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  • History Friday: MacArthur — A General Made for Convenient Lies.

    Posted by Trent Telenko on May 31st, 2013 (All posts by )

    I have been researching the end of the Pacific War for several years now. In the official histories, when General MacArthur was very, very good, such as in the 1945 Southern Philippines Campaign, his bureaucratic enemies described his actions and motives badly. And when MacArthur was awful, such as in the 1942-1943 Buna campaign, they were worse…and what they did “while being worse” wasn’t documented in those official histories

    A case in point is US Naval historian Samuel Eliot Morison. He made this very snarky comment on page 214 of the 2nd to last book of his official histories, The Liberation of the Philippines 1944-1945:

    “It is still somewhat of a mystery how and whence, General of the Army Douglas MacArthur derived his authority to use United States forces to liberate one Philippine island after another. He had no specific directive for anything subsequent to Luzon. He seems to have felt that, as Allied theater commander in the Southwest Pacific, he had a right to employe the forces at his command as he thought best for the common cause; certainly he went ahead with his plans.”

    The MacArthur haters still parade that comment by Admiral Morison around like the foremost battle streamer on their “We Hate MacArthur” banner.

    I have always thought that Admiral Morison’s comment was a cheap shot. The Japanese murdered 100,000 Filipinos in Manila in early 1945 and the Japanese high command had issued “Kill All” orders for Allied prisoners and internees. Ultra code breaking delivered this information to MacArthur, Nimitz and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) showing the humanitarian necessity to liberate occupied Filipino territory. However, it turns out the Adm. Morison comment was far worse than a cheap shot. Based upon what I just found in a couple of the US Army Green books, Adm. Morison “Parked a Convenient Lie” on top of MacArthur’s historical reputation.

    Page 304 of WASHINGTON COMMAND POST: THE OPERATION DIVISION lays out the various Pacific command conferences of WW2. There were two Washington DC theater commander — JCS conferences in March 1943 and Feb-Mar 1944 and four Joint Theater Commander conferences in the Pacific:

    Pearl Harbor – Jan 1944
    Hollandia – Nov 1944
    Guam – Feb 1945
    Manila – July 1945.

    In order to discover the subject of these conferences, I cross referenced Coakley and Leighton’s GLOBAL LOGISTICS AND STRATEGY 1943-1945, since all high level military strategy is logistical in nature. Chapter XXIII showed the Nov. 1944 conference at Hollandia was primarily about the coming Luzon campaign and it hammered out the Philippine Base or “FILBAS” Agreement (See page 566). The agreement had the following points:

    o MacArthur would support the XXIV Corps staging to Okinawa from Leyte
    o The Navy abandoned an earlier promise to crew US Army small coastal freighters, the Coast Guard would instead
    o MacArthur would create the logistical infrastructure to stage nine POA Infantry/Marine divisions for operations against the China coast. Which the US Navy saw as necessary for the close blockade, as opposed to direct invasion, of Japan.
    o Nimitz gave up any further claim to US Army service units in the closed out South Pacific theater

    Only the first two points were carried out in full. MacArthur could never get his shipping squared away in time for Navy needs, so Nimitz started requesting the Army South Pacific service units again.

    MacArthur never stopped trying to fulfill the FILBAS logistical objectives. There were exactly nine infantry divisions staging from the Philippines for Operation Olympic. Two of those divisions were being staged from the Southern Philippines, due to hard logistical limits. The port capacity of Manila was very limited after Japanese destruction of facilities there in Feb.-Mar. 1945.

    Even world class port facilities of the time made rapid unloading of break bulk cargo via cranes and cargo nets “financially problematic” for ships weighing more than 6,000 tons, with more than four cargo holds, due to port congestion issues. (This fact I discovered from a US Army 1950s era logistics over the shore document on the Defense Technical Information Center or DTIC.) It was not until the ISO container revolution that you got rapid port clearance infrastructure that allowed the expansion of cargo ships to the 50,000 ton Midway class carrier sizes we see today.

    There were also limitations what could go over the beach and small ports of Leyte. So, in order to do the required staging in the Southern Philippines for Olympic, all the islands in between needed to be captured to allow unimpeded sea movement for MacArthur’s small freighters, impressed Aussie fishing smacks and tug-barge shipments to their ports.

    In short, MacArthur did not need JCS approval for his Southern Philippines campaign. That campaign never made it to the JCS level for approval because he had Nimitz’s sign off for it in the Nov. 1944 FILBAS agreement. Adm. Morison damned well knew that, and decided to “park a Convenient Lie” in his history about it anyway.

    Now, as for what Adm. Morison didn’t write in his official naval histories that involved kicking MacArthur when he was down, you first have to go back to the history of the Buna Campaign in New Guinea. Then you have to look inside Vice Adm. Barbey’s 1969 book MACARTHUR’S AMPHIBIOUS NAVY: SEVENTH AMPHIBIOUS FORCE 1943-1945.

    Barbey states on page 8 that one of the biggest reasons MacArthur had Vice Adm. Carpender replaced after the 1942-1943 Buna campaign was due to the fact that Carpender turned down a request for a single destroyer to provide naval gunfire support at Buna. The reasons given by Vice Adm. Carpender were Japanese air power and “fear of grounding in uncharted waters.”

    This refusal by Vice Adm. Carpender was after two very significant events in affecting the Buna campaign. The first was MacArthur sending two Australian heavy cruisers (CA) from his SWPA command to support the US Marine Guadalcanal landing — with the US Navy promptly losing one at the military disaster known as the Battle of Savo Island. And the second event was the Imperial Japanese Navy sending a fleet made up of two light cruisers, three destroyers, with a pair each of transports and submarine chasers into the face of both Allied air power and the just as uncharted waters of Milne Bay. (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Milne_Bay.)

    So, we see MacArthur supporting the US Navy in a tough spot with all he could send, but the US Navy refusing to do the same…and leaving it out of their official histories.

    The final 32nd Division attacks at Buna went in with a pair of Aussie 25-pounders firing fewer that a couple of dozen rounds each. Pretty much everything that MacArthur’s “fleet” of impressed Aussie fishing boats and harbor tugs could get in.

    This, of course, was all MacArthur’s fault. Just ask the official histories.

    Update 02 June 2013 Notes —

    The column was significantly updated for increased clarity with input from my wonderful wife Mindy.

    I would like to thank commenter Jim Miller request for the page of the Morrison quote for significantly improving this post. Which was also updated to reflect the correct location of the Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison quote used.

     

    54 Responses to “History Friday: MacArthur — A General Made for Convenient Lies.”

    1. Dan from Madison Says:

      Interesting stuff, thanks TT.

    2. Lexington Green Says:

      I have always thought the universal condemnation of MacArthur was suspicious.

    3. Subotai Bahadur Says:

      MacArthur is far from my most admired Allied commander in WW II. He, like every commander, left the pooch walking bowlegged on occasion.

      But the idea of criticizing him for liberating the Philippines in its entirety strikes me as ludicrous. From the summer of 1942 when the boundary between the Southwest Pacific Area and the Pacific Ocean Area, and the Philippines were allocated to MacArthur’s area; Japanese forces in the Philippines were his responsibility to destroy or neutralize. And in addition, the Philippines were not some almost uninhabited pieces of coral. They were sovereign territory of the United States, densely populated by US citizens. Of course he was going to liberate as much as possible, and this was implicit from that very division of responsibility.

