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Old 08-06-2012, 11:21 AM
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Default This Day in History

August 6th, 1945

The atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima took place.

"And behold! I am created, the destroyer of Worlds!"
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Old 08-06-2012, 12:57 PM
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Old 08-07-2012, 07:14 AM
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I, for one, am ok with the dropping of the atomic bomb. My dad was training to be a carrier pilot for the invasion of Japan. They were told in training that 50% casualties in pilots was to be expected.

My $0.02

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Old 08-07-2012, 07:40 AM
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August 6th, 1945
Of course that was yesterday - international date line and all that!
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Old 08-07-2012, 08:24 AM
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I, for one, am ok with the dropping of the atomic bomb. My dad was training to be a carrier pilot for the invasion of Japan. They were told in training that 50% casualties in pilots was to be expected.

My $0.02

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I, too, sleep well at night knowing the bombs were dropped.
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Old 08-07-2012, 07:23 PM
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I'll be the third to say I loose no sleep with the use of the bombs. My dad was in an armored field artillery in the Philipines at the time. He had a buddy that went on occupation in Japan, toured the beaches that they were scheduled to assault in third wave with their 'Priests'. It was attrocious the defenses they faced, and explained why they had at least three times basic load of cannister rounds. Lord only knows what the casulties would have been, but there's a high probability that I would never have been born.
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Old 08-07-2012, 08:48 PM
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The casualties for Olympic and Coronet would have been scary.

In some readings about 1995, I found some stuff that indicated that Magic/Ultra had let MacArthur down. Initially, it was thought there were 4 Japanese divisions on Kyushu, then they revised that to 9 divisions by August. American plans called for landing 3 corps, so that's about 9-10 divisions for the attacker. Not good odds, even with all the carriers we had, and air support from Okinawa. (This would have all been from the forces available in the Pacific, troops & planes from Europe would still be in transit.)

The scary bit for me was discovering the Japanese really had 14 divisions there, plus 3 tank brigades, and a really good idea where we were going to land. The difference was in troops pulled from Manchuria, so they were somewhat fresh and tested.
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Old 08-07-2012, 10:10 PM
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I've been watching some of the more recent programs on the war in the Pacific. I'm struck by the increasing ferocity of combat as the fighting drew nearer to Japan. Honestly, I'm rather surprised that chemical weapons weren't used against the general population to soften them up before the initial landings. Too many of us look at the atomic bombings from our comfortable viewpoints and have no concept of the outlook of Americans who were facing fighting as brutal as anything on the Eastern Front.
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Old 08-08-2012, 06:43 AM
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I've been watching some of the more recent programs on the war in the Pacific. I'm struck by the increasing ferocity of combat as the fighting drew nearer to Japan. Honestly, I'm rather surprised that chemical weapons weren't used against the general population to soften them up before the initial landings. Too many of us look at the atomic bombings from our comfortable viewpoints and have no concept of the outlook of Americans who were facing fighting as brutal as anything on the Eastern Front.

MY musings on the subject - all in my humble opinion of course..

It is doubtless that Japan committed warcrimes on a large scale from 1933 - 1945. ( Their second world war period.) They eventually reaped the spoils of this and of course the populace bore the brunt.

Japan was subjected to a massive and near unprecedented atrocious aerial bombardment by the USAF. ( Conventional). Civillian centers were targeted as well as industrial and military targets. The USAF even commissioned 75 000 (!) V1 rockets or copies thereof to further slam the Japanese in the hope that they would give in. ( Dont know if any where used or how many actuallt were built).

The USN also blockaded Japan to the best of its ability leading to massive shortages, starvation and general need. Still the Japanese did not give in and indeed they conducted massive militarization programs to organise large parts of the populace into militias - some even armed with melee weapons.

The US / allied forces were faced with a large and professional force and a huge militia force that were well dug in and fighting in their homeland. Allied landing areas wrere limited. Japanese tenacity and so on were well known factors. Some allied analysts even believed that guerilla warfare would continue for years or even decades after a successful invasion and subsequent victory - if that was accomplished at all.

Casualties overall for the allies would have been staggering. So high, infact , that some believed ( like the Japanese high command as far as I know) that a truce or peace with some sort of acceptable terms would be possible for Japan.The allies had to take into account their public opinion back home as well as the military realities. This meant that they also had a timelimit to consider to see the victory through.

