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Subject: Guadal Canal - USN makes loosing look good
RockyMTNClimber    8/4/2007 11:03:58 AM
Midway was an important event for the USN in the war in the Pacific. But another battle was probably just as important. Midway, was the IJN's defeat. Guadal Canal was a defeat that the Imperial Japanese Forces shared in toto! The Japanese originally held the Island and were building an airfield when the US Marines landed and took it the old fashioned way, by killing the enemy. The Japanese and US Navies were licking their wounds from Midway and it was clear that no major carrier action was going to cut this fight short. The Japanese Army, Air Force, and her vast surface navy were spoiling for a fight and decided to make Guadal Canal the place. If the Japanese held the island they would threaten the lines of commerce and communication from the US to Australia. If the US drove the Japanese off of the island it would demonstrate to everyone that the Japanese were defeatable (remember our allies had their hats handed to them in the first 6 months of WWII). Payback time. After the US landed and held Henderson Field (the Japanese airfield under construction captured on day one of the invasion), the IJN drove down from their bases in to reinforce their land forces still on the island. Both the Allies and the Japanese had land aircraft in the area, neither had a carrier. During the next 6 months the USN and the IJN, as well as UK forces from Australia and New Zeland, began what amounted to a heavy weight brawl for control of the seas. Both sides sent battle ships, cruisers, and destroyers by the dozen into the fight. Most nights in the waters around Guadal Canal were filled with the booming of massive guns, the sinking of ships, the dead and dieing being consumed by sharks. History records the USN and her Allies as the victors in this titanic struggle. A series of battles that would make Nelson himself shiver. The US won Guadal Canal but in doing so, she lost 25 ships to the Japanese Navy's 17 (damaged and withdrawn or sunk). The Japanese might be said to have won many of the battles but the USN was willing to sacrifice anything for its objectives. The vaunted IJN warrior ethic waivered in the waters around Guadal Canal (just like it did ashore against the USMC). The Imperial Japanese forces did not know what they were getting into, they thought the US would retreat in face of a all out conflict. They were wrong. Check Six Rocky ht**tp://www.combinedfleet.com/guadal.htm
 
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RockyMTNClimber    On Balance.....   8/10/2007 2:15:18 PM

Replacing a mentally exhausted Ghormley with the "Bull" was at the time the correct "morale" choice. In retrospect it was the WRONG tactical choice, since that idiot committed American forces to battle and did so piecemeal and in such fashion that he fouled up Nimitz's attempted scheduled force buildup.

1. Halsey made a hash of interservice communications and cooperation. CACTUS was the WATCHTOWER exception, not the Halsey rule. Where he commanded, US naval staffwork, always suspect [unless you worked for Spruance] was appallingly bad.
2. Halsey failed to give arriving American reinforcements time to work together as organized fleets. This disorganization and lack of training time as a squadron more than anything explains the defeat suffered by Callaghan and Scott.
3. Halsey interfered with Fletcher and Kincaid during their carrier battles causing unnecessary US tactical confusion. I blame him PERSONALLY for the loss of Hornet and Wasp.

I really dislike the Bull.

Herald




Hornet and Wasp were lost to IJN a combination of air attack and submarines if I recall correctly. You must there fore be complaining about his tactical placement of them during the battles of Guadalcanal. Today, in perfect hindsight it is easy to game a better result than what the men on the scene came up with so I have trouble with second guessing the shooters at the scene. In that spirit though I would like to hear a more detailed analysis from you as to why he should have performed better. Keep in mind that everyone was learning at the same time in a very steep grading curve, noone could be expected to perform "perfect".
Halsey's personality seem to be both an assett and a liability. Many leaders of the day, particularly the IJN's leaders, were very timid about committing to action and gambling their precious naval assetts. That cost them dearly during the conflict, for instance what if the force that attacked Pearl Harbor hung around and hunted down the Enterprise? The Hawaian defenses were certainly in no position to fight them and the IJN forces in the region were greater than the USN. Another strike wave might have done more damage to the docks, and fuel stores. Another attack the next day might have even drawn the Enterprise with 'Ole Bull at the helm right into them! Timidity cost the IJN dearly!
 