      The strategic impetus to cut off the Japanese supply of oil, and prepare for further operations against Japan ran parallel to the liberation of American soil, which he had promised and which was known and exploited by the highest Allied leadership.

      Subotai Bahadur

    4. morgan Says:

      I recall reading somewhere years ago, that MacArthur’s campaign in the Southwest Pacific–Nimitz and the Navy had the Central Pacific–had fewer KIA’s in toto during WW II than we suffered in the Battle of the Bulge. My brother was in the 1st Marine Division and my father was no admirer of MacArthur, so growing up I got a lot of anti-“Dugout Doug” prospective of MacArthur. The item I mentioned above had a lot to do with my current more balanced view of MacArthur. He certainly made good use of the 1st Marine Division in his Inchon landing stroke of daring and genius.

    5. Trent Telenko Says:

      Subotai Bahadur,

      >>But the idea of criticizing him for liberating the Philippines in its entirety strikes me as ludicrous.

      This will be the subject of future blog posts.

      I am taking my Pacific War research and intend to make it a weekly series here.

      That specific point is set for next Friday.

    6. Trent Telenko Says:

      >>I have always thought the universal condemnation of MacArthur was suspicious.

      It was and remains that way.

      MacArthur was no saint, as some of his biographers make out.

      Neither was he the devil the the US Navy and General Marshall’s men made out after his fall at Truman’s hands.

      This too will be part of the weekly series I have planned.

    7. Dan from Madison Says:

      I will be interested to hear why MacArthur has been demonized by guys like Morrison and others. Looking forwatd to your thoughts in future posts, Trent.

    8. Lexington Green Says:

      It is time for post-revisionism on MacArthur, Trent. You are on the right side of history. At first, he was treated as some kind of superman, and his own propaganda predominated. Also, he became a symbol of a certain kind of political view, Asia First, Robert Taft, anti-NATO, anti-entangling alliances, anti-Soviet infiltration, pro-McCarthy, pro-House Un-American Affairs Committee, pro-Whittaker Chambers, anti-Hiss, anti-Dean Acheson, anti New Deal, anti-Ivy League, anti-East Coast WASP, anti-elitist, anti-Manhattan, Midwestern Republican, often Catholic, strong supporters of “captive nations,” anti-Soviet, believers in the Yalta betrayal narrative, etc., etc. MacArthur became a saint to one group on this bitter political divide, and a hate figure to the other. The other side won a crushing political and cultural victory — which was not entirely merited, and proceeded to write a “victor’s history” which included making MacArthur into a hate figure, a fraud, a buffoon. My Mom grew up very much in the conservative Catholic milieu as I’ve described. Her Dad loved MacArthur and hated “George Catlett Marshall” — each syllable being spat out. This is part of our history not many people talk about anymore.

      And whatever interest it may have, it is NOT what should decide the merits of MacArthur’s career as a military officer.

      Note one item: S.E. Morison was a Harvard man, hand picked by FDR to write the Naval history, and it was his class and his community, which saw itself as custodians of America almost by right of birth and education, which was under attack by the people who worshipped MacArthur. It was not likely to make him objective.

      Trent, this is great stuff, and I am eager for future installments.

    9. Michael Kennedy Says:

      When I was six, my cousins taught me to say “Dougout Doug is a rat out rat.” That was 1944. MacArthur had flights of genius and moments of incomprehensible behavior. He was paralyzed on December 8,1941. It is still a mystery, somewhat similar to Stalin’s paralysis after Hitler invaded. Nimitz wanted the Navy to fight the Pacific campaign. The Navy had plenty of stupid mistakes, chief among them was the torpedo fiasco in 1942. I have books about that.

      Inchon could very well have gone badly. The Joint Chiefs wanted an amphibious landing elsewhere on the Korean peninsula. Inchon was a terrible place for a landing which is why is was such a surprise.

      MacA passed up a chance to establish a line at the narrowest part of the peninsula and ignored considerable evidence of Chinese infiltration because his “Bataan Gang” Intel chief told him it was impossible. His plan to have the two forces in North Korea separated by a mountain range was a poor plan and almost ended in disaster.

      Truman was right to relieve him.

      The Medal of Honor was the equivalent of the Obama Nobel Peace Prize. “Skinny” Wainwright should have gotten it. He finally did and his pal MacA objected !

      He later received the Medal of Honor, an honor which General MacArthur opposed.

      I am not a fan of MacArthur. I have often wondered if he was the model for Courtney Massengale in “Once an Eagle.”

    10. Bill Brandt Says:

      Interesting stuff, Trent. Author Max Hastings, in his Book Retribution, about the last year of the Pacific War, treated MacArthur as vain yet extremely competent. He knew how to wage public relations, wioth his famous shot of stepping off the landing craft at Leyte was re-shot (take 2!) giving a more favorable frame.

      Arthur Wm Manchester (a Marine who came in late at Okinawa) said, based on his Pacific campaign casualty count, a brilliant general.

      My summary: It isn’t bragging if you can do it.

      And while Truman was within his rights as CiC, one wonders what the world would have been like had Mac prevailed.

    11. Dan from Madison Says:

      For all the Morrison bashing going on, I feel that I should defend him slightly. The Morrison Set is a wonderful read and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the Pacifc Theater.

    12. Lexington Green Says:

      I am not bashing Morison. He probably really despised MacArthur. I am saying only that it would be hard for him to be objective. MacArthur was a highly charged figure for many years after the war. Morison is a great writer and a great historian.

    13. Allen Says:

      That MacArthur went head to head with FDR’s man Truman sealed his fate with the New Deal elites. In his superb American Caesar, William Manchester writes how he hated MacArthur when he served under his command and greatly admired him after researching this biography of him.

      Along with earning a stellar military record of achievement, MacArthur brilliantly organized and led the occupation of Japan. Stabilizing that country (by refusing to allow a vindictive State Department to mess up the operation)and placing Japan on the road to recovery stands as one of America’s great diplomatic achievements.My recently, deceased father-in-law, a veteran of WWII, always was proud of his write in vote for MacArthur for President in 1952.

    14. Mike Doughty Says:

      I’ve read quite a bit about MacArthur, but I must admit that he puzzles me. In the 1970’s I knew a guy who served on his staff during the Occupation of Japan. He was a major and was an aide to MacArthur. He believed that MacArthur was flawed, but a genius. He said that MacArthur could see the consequences of actions far into the future and believed that the US was making serious errors that would bite later. Unfortunately, I didn’t ask a lot of questions of this guy or make note of the answers to the ones I did ask. Like many other things, I wish I had that to do over.

    15. Michael Kennedy Says:

      The dean of my medical school was MacArthur’s medical staff guy in WWII. He had some interesting insights. MacA had hernias that hung to his knees. One of them got obstructed and that is what killed him. Very odd guy.

    16. Jonathan Says:

      Trent, this is fantastic. Looking forward to future posts.

    17. VXXC Says:

      Well done.

    18. Jim Miller Says:

      Trent – What page does that quote come from?

