Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Macarthur and the Australians


  • Please log in to reply
89 replies to this topic

#1 von_noobie

von_noobie

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 793 posts

Posted 11 July 2012 - 10:29 AM

Been nagging at me for a long time and any American I ask just gives some lame excuse..

So figured I would try my luck here.

Why is it in WWII MacArthur was so against the Australians troops being used, Let alone allowing them to be fielded in there own singular unit under there own command?

As WWI showed us fielding a nations forces all into a single unit preferably under there own command got better results (shown by the Australians and Canadians) yet the best MacArthur offered leading up to the Philippines campaign in '44 was for 2 Australian divisions to be placed in separate US corps.

Not to mention the fact that he always gave credit to American forces but if the Aussies did something it was 'Allied forces'. Seems to me he was good to his own country men but a w**ker to any one else (leading up to planned invasion of Japan.. Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand were to form a corps of 5 divisions, then MacArthur only allowed 3, And even tried getting it knocked back down to 1 'Elite Commonwealth division').

Did the Americans back home realize this?? or there own government/military command.
  • firstnorth likes this

#2 steverodgers801

steverodgers801

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,283 posts

Posted 11 July 2012 - 11:32 AM

Mac should have been dismissed for the debacle of the Phillipines. Why he disliked Australians I dont know, but he was so well connected politically that Roosevelt had to keep him in office. I would compare Mac to Degaulle as far as ego. Also it is spelled their for possesive

#3 Victor Gomez

Victor Gomez

    Ace

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,241 posts

Posted 11 July 2012 - 01:36 PM

Someone more knowledgeable than me may have to answer but I will point out the Austrailians were used when he saw his own troops as used up and unexpected forces were encountered and overcome by the Australian troops, it seems their role was very important in this particular instance:
"Lieutenant General Walter Krueger's Sixth Army headquarters arrived in SWPA in early 1943 but MacArthur had only three American divisions, and they were tired and depleted from the fighting at Battle of Buna–Gona and Battle of Guadalcanal. As a result, "it became obvious that any military offensive in the South-West Pacific in 1943 would have to be carried out mainly by the Australian Army."[181] The offensive began with the landing at Lae by the Australian 9th Division on 4 September 1943. The next day, MacArthur watched the landing at Nadzab by paratroops of the 503rd Parachute Infantry. His B-17 made the trip on three engines because one failed soon after leaving Port Moresby, but he insisted that it fly on to Nadzab.[182] For this, he was awarded the Air Medal.[183]

The Australian 7th and 9th Divisions converged on Lae, which fell on 16 September. MacArthur advanced his timetable, and ordered the 7th to capture Kaiapit and Dumpu, while the 9th mounted an amphibious assault on Finschhafen. Here, the offensive bogged down, partly because MacArthur had based his decision to assault Finschhafen on Willoughby's assessment that there were only 350 Japanese defenders at Finschhafen, when in fact there were nearly 5,000. A furious battle ensued.[184]" This is all from Wiki. Ultimeately Australian troops prevailed. I would also add that I think it is a mistake to write off MacArthur because of the debacle of the Phllipines as he was indeed responding to the "politics" of the day which was demanding action against Japan before we had a fleet, troops, and supply line capability in place for a response. He was ordered to this. Also if you study all the politics of what occurred and when you might see he was carefully threading his way to try to accomplish things against the moods of certain politicians. It is important when you study MacArthur that you include many details of politics of the day. He grew tired of threading through the politics and that is when he got into real trouble eventually for his career. However, whatever the mistakes he made, he may have been the best informed at the time to perform(as an allied commander) especially closing WWII as a leader..... until he got himself in trouble later on.

#4 Carronade

Carronade

    Ace

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,421 posts

Posted 11 July 2012 - 01:56 PM

The dirty little secret of a couple of decades of war planning was that the Philippines were basically indefensible. The idea of holing up on Bataan and waiting for the fleet to fight its way across the Pacific mainly illustrates the lack of any sound strategy. MacArthur made mistakes, but if he had done everything right, the outcome wouldn't have been much different.

#5 Volga Boatman

Volga Boatman

    Dishonorably Discharged

  • Dishonorably Discharged
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,640 posts

Posted 11 July 2012 - 03:31 PM

Mac had no resources to take the fight to Homma in the Phillipines. The ditty of the day says it all...

"We're the battling Bastards of Battan,
No Momma no papa,
No Aunts , no nieces,
No rifles, planes or artillery pieces,
and nobody gives a God-damn."

Mac was no more responsible for the situation in the Phillipnes than Kimmel and Short were for Pearl Harbour. In fact, had there been even a single vessel or aircraft slated to reinforce the garrison of the Phillipines, Mac's move into Battan offered the best chance of it/them receiving a kind welcome on their arrival, should a bloody miracle have occurred and the ship/aircraft had actually gotten to Corregidor alive and kicking.