Halsey was probably not introspective enough and did not listen to his senior staff or surrounding senior officers. That cost US. The Typhoons he ran into on a fairly regular basis might have been a example of unbridled brawn before brains.
 
All in all I would have rather had our leadership than the IJN's. Including Halsey.
 
Check Six
 
Rocky
 
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caltrop       8/10/2007 7:16:32 PM

Consider that after Sprague saved the Leyte invasion off Samar, Halsy ran the fleet into a couple of typhoons that cost the USN as many ships and lives as his near Leyte disaster [The Battle of Bull's Run]?


Sprague may get the credit for Samar but the pilots of Taffy 3 and the crews of the USS Johnston, Hoel, and Samuel D. Roberts pretty much did it themselves with little in the way of command and control.

 
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Herald1234       8/10/2007 9:48:02 PM



Consider that after Sprague saved the Leyte invasion off Samar, Halsy ran the fleet into a couple of typhoons that cost the USN as many ships and lives as his near Leyte disaster [The Battle of Bull's Run]?



Sprague may get the credit for Samar but the pilots of Taffy 3 and the crews of the USS Johnston, Hoel, and Samuel D. Roberts pretty much did it themselves with little in the way of command and control.



Ziggy ran that fight very much on the fly. He gave Taffy Three its evasive orders and he saved most of his flattops and most of his escorts. No one discountrs the heroics of Commander Evans or the other destroyer Captains or the guts of the flyers who stayed and fought when they ran out of ammunition, but it was Ziggy who pulled it all together, got hold of Taffy Two and asked for their aviation help as well as out-maneuvered Kutita by using the weather fronts [rain squalls] to foul Japanese gunfire as he fled south to Oldendorf.
 
GIVE CREDIT WHERE ITS DUE.
 
Herald
 

 
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kirby1       8/10/2007 9:58:34 PM
The Japanese weren't gutsy enough? WTF. The Japs were plenty gutsy enough. Too gutsy I'd say, they had a tendency throw resources away in a prodigious amount, and not just in suicide attacks.  I'd say that the battles around Guadalcanal were the first of many crushing Japanese victories. The Japanese did more damage per unit, (be it ship, man, or plane,) and  inflicted horrendous damage,  but wound up losing in the logistics and strategic field (The allies grabbed the numerical,logistical, tactical and strategic advantages.)
 
The IJN and IJA were some real gutsy mofos back in the day. and the JDF ain't too bad either.
 
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Wicked Chinchilla       8/10/2007 10:37:09 PM
Strategically they were quite gutsy.  Some of their plans were also ridiculously well thought out, daring, and rather complex.

The comment as to their over-cautiousness is related more to their tactical, rather than strategic, behavior.  The Battle of Leyte Gulf could have easily gone in the Japanese's favor had they continued their pursuit.  When Kurita pulled back out of caution, he doomed the operation to failure even though Halsey had completely fallen for their ruse and left the invasion force nearly naked.  Thats just one example that cost them horribly. 

 
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RockyMTNClimber    Guadalcanal, Pearl Harbor, Leyete Gulf...   8/10/2007 11:17:10 PM

Strategically they were quite gutsy.  Some of their plans were also ridiculously well thought out, daring, and rather complex.

The comment as to their over-cautiousness is related more to their tactical, rather than strategic, behavior.  The Battle of Leyte Gulf could have easily gone in the Japanese's favor had they continued their pursuit.  When Kurita pulled back out of caution, he doomed the operation to failure even though Halsey had completely fallen for their ruse and left the invasion force nearly naked.  Thats just one example that cost them horribly. 


The IJN were very timid. There can be no doubt that the screwed themselves on a very regular basis. So far we have covered those three already. Their Subs were excellent and well handled, but spent most of the war running groceries or doing everything but what they were designed to do. The list goes on.......
 
Check Six
 
Rocky
 
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caltrop       8/10/2007 11:55:36 PM

Strategically they were quite gutsy.  Some of their plans were also ridiculously well thought out, daring, and rather complex.

