History Friday: US Military Preparations The Day Nagasaki Was Nuked

It has become something of a tradition for Leftists to commemorate the US A-bomb attacks on Imperial Japan, and on 9 August to try and make the case that even if the first bomb was needed — which it was not — that the second bomb was what amounted to a war crime because the American government and military knew the Japanese were trying to surrender, but wanted to intimidate the Soviet Union with the A-Bomb. This is the heart of Gar Alperovitz’s book Atomic Diplomacy: Hiroshima and Potsdam in 1965, his 1994 revision Atomic Diplomacy: Hiroshima and Potsdam: The Use of the Atomic Bomb and the American Confrontation with Soviet Power and his 1995 book Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb: And the Architecture of an American Myth.

Starting in the 1990’s military historians, using declassified “Ultra” signals intelligence files proceeded to destroy “Atomic Diplomacy: Hiroshima and Potsdam” and all the books based upon it. Edward Drea’s 1992 Macarthur’s Ultra: Codebreaking and the War Against Japan, 1942-1945, Richard Frank’s 1999 Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire and Robert James Maddox’s 2007 Hiroshima in History: The Myths of Revisionism all do a very good job demolishing “Atomic Diplomacy” based arguments.

Atomic Bomb Pit #2 - B-29 BocksCar Loading Site
Atomic Bomb Pit #2 – B-29 BocksCar’s Loading Site on Tinian

Atomic Bomb Pit #2 – B-29 BocksCar’s Loading Site on Tinian

On Chicago Boyz it has also become a tradition for me to write on this subject at this time of year, doing my part to point out the untruths of “Atomic Diplomacy” as well.

See the following posts:
2012 – Nagasaki Plus 67 Years
2011 – Happy V-J Day!
2010 – Nagasaki, Hiroshima and Saving Hirohito’s Phony Baloney Job
and Hiroshima — The A-bomb plus 65 years

This 2013 column will address this subject by concentrating on “US Military Preparations The Day Nagasaki Was Nuked” to point out that in both word and in deed, the US Military believed Japan was going to fight to the bitter end, until it finally surrendered on August 14th 1945. And if Japan had not surrendered, every weapon America had would be involved in the hell on earth which would have been the conquest and subjugation of the Imperial Japanese Military and People.

The first place we will go this year is to the headquarters of General Spaatz, commander of Strategic Army Air Forces in the Pacific. On the day Nagasaki was nuked, he took two actions that underlined his belief that Japan would not surrender.

First on 9 Aug 1945, he ordered that an Atomic bomb “pit”, AKA a hardstand with hydraulic lift, to be completed no later than 15 Sept 1945 on Okinawa.

Atomic Bomb Pit 2 - Fatman Awaits BocksCar
Atomic Bomb Pit 2 – Fatman Awaits BocksCar

This was for operational reasons based on the Nagasaki mission experience. The A-bomb carrying B-29 “Bockscar” showed that it would be very useful to have a SECURE A-Bomb pit area on Okinawa, to help maintain security over the weapon; after its problem plagued bombing mission. A mission which finally landed on Okinawa on its last drops of fuel instead of at the planned Iwo Jima emergency field.

The Spaatz documents I found also relate that General’s Spaatz, Twining, LeMay and Admiral Nimitz wanted to use the 3rd A-bomb on Tokyo as soon as it was available, and that Chief of the Army Air Force General Arnold replied that it was under consideration “at the highest levels”.

The other interesting thing for me about this 9 August to 15 September 1945 time line for a A-Bomb pit was if Japan kept fighting, on 16 September 1945 the Typhoon IDA would have struck Okinawa and likely flooded out this pit.

The second action taken by General Spaatz that day also involved a bomb, not an atomic bomb, but a precision guided one. The Remington Rand, Inc. built VB-6 Felix was a 1,000lb (450 kg) bomb with an octagonal control shroud and a heat seeking device in the nose. Intended for use against strong infrared emitters (like e.g. steel blast furnaces and oil refineries), the VB-6 was tested with some success during July 1945, but the program was cancelled at the end of World War II.

