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MacArthur is killed leaving the Phillipines

Discussion in 'What If - Pacific and CBI' started by belasar, May 22, 2011.

  1. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    So why wasn't General Conner called back to the colors? From what I've read he would have come in handy, especially after the problems faced in the Tunisian Campaign. And in this thread, a perfect replacement for Mac.
     
  2. OpanaPointer

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

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    I think he died. There was a "recent" article on him in one of the WWII mags. I'll dig through the midden for it.

    ETA: My bad, the article was on Lt. Gen. Frank Andrews, "The Man Who Would Be Ike."

    Anyway, Wiki sez: Conner's greatest disappointment was that he never had the opportunity to lead troops in wartime. Like Marshall, Conner was considered too valuable a staff officer to be released into the field. Nevertheless, he served as role model and inspiration to future World War II high commanders like Marshall, Eisenhower, and George S. Patton. Eisenhower considered Conner to be the greatest soldier he ever knew, saying: "In sheer ability and character, he was the outstanding soldier of my time."[2]
     
  3. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    Conner didn't pass on until the fifties, maybe 1950. He was in his seventies by the time he died, I'm sure he wouldn't have been in much danger of passing on during the war years. He wouldn't be "leading from the front", but then again neither did "Big Mac".

     
  4. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    Deltful an Aussie would be put in charge of all forces, But i think we would see a greater more known part played by the Aussies without MacArthur holding us back in favour of American troop's. For some reason he didn't like Aussies operating in our own Corp's, If any one know's any perticular reason why could you please tell me? Couse from what i can tell he either didn't respect our ability to know how to fight on our own or he seriously lacked in the department of using all available asset's to there best abilities. So best an Aussie might get is a Corp's, Possibly an army made up of a couple Aussie Commonwealth Corp's and a US Corp's.
     
  5. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    After reading Tuchman’s; Stillwell, I have altered my opinion on Fox Connor being a replacement for “Big Mac” if he was killed and not available for the position of Supreme Commander of Land forces. Stillwell was one year behind MacArthur at West Point, and while he didn’t graduate at the same high rate as “Big Mac”, his position was respectable academically. His demerits were for “acting out” during drills, apparently he was a bit of a cut up and made jokes and stuff.

    And BTW, Stillwell wasn’t in the China Theater in 1941, he had been out of China since 1939, and after war was declared was “choice one” for leading the invasion of Africa of 1942 since he was recognized as the leading Corps Commander in the Army by all staff officers above him.

    Eisenhower was choice two. Stillwell and G.C. Marshall were great friends, and both had tried to get another man sent to China to deal with Chiang, Stillwell knew what a difficult deed that would be and was putting forward many other officers. He (Stillwell) and Marshall had come up with what they thought would be a superb choice. General Drum.

    General Drum was a superior officer in tenure and rank, and might have appeased Chiang as being given more “respect” if he had been sent to represent the USA. However, Drum flatly refused to take the assignment, and only Stillwell had the skill set for the China mission. While he was appointed to the position in January of 1942, he hadn’t yet gotten to Chunking until early March, the same month that MacArthur was ordered out of the Philippines. If MacArthur had been killed before or during his escape from the islands, Stillwell could very well have been diverted from the China mission to take over MacArthur’s role, and another general officer sent to Chiang’s China mission.

    Stillwell would have been an excellent choice; he wasn’t called “Vinegar Joe” because he didn’t get along with his men, as they all seemed to love him. That sobriquet was given to him because of his open criticism of those who performed at command level with less than skill and efficiency. He didn’t exclude himself when he saw flaws in his choices, much unlike MacArthur.

    He would have made an excellent commander, but since he passed on in 1946 from mis-diagnosed (or ignored) stomach cancer he wouldn’t have been around to turn around the Japanese system, and probably wouldn’t have had the skills to do so. MacArthur was one of those unique men in history who was just “imperious enough” to earn and hold the respect of the Japanese. A replacement for that “talent” might have been impossible, replacing MacArthur’s military leadership wouldn’t have been as difficult.

    I find it impossible to conceive of either a British or Commonwealth general officer being put in charge however. American L/L aid was for the most part keeping any battle in the Pacific viable in terms of many items, and without an American officer in charge that might have dried up as America turned its attention even more to the European area. Even the ANZAC forces were mostly involved in the African campaign, man-power wise to the best of my recollection. I do agree that MacArthur treated his allies in a despicable fashion when he took control from Australia as Supreme Commander of allied forces. Of course he treated many in the American forces with the same snobbery as well. He was an A*s, in more than one instance, and an example of what Truman called a "Brass Hat prima dona", long before he (Truman) removed him from command in Korea.