The comment as to their over-cautiousness is related more to their tactical, rather than strategic, behavior.  The Battle of Leyte Gulf could have easily gone in the Japanese's favor had they continued their pursuit.  When Kurita pulled back out of caution, he doomed the operation to failure even though Halsey had completely fallen for their ruse and left the invasion force nearly naked.  Thats just one example that cost them horribly. 


The plan for Leyte was too much to complex.  The IJN had a bad habit throught the war of assuming that the USN would always do what their plan called for.  Their doctrine actually was built around a concept of aggresive operations.
I think you have to give Kurita a bit of a break actually.  He though the attack plan was ill conceived, he would get no support and it was designed simply to get his forces killed for little gain.  He believed that even if he somehow managed to punch through the American fleet (Taffy 3) he was engaging, he would be left with the a chance to sink an invasion fleet that had already landed all its troops and supplies.  A minor victory that was not worth the sacrifice of his force.
 
The IJN at Samar, and throughout the war, also suffered badly from poor ship recognition and damage assessment.  At Samar they mistakenly indentified the Gambier Bay and her sister jeep carriers as "Essex class" fleet carriers.  Taffy 3 escort Fletcher class destroyers were identified as cruisers.  They seemed to mistake near misses of shells and Taffy 3 produing more smoke as they attempted to escape as actual shell hits and damaged caused. 
 
Kurtia probably evaluated everything and said enough was enough. Thinking he had already dished out quite a bit of damage to the USN and taking into account that his cruiser divisions had been hammered and the the American air attacks  were now launching torpedos, he elected to withdraw. 
 
I would agree that the IJN was somewhat timid towards the end of the battle when a cruiser and the destroyer division lined up for a torpedo attack that was poorly executed and resulted in no hits.
 
Realistically, even if Kurita had pressed the attack I doubt that much more material damage would have been caused.
 
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Herald1234    Rocky you asked me about Halsey?   8/11/2007 12:11:51 AM
 
 
The following is quoted from the US Navy official history - "History of US Naval Operations in World War II" by Samuel Eliot Morison - Volume XII "Leyte," pages 193-7.  The emphasis indicated by showing text in red and bold (or by underlining) is my own,  not Morison's.
Dave James
 
Admiral Halsey's Decision

Admiral Halsey's reaction to these sightings and to the information already received about the Central and Southern Forces can best be stated in his own dispatch to Admiral Nimitz and General Macarthur at about 2200 October 25, after the battle was over: -

Searches by my carrier planes revealed the presence of the Northern carrier force on the afternoon of 24 October, which completed the picture of all enemy naval forces.  As it seemed childish to me to guard statically San Bernadino Strait, I concentrated TF 38 during the night and steamed north to attack the Northern Force at dawn.
 
I believed that the Center Force had been so heavily damaged in the Sibuyan Sea that it could no longer be considered a serious menace to Seventh Fleet.
Accordingly, at 2022 October 24, Admiral Halsey ordered Bogan's Group 2 and Davison's Group 4 to steam north at 25 knots, join Sherman's Group 3 and attack Ozawa. McCain's Group 1, now returning northwesterly from the direction of Ulithi, was ordered to complete fueling and join the others.
By midnight 24-25 October fast carrier groups 2, 3 and 4, including Admiral Lee in Washington and Admiral Halsey in New Jersey and all their battleships and cruisers, were tearing north, just as the Japanese wanted them to do.
 
In the meantime, Kurita's Center Force, which Halsey had assumed to be no serious menace to Kinkaid, was debouching from San Bernadino Strait unopposed and even undetected.
 
Admiral Kinkaid assumed in his operation plan, "Any major enemy naval force approaching from the north will be intercepted and attacked by Third Fleet covering force." This was a natural interpretation of Halsey's orders from Nimitz to engage the enemy fleet if and when an opportunity occurred. But now that two major enemy forces were approaching from the north of Leyte Gulf, Halsey ignored the stronger and let it get between him and Seventh Fleet, Becuase he mistakenly assumed that it was the weaker, and "no serious menace." In other words, he made the same mistake that the Japanese higher command did about the air battle over Formosa, accepting aviators' reports of damage as actual damage.
 
