Sunday, July 8, 2012

Could the Allies have won the war without the United States?

Some readers of my earlier articles have asked me to consider discussing this, and I am feeling a bit light hearted, so here goes with a bit of what we Australians call 'shit-stirring'. (Ie: a post inviting furious, sometimes rabid, response... Enjoy)

The answer is yes.... and no.

Let me put it another way.

Would the Allies have won the war better if the Americans had been contributing as an 'arsenal of democracy' but NOT involved in the fighting?

Probably yes.

American industrial reserves and financial reserves were as important to the Allies winning WW2 as British industrial and financial reserves were to the earlier Allies winning WW1, and the Napoleonic Wars (in which by the way the US fought on Napoleon's side).

In fact in the Napoleonic war, as in WW1 and in WW2, the money and equipment delivered by Britain/the US was far more important than the numbers of their actual boots on the ground. (I am perhaps understating the importance of the British army in WW1, but realistically its input in ground troops during the Napoleonic wars were as negligible as American input to WW2 prior to 1945.) The vital impact of Britain in both the earlier wars was in equipping the millions of Prussians or Austrians or Russians or Italians or French or Serbs or whichever warm bodies were available. I would contend that the same goes for the US in WW2 (especially on the Eastern Front).

Let us consider a few negative impacts of the Americans joining the war.

1.    The battle of the Atlantic, well on the way to being won in 1941, was almost lost in 1942 and 1943. Up to three quarters of shipping lost during the war was because of the loss of the American 'safe zone' in the Western Atlantic - and particularly the second 'Happy Time' for the U-boats - the diversion of US Navy vessels to the Pacific, and the latter withdrawal of escort carriers to invade North Africa. A very, very good argument can be made that this alone caused many extra military losses for the Allies, and slowed their resurgence by.... well by the number of ship loads that would have got through without those horrendous losses. It is no joke to suggest that a still neutral US, guaranteeing the Western Atlantic, and putting all the resources needed for replacement shipping into tanks and aircraft and landing craft, would have greatly improved the fighting position of the many millions of under-resourced Allied troops fighting with inadequate supplies. Net effect on the length of the war... incalculable.

2.    The equipment lost to American entry had a terrible effect on Allied fighting resources for years. By this I literally mean that the Allies - particularly Britain, but also Russia and China and many others like the Netherlands East Indies - had commissioned, and sometimes paid for, the development and production of vast quantities of equipment needed for winning the war: much of which was then syphoned into American training programs for recruits who would not be available for several years. Some of these things, ranging from ships and tanks to planes and guns, were supposed to come on line in 1942, but did not get into action large scale until 1944. (Consider the Mustang fighter for instance, a design commissioned by the British, and on order for the British, and eventually  - when equipped with a British Merlin engine - a war winner. Supposed to come into Britain's arsenal in 1942. Arrived in useful numbers 1944.) It is not just the fancy items that count here. The thing that eventually gave the Soviets the maneuverability to drive the Germans back was tens of thousands of American trucks. They were supposed to start arriving in 1942, but between American requirements, and shipping losses, they actually started arriving in numbers in 1944. (See Russia's 1944 Blitzkreigs and the loss of Germany's Army Group Centre... Hmmm.) Net effect on the length of the war... vast.

3.    Roosevelt 1: Invasion North Africa. Possibly also a useful military exercise to practice amphibious warfare, but it was hardly vital. (The invasion of Madagascar was actually more informative, and Sicily was just as easy.) But enormous resources had to be wasted on it for two reasons. First, because Roosevelt needed American troops in action somewhere in 'Europe' by election time. Second, because American troops desperately needed exposure to real combat in the easiest possible environment to counter Marshall's fantasy that his new conscripts were ready to face German veterans. (Thank God for Kasserine Pass.) Would Montgomery and 8th army have pushed the Axis out of Libya any faster? No. Would Germany have invaded Tunisia without such provocation? Unlikely. Would it have made a long term difference if they had anyway? Probably not. The most damaging part of the whole operation was stripping all the new escort carriers and vast numbers of naval escorts away from shipping routes for several more months leading to: A) greatly increased shipping losses, and B) another huge slowdown in when counterattacks in Europe could begin. Net effect on length of the war almost certainly negative.

4.    Roosevelt 2: Unconditional Surrender. What an idiot politician will do for a good sound bite. This statement cost the lives of more Western Allied soldiers than any other piece of stupidity since President's Wilson and Clemencau's willful destruction of any prospect of a workable WW1 peace settlement. German soldiers in the rubble of the Ruhr preferred to die than to be shipped to Canadian forests and American mines (yes really Goebbels was that good), while Japanese resistance went on endlessly because this seemed to threaten the sacred Emperor. Long term effect on the length of the war... absolutely indescribable.

5.    Admiral King. Need I say more?... All right, I will just comment that British CIGS Alan Brooke later bemoaned that he hadn't accepted King's offer to go 75% Europe and 25% Pacific, because that is way, way better than what happened. Effect on lengthening the war... quite a lot. (See shipping loses in Atlantic and King's refusal to run convoys for a start. In fact most of points 1 and 2 are magnified by King.)

Having definitively stated that American involvement and decisions made the war longer (and there are many other examples, but they amount to nit-picking and could have been committed by non Americans... the above couldn't), is still not necessarily going to prove that leaving the American forces out of the war would have made it shorter. For although I think this is at least arguable in the European case, there is Japan to consider.... Not the Japanese army, because American supplies to Russia (particularly via the Bering Strait if the US was not a belligerent) and China and Australia and India would have more than made up for the negligible numbers of troops the Americans actually used prior to 1945; and possibly not to the air force, where the same follows. But there is the problem of the Japanese Navy.

Put simply, would the continued security of the Western Atlantic, due to continued American neutrality have given Britain the extra flexibility needed to win in the Indian Ocean? (Given option A: that if Japan had attacked Britain and the Netherlands and NOT the US in the East the Japanese would have had to keep a constant guard against the still vast American naval presence in the Pacific/Philippines, or B: the unlikely possibility that had America backed down and surrendered after Pearl Harbor, a guard against their ever increasing West coast navy would have still been somewhat desirable for the Japanese.)

