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The Japanese take Madagascar

Discussion in 'What If - Pacific and CBI' started by T. A. Gardner, Jan 30, 2010.

  1. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    What if the Japanese took Madagascar? It was a French possession at the time in the hands of the Vichy. Japan did ask Germany to twist the Vichy's arm to allow them to occupy the island, as they had done French Indochina, after the Pacific War started.
    Clearly, if Nagumo and the Kido Butai had sailed into the IO (as they historically did) and made for the island with an occupation force and Vichy aquessence to their occupation they could have taken the island.
    Now, historically, the British invaded and took the islands after they learned that the Japanese planned to occupy them. What if that bit of spy work didn't happen?

    Would a Japanese occupation of Madagascar make a difference? I could see where it might with convoys heading to the Middle East / Eqypt. I could also see it making some difference for German U-boats in the IO. The big question is if it were occupied by roughly a division of Japanese troops how long could they have held the island before the Allies retook it?
     
  2. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    What would the advantage be here? Madagascar has no oil, one of the IJN's major needs, little to add to their "power" and a general drain on their over-extended resources. Having a "place" doesn't seem all that advantgeous if you cannot do anything from there. The Italians in Abyssinia (sp?) had to be supplied by air, and were almost the most material denuded Italian troops of all of WW2. Would the Imperial Japanese be in any better a position?

    I just don't see the advantage.
     
  3. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    It is possible that a Japanese landing there might distract Briton in the Indian ocean. but it might just give them an easy victory as well. Then agian it would be as simple to isolate and allow them to wither on the vine.
     
  4. conon394

    conon394 recruit

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    Yes because they could significantly disrupt the lines of supply, communication and economy of the Allied powers.

    That problem always existed, no matter what. Japan had to act and act when it did or be steamrolled by the US in a few years. Any action was a risk but realistically there was a better chance of Axis synergy by an Indian Ocean offensive/over extension vs. a Pacific one.

    In this case Madagascar was low hanging fruit the Vichy administration was looking to suck up to Germany and with a Japanese garrison and as an air base and sub base it would seriously disrupt British logistics and alarm all of its Commonwealth participants in the North Africa fight. Once established if the next move by Japan was not the disaster at Midway but rather another effort in the Indian Ocean there is no real chance the UK could affect a ‘Midway’ – even if it concentrated its CVs they would be lambs to the slaughter.

    Yes because unlike the Italians the Japanese would not be throttled by the UK control of the Suez – and before Midway the UK had no ability to challenge even say 3/4 Japanese fleet carriers and sundry other units in the Indian Ocean - at the time.

    The Japanese could have allowed only a defensive posture vs. the US with only a 2 or less fleet carriers and other not ‘fleet able’ CV assets.
     
  5. freebird

    freebird Member

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    Quite long actually, it took about 6 months to deal with 8,000 Vichy troops, with 6,000 of those being natives.

    With 15,000 or so fanatical Japanese troops ready to fight small-unit operations over the island, it could cause extreme problems for the British, and the difficulty of tracking them down may take years.
    If the Japanese had brought 20 or 50 aircraft to opeate there, and left perhaps a small carrier battle group. (Kaga + Junyo for example), the British probably couldn't take it without extreme disruption on other fronts. Also, madagascar grew most of it's own food, so the troops could live off the land. (except for fuel & ammo of course)

    For sure, Nagumo should have taken a few troopships with him on the Indian ocean raid, even if only depositing a few hundred commandos at various locations, to cause havoc. I think that a madagascar base only really makes sense if it is to be used as an airbase. If it was only to be used as a sub base, it might be better to simply have a few of the sub tenders operate in the Indian Ocean, quietly refueling at French ports on Madagascar or Reunion.
     
  6. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    According to Keegan's book, the British spotted a Japanese sub off the coast of the island. This report convinced the British to garrison the island to secure it from any potential threat.

    Under the proposed scenario, the Japanese succeeded in securing the island. But a valid question remains: would doing so benefit the Japanese?

    I agree with an earlier post in this thread. The Japanese cannot sustain a garrison there.

    Let's say the IJN or IJA could spare the troops and planes to make the island an actual threat to Allied convoys in the Indian Ocean. They could harass the Allies but only as long as the Japanese can keep this force supplied. It's a fact that the IJN didn't have enough merchant shipping to transport what supplies they had on hand. I see this as a form of diminishing returns for the Japanese.
    For the short term, occuppying the island would be a propaganda boost for the Japanese but that will be all the Japanese could gain. After the initial hurrah, the eager grins would turn to frowns and eventually dismay and frustration to the stranded Japanese force on the island.
     
  7. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    Invading Madagascar is one thing. Keeping it is quite another. The Japanese would have had an easier time invading and keeping Hawaii.

    To supply Madagascar, the Japanese would be entering a triangle of British possessions: Australia to the southeast, India to the north, and South Africa to the southwest.

    Nope, not feasible.
     
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  8. USMC

    USMC Member

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    Well I see both sides of the spectrum. The IJN would have more ports to launch submarines from and possibly assist the German acquisition of the middle east. Besides that Madagascar has no real natural resources, no fossil fuels (a NEED for the Japanese), no rubber, and no metals to assist in the war effort.
     
