed not because these were institutionalized or incorporated into the body politic. In the course of the 1930s the services demonstrated an ever-increasing willingness to use what amounted to the power of veto in their own interests. The constitution provided for service ministers who were serving officers. a somewhat delicate bloom in even the most benevolent times in Japan. the Japanese army of occupation in southern Manchuria. the principle of civilian primacy. The obvious failure of economic liberalism served to discredit political liberalism. The initiative for this campaign came not from the government. but from the Kwantung Army. and by refusing to appoint ministers or by the threat or reality of resignation. but more importantly. these principles suffered the same fate. was what can only be described as a culture of insubordination. with regard to government and within the services themselves. amounted to a death sentence for political liberalism in Japan. and under the impact of the Depression.THE ROAD TO WAR Depression bore heavily both upon the countryside and upon an army very conscious of rural distress in the home islands. factions within the services identified their own aims and 33 . No less importantly. under the impact of events. it neither explains why this happened. In the Japan that emerged from centuries of self-exclusion. and the widespread and fanatical support within Japan that the conquest of Manchuria created. The means by which government was reduced to a position of impotence relative to the armed services was simple. a result of the structure of the state as arranged in the Meiji era. the subordination of the military to the political and the principle of denial of systematic opposition. representative and responsible government. and over the next five years 'government-by-assassination' established itself as successive governments fell and a number of senior politicians were assassinated. The inability of the government to control the Kwantung Army. it was also institutional. as government was reduced to a position of minor inter pares relative to the army and the navy. These products of the Depression began to come together with the Manchurian campaign of September 1931 to March 1932. The simplicity of this statement belies the complexity of the events that witnessed and resulted in a process whereby the armed forces came to dominate the affairs of state.

since the gekokujo phenomenon was to involve the dictation of policy 34 . but with one result: the devising of national policy.'I must follow them because I am their leader' .TH E SECON D WORLD WA R IN TH E EAS T intentions with those of their service and the state: in a process of transposition that all but defies belief. The indiscipline within the two servlCes recalls Lamartine's famous comment on seeing a mob in the street . the armed services effectively reduced state and society to positions of subordination to themselves. and their proper subordination to government. became all but impossible. The natural bonds of discipline that should have ensured order and obedience within the army and navy. dissolved for different reasons and to different ends within the two services. and the ordering of national priorities.

but there was an addi tional dimension to the navy's waywardness. positions inside the Wall and co ntrol of the sea m eant that the Great Wall form ed no real obstacle to an advance and had no real strategic significance by July 1937. 35 . therefore. and only agreed to accept the London treaty on condition that future limitation would be resisted. The principle established at Washington in 1922 and restated at London in 1930 was bitterly resisted for professional reasons as well as being a reflection of nationalist patriotic resentment. The period of fratricidal strife within the army and simultaneously increasing military encroachment on the policy-making process was notable for three developments that led to war itself. with all that that entailed for relations between the two countries. These were the army's negotiation of the Anti-Comintern Pact with Germany and Italy in November 1936. The navy's attitude. As the junior service.T H E ROA D TO WA R by juniors to those ostensibly in superior command. In the navy this was built around resistance to naval limitation. Jap anese encroachments over the previous fiv e years. but arguably it was Obviously for public consumption and symbolic value: machine-gun position of the Chinese 8th Army on the Great Wall. the navy was very conscious of its weakness in relation to the army and it was also very well aware of its institutional and budgetary vulnerability should the army secure unchallenged control of the political process. but in one sense this was predictable: the issues between factions within the army centred upon the state itself. ensured that after 1936 Japan was certain to cast aside the security afforded by restrictions placed upon American naval construction. Obviously the first and third of these developments possessed singular significance. the institution of the Miyazaki Plan of 1936-7 that involved the expansion of heavy industry with a view to enabling Japan to wage total war for three years. and the start of Japan's 'special undeclared war' with China. divisions ran deeper and were even more bitterly fought than in the navy. the control of society and the direction of the nation's foreign policy. The navy believed that Japan had been afforded second-class status in relation to Britain and the US. Within the army.

specifically China's attempts after December 1936 to resolve her civil wars in order to present a united front to future Japanese aggression. amid scenes of mass murder. Japanese operations quickly assumed their own momentum. torture and pillage. not least the paucity of Japanese forces in northern China. It was in central China. Within four months of the outbreak of general war. Within the Japanese high command. however.had been overrun. In reality. In the course of 1938 Japanese forces in northern China cleared Shansi and Shantung and advanced to the Pinglu-Kaifeng-Hsuchow-Taierhchwang line. In the aftermath of the clash of July 1937 the Japanese. rape. and with the spread of war. and the inability of Tokyo either to contain the conflict or to end it by negotiation. primarily to rescue the naval formations which had provoked the August clash in an attempt to ensure that the army did not steal a march on its sister service in matters Chinese. there were elements that sought to forestall such a development. After overrunning Manchuria in 1931-2 the Japanese had set about a deliberate encroachment on Chinese territory: Jehol was invaded and occupied in January-February 1933 and the Chinese squeezed from Hopei in June 1935 and from Charar in the following month. What was far more significant was the outbreak of war in China following a clash between Chinese and Japanese forces outside Peking on 7 July 1937. by their standards. were restrained.considered by some of the Japanese military to be the minimum sphere of influence that was acceptable . that the main story unfolded. while from their positions on the lower Yangtse the Japanese were able to develop offensives that cleared Anhwei north of the river and moved into the . in December. confining themselves to the occupation of Tientsin and Peking. deeper forces were at work in producing Japan's 'special undeclared war' with China. but in the event this need not have been significant. The significance of Japan's association with Germany and Italy was not missed. therefore. but in the event the determination of the Kwantung Army in Manchuria to further its ambitions in Inner Mongolia and the outbreak of fighting in Shanghai on 13 August pushed Japan towards general war: by the end of September the Japanese Army had dispatched ten divisions to northern China and another five to Shanghai.THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST the vanous unsought consequences of the second that proved the most significant milestone along the road to war. specifically the Japanese capture of Shanghai in November and Nanking. the Kwantung Army had secured Inner Mongolia and installed a puppet regime at Kueisui while by the end of 1937 much of China north of the Yellow River . Japan's ever-closer identification with Germany and Italy in the course of the 1930s was of symbolic rather than practical value: Japan's hope that the Treaty would serve to check the Soviet Union was to prove stillborn. There was good and obvious reason for such restraint. At first this encounter did not seem unduly important: there was every possibility that it could be resolved by the Japanese in exactly the same way that numerous incidents in northern China had been resolved over the four previous years.

Moreover. 1 July 1938. They also faced the related problem of whether to sponsor rival regimes in an attempt to put pressure on the Nationalists to come to a settlement.THE ROAD TO WAR Wuhan cities. and certainly never understood any force of nationalist aspiration other than her own. the Chinese having ceded the middle Yangtse in order to withdraw into the fastness of Kweichow and Hunan. the field merely confirmed the truth of the Clausewitzian observation that it is easy to conquer but hard to occupy. With the simultaneous seizure of Canton. and for obvious reason: the basic dilemmas which had proved so intractable during the Chinese civil wars of the 1920s presented themselves anew. as the Soviet Army demonstrated one year later. Japan did not embark upon the conquest of northern and central China in order to provide alternatives to her own rule: Japan sought to secure the power of decision exclusively for herself. Honan province. or as genuine alternatives to the Nationalist government in Chungking. while by the 37 . success 111 The old and the new: the Japanese capture of Hsiichow. Representation of a light tank invites the suggestion that it was the only tank available to the Japanese in this operation: the fact was that the Imperial Army was wholly under-invested in armour and mechanized-motorized forces. The Japanese were confronted by the basic question of whether to seek to destroy the Nationalist regime of Chiang Kai-shek or to preserve it as the only authority that might deliver a negotiated settlement. But either and both of these sets of alternatives concealed the real problem. yet it represented failure. In the vastness of China it was impossible to force a military victory. Japanese success in the course of 1938 was impressive.

The first such employment of air power came as ea rl y as August 1937. With the Nationalists having opted for 'a sustained strategy of attrition' that in the end the Japanese could never counter. which in turn presented another conundrum: whether operations in China were to be curtailed in order to ensure the sec urity of Manchuria or developed without reference to the distinct possibility of further. in 1915.THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST A sign of change: Japanese troops disembarking at the Shanghai bund. beginning of 1938 guerrilla warfare had taken hold in many areas nominally under Japanese control.the Japanese launched their first attacks o n Chun gking. 9 . In such a situation. Nakajima Chikuhei. Kweichow and Yunn a n. 1938 also saw clashes with the Soviets. serious clashes with the Soviet Union. in May 193. but interestingly the first person to have committed to paper the idea of breaking an enemy's will to resist by a bombing campaign directed against a civilian population was a J apa nese naval officer. for long the physical manifestation of western power in China. and unabl e to force battle upon the Chinese Nationalist armies 111 the wastes of Szechwan. even as banditry revived insid e Manchuria as a result of the reduction of the Japanese garrisons in order to provide for operations in China. specifically strategic bombing. Mitchell and Trenchard are always paraded as the high priests of air power. the Japanese undertook the first strategic air campaign in history. Douhet. and in summer 1938 the Japanese undertook a terror bombin g campaign against Canton. in November 1937 in readiness for the move against Soochow (aba ndoned by the Chinese on the 19th) and thence against Nanking.

Moreover. a systematic campaign against Chinese cities in the interior. the Japanese were to find that the effectiveness of their raids was directly dependent upon fighters first having secured air superiority: before August 1940 and the commitment of the A6M Zero-sen long-range fighter to the battle.the total effort involved in Operation 101 was less in terms of aircraft sorties and bomb load than those directed against Dresden in February 1945 . with a view to breaking Chinese morale. this last-resort option failed.THE ROAD TO WAR In spnng-summer 1940. Representation of the Japanese entry into Nanking. but this was a halting affair as Japanese naval aircraft were in the process of being withdrawn from China in readiness for operations in south-east Asia and the Pacific. were all but razed. critically. Chinese cities. With their populations either driven out or underground. as it had been since 1937. but it did not break. The army and navy air forces were not able to record a result that the Japanese military could not achieve on the ground. were peculiarly vulnerable to bombing. in spring-summer 1941. most obviously Chungking. although not the ones that the Japanese sought. Chinese morale faltered under the initial blows. allegedly in November 1937. primarily Chungking. As it was. however. The two offensives produced interesting results. and the China war remained thereafter. A year later. In reality. both Operation 101 and Operation 102 were conducted on a scale that was too small to have realistic chances of success . Japanese forces occupied the city on 13 December and subjected its inhabitants to infamous treatment that still casts its shadow in both China and Japan to the present time. the Japanese renewed their attempt with Operation 102. and a number of them.and. on account of their massive concentrations of people and generally flimsy construction. 39 . unwinnable by military means. Japanese losses were all but prohibitive. the Japanese launched Operation 101.

Comprehensive defeat. specifically within the army. to wait upon events. and in the middle of these proceedings Germany chose to conclude a nonaggression pact with the Soviets preparatory to her attack on Poland and the start of general war in Europe. disillusionment with Germany. and Japan's adherence to the Tripartite Pact followed in September 1940. Moreover. given Europe's movement towards war. and the congestion of shipyards imposed massive delays on the completion of even the most important fleet units. her holdings on the mainland and resultant pattern of trade had the effect of warping her trade balances. but that the limitations of her shipyards had a triple consequence: she could not meet the demands of naval and merchant shipping programmes simultaneously. such credit was increasingly scarce and expensive. The idea of developing heavy industry and the resources of Manchuria and northern China in order to ensure self-sufficiency had the twin results of restricting merchant fleet development by ensuring its concentration on short-haul trade and increasing Japanese dependence on foreign finished products and credits without which major plant development was not possible. the demands of building meant that Japan could not undertake the rate of maintenance needed to keep the merchant fleet fully operational. In spring 1940 one set of uncertainties ended: Germany's victory over the Democracies rekindled admiration and support for the Reich within Japan. but the credits that she earned by a ruthless manipulation of exchange rates could not provide the hard cash she needed in order to pay for her real needs . even though her basic problems remained unresolved. the China war in effect wrecked the Miyazaki Plan: Japan could have her plan or her war. and a new-found respect for the Democracies that at last showed the will to resist Hitler. By this action Japan committed herself irreversibly to the new order that was in the process of reshaping the international community. at least not on a scale sufficient for her requirements. in the summer of 1939 Japanese forces in Mongolia were quite literally taken apart by their Soviet opposite numbers in battle at Nomonhan.THE SE C O N D WORLD WA R IN THE EAST No less seriously. But by 1938 Japanese industrial ambitions were beginning to fall apart in any case. caused a chastened Japan to make for the sidelines after September 1939. but not both. It was not that Japan could not fulfil her own programme.the purchase of industrial goods and raw materials from the outside world . by 1939 another problem was emerging in the form of the naval rearmament programme initiated in 1937 with the ending of limitation treaties.and Japan could not afford the investment essential to develop her own resources and those of her conquered territories. as was the foreign shipping required to carry the raw materials that Japan needed for her very existence. By 1939. By 1939 something like 75-80 per cent of all Japanese trade was directed to her so-called partners within the newly created 'Yen Bloc'. and perhaps this was . Moreover. What made Japan's position even worse was the fact that while the China war cost a staggering $5 million a day. and in 1937-8 of more immediate importance.

a process that needed eighteen months to implement. the European colonial empires' first line of defence in south-east Asia. that while the American rearmament programme was provoked by the German victory in north-west Europe. And as the Imperial Navy checked its sums one matter was clear: with the provisions of its 1937 construction programme more or less complete by the end of 1941 and the Americans at least two or three years from the completion of the first major fleet units authorized by the TwoOcean Act. and the overwhelming likelihood of Britain's defeat and surrender. simply. one fact is obvious: the Imperial Navy could not remain at full mobilization if only because of the massive inroads made into the strength of a merchant fleet already inadequate to the task of fulfilling national import requirements. In June 1940 the Imperial Navy reacted to American shipbuilding by ordering full mobilization. forced the US to look to her own defences with the result that Congress authorized a building programme on such a scale that all other navies would be reduced to positions of impotent irrelevance by the time it was completed. But in reality two other matters arising from the events of June-July 1940 contributed in full to this process. in December 1941 the Imperial Japanese Navy possessed clear superiority of numbers in every type of fleet unit over the US Pacific and Asiatic fleets. The Maginot Line had been the first line of defence of both France and French Indo-China. The fact of the matter was. what was to follow (the conclusion of a nonaggression treaty with the Soviet Union in April 1941. a destroyer. Within weeks of the French defeat. in the form of French Indo-China. The short-term implication of this development was largely lost upon the United States. the decision to occupy French Indo-China even at the risk of a breach with the United States. but it had also been the first line of defence of the United States.THE ROAD TO WAR inevitable: the defeat of France in spring 1940 removed. The first is well known: the passing of the Two-Ocean Naval Expansion Act by the US Congress. In a very obvious sense. Nor has there ever been a full account of the eighteen-month refitting and modernization programme which left just one single ship. But if the Imperial Navy's 1940 expectations have never been properly explained. thus providing Japan with maximum temptation with apparently little risk to herself. In so doing Japan initiated a process that was to end one year later with the crisis that provoked general war throughout the Pacific and south-east Asia in December 1941. it also marked the point when the United States in effect picked up the challenge that Japan had presented over the previous decade. but not upon the Imperial Japanese Navy. What in June 1940 the Imperial Navy expected to happen in December 1941 or thereabouts has never been fully explained. not in service on 7 December 1941. the . Indeed. at the end of 1941 the Imperial Navy would stand at the peak of its strength relative to the United States. The fall of France. Japan had forced the French authorities in Indo-China and the British in Burma to close down supply routes to the Chungking regime. and herein lies the second matter.

namely the march of events and irrationality. one war in 1937 and another in 1941. and the discriminatory trade practices adopted by that country against Japan in the course of the 1930s. resources and military strength as Japan and the United States very seldom fight one another. In setting out the story of the road to war.THE S EC O N D WORLD WAR IN TH E EAST occupation of Indo-China and the American imposition of sanctions. It is certainly possible to see the Japanese choice of 'go-now-or-never' in terms of a decision dictated by circumstances: no less certainly. It has followed Japanese decisions and actions. this chapter has sought to explain rather than describe events. The idea of the inevitability of war between Japan and the United States pervaded the whole of the inter-war period. and it does not explain the one point about what happened. and it has done so on the basis that the road to war was primarily marked by milestones bearing kanji not Roman script. written in. Certainly the contribution of the United States to the process of alienation was very real. The second weakness is one that besets the writing of hi story : an inability on the part of the historian to take proper account of two phenomena. It does not follow. it is possible to portray the decision for war in . and even more rarely do they fight wars initiated by the weaker side. Admittedly. and while one hopes that such a charge cannot be levelled at this particular work one would note that these two commodities were present in full measure in the events leading to the Second World War in the Far East. In the process. or lack of action. if not before. shaped and directed events. June 1940. more than any other factor. population size. Of course some historical works have left themselves open to the charge that they have provided more than a little evidence of the latter. and certainly the events of 1940-41 seem to have acquired their own momentum. In summer 1941 the Japanese leadership accepted the prospect of war with the United States as the price of a move against British and Dutch possessions in south-east Asia. however. States as mismatched in terms of area. But the basic historiographical point is correct: the story of the drift to war is best related in terms of Japan's power of decision which. that their actions. that other powers were merely passive onlookers. the futility of subsequent American-Japanese diplomatic negotiations and Japan's final decision for war) represents the final playing-out of a script. most obviously in terms of the racist denigration to which Japan was subjected within the United States. this interpretation of events is something of a simplification. and thereby embarked upon a war with the only power in the world that could defeat Japan. The process whereby Japan induced war in December 1941 has all the hallmarks of a national kamikaze effort and provokes incredulity matched only by the detail of the process and Japan's final decision. did not contribute to the denouement of 1941: the estrangement of Japan and past associates involved a journey on a two-way not one-way street. Japan provided the United States with a casus belli that she could never have provided for herself. But in so doing it has incorporated two weaknesses.

not America's. though perhaps a better term might be either misplaced hope or wishful thinking. Why was it that in 1941 the Japanese undertook no new drilling for oil either in the home islands or in any of their overseas possessions? And what significance attaches itself to the fact that even without the American trade embargo of July 1941 Japan would have exhausted her currency reserves in spring 1942 and would have been unable to continue to trade after that time? Clearly.China in summer 1941 represented the ne plus ultra for Washington: the imposition of sanctions initiated the process that led to general war in December at a time of japan's.THE ROAD TO WAR autumn 1941 as one forced upon the Japanese high command. after all the care and money lavished upon it. Herein. the line of argument that places momentum or inevitability of events at the heart of explanation cannot provide all the answers have to to the questions that be asked about these developments. The American demands in summer 1941 for a withdrawal of Japanese forces from Indo-China. if indeed anyone in Japan would have fought for a government that was prepared to accept such humiliation. to admit its powerlessness in face of the TwoOcean Naval Expansion Act. or to accept that its demands for an end of naval to limitation had resulted in its inability resist relegation to second or third class The prelude to war: japanese soldiers outside Saigon in October 1941. Moreover. choosing. which must have some validity. Thus one turns to irrationality for explanation. in the crisis of summer 1941 it was impossible for the Imperial Navy. perhaps. China and Manchuria as the price of a resumption of normal trade was an impossible one for the Japanese high command. and acceptance would have triggered civil war. lies 43 . japan 's occupation of southern Indo. invites two questions. Yet this line of argument. status.

and projections of oil production estimates were altered to prove it. did not understand the nature of war. is a perspective of the time that has been lost when set against the reality of American national power over the last six decades. Second. specifically the nature of the war that it bega n in 1941.C LASS FLEET DESTROYER lnazuma 2 . It did not understand the -difference between war and a war. specifically the navy. arranging hard evidence to wish away reality and to support conclusions based upon hope. Its aims had never been realized and originally it had set provision for a war with the Soviet Union . could not envisage failure. Third. TH E KONGO-CLASS FAST BATTL ES HIP Kirishima 6. at least partial explanation. THE ATAGO-CLASS H EAVY C RUI SER Takao explanation. And in this process explanation. and mandated by H eaven to assume its proper place in the world. has arranged its affairs in a manner and to an end not dissimilar to that of Japan in the period under consideration. but by 1941 it had become an article of faith within the Japanese high command that the country could sustain a total war for three years against the United States. a nation with no experience of defeat over a history that reached back over thousands of years could not imagine defeat: a people that believed itself to be protected and ruled by the gods.THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N T H E EAST 1. The world has become familiar with this power. the nation's affairs in the 1930s consisted of individuals no more gifted or stupid than those of other national leaderships. The first. a power that did not exist in 1941. for what would otherwise be incomprehensible might exist in the shape of four sets of circumstances. and every nation. T H E SHUMUSHU . or misguided. But certainly the Japanese leadership in 1940-41 was thoroughly mendacious in terms of its 'situating the appreciation'. THE AKATSUK I. between a war and a 44 . particularly in relation to the Miyazaki Plan.CLASS GENERA L-PURPOSE Shumushu 5. The Japanese leadership that guided. and by far the most important. at some time or another. the Japanese military. even if to not so rapid and so disastrous a conclusion as the one achieved by Tokyo.

The Takao: ten 8-inch guns. an obsession that over time obscured the distinction between battle and the other elements that relate to the nature and conduct of war. And here lies the basis of the fourth and last matter: the Imperial Navy. --~. All its attention was geared to battle. knew that it could not defeat the Americans. ":.. ~ ' : i '''' --I:O ~ i . 45 .' .--.-i. 3.~n=. but hoped that its success in battle would ultimately be translated into American acceptance of a new arrangement to Japanese advantage..-::i..as well as a maritime war in defence of shipping. was very far from obvious in the opening weeks of the war which Japan initiated with her attack on the US Pacific Fleet at its base at Pearl H arbor on the morning of Sunday.. one f/oatplane.5-inch gun.. 6. nine 24-inch torpedo tubes.THE ROAD TO WAR ' . the author has deliberately made no reference to one matter: the problem of block obsolescence. as a basic rule of thumb... The Atago: ten 8-inch guns. three aircraft.~... The Shumushu: three 4. At the outbreak of the Pacific war the Imperial Navy was owner of 111 destroyers. 1919 and 1920 programmes. and it did not understand that a war in the Pacific would involve a naval war .. 34 knots. but defeat in a total war in the Pacific. .. The In azu ma. after second reconstruction in 1936: eight 14-inch guns..~n 3. 8. Hope is a poor basis of a plan.. 30.··.-~ <·~!1ii'§-_ -''F -i-'' il. sixteen 24-inch torpedo tubes. eight 24-inch torpedo tubes.. however. between a campaign and a battle. The Kirishima : her pre1914 origins are revealed by the distinctive layout of her X and Y turrets.~. The Asagumo: six 5-inch DP guns. 7.between fleets and formations and endowed with an amphibious dimension ..p-:~. specifically the account of Japanese naval programmes..589 tons maximum displacement: six 21 -inch torpedo tubes. 38 knots. 1918. and such hope as the one that the Imperial Navy entertained was wholly unrealistic .E · i~-~'i. .iKfS::i~::i 1i_ ~~-.at least in retrospect .----e. THE REBU ILT KONGO-CLASS FAST BATTLESHIP Haruna.'~ .. "'i!-~ .. All this. THE ASASHIO-CLASS FLEET DESTROYER Asagumo 4. one 5.aHi . J APANESE WARSHIPS IN THE INTE RWAR PERIOD AFTERTHOUGHT In setting out this account..::. 5. 4.:. as rebuilt: six 5-inch guns. 2.. THE ATAGO-CLASS H EAVY CRUISER Atago 7.the twelve Minekazeclass members of the 1917. Of this total thirty . 7 December 1941. six depth charges.The 1-26: 2. The H aru na.5 knots. 1936 8.iii.because the basic premise was flawed : the terms of reference of a Pacific war were not Japan's to determine.7-inch guns. sixteen 24-inch torpedo tubes. three aircraft. three Momi-class members of the 1918 and 1920 programmes. seventeen torpedoes. six Wakatake-class members of the 1. THE TYPE B-1 CRU ISER-SUBMARINE 1-26 campaign. The alternative to Japan's victory in a limited war in the Pacific was not defeat in a limited war in the Pacific.. :c. .?-.

and.n Pacific situation December 1941. and its destroyers were superior in design and capabilities to their contemporaries in foreign service. by the least exacting standard. In this there was o bvious irony.the twelve members of the Mutsuki-class 1923 programme and nineteen surviving members of the Fubukiclass of the 1923. by 1940 the Imperial Navy was threatened with a massive erosion of its front line strength over the next few years. therefore.July 1942 Japanese empire Aircraft carrier attack on Pearl Harbor ~ I ) Colombo. D Chinese empire Japanese offensive operations Dec 1941 . the Imperial Navy had nineteen other ships drawn from pre-December 1921 classes in service.March 1942 Colonial possessions 1941 Approximate limit of D British (Commonwealth) United States Japanese advance July 1942 OCEA J Dutch French Portuguese 10 .possessed a similar pedigree reference December 1926. that for all its efforts in the inter-war period. A total of thirty-one destroyers . and nine members of the Kamikaze-class 1921 programme belonged to either complete classes or classes with lead ships laid down before or in December 1921. would have ameliorated but could not have forestalled a decline in rea l numbers: on completion these would have replaced units being phased out and would not have added to strength. But by 1940 the qualitative advantage enjoyed by each successive class was exhausted. It would appear. but these had been relegated to secondary or tertiary duties and did not serve as destroyers. anything before the Mutsuki and Fubuki classes Ma.the four members of the Akatsuki-class of the 1927 programme and the six units of the Hatsuharu-class of the 1931 programme .reference December 1931. 1926 and 1927 programmes . The twenty-eight-strong Yugumo class and the sixteen-strong Akizuki class. in part because of lack of numbers. I N DI AN c. Throughout the inter-war period the Imperial Navy so ught qualitative superiority to make good its lack of numbers.THE SE C OND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST 1921 programme. and ten units . Thus in December 1941 no fewer than seventy-one of the Imperial Navy's 111 destroyers were in the second half of their service lives. thirty units were at or even beyond their sell-by dates: lest this be doubted. ordered under the 1939 and 1941 programmes. and in part because of the pace of change in the 1930s. In real terms.

n . • 70 . but the author's inability to provide evidence of linkage on this score led to the argument not being employed in the account of proceedings given in this opening chapter. 0 .. were of marginal value by 1941.. ~ • Car" 0 SOUTH · SEAS DET.. [ . ~ I s I and s _ . H .THE ROAD T O WAR and an armament that included 24-inch torpedoes was of very limited usefulness. This long tail of ageing ships and Japan's declining strategic posmon.. Fiji New Caledonia A U S T R A L 130 0 A lSn on ~.. as members of the first class with this armament. Beginning with attacks across a distance of 6.r r •• •• C oral Sea t·. the Japanese offensives that opened the Pacific war were characterized by an impressive synchronization and economy of effort: in every sector the Japanese brought a LocaL superiority to bear and inflicted successive humiLiating defeats on their various enemies.. C H Chungking • \ xxxx • •.. and arguably the Mutsukis.-. The reality is noted herein. would seem to THE OPENING JAPANESE OFFENSIVES add extra measure to the 'go-now-or-never' thesis.000 miLes. . especially when set against the difficulties experienced with the 1939 programme and the provisions of the Two-Ocean Naval Expansion Act.. for what it is worth.

CHAPTER TWO
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••

••

THE FIRST MILESTONE: SUCCESS AND VICTORY
DECEMBER 1941 - APRIL 1942

a sailor in the water, the battleship West Virginia lies burning as token of Japanese success on 'the day of infamy'. In the company of two other battleships that were lost on 7 December 1941, she was raised and modernized to such effect that she fought in the Surigao Strait action during the battle of Leyte Gulf and off Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
WITH ONE BOAT RESCUING

THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST

THE FIRST MILESTONE: SUCCESS AND VICTORY

O

N 27 APRIL

r898 an American cruiser squadron sailed from Hong Kong and

four days later fought in Manila Bay an action that reached over sixteen

square miles and bought the United States an empire in the Far East. Between 7 December 1941 and 5 April 1942 Japanese forces conducted fleet operations over 58 degrees of latitude and 123 degrees of longitude, and in so doing inflicted upon four imperial powers defeats that were stunning in impact and, for the victor, incomplete in nature and disastrous in consequence. The story of the Pacific war can be told in a number of different ways, but inevitably must begin with the five months of Japanese triumph that resulted in the conquest of Burma, Malaya, the East Indies, Hong Kong and the Philippines and various island groups in the western-central Pacific. In this period the Japanese were able to secure the various outposts on which they intended to build a perimeter defence and on which the Imperial Navy intended to conduct a defensive war while drawing upon the riches of the 'southern resources area'. It was a four-month campaign with few, if any, parallels in history, both in terms of the scale and range of operations and the extent of conquest, and it was conducted by Japanese forces with only a bare margin of numerical superiority over their enemies. To defeat the single British divisions in Burma and Hong Kong, the two Dutch divisions in the Indies, the three British divisions in Malaya and Singapore and nominally four American divisions in the Philippines, the Imperial Army, after its commitments in Korea, Manchoutikuo, China, IndoChina, the home islands and in the Pacific were discounted, was able to free the
THEAKAGI

equivalent of just eleven divisions for offensive purposes. At sea the Imperial Navy possessed no significant margin of superiority over its intended prey other than in one single, crucial type of warship, the aircraft carrier, while the narrowness of the administrative margins on which Japanese forces were obliged to work can be gauged by the fact that something like 3.6 million tons of merchant shipping was all that was available to support military and naval undertakings. With shipping allowances for the transportation of troops set at five tons per man in the tropics and three tons elsewhere, the shipping requisitioned by the Imperial Army in readiness for the offensives in the south represented little more than minimum requirement. Japanese success in this opening phase of hostilities in south-east Asia and the Pacific was fairly bought in terms of planning and preparation. The

The fleet carrier Akagi. 41,300 tons (normal load); ninety-one aircraft, six 8-inch, twelve 4.7-inch and twenty-eight 25-mm guns, 31.25 knots. With the Kaga the mainstay of Japanese inter-war carrier aviation, the Akagi saw service in China, Pearl Harbor, Rabaul, Darwin, south of Java, Ceylon and finally Midway.

'50

D"

SUCCESS AND VI C TORY: D ECEM BER

1941 -

APRIL

1942

campa1gn that unfolded in south-east Asia and along the Malay Barrier was brilliantly conceived . Its opening operations were orchestrated across the International Date Line and no fewer than seven time zones, and almost possessed an aesthetic quality in terms of its synchronized, successive movements which were distinguished by impressive economy of effort. But Japanese success was also the product of other factors that were on the scales at this particular time. The Japanese chose when to begin hostilities, which gave their armed forces a potentially overwhelming advantage in terms of the initiative, and this single asset was compounded by three further benefits which were matched by Allied handicaps. With the start of hostilities the Japanese were endowed with the benefits that accrue to a concentrated attacker: Japan's enemies, in contrast, were divided by geography and everywhere were defensively dispersed; in virtually every theatre the Japanese possessed numerical advantage. The Japanese possessed the advantage of single-nation status: Japan's enemies were ill-assorted, the co-operation between them halting and ineffective, and their difference of interest very marked. Japanese forces were very well trained and equipped, especially in the air: Allied forces, particularly in south-east Asia, were, at very best, of somewhat uneven quality. To these Japanese advantages must be added another: the element of surprise which, in this first phase of operations, took several forms . The American and British high commands had never contemplated a Japanese ability to move across the whole of the Pacific and its adjoining seas from Pearl Harbor to the Gulf of Siam ·in a single opening offensive, and seriously underestimated the quality of the forces and the equipment with which they found themselves at war.
THE JAPANESE TRIUMPH
Vice Admiral Nagumo Chuichi. In some four months the commander of a carrier strike force that attacked Pearl Harbor, Darwin in Australia and Ceylon: in another six months he was largely discredited as a result of failures at Midway, Eastern Solomons and Santa Cruz.

The first Japanese moves in a war that was to last forty-five months involved two operations separated by 6,000 miles, namely landings by formations of the 25th Army in southern Siam and northern Malaya in the early hours of 8 December and, some thirty minutes later (across the International Date Line), on the morning of 7 December, the attack by carrier aircraft on the US Pacific fleet at its base in Pearl Harbor. The latter, involving six fleet carriers and 460 aircraft, resulted in the destruction or crippling of eighteen US warships, including five battleships, and here, for a world still accustomed to measuring naval power
111

terms

of

dreadnoughts,

lay

the

immediate impact of the Japanese attack. In fact the real significance of this attack was not in what
51

southern France. fwo Jima and Okinawa. .50 am: attack run ordered 7. seeking the main channel: luckily she was not sunk so did not block the harbour. raised and updated and fought off Normandy.40 am: first attack wave (190 aircraft) arrive off Kahuku Point RIGHT : American survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor have testified that one of the most inspiring sights was the Nevada.THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST PEARL HARBOR First wave attack 7 December 1941. 7. the only American battleship to get under way. She was run aground.

SUCCESS AND V I CTORY: DECEMBER 194 1 .APR IL 1942 Fighter attacks on airfields. 53 .

57 am: arrack run o rd ered 9.00 am: US B-17 arr ives over Oahu and is attacked by Zero fighters. the B-1? survives 54 .THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST PEARL HARBOR Second wave attack 7 December 1941.00 am: smoke from fires started after firs( attack and anti- 8. 9.

APRIL 1942 8.57 a m: fighters ~ma c k Bellows Field 8.55 am: 54 ho ri zontal bombers cross Koolau 55 .SUCCESS AND V ICTORY: DECEMBER 1941 .55 am : 81 dive· bo mbers ordered to attack 8.40 a m: 171 aircraft of second wave ordered to dep loy 8.

55 am : 139 Va l di ve bo mbers atcack vario lls loca rio ns dropping 450 plu s Asia effort had prompted the Imperial Navy's refusal to consider a landing in the Hawaiian Islands in order to occupy the only possible base for an American effort into the western Pacific: this ordering of priorities was recognized as an error almost as soon as the Pearl Harbor operation came to an end. Though the Bismarck chase in the North Atlantic of May 1941 had involved three carriers. could only end in either total victory or total defeat. landings at her ports on the Kra Isthmus from which Japanese formations were to advance into northern Malaya. up to where day was ready to dawn. ~~~ --------------------------8.' CAPTAIN MITSUO FUCHIDA. The conduct? of amphibious operations that reached back to the SinoJapanese w r ad equipped Japan with a doctrine that sought out weakness. 7.05 a m: 64 level bombers d rop 360 plus bom bs on main anch o rage it either destroyed or missed. but this was largely obscured by the immediacy of the situation and the elements of Japanese failure that surrounded it. As a result. The attack on Pearl Harbor was conducted by a self-sufficient task force over a distance of some four thousand miles.THE S E C O N D W ORLD WA R I N THE EAST 'We flew through and over the thick clouds. the greatest single strike by carrier aircraft before Pearl Harbor . The wings glittered in the bright morning sunlight. the attack miscarried in two vital respects: no American carrier or submarine was damaged and the base facilities at Pearl Harbor were not neutralized. It inaugurated a new era of naval warfare. and landings on the islands on the approaches to . the campaign in south-east Asia was to unfold even as the Imperial Navy turned its attention to the emands of an offensive campaign in the central Pacific. Even more seriously. which were at two thousand m etres. but in its scale and distance. Japan's action brought the United States into a war that. I opened the cockpit canopy and looked back at large formations of planes. And the clouds began gradually to brighten below us after the brilliant sun burst into the eastern sky. culminating in a two-wave attack en masse. But if the crippling of the Pacific Fleet confirmed the Japanese Navy in its possession of the initiative and a marked superiority of strength in the western and central Pacific. on account of the American temperament. a --1IIt::::COIlrGep' bombs of operations that accepted natural obstacles in order to avoid contact with major enemy forces during the most vulnerable phase of landing operations. the shipping requirements of the south-east 7 DECEMBER 1941.involved just twenty-one of their number.at Taranto on the night of 11/12 November 1940 . Thus the opening Japanese moves in south-east Asia involved the overland entry into and occupation of Siam from French Indo-China.