      BTW, According to Morison, the initiative for his “personal” history came from him, not FDR.

    19. Trent Telenko Says:

      MK.

      This —

      >>The dean of my medical school was MacArthur’s medical staff guy in WWII.
      >>He had some interesting insights. MacA had hernias that hung to his knees.
      >>One of them got obstructed and that is what killed him. Very odd guy

      …answers a number of questions I have had with MacArthur starting with his “Herby High Water” pants. MacArthur wore his belt high to keep it off his hernias.

      It also explains MacArthur’s unwillingness to travel by plane for the various conferences in the USA and taking ships to various operations.

      Travel by air at the time would have been debilitating torture for a man with very bad hernias, as would travel by jeep over hard roads.

      I wonder how many of MacArthur’s ups and downs were due to pain medications?

    20. Trent Telenko Says:

      >>That MacArthur went head to head with FDR’s man Truman sealed his
      >>fate with the New Deal elites. In his superb American Caesar,
      >>William Manchester writes how he hated MacArthur when he served under
      >>his command and greatly admired him after researching this biography of him.

      MacArthur as the “Conqueror of the Bonus March” would have been enough for the Academic types to place him into the “Hall of Historic Villainy.”

      One of the most important things to know about MacArthur is that almost everything you “know” in popular culture about MacArthur as a military commander is wrong. The following book is an example for those who think it was supply priorities that were the downfall of Mac-Nimitz relations:

      “Piercing the Fog – Intelligence and Army Air Forces Operations in World War II”

      At this link — http://www.afhso.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-101203-023.pdf

      Pay close attention to chapter five of the book for the issues of US Navy versus Army Air Force sharing of Ultra signals intercepts and how the 13th Air Force under Adm. Halsey went to MacArthur’s command to get Ultra data. When Halsey’s intelligence officer refused to provide it.

      The story is on pages 256 & 257. This is the most relevant paragraph in those two pages:

      Because Admiral Halsey’s intelligence officer would not provide Harmon’s staff with a regular flow of ULTRA early in 1943, and over the objections of Halsey’s intelligence officer, Sherman arranged with General Willoughby to receive locally derived and Washington SIGINT information from Brisbane. Sherman sent as much of this material as possible to Twining and the Thirteenth Air Force A-2.22

      22. Diary, L. C. Sherman, AFHSO, pp. 12, 17, 21, 26-27..

      When you look up the histories of the US-UK “Ultra Deals,” this is no surprise. The US Navy during the entire war refused to share Pacific theater Ultra data directly with US Army theater commanders in the Pacific. This included General’s Short, Harmon and Richardson, as well as MacArthur.

      MacArthur played the game differently. One of the better places to see General MacArthur’s command style — in terms of communications with the Navy — is CHAPTER VIII Communications in the Southwest Pacific to Mid-1944 in the US Army WW2 Green book “The Technical Services THE SIGNAL CORPS: THE OUTCOME ( Mid-1943 Through 1945)” by George Raynor Thompson and Dixie R. Harris.

      The following passages should be of real interest as far as the Leyte-MacArthur myths are concerned, since the US Navy blames MacArthur — in the form of oral history that Admiral van Deurs gave back in 1975 and recently showed up in E. B. Potter book entitled “Bull Halsey” — for the lack of communications between Admiral’s Halsey and Kinkaid at Leyte:

      Page 242

      An activity wherein direct control and quick action were peculiarly necessary was signal intelligence, one of the SWPA chief signal officer’s large responsibilities. General Akin arranged for the direct and immediate provision of intercepted information to the commanders who were empowered to act thereon. To this end he attached signal intelligence elements to the commanders’ headquarters or located them nearby. He assigned a signal intelligence detachment to Admiral Halsey’s flagship, at the admiral’s request. Vice Adm. Raymond A. Spruance, when he took command of the Fifth Fleet in SWPA, found this Army service so valuable that he continued to keep the signal specialists on duty with him. Similar units were likewise attached to AAF advanced headquarters as well as to ground force commands, and were always sufficiently close at hand so that information from their intercept sources could be acted upon immediately.

      and Page 243

      Although the SWPA chief signal officer through his relations with Allied and joint liaison officers in the GHQ accomplished a kind of joint control over SWPA signals, he did not direct that SWPA communications below his level be conducted jointly, and in signal matters. He pursued the policy of MacArthur himself, allowing each service to operate separately but to co-operate at the same time. Each subordinate element down the line was thus expected to use its own communications equipment, personnel, and procedures in its own usual manner, while coordinating with participating forces. This was not a joint operation, duplication might be expected, but General Akin believed this method of operation was faster, more efficient, and entirely justifiable in wartime if it brought victory and brought it quicker. 11

      There was sufficient communications between the American Army and Navy at Leyte. There wasn’t enough between the Fleet units of the American Navy. That was Nimitz, Halsey’s and Kinkaid’s problem, not MacArthur’s.

      The pattern I keep seeing, regards service communications operating styles in WW2, was that communications for the US Navy was a power & control issue. While the US Army, due to it’s Signal Corps charter to COMMUNICATE, saw it as a technical background detail that only mattered when there wasn’t enough material and people to communicate for operations or logistics.

      That institutional difference between the services, alone, would cause no amount of friction.

      When it came to using Ultra intelligence, compared to the US Navy, MacArthur was more interested in winning the war than in power.

      Try and find that fact in the Adm. Samuel Eliot Morison histories of the Pacific War!

    21. Trent Telenko Says:

      >>What page does that quote come from?

      The answer depends on the edition of “Victory in the Pacific, 1945” you are looking at.

      My copy of “Victory in the Pacific, 1945” is in the library room behind the sleeping 5-year old at the moment.

      I will see if I can get you the full quote, page & edition later.

    22. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Your comments seem to imply that ULTRA was important to the Navy in the Pacific. My understanding has always been that MAGIC, the breaking of the Japanese naval codes and diplomatic code, was a Navy operation and did not involve the British. Could you clarify that for me ?

      Certainly, the Navy had its problems, like the ousting of Rochefort after Midway, but I thought the code breaking was two operations.

    23. Trent Telenko Says:

      Micheal Kennedy said —

      >>MacA passed up a chance to establish a line at the narrowest
      >>part of the peninsula and ignored considerable evidence of
      >>Chinese infiltration because his “Bataan Gang” Intel chief
      >>told him it was impossible.

      You find reading closely about the “Bataan Gang” that they are, if anything, far more underestimated and maligned than MacArthur.

      General Willoughby, for all his flaws in analysis, was a 1st rate pro in distributing actionable intelligence to the using arms as soon as physically possible. He also did very well in supporting the guerrilla campaigns in the Philippines.

      General Akin, the SWPA chief signal officer, became branch chief of the US Army Signal Corps after WW2.

      General William F. Marquat, MacArthur’s chief antiaircraft Officer, created with General Kenney the 14th Anti-Aircraft Command. This centralized anti-aircraft control under the air commander — a major step in the development of air power — making the SWPA the first American run theater to implement this in WW2. See this document “Air Warfare and Air Base Air Defense 1914-1973” for the historical context at this link: http://www.afhso.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-100922-032.pdf

    24. dearieme Says:

      WKPD reports that the word “ultra” was applied at first purely to the breaking of German codes and later used more widely.