This, as far as I am concerned, is the only issue about whether the Allies could have won the war without US military involvement. The Allies simply had too many millions of underemployed - because under-equipped - spare men in Russia and North Africa and India and China to not have benefitted from the US sending more equipment sooner, rather than less for a long time, and then badly trained conscripts later. (The British Empire and Commonwealth alone had several times the population of the Axis, as did the Russians, and the French Empire, not to mention the Chinese... manpower was never a problem. Equipping and moving it was. See 1 and 2 above, again.)

So it comes down to this.

On April 5 1942 the Japanese launched their only serious attack on the Royal Navy in the Indian Ocean. Effectively it was the Pearl Harbour task force less 1 carrier. (Pearl Harbor was the biggest concentrated Japanese force of the war because it was the only time they had surprise and could take such a risk.)

5 carriers and 4 battlecruisers was certainly one of the biggest raiding fleets possible that far from the home islands unless any other possible opponent was not a threat. (Could they have left NO home fleet even if the US was still neutral? Of course not. Nor can I push the somewhat unlikely 'US surrendered after Pearl Harbor' concept as far as NO need to have a screen against the mainland US. There is the impossibly unlikely, and then there is pure fantasy.)

The Royal Navy force was still incomplete, having only 5 battleships and 3 aircraft carriers of the 9 battleships and 5 aircraft carriers due within the next few weeks. (The two sides were about even in cruisers, destroyers, and submarines.) But the British still used radio intercepts to be in position to ambush the Japs on April 1, unfortunately deciding to return to base just before the Japs arrived 3 days late.

The result was inconclusive. Despite a few days of maneuvering (the Japanese advancing in daylight and retreating at night, and the British doing the opposite), the British were not able to undertake their ambush, and lost dozens of aircraft, two dozen merchant ships, and a few warships (including an ancient escort carrier with no planes on board and 2 cruisers) and temporarily relocated units to other ports in India and Africa while waiting for re-inforcements. The Japanese lost a, never admitted, number of irreplaceable aircraft and pilots (perhaps only 40 or 50 directly but probably more written off), but failed to win the much desired decisive victory. They had to rush back to try again against the Americans, only to see their weakened and increasingly exhausted units lose consecutive rounds at Coral Sea and Midway.

But what if the Americans were not in the war? What if the Japanese could push harder? What if the British had been able to send more, faster? (The delay for some British capital units had been waiting for American battleships and carriers to move to British ports, which was caused by the expanding losses in the West Atlantic - which required more ships, which was caused by America joining the war... You can see where this is going.)

The conflict could have seen approximately equal naval forces facing off for a proper Midway style battle at Ceylon. In which case the same factors hold true as at Midway.

The Japanese had more aircraft on their carriers, but both aircraft and carriers had a tendency to explode easily in combat. The British (like the Americans at Midway) had back up aircraft on land.

The Japanese think they are doing a sneak attack. The British (like the Americans at Midway) know from intelligence that the Japanese are coming.

The Japanese are under an irresolute commander who time and again (Pearl Harbour where he didn't finish the job, Ceylon where he didn't find the British fleet, Midway where he waffled inconclusively) proved he should not be leading an aircraft strike fleet. The British (like the Americans at Midway) have a brilliant commander whose war record is almost faultless. (In 1942 Admiral Sommerville had been commanding the worlds first and best 'Carrier Task Force' - Force H, successfully in battles and raids for 2 years. Spruance was actually an beginner at Midway, but his war record thereafter was pretty good.)

But then there are a few differences.

The British have radar, and two years combat experience using it. (See Cape Matapan  for instance). The Japanese don't have either.

The British have much slower strike aircraft, but they are radar equipped and trained for night strikes. They have successfully demonstrated their abilities at places like Taranto and against the Bismarck. Japanese (and American) attempts in 1942 or 1943 to use aircraft in the evening usually led to scores of invaluable aircraft and pilots lost at sea, or trying to land on each others carriers.

The British carriers are armoured, and easily shrugged off bombs and Kamikaze attacks throughout the war. Both the Luftwaffe and the IJN repeatedly declared kills of British carriers that were back in operation within a few hours. (Both Japan and the US were trying to get armoured carriers in operation by 1945, but mostly too late.)

The Japanese battlecruisers are far faster, but show the fatal tendency to blow up when facing battleships (or even American 8 inch cruisers of Guadalcanal) that always bedevilled battlecruisers. The majority of the British battleships are much slower, but have radar to guide them that the Japanese don't. (For speed vs radar see Matapan for instance.)

The British have also used years of experience in the Mediterranean to perfect using radar to vector in defending fighters out of the sun. For the entire war British carriers need much smaller fighter patrols than Japanese or American ones to achieve the same results. (American naval co-operation officers comment extensively on this in 1945.)

I don't want to make it sound too simplistic what the result would be. The Japanese had individually skilled pilots, and their cruiser commanders showed considerable flair. (And most naval battles of 1942-3 had extremely high components of pure luck.) However I am on record as being generally appalled by how the Japanese admirals handled fleet actions. It may have been understandable when both they and the Americans were feeling their way in early 1942, but by 1944, when they should have been a bit more experienced, they were just pathetic. (When they finally, at immense cost, achieved their unlikely goal of a general fleet action, and were in a position to annihilate the American amphibious forces and put off threatened invasions for years: they sailed around in circles for a while and went home!) Their likely opponents in the Indian Ocean, Somerville (possibly even Cunningham), were considerably better, and had literally years of experience at winning combats with inferior forces against combat veterans (which the Japanese certainly were not yet).

It may not have been a route for either side. A drawn out melee as in the Mediterranean was always more likely than something as accidentally decisive as Midway. But with American aircraft supplies and dockyards on the British side, the end was probably just as inevitable.

So (with these reservations about the IJN), on the new and improved 'would the Allies have won without the Americans in combat', I will go not only with 'yes', but also with 'possibly quicker'.

(In fact I am drafting another post on production too, which will provide more thoughts...)