The Japanese 14th Army Philippines used to positional advantage In in the conduct landings to southern Mindanao and southern Luzon complement its 82 ZE RO FIGHT E R initial landings in northern Luzon before making its main effort in the form of a double envelopment of Manila. it was not a base from which Japanese success could be contested.57 am: fort y to rpedo bo mbers delive r fo rty long lance rorpedos on Ba ttleship Row 57 . Bataan could provide followed no by more siege than and temporary sanctuary ultimately defeat. the Japanese struck across the border against a fragmented. the last week of 1941 witnessed the rout of British forces in northern Malaya. Japanese forces from northern and southern Luzon linked up around Manila on 2 January 1942.SUCCE SS AN D V ICTO RY: D ECE MB E R 19 41 . In southern Siam and the Philippines the Japanese successfully established themselves ashore against enemies that were both surprised and dispersed and. With the surrender of Hong Kong on Christmas Day 1941 and Japanese landings in Brunei and Sarawak over the previous week. By this time the British position throughout south-east Asia had been similarly destroyed. 7. and it was an admission of failure. were unable to concentrate their full forces against a numerically inferior invader.APRIL 1942 Luzon and on northern Luzon itself in the Philippines. The next day the Americans decided to abandon Manila and withdraw into the Bataan Peninsula. through the separate campaigns that followed. when the Japanese high command took the decision to release air forces and one division from the Philippines for second-phase operations in the Indies. 7 December 1941. NA KAJIM A B5 N 2 MITSU BISHI A6 M2 PEARL HARBOR Attack on Battleship Row in Pearl Harbor. with landings at Lingayen Gulf and Lamon Bay on 22 December. Having landed at Singora and Patani.

. 58 .THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST " Lieutenant General Honma Masaharu. outflanking movement through jungle against a road-bound enemy and local superiority. coming ashore in Lingayen Gulf on 24 December 1941. THE JAPANESE INVASION AND CONQUEST OF MALAYA AND SINGAPORE The strength of Singapore's defences forced the Japanese to attempt an overland advance on the fortress: from beachheads in southern Siam and northern Malaya the key to success proved to be the speed of Japanese operations. especially in the air.. His failure to win a quick victory in the Philippines resulted in dismissal: the reality of his army's victory was the real reason for his post-war execution. commander of the 14th Army.

.:o DUTCH 59 ..Japanese advance British 'stop lines' o __ ~ British stronghold British retreat .....APRIL 194 2 Invasion of Malaya 8 Dec 1941-31 lan 1942 .. DE C EMBER 19 41 ...SUCCE SS A ND V IC T O RY... mine field 1Zi 143 III Gulf of S . am 8 December 9..05 am: Rendezvous 28 Ironsporn ond escorting worships ~~~..

In real terms the American withdrawal on to the Bataan Peninsula cost the Japanese very little.THE SE C O N D W ORLD W AR I N THE EAS T Th e Japanes e advance on Bataan. With forces that had landed at Kota Bharu advancing south along the coast to secure Kuantan at the end of the year. piecemeal defence and by 19 December had forced the British to abandon Penang: within another day the abandoned British airfields at Alor Star. with landing operations being conducted in the Malacca Strait against Kuala Sengalor and Port Swettenham. the Japanese were able to break the British intention to fight a series of delaying actions around Kuala Kangsar and on the Perak River and. MacArthur's pre-war bombast to the effect that his forces could prevent any landing in the Philippines was shown for what it was by a lightly but well-equipped Japanes e army that overran Luzon and all positions of major significance in the islands with very little hindrance. By 12 January Selangor had 60 . were able to rip apart an unsupported 11th Indian Division on the Slim River on 7 January. Sungei Patani and Butterworth had been brought into Japanese service.

while thirty degrees of longitude to the east (2. having captured its massive natural harbour the previous day.450 miles ). and Kavieng on New Ireland. in the Philippines. Japanese forces secured Rabaul on New Britain.S U CC E SS AN D V I C TORY: DE C EM BE R 1 9 41 . At the same time. a number of Japanese attempts to land behind American lines across the neck of the Bataan Peninsula resulted in 61 . On 24 January Japanese task groups at Tarakan and Menado moved against Balikpapan and Kendari respectively.A PRIL 19 4 2 been cleared and Japanese forces had moved into Negri Sembilan: at the same time formations from the 16th Army had also secured Tarakan on Borneo and Menado on Celebes in their opening moves into the Dutch East Indies.

which had crossed the border into Burma eleven days earlier. resulting in a general American withdrawal to the Bagac-Orion line by the 26th. sister formations. That collapse became reality in the course of February 1942. Nevertheless the main American defensive effort astride Mount Natib was broken. on the 31st. Singapore Island was subjected to assault on 8 February. Throughout southeast Asia the Allied powers stood on the point of collapse as January gave way to February in 1942. Also on the 31st. secured Moulmein in Tenasserim. In Malaya the last two weeks of January 1942 saw the Japanese clear Negri Sembilan and Pahang and. Mersing and. with the capture of Endau. complete the clearing of the Malay Peninsula. while Japanese forces overran Amboina and thereby exposed the whole of the Lesser Sundas to attack. Johore Bahru.THE SE C OND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST defeat in 'the Battle of the Points'. drawn from the 15th Army. and amid fearful scenes as .

and after landings in the western and central parts of the island. the British having been defeated disastrously on the Sittang on 21/22 February. the Japanese gathered around Java. the Japanese success completing their control of virtually the whole of China's southern coast.APR IL 1942 discipline and resolve disintegrated. even as the Japanese navy attacked shipping which was trying to reach the safety of Australian ports. as Japanese forces in Burma were reorganized for an offensive that was to take them into central and upper Burma during April and May. With the surrender of the American garrison on Bataan on 8 April the Japanese all but completed one of the most remarkable victories in history. three other warships and thirty-two merchantmen in what London feared might well herald the beginning of the end of the whole of the British position on the Indian sub-continent and in the Indian Ocean. headed by Lieutenant General Sakai Takashi and Vice Admiral Niimi. Having secured Palembang on Sumatra on the 16th. plus most of Mindanao. remained to be occupied. formal Allied resistance throughout the Indies came to an end on 9 March. while on 5 and 9 April Japanese carrier aircraft struck at Ceylon and eastern India in the course of an operation that accounted for the light carrier The Japanese victory parade at Hong Kong. The small garrison was obliged to surrender on Christmas Day 1941.~ that were never to be repeated: no Japanese carrier ever returned to the Indian Ocean after April 1942. and Allied units on Timor. two heavy cruisers. On 19/20 February Japanese troops landed on Bali and Timor. secured Lae and Salamaua in north-east New Guinea and established themselves in the northern Solomons. while two days later Bandjermasin was captured by a Japanese task group from Balikpapan.SUCCESS AND VI C TORY: DECEMBER 1941 . In the event. Hermes . On the 8th Macassar was taken by forces operating from Kendari. were unreduced at this time. beginning with the seizure of Tarakan and Menado. and the various islands of the central Philippines. other forces landed in northern Sumatra. while Japanese carriers struck at Darwin. THE NEW R EALITIES The Japanese victories in south-east Asia 111 the course of the first months of the Pacific war were . In just sixty days. the Japanese turned for home after attacks . The American garrison on Corregidor at the entrance to Manila Bay. the city was surrendered on the 15th. the Japanese had overrun the greater part of the Indies: at exactly the time as the Indies were surrendered Rangoon changed hands. In what remained of March.

by 1945. one of the many aspects of failure that. ANT I. at the heart of this failure on the part of Japan was an inability to recognize the force of any form of Asian nationalism other than her own. being able to draw to herself the endorsement of the subjugated peoples of empire.AIRCRAFT GUN INFANTRY GUN . the western imperial powers were to re-establish themselves in their lost colonial territories but within two decades all these possessions.7 inch (94mm ) anti-aircraft gun (right). 1938 (left) and 3. Japan's wartime failure in south-east Asia was catholic in extent and range. In every part of south-east Asia there were nationalist organizations that aspired to independence. in the long term. Yet in this fact. rapacious Japanese military system that they had no real choice in the matter. was evidence of Japan's long-term failure. In terms of commanding the support of the uncommitted. and virtually the only people who remained associated with the Japanese were those so closely implicated with a brutal.THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST to outlive Japan's final surrender in 1945: these victories were to inflict upon great imperial powers defeats from which. After the war. many of which welcomed the Japanese as liberators. But these matters remained for the future as the Japanese conquest of southeast Asia was completed: the occupation of various little towns on the northern coast of New Guinea during April and May established the basis of the perimeter which Japan had sought to establish around her conquest and on which she sought to wage a defensive war until her enemies came to recognize JAPANESE ARTILLERY Japanese 70 mm Type 92 infantry gun. was to be comprehensive and all-embracing. As noted elsewhere. Yet by 1945 there were resistance movements in most south-east Asian countries. were to become independent states with further wars attending each and every new birth of freedom and national self-determination. and in the very fact of Japanese conquest in 1941-2. there was to be no recovery even in the aftermath of Allied victory. an inability to offer the people of her newly acquired territory anything other than a position of subservience and dependence. with the exception of Hong Kong.

yet even here there was to be no faltering of the pace and timing of Japanese operations. and there were aspects of her victory. the British defeats in Malaya and Burma contained no mitigating factors. did the Japanese encounter defeat. It was probably fortunate that the exceptionally ill-advised British attempt to force a night action off Ceylon in April failed to establish contact. The surrender of Singapore was among the worst and most humiliating ever incurred by British arms. Elsewhere.one destroyer-transport and six naval auxiliaries and support ships of 33. yet still managed to be out-thought and out-fought at every stage of the proceedings. If the Dutch in the Indies can be exempt from general criticism since the evident inability of their forces to withstand attack by a major enemy rendered their defeat a formality.931 tons. the same cannot be said of their more powerful American and British allies.632 tons . and here. and. The Japanese success in this opening phase of the war was remarkable by any standard. at Wake Island on 11 December. most obviously. Only off Balikpapan. On the other side of the coin. · If the outlying British possessions were certain to fall to any Japanese move. were wholly outclassed by a navy that. As it was. Japanese naval forces routed the motley collection of Allied warships pitted against them. these losses were more than made good by captured or salvaged Allied shipping. Outnumbered Allied units. the Japanese victories were recorded with contemptuous ease.170 tons. Only in one case. The only aspect of comfort was that defeat in Malaya and Singapore was so rapid and all-encompassing that the British high command was denied the opportunity to waste even more troops in the vain defence of Singapore.APR IL 1942 her fait accompli. 65 . and specific operations such as the attack on Pearl Harbor and the sinking of the British capital ships Prince of Wales and Repulse in the South China Sea by land-based aircraft on 10 December 1941 that were unprecedented. was probably second to none at this stage of the war. the subsequent British withdrawal to East African ports was admission of the Eastern Fleet's strategic impotence. did the Japanese encounter any major losses . with no common communications or doctrine. thirteen army transports of 72. after a less than inspired operation conducted by 'the second eleven' that resulted in the loss of two warships.488 tons and seven merchant-men of 29. the Allied defeats had virtually no redeeming features. Off the Lombok and Sunda Straits. eighteen naval auxiliaries of 90. since there is very little doubt which way the battle would have gone had this intention been realized. The Japanese success in south-east Asia was bought remarkably cheaply: in the central and south-west Pacific and south-east Asia between 8 December 1941 and 30 April 1942 the Japanese lost just thirty-two warships of 61. between 23 and 27 January 1941. in the battle of the Java Sea on 27/28 February. in terms of tactical technique. and defeat in Malaya was all the more shameful because the British had anticipated virtually every aspect of the Japanese plan of campaign. they were able to reverse the verdict within twelve days.SUC C ESS AND VICTORY: DECEMBER 1941 .694 tons. What was no less significant was the ease of Japanese victories.

66 .THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST Morituri te salutant. The battleship Prince of Wales sails from Singapore on 8 December 1941: two days later she and the battlecruiser Repulse became the first capital ships to be sunk at sea by aircraft when they were caught in the South China Sea by Japanese shore-based aircraft.

APRIL 1942 .SUCCESS AND VICTORY: DECEMBER 1941 .

Singapore burning in February 1942. Pre-war Burma had represented Britain's nineteenth defensive priority since its defence had been vested in the Singapore base. The worst. The withdrawal into Bataan prolonged American resistance in the Philippines. elicited the same post-war evasion of responsibility that attended the Singapore episode. while the destruction of the American air forces on the ground in the first hours of the war. Despite all the contemporaneous and subsequent claims to the contrary. the conduct of the defence in the Philippines was as inept as the British defence of Malaya. and was accompanied by self-advertisement and personal conduct on the part of senior American commanders in the Philippines that reached beyond the merely distasteful. 68 . Pre-war bombast to the effect that no Japanese forces could land anywhere in the archipelago was revealed on the outbreak of hostilities for what it was. Lieutenant General Arthur Percival. and the British party led by the commander. and after the examp le of the Pearl Harbor attack was known. but in no way bought time for the Allied cause anywhere else in south-east Asia and. most humiliating disaster. go ing to surrender. 15 February 1942.THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST THE JAPANESE CONQUEST OF BURMA The American defeat in the Philippines was no different. did not facilitate the defence of Australia since the Japanese had no plans to take the war to that country in the form of invasion and occupation of the main centres of popul ation. despite American claims. With the Japanese occupation of Indo-China its position was compromised and with little more than a division it was unable to resist a Japanese offensive that conquered the country with embarrassing ease and that established Burma as part of Japan's defensive perimeter.

\ Dihrict { :\\' • Mangda Bay of Bengal .SUCCESS AND VICTORY: DECEMBER 1941 .APR IL 1942 N l00m~eS~ 'y =r-~' • Mien-ni ~ g j \ Japanese Invasion of Burma January-May 1942 Japanese attacks major lines of British retreat I I( \ \ Arakan \ Paletwa [Hill .

<~aSP i / (3 Divisions) ---- " 18 Dec .<-. ____ Visayolh'tlindanao Force '''.\ b 120 122 124 . \ 24 Dec N...May 1942 S-24 December 1941 Japanese movement Japanese bomber . USAFFE 1140. 1-) 24 December 1941 ._-' . de Buenavista \ o III III • Takloban • Iloilo • Bakolod 1%1 Cebu Cebu !:8J L e yte ~ '(: Bohol o •.(00) PACIFIC December 1941 .2 January 1942 Japanese movement o _ Japanese units US units XXXX ..<-. San Jose _ • +.Naga Japanese units US units MACARTHUR US offensive • Kalapau Marinduqu e • Tobaco South luzon Force "'xx _ _ _ _ _ EfJ .' 16 April Negros IOAprii . .IIigan Lake Lanao 10" \ Surigao S S u u e a Sikihor KANAMURA o III 3May • Butuan • Del Monte EfJ Min dan a '0 Mismus... Borneo \ . -Jolo folo TaU/itaw.J--~ Mashate S a mar ~ .. -Sandakan . Panay • Katbalogam 12 Bila ran 10~7 o II II • Taytay "CO> San Jose .May 1942 I OCEAN Japanese movement D / ~.Puerto "Princesa II . Pandan • /0' '>'\.\. .. -. • islig~ B 8' xx III KANAMURA J M 0 k8J • Malaba ng • Parang Kabacan Kotabat.Mindoro \~ -. Basi/an k8J ~A ~ '\.\ C S .-'" • Kapil.. ~ / 12 December from Palau Is.xxxx HOMMA o Attack on the Philippines 'tTuguegarao II 8 December 1941 . r 0 • Davao EfJ · _ _ _"lot Zamboanga \ ~amat Isabela G u I ( III KAWAGUCHI ~ .

therefore. Luzon. had to address a basic question . in addition to the collapse of Allied arms in the western Pacific and south-east Asia. Essentially. current throughout the 1930s. for the conduct of a defensive war in the western Pacific. not limited.SUCCESS AND VICTORY: DE CEMBER 1941 . command-submarines were then to direct cruiser-submarines to battle. both general to the Axis powers and specific to Japan: that even at the period of her greatest success.how the United States was to be brought to acceptance of J apan's conquests. The battle was to be opened off Hawaii by submarines which would conduct the attritional battle as the Americans advanced into the western Pacific. The reality of Japan's position. to be fought in the general area of the Marianas and Carolines against an American fleet advancing from its base in the central Pacific. British forces incurred humiliating defeat in North Africa and German U-boats ravaged the eastern seaboard of the United States. were to find the American formations.APRIL 1942 It is sometimes very difficult to remember how disastrous were the first months of 1942 for those states that gathered themselves together and on New Year's Day proclaimed themselves as the United Nations pledged to THE JAPANESE CONQUEST OF THE PHILIPPINES wage war until the unconditional surrender of their enemies was achieved. she wished to conduct a defensive war by overrunning south- east Asia and then casting around her conquests a perimeter defence on which the Americans would expend themselves in vain. The speed with which the fortunes of war were reversed in autumn 1942 tends to diminish the extent of Allied defeats in the first six months of the year. But the fact that these defeats were reversed points to one matter. Japan. At work was an interplay of certain unalterable facts of time. Three types of submarine were built to prepare for this: scouting submarines. equipped with seaplanes. west and east of the Philippines left the island group hopelessly vulnerable. British naval power in the eastern Mediterranean was eclipsed. In the first half of 1942. distance. war. space and national resources which were to ensure her ultimate defeat. and against Mindanao. But this answer produced a series of dilemmas that cut across the whole basis of pre- The first of these realities concerned Japan's strategic intention when she went to war. JAPANESE STRATEGY to Japanese possessions to the north. There was only one answer: Japan had to undertake offensive operations that would destroy the American capacity and will war planning. is best summarized by the United Nations' declaration: it served notice that the Pacific war would be a total. This plan was no more than a slightly modified edition of the basic idea. The assault on the latter allowed for the capture of bases from which to develop operations against northern Borneo and the Indies. even as her forces overran south-east Asia. and Japan's opening moves were against the main island. and which had shaped J apanese design and construction programmes accordingly. the Japanese calculation being that such speed would allow these units to outpace an 71 . Crucial to this was the concept of 'decisive battle'. wage war. The latter were endowed with a very high surface speed of 24 knots. basic weaknesses and flaws underlay Japan's strategic position. In the spring Soviet forces incurred a defeat in front of Kharkov that bared the whole of the eastern Ukraine to enemy advance.

Japanese carriers would operate 10 independent divisions forward from the battle line. night torpedo attacks on the head of the American line. In virtually every aspect. with its IS.I-inch main armament. as the American fleet fought its way into the western Pacific.THE SE C O N D WORLD WAR IN TH E EAST American fleet advancing at economical cruising speed and to mount successive attacks to the limit of their torpedo capacity during the approach-to-contact phase. stressing the importance of possession of exceptional speed. Between the wars the Imperial Navy undertook the most comprehensive reconstruction of capital ships of any navy. First in service in 1934. but this was to have been an interim class: having armed their battleships with 19. weight of broadside and gunnery range over potential enemies. in order to exact their toll upon the enemy. With midget submarines also laid across the American path Th e G4M (Betty) land-based medium bomber in American markings: the mainstay of Japanese shore-based naval aviation in the inter-war period and critical to Japanes e plans to fight a defensive battle in the western Pacific. These operations were to be supported. The Yamato class. by shore-based aircraft. action would then be joined by the battle force. Japanese naval doctrine in 1941 was wholly unrealistic . With the American fleet blinded. massed. the Betty was easily the best medium-range bomber of her generation. the Imperial Navy anticipated that these operations would cost the American fleet perhaps 30 per cent of its strength before the main action was joined. was evidence of their endeavour. the doctrine on which the Imperial Navy relied as the basis of its conduct of operations showed no real advance over the 'seven-stage plan of attrition' with which it had fought and won the battle of Tsushima in May 1905. In addition. and their aircraft were expected to neutralize their opposite numbers by a series of dive-bombing attacks. Very curiously. the Imperial Navy sought to equip itself with a main battle force so superior to anything that the Americans could produce that its overwhelming victory in the 'decisive battle' would be assured. but by 1941 was balancing on th e edge of obsolescence.7-inch guns. and to this end in the 1930s the Japanese developed the Betty medium bomber that in its day possessed a range and speed superior to any other medium bomber in service anywhere in the world. weakened and its cohesion compromised. as the Japanese fleet closed with its enemy its fast battleships and heavy cruiser squadrons were to sweep aside the enemy screening forces and allow light cruiser and destroyer flotillas to conduct successive.

and the plan of campaign was a substitute for strategy.SUCCESS AND VICTORY: DECEMBER 1941 . hopelessly misdirected and obsolescent even as it reached the pinnacle of its achievement. The most obvious weakness of a process whereby a vision of war became confused with a concept of operations and thereafter with a method of fighting 73 .APRIL 1942 and flawed beyond recall. lovingly and beautifully crafted. a majestic clockwork of wheels-within-wheels that represented the medieval European view of the universe: ingenious and imaginative. The Imperial Navy had a doctrine. And it was not so much a doctrine with which the Imperial Navy went to war in 1941 as the naval equivalent of a de Dondi 's timepiece. but the various details of weakness tend to obscure one fundamental defect: Japan went to war without a strategic policy. geared to fighting and winning one battle: it was a doctrine of battle that masqueraded as a plan of campaign.

1-inch.7 knots. twelve 6.659 tons full load. Armed with nine 18. merely compounded Japanese difficulties. scarcely less obvious. A third weakness exacerbated the other two. each of her main turrets weighed more than a destroyer. A second weakness. somewhat ambitious. The extension of these responsibilities across thousands of miles of empty ocean. each of which was too weak to resist the scale of attack to which they were certain to be subjected. But the most immediate weakness was the concept of a perimeter defence that exposed individual outposts to defeat in detail. concerned shipping resources: Japan lacked the shipping resources needed to sustain the bases in the central and south-west Pacific on which she depended for her first line of defence. namely that for the concept of 'perimeter defence' to work. with the possible exceptions of Truk and Rabaul. twelve 5-inch guns and endowed with a maximum speed of 27.THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST The greatest of all the dreadnoughts. A nation and navy unable to provide for the extension of their defensive zone into the Marshalls in the 1930s certainly lacked the means to sustain the new bases in the Gilberts and south-west Pacific in 1942. at best. western Inland Sea. No single base.1-inch. on trials off Sata Point. could be equipped on the scale needed to meet an enemy which was certain to possess the initiative and choice of offensive operations. away from the resources of south-east Asia and the trade routes with the home islands. the Yamato. 30 O ctober 1941. while the lack of heavy engineering equipment meant that plans for airfield construction in the new outposts of empire were. the fleet had to be permanently ready to intervene . She displaced 71. lay in the Imperial Navy's neglect of maritime as opposed to naval requirements of trade and shipping at the expense of the fleet. The concept of perimeter defence consisted of gaps held apart by individual bases.

But the Imperial Navy went to war in 1941 with no change of role for the submarine force. and with the assumption that its effectiveness in the . but even with the rules of engagement amended to assist the submarines. There were. a number of other weaknesses. . in addition. not least the fact that the Imperial Navy went to war in the knowledge that its doctrine was flawed in one critical respect. With the entire fleet in service from December 1941.SUCCESS AND VI C TORY: DECEMBER 1941 . In 1940 the exercise was repeated. sooner or later ships would have to be taken out of action for repair and refitting. and a maximum speed of 24 knots did not provide its units with a sufficient margin of superiority to carry out successive attacks on an enemy fleet. they were still unable to meet requirements. In 1939 an exercise revealed that Japan's submarines could not achieve the success which was critical to overall victory. The force itself was too small. This was simply impossible.APRIL 1942 to support any garnson that was subjected to assault. which could not but undermine the fleet's state of readiness. / .

Japanese plans were based on tactical formation long abandoned by the US Navy. the J apanese shipping position waiting to happen. In no single class of ship was this more obvious than fleet oilers. but even more importantly. In addition. the Imperial Navy lacked the auxiliary shipping needed to support fl eet operations at the forward point of contact. was denied her with the start of hostilities. plus the fact that in March 1942 some 12. but in December 1941 Japan possessed just forty-nine tankers of 587. and her equally limited aircrew training programmes. were other weaknesses. were one-shot. what was left to the merchant marine was not necessarily what was best suited to the demands of trade. some suspected and others not. however. Its carriers. were bizarre. After the services had taken what they required. one in ballast outward and the other 76 111 spnng 1942 was a disaster . was but a reflection of a general inadequacy of shipping resources.836.997.000 tons. the support of a defensive perimeter had to involve prolonged operations by main fleet units. The two services operated thei r shipping independ ently of one another and quite separately from civilian agencies with results that.161.400 officers and men compared to the 2. Given that the Imperial Army held 519 ships of 2. in light of shipping shortages. Japan having just nine at the outbreak of hostilities. however.000 tons and the Imperial Navy 482 ships of 1.200 tons at the outbreak of war. the Imperial Navy's battle plan had never been subjected to a fleet exercise before the outbreak of war. in 1939 Britain had 425 tankers of 2. most surprising of all. And. The seriousness of Japan's situation can be gauged by the fact that to make good its weakness of oiler numbers the Imperial Navy chartered at the expense of the merchant fleet. It was not unknown for ships of different services to sail common routes together. but. a fact both noted elsewhere and a major source of weakness in terms of Japanese strategic policy and war-making capability.THE SE C OND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST process of attrition was assured.700 embarked in American carriers. but for captures. there was no effective means of controlling what shipping was available.61 per cent of Japanese shipping was laid up for want of routine maintenance and refitting. critically. but with only three-fifths of this amount und er her own flag she was dependent for her needs upon foreign shipping which.000 tons.000 tons and the United States 389 tankers of 2. Japan's very limited aircraft replacement capacity. Lurking in the wings. Moreover. The Imperial Navy could not undertake prolonged operations. But this lack of shipping was only one aspect of Japanese mercantile problems: no less serious was an inability to use what shipping was avai lable to full effect. By way of comparison. This slenderness of Japanese resources. the type of operations that the US Navy began to conduct in the last quarter of 1943. Before the war Japan needed 10 million tons of merchant shipping in order to sustain herself. rendered the whole question of maintaining a fleet in readiness problematical. Japanese success in this attritional process was clearly based on a certain passivity on the part of American forces: in fact.740. with crews of 1.

APRIL 1942 in ballast on the return voyage.4 transmitter that was essential for long-range operations in distant Fleet Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. and Japanese escorts were equipped with only one radio transmitter that had to work on both high and low frequencies despite the fact that escorts were often required to work on both simultaneously. 77 .hydrophones. their lack of organization. Its units initially embarked only eighteen depth charges. ostensibly he was sent to sea in 1939 in order to avoid the attention of various extremists. their technological backwardness and their lack of co-ordination with land-based air power. and it was not until autumn 1942. it was not until autumn 1944 that Japanese escorts began to be fitted with the Type 13 search radar. with another 30 escorts projected and another 16 chasers either being built or about to be laid down. None of the fourteen escorts of the Modified Type A class. and its depth charges were wholly inadequate in terms of weight of explosive and rate of sinking. The longestserving commander of the Combined Fleet in the history of the Imperial Navy: with a reputation as a moderate in intemperate times. The Imperial Navy had no influence mines. were within two months of being laid down.SUCCESS AND VICTORY. Such wastefulness. that the class was equipped with any form of underwater detection . The Imperial Navy lacked any ahead-throwing weapon system. ordered in the Emergency War Programme of that year. No less serious for the Imperial Navy was qualitative inadequacy. Moreover. but whether he deserved the favourab le treatment afforded him by Clio is debatable. at a time when the British had some 2. At no stage of the Pacific war was the Imperial Navy able to provide escorts with the highcapacity No. He served at Tsushima and presided over the Midway and Guadalcanal debacles. DECEMBER 1941 . went alongside an inability to provide for the proper protection of shipping as was shown by the utter inadequacy of escort forces in terms of their numbers. The only purposebuilt escorts in 1941 were singularly ill-provided for escort duties. The total number of oceanic and local trade-protection units in commission in December 1941 was 32 escorts of all types and 26 chasers. In reality lack of numbers was only one aspect of Japan's problems. or any form of airborne anti-submarine weapon other than the bomb.100 ships equipped with asdiclsonar. The extent of Japan's weakness in these fields can be seen by the fact that in December 1941 the Imperial Navy had just III four purpose-built escorts service. however.

7 million tons of shipping over three years. In this single month. sinkings by submarines alone were greater than the monthly losses that the Japanese high command in 1941 had deemed to be tolerable. lay in the fact that the Imperial Navy had anticipated losses of 2. incurred even before the battle of the perimeter was joined. But in early 1942. Such were some of the more obvious Japanese technological failings. they . with very little shipping in theatre. In the immediate aftermath of the Huon Gulf action. The significance of such losses.000 tons a year: the fact that merchant shipping output never exceeded 497. specifically to Pearl Harbor. as Japanese attention turned to the question of how the war was to be prosecuted. the thoughts of the Japanese naval high command turned to the possibility of using fleet carriers to support future operations in the south-west Pacific.742 tons in any year between 1931 and 1941 was seemingly ignored . the Imperial Navy agreed upon the detachment of a carrier division to the southwest Pacific to cover operations in the Solomons and against Port Moresby. a figure that very strangely represented its estimation of national replacement capacity of 900. By this time. however. an intimation of reality. Pecking around the periphery of conquests. attention was also being forced back to the central Pacific. But in April 1942 such matters were set at nought by an intrusion. American carrier activity served notice. before the main endeavour unfolded in the form of a diversionary offensive into . specifically after November 1943.991 tons. to seek out and destroy American carrier forces. Japan realized that there was little option but to take the war to the United States. Such were the most serious and immediate weaknesses that beset Japan even in the moment of success: collectively they provide the basis of understanding of the events that were to unfold. Japanese forces from Rabaul moved on 8 March to occupy Lae and Salamaua.TH E SE C OND WORLD WAR IN TH E EAST waters.and other matters . Having secured Finschhafen in February. For the first time in the war Japanese plans and timetable were decided by something other than Japanese choice. were forced to abandon further operations in eastern New Guinea and the Solomons. The vulnerability of forward bases was demonstrated by the American carrier operation that resulted in the destruction of the entire torpedo-bomber force based at Rabaul on 20 February. two days later shipping still gathered in Huon Gulf was caught by American carrier aircraft and incurred such losses that the Japanese. when there was very little shipping committed to the support of operations.began to intrude upon Japanese deliberations. Wake and Marcus. of Japanese vulnerability in the central Pacific. suffice to summarize thus: that in materiel terms. After bitter dispute. the Japanese lost twenty-two service auxiliaries and civilian merchantmen of 107. In May. in the form of raids on Kwajalein. the Imperial Navy entered the war as ill-equipped to fight a trade defence campaign in 1940 as the Italian Navy. while the movement of American forces into the south-west Pacific and to Australia pointed to an inexorable widening of the war.

and the refusal of the fleet command to state whether the occupation of Midway or dealing with any American task force that sought to intervene represented the operational priority in the opening phase of this effort compounded matters. the Japanese found British fleet units at sea and were subjected to counter-attack by land-based aircraft. All these points were swept aside in the aftermath of the Doolittle Raid as a result of two corrupting influences: what was subsequently called 'Victory Disease'. The capture of Midway was seen as the prelude to fighting and winning the 'decisive battle' against the American carrier formations that would be obliged to fight for these islands. The forming of a submarine scouting line off Hawaii was almost useless given the fact that units were deployed at intervals beyond interlocking detection range. The plan for the occupation of Kure and Midway made little sense when the two carriers that were to transport aircraft there in readiness for main force action were the same carriers earmarked for operations in the Aleutians. Having flown off their strikes.remained unaddressed and unresolved at the heart of the Midway plan. born of recent. and especially after such operations have failed. and just before notice of reality was served in the form of the Doolittle Raid of 18 April when American medium bombers operating from the carrier Hornet attacked Tokyo. Because the Japanese knew from the scale of the attack of 10 March that two American fleet carriers were operating in the south-west Pacific. On both counts. this pl a n was nonsense on a number of separate counts. the capture of Johnston Island was to be the prelude to the main effort against the major islands of the Hawaiian group. the dispatch of just the fleet carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku to this theatre was neither here nor there. The damage caused was minimal. an interesting comment on Japanese priorities in April 1942.especially in retrospect. Japanese formations were to head for Truk in readiness for a general offensive in the south-west Pacific that would result in the capture of New Caledonia. Kube. Thereafter. Nagoya and Yokohama. and the hypnotic.SUCCESS AND VICTORY: DECEMBER 1941 . but the basic problem that had been glimpsed . the raid on Ceylon should have provided cause for reflection. In truth. 79 .APRIL 1942 the Aleutians. Japanese luck held: two British heavy cruisers were dispatched and the Japanese carriers escaped unscathed. of operations in the central Pacific. Fiji and Samoa before the resumption. but the humiliation inflicted upon the Imperial Navy was profound: the immediate effect was to silence the reasoned and well-justified opposition to the plan of campaign then being finalized in various naval headquarters.inadequate reconnaissance and a division of resources between conflicting priorities . filter-up filter-out phenomenon so often associated with the planning of major offensives . overwhelming success but which in truth had a much longer pedigree. This plan of campaign was settled at a time when the main Japanese carrier force was in the Indian Ocean. in August. In addition. The division of Japanese strength between widely separated task groups unable to offer mutual support. followed by the occupation of Kure and Midway Islands at the western end of the Hawaiian chain.

Wake was attacked by aircraft from three fleet and three light fleet carriers and subjected to a cruiser bombardment. October 1943. An island base in the defensive perimeter.THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N TH E EAST The weakness of Japanese strategic intention: US Dauntless dive-bombers over Wake. In two days and at a cost of twenty-six aircraft from a total of 738 80 .

SUCCESS AND VICTORY: DE CE MBER 1941 . the Doolittle Raid forced the Imperial Navy to focus its attention on the central Pacific and provided impetus for the ill-fated Midway endeavour. 81 .APR IL 1942 ABOVE: Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle fastening medals to the tail fins of bombs that were to be dropped by B-25 medium bombers operating from the fleet carrier Hornet on 18 April 1942. By striking at a number of Japanese cities.

.