VB-6 Felix Heat Seeking Guided Bomb
VB-6 Felix Heat Seeking Guided Bomb

Spaatz ordered a squadron of B-29’s outfitted with the first 300 VB-6 Felix to be delivered as soon as possible to support the Invasion of Japan air campaign. Hardly the action of a General who thought Japan was about to surrender.

The third action that happened this day was at a much lower command level, but started at a much higher one. On 27 June 1945 Under Secretary of War (and future Secretary of War for Sept 1945 – July 1947) Robert Patterson intervened in a US Army bureaucratic dispute to expedite production of flame tanks for the invasion of Japan. This action resulted in all flame tank programs being given the same “Triple A” procurement priority held by the B-29 and the Atomic bomb. By the time of the Nagasaki A-Bombing, this “Triple A” priority had been applied by the US Army’s Chemical Warfare Service across all of its flame tank programs to “get nine women pregnant to have a baby in a month” and deliver more Flame tanks for the invasion of Japan.

Prototypes of three M4 Flame Tanks Designs Under Construction on August 9th 1945 Prototypes of Three Different Main Armament Flame Tank Designs Under Construction August 9th 1945

On or about August 9th 1945, a letter contract was issued by Major Hollingsworth of the Chemical Warfare Service (a veteran of the Hawaii Flame Tank Conversion effort) for the production of additional Morgan RAM E13-13 flame tanks. Morgan, the contractor, replied that given the M4 Sherman tanks, it could produce to the following schedule to support the invasion of Japan:
10 units at end of the 9th week (15 Oct 1945 – 10 total)
10 units at end of the 10th week (22 Oct 1945 – 20 total)
15 units at end of the 11th week (29 Oct 1945 – 35 total)
20 units at end of the 12th week (05 Nov 1945 – 55 total)
25 units at end of the 13th week (12 Nov 1945 – 80 total)
25 units each week there after until completed. (19 Nov 1945 thru — 11 Mar 1946)
80 + 425 = 505 E13-13 Morgan flame tanks.

These 505 flame tanks were in addition to 920 other M4 Sherman flame tanks and 50 LVT(A)1 amphibious flame tanks under written contract.

Neither Under Secretary of War Patterson — who knew both the “Ultra” and “Atomic” secrets — nor the military men like Spaatz involved in Pacific fighting, nor Major Hollingsworth stateside fighting the “war of production” knew when or _whether_ Japan would surrender. All they could do, facing the hell of an invasion of Japan, was the best they could do preparing for it while hoping for a miracle.

Is it a wonder that such men, engaged in those activities, said “Thank God for the Atomic Bomb” as their miracle to their dying day?

The real wonder is why anyone fell for Gar Alperovitz’s “Atomic Diplomacy” in the first place.

Notes And Sources:

A-bomb Pit —

Robert James Maddox paper titled “Generals, Admirals, and Atomic Bombs Ending the War With Japan.” pages 415 and 418 of _The US Army and World War II: Selected Papers from the Army’s Commemorative Conferences_, ed. Judith L. Bellafaire Washington, DC:Center of Military History, US Army, 1998,

And the documents Robert James Maddox cited are;

1) ‘Commanding General 313 Bomb Wing to Twining, 9 Aug 1945,
Operations and Plans Division, General Staff,’ and

2) ‘Twining to Nimitz, Spaatz,’ same date (9 Aug 1945);

3) Spaatz quote from ‘Spaatz to General Lauris Norstead (Arnold’s
chief of staff), 10 Aug 1945’

4) Arnold’s reply in ‘Norstrad to Spaatz ,10 Aug 1945’

All are located in box 24, Spaatz Papers, Library of Congress.