In this climate if you will , the decision to drop the atomic bombs was taken. The US gambled that Japan would surrender shortly after the event and that the loss of life would be relatively small compared to protracted and all out conventional warfare. This probably includes calculations on Japanese casualties.

So it is not easy to judge on the morality of the matter. The nukes probably killed a lot less people than the blockade and the conventional bombing campaigns against the civilian population did. Using WMD against populated areas is crossing a line nevertheless.

Everyone should make up their own minds I guess.
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Old 08-08-2012, 07:40 AM
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MY musings on the subject - all in my humble opinion of course..

So it is not easy to judge on the morality of the matter. The nukes probably killed a lot less people than the blockade and the conventional bombing campaigns against the civilian population did. Using WMD against populated areas is crossing a line nevertheless.

Everyone should make up their own minds I guess.
I agree only on this point that the cost in civilian lives was the lesser of two evils.
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Old 08-08-2012, 07:55 AM
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One oft-overlooked fact was that the Japanese also had 3000 aircraft remaining - most outdated, or in poor condition - to sortie against the invasion fleet. This amounted to, by US estimates, two to three destroyed carriers of the line (destroyed as in, totally sunk) plus a lot of other smaller support ships. That's assuming CAP and perimeter defense ships worked entirely as planned.

The invasion also called for the softening up of enemy positions with atom bombs, so even more would've been used. And US troops would've marched straight into the fallout zones.
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Old 08-08-2012, 07:59 AM
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I'm morally torn on the nuking of Japan (twice). On one hand I'm against the targeting of civilian population centers with WMDs. On the other hand the Japanese treated Allied POWs about as bad as it's possible to treat anyone. So I can't help but feel that, as a society, the bastards had it coming. I still feel bad though, for the women and children of Hiroshima and Nagasaki who had little to no influence over what the Japanese military had done.
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Old 08-09-2012, 12:37 AM
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The use of nuclear weapons is a horrific thing; this should never be forgotten. I pray they are never, ever used to harm human beings again.

Saying that, and borrowing on Targan's comment on WMDs, need I point out the CBW branch of the Imperial Army, Special Unit 731 and its long run in China and Manchuria? Or the specialized ceramic "bomb" developed to keep bacteriologic weapons viable until dropped? Bubonic plague-infested rats set loose in China, such that the disease kept resurfacing for years thereafter? Then there is the Uranium-235 shipped to Japan from Germany, with which the Japanese were to manufacture a dirty bomb: any doubt as to whether they would have hesitated for humanitarian reasons?

Consideration for the civilian population was not a strong point in Japanese military culture, and hadn't been for over a decade--problems were evident in China in the '20s.
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Old 08-09-2012, 02:09 AM
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I agree with Targan and Wallshadow - in the context of the time using nuclear weapons probably seemed more acceptable.

Given the scope and brutality of WWII maybe we should be thankful the various sides didnt use more WMDs..
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Old 08-09-2012, 02:08 PM
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On August 9 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. It was an act that saw the end of World War II - and lead to the deaths of more than 150,000 people.
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Old 08-09-2012, 07:53 PM
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On August 9 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. It was an act that saw the end of World War II - and lead to the deaths of more than 150,000 people.
124000 died in the firebombing of Tokyo. Had no atom bombs been dropped, more cities would have been scourged thusly.
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Old 08-09-2012, 08:12 PM
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Honestly, I'm rather surprised that chemical weapons weren't used against the general population to soften them up before the initial landings.
Many of the scenarios for Olympica did call for the use of chemicals. And the use of possibly as many as seven more atomic bombs. And the new P-80 Shooting Star and Gloster Meteor. And captured German V-1s and V-2s. And pretty much anything else that crossed the NCA's minds at the time.