. the loss of such stores could have been very serious but for the fact that November 1942 saw the destruction of Japanese intentions. Given the desperately narrow administrative margins on which both sides worked during the campaign for the island. primarily in the naval actions fought in Ironbottom Sound.CHAPTER THREE THE SECOND MILESTONE: PROBLEMS MAY I942 NOVEMBER I943 MISPLA CED SYMBOLISM: the explosion of an American ammunition dump on Guadalcanal. 26 November 1942.

on the road. marked the point where the road divided: the battles in this war were milestones. of the . before Midway the Japanese met nothing but victory. then no single battle fought in this war can be defined as decisive or the turning point of the war: the concepts of inevitability on the one hand. With only slight exaggeration. and after Midway the Americans commanded only success. This battle undoubtedly possesses singular importance. If Japan's defeat was assured from the time that her carriers struck Pearl Harbor. not signposts. even though it did mark the end of a flood tide of Japanese victories. unless it was the attack on Pearl Harbor. and of 'decisive battles' or 'turning points' on the other. The importance of Midway lies not in an interpretation of this battle as the 'decisive battle' or 'turning point' of the Pacific war. No action or battle. but as key to a three-fold understanding: of naval warfare. Decades of repetition have ensured that the battle fought off Midway Islands in June 1942 is widely regarded as the turning point of the Pacific war. Th e hea vy cruiser was the only Japanese warship to be sunk in the final phase of the battle. are mutually exclusive. But it was neither a decisive battle nor a turning point. such concepts are meaningless. In the story of the Second World War.THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN TH E EAST THE SECOND MILESTONE: P ROBLEMS M ILITARY HISTORY is cursed by the concepts of ' the decisive battle' and 'turning points'. irreversible victory won by Allied arms in the Second World War. as it was the first The Mikuma after having been devastated by a series of carrier aircraft strikes off Midwayan 6 Jun e 1942 . and specifically the Second World War in the Far East.

however. Its success. and the cost that would be exacted in the process. naval and maritime. But Japan was brought to final defeat. In the first two years of the Pacific war two inter-war navies fought one another for possession of the initiative and for supremacy. both specifically in the Gilberts but more generally in the war as a whole. namely the defeat of her armed forces in and among the various island groups of the southwest and central Pacific. was neither the product of. But the two elements of defeat did not unfold simultaneously. After November 1943 a fleet that was very largely a wartime creation exercised a supremacy that provided victories.PROBLEM S: MAY 1942 . by the parallel destruction of the Imperial Navy and the merchant fleet and Japan's seaborne lines of communication. This is the key to an understanding of this conflict. specifically in the period between May 1942 and February 1943. were properly complementary. In reality. Lest the point be doubted. and Japan could only have been brought to assured defeat. By the time that the Americans gathered off the Gilberts a force that was assured of success. Midway was the most important single battle fought between the outbreak of the Pacific war and the battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944. of the 111 units in the task groups that raided the Tokyo area in February 1945 just four were in commission before the raid on Pearl Harbor. and Japanese shipping losses before November 1943 were not of the order that ensured defeat. Only in the years immediately before the outbreak of the Second World War did the divebomber emerge as potentially the decisive instrument in carrier warfare. had been resolved: thereafter the only questions that remained to be answered were the method and timing of Japan's final defeat. nor did it provide supremacy. In any consideration of British naval mastery the conventional wisdom holds that supremacy was the result of victory. and the havoc wrought by Allied action in the seas that washed the island empire in the last weeks of the war was not the cause of victory but the product of supremacy. The Pacific war is very unusual: it was a war in which the relationship between victory and supremacy changed. and the destruction of her seaborne trade. and of the campaigns that were fought. but more generally between May 1942 and November 1943. and Japan could have been brought to defeat as a result of the destruction of her merchant marine but which left the Imperial Navy untouched. a war that ended in November 1943 in terms of the certainty of decision. the two elements of Japan's defeat in the Pacific. the issue of victory and defeat. The defeat that Japan incurred in the Pacific had two dimensions. Herein lies paradox: Japan could have been brought to defeat as a result of the destruction of the Imperial Navy but which left her merchant marine intact. but its The ubiquitous SBD Dauntless on the flight deck of an Essex-class carrier. These three matters provide the basis of this and following chapters. OVERLEAF: 85 . In this context.NOVEMBER 1943 war in the Pacific. and in the process the US Navy secured the initiative. and in most carrier battles it was the Dauntless in its scouting and attack roles that was at the forefront of American endeavours. victory was the product of supremacy. Any consideration of naval warfare necessarily involves the examination of the relationship between victory and supremacy. Herein lay the significance of such battles as the one fought off Midway in June 1942 which cost the Imperial Navy four fleet carriers and a heavy cruiser. though individual victories have to be won.

THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST 86 .

NOVEMBER 1943 .PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 .

the first explosion destroyed most of her communications and killed many of her damage control personnel. The two campaigns were very different. This watershed of the Pacific war consisted of two battles. 8 May 1942. At 12. that formed the watershed of the Pacific war and which resulted in the Americans winning the initiative throughout the Pacific. and a series of internal explosions progressively devastated her. over an hour after last contact with the enemy. as well as the campaigns in eastern New Guinea and the lower Solomons. Both developed more from the momentum of events rather than from deliberate choice.THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST The first US carrier loss of the Pacific war: the Lexington at Coral Sea. 88 .. importance lies in its being one of a series of battles. as the two main parties to the war were obliged to take the war as they found it in the summer of 1942 rather than as they would have wished.m. fought between May 1942 and February 1943. but in one critical respect they shared a common characteristic.47 p. Without power her pumps would not work. the one primarily fought on land and the other primarily at sea and in the air. the Coral Sea and Midway Islands.

and to move against these objectives with divided forces that were unable to support one another.PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 . this second effort was frustrated at the battle of the Coral Sea. The coup de grace was administered by a destroyer and she sank at 7. left its formations liable to defeat in detail. Even with a carrier division in support.NOVEMBER 1943 THE BATTLE OF THE CORAL SEA In May 1942 the Japanese renewed their effort in eastern New Guinea which had been halted by the American carrier raid on Lae and Salamaua in March. After scattering Japanese units in the lower Solomons on 4 May. On the 8th. The Imperial Navy 's attempt to secure bases in the lower Solomons and on the eastern approaches to Port Moresby. in the The Lexington's engine room was abandoned at 4.m.: recovery of survivors was completed at 6.30 p.m.m.53 p.52 p.07 p. . with an explosion felt fourteen miles away. and the final order to abandon ship was given at 5.m. the single American carrier task force deployed to oppose Japanese moves in this theatre sank the light carrier Shoho on the 7th and forced the formation bound for Port Moresby to retire.

45 pm: Tf 44 cru~er Sh. .' 9.!:L'.siin ·······: k 8 cruisers o 100km '---'-------J ..00'a j 7 May 7 May Yorktown 1.00 am -----Zuikaku! 6 May o On t' M"'-a.-- y Sulu Sea xx Mala..30 am 6 May Lexington.r.--4-"~J.a._ .00 am ....v t:~yt..00 pm . ( :r:Ok 0' Gulf of Slam xxxxx t ·XX'X... fa Batavia -:::: .' .. r" 8 May Rendezvous on completion of 8. O 'G-.. . .11 May 1942 I Midnight 4-5 May o ". om .+ .Yorktown oJIL l.00 am Invasion Group 8. re lIes 9 May agan a-S~~a irai . Ac7 '\I" 1\ "'.= ~ 6 destroy"" 5. Palawa".!.gr a -Y ew i N q . 8. f ' . --------"---.. . C .. the battle of the Coral Sea was the first battle in history when ships of the opposing forces never saw one another. Tula i c. 9.. 8.THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST T H E I ND IES AND SOUTH -WEST PACIF IC The Japanese drive into the Indies took the form of successive operations through the northern and central Indies: the battle of the Java Sea completed a Japanese victory that was assured by the time the battle was fought. oopm: USOestroy"... oJIL oJIL PBI1h anti HOlJSIon Nachi Hogu..:.o .30 pm 7 Mor~11 destroyers .a(Je = I------c~"'r I!It!!tllil!LslloULbJtsed_ aiu aimo Jom ar ArchIpelago .-- ~ ~'PHlliPPINES IS.Mgy.... .- 0' 10°s------... oJIL Electra Encounter Jupifer ~.00 am 5 May raid on Tulagi by Yorktown's '". ~ +_ 1- Tro griand ~~Iumadau 8..ka and uu""' _ _-t-=:<:: ::. .---ll---N eoshodrihing ..25 pm J a v a \ \ Battle of the Coral Sea 28 Apri l ... _ 5. sunk 9. 100 miles Sims (destroyer sunk Neosho (oiler) damaged b~ air aHacks 150 ' 0 148 °0 152 '0 154 '0 156'0 162 °0 158 '0 160 0 •'Losuia I COVERING FORCE Shaho (Carrier) :-t). N. Sam.1. _ l·25 pm 7 May 10 00 7 BMoy ". Coral Sea 8. fa S.e w.. o I / )'l' _S e .00 pm fa Suraboy..25~ =..i'" + '" .. Panay - N IMAMURA egros oho/ ·. - J a vaS e a sunk 6.::._ _ .~ 12.50 pm Bdestroy. . TF 44 moves nllltito _ _ group lou .J ---.g!0sunk support grou~ under heo d \' ~ LOlllc...: TERAUCH! 0 Saigon South China Sea JG] / -..ya Battle of the Java Sea 27 February 1942 ~ Jm De Ruyter Jintsu.niara r'M-~ lnvosion-Group--2 .00 am 7 May: .- [SOUTHERN [ camranh Bay -. .)0-E I Woo lark 6 Moy from Austrolia oHack Shoho ~ "-...._.J.bey..30 am 'B....=:e. ISI1J1!b ~ 11..17s R usf!p Is.' J..35 pm 7 May: 2-2...to harass Port Moresby .. _ -::!....00 pm 10.~lVIilne Bay M "ay .00 am B operaflng =.. _ .nd sunk sunk r0..00 pm.ll ·aa 800 .00 pm 8 May: ~ oir group oJIL Lexington sunk 11.. _ N . " 8..

Coral Sea Is. ---.. • l IVISION ! GUCHI UI ~ SOUTH SEAS Palau Is. . -+ ""- Japanese sinking ship Allied sinking ship Allied units • Melbourne Bass Strait Furneaux 40 [} Group Tasmania ~ ~d North Island • Wellington • Hobart NEW ZEALAND South Island 160 150'0 160'0 i 170'0 91 . Sonsorol Palau Micronesia from Truk :. from Pearl Harbor Rockhampton • . Arafura Sea Somerset . Halsey (below).EET ! NAGUMO Ont o ng Jav Papua ds Merauke . ~~ :xxx Kapingamarangi · Monokwa ~ 19 April Yapen.EET ! GUMO Am Tanimbar Sa rmi • Holl andia 19 April Dutch Ne~Guinea . Three Kings Is. Norfolk I. D arwin lir raid 19 F ebruary Gulfof Carpentaria Torres Strait A Santa Cruz Is. Admiral Raymond Spruance (right) and Fleet Admiral William J.eo . 30 '1) Japanese movement Allied movement Japanese air strikes Allied air strikes Japanese units -+ D 4 Sydney .ti Levu Handavu A U S T R A Tropic of Capricorn 130'0 L Loyalty Is. 12 April . ·Fakfak AIRA.- Attack in the Coral Sea I January .PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 .NOVEMB E R 1943 x The early commanders in the south-west Pacific: Vice Admiral Jack Fletcher (left). 7A pril xxxx ! FIRST AIR A.I I May 1942 Brisbane . 10 Marlh 1942 US larrier airnall strikes Japanese shipping in Huon Golf FIJI Willis Is. Vanua Levu Chesterfield Is.orong .

THE SE C O N D WORLD WAR IN THE EAST

THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY

first naval battle in which surface units did not come into contact with one another, this American formation lost the fleet carrier Lexington, one destroyer and one oiler, but extensively damaged the Shokaku and rendered the Zuikaku's air group hors de combat. Tactically a draw, the battle of the Coral Sea was strategically a clear Allied victory because the Japanese attempt to secure Port Moresby by seaborne assault was forestalled, never to be renewed. Even more importantly, the battle cost the Imperial Navy two of the six fleet carriers required for the Midway operation as well as 75 per cent of their bomber pilots and planes. MIDWAY Arguably Japanese losses in the Coral Sea were a major factor in the Japanese defeat off Midway in the following month: without the Shokaku and Zuikaku the main Japanese carrier formation committed to the Midway operation possessed no margin of superiority over the two American task groups that

Th e Japanese planned to secure Midway and then fight and win a battle against American forces obliged to offer battle because of Japanese possession of these islands. Th eir deployment was flawed on three counts: the various task forces could not support one another, the carrier force had few reconnaissance aircraft, and American reading of Japanese signals allowed a deployment of submarines and carriers to contest the Japanese attempt to secure Midway.

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PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 - NOVEMBE R 1943

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THE SECO N D WORLD WAR IN TH E EAST

opposed it. In reality, however, a number of other factors were also at work in deciding the outcome of the battle of Midway. The division of Japanese forces between two strategic objectives - the western Hawaiian Islands and the Aleutians - and recourse to separated formations that could not provide mutual support was critically important in ensuring Japanese failure and defeat off Midway. Moreover, the carrier force's lack of adequate strength with which to deal with two operational objectives - the suppression of Midway's air groups and the destruction of American carrier groups and the inadequate reconnaissance provision of the Japanese carrier force were no less important in settling the outcome of this action. But with second-line carrier aircraft embarked because of an inability to replace earlier losses, the whole Japanese undertaking in the central Pacific hung on a thread, no more obviously than with the Japanese plan of campaign.

The Imperial Navy planned to secure Midway and to fight and win a battle off the islands, but the only battle that it could have won was the battle it planned to fight. The fact that the battle did not unfold in accordance with Japanese plans left the leading carrier formation exposed to crushing defeat without other formations being able to intervene. If this was perhaps one of the most important single causes in the Japanese defeat off Midway, then the reason why the battle did not develop along the lines that had been planned the Americans' ability to offer battle as a result of their capacity to read Japanese signals - was no less important, as was outrageous good fortune which favoured the American carrier groups on the morning of 4 June. Off Midway the full measure of Japanese failure in terms of manifest deficiencies of planning and conduct of operations can be gauged by one simple fact: that despite committing eight carriers, eleven battleships, twelve heavy and nine light cruisers, sixty-four destroyers, eighteen submarines and 433 aircraft to this enterprise, only one American warship was attacked in the course of the battle of Midway. And in common with so many of their efforts, the Japanese perversely managed to sink two American warships, the fleet carrier Yorktown and the destroyer Hammann - the latter by a torpedo that had been aimed at the carrier. THE CAMPAIGN IN THE SOLOMON ISLANDS In the aftermath of Midway a lull was imposed on the Pacific war as both sides reorganized in readiness for the next phase of operations. Abandoning any attempt to carry the war deeper into the south-west Pacific, the Japanese planned to consolidate their present holdings and to develop their bases in the lower Solomons and eastern New Guinea. In the vastness of their conquest was an apparent assurance of security, especially as the Japanese had calculated that the United States would not be able to undertake any major offensive in the south-west Pacific until the second quarter of 1943, a view shared by American planning staffs. The. Japanese high command assumed that it still retained a

94

PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 - NOVEMBER 1943

The abandoned Japanes e fleet carrier H iry u on the morning of 5 Ju ne 1942 off Midway Islands. After the crippling of three carriers on the previous day the Hi ryu had attempted to continue the battle against three US carriers and her aircra ft attacked the Yorktown on two separate occasions before she was overwhelmed.

local initiative in this theatre and therefore had time to attend to the requirements of its perimeter bases and garrisons. The American position was somewhat different, but not markedly so. The Midway victory brought a halt to months of defeat and humiliation, but the priority afforded the European war ensured that only very limited offensive commitments could be accepted in summer 1942. A lack of assault and support shipping, as well as combat-ready formations, precluded any significant undertaking in the central Pacific. But the American high command was determined to exploit the advantage gained at Midway. With a single division available for offensive purposes, its attention was directed to the lower Solomons at the very time when Japanese concentration was fixed upon eastern New Guinea, specifically to the task of securing Port Moresby to prevent a gathering of Allied strength in this area. Thus the main battlefields of the next six to eight months were marked out, and with them the sequence of events that was to result in the breaking of Japanese naval power.

95

but in fact it was no more than a jungle trail which the Japanese could not hope to negotiate with their available forces and logistics. plus the actions fought by light forces in the northern Solomons that same month. Despite being heavily outnumbered. and their forces were landed in the middle of an Allied base. Thereafter Japanese progress faltered. These two campaigns were to unfold at the same time. Australian resistance on the Trail came together very quickly after a series of small but disastrous actions once raw formations were steadied by the arrival of battle-experienced forces from the Middle East. First. Guadalcanal. Second. before their landings the Japanese fondly believed that the Kakoda Trail was a motor track over the forbidding Owen Stanley mountain range. with pride on both sides severely dented (25 August/6 September).victories won around Henderson Field and the ability of aircraft. within sight of Port Moresby. and despite the annihilation of a Japanese military convoy in the Bismarck Sea in March 1943 that dissuaded the Japanese high command from attempting the direct supply of its formations in Huon Gulf after that time.not offensive . The main part of both campaigns. Despite a recasting of plans with the inauguration of the socalled New Operational Policy in September. but on the 24th began to withdraw down the Trail. The critical elements in the American victory in this campaign were the defensive . were able to move into the upper Solomons. swept aside feeble Australian resistance around the beachheads and pressured rapidly inland to secure Kakoda on the 27th. The Japanese recognized this and evacuated their surviving forces. and checked around Wau. but at this stage . But by occupying Buna and Gona on 21/22 July the Japanese forestalled the Allies. after a slow six-month struggle in the central Solomons. Third. and for four reasons .THE SECOND WO RLD WA R IN THE EAST Interdependence and victory: Hell's Corner. The American intention was to move to secure the Japanese positions on Tulagi and Guadalcanal in the Solomons in early August and to occupy the Dobodura area by an overland advance from Port Moresby that was to begin in the middle of that same month. was over by February 1943. by which time the Japanese had been forced to evacuate their surviving troops from Guadalcanal. their forces had been annihilated on the Kakoda Trail. the Allies being left free to develop their offensive into and beyond Huon Gulf. it was not until September 1943 that Allied forces moved to secure Lae and Salamaua and to move into the Markham Valley and beyond Cape Cretin. The American carrier raids on Rabaul on 5 and 11 November. though in the end only one outcome was possible. based on the airfield to deny Japanese warships use of the waters of the lower Solomons. on 14 September. By mid October the Japanese had withdrawn to positions in front of Kakoda. the Japanese none the less inflicted on their opponents a series of defeats that varied between the outrageous and farcical. October 1943. The Japanese were able to advance to the Ioribaiwa Ridge. at the end of which the Japanese position across the whole of the south-west Pacific had been compromised. primarily naval aircraft. the Japanese outer line of defence in the south-west and central Pacific stood on the brink of collapse. the Japanese plan to support their move through the mountains by landings in Milne Bay miscarried. closed this second phase of the Pacific war. and operations in the Solomons and New Guinea were to continue until the very end of the war. however. that Allied forces. In the event. It was in the following month.

NOVEMBER 19 4 3 97 .PROBLEMS : MAY 1942 .

Japanese attention and resources within the south-west Pacific were divided as a result of the American occupation of Tulagi and Henderson Field on Guadalcanal. Within another three weeks the Japanese attempt to overrun the Australian positions around Wau was defeated. and as events unfolded they were shown to lack the means to support even one effort to full effect. had been restricted to two separate areas both less than a mile in depth within the beachhead.500 men. but when there is . Japan's last am phibious offensive in the south-west Pacific was broken. when its freedom of action is restricted. In a battle that lasted two weeks. approximately 5. While Australian formations cleared Gona by 18 December. the Allied ability to airlift forces to the Wau-Mobu area being critical to the defeat of a much superior Japanese formation. was assured. August-September 1942. The greatest danger exists not when the battle on landis fluid. and the basis of an understanding of what was to happen in the lower Solomons over the next six months. In an attempt to renew their offensive against Port Moresby after Midway the Japanese unknowingly landed in an Allied base in Milne Bay on the eastern tip o f New Guinea. A fleet's vulnerability is never greater than when obliged to operate in direct support of ground forces. By the end of November the Japanese forces. The fact was that the Japanese lacked the means to support two efforts in theatre. The basis of this weakness. it was not until 22 January 1943 that Japanese resistance at Buna came to an end. The fourth reason for the Japanese defeat In eastern New Guinea in the second half of 1942 was that after 7/8 August. with the result that their defeat along the Kakoda Trail. given the Allies' local superiority of resources. As battle was joined in the lower Solomons.THE SECOND WORLD WA R I N THE EAST Australian troops passing knocked-out Japanese light tanks at Miln e Bay. the campaign in eastern New Guinea assumed secondary status for the Japanese. lies in recognition of one reality of naval warfare. were in very real danger of being overwhelmed as their enemies sought to outflank their positions by an advance up the Minami Valley and by airlifting forces from Milne Bay and Port Moresby to positions on the north coast from which to move against Buna and Gona.

NOVEMBER 1943 99 .PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 .

It also succeeded in taking Henderson Field under fire 100 . The defeat of successive offensives against Henderson Field and the loss of balance and organization of their naval formations both reflected and compounded this basic failure. and obliged to operate aircraft from Rabaul at the very limit of their endurance. Critically. and again with the same result as Coral Sea and Midway. the Japanese effort between August and November 1942 very slowly unravelled in the face of this local but ever-growing American advantage in the air. Over the next weeks the Imperial Navy was to correct the imbalance of losses with its submarines badly damaging the Saratoga (31 August) and sinking the Wasp (15 September). and securing local air superiority that became increasingly marked with the passing of time. however. again witnessed the Imperial Navy 's use of dispersed formations. fear of being caught in the area at dawn by enemy aircraft meant that the Japanese formation withdrew without setting about the assault shipping gathered off Guadalcanal. The Imperial Navy was obliged to try to reduce what amounted to an American fortress: the commitment of American forces ashore to a defensive battle around one airfield imposed upon Allied naval formations a lingering commitment 'in harm's way'. deadlock ashore. moreover. In the lower Solomons campaign these terms of reference applied to both sides. The Japanese light cruiser Ryujo and a destroyer were sunk. two other points of difference between what the Imperial Navy had anticipated and reality. The battle of the Eastern Solomons. and the Japanese fleet carriers were eliminated from further proceedings as a result of the losses incurred by their air groups: one American fleet carrier was lightly damaged. This omission was crucial because the Americans were then able to establish themselves securely ashore. Over fifty actions involving warships from one or both sides were fought in the course of the Guadalcanal campaign.THE SECON D WO RLD WAR I N T H E EAST Th e fin al scene at Buna on 2 January 1943 when American troops finally co mpleted the destruction of Japanese forces that had been co mmitted to the overland offensive against Port Moresby. Possession of the island base was in enemy hands. There were. but for one fact. namely the speed of decision and the timely intervention of Japanese battle forces in support of their formations ashore. With its main forces in the Inland Sea at the time of the American landings in the lower Solomons. 23/25 August. Initially. Japanese forces trapped on Huon Gulf fought literally to annihilation. sinking four heavy cruisers. the issue of victory and defeat was resolved very quickly by the Americans bringing Henderson Field into service. annihilate a Japanese detachment put ashore on 18/19 August and fly fighters into Henderson Field on the 20th without interference from the Japanese battle forces. it was not until the third week after the American occupation of Henderson Field that the Imperial Navy was able to deploy carrier forces in theatre. Though not appreciated at the time. the situation seemed to suggest that these two matters were of small account: the battle off Savo Island (9/10 August) saw a Japanese cruiser formation overwhelm part of the Allied force off Guadalcanal. Without any forward bases. which was the first test of the Japanese concept of perimeter defence. and the obligations of defensive and offensive action were directly contrary to what the Japanese had intended.

NOVE MBER 1943 ror .PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 .

THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST

GUADALCANAL

Guadalcanal covered an area of some 2,060 square miles but the struggle for its possession concerned itself with some 20 or so square miles of coastal plain on the northern coast. The interior of the island, through which Japanese forces had to move against the US position astride the Lunga, consisted of
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heavily eroded ridges covered by thick tropical forest . The campaign's outcome was largely decided by American defensive success along the southern perimeter, specifically in breaking the offensives of 12/14 September and 24/25 and 25/26 October. With the Japanese unable to overrun or even neutralize

Henderson Field, their longterm failure in the campaign was assured: their defeat became reality with the American victories in the first and second naval battles of Guadalcanal in mid November. Only in the very last phase of the campaign did US forc es move beyond the Matanikau.

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20 August: the airfield, now named Henderson Field, is co mpleted and (h e first Marine a ircraft arrive to give local air suppo rt 20 Aug - 14 Sept: continu ous skirmi shing cu lminating in the japanese attack on Bloody Ridge , which is driven off by the Marines. Despite further j apanese attacks the US bui ld up continues and from t he end of October the Marines ga in the initiative

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On the Kakoda Trail, at Buna and at Milne Bay, Australian forces, by breaking Japan ese offensives in eastern New Guinea, recorded perhaps Australia's finest achievement of the war. Australia, alone among combatant nations, had no conscription: yet one in two Australian males aged 18 to 45 enlisted voluntarily. At peak 89.4 per cent of all males aged 14 and over were in the services or employed directly in war work.

PROBLEMS: MAY 1942

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N OVEMBER 1943

as the seriousness of the situation in the lower Solomons slowly impressed itself upon the high command. Despite being worsted in a skirmish between cruiser forces that was dignified with the title of the battle of Cape Esperance. with the American carrier Hornet and destroyer Porter sunk. sunk by torpedoes fired by Japan ese warships at the battle of Kula Gulf. The battle of Santa Cruz. the Japanese made a major effort to build up their forces on Guadalcanal in readiness for a renewal of the offensive: at the same time capital ships were sent into the waters that washed Guadalcanal in an attempt to neutralize Henderson Field by sustained. and the carrier Enterprise damaged. 11/12 October. Thereafter. these Japanese efforts were generally successful: equality of numbers on the island and a reduced American effectiveness in the air were achieved by the time that the Imperial Navy committed its carrier forces to a second attempt to eliminate the American outpost on Guadalcanal. deliberate and heavy fire. This was the first of four closely-fought battles for the central Solomons by the end of which the Americans possessed clear advantage over the Japanese at sea. But a major offensive against the airfield encountered withering defeat on Bloody Ridge on 12 September. was perhaps one of 10 6 . 26/27 October. m a series of night bombardments and putting army formations ashore on Guadalcanal. against one Japanese fleet carrier and one light fleet carrier damaged. 6 July 1943.THE S E C O N D WORLD WAR IN T HE EAST The last salvo of the US light cruiser Helena.

With the Americans also committing heavy units to its defence. prevented the Japanese from pressing their advantage. the J apanese lost the battleship Hiei and two destroyers. the margin of success. The losses incurred by the Japanese air groups.179 tons of high-quality shipping in a single LSTs at Guadalcanal. in effect. to the task of neutralizing Henderson Field. the Kirishima. The loss of a battle division in these actions in many ways spelt the end of the Japanese effort. as well as a shortage of fuel. a drawn battle. In the aftermath of what was. But like the battle in the Coral Sea. . and bomber formations by day. with two further ships rendered hors de combat. another Japanese battleship. it was the Americans' greater ability to supply and reinforce their garrison and air formations on the island that largely determined events.NOVEMBER 1943 only two carner battles in the war when the Japanese had the better of an exchange with the Americans. six of the transports were lost on 14 November and another four ran themselves ashore and were bombed to destruction on the following day. 14/15 November. With eleven destroyers committed to the support of eleven transports. was too slender to permit an effective exploitation of advantage. fought at times at ranges at which torpedoes could not arm and battleship guns could not be depressed to bear upon the enemy. was lost in one of the only two capital ship actions of the Pacific war. 12/13 November. the Japanese took the decision to intensify their ferrying operations and to commit battleship and cruiser formations by night. compared to the Americans' two light cruisers and three destroyers. but what was no less serious in the long term was the annihilation of a troop convoy the Japanese tried to fight into Guadalcanal under the cover of its battle force. the Americans losing three destroyers. In the second engagement. Though naturally it was the fighting for Guadalcanal that ultimately decided the outcome of the campaign.PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 . the result was a three-day series of actions that broke the Japanese effort in this theatre. The loss of 70. In the first engagement. plus the fact that the army's second attempt to overrun Henderson Field failed on the 23rd.

T H E SECOND WOR L D WAR I N T H E EAS T 108 .

foreshadowing how the campaign in the Solomons. The surviving Japanese troops on Guadalcanal were evacuated. With her sister ship Hornet lost. nor a shipping The fleet carrier Enterprise at the battle of Santa Cruz. was the ability of naval aircraft to attack at low level. the importance of land-based air power can hardly be understated.500 tons (deep load). eighty-four aircraft. this was one of the few carrier actions in which the balance of losses favoured the Japanese but not to the extent that they were able to seize the initiative in the lower Solomons. was to unfold.PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 . but the struggle for Guadalcanal is notable for the fact that the aIr power available on Henderson Field was primarily naval air power. not conventional landbased air power. In any consideration of the war at sea in the Second World War.5 knots. in the first eight days of February 1943. These losses came after the destruction of 154.NOVEMBER 1943 24-hour period on a single mission was something that Japan could not afford . 29. On 31 December the Japanese high command took the decision to abandon the struggle for Guadalcanal and to evacuate its remaining forces from the island. Neither the November. and very often THE WASP carrier aircraft based ashore. Second. But Japan's position was even worse than these bare figures would indicate. What was so important in the sinking or damaging of Japanese ships. 26 October 1942. The first of these points is the nature of land-based air power on Henderson Field that was crucially important in deciding the outcome of this campaign.074 tons of service and merchant shipping in October .and at a time when an estimated 700. Compliance with Treaty regulations was achieved primarily at the expense of anti-torpedo protection. Within a couple of weeks the Americans moved to occupy and prepare an airstrip 10 the Russells. without loss. 10 and three matters its are of and significance understanding results implications. could be borne. twenty 20-mm guns.and medium-altitude attacks of heavy or medium land-based bombers. 13/15 commitment of this magnitude. and which so limited Japanese freedom of action. 18. But the campaign in the Solomons was over for the moment. ending the campaign in the lower Solomons. certainly not indefinitely and in waters commanded by enemy land-based air power. a qualitative balance began to establish I09 The Wasp. indeed in the Pacific as a whole. .more than twice Japan's replacement capability . rather than the high. eight 5-inch.000 tons of shipping were committed to operations losses of 10 the south-west Pacific.

Japanese industry produced 2. and the action off Vella Lavella on 6 October saw honours and losses more or less shared. but this advantage was too dearly bought in terms of armour and self-sealing tanks.500 miles.764-lb payload of the Betty. as the victory off Savo Island demonstrated. proved to be the last clear-cut Japanese naval victory of the war. a rough parity of quality prevailed.ln terms of speed and ceiling there was little to choose between them. But in the battles fought in Vella Gulf on 6/7 August and. not least because of their employment of divided MITCHELL On paper the two aircraft were well matched though with full loads the B-25 weighed almost twice as much as the G4M. . where the US Navy was very fortunate not to lose four heavy cruisers.at Kula Gulf on 6 July and at Kolombangara on the 13th.748 compared to 1. In range the Betty held a clear advantage. in the upper Solomons in November. they possessed a clear advantage in radar and communications. In terms of armament and payload the Mitchell carried fourteen cannon and maximum bomb load of 3. The first two of the three battles fought in mid year in the central Solomons . 3.200-lbs to the five guns and 1. the Imperial Navy possessed clear superiority over its opponents. The qualitative improvement of American naval forces in the course of this campaign was purchased by defeats and losses. It was a mark of Jap anese industrial weakness that the Betty. in Empress Augusta Bay and off Cape St George. but in the event Tassafaronga. At the outset. the Americans clearly outfought the Japanese. B-25 M ITCHELL The G4M Betty (left) never really had a proper replacement.THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST THE G4M BETTY AND B-25 itself at sea during the campaign. By the campaign's end.816 all B-25 types. and even allowing for the action off Tassafaronga (3 0 November) when the Japanese inflicted a stinging reverse on a considerably superior American cruiser formation.446 all G4M types: American industry 9. could not be replaced by improved marks or new aircraft types during the Pacific War. like most of the aircraft in frontline service in 1941. The Americans learnt from their mistakes and recast their tactics accordingly: in addition.

it was the US Navy that made it work. the Americans conducted no fewer than ten landing operations in this area. In one twoweek period. The reasons for such a state of affairs was varied. and have to fight under such conditions that its defeat was assured. and the inadequacy of Japanese The American landings on Rendova in the central Solomons were just one of five landings in the southwest Pacific on 30 June 1943: the others were near Salamaua and in Nassau Bay and on Woodlark and the Trobriands. the Japanese lack of air superiority in the immediate battle area. building on successes won on Guadalcanal and New Guinea and the breaking of Japa nese air power in the central and lower So lomons between April and m id June. the Americans imposed upon the Imperial Navy the campaign that the Japanese had assumed the Americans would have to fi ght. between 21 June and 4 July.NOVEMBER 1943 forces and synchronized attacks which were hitherto the monopoly of the Imperial Navy. The third and last point of significance about the Guadalcanal campaign is that ironically it provided vindication of the Japanese perimeter defence concept: unfortunately for the Imperial Navy. By seizing Tulagi and Henderson Field.PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 . III . the loss of the initiative that ensured that the Imperial Navy was obliged to react to events at the cost of the balance and timing of its operations. and then committing their main formations to the defence of these bases. though four were uppermost in ensuring that the Imperial Navy fought under conditions that all but guaranteed defeat: the inadequacy of individual bases and their inability to sustain themselves in the face of a massively superior enemy.