      On the matter of the Japanese codes it gives the credit to the US, except for “Another source of information was the Japanese Military Attaché code (known as JMA to the Allies) introduced in 1941. … This system was broken by John Tiltman at Bletchley Park in 1942.[7]”

      It also notes that the USSR had broken Japanese codes.

    25. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Halberstam did not care much for Willoughby:

      Willoughby’s contribution(s) during the Korean War is subject to some significant concern, with several sources insisting that he intentionally distorted, if not out and out suppressed, intelligence estimates showing that the Chinese were massing at the Yalu River. Willoughby allegedly did so in order to better reinforce MacArthur’s (mistaken) assertion that the Chinese would never cross the Yalu, and allow MacArthur a freer hand in his drive to the Yalu.

      MacArthur affectionately referred to him as “my pet fascist.

      After his retirement, Willoughby traveled to Spain to act as an adviser and lobbyist for dictator Francisco Franco.[2] In his later years, Willoughby published the Foreign Intelligence Digest newspaper, and worked closely with Texas oil tycoon H.L. Hunt on the International Committee for the Defence of Christian Culture, an extreme right “umbrella” organization that had connections to anti-Communist groups.

      Another very odd duck.

      oh, and his birth name was Adolf Karl Tscheppe-Weidenbach.

      He changed it before 1930. Maybe after you-know-who became well known ?

    26. Lexington Green Says:

      Halberstam’s book on Korea received very bad reviews from knowledgeable reviewers.

      Disregard it.

      The conventional wisdom on MacArthur and his team has been too negative all these years to be believable. They did, after all, win their campaigns, with the partial exception of Korea.

      The over-the-top dismissal and disparagement of MacArthur has always been politically motivated, and it has become what “everybody knows.”

      Often what everybody knows in history is wrong, particularly when it serves a political end, and most especially when it serves a leftist political end.

      If is long past time for a back-the-original sources reassessment of MacArthur.

    27. Lexington Green Says:

      Also, Halberstam’s book was a thinly disguised screed against the Iraq intervention in the guise of a Korean War history.

      The Iraq episode is subject to criticism without dragging Korea into it.

      Poor judgment on Halberstam’s part to do it that way.

    28. Trent Telenko Says:

      >>Your comments seem to imply that ULTRA was important to the Navy
      >>in the Pacific. My understanding has always been that MAGIC, the
      >>breaking of the Japanese naval codes and diplomatic code, was a
      >>Navy operation and did not involve the British. Could you clarify
      >>that for me ?

      In the beginning, “Ultra” referred to Enigma machine decodes.

      “Magic” was the US Army breaking of the Japanese diplomatic code.

      Eventually the term “Ultra” came to mean any signals intelligence product.

      The US Navy was very heavily involved both in the breaking of the IJN JN-25 code and later — separately — providing Enigma “bombes” for the Ultra mechanical decoding of German Enigma messages.

      In WW2 the US Naval Intelligence Mandarins did not share a single in-Pacific theater intercept-decrypt for release back to the Army without it going direct to Washington DC for review first.

      Nimitz had his own decoding team in Hawaii for most code breaking, but the DC crowd often had more machines to code break than Nimitz and thus some Pacific Naval signals intelligence suffered a delay as a result.

      MacArthur’s decrypts — particularly of the Central Bureaus Japanese “Water Transport code”– were both sent to US Army signals intelligence (aka Sigint) in Washington DC _AND_ shared directly with US Naval units to strike Japanese shipping _simultaneously_.

      Thus, MacArthur’s intelligence was far more timely than the Naval Sigint simply because he removed a huge transmission cycle from the distribution loop for much of the material.

      This also meant that MacArthur can and did use his Allied Central Bureau Sigint liaison to provide “command influence” over the actions of Admiral’s Halsey, Spruance and ultimately Nimitz for a number of things, including ultimately convincing the lot that the Philippines was a better option than Formosa.

      Adm. King and US Naval intelligence in D.C. did not realize, until well after the fact, exactly how badly MacArthur out-played them on that score.

      That Adm. Morrison had anti-MacArthur motivations, given that particular turn of events is a given.

    29. Dan from Madison Says:

      This is a great thread. What strikes me, sadly, is that if you asked 100 Americans on the street who McA was, maybe one would know. Maybe.

    30. Lexington Green Says:

      Most people don’t care about history. But I blame the way it is taught. If you talk to ordinarily intelligent people about this stuff they often find it interesting. As the public school monopoly breaks up in the years ahead, and great teachers become easily available online, we may see more people interested in this stuff.

    31. Mike K Says:

      “Most people don’t care about history. But I blame the way it is taught.”

      People who read WEB Griffin novels, and there are lots of us, know a lot about that era. He had definite ideas about MacA and Almond and was there as an enlisted man. I don’t agree with him about Almond but like the story as he tells it.

      Some years ago, I had a patient with esophageal cancer who told me he walked out of Chosin Reservoir and he could handle this.

      Just as I got interested in Greek history from reading Mary Renault, I did lots of reading about Argentina after reading some of Griffin’s novel about Argentina. He lived there for some years.

      I wish I could write about medicine as well as Griffin writes about the military, especially Army aviation. I examined a kid who is applying for Army helicopter training a couple of weeks ago and I sent him to Griffin’s novels about Army aviation.

    32. Sgt. Mom Says:

      “Most people don’t care about history. But I blame the way it is taught.”

      So do I, Lex – and this is why I write historical fiction – to interest people, and to teach them some of it, painlessly! There are, I think, a lot more poeple interested in various aspects than we think. My daughter and I spent some time at a local transportation museum on Saturday, entirely run by volunteers. I wasn’t much interested in the exhibits, I wanted to pick the brains of the docents, for some very particular information about the railways serving San Antonio in the 1877-78 years. Took me all of about five minutes to find a person who could answer my questions. The history enthusiasts are out there … just not in a classroom someplace.

    33. Mike Doughty Says:

      Back in the dark ages when I was in high school (’59 to ’63), most of my teachers were male and were WW II vets. They believed that it was important to understand that war and the details of it….it was THEIR history and they knew those details intimately. They also had a sense of the importance of the war and it’s place in the continuity of the history of the US. Today, not so much of this exists. In later years, I talked to many of these same teachers. They were embittered about what had happened to their chosen profession and, to a man, couldn’t wait to do something else.

    34. David Foster Says:

      “The history enthusiasts are out there … just not in a classroom someplace.” Ditto for the science enthusiasts, the literature enthusiasts, etc. It seems clear that the schools are largely being run by people who themselves are not interested in *knowledge* and who can’t imagine that anyone else really is.

      (Mandatory disclaimer that there are of course exceptions)

    35. Trent Telenko Says:

      I updated the article based on the request of Jim Miller for the page of the Samuel Eliot Morison quote.

      I found the quote on page 214 of my copy of the 1959 edition of “The Liberation of the Philippines 1944-1945: Luzon, Mindanao, the Visayas.”

      I will be more careful with my due diligence in the future.

    36. Bill Brandt Says:

      History…and math are the 2 worst-taught subjects.

