The Second Front and the Secondary War--The Pacific
Although SEXTANT decisions did little more than confirm plans for the Pacific submitted by the United States, the agreement to mount OVERLORD produced a chain reaction that ultimately affected every theater of operations. Up to this time, high-level Anglo-American discussions had been mainly concerned with the planning of European-Mediterranean operations and the consideration of SEAC strategy. Little attention had been devoted in those discussions to the Pacific war, which had been maintained as an American preserve principally on the ground that the United States was contributing the bulk of the resources to fight the Japanese. Even at lower planning levels there had been but few combined efforts concerning the war in the Pacific. With OVERLORD pinned down, the Mediterranean ventures curtailed, and the rate of progress in SEAC slow, it was natural that British interest should be directed to the island warfare in the Pacific, which at last was showing definite signs of gathering momentum.
The American Preserve
Recapture of former Empire possessions such as the Solomons and the Gilberts was not of vital strategic or economic importance to the British, but as the approach to the Asian mainland proceeded, the redemption of such key points as Hong Kong and Singapore would engage their attention more and more.
In an effort to retain American freedom of action in the Pacific, the Joint Strategic Survey Committee had urged the JCS at SEXTANT to set forth clearly the primacy of the Central Pacific advance overall other Pacific operations. Discerningly, the JSSC pointed out the principal weakness in the new U.S. policy of flexibility:
The history of our discussions with the British concerning the strategic concept for Europe clearly demonstrates the continuous difficulties which arise when the primacy of the operations in one part of a theater is not clearly set forth and accepted but remains the subject of debate, whenever operations are being considered in another part of the same theater. It is most desirable that we should profit by this experience and have no question in our own
minds as to where the primary effort is to be made in the Pacific.1
But while the U.S. Chiefs of Staff were disinclined to have the British take part in Pacific planning at this juncture, they were themselves not yet ready to settle the course of future strategy in that area. The desire for speed and short cuts added to the uncertainties of enemy reaction and the presence of strong personalities in the theaters operated against the acceptance of one primary route and favored the development of a one-two punch that would keep the Japanese off balance and permit the maintenance of the strategic initiative.
Several factors came to the aid of the U.S. military leaders in the immediate post-SEXTANT era, granting them additional time to work on the problem. One was the split that had evolved between Churchill and his Chiefs of Staff on the proper role of Great Britain in the war against Japan. The Prime Minister was convinced that the main arena for British effort should be in the Indian Ocean, with Malaya and the NEI as the goal. His military advisers argued that if British forces were to play an important part in the war, they must be based on Australia and operate on MacArthur's left flank in the Pacific.2 This difference of opinion served to delay British efforts to move into the Pacific area.
In early 1944 the British decided to send a naval task force to Australia in March of that year to operate under MacArthur and to build up a submarine force based on Australia during the latter half of 1944. Since MacArthur was anxious to increase his naval strength, it appeared that any possible U.S. naval objections might be overcome and that the British might gain an entering wedge into the Pacific war. In February the Japanese proceeded to help the U.S. Navy out of this potential embarrassment by shifting major fleet units to Singapore, where they would be closer to fuel supplies and temporarily out of reach of the U.S. naval and air forces. This move, altering the naval situation in the Indian Ocean, scuttled for the time being the project to transfer British warships to the Pacific. In early March Churchill queried the President whether the U.S. Fleet could get along without British help in the Pacific. If, he went on, the British could keep Japanese naval units pinned down at Singapore, the U.S. Fleet would have a "clear field" in the Pacific. Roosevelt assured him that the United States could manage until the summer of 1945 at least, and this assurance postponed any immediate need for settling the question of combined planning in the Pacific.3
The U.S. planners were under no illusions that this would mark the end of British maneuvering and came to the conclusion that although SWPA could effectively use any British naval task
forces, the added problem of command and war direction would probably make such aid undesirable. The main fear was that combined planning might slow down the increasing tempo of the war. The Strategy Section of the Operations Division believed that, to forestall further attempts, the U.S. Chiefs should determine post-Formosa operations as soon as possible and present the British with a fait accompli.4
When the British planners approached their American counterparts in the spring of 1944 on the basis that they desired to know what British forces would be required after Germany's defeat to finish the Japanese war, the Americans realized that rationalization of the U.S. unilateral stand on the Pacific would only lead to endless arguments. Instead, the American planners sought to delay entering into combined planning until their chiefs had settled upon the U.S. course of action.5
There were intimations on the eve of OVERLORD that the British Chiefs of Staff intended at least to discuss Pacific problems with the JCS, when they came to Europe for the invasion, in order to determine whether India or Australia should be built up as the British base of operations. General Roberts learned from U.S. military sources in London that the British Chiefs had a paper on Far Eastern strategy prepared, projecting a campaign by British and Empire units, aided by the United States, to take Amboina (NEI) in late 1945 or early 1946. According to the report from London, the British Chiefs were not serious about this proposal, but would use it to try to commit the Prime Minister to the Pacific and permit an Australian build-up.6
How long the U.S. military could avoid a showdown over the question of British participation in the Pacific in the face of increasing high-level British interest was problematical. In any event, definite long-range decisions on Pacific strategy did not fit in with the doctrine of flexibility promulgated just before SEXTANT. By June the signs indicated that to maintain the American monopoly on future Pacific planning would require adroit and tactful handling, if it could be managed at all.