The first day would have called for five landing beaches, each one the size of the entire Overlord operation. Countries that had thusfar only played a bit part in World War 2 would be contributing hundreds or thousands of troops.
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Old 08-09-2012, 09:10 PM
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Countries that had thus far only played a bit part in World War 2 would be contributing hundreds or thousands of troops.
Not sure what you mean here. MacArthur was actively trying to limit the number of Commonwealth forces committed, and they certainly weren't playing bit parts.
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Old 08-10-2012, 12:05 AM
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Absolutely. Take Australia for example. For a while there we were the ONLY country fighting in the Pacific region, and it was Australian troops which inflicted the first defeats upon the Japanese.
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Old 08-10-2012, 03:20 AM
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Not sure what you mean here. MacArthur was actively trying to limit the number of Commonwealth forces committed, and they certainly weren't playing bit parts.
There were a number of American nations that would possibly have been involved as they were already working with or as part of the Allied war effort.

Mexico had already committed a fighter squadron and its support components to the Pacific war (operating in the Phillipines).

Argentina declared war on Germany and Japan in March 1945 but before then about 800 Argentine volunteers served with British, Canadian and South African air forces in Europe.

Brazil had sent an air force/army expeditionary force to the Mediterranean of some 25,000 personnel after German u-boat attacks on Brazilian shipping and would likely have sent troops to the Pacific because the public supported the cause.

Chile distanced itself from the Axis powers over the course of the war and declared war against Japan in 1945 although by then the war was almost over.

Colombia was in a "state of belligerency" with Germany after a u-boat sank a Colombian ship in late 1943. Colombian forces helped guard the Panama Canal.

Cuba declared war against the Axis powers in 1941 and was planning a conscription programme so they could send troops but they were still being finalized when the war ended.

Dominican Republic declared war on Japan and Germany after Pearl Harbour and about 110-120 Dominicans were placed in US units and fought in the war.

Guatemala declared war on Japan and Germany after Pearl Harbour.

Honduras declared war on Japan and Germany after Pearl Harbour.

Nicaragua declared war on Japan after Pearl Harbour and then later on Germany and its European allies.

Uruguay while neutral for most of the war declared war against the Axis towards the end of the war although a number of pilots joined the Free French
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Old 08-10-2012, 02:08 PM
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One oft-overlooked fact was that the Japanese also had 3000 aircraft remaining - most outdated, or in poor condition - to sortie against the invasion fleet. This amounted to, by US estimates, two to three destroyed carriers of the line (destroyed as in, totally sunk) plus a lot of other smaller support ships. That's assuming CAP and perimeter defense ships worked entirely as planned.
Okinawa cost the USN dearly in ships sunk and damaged. But it could have been much worse. The Kapanese military followed their normal doctrine and went for the capital warships. With the invasion of Japan, their targeting lists were changed...the kamikaze's would instead attack troop transports as they neared the coast
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Old 08-10-2012, 02:36 PM
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Default Operation Ketsu-Go

June of 1945 saw the Allies advancing to within striking range of the Japanese home islands. The Philippines were mostly recaptured. The Imperial Navy had been devasted in the battles of the Philippine Sea and Leyte Gulf. The Japanese merchant marine was a shell of its former self, gutted by U.S. submarines, air power and mines. The fall of the islands of Iwo Jima and Okinawa gave the U.S. bases for reinforcing the strategic air campaign against Japan. Germany had finally surrendered and Japan faced the wraith of the United Nations, alone.

The Japanese plan for their final battle was KETSU-GO (Decisive Struggle), it had the twin objectives of defeating the Allies militarily, as well as psychologically. Its goal was to inflict so many losses upon the Allies, that they would be forced to abdanon their unconditional surrender policy and enter negotations with Japan.

The Japanese had several advantages that might have lead to their success. First, being islands, Japan would have to be attacked via amphibious assault. Second, even groaning under the weight of the American bombing campaign, Japan could still produce some 1,200 aircraft a month and had sufficient weapons and supplies to equip its land forces. SInce the Japanese would be fighting on their home islands, their gorces would not be isolated as they had been for much of the war. The Imperial General Headquarters was optimistic that they would be able to force the Allies to the peace table and that they would be able to keep the majority of their possessions.

IGHQ anticipated that the Americans would first attack Kyushu and seize harbors and air fields to support later landings and they built up their fortifications not only on the beaches, but inland as well. Their goal was to engage the Americans and either defeat them or inflict unacceptable losses. The kamikazes would be used during the initial phase of the American assault landings to strike their assault transports, massive losses to the assault troops would firther delay and disrupt the American invasion.