    Stillwell would have made a fine replacement for MacArthur, somebody else could have taken on the corrupt Chiang, Soong and Kung families with little difference in the Chinese outcome.
     
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  6. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    The sensible arrangement would be to have a single theater commander for the Pacific. If there was a distinct Southwest Pacific Area, it would be on a par with the South, Central, and North Pacific, subordinate to the Pacific theater command.

    Probably better to have had S/SW Pac as a single area from the start. This would avoid SNAFUs like the reconnaissance prior to Savo Island. The two often did manage to work together, but that was despite rather than because of the command setup. New Guinea and the Solomons could have been managed as a single campaign, especially with regard to air power. The advance of SWPA and CENPAC eventually "pinched out" SOPAC; its reduced status is best exemplified by Halsey's transfer to CENPAC and the formation of 3rd Fleet in addition to 5th.

    Strictly speaking there might have been no "successor" to MacArthur (all the more so if he died before the SOWESTPAC position was created). The closest equivalent might be the land forces commander under Ghormley or Halsey. Another intriguing option would be to make it an Army command, but still subordinate to Nimitz.
     
  7. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    Actually, While New Zealand remained mostly in NA (Some one had to keep the German and Italian forces scarred of the Anzacs :p) Australian forces where removed back to the Pacific, The first real victories against the Japanese was on land by Australian forces with several more to follow up, Even an Australian Commando forced that numbered just under a thousand men at its peak held off a Japanese division with Guerrilla warfare on Timor. What Australia really lacked to make them selves known in the Pacific is a major player was big ships and Carriers, Had we had access to such ships Australia was capable of launching our own offensives, We could and where building the necassary landing and support ships..

    But yes in any case would have been an American in overall command, Australia seeing as this is a what if.. May have been given command of most of there units mixed in with some Americans in the SE Asia area
     
  8. Victor Gomez

    Victor Gomez Ace

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    MacArthur in his special instincts would have been irreplaceable in his treatment of Japan at the conclusion of WWII, and is not fully understood for what he could foresee with China when he violated the limits of his authority to try to do his will over the will of the president. I believe you should study his youth and his life to get just a glimpse of his personna to keep from underestimating his reasons for his actions.
    We truly had a near perfect outcome for Japan with his leadership decisions on how he presented, staged, and controlled the public relations in Japan in their shift, from leadership of the warring descendants of the Japanese traditionals, back to the leadership of the emperor whose role was more minimal in their traditional ways of making war. The pentagon had no book of standards by which a general could be led. What was born of this understanding he had, is the more democratic and loyal ally Japan has come to be over the years.
    In history this has to be one of the better post war moments(of all conflicts) when a great deal of good was accomplished. This was a great accomplishment with a people as distantly different from cultures we have ever been faced to try to deal with and understand. When have we been as successful since then? What generals in later experiences have equalled these results after a conflict. Of course he played his role as others have commented of the "prima donna" etc. and also played the necessary politics to become "Supreme Allied Commander" and apparently he wasn't too bad at that either.
    He is belittled for his humiliation at Bataan, but perhaps that is a result of public pressure to "do something" as that is why we have joined some recent conflicts, before we are able to fully assess what is needed with our military to accomplish the tasks we wish to accomplish. We were not yet ready for war when we first entered the pacific. Those first soldiers of ours payed a dear price for this entry into a war there were little supply lines to provide them with re-enforcements and war goods because we did not yet have resources built up to sustain this effort. Who knew at that time what was going to be needed?
    If you want to do a "what if" on someone else doing his job, find somebody who in their childhood knew the logistics of moving by wagon and horse across a desert populated with indigenous people, he could make his first understandings of mankind with in those early years. Who else had that kind of "military" background to gain the instincts he had for leadership? He lived this military life, before he became himself, a soldier. He saw within his own life the progression from back woods to modern strategic industrial warfare and knew what had to be done with the resources at hand. He made serious mistakes but has measures of success in areas we are to this day deficient in. He definitely was not perfect, but I find it a bit cavalier just to take a "what if" over the life of someone who helped us all through our own mis-steps to get this war fought. His failures were not all due to himself but to our overall condition. Who would have learned the lessons better along the way and why do you think that? If you are going to do a "what if" I want it to include some deep insight that shows an ability to overcome the things I depict in a general I have gained admiration for through my studies over the years. If we don't learn these facts about the person we are replacing with our "what if", the learning exercise is wasted, and we should have put our time into learning more details about that which we wish to be studying. For me, history is hard enough without creating clouds of fictional thought. The "what if" for me is what if we had misunderstood Japan as we mis-understood the North Vietnamese. What if after Bataan we had a leader that did not see a need to return? It is easy to say we would skip this and that to get across the Pacific, but if you were in charge wouldn't each step weigh heavily on you in trying to build a complete foundation of strength to reach a destiny? "What if" our first steps against Korea would have been through China first? Those things are the important things to consider when considering the life of MacArthur. Just my two bits thrown in.
     
