Published on December 23, 2007
Pacific Theater: Offensive 1942-1945: Pacific Theater: Offensive 1942-1945 MIDN 4/C Haskell Prelude to Guadalcanal: Prelude to Guadalcanal The Battle of Midway proved to be the turning point of the war. The Japanese defeat severely crippled their offensive capabilities, forcing them to play a defensive war. The Americans began a campaign to strengthen their hold in the Pacific. Building Defenses: Building Defenses Japanese troops began fortifying their forces at Guadalcanal. The island was a key point in protect Japan's major base at Rabaul, threatening Allied supply and communication lines, and establishing a staging area for possible future offensives against Fiji, New Caledonia, and Samoa. Building Defenses: Building Defenses Japanese begin construction of airfield to support fighters and bombers. Started bringing in lots of soldiers and equipment. Building the Offensive: Building the Offensive Solomon Islands are strategically located for the allies. Taking them would allow it to be used as a starting point to isolate the Japanese base at Rabaul. Failing would expose vital communication lines with Australia. MacArthur’s Grand Plan: MacArthur’s Grand Plan MacArthur proposes taking command of two carriers and 1st Marine Division, adding these to three Army divisions already under his command and retaking Rabaul. He wants the Marines making amphibious assault and Navy providing support. Operation Watchtower: Operation Watchtower Admiral Nimitz was to coordinate an attack as far as Santa Cruz Islands. Command was to switch to MacArthur once a base near Tulagi is secured. Meanwhile MacArthur was to attack Rabaul by two-pronged effort. Southern element to go north through Solomon Islands. Western element to go east through the Papuan Peninsula of New Guinea. All to converge at the base in Rabaul Changes to the Plan: Changes to the Plan Guadalcanal was substituted for Santa Cruz Islands when U.S. intelligence learns of Japanese plans to build airfield there. The Battle Begins (Landing): The Battle Begins (Landing) U.S. Marines landed on the beach on August 7, 1942 undetected. Bad weather caused a delay in the landing. The Marines spear forward, taking the airfield the Japanese were constructing and complete it. Henderson Field A total of 11,000 Marines were in the initial landing. The Battle (Land): The Battle (Land) The Japanese tried several times to take back Henderson Field. Each time they were repelled Naval support left Marines and soldiers to fend for themselves during the battle. Navy feared of a coming attack and left for a safer location. Caused shortages of supplies and equipment to maintain aircraft. The Marines systematically took the island. Japanese fought to the last man. The Battle (Sea): The Battle (Sea) Japanese controlled the sea at night, while the Allies had control during the day. The Japanese used their fast ships to make speed runs through Guadalcanal to attack and resupply their troops on the islands. Nicknamed the “Tokyo Express.” The Battle (Sea): The Battle (Sea) The naval battles at Guadalcanal took place all within the vicinity of the island. The Japanese’s main focus was to try and take back the mainland. Marine’s handled that department These smaller battles are considered to be just one, as they all build up to the final confrontation of the American and Japanese Navy. 1st Naval Battle of Guadalcanal: 1st Naval Battle of Guadalcanal The first naval battle of Guadalcanal took place on November 13. Two Japanese battleships with their destroyer escort clashed with the Allied fleet. The battle continued into the night. Despite the Allied fleet winning, confusion of the fleet’s status caused Admiral Abe to withdraw the fleet. The Japanese soon followed. 2nd Naval Battle of Guadalcanal: 2nd Naval Battle of Guadalcanal Japanese needed to cover the landing of supplies on the island. Allies detached the new battleships Washington and South Dakota, of Enterprise's support group, together with four destroyers under Admiral Willis A. Lee to destroy the threat. 