Discussion in 'War in the Pacific' started by USMCPrice, Sep 29, 2011.
Great post, good reasoning.
Perhaps but irrelevant to the question at hand.
Well the Nagato's had 16" guns and the Yamato's 18" gun and even heavier armor.
US had BBs WAshington and South Dakota, which were superior to Japanese
BBs, in several respects. Radar perhaps being the biggest. They also had better armor and bigger guns
(16 in vs 14in)
I'd have to check , but I thought the Washington and SD were new ships and hadn't completely ironed the bugs out. The vibration of their own guns would put out the RADAR and the men operating RADAR weren't fully versed on operation or repair in actual battle...If I recall, even though they were RADAR equipped they failed in identifying the ships they found, and the long range guns lost any advantage when ships closed distance.
South Dakota was basically a non factor in the battle except for acting as a target for the Japanese. I believe she was hit 45 times (to lazy to look it up), and the damage caused by the hits and the electrical malfunctions and crew caused problems, pretty much made her of no real consequence.
The Japanese allowed the Washington to close to within what amounted to point blank range of Kirishima, and procede to turn her into a pile of wreckage in a very short time. I believe she was hit by 17 16" shells from around 8000 yards range. That coupled with her age, and design, quickly converted her into a hopeless wreck.
There is a very good document on her out there, but I cannot remember where. It is referenced on this site elsewhere I believe. The whole battle is also covered by another document, and South Dakota's damage at the same site as the Kirishima one.
The document is at: http://www.navweaps.com/index_lundgren/South_Dakota_Damage_Analysis_Summary.pdf and http://www.navweaps.com/index_lundgren/Kirishima_Damage_Analysis.pdf
Radar on Washington was functioning very well, but most if not all of SD's was shot away aside from the elecxtrical problems
As an aside, the U S AP 16" projectiles were rated superior to even the Yamato 18 inchers. Not to say they couldn't have caused severe damage if you were hit by them.
I honestly cannot decide what would be the most epic battle...I would just say the whole War was epic. It's kind of hard and rather disrespectful in my opinion to list ONE battle above all others as the "most epic." Since I'm not even sure what Epic constitutes in this situation, I am going to leave this one blank.
Thanks, well Ok. I have yet to read much about Guadalcanal (add to my books to research), but I see many reasons why that could be it. The US needed a good victory to feel more definite about the outcome of this huge war they were in. What makes it hard to pick one battle is they were fighting so many, in different areas, against different enemies. So hard to call just one epic.
I'm going in a different direction: The allied bombing campaign against Germany. It really was one long battle in the skies.
More American casualties were suffered than all the USMC or Army in the Pacific.
More British casualties then were suffered then anywhere else the British fought.
Civilian deaths unrivaled until the fire bombing of Tokyo, and the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Far more nations involved than in the Pacific.
The ultimate epic battle to me would involve all branches of a nations war resources within a relatively short time span, and within a relatively small geographical area. That's why I'm sticking with G.C....just sayin'.
I'd go for the Ostfront. Places like Charkov, Kirovograd, Djemanks, Crimea, Smolenks come to mind on top of the classics like Kourks , Leningrad and Stalingrad. Rather than just a battle I'd go for the campaign. The British crusade vs the Nazis is also relevant. After all they were one of the only ones who fought them from 1939 till 1945 . (many individual fought them even longer, but this not being about their career but a battle, I cannot pick them out without going off topic)
Don't read too much into it; keep it shallow.
The Battle of the Atlantic should get an honorable mention. The US involvement in this battle started well before the war started and ended with the sinking of U-853 off New London on May 6, 1945, the day before the surrender. The stakes were high, it was one of the few battles that could have actually turned the tables and allowed for a German victory. Had Germany concentrated all of her naval efforts towards U-boats, the war could have actually turned out differently.
However, I agree with Guadalcanal being named as the most epic of American battles of WWII. This battle was somewhat unique because niether side truly understood it's significance at first. Japan would have eventually lost the war either way, but by October of 1942, when the US was hanging on to their little sliver of the island by a thread, it must have seemed to them that the war could be lost in the Solomons. There were numerous acts of courage on both sides, but IMO the battle produced one of the great naval leaders of the war, who has never been given the credit he deserved and that was RADM Raizo Tanaka. Throughout the campaign he personally led the "Tokyo Express" which continually supplied the Japanese troops on Guadalcanal. On November 30, he led a group of 8 detroyers on a run into Guadalcanal. An American force of 5 cruisers and 4 destroyers were set to intercept Tanaka's squadron using radar. The Americans did catch Tanaka by surprise, sinking one of his destroyers with gunfire. Tanaka quickly responded, skillfully maneuvering his ships for a counterattack using torpedoes. He ended up sinking 1 cruiser and put 3 more out of action, including the Minneapolis seen in one of USMC Prices photos above. If you ever get a chance to study a track chart of the battle, you will see-the guy was absolutely brilliant.