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  9. OSCSSW

    OSCSSW Member

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    Not sure anything that brings the time table for Downfall Forward earlier is a good idea.

    The single thrust, by eliminating "non-essentail" Ops of a single rather than two competing Theater Commanders
    could have moved the allies within invasion reach of Japan six motnhs earlier

    IMO bypassing the PI and going for Taiwan, after:
    1. Brutally HEAVY Allied losses (IWO wrote large IMO)
    2. The extermination of almost all Japanese Air, Naval, Land and civilians on the island
    3. Absolutely catastrophic losses to the Taiwanese civilians
    Would also materially move up the time table for Downfall.

    An earlier invasion would also mean the Japanese retained more real militray assets to meet the Allies
    and thereby inflict even higher casualties than we would have had on the planned dates.


    Thank God, for the Japanese as well as the Allies, the A bombs were available for use before the allies
    tried to invade mainland Japan
    .

    IMO the liberal fools and revisionist historians have it absolutely wrong in condeming Truman for using the A bombs.
    It was a humanitarian action in that it ended the killing and saved untold millions of lives.
     
  10. OSCSSW

    OSCSSW Member

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    BZ brndirt1 old son, very impressive post.

    I too am a big admirer of Vinegar Joe.


    Why didn't Marshall, who did not suffer fools or insubordinates at all, not just Order Drum
    to China? Even at Multi-star level Drum was still a soldiier and soldiers either follow orders
    or pay the consequences.



    I am not sure Mao's victory was inevitable but that is another discussion---))))
     
  11. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    I know one thing....

    The absense of Douglas Macarthur would have given the United States Navy a blank cheque to conduct operations in the CBI theater exclusively to their requirements. Macarthur did sterling work for the Cause by acting as a countermind to the Navy's idea of how victory should have been won.

    Admiral King detested Macarthur for his manner of torpedoing Navy ideas, and insisting that the real damage to Japanese operations would come from Army operations to clear large territories like New Guinea, or the Phillipines, rather than endless frontal assaults of heavily fortified positions.

    Macarthur's mettle was shown the moment he arrived in Australia, discovering that Australian military minds had already conceded almost half the country with their pathetic plans. In spite of having less troops and equipment in Australia than he left behind at Battan, Macarthur patiently lobbied in favour of a South West Pacific thrust, via the Phillipines, announcing to the world of his "Return" even before this was approved by the Joint Chiefs, or Roosevelt. Only a supremely vain man as commander could be given to such pronouncements, but that is exactly what was needed in this area of the world to strengthen resolve, and kick start a defeated region back into conducting meaningful operations again.

    I realise many Americans judge Macarthur only from his egomania, but after reading William Manchester, and finding that Macarthur's total casualties from PH to VJ Day were less than ETO's for the Battle of the Bulge alone, it made me sit up and take notice of the man himself, to look past the vainglory and realise that there will NEVER be another officer quite like Douglas Macarthur, and to thank providence that the U.S. did NOT need to send us that bastard Stilwell.

    I have no love lost for Stilwell. The men unlucky enough to serve under him did not call him "Vinegar" Joe for nothing.
     
  12. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    My impression is he came by that name as he did not suffer fools gladly and that included his superiors as well as those who served under him. I haven't read that the soldiers who served under him had any real problem with him.
     
  13. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    From what I've read, his (enlisted) men referred to him as "Uncle Joe" because of his practice of seeing that his men were properly tended to and not subjected to silly and pointless military protocols by junior officers.
     
  14. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    Don't know much about him but from what I can gather here, He treated his men well, Got results and only pissed off his fellow officer's because he wouldn't stand for any BS? To me sound's like a much more preferable option rather then Mac. Then again any other general would be less likely to go against Washington and appoint an all US staff rather then a mixed staff that was meant to include Aussies and Dutch (also possibly Portuguese, Kiwi's and British) who at that time would have been the only ones with actual combat experience.
     