Atomic Bomb Pit 2 – BocksCar Loading Site

VB-6 Felix Delivery —
page 65 states

“In the closing weeks of the war the Twentieth Air Force headquarters placed an order for a squadron equipped and manned to take Felix into combat. Their assembly was incomplete as the war ended.”


“A cable from the 20th Air Force, received August 9, 1945 asked that 300 FELIX bombs be shipped to Guam.”

E13-13 Flame Tank Production —
Page 370 states:

“Director of the New Developments Division, War Department Special Staff, Brig. Gen. William A. Borden, on 26 June 1945 suggested to the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4, that, in view of reports from the Pacific areas indicating the great effectiveness of the armored flame thrower, the E12-7R1 project should be assigned a priority “equally as high as the Manhattan Project.”

Upon reviewing General Borden’s memorandum the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4, passed it on to OPD for comment. Someone apparently brought the matter to the immediate attention of the Under Secretary of War, for the very next day the Under Secretary informed the Commanding General, ASF, that production of the E12-7R1 should have sufficient priority to insure delivery on schedule. The following day—28 June-General MacArthur cabled the War Department urging that units be equipped with the E12-7R1 flame thrower.”

Monthly Progress Report to Division 11 of the National Defense Research Committee on MORGAN RAM TYPE FLAME THROWER FOR M4A1 TANK covering period July 15 – August 15, 1945, File No. 11-498, Contract OEMar-1364, Directive CWS-10, Army L.O. Brig. Gen. W.C. Kabrich, Navy L.O. Major J.W. Mehring (USMC),
page 2 states:

“The five E13R1 flame guns including trunnion assemblies and dummy gun barrels were shipped to the M. W. Kellogg Company in Jersey City on Aug 3.

During the past two weeks we received a request from Major Hollingsworth to check into the possibility of procuring 500 E13R1 pintle valve and nozzle assemblies in the shortest possible time. We have advised Major Hollingsworth that by subletting this work we can obtain production on the basis of 10 units at end of the 9th week, 10 units at end of the 10th week, 15 units at end of the 11th week, 20 units at end of the 12th week, 25 units at end of the 13th week, 25 units each week there after until completed.”

22 thoughts on “History Friday: US Military Preparations The Day Nagasaki Was Nuked”

  1. There would have been horrendous problems transferring the army from Europe to the Pacific. High points NCOs would have the first option to go home. The invasion force would have had a lot of inexperienced soldiers since the high points troops would not be going, or if they were to be compelled, a serious issue of morale. There has been little attention to this issue and to the typhoon which would have hit the invasion fleet.

    Only fools and lefties are still subscribing to this myth about the bomb.

  2. Operation Olympic would have been done with Pacific theater troops and US replacements.

    Generals MacArthur, Krueger and Eichelberger were rotating replacements into Pacific units, training them and then sending them on armed patrols against by-passed Japanese troops to “blood them” prior to throwing them into Japan.

    Olympic would not see US ground troops suffering unnecessary casualties from “personnel turbulence.”

    Operation Coronet, the invasion of Honshu, is where General Marshall’s “90 Division Gamble” would have failed miserably. There were not enough troops in the Pacific for the invasion and the divisions transferred from Europe were partially demobilized mobs who didn’t now the guys next to them, not combat units.

  3. Its hard to believe that Operation Coronet—when the US had complete command of the sea and air, backed by more atomic bombs and waves of B-29s would have failed miserably. Many divisions would have been destroyed, if the Japanese population were as hostile as the worst anticipation.

    The longer the war lasted, the more likely the Soviets would have landed on Hokkaido.

    No doubt the Japanese response would have been to execute slowly all prisoners of war.

  4. I think the Bombs were used as much to keep the Soviets out of Japan as Japan’s surrender. I think they were marshaling Soviet troops in Manchuria building for a Soviet intervention (writing this I am wondering how they would have crossed the Japan Sea – with our reluctant help?)

    Interesting bit of alternative history to think of a divided Japan like Germany with Soviet influence now in the Pacific.

