Should the 4th Marines have been on Corregidor?

Discussions on WW2 in the Pacific and the Sino-Japanese War.
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Barrett
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Post by Barrett » 30 Apr 2006 19:50

Several years ago there was an article in Naval Institute Proceedings, comparing MacA's casualties to the Marines. The author did not even allude to the critical factor: geography. The Central Pacific isles were nearly all small (Tarawa was about 3 acres, I think). There simply was not much room for maneuver so many amphib assaults were pretty much head-on, into the teeth of the defenses. The army's main PTO campaigns in NG and the PI afforded the advantage of maneuver, but for some reason that factor doesn't get much ink.

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Post by Le Page » 30 Apr 2006 21:44

Barrett wrote:Several years ago there was an article in Naval Institute Proceedings, comparing MacA's casualties to the Marines. The author did not even allude to the critical factor: geography. The Central Pacific isles were nearly all small (Tarawa was about 3 acres, I think). There simply was not much room for maneuver so many amphib assaults were pretty much head-on, into the teeth of the defenses. The army's main PTO campaigns in NG and the PI afforded the advantage of maneuver, but for some reason that factor doesn't get much ink.
Yes this too is absolutely correct. Although partial to the army I have to admit that the "hit 'em where they ain't" strategy really wouldn't work in most Marine assaults because there was no place where the enemy "ain't".

Speaking of Tarawa, I wonder if many people know that the island was a British possession.

Delta Tank
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Post by Delta Tank » 30 Apr 2006 22:44

Camp Upshur,
The problem is that General Marshall shortly thereafter had a US Marine placed in command of one of his armies, the 10th US Army! ( Roy Geiger)
Geiger was placed in command because General Buckner was killed right at the end of the campaign, I believe he was the senior general present. IIRC, General Stiwell was dispatched immediately to take command of the 10th Army from Geiger


Mike

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Post by Delta Tank » 30 Apr 2006 22:49

Barrett,
Yes this too is absolutely correct. Although partial to the army I have to admit that the "hit 'em where they ain't" strategy really wouldn't work in most Marine assaults because there was no place where the enemy "ain't".

Speaking of Tarawa, I wonder if many people know that the island was a British possession.
What was the purpose of taking Tarawa? Did we ever use it for anything? I can not believe that every island in the Pacific was defended equally by the Japanese. In the Gilbert Islands I believe only Beito Island (Tarawa Atoll) was heavily defended, yet we attacked it! There were plenty of undefended islands or lightly defended islands in the Gilberts, we could of bypassed Beito Island and let the Japanese starve to death.

Mike

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Barrett
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Post by Barrett » 30 Apr 2006 22:55

Tarawa was ordered by the JCS about 3-4 months beforehand. IIRC the feeling (for whatever reason) was that we could not leave an island with a bomber strip behind our axis of advance. In view of how we bypassed other garrisons, that doesn't seem to hold up, but in Nov. 43 we didn't know how things would progress in the CentPac campaign. Afterward it was said that the lessons learned there proved invaluable later on, but you'll hear both pro and con from veterans.

http://www.army.mil/cmh/brochures/72-4/72-4.HTM

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Post by Delta Tank » 01 May 2006 14:11

Barrett,

Barrett wrote: Tarawa was ordered by the JCS about 3-4 months beforehand. IIRC the feeling (for whatever reason) was that we could not leave an island with a bomber strip behind our axis of advance. In view of how we bypassed other garrisons, that doesn't seem to hold up, but in Nov. 43 we didn't know how things would progress in the CentPac campaign. Afterward it was said that the lessons learned there proved invaluable later on, but you'll hear both pro and con from veterans.


The real lesson that should of been learned was don't land on heavily defended islands. Bomber bases that are cut off from logistical support and have been neutralized by our bombers and our fighters no longer pose a threat.


Mike
PS my quote button does not work on this computer for some reason, sorry.

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Post by Delta Tank » 01 May 2006 14:17

this is from another post I made and it sums up my beliefs on Tarawa.

To all,

Since "no horse is too dead to kick" I found this little tidbit in the book entitled "The U.S. Marines and Amphibious War, Its Theory, and Its Practice in the Pacific" by Jeter A. Isely and Philip A. Crowl.


Quote:
Chapter 6, page 192.
The lessons derived from landings in the Solomons-New Britain-New Guinea area were valuable, but much remained to be learned. This became evident when the drive across the Central Pacific began. Here for the first time a major amphibious assault was delivered, and the Second Marine Division sustained some 3,300 casualties in taking Tarawa, the only strongly defended atoll in the Gilbert Islands.
Tarawa was a notable victory and would have been worth the cost even if the casualties had been double those incurred. . . .

Note it was the "only strongly defended atoll"! (the Gilberts contain 16 atolls) Then why take it? We had conducted other amphibious landings and we had learned a lot, but we didn't have to fight that hard to win a beachhead, so this passage indicates that we HAD to find a strongly defended beach in order to REALLY test our doctrine? I wonder if they went and interviewed the other 3,300 casualties that "they" were willing to sacrifice?

I will never understand this attitude and I believe it is indefensible!

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Post by Le Page » 01 May 2006 14:38

Has anyone read "Tarawa Was a Mistake" by Holland Smith? I don't care for him but it would be an interesting read.

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Post by Delta Tank » 01 May 2006 16:48

Le Page,

I have never read his book "Coral and Brass" by Holland M. Smith. I searched Amazon and I believe this is the only book he wrote. When he sent the book around for comments, his peers told him not to publish the book, IIRC.