2nd Naval Battle of Guadalcanal: 2nd Naval Battle of Guadalcanal During the battle, the USS South Dakota, a American battleship, took several hits, rendering her impotent. However, this allowed the USS Washington to approach and open fire at close range. The Japanese commander believed he had caused enough damage to clear the water ways for the transports the next morning and withdrew. He failed to consider an air attack, no transport reach the island. Significance of Guadalcanal: Significance of Guadalcanal First major amphibious campaign of war; Americans begin the offensive. Knowledge gained will be used in up coming battles. U.S. loses more tonnage at sea, but the Japanese loses more lives. Opened the roads to Rabaul. Japanese plans for further offensives in South and Southwest Pacific are stopped cold. Revealed the fatal weaknesses of Japanese ground combat doctrine when confronted by determined and well-trained opponents who possessed superior firepower. Politics at Home: Politics at Home In order to stay in office, President Roosevelt cannot afford another defeat at hands of Japanese. Aleutian Islands No real threat to security, but needed to eradicate Japanese control of American territory for political reasons. Minimal resistance Central Solomon Islands Campaign : Central Solomon Islands Campaign The push toward Rabaul had begun. The Allied plan consisted of a coordinated amphibious attacks toward Rabaul through the Central Solomon Islands. Fleet Admiral Halsey institutes a bypassing strategy where we avoided or cut off heavily reinforced Japanese areas and pressed on to next objective. This practice allowed Allied forces to avoid unnecessary fights and bring all power to bear on critical targets. Central Solomon Islands Campaign: Central Solomon Islands Campaign In a attempt to stop the American advance, Admiral Yamamoto strips his carriers of aircraft to reinforce Rabaul. However, Yamamoto was killed by a P-38 attack. American intelligence learned of his travel plans. Successor proves ineffective and loses many airplanes without stopping American Third or Seventh Fleets. Bougainville : Bougainville An island part of the network that defends the Japanese base at Rabaul. Bypassing the Japanese entrenchment, Marines landed almost halfway up the west coast. The Japanese responded by sending a cruiser fleet to destroy the detachment. They fell into a trap and were routed by the Navy. The Japanese try to reinforce the southern tip of the island with their fast ships, but that fails as well. Bougainville: Bougainville The Japanese, isolated and cut off from outside assistance, primarily concentrated on survival, including the development of farms throughout the island. With the fighting done, the Marines were replaced by the Army. Destruction of Rabaul : Destruction of Rabaul Instead of mounting a direct assault on the heavily armed southern stronghold Japan had, we instead decide to neutralize Rabaul with air attacks from land and carriers. The Japanese tried to counter this by stripping their carriers of the rest of their weapons. Did little to help the Japanese and left their carriers defenseless. Destruction of Rabaul: Destruction of Rabaul As the battle progressed, Allied forces captured the admiralty just north of Rabaul. Completely surrounded by American forces and with the command destroyed, the Japanese withdraw all support. This victory signals the end of Japan. From here out the American offensive does stop. Beginning of the End: Beginning of the End With Rabaul destroyed, Nimitz lead his aircraft carrier group across the central Pacific while MacArthur and the Third Fleet island hopped up from the South Pacific. Island hopping allowed us to capture key islands while bypassing others. The objective was the Philippines and the penetration of the Japanese inner defense zone. The Push: The Push This push across Central Pacific was accomplished by carrier air cover and Marine amphibious attacks. We bypassed some strongholds and attacked at will. Significant campaigns are the Gilberts, the Marshalls, and the Marianas. Operation Forager : Operation Forager Goal to capture the islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Guam. Another battle of the Marianas campaign was the naval Battle of the Philippine Sea. The Marianas: The Marianas The Allied forces attack the Marianas Islands as part of Operation Forager. This draws out the Japanese fleet which engages our fleet in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. It turned out to be a disaster for the Japanese. Battle of the Philippine Sea: Battle of the Philippine Sea Marked by the destruction of huge numbers of Japanese aircraft with low losses to the United States Navy. The new Japanese pilots were no match for the experienced Americans. During the day of June 19, 1944, 429 of Ozawa's planes were shot down for the loss of twenty-nine US Navy planes. Called the “Great Turkey Shoot” Outcome: Outcome The Japanese fleet was badly damaged but not destroyed. The Americans finally achieved technological superiority over the Japanese. The next battle at Leyte-Gulf would end the threat of