The Japanese would also enjoy the advantage of the terrain, much of Kyushu was mountainous. The Japanese would be able to defend in depth and make the Allies pay for every yard that they gained. IGHQ intended to reinforce Kyushu during the battle. Even if the US eventually conquered the island, the assault on Honshu would be delayed, making Wasington that much more willing to negotate.

The 16th Area Army was charged with the initial defense of Kyushu. US Intelligence placed its strength at two armored and no less than fifteen infantry divisions. To dispute American airpower, the Japanese had 4,000 army and 5,000 naval aircraft available (roughly half of these were of these were obselete aircraft to be used as kamikazes). The IJN was responisble for mainting control of the communications between the home islands and with Manchuria. By August, 1945, the IJN had six aircraft carriers, four battleships, eleven cruisers, forty-two destroyers and fifty-eight submarines as well as thousands of special attack craft (kamikazes), ranging from midget submarines, motor boats loaded with explosives, to human guided torpedoes as well as divers carrying satchel charges.
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Old 08-10-2012, 02:52 PM
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Default Operation Downfall, the plan

The final US plan for the invasion of Japan was Operation Downfall. It consisted to two components: Operation Olympic, the invasion of Kyushu, to secure naval and air bases and Operation Coronet, the invasion of the main island of Honshu.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff, in the summer of 1945, had three basic choices for Downfall. First, to encircle Japan by invading China, establish bases there and use those bases to first blockade and then to invade the home islands. Second, to isolate Japna via naval blockade and massively reinforce the existing bombing campaign and force Japan to surrender without having to invade the home islands. Third, was to assault Japn through amphibious invasion and force the Japanese to surrender by seizing Tokyo and key industrial areas.

The JCS strongly debated these courses, the naval supporting option two and the army supporting option three. The first option was rejected as it would needlessly run up casualties without forcing Japan to surrender. Other worries were that the growing war wariness would force an end to the war before final victory was achieved. There was also the very real concern that Kapanese forces outside of the home islands would continue to fight on. On May 25, 1945, the JCS issued a directive to launch an amphibious assault on Japan. General Douglas MacArthur was placed in command of Operation Olympic.

On 18 June, the JCD presented their plans to President Truman, who issued the go order for Downfall. And on July 26, he, British Prime Minister Clement Atlee and Soviet leader Josef Stalin issued the Potsdam Declaration warning Japan to surrender of face "total destruction". The Japanese rejected this ultimatum and on July 30, the JCS directed Generals MacArthur and Wedemeyer (commanding in China) and Admiral Nimitz to coordinating plans for Downfall. Operation Olympic would jump off first, followed four months alter by Coronet.

The British contribution to Olympic would consist of the British Pacific Fleet and elements of the Royal Air Force. The British would contribute more forces for Coronet. One of the factors limiting the size of the British forces were the deep concerns that Japanese units the remainder of the Far East would go on fighting, even if the home islands did surrender. It would be necessary to retain forces for posisble use. The British still planned for a force of from three to six divisions to be committed to Cornet. The specific units were never designated, but would have most likely consisted of at least one British, Australia, New Zealand, India and possibly a Canadian infantry divisions.
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Old 08-10-2012, 03:01 PM
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Default Operation Downfall, the logistical side

The logistical problems supporting Downfall were immence. The American line of supply streatched for thousands of miles back to the United States. It was necessary to build bases, support facilites and warhouse faciliteis.

Downfall called for a force of forty-two divisions. This included thirteen reserved for Olympic and twenty-nine for Coronet. Twenty-seven of these divisions were already present in the Pacific, another fifteen would have to be redeployed from Europe and a strategic reserve of an additional fifteen divisions would be maintained in the United States.

The Philippines, Okinawa and other Pacific islands would be developed as base areas for Downfall. Not only would the massive combat force need to be sustained, but the tens of thousands of support troops, the engineers, supplu, ordnance, medical, transport and administrative personnel would have to be housed and supplied.