Mike

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John W
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Post by John W » 01 May 2006 17:31

Delta Tank wrote:Barrett,
Yes this too is absolutely correct. Although partial to the army I have to admit that the "hit 'em where they ain't" strategy really wouldn't work in most Marine assaults because there was no place where the enemy "ain't".

Speaking of Tarawa, I wonder if many people know that the island was a British possession.
What was the purpose of taking Tarawa? Did we ever use it for anything? I can not believe that every island in the Pacific was defended equally by the Japanese. In the Gilbert Islands I believe only Beito Island (Tarawa Atoll) was heavily defended, yet we attacked it! There were plenty of undefended islands or lightly defended islands in the Gilberts, we could of bypassed Beito Island and let the Japanese starve to death.

Mike
I'm just posting this for reference:
John W wrote:Why take Betio?

Time.

By mid-1943 the Japanese had lost the initiative in the Pacific. The US controlled the Central Solomons and the Aleutians. Ahead lay northern Solomons, New Guinea and Bougainville.

We must remember that this was a global war - not just a Pacific War. Despite the enormous industrial production capacity of the US, it wasn't limitless. Africa, USSR and Britain had to be supported as well. There are many stories of Marines in the Pacific having to make do with pre-war equipment as production raced to provide the new arms in greater quantities.

The mood - in light of recent American victories - was one of attack! We believed we had wrested the initiative away from the Japanese and that the war was finally swinging our way. Admiral King was the primary proponent of an offensive campaign through the Central Pacific. Decisions made by the Combined Cheifs of Staff of US and UK during many meetings throughout 1943 lent geater support to more offensive campaigns in the Pacific.

The biggest decision ofcourse, was the postponement of the invasion of Festung Europa untill 1944. This meant that the massive amphibious resources needed for Operation Overlord were now temporarily available for use in the Pacific. Whatever offensive was about to be played out in the Pacific had to be sharp, quick and victorious - PACFLT commanders knew they were living on borrowed material on borrowed time. Any delays or a disastrous defeat would permanetly wreck a Pacific offensive campaign for a long period of time.

Now the question arises - Why Gilberts instead of Marshalls? The Marshalls were after all, greater in strategic value.

Believe it or not, one of the primary reasons was lack of good intelligence. After all taking an island is more than rowing a few dingies over and chucking bombs at the enemy and storming the beaches! Unfortunately, America at that point in time still had no effective way of garnering aerial intelligence - only Liberators could reach Marshalls but at that range they couldn't loiter. No fighters could protect them and carrier based aitcraft lacked this capability. Plus the Japanese had good airfields network. Were an assault to be mounted, the Japanese could easily reinforce from Truk.

No, the choice had to be the Gilberts.

And it had to be Betio because there was no time to land on the smaller islands, secure them, build airodromes and then pound/starve Betio into surrender/annihilation.


The biggest factors that resulted in massive casualties on Betio:
1. Lack of good intel on the tides. This completely and utterly wrecked the landing time table.
2. The initial assault bombardment was FUBAR. There was abysmal co-ordination between the Navy and Air Force.
3. Horrible communications. Radios consistently failed and for Day 1 and much of Day 2, there was little to no communication between forward commanders and rear support troops and reinforcements (witness how Landing Team 2/8th were slaughtered as they tried to make landings on Day 2 - sent to the wrong spot on the right beach thanks to miscommunication).


I must also mention that of all the island assaults, Tarawa was perhaps the Japanese's best and easiest chance of success. Nearly all accounts say so - to the point of saying that the American toehold at dusk on Day 1 was so tenuous that had the Japanese pulled even a Banzai, the Marines would have had no choice but to withdraw (or as Col. Shoup noted, "die where they stood rather than wade back under that murderous fire").


Most of this information is sourced/paraphrased from Col. Joseph Alexander's "Utmost Savagery: The Three Days of Tarawa".


Best,
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?p=890505

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Post by Le Page » 01 May 2006 18:12

Delta Tank wrote:Le Page,

I have never read his book "Coral and Brass" by Holland M. Smith. I searched Amazon and I believe this is the only book he wrote. When he sent the book around for comments, his peers told him not to publish the book, IIRC.

Mike
It was an article (Saturday Evening Post?) but I would imagine it was reiterated in Coral and Brass which I haven't read either (nor will I ever).

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Virgil Hiltz
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Post by Virgil Hiltz » 01 Mar 2007 23:43

I believe that there were 1400 Marines officially on Corregidor

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Post by Jerry Asher » 02 Mar 2007 01:24

Getting back to the employment of the 4th Marines

I'm not sure Mac Arthur thought of them at all. The Navy Dept in early Novemember began withdrawing them from China and they were just part of the build up in the Philippines occurring at that time. In the sense that they weren't even coming from the states, they may not have been part of anyone's agenda. US navy Department put up a lackluster effort to be sure in the Phillipines--all subs at Manila; leaving the North China Marines inChina,
and the 4th;

I've been bothered by the posting of the 4th,and the coastal artillery men. The big guns of the Manila Bay and Subic Bay forts ultimately were turned over to the sailors of the river gunboats anyway. All of these may have been untested-- but they had at least completed theri trainning cycle and were disciplined. In the same vain, why the Philpine Navy "Inshore Squadron" wasn't posted to Lingayen or Subic also seems weak.

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