The policy of flexibility gave the offense in the Pacific the advantage of surprise and allowed the transfer of strength from one axis to another. It had disadvantages as well. The main weakness, as the JSSC had pointed out, lay in the fact that the lack of long-range decisions opened each succeeding forward movement to debate and discussion. Temporarily restricted at the international level, the debate went on between the services in Washington, between the planners in the theater, and between the theater and Washington. The plethora of advice and opinions on the value and necessity of the next operation demanded a great deal of compromise
Options in the Pacific
GENERAL MARSHALL WITH GENERAL DOUGLAS MACARTHUR during the former's post-SEXTANT visit to the Pacific.
and conciliation, especially when theater planners and commanders did not agree with their own service opposites in Washington. During the winter of 1943-44 the search for some of the answers to the question "Where do we go next?" was constant.
At the Cairo conference the political and military leaders had approved the general plan for an advance to the Formosa-China-Luzon area and a schedule of planned operations for 1944.7 While the Central Pacific forces were proceeding via the Marshalls and Carolines to the Marianas, the SWPA forces would take the Vogelkop Peninsula in New Guinea and complete the conquest of the Bismarcks by seizing Kavieng on New Ireland and Manus Island in the Admiralties.8 This schedule had been set up for planning purposes only and embodied no hard-and-fast decisions to carry out the operations step by step. Favorable changes in the tactical or strategic situation, added to the desire for speeding up the war by short cuts, might allow some objectives to be bypassed. On the other hand, determined enemy resistance might force a slower pace or a shift of strength to one or the other axes of approach.
With Central Pacific units in possession of the Gilberts and preparing for the campaign against the Marshalls in January 1944, the question of their next point of attack came to the fore. A swing south to the Carolines would support SWPA and SOPAC forces fighting in New Guinea, on New Britain, and on Bougainville. If forces moved north against the Marianas, Truk might be bypassed and the B-29 offensive might get under way sooner. The possibility existed that such a move might eventually make Formosa a more attractive target than the Philippines and tend to lessen the importance of operations in the Southwest Pacific Area.
The plan (coded GRANITE) that
Nimitz submitted to Washington in January covered the Central Pacific advance through 1944 and recommended the orthodox approach via the Marshalls, the Carolines (including Truk), and the Marianas, leading to an eventual junction with SWPA forces in the Philippines. It also considered the alternative that Truk might be bypassed and the Palaus seized instead. In essence, the plan agreed with. MacArthur's concept that reoccupation of the Philippines would be necessary in order to defeat Japan, but it also carefully stressed that the CCS had approved the primacy of the Central Pacific whenever conflicts in timing and resources occurred.9
Priority of the Central Pacific over the other Pacific routes was particularly important at this stage in the Pacific war since the imbalance of shipping and landing craft was still acute and would probably remain so until after OVERLORD was launched. The War Department, in considering MacArthur's RENO III, submitted in October 1943, had indicated that resources would not be sufficient to mount operations in the Arafura Sea southwest of New Guinea, which were a part of the second phase of RENO III10 Marshall and Handy, who had returned in December from a post-SEXTANT Visit to the Pacific, were aware of SWPA's problems and supported MacArthur's stand that the JCS should control allocations of shipping and landing craft. They also resisted successfully an attempt by the Navy to put the Kavieng operation under Nimitz rather than MacArthur. But they did agree with the Navy that the theater commanders should meet and co-ordinate their concepts of Pacific strategy before the JCS decided what allocations should be furnished by Nimitz for the next objective in the SWPA completion of the conquest of the Bismarck Archipelago.11
The theater conference, which was held at Pearl Harbor on 27-28 January and attended by representatives of SWPA, SOPAC, and CPA, disclosed several facts of interest in the light of later events. Perhaps the most surprising feature was the general feeling among the conferees, both Army and Navy, that greater emphasis should be placed upon naval and amphibious operations along the New Guinea axis to the Philippines rather than on those across the Central Pacific. The importance of the Philippines as a principal strategic objective was not questioned. In line with this consensus, the conference indicated that the Marianas were not regarded as important or necessary to the advance against Japan and were located too far from the Japanese mainland for the B-29 to be effectively used. Nimitz and Sutherland, MacArthur's chief of staff, agreed that the Japanese homeland
would have to be reached from bases in China. The conferees also felt that Truk could be bypassed and a move made right into the Palaus.12
The conferees reached no decisions, but MacArthur immediately urged the War Department that, in accord with general opinion at the conference, all forces be concentrated after the Marshalls operations along the New Guinea route, the shortest and most direct path to the Philippines. All long-range bombers (B-29's) should be made available to SWPA rather than located in the Marianas. He desired to place all naval forces under Halsey as his Allied naval commander and would welcome any British task forces that could be assigned. Time was short, he concluded, and since a decision was necessary, he was going to send Sutherland to Washington to present his views.13
Neither King nor the joint planners were particularly pleased with the results of the conference. King pointed out that SEXTANT decisions had committed the United States to advances along the two axes and that as yet MacArthur had not submitted any plan to carry out these decisions. King believed in the current flexible strategy and mentioned the success that had so far accompanied the Central Pacific drive in the Gilberts and Marshalls. This compared very favorably with the slow progress in SWPA. He could not see putting most of the Pacific Fleet units under MacArthur to support a New Guinea advance, and he continued to maintain that the economic employment of the Navy required that strategic control of the Pacific remain the responsibility of a single naval commander.14