      It wasn’t until I went to UVa that I had a good history teacher – a very good history teacher.

      Norman Graebner taught diplomatic history – a study of treaties.

      Which on the face of it would seem to be the most boring area of a “boring” subject.

      But Graebner brought it alive – getting into the personalities, economic conditions, geopolitical – by the time the treaty was signed you knew it was a logical end.

      He was usually given a normal classroom and by the time he signed in everyone wanting the class, was in an auditorium.

      If people understand the “why” we are the way we are history becomes fascinating.

      But to most teachers it is names and dates.

    37. Trent Telenko Says:

      I significantly updated my column a 2nd time for increased reading clarity with input from my wonderful wife Mindy.

    38. Mike K Says:

      We need to remember that teachers at the elementary school and high school levels tend to be from the lowest quintile of college students. People with skills in math and science are still having trouble with the Ed schools getting allowed to teach. My youngest daughter’s Chemistry teacher in private high school had a PhD in Chemistry. I never asked her but wondered why she was not making more money in a public high school.

    39. Smock Puppet, "Faeces Evenio, Mr. Holder?" Says:

      >>> chief among them was the torpedo fiasco in 1942. I have books about that.

      That the situation that Hedy Lamarr (no, not HEDley :oP !!) had a strong hand in solving?

    40. Smock Puppet, "Faeces Evenio, Mr. Holder?" Says:

      }}} And while Truman was within his rights as CiC, one wonders what the world would have been like had Mac prevailed.

      So many interesting “what if…?” situations occur in human history. On the one hand, I’m all in favor of the notion that the common man has a large input via collective action into historical events, but the individual can and does have significant inputs, too. It’s kinda like the “Nature vs Nurture” argument. “It’s both, stupid.” I thing the course of the river of events, the broad path is set by the common man, but individual tributaries and kinks in the meander occur around individuals.

      I think Truman, like MacArthur, is often overrated in retrospect. On the one hand, he wasn’t what you’d call a major player before becoming Veep, so he was ill-prepared for the job, but, he did make some good choices after his initial failures — allowing Stalin to set the tone at Potsdam, for example… he gave up far too much to Stalin, and he was far too defensive towards the communists in his administration, despite the evidence of their duplicity. But he seems to have settled in well — his response to the Berlin blockade, for example.

    41. Mike K Says:

      “That the situation that Hedy Lamarr (no, not HEDley :oP !!) had a strong hand in solving?”

      No, that was frequency hopping.

      The torpedo problem was a classic example of government incompetence. All Navy torpedoes were made at the Torpedo Station in Newport RI.

      That article makes no mention of the problem that became apparent in 1942. The torpedoes didn’t work ! They were all hand made at the torpedo station and the were too expensive to test ! After a year of use in submarines with a very high failure rate, the chief of the sub fleet, Charles Lockwood in 1943 finally figured out the problems. They were multiple and it was a scandal that it took so long to find out. He actually was the chief in Australia when he found the depth problem, then Comsubpac in 1943.


      In 1942, submarines in the three regional Pacific Ocean commands had fired 1,442 torpedoes and sunk only 211 ships totaling almost 1.3 million tons (post-war analysis of Japanese records reduced these figures to 109 ships and 41,871 tons). The new Commander, Submarines, Pacific Fleet, Rear Adm. Charles Lockwood looked at the tally sheet for March 1943. The results continued to be disappointingly low. The problem: duds and premature explosions of torpedoes. In 1942, Lockwood had forced the powerful Bureau of Ordnance (BuOrd) to admit to and fix faults in the Mark 14 torpedo’s depth gauge, the cause of torpedoes running too deep. Now he braced himself for another bruising battle with BuOrd, this time over the magnetic “exploder,” also called a pistol, which was meant to detonate the torpedo beneath the keel of enemy ships.

      The depth problem was discovered by firing torpedoes through a series of nets and measuring actual depth. The fish were running a sine wave course.

      They still were failing to explode. The contact exploder was found to be too delicate a mechanism and the pin would bend or break instead of detonating the warhead. The magnetic exploder didn’t work.

      The Mark 14 was put into production even though it had been inadequately tested – in fact no live-fire tests were ever conducted.

      That article is honest; the other one isn’t. The Navy still can’t admit what happened.

    42. Trent Telenko Says:

      Truman had some of the best practical political experience for being president. He was a Presiding Judge of Jackson County in the Pendergast Kansas city political machine.

      Truman’s actual job as judge was being the honest broker of the political “goat” and “rabbit” Kansas city political factions, telling political boss Tom Pendergast who was stealing, and how much, from the public till. So Pendergast was able to deliver on his favors and provide real fixed roads rather than pure corruption that angered the voters.

      See:

      http://www.trumanlibrary.org/trivia/penderga.htm

      This made Truman well groomed for dealing with War Department contract corruption as Senator, as well as making him very sensitive to the American public in a way most modern American Presidents are not.

      This speech after the dropping of the A-bomb is a good example of that —

      http://millercenter.org/scripps/archive/speeches/detail/3821

      I realize the tragic significance of the atomic bomb.

      Its production and its use were not lightly undertaken by this Government. But we knew that our enemies were on the search for it. We know now how close they were to finding it. And we knew the disaster which would come to this Nation, and to all peace-loving nations, to all civilization, if they had found it first.

      That is why we felt compelled to undertake the long and uncertain and costly labor of discovery and production.

      We won the race of discovery against the Germans.

      Having found the bomb we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international laws of warfare. We have used it in order to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans.

      We shall continue to use it until we completely destroy Japan’s power to make war. Only a Japanese surrender will stop us.

      The line about American prisoners and American lives reflects Truman’s appreciation that the full knowledge of the Bataan Death March was reaching the American public.

    43. Lexington Green Says:

      “[Truman] wasn’t what you’d call a major player before becoming Veep, so he was ill-prepared for the job.”

      False.

      Truman was chairman of what was known as the Truman Committee in the US Senate.

      During the three years of Truman’s chairmanship, the committee held hundreds of hearings, traveled thousands of miles to conduct field inspections, and saved millions of dollars in cost overruns. Earning nearly universal respect for his thoroughness and determination, Truman erased his earlier public image as an errand-runner for Kansas City politicos. Along the way, he developed working experience with business, labor, agriculture, and executive branch agencies that would serve him well in later years.

      Truman knew more about the war economy than any other single person in the country.

      Truman was also a combat experienced artillery officer.

      Truman had a high degree of relevant experience for the office.

      My theory is that FDR picked Truman to have the Truman Committee expertise in-house when the USA demobilized. Winning the war but botching the demobilization was not what FDR wanted. It was a botched demobilization after WWI that led to a sharp, deep recession. That recession doomed the Democrats in the 1920 election, when FDR was the VP nominee, and incidentally also put Truman’s business into bankruptcy. This recession led to a Republican boom and the end of Wilson’s progressivism. FDR wanted to avoid a similar fate for the New Deal. A further theory is that FDR knew there was a decent chance he’d be dead before the end of his fourth term, and wanted Truman to run the demobilization if he died. FDR never told anyone why he did things, and never wrote anything down, so we frequently have to guess about his motives. But selecting Truman was the right mix of substantive competence and political utility, a typically astute move by FDR.