Macarthur's arrival in Melbourne and his subsequent revamping of the 'Head in the Sand' strategy of the Australian government, wedded as it was to the concept of the 'Brisbane Line', no doubt was exactly the kick in the arse that Australia needed. As for Macarthur 'misusing' Aussie troops, his total casualties from Pearl Harbour to VJ Day were less than the ETO's for the Battle of the Bulge alone! Mac got the most out of what was given to him, and fought the Navy tooth and nail for priority of scarce supplies in a theater whose first major offensive, (Operation WATCHTOWER), was nicknamed 'Operation Shoestring' by the unfortunates of the First Marine Division that had to carry it out. Furthermore, Fully 20% of them were on the sick-list just before Watchtower got underway, and these Marines had to load there own transport and supply vessels because wharf workers went on strike in Auckland!

No, Macarthur was just the commander that the South-West Pacific Theater needed, and he was so concerned for the effects of casualties for a small nation like Australia that he did not ask of them a box-seat role for their soldiers again after New Guinea, something the tired vets of the Australian formations in question appreciated more than what we probably realise. They were already grumbling from being thrown back into the cauldron time after time, whilst the new boys to the Australian Army got all the 'soft' jobs, and with over 538,000 men of military age officially listed as "Exemptions" for frontline service, these veterans of the Western Desert and the South Pacific felt incredibly USED.

Furthermore, I don't think any commander on Earth could have done a better job with the resources made available to him than Doug Macarthur in the Phillipines. Remember, when the Australian Eight Div landed at Singapore, they were just as quickly told to surrender immediately, ending up in Japanese internment and slave labour without being able to put up any fight at all! The exact same thing would have happened to reinforcements slated to arrive in the Phillipines. It was a dead loss, and Mac even went out on a limb politically, promising to RETURN, something that might not have happened but for his intervention and passion for doing the right thing by 30 million Phillipinos.

Australia should be GRATEFUL that we had Big Mac down under. Alesser man may have wilted under the pressure to perform with next to nothing on hand, as opposed to the lavishly equpped ETO.
  • Victor Gomez and firstnorth like this
Llamas are bigger than frogs.:cool:

#6 von_noobie

von_noobie

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 793 posts

Posted 11 July 2012 - 03:56 PM

Mac had no resources to take the fight to Homma in the Phillipines. The ditty of the day says it all...

"We're the battling Bastards of Battan,
No Momma no papa,
No Aunts , no nieces,
No rifles, planes or artillery pieces,
and nobody gives a God-damn."

Mac was no more responsible for the situation in the Phillipnes than Kimmel and Short were for Pearl Harbour. In fact, had there been even a single vessel or aircraft slated to reinforce the garrison of the Phillipines, Mac's move into Battan offered the best chance of it/them receiving a kind welcome on their arrival, should a bloody miracle have occurred and the ship/aircraft had actually gotten to Corregidor alive and kicking.

Macarthur's arrival in Melbourne and his subsequent revamping of the 'Head in the Sand' strategy of the Australian government, wedded as it was to the concept of the 'Brisbane Line', no doubt was exactly the kick in the arse that Australia needed. As for Macarthur 'misusing' Aussie troops, his total casualties from Pearl Harbour to VJ Day were less than the ETO's for the Battle of the Bulge alone! Mac got the most out of what was given to him, and fought the Navy tooth and nail for priority of scarce supplies in a theater whose first major offensive, (Operation WATCHTOWER), was nicknamed 'Operation Shoestring' by the unfortunates of the First Marine Division that had to carry it out. Furthermore, Fully 20% of them were on the sick-list just before Watchtower got underway, and these Marines had to load there own transport and supply vessels because wharf workers went on strike in Auckland!

No, Macarthur was just the commander that the South-West Pacific Theater needed, and he was so concerned for the effects of casualties for a small nation like Australia that he did not ask of them a box-seat role for their soldiers again after New Guinea, something the tired vets of the Australian formations in question appreciated more than what we probably realise. They were already grumbling from being thrown back into the cauldron time after time, whilst the new boys to the Australian Army got all the 'soft' jobs, and with over 538,000 men of military age officially listed as "Exemptions" for frontline service, these veterans of the Western Desert and the South Pacific felt incredibly USED.

Furthermore, I don't think any commander on Earth could have done a better job with the resources made available to him than Doug Macarthur in the Phillipines. Remember, when the Australian Eight Div landed at Singapore, they were just as quickly told to surrender immediately, ending up in Japanese internment and slave labour without being able to put up any fight at all! The exact same thing would have happened to reinforcements slated to arrive in the Phillipines. It was a dead loss, and Mac even went out on a limb politically, promising to RETURN, something that might not have happened but for his intervention and passion for doing the right thing by 30 million Phillipinos.