    Just saw “the movie “Fat Man and Little Boy” on Netflix again last night – other than the fictional accident with John Cusack’s character, it seems an accurate recollection of the times.

    I think, too, as far as Japan’s surrender, even with the bombs it took the intervention of Hirohito to bring Japan to the Missouri.

  5. ErisGuy,

    Imperial GHQ issued an order in June or July 1945 to Field Marshall Terauchi, commander of Japanese forces in Southeast Asia, to execute all Allied POW’s and interned civilians when the British invasion of Malaya started. It was scheduled for September 15 as I recall. Imperial GHQ also issued orders to kill all Allied civilians Terauchi’s forces could catch (Java, Sumatra, etc.) when the British started winning.

    Similar orders were issued to other Japanese-held areas, in China, with different starting contingencies.

    Basically the Imperial Japanese Army would have gone kill-crazy had the Emperor not ordered surrender, and the Army would have locked him up when the invasion of Kyushu started.

    We knew about this from code-breaking. Our response was already set. We’d have gassed Japanese cities from the air, and kept on gassing the Japanese Home Islands until they were all dead or surrendered. We had something like 100,000 tons of chemical munitions in the theater, and were sending all the gas munitions we could make or find (including captured German stocks) to the Pacific when the war ended.

    My personal estimate is that, had the Japanese not surrendered when they did, there’d have been about another 50 million war dead, about half being Japanese. The consequences would have been incredibly ghastly.

  6. >>Its hard to believe that Operation Coronet—when the US had complete command of the
    >>sea and air, backed by more atomic bombs and waves of B-29s would have failed miserably

    “Taking unnecessary casualties” =/= “failed miserably”

    MacArthur did not plan to include any European divisions in the initial Coronet amphibious landings, which would have been successful, but moving out from the beach heads would have required many of them and they would not have been ready.

    The biggest intial problems would have been the the XIII Corps and its two Armored Divisions, the 13th and 20th, inside of 8th Army. These were low combat time redeploying ETO units and they were going to be amphibiously loaded _in California_ and spend 30 days on amphibious transports before landing in Japan.

    All with a reequipping of the two armored divisions with
    1) All three tank battalions with M26 Pershings and M24 Chaffee for M4 Shermans and M5 Stuarts respectively,
    2) All three armored infantry battalions from Halftracks to M39 full tracked open topped APC (Based on M18
    Hellcat chassis) and
    3) All three armored artillery battalions from M7 Priest 105mm SP howitzers to M37 105mm Howitzers (based on
    the M24 Chaffee chassis).

    These two armored divisions would spend two months travelling from Europe, get a month of stateside leave, then get reequipped and loaded on transports in California, spend a month on ships crossing the Pacific and _THEN_ go directly into combat on the Kanto Plain in Japan.

    It would not have turned out well.