') Tjilatjap -Bali Jumbaw Flores Banka Christmas Is. The construction of the first of three airfields began on the 9th: it was readied for operations on 9 December. Java Sea Macassar J~ • .. Bougainville was subjected to assault on 1 November 1943. Luzon Strait Luzon Manil~ • PHIUPPINE ISlANDS .iomini • Kema • Biak HaJmehera Balikpapan • Palemban~ Bandjermasin • . DUTCH EAST INDIES • Amboina Bata"Vta. second... Celebes Bum Ceran: y Kendari. A U 112 . Ch S. Borneo . Sumba Timor Dutch Timor Sea The keys to Allied advances in the south-west Pacific theatre were. Samar Panay Leyte Palawan"P-" NegTo1johoL Sulu Sea Mindanao Sandakan ·Davao Celebes Sea Morota.THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST u 110'0 CHI N A E.Kragan FIores Sea \. the American ability to neutralize Japanese land-based air power before moving to secure objectives by amphibious assault and.. . first. bringing into service airfields from which the next moves could be supported and covered. Okinawf..

prior to O peration Cartwheel End 1942 . Wi/lisIs.. Hull Is. (Br) Jarvis/s. Honshu I Vla dj ostok H okkaido 1. Nanumea Nanumanga Niutao Niu Vaitopu Nov. (Br) Christmas Is.. (Fr) Bora Bora Amarican S. 1943 Nukufetau Funafuti Niulakita Northern Cook }s. Niihau lSI 'ce Vela Northern Pagan L Wake Is .November 1943 ~ ~ Japanese attacks end 1942 Japanese attacks early 1943 Allied attacks major US supply routes an Na g oy~ • Tokyo Osaka.. j . v Midway lso KureAtoll Lisianski Is. Nomoi Eniwetok Atoll Ujela ng Atoll Sa/lltt Caroline I slands Nukuoro Atoll Butaritari Marakei ... ------------~ -w i~ ~ Anatahan Johnston Atoll Saipan Rota Guam Ulithi rap + Truk Is. Rurntu Tubuai Raivavae Tubai I s . • M arCIlS General situation in the Pacific.NOVEMBER 1943 / 130 "0 140 'Q Arcti. Gardner Is.:~na Ha ~~ .erls~~ds ((. Tarawa November 1943 ~ ~ Howland Is. King George /s. Caroline /s. ay-IM INCHURIA ~ . Palmyra Is. • Honolulu.. rBr) Fanning Is. A II3 . Qi · I ?.a Is 26 March 1943 ." Haha Sh ima q ~ Is. Papeete mnch Polynesi. + Nauru . Muko Chichi lima -Y" 0 Laysan Is. Coral Sea Is. Rimotara Maria Is. Starbuk Is. KavBah s) :<\olokai MaUl Ma. Flint /s. Ord.mo.!. Sea of Japan. lwoJima _~sunc{on Neck.. Mivake Hacbiso Shikoku Sumisu Tori ~ Saru -Can I ~ ~ ~ Nis hino rDaito . (US) Washington 15. Malden Is .--"Nonuti Baker Is.94-3-. Society Is.. 15()"[] 170' Q _ 150 '0 140 '0 ( USA 60 '8-- I r f R Komandorskiye Ostrova Bering Sea Gulf of Alaska A~tu Is. Aleutian Islands ~mchrtk. Samoa VpoJu Tonga Niue T ahit. Banaba Gilbo~~iJ:r) Beru Arorae Birnie Is.DDaito ~.PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 .

land-based aircraft sank two light cruisers and shared in the destruction of one heavy cruiser and one light cruiser and carrier aircraft accounted for seven heavy and seven light cruisers and had claims on the credit for the destruction of three other units. In contrast. American strategic policy at the time of national entry into the Second World War was dominated by three considerations: the primacy of the Europefirst commitment. and in this phase of the war fought the wrong campaign. This coincidence of Axis defeats provides opportunity to consider the position of the Allied powers in the Far East at the end of 1942. but merely brought to the fore the intrinsic problem of seeking to fight a defensive campaign against a superior enemy with choice in the conduct of its offensive operations. over and on Guadalcanal and in eastern New Guinea came at a time of British victory at El Alamein. The outbreak of war also rendered the United States the dominant western influence within China. a campaign and a battle. and the policy decisions. another two being shared between warships and aircraft. At the II4 . The latter proved easy to secure. mainly American. This point raises another in its turn: most of the battles that constituted the campaign were not the battles that the Imperial Navy had planned to fight. that were to shape the events of the next thirty-two months which were to end with Japan's total defeat. The period of Japanese defeat off. the European war as well. just four were destroyed in action with enemy surface forces.THE SE C O N D W ORLD W AR I N T H E EA ST logistical support in terms of sustained operations. The wisdom of trying to prosecute a campaign at the most distant part of the defensive perimeter was also questionable. In the course of this campaign the Imperial Navy lost just one cruiser. in the longer term. in a surface action. The latter was crucial because the belief that Japan could not be defeated without the Imperial Army on the mainland being part of that defeat was to lead the United States into a search for both an expanded Chinese and a Soviet dimension to -the Japanese war. the development of air power meant that the battles it fought both here in this theatre and throughout the war were not the battles for which it had prepared. a confidence that the United States had the measure of Japan. ALLIED STRATEGY The outbreak of the Pacific war forced upon the United States the obligation of leadership in the prosecution of the war against Japan and vested her with the power of decision relative to Britain in matters affecting this war and. the AngloAmerican landings in north-west Africa and the Soviet counter-offensives in front of Stalingrad and Rzhev which collectively marked the Allies' wresting the strategic initiative from their European enemies. and the belief that Japan's defeat had to embrace both Asian and Pacific dimensions. The Japanese seemed unable to adapt their battle plans to the reality of the conflict. and of the sixteen heavy and twenty-two light cruisers lost during the war. the Furutaka. If the Imperial Navy in the inter-war period failed to distinguish between a war.

Churchill and their leading military advisers King. . American intentions were supposedly The Casablanca conference. chief of combined operations.PROBLEMS: MAY 194 2 . involved a baffling array of inter-alliance. however. Brooke. and the American effort in this direction calls to mind the definition of the Japanese involvement in that country: the China quagmire. and to stage a strategic bombing campaign against the Japanese home islands from bases in southern and central China. The simplicity of American expectations of China's role III the defeat of Japan was to involve a host of problems that crystallized over the next three years at different levels. January 1943: Roosevelt. although ironically by the time that the Soviet Union was in a position to honour this undertaking American enthusiasm for Soviet intervention was past. Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Portal. Pound (First Sea Lord until October 1943). logistical and bureaucratic problems. Marshall. strategic. The China part of the American equation. Field Marshal Sir John Dill (head of British military delegation in Washington) and Vice Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten. proved much more difficult.NOVEMBER 1943 Tehran conference in November 1943 the Soviet high command gave an undertaking to enter the war against Japan within three months of Germany's defeat. The twin intentions to arm and equip Chinese field armies with a view to their conducting major offensive operations.

To add to the perversity of this situation. involving an advance across the mountains and through the jungles that separated India and Burma against an enemy served by good lines of communication through the Sittang and Irrawaddy valleys. but was determined to resist. was quite willing to play host to an American air effort. the demands of the defence of that road against an intact enemy in central Burma would be equal to the capacity of the road itself. in the long term. Chungking regarded the Communists. Chungking. the British high command had no wish to undertake such a commitment: Japanese strength in Burma. more important objectives than Rangoon. but in fact emerged as rivals to one another. Geography suggested that only an amphibious effort directed against Rangoon as the first stage of an offensive into central and upper Burma offered any realistic prospect of clearing Burma and developing an overland line of supply into China. But the demands of the European war ensured that the British could not undertake such an operation. the desire to stage an air offensive from China took no account of the implications that flowed from the basic premise that underpinned American (mis)calculations. however. In reality. and in any event they fell foul of the wishes of the Nationalist regime in Chungking that had no real interest in fulfilling the role that Washington ordained. not that Washington agreed with this analysis. the reconquest of Burma represented a most hazardous undertaking. For the British. To further complicate matters. not the Japanese. But without any major military undertaking and the securing of the bases from which such an offensive would be mounted. the fact remained that. the American requirements for an airlift into China and an offensive into upper Burma were dependent upon a logistical infrastructure in north-east India that did not exist. and which the American high command was determined should not be developed at the expense of two undertakings that it wanted to see effected immediately. given the need to rI6 . But even if upper Burma was cleared sufficiently to permit the building of a road into China. plus the existence in south-east Asia of other. and if the Americans were prepared to mount an airlift from bases in India that did not exist. a strategic bombing campaign could only miscarry. Moreover. therefore. China could only be supplied on the necessary scale by overland communications that ran through Burma. and was one that Britain was not merely unable to undertake. the engineer support needed for any offensive into upper Burma was not available. Thus the British reconquest of Burma formed a basic American requirement. were positive incentives to the British to bypass Burma in order to seek out enemy weakness.THE SE C O N D WORLD WAR IN THE EAST complementary. as the real enemy. China could only be supported and readied for her appointed tasks from India. and while willing to accept American aid was reluctant to undertake offensive operations that would consume military resources that were to be preserved for the post-war settling of accounts with the domestic foe. it being axiomatic that lower Burma could not be cleared of a Japanese enemy by an overland offensive staged from north-east India.

and one general in particular.and Sino-American deliberations.N OVEMBER 194 3 develop north-east India in order to make such an offensive possible. Throughout the war there was a series of attempts by South West Pacific Command to subordinate its naval counterpart and the Pacific Fleet to itself. Thus were created Admiral Chester Nimitz's Pacific Ocean Areas and General Douglas MacArthur's South West Pacific Command and. the American position was scarcely less difficult because there the US Army and Navy were involved in war with the real enemy.PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 . The China-Burma combination thus threw up a series of clashes of priorities that confounded Anglo. At the heart of this inherently unsound arrangement was the Navy's refusal to put the Pacific Fleet under the command of a general. November 1943. for most of the war these commands were as much rivals as partners. and which bred mutual exasperation and distrust. while the army high command sought to impose a joint organization upon Their only meeting. like the two strands of American intention with respect to China. President Franklin D. In the Pacific. and the Army's wilful refusal to allow the Navy the position of pre-eminence that the very nature of the Pacific war should have ensured. physical and not one of minds: Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. Bureaucratic and personnel considerations meant that after March 1942 the American effort in the Pacific was to be divided between the two services. Il7 . Roosevelt and Prim e Minister Winston Churchill at Cairo.

plus the existence in south-east Asia of other. But even if upper Burma was cleared sufficiently to permit the building of a road into China. the engineer support needed for any offensive into upper Burma was not available. but in fact emerged as rivals to one another. But the demands of the European war ensured that the British could not undertake such an operation. the demands of the defence of that road against an intact enemy in central Burma would be equal to the capacity of the road itself. and in any event they fell foul of the wishes of the Nationalist regime in Chungking that had no real interest in fulfilling the role that Washington ordained. Geography suggested that only an amphibious effort directed against Rangoon as the first stage of an offensive into central and upper Burma offered any realistic prospect of clearing Burma and developing an overland line of supply into China. For the British. Moreover. therefore. China could only be supplied on the necessary scale by overland communications that ran through Burma. was quite willing to play host to an American air effort. Thus the British reconquest of Burma formed a basic American requirement. Chungking regarded the Communists. as the real enemy. and if the Americans were prepared to mount an airlift from bases in India that did not exist. the reconquest of Burma represented a most hazardous undertaking. it being axiomatic that lower Burma could not be cleared of a Japanese enemy by an overland offensive staged from north-east India. not that Washington agreed with this analysis. and which the American high command was determined should not be developed at the expense of two undertakings that it wanted to see effected immediately. China could only be supported and readied for her appointed tasks from India. To further complicate matters. To add to the perversity of this situation. more important objectives than Rangoon. given the need to II6 . in the long term. and was one that Britain was not merely unable to undertake. but was determined to resist. a strategic bombing campaign could only miscarry. not the Japanese. the desire to stage an air offensive from China took no account of the implications that flowed from the basic premise that underpinned American (mis)calculations. the British high command had no wish to undertake such a commitment: Japanese strength in Burma. and while willing to accept American aid was reluctant to undertake offensive operations that would consume military resources that were to be preserved for the post-war settling of accounts with the domestic foe. Chungking. however. the fact remained that. In reality. were positive incentives to the British to bypass Burma in order to seek out enemy weakness.THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE E AST complementary. involving an advance across the mountains and through the jungles that separated India and Burma against an enemy served by good lines of communication through the Sittang and Irrawaddy valleys. But without any major military undertaking and the securing of the bases from which such an offensive would be mounted. the American requirements for an airlift into China and an offensive into upper Burma were dependent upon a logistical infrastructure in north-east India that did not exist.

These cancelled out the potential advantage of Japan's central position from which to check the American efforts. . Originally. perversely proved American National resources permitted the development of :. But if inter-service rivalries were very much part of the American policymaking scene from the outset of war. when Finschhafen was secured.the war was taken into the central Solomons by the landings in the New Georgia group in June and on b. these efforts were largely successful. The move against the Treasuries and Bougainville was one part of a double effort. the US Pacific Fleet possessed the means to take the war to Japanese strength. The first was that by November 1943. as the Guadalcanal campaign came to an end.~"II two offensives across both the central and the south-west Pacific in 1944. For the landings in the Gilberts the Americans were to deploy no fewer than six rIS . But by October 1943. By this time the American high command had settled on a bypass strategy that would avoid Japanese strength and leave Rabaul 'to wither on the vine'. the division . these efforts came to success on the back of victories won by the US Navy and the Pacific Fleet: in real terms. Rather strangely. While the Americans reclaimed the Aleutian Islands that had been lost in June 1942 . . the American intention for the moment was limited and cautious. the other part..THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST Nimitz's command while ensuring that the power of decision within South West Pacific Command remained in army hands. the move into the upper Solomons represented major change in two respects. Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz.. . the landings in the Gilbert Islands. Vella Lavella in August. Lae and Salamaua were secured in September.Attu in May and Kiska in August . represented the opening of the central Pacific offensive. the US Army's contribution to victory by the time that South West Pacific Command had its way in summer 1944 with the definition of the clearing of the Philippines as the American national priority was minimal. and in February 1943 this remained the American intent. On the same day as the landings in New Georgia the New Guinea effort began with landings on Woodlark. in the Trobriands and in Nassau Bay. the Guadalcanal commitment had been adopted as the first step in an effort that was culminate with the capture of Rabaul. However. Even more strangely. of the Pacific into to two service commands advantage... For much of 1943 relatively little change on the map occurred.. By this time American shipyards had more than made good the losses that had been incurred to date. The central Pacific offensive was one of two massively significant developments in 1943. Commander-inChief US Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Area and post-war Chief of Naval Operations.

but what was to be remarkable about material and human losses was not their heaviness. The subsequent advance across the central Pacific The scene on Tarawa: if anything the scenes on the reef where so many amphibians came to grief were much worse. Inevitably. In any week of her war with Germany between June 1941 and May 1945. secured a numerical and qualitative superiority and stumbled across the basic 'the-more-you-use-the-less-you-lose' principle that they made their own. Tarawa was the one occasion when the casualty lists were more or less even. five light fleet and eight escort carriers. in real terms. in the special conditions of naval warfare. the decision of the war had been reached with the opening of this offensive.N OVEMBER 194 3 fleet. but how economically victory was purchased. that these landings were assured of success: the Americans were able to isolate an objective from outside support and overwhelm it before the Japanese could intervene effectively. though the Japanese lists mostly consisted of dead: thereafter the balance of losses overwhelmingly favoured the amphibious assault. By November 1943.PROBLEMS: MAY 1942 . and such numbers proved that. the Americans. II9 . and such was the widening disparity in quality of equipment. Such was the disparity of numbers. there was to be a cost exacted in the process. the Soviet Union lost more dead than the total American fatalities in the Pacific war.

this was not the relevant yardstick.199 total tonnage 379.726 64 A verage foss per mo nth 21 sh ips 97.868 96. the scale of Japanese losses was relatively modest. military and civilian shipping losses by comparative periods (below) and by area of operation (opposite). introduce convoy for shipping. and had to be replaced by shipping drawn from trade.THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST JAPANESE TRANSPORT LOSSES BY COMPARATIVE PERIODS AND BY AREAS OF OPERATION represented the application of a superiority and technique wholly absent from their conduct of operations during the Guadalcanal campaign. A very careful analysis of Japanese losses will reveal that increasing losses after October 1943 had very little to do with the general introduction of convoy but conformed to patterns of sinking that had been established before this time.9 19 [onnes December 1941 -April 1942 A verage loss per month 11 shjps 52 . and in the eight months that followed again appreciably increased. Civilian shipping losses were not light between December 1941 and October 1943. 561 120 . The critical points to note in terms of sinkings were the heaviness of service shipping rather than civilian shipping losses. The most serious losses were incurred by service shipping: their losses were disproportionate because of the slenderness of shipping allocated to the armed forces.199 382.407 111 31 0. After the cheaply won successes of the opening phase. Compared to sinkings in the Battle of the Atlantic. By November 1943 the rate of loss bordered on the prohibitive. but.October 1943 67 ~ 111 number of ships sunk I @ 379. a pattern that has been largely obscured in post-war histories by the fact that Japanese shipping losses increased massively after October 1943 and the raising of the General Escort Command and Japanese attempts to Japanese naval. but 21 89 May 1942 . and the simple fact that by October 1943 the central Pacific had emerged as the real graveyard of service shipping despite the fact that to date it had not played host to any significant offensive. the relative decline of importance of the northern and south-west Pacific theatres as reflected in the decline of losses in these areas.801 cb Civilian shipping March 1943 Military shipping Naval shipping .000 tons per month.216 tonnes 'l!I @ 345. But no less significant was the pattern of sinkings. After relatively minor losses in the opening five months of hostilities.February 1943 Japanese Transport losses by comparative periods 108. the pace of sinkings quickened considerably between May 1942 and February 1943. Japanese losses quickly reached prohibitive proportions: estimated replacement capacity was 75.982 322. The second of the two developments that took place in the course of 1943 concerned the campaign against Japanese shipping. of course.

706 Military Shipping Civilian Shipping North Pa cific U Home Waters East China Sea _ Central Pacific _ Southwest Pacific Southwest Asia _ Indian Ocean China / unknown theatres they were certainly not disastrous. The first was American correction of various material defects.NO VEMBER 19 4 3 Japanese Transport losses by areas of operation 1 March 1943 . For example. the priority afforded fleet operations meant that attacks upon large merchantmen. such as fleet oilers. What was at work by October 1943 in ensuring ever-greater American inroads into Japanese shipping strength was a combination of three matters relating to the submarine campaign. The second was American correction of organization and doctrine that had handicapped operations in the first two years of war. did not figure highly in American calculations with the result that such targets were afforded a single torpedo. The concentration of merchantmen losses in home waters and the East China Sea reflected the peculiarity of geography that forced shipping coming into Japan to use ports on the exposed east coast.31 October 1943 Navy Shipping Total tonnage sunk: 296. By the third quarter of 1943 realism in such matters as torpedo allocation had 121 . well-built merchantmen. which had hampered operations from the start of hostilities. The fact was that by October 1943 Japanese shipping had to negotiate certain narrows and was increasingly vulnerable to a submarine offensive that had assumed momentum after a very uncertain start. What was especially serious about these losses was the evident inability of the Imperial Navy to protect shipping in an operational area that was smaller than the North Atlantic. an insufficient investment for attacks on large. most obviously faulty torpedoes.PROBLEM S: M AY 19 42 .

977.484 tons in Japanese home waters.198 tons was sunk in south-east Asia.48 per cent of overall Japanese losses.446. Submarines accounted for 4. 897. and in September 1943 the number of submarines at Pearl H arbo r allowed mo nthl y sa ilin gs to be sustained at that level. meant tha t from autumn 1943.THE S E C O N D WORLD WA R I N THE EAST . The third was the simple fact that by summer 1943 American subm a rine operatio ns had ass umed a scale that for the first time was significant.851 tons consisted of service shipping) in the central Pacific. What all these changes . doctrin e a nd growing numbers .227 tons of service and civilian shipping. intruded upon American doctrinal deliberati o ns. In June 1943 the number of sailings fro m Pea rl Harbor exceeded twenty in a mo nth for the first time. when co mbined with sailings fro m Australian bases. the America ns were able to maintain a significant number of submarines o n station . some 53.302 tons (of which all but 63. and 55 7. 898. Thi s fact. Of this total 1.material .696 tons in the East China Sea. and the American ability to read J ap a nese shipping signals increased their effectiveness by an estimated o ne-third .meant was th at by the third quarter of 1943 the American submarine fo rce had readi ed I22 .

.

CHAPTER FOUR ------+~:~:~~4. 18 May 1944. FAILURE AND COLLAPSE NOVEMBER 1943 - OCTOBER 1944 THE FRONT LINE ON WAKDE ISLAND. After landings on the previous day at Arare on the New Guinea mainland. lrl~. they were abandoned in February 1944. .------ THE THIRD MILESTONE: THE ROAD TO DEFEAT.~••~~~ . the Americans moved against Wakde in order to secure its airfield. Wakde was secured within five days but the Arare-Toem area was not cleared until September: after both had served their purpose in supporting the moves into the Philippines.

but that apart. both more powerful than herself and which were historically apart from and a part of Europe. saW what had been the most powerful of the continents reduced to the status of the object of deliberations of two states. the Japanese prime minister. and it ended with the Americans in a position to take the war to Japanese home waters. the warning was as much a shock as it was a total misrepresentation of reality. the second of which included probably the most destructive single day in naval warfare. this period saw perhaps the greatest destruction of shipping other than warships in a single day with the American raid on Truk on 17 February 1944. when she entered into her inheritance as the greatest power in the world. 126 . It was a year that. clearly. It was the year of the coming of age of the United States. 'the year of defeats' that sealed the fate of the remaining Axis powers. Japanese mercantile resources were inadequate to meet minimum national requirements. It was the year that sealed the defeat of Germany and Japan. victory in the Philippines (and hence astride Japan's lines of communication with the southern resources area) was only a matter of time. The year in which defeat assumed reality for Japan was between 20 November 1943 and 25 October 1944. specifically in the series of defeats that overwhelmed both in the single month of June.THE SECOND WO RLD WAR I N THE EAST THE THIRD MILESTONE: THE ROAD TO DEFEAT. 1944 was such a moment in time. and specifically Japan. To a country which had been told that the war had been won in 1942. Such was the diffusion of power within the Japanese political system that Tojo. It was the year that witnessed the emergence of the Soviet Union as the greatest military power in Europe. lacks 'annual exactitude'. The war was already lost: it was the defeats that were about to begin. with the Japanese stripped of every form of resistance but one. in addition to being prime minister. It was a period that witnessed two of the greatest naval battles in history. But there are moments in history 'when the world turns'. it saw Japanese shipping butchered to the extent that by the end of 1944. warned that 'the real war is just beginning'. and. There is a certain appropriateness in the fact that on 6 June 1944 American forces came ashore at Normandy and American carrier task groups sailed from Majuro in the Marshalls for the battle of the Philippine Sea. and weaned on a fare of Anglo-American incompetence and Japanese invincibility. The events of the Pacific war did not unfold in a manner that permits chronological neatness: there was no exact correlation between campaigns and battles and the structure of the calendar. their last faint chances of somehow avoiding ruin being destroyed. after which the final American Prime Minister General Tojo Hideki. by virtue of these developments. In addition. between the American descent upon Japanese bases in the Gilberts and the battle of Leyte Gulf. General Tojo Hideki. any period of time can be presented as being endowed with special circumstance: in a sense mendacity is the historian's trademark. FAILURE AND COLLAPSE I N A SPEECH to the Diet on 27 December 1943. By a judicious selection of material. took on the edu cation and munitions portfolios and also became army minister: after February 1944 he was also the Army's chief of staff.

The period is dominated by events in the two main theatres of operation. di stance and importance. Mitscher. which the Japanese commanded a measure of southern China proved of then In crucial importance. In Operation H ailstone 35 transports and merchantmen were sunk. and the start of the land-based bombing of the Japanese home islands. But this period witnessed the continuing campaign against shipping. The campaign Second World III III BELOW: Vice Admiral Marc A. In one 24-hour period. 17 February 1942.OCTOBER 1944 Between November 1943 and October 1944 Japan was defeated not in two struggles. namely in the central and south-west Pacific. the J apa nese launched an offensive throughout southern China directed against the airfields from which this bombing effort was staged. which rightly overshadow all other matters in terms of scale. and somewhat oddly. the Japanese lost three months' shipyard production. the defeat of the Japanese offensive into north-east India that exposed upper Burma to invasion. but in five.THE ROAD TO DEFEAT. In addition. FA ILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 . LOWER: Japanese naval yard at Dublon Island under attack during the carrier raid on Truk. perhaps the most important of these in the sense of long-term consequence was the one effort success. if not in the outcome of the War weakening the I27 . All these efforts command attention in their own right.

was the largest Japanese land operation of the war. it provided an Indian Army that was soon to be ripped apart by the partition of the Raj with a very real. rehabilitated British prestige on the sub-continent and throughout south-east Asia. and by the state of troops on arrival. At the same time. Chungking regime. In stating matters thus. Chinese route marches were notorious both for natural wastage and casual executions carried out by Chinese nationalist officers. 1943. one acknowledges the nature of 128 . the first stage in what amounted to a clearing of Burma by June 1945. assumed critical proportions. The Imperial Army's offensive. Chinese nationalist formations marching to the Salween front. and served to undermine the credibility of Kuomintang authority even as the end of the Japanese war became discernible. Elsewhere. Despite the good order shown in this photograph. involving 620. code named Ichi-Go. the campaign against Japanese shipping. as noted earlier. the defeat of the Japanese 'March on Delhi' in front of Imphal and Kohima. final victory that paid in full for past defeats and humiliation.THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST Yunnan.000 Japanese troops.

while American carrier fo rces rampaged throu ghout the central Pac ific as far west as the Palaus.OCTOBER 1944 victory in total war: while certain efforts clearl y are more important than others. ACROSS THE WESTERN PACIFIC This period of the war was to open with two related efforts over three months : the destruction of the more important Japanese garrisons in the Gilberts and Marshalls.T H E ROAD TO DEFEAT. the Americans Indian soldiers in the fighting conditions of north-east India and northern Burma. FA IL URE AND CO LL APSE: NOVEMBER 1943 . partly explains British and Japanese reluctance to consider offensive operations in th is theatre. Its subsequent defeat at the battle of the Philippine Sea bared the whole of the western Pacific to an 129 . and a series of opera tions in New Guinea and the Bismarcks that resulted in the bypassing and isolation of Rabaul. Then . the landings in the Marianas forced the Imperial Navy to give battle. Such vegetation. after a two-month respite from landing opera ti o ns. limiting an advance to a single soldier at arm's length. conducted landings at Aitape and Hollandia on the northern coast of New Guinea on 22 April 1944. and very little is to be gained in any attempt to assess relative contributions beyond recognition of different worth. From these positions the Americans moved against Japanese holdings in western New Guinea in May. before the main effort in the central Pacific unfolded in mid June with landings in the Mariana Islands. With the J apanese having abandoned the policy of forward defence and dignified the Vogelkop-Truk-Marianas line with ne plus ultra status. every little counts in the product of the whole.

With the landings in the Palaus too far advanced to be cancelled. the result was that American forces landed on Leyte on 20 October. This landing marked the end of an advance of some 2. flight deck and two F6F Hellcats of the US fleet carrier Essex. In the course of the strategic advance across the Pacific. the carrier air group became increasingly defensive with more fighters and fewer strike aircraft.200 miles in thirteen months since Huon Gulf had been secured.THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST Island. American advance. With the Marianas and bases for a strategic bombing offensive against the Japanese home islands secured. the revelation of Japanese weakness throughout the Philippines as a result of the carrier raids of 9/10 and 12/14 September prompted the American decision to abandon the proposed landings on Mindanao in favour of an accelerated move into the Visayans. and it provoked one last despairing effort by the Imperial Navy to fight 13° .

with three escort carriers operating in support. and which continued for a full month after the main-force engagements and immediate follow-up operations between 23 and 28 October.OCTOBER 1944 'the decisive battle' in which it continued to believe until it ceased to exist. The American victory at Leyte Gulf ensured ultimate victory throughout the Philippines and exposed the approaches and the home islands to direct Allied attack. a three-part affair. Makin was secured within four days but the fight for the island was overshadowed by the battle for neighbouring Tarawa. FA IL URE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 . The battle of Leyte Gulf was. With the moves by Allied forces into the Treasuries and northern Choiseul in the Solomon The landings on Makin by troops from the 27th In fantry Division. 20 November 1943: the landings were supported with fire support from four battleships and four cruisers.THE ROAD TO DEFEAT. this battle was really only one part of an effort that had begun with the American carrier raids on Formosa and the Philippines two weeks before. In reality. the actions off Cape Engano and in the Surigao Strait complementing the action in Leyte Gulf itself. . in fact.

4J)ACHr @] B m k N s E xx lJ I xx J:.." .. l' Pap u a • Mawatta Kokbda .SJ 20 Al exishafe n xxx . None the less the Americans conducted a series of operations that ensured control of the central So lomons and eastern New Guinea.. with US carrier forces operating in the central Pacific.SJ 51 • xx Wewak • Bogia xx Karkar Is.) Trail. Thereafter..... 8' -~ ~ ~ f MICHAELMAS TF . 32 xx "- "" G u / f o f if' <" .SJ 41 26 April J:.P 0 II . e -- JOO Torres Strait Cape York Cor a / Sea AUSTRALIA 144 146' 148' 150 I3 2 . the Americans were free to develop their offensive operations along the north coast of New Guinea. Madang ADACHI 00 24 April Et? • HI ~ P A p 1J.. before beginning a series of operations in November 1943 aimed at neutralizing and bypassing R abaul: this was achieved by February-March 1944 with the acquisitio n of Manus and Emirau..... • further landings at: Arare 17 May Wakde 18 May and Biak 27 May ~ xx - Emirau I s.. New Hanover • Kavieng J:.)Port Moresby q ~. • Kil ori ~ < P..THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST THE SOUTH-WEST PAC IFIC I943-4 In 1943 relatively few islands or towns changed hands as both sides reorganized in the aftermath of the campaigns on Guadalcanal and in eastern New Guinea.

tf" Allied advance Japanese units ~ airborne landing airfield Ee 154 §= 1000 200 Rennell Is. • Rabaul IsAREA I IMAMURA XXXXX PACIFIC OCEAN + s Choiseul Is. FAILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 . S olomon Sea XXX EASTER / / Santa lsave/Is..OCTOBER 1944 Major Generals Holland Smith and Charles Corlett in the attack transport Cambria. 162 0 Om 156 158 1600 0 133 . Holland Smith a somewhat tempestuous Marine Corps commander of exceptional ability but little patience and tact.April 1944 Louisiade Archipelago --. . q" Wood/ark Is. Fen.. LANDING FORCE _ 103 XX Malaita Is. Guadalcanal \ Islands Allied offensive in the South Pacific February 1943 . Is.bar Islands Lahir Is. Corlett was army divisional commander at Kwajalein. His dismissal of an army general of the same name on Saipan led to bitter inter-service recriminations.THE ROAD TO DEFEAT.

first that the next moves in this theatre should be directed to Aitape and Hollandia. accounted for the greater part of the air groups at Rabaul. Operation Dexterity was one of the last Allied operations that completed the ring around Rabaul. The Japanese. should be afforded priority in the conduct of the Pacific war. In addition. it grew from the inter-service rivalries within the American high command that had resulted in the establishment of two commands in the Pacific. Islands as the prelude to landings in Empress Augusta Bay on 1 November 1943. Conducted without carrier and battleship support. the Aitape-Hollandia initiative was to be afforded a planning code name . both 134 . These reverses. but its immediate origin lay in the reaction. plus the clear American victory in the destroyer battle off Cape St George on 25 November. The product of planning future operations. and the occupation of Emirau by the 4th Marine Division on 20 March completed the encirclement and neutralization of Rabaul.that would have been sufficient comment upon it. and South West Pacific Command itself. sent a cruiser force into the Bay and initiated a closely fought night action which was narrowly won by the Americans. some 400 miles beyond present positions. where they were to remain mostly unmolested and helpless until the end of the war. The second demand. a somewhat unusual state of affairs with reference to MacArthur and South West Pacific Command headquarters. the Aitape-Hollandia proposal was both reasoned and reasonable. and second that these offensives. the Japanese 6th Infantry Division's attempt to overrun American positions was broken during March 1944.THE SE C O N D WORLD WAR I N THE EAST Th e landings on Cape Gloucester. Forces from South West Pacific Command occupied Manus in the Admiralties in February 1944. but the American carrier raid of 5 November mauled the formation two hours after it arrived at the base. western New Britain. With Allied forces in New Guinea moving to secure Cape Gloucester on 26 December and Saidor on 2 January 1944. was somewhat different. The ease with which these various efforts unfolded prompted two demands on the part of South West Pacific Command. by the 1st Marine Division on 26 December 1943. the 3rd New Zealand Division's landings in the Green Islands on 15 February and the American landings in the Admiralties two weeks later isolated Rabaul. and by this time the Allies possessed sufficient land-based air power to neutralize Japanese air formations in these areas without undue difficulty. Despite appearances to the contrary. By the war's end Japanese forces on New Britain were confined to no more than a close perimeter around Rabaul. The Imperial Navy then committed another cruiser force to Rabaul. On Bougainville the 3rd Marine and 37th Infantry Divisions side-stepped the main concentrations of Japanese forces and secured fighter and bomber strips around Cape Torokina from which to cover operations into the Bismarcks. Largely intact Japanese forces on New Britain withdrew into the base. but for two facts of life: the ability to read Japanese signals had alerted the Americans to the weakness of Japanese forces in the Aitape and Hollandia areas. however. the Allied victory began to assume substance. forestalled the possibility of sustained Japanese resistance in the upper Solomons. plus the raid of 11 November.Reckless . who had put carrier air groups ashore at Rabaul intending to contest any enemy move into the upper Solomons. With the Japanese holding the equivalent of a corps around and in front of Wewak. this strike.

THE ROAD TO DEFEAT. FAILURE AND CO LLAPSE : NOVEMBER 1943 .OCTOBER 1944 135 .

.C O N D W ORLD WA R I N THE EAST . .301 casualties '9n Tarawa ~as light.9Y the 2nd. and in so doing opeIillfd the way to fu~t)ler offensives into the Marshall~ and Caroliries. . > • public and military. between 21 ".at~gic '-. Manne DIVlS19D on Tarawa. Very simply.:Ocean A~eas cnm~~nd secured six -atolls in this group.rid 29 ' Novem((e. to the Gilberts campaign. In breaking ope~ one-h y :paft of Japan's outer perimeter ddences the Americans • j-.s Pac~_c .by~ ' ~~e-~i~e~~d ~~av~~es~ of losses..eCl botl~ ~n ~' -( . I')Ubli~ . succe~s" but it wa\ a .THE SE. a total of'3. In _truth.ciri ter~s ' of the 6ver~U numbers employed m this operation': the \ register~d a' ver'y rea(~'tr.. --'.~c~ess over~hadow~~. 'j " .outcry ~ri this -~core-reiI~~~.. speClfIcallYJ those lnClifred. . '.American forces drawn from N~mitz.

FAILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 . . most of the defici~ncies' that marred Operat~on Sa van/~had been reinedied.. Such was the ..J THE ROA'DTO D£FEAT. . In very large measure.oming available for the close support rdie. 31 January . February 1944. None the less by the time of the offensive in the Marshalls. . themselves to the . most obviously in terms of clo'se air 'and ~ire support. unreasonable expectation and ' the fact that t~ date in' the Pacific war American c~slialties had been unco~scionably' ...m beaches and by inadequate fire support. and with more escort carriers fjec. The first major assault landing conducted by American forces. November 1943..light. subsequent. the problems that attached .Tara~a endeavour stemmed from a number of planning erro s' and the fact that this" was the first set-piece amphibious 'assault undertaken ~y American forc~s in th'e war: the.4.OCTOBER 1944 J-. Tarawa.~ampaign in the Marshalls. \ I -t o . ease with which Kwajalein was secured tha't. was· to demonstrate vastly improved / technique. . ~ncomipitted forces were moved ' forward to secure Eniwetok on 17 February. the offensive in the Gilberts was noted for errors of planning without due allowance for water depths and exits fr. .

THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST .

and that there could be no offensive from the south-west Pacific inside the line of the Carolines and Marianas that left the Japanese in possession of these islands. the Corsair was superior to most land-based fighters. 3 February 1944. But what was more immediately relevant. OPPOSITE: VOUGHT F4U-2 CORSAIR First flown in May 1940. The main Japanese fleet units had been withdrawn to the Palaus and thence to Singapore or the home islands. confirmation of the central Pacific priority was attended by the decision to bypass rather than attempt to take Truk. to be cleared or bypassed was not resolved. Japanese formations at Aitape and Hollandia were overwhelmed by the ABOVE TOP: Kwajalein.OCTOBER 1944 This second demand was resisted by a navy high command that argued that no offensive into the western Pacific could be developed without clearing the island groups of the central Pacific. ruining Japanese strategic intention in the process. the Marianas argument was underpinned by the decision to stage a future strategic bombing offensive in the islands. 3 February. Various problems delayed deliveries until mid 1942 and ensured that first deployment was to shore-based squadrons. FAILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 . the Corsair saw service as a fighter. The carner force was thus freed for offensive operations throughout the central Pacific. But. inevitably. 139 . The logic of this argument was unanswerable. With no fleet at Truk to provide support. it could not resist. ABOVE BOTTOM: Kwajalein.THE ROAD TO DEFEAT. The occupation of Eniwetok took place on the same day that the carrier force struck Truk in a raid anticipated by the Imperial Navy and which it knew. Such was the extent of success that American forces were able to move against Arare on 17 May and Wakde the next day. and the wonder of South West Pacific Command's demand was that it was ever seriously considered. given the losses of its carrier air groups and cruiser force at Rabaul. and the Pacific Fleet's carriers would support the Aitape-Hollandia operation on New Guinea. night-fighter and fighter-bomber. 31 January 1944. Ultimately deployed to carriers. even in success the central Pacific priority had to make certain concessions: whether the Philippines were A Liberator of the VII Air Force over Kwajalein in October 1944. Compare the US installations with those of the Japanese on 31 January 1944 and after bombardment. American forces which landed on 22 April after six major Allied bombing raids between 30 March and 16 April had destroyed 351 Japanese aircraft in these areas.