  9. Glenn239

    Glenn239 Member

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    The only reason to invade Madagascar would be if they were going whole hog; attacking South Africa.
     
  10. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Although it is a long shot, in early 1942 the Japanese were into long shots. Taking Madagascar gives them a base from which to harrass British Middle East convoys. This is at a time whem the British and Commonwealth are having difficulty mustering up replacement units for their losses in Greece / Crete, North Africa, Singapore, and Burma. This is nothing left to spare really.
    The Japanese could, given the British situation, have then pushed to take the southern end of the Persian Gulf. Landing just a brigade worth of troops and using them aggressively could have taken most of the Emerates putting Japan on the southern end of the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. Again, it is a huge risk but what's that among the many Japan has already taken?
     
  11. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    Yes, but the long shots they took were only those that directly supported their aims of securing the resources of SEA. At the time, they relied on the Germans to keep the British off their back door.
     
  12. P.A. Mourier

    P.A. Mourier Member

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    Hi,
    Even ruled by Vichy France until 1942, Madagascar would have been seized and garrisonned by british troops as soon as an invasion could be suspected.
    Given the size and distance of this island from Japanese bases, such an operation would have been a nightmare to supply. Within short distance of South African harbours, within range of Eastern african air bases, Madagascar wuold have been a terrible base of naval operations.
    Any threat to Commonwealth shipment through the Indian Ocean would therefore have been created at the cost of a huge logistical commitment for the IJN. Not to mention that few IJN ships would have had the fuel range needed for this invasion.

    So, for me, Madagascar invasion by the IJN would have had two consequences : first to boost british morale with an easy victory, and to eventually shorten Japanese struggle by a few months.
     
  13. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    I have the same mind, P.A. I've also been thinking... where would spare Japanese forces come from to be used in the invasion of this island?
    It's true that the Japanese had the initiative in 1942 but if the IJA and IJN makes an attempt on that island, it would only help blunt there advantage. There really is no advantage for the Japanese to take this island.
     
  14. syscom3

    syscom3 Member

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    Even if the Japanese take this island, it would be easily and quickly retaken.

    The first allied counter offensive against Japan would occur here, and not Guadalcanal.
     
  15. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    This is all pure fiction , Japan would have been thrown out easily not only by the British but also by the Free French. Both the Britsh and the French had logistic support in Africa , Japan had not and had to pass India each time to send ships to the west. Islands like Reunion, the Comores and Mauritius were other useful bases for the allies.
     
  16. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    The way i see it, The only way for an occupation of Madagascar to succeed is if they had destroyed a larger part of the British Eastern fleet, Preferably all of there Carriers. The result of the Indian ocean raid had pushed the British fleet all the way back to Kenya, As such the above mentioned locations would be of little use, More likely the Japanese would occupy them, Simple fact is occupying the above mentioned islands would be of little use to the Allies as well, bases to operate from was not the problem, The problem would be supply. The British fleet and the British forces in NA relied on supplies coming all the way around Africa, Had Madagascar fallen into Japanese hands then submarine and air patrols would rip them apart. Yes, Convoys could be organized, But at what cost? They would be unable to bring in suffiecient supplies to feed both the Eastern Fleet and the British/commonwealth forces in NA. Any occupation of Madagascar combined with sufficient submarine and aerial support would cripple then destroy British operations in the Indian ocean and so on to NA.

    The army in NA would not have the needed vessels to evacuate by sea, So would be forced to march down Africa through Sudan. The British fleet would have the option to make a break through the Mozambique Channel, Go around Madagascar heading for Cape Town or make a mad Dash for Perth, Australia. Would they eventually retake Madagascar, No doubt but the damage would have already been done.
     
  17. CTBurke

    CTBurke Member

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    I don't see any advantage for the Japanese in acquiring Madagascar. Some people look at it from the standpoint of stymieing the British in North Africa, but what good does that do the Japanese?? They really were not concerned about "the European war", or Germany's fortunes (after all, they didn't "pincer" the Soviet Union despite pleas from Hitler).

    To OPERATE even a small fleet or significant aircraft out of Madagascar, ALL the POL and spare parts would have to be shipped in from....?? It's a LOOOOOONG way to Madagascar from Indonesia. A British sub surfacing at night and shelling the fuel storage tanks, etc., would "trap" the forces there. Too tenuous. Again, comparing to Guadalcanal, the Japanese could not keep THAT island, even though "close" to supplies.
     
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  18. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

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    I would suggest instead Japan took French Somaliland (today Djibouti) and the port. Italy and Japan could then cooperate more, especially on naval assets where both nations were strong.
     
  19. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    They were both very short of oil and the coordination would require a lot more than they used historically in this area. It would also leave major IJN units out of play as far as most of the Pacfic goes.
     
  20. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

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    I do not know but guest why occupying a port automatically means military operation from that port. Italian East Africa bordered French Somaliland and this advantage would at least allow Japanese and Italian land-based lines of communication between themselves. Think of this Japanese outlying port and small piece of land on the continent of Africa as a land equivalence of Midway against at least British navy.
     

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