Australia's involvment in the Pacific War

Discussions on WW2 in the Pacific and the Sino-Japanese War.
Rickshaw_665
Member
Posts: 25
Joined: 15 Oct 2019 10:13
Location: Adelaide

Re: Australia's involvment in the Pacific War

Post by Rickshaw_665 » 15 Nov 2019 05:22

I recommend that you read Eric M. Bergerud "Fire In The Sky" and "Touched by Fire". Air and Sea forces did matter but until 1943, Australia was the main contributor to those forces. While the US Navy had larger ships and hence fought larger battles, it was th RAAF and RAN which fought the Japanese in the first two years of the Pacific War. Few American authors get it right but Bergerud does. Yes, the Americans lost more men but Australians fought as valiantly and as strongly as the Americans did. Losing men doesn't make you a good general/admiral/etc.

Mil-tech Bard
Member
Posts: 659
Joined: 06 Jan 2010 15:50

Re: Australia's involvment in the Pacific War

Post by Mil-tech Bard » 15 Nov 2019 14:24

I own a copies of both of Bergerud's books.

And the less said about Australia's Operation Lilliput the better, as far as the US Navy is concerned.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Lilliput

The facts of the matter are still that the USN lost 4900(+) in defense of the alliance in 1942-1943. Which was larger than all the land combat KIA
casualties in Guadalcanal, Kokoda, Milne bay and Buna combined in the same period.

And it was Seapower and Airpower that called the tune then. And the tools of Sea and Airpower in 1942-1943 were American, however many Australian RAAF air crews fought in them.

For good or ill, the US Navy called the tune in the Pacific. Much to General MacArthur's chagrin.

Rickshaw_665
Member
Posts: 25
Joined: 15 Oct 2019 10:13
Location: Adelaide

Re: Australia's involvment in the Pacific War

Post by Rickshaw_665 » 17 Nov 2019 06:42

No one is denying that it was airpower and seapower that did the combats. What I am talking about is who pushed the Japanese land forces back. US Forces were ill trained and ill prepared for combat against the Japanese. The Australian forces were initially little better. However, the Militia and AIF forces quickly got the measure of the Japanese facing them and defeated them. The first land defeats suffered by the Japanese occurred before Australian forces.

You however, seem to feel that the numbers of casualties determines who did the most fighting. I'd actually suggest a high casualty rate shows a lack of training and forethought by amateur commanders.

LineDoggie
Member
Posts: 385
Joined: 03 Oct 2008 20:06

Re: Australia's involvment in the Pacific War

Post by LineDoggie » 17 Dec 2019 14:35

Rickshaw_665 wrote:
17 Nov 2019 06:42
No one is denying that it was airpower and seapower that did the combats. What I am talking about is who pushed the Japanese land forces back. US Forces were ill trained and ill prepared for combat against the Japanese. The Australian forces were initially little better. However, the Militia and AIF forces quickly got the measure of the Japanese facing them and defeated them. The first land defeats suffered by the Japanese occurred before Australian forces.

You however, seem to feel that the numbers of casualties determines who did the most fighting. I'd actually suggest a high casualty rate shows a lack of training and forethought by amateur commanders.
You would suggest...., I would suggest it shows a higher OPTEMPO

ALL Allied forces were ill trained to fight the Japanese in 41-42, even the Nationalist Chinese who had done the bulk of the fighting and had the largest portion of actual combat experience by then.

By the way the US commanders at least were ALL professional officers in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Army Air Forces, graduates of USMA, USNA

Hardly Amateurs and at least there was no Run Rabbit Run comments by their commanders like Blamey did to his own men of 21 bde

https://www.swcs.com.au/runrabbit.htm
"There are two kinds of people who are staying on this beach: those who are dead and those who are going to die. Now let’s get the hell out of here".
Col. George Taylor, 16th Infantry Regiment, Omaha Beach

Rickshaw_665
Member
Posts: 25
Joined: 15 Oct 2019 10:13
Location: Adelaide

Re: Australia's involvment in the Pacific War

Post by Rickshaw_665 » 18 Dec 2019 08:43

LineDoggie wrote:
17 Dec 2019 14:35
You would suggest...., I would suggest it shows a higher OPTEMPO
Losing your own men in larger numbers just means you run out of men quicker. The Japanese did that in 1942-43-44 rather well.
ALL Allied forces were ill trained to fight the Japanese in 41-42, even the Nationalist Chinese who had done the bulk of the fighting and had the largest portion of actual combat experience by then.
And yet the Australians learned how to carry out their battle plans and indeed formed their battle plans faster than the Japanese or it seems the Americans. Indeed, the Japanese usually had only two responses to whatever their enemy was doing - outflank them and when that failed undertake a Banzai charge. When that failed they were basically stuffed.
By the way the US commanders at least were ALL professional officers in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Army Air Forces, graduates of USMA, USNA

Hardly Amateurs and at least there was no Run Rabbit Run comments by their commanders like Blamey did to his own men of 21 bde
Blamey was hardly typical of Australian commanders. He was a careerist in the extreme. Look at Vasey, Robertson, and other commanders to see a better quality soldier.