    “In this initial draft staff study, for the assault, First Army would command two corps, the XXIV Corps made up of the 7th, 27th and 96th Infantry Divisions, as well as the III Amphibious Corps, comprising the 1st, 4th and 6th Marine Divisions. The XXIV Corps had not been created until March 1944 but had already fought through two tough Pacific campaigns – those of Leyte and Okinawa – with all three divisions participating in both campaigns. Of the Marine Corps’ six divisions, three were scheduled to take part in Operation Olympic (2nd, 3rd and 5th) while the other three were scheduled to participate in Coronet. III Amphibious Corps had landed at Guam while V Marine Amphibious Corps had landed at Saipan and Tinian in July 1944. The 1st Marine Division was the most senior formation and had fought all the way from Guadalcanal through Peleliu to Okinawa. The 4th had fought on Iwo Jima while the 6th had fought on Okinawa. Eighth Army would command three corps – X, XIII and XIV. The X Corps had been formed in the USA in May 1942 and deployed to the Pacific in July 1944 to take part in the fighting for New Guinea and fought through the campaign for Leyte. Of the three divisions, the 37th was the most experienced, having fought on New Georgia, Bougainville and Leyte. The 24th had fought on Hollandia, New Guinea and Leyte and for the remaining months of the war was engaged in clearing the southern Philippines. The 31st trained in the USA from the time it was federalised (November 1940) until it deployed to New Guinea to continue training and finally entered combat at Morotai and in April and May 1945, helped to clear Mindanao. XIV Corps would command the 6th, 32nd and 38th Infantry Divisions. The corps had been sent to the Pacific in January 1943 to command the forces on Guadalcanal once the marines had been augmented by two army divisions, and also fought on New Guinea and Bougainville. It took part in the assault at the Lingayen Gulf under Sixth Army in January 1945 and continued to take part in the Luzon campaign until August 1945. The divisions assigned to the corps were veteran divisions, the 6th was a regular army formation that entered the Pacific War at Wake Island in 1944 and participated in the Luzon campaign from the start, mostly serving under XIV Corps. The 32nd had been sent out to Australia in May 1942 and took part in the fighting for Buna from November 1942 to January 1943. It also fought in the campaign for northern New Guinea in 1944 as well as taking art in the Leyte and Luzon campaigns. The 37th, a National Guard division like the 32nd, had seen its share of fighting on New Georgia, Bougainville and the attack at Lingayen. Of the five corps slated to take part in the initial assault, the XIII, along with its two component formations, the 13th and 20th Armoured Divisions, was the only redeployed unit scheduled to take part in the opening phase. The corps had had experience of leading armoured forces across Europe, a skill lacking among the other corps headquarters as no armoured divisions were deployed in the theatre. Both armoured divisions had entered combat during the last stages of the war in Europe and suffered relatively few casualties.

    On Y-Day+30, each army would receive an additional corps of three infantry divisions. When the staff study had been published, the corps headquarters had not been finalised but would have almost certainly had to have come from the forces in Europe. The six component divisions would have also had to have come from forces redeployed from Europe and were slated to include the 5th, 44th and 86th Infantry Divisions for the First Army, and the 4th, 8th and 87th Infantry Divisions for the Eighth Army. Likewise, with the exception of the 11th Airborne Division, all AFPAC reserves would be made up from redeployed units. The 97th Infantry Division, slated to be the floating reserve on Y-Day had entered combat late in the Northwest Europe campaign. The AFPAC follow-on reserve would contain three veteran infantry divisions – 2nd, 28th and 35th. The AFPAC strategic reserve would contain another three veteran divisions, the 91st which fought in Italy, as well as the 95th and 104th. While the plans failed to identify specific corps and corps commanders, Marshall made it plain to his assistant, General Hull, that he had no intention to seek MacArthur’s personal approval before redeploying corps headquarters and commanders to the Pacific. Instead, he sought to select those who were acknowledged as the best from the ETO and send them out. If MacArthur had any specific objections, he could make them known at that time. Marshall suggested: III Corps under Major General James A Van Fleet; V Corps under Major General C R Huebner; VII Corps under Lt General J Lawton Collins; XIII Corps under Alvan C Gillem; and XVIII Corps under Major General M B Ridgeway (Memo, Marshall to Hull, 28 May 1945, Verifax 1193, Item 2288, Marshall Library; Message, Hull to MacArthur, 29 May 1945, Verifax 1193, Item 2799, Marshall Library).”

  7. When the Germans surrendered my father was switched from tanks (Royal Armoured Corps) to Intelligence work. When Japan didn’t surrender as quickly as she logically should he was called back to tanks and they started to practise for the invasion of Japan. You’ll not be surprised to learn that he was delighted by news of the atom bombs.

  8. It would have broken America to the level of post-war England – never get up again – if we’d had to invade and conquer Japan conventionally.

    No post-war recovery. Another million American Dead. Another half million or more British Dead.

    Grinding Japan completely down is a big IF IF IF.

    If America cured AIDS tomorrow the day after the Left would criticize America. The hate is essentially religious in nature, Progs are the spawn of the Puritans.