  1. Re: the unconditional surrender demand, it didn't necessarily lengthen the war.

    First off: which war? You make the claim that the war would have been shorter if the USA remained the Arsenal - and I disagree - but to stay on point: this only applies to the ETO.

    The Pacific was essentially a US War. Without the USA, Japan would have been quite powerful by August of 1945.

    Unconditional Surrender did nothing to shorten or lengthen the ETO campaign. Stalin and Hitler were already committed to a war of annihilation long before Roosevelt put the idea forth. There was never any doubt in the mind of Hitler or his generals about what happened if/when they lost to Stalin.

    As Hastings states: the Soviet army was an Army of Barbarians. There is no "negotiated peace" in that situation.

    Which leaves us with the Pacific Theater.

    The Japanese demonstrated an unwillingness to surrender long before Roosevelt's "US" statement, so it's hard to claim that Roosevelt forced the Japanese into this mind set.

    The threat that unconditional surrender made to the Emperor was real enough, and would likely have driven the Japanese to fight savagely if/when an invasion came. But, then again, didn't they already fight savagely, long before Roosevelt's threat?

    The really interesting question is "why invade Japan at all?" The political pressure was enormous, and that's your answer. Hindsight is 20/20, and devoid of the emotion that existed in the moment.

    But hindsight tells us that Truman could have declared that Japan was going to be bombed and starved into capitulation - and that might have worked. If this had been coupled with a large-scale land battle in China in 1946, using the ETO forces, it's hard to see how Japan could have resisted.

    The US Army of 1945 was formidable (finally). It would have steamrolled the Imperial Army, as Stalin so clearly demonstrated during his brief battle with the Japanese. Japan's army in 1945/6 was an army equipped for 1939 combat: inferior in just about every way.

    A battle in China would not have included fighting civilians armed with bamboo spears, as a battle for Japan would.

    No, Japan would have been crushed in China in 1946, her people would be starved and burned and demoralized at home (even without the nuclear weapons), and it's very possible that this would have been enough to bring them to the negotiating table - with or without "unconditional surrender" as a back-drop.

    Would the USSR have participated? Probably... but that only speeds thing sup.

  2. Unconditional surrender was a major problem raised by German generals who refused to join coup attempts against Hitler. It was quoted as the reason or fighting on by thousands of German prisoners. The pro-surrender lot were trying to surrender in the West, not the East (and still trying to negotiate this right up until the end. No effect?

    Worse the Japanese case. Allied intelligence was well aware the Japanese had approached the Russians as intermediaries for surrender negotiations before the decision to drop the Atomic bomb. the Russians ignored this because they were preparing their own attacks. The Americans possibly went ahead with dropping the bomb because, knowing both these things, they felt the need to overawe the Russians more than the Japs. No effect?

    1. Don't even entertain this Foster's swilling "teacher" I suppose in the midst of war as American Marines and other allied soldiers were saving Australia's pathetically weak ass that this idiot's grandfather was striking and refusing to unload America ships. As if that is bad enough to treat your saviors that way, at the end of the war return Australian POWs were left stranded on boats in Sidney harbor by these "brave Commonwealth dockworkers. Nazi and Japanese fascists couldn't have done better......screw the kangaroo-loving British Empire forces......

    2. screw you as well

    3. My, you are both a bit worked up.

      What my grandfathers were doing during the war is not very relevant (though one was at the front in New Guinea, and another was a reserved occupation electrical engineer doing war work elsewhere if that is of real concern to you.)

      But I do want to acknowledge the very good point about the appalling behaviour of the Communist inspired Australian unions who did so much to sabotage the allied war effort. there is an excellent book on this 'Australia's Secret War' by Hal Colebatch which is well worth reading if that is your interest. I entirely agree that these scum were just as worthy of Nazi or Jap medals as they were of whatever they think they got out of their great leader Stalin. Traitors would be a kind description. It is amusing to note that when some of these ratbag union leaders tried to get strikes amongst the new industries run by women (who often had husbands and sons at the front) they were pelted with eggs for their troubles...

  3. A couple of points.

    1. By shortening the war in the ETO, I assume you think Churchill's schemes to attack Norway or the Balkans had some hope of suceeding because there is no way the British were going back across the channel without the US twisting their arms. So no western front ever. Would the Soviets have won in the East as quickly without the Western Front? Probably not.

    2. Much reduced Strategic Bombing campaign, which contribution to the fight in the ETO was significant. The British would have continued to make night raids and insignificant flights across the channel, but without daylight raids and long range fighters that forced the Luftwaffe to actually fight and bleed, the Luftwaffe would have remained strong on the Eastern Front and the majority of the war industry would have continued to produce at increasingly prodigious rates. Would the Soviets have won as rapidly against a Germany not crippled by oil shortages, with more resources, and with some effective air cover? And of course, if the Germans were largely free to concentrate on the night raids, what would the effect have been on the British raids?

    3. How do you pay for all those resources that the US is freely giving away? Without the US as a co-belligerant, a very significant part of the war material that was provided to the Allies during the war, and certainly the large amounts of food, raw materials (petroleum, bauxite, rubber, etc) that was shipped to the USSR and China would never have been provided. Shoot, just in food alone, the US for all intents and purposes fed the Red Army from 1943 on. Those P-39s, P-40s, Brewster Buffaloes, ect that the allies had purchased in 1939 and 1940 were not going to turn the tide. And without the US being in the war, most of the other weapons weren't going to be built, at least not in the number that were ultimately provided.

    4. Where were the millions of trained men, waiting for arms to spring into combat in 1942? Certainly not in Britian, they were pretty well tapped out. Australia, Canada, and New Zealand? please. And much of the British war material to upgrade forces in the Pacific and India was syphoned off supporting the USSR and not because of lack of delivery for US systems. In the USSR, it was only the entry of the US into the war, and the dramatic increase in aid to the USSR, especially in food and raw materials, that allowed them to put so many people under arms. If the US hadn't entered the war, the USSR would have had to devote far more people to industrial production and farming, Britian would have been broke, and China would have had virtually no capability.