Initially, the plan was to abandon existing bases and build new, much larger bases. But this would require far too much transportation effort to move the existing bases. Two choices were made, first was to expanded the existing bases, coupled with new base construction at strategic areas, and second was to make shipments of men and material, straight from the United States and directly to the assault areas. There were even plans to invade the northenmost island of Hokkaido, to open supply lines to Russia in the event of Soviet participation in the invasion of Japan.
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Old 08-10-2012, 03:28 PM
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Default Downfall/Ketsu-Go, the Orders of Battle

Imperial General Headquarters would defend the home islands with six Area Armies. The 5th Area Army (HQ in Sapporo) would defend Hokkaido with five infantry divisions, the 11th (HQ in Sendai) with six infantry divisions, 12th (HQ in Tokyo) with two armored and twenty infantry divisions, 13th (HQ in Nagoya) with seven infantry divisions (two forming) and 15th (HQ in Osaka), with eight infantry divisions, Area Armies were responsible for the main island of Honshu and the 16th Area Army (HQ in Fukuoka), with two armored, fifteen infantry divisions was responsible for Kyushu. In reserve, in CHina) were the 6th Area Army (HQ in Wuchang-Hengyang) with eleven infantry divisions, the 23rd Area Army (HQ in Canton) with three infantry divisions and the North Chine Reserve Army, with one armored and five infantry divisions.

Supporting the defense were three Air Armies, the 1st was based in northern Honshu and fielded 600 kamizake and 500 combat aircraft, the 6th Air Army was based in southern Honshu and fielded 1,000 kamizake and 500 combat aircraft, in reserve was the 5th Air Army (in Korea) with 500 kamikazes and 200 combat aircraft.

The initial forces for Operation Olympic would be the 6th Army, consisting of the Fifth Amphibious Corps (2nd, 3rd and 5th Marine Divisions), First Corp (25th, 33rd and 41st Infantry Divisions) and Eleventh Corps (1st Cavalry, Americal and 43rd Infantry Divisions), in reseve would be the Ninth Corps (77th, 83rd and 98th Infantry Divisions. Army reserve would consist of the 40th Infantry Division and the 158th Regimental Combat Team.

The initial forces for Operation Coronet would be the Eighth Army, consisting of the Tenth Corps (6th, 31st, 81st Infantry Divisions) , Thirteen Corps (3rd and 6th Armored and 1st Infantry Divisions) and the Fourteenth Corps (32nd 93rd,75th Infantry Divisions) as well as the Tenth Army, consisting of the Third Amphibious Corps (1st, 4th and 6th Marine Divisions) and the Twenty-Fourth Corps (37th, 38th. 96th Infantry Divisions). Force reserve would be the 11th Airborne Division. Follow-up forces would consist of the First Army
(2nd, 8th, 9th, 24th, 28th, 69th, 76th, 87th, 89th, 104th Infantry and the 101st Airborne Divisions).

The Commonwealth would be represented by three divisions (2nd British,
7th Australian, and 5th Indian and the 3rd Commando Brigade); these are very suspect and any specific knowledge would be gratefully included!
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Old 08-10-2012, 03:40 PM
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Default The Preliminary Rounds

Operation Downfall was actually implemented, in part. In March, 1945 Operation Starvation, the mining of the Japanese coastal waters was launched. This was designed to isolate Japan from the rest of its empire and to paralyze much of its transport. Even through the mining campaign sunk very few ships, it was effective in that the IJN had to mount minesweeping operations for several days prior to any convoy, this would alert American reconnaissance aircarft and air strikes would sunk yet more of Japan's shrinking minesweeper force

Starvation cut Japan from its overseas supply of resources. The lack of oil crippled the IJN and their air forces. Because of fuel limitations, the Japanese could not train their pilots, and major fleets were forced to remain in port, to be raided at will by American air power. Food shortages led to general malnutrition in the civilian population.

At the same time, the B-29 force launched the first of its incendiary attacks against industrial cities. They destroyed the centers of Tokyo, Nagoya, Kobe, Osaka and Yokohama in massive firebombing raids which killed over 300,000 civilians.

Beginning in May 1945, Admiral Halsey's Third Fleet was ordered to "attack Japanese naval and air forces, shipping, shipyards and coastal objectives." The Third Fleet, with the attached British Pacific Fleet commenced operations on July 1, 1945. First gaining air superiority by destroying 550 Japanese aircraft in air-to-air combat and in raids on their airbases. Airstrikes were also launched in the warships of the IJN, this resulted in the loss of many warships and effectively ended the threat of the IJN. THe Americans and the British also used naval gunfire to bombard Japanese coastal fortifications.
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Old 08-10-2012, 03:57 PM
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Default The End Game

X-Day for Operation Olympic was to be November 1, 1945.