In answering King's protests, Marshall called attention to the fact that the United States had a tremendous potential force in the Pacific provided it conformed to the basic principle of mass. "We have struggled since the outbreak of war over questions of command in various regions of the Pacific from the Aleutians to Australia. The time has now come, in my opinion, to divorce from our minds any thought other than a purely objective purpose to secure the maximum result in the shortest time from the means available." Since both RENO III and GRANITE called for additional forces and neither could be carried out until the JCS decided how many of their requirements could be met, agreement must be reached by the JCS as to the path to be followed to reach the Luzon and China coasts. He suggested that the matter be turned over to the JSSC for a report on the geographical objectives to be seized, the sequence in which they should be taken, and the best and quickest route or routes to be used to conclude the Pacific war. In preparing the study, the JSSC should assume that reinforcements from Europe would not become available until after 31 December 1944.15 King agreed that the JSSC should handle the question.16
The joint planners in the meantime had come to the conclusion that setting up the Philippines as an essential objective was too restrictive since the islands might eventually be bypassed. General Roberts, moreover, could not agree with MacArthur's chief of staff, General Sutherland, that the United States should accept Mindanao as of primary importance in the Philippines and felt that U.S. forces should stay away from the coast of China. Both axes of advance to Luzon should be used, Roberts maintained, and the capture of both the Marianas and the Palaus would be desirable.17
In the midst of this divergence of opinion between the theater and headquarters staffs, Nimitz sent his chief of staff, Rear Adm. Forrest P. Sherman, to Washington in early February to present his views to the JCS. Sutherland was already on hand to set forth SWPA's side of the controversy. Nimitz believed that if the capture of the island of Eniwetok in the western Marshalls could be managed right away, time schedules could be advanced, and Central Pacific forces could prepare to go into either the Carolines or the Marianas in June, since the SWPA units would not be in position by that time to allow the seizure of the Palaus.18 This would leave the decision whether to go north or south of Truk to be made later on and preserve the concept of flexibility. During the ensuing debate, the Air Forces made a presentation on the future use of the B-29's, favoring the use of the Marianas as the chief base, much to Sutherland's chagrin19 As if to clinch the matter, the JSSC proposed that the Central Pacific route should be made the primary effort and that operations should be carried out in the Marianas and Palaus and then the drive should continue on to Formosa or Luzon. Operations in other areas should be decided upon the basis of their support of the Central Pacific offensive.20
MacArthur and Sutherland both tried to head off this apparent swing toward the Marianas, which might shift the emphasis away from SWPA. Marshall determined to reserve judgment until he could hear Nimitz himself in early March. In the interim, Marshall felt, the Joint planners should study the allotment of resources, the use of land-based air superiority, and the sequence of operations in the Pacific. The JCS should continue their direction of strategy on a flexible basis, utilizing the fleet and air arm to best advantage.21
While this debate was going on in Washington, several operations were carried out in the theaters that introduced new factors into the discussion. On 15 February South Pacific forces landed on Green Island (northern Solomons), slightly more than 100 miles from Rabaul. During the next two days carriers heavily attacked Truk, causing
the Japanese fleet to desert the base and head for the safer waters of the western Pacific and Singapore. The vulnerability of Truk to attack served to confirm the growing opinion that it could be bypassed. On the 17th Central Pacific forces invaded Eniwetok, and the possibility arose that Nimitz might go into either the Carolines or Marianas in June. SWPA, not to be outdone, conducted a reconnaissance in force of the Admiralties on 29 February and several days later committed the rest of the 1st Cavalry Division to the capture of this island group. On 5 March MacArthur announced that in mid-April he would aim at Hollandia rather than at Hansa Bay.22
The crux of the debate now boiled down to whether Truk should be bypassed to the north, with the Marianas the objective, or to the south, by taking the Palaus. On 8 March Sutherland submitted RENO IV to the JCS. The plan advocated bypassing Truk to the south, with Mindanao to be attacked in November 1944 and Luzon in January 1945. Sutherland contended that this would put Allied forces in the Philippines in 1944 when the Central Pacific forces would still be fighting in the Japanese mandates. By this time Nimitz had swung over to the support of the Marianas, and he was seconded by the JSSC. Sutherland's brief for the necessity of seizing Kavieng was disallowed by the JCS on the grounds that Kavieng was now unnecessary and the Japanese forces there could be left to their fate.23
One of the principal arguments used by Sutherland against the Marianas was that they could not serve as a base to mount major operations against the China-Formosa-Luzon area because of their restricted facilities. King scotched this tack by indicating that divisions could be mounted in other rear areas and rendezvous at sea, just as they had for TORCH. He went on to express his opinion that the region along the New Guinea coast offered little in the way of suitable staging areas and would soon become a rear area of little importance.24
The directive issued by the JCS on 12 March was a compromise agreement that, on the surface at least, seemed unfavorable to MacArthur. Kavieng was canceled, with Mussau Islands and/or Emirau (both north of Kavieng) to be substituted if necessary. Hollandia was approved for 15 April. Truk was to be bypassed, but to the north, and the Marianas were to be invaded on 15 June. The forces would move southward again in September, when the Palaus would be seized by Central Pacific units in preparation for the big move by SWPA troops into Mindanao on 15 November. The decision was left open as to whether Formosa or Luzon would be the next objective, but a target date of 15 February was set up. SWPA was made responsible for planning for Luzon and POA for Formosa. All Marine units, naval
support, and combat loaders belonging to POA were to be returned by MacArthur by 5 May.25 When SWPA postponed the target date for Hollandia to 22 April, the JCS granted SWPA a week's extension for the retention of POA's forces and equipment.26
Ostensibly, this was a setback for MacArthur, since his pleas for concentration on the New Guinea axis had been turned down and his arguments on bypassing Truk to the south and taking Kavieng were not accepted. But in spite of this apparent eclipse, his greatest ambition was still on the agenda--he was still slated to lead the Allied forces back to the Philippines.
