Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

What if Japan Attacks British and Dutch Interests But Avoids War With the US?

Discussion in 'What If - Pacific and CBI' started by ozjohn39, Dec 22, 2015.

  1. ozjohn39

    ozjohn39 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    594
    Likes Received:
    31
    Not usually all that keen on 'what ifs', but this one intrigues me.

    Back to the years 1940/41 and Japan decides her needs for oil and raw materials is so great she must go to war.

    She knows she cannot hope to defeat the USA, so she heads south to rubber of Malaya, the oil of the the Dutch East indies, and the agriculture of Australia. She 100% avoids ALL American facilities and interests and takes the lot. ALL American shipping and trade etc is left untouched, and the USN can sail into Tokyo Bay as a visitor any time.

    Hitler has not declared war on the USA and Britain still stands alone.

    What happens then?

    John
     
  2. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2009
    Messages:
    4,617
    Likes Received:
    1,658
    Location:
    God's Country
    The US Administration rattles its sabers, but can't do anything because the American public is still isolationist. If Roosevelt still desires to help Britain against Germany, he can't declare war on Japan because then that theater would take precedence over Europe where they see the real threat as being. Question is with Japan able to threaten Australia, would they withdraw their troops from Europe and bring them home to defend the homeland? Britain wouldn't be able to threaten Japan Navally, or even send significant naval forces to aid Australia in her defense. With the threat, could Japan seek and get a separate peace treaty with Australia? What say you?
     
  3. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    2,674
    Likes Received:
    528
    The customary torrent of OF COURSE WE WOULD FIGHT!!!!!! replies seems to be a bit slow in developing, but I think it's an intriguing question. Since we had inveigled Britain and the Dutch into joining our embargo, there is a strong case that we had a moral duty to stand by them, but AFAIK FDR's commitments had not been vetted by Congress, most of whom clung to the quaint constitutional idea that they were the ones who actually declare war.

    If I could propose one variant, did Australian food imports necessitate a Japanese invasion of that country? Especially as they would already be securing substantial agricultural regions in southeast Asia, including rice production which presumably was a primary commodity for them. If they're trying to play a subtle game, taking over Britsh or Dutch colonies might be less provocative than attacking an independent white nation.
     
  4. lwd

    lwd Ace

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Messages:
    12,312
    Likes Received:
    1,234
    Location:
    Michigan
    Well in the event of such actions the US had promised the British and Dutch that they could use our port facilities. I can't imagine Japan being all that happy with British subs based in the Philippines. In the mean time the US still embargos Japanese trade and builds up the defenses of the Philippines. The US public wasn't as isolationist by that point as many assume and the polls show that they were more willing to confront Japan than get into a European war. Since the US military really hoped we wouldn't get in the war until mid 42 this rather plays to US strengths I believe.
     
  5. ozjohn39

    ozjohn39 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    594
    Likes Received:
    31
    A couple of points.

    Australia is about as big as the '48', but about 80% of it is desert, very dangerous desert at that, with much of it flooding and impassable in 'The Wet' and equally impassable in the dry, there were virtually NIL roads and rails in the 'Top End' in 1942.

    Japan thought deeply about an invasion of Australia but with all those Marines to worry about they gave the idea away. No US forces then makes the idea 'doable'. I have driven all over the Top End and know it well. Any landing there would be impossible to stop, but advancing over 2000 kms of desert is a stretch. An Australian liaison officer on Big Macs staff was asked "What would you do if 50,000 japanese landed on the north coast". His answer, "wait 3 months and go out and pick up the bones".

    Nevertheless, owning this big island is better than not, it would have to be taken back at some point if it got that far. We did not know that Australia had any iron ore or oil, just LOTS of coal and grazing land etc. Worth the effort, maybe!

    My view is that if Japan had taken all the islands and Australia, it would have been a lot harder to dislodge her.

    ...and Britain was hardly a factor in the SWPA from Feb 1942 until mid 1944.