Australia should be GRATEFUL that we had Big Mac down under. Alesser man may have wilted under the pressure to perform with next to nothing on hand, as opposed to the lavishly equpped ETO.


Volga, You give him far too much credit and seem to lack much knowledge in the view's of the Australian forces, Simply put they were pissed off at being side lined and thus refused to by parted up and forgoten under American command.

Even Australian pilots returning from Europe with a lot more experience then there American counter parts were actually given garrison duty while rookie yank pilots went ahead. Australia had just gotten Britain to give us a far go then what happens, We got bloody Mac shoved into our lap and he turned out worse then the British.

But as for his military command, Well there are more then a few that could command in the Pacific, it wasn't Mac's smart's that won the Pacific but the US Industry out producing the Japanese.

As for Mac's low casualty rate, You do realize most of the Japanese forces were based in China or against the British/Indians. Add to that the lower training, poorer leadership and simply crap army weapons and of course the casualties would be lower. Simple matter is seems to me that most of the actual results were from commanders at a Corps level or smaller, The Pacific is just to spread out and broken apart for a set military leader introducing a set strategy and overseeing it.

Sounds to me that your an American with fantasies of superiority and that the world should say Thank you, more please.... >>

He may have been good politically, But as a commander of troops there was nothing special about him. Hell there were 2 dozen better generals better then him at commanding troops. He was a politician with a uniform, Nothing more. =)

#7 steverodgers801

steverodgers801

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,283 posts

Posted 11 July 2012 - 04:27 PM

The number one problem with Mac in the Phillipines is that he took no action as when he received orders to commence operations against the Japanese. As commander he was obligated to make sure that an airstrike was launched. I know he claims he gave orders, of which there is no proof, but he still needed to make sure it was done. The second problem is that he lost most of his supplies when he had to retreat from the beaches. He knew the navy had no means to relieve him and the US plan was to store supplies at Bataan. He moved the supplies out because he wanted to guard all of Luzon. Mac also had to be ordered not to try to invade Truk.

#8 Victor Gomez

Victor Gomez

    Ace

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,241 posts

Posted 11 July 2012 - 05:23 PM

In a most cavalier way, it is easy to criticize MacArthur based on results, conditions, opinions, politics............however be informed that one item discussed at Yalta and maybe even earlier is the breakdown of the Allies ability to have and experience casualties as they needed a certain number of war survivors to have a recovery in post war times which is another of the factors MacArthur had to consider when engaging allied troops. I don't know who in those days could have done a better job of facing these dismal circumstances of how to make every country equal survivors of this war time condition. It is easy unless it is well studied to pass over the details(unless one engages in fantasies) and draw a very partial conclusion to his decisions. I for one think he put all his political, all his military skills, and even more of his various cultural skills together to eventually bring a satisfactory result even for the defeated nation of Japan which was no small duty in the final days of this war. Where else has a defeated foe been made to prosper peacefully?.............think what happened for defeated Germany in WWI. Such could have been the outcome for Japan as well at the end of WWII, and where would things be today? At the end he messed up his career but I will be forever thankful for this dedicated soldier's accomplishments before that moment. It seems it is now easy to kick him while he is down isn't it.

Edited by Victor Gomez, 11 July 2012 - 05:32 PM.
errors aplenty


#9 brndirt1

brndirt1

    Saddle Tramp

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,709 posts

Posted 11 July 2012 - 05:45 PM

MacArthur is a complicated issue, I personally think he was more than competent as a commanding officer in many respects. His casualty per thousand men was one of the lowest in the war. He was however generally an "arse", and his ego definitely left a bad taste in the mouths of those who dealt with him.
  • belasar likes this
Happy Trails,
Clint.

#10 steverodgers801

steverodgers801

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,283 posts

Posted 11 July 2012 - 07:54 PM

I would point out that any other commander who suffered a loss like he did would have been relieved. Kimmel and Short were relieved under the same circumstances and they did not receive notice of war.

#11 brndirt1

brndirt1

    Saddle Tramp

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,709 posts

Posted 11 July 2012 - 09:52 PM

Like it or not, the soldiers who derisively called him “Dugout Doug” eventually understood MacArthur’s strategy of “hitting ‘em where they ain’t.”

"They should have appreciated the fact that his war effort delivered the lowest casualty list in WW2. Their chances of surviving the war would have been greater than with any other commander.

MacArthur’s kill ratio was 10 dead Japanese for every dead American in combat. Between his arrival in Australia and his return to the Philippines over a span of 2 1/2 years, his troops suffered 27,684 casualties. In stark contrast, during the Battle of Normandy alone, Eisenhower lost 28,366." (source: William Manchester; The American Caesar).

I might not "like him" as a personality, but his record as a commander of troops isn't too shabby.

Happy Trails,
Clint.