    44. Joe Wooten Says:

      Lex,

      The Truman government was well on the way to another very bad recession in 1945-46. In fact, it was the Republican victory in the 1946 elections that got them control of both houses that started the postwar boom in 1947 as they dismantled the most economy strangling parts of the New Deal.

    45. Trent Telenko Says:

      Lex, Joe,

      I posted the following to the H-WAR@H-NET.MSU.EDU E-mail list regards the 1940’s American economy in December 2011 —

      ====================================

      I would get the following three works as both a cultural/political context and a nuts and bolts view of how the American military mobilization of 1940-43 was paid for.

      They are:

      1) “Depression, War, and Cold War: Challenging the Myths of Conflict and Prosperity” (Independent Studies in Political Economy) by Robert Higgs,

      2) “The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression” by Amity Shales , and

      3) The previously mentioned “KEEP FROM ALL THOUGHTFUL MEN: How U.S.
      Economists Won World War II,”
      by Jim Lacey

      All three books subscribe to the emerging “Regime Uncertainty” school of political economy in evaluating the Great Depression and the World War Two economic rebound. This school challenges the GDP measurements of World War Two as highly flawed and contends that while actual consumer GDP increased through out the war, much is what the Federal government counts as GDP — ammunition for instance — was a flat economic loss.

      This school of thought also contends the late 1940’s post-war economic recovery in America was very much a matter of the dismantlement of FDR New Deal regulatory structure — and removing “Regime Uncertainty” from “Rule of Men” regulatory fiat — as the major factor in the post World War Two private sector economic boom.

      Higgs & Shales books concentrate on the Great Depression and the economy. Lacey’s looks at how the historical record (both military and civilian) of how the mobilization was paid for and what effects that had on American war time strategy.

      Higgs’ book is very useful because it includes a careful analysis of economic productivity factors underpinning the American economy. There were vast productivity increases in new plant built in the 1920’s based on the widespread availability of electric motors, and large ones in conversion to electric power of older plants designed around steam-powered belt transmission. But the new plants with layouts designed around use of electric power were the most efficient.

      When the Depression hit, the remaining steam-powered plants were closed and never re-opened. The converted-to-electric-power older plants were gradually closed and not re-opened. All remaining production was then funneled through the newer, most efficient plants with layouts designed around electric power, and those simply did not need the manpower per unit of output that the closed plants, designed around steam power did.

      This meant that the industrial output of the early 1920’s could be provided solely with physical plant built in the 1920’s, but at far lower levels of employment. Furthermore, as Higgs points out, the 1930’s saw a vast amount of additional productivity increases as industry “tweaked” the physical plants built in the 1920’s based on experience with the then-new all-electric power layouts. This allowed still greater production from the same numbers of workers and electric power use.

      When the US got involved in World War Two, industry just added more shifts to the 1920’s-built plant as “tweaked” in the 1930’s.[1]

      Both Higgs & Shales books show that what the FDR administration’s class-warfare policies and rhetoric, plus plain mistaken policies (such as taking money out of the economy for a few years to create the Social Security “trust fund”) accomplished was to throttle the 1937-39 recovery from the Great Depression, and postpone it until World War Two.

      As a result of all of that, American industry refused to bid on a very great deal of US government military contracts 1939 – July 1940 because they feared the FDR administration would punish them again with merchants of death rhetoric and punitive legislation. Industry only relented somewhat when the government offered a lot more money.

      Relations really were that poisonous.

      FDR had to fire many of his New Dealers, and replace them with respected Republicans and businessmen, as the price of getting industry to cooperate with his defense buildup.

      What those respected business men had to do to “buy out” that ill will were things like “cost-plus” defense contracts with guaranteed profit based on effort, “Government owned-contractor operated” (Go-Co) defense plants (to remove the risk of post-war confiscatory property taxes), research and development tax write offs and accelerated depreciation of tooling that live with American defense expenditures to this day.

      Lacey’s book goes into the “statistical revolution” of how US economists developed the measurement of Gross National Product (GNP) and used it to force a “reality check” on the armament program, based upon the feasibility of paying for its goals, through the War Production Board (WPB). These feasibility limitations on mobilization were established just prior to the Casablanca conference.

      This reality check took the form of deep cuts in the US Army’s armament program, which in turn influenced US Grand Strategy by reducing the US Army’s build up of ground forces. This moved the logistical feasibility of the invasion of Western Europe from 1943 to 1944.

      All of this was known to Gen Marshall prior to the Casablanca Conference, and Lacey makes clear that post war records showing that the US military was four-square in favor of a 1943 invasion and were “out-staffed” by the British was what amounts to a post-war myth. (See Chapters 9 & 10)

      The War Mobilization’s armament program was very much constrained by President Roosevelt’s political directives to build planes, ships, and tanks without any knowledge of what American industry could produce, and when, which nearly unhinged the whole war effort.

      The other constraint was Pres. Roosevelt’s insistence that American ground troops fight the Germans in 1942 as a part of his “German First” war policy.

      Lacey makes a good case that the “Operation Torch” landings in North Africa, the invasion of Sicily and Southern Italy all flowed from this mobilization shortfall.

      Several things fall out of KEEP FROM ALL THOUGHTFUL MEN that I was not aware of before.

      1) The majority of the Mobilization was paid for not by taxes or bonds, it was paid for by printing money. What we today call “quantitative easing.” (pages 36-40)

      2) The US Military’s inter-war era Industrial War College was worse than useless. It left the US Military unable to say with any certainty what it needed to fight and when it needed it. Worse, it left it with the impression that it would nationalize the civilian economy — per the Army-Navy Industrial Mobilization Plan — to produce what it needed. FDR, indeed no elected American civilian leadership, would allow the military that much control over the US economy. (Pages 17-18)

      3) Any “Green Book” US Army history on American mobilization involving the work of Gen Somervell as chief of the Army Service Forces or Gen. Wedemeyer “Victory Program” should be checked against original source material in the historical record. The title of Lacey’s book “Keep From All Thoughtful Men” is a direct quote from a Gen. Somervell memo in reaction to the WPB feasibility study. (Pages 108-109) Lacey also documents a “Flat Abby” style injection of Wedemeyer’s “Victory Program” into the US World War Two Green Book historical record by Wedemeyer. (Pages 11-18) [2]

      4) How badly the Post World War One American political establishment treated the American business sector and how that experience reinforced the reputation of the American Federal government not only as a bad customer, but a political enemy of American business. (Pages 66-67)

      Taken together, these books make clear the historical maxim that “You don’t begin to get real ideas of what actually happened until 50 years after the event, because the personalities involved and their close associates are spending all their time protecting their reputations to the detriment of what actually happened.”

      This applies in spades to the history of America’s World War Two mobilization.

      [1] Reviewer Side Note — This fundamental shift in manufacturing technology was also the major and seldom addressed reason why the British economic system could not keep up in the Post World War Two era. British businesses did not make the investments in new electric plants, at the same scale, the USA did in the 1920’s. Their converted-to-electric-power older industrial plants — which were subsidized as “Shadow Plant” system prior to World War Two — just could not compete in the post-war era. The British did not have the capital post-war to replace them and their fewer all electric plants had powerful industrial unions that made 1930’s style American “tweeking” (AKA work rule changes) much less effective for a host of reasons.