    1. "Where were the millions of trained men, waiting for arms to spring into combat in 1942? Certainly not in Britian, they were pretty well tapped out. Australia, Canada, and New Zealand?"

      Not that it matters but, all of Canada's trained men that they were to field were in Britian in 1942, and they weren't waiting for arms, they came with their own.

      "And much of the British war material to upgrade forces in the Pacific and India was syphoned off supporting the USSR"

      Lets not forget that some of the British war material, namely planes, were syphoned off supporting the US in North Africa. Nor that Canadian war material, hundreds of rail cars worth, meant for Commnwealth forces already in battle, were syphoned off and sent south to support the newest entry into the war after December 7 1941.

      "Tose P-39s, P-40s, Brewster Buffaloes, ect that the allies had purchased in 1939 and 1940 were not going to turn the tide."

      How about the best fighter of the war? The Spitfire. You should read what the Soviets did with the P-39. Yes, the tide was turned. One Russian pilot in a P-39 shot down two Mustangs in the same day, the Americans made the mistake of taking him for the enemy.

      "f the US hadn't entered the war, the USSR would have had to devote far more people to industrial production and farming,Britian would have been broke, and China would have had virtually no capability.

      The USSR never had a shortage of people, Britain was broke and China virtually had no capability.

  4. to continue...

    5. If the US hadn't entered the pacific war, and it is difficult to think of a way the Japanese could have bypassed the Phillipines to get to the Dutch East Indies and Malaysia but if, the Japanese army could have attacked the USSR and probably had a fair shot at most of the South Sea Islands and Austalian/New Zealand. As it was, they were increasingly tied down in China and against the US.

    6. There are a few factual issues.

    The British had Mustangs in 1942, they rejected them as fighters (great ability below 10kft) and they weren't very long ranged. It wasn't until the middle of 1943, by a convenient accident, that the British figured out that they had potential as long range fighters and tried a Merlin in one. Without a fully ramped up US production base, and the ability to rapidly re-equip huge American air forces, the impact of the Mustang would have been significantly less. But it wasn't just Mustangs, the P-47s and P-38s both out-ranged their British counterparts and played a significant role as well. Plus, since there would have been no daylight bombing campaign, no one would have seen a real neede for a long range day fighter to begin with.

    In 1942 the primary IJN ship attack weapon was the torpedo and all the armored flight decks in the world wouldn't have saved the British carriers and battleships. Your assertion that "The delay for some British capital units had been waiting for American battleships and carriers to move to British ports, which was caused by the expanding losses in the West Atlantic - which required more ships, which was caused by America joining the war... You can see where this is going" is beyond belief. Why would the US send capital ships to Britian if they weren't fighting the same country? Its not like the US entry into the war caused the Tripitz or Italian fleet to suddenly appear. The submarine war had nothing to do with disposition of the British capital ships. You are arguing that the US entering the war allows the British to win the war without the US entering the war!

    Sorry, I just don't find the analysis compelling. It boils down this:

    If the US had not entered the war, but

    1. The US acted as if it was in the war (and not just things like production, resource allocation, giving stuff away, etc but also things like intelligence sharing, etc)

    2. the Axis continued to act as if the US was in the war but at the same time continued to respect the neutrality of the US.

    the war could have been won without the US actually engaging in combat.

    Neither of those points is reasonable so I reject your hypothesis. But it is interesting to think about.

  5. Some further factual problems:

    "(When they finally, at immense cost, achieved their unlikely goal of a general fleet action, and were in a position to annihilate the American amphibious forces and put off threatened invasions for years: they sailed around in circles for a while and went home!)"

    1. They managed to attack 6 escort carriers and 7 escorts, hardly a general fleet action at Leyte. Or were you referring to Phillipine Sea where they did even less.

    2. There was virtually no amphibious shipping off Leyte, they had been unloaded and were already leaving. Most estimates indicate fewer than a dozen ships were left near the invasion beaches and it is unlikely Kurita could have bagged even these ships.

    3. Had Kurita continued to Leyte, he may have sunk a limited number of ships, but would have been wiped out in short order by the 400+ Carrier aircraft from the other untouched escort carrier groups, the 300+ aircraft of TG38.1 approaching from Ulithi, the six fast battleships of TF34, and the 7FLT slow battleships which were all converging on his position.

    4. Even had the Japanese managed to sink a significant portion of the amphibious shipping, which was little more than one division of lift, the net effect would have been virtually nil. Even within 7FLT, forget the six or so divisions of lift available to 5FLT, there was more than twice the amphibious lift that wasn't used at Leyte. So no significant disruption of any further invasions.

    Critisize the IJN all you want, there are numerous instances where they clearly squandered opportunity. But at least conform to reality while doing it.

  6. Dear Anonymous, glad you find the 'what if' musings stimulating. I found your comments interesting, though the vast majority of them come down to my point 'American money and production was vital, American manpower much less so"'. (Particularly talking about campaigns in late 1944 and 1945... not much relevance to a 'shorter' war there.)
    I will leave aside the theory that the British COS never intended to invade France ever... another of the childish squabbles between the various self righteous generals who never listened to each other and wrote endlessly trying to justify their positions later. I think that is wrong, but I am too lazy to challenge people's passionately held theories.
    Millions of men... see India (3.5 million VOLUNTEERS under arms, and only stooped there because no way to use more than 1 million at a time in action). French North Africa, 1.5 million available 1943, very little equipment until mid 1944. Several million more available once France invaded... China... East and West Africa only deployed a single active division each, regardless of available volunteers. Poland, the artificial Allied limit to a 40,000 man corps in Italy was hiding an admitted 80,000 man ration strength, and there were plenty more volunteers. Yugoslavia, only a few thousand tons supplied to activists... what could have been supplied?
    No manpower was not a problem. Equipment and transport was.
    And a comment on the Atlantic. The American warships on 'neutrality patrol' were worth ten times the effort after America entered the war. When I say British warship deployments were held up by the vast vacuum created when America entered the war, I really do mean that the British would have been able to send far more ships elsewhere without the new front opening. A couple of American battleships enforcing neutrality was worth 6 Allied battleships in active duty. 50 american 'neutrality 'escorts worth 2-300 in wartime.
    I suppose it is fair to suggest that the American 'neutrality' situation in 1941 could not have been accepted by the Germans for long.... World War One submarine campaign response is an example... but as everyone thinks Hitlers declaration of war was lunacy, that is a pretty big 'what if' too, isn't it? World War ONe proved you should NOT commit to unrestricted submarine war unless you want US in. I think it is fair to mention that plenty of Germans would have argued for keeping US 'neutrality' as being in their favour?
    Hope that's more to stimulate you.
    Enjoy your musings...