It was not a case of either-or.  Halsey had enough gun and air power to handle both Japanese forces. The alternative to rushing everything up north was not, as he said, "to guard statically San Bernadino Strait." Three groups of Task Force 34 (Battle Line, of which we shall hear more anon), had more than enough power to take care of Ozawa's 17 ships. Battle Line might have been detached to guard San Bernadino Strait, not statically but actively.
 
But Halsey wished to deal the Northern Force a really crushing blow. In every previous carrier action of the war - Coral Sea, Midway, Eastern Solomons, Santa Cruz and Philippine Sea - the Japanese, although badly mauled, had saved most of their ships. He was determined that this would not happen again. He expected that the Northern Force was planning to shuttle-bomb him by ferrying planes back and forth between carriers and airfields, as they had attempted to do in the Battle of the Philippine Sea.
 
He felt it unwise to leave any considerable surface force to watch San Bernadino Strait without detaching one carrier group for air protection, which would weaken his striking power.
 
[Morison here has the following footnote - "Admiral Lee, however, said after the battle that he would have been only too glad to have been ordered to cover San Bernadino Strait without air cover."]
 
After all, the Northern Force was out in the Philippine Sea, "asking for it." The Center Force might never come out; and Halsey was no man to watch a rathole from which the rat might never emerge. He had just lost [the
 
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caltrop    Taffy 3   8/11/2007 12:24:45 AM

Ziggy ran that fight very much on the fly. He gave Taffy Three its evasive orders and he saved most of his flattops and most of his escorts. No one discountrs the heroics of Commander Evans or the other destroyer Captains or the guts of the flyers who stayed and fought when they ran out of ammunition, but it was Ziggy who pulled it all together, got hold of Taffy Two and asked for their aviation help as well as out-maneuvered Kutita by using the weather fronts [rain squalls] to foul Japanese gunfire as he fled south to Oldendorf.

 
GIVE CREDIT WHERE ITS DUE.

 

Herald
 
From my readings, Sprague was highly respected by his crews and that always goes a long way in my book.
I'll give you impossible situation thrust upon him, correctly manuevering and managing evasive actions of his fleet while under fire, and use of weather.  Asking for support should be a given.
 
My objection is perhaps a minor one but he did not exert tremendous command of the escorts.  Ordering his "Big boys prepare for torpedo attack followed by the little boys" (close quote)  left a lot of room for misunderstanding by the escrots.  The USS Samuel D. Roberts (DE) was confused and ended up attacking along with the Fletcher class destroyers.  Only the Hoel (DD), Heerman (DD), and Roberts coordinated a torpedo attack. IIRC correctly the
John C. Butler (DE) attacked by itself towars the end of the battle and the other two DE added little.
 
In any event, arguably one of the most courageous actions in military history.
 
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Rasputin       8/11/2007 12:30:23 AM
Very informative post, though I have not read all or digested all the facts, I knew that Guadacanal was not a theater of WW2 that got alot of press write ups or movie glorification. However I did not realize that it was such a close thing between the Japanese and American forces.

One would get the idea that the Japanese soldiers would fight fantically till the end, but looking at the Japanese marines, they often like to practice sneak up in or out covert operations in attack or withdrawals. But turns out it is the US forces that had an attitude of fighting to the end and not giving up an inch. I was just supprised from the numbers how much the US would commit to halting the Japanese for good in Gudacanal.

Although in hindsight it would look as though the US forces would win eitherway, anyone cares to give their 2 cents as to what would have happened if Kurita did not pull out his forces? As the naval to naval contest seemed to be rather even with casualties alternately swinging from side to side, it is hard to tell the outcome of a prolonged conflict at Gudacanal, would the Japanese manage to contain the US in at Gudacanal and delay the island hopping pacific campaign?  I do know that even if both sides did not go on the offensive, the Japanese forces that were landed were already dying from starvation and the sicknesses that follow when malnourished in an unforgiving jungle environment, so some sort of imminent decisive action would definately take place.

 
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