#12 USMCPrice

USMCPrice

    Idiot at Large

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,796 posts
  • LocationGod's Country

Posted 12 July 2012 - 12:11 AM

MacArthur was a better better politician than a General. He was a master at self-promotion and placing favorable propaganda about himself before the American public. His troops knew him for what he was, they wrote and sang this little ditty about him in the Philippines:

"Dugout Doug MacArthur is a'sitting on the Rock,
Safe from all the bombers and from any sudden shock,
Dugout Doug is eating of the best food on Bataan
While his troops go starving on!


"Dugout Doug, come out from hiding!
Dugout Doug, come out from hiding!
Send to Franklin the glad tidings,
That his troops go starving on!
"

I can't believe Volga gave MacArthur credit for "Watchtower", that was a Navy Operation and MacArthur had to be forced to cooperate even with reconnaissance flights.

"The Navy proposed a step-by-step assault up the Solomon Islands, beginning withTulagi and reaching Rabaul at some later date. Since the operations would be primarily amphibious in nature, they would naturally be under Nimitz’s command. However, the long-term occupation troops would come from SWPA and these would be under MacArthur’s command.25
When informed of the Navy’s proposal it is hardly surprising that MacArthur flew into a rage. He sent a blistering reply to Marshall claiming that Navy clearly intended to take the dominant role in his theater relegating the Army to mere support functions.
26
MacArthur further argued that since the objective was within his area of responsibility, there could be no question of him retaining overall command. When Marshall forwarded MacArthur’s objections to King, they received little sympathy. King in fact insisted “the primary consideration is the immediate initiation of these operations. I think it is important that this be done even if no support of Army forces in the Southwest Pacific is made available.”
27
Once King had made it clear that he was willing to execute the attack on the Solomons without Army assistance before placing large naval forces under MacArthur’s control, Marshall began to engineer a compromise."

Watchtower had to go off even if the United States was not fully prepared because of the threat that a Japanese airbase on Guadalcanal would pose to Australia's lifeline. I think it is also extremely arrogant of MacArthur to be upset because the Navy was dominating the theater, after all they had been doing the fighting up to this point. King had made carrier raids on exposed Japanese positions, had launched the Doolittle Raid that had implications all out of proportion to it's military effect. Had stopped the Japanese invasion of Port Moresby, with the Coral Sea battle and had destroyed Japan's greatest offensive asset at Midway.
MacArthur, that great strategic mind had not only lost his ability to conduct a long attrition campaign, in the Philippines, by having his Airforce destroyed on the ground despite being forewarned, and abandoning prewar plans to execute a fighting withdrawl. He the "Great MacArthur" would defeat the "yellow peril" on the beaches. He moved his stockpiles forward to support this strategy and ended up having his forces forced back pell-mell and losing his supplies to capture or destruction to prevent capture. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his "heroic defense of the Philippines". Probably one of the least deserved MOH's ever awarded, as he heroically sat in his fortress and "escaped" to Australia. The campaign already lost, he left General Jonathan Mayhew "Skinny" Wainwright in charge of the Philippines where he held out for two more months before being compelled to surrender. Wainwright endured captivity by the Japanese until 1945, was beloved and respected by his troops. "Dubbed by his men a "fighting" general who was willing to get down in the foxholes, Wainwright won the respect of all who were imprisoned with him." To make matters worse MacArthur opposed the award of the Medal of Honor to Wainwright because he had surrendered the US forces in the Philippines. A position Wainwright was placed in by the actions of MacArthur himself. So MacArthur was ultimately responsible for the largest surrender in US military history! MacArthur was however too great a man to let a little thing like that get him down. As commander of SWPAC he did come back with a masterpiece of megalomaniac planning when he proposed this:
"Following that victory (Midway) MacArthur quickly discarded his pessimism, and on 8 June (1942) he forwarded an ambitious plan to seize Rabaul to Marshall. In addition to the three infantry divisions already in SWPA, MacArthur requested one division of troops trained in amphibious operations and naval support forces including two aircraft carriers. With these forces he claimed he could seize Rabaul in less than three weeks."

I think if you also look further into MacArthur's career you will see that he again led the US military into disaster in Korea. The first US troops sent to Korea, from Japan, were soundly defeated. Lack of training, lack of conditioning, and slack discipline were some of the major reasons for their poor performance. Who was their commander in Japan? Dugout Doug. Once again he had failed to prepare his forces for combat, he was more interested in using his troops for ceremonial functions than in preparing them for war. Then after he had his bacon saved by troops shipped from the states, that had been properly trained by their commanders. He actually had a stroke of genius and pulled off the Inchon landing. This didn't last long because a couple months later, his poor decision making again resulted in disaster. The troops had been warning his headquarters for weeks that the Chinese had intervened. In late October UN forces had advised his headquarters that Chinese were being captured. In early November the US 7th Marine Regiment fought a Chinese Division for several days near Sudong, inflicting 9,000 casualties on them and shredding the Chinese 124th Division. MacArthur's Headquarters was advised and they still failed to accept the situation. He ordered 8th Army and X Corps to push north to the Yalu despite their protests that they were facing massive Chinese forces. Then the Chinese hit the Eight Army.