  7. Dear Anonymous 2,
    I was interested though by your claim that the Japanese carriers relied mainly on torpedoes against aircraft carriers. That jut didn't seem right to me.
    I went looking for carrier losses during 1941-3 in actual fleet engagements, rather than by submarine ambush while sailing in general.
    Indian Ocean raid, aircraft carrier Hermes and cruisers Cornwall and Dorsetshire sunk by dive bombers.
    Coral Sea, Shokaku hit by dive bombers. Yorktown avoids torpedoes, and hit by dive bombers. The oversize Lexington was hit by both.
    Midway, Akagi, Kaga, Soryu hit by dive bombers. Yorktown damaged and reduced to 20 knotts by dive bombs, then hit by torpedoes. Hiryu hit by dive bombs.
    Solomons, Ryujo hit by several dive bombs and a torpedo.
    Saratoga damaged (again, torpedo spotted, but Saratoga too oversize to dodge), and Hornet hit by dive bombers.
    From the above, it appears that only Saratoga was solely a victim of torpedo, and that from a submarine, not a carrier aircraft. Lexington too got hit by torpedo as well as dive bombers, but that seems to say more about converting old battlecruiser designs into oversize carriers than it does about a Japanese reliance on torpedoes. Against modern carriers (or even the ancient Hermes), Japanese (or American) torpedoes were apparently not very valuable.

    1. You've got things wrong. Hornet was effectively sunk by carrier borne torpedo bombers, she was finished off by Japanese destroyer torpedoes after failing to being scuttled ant torpedoed by American destroyers. Lexington sunk by fires started by carrier-borne torpedo bombers. Yorktown, effectively sunk by carrier borne torpedoes, again scuttling failed, US destroyer torpedoes failed, finally sunk after being abandoned by submarine torpedoes.

  8. I said trained manpower, but lets look at it.
    Indian manpower, see the battle in Burma, Malaysia, etc, enough said, certainly not trained until 1944.
    French manpower, who was it that said:
    "3. Roosevelt 1: Invasion North Africa. Possibly also a useful military exercise to practice amphibious warfare, but it was hardly vital." So no French manpower since it never was attacked, you don't get to be on both sides. By the way, they are not real happy with the UK as opposed to the USA.

    "A couple of American battleships enforcing neutrality was worth 6 Allied battleships in active duty. 50 american 'neutrality 'escorts worth 2-300 in wartime."
    Sorry, just not true. The USA ships that allow the release of British Home Fleet ships were the WASHINGTON (needed to match the Tripitz, which it couldn't do on Neutrality Patrol) and the WASP/RANGER (needed to replace the British Carriers. Capital Ships, not escorts. No US, the British Far East Fleet faces the Japanese Alone and sinks rapidly just like the Repulse and Prince of Wales.

  9. As for torpedoes, the simple fact is that against modern AAW defenses as deployed from mid-1943 on, torpedo planes tended to die in great number. So lets look at early in the war.

    1. Discount most ETO combat, the Luftwaffe never put any emphasis on ship attack, so most attacks were by dive bombers against ships. Also British ships were never attacked by large groups of bombers at one time.

    2. Feel free to discount Taranto and Pearl Harbor, both were special cases, but look at the damage caused at Pearl Harbor.
    a. 3 Battleships hit solely by bombs (with the exception of the Arizona). None sunk, all back in service in less than 2 months, less than 20 deaths combined.
    b. Battleships hit by torpedoes - all sunk and out for extended periods of time.

    3. Prince of Wales and Repulse - sunk by torpedoes from dedicated naval attack aircraft.

    4. Trincomalee - Hermes sunk by lots of bombs largely because the torpedo planes were being used as level bombers (as well as being conserved for a strike on the British fleet).

    5. Coral Sea - Bomb hits on large carriers (Yorktown, Lexington, Shokaku) result in no losses. Torpedo hits (and poor damage control) doom the Lexington. Shoho sunk by torpedoes but whose counting.

    6. Midway - Lucky bomb hits on fully loaded carrier sinks 3 large carriers (mostly by secondary explosions). Massive hits on last carrier sinks the carrier. Yorktown hit by multiple bombs, out of action for less than an hour. Put out of action permenantly by torpedo hits.

    7. Santa Cruz - Hornet hit by 3 bombs and crashed by 2 bombers, damaged but ultimately disabled by two torpedo hits and sunk by two more.

    At least for the Japanese, the torpedo was their deadliest weapon.

    1. Lucky hits at Midway?.....surely you jest, the Americans in the devastator torpedo planes that sacrificed themselves to bring the Japanese fighter cover down to sea level giving the SBD's clear path to the Japanese carriers. The SBD hit their marks purposely and skillfully, the US sunk 4 dam Japanese carriers, if you call them all luck then you are not as smart as you think you god, where does the arrogance of you Brits come from?

    2. arrogance.......oh.....America's speciality!

      Neither of you can say you are correct as neither of you were there.
      And does it matter, we all owe a debt to every single allied soldier who died fighting the enemy.

    3. The soviets won world war 2 with uk and the help of the us

  10. Anonymous wrote:

    'British ships were never attacked by large groups of bombers at one time'

    I think you are seriously mistaken here: the air attacks on RN ships in the Mediterranean in 1941-2 were on a scale that would have horrified US admirals accustomed to weak attacks from Japanese carriers. You only need to read some accounts of the battles off Crete to realise the truth of this.