The swiftly changing pattern of Pacific strategy was deceptive, for although adjustments were made in individual operations and timing, the basic missions remained constant. The JCS retained the double-barreled advance by SWPA and the Central Pacific, and the same general objective--the Formosa-Luzon-China coast area--remained the target. With the strategy settled insofar as the dominant concept of flexibility would permit, the JCS and their planners turned to another pressing problem that had been attendant upon the strategic decisions--the approaching breakup of the South Pacific Area and the reallocation of its forces.
It had become evident to the South Pacific Army commander, General Harmon, as far back as October 1943 that the somewhat anomalous role of the Army command in the South Pacific Area would be drawing to a close in the spring of 1944. Although the command had originally been established in July 1942 to maintain the strategic defensive, the Guadalcanal Campaign and the succeeding drive through the Solomons had changed its participation to an active offensive aimed at the reduction of Rabaul. The Army troops commanded by Harmon operated under the direct operational command of Halsey, who, in turn, was subject to the general strategic direction of MacArthur. This complex command setup had been occasioned by the entry of South Pacific forces by the spring of 1943 into territory that had been formally placed under MacArthur. As soon as Rabaul was isolated and the Bismarcks were in Allied hands, South Pacific forces would be out of a job and available for redistribution between the two main lines of attack.27
End of a Mission
While there seemed to be some confusion in the minds of Army and Navy planners whether this reallocation should precede or follow the determination of strategy, there was little doubt as to the way in which they wished the resources to be divided. Actually, there was very little disagreement over the ground forces, naval forces, and assault craft. The main discussion in January 1944 concerned the assignment of the Thirteenth Air Force and timing of the transfer of South Pacific troops and equipment. The Navy felt that South Pacific redeployment should await the conclusion of the then scheduled Kavieng-Manus operations, since Halsey
was dependent upon the Thirteenth Air Force for support. Marshall and Arnold wished to keep this air force intact and favored granting operational command to MacArthur right away, on the grounds that he could use it to best advantage and also effect the co-ordination with SWPA's Fifth Air Force, which was deemed necessary. Complete command by MacArthur would follow later on.28
Fundamentally, both services were concerned over a probable shortage of bombers to carry out both the GRANITE plan and the RENO plan. When the JCS decided to extract parts of each plan for approval, the way was cleared for a settlement. In mid-March the joint Chiefs accepted the recommendations of the joint planners, which resulted in a division of the South Pacific forces and resources more or less on service lines. After the Hollandia operation in April, MacArthur would receive the XIV Corps and the 25th, 37th, 4oth, 43d, gad, and Americal Divisions. He would also assume control of the Thirteenth Air Force and was given the assurance that all combat and service troops not required in the South Pacific would eventually be sent to his area. In the light of current and prospective service troop shortages, this was an important item. The bulk of naval resources, except for specific units assigned to Seventh Fleet in SWPA, was to be given to Nimitz, along with all naval and Marine air units. The I Marine Amphibious Corps with the 1st and 3d Marine Divisions was also allocated to POA. MacArthur would assist Nimitz in providing long-range bombardment of Truk and the Palaus, and the two commanders were left to work out the details of the transfers between themselves.29
In anticipation of the transfers of men and materiel from the South Pacific Area--the bulk of them to begin in May 1944--the Army planners during March began to consider the problem of Army command reorganization in the Central Pacific and the future assignment of General Harmon and his staff. They maintained that there should be an over-all Army commander in POA and also an over-all Army Air commander, who would be responsible for Twentieth Air Force units located in the Pacific Ocean Areas. The Hawaiian Department and South Pacific Area should be set up as communications areas. In late May, Marshall approved the planners' recommendations and informed Richardson that he would become Commanding General, U.S. Army Forces in Pacific Ocean Areas, and that Harmon would be the new over-all Air commander, as well as Deputy Commander, Twentieth Air Force. Harmon was made directly responsible to Nimitz fox all operational matters and placed under Richardson for such administrative control as was deemed necessary. The new command setup was to become effective on 1 August.30
The prospective termination of the South Pacific Area on 1 August as an active theater of operations and its future development as the South Pacific Base Command--primarily a staging and rehabilitation area--indicated the forward progress of the war. The two-pronged drive that had marked the initiation of the Allied offensive in the Pacific in 1942 had become one, and a new prong had been set in motion in the Central Pacific. Some of the strength of the South Pacific would go to SWPA, some would join the Central Pacific, and the residue would support both areas. The division, which would fortify both theaters, served also to strengthen the concept that the Pacific war would continue to be fought on two fronts, the basically Army approach of SWPA and the primarily naval advance of POA. The consistent inability of the two services to agree on any over-all commander for the Pacific would also tend to support the maintenance of this double offensive rather than the consolidation of forces and employment of the principle of mass and concentration so typical of the U.S. position in the European war.