"...the Chinese intervened and drastically changed the character of the war. Eighth Army was decisively defeated at the Battle of the Chongchon River and forced to retreat all the way back to South Korea. The defeat of the U.S. Eighth Army resulted in the longest retreat of any American military unit in history....Eighth Army's morale and esprit de corps hit rock bottom, to where it was widely regarded as a broken, defeated rabble."

The Chinese also surrounded and attempted to destroy X Corps but they managed to fight their way out despite MacArthur.

So Dugout Doug is actually responsible for both the largest surrender and longest retreat in US history. Hell of a General.
  • SymphonicPoet and scipio like this
"I come in peace, I didn't bring artillery. But I am pleading with you with tears in my eyes: If you f**k with me, I'll kill you all."Marine General James Mattis, to Iraqi tribal leaders
"Every Marine is, first and foremost, a rifleman. All other conditions are secondary."Gen. Alfred Gray, 29th Commandant of the Marine Corps

#13 CAC

CAC

    Ace of Spades

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,303 posts

Posted 12 July 2012 - 01:06 AM

Some great info here Vnoob...Also, from an Aussies point of view...a quick read of the Morotai Mutiny carries the question further...My quick answer would be that the US didnt NEED the commonwealth forces...it was simply pressured into letting them take a role...Australia wouldnt let the US do everything itself. There are also post war political leverages to consider. This might seem a little flippant, but just so long as the Japanese were soundly beaten, i dont care who takes the credit.
I try to be the man my dog thinks i am...

#14 steverodgers801

steverodgers801

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,283 posts

Posted 12 July 2012 - 06:25 AM

I would also point out that like the Phillipines, Mac boasted how he would soundly defeat any Chinese attack, if not for the Marine general who took measures in case of a attack the Marines would have been wiped out. I would also point out that Mac had the luxury of avoiding Japanese strong points, which the Navy did not.

#15 von_noobie

von_noobie

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 793 posts

Posted 12 July 2012 - 07:13 AM

So I stand by my point, Mac was over rated, He was a basic military leader at best but an excellent politician.

If not for the navy he would have gotten no were. he had to option to choose were to attack and as such with the navy doing all the important work keeping away the IJN he could bring a larger force to bare. Personally would have been better off with Mac in Europe, Then the Navy, Marines and Aussies would have to put up with him.

Between us we would have been able to make a fairly effective command, navy controls the sea, marines take the Islands and Aussies advance through SEA with RAAF taking lead role in aerial combat until USAAF pilots are experienced enough.

#16 SymphonicPoet

SymphonicPoet

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 695 posts

Posted 13 July 2012 - 03:51 AM

^von_noobie

I'm not sure it's safe to let MacArthur loose on Europe. At least in the SWPac the damage he could do was relatively limited. Australia would never leave him in charge of home defense to screw that up in the same way as the Philippines, so the biggest thing he could possibly lose would be Port Moresby. In Europe he could conceivably have lost France. And there's no way MacArthur could have successfully dealt with Churchill, DeGaule, Mountbatten, Patton, and the various and sundry other egos on the scene. MacArthur in Europe is a recipe for unmitigated disaster.

^^Volga Boatman

Mac was no more responsible for the situation in the Phillipnes than Kimmel and Short were for Pearl Harbour. In fact, had there been even a single vessel or aircraft slated to reinforce the garrison of the Phillipines, Mac's move into Battan offered the best chance of it/them receiving a kind welcome on their arrival, should a bloody miracle have occurred and the ship/aircraft had actually gotten to Corregidor alive and kicking.


I'm not at all sure I can agree with that. Kimmel and Short had nothing to do with the U.S. decision to move the Pacific Fleet to Pearl Harbor and if I recall correctly Kimmel actively opposed it. MacArthur was instrumental in the implementing a new strategy that called for holding the Philippines. He was familiar with the Rainbow Plans and the Orange Plans and fought (successfully, alas) to have them replaced with a strategic defense. Edward Miller's War Plan Orange gives a pretty stinging indictment of MacArthur's role in the planning. To give you a few examples:

"Until the summer of 1941 the army also regarded the Philippines as lost. Its current plan, WPO-3, . . . directed the twenty-two-thousand-man garrison to fight on Bataan and Correigador to the "last extremity" without promise of reinforcement or relief." (Miller, War Plan Orange, p. 60.)

