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Titans of the Seas: Chapter 15

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  • DJ
    15. New Georgia and Points North With the success of the Guadalcanal campaign in sight the strategic initiative was now in the hands of the Americans. There
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 5 5:32 PM
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      15. New Georgia and Points North


      With the success of the Guadalcanal campaign in sight the strategic
      initiative was now in the hands of the Americans. There was no chance
      that they were going to allow this advantage to slip back into the
      hands of the Japanese. The question was where to go. The choices were
      simple enough, either to move up through the Solomon Island chain or
      to hold in the South Pacific and move across the Central Pacific in
      line with the original warplans for the area.

      The everything in the Central Pacific option was attractive an attack
      in this theatre woudl offere a number of advantages. There is no
      evidence though that suggests that King or Nimitz ever considered
      halting the operations in the South Pacific. A part of this was that
      available Carrier air strength was to low to make air support as
      powerful as it would need to be. A strike across the Central Pacific
      called for at least parity with the Japanese in Carrier strength. This
      was something that wasn't going to be available until the new carriers
      in the yards were done. So by default attention moved to the South
      Pacific. Here there was the advantage that the ships that were
      performing the landings could be covered by land based air from
      islands that had previously been taken.

      In the end the Joint Cheifs came up with a plan that involved a four
      pronged attack. The tragets would be the Aleutians, the South and
      Southwest Pacific where Halsey and MacArthur would attack up through
      the Solomons in the case of Halsey and over New Guinea in the case of
      MacArthur with the goal of Rabaul first and then the Philippines. The
      last would be in the Central Pacific where Nimitz would have to wait
      at least six months for the new carriers to come on line. While this
      book is somewhat glossing over the difficulties of the planning of
      such operations. It does show up one thing. While there were
      dificulties involved with coming to this agreement there was never the
      same sort of disagreements that took place between the Japanese
      services. Marshall was a man who was adamant in his beliefs, King
      could be down right vicisous when he felt he was being crossed, Halsey
      wasn't known for having the most even of tempers in the world,
      MacArthur was a Prima Donna by almost everyones account and that left
      Nimitz as the most genial of the bunch. Still with a personality mix
      that could have spelt volitile encounters even in the best of times,
      these men were professionals that had been raised in a different
      enviroment then the Japanese so there was never the sort of violent
      encounters when policy was being debated that there were in Japan.

      For Halsey the first target would be New Georgia. This became the next
      on the list in part due to the fact that the Japanese were clearing an
      airstrip on the island. Yamamoto also recognized that this Island was
      going to be a sight for future operations and planned accordingly.
      Even with this knowledge and planning in place the New Georgia
      operation was slow in getting started. The landings that were
      scheulded by the US to start in April slipped to the end of June as
      MacArthur's efforts around Lae and Salamaua fell behind schedule. This
      gave the Japanese a respite of many weeks.

      Yamamoto didn't take advantage of this fact however. He ignored the
      transports sitting in the New Hebrides and New Caledonia bases.
      Instead he moved the carrier planes that would have been needed for
      the strike to Rabaul and from there launched strikes frist at
      Gaudalcanal and then New Guinea. The attack on Guadalcanal achived
      only minimum damage. It wasn't what it achieved though, but what
      Yamamoto believed that it had achieved. Namey the destruction of 175
      planes (as opposed to 25 actual losses), a cruiser two destroyers and
      no fewer then 25 transports. Actual shipping losses were a destroyer a
      tanker a covertte and tw medium size cargo ships. This signified to
      Yamamoto that Halsey was now short of lift capacity for troop landings.

      In an attempt to inspire and improve what was considered to be a less
      than satisfactory state of morale in the troops. Yamamoto flew down to
      Rabaul from Truk to help raise the morale personally. This information
      was picked up and figured out by the Magic team and one of the only
      incidents of an actual leader assassination took place. In the end it
      seemed to have little more then a morale affect on the Imperial
      Japanese Navy, and almost tipped the fact that we were reading
      Japanese mail in the sense of the secure communications. Or at least a
      part of them at any given time. Fortunetly that last didn't move very
      far down the path before the Japanese decided that wasn't possible.

      The New Georgia plan called for 15,000 American troops to overwhelm
      9,000 Japanese troops. It didn't go nearly as well as expected, but it
      wasn't something that could be laid at the Navies door and there was
      very little involvement of the carriers. Halsey used his carriers in a
      defensive manner form most of 1943. This was due to the fact that the
      Americans were limited in the number of carriers they could put to use
      in the Pacific. Help came from a somewhat unexpected source. The
      British sent the HMS Victorious into the area.

      This was not a overly successful endeavour at this point. Firstly the
      Victorious had to have all her aircraft converted to planes that could
      be maintained through American sources. Also the Amrored box of the
      Hanger was nearly an oven in the waters of the South Pacific which
      limited the ability of crews to work on their aircraft and maintain
      combat readiness. Even with these difficulties the Victorious did
      perform some actions in support of actions in the New Georgia
      campaign. Although the carriers were kept out of range of land based
      Betty's in an effort to prevent their loss.

      When the Victorious was finally released to return home, she had seen
      almost no action other then crusing and sending planes to be staged
      for attacks. She went to Pearl Harbor and there in August of 1943 she
      saw the namesake carrier for a new class that would make a huge impact
      on the future conduct of the war in the Pacific. The USS Essex.

      Thanks
      DJ
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