  11. Dear Anonymous Sept 22,

    you are correct of course, Anonymous August 7, has missed a little bit of history if he thinks that neither the Italian or German air forces ever made significant attacks in the Mediterranean.Operation Pedestal alone saw over 300 Axis aircraft attacking a Malta convoy for several days in a row as 4 British carriers fought them off - losing HMS Eagle in the process.

    In fact FliegerKorps X was a specially trained anti-shipping unit, and was ably supported by Italian professional aviators (you know, from the country that invented the bomber doctrine).

    Here are a few good Wikipedia pages for those who might be interested.

    Malta Convoys.

    Operation Pedestal.

    Battle of the Mediterranean - Crete.

    FliegerKorp X

    Regia Aeronautica - Malta

  12. It seems to me if we are talking about a European only war but the US is still providing Lend Lease at high levels (although I don't see Lend Lease in this scenario approaching anywhere near the combined production of the US actually did during the war), then the Allies win. It's all a matter of how far you want to see the Red Army push west.

    If we are talking about a war where the Japanese enter, but the US is never involved, things get a lot more dicey. First, no Philippines Campaign means those forces can move into SE Asia and Burma much quicker. Second, no US naval involvement means Japan takes Port Moresby in May 1942 and isolated Australia. Instead of Midway and Guadalcanal, the Japanese Fleet likely takes Ceylon summer of 1942 and begins to raid all those undefended British convoys in the Indian Ocean. This greatly hurts the ability of the British to supply the 8th Army in Egypt. Third, no US daytime air campaign which - for all its errors - did force the Germans to commit much of its fighter strength and gun production.

    Given that strategic situation, what happens in late 1942 and 1943 when the tide of the war turned? Do Stalin and Hitler decide for a negotiated peace between them that leaves Britain by itself? What can Britain really do if it must commit much of its forces to regain control of the Indian Ocean? At best, we have a repeat of the Red Army controlling Europe, but with more dead all around. Britain might technically be a victor, but it's in far worse position.

    Neither situation seems ideal. I think you are discounting the importance of the US being 100% committed to victory to maintain support to the Allies, the morale benefit to everyone that the US is in the war with its ships, planes, tanks, and men, and the improved strategic position of the Allies by 1943 (even though, as you explained, the initial entry of the war made 1942 worse for the British in the Atlantic) and the large number of US troops available to enter Europe in 1944. The British and Canadians alone might be able to occupy Italy, but not invade France.

    After much thought, I have come to the conclusion that the "unconditional surrender" comment was not as bad as many claim. Who really believes that even if a coup succeeds against Hitler, that the Allies will actually have a negotiated peace with the Germans by that time? There is certainly no deal that Britain could accept (Stalin, maybe, but he could likely even make a deal with Hitler in power) that such a Germany would make. Or worse, that future Germans can now say that once again there was a dolchstoss that made Germany lose a war it could have won, meaning there is a much greater chance of a third war? The short term increase in German will and defiance by the statement is offset, I think, by increased resolution among the Allies, and that the certainty of the statement means the Allies have absolute confidence they will win which helps erode long term morale. Certainly, that statement did not prevent the Italians, Romanians, Finns, Germans, and Japanese to attempt to try negotiate at some point (and sometimes succeeded). Which means that ultimately, everyone really did understand that as long as your name wasn't Hitler, something could be worked out.

  13. Dear anonymous October 2,

    good lateral thinking, and good possibilities.

    Couple of possibilities I throw out there for you to consider.

    If Japan only attacks Britain, France and the Netherlands, and leaves a large, intact, and hostile, US military presence in the Pacific and Philippines unmolested, can the Japanese ever risk taking enough of their military away from the home islands to achieve your suggested win in New Guinea and the Indian Ocean? (They would effectively be in the same situation that was preventing the British from sending the bulk of their fleet from home waters to the Indian Ocean, wouldn't they?)

    If they were willing to take such a risk, would the resulting easy victory promised to an American attack on Japan itself look too tempting even for American isolationists to oppose?

    If the US suddenly declares war on an overstretched Japan, and seems headed for a quick victory, would Hitler feel as enthusiastic about declaring war on the US?

    The thing is that changing one circumstance changes others. You really can't say that if the US is neutral the entire Japanese navy can safely go several thousand miles away. Even when the US Pacific Fleet was smashed at Pearl Harbour, and the battleships retreated to the US West Coast, the 'Indian Ocean Raid' as the Japanese called it was a strictly short term and opportunistic exercise.

    There was never any chance of leaving the main Japanese fleet that far away, even with no US forces closer than Hawaii (and Doolittle even gave them cause to reconsider that idea then... see reasons why Japanese high command finally approved the Midway operation).

    Interested to see what you come back with...

    But as to unconditional surrender not slowing the war... rubbish. It did certainly prevent any successful negotiations (except Italy, sort of), and was a major factor in potential coup members backing out of anti-Hitler plots. The Japanese Emperor issue cannot be underestimated either. (I suggest investigating the discussions of why the bomb was really dropped a bit further...)

    FAs another side thought though, I have often wondered what would have happened if Patton hadn't screwed up in Sicily, and had led the invasion of Italy. He had demonstrated in North Africa his willingness to ignore Washington and do deals with whoever he had to to get results. He may have been able to swing the Italians into actual combatant Allies, rather than make them surrender. He certainly would have been willing to risk the paratroop drop at Rome that Eisenhower wasn't. (Despite comments since, it may have been more mobilising of Italian enthusiasm to resist than has been assumed... They really could fight if they felt it was worth it... And Patton would have been more than willing to appoint a more fiery commander if necessary... Ah, what-if's...)

    1. Prior to December 78th 1941, there was no popular support for a war with Japan. FDR certainly didn't want one, it would distract from the war with Germany that he wanted. The US would have done nothing more if Japan had invaded the Dutch East Indies and Malaysia than it did when the Japanese invaded French Indochina. Perhaps a few more economic sanctions, but it had already made those aboout as tight as they could be.