Third Fleet had the mission of suppress any remaining Japanese airpower and disrupting their communications from July 28 to October 3rd, 1945. Then they would shift to tactical ground support and interdiction missions.

Fifth Fleet would conduct the actual invasion. It would consist of the 3rd, 5th and 7th Amphibious Forces, two groups of fast carriers, a gunfire support force, a covering force and an escort carrier force. The air/naval bombardment of the landing beaches would commence on October 23rd and last until X-Day.

Each of the Sixth's Army corps would be teamed with an Amphibious Force. I Corps and the 7th Amphib would land on the east coast, just south of the city of Miyazaki. XI Corps and the 3rd Amphib would land in Ariaki Bay with the mission of seizing the port of Kagoshima. Fifth Amphib Corps and the 5th Amphib Force would land south of the city of Kushikino and then drive on Kagoshima. The 40th Infantry Division would be used to seize the off shore islands of Kuchinoerabu Shima, Kuro Shima, Kisakaki Shima, Uji Gunto and Koshiki Retto (to be used as radar stations and to shelter fleet units) The final objective line of Operation Olympic would run from the city of Tsuno on the east coast to the city of Sendai on the west coast. The Ninth Corps would stage a diversionary landing off Shikoku on X-Day to draw Japanese reserves and then land on Kyushu around November 4 and remain in reserve.

Operation Olympic never came to be. The US became the first and only country to denote atomic weapons in wartime. On August 6th, 1945, the city of Hiroshima was struck and then, on August 9th, 1945, the city of Nagasaki was struck. Japan offered to surrender on August 10th. The offical ceremony ending the war took place on September 2, 1945 with the signing of the surrender document onboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

It is perhaps a final bit of irony that the Japanese did not surrender unconditionally. The Allies agreed to allow Emperor to remain on his throne, although without any real power.

sources used include "Operation Downfall" "Samurai Sunset" and "Death is Lighter Than a Feather."
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Old 08-10-2012, 03:59 PM
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There's a logical fallacy here that I'd like to point out. I don't think one can justify the killing of Japanese civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki by arguing that the Japanese [military] killed many civilians throughout Asia. The women and children and senior citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki weren't the ones killing civilians in China and elsewhere, so they didn't really "earn" the fate that befell them. Most people wouldn't argue that Yugoslavian or French or Ukranian or Polish (etc.) civilians deserved to get shot by the Nazis as reprisals for partisan actions. That, in most people's minds, would constitute a clear war crime. Unfortunately, this standard gets tossed out the window when it could be applied to "enemy" civilians. I guess that I just don't believe in collective punishment.

From the standpoint of projected military and civilian casualties for planned invasion of the Home Islands, I can understand the reasoning to drop the bombs. Preserving the lives of American and Allied servicemen that surely would have perished during an invasion of the Home Islands is certainly a logical rationale. Considering that the Japanese high command was actively mobilizing civilians, including women and children, to participate in the defense of the Home Islands, civilian casualties in Japan would likely have been much higher than the toll exacted by the atomic bombings. In that sense, the bombings most liklely saved many Japanese civilian lives. There's a cold mathematical logic there that it is difficult to argue against.

That said, I wish a purely military target was selected for the first bombing, instead of a civilian population center. I think that would have been the more ethical path to tread.

To complicate things further, a secondary motive of the bombings was to demonstrate American power to the emergent Soviet Union. That this display cost tens of thousands of third party civilian lives is kind of messed up.
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Old 08-10-2012, 04:06 PM
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Casualties overall for the allies would have been staggering. So high, infact , that some believed ( like the Japanese high command as far as I know) that a truce or peace with some sort of acceptable terms would be possible for Japan.The allies had to take into account their public opinion back home as well as the military realities. This meant that they also had a timelimit to consider to see the victory through.
The inital estimates for Operation Olympic placed the losses at 32% of the assault force.