You will note that MacArthur ultimately hewed to precisely this plan when his own defense at the beaches failed. You will also note that such a defense would have been better served by supplies staged in the areas to which the retreat would ultimately proceed, supplies that MacArthur instead lost near the beaches. You will further note that the garrison was able to hold out to the extent that it did in fortifications dating to before the previous war and badly in need of updating since most of the positions on Bataan in particular were exposed to air attack, a detail which MacArthur neglected even though he was a strong proponent of strategic air power.

Kimmel questioned the wisdom of moving to Pearl Harbor (a point where I disagree with him) but was obliged to defend the position. He called for ships from the Atlantic Fleet but got none. MacArthur claimed that he could defend the Philippines with local forces but called for reinforcements in the form of modern fighters, heavy bombers, and additional troops. He got many of them and the rest were on the way before he lost the farm:

'An optimist by nature, with implicit faith in the Philippine people,' the sixty-one-year-old general refused to belly up to the sacrificial sword. . . . His command was awarded top priority for modern weapons. Secretary of War Stimson authorized delivery of 272 B-17 heavy-bombers as soon as they rolled out of the factories. A trickle of men and equipment began flowing westward, accelerating into a stream as the year wore on. Marshall promised a doubling of troops by the end of December and heavy guns for the following year. "Hap" Arnold, chief of the Army Air Forces, scheduled 360 heavy and 260 pursuit planes to arrive before April of 1942. (By 7 December 1941, 10 percent and 40 percent, respectively, had arrived, along with half the troop increment.)

(ibid, p. 61.)

Miller continues on the next page by stating that MacArthur adopted (and the joint board endorsed) a plan roughly analogous to a naval plan abandoned thirty three years earlier that aimed to hold a fortified Luzon as a "great strategic asset," but of course the Navy made it quite clear they would send no reinforcements and told their own local commander, Admiral Thomas C. Hart, to concentrate instead on the Malay Barrier and abandon the Philippines at the outbreak of war. He concludes that:

"The army's late bloom of enthusiasm is hard to understand. No sadder self-delusion is to be found in all the prewar planning experiences. In the 1920s Wood's defense fantasy was no more credible than MacArthur's in 1941, but at least it rested on the navy's pledge of rescue." (ibid, p. 62.) But by then of course planning had moved on. "In the words of the War Department's historian of planning, in 1941, 'no one in a position of authority . . . believed that anything like this [relief] would happen. Informed naval opinion estimated that it would take at least two years for the Pacific Fleet to fight its way across the Pacific.'" (ibid.)

Which is to say that MacArthur consistently failed to recognize his own tactical and strategic situation. While this may seem a little surprising to modern eyes, the United States Navy was, at the beginning of World War II, roughly comparable in real offensive strength to the Imperial Japanese Navy. We had perhaps 50% more h surface warships, but rough parity in carriers and carrier based aircraft, commitments in the Atlantic, and vastly longer supply lines. It's more than 7000 miles from San Diego to Manila and less than 2000 from Tokyo. At 10 knots a ship can reach Manila from Tokyo in under a week. A ship would take nearly two weeks to reach Manila from San Diego at 20 knots and nearly a month at 10. That means that the U.S. would need roughly four times the shipping to take the same amount to Tokyo. Per E. B Talbott-Booth Japan had 5.6 million register tons of merchant shipping in 1941 and the U.S. 9. Under these conditions the U.S. simply cannot reinforce or relieve the Philippines against a determined Japanese assault. The U.S. mathematically could not hold the Philippines.

While I hold nothing but respect for the Philippine people, I cannot believe they were served particularly well by a plan that called for them to face a well-trained, well-equipped modern army with only minimal training and insufficient equipment of their own. When you add to this the enormity and complexity of the Philippine coast and the proximity of same to Japanese controlled airfields in Vietnam and Formosa and the problem becomes simply insurmountable. Defense of the Philippines was nothing short of folly and it was ENTIRELY at MacArthur's behest that such an endeavor was attempted. The only things his command achieved were to increase the size of the force that ultimately, and inevitably fell, and to hasten the date at which such occurred by adding men and losing supplies.

MacArthur's later war successes were largely in the same indefensible territories he himself lost against Japanese ground forces that were both smaller and less determined than those faced in other theatres. It's not terribly surprising he took fewer casualties. It is open to debate whether any material objective was served through those casualties, as the reconquest of the Philippines was not military necessary to the Japanese defeat. By the date of their invasion the Japanese could no more use them against us than we could against them at war's beginning. They were little closer to Japan than the Marianas and further than Iwo Jima. Had we instead taken Formosa we would have eliminated a base from which countless Kaimkaze raids were launched when we invaded Okinawa. Raids from Luzon would have been near the end of their range, so they would have been considerably less effective, particularly with inexperienced pilots flying over water. While raids from Kyushu and Honshu would still have been possible, we would nevertheless have dramatically limited the vectors of practical effective attacks, making defense much simpler and presumably much more effective and thus saving many lives.