No individual or group of positions. to no real purpose or effect. However. Sarmi being held as a forward base. By holding certain bases and using shore. In reality. the Japanese high command on the 9th designated Halmahera in the Indies and Sorong as the new centres of resistance in this theatre. American operations in . As a result.and carrier-based air formations to complement one another. the Japanese ceded a thousand miles of coastline in seventeen days. most obviously those in the Marianas. whether in western New Guinea or the Indies.190 tons and fifty -fiv e Japanese aircraft. could be sustained in the face of assault. There was no good reason for the Americans to move against the Palaus without first eliminating these air bases. but Th e American move against Japan ese islands was notable for modest but cumulatively important losses inflicted on Japanes e air strength and shipping.THE SEC O N D WORLD WAR I N TH E EA ST These efforts compromised Japanese strategic intentions and plans that were being recast even as American preparations for the Arare/Wakde landings were put in hand. because the Imperial Navy recognized that its carrier force could not hope to meet its American counterpart on an equal basis. Kwajalein was a major Japan ese air and submarine base: the raid of 5 December 1943 by groups numbering three fleet and two light fle et carriers resulted in the destruction of five naval transports of 24. Accordingly. In effect. Moreover. the only real chance the Japanese had of meeting the Americans on an equal footing was if the US attacked the Palaus without striking Japanese air bases on either or both flanks. the conferring of a ne plus ultra status on the Guinea-Truk-Marianas line went hand-in-hand with the intention to use shore-based air power to balance accounts. the Japanese revised their plans to ensure that their main defensive effort was made on the Vogelkop. the equivalent of one of two divisions dispatched to New Guinea was lost at sea off north-east Celebes on 6 May. the Japanese high command anticipated that it would be able to give battle on the basis of equality when the Americans moved against the Palaus. The loss of Hollandia exposed Japanese holdings around Sarmi when it was the Japanese intention to hold this area as part of their main line of resistance in the south-west and central Pacific.

and then against Hollandia. THE BATTLE OF THE PHILIPPINE SEA With the Marianas the main American objective. somewhat bizarre. On 15 June American forces came ashore on Saipan . underlined their ability to isolate and overcome any garrison and base before Japanese naval and landbased air forces could intervene in their defence. Despite having chosen Halmahera as its main centre of resistance and thereby tacitly having written off Biak. FA ILURE AND CO LLAP SE: NOV EMBER 1943 ~ OCTOBER 1944 February and March. Ozawa's misfortune was to be dealt a losing hand by the time he reached command. By the time the Japanese were able to gather adequate forces for even a minor effort at Biak. the Imperial Navy somehow convinced itself that it could fight its 'decisive battle' in defence of Biak.THE ROAD TO DEFEAT. the next phase of operations opened with the 41st US Infantry Division's landings on Biak Island. in light of the seriousness of its intention. had been cleared. with the exception of one headland. Its attempts to do so were both halting and. on 27 May. By dusk on the 22nd the whole of the southern part of the island. Generally regarded as one of the Imperial Navy's best junior admirals in the early stages of the war. New Guinea. the Americans showed their hand with the start of carrier operations that n~utralized Japanese air power in the Marianas and isolated these islands from any possibility of effective support from the Bonins. His carrier force was out-fought at the Philippine Sea and played the sacrificial ro le at Leyte: he was one of the very few admirals of any navy to have preserved his reputation despite having had two flagships sunk under him . RIGHT: Vice Admiral Ozawa Jisaburo. the island was declared secure on the Admiral Richmond Kelly Turn er. At the same time heavy fighting was taking place on the mainland around Arare and Toem in the aftermath of the Wakde landing. With the capture of Garapan on 2 July generally regarded as markin g the final phase of operations on Saipan. LEFT: . amphibious task force commander in operations in the central Pacific.

and the whole of the southern Marianas being secured. Th e Americans declared Saipan secure on 9 July after a defence by a 32. was the product of a supremacy established when the Japanese attempt to contest the landings on Saipan was broken in the battle of the Philippine Sea on 19/20 June. 9th. . No less importantly. position and time. the Americans won a forward base for operations into the western Pacific from which a bombing campaign against the home islands could be staged. American carrier air groups annihilated their opposite numbers to the extent that the Japanese carrier air groups were never reconstituted before the ei1d of the war. Tinian on the 24th and both islands were secured within a month. off Saipan the American carrier task forces secured overwhelming advantage in terms of position and timing relative to the campaign on the Marianas. By fighting defensively and en masse. In addition. Their being cleared. The battle of the Philippine Sea was one of two major battles between June and October 1944 marred by controversies which obscured the fact that in both actions the Americans secured overwhelming victories. Against these realities of numbers. the American carrier force won a three-fold victory. Some 22.000-strong garrison that died almost to the last man. In the case of the battle of June 1944. Guam was assaulted on 21 July. the escape of the bulk A dead Japan ese soldier and a destroyed tank in northern Saipan in late June 1944.000 Japanese civilians on the island killed themselves rather than be taken ca ptive.TH E SECON D WO RLD WA R I N THE E AST OPPOSITE: Landings on Cape Sansapor on 31 July 1944 completed the American advance along the northern coast of N ew Guinea from Huon Gulf in just eleven months and carried the war to the eastern Indies and southern Philippines.

THE ROAD TO DEFEAT.OCTOBER 1944 . FAILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 .

.00 am 8.....'".. 7 fast battleships.. 8 escort carriers and 38 destroyers.451 men on the island.. Fire support was provided by 7 battleships.- 15 Jun e. 21 cruisers and 97 destroyers. CD -".-aUSS Monssen ' RED 1 . 4 aln: Warships bombard Japanese position s and road s leading to Kanoa beach CD 5. mustered 7 fleet and 8 light carriers. were the largest undertaken by the US Navy thus far in the war: the 551 ships of TF42 put ashore 67... By ju st afte r 9...42 am : landings begin Amphibiou s support vehicles di sembark from landin g ships Four support gunboats approach the bea ch followed by further landin g shi ps and craft at approx im atel y 8 minute inte rvals . ~ RED 2 RED 3 USS (oughlan o -- GREEN 1 GREEN 2 .."'.. Mt Tapotchan reefs reefs USS Powell ... 11 cruisers.. which was to fight and win the battle in the Philippine Sea. The covering force.000 marines are on shore --- o 144 .THE SECO N D WORLD WAR IN THE EAST AIR RAID OVER SAIPAN The landings on Saipan. 15 June..USS (alifornia :..

OCTOBER 1944 Nafutan Point . ..THE ROAD T O DEFEAT.. .. . nulanopo1 IS 0 -"'~"0 USS Birmingham . I ree fs Agingan Point YELLOW 3 YELLOW 2 YELLOW 1 BLUE 2 BLUE 1 GREEN 3 ' / J" . - 145 .. FAILURE AND CO LL A PSE: NOVEM BER 1943 .' .

. . With reconna issance aircraft of superior range.. Musoshi and escor1s (Ugoki) I and 450 aircra ft 135 140 of the Japanese carrier force was of no ver y great consequence.. Albacore .' Cavallo ~ Western J 5 10. the Taiho and the Hiyo . ... G iven the fact that the first American bomber operations within China were in March 1943 and by November had reached as far as Indo-China...~.00 pm 17 June: re~ 3..the Shokaku..00 am 19 June: third strike FIRST MOBILE FLEET OZAWA 9 ca rri ers 5 battleships 13 c ru isers 28 destroyers Carolilll 5 romola. --.--~ VANGUARD t 7.. the success recorded o n 19/20 June was probabl y as mu ch as could be reasonably expected. 100 mites MAIN BODY -.sunk . with three fleet carriers . and in any event much of the criticism of the American conduct of opera ti o ns that allegedly allowed the Japanese task forces to escape was misconceived on two counts.. H ainan and Formosa... ~ . . given that in thi s battle th e J apanese held th e advantage of position beca use American forces could not close unl ess a ll owed to do so.a... . ... the Americans fought and won a defensive victory that was overwhelming: Japanese carrier air grou ps were never reconstituted in the remainder of the war.. Japanese movement Japanese air strike ~ ... The day when American forces came ashore on Sa ipan (15 June 1944) was also the day of the first strategic bo mbin g raid on the J apa nese home islands conducted by American land-based heavy bom bers.. . I The course of this battle was decided by two factors: the prevailing wind from the east that meant that the Saipan landings were conducted on the west coast and the US carrier force had to stand between the amphibious forces and the approaching Japanese.. the Japanese carrier groups were able to strike at the Americans while their own carriers were invulnerable to air attack: none the less the Japanese lost two carriers to submarine attack during the course of their offensive operations. ~ two hours later us Fleet returns """ Hiyo is hit.. was much more serious than was a nticipated ..10 pm 21 June: .... The extent of Japanese carrier losses was not known at the time and. previous raids on the outlying Kuriles excepted...... the various developments that ran parallel to the twin drives across the Pacific demand proper 146 . 8. In addition.. By standing on the defensive and co ncentrating their fighters to meet incoming Japanese attacks.. ship attacked submarine TH E BATTLE OF THE PHILIPPIN E SEA Main body of Japanese Fleet (Ozawa) / 1.. sinks . Allied movement battleship/c ruiser destroyer Allied air strike N F f> flagship --"'p_ -....THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST Formation of Japanese Fleet 19 June 1944 ~ Battle of the Philippine Sea o l00 km I 19-21 June 1944 100 miles ~ aircraft carrier ..00 am 19 June \ .30 pm 21 June ...... The attack on the steel works at Yawata on Kyushu was staged from bases within China..

== ~ ~ .a <t::J ~ C':lII = - Rota ~ ~ == 19 June: air aHacks an Guam =.= ~ =c:= ~ .. FAILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 .3 was about to enter Ulithi... TG 38.= = . In company were four cruisers and eighteen destroyers.= .. 23 November 1944.--'.. Astern of the fleet carrier Essex are the light carrier Langley.. North Carolina and South Dakota.= 145 The very symbol of victory. 147 .= == """== = 12 miles - Anatahan = --.- Noon 18 June . the fleet carrier Ticonderoga and the battleships Was hington.THE ROAD TO DEFEAT.19 am 19 June = == === Saipan Tinian 145 20 miles 15miles ~~ == c. 6..OCTOBER 1944 TASK FORCE 58 M1T SCH ER 15 ca rriers Formatio n of US Task Force 58 19 June 1944 ~ 7 battlesh ips aircraft carrier battleship cruiser destroyer 20 cru isers 67 destroyers 902 aircraft 'iii Pagan =- c:::::::o ~~= .

on 15 June 1944 on the continental mainland. consideration at this point. The American endeavour in China set in train a series of events that were to result in the American diplomatic debacle that coincided with the devastating victory in the battle of Leyte Gulf. the British undertook what was to become known as the First Arakan offensive. built in Chicago. Without any means to undertake a major offensive. At the same time. in which the equivalent of two divisions were totally outfought and suffered humiliating defeat at the hands of two Japanese regiments. effectiveness and morale of main forces.May 1943 campaigning season.THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST In order to take the war to Japanese home waters the US Navy had to keep its fleets at sea for periods unknown since the passing of sail: the Okinawa campaign. it was Japan that stood on the brink of both a victory and a defeat: a victory throughout southern China. the last Japanese victory of the war and one. This was only possible by a vast logistical tail across the whole of the Pacific in order to ensure the supply. in the November 1942 . involved the carrier force being at sea continuously between 14 March and 13 June. specifically the shared British and Japanese view that offensive operations across the mountains that formed the border between Burma and India had little to recommend them. the . for example. and a defeat in north-east India and Burma that was all but total and overwhelming. H ere. an LST. As it was. THE BURMA CAMPAIGN The defeat on the Indian sub-continent had its origins in the events of 1942-3. however. like all the others since 1937. which availed Japan nothing. is photographed passing bombs to the fleet carrier Hancock.

February-March 1943. In real terms this operation achieved nothing of any significance other than pushing the local Japanese command into consideration of a spoiling offensive into India: given the certainty of eventual British superiority in this theatre. and air transport allowed isolated British forces to be reinforced and supported so that the Japanese formations Cutting Japanese lines of supply in Burma: a detachment preparing to blow up a rail bridge during the first Chindit operation in the Myitkyina-Mandalay area. a diversio nary attack in the Arakan by one division drawn from the 28th Army. Thus with the 1943-4 dry season. on the Kalewa-Homalin sector that was to reach Imphal and Kohima by late March and early April 1944 respectively. . a Japanese defensive policy could only postpone defeat.OCTOBER 1944 British infiltrated raiding columns into the Myitkyina-Mandalay area in an operation that achieved in newspaper inches infinitely more than it ever recorded on the ground. FA IL URE AND COLLAPSE: NOV EMBER 1943 . by three division s from the 15th Army. But despite being able to surround both places the Japanese found their offensive stalled for two reasons: this time. there was no general British withdrawal when outflanked as there had been in 1942 and 1943. and the main effort. This operation registered only temporary inconvenience but was a factor in the process that led to the Japanese army undertaking its illconsidered 'March on Delhi' in 1944. the Japanese Burma Area Army opened a two-part offen sive effort.THE ROAD TO DEFEAT.

N a THE MARCH ON DELHI After a successful though costly holding operation in the Arakan.. ~ N 12'J1 5 xx ------ Japanese advance in India March.. @] '- MUTAGUCHI ( . The Japanese attempt to respond to the latter resulted in their being forced into two major actions at Mandalay and Myitkyina: their defeat at both exposed the whole of Burma to reconquest in the 1944-5 season. by which time they had lost two-thirds of the force of 85. The British response was to conduct a series of landings in the Arakan and to make the main offensive effort below Mandalay. What made the J apanese defeat in north-east India worse was the fact that the campaign unfolded at the same time as two o ther offensives within this theatre.THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST THE R ECONQUEST OF BURMA surrounding them paradoxically found themselves besieged. and a Chinese offensive on the upper Salween River. The first effort was closely fought. While Kohima was relieved as early as 18 April. The Japanese effort at Kohima was broken inside a couple of weeks but at lmphal a four-month siege was conducted with British forc es sustained by air supply: the Japanese refusal to admit defeat in front of lmphal compromised their ability to offer a serious and sustained defence of Burma in 1945 .'\Sangshak • U R M '10 ' \ XXXX" ) I \ '" rP. the Japanese planned to fight the main defensive battle around Mandalay. On the Salween the understrength 56th Infantry Facing three Allied offensives. J apanese success depended on the capture of supplies. although the town of Myitkyina was not taken until 3 August..000 men with which they had entered India. and their refusal to admit failure resulted in the destruction of Japanese formations in front of Imphal and Kohima over the next three months. the main Japanese offensive in 1944 narrowly missed trapping major British forc es south of lmphal before reaching forward to Kohima and lmphal. ~essami Viswema ( ) a Helrnkut I xxxx SUM A Ukhrul 'i) {~ ~ M _v / ·-. the Japanese siege of Imphal was not broken until 22 June. specifically directed through the Hukawng.June 1944 Japanese advance Allied airlift ) / o 10km ~ d '----' 10 miles : 1500 1000 500 2()() o EV Alli ed parachute drop Allied pockets ? Om '-----' . Mogaung and Irrawaddy valleys against Myitkyina and the 18th Infantry Division. D~omalin j I Gwedaukkon . and resulted in the capture of the airfield at Myitkyina on 17 May and of Kamaing one month later. a Sino-American thrust into upper Burma.

.21 Feb 1945 Chinese advance to 7 March INDIAN Thabeikkyin . FAILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 19 43 . .-- ...'" ..5 May 1945 Front line 9 April 1945 Japanese counter-attacks Japanese withdrawal .O C TOBER 1944 _ Shingbwiyang N .- [2J 7 IN~lAN ~ 28 XXX US advance to 7 March ) British advance 0 4 EAST _ AFRICAN G 21 February ..XX - C H N A Allied recapture of Burma December 1944 ..THE ROAD T O DEFEAT. _.. .".. _ Kh~ / Bhamo xxx 33 STOPFORD 0 -M aw laik ~alewa I [2J 36 I M A Namkhan r.Rahaeng INDI AN ..30 March 1945 ~ angaw -Mong Nawng -Mong Kung British advance MESSER VY 10 Jon __ --JI""'" 31 March . Indaw ...Tamanth i •Paoshan . Myong Pawn FRENCH INDOCHINA SIAM (THAILAND) _Gw a .5 May 1945 xxxx [ill SUM 24 Decem XX _ 19 Allied advances: ~ Dec 1944 .

By that time the Japanese had survived the immediate crisis in Burma . . the Japanese ensured their own defeat in a defensive battle in 1945. albeit at a very heavy price. In seeking to insure themselves against defeat by an offensive in 1944.000 Chinese troops control of Ku-feng and Chiang-chu until 19/20 June. Division. was able to fight a senes of very successful rea rguard actions that denied a force of some 72.Kohima attack cost the J apanese the means and opportunity to meet the Myitkyina and Salween offensives: defeat at ImphalKohima denied the Japanese the means to defend Burma in 1945 because the losses incurred in 1944 could not be replaced.THE SECOND WO RLD WAR I N T H E EAST As the tide of war turned against them Japanese military formations found themselves committed to the defensive with no real addition to their strength compared to the period 1941 -2 when various materiel weaknesses were disguised by possession of the initiative and lo cal superiority of force. The Imphal. and it was not until September that the Chinese were able to secure Tengchung. part of the Jap anese 33rd Army.

OCTOBER 1944 But what added a special significance to these events was the Chinese dimension. by which stage the main Japanese effort. Moreover. The advance from the Chindwin almost to Rangoon was made possible only by supply aircraft. FAILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 . the Salween offensive was undertaken by the Chungking authorities only after intense American pressure. Washington for the first time tiring of Nationalist procrastination and evasion.THE ROAD TO DEFEAT. staged from the Ichang-Yoyang area against Changsha and Aerial resupply was the key to Chindit survival. The American threat to suspend aid forced Chungking's hand and the Japanese invasion of Honan province in April exacerbated the situation still further. Imphal and Kohima when supply aircraft were diverted to Burma from the Mediterranean. 153 . In a little more than a month the Japanese were able to secure the Chengchow-Hankow line and thereby open a direct supply line between Peking and Yoyang. In the Myitkyina offensive Chinese divisions performed very respectably. but on the Salween the Chinese performance was at best indifferent. but this was small change compared to the efforts made to insure British forces against defeat in the Arakan.

but their operations were critical to Allied success. Lieutenant General Joseph Stilwell on the banks of the Tanai in northern Burma. commander of the British 14th Army. deputy commander of Allied air forces. with Air Marshal William Cory ton.THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST General Sir William Slim. Mandalay. ABOVE: Seemingly at a loss for something vitriolic to say. RIGHT: 154 . Clearing the Japanese from this area was the first step in the move into the Hukawng valley. The air forces in India and Burma tended to be 'the forgotten air forces'. in 1945. completed by late January 1944.

but here the Japanese were frustrated by Chinese commanders of ability and independence of thought that rendered them anathema to Chungking. and possessed in Chiang Kai-shek a leader who claimed and was afforded international stature and whose legitimacy in large measure rested upon national resistance to the invader. though much of its pace had been lost. She had armies that had been well supplied. both with the United States and domestically. The Soviet Union's declaration in April 1945 that it would not renew the 1941 non-aggression treaty when it expired was taken to mean Soviet intervention in the autumn. Chiang Kaishek is seen here seeking to inspire the Chinese people. the whole of the Japanese effort throughout central and southern China after April 1944 was effort wasted.THE ROAD TO DEFEAT. Thereafter. . though in effect this counted for nothing. was about to begin. The defeats of 1944 could not be dismissed lightly since the situation was very different from the one that had prevailed in the previous period of defeat. In 1944 China was not without allies. and it was not until November that Kweilin and Liuchow were taken. hence the transience of whatever success Operation !chi-Go commanded. and Hengyang was assaulted on the 28th. Tokyo was able to announce gains that had resulted in the establishment of uninterrupted overland communications between Manchoutikuo and Singapore on 28 November. paralysing effect upon Chungking's armies. Such resistance was conspicuously lacking in 1944. plus other minor acquisitions that were made after December 1944 with the Japanese occupation of Tushan and Tuyun. 1937-8. and the collapse in certain parts of central and southern China was 155 In separable from the nickname 'The Peanut' given him by Stilwell. were relinquished in spring and summer 1945 as Japanese forces in China were thinned in order to provide for the defence of Manchoutikuo. Changsha fell on 16 June after token resistance. These gains. Hengyang finally fell on 8 August without the Nationalist regime making any effort to relieve it. With Japanese forces from coastal enclaves and in northern Indo-China joining the offensive. the Japanese offensive was resumed. This offensive began on 27 May (the same day Biak Island was invaded) and from the outset seemed to have a hypnotic. FAILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 . The events on the Salween river and throughout central and southern China provoked a double crisis for the Chungking regime. Without the means to establish secure rail communications.OCTOBER 1944 Hengyang with formations from the 1st and 12th Armies.

. Espiritll • 23 Murch Santo Fiji 110 170 A U S T R A L A New Caledonia . It was in such circumstances that Washington wholly misjudged the situation. Nationalist passivity and evasion of military responsibility had reaped its inevitable result by 1944.THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN TH E EAST THE PACIFIC SITUATION 1944 marked by the massacre of fleeing Nationalist troops by enraged local populations who for years had been subjected to Nationalist corruption and incompetence. honest administration. The Americans. refused By 1944 the US Navy had such carrier and amphibious strength that it could sustain a dual offensive across the Pacific.. The Japanese were forced to give battle for the Marianas and then the Philippines. but in the event the landings in Leyte were the prelude to a major campaign in the islands. or any form of serious resistance to the Japanese. Until mid 1944 American policy favoured bypassing Luzo n. with a government and military that was largely incapable of offering either effective. however. u S S R "11_ PAC I F I C OCE A N Midway Island Wake /so · Saigon Sou t h C h ina Sea \. Borneo Malaya ~Singapore ~ Sarawak Borneo D u t 111 c h Batavia E a s t C~ l e be s n • Palembang Java S ea t l~ INDIAN OCEAN Kupang .. In July the Roosevelt administration demanded that Chiang Kai-shek's American chief of staff be vested with command of all Nationalist forces.• Kuala Eumpur N.

... October 1944...23 February US carrier operations... 17... FAILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 . president of the commonwealth of the Philippines.6 April US carrier operations.. Lieutenant General Richard Sutherland: eighth from the left is Colonel Carlos Romula... Washington was rendered the pnsoner of Chungking for the remainder of the war..' The return of General MacArthur to the Philippines at Leyte. Precedence and etiquette should have decreed that the person leading the party was Sergio Osmena. In effect.. On MacArthur's left is his chief of staff. 13 April .. 23 March . . ~ D It has already been noted that the American victory in the Philippine Sea exposed the whole of the Japanese position in the western Pacific to further American advances.THE ROAD TO DEFEAT.4 May neutral te rritory In such circumstances Chiang's refusal to accede to the American demand and his insistence on the recall of Washington's would -be commander in China could have only one resu lt: American acquiescence at the end of October 1944. who made his name in 1942 as a broadcaster from the Philippines. '1 shall return. Chiang's removal from the scene. in the last days before the presidential election in the United States and at the same time as the Americans fought and won the battle of Leyte Gulf. AMERICAN STRATEGY AND J APANESE SHIPPING . plus the fact that 157 .OCTOBER 1944 to consider ending aid to C hungking or to seek or Pacific situation to October 1944 D --"" Japanese territory or area of Japanese occupation Japanese offensive approximate limit of Japa nese defence .... and this. D Allied held territory -. seen here on the left . - ~ US offensive US ca rrier operati ons....

THE SECOND WORL D WAR I N THE EAST JAPANESE SH IPPING LOSSES BETWEEN MARCH 1943 AND NOVEMBER 1944 Tokyo was brought within range of American heavy bombers based in the Marianas. had a singleness and simplicity of purpose that alternatives lacked. over and in the Marianas brought to Washington the problems of choice in the future prosecution of the war. rather than bypassing the islands. Second. the US Navy considered the suggestion of an immediate move against Okinawa which was all but undefended at that time. In the immediate aftermath of the battle of the Philippine Sea.5 108. It therefore beca me clear that the possession of bases in the western Pacific from which to stage landings would be essential. marked the end of the Pacific war in positional terms: the fall in July of the Tojo administration that had taken Japan to war in 1941 was tantamount to recognition of this fact.940 28 37.104 45 . Third. But victory off. First. Thus were resolved American priorities and timetable.June 1944 and the massive inroads made into Jap anese resources by carrier aircraft after November 1943. It may be that in securing The quickening pace of the war against shipping is shown by losses that all but tripled between the period M arch-October 1943 and July-November 1944.836 tonnage sunk number of ships lost 343. and the irony of the 296. the basic idea of an advance across the Pacific in order to effect a landing in China to join with Chinese Nationalist forces died with the events of spring and summer 1944 in China.488 45 113. in summer 1944 the American high command moved from the premise that an invasion of the Japanese home islands might be necessary to the conclusion that the invasion of the home islands would have to be undertaken.897 538.5 6.November 1944 Guam and Tinian the US Navy passed up the very real opportunity of taking Iwo Jima without undue difficulty. but the lack of any clear priority for the navy meant that the army-backed Philippines option was endorsed and accelerated in September once the extent of Japanese weakness in these islands Naval Shipping D D 93 Military Shipping Civilian Shipping was realized.5 292.377 30 June!944 2.725 89 515.726 116. Wh at is also significant abo ut the figures is the impact of service shipping losses in the period November 1943 . and with it wavered the priority afforded the capture of Formosa. Japanese shipping losses by agency of Destruction March 1943 .823 1 November 1943 - 483. the South West Pacific Command's insistence upon the reconquest/liberation of the Philippines.537 23 45.487 ' 11 58 Nil 367.498 71 301.231 1 July30 November 1944 120 132. and three factors were critically important here.

841 120 539. In setting out the story of the destruction of Japanese shipping. even 826.5 13.299 2 49. Moreover. reveals that the real increase in losses was incurred not among merchantmen but by the shipping allocated to the two armed services. and it relates directly to the campaign against Japanese shipping. the introduction of convoy concentrated targets without making any provision for a commensurate increase for their defence. though this aspect of operations was only one part of the significance of this foray. at least not in the long term: with many Japanese convoys being afforded only one or two escorts of very uncertain quality.016 2 2.120.680 17 527. albeit for a somewhat perverse reason. and specifically in this period between Tarawa and Saipan. The other part has been but seldom acknowledged.058 236 7. the scale and scope of which represented something that was new in the conduct of war at sea: not since the age of sail had a fleet been able to conduct sustained operations continuously into waters nominally controlled by its enemy. But a very careful analysis of Japanese shipping losses in the months after the formation of the General Escort Command. There is no disputing the general point. The Japanese implementation of convoy without any understanding of the principles of convoy and without adequate numbers to provide proper escorts has been generally regarded as critical in ensuring increased.THE ROAD TO DEFEAT. sixteen escort destroyers and four gunboats under command . FAILURE AND C OLLAPSE : NOVEMBER 1943 .holds a special place.504 5 670 f 159 .O C TOBER 1944 process has been noted elsewhere: the endorsement of a US Army agenda came on the back of operations on the part of the US Navy. in the period between November 1943 and June 1944. losses. the creation of an escort command by the Imperial Navy in November 1943 .026 127 2.with the princely total of eleven ageing destroyers.530 226.700 1 1. not reduced.

the St Lo. As US escort carriers withdrew from Leyte on 25 October no fewer than seven of their number were struck by kamikaze aircraft..THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST o o . with the result that one. 160 . was sunk and four extensively damaged: the Sr Lo was hit even as a F6F Hellcat tried to land on her. .

their operating from forward bases in the Marianas and their increasingly aggressive tactics that were in large measure the product of an awareness of American superiority in all aspects of materiel and training. The story of the campaign against Japanese shipping in this phase of the Between 25 October and 13 January 1945 144 ships were hit by kamikazes with 19 sunk and 70 damaged extensively: 3 fleet carriers were forced to withdraw from the battle. of 525 US warships in action 22 were sunk and 254 incurred some form of damage with another 14 landing craft and auxiliaries sunk and another 11 7 damaged.OCTOBER 1944 allowing for the increase of losses incurred by the merchant marine and the very significant increase of losses in south-east Asia. 161 . the real increase in Japanese losses was caused primarily by carrier aircraft in the course of mainforce operations. What was equally significant was that. the real increase of losses was not registered on routes to and from the southern resources area but in the central Pacific by service shipping. FAILURE AND CO LLAPS E: NOVEMBER 1943 . The same point applied to Japanese losses to carrier aircraft after June 1944. Of( Okinawa. while sinkings by submarines and land-based aircraft doubled. but in this period the increased toll on shipping exacted by submarines reflected their increased numbers.THE ROAD TO DEFEAT. and by submarines deployed in support of those operations rather than committed to the guerre de course against shipping.

arine sinks after run iRg agro und 24 October: Southe rn Force 1 withdraws w itho ut ente ring the Su rigao St._--1I--_ en .e ~® ~ti~llnan-----'M~.er''' ----M~ =-I> ~f -r . .s--. .. Lmga~r-.. . Burias l ~ Sibuyan " Taqlas --c2-=:-'F.- pandan~.L.... • San Fernando ~ '"" ®.k 21 I_--=S::. Sarangani \ s . . Northern Fleet e ngaged ~ SOUTHERN FORCE L \.::::::.erar 0 ~" J ~=-.J lIoilo~ . . Jolo~-r.[[) 25 October: Battle of Cape Enga no.. HIM ...f=~~:®_K=a=p=iZ~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~ Panay L" '\" ~ c~ Taytay ..sunga \ ____ ~ ..". .Apa rri Cape Engano • Gonzaga ® • Bontoc • Tuguegarao ) Luzon "\. .-=--"'" J.24 Octobe r: USS Prin ceton f"1 sunk by Japan ese shore-based aircraft "c 5 NORTIlERN (DECOY) FORCE OZAWA ® ..' 120 0 sea c I e b otherwise stated) . . ~ • Kalapau M~ . '0.'----l_ _+-+'--J. ..? ~~ ® Clarke ® /' Sublc . .Cr"""""-'~_'l-~ __ " . ~ San Jos # " ~ "!..lit..)(~ / PACIFIC ~Q ~ \~ Batang8§..... <:' ('. Butuan C \ ~ • Del Monte ®® ® ~ \ Battle of the Philippines 20-27 October 1944 ~~ . (.J'> )- ~j5mu5 ~ /. S . . Ei7 / ~ -l .ra its .\\ --:7ti\. Japanese movement Japanese air strike Japanese airfield major Japanese wars hip sunk (unless u ~~\ --. A U~tif5rr. ~. -Cabanatuan.l V ..."""~~-\"-'r-. ~ ffi ffi ____ \. .. .. .A® •• Bala'n ~ ga • Manila ~ T ®® c. Y o(- ~~ ~ • Puerto Princesa in two Japa nese c ruisers an damage one..oke ~ 6 & nao • lIigan .. .-f-.3o.-. • 8> 5119 B - 0 ~ ParanQ'. " . \. / Ield. .. Tarlac...__-'-_____ ---LJ ~-- .. G u I f Kabacan Oavao • ®.- . Allied movement ~ Allied air strike .... M t n dan a Malabang 0 ! Kotabat...A====-_-\-_ _ _j'lr=--i~®~® san Pablo~ -!.-. .:= o ~ .. _ ~.e® ~ '" r Lucena... d'induque Mindoro '-..

with American forces watching the Visayans withdraw even as the Japanese forc es negotiated the islands: the one force that did reach Leyte Gulf was subjected to major losses as it tried to escape.525 tons. and an estimated 1. though why it should be so is unclear: there are authentic photographs of these jumps.920 tons that were sunk by American submarines in this same phase of operations. the raid on Koror. the raid on Truk. the carrier raids on the Philippines in September 1944 that prompted the decision to advance the timetable for the landing at Leyte accounted for 19 warships. In the space of eight months. airborne landings were somewhat rare during the Pacific war. The part that American carriers played in this process can be understood by reference to four of their operations in this period. and. The direct route between the home islands and the Palaus was abandoned as early as March 1944 because of shortage of escorts. The airfield received its first aircraft on 21 July. OVERLEAF: THE BATTLE OF LEYTE GULF After a series of strikes in September by carrier air groups that compromised Japanese defensive capability in the islands. at least until July when this route in turn had to be abandoned with shipping redirected through Manila. shipping instead being directed from the home islands to Formosa and thence to the Palaus in a newly initiated convoy system. in the Palaus. indeed. plus 4 submarines and a minelayer sunk by warships of the screens.741 tons and 13 transports of 45. thirteen routes were all abandoned because of the immediate military situation. Fourth.267 tons.000 Japanese aircraft. in the operations that formed the softening-up phase prior to the battle of the Philippine Sea. in the case of the former. from December 1943 until August 1944. the Japanese committed three forces to the defence of Leyte: one was offered as bait while two forces were to move through the Visayans to attack American shipping on Leyte. the American advance into the western Pacific in summer 1944 in effect resulted in the collapse of the Japanese 'centre'. Third. 3 destroyers and 5 other warships of 34. witnessed two: both jumps resulted in high casualties amid airfield equipment on the 3rd and on an already compacted runway on the 4th. the main Japanese base in the central Pacific.OCTOBER 1944 war may be best related by reference to the progressive collapse of convoy routes primarily under the impact of American operations. nine such routes remained at least nominally operational until the end of the war. 53 service ships and merchantmen of 199. while October 1944 saw the Imperial Navy close the Singapore-Medan route in part because of British submarine operations in the Malacca Strait. the photograph is a fake. The direct route between Balikpapan and Manila was abandoned in June 1944 as a result of the predatory activities of American submarines in the Sulu and Celebes Seas. probably three. between the home islands and the area which supplied the natural resources vital to the Japanese war effort. This consists of two. . The delays inherent in such an arrangement were accepted. Second. but Kamiri airstrip. First. FAILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 .077 tons and 8 naval and 3 military ships of 64. the US landed on Leyte. seized by the landing on Noemfoor on 2 July 1944.634 tons and 22 ships. First. of 126.854 tons. Second.817 tons.THE ROAD TO DEFEAT. by the need to divert what shipping was available from the iron ore trade to bauxite. all but one drawn from the services. but scarcely less significant were the other routes that were closed for different reasons. In terms of destruction of An interesting photograph in two respects. and 33 auxiliaries and merchantmen of 199. obviously put together for press release. have to be added 5 destroyers of 9. after having achieved very little in the way of sinking US warships. The defensive battle was not well conducted.358 tons: to these totals. With a deployment area equivalent in size to western Europe. carrier aircraft accounted for 5 warships of 4. moreover. The Japanese lines of communication in the Sea of Japan and Yellow Sea and within south-east Asia remained more or less intact. But evidence of the increasingly desperate Japanese position was provided in August 1944 with the closing of the Takao-Hainan and Hong Kong-Hainan routes because of shipping shortages and. With the Manila-Saigon route abandoned in September as a result of lack of escorts. The problem for the Imperial Navy was the routes between the two. accounted for 3 light cruisers. on 30 March accounted for 12 minor warships of 5.

THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST .

FA IL URE AND CO LLAPSE: NOVEM BER 1943 .THE ROAD TO DEFEAT.OCTOBER 1944 .

and one which equally leaves little to doubt. By any standard. And to this point can be added another. 14th Air Force. an amount almost double the 900. a photograph of a carrier and the guns of a battleship would have carried clear implications of defender and defended: by 1944. by a B-24J Mitchell from the 345 Bombardment Group. In 1944 Japanese shipyards produced 1. however. carrier aircraft accounted for 58. especially as the Japanese services were obliged to replace their losses by requisitioning from an already inadequate merchant marine. OPPOSITE: cannot be doubted. not least because by March 1944 the amount of shipping laid up was equivalent to the 1941 proj ected annual r66 . 6 April 1945. southern China.653 tons. shipping the impact and importance of carner force operations cannot be understated. Here the Iowa is having a quiet word with an Essex-class newcomer fresh from the yard.000 tons of new shipping. The only occasion when the American carriers deliberately sought out merchantmen and were not directly tied to the requirements of an assault landing was in J anuary 1945. the 1944 production represented a remarkable effort. In the course of a ten-day rampage through the South China Sea and off the Ryukyus. off Amoy. but it was still not enough to safeguard national interest.699. When the sinkings of supporting submarines and warships are added to such results. two dozen warships being sunk en passant. and about to be sunk.000 tons assumed by Japanese pre-war planning to represent maximum output in any year. the importance of main force operations as a complement to the guerre de course The Japanese Kagero-class fleet destroyer Amatsukazi under attack.THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST Once. roles had been reversed.5 service ships and merchantmen of 222.

THE ROAD TO DEFEAT.OCTOBER 1944 . FAILURE AND COLLAPSE: NOVEMBER 1943 .

20 cruisers and 35 destroyers of the Japanese 1st Mobile Fleet were 46 carriers. With a top speed of 34.THE SE C OND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST production total. Japanese shipping production was simply set aside by the overwhelming extent of losses: in 1944 Japanese losses totalled 983 service and merchant ships of 3. Chiyoda and Zuiho. was that taken by Halsey. The conventional account of the battle would exlain it in terms of two decisions. The issue of divided command was paraded as explanation of the unfortunate sequence of events whereby the San Bernardino Strait was left unguarded.but in the desparity of forced deployed for battle and Japanese losses not just in this battle but in the subsequent follow-up phase. or nearly fourth-fifths of the shipping with which Japan began that year. opposed to the 4 carriers. and the one on which attention had invariably concentrated in terms of the action itself. the light fleet carriers Chitose. The Shokaku was sunk by a submarine in the Philippine Sea. or 18. the Zuikaku by carrier aircraft off Cape Engano during th e Leyte action. The battle itself is generally considered in terms of 24-25 October.105 tons.96 per cent of national shipping resources. the battleships Musashi. was largely muddled.000 square miles between fleets that deployed across an area three times as large. both in the immediate aftermath of the battle and for decades afterward.25 knots. the first of which was to accelerate operations in the Philippines with the substitution of landings on Leyte in the place of those THE ZUIKAKU that had been planned for Mindanao: the landings at Noemfoor and Sansapor in July. 9 destroyers.when the fleet carrier Zuikaku. His decision led to the American carrier support formations in Leyte Gulf being left uncovered and subjected to attack by Japanese surface forces on 25 October when the carrier and battle forces of Halsey's 3rd Fleet were withdrawn. and the occupation of Ulithi on 23 September may be added to the account for good measure. This apart. 25 On a full load displacement of 32. she and her sister ship Shokaku were the best Japanese carriers to be built. Fuso and Ymashiro. 1 submarine and 2 amphibious ships were sunk . the greatest single battle in naval history and one fought over 115. yet the real significance of Leyte is not simply what happened in the four days of the overall battle between the 23rd and 26th . but this was essentially irrelevant: the issue was not command but role and responsibilities. On the first score. a defensive armament of ninety-six 25-mm guns and six 28-barreLled rocket launchers. The second decision. 6 heavy and 4 light cruisers. in October 1944 the Japanese fleet carrier Zuikaku could carry a maximum of eighty-four aircraft. 9 battleships. on Morotai and Peleliu on 15 September.937. This attention. 168 . LEYTE GULF The operations of the American carrier force outside battle is essential to an understanding of the battle of Leyte Gulf. 12 battleships.541 tons.

The context of these losses can be gauged by the fact that total Japanese losses in all theatres and to all causes in this same period numbered 65 warships of 224. In other works this author has used the analogy of history being like a piece of string in that it consists of strands woven together to produce the whole. Japan's defeat.in Philippine and immediately adjacent waters during American follow-up operations.000 tons in any year. Between 29 October and 30 November 1944 the Imperial Navy lost 50 warships of 129. the faltering Japanese industrial. and more generally throughout the conquered territories in being unable to win the endorsement of fellow Asians for her war effort.THE RO AD T O DEF EAT.511 tons . on land and in the air. but unlike a piece of string the strands of history are neither equal nor regular in the weave. The relationship between numbers and the outcome of battle was never more obviously demonstrated. conform to this analogy. the failure of Japan's strategic intent in Burma and China.216 tons were lost in these same waters and in these same operations.OCTO BE R 194 4 destroyers. On the second score. perhaps 7 December 1941. before the outbreak of hostilities the Imperial Navy calculated shipping losses would be in the order of 900. and the reasons for that defeat. and after Leyte Gulf the Imperial Navy was never again able to offer battle with a balanced force: after November 1944 the Imperial Navy was reduced to coastguard status and was barely able to perform even that role.547 tons and 105 service and merchant ships of 440. at Leyte the Americans had more destroyers than the Japanese had carrier aircraft. In addition a total of 48 service ships and merchantmen of 201. But October 1944 saw the various elements of defeat come together and into place. . the Japanese inability to protect shipping.including the battleship Kongo . 29 submarines and almost as many American oilers with the 3rd and 7th Fleet as Japan as a nation had possessed in 1941. Expressed another way. and the battle of Leyte Gulf marks the point where the various strands of Japan's defeat recognizably began to be woven together. But the real point of Leyte lay in the coming together of all of the elements that contributed to victory and defeat in total war: military defeat at sea. Defeat in battle was clearly the most important of the strands. FAIL UR E AN D C OLLAPSE : NO V E MB E R 19 4 3 . It is impossible to state with any finality when Japan's defeat became assured. 56 escorts. the dimensions of time and position in the conduct of war. 162 destroyers. financial and trading effort.171 tons. and specifically in the course of the various actions fought on 25 October. Lest the point be forgotten. perhaps November 1943. the sheer scale of destruction in this battle. has served to obscure the extent of the Japanese defeat and American victory both before and after the main force action when American carrier aircraft ranged over the Philippines against Japanese warships and shipping stripped of support.

.

:~:~.:®:.~:==:+--+-I' - THE LAST MILESTONE: SUPREMACY AND VICTORY NOVEMBER 1944 - AUGUST 1945 THE DECISIVE FACTOR IN WAR: the will of infantry to move forward.CHAPTER FIVE --+--. . .

000 barrels of oil . .compared to the 20 million with which Japan had gone to war .532 tons and 400 merchantmen of 741. when Japan lost 210 warships of 440. Less well known is the fact that she was ordered to sail because the Imperial Navy considered it dishonourable for the ship that bore the ancient name of Japan to survive the surrender of the country. other than the demise of the Yamato . the Ya mato was endowed with a 16. a triple bottom and elaborate sub-division which resulted in 1. 77 service auxiliaries and transports of 224.1-inch belt. The sortie of the Yamato was ordered in full awareness that she would not survive the mission.THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST THE LAST MILESTONE: SUPREMACY AND VICTORY T HREE VERY separate matters contribute to a full understanding of the final phase of the Pacific war. it contemptuously subordinated nation and society to its own concept of service honour rather than seek. In 1943 she lost two secondary turrets in order to accommodate more tertiary AA weapons.293 tons. Although these losses were not much greater than those incurred by the Allies in the single month of November 1942. and in April 1945 carried 146 25-mm guns. The first is the sortie of the battleship Yam ato in support of the garrison on Okinawa and her sinking in attacks by 179 strike aircraft from the carriers of Task Force 38 in the East China Sea on 7 April 1945. few if any episodes better illustrate the conceit and irresponsibility of an Imperial Navy that was infinitely more culpable than the Imperial Army for the war that began in THE Y AMATO December 1941. The fleet flagship and bearer of the ancient name of Japan. to discharge its duty to the state it was supposed to serve. they amounted to three-fifths of the real total of tonnage available to Japan on 31 March 1945. however unavailingly. and the fact that she carried enough fuel for only a one-way voyage is well known. The second concerns exceptionally heavy Japanese shipping losses in the last months of the war. At the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal it was the Imperial Army that bore the brunt of national guilt and failure but.remained in stock. This was at a time when every ton of oil was needed for the merchant marine if Japan was to have any chance of avoiding mass starvation and when 200. allowing for ships laid up or damaged beyond economical repair. The Imperial Navy wrecked limitations treaties that afforded Japan security and in 1941 insisted on war with the United States. between 1 April and 15 August 1945.574 tons.147 watertight compartments. When that war was lost and its own failure apparent. Equally obscure is the fact that the foray was mounted after the Imperial Navy relieved the merchant fleet of one month's supply of fuel.

... . . 173 . ' The light carrier Zuiho under attack.. mines accounted for a minimum of 25 warships of 31..840 tons and 170 ::0::>-. Santa Cruz and the Philippine Sea before being sunk at Leyte. The Zuiho was one of the better of these and was in the Philippines and at Midway. .and carrier-based aircraft that could carry this effort into waters denied submarines. • .. .SUPREMA C Y AND VICTORY: NOVEMBER 1944 .AUGUST 194 5 But what is perhaps even more significant about these losses concerned cause and location . The American return to the western Pacific meant that the campaign against Japanese shipping in 1945 was to be spearheaded by land.. .. The submarine campaign in 1945 therefore slowed as these other forms of taking the war to the Japanese merchant fleet moved to centre stage. ' .... Moreover. .. 25 October 1944. . and could conduct their operations more quickly and directly than could the latter. . as submarines fell from their position of pre-eminence. . The Japan ese Navy's policy of converting a number of fast oilers and liners to serve as carriers resulted in some of the worst carriers of the Second World War.. Leyte Gulf represented the swan song of the American submarine campaign against Japanese shipping. . mainly because of practically non-existent damage control systems.

and. as testimony of the totality of Japan's defeat and the extent to which she had lost any real element of strategic mobility. It is difficult to discern any matter that could have represented ' more important busin ess' than I74 . being hit by perhaps as many as eleven torpedoes and seven bombs. the scale and diversity of their minin g ensured that Japanese defensive measures were all but overwhelmed. the meeting had to be cancelled because 'one of Council's members had more important business elsewhere' .820 tons were lost in all other theatres other than the seas that washed Japan. she was committed to a one-way mission in support of forces on Okinawa . 7 April 1945. The third matter concerns the circumstances th at surrounded the meeting of the Supreme War Council scheduled for the evening of 8 August 1945 to discu ss whether or not to accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration of the United Nations demanding Japan's immediate and unconditi o nal surrender. Caught 130 miles from Kagoshima with no air cover. Put at its most simple and with scarcely an y exaggeration: in July 1945 nothing moved outside Japanese home waters. Thi s meeting was called two days after the American attack o n Hiroshima with an atomic bomb. 120 merchantmen were lost in J apanese home waters: just three merchantmen of 2. With Soviet entry into the war and the attack on Nagasaki only a matter of hours away. she was overwhelmed by aircraft from nine carriers.172 tons as Japan's defences were very literally engulfed.THE SECON D WORLD WAR I N T H E EAST The destruction of the Yamato. With the Americans using five different influence systems and a total of 200 different types. But what is even more telling about the losses in the last months of the war is that in July 1945 a total of 123 merchantmen of 254.549 tons were sunk. In the company of one light cruiser and eight destroyers. service and merchant ships of 302. H er light cruiser and four destroyers were also sunk. and between a third and a half of what did move in home waters was sunk.

and the Soviet intervention. 1 fleet and 2 escort carriers. immediate attention must be directed to the most obvious and direct: the defeat of the Imperial Army in the field. Japan's industrial and economic prostration by war's end. The final phase of the Japanese war is perhaps best examined under six headings: the series of defeats that separately and together overwhelmed the Imperial Army. the annihilation of the Imperial Navy. 3 naval transports and 9 merchantmen. 1 heavy cruiser. no fewer than 1. There is an obvious interconnection between these subjects. accounting for 1 battleship. The fleet carrier Amagi was rendered hors de combat on 24 July 1945 when.AUGUST 1945 consideration of the question of the nation's immediate and unconditional surrender. in addition to routine operations involving 570 Superfortresses. the strategic bombing campaign against the home islands.SUPREMACY AND VICTORY: NOVEMBER 1944 . The episode was final comment on the Japanese system and organization in the Second World War that very literally defies belief. But while it is somewhat difficult to disentangle the various strands of defeat. 1 chaser.747 carrier aircraft attacked the Kure naval base and ships in the Inland Sea on that day. 175 . the campaign against Japanese shipping.

accordingly. both .000 Japanese troops remained in Burma east of the Sittang but their effectiveness had been destroyed by defeat and lack of supplies. in Burma. which with New Zealand had been casually and ungraciously denied a central Pacific role by the United States as the war moved away from their shores. More substantially. In two separate battles. The most obvious proof of this was in the Indies where Australia. it was able to drive through Nyaungu against Meiktila while the main Japanese strength was pinned. the individual defeats in south-east Asia demand little consideration because at this stage of proceedings anything that happened beyond the inner zone of Japan's defences was of no real account. Of these.THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST A British patrol from the 14th Army in the battle of the Sittang Bend in the final stages of the campaign in Burma: at war's end some 110. in Brunei Bay on 10 June and at Balikpapan on 1 July.around and in Mandalay. Leaving aside events in Manchuria in August 1945. the Imperial Army was defeated in the course of five separate campaigns: in the Pacific on the islands of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. the Philippines and the Indies. at least in terms of the outcome of the war. found employment for her forces with the landings at Tarakan on 1 May. Signals intelligence enabled the British 14th Army to fight with an exact knowledge of the Japanese order of battle and intentions and. in Burma in December 1944 a British advance from Sittaung and Kalewa resulted in the establishment of three bridgeheads over the Irrawaddy River during January and February.

The photograph shows a supply convoy of Americansupplied DWCKS on the lower Chindwin. the reconquest of Burma by means of an overland offensive from north-east India. though in fact the Arakan was cleared by a series of landing operations and Rangoon was taken (1/3 May) by amphibious assault ahead of both the monsoon and the columns advancing from the north. Supplies brought overland from the Imphal area to the Chindwin were vitally important in sustaining the initial advance of British forces to Mandalay. What this effort achieved with respect to original terms of reference is interesting. was achieved. Even after the loss of Rangoon some 115.AUGUST 1945 lasting about one month. The war was to end with the British in effect having cleared Burma and preparing for landings in Malaya. scarcely less important were rivers that form ed the natural lines of communication and supply. but these were mostly in Tenasserim or east of the Salween River and were powerless to have any influence on proceedings. The first overland convoys reached Chungking via Tengchung on 20 January and via Bhamo on 4 February. but the overland If air resupply was crucial to the British advance in Burma in 1945. Japanese forces in upper Burma and those directed against Meiktila were destroyed. In the course of April what had been considered impossible over the previous two years.SUPREMA C Y AND VI C TORY: NOVEMBER 1944 . plus the availability of transport aircraft. 177 . enabled the British offensive to extend into lower Burma. By the end of March 1945 the collapse of Japanese resistance throughout upper and central Burma.000 Japanese troops remained in Burma. with orders being given in semaphore.

The US 6th Army undertook six major landing operations in the Visayans and on Luzon. which complemented the main efforts directed towards Luzon. namely the liberation of Luzon.THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST supply route on which the Americans lavished so much money and emotional investment handled just 7. Ormoc Bay on 7 December 1944 which had the effect of breaking Japanese resistance on Leyte. Bhamo was cleared after a month-long siege on 15 December 1944: with the Burma Road thus cleared of Japanese forces the first overland convoy to Kunming since 1942 arrived in February 1945. November-December 1944. The landings on Mindoro on 15 December 1944 served as a stepping stone to the main endeavour in the Philippines campaign. RETURN TO THE PHILIPPINES The Philippines campaign ran parallel to these efforts.19 per cent of all material supplied to China between February and October 1945. These were the initial landings on Leyte in October 1944 and the subsequent landings in Chinese forces in the final stages of the battle for Bhamo in northern Burma. which opened with the landings in Lingayen Gulf on 9 January. and marked the start of the clearing of the . and the landings on Samar and Palawan in February 1945.

Probably everything shown in this photograph . the Japanese were unable to offer effective resistance anywhere in the Visayans and by August 1945 retained organized formations only in central Mindanao.SUPREMA C Y AND VICTORY: NOVEMBE R 1944 . 179 .AUGUST 1945 central passage through the islands. huts. telephone lines and vehicles . Thereafter the American offensive in the group divided into two parts. which had committed and lost its best formations in the defence of Leyte. For the most part these operations were on a modest scale and directed against an enemy defensively dispersed. after 19 February 1945 no fewer than twelve major assaults and some thirty other landings were conducted in the central and southern Philippines with the aim of freeing both the people and the sea routes through the islands.road. The Burma and China theatres necessitated the building of a modern communications system. in what had previously been a peaceful backwater of north-east India. Less importantly. Despite having some 110.000 troops in these islands at the end of the war.was American made and supplied.

What is undeniable. their main effort was directed. Thereafter the Americans were able to clear central and southern Luzon without difficulty and take possession of everything of real political and military value on the island.THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST The campaIgn III the northern Visayans and on Luzon was the more important of the two efforts in the Philippines. but in the mountains of north-east Luzon. With this victory the Americans were left free to strike at will throughout the Philippines with all the advantages bestowed by a central position. that on Okinawa on 1 April: the islands were declared secured on 26 March and 30 June respectively. In the short term securing Leyte Gulf and Manila Bay provided Allied naval forces with bases from which to carry the war into the Ryukyus and Japanese home waters. In fact. Whether the final result confirmed the claims that had been made by South West Pacific Command in justification for a policy of clearing the Philippines is questionable. where the Japanese had 180 . the campaign in the islands was the first large-scale campaign undertaken by the US Army in the Pacific war and cost the Japanese about 400. however. On the -eight square miles of Iwo Jima. acknowledged on 19 December with the decision to abandon the struggle for control of an island where 202. the defence did not seek to deny the capital but to concentrate in the field with a view to drawing as many enemy formations as possible into a protracted campaign. the equivalent of five American divisions still remained in the field in the Philippines. The fragmentation of Japanese forces meant that Manila was defended in the course of a month-long campaign that reduced the city to the dubious status of the most heavily damaged Allied capital in the world after Warsaw by the time it was finally liberated on 3 March. The campaign on Luzon was to continue until July 1945 when US formations were withdrawn from major operations. In 1945 the Japanese chose to make their main defensive effort not on the Bataan Peninsula. These two campaigns represent the final closing of the ring around Japan. Again like the Americans in 1941. like the Japanese effort of 1941. and rightly so: singly and together they possessed critical importance.000 US combat troops found employment. is that the defeat of the Japanese in battle in the Philippines facilitated the rehabilitation of American power both in the archipelago and more generally in south-east Asia after the war in a way which a bypassing of the islands probably could never have achieved. Iwo JIMA AND OKINAWA The other two campaigns that contributed to Japanese military defeat were somewhat different.000 lives. though at the end of the war. and in effect its outcome was assured with the Japanese defeat on Leyte. With sixteen American divisions committed at some stage or another to the overall campaign in the Philippines. The campaign on Iwo Jima began on 19 February 1945. 15 August 1945. The story of the final phase of the war in the Pacific has invariably been told in terms of the American landings on and clearing of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. to Lingayen Gulf and across the central plain to Manila.

and in so doing pointed to the limitations of political and moral factors in the conduct of war. War. suicide aircraft struck at American warships. like Saipan. Throughout the first four months of the campaign in the Philippines. less well known. escorted by B-29s from the Marianas. housed a substantia l Japanese civilian population indoctrinated with tales of American brutality. however. Okinawa. Japanese forces. and the offensive was very different from other island campaigns. Japanese policy was to force the Americans to fight a protracted campaign within range of aircraft concentrated in the home islands.AUGUST 1945 deployed the reinforced 109th Infantry Division with about 25. and. three extensively. its position astride Japan's lines of communication with south-east Asia meant that no oil tanker reached Japanese waters from the southern resources area after March 1945. off Leyte Gulf. This was a willingness to accept death as the means and end of resistance. in the form of kamikaze units. On this single day. and to the fact that there was no effective substitute for conventional air power.000 aircraft in the Philippines and another 7. but its real value lay in the forward anchorages it afforded . The air campaign was the most important single part of a final despairing Japanese attempt to influence events to their advantage by an eq ualization of resources ' by other means'. was somewhat different from Iwo Jima.400 Japanese personnel were killed or captured after the island was declared secure. but if the greatest single day's achievement of this form of attack was on 25 November when the fleet carriers Essex and Intrepid and the light fleet carrier Cabot were forced from the battle with serious damage. and is a political phenomenon: thus it follows that the determinants of war are political rather than physical.000 in the 181 . with the loss of some 3. It was to provide the US with airfields from which the campaign against the home islands was supplemented. The Japanese 32nd Army. More importantly.SUPREMACY AND VICTORY: NOVEMBER 1944 . some 2. and one week later US fighters began operations from airfield complexes that ultimately covered half the island. and here lay the major significance of this campaign. and resistance continued into June.251 B-29 emergency landings took place. which was left undefined. A careful reader would have noticed that elsewhere it was noted that the Japanese defeat in the Second World War was comprehensive but for one dimension. The value of the island was nevertheless revealed as early as 4 March when the first of 2. The Japanese ethic saw and accepted death as a means of resistance in the sense that after 25 October. suicide attacks sank one and damaged seven escort carriers. Moreover. is a contest of moral and physical resources by means of the latter. The first fighter escorts for B-29 bombers were flown from Iwo Jima on 7 April. with some 131. died in order to fight. were flown on 16 April. the first raids by fighters. in effect ceded the central and northern part of the island in order to concentrate forces for a defensive campaign on the Shuri Line. Sailors who fought to live defeated airmen who died to fight.000 troops as garrison. as von Clausewitz has taught us. and to no avail.000 troops under command. Okinawa. it was in the campaign for Okinawa that the greatest kamikaze effort was mounted.

.

8 cruisers..000 men were landed on 19 February 1945 .-I2$J 5 Marine (reserve) ..-. 10 escort carriers in support landings by two marine divisions of V Amphibious Corps: some 30.. .. but the last Japanese defenders were not eliminated until the end of May.SUPREMA C Y A N D VI C TORY: NOV E MBER 1944 .... V Amphibio us Corps SCHMIDT xx ------.------ commitment of 8 battleships..AUGUST 1945 19-28 February: long range bombers fly in support from bases on Saipan Tachiiwa Point Aircraft Ay ground attack mi ssions from the ca rrie rs of T ask Force 58 01-.... . FEBRUARY 1945 ~ 4Marine xx . . The first emergency B-29 landing on the island was on 4 March .--.. Mount Suribachi was taken on 23 February and the island declared secure on 16 March...-..

forty-six 20-mm guns. thirty-two 40-mm.THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST THE R ANDOLPH The Essex-class fleet carrier Randolph: 34. ------~------------------------------~----------- .880 tons (deep load). She first saw action in February 1945 in the raid on the home islands but an unwanted claim to fame lies in the fact that she was the only carrier to be hit by a kamikaze while in base. ninety-one aircraft. at Ulithi on 11 March 1945.7 knots. 32. twelve 5-inch.

. while the remaining 37.and sixty fleet. it was one that lessened with time.L _ _ ___ _ .AUGUST 19 4 5 struggle for Okinawa. With such numbers in hand. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _. though very little attention is ever paid to what such a simple statement of the situation involved.662 missions flown by American carriers in the course of the Okinawa campaign: of this total 53. and certainly by the end of the Okinawan campaign the Americans. In terms of readiness for the invasion of the home islands. single 20-mm and single 5-inch guns. could beat the kamikazes.077 were flown by the fleet and light fleet carriers between 14 March and 8 June.SU PR E MA CY AND V IC TORY: NOVEM BE R 1944 . and with British carriers arriving on station. The number of carriers gathered off Okinawa is sometimes cited as evidence of this strength . recourse to kamikaze tactics meant that the Japanese could not simultaneously prepare for a conventional air battle in defence of the home islands and undertake kamikaze offensives off Okinawa: even the most successful kamikaze effort over the Philippines and Okinawa could only have one outcome. By summer 1945 the US Navy had decided upon a standard 3-inch tertiary wea pon as the best com promise between rate of fire and weight of shell as counter to the kamikaze. light and escort carriers saw employment off the Ryukyus but perhaps the more pertinent measure of strength was the 90. Moreover.defence for an Essexclass carrier in three form s: the quadrupled 40-mm. while the shock wrought by the employment of suicide forces was very real. by a recasting of tactics and deployment. the Americans planned that Self. the Americans had moved into a position of strength that ensured that the air battle would be won.585 were flown by escort carriers prior to the end of June. namely the exhaustion of Japanese air strength and the certainty of its self-immolation by the end of 1945.

THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST 186 .

In short.SUPREMA C Y A N D VICTORY. The New Mexico-class battleship Idaho in action off Okinawa in late March 1945. Such capability was unprecedented since the age of sail. With the preliminary bombardment lasting seventy-two days. the latter cannot offset too severe a material deficit.000 Japanese dead. The preinvasion bombardment forces assembled off Okinawa after 26 March 1945 included ten old battleships. if war is a contest of physical and moral forces.400 prisoners were taken on Okinawa. The eighty-two-day campaign for the island left 110. N OVEMBER 1944 .AUGUST 19 45 the landings on Kyushu would be directly supported by a carrier force of ten fleet and light fleet carriers while another force. more than the number then in British service. Ohio. and one of the divisions committed to this battle went ashore with food sufficient to supply the city of Colombus. The final phase of the campaign on Okinawa: marines clearing the caves in southern Okinawa. OPPOSITE: . certain of the ships bound for Iwo Jima began loading in the previous November. No less serious. and in a sense more relevant for what was to come. with twenty fleet and light fleet carriers. the first occasion when Japanese soldiers surrendered in any appreciable numbers. Tacit acknowledgement of this was provided by the fact that 7. 14 June 1945. was the effort needed to conduct assault landings. and the logistical effort needed to sustain such undertakings was immense. for thirty days and with. the total in second-line service. and this was the reality that unfolded in the Philippines and the Ryukyus between October 1944 and June 1945. even the short-haul British carrier force was at sea in two separate periods of thirty-two and thirty days. In the course of the Okinawan campaign the American carrier task force was continuously at sea for ninety-two days. Some 7. was assigned the covering role. the first appreciable prisoner haul of the war.400 chose captivity.

THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST 188 .

. the operations in Mora Gulf on 17 April 1945. NOVEMBER 1944 .AUGUST 1945 Though most of the landings in the Philippines other than on Leyte and Luzon were relatively small. none the less saw the commitment of two infantry divisions. but when aligned correctly could saturate a beach area over a frontage of 750 yards. while not involving carriers and capital ships. Rocketfiring landing craft.SUPREMACY AND VI C TORY. were notorious for their eccentricities of handling. converted from standard LeT (2) or (3).

between March and June 1945. . as does one other matter. enough cigarettes to supply every single man with twenty a day. an historical fact that could be regarded as trivia but for its obvious significance in terms of illustrating the extent of national disparity of strength and resources both in the war as a whole but specifically at this stage of proceedings. every day for eight months. In the campaign off Okinawa. the scale of support needed for the two armies. 14. With hospitals prepared on Saipan and Guam to receive casualties.THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST perhaps somewhat excessively.000 combat aircraft and naval forces (including 100 carriers) that were to be involved in landings in Honshu begins to come into perspective.

With 832 dead and 270 wounded. The second was self-evident: the example of japanese resistance on such places as Saipan. with the help of her companions in TG 58. Iwo jima and Okinawa was regarded as a . in the course of 1945 the japanese deployment of forces within the home islands was closely and monitored the by American Army intelligence.SUPREMACY AND VICTORY: NOVEMBER 1944 . First.AUGUST 1945 American naval forces were supplied with a greater amount of petrol. The prospect of landings in the home islands did not command enthusiasm on two counts. with Imperial On 19 March Japanese landbased aircraft bombed the fleet carriers Wasp and Franklin. though she never returned to service other than in a ferrying capacity. Under tow her fires were extinguished and power ultimately regained. to survive and clear the danger area. the Franklin was the most heavily damaged carrier to survive the war. specifically across the Kondo Plain to Tokyo. Not the least remarkable aspect of her survival was that she was crippled while 55 miles from the coast of Japan but none the less was able. and by noon on the 20th the carrier was able to make 14 knots and she reached Ulithi under her own power on 24 March. oil and lubricants than japan as a nation imported in the whole of 1944. and it was the American intention to move initially against Kyushu in November 1945 and then against Honshu. in March 1946. ATTACKING THE HOME ISLANDS The securing of the Marianas. the Franklin was crippled by five hours of explosions that at one stage left her dead in the water.2. Though the Wasp was able to extinguish her fires quickly and was fully operational within fifty minutes of being hit. anticipating where enemy forces would be obliged to land the American high command drew the obvious conclusions. the Philippines and Okinawa provided the Americans with the bases from which to stage the invasion of the home islands.

Okinawa. the Japanese intention was to cede most of Okinawa while standing on prepared lines in the south of the island. Japanese defence line The scene off Haguishi beach. Hedo Cape I? 13April 26' 30' xxx _ AMPH GEIGER L HODGE XXlVI Keise Is. The concentration of shipping so close to the shore so early in proceedings indicates that the Japanese made little attempt to oppose the landings at the water's edge: by the end of the first day the Americans had secured a beachhead 3 miles deep and 10 miles in frontage. The Japanese hoped to conduct a protracted defence that would result in the Americans having to commit the carrier force to prolonged operations within range of conventional air and kamikaze strikes mounted from the home islands. xxx xx xx PACIFIC OCEAN """"=~ ( \ ~"~' '.OKINAWA CAMPAIGN Realizing the impossibility of offering resistance on beaches. The margin of superiority available to the Americans at this stage of proceedings confounded Japanese intentions./' == The 'Shur. where troops from XX IV Corps landed on 1 April 1945.Cape Chamu TSUgen I~ 11 April yo -I April Kutaka Is US in vasion of O kinawa 26 March . . Line'..30 June 1945 American attack .

communications and armour synonymous with effectiveness. 193 . which rejected the idea of arming the civil population for a war Beach scene on Okinawa.AUGUST 1945 foretaste of what could be expected in the event of the invasion of the home islands. With a minimum of forty-four landing ships and craft in sight. In this respect. The Japanese hoped and intended to wear down American resolve. The quality of Imperial Army formations in the home islands was somewhat uneven: the classes of 1944 and 1945 were all but untrained. and even the good divisions lacked the transport. In reality. by mid April American logistical problems were mounting as demand outstripped earlier logistical estimates. 13 April 1945. to force the Americans to the conclusion that a negotiated end to the war was preferable to a campaign on the main islands.SUPREMACY AND VICTORY: NOVEMBER 1944 . in planning for the defence of the home islands the Imperial Army. Moreover. the Japanese aim in the conduct of last-ditch defence in the islands proved both successful and self-defeating. there was little basis for such hopes. the scale and complexity of logistic support begins to come into perspective: in fact.

in part because they had other means of taking the war to the home islands. there was never any real prospect of the Imperial Army's securing the success that had eluded the German armed forces in Normandy. then its formations would be subjected to the full force of American materiel advantage.8 square miles were destroyed. Kob e and Kawasaki . In this respect the example of the Okinawa campaign was salutary. Yokohama. Iwo Jima and Okinawa caused the Americans to hesitate but not to flinch.3 of Tokyo's 110. Nagoya. These were the combination of bombing 194 . on the other hand.were destroyed in the course of eighteen firestorm raids prior to 15 June 1945. formations held inland were highly unlikely to be able to get into battle in time to affect its outcome other than in swelling the total of Japanese casualties. and despite the hesitations of the American high command. If it attempted to defend the home islands at the water's edge.THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST to the death. airfields and command facilities in the home islands as a result of American carrier operations that it took the Japanese a week after the American landings on Okinawa to organize air strikes in direct support of the 32nd Army: there is no reason to suppose that the Japanese could have done any better in the event of landings in the home islands.Tokyo. In reality. was simply unable to force civilian evacuation of landing areas. Osaka. Twofifths of Japan's 'big six' cities . Such was the disruption of Japanese In five major raids between 10 March and 25 May 56. and in any event it faced an impossible dilemma in planning the conduct of the defence against amphibious landings.

even if it began very uncertainly and was attended initially 195 . however. The Japanese planned to have 570 Koryus in September for the defence of the home islands: in the event only 115 had been completed. The bombing campaign.SU PREMACY AND VICTORY: N OVEMBER 1944 . their symbolism being both obvious and ironic: in a war that for the British began with the loss of two capital ships in the South China Sea on 10 December 1941. impact and results. primarily American .AUGUST 1945 and. the bombardment of Hamamatsu on the night of 29/30 July was the last occasion when a British battleship fired her guns 111 anger. was of a different order in terms of scale. bombardment by warships. September 1945. The warships were a bonus. after 14 July 1945. Japanese Type D Koryu submarines in a wrecked dock at Kure naval yard.

He attended the Potsdam Conference in July and authorized the use of atomic weapons after the Allied declaration of the 26th was rejected by the Japanes e. Roosevelt. closely packed and lightly constructed buildings with few parks. Tokyo was subjected to fiv e raids that devastated 56. / First wave of bombers (B-29s) drop high explosive bombs ro cause structura l damage TOKYO FIRE RAID . bombers respond with defensive fire . Truman became president of the United States on 12 April 1945 on the death of Franklin D. with their narrow streets. allowin g a greater bomb load to be carried .3 of its 110 square miles. were peculiarly vulnerable to firestorm raids. o CD Following waves drop in cendiary bombs. 29 MAY 1945 Japan ese cities. Later in the bombing campaign only tail guns would equip the 8-29. One-third of neighbouring Kawasaki was razed in a single attack: 44 per cent of Yokohama was levelled in the course of two raids.THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST Harry S. to set alight damaged areas Japanese anti-aircraft fire anemprs ro disrupt the bombing run and destroy attacki ng aircraft Japanese fighters intercept bombers.

..- i-e -" -- - 3 te 7 I .~ -> • ...9 square miles or slightly more than onethird of the city was destroyed in a firestorm attack.-'"' -"". -.. > .•.SUPREMACY AND VICTORY: NOVEMBER 1944 . I97 ..AUGUST 1945 Superfortresses over Japan: seven of the 454 B-29s committed against Yokahama on 29 May when some 6. -. 517 bombers were initially committed but only 454 found their target: this attack was the first to be afforded protection by P-51 Mustangs of V II Fighter Command. <. -.