      [2] “Flat Abby” is a flat doll that children send to relatives by postal mail to take pictures in front of various sites, monuments, museums, etc to show all the places it could reach in class. The child does very little of the work and gets all the credit for the efforts of others.

    46. Lexington Green Says:

      Agreed that the GOP victory in 1946 was critical to getting the postwar economy going.

      However, that does not change the fact that Truman was possibly the most knowledgeable person in DC about the war economy, and that concern about demobilization was likely high on FDR’s priority list as we went into the 1944 election and the final year of his life, based on his earlier experience. No one knew in the Summer of 1944 what the world would like during the next election cycle.

      I am familiar with an earlier work of Higgs, which is on similar themes.

      Regime uncertainty is under-rated. The impact of Obamacare is a contemporary example.

    47. Mike K Says:

      Lex, I agree completely with your description of Truman. Trent, those books sound very interesting. Especially the first and third. I have read Schlaes books. FDR speculated about naming Wendell Willkie as VP in 1944. Nobody knows if he was serious. Willkie died before the election so it was never an issue. Interesting to speculate though.

      The Republicans passed Taft-Hartley which was critical. Mickey Kaus has written a lot about the poisonous labor relations put in place by the 1935 Wagner Act.

    48. Lexington Green Says:

      “FDR speculated about naming Wendell Willkie as VP in 1944.”

      FDR told EVERYBODY they were in the running for VP or, rather, he waltzed around the issue and let them believe what they wanted to believe. They all had egos so they all thought they were going to get it.

      The Willkie business was probably more of the same.

    49. Mike K Says:

      At least he got rid of Henry Wallace. Anybody was an improvement except perhaps Morgenthau.

    50. Lexington Green Says:

      FDR needed Wallace as a mirror image of Willkie in 1940 – both young Midwestern populists progressives with the same tousled hair. Also, making Wallace VP neutralized him. If he left Wallace as a cabinet secretary he could do damage as an insider. If he fired him him 1940 he could do damage as an outsider. As VP Wallace was a nullity. FDR barely communicated with him.

    51. Leather Helmet Says:

      I think Vice Adm. Carpender was almost certainly right in refusing to provide a single
      destroyer in the Buna campaign. At that time of the war, with a strong Japanese surface
      fleet and air forces, I can’t see that being anything but a suicide mission.

      Trent you state that Adm. Morrison had anti-MacArthur motivations because he used
      code breaking better than the navy. But at the time Morrison wrote, wasn’t all that
      still classified? Did Morrison have any knowledge of it?

      It came up in comments about MacArthur having less casualties than Nimitz. I’m not
      sure how much that had to do with skill and how much with favorable geography.
      The islands of the SW Pacific are larger than the central, so it is possible to land
      in places where Japan was weak in the SW.

      The islands were too big for Japan to garrison them all strongly. Plus the Allied
      mechanized construction capability was much better. So Japan had to concentrate
      around existing ports/airfields. The Allies could land in non developed areas, avoid
      Japanese strength, and build new ports/airfields.

      The islands of the Central, such as Iwo Jima and Tarawa were too small for those
      tactics. Thus they had to be taken with costly frontal assaults.

      I’d be interested in peoples take on the SW Pacific / Central Pacific / or both
      controversy. I belong to several WWII forums, but any time that question
      is raised it gets polluted by MacArthur bashing. It seems this is a place
      where it might be debated on the merits.

      Trent, these WWII history posts are fascinating. Is there any protocol to
      opening comments on closed ones?

    52. Trent Telenko Says:

      Leather Helmet sez —

      I think Vice Adm. Carpender was almost certainly right in refusing to provide a single destroyer in the Buna campaign. At that time of the war, with a strong Japanese surface fleet and air forces, I can’t see that being anything but a suicide mission.

      LH — Like a lot of Americans, you are somewhat ignorant of the battle conditions at Buna when Adm. Carpender turned MacArthur down and of how badly Adm Morison slighted the Royal Australian Navy’s efforts to resupply Allied troops on the north Shore of New Guinea.

      See the following links and pay close attention to “Operation Lilliput.”

      Battle of Buna–Gona – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Buna–Gona

      Operation Lilliput
      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Lilliput

      The Bloody Beachheads – The Battles of Gona, Buna and Sanananda, November 1942 – January 1943
      By James Brien, AWM Summer Scholar 2013
      https://www.awm.gov.au/sites/default/files/2013%20James%20Brien,%20Bloody_Beachheads_Ver_15.pdf.

      MacArthur asked Vice Adm. Carpender for the destroyer fire mission in November 1943, when then Allies had day light local air superiority over Buna and the Australians and MacAthur’s Small Boat Service had buoyed and marked the close north coastal waters as far as Buna.

      The morning and evening weather at the Owen Stanly Mountains, and lack of good radar coverage at forward resupply air strips, meant that Allied fighter cover was gone for the first and last hour of daylight. So the Japanese air forces could raid unopposed at those times.

      As a part of Operation Lilliput RAN Corvette (600 ton vessels roughly comparable to the RN Flower class sub-chaser) were transiting as far as Oro Bay on the North shore, escorting large freighters that transshipped loads to small boats and landing barges for travel further, but were too slow and ill armed with guns to survive a “Run and gun” fire support mission from Oro Bay to Buna.

      The USN destroyer Vice Adm. Carpender had could have made that “run and gun” in those daylight hours of American air superiority.

      It would have been risky, yes. But suicidal? No way in hell.

      All war is risk, and Vice Adm. Carpender’s decision marked him as “…an Admiral who would not fight.”

      This decision cemented MacArthur’s already poor opinion of the US Navy and it’s fall out echoed across the whole of the war in the Pacific.

      The full extent of the toxic decision Vice Adm. Carpender made can be seen by what hyper-US Navy partisan Adm Morison left out of his “Breaking The Bismark Barrier” volume in his naval history of WW2.

      To prevent that negative historical judgement of Vice Adm. Carpender, Adm Morison completely left out Operation Lilliput and the US Army Small Boat Service role in the Buna campaign.

      Buna was won via sea lane logistics, but it was too toxic a story for the USN’s institutional reputation to include it in their histories.

      I’ll try and answer more of you questions as and when I have time.

    53. Leather Helmet Says:

      “MacArthur asked Vice Adm. Carpender for the destroyer fire mission in November 1943”

      I believe this is a typo, assume its November 1942.

      I was unaware of the Allied seizure of naval bases on the N. coast of New Guiana at the time of the
      Buna campaign. My assessment of the risks of a destroyer mission in those waters was based
      partly on belief that it would have to transition a long distance at night. The IJN was battering
      much larger naval fleets in night battles in that time span.

      So was there a base the destroyer could have ducked into in November 1942 to avoid being
      out at night? From the links the only base I saw mentioned was Oro Bay, although I certainly
      might have missed other bases.

      But was Oro Bay ready then? From Wiki:

      “The first large vessel to deliver supplies to Oro Bay was … on the night of 11/12 December 1942”

      ……………….