MacArthur cannot be blamed for losing the Philippines, but he can certainly be blamed for defending them. His own casualties were less as the war progressed, but how many more casualties did other commands suffer as a result of his decisions? "Hitting 'em where they ain't" is sound strategy only if you will not need to later fight them where they are. I'm not altogether sure that there was any reason at all to recapture the Philippines, and I'm quite sure there wasn't reason to defend them in the first place. Yes, we bypassed numerous enemy bases, ignoring both Rabaul and Truk for instance, but how much of that can really be credited to MacArthur and how much is more rightly the province of prewar planning or of other commander with whom MacArthur was obliged to negotiate? And how many lives were lost to the terrible split command and resulting confused communications his ego necessitated in the Pacific Theatre?
  • scipio likes this

#17 von_noobie

von_noobie

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 793 posts

Posted 13 July 2012 - 06:13 AM

Out of curiosity, Seeing as an Australian was able to take command of a naval task force in WWII, John Augustin Collins to be exact.. How well did the Australian military, Navy and Air force get along with the US navy, USAAF and the Marines?

Seems there wasn't much bad blood except for Mac, Cause I dealt Mac if he had his way would allow a mere Australian t command over US warships =).

#18 steverodgers801

steverodgers801

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,283 posts

Posted 13 July 2012 - 06:45 AM

It was admiral Richardson who was relieved for protesting the moving the fleet to Pearl. Kimmell replaced him. Note Nimitz was offered the command but declined.

#19 SymphonicPoet

SymphonicPoet

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 695 posts

Posted 14 July 2012 - 04:52 AM

It was my recollection that Kimmell also didn't favor it and he certainly asked for reinforcements he didn't get. But in any case, none of the strategic decisions were the responsibility of Kimmell and Short. The same cannot be said of MacArthur. I've never understood how it was that MacArthur weathered that particular storm. He was clearly very well connected politically, but eventually even that would be exhausted.

#20 belasar

belasar

    Court Jester

  • ModeratorsOKF Moderator
  • 5,894 posts

Posted 14 July 2012 - 05:40 PM

It was my recollection that Kimmell also didn't favor it and he certainly asked for reinforcements he didn't get. But in any case, none of the strategic decisions were the responsibility of Kimmell and Short. The same cannot be said of MacArthur. I've never understood how it was that MacArthur weathered that particular storm. He was clearly very well connected politically, but eventually even that would be exhausted.


Kimmel and Short lost their battle in a couple of hours during the course of a single morning's battle. MacArthur's battle lasted weeks and by the time it was over there was no longer any desire to spend large amounts of time and effort finding scapegoats.

Kimmel and Short was never expected to lose, while the Phillipine postion was seen by all as lost from the get go. Kimmel and Short were seen to have '1st Class' US military assets at their command, whereas MacArthur was left with a very hodgepodge mix of elderly US equipment ant barely trained and partially equipped Pillipino cannonfodder.

MacArthur had political value whereas Kimmel and Short had none to the future war effort. Kimmel and Short were,publicly speaking, nobodies as far as the American public was concerned, MacArthur was a proven 'heroic soldier' who held the highest military office possible. Tarring him, even if somewhat justified, did nothing to bring the allies closer to victory.

Politics will always play a part in the selection and retention of military commanders, no matter what form of goverment they soldier for. The only difference is the audience that must be appeased.

  • firstnorth likes this
Wars are rarely fought in black and white, but in infinite shades of grey

(Poppy is occasionaly correct, or so I hear)

#21 von_noobie

von_noobie

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 793 posts

Posted 15 July 2012 - 12:49 AM

Sadly I would have to agree with that, Politics in many cases seems to trump actual leadership and command abilities. but then again back in WWI it did save General Sir John Monash after he gained the favor of King George V along with the French, If it wasn't for thos people in power over there the few men hat sort to remove him could have succeeded.

#22 SymphonicPoet

SymphonicPoet

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 695 posts

Posted 15 July 2012 - 04:55 AM

I find that I dislike using the term "like" in the vicinity of D McA, but I concede that you are surely correct. I confess that I look at MacArthur through lenses with a rather dark tint. I appreciate his championship of East Asia as a region of global import, but I dislike his military decisions, which seemed needlessly costly of men and materials. But politics trumps all. And he is far from the only general whose reputation, thanks to politics, appears from certain perspectives to be out of all proportion to his military successes. Further, it's quite clear that he walked away from the exchange with Truman rather more intact, even if he did lose his job. I shan't join his fan-club anytime, but I concede your point. In light of what you say, it's quite clear why he kept his job when K&S lost theirs.

That said, I don't wish to say he was responsible for the loss of the Philippines. Rather, I believe he was responsible for an extravagant expenditure of men and materials attempting to defend the indefensible. I am rather confident no Western power could possibly have held the Philippines in 1942 against a determined Japan, no matter the expenditure of men and materials. Thus, in this case, less is truly more. I hold MacArthur responsible for doing precisely the opposite. Of course locals in the Philippines might well not agree.