Even the reapportionment of South Pacific resources did not satisfy the needs of SWPA and POA completely, and deficiencies soon rose to plague the planning for further advances in the Pacific. Strategy might be determined and combat forces provided to implement that strategy, but unless logistical support and transport could also be furnished, the other two would be impotent.
The anticipated need for service troops in the Pacific appeared more acute than ever in the early part of 1944 The Army-wide pinches in this category of manpower, intensified by the demands Of OVERLORD, inevitably made a tight situation tighter.31 To MacArthur, along with other theater commanders, General Marshall had in January suggested rolling up rear bases no longer essential and employing the minimum number of service troops in intermediate areas. By concentrating supply and administrative functions and moving headquarters units forward quickly, further savings might be made. Employment of civilians wherever feasible might also cut down service troop requirements.32
Of Troops and Transports
The implication that the tight service troop situation might necessitate reductions in the field drew a protest from MacArthur in February on the ground that any decrease would slow the tempo of operations and permit the Japanese to consolidate their positions. "The great problem of warfare in the Pacific is to move forces into contact and maintain them. Victory is dependent upon the solution of the logistic problem," he stated. So urgent did he consider his requirements for service troops that he recommended that, if necessary, uncommitted combat units in the United States should be converted for the purpose.33
The United States was not the only nation to feel the manpower pinch, for
in the first half of 1944 the New Zealand and Australian Governments both requested the advice of the CCS on ways and means to cut down their armed forces to meet potential manpower shortages in food production areas. In March the CCS informed New Zealand that the 3d New Zealand Division in Italy would be sent home when conditions permitted and that two New Zealand brigade groups would be withdrawn from the Solomons after the projected end of the Bismarck campaign in May. A proposal by the Australians in early June to reduce their over-all military forces to six full-strength and combat-ready divisions by the end of 1944 was also approved by the CCS. In the process, some 30,000 Australians would be demobilized during the remainder of 1944.34 These additions to the home forces might help New Zealand and Australia to support themselves, but would not really solve the U.S. service troop problem since both areas were becoming rear zones and more distant from the combat locale. In the meantime, other elements were working adversely upon the U.S. service troop situation.
During the six months following SEXTANT, there was a steady westward flow of divisions and supporting units from the United States and Hawaii. In November 1943 SWPA had only four U.S. Army divisions--the 24th, 32d, and 41st Infantry Divisions and the 1st Cavalry Division. In January the 6th Infantry Division was sent from the Central Pacific and the 31st Infantry Division followed from the United States in March. During May, the gad Infantry Division arrived from Hawaii and the 11th Airborne from the United States, giving SWPA a total of eight divisions by June 1944.
To the South Pacific forces, which also included four Army divisions in November--the 25th, 37th, 43d, and Americal--two new outfits were added. The 40th Infantry Division arrived from Hawaii in December and January, and the gad Infantry Division began to disembark in January from the United States. The transfer of these six Army divisions to SWPA's control would by July 1944 provide MacArthur with fourteen Army divisions for his operations and other commitments.
Although the forward movement of the 6th, 33d, and 40th Divisions from Hawaii left the Central Pacific with only two Army divisions--the 7th and 27th Infantry--of the five present in November, four additional divisions were added from the United States by June. The 38th Infantry Division arrived in January, the 77th in March, the 98th in April, and the 81st in June. This made a grand total of twenty Army divisions in the Pacific in June 1944 as compared to thirteen at the time of SEXTANT.35
The consequences of this increase in divisions and their supporting troops and their movement into the forward areas were not difficult to envision longer lines of communications, more supplies and equipment to be handled, more construction to be completed, more
bases to be staffed, and more ships to convey all the men and materiel necessary to perform these services. Some service troops could be obtained by closing out old bases and facilities, but in the forward areas labor problems would mount and local assistance would be at a minimum until the Philippines were reached. It was evident that the service troop question would probably remain prominent at least until the end of the year.
The arrival of new divisions also intensified an old dilemma--the utilization of available shipping, both cargo and personnel, to maintain the forces and to permit them to take part in the offensive against Japan. Army planners expected the troop shipping backlog to be made up by June, but believed that a dry cargo ship deficiency would probably develop during mid-1944. Assault landing craft and transports would not be available for the Pacific in the desired quantity until after the Normandy invasion.36
In the transfer of divisions between the United States, Hawaii, and the South-Southwest Pacific, the War Department devised a new system to conserve shipping. The same transports that unloaded the 38th Division in Hawaii in January 1944, picked up the 6th Division and conveyed it to SWPA. The 6th took over the 38th's equipment and supplies, which were already loaded, and left its own in Hawaii for the 38th to use. This co-ordinated the movements, saved a great deal of time by eliminating offloading and onloading of divisional equipment, and relieved some of the strain on the port facilities in the Hawaiian Islands. The procedure was worked out satisfactorily and used in April to move the 98th Division to Hawaii and the 33d to SWPA.37
In spite of these economies, it was apparent to Somervell that a cargo ship squeeze would appear about May, so in March he asked if MacArthur could release any of the seventy-six Liberty ships operating in SWPA. The latter's reply indicated that he not only would have to hold on to what he had but also would require sizable additions to his cargo fleet during the summer if he were to carry out the instructions of the JCS.38 When Nimitz also requested ship increases, the JCS decided to grant the requirements of both for April, but in the meantime to call a shipping conference in Washington to survey the over-all situation. In informing POA and SWPA of the conference, the JCS voiced their concern: "The shortage in shipping during the coming months may affect the strategy of the war in both Europe and the Pacific, unless all concerned exercise the most rigid economy and adopt all possible expedients to conserve both personnel and cargo shipping."39
In the midst of this serious situation, ANVIL was canceled as a simultaneous attack to coincide with OVERLORD, then the operation was postponed indefinitely, and the landing craft and shipping designated for it were reallocated.40 This was a fortunate turn of circumstances for the Pacific, since it allowed the JCS to meet the cargo ship requirements of MacArthur and Nimitz through July. The assault and landing craft situation continued to be acute, however, and transfers of these resources between POA and SWPA were effected to ease the problem. Insofar as the Pacific was concerned, no real solution to the assault and landing craft question could be expected until after OVERLORD was launched41
Nevertheless, both MacArthur and Nimitz would be able to go ahead with their planned operations for the summer and in the meantime new developments might permit or make unnecessary further increments of shipping and landing craft. Although by June the service troop situation was still far from satisfactory and showed few signs of being alleviated, at least the shipping picture had brightened somewhat.