  15. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    If Mac had had his way, he would have attacked Rabaul. The main reason his casualties were less is that he had the option of hitting weaker spots, unlike the navy or army in Europe.
     
  16. syscom3

    syscom3 Member

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    Not true. Gen Marshall and Admirals Nimitz, King and Halsey were also convinced that Rabaul needed to be invaded. But the early adoption of island hopping, coupled with the ability to implement an air blockade helped to change every ones minds.

    As for European "weak point comment" ... many times a weak point in the Germans lines went unexploited by the allied generals for one reason or another.
     
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  17. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    Lets be realistic about the arguments between European combat and that of the Pacific, No matter which way you cut it they are two vastly different fields of combat so there is no real way we can compare Mac's lower casualties to what occured in the Battle of the Bulge and say that that alone proves he was the superior commander. There are too many factor's at play to look at it as black and white, Any military vet will tell you combat is never black and white, It is more often then not grey.

    You need to look at all factor's, Troop's involved, Training, Equipment, Terrain, Weather, Ability to field forces etc etc In each of these both theaters were different.

    Did the SWPA suffer lower casualties? Yes.

    Was that because of Mac? I find it difficult to give any of the credit to Mac, Most if not all of the actual combat planning went to those serving under him so they should be given the credit for the lower casualties, Not Mac.

    Based on equipment, leadership and training which was the tougher Axis opponent.. German or Japanese? While I dont mean to say the Japanese in any way where bad I do believe that there equipment, training and leadership put them ahead of the Japanese by miles so to be fair to the generals that suffered higher casualties in Europe they did have the tougher nut to crack.
     
  18. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    My personal opinion is that had Mac been killed leaving the Philippines it would have resulted in a smoother, overall Pacific Campaign.
    -SWPac would not have been a seperate command.
    -Australia would probably have been given control over the New Guinea Campaign
    -Once Buna was recaptured the rest of New Guinea could have been bypassed. Japanese efforts to support forces cut off there would have been countered by Allied air and naval forces. Japanese Naval forces would have been more rapidly destroyed by attrition.
    -US troops committed to New Guinea would have been shifted to the Solomons and that campaign more rapidly concluded.
    -The Central Pacific campaign would have been moved forward. taraw would have been less costly due to lesser defensive preparations because of the earlier invasion date.
    -Same same with the Marshall's and Mariana's. Earlier invasion dates, less Japanese preparation and less time for their attrition strategy to have been developed.
    -The additional Army Infantry units assigned to this axis of advance would have allowed for each follow-on operation to have occurred more rapidly.
    -Operations in the Philippines would have occurred, but against the more lightly held islands. Luzon would have been bypassed and an air/naval blockade established.
    -Iwo would have been much less of a tough nut to crack.
    -On the minus side strategic bombing could not have occurred much earlier even if the marianas had been seized at an earlier date. The B-29 was not yet fully operational. It's 8 May operational introduction and Tinian's 1 August secured date is only a three month difference. It would mean Tinian's aviation facilities were fully completed when sufficient B-29's were available.
    -On the plus side Iwo would have been in US hands when the B-29 did become operational. Greatly reducing aircrew attrition in the strategic bombing campaign.
    -I don't know that Downfall would have occurred any earlier, because of the ETO's priority on resources. The US high command knew how costly a invasion of the Home Islands would be. I don't think it would have been undertaken until Germany was defeated, and the high command knew that this condition was only a matter of time.
    -There may have been some landings on mainland China.

    Von Noobie wrote:
    I do not think that is a valid assessment. I can't think of many ETO battles (Monte Casino, comes to mind first) where the allies encountered defenses in depth, strength or density as they did at Tarawa, Saipan, Peleilu, Iwo, Okinawa, etc. In most cases in the ETO such heavily defended areas could generally be neutralized by flanking them. In the Pacific the flanks were normally secured by water. I also think you greatly underestimate the training and abilities of the average Japanese Infantryman, in Malaya they used their own form of Blitzkreig to capture Singapore, forcing one of the greatest defeats in the history of the British Military. One reason for the different casualty totals is the numbers of troops involved, if you look at casualty rates you get a different picture.
    Ardennes Offensive-Initial forces 83,000 Allied-200,000 German***Divisions 4 Infantry/1 Armored Allied-8 Infantry/5 Armored German***Reinforcements 20 Allied Infantry/9 Armored--Germany (a total of around 30 divisions were committed, but an exact picture is harder to obtain because there were numerous brigades employed, so an additional 17 divisions plus a number of brigades were used to reinforce the initial force). Peak average strengths-Allied 610,000-German 500,000. Casualties US:89,500 (@19,000 kia, 47,500 wia, 23,000 captured missing)-German 67,000-104,000. British 1400.
    Iwo Jima-US three Marine Divisions@ 70,000 men-Japan 22,060-reinforcements none-casualties US 6821 kia/mia, 19217 wia-Japan 21,844 kia/216 captured.
    Okinawa-Initial 2 US Marine Divisions/2 US Army Divisions/Reserve 1 US Marine Division 5 Total--Approx. 155,000 Japanese all types (infantry, air, construction, support). Reinforcements: 2 additional US Army divisions (Total for the campaign @183,000 including 11,147replacements) /Japanese none. Casualties US 7613 kia/mia, 31,807 wia, 4907 kia and another 4900 wia Naval personnel on ships kia/Japanese 110,071 kia/mia and 7,400–10,755 captured and additional 10,000 Naval personnel and aviators lost (kia).