OK, admittedly the Americans whom the Australians first encountered were National Guard units, thrown into battle before their training was complete and it showed in New Guinea. The Australians OTOH had fought their way from Port Moresby until they got to the Japanese beachheads. Their first encounters with the Japanese were not good. However, they learnt and soon proved they were much better than the Japanese at Jungle Warfare. The American officers were political appointees, rather than professionals.

LineDoggie
Member
Posts: 385
Joined: 03 Oct 2008 20:06

Re: Australia's involvment in the Pacific War

Post by LineDoggie » 18 Dec 2019 18:34

Rickshaw_665 wrote:
18 Dec 2019 08:43
Losing your own men in larger numbers just means you run out of men quicker. The Japanese did that in 1942-43-44 rather well.
so like Gallipoli then?

It also means your fighting a bigger battle aka OPTEMPO





Rickshaw_665 wrote:
18 Dec 2019 08:43
The American officers were political appointees, rather than professionals.
a Lie, to be a division commander in the National Guard one had to be a Graduate of USMA
MG Harding was USMA 1909
BG Waldron was USMA 1915 the class the stars fell on
MG Byers was USMA 1916
LTG Eichelberger was USMA 1909
"There are two kinds of people who are staying on this beach: those who are dead and those who are going to die. Now let’s get the hell out of here".
Col. George Taylor, 16th Infantry Regiment, Omaha Beach

Rickshaw_665
Member
Posts: 25
Joined: 15 Oct 2019 10:13
Location: Adelaide

Re: Australia's involvment in the Pacific War

Post by Rickshaw_665 » 22 Dec 2019 05:06

LineDoggie wrote:
18 Dec 2019 18:34
Rickshaw_665 wrote:
18 Dec 2019 08:43
Losing your own men in larger numbers just means you run out of men quicker. The Japanese did that in 1942-43-44 rather well.
so like Gallipoli then?
Not quite. Australians were not in command at Gallipoli and that was a different war fought differently to the SW Pacific theatre.
It also means your fighting a bigger battle aka OPTEMPO
Not necessarily. In the case of the US Marines it means that the US Navy is in command and the US Navy only has one way of fighting a battle - go hell for leather at the enemy and engage them as much as possible, whereas infantry combat is a great deal more subtle than that.
Rickshaw_665 wrote:
18 Dec 2019 08:43
The American officers were political appointees, rather than professionals.
a Lie, to be a division commander in the National Guard one had to be a Graduate of USMA
MG Harding was USMA 1909
BG Waldron was USMA 1915 the class the stars fell on
MG Byers was USMA 1916
LTG Eichelberger was USMA 1909
I'm talking about the company and battalion commanders. You know, the officers who actually led their men into battle on the battlefield? You're talking about Generals, the older buggers who sat in châteaus/tents well removed from the mud and blood their men were forced to wallow in. :roll:

daveshoup2MD
Member
Posts: 110
Joined: 01 Feb 2020 18:10
Location: Coral and brass

Re: Australia's involvment in the Pacific War

Post by daveshoup2MD » 01 Mar 2020 04:48

the National Guard one had to be a Graduate of USMA
MG Harding was USMA 1909
BG Waldron was USMA 1915 the class the stars fell on
MG Byers was USMA 1916
LTG Eichelberger was USMA 1909
[/quote]

by Rickshaw_665 » 21 Dec 2019, 20:06
I'm talking about the company and battalion commanders. You know, the officers who actually led their men into battle on the battlefield? You're talking about Generals, the older buggers who sat in châteaus/tents well removed from the mud and blood their men were forced to wallow in. :roll:
[/quote]

Actually, no.

Waldron was WIA (shot on 5 December 1942) at Buna-Gona, as was Byers (shot 16 December 1942); BG Hanford MacNider had been wounded (grenade) in November; Eichelberger took command of the 32nd Division because he was, literally, about the only US Army infantry branch general officer left on his feet. Eichelberger was a combat veteran of WW I, and had received the DSC (2nd highest US decoration for valor, after the MOH), so hardly a chateau general; Waldron, Byers, and MacNider were all also DSC recipients - MacNider three times, twice in WW I and once in WW II, all for combat action.

Harding was not the right man to command at Buna-Gona, but given the mission and the available resources, he actually was far more sinned against than sinner; at least, in comparison to someone like, say, Lt. Gen. Henry Gordon Bennett, CB, CMG, DSO, VD.

The experience and record of the 32nd Division at Buna-Gona is, frankly, quite comparable to the experiences of the 14th and 30th brigades, and the record of the 7th Division's brigades in the battle was not extraordinarily better. The entire Q41942- Q11943 Papuan and northeast New Guinea campaign was far too ambitious for the available forces, and given the Solomons campaign was going on at the same time, a distraction from the operations that were actually strategically significant.

After the (primarily Australian) victory at Milne Bay in August and the Japanese retreat from Imita Ridge in September, the entire theater should have remained on the strategic defensive and been placed under Australian command by the end of 1942; Blamey could have replaced MacArthur, with - in turn - an American deputy, and the entire island of New Guinea could have been left as a sack for isolated Japanese garrisons.

The road to defeating Imperial Japan after 1941 ran from the US West Coast to Hawaii through Micronesia to the PI and north towards Japan. The entire Southwest Pacific theater was a cul-de-sac, and the South Pacific wasn't much more.

Return to “WW2 in the Pacific & Asia”