By the eve of OVERLORD, the war against Japan had reached an encouraging stage. MacArthur's forces had advanced along the northern coast of New Guinea as far as Biak Island. The Admiralties were firmly in Allied hands, and large groups of the enemy had been bypassed in the Bismarcks. Central Pacific forces were on the verge of thrusting from the Marshalls into the Marianas to begin isolating Truk and the Carolines. Only in the CBI was the scene less cheerful, and even there small rays of light could be glimpsed. Stilwell was on the offensive at Myitkyina, and Mountbatten had just about halted the Japanese at Imphal. On the other side of the ledger, the new Japanese drive in east China had assumed serious proportions and seemed likely to cause deep repercussions in China. On the whole, however, the enemy was either on the defensive or on the run.
Eve of OVERLORD
Strategically, the six months after SEXTANT produced several important changes. Perhaps the foremost among these was the decline of the CBI in the strategic scale. Pacific strategy, on the other hand, had altered in detail but not in essence. The main objectives remained constant, and only the intermediate steps were changed to conform to new circumstances. It seemed settled that flexibility would be kept as a guide and that MacArthur and Nimitz would maintain their separate domains for the time being.
In the field of tactics, improvements in the Allied technique of amphibious warfare had enabled the acceleration of the SWPA and POA campaigns to continue. Increasing airpower and naval power had
forced the Japanese fleet to withdraw to safer retreats. In the CBI, the B-29 was ready to demonstrate its possibilities, and air transport had emerged as a potent aid to jungle warfare.
Perhaps the most serious obstacles that lay ahead in the war against Japan were the logistical difficulties that threatened to slow the pace. The need for a solution of the service troop shortage and the perennial danger of shipping and landing craft deficits might prove more balky questions to resolve than the strategic and tactical problems. Until these hurdles could be surmounted, it might be necessary for the progress of the war and the selection of objectives to hinge on logistics rather than strategy.
Until OVERLORD was completed and the outcome of the European conflict became clear, no far-reaching relief could be expected. The final resolution of problems of logistics and strategy would have to wait. As always, unexpected and competitive demands had arisen in the first five months of 1944 for available U.S. manpower, aircraft, shipping, and landing craft. To mount OVERLORD and at the same time satisfy the British in the Mediterranean, MacArthur and the Navy in the Pacific, and Chiang in China, delicate adjustments had been made and calculated risks taken in the wars against Germany and Japan. By early June all had come to hinge on the fate of OVERLORD. For the strategic planners in Washington the past, the present, and the future had come to focus on the cross-Channel assault. After more than three years of planning, General Marshall and his advisers could only sit back and wait. In the predawn hours of 5 June, despite forecasts of unfavorable winds and choppy seas, General Eisenhower made his historic decision to go ahead with the invasion. On 6 June the ships and craft of the mightiest armada ever gathered headed through the rough waters of the Channel toward the beaches of Normandy. With them rode the hopes of the free world.
Table of Contents
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1. JCS 614, 2 Dec 43, title: Plan for the Defeat of Japan. The JCS noted this paper. See min, 133d mtg JCS, 3 Dec 43.
2. (1) Churchill, Closing the Ring, pp. 571-72. (2) Ehrman, Grand Strategy V, 425ff.
3. (1) Ltr, Thomas J. Hawkins, Secy Australian Naval Board, to Cmdr Seventh Fleet, 14 Jan 44, no sub, filed with CCS 471/2 in ABC 381 Japan (827-42), 6. (2) Ltr, Adm Sir Percy Noble to King, 31 Jan 44, no sub, filed with JPS 451 in ABC 384 Japan (3 May 44), 1-A. (3) Ltr, King to Noble, 5 Feb 44, no sub, filed with JPS 451 in ABC 384 Japan (3 May 44), 1-A. (4) Memo, Maj Florence T. Newsome, no addressee, 27 Feb 44, no sub, Item 57, Exec 10. (5) Msg, Prime Minister to President, 10 Mar 44, item 63c, Exec 10. (6) Churchill, Closing the Ring, pp. 577-80
4. (1) SS 266, 11 Mar 44, title: British Naval Operations in the Pacific, ABC 381 SS Papers, Nos. 251-70 (7 Jan 43). (2) Memo, Billo for Chief S&P Gp OPD, 23 Apr 44, sub: Combined Planning for the War in the Pacific, filed with SS 287 in ABC 381 SS Papers, Nos. 283-96 (7 Jan 43).