    There’s also status seeking by holier than thou.

  9. The issue was what would get the japanese to quit.

    On the one hand they were exhausted. Their troops were starting to surrender, which was a mark of morale and low quality. Wher ehtye had before
    high quality recruits, by the end they were using low end draftees. Noodleboys not bushido samurai. Their air force was shattered, the IJN was
    feeding the fish and half the army was stranded in manchuria.

    on the other hand, they were prepping for a final last stand, and if a typhoon came in, they would view it as a divine wind.

    the issue would be woudl the command seek terms of concession and would the american leadership accept something akin to the WW1 armistice.

    The bomb sure ended that debate. I suspect the japanese would have recognized reality within a few months, with some big raids over japan and
    a decent raid Kyushu or shikoku. Landing onto the home islands would have been emotionally devastating to the japanese and one of the small islands could have been taken
    much less painfully, especially if you focused on grabbing a harbor and securing it’s approaches not taking the whole island.

    the high command was very demoralized once the russians declared war. The russians lacked an amphibous capacity but could they have grabbed manchuria and chopped up the expeditiionary army? probably. their logistical chain was weak but so was the japanese. you’d have thinly supplied russians against starving japanese expeditionary soldiers

    the war was won, the question was what would be the price for the last act. the atom bomb ended it.

  10. The post war analysis by the Strategic Bombing Survey covered the political aspect and concluded that the peace party was gaining strength. They were limited in their ability to interview the war party due to their war crimes trials so I don’t necessarily think they got the analysis correct. Gen Ayumi’s suicide left a lot of questions unanswered. If the bomb had not dropped, if another round of assassinations had shut up the peace party, if the war party coup had succeeded, if, if, if. There is a lot of wishful thinking in my opinion about the inevitable course of Japan’s internal political debate. There apparently was a real fear of assassination among the peace party and it made them timid. The cabinet was deadlocked for quite some time. Had the dice rolled some other way, the Japanese could have fought on for much longer but it’s all speculative counterfactual history.

  11. Certainly millions of Jap. lives were saved by killing thousands with the two bombs.

    By the end of WWII the task of killing people efficiently (not as efficiently as atomic bombs, but still) in large numbers was well learned and would have been applied.

  12. TMLutas said —

    >>The post war analysis by the Strategic Bombing Survey covered the political
    >>aspect and concluded that the peace party was gaining strength. They were
    >>limited in their ability to interview the war party due to their war crimes
    >>trials so I don’t necessarily think they got the analysis correct.

    There was a lot more to it than that.

    The USAAF bomber mafia was using the USSBS as a tool for creating an independent air force. Saying that bombing was strengthening the peace party in Japan was part of that institutional imperative.

    There were others. For instance, Paul Nitze flat out lied about what Japanese said in their interviews in some of the reports. I think Robert James Maddox spotted this in one of his books. (I will try and look it up later, but as today is my son David’s birthday, I make no commitments.)

    An easy source to use to check some of Nitze’s other lies in the Pacific War summary USSBS report is “Near Miss: The Army Air Forces’ Guided Bomb Program in World War II” by Donald J. Hanle.

    Nitze’s VB-1 Azon bomb table in the Pacific War summary, for a projected transportation campaign against Japan, was complete and utter fiction. It is just not supported by the historical record of guided bomb programs Hansle unearthed in the National Archives. Azon required heavy bomber formations to fly lower and in much smaller numbers than the “Combat Box” formations General Curtis LeMay pioneered in Europe in the face of German fighter opposition.

    “Near Miss” shows that LeMay removed the VB-1 Azon and VB-3 Razon radio guided bombs as an option for the Pacific B-29 strategic air campaign when he went over to mass use of incendiaries at night. The Chemical Warfare Service records and post-war histories of incendiary orders for late 1945 and 1946 make clear that incendiaries were going to be the primary payload (80%) for our B-29 force as long as the war lasted.