    So you see the casualty rates for the Pacific battles were in relation to fewer troops engaged.
    If we just look at the ground forces involved and percentage of total casualties/kia/wia per personnel employed and losses inflicted per enemy forces we have:
    Ardennes: 3.12% kia of peak forces involved, 7.78% wia of peak forces involved, 10.9% casualties of peak forces involved, or one casualty inflicted per every 7.51 German soldiers at peak strength. (*these figures are overstated because the data is figured on peak strength not total strength, casualty rates would have been less and casualties inflicted less per German soldier).
    Iwo Jima: 9.74% kia of total forces employed, 27.45% wia of total forces employed, 37.19% casualty rate of total forces employed and 1.18 casualty inflicted per every Japanese soldier employed.
    Okinawa: 4.16% kia of total forces employed, 17.38% wia per total forces employed, 21.54% casualty rate of total forces employed (double the Battle of the Buldge rate) and 1 US casualty per every 3.393 Japanese soldiers double the rate of the Germans. (This statistic is even more one sided when you consider that 23,500 of the Japanese strength were Okinawa civilians impressed, armed and barely trained militia and another 15,000 were unarmed impressed Okinawan laborers. The actual figure of casualty produced per "Trained military personnel". Actual trained troop strength including support personnel was actually closer to 116,500. and that would result in a rate of 1 US casualty per 2.95 Japanese troops employed.)
     
  19. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    The opening of the Central Pacific offensive depended on the availability of the new Essex and Independence class aircraft carriers, which conducted their first operation, an attack on Wake Island, in August 1943. Tarawa in November included no fewer than 18 CVs, CVLs, and CVEs. It might have been done a little earlier, with a little less "makee learn" time and a few fewer flight decks, but curtailing operations in New Guinea wouldn't impact that.

    The Solomons are a bit of a dead end, especially if you don't assault Rabaul or Kavieng. It might be better to carry on the New Guinea-New Britain campaign at least as far as the Admiralty Islands with the magnificent Seeadler harbor at Manus; that was an important base for further operations. Historically it was taken shortly after Kwajalein and Eniwetok in the Marshalls.

    After the Marshalls it was almost four months until the next Central Pacific advance, to the Marianas. In the interim the fast carrier force was tasked (unnecessarily as it turned out) to support MacArthur's landing at Hollandia, which of course also involved amphibious shipping and CVEs. This appears to be a point where the Central Pacific offensive might have been sped up by a couple of months by foregoing further advance along the north coast of New Guinea.

    The B-29s of XX Air Command launched their first combat operations in June 1944 from bases in China, literally halfway around the world from the United States, an effort which required construction of airfields mainly by Chinese hand labor. An earlier conquest of the Marianas might have been followed up at considerably less logistic effort.

    The big question would be "where next?" Luzon, Formosa, the Ryukyus, and Japan itself are comparably distant from the Marianas, over a thousand miles, outside the range of almost all land-based air support. There are a few small potential intermediate bases like Palau or Ulithi, but basically it would a long leap over a lot of ocean into a hornets' nest.
     
  20. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    • At the onset of US entry the Pacific was divided between the British and Americans. Australia fell under American sphere because it was too far for Britain to effectively control. Slim would have stayed in India because it was far too important. Nimitz had far too much on his plate to add another command and since NG was primarily a land campaign, an army officer would be in charge. Even though Chiang desperately wanted Stilwell out, Im not sure Stilwell would be chosen since he would have had to deal with the Anzacs and he was not the most tactful man.
     

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