5. OPD brief, title: Notes . . . 149th Rug JPS, 3 May 44, Policies, Combined Planning for the Defeat of Japan (JPS 451), filed with JPS 451 in ABC 384 Japan (3 May 44)1.A.
6. (1) Msg, Buford to Clarke for Pasco, 31 May 44, CM-IN 25706. (2) Memo, unsigned, for Chief S&P Gp OPD, 5 Jun 44, no sub, ABC 381 (9-25-41), V. (3) Ehrman, Grand Strategy V, 459-62.
7. See Ch. XVI, above.
8. CCS 397 (rev), 3 Dec 43, title: Specific Operations for the Defeat of Japan.
9. GRANITE, Outline Campaign Plan for Operations in the POA During 1944, 13 Jan 44, ABC 384 Pacific (1-17-43) 3-B-a.
10. (1) Memo, Col Carl D. Silverthorne for Handy, 6 Dec 43, sub: Additional Points Which May Be Discussed in Central and South Pacific as Result of SEXTANT, Folder 3, Item 15, Exec 5. (2) Memo, Billo for G. A. Lincoln, 7 Dec 43, sub: Specific Operations for the Defeat of Japan in 1944, filed with CCS 397 in ABC 384 Pacific (1-17-43), 2. (3) Memo for Handy, 7 Dec 43, no sub, Folder 3, Item 15, Exec 5.
11. (1) Memo, Handy for Cooke, 14 Jan 44, sub: Dirs to CINCSWPA and CINCPOA . . . , OPD 381 Security, 290. (2) Msg, Marshall to MacArthur, 17 Jan 44, CM-OUT 6446. (3) Msg, MacArthur to Marshall, 19 Jan 44, CM-IN 12385. (4) Memo, Marshall for King, 20 Jan 44, no sub, OPD 381 Security, 290. (5) Memo, King for Marshall, 22 Jan 44, sub: Dir for Seizure or Control of Bismarck Archipelago, OPD 381 Security, 290. (6) Memo, Marshall for King, 23 Jan 44, same subject, same file.
12. (1) Memo for file (by Rear Adm Robert B. Carney), no sub, n.d., Item 68, Exec 10. (2) Memo, Ritchie for Handy, 4 Feb 44, sub: Brief of Pacific Conf Held at Pearl Harbor, 27-28 Jan 44, filed with JPS 390/1 in ABC 384 Pacific (1-17-43), 3-A. (3) Memo, Handy for Marshall, 7 Feb 44, no sub, WDCSA 323.3 CPA, TS.
13. Msg, MacArthur to Marshall, 2 Feb 44, CM-IN 1443.
14. Memo, King for CofS, 8 Feb 44, sub: CINCSWPAC Despatch C 121702, Feb 44, filed with JCS 386/2 in ABC 384 Pacific (28 Jun 43).
15. Memo, Marshall for King, 10 Feb 44, no sub, filed with JCS 386/2 in ABC 384 Pacific (28 Jun 43).
16. Memo, King for Marshall, 11 Feb 44, sub: 1944 Operations in the Pacific Theater, filed with JCS 386/2 in ABC 384 Pacific (28 Jun 43).
17. (1) JPS 390, 5 Feb 44, title: Campaign Plan "GRANITE." (2) Memo, Roberts for Handy, 8 Feb 44, no sub, Item 11, Exec 2.
18. Min, 145th mtg JCS, 8 Feb 44.
19. Tel conf between Gen Sutherland and Maj Gen Richard J. Marshall, 15 Feb 44, OPD WD-TC 112, 1 Jan-31 Mar 44.
20. JCS 713, 16 Feb 44, title: Strategy in the Pacific.
21. (1) Msg, MacArthur to Marshall, 16 Feb 44, CM-IN 10909. (2) Tel conf between Gen Sutherland and Gen R.J. Marshall, 16 Feb 44, OPD WDTC 112, 1 Jan-31 Mar 44. Sutherland felt that Nimitz sided with SWPA but did not want to oppose King. Sutherland was promoted to lieutenant general on 20 February 1944. (3) Memo, Marshall for Leahy and King, 24 Feb 44, no sub, Item 64, Exec 10. (4) Memo, Marshall for COMINCH and CNO, 2 Mar 44, no sub, OPD 381 Security, 297.
22. (1) Memo, Marshall for COMINCH and CNO, 2 Mar 44, no sub, OPD 381 Security, 297. (2) Ltr, Sutherland for CofS, 5 Mar 44, sub: Post-Kavieng Operations, filed with JPS 404/D in ABC 384 Pacific (1-17-43), 3-A. (3) Msg, MacArthur to Marshall, 5 Mar 44, CM-IN 3318. (4) Min, 150th mtg JCS, 7 Mar 44. (5) JCS Memo for Info 200, 7 Mar 44, sub: Sequence and Timing of Operations, Central Pacific Campaign, ABC 384 Pacific (1-17-43), 3-A. (6) Craven and Cate, AAF IV, p. 554.
23. (1) Memo, Sutherland for CofS, 8 Mar 44, sub: Strategy in the Pacific, OPD 381 Security, 320. (2) Min, 151st mtg JCS, 11 Mar 44.