    JMO


    john
     
  6. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,503
    Likes Received:
    1,172
    Thread moved to Alternate History Forum.
     
  7. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,503
    Likes Received:
    1,172
    If Japan directed a move on Australia directly the forces presumably would be those originally earmarked for US holdings in the main, though some reserve would have to be retained in the event of sudden entry by the US. It would come initially on the northern coast, possibly with the hope that alone might get a desired result, that being some form or agreement that gives them the Southern Resource Area in exchange for a withdrawal. Failing that I would expect they largely ignore the center of the country in favor of leapfrog movements along the coast similar to their operations in SE China.

    I would expect to see more 'Colonial" and Commonwealth forces deployed to prevent this, possibly even Canada might allow conscripts to deploy to aid a fellow Dominion nation. I would also suspect that this threat so close to American possessions might see a increase of military assets sent west to the Pacific at the expense of Europe. FDR would be looking for a way to tip the balance, the question being just how soon they could actually intervene.

    My guess would be within 6 months of a Japanese initial action, long enough to move elements of the Atlantic fleet to Pearl.
     
  8. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2009
    Messages:
    4,617
    Likes Received:
    1,658
    Location:
    God's Country
    If they (Japan) took New Caledonia, and had a lodgement around Darwin they could isolate Australia and the distances and desert OzJohn mentioned would prevent an easy counter attack by Australian forces. Japanese aircraft out of Darwin and the immediate surrounding are could stall most counters because they'd be tied to the rail line coming north from Daly Waters. The Philippines could easily be isolated if the US declared war, something Roosevelt would be required to do in order to actively use the US's military power. The problem for the US comes in the form of logistical support. If they pull the logistical support from supporting Britain to facing Japan the greater enemy, Germany, is better situated.
     
  9. ozjohn39

    ozjohn39 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    594
    Likes Received:
    31
    Belasar,

    We have about 30,000 kms of coast line, I think, and much of it is damned hard to get at. The Great Barrier Reef guards about 2000 kms of the Queensland coast, and in that is only FOUR navigable passages for shipping. All easily mined of course.

    The Top End terrain from the Gulf of Carpentaria is mostly rocks, mangroves, and totally isolated beaches backed up with 1000+ kms of desert. ONLY without the US as an opponent could it hope to succeed,. The rest is at the end of VERY long and vulnerable supply lines.

    As an aside, Port Moresby is a lousy invasion base for such a task. The Torres Strait shipping needs an experienced pilot for any transit as it is a reef and rocks trap.

    John
     
  10. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,503
    Likes Received:
    1,172
    Funny I had some weird sense of Deja vu all of a sudden.
     
    USMCPrice likes this.
  11. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2010
    Messages:
    6,864
    Likes Received:
    1,361
    Ozjohn - We did not know we had iron?
    You remember "Pig Iron Bob"?
    The wharfies refused to load the iron meant for Japan...
     
  12. ozjohn39

    ozjohn39 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    594
    Likes Received:
    31
    CAC,

    Yes that is what I said, the export of iron ore was banned until Lang Hancock found a zillion years supply of the stuff in WA.

    All we had was at Iron Knob in SA and Yampi Sound in North West WA,


    John
     
  13. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    2,674
    Likes Received:
    528
    Me too ;) As in our earlier discussion, the main purpose of taking New Caledonia would be to isolate Australia from American support. NC is irrelevant if the overall strategy to keep America out of the war is successful, and part of that strategy is to make Japan's actions seem minimally threatening to American interests, so it might be just as well to leave NC alone.

    The dirty little secret of all the Orange etc. war planning was that the Philippines were essentially indefensible. They would be even more so if Japan was already in the process of securing the East Indies. As the American government debated intervention, they would know first and foremost that their action would doom the Philippines and the American troops and civilians therein.
     