  14. anonymous October 2 wrote:

    "It seems to me if we are talking about a European only war but the US is still providing Lend Lease at high levels (although I don't see Lend Lease in this scenario approaching anywhere near the combined production of the US actually did during the war)"

    Would it be safe to remember here that US combined production wouldn't have to reach the levels that it did because without the US forces in the war they would not have to be supplied? Lend Lease was only a supplement to other allies own production. Who was the largest supplier of munitions to the British Commonwealth? The largest part of US production of course went to itself.

    wrote: "Given that strategic situation, what happens in late 1942 and 1943 when the tide of the war turned? Do Stalin and Hitler decide for a negotiated peace between them that leaves Britain by itself?"

    The tide of war would have still turned the way it did if the US had not entered since the US was not involved in the turning of the tide. So why would Stalin and Hitler decide for a negotiated peace?

  15. Nigel: “The thing that eventually gave the Soviets the maneuverability to drive the Germans back was tens of thousands of American trucks. They were supposed to start arriving in 1942, but between American requirements, and shipping losses, they actually started arriving in numbers in 1944”

    The soviets were driving the Germans back before 1944 were they not? I don’t think trucks were supposed to be arriving in 1942, what they wanted at that time was weapons and Britain and the US provided them in equal quantities. While the Soviets made less than 200,000 trucks during the war they made over a million before and not all were ruined in the opening months.

    The US was still not living up to it’s commitment of being the arsenal of democracy by the end of 1942. A production and supply statement at that time showed that UK and Canadian production of war material in some areas was still larger than that of the US and of overall stocks of war material the US was much behind the other two. It was a wake up call for the US with their much higher population and production capacity. They got serious after that little bit of news.

    1. Dear Anonymous Oct 25,

      Yes, the Russians made some advances in 1942, and some retreats. The back and forth battles of 1942 and 1943 in Russia look impressive, but neither side had the advantage in manoeuvrability to expand into a proper war winning Blitzkrieg.

      The smashing of Army Group Centre in 1944, and what followed over the next few months (even through winter) was war winning Blitzkrieg .

      Frankly it was tens of thousands of US trucks that made the difference to manoeuvrability in 1944 and 1945.

      So I woud still say more American trucks earlier would have caused more problems for the Germans earlier... (though this raises the interesting point that Germany's losses in high tech elements - particularly armour and air forces - was biased to the western front even as their losses in infantry numbers were biased to the Eastern front... so they might have had more armour available on the Russian front without the US in the war... maybe... they certainly would have had more AA/AT artillery available...)

      Your other point about US production being slow to start, emphasises my point about how much of a reduction of supplies to the actual fighting allies there was.

      It took more than two years for the US to ramp up production to cover both US needs and Allied needs. during that two years the vast majority of US production went to US buildup, and the deliveries - lend lease or otherwise - to allies was much reduced on what it would otherwise have been.

      IN fact a lot of US production statistics are worse than that. For instance the US production numbers in 1942 and 1943 include thousands (perhaps tens of thousands) of obsolete aircraft that were never delivered or used in action. Whereas overseas orders had been pushing for improved types over what the US military wanted/ordered/produced/didn't use.

      All niggly give and take bits, but I still hold that US production supplied to allies in 1942 and 1943 was more valuable than US armed forces participation in 1942 and 1943. And that US neutrality and neutrality patrols were more valuable again to allied shiping and buildups than US armed forces participation.

  16. Anonymous August 1: "The British would have continued to make night raids and insignificant flights across the channel, but without daylight raids and long range fighters that forced the Luftwaffe to actually fight and bleed, the Luftwaffe would have remained strong on the Eastern Front and the majority of the war industry would have continued to produce at increasingly prodigious rates."

    Reducing the steel capacity of the Ruhr by 80% can hardly be called insignificant and the British also did daylight precision raids. The British had something called Fighter Command which also involved small and medium bombers and flying across the channel to engage the enemy, to keep it short, the Luftwaffe was forced to fight and bleed over it's own territory since the Battle of Britain 1940. Hate to break it to you but the majority of German war industry did continue to increase at prodigious rates. You make it sound like US strategic bombing was more valuable than the British one.

  17. Larry Huss

    1- Isn't it a little optimistic to have the US not fighting after Germany took the opportunity of the Japanese attack to declare war? I doubt that the German U-boat assault would have been lessened by the US ignoring that. And there goes all the savings in shipping and cargo vessels anyway. In fact, the German navy had been chomping at the bit for a chance to use U-boats without restriction, and their only regret was that the Japanese hadn't let them know in advance so they could have been pre-positioned.

    2- How would any US politician justify, after being attacked, the continued and increasing shipment of materials to the Allies without payment on such a scale as to allow them to equip millions of Indians, et. al.

    3- Without an Allied North African invasion Vichy isn't invaded by Germany, and all those French North Africans aren't recruited, so they aren't available for Italy, France, later on.

    4-Everything I've read about both Germany and Japan points to them only wanting to negotiate after the next big victory, which allow them to keep everything they currently held, at a minimum. The Unconditional Surrender slowing the war's end is a red herring, neither major Axis government would have surrendered any faster than they did anyway.
    5- In 1944 Britain was disbanding divisions due to manpower shortages. Canada had trouble finding new formations to ship overseas due to local political deals.
    6- Wasn't the British General Staff postulating an invasion of Western Europe no earlier than 1945? Sometime after the East Front would have been approaching Berlin? Or perhaps after all the ME 262s were deployed?
    7- The differences in the North African campaign from having only one front to defend against, would have probably meant that Italy would be in the war, for good or ill, on the Axis side until 1944 at least.
    8- And in the Pacific: the Japanese army, undisturbed by the sending of divisions to New Guinea, and the lose of thousands of planes and pilots in the air war, finishes off China, and starts to digest it.

    1. Point 6: good call. In fact, I understand that bit of strategic horror came from Alanbrooke (known affectionately as "Bwookie" by his main protege and other Empire luminary Monty). D-Day in either 1945 or even 1946: CIGS et al could have got Knights Crosses for such inspired sabotage of the US war effort.

      And this is no mere speculative hindsight; it has serious moral dimensions. How many more innocent civilians would have been murdered by such delay. Indeed, how many more were actually lost due to the stubborn delay of Second Front from 1943 to 1944, and the waste from the Mediterranean sideshow?