31 December 1942 2.31 December Japanese te rritory Totallosses: 89 ships PA C IFI C Caroline IS(}nds ~ .30 April 1942 1 May . By July 1945 Japan's strategic mobility was no more. 42 per cent of Japan's industrial capacity had been destroyed and some 22 million people had been killed. Between November 1944 and February 1945 the attacks on the home islands from bases in the Marianas were conducted on too small a scale . air defence inflicted a debilitating 5 per cent loss rate on the B-29 Superfortresses.31 August 1 September . heavy population density and the relative flimsiness of Japanese construction meant that Japanese cities were peculiarly vulnerable to fire storms. the American bombing offensive became increasingly effective to the extent that by the end of the war 43. Japanese merchant shippin g losses 1943 1 January . inflicted in just five months. namely the increase in the number of aircraft committed to the bombing campaign. Japanese merchant shipping losses 7 December 194 1 .31 August 1 September .31 De cember Japanese territory 7 De c 1941 . or low. The hi gh.the Tokyo raid JAPANESE MERCHANT SHIPPING LOSSES The changing pattern of Japanese shipping losses can be ascertained by reference to the location of sinkings over different periods of the war. Lack of road space and parks. Such devastation. After March 1945 the Americans abandoned precision bombardment in favour of low-altitude attacks. 1. November 1944.'o o o co N ew Caledonia 180 180 . notable for the employment of incendiaries. Suffice to note one matter: by war's end Jap anese shipping was at a standstill outside home waters despite the vast areas that remained under Japanese control. as the extent of destruction indicated only too well. injured or rendered homel ess. and she could not have sustained herself in terms of basic food requirements beyond November.30 April 1 May .only one wing was available for operations . After March. the deployment of area bombardment tactics and the peculiar nature of Japanese cities. Furthermore. was primarily the result of three factors. and in spite of the distraction s of the mining commitment and operations against airfields on Kyushu and Shikoku in suppo rt of the Okinawa enterprise.THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST OPPOSITE : A Japanese m ilitary transport under attack in Ormoc Bay in the course of the Leyte campaign. point of this effort . by failure.and at altitudes too high to be effective.46 per cent of sixty-three major Japanese cities had been laid waste.

.30 April 1 May ..15 August Japanese territory TDtallDsses: 550 ships -t-PA C I...: ~ '%: ~ .30 April 1 May ...AUGUST 1945 o C E AN 180 routes abandoned by: 1 January 1945 1 May 1945 15 August 1945 still in operation at the end of the war 1 January 1944 1 May 1944 1 September 1944 3. S?'omon Islands .0.SUPREMACY AND VICTORY: NOVEMBER 1944 . qaroline Isjands 'S.FI C -tOCEAN --f--% --r . .. Japanese merchant shipping losses 1944 4 Japanese merchant shipping losses 1 January .31 August 1 September . New Caledonia 180 180 199 ...31 December Japanese te rritory 1945 1 January ..

200 . that would be like the coming of The Mighty One. I am become Death. xi. 12. The Shatterer of Worlds.THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST 'If all the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the silent sky. The attack on Nagasaki (top) and the aftermath at Hiroshima (right). 32. ' The Bhagavad Gita.

SUPREMACY AND V I CTO RY: NOVEMBER 1944 .AUGUST 194 5 2 01 .

and the critical importance of the B-29 Superfortress is acknowledged. with obvious effect on Japanese morale. and it also completed the process of blockade.s:" J 202 . Of Japanese merchant shipping losses almost four-fifths.~91 1.005 homeless . At war's end the only convoy routes remaining to the Japanese were short-haul from the Asian mainland. With fighters from carriers operating combat air patrols over Japanese airfields. By spring 1945 Japanese industry was in or about to enter 'end-run production'. But the B-29 offensive was only one part of the final air assault on the home islands.058 66?!.274 154.728 6 3 l ~ 1. a patent inability to resist declared American intention.392 ~ 5. Strategic air forces had mined the Shimonoseki Strait through which most shipping entered the Inland Sea by spring 1945.528 3 9. both by numbers and tonnage. and air groups providing ECM and harassing night attacks. the Americans overwhelmed Japan's air defences to the extent that they were able to announce targets in advance.711 killed or injured and 1.199 111 382.~ ~=' ~ 236 539. That only 68 per cent of the Japanese population in July 1945 believed that the war was lost may seem highly implausible. ~ 826. and the \ 516. as well as naval aircraft. specifically the growth of XX Bomber Command to a strength of five wings by the \. which was never bombed.~3 .008. Th e introduction of convoy of shipping in November 1943 did nothing to curb Japan ese losses: the system itself collapsed as the Americans reached into the western Pa cific. Moreover. was a major factor in the progressive demoralization of Japanese society in the course of 1945. In the words of one commentator. but the fact was that only 2 per cent of the population was of such an opinion one year earlier: the greater realism induced by taking the war to the Japanese home islands was clearly the product of the strategic bombing offensive.836 ) \. were lost in home waters and the southern resources area: by numbers almost half of merchant shipping losses were in home waters.41i8 48 6.026 } 171. and was complementary to the efforts of heavy. but the debilitating effect of the air offensive can be gauged by absenteeism rates that touched 80 per cent in major industrial enterprises and even 40 per cent in Kyoto. This was part of a process that fulfilled its operational code name .. The revelation of Japan's defencelessness.Starvation.581 67 end of hostilities.TH E SECON D WO RLD WA R IN THE EAST JAPANESE MERCHANT SHIPPING LOSSES of 9/10 March 1945 which left 124. it 'continued to fight throughout 1945 from habit'. medium and fighter-bombers from Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Total losses 379. there was another matter intimately associated with this campaign: the air offensive most certainly affected both Japanese will and ability to resist.is well known.5 ~ 296.

n-~~~-----------1L-------------------------~~------~N.836 tonnage sunk 93 number of ships lost ~F.923 1 March31 October 1943 " 5 1 Novem ber 1943 - 30 June 1944 1 July30 November 1944 1 Decem ber 1944 30M.j~ -.a:le:d~on~~--------~ R A L A 110 0 / 20 3 .SUPREMACY AND VICTORY: NOVEMBER 1944 .August 1945 Naval Shipping Military Shipping Civilian Shipping 296.AUGUST 1945 China/other/ riverine/unknown East China Sea Japanese home waters North Pacific ~ 11 .'e:w~c.reh 1945 PACIFIC OCEAN Southwest Pacific March 1943 .534 12.

THE S E CON D W ORLD WA R I N T HE E A ST JAPAN ESE SHIPPING LOSSES bombing offensive was increasingly directed against unused capacity rather than production.574 400 82. Certainly in terms of the conduct of the strategic air offensive.289 8 17. in summer 1945 the US Army Air Force was warning of its rapid exhaustion of suitable targets to Between December 1944 and March 1945.546 11 41 . the Japanese high command made increasingly desperate attempts both to deflect the Soviet Union from intervention in Manchuria and to Japanese shipping losses by agency of Destruction Jul y 1944 . therefore. such was the Japanese double failure in terms of the protection of shipping and cities that after the end of the war the US strategic bombing survey suggested that.5 Nil 398 1 17. such was the utter inadequacy of the administrative margins on which she was obliged to work by summer 1945. In the war's fin al phase losses increased primarily because of mining while the returns of carrier aircraft.5 70. increasingly committed to the air battle over the home islands.August 1945 CJ Naval Shipping Military Shipping Civilian Shipping D D 93 296.685 67. the Japanese high command admitted its helplessness with the acknow ledgement that 'the most troublesome possible course' that the Allies could follow would be to suspend all operations other than air bombardment.513 11 844 2 5. Japan faced the certainty of mass starvation in winter 1945-6 had the war continued into the new year.206 50 48. Japan could not have sustained herself beyond November 1945. Its real concern was not so much defeat as socia l revolution in its aftermath.2 44 741. In the spring and summer of 1945.324 33 I April 15 August 1945 243.964 1 December 1944 30 M arch 45 495 45. declined.458 48 518.313 14 46.783 12 14.968 9 2. The potentially disastrous consequences of defeat dawned on the Japanese high command in the course of 1945.5 194. Japan ese shipping losses remained at crippling levels mainly because carrier and landbased aircraft maintained their rate of sinkings. As it was.632 25 1 6.429 55 5 16.836 tonnage sunk number of ships lost I December 1944 30 March 45 188.534 3 Submarines (from all bases) Carrier aircraft Land-based aircraft Warships 171. all other considerations being discounted. By war's end the J apanese power industry was able to produce double requirements.113 148 97. Indeed.420 177 188. and increasingly in 1945 there was recognition of the threat presented by Soviet intervention.499 13.248 63 Mines Natural causes Other/ Unknown causes Total losses 20 4 . such was the extent of idleness in Japanese manufacturing industry for want of raw materials.347 63.490 9 1 April 15 August 1945 14. attack.819 1 142.

000 1.500 600 1.000 Scrap The data for 1945 apply to the period from 1 January to l 5 August (228 days) ..000 2.000 800 600 800 Grains Rubber 1.000 2.000 2.SU PR E M AC Y AN D V IC T O RY: N O VEMBE R 194 4 . The transparent bar represents the equivalent for a full year.000 3.500 . 1940-45 Iron and Steel 1.:: "0 8 400 c 3. The successful testing of an atomic weapon at Alamogordo on 16 July 1945 VOLUME OF IMPORTS Japan's economic defeat can be gauged by the fac t that in 1945 the volume of imports ex ceeded that of 1945 only with respect to soy.000 600 . I .000 6.000 1.000 500 200 1.000 1.000 ••• • Iron Ore 6. 205 . 60 50 40 g 1.500 5... Japan. Though the Soviet Union did not inform the United States of these efforts. grains and rubber: only soy showed an increase over 1944 imports. .AUGUS T 1945 The Volume of Bulk Imports into Japan. -g -5 0 ~ . "0 500 30 400 200 •• 20 10 > 500 200 use her as the means of seeking some form of mediation in order to end the war.000 800 800 4.000 200 1.000 5. by summer 1945.000 400 ~ 2.000 > Z inc 100 Lead 25 Tin 700 600 Phosphite/Phosphates 500 Dolomite/Magnesite 20 80 20 15 60 400 500 400 300 10 200 300 15 10 40 200 20 100 100 Salt Rice 2. and in this period there was a growing convergence of American and Japanese wishes. the US interception of Japanese diplomatic signals ensured that the Americans knew of this contact. Coal Bauxite 7. -1 1 r--.500 1. the general view of the Truman administration was that Soviet intervention was neither necessary nor desirable. and with the end of the German war and the first signs of emerging differences between the wartime Allies. was both industrially and in terms of nutritional needs all but finish ed .000 600 4.000 400 8 c E . .. In the last year of the war there was increasing American confidence that the Japanese war could be won without Allied assistance.

the primary 22 August 1945 and the entry of Soviet armoured forces into Port Arthur. without knowing what underlay this threat and without any guarantee of the institution of monarchy and the person of the Emperor. The main Soviet und ertaking was in Manchuria. the lo cal M anchurian population does not seem too upset by the end of Japanese rule. against southern Sakhalin and in the Kuriles. In Manchuria the Soviets commanded overwhelming advantages of numbers.THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N THE EAST immeasurably strengthened the American belief that Soviet involvement in the Japanese war was unnecessary. and there was nothing that could be done at this stage to forestall the Soviet determination to playa full part in the war in the Far East. position. professional technique. The Soviets began five military efforts in the last days of the war. The Potsdam Declaration of 26 Jul y 1945 calling upon Japan to surrender immediately and unconditionally on pain of immediate and utter destruction was underwritten in the knowl edge that the means of such destruction was available. namely the use of atomic weapons against Hiroshima (6 August) and Nagasaki (9 August) and the Soviet declaration of war. But the Japanese high command. concentration and. 2 06 . For all the signs of development. believed it had no alternative but to discount the Allied demand. with a secondary effort directed across the Gobi Desert into northern China: the tertiary efforts were into Korea. critically important. despite the announcement of Japan's surrender on 15 August. With second-string forces allocated to holding attacks on the main (and obvious) lines of advance. and indeed fighting between Soviet and Japanese forces lasted throughout August. SURRENDER Thus was set the final scene of the Japanese war.

service and national honour via annihilation . the Soviets were able to secure all the major cities of Manchoutikuo by the time that the final ceasefires were arranged. although it was hopelessly indecisive: in the absence of any Allied guarantee of the Imperi al institution and the person of the Emperor. Nauru and Port Blair.SUPREMA C Y AND VI C TORY. Even after the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki there were semor Japanese officers determined to continue resistance. even though their landings were bitterly resisted on certain of the Kurile islands. On Sakhalin and in the Kuriles the Soviets were no less successful. and across comparable ground. Within the Supreme War Council there was a greater realism. on Bougainville and at Balikpapan. Morotai. was the 3. by Colonel Kaida Tatuichi and his chief of staff Major Muiosu Slioji. In the Indies there were local surrenders at Rabaul. 207 . Soviet The Japanese surrender extended over many months as isolated forces and garrisons were slowly contacted prior to capitulation and repatriation. NOVEMBER 1944 .235-strong Japanese garrison in Dutch Timor at the ceremony in the Australian slo op Moresby at Koepang on 11 September 1945. with the Japanese outfought on every sector and o utmanoeuvred by Soviet armoured forces moving through the passes of the Great Hingan Mountains. Also surrendered. the outcome became clear in the first two or three days. Wewak. With the lavish employment of airborne troops. Labuan. there was a resistance to acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration. Unless one considers that the Japanese in Manchuria were defeated before this campaign began. Kuching.AUGUST 1945 offensive into Manchuria was launched from Mongolia by a tank army that in eleven days advanced a distance that was equivalent of that between Caen and Milan. to seek exoneration from failure in some awesome battle on the sacred soil of Japan that would somehow result in either victory or the redemption of personal. Singapore.

and brought an end to a war that. the Netherlands and New Zealand. and by representatives of the United States. Watched by the Supreme Allied Commander General MacArthur and his chief of staff. In these few poor pages. that ensured that the decision to surrender 'to bear the unbearable ' . Britain.THE SECOND WORLD WAR I N T H E EAST Surrender. along with its European counterpart. was the most destructive and costly in history. Ch ina. plus the dispatch of various members of the Imperial family to major commands to enforce compliance. The main surrender took place in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945. and it was the Emperor's unprecedented broadcast to the nation. the inevitable suicides excepted. The decision provoked mutiny on the part of certain units in the capital that was suppressed. General Umezo Yoshigiro signed the instrument of surrender 'by command and on behalf of the Japanese General Headquarters'. the a uthor has 208 . the Council could not agree on any settled policy: it was to take the personal decision of the Emperor to end the war. Canada.was obeyed. Australia. On 28 August American and British naval forces entered Tokyo Bay. the Soviet Union. intervention added to the desperation of the Japanese position because the Council recognized that Japan had to surrender while the power of decision remained with the Americans and if she was to avoid occupation by Soviet forces. France. But despite such considerations and the fear of social revolution if the war and defeat came to home soil. and thus began a process of formal surrenders that were to extend across the whole of what remained of Japan's overseas empire and lasted into spring 1946.

a movement of water sometimes across the vastness of the Pacific from one continent to another triggered by seismic disturbance or the eruption of underwater volcanoes. But never before had a country been overwhelmed from the sea and across such distances. Chief of the Army General Staff: three officials from the Foreign Ministry.is both explanation and description of this conflict. Yet at the end. industry.Germany in 1945 being the obvious. lie exposed to the full force of the tsunami. a giant wave of destruction that throws itself ashore. Herein lies the one point of major difference between the European and Far East wars: Germany's defeat was not inevitable. on the morning of 2 September 1945.AUGUST 1945 attempted to explain rather than describe the unfolding of the Second World War in the Far East. and this is the evidence of the full range of Japanese failure and American achievement in the Second World War in the Far East. surely. Japan was overwhelmed by a man-made tsunami of highexplosive hatred that reached across the whole of the Pacific as a result of a seismic disturbance.SUPREMACY AND VICTORY: NOVEMBER 1944 . but.state. Japan's defeat was assured from the very start of hostilities. most pertinent example. At various times in history states have been overpowered by invading armies . It was a tsunami that was without precedent. within American society and industry. The war was over. society. The coasts of the Pacific. one is thrown back upon description because it is through analogy that one can best understand the events of the war as a whole and the events of the last weeks and months of the Pacific struggle. 209 . induced at Pearl Harbor on one Sunday morning in December 1941. the military and indeed the home islands . three army and three naval officers were in attendance. and in so doing would acknowledge one obvious historiographical problem: there are few things more difficult to explain than inevitable defeat. The arrival of the delegation that was to sign the instrument of their country's surrender: the Missouri. In the tsunami that engulfed Japan . The delegation was led by Foreign Minister Shigemitsu Mamoru and General Umezo Yoshigiro. The Japanese delegation was piped on board the Missouri: on departure it was afforded customary honours. In both the conflict overall and specifically the last five months of the war. in Tokyo Bay. and specifically the Japanese islands.

/- ./1 ././-/ ./- ./8 ./6 4/4 -/ 9 ./- ././2 ./- ./- ././-/ ./././- -/ ././././-/././2 ./- -/ ./1 ./- ./1 2/ 3 ./././././6 119 1/6 ././3 ./6 1110 ./- -/ 1 ./ 32 1115 ./- ./2 ./././1/ 4 ./2 ././- ./- -/ ./- ./- ./1 ./- ./2 ././2 2/8 ./- ./9 ././1/ 1 ./111 ./ 19 3/9 ././././2 ./1 ././-/- ./././- ./6 ./- ././1 112 ./2 -/ ./2 -/./2 ././4 -/ 5 1110 3/4 ./- -/ -/ ././././- -/ - ./- -/ 2 ./././1 3/6 ./- -/ ./9 3 / 31 ././6 1122 ./3 ./1/3 111 ././2 ././-/././5 -/ 30 1114 2 / 11 3/8 118 3/4 118 ./6 ./- ./././5 1110 ././- 112 ./3 ././- ./7 119 ./2 ./111 ./2 ./2 1/ 2 4/ 4 113 1/ 1 ././2 ././-/ ./- ./5 113 ././2 ././-/-/ 4 ./3 ./- ./- ./- ./7 ././- ./- ./- ./- ./3 1/ 2 ./.THE SE C OND WORLD WAR I N THE EA ST ApPENDICES A pPEND I X A: M A J OR N AVAL A CT I ONS OF THE P ACIF I C W AR Carriers Fleet Light Escort Battleships Cruisers Heavy Light Destroyers 07 Dec 41 Pearl Harbor Im£erial Ja£anese Navy United States Navy 27 Feb 42 Java Sea Im£erial Ja£anese Navy United States Navy 07 May 42 Coral Sea Im£erial J a£anese Navy United States Navy 04 Jun42 Midway Islands Im£erial Ja£anese Navy United States Navy 09 Aug 42 Savo Island Im£erial Ja£anese Navy United States Navy 24 Aug 42 Eastern Solomons Im£erial J a£anese Navy United States Navy 11 Oct 42 Cape Esperance Im2erial Ja2anese Navy United States Navy 26 Oct 42 Santa Cruz Im£erial Ja£anese Navy United States Navy 12 Nov 42 First G uadalcanal Im£erial Ja£anese Navy United States Navy 14 Nov 42 Second Guadalcanal Im£erial Ja£anese Navy United States Navy 30 Nov 42 Tassafaronga Im2erial Ja£anese Navy United States Navy 06 Jul 43 Kula Gulf Im£erial Ja£anese Navy United States Navy 13 Jul43 Kolombangara Im£erial Ja£anese Navy United States Navy 06 Aug 43 Vella Gulf Im2erial Ja2anese Navy United States Navy 06 Oct 43 Vella Lavella Im£erial Ja£anese Navy United States Navy 21 0 ./1/ 2 ./././././- ./- -/ .//./- -/ ./1 ./ 18 112 ./3 .

/-/./1 ./4 3 /7 12 / 126 18 / 234 ././6 1/9 2 / 24 ./ 21 3/5 ./ 33 .g./4 -/./ 65 36 / 56 5/7 1/. Submarines are not listed./- 3 I na .17 3/9 -././4 ./8 1 I na ./6 1 I na .THE PEA CE SETTLEME N T A N D BEYOND Fleet Carriers Light Battleships Escort Cruisers Heavy Light Destroyers 01 Nov 44 Empress Augusta Bay Im2erial Ia2anese Navy United States Navy 26 Nov 43 Cape St.1./- -1 9 3/5 -/ 6 ./- -/./4 ./- -/-/2 ./ 18 4/5 -/ 20 11 1 ./9 .12 / 29 -/.g.1./2 -/- 2/ 1 2/2 / 11 2/4 -/1/8 10 / 84 -/- ./././- -/5 -/ 11 ./2 . the loss of the destroyer Naga tsllki on 6 July 1943 in the aftermath of the battle of Kula Gulf is not included in total of losses of that action./2 ././5 1I na -/ 12 . Ships that were damaged in the named action and subsequently lost (e./4 ./8 11 1 ./- ./-/././-/- .17 3/3 1/ 8 ./- ./2 112 116 ./- . and similarly unlisted are ships sunk in related but separate actions: e./4 . with the first figure being the losses and the second figure being the number of each type of ship involved in the battle. the Yorktown at Midway ) are included in totals./ 27 -/67 11 / 35 4 / 162 4/8 2 / 26 na -/80 ./1 The major actions of the Pacifi c war are listed by date in the form -/-. Damaged units are not listed./20 / 34 ./- na ././ 13 7 / 33 32 /349 58 /420 111 I 73 116 /203 211 ./ 12 11 1 ./-/- ./-/ 2 ./6 3 / 61 20 / 5 39 / 20 / 31 4 1 77 21 8 ./././ 14 6 / 15 -/ 5 -/./9 2 1 na ./.1./9 7 / 18 4/ 9 ./- . George Im2erialla2anese Navy United States Navy 20Jun44 Philippine Sea Im2erial la2anese Navy United States Navy 23 Oct 44 Leyte Gulf Im2erialla2anese Navy United States Navy 06 Apr 45 Okinawa Im2erial la2anese Navy United States Navy 24 Jul45 Inland Sea Im2erialla2anese Navy United States Navy . ApPENDIX B: WARTIME C OMMISSIONING/ COMPLETION OF MAJOR U NITS Dec 1941 IJ N / USN 1942 IJ N / USN 1943 IJ N / USN 1944 IJ N / USN Jan-Sep 1945 IJ N / USN Total IJ N / USN Ca rriers Fleet Light Escort Battleships Crui sers H eavy Light Destroyers Destroyer escorts Corvettes Submarines -1./1 3 / 11 7 / 76 20 / 181 72 / 8 35 / 80 ./8 .

represented something that was unprecedented in the conduct of US operations in the Pacific war. In the case of the Leyte.913 tons belonged to the merchant fleet.000 tons being sunk. most of the latter being service shipping. US carrier operations for the first time struck directly at the Japanese merchant marine. 212 OPPOSING FORCES AT THE BATTLE OF LEYTE GULF Imperial Japanese Navy Carriers Fleet US Navy and Allies 9 Light Escort Aircraft alc Battleships Cruisers H eavy 1 3 116 9 15 5 35 8 29 1. seventeen ships of some 90. however.THE S EC O N D WORLD WAR I N THE E A ST ApPENDIX C: THE BATTLE OF LEYTE GULF The landings on Leyte and the ensuing battle of Leyte Gulf. 23. Of these only18 ships of 68. The pattern of operations . and in the course of these and subsequent follow-up operations contributed to the prohibitive losses inflicted on Japanese merchantmen obliged to operate without fleet support in waters largely controlled by enemy aIr power.476 were sunk in Filippine and adjacent waters. Striking at the Ryukyus and Formosa in addition to the Philippines.never repeated itself: the Iwo Jima operation lacked a mercantile dimension: the Okinawa operation sealed off Japan from the south and hence there was no follow-up operations against shipping. but in subsequent operations a total of 48 service and merchant ships of 212. To date US landings had been preceded by softening-up operations by carrier forces which were primarily aimed at ensuring air supremacy and the isolation of the objective from outside support.submarine and carrier operations as a preclude to battle and then the devastating follow-up phase . In the course of these operations US carrier forces registered en passant success against local escort forces and shipping.561 + 12 5 20 162 43 13 3 29 22 41 Light Destroyers Destroyer escorts Frigates Minelayers Mine Sweepers Submarines Oilers . the smallness of such numbers reflecting the relatively small number of merchantmen operating in these waters in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of Japanese sea lines of communications.26 October 1944. American preliminary operations registered very considerable success against merchant shipping on account of the position of the Philippines astride Japan's main trade routes with the southern resources area. and indeed the precise pattern of operations was never repeated in subsequent operations. During the battle itself American attention to merchant shipping was minimal.

2 submarines and 2 a mphibio us units.478 17 16 92.198 145. 1 min elayer.484 1. 3 battleships. 2 heavy and 2 light cruisers. 11 destroye rs.664 219. 1 ba ttleship.652 37.076 44 14 190.22 October 1944 Tota l losses in thea t relrelated wa ters Losses in other theatres 49 26 29.800-to n fl eet carrier Shinano off central H onshu by the submarine November 1944 the Imperial Navy lostl fl eet carrier.346 47. shipsltonnage No.167 2.913 112.883 23-28 October 1944 Leyte Gu lf and associated actions Losses in other theatres 32 324. Inetlayer.877 32. 1 escort A rcherfish on 29 N ovember.366 294.760 4 2 12.30 November 1944 Tota l losses in thea tre Total losses in other t heatres Overa ll losses in theatre/ related waters Overall losses in al l other waters Losses on dates or in areas unknow n TOTAL LOSSES IN ALL T HEAT RES 49 18 130 45 2 177 119.476 228.T H E PEACE SETTLEMENT AND BEYOND JAPANESE NAVAL AND SHIPPING LOSSES SEPTEMBER-NoVEMBER In September/ea rl y O cto ber 1944 J ap anese light fo rces and service and mercantil e shipping.415 53.478 48. sho rn of th e distant support of a fl eet.675 18 27 85 68.328 621.41 7 554.998 491.166 28 17 133.NoVEMBER Warships and Am ph ib ious Un its Nava l Shippi ng M ili tary Shi pp ing 1944 Overa ll Shi pp in g Losses C ivi li a n Shi pp ing No. Therea fter.146.483 48 55 196 136 3 335 212. 127 91 382.665 293 . JAPANESE NAVAL AND SHIPPING LOSSES S EPTEMBE R .067 371. 8 cha sers. in the peri od 29 O cto b er/3 ~ 1944 carrier. The decline of shipping losses in thea tre in N ovember reflected a reduction of shippin g in these waters: the high level of Japanese warship losses o utside the theatre reflected the inclusion in these returns of the sinking of the 64.365 87. 11 destroyers. suffered very heavy losses as America n carrier fo rces fo ught for and wo n air superi ority over the Philippines. 7 escort destroye rs.301 37.586 1. between 23 a nd 28 O ctober. 176 214.262 78.899 258. ships/tonnage No. main a nd mopping-up phases of the battl e.783 59 34 179. either in the Philippines or durin g the withdrawal of units to the ho me isla nd s from the south . 6 gunboa ts.346 474.500 6.024 131 65 342.764 11 29 October .462 2.891 950 5 3 33. 5 subm a rin es. it lostl fleet and 3 light fl eet carri ers. plus o ne other unit.526 8 45. 109 113. ships/tonnage No. 6 heavy and 4 light cruisers.695 646. The Imperi al Navy's attempted interventi on proved di sas tro us: in the prelimina ry.988 85 12 19 45 39 52.655 107.342 8. shipsltonnage No.560 145. ships/tonnage 1 September . 5 minesweepers. 2 destroyer-transpo rts and 12 assa ult ships.883 13 . deprived of bo th loca l ai r cover and fl eet suppo rt.824 72 2 159 2I3 .040 18 9 66 25 91.

Leader of the Kuomintang (Nationalists) after 1925 and during the civil war with the communists. WINSTON (1874-1965) Prime Minister of Britain 1940-45. De facto spokesman of the chiefs of staff in dealing with Churchill and the Americans. CURTIN. COMMANDER MITSUO (1902-76) One of the Imperial Navy's leading av iators in the pre-war period. He was closely associated with MacArthur and CHIANG KAI-SHEK.1995) Born in Alaska. Doolittle joined the Army Air Service in 1917 and made his nam e in the inter-war period with a series of speed a nd endurance trials. Fuchida led the attack on Pea rl Harbor and was in the Solomons was less than distinguished. the Kuomintang was expelled to Formosa in 1949. JOHN (1885-1945) Prime Minister of Australia who in the crisis of ea rl y 1942 in effect placed his country under American protection and th ereafter within the American sphere of influence even at the expense of Australia's traditional relati o nship with Britain. He took command of the 8th Air Force in Britain in 1944 and at the end of the European war was posted to Air Force CHURCHILL. With reference to the latter. matters Pacific were necessarily of lesser consequence to Britain after December 1941: he displayed a penchant for increasingly divisive action as his powers of decision-making diminished and was rightl y regarded with considerable suspicion by the US military by the final years of the war. he commanded the raid of April 1942 before taking command of the 15th Air Force and strategic air forces in north-west Africa. he none the less commanded in the first three carrier battles in history and was never on the losing side. VICE ADMIRAL FRANK JACK (1885-1973 ) Commander of US carrier forces at the Coral Sea. headquarters in Washington. The personification of British defiance and greatness in 1940-41.6. If his period of command CUNNINGHAM. his determination and his ability to handle (with considerable difficulty ) Churchill. militar y incompetence and corruption exacted its toll: defeated in the resumed civil war after 1945. Brooke commanded widespread respect because of his competence. Wartime Nationalist passivity.THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE EAST BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS BROOKE. Generally reserved and withdrawn in dealing with FUCHIDA. he headed a navy that emerged in 1944-5 as the only British service that could arrive in strength in the Pacific before the scheduled end of the Pacific war. In period of command lost two carriers su nk and two badly damaged. was despised by Churchill: Anglo-Australian relations were better 'on the ground' than suggested by often rancorous official exchanges. - . Victor of Matapan and commander of the Mediterranean Fleet in adversity. 1941-6. DOOLITTLE. Midway and Eastern Solomons before being side-l ined: he ended the war in command of the North Pacific backwater. Detained by dissident Manchurian forces in December 1936 in the Sian Incident and forced to end the civil war: national leader in dealing with Japanese aggression. Returning to the Army Air Force in 1941 in a staff post. ADMIRAL OF THE FLEET SIR ANDREW (1883-1963) First Sea Lord 1942. FLETCHER. he served in Washington and then in the Mediterranean under Eisenhower before becoming Chief of Naval Staff. FIELD MARSHAL SIR ALAN (1883-1963) Chief of the Imperial General Staff. and Fletcher acqu ired reputation that wavered between bad luck and inepti tude. GENERALISSIMO (1877-1975) China's head of state though in effect primus inter pares along with various regional warlords over whom he exercised nominal suzerainty. Embodiment of Anglo-American trust and understanding: he never understood the Americans. and the Americans never trusted him. Churchill except in his diary entries. he deserved better. LIEUTENANT GENERAL JAM ES (1896.

Postwar Secretary of State. (1880-1964) Supreme Allied Commander South West Pacific Command.BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS heavil y invo lved in the planning of the Midway operation though illness prevent his active involvement in that illfated venture. Perhaps little realized. Adept in inter-service in-fighting. primarily under Spruance as fleet commander. GENERAL OF THE ARMY GEORGE C. he drove his forces forward to victory: subsequently side-lined until 1944. Marshall was 'the organizer of victory' in terms of raising ground and air forces. Poorly served by his staff. an admiral of th e son-of-a-bitch variety. US Army 1939-46. ADMIRAL MINEICHI (1885-1943) Successor of Yamamoto as commander of the Combined Fleet.1944) Made his pre-war mark in the surface navy with a specialiation in torpedoes and as one of the more unpleasant hard-liners: he is known to have threatened at Very fortunate to have survived a less than satisfactory performance as captain of the Hornet at Midway. of US heroes and beyond reproach or criticism. Koga was dealt a losing hand as the US Navy acquired the means to carry the war into the western Pacific with a strength that was irresistible. After the war he became a convert to Christianity a nd became an American citizen. VICE ADMIRAL CHUICHI (1887. the winner and survivor of the Guadalacanal campaign. not least in terms of lack of forward planning between 1939 and 1942. Washington's desire that he remain in the Pacific. Mitscher rose to become the pre-eminent carrier commander. FLEET ADMIRAL WILLIAM]. GENERAL OF THE ARMY DOUGLAS A.. Obsessed by own Command and personal interest. Koga 's task of seeking ' the decisive battle' was all but impossible: he was kill ed in an aircraft accident during the withdrawal from the Palaus. his virtually unaided insistence on the central Pacific offensive res ulted in the collapse of the South West Pacific initiative in 1944.1959) Rough and no nonsense approach. a nd architect of the Marshall Plan of American aid that facilitated the recovery of western Europe. He declined nomination to the post of Chief of Naval Operations after the war and served as commander of the 8th and Atlantic Fleets until his death in 1947. Raised to the pantheo n KING. By his own admission. disdain for the japanese and sheer aggressiveness made him tailor-made for the media. Koga presided over the defeat in the northern Solomons and the neutralization of Rabaul. Dismissed by Truman during the Korean War for trying to repeat personal behaviour of the Pacific war. his conduct at battle of Leyte Gulf and handling of Third Fleet off Japan drew much criticism a t the time: the sheer scale of operations by 1944-5 was probably too much for him . MACARTHUR. VICE ADMIRAL MARC A. An individual of great complexity and contradictions who has excited extremes of admiration and loathing in roughly equal measures. (1887-1947) KOGA.6. MITSCHER. he commanded respect and fear. and surrounded by an entourage that was generally distrusted. Very fortunate to have survived an abysmal conduct of the defence of the Philippines characterized by self-advertisement and exacting of great wealth from Commonwealth authorities: he owed his survival to HALSEY. he was to lead South West Pacific Command to a series of victories that culminated in his taking the surrender of japan on behalf of the Allied Powers. H e was assigned to obscurity through a se ries of staff positions and survived the war. Carrier commander in early operations but missed Midway: appo inted to command in southern Pacific at the crisis of Guadalcanal campaign.1956) Chief of Naval Operations 1942. MARSHALL. 21 5 . (1880-1947) Chief of Staff. With the Palaus neutralized after March 1944. Bitterly anglophobic and inclined to personal indulgence. FLEET ADMIRAL ERNEST JOSEPH (1878. jR (1882. his strategic judgement may be questioned. and was obliged to order the abandonment of Truk. Exceptionally able. NAGUMO. For many yea rs his book Midway: Th e Battle that Doomed Japan (1955) was the standard reference for the japanese side of the action.