Total Allied losses for Operation Downfall for all services, ran as high as 350,000 killed/wounded/missing. Estimates for the Japanese military ran into at least 800,000 k/w/m with another 1.2-2 million civilian losses.

I don't envy the decision that President Truman had to make, there is no doubt, that at the time, he made the only decision possible, ironically to destroy two cities so suddenly and in such a frightful manner that even the Japanese military had to admit that the war was lost.

Nowdays, it is popular to proclaim that his decision was based on racism and that more "humane" methods of fighting would have brought the Japanese to the peace table...etc, etc, ad nauseum and so forth.

But if one bothers to ask the GIs who were destined to disembark on X-Day..."When the bombs were dropped, I knew that the war would end and I would live."
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Old 08-10-2012, 06:12 PM
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There's a logical fallacy here that I'd like to point out. I don't think one can justify the killing of Japanese civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki by arguing that the Japanese [military] killed many civilians throughout Asia. The women and children and senior citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki weren't the ones killing civilians in China and elsewhere, so they didn't really "earn" the fate that befell them. Most people wouldn't argue that Yugoslavian or French or Ukranian or Polish (etc.) civilians deserved to get shot by the Nazis as reprisals for partisan actions. That, in most people's minds, would constitute a clear war crime. Unfortunately, this standard gets tossed out the window when it could be applied to "enemy" civilians. I guess that I just don't believe in collective punishment.

From the standpoint of projected military and civilian casualties for planned invasion of the Home Islands, I can understand the reasoning to drop the bombs. Preserving the lives of American and Allied servicemen that surely would have perished during an invasion of the Home Islands is certainly a logical rationale. Considering that the Japanese high command was actively mobilizing civilians, including women and children, to participate in the defense of the Home Islands, civilian casualties in Japan would likely have been much higher than the toll exacted by the atomic bombings. In that sense, the bombings most liklely saved many Japanese civilian lives. There's a cold mathematical logic there that it is difficult to argue against.

That said, I wish a purely military target was selected for the first bombing, instead of a civilian population center. I think that would have been the more ethical path to tread.

To complicate things further, a secondary motive of the bombings was to demonstrate American power to the emergent Soviet Union. That this display cost tens of thousands of third party civilian lives is kind of messed up.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dragoon500ly View Post
The inital estimates for Operation Olympic placed the losses at 32% of the assault force.

Total Allied losses for Operation Downfall for all services, ran as high as 350,000 killed/wounded/missing. Estimates for the Japanese military ran into at least 800,000 k/w/m with another 1.2-2 million civilian losses.

I don't envy the decision that President Truman had to make, there is no doubt, that at the time, he made the only decision possible, ironically to destroy two cities so suddenly and in such a frightful manner that even the Japanese military had to admit that the war was lost.

Nowdays, it is popular to proclaim that his decision was based on racism and that more "humane" methods of fighting would have brought the Japanese to the peace table...etc, etc, ad nauseum and so forth.

But if one bothers to ask the GIs who were destined to disembark on X-Day..."When the bombs were dropped, I knew that the war would end and I would live."
I understand and empathize with the sentiments expressed here about both sides of the war in the Pacific but unfortunately as Raellus stated, there is a cold mathematical logic applied.
This has to be the case if the war was to be concluded without a vastly extended casualty list on both sides. No matter what, the atomic bomb was going to be used and used for the reasons others here have pointed out - to be really simplistic, Japan was the giant and the atomic bomb was the giant killer.

Unfortunately for civilians, a military target would not have been a sufficient demonstration of the power of the 'bomb'. The Japanese had many bases and could probably afford to lose half a dozen without destroying their will to wage war. But cities, cities were manufacturing the goods that ALL the bases needed to survive. It's not enough to kill the enemies soldiers, you have to kill his ability to wage war. It means destroying cities and it means civilians will get killed but a leader of a nation at war cannot afford to think of the enemy civilians and really, they cannot afford to think of the lives of individual soldiers from their own forces.

They have to think of the majority and only the majority. The emotional burden from thinking otherwise would crush the spirit of many people but a leader at war cannot afford this luxury. It's a vile notion and I despise the rationale that "the ends justifies the means" but the fact remains - to stop the enemy, you have to stop their ability to wage war and at that time, the quickest way to do so was to destroy their workforce and further, their will to fight.
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