24. (1) Min, 151st mtg JCS, m Mar 44. (2) JCS Memo for Info 203, 11 Mar 44, title: Mounting an Invasion Force for Luzon-Formosa, ABC 384 Pacific (1-17-43) 3-A.
25. Msg, JCS to MacArthur and Nimitz, m Mar 44 CM-OUT 5137.
26. (1) Msg, MacArthur to JCS, 14 Mar 44, CM-IN 9774. (2) Msg, JCS to MacArthur, 17 Mar 44, CM-OUT 7149.
27. Ltr, Harmon to Handy, 23 Oct 43, no sub, OPD 381 Security, 261.
28. (1) Memo, King for CofS, 13 Jan 44, sub: Your Proposal To Transfer the Thirteenth Air Force to CINCSWPA, OPD 381 Security, 290. (2) Memo, Roberts for ACofS Plans, 13 Jan 44, sub: Proposed Transfer of the Thirteenth Air Force to CINCSWPA, filed with JPS 391 in ABC 320.2 (10 Feb 44).
29. (1) Memo, Bessell for Roberts, 10 Feb 44, sub: Redeployment of South Pacific Forces, filed with JPS 391 in ABC 320.2 (10 Feb 44). (2) Min, 128th mtg JPS, 16 Feb 44. (3) JPS 391/1, 28 Feb 44, title: Redeployment of Forces in the Pacific Upon Completion of FOREARM and MERCANTILE. (4) JCS 713/5, 17 Mar 44, title: Redeployment of Forces in the Pacific Following Operation RECKLESS.
30. (1) Memo, Ritchie for Hull, 17 Mar 44, no sub, OPD 320.2 TS, 204. (2) Memo, Silverthorne for Hull, 17 Mar 44, sub: Comments on Draft of Memo re SOPAC Forces . . . , OPD 320.2 TS, 204. (3) Memo, Handy for CofS, 26 Apr 44, sub: Comd Organization in the Pacific, OPD 384 TS, 40. (4) Msg, Marshall to Richardson, 24 May 44, CM-OUT 40903 (5) Ltr, Marshall to Richardson, to Jul 44, no sub, WDCSA 323.3 POA.
31. See Ch. XVIII, above.
32. (1) Ltr, Marshall to MacArthur, 25 Jan 44, no sub, WDCSA 323.2 SOPAC, TS. (2) See also above, p. 409, n. 24.
33. Msg, MacArthur to Marshall, 23 Feb 44, CM-IN 16439.
34. (1) Msg, Marshall to MacArthur, 9 Mar 44, CM-OUT 5868. (2) Msg, Marshall to MacArthur, 18 Mar 44, CM-OUT 8086. (3) Msg, Marshall to MacArthur, 2 Jun 44, CM-OUT 45292 (4) Min, 161st mtg CCS, 2 Jun 44. (5) Msg, MacArthur to Marshall, 3 Jun 44, CM-IN 2006.
35. (1) Unsigned memo for Handy, 7 Dec 43, no sub, Folder 5, Item 15, Exec 5. (2) Msg, Marshall to Richardson, 15 Feb 44, CM-OUT 6919. (3) Memo, Somervell for CofS, 7 Mar 44, sub: SEXTANT Decisions, WDCSA 381 TS. (4) Msg, Nimitz to King, 15 Mar 44, CM-IN 10496.
36. (1) Memo, Silverthorne for Handy, 6 Dec 43, sub: Additional Points Which May Be Discussed in Central and South Pacific as Result Of SEXTANT, Folder 3, Item 15, EXEC 5. (2) Memo, Billo for Col. G.A. Lincoln, 7 Dec 43, sub: Specific Operations for the Defeat of Japan (CCS 397), filed with CCS 397 in ABC 384 Pacific (1-17-43), 2. (3) Memo, unsigned, no addressee, n.d., sub: Brief Discussion of Particular Matters Which May Be Taken Up With General MacArthur, Folder 3, Item 15, Exec 5.
37. (1) Msg, Marshall to MacArthur, 14 Nov 43, CM-OUT 5855. (2) Msg, Marshall to Richardson, 15 Feb 44, CM-OUT 6919. (3) Msg, Nimitz to King, 15 Mar 44, CM-IN 10496.
38. (1) Msg, Somervell to MacArthur, 27 Mar 44, CM-OUT 14990. (2) Msg, MacArthur to CG ASF, 31 Mar 44, CM-IN 22847.
39. (1) Quote is from msg, JCS to MacArthur and Nimitz, 4 Apr 44, theOUT 18510. (2) JCS 762/2, 4 Apr 44, title: Amended Shipping Requirements for Pacific Operations.
40. See Ch. XVIII, above.
41. (1) JCS 762/3, 25 Apr 44, title: Shipping Requirements and Availabilities for Pacific Operations. (2) Msg, Gen R. J. Marshall to Gen MacArthur, 6 May 44, CM-OUT 33038. (3) Msg, JCS to MacArthur, 12 May 44, CM-OUT 35628. (4) Msg, JCS to Richardson, 12 May 44, CM-OUT 35667. (5) Memo, Cooke for CofS, 8 Apr 44, sub: Availability of LCT(6)'s and LST's for the Army, Item 68, Exec 10. (6) Msg, King to Kinkaid, 21 Apr 44, CM-IN 16195. (7) Tel conv, Kenney, Col Julian H. Baumann, and Ritchie, 24 May 44, OPD Log File for May 1944.