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Bruce Williams and the Japanese invasion of California

Discussion in 'War in the Pacific' started by McMark, Dec 24, 2009.

  1. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    I checked the census for the West coast states, Washington, Oregon and California for 1940 and found to it be nearly 9 percent of the U.S. population. If only 10 percent of the 10,062,975 residents took up arms and you added in the Mexican "visitors" living here at the time, I believe Japan would have done more than "Awaken the sleeping giant". Besides, once word was out that the West coast was under attack the stampede West would make the 49 gold rush look like a casual Sunday walk to church.
     
  2. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    How much force did Canada have on the Pac coast? I'm fairly sure they wouldn't be napping when a threat to their southern border was developing.
     
  3. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    I just checked and the best I can come up with is Vancouver, BC had a population of around 275,353. It appears that at that time (1941), Canadian population and growth was slower toward opening the "Western frontier" than the U.S. in the 1800's. Other than Vancouver there really wasn't much in the way of people in the Western Province. A quick check only shows in 1901 total pop. for Canada was 5.4 million. So half the population of just the three West coast states of 1941.
     
  4. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Thanks.

    Once the Japanese had landed on the coast somewhere and were committed we could be fairly confident they would be trying for Hawaii or Alaska. Then the window opens up for maybe one division from Hawaii and whatever troops were in Alaska to land on territory we still owned and threaten whatever the Japanese were using for a supply line, if any. Sun Tzu would approve, I think.
     
  5. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    Ah Sun Tzu; one of his major points of waging war was to know the enemy. In this the Empire failed miserably.
     
  6. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    And thus you might have seen me shaking my head continuously while proofing "The Political Strategy Prior to the Outbreak of War." The five volumes are like watching a slow motion train wreck the size of a country. They just never seem to stop and say, "Okay, is there any way we can avoid war?" Add to this the constant hail storm of innuendo and "implication" in the Magic documents. "The United States does not realize our true goals in the war in China." (Yeah, sure we didn't.)
     
  7. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    My reaction was much the same when reading these documents; I was thInking, "My God, didn't they understand the implications of what they were planning??". Then it dawned on me, of course they did. The Japanese Army and Navy needed military conflict to justify their political control of the people and the government. The Japanese confused what was best for the military with what was best for the country.
     
  8. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    "We cannot waste the sacrifice our forces have made to secure this area." In other words, "We're stuck here, with no exit strategy."

    Or, as the kid in the movie said, "I stole it, it's MINE!"
     
  9. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    I still don't see a viable approach to the Japanese being successful in this endeavor.

    Even today there are very few roads that cross the Coast Range, less than a dozen that I can think of, and they are very far apart. Then you take into account the rivers that have to be crossed and the oppurtunities those present to halt an advance.

    I think after the first 20 minutes on the beach the Japanese would come to the conclusion that invading the west coast was nothing but a waste of clean socks.
     
  10. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    But if they didn't invade, how was Yamamoto going to dictate peace terms in the White House. :rolleyes:
     
  11. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    I agree. I usually don't get into the 'what if' thing but this thread peaked my interest some. The only viable reason Japan 'might' have considered assaulting the West coast would be as a distraction while invading the West Pacific areas and Australia. I think with the attitudes of the day and slow communications (by today's standards), just a few ships and submarines occasionally firing on seaside cities would have caused mass hysteria and forced the U.S. to waste valuable assets. Add to the mix a few small ground forces scattered in key locations and it would look like Japan had invaded.
     
  12. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    Through a translator........duh
     
  13. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    How would this improve the situation over what existed after PH? The Japanese didn't have the strength to invade Australia in any case and over extended themselves in the Pacific in the historical case.
    The problem is the cost of getting them there and the losses on the way. ASW patrols both by ship and plane were frequent off most of the west coast. If a Japanese invasion force is spotted it's going to have some real problems. If it doesn't have air cover it's likely to be sunk way off shore. If it does that means the Japanese CVs are at risk. Indeed even supporting them off the West coast is problematic.
     
  14. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I'm taking off to the What-If forum. Heck, I might even read the rules before I post.
     
  15. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    to hell with the rules man!.....be novel and use the "search" button
     
  16. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Major General Joseph W. Stillwell: "Bombs! I don't hear any bombs! Now they're up there. They came all the way from Asia. Don't you think they'd bring a few bombs along?"
     
  17. Brnxbmbr

    Brnxbmbr recruit

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    My father was with the 105th Field Artillery on Dec. 25th, 1941. The Japanese had planned multiple submarine attacks on California for that day. This was supposed to demoralize the country and strike fear into Americans. The invasions were called off due to the subs being low on supplies and fuel. However, a few "minor" incidents did occur that day. One was the sinking of the SS Absoroka. Japanese sub I-19 torpedoed the ship. The 105th Field Artillery was stationed at Ft. McArthur and rolled out an old 70mm French cannon near the pier at Rodondo Beach and fired multiple shots at the subs conning tower. They believed they had hit the sub. After which a PBY plane dropped depth charges on the area where the sub was spotted. I have found a few websites that document this and also have found one that contains info regarding all the movements of the sub I-19. It was hit by depth charges 50 miles West of Makin Island on Nov.24, 1943.(postwar Japanese records confirm the loss.) If they couldn't execute multiple shellings on the California coast, I don't think a full fledged invasion would have been feasible.
     
  18. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    I certainly agree with you, but I have a couple of questions. Are you sure it was a 70 MM cannon? Several years ago, before Fort MacArthur was closed, I remember seeing a couple of 75 MM French cannon at the entrance to the fort, and from what I have read, many interwar US artillery units, especially National Guard units, were armed with what they called "French 75's"?

    Also, from what I've heard, the Japanese subs that shelled the California coast usually did so at night. Were there spotlights involved in the incident you describe?
     

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