#23 belasar

belasar

    Court Jester

  • ModeratorsOKF Moderator
  • 5,894 posts

Posted 15 July 2012 - 05:37 AM

MacArthur's opening moves to first fight on the beachead, then fight a mobile defense, were in my opinion deeply flawed. That being said I am not sure how he could have lessened the loss of US/Pillipino lives other than to surrender without much of a fight. Now that would have earned him the court martial hands down as he was given specific orders to hold at all cost for as long as possible by no less than the President himself.

Had MacArthur done as he should have and gotten all the supplies he could as well as all the personel the battle would have gone on longer, cost the Japanese greater losses and more disruption of their planning, but in the end you are still left with a large collection of sick, wounded and starving men steaming into captivity. If the Japanese were vengefull for what historicly transpired, they arn't likely to be any more generous to a defeated foe if MacArthur costs them a even greater price for victory.

Even without Pearl Harbor, the likelyhood of a credible US relief effort in anything under a year is purely fantasy and was seen as such by the US leadership.

Wars are rarely fought in black and white, but in infinite shades of grey

(Poppy is occasionaly correct, or so I hear)

#24 Volga Boatman

Volga Boatman

    Dishonorably Discharged

  • Dishonorably Discharged
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,640 posts

Posted 15 July 2012 - 12:38 PM

I am not giving Big Mac any credit for "Watchtower" at all. I am pointing out that operations all over this theater were conducted on a 'shoestring' giving rise to the derisive nickname of the first offensive in this theater.

Generals who don't generate huge casualty lists are always are always maligned for one reason or another that has little to do with their profession. In addition to Macarthur (accused of being 'egotistical and a prima-donna), other generals who fall into this category include W.T. Sherman, (his sanity was called into question by jealous rivals), George S. Patton Jr (similar questions of sanity), The Duke of Marlborough, (hounded into retirement), Themistocles, (Athens banished him), Hannibal Barca, (Rome's favourite 'Wanted" Poster boy), Belisarius, (Extended the lifespan of the Eastern Roman Empire by decades, jealous Emporer Justinian eventually got rid of him too). A general can be TOO successful, and if arrogance appears, will be pulled down every time.

Macarthur was a unique phenomenon in American high command, just as Patton was. Many men of the day owe their lives to their generalship, but the old soldiers always get hounded for everything else. Patton could not keep his mouth shut, and he likened himself to Eisenhowers dog, in the kennel when he had played up, but unleashed when Ike most needed a little bulldog persistence and aggression. Macarthur also had a maverik subordinate in the shape of George Kenny, whose ability with aircraft command gave Macarthur's operations great benefit. In fact, Kenny and Big Mac may well be the most successful team of the war, if we look at the casualties, or lack of them generally.

As for accusations that Mac 'elbowed aside' the Aussies, I would say he saved a great deal of them from death or incapacitation. The bloodbaths of the Pacific theater only got worse and worse, and it was Navy operations that were becoming more and more costly, not Macarthur's. Mac and Admiral King got along not at all, another facet to King's complex relationships with EVERYBODY. Ernest King should have been replaced as 'unsuitable'.

I believe Mac's critics concentrate on the apocryphal stories associated with this legendary American Officer, rather than his record as as combat commander. BTW, his landing at INCHON turned the Korean war around after a suprise assault that caught ALL Americans in this theater of ops with their pants down. The U.S. Navy felt that the proposed landing was headed for disaster, not the first time that critics of Mac's offensive operations got it wrong. Mac was always at loggerheads with the Navy, in the best traditions of high Command in the U.S. Army. Nothing special about that.....

Edited by Volga Boatman, 15 July 2012 - 12:43 PM.

Llamas are bigger than frogs.:cool:

#25 von_noobie

von_noobie

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 793 posts

Posted 15 July 2012 - 01:58 PM

Yea Mac also tried to say he was keeping the aussies out of it to save there lives, If that was the case then he wouldnt have allowed the option for Australia to field 2 divisions in the Phillipines. His reasoning is even less backed up when he refused to acknowledge Australian troops for there successes in battle yet will sing high praise of the Americans every time.

No matter which way you cut it he did screw the Aussies (pardon the language for those not used to us Aussies =]) and his lack of casualties come not just from his command ability but more so the nature of the Pacific and it's geograpghy.

So simply put from what I have gathered of Mac, He was a great politician, an over rated general and a prima donna arse =)

A great general doesnt need to get the respect of those back home or in leadership, He needs to get it from the men serving under his command.. Mac failed in this. He managed to get his own troop's disliking him and he alienated the foreign forces serving under his command.... This has all the writing of a bad general.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users