the Japanese Imperial Fleet. Battle of Leyte-Gulf: Battle of Leyte-Gulf The largest naval battle ever fought. The Japanese attempted to repel or destroy the Allied forces stationed on Leyte after the successful Allied invasion in the Battle of Leyte. This backfired. Instead, the Allied navies inflicted a serious defeat on the outnumbered Imperial Japanese Navy. This was the last major engagement of the war. David vs. Goliath: David vs. Goliath During the battle of Battle of Leyte-Gulf, several escort carriers were surprised by the Japanese battleship Yamato and her fleet. Mistaking the escort carriers for the main American fleet, the Japanese engage. In order to buy time for the carriers to escape, the light destroyer (Taffy 3) escort charged the Japanese lines. To gain an understanding of how outmatched they were, the Yamato displaced more water than all of Taffy 3 put together. David vs. Goliath: David vs. Goliath The only weapons that could be used to damage the the large battleship were the torpedoes the light destroyers carried. Of course they had to get close enough to use them. The ferocity of the Taffy 3 attack left the Japanese minus 3 heavy cruisers and in tactical disarray. Admiral Kurita of the Japanese navy decided that continuing was not worth further losses. Taffy 3 suffered sever losses, but managed to buy the carriers time to get to safety. “Damnit boys, they're getting away!" : “Damnit boys, they're getting away!" The Battle of Leyte-Gulf ended the threat of the Japanese navy. They would never again threaten allied forces. This battle was, however, the first time the Japanese employed the kamikaze fighter against the surface ships. These fighters would cost the navy dearly later on in Okinawa. The Squeeze: The Squeeze Allies close in on inner defenses of Japan. They plan to deny them use of Sea of Japan for vital oil and coal supplies. Russia enters war against Japan as Germany is defeated; takes Manchuria. Japans last defense is Okinawa. Losing in not an option. Okinawa“Typhoon of Steel“: Okinawa “Typhoon of Steel“ This was the final defense of the Japanese homeland. There would be no prisoners or surrender in this battle. The winner would take all. The nickname “Typhoon of Steel“ comes from the ferocity of the fighting, the intensity of gunfire involved, and sheer numbers of Allied ships and armored vehicles that assaulted the island. The Land: The Land The land battle took place over about 82 days from April 1, 1945. The Marines swept through the north of the island with relative ease. The south proved much more difficult as the Japanese imbedded themselves in the caves with heavy firepower. Only way to get them out was to go in. The Air and Sea: The Air and Sea Navy was assigned the task of neutralizing the Japanese airfields and support the troops on land. However, a kamikaze attack by the Japanese surface vessels led by the battleship Yamato was discovered on route to the island. The navy engaged and destroyed the Yamato while receiving heavy casualties from the kamikaze pilots. It’s Our Island Now: It’s Our Island Now Casualties 140,000 civilians 72,000 U.S. troops 66,000 Japanese combatants / 7000 captured Propaganda distributed by the Japanese caused people to kill themselves and their families rather than be captured. The ferocity of the fighting made casualty estimates of an invasion of Japan in the millions. The End of the War: The End of the War President Truman decides to use two atomic bombs rather than carry on a prolonged bloody struggle for the Japanese homeland. On August 6, 1945 “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima. On August 9, 1945 "Fat Man" was dropped over Nagasaki. Surrender: Surrender Japan officially surrenders on board U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945. This effectively ended World War 2. Should We Have Done It?: Should We Have Done It? *Insert opinion here* Lessons Learned: Lessons Learned Carrier aviation, surface units, submarines, and amphibious forces. Navy shifted to being a carrier dominated navy. No longer would battleships be used. Submarines gained new found importance and would be the decisive factor in deterrence during the cold war. Redeveloped land craft for amphibious assaults. Long-term Effects: Long-term Effects Cold War America and Soviet Union only two super powers left. Good thing they have radically different conflicting ideology. Accelerated national freedom of India and Indonesia. The imperial age ended. Forced colonial powers to make deals/acknowledge future independence claims in return for native population cooperation.