GENERAL HOLLAND (1882-1967) One of the inter-war period's pioneers in developing concepts involving the offensive use of sea power in the form of amphibious landings. FRANKLIN D. HARRY S.1946) Ultimately Deputy Supreme Commander South East Asia Command. An old China hand. He assumed forces in the middle of a disastrous retreat in March 1942. (1882-1945) Thirty-second and. landing. and was obliged to sort out the second Arakan debacle. ADMIRAL RAYMOND A. 216 . (1894-1972) SMITH. the name Howlin' Mad was well earned. TRUMAN. (1885-1966) Commander-in-Chief US Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas. he commanded at the defence of Imphal and Kohima (1944) and in the campaign that cleared most of Burma (1945). along with suitably acidic comment. Chief of Staff to Chiang Kai-shek and commander China-Burma-India theatre with authority over 10th and 14th Army Air Forces. LIEUTENANT G ENERAL JOSEPH (1883. There is little doubt that growing difficulties with the Soviet Union and possession of atomic weapons prompted the decision to use Washington slipped into 'the China quagmire' and the morass that was Burma. his was the critical decision on many episodes: he died on the eve of final victory over Germany.1969) With a reputation for thinking. and took part in the occupation of Iran in 1941. Missouri at the surrender ceremony. Army commander in 1943. and was present. STILWELL. Aggressive. greatest president of the United States (1933-45). Post-war Chief of Naval Operations. Post-war chief of staff and Governor-General of Australia 1953-60.1970) Not a regular soldier. GENERAL SIR WILLIAM (189 1. Smith affair on Saipan. Self-effacing. SPRUANCE. (1886. and ROOSEVELT. he became president of the Naval War College after the war. He commanded a brigade in Eritrea and a division in Iraq and Syria. impatient.53 ) on the death of Roosevelt. Nimitz possessed (with one exception) sound strategic judgement and an ability to pick the right commanders and work subordinates as a team. brusque but used to getting his way through sheer force of argument. Spruance was a surface officer appointed to carrier command at Midway: thereafter he served as Nimitz's chief of staff before taking command of the Fifth Fleet in 1944. NIMITZ. He was amphibious commander in the Marshalls and Marianas before being returned to the United States for a training command after th e celebrated Smith v. with Lincoln. Slim enlisted in 1914 and served in the Middle East before joining the Indian Army in 1920. Stilwell was sent to and marched out of Burma with defeated forces : thereafter he collected appointments as SLIM. in the possessed of mastery of detail. Committed suicide as naval commander on Saipan in 1944. Commanded in the last stages on Okinawa. specifically the opposed Became thirty-third president of the United States (1945. modest.THE SECOND WORLD WA R IN THE EAST least one colleague with murder. Commanded the First Carrier Striking Force at Pearl Harbor and in subsequent actions until dismissed in the aftermath of Santa Cruz: there is no evidence to suggest that he ever understood carrier warfare and he certainly never left any mark either upon carrier operations or the Imperial Navy's carrier force. his removal saw the clearing of a very able China desk that had kept US policy in touch with realities. Dismissed from C hina in autumn 1944. ' Vinegar Joe' was known for his vituperative treatment of most things British and all things Chiang Kai-shek. He commanded during the gruelling Okinawa campaign. At the centre of a number of conflicting areas of responsibility. Often regarded as 'hands-off' in the formulation of military power during the war. ADMIRAL CHESTER W. He was appointed to command amphibious forces in the Atlantic theatre in 1941 before assuming th e same post in the Pacific in 1943. He ptovided hope to a nation in the grip of the Depression and led the United States through its defeats to victory in the Second World War and into its inheritance as the greatest power in the world. His conduct at the battle of the Philippine Sea drew widespread and largely unjustified criticism at the time. Somewhat overshadowed during the war by his subordinate commanders at sea on the one hand and King on the other.

and he left a diary which is enlightening: an inability to TOjO. he was fortunate to die before the real defeats began. in the opening phase of the war. and thereafter he presided over rather than directed national affairs. overbearing egotism. contemplate anything but victory before the Philippine Sea and the statement after Hiroshima that Japan had to prolong the war in order to develop atomic weapons of her own indicate an utter lack of appreciation of the power of Japan's enemies. Deliberately murdered by the Americans when his aircraft was shot down. He was personally and politically persona non grata with Tokyo. his name will always be associated with the Truman Doctrine and onset of the Cold War.000 people in the aftermath of the fall of Singapore. he was subsequently hanged for war crimes: his real offence would seem to have been competence though his forces were responsible for the massacre of allegedly more than 120. YAMASHITA. ADMIRAL RICHMOND KELLY (1885-1961) Director of the war plans division at the outbreak of war. and after having been side-lined was appointed commander in the Philippines where he was responsible for conducting a protracted defence of Luzon: his forces were still in the field at the end of the war. A virtual unknown when he became president though he grew in stature in office. UGAKI. Refused posthumous ennoblement. but the point can never be proved. YAMAMOTO. In reality the real decisions that were to lead to the Pacific war had been taken before he assumed office. his appointment to office was widely regarded as the prelude to war. unthinking obstinacy and over-familiarity with the bottle.BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS the latter in August 1945. He presided over the defeat in the Guadalcanal campaign. campaign that resulted in the singularly impressive conquest of Malaya and Singapore in 1941-2. Under his command. VICE ADMIRAL MATOME (1890-1945) Generally regarded as one of the leading hard-liners of the pre-war Navy. the latter of which ultimately proved fatal. but his prominence lay in two matters. Champion of hard-line militarism in the inter-war period. he was tried. Turner became naval commander of most American amphibious efforts. It has been suggested that Turner more than most bore responsibility for the Pearl Harbor debacle and sought to blame others for his failure to pass on warnings of Japanese intentions. After a failed suicide attempt. He was one of the founders of the kamikazes and committed suicide on the day of Japan's surrender. and generally regarded as an influence of moderation when that commodity was in short supply. Ugaki was chief of staff of the carrier forces 21 7 . Thereafter he became commander of battleship forces. He initiated the Pearl Harbor strike and was the decisive factor in enforcing both TOYODA. and was responsible for the singularly unsuccessful air campaign in the south-west Pacific in April 1943. convicted and hanged for war crimes. this operation and the Midway endeavour on a reluctant naval staff.1957) Toyoda's only real impact as successor to Koga and the last commander of the Combined Fleet was to commit his forces to an offensive at Biak in early June 1944: the American descent on the Marianas provided evidence of the irrelevance of this effort. for which his forces were not responsible. Specifically blamed for the devastation of Manila. but only after a trial in which he assumed full responsibility for Japan's various actions but displayed a naivety and disingenuousness that was revealing. ADMIRAL SOEMA (1885. An undoubted ability in terms of organization and command was matched by an appalling temper. GENERAL TOMOYUKI HOBUN (1885-1946) Commander of the 25th Army which conducted the TURNER. GENERAL HIDEKI (1884-1948) Prime Minister of Japan 1941-4. Best known of Japanese commanders. the Imperial Navy fought and suffered overwhelming defeats in the Philippine Sea and off Leyte Gulf: in effect by war's end it had ceased to exist. whether military or naval. FLEET ADMIRAL ISOROKU (1884-1943) Commander of the Combined Fleet 1943-5.

To note the basic standbys: the US Army. Touchstone. as a book in which claim most definitely is not proven. Martha Byrd's interesting Chennault. to Kaigun. not the one that was published. Naval Institute Press. Maryland. still stand critical examination and present themselves as the best available introductions to their various subjects. Air Force and Marine Corps official histories. and infinitely more valuable. and the order in which works are cited to some people may indicate precedence and usefulness. The first. That autobiography none the less does commend itself. B. Spruance (Boston. and for obvious reason: what is omitted can be as contentious as what is included. in 1974. 1991). While on such matters one would note. is Grace Pearson Hayes.air power per se and the China theatre . James Rusbridger and Eric Nave. Giving Wings to the Tiger (Tuscaloosa. Maryland. Drea. for all the wrong reasons. Naval Institute Press. suffice to note (in alphabetical order) Edward J. The Battle of the Philippine Sea. invites two comments. rather more than the same author's biography of Halsey which somehow managed to avoid a real judgement on Halsey's conduct at the battle of Leyte Gulf. Y'Blood's final word. One cannot make provision on the first score: one would deny the second. Strategy. was to set out a further reading list concentrating upon the renderings of more recent years. Peattie. The thought. however. Various works on intelligence matters must also be noted. David C. Evans and Mark R. though on this point I would note one work as special and cite it as worthy of opening this section. Little. Less aged. and Denis and Peggy Warner's Disaster in the Pacific.FURTHER READING FURTHER READING The task of providing a reading list is fraught with peril. Brown). Kaigun. 1982): it is to the formulation of American (and to a lesser extent Allied ) policy as Kaigun is to the inter-war Japanese Navy. That text was the original manuscript. Codebreaking and the 218 . Maryland. Potter's Nimitz (Annapolis. Tactics and Technology in the Imperial Navy 1887-1941 (Annapolis. not least an examination of dimensions of the war . though with respect to the latter one is not fully convinced that content quite equalled claim. simply. and this writer leaves it to the reader to decide upon respective merits.seldom afforded much consideration in most western accounts of the war against Japan. Red Sun Setting. One would express the hope that Mark will be able to produce from what was deleted from the original manuscript a companion volume that will do justice to that manuscript. 1981 and 1992 respectively ). is to ask how historians managed before its publication. to David's memory and to his own lifetime of scholarship and achievement. namely William T. The History of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in World War II. Betrayal at Pearl Harbor. and such a question invites an answer to the effect: not as well as they will do in future. 1997). Naval Institute Press. New Light on the Battle of Savo Island (both Annapolis. 1987). Naval Institute Press) was published as long ago as 1976 and The Quiet Warrior: A Biography of Admiral Raymond A. some now in their fifth decade and many reprinted in the last ten years. How Churchill Lured Roosevelt into World War II (New York. until one realized that E. The second is to state that one has only ever read one text superior to it on this subject. The War against Japan (Annapolis. In terms of battles one notes that in the last two decades only two books would seem to commend themselves. MacArthur's ULTRA. deserves consideration on several counts. University of Alabama Press.

Naval Institute Press. Double-Edged Secrets. US Naval Intelligence Operations in the Pacific during World War II. USN (Ret). comes perilously close to being so. Lieutenant Colonel Merrill L. Random House. 1976 and 1984 respectively ) for the opening phase of the war. 1953) provides a basis of understanding of naval operations that has not lost its relevance. 1994) may have overstated the case but none the less provide a perspective that is seldom afforded due consideration. And last of all. 1991 ).June 1942 and The First Team. Th e Story of Fleet Logistics afloat in the Pacific during World War II. Bartlett. University of Hawaii. 1992). British Naval Planning and the War against Japan. The Alternative to the Bomb (University of South Carolina Press. Random House. that it should come with a health warning: the subject is most complicated. if anything. Code Breaker in the Far East (London. GPO. Essays on the History of Amphibious Warfare (Annapolis. Strahan. The subjects are desperately neglected but Rear Admiral Worrall Reed Carter. even if the distinction between a battle and a campaign is not necessarily very clear. Holmes. 1942.' Pearl Harbor and Midway . 1989). this recommendation is made on the normal basis: for what it is worth. 21 9 . The Secret History of American Intelligence and the Japanese Navy in World War II (New York. (Washington DC. Guadalcanal. 1995) invites attention though one would state one's own preference for John Ray Skates' masterly The Invasion of Japan. Bullets and Black Oil. Simon and Schuster. Likewise. 1996) as perhaps one of the better books dealing with the British dimension of this conflict. and to which I return all too frequently. In the same vein Thomas B. Layton. Pacific Naval Air Combat from Pearl Harbor to Midway (Annapolis. Rear-Admiral Edwin T. while on this subject one cannot but note Richard Frank. however. 1990). USMC (Ret).F U RTHER READIN G War against Japan. which. 1995). Maryland. 1943-1945 (Annapolis. John Prados. 1983). John]. Random House. Andrew Jackson Higgins and the Boats that won World War II (Baton Rouge. 'And I Was There. and Alan Stripp. and perhaps least. I would note. Hawaii under the Rising Sun. The Rise and Fall of the Imperial Japanese Army (New York. Assault from the Sea . USN (Ret) with Captain Roger Pineau USNR (Ret) and John Costello. provides a fascinating account of what might have been. Finally I acknowledge two favourites. 1984). Cass.Breaking the Secrets (New York. Soldiers of the Sun. Among the general interest books one would commend four books for what they bring that is new. if not the final word on the subject. Beans. W. Lundstrom's The First South Pacific Campaign: Pacific Fleet Strategy. Code-name Downfall. I would ask the reader's indulgence in commending my own Grave of a Dozen Schemes. and on kindred matters one would commend John B. 1985). but. Maryland. Morrow. December 1941 . Naval Institute Press. Th e Definitive A ccount of the Landmark Battle (New York. Japan's Plans for Conquest after Pearl Harbor (Honolulu. Combined Fleet Decoded. is full of interesting detail: Jerry E. 1994). Stephan. Naval Institute Press. Louisiana State University Press. Meirion and Susie Harries. and perhaps the work too accurately recreates these complexities: indeed one reviewer perceptively if accidentally referred to it as Grave of a Thousand Schem es. It most definitely is not light reading on a pleasant autumnal evening. Maryland. provides in its relevant sections valuable insights into its subject. (Editor). as always in such matters.1945 (University Press of Kansas. The Secret Plan to Invade Japan and why Truman Dropped the Bomb (New York.]. Allen and Norman Polmar.

79. 68 New Guinea campaign. 159.5 US naval air power. 37. USS. 195 defeat in Burma. 178 Biak Island.153 Chengchow. 30. 65 Ea st Africa. 152 Chiang Kai-sh ek. 114. 180 ' Battle of the Points' (1942). 121 . 96.2. 86-7 j apa nese. 128. 160-61. 176 Eastern Solomons. 114 Aleutian Islands. 184 Liberator. 127. 141. 134 Engano. 35. 153. 115.151. 133 Corregidor. 176. 72. 131.79 Finschhafen.110 kamikaze aircraft. 129. 72. 177 Arare. 163 Ceylon. 61. 154 Cunningham. 148-9. 72. 146. 23--4.181-5. 61 Bougainville. 28. 214 Brunei. 63 Corsair. 127-8. 40--41 . 116.7. 68 Malaya n campaign. 85 re-conquest of Burma. George.107 - 220 . 134 Caroline Islands. John.202 First Arakan offensive. 65. 134 Bismarck Sea. 127 Dutch East Indi es.176. 139--40. Nakajima. 100 Emirau. 148. 117 Cape Esperance.30 Fletcher. Field Marsha l Sir John . 134. 140 Celebes Sea. 108-9 Essex. 79 Changsha. 65. 153. Major General Charles. 151 First World War. 63 in japanese strategy.104 Burma . 37. 32. 112.155.214 Chikuhei. 57. 69 re-conquest of. 141 gekokujo. 110. 117. 156. 110. 176 Buna. 57-61. Vice Admiral Frank Jack . 148. 153. 214 Formosa. 149. 178 Corlett. 63. 134 aircraft: B-25 Mitchell. Lt Colonel J ames. 43 . 118 All ied strategy. 155 Bismarck Arch. 35. 79. 153 Chindwin. 114-18 Amagi.9.41 Franklin. Cape. 40. 40--41 Burma Road. 109 US production. 197. Captain Mitsuo. USS. 94.203 Coral Sea. Admiral Sir Andrew.131 Depression. 158. 181 Cairo conference (1943). 118. 63. 110 Bhamo. 118 firestorm raids. 65 .205 EI Alamein. 69 defeats in Mediterranean. 104-5 B-25 Mitchell. 106. 98.181 Communists. 127. 146 American strategy. 110. 61.209 Cabot. 138 parachute landings.34 General Escort Command (Japan). 168 Chiyoda. Secretary of State. 65. 90. 139 Casablanca conference (1943). 139 dive-bombers. 177 Churchi ll . 148. 128. 122.16. 163.177 re-conquest of Malaya. 141 atomic weapons. 196. 176 Darwin attacked. 65. 116 convoys. 176 Bataan Peninsula. 198. 191 French Indo-China.81 Dublon Isl and. 153 Chitose.151. 178-9 supply routes closed. 116.167 Amoy. 106 Cape St. 139 Enterprise. battle of (1942).152. 205-6 Australia. 110. battle of (1942). 164.9. 36 Japanese campaign in southern China. 32-3 Dern.175 Amatsukazi. 50. 139 Alamagordo. 134 Britain: bombards Hamamatsu. 63. 167 B-29 Superfortresses. 154 British defeat in.88-90. 214 Curtin. 155 Chindits.31. 126. 196-7. Operation. 62. 78. 60-61.1. battle of (1942). 65. 98.212 France.84. 146. 81 Doolittle Raid (1942). 71.140 . 115. 98. 163. 63. 137 Garapan. 129. 56. 86-7 Doolittle. Air M arshal William.149. 198.91. 35-6 defeat. 155. 36--40. 129. 120. 65 East China Sea.134 Empress Augusta Bay. 153 Chiang-chu. 115 Celebes.176. 38 China: America bombs j apanese home islands from. USS. 29. 135 Dill.202 Balikpapan. 153. 174. 163. 50. 155 Fuchida. USS. 156.72.7. 115. 72. 37-9 Japan's strategy post-First World War. 61. 71.6 Japan's 'special undeclared war' with. 172 East Indies. 147.117. 198. 65. Winston.9. 63 Dauntless dive-bomber. 65 naval supremacy. 159 Germany: Anti-Cominrern Pact (1936). 167 Anti-Comintern Pact (1936). 197. 214 Clausewitz. Field Marshal Sir Alan. 25 civil wars. 106 Bonin Islands. 139 Cory ton . 63. 153. 123 Aitape.. 57.62 Betty bombers. 91. 115 dive-bombers.153. Operation. 89-92. Furutaka. 141 Borneo.131--4 Chungking. 68. 115.101. 66-7 loss of Singapore. 26-7 Dexterity.202 Betty bombers. 86-7 ' decisive battles'.153.52.72. 30-32 Salween offensive. 214 Darwin.9. 61.110 Corsair. 116. 167 B-29 Superfortresses. 168 Choiseul. 137.200.INDEX INDEX Figures in italic refer to ca ptions Admiralty Islands. 71 loses capital ships.35-6 Arakan. 131 Eniwetok.17. 114 Fuso. 156-7 casualties. 181 Fiji. 176-8. 150. 29. 177 withdrawal to East Africa.155. 96 Bloody Ridge.150. 168 Galvanic. Karl Marie von.88. 130. 65 Brooke. Chinese. 136. 177.17.57 Brunei Bay.

72. 163 Honshu. 36--40. 160--62.134 strategy.3. 150. 63. 96. USS. USS.106. 154 Huon Gulf. 79 full mobilization.172.210. 78. 160--62.159--69. 37. 115. 114. 89. 194 Kohima. 164-5 Kawasaki.206. 191-3. 120.136. 38-9 weaknesses. 158-9.8. 83 Irrawaddy River. 33--4 Russo-Japanese war.146 Hollandia. 78. 155 Hiei. 194.107 battle of Leyte Gulf. 159. Operation. 88-9. 178.111-14 surrender. USS. USS. 56 rearmament. 196. 207.7. Operation. 169.9 strength. 207 Green Islands. 128. 128 Indian Ocean. 147 Lexington. Vice Admiral Ozawa. 118 Langley. 206 Great Hingan Mountains.71 Gilbert Islands.9.181. 202 Intrepid. 184 long-term failure.5 power of armed services. 158. 92-3.128. 65 221 .9 strategy. 194-5 Kurile Islands.150. 63. 30-32 conquest of south-East Asia.163 Koryu submarines. 35-6 Iwo Jima. 181-5.116. 78.153 Hawaii. 45-6. 198 Lae.169 Korea. 74. 155 Kyoto. 172 Solomon Islands campaign. 126. 33. 79. 149. 146. 153 Kolombangara. 191 Kongo. 130 Ichi-Go.203. 152.207 Hiryu. 197 King. 160--61. 214 Kirishima. 140. 198. 35 Japanese Burma Area Army. 141. USS. 129.9.114. 206-9. 191 Imperial Navy: battle of the Coral Sea.138--40 Kwantung Army. 94 Hancock. 176 Italy. 27. 36 Meiji Restoration.100-6. 127. 205 failure and collapse. 30 economic defeat. 36 Kweilin. 140.3. 71.6. 88. 175.204-5.158-9. 110 Kondo Plain. 168. 88. 23--4. 148 Hankow. 102-3. 128 defeat.IN DE X Ex-German concessions. 94 Helena. 163. 43. 194 U-boats. 159--69. 152 Kube. 85. 20.202 India.137. 202 Kyushu. 157. 152. 22--47 and China. 128. 74-8 Inlphal. 150. 141 Homalin. 22. 146.7 industrial power. 51 American strategy. 57. 208 Hiroshima. 194.158. 174. 187 Imperial Army: campaign in southern China. 63 Java Sea. 209 First World War. 176 Kamaing. 128 Kure. 29 and the Normandy landings. 148. 52.90. 33. 191-204. 138 Lingayen Gulf. 95 battle of the Philippine Sea. 168-9. 96 Pearl Harbor. 149. 29.128.204. 37. 57.203 defeat. 96-8. 71-3. 194-5 Ku-feng. USS. 153 incendiary raids.22.153 Hong Kong. 126-69 failure to understand foreign nationalism. 89-92.200-1. 150 kamikaze aircraft. 190.206 Koror. 214 Hamamatsu. 50.107. USS.. 195 Hammann. 63. 43 losses. 134. 175.7 Gloucester. 202--4. 146.9. 150. 39--40 kamikaze.176.13 battle of Midway.85. 160--61. 79 Kaida Tatuichi. 178. 206. 33 naval rivalry with US.110 Kuomintang.182. 65. 114 causes of war. 120 Guam. 184 Kamiri.194.173.106 Hukawng valley.136. 190 Hailstone. 180.202 Japan: advantages. Jr. 26. 153. 100. 109. 172 US bombs home islands. 78. 120.23.107-11. 35. 31 shipping losses. 107 Kobe. 76 Java. 181-5.9 weaknesses. battle of (1943).198-9. battle of (1942 ). 34-5.127. 102. 64 Manchurian campaign.168-9.17. 158.81. 150.142--6 convoys.198-9 misunderstands nature of war. 72. 35. 24.79 Kula Gulf. 191.106. 146.8 New Operational Policy.206 home islands bombed. 98. 45. 163 Japanese air forces: aircraft. USS.90 Jisaburo. 50. 50. 44-5. 22. 207 Kakoda Trail.3 Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombed.95 Hitler. 157. 27. 82. 50-71 decision-making process. 104 Kalewa.107.64. 180 Liuchow. 79 Inland Sea. 181 Iowa. 97. 139. 142. 40. Cape. 96. 96. 135 Gobi Desert. 150. 200-1. 155 Idaho.65.118.210. 175 Doolittle Raid. 56. 79. Admiral William J. 185-7. 163. 141 Halsey. 149. 187.96. 84-8. 172--4.3. 40 Hiyo.64 final defeat. 129. 141 Johnston Island. battle of (1944). Imperial Navy and individual battles and campaigns Japan. 130-31. 127 Hainan.199 Leyte Gulf.8 divisions within. 74-8. 163 Halmahera. USS.7.180. 92--4. 191 Hornet. 172--4. 28. 109.126. 175. 32. 20. 106 Henderson Field.111 Hengyang. 71-3.62.3 weaknesses. 149 Honan. 72.13 ' special undeclared war' with China. 32. 92 Leyte. 74-5. 121.150 Indian Army. 65 submarines. 22-3. 196. 44-5 Pearl Harbor. 134.114 see also Imperial Army.129.210-13 Liberator. 72 responsibility for war.19. 100-14. Adolf.5 warships. 29. 150. 155 Lombok Straits. 91.148. 166 Ironbottom Sound. 134 Guadalcanal.206. Sea of. 157. 28. 149 Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal. 98. 129-30. 81. 128. Admiral Ernest J.107 Hirohito. 41. 110 ' special undeclared war' with China.207 Kwajalein.126.118. Colonel.77.. 51. 79. 207. 6. 85.30 Great Depression. 78. 131. Empetor.

57.57-61.208. 117-18. 64 Romula. 191 US strategy.89.118.88. 180 Manus. 168 Santa Cru z. 108-9 Saratoga.163 Philippines.7. 191. 174.85.92. 61 New Operational Policy. 118 New Guinea: Australian campaign in. battle of the (1945). 61. 38 Shikoku. 206 Port Moresby. 207 Nagoya. 120-22. USS. 66 perimeter defence strategy. 172.158. 28. 190.129. 206.98 Portal. 168 Myitkyina. battle of (1942).215 Marshall Islands. 84 Milne Bay. 184. 33.203 Midway. 176 Manila. 66 resistance movements. 64. 178 parachute landings.56.95.96. 63. 137 Masaharu.115 Prince of Wales.180 MacArthur. 117. 176 Sittaung.79.61-2. 71.111. US Navy Shoho. 176 Niimi. 76.215 Maginot Line. 163 Malaya.203. 79. 126. 36. 115.126. 79 San Bernardino Strait.65. 63. 100.204. 89 Japanese defeat in..158.172.134. 150 Mongolia. 153. 136 Palau Islands. 23.84-8. Admiral Chester W. 25 Osmena.120-23.34-5 Luzon. 139. 71.62.7 merchant shipping. 29 Russo-Japanese war (1904-5 ). 159-61.134 Saigon.38. 16. 98-9. 150-52.57 Sarmi. 140. 181 Okinawa. 157 Roosevelt. 130.135 New Caledonia. 117.38-9 Ormoc Bay. Major.60-61. 180 Manila Bay. HMS. Admiral Koga.39 Operation 102. 130.5 Rangoon. 68. 178 Mineichi. 71. 131.207 Salamaua. 118. 95-8.22. 16.126. 163 Palawan. 149. 78.114 North Carolina.20. 166. Lord Louis.89. 168 Percival. 163 Mediterranean.84.96.146. 26-7. 57. 172--4. Vice Admiral.194.140 Savo Island. 176.194 Oshima. 51.51. 157 Pacific Fleet see US Navy Pacific Ocean Areas command. 177 Mamoru..109. 159.. 56. 50 independence.159. Vice Admiral Marc A. 125.9. 180. 109 Russia: First World War. 118 Nevada. 126. 176 222 . 118 Salween River. 163 St La.7. 74 merchant shipping. 78 Mariana Islands. 153. 134 'March on Delhi'. 79 New Georgia Islands. 206. 127.200. 144-5. 65. Lt General Honma. 143.35. 65. General Douglas A.109. 31. 70 re-conquest.174. 164. 157.203 see also Imperial Navy.84. 158. 207 Musashi.28 Japan invades. 110 Seoul.31 see also Soviet Union Ryujo. 202 shipping: convoys.139--40. 104 Mindanao.174. 33 Meiktila. 126. 136.215 Royal Navy. 168 Normandy landings (1944). 134. 139 Port Arthur.7. Sergio. 101.186-7.3. 152. 128. 78. 58 Medan.13 lack of resources. 51. 50.206.130. 176 oil.28-9. 149.140. 130.7 Mandalay. 178. 115 Muiosu Slioji. 57.58. 180-93. 177 Reckless.89 Shokaku. 100 Ryukyu Islands.141-8. 209 Mitscher. 65. 36. 156. 131 Malacca Strait. 37. 63. 143 Japanese occupy.12 Philippine Sea. 150. 196 Potsdam Declaration (1945). Franklin D.206. 77 Russell Islands. battle of (1944).3. 188-9 Morotai.159-69. 215 Nanking.2. 188-9. 43.5. 128.. 85. 168. 214-15 Missouri. 185. 126.209 Peking. 92--4.7 Singapore.134. 134. 60. General George c. 163 Sittang Bend. 115.181. 151.144. 168 Mountbatten. 198 Marshall.199 Osaka. 39 Nassau Bay. 196. Cape. 151. 164-5. 71 Meiji Restoration. 163. 147 Nyaungu. 134. 22. 68.212 Saidor.126. 62-3 Nimitz. 176. 153. 36. 141. Lt General Arthur. Lt General. USS. 203 Japanese losses. 179 Mindoro. 65. USS. 106. 204. USS. 194 North Africa.44 Mogaung valley. 41 Makin. 53 New Britain.172. 134 Rendova. 215 Miyazaki Plan (1936-7).95 Mikuma.129. 198 Shimonoseki Strait. 129.192-3. 111 Repulse.207 Moro Gulf.128. 96 New Zealand. 178 Samoa. 115 Porter. 96.3 Sakai.79.178.207 Manchuria.139 Randolph.161. 207 Pound. 45.129. Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles.61. Shigemitsu. 148. 66-7 Pyongyang. 51.24-5 Rabaul. 88. 209 Manchoutikuo. 155.96.202 Operation 101.215 Noemfoor. 153 Peleliu. 129.198.58-9.122. 76.39--40. 117. 98.157.157. 52-5. 78.174. 177 Samar. 146. 114.198-9. 28. 65.8. USS. 118.210.30. 78. 139. Operation.109. 106 Potsdam conference (1945). Vice-Admiral. Major General. 178-80.134.92. 129.. 94 New Ireland.78.118. 136. 116. 57.5 Pearl Harbor. 161. 62.168 Shuri Line.40. 176. 100 Sarawak.68. 194 Nagumo Chuichi.95.132. HMS. USS.158-9.50.156.104-5 battle of the Coral Sea. Colonel Carlos.139.I N DEX London Naval Treaty (1930). 153 Nagasaki. 155. USS. 146. 24.6.92. battle of (1942). 172. 158. 150 Marcus. battle of (1894).63. 155. 63.191. 181 Siam. 142. 168 Sansapor.20 Shanghai. 149.146-7.26-7. 141-2.100. 62-3 Sakhalin. 160 Saipan.

IN DEX

Slim, General Sir William, 154 Smith, Major General Holland, 133 Solomon Islands, 63, 78, 88, 94--6, 97, 98-114,102- 3,106- 7,111,131-4, 132 Sorong,140 South China Sea, 65,166,195 South Dakota, USS, 147 South West Pacific Command, 117- 18, 134, 139, 158, 180 Soviet Union, 38, 126 Anti-Comintern Pact (1936),35-6 casualties, 119 defeat at Kharkov, 71 and Japanese defeat, 114--15, 155, 204--8,206 Japanese plan for war against, 44 see also Russia Spruance, Admiral Raymond A., 91, 215 Stalingrad,l14 Starvation, Operation, 202 Stilwell, Lt General Joseph, 154, 215-16 submarines, 71-2, 75-6, 78, 79,121- 3, 122,161,163,166,173,194- 5 Sulu Sea, 163 Sumatra,63 Sunda Straits, 65 Superfortresses, 197, 198,202 Supreme War Council (Japan), 174--5, 207-8 Surabachi,Mount,182,183 Surigao Strait, 131 Sutherland, Lt General Richard, 157

Turner, Admiral Richmond Kelly, 141, 216 Tushan, 155 'Twenty-One Demands', 30 Two-Ocean Naval Expansion Act (USA, 1940),41,43,47 Ugaki Matome, Admiral, 216 Ukraine, 71 Ulithi, 168, 184 Umezo Yoshigiro, General, 208, 209 United Nations, 71,174 United States of America: advances in south-west Pacific, 112-13 aircraft, 123, 138- 9, 202 battle of the Coral Sea, 88, 88 90, 89-92, 107 battle of Leyte Gulf, 126, 130- 31, 148,157,157,160-62,163,168- 9, 173, 181,210-13 battle of Midway, 79, 84--8, 84, 92-4,92- 3,95,95 battle of the Philippine Sea, 88, 126, 129-30,141-8,146-7,157,158, 163 battle for Wake Island, 80-81 bombs Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 174,200-1,206 bombs Japanese home islands, 127, 131, 146, 158, 175, 185-7, 191-204,196-7 casualties, 136- 7 causes of Pacific war, 41- 3 central Pacific offensive, 118-20 and Chiang Kai-shek, 156-7 European war, 95 Guadalcanal, 82, 96, 97, 98, 100, 102-3,106,107- 11,107,114,118, 120 industrial power, 19,22 inter-service rivalries, 117- 18, 134, 159 Two Jima and Okinawa campaigns, 180-91,182- 3,186- 7,192-3,194 Japanese shipping losses, 120-23, 159-68,173-4,210-13 Japanese strategy against, 71- 2 naval rivalry with Japan, 27-8 New Guinea campaign, 95-8,101, 129,139-40, 142 parachute landings, 164-5 Pearl Harbor, 45, 51-6, 52- 5 and the Philippines, 26- 7, 28, 57, 60,61- 2,63,68,70 policy towards China, 28-9,114--16 re-conquers Philippines, 125, 126, 130,131,157,158,178-80,188-9, 191 Solomon Islands campaign, 94-6, 97,100-14,102-3,106-7,111, 118,134

strategy, 114--18, 139, 157- 9 Two-Ocean Naval Expansion Act (1940),41,43,47 widens Pacific war, 78 US Army: re-conquers Philippines, 180 rivalry with Navy in Pacific, 117- 18, 134, 159 US Army Air Force, 204 US Navy, 76 logistics, 148 naval supremacy, 85 rearmament, 41 rivalry with Army in Pacific, 117- 18, 134, 159 strategy in western Pacific, 139 strength, 118-19, 156 submarines, 121-3, 122 warships, 108- 9, 184- 5 see also individual battles and campaigns Vella Gulf, 110 Vella Lavella, 110, 118 Versailles Treaty (1919),22 'Victory Disease' , 79 Visayan Islands, 130, 163, 178, 179- 80 Vogelkop, 129, 140 Wakde Island, battle of (1944), 124, 139-40,141 Wake Island, 65, 78, 80- 81 Wall Street Crash (1920),32 Washington, USS, 147 Washington Conference (1921-2), 27, 34 Wasp, USS, 100,108- 9, 191 weapons: anti-aircraft guns, 64 grenades, 104 infantry guns, 64 West Virginia, USS, 48 Wewak,134 Woodlark, 118 Yamamoto Isoruku, Admiral, 77, 216 Yamashiro, 168 Yamashita Hobum, General, 216 Yamato, 74- 5,172,172-3,174 Yellow Sea, 163 'Yen Bloc', 40 Yokohama, 79, 194, 197 Yorktown, USS, 94 Yoyang, 153 Yunnan, 128

Taiho,146 Takao, 163 Tarakan, 176 Tarawa, 119, 136,136- 7, 159 Tassafaronga, 110 Tehran conference (1943), 115 Tenasserim,177 Tengchung, 152, 177 Ticonderoga, USS, 147 Timor, 63, 207 Tinian, 142, 158 Toem,141 Tojo Hideki, General, 126, 126, 158, 216 Tokyo, 79,85,158,191,194,196-7 Tokyo Bay, 208 Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, 172 Torokina, Cape, 134 Toyoda Soema, Admiral, 216 Treasury Islands, 118, 131 Trobriand Islands, 118 Truk, 126,127, 129, 139, 140, 163 Truman, Harry S., 196, 205, 216 tsunamis,209 Tsushima, battle of (1905),72 Tulagi,111

Zuiho, 168,173 Zuikaku, 79, 92,168,168-4

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PI C TUR E C R E DIT S

PICTURE CREDITS
AKG: endpaper, and pp. 20, 24-5, 26-7, 28, 31, 34-5, 37, 38, 39, 53,101,117,119,

135,167,179,190,194,196,206,207,208; Corbis-Bettman/UPI: pp. 6, 16,43,68
(centre), 80-81,91 (centre), 97,111,124,126,131,155,157,166; ET Archive: pp. 48,58,74-5,82,86-7,99,108,123,130,136-7,154 (top), 176, 186, 187, 188-9, 191, 195,200-1,209; Imperial Japanese Navy : pp. 44 (left), 51, 95,141 (right); Imperia l War Museum: pp. 44 (right), 45, 62, 66, 67, 68 (bottom), 104-5, 115, 128,

129,142,143,149,152,153,154 (bottom), 164-5, 170, 177, 178, 188-9, 192, 193, 197,200; Philip Jarrett: pp. 57, 73; National Archives, Navy Department: pp. 60-61; US Army Air Force: pp. 81, 112, 138, 139, 182, 199; USMC: pp. 107, 133; US Navy: pp. 84, 88, 89, 91 (top), 118, 122, 127, 140, 141 (left), 147, 148, 160-61, 173,174,175,184; US Naval Historical Centre: pp. 77,106
Drawings on the title page and on pages 50, 56-7, 64,104,108,110,168-9,172-3,

184-5, and charts on pp. 120, 121, 158-9,202-3,204, and 205 are by Peter Smith
and Malcolm Swanston of Arcadia Editions Ltd.

EN DPAPER: At 9.25 on the m o rning of 2 September 1945: Tokyo Bay. A s the Japanese deL egation Left the Missouri on board the destroyer Lansdown the sun broke through the overcast as 450 U.S. carrier aircraft flew over the ALLied warships. Th at evening aLL ALLied deL egations we re invited to Beating the Retreat on board the fla gship Duke o f York by the m assed bands of units o f the British Pacific Fleet. As was the traditio n, proceedings were brought to a close w ith the sunset hymn. During the singing o f the verse: 'So be it, Lord, thy throne shaLL never Like ea rth 's proud empires pass away; Thy kingdom stands, and grows for owered in uniso n. ever, TiLL aLL thy creatures own thy sway' the flags o f aLL delegatio ns w ere L SymboLism was co mpLete.

224

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