  14. lwd

    lwd Ace

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Messages:
    12,312
    Likes Received:
    1,234
    Location:
    Michigan
    I'm not sure that the Philippines were indefensible. As long as the treaty about not building up defenses there was in place perhaps. Certainly they could be cut off or at least rendered difficult to support. On the other hand given the build up that started in the fall of 41 by late spring or early summer of 42 I'm not sure the Japanese could take the island. Some supplies would become scarce but the Philippines were self sufficient food wise and by that point most of the Philippine troops would be well armed and have completed training. It would still likely take until some time in 43 or later before the US could clear a relatively safe route to them but that's another matter.
     
  15. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2007
    Messages:
    17,511
    Likes Received:
    2,114
    Location:
    Alabama
    I was wondering how this thread got created and approved without the original post passing muster. It was started in the wrong forum.

    Its okay, since it is not another how Germany could win scenerio.
     
  16. ozjohn39

    ozjohn39 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    594
    Likes Received:
    31
    Sorry about all that, I can only plead ignorance of the rules which is no excuse.

    John
     
  17. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2009
    Messages:
    4,617
    Likes Received:
    1,658
    Location:
    God's Country
    They should get Germany to pressure the Vichy French government (recognized as the legitimate French government by the US) to ask them to retake New Caledonia from the Free French. It would has an excellent harbor at Noumea, and most importantly nickle (20% of world production in 1941) and chromium mines, plus substantial meat and fishing industries. It's only 900 miles from Brisbane and from it Japan could control the Coral Sea, threaten Fiji, Samoa and the east coast of Australia. Just there presence on New Caledonia presents a threat without it having to be articulated. They could set up bases there, play nice to Australia and the US and request peace with them. They wouldn't have to implicitly say, or we'll cut off Australia, its understood it's within their capabilities.


    They don't have to assault the main strength, just start taking those areas not strongly defended and isolate the well defended areas. Without a strong naval presence the US can't do much to resupply/relieve the garrison.
     
  18. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
    Messages:
    1,247
    Likes Received:
    132
    Interesting. Honestly, I don't see how the Japanese could avoid not doing something to bring the US into the war. The Japanese were renown for "accidentally" attacking things they shouldn't have. Manchuria, Russia, USS Panay, etc. Rule from below it was called. Eventually some I-Boat would take out an American ship, or the like, and I think the road to war would be open.
     
  19. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,503
    Likes Received:
    1,172
    I too believe clashes are inevitable, Be they Submarine attacks on US flag vessels or perhaps Arial dust ups between aircraft on patrol. I do think however the US will not declare on the first such, or even on the fifth, unless one of two things are present. First the US has mustered her strength and feels she is 'ready' to intervene, which I suspect will take 6 to 9 months or more. Secondly if the incident is either very embarrassing or very costly in lives lost which would then make it a 'matter of honor' regardless of the level of US preparation.

    Before everyone jumps on me for saying the latter, please keep in mind Germany sank many US flag vessels, sank a Destroyer and attacked many other US flag merchant/warships without drawing a DoW from Washington. Of course the US would assert freedom of navigation which would make these clashes more likely and build the case for joining in.
     
  20. Takao

    Takao Ace

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Messages:
    9,211
    Likes Received:
    2,090
    Location:
    Reading, PA
    I would be less concerned with the I-Boats than would be more concerned with Kido Butai. With no Pearl Harbor to attack, the carriers will be participating in these attacks. And Identification of ships by aircraft, on both sides, was notoriously bad.

    As we know Destroyer Division 57(USS Alden, USS Edsall, USS John D. Edwards, and the USS Whipple), just prior to the opening of hostilities, had already been dispatched to Singapore.

    Several US ships were off Borneo; the destroyer tender USS Black Hawk(AD-9) were off Balikpapan, Borneo, and the light cruiser USS Marblehead and Destroyer Division 58(USS Paul Jones, USS Stewart, USS Bulmer, USS Barker, and the USS Parrott) were off Tarakan, Borneo.

    That is a lot of US ships directly in the path of the Japanese. However, I don't believe the Japanese can ignore these ships as they did the USS Isabel, when the Isabel was conducting her information gathering in the early days of December.
     

Share This Page