      Is there evidence that Adm Morison motivations was as below?:

      “To prevent that negative historical judgement of Vice Adm. Carpender, Adm Morison completely
      left out Operation Lilliput and the US Army Small Boat Service role in the Buna campaign.
      Buna was won via sea lane logistics, but it was too toxic a story for the USN’s institutional
      reputation to include it in their histories. ”

      After all, his was a USN history and he left out a lot of other service and nations
      history beside this.

      ………………………………

      From an earlier comment:

      “This also meant that MacArthur can and did use his Allied Central Bureau Sigint liaison to provide
      “command influence” over the actions of Admiral’s Halsey, Spruance and ultimately Nimitz for a
      number of things, including ultimately convincing the lot that the Philippines was a better option
      than Formosa.”

      The book “COMMAND DECISIONS” by the CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY – DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
      has a chapter about this decision. It was written in 1959, so I’m not sure if it has been overturned
      by later scholarship. IIRC, it does not mention anything like above.

      Link is below:

      http://www.history.army.mil/books/70-7_21.htm

    54. Trent Telenko Says:

      LH,

      Regards this —

      >>“MacArthur asked Vice Adm. Carpender for the destroyer fire mission in November 1943”

      Yep a typo, should have been 1942.

      Both of the following are from Wikipedia WRT the charting on the North Coast’s “inside passage.”

      Prior to Lilliput convoy operations, the route had been used, and explored, by the Small Ships Section vessels providing both initial invasion and post invasion logistics support. The route had never been accurately charted and was described by Colonel, later Brigadier General, Thomas B. Wilson, Chief of Transportation, as “the most dangerous coastline in the world” with the pre-war route for Australian vessels avoiding the route in favor of one by way of Rabaul and the Solomon Sea into the north coast of New Guinea. Some 250 Small Ships vessels had been ordered into Milne Bay in October 1942 for support of the Buna area that had previously only been reached by air. These vessels, described as “schooners, motorships, motor launches, cabin cruisers, ketches, trawlers, barges, and miscellaneous vessels, most of which were ancient and rusty. Their Australian crews rigged sails when the engines broke down, and made emergency repairs when the hulls were punctured with bullets or jagged coral” had landed elements of the invasion force and provided logistical support—and “moved at night through uncharted waters, marking reefs with empty oil drums and keeping records of observations and soundings, which were later used in charts” after hiding in rivers by day.[11]
      Finding a way

      The initial luggers and small ships “surveying” the route as they carried supplies were later augmented by HMAS Paluma, the 45 ton former examination vessel at Thursday Island,[Note 1] that began actual surveys to find a reliable approach for larger vessels from Milne Bay to supply troops landed by air near Cape Nelson. In addition to surveys, the vessel was to install lights, land shore parties for reconnaissance, establish radio stations and pilot ships through discovered channels. By the time troops had been airlifted in and secured the area on 5–6 October Paluma had completed survey of a route and supplies began to arrive by water. By early November, Paluma had found a route for large ships around Cape Nelson whereupon the larger vessels discharged at Porlock with the luggers concentrating on transport forward from there. The hydrographic section in the RAN learned of the local effort and lent assistance with surveys by HMAS Warrego, Stella and Polaris assisting, establishing safe passage for large ships from Milne Bay to Cape Nelson while Paluma worked the route forward to Oro Bay by December making the arrival of tanks possible starting on 11 December 1942 aboard Karsik.[12][13]

      and

      In October, the Allies captured Goodenough Island off the northeast coast of New Guinea, with little Japanese resistance. In the hands of the Japanese, the island had potentially compromised the security of the north coast.[142] From early 1943, the Allies developed it as a forward base.[143][144]

      The route between the north shore and the D’Entrecasteaux Islands had never been accurately charted. It was described by Colonel Wilson, Chief of Transportation, as “the most dangerous coastline in the world.”[107] Vessels of the Small Ships Section, apart from delivering cargo from Milne Bay to Wanigela, Pongani, Oro Bay and Hariko, made a valuable contribution to opening up the inside passage to larger shipping. Of the section, Masterson wrote: “their Australian crews rigged sails when the engines broke down, and made emergency repairs when the hulls were punctured with bullets or jagged coral.” They landed elements of the invasion force and provided logistical support. To avoid Japanese attacks, they hid in rivers by day and “moved at night through uncharted waters, marking reefs with empty oil drums and keeping records of observations and soundings, which were later used in charts.”[109]

      Those efforts were augmented by the arrival of HMAS Paluma. The forty-five ton examination vessel began surveys to find a reliable approach for larger vessels from Milne Bay to Oro Bay. In addition to surveys, the vessel was to install lights, land shore parties for reconnaissance, establish radio stations and pilot ships through discovered channels. By early November Paluma had found a route around Cape Nelson suitable for larger vessels in the Small Ships fleet. Thereafter, the larger vessels discharged at Porlock. The luggers concentrated on transporting forward from there. The hydrographic section in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) learned of the local effort and provided additional support. HMA Ships Warrego, Stella, and Polaris were tasked to survey and establish safe passage for large ships from Milne Bay to Cape Nelson. HMAS Paluma worked on the route forward to Oro Bay. These combined efforts made the large ship convoy service of Operation Lilliput a possibility.[145]

      The first large vessel to deliver supplies to Oro Bay was the SS Karsik.[Note 20] She was escorted by HMAS Lithgow, in Operation Karsik on the night of 11/12 December 1942. The cargo was four Stuart light tanks of the Australian 2/6th Armoured Regiment and seven days’ supply for the 2/9th Battalion.[146] Karsik returned with a second load of tanks on the 14th, in Operation Tramsik.[147] On 18 December the Japara escorted by Lithgow departed Milne Bay and arrived at Oro Bay on the 20th. This voyage inaugurated the regular supply runs of Operation Lilliput. With few exceptions, the convoys of Lilliput were composed of the Dutch KPM vessels under the control of the US Army Services of Supply escorted by an Australian corvette.[148][Note 21]

      The delay between the discovery of the ORO Bay passage and the arrival of freighter SS Karsik with light tanks was the time it took to round up the tanks, load them on SS Karsik and deliver them.

      IIRC, SS Karsik was Dutch steamer lucky to make 7 knots with full load. (Yep, see — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Karsik_%281938%29 with 367 HP on 2,100 tons)

      Vice Adm. Carpender’s Destroyer could make way at almost five time that speed.

      The timing of the request to Carpender was simultanious with the charting being completed of the inside passage, simply based on the time line of the arrival of SS Karsik with tanks.

      As for this —

      The book “COMMAND DECISIONS” by the CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY – DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY has a chapter about this decision. It was written in 1959, so I’m not sure if it has been overturned by later scholarship. IIRC, it does not mention anything like above.

      In 1959 both ULTRA decoding and both the role and importance of the Section 22 radar hunters in the SWPA in the fall of 1944 were deeply classified.

      The acknowledgement of MacArthur’s Signal Corps liason with 3rd/5th Fleet didn’t happen until the mid-1960’s with the Signal Corps official histories. The fact that decrypts from Central Bureau was among the message traffic of these liasons gave the USN didn’t occur until the late 1970’s.

      The Section 22 “Current Statement” message traffic that I and a number of others are looking at from the on-line Australian archives is utterly unexplored in this regard.