    MacArthur’s FEAF would have been the primary user of guided bombs in the Invasion of Japan with Chennault’s 14th Air Force a close second, against Japanese railroads in Kyushu and China receptively.

    The “Transportation Campaign” General Spaatz was going implement would have been a collateral effort of between one squadron and three squadrons of B-29’s using AN/APS-7 Eagle Radar to drop British supplied Tall boy and Grand Slam bombs against Japanese bridges. These bridges would have been East of Kyushu.

    None of that is in the USSBS.

    Only some of it is in the National Archive documents Donald J. Hanle found.

    Other records I researched independently gave me the logistical posture for MacArthur and Chennault’s air forces.

  13. >>On the one hand they were exhausted. Their troops were starting to
    >>surrender, which was a mark of morale and low quality. Where they
    >>had before high quality recruits, by the end they were using low
    >>end draftees. Noodleboys not bushido samurai. Their air force was
    >>shattered, the IJN was feeding the fish and half the army was
    >>stranded in Manchuria.


    The majority of Japanese Army mass surrenders happened after 12 August 1945, to the Red Army in Manchuria, when the orders from Tokyo to destroy documents prior to surrender came.

    Allied Code breakers picked that up and it set off a scramble by military staffs for surrender plans and by the American OSS in China, Australian SOA and UK SAS to free POW and internees before the bushido samurai die hards could execute them.

    And please note that a few “bushido samurai” die hards at places like Iwo Jima and Okinawa turned a bunch of “Noodleboys” into stone killers inside cave fortifications.

    The Die Hards wanted their decisive battle and national suicide if they failed.

    The A-bomb destroyed that fantasy as surely as it destroyed both Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    The Japanese elites were then faced with either the choice of the American or the Soviet boot on their neck.

    The Emperor chose wisely.

  14. Whitehall said:

    >>As to the Russians, I doubt they could have mobilized an amphibious
    >>invasion force in the Far East very quickly. Manchuria was in their
    >>overland grasp, certainly, and grasp it they did.

    The FDR & Truman Administrations were secretly supplying the Russians with a small amphibious fleet in 1945.


    “Project Hula : Secret Soviet American Naval Cooperation in the War Against Japan” by Richard A. Russell (Sep 1997)


    or wikipedia here:


    If I counted right at the wiki-link, the US Navy transferred 32 Large infantry landing craft (LCI(L)) to the Russians in the Summer of 1945. Each LCI(L) could carry an infantry company with light crew served heavy weapons (Machine guns and mortars).

    Some 32 infantry companies is roughly the combat elements of a Soviet WW2 Rifle Infantry division.

    The Soviets could get into Hokkaido in late August-Early September 1945. Whether they could have _stayed_ in the face of Japanese wood and fabric biplane Kamikazes hitting their LCI(L) transports, without massive US Navy carrier fleet help, is a very different matter.

    At the very least it would have made any alternate history IJA Coup leaders move men, equipment and especially Kamikazes from Honshu to Hokkaido and from Kyushu and to Honshu.

  15. Trent,

    So the Russian invasion force could have been 1 division of infantry per landing and resupply cycle. And at the end of a 5,000 mile logistic chain via the single track Trans-Siberian railway.

    Sounds like the Russians could only have invaded Japan if the US supported the invasion with materiel, naval support, and air cover.

    It might have been an option for US war planners to, as you noted, create a diversion but it would have been at our call.

  16. Michael Kennedy Says:
    August 9th, 2013 at 9:08 am

    Not arguing the all but impossible difficulties of re-deploying ETO units to the PTO; I do not think the demobilization of personnel would have been as major a problem as you think.

    1) My father was a decorated combat NCO, 71st Infantry Division. His unit went the farthest east of any Army unit in the ETO. He and his unit fully expected to be redeployed to invade Japan.

    2) The point system ran roughly thusly:

    each month in service = 1 point
    each month in service overseas = 1 point
    combat award (including medal and battle stars) = 5 points
    dependent child under age 18 = 12 points

    with 85 points needed for discharge.