Do you have a way for us to do that? Study a track chart of the battle that is.
The American track chart can be found in Morison's History of United states Naval Operations in World War II (volume 5), and the Japanese track charts can be found in Dull's Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1941-1945 (an excellent source, by the way). There may be some on line, but I always find that it is good to study track charts along with the narative based on ship's logs, which both of these sources provide.
I can only reiterate what Krystal80 said about excellent read but nothing to add.
As someone else alluded to, the definition of epic encompasses so many things, although I understand the point of the original question/post, and my knowledge of the whole war is a bit too limited, so I'd hesitate to take a try at this. (I've always concentrated on Europe because that is where my father was, and only recently started reading up on the Pacific.) But as with most threads on this site, I am reading and learning from this one. Great conversation!
No it doesn't. The battle of Stalingrad in the Barbarossa campaign was the most epic battle of WW2 as far as I am concerned. The Russians and the weather broke the Germans and sent them packing back west. It was all over for them from there, whether they realised it or not.
New Guinea, for me, was our most epic battle in the Pacific, from an Australian point of view. New Guinea is where the allies (read Aussies) inflicted the first defeat upon the Japanese in WW2. We stopped the Japanese advance cold in it's tracks. It was the springboard for all the other island battles throughout the region.
When we left Peleliu after a month of fighting, we ribbed the Canal vets by telling them, "We had to show you what a real battle was like, so we took you to Peleliu."
I don't recall a single one putting up an argument.
It might be that "epic," is whichever foxhole you're fighting out of at the time.
Thank you for the post Mr. Mace. Great answer and one that was really deep on several levels. The more I ponder it, the more it brings everything else into perspective.
I think Mr. Mace has an important point. We can all argue about which battle was most "epic", but I suspect that any vet would say the one he was involved with was the most important from his perspective. I would say his statement about the foxhole you are in is most trenchant. None of the men who served is less a hero in my eyes because he didn't participate in one of these "epic" battles. It is only in hindsight that we can make this judgment.
Guadalcanal always gains a special place in the hearts of researchers because it is one of relatively few battlefields for which the records are complete and detailed, which covers land, sea and air operations, at the height of a time where the outcome of the war was still genuinely in question both in Europe and in the Pacific (although inexorably turning to the Allies favour, whom could afford to play for time the Axis didn't have the luxury of permitting).
If you want to feel like you're there in the thick of the action from your armchair, Guadal is the perfect obsession to whet your appetite.
I can fully understand why your son called it the most epic, from his reasoning that is sound.
If you look at things like Stalingrad for example, almost the entirety of records are from German OKH field maps marking unit positions in a week by week account. There is nothing about air or river based operations, aside sketchy witness accounts and memoirés. Some of the more recent publications about Stalingrad have only been as detailed as they have about certain aspects because some records of troop correspondance and General Staff diary entries have been made available or otherwise randomly discovered in recent years. Researching the air war around Stalingrad, I had to scour individual unit records, then get old maps and look up itsy bitsy town names to find out where airfields were, then compare kill records and aircraft ranges to determine soviet air movements and finally I built an abstract mental image, that has no real evidentiary value, it might as well be fiction, it's mostly just an opinion.
But something like Guadal, hell you can have the mission records for a specific date and time if you want to know something, precisely as it actually happened. You can watch the war dept. actual footage of it half the time.
Damn Lou that is well stated! That is what I was feeling after I read Mr. Mace's reply.
Actually there are missing 1st Marine Division records for Guadalcanal. They were destroyed, by then Col. Merrill B. Twining, when it looked like the Japanese would over-run them.
"Twining was the 1st Marine Division's D-3 (operations officer) during the seizure and defense of Guadalcanal. During this momentous battle-which we now realize changed the course of the war in the Pacific ("Guadalcanal is not the name of an island. It is the name of the graveyard of the Japanese Army")-most of the division's records were destroyed by order of Gen A. A. Vandegrift when it appeared that the Imperial Japanese Army was about to overrun them. Twining reluctantly complied with Vandegrift's order out of his high regard and complete loyalty to a superb leader. Later, in the hospital, Vandegrift asked Twining to rewrite the operational reports he could remember. Most subsequent accounts of the Guadalcanal campaign used these reconstructed reports. However, these "after" after-action reports contained a number of shortcomings, which many people used to justify their actions."