    PTO Army personnel were deployed overseas and in combat from early 1942. The Army ETO buildup was largely in ’43-’44 with ground combat not beginning until late ’42 in North Africa. But that was with just 6 Divisions, a fraction of eventually deployed Army ETO forces. Most of our ETO forces would have had roughly 24 points for overseas service, and less than a year of time beyond that for total service. So 36 points for total service, and 24 for overseas = 60 points before combat awards.

    3) Add to that something not mentioned. The point system allowed the Army to “freeze” critical MOS’s and personnel. And at the time, we did not have a media and political culture that was anti-military and anti-war. The country was united in wanting to defeat Japan. They would have not allowed the point system to interfere with the war effort, and it would have been supported by most everyone, including the troops.

    Discharges would not have been the critical problem. The logistics of moving the forces from one side of the world, back to the US, retraining and re-equipping them [the re-equipping would have made things logistically easier because the old equipment would not have had to be shipped back quickly if new was to be issued from home], and then moving them to Japan would have been unprecedentedly horrendous. It took 2+ years to get the forces to Europe, and even absent any naval threat to the movement back across the Atlantic it would be amazing to do it in less than a year in total. Selected units, of course, would be given priority and moved faster.

    ETO forces and newly raised units from the ZI would have been the follow-on, with the first waves being PTO forces.

    I still regard the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as being unalloyed good things given the only alternatives.

    Subotai Bahadur

  17. SB,

    See this from page 486 of

    The Technical Services


    General MacArthur announced on 29 July 1943 that lack of shipping would “operate to prevent the return of individuals or units to the United States under any rotation policy or at the end of any specified period of duty.”134 Individuals and units were to be rotated within the theater—for example, from New Guinea to Australia—so as to furnish relief in remote and isolated stations and in localities where climatic conditions were severe. Special consideration was given to the sick and wounded and to Air Forces personnel, and in November 1943 the War Department notified the theater of the increasing pressure to establish a policy for return to the zone of interior of personnel long engaged in “especially hard, debilitating, or isolated service overseas.” However, the return of any appreciable number of military personnel could not be effected until the latter stages of the war. In each often of the fifteen months from August 1943 through October 1944, fewer than 1,000 troops from SWPA were debarked in the United States.135 The number debarked per month fell as low as 11 in October 1944, but thereafter troop debarkation’s increased substantially, exceeding 20,000 per month in July and August 1945.

    MacArthur’s rotation policy above did not include Naval personnel on ships in and out of the SWPA theater.

    Naval land based aviation units in the SWPA were under Kenney’s 5th Air Force, and later FEAF, operational control and subject to the same SWPA/FEAF rules.

    Kenney’s rotated policy for pilots was far more often than ground crews as ragged & stressed out pilots became dead pilots after about 6-months of intense air operations.

  18. Re General Marshall’s “90 Division Gamble”:

    I had not realized Marshall was responsible for
    the relatively small US ground army. What was
    his reasoning?

    I had read that Truman pushed for a smaller army
    because he felt that the US military was neglecting
    civilian needs. Not sure if “civilian” was broader
    in this context, and included war production.

  19. I had not realized Marshall was responsible for
    the relatively small US ground army. What was
    his reasoning?

    It wasn’t just Marshall. The army was caught short by the Battle of the Bulge. Eisenhower was going around collecting rear echelon troops and sending them into front line combat units.

    Chapter 25 of Pogue’s biography of Marshall, Volume 4, is titled, “Crisis of Manpower” and deals with the consequences of the Ardennes offensive by the germans.

    Selective Service was headed by General Hershey and they had reduced conscription, partly due to concerns about production. There was a severe ammunition shortage before the Bulge began. Strikes had begun to affect production of ball turrets, for example, in December 1944.

    The country was starting to believe the war was won and the politics of selective service were not simple.

    Pogue’s biography goes into it extensively,

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