      Matt Davies

    2. Dera Matt,

      I have always thought that the Italian campaign was taken too far at too great a cost. Once the Italians had surrendered and bomber bases in south Italy secured, why not do other things?

      But I am also amazed at the truly weird idea that an invasion of northern France could have possibly worked with the resources the allies had available in 1943 (against the resources the Germans had available in 1943).

      A few questions:

      How many combat ready divisions did the US have ready in May 1943?

      How did it plan to get them to Europe while the u-boat campaign was in full swing?

      What ships could have been diverted to move an extra 50 (untrained) divisions, even if they had been available?

      Where were the thousand odd landing craft needed for the operation? (To paraphrase General Marshall in 1944, 'apparently the problem is all about shortages of something I have never heard of called 'tank landing craft'.)

      How was the German army weaker in 1943 than after the horror Russian offensives of winter 1943 and summer 1944?

      How was the Luftwaffe weaker before 8th airforce had even really started battling it successfully?

      In what possible way could sacrificing against impossible odds the dozen British and half dozen US divisions then available, (particularly with the inadequate shipping resources making it practically impossible to reinforce them)?

      In 1944 the Allies - having pretty much won the u-boat war, had almost 100 combat divisions available, and had adequate shipping resources to keep both them and their supplies coming, and the German army was much weaker (and their air force practically non-existent), and still Normandy was a damn close run thing.

      In 1943 it was simply not possible.

      I will paraphrase 'Bwookie' back at you about an invasion in 1943, "It will end the war, but not in the way we would like'.

    3. Hi Nigel,

      Encouraging that you can see the wastefulness of the Italian campaign. But Brooke and Churchill didn't: they were its prime movers, as part of the whole Mediterranean Strategy. Moreover, both Brooke and Churchill demanded a yet costlier push to Vienna and Hungary through some of the best defensive terrain on Earth via the Piave and/or Istria into the Ljubljana Gap. Brooke later tried to cover his tracks on the outrageous plan (as with the Dodecanese fiasco), but the written records, including subordinate persistence, make his key role clear.

      Therefore, to simplify: Bwookie = strategic & military knucklehead or feudal-imperialist and anti-republican hero, whichever aspect of his career you regard as more important. I notice he seemed to miss out on even the most token of US decorations in his entire career - please correct me if I'm wrong there.

      On Op Roundup for 1943: your questions seem to reflect the very obstructionism of Brooke and staff in conference with the Americans from Washington to Casablanca. It's a circular argument: get the resources to Africa/Greece/Yugo/Italy, let the campaign drag with Monty's pedantic farces, then decry a lack of shipping and troops in UK for BOLERO. Clever...FDR compromised just to keep such "allies" from yet worse sabotage and petulance.

      As for the your Q on u-boats: they were smashed by late-1942, with one minor month of success (140K shipping sunk) before mid-1943. To paraphrase Mel Brooks: U-boats, schmu-boats.

      Matt Davies

  18. Hi Nigel

    I think you are being a little unkind to the British efforts in the Napoleonic Wars. While I agree that Wellington's army in the Peninsula was smaller than those deployed in Eastern Europe (though not THAT much smaller) the British remained in the field pretty well continuously from 1809 to 1814, whereas the Prussians, Russians and Austrians tended to fight for a couple of months and then sign a peace treaty.

    On top of this the British were also fighting in the Caribbean, South Africa, East Indies, Mediterranean and Baltic. I think if you used battalion-months of combat you'd find that the British efforts compare well with those of their allies.

    1. In fact I have had a discussion of this sort of point in another blog called 'Statistical Confusion', where I point out that having lots of divisions fighting while scattered all over the world for several years is actually more difficult than having a concentrated force fighting for only a few months.

      It is interesting that since ancient times, any army can assemble a lot of troops for a big push, but that very few can deploy lots for long periods in wildly separate places.

      Most powers in the Napoleonic war fought short campaigns, and then stopped, at least for a while. Same in World War Two. Only World War 1 and some fronts in WW2 saw long term combat, and the nations that fought on multiple fronts long term had it much harder than the ones that fought in one or two places at a time for campaigns of only a few months at a time.

    2. "It is interesting that since ancient times, any army can assemble a lot of troops for a big push, but that very few can deploy lots for long periods in wildly separate places"

      The US in the Pacific was able to operate at full strength far from major bases because they had the foresight to have many forward bases such as Ulithi, The Philippines, Guam, Espirito Santo and a few others that allowed them to repair any size warship including the fleet carriers, have you ever seen the "dry docks" they brought from Pearl or the west coast of the US? Many escort or Jeep carriers didnt operate as carriers in the strict sense, they were aircraft supply ships that kept the offensive carriers supplied with planes as they were shot down, damaged by AA, landing accidents and some escort carriers were floating aircraft repair shops. The US also had dozens and dozens of support ships that did a myriad of jobs that kept the US Navy at full strength for the duration of the Pacific War. The Japanese themselves were amazed at the US ability to stay at full strength so far from Pearl Harbor or even the West Coast of the US...The Japanese just never really had any chance of victory with that type of planning and foresight to have such capable facilities keeping the US forces so well supplied with whatever was needed and wherever it was needed...

  19. You commonwealth sure love doing your level best to downplay the US role in WW2....what the hell is your guys frikin problem? Are you all that dam jealous of us?.....grow the hell up...I sure didnt see many Brit divisions at all those islands during Mac's Island hopping Capmaign...we got along just fine without you. The US Navy and Airforce far outdid any British units in either theatre. The US Mustang, Hellcat, Lightning and Corsair far outfought any plane fielded by you Brits....think I'm lying?...check the numbers of how many enemy planes each of those shot down, the Spit comes no where near any of those US planes....time for a re-think guys...

    1. The mustang was a British design mounting a British engine. It was also inferior to the marques of spitfire that were contemporary to its development. There were far more P-51's than spitfires, which would explain your statistics. Divide by the number f planes fielded.

    2. The Mustang was a design conceived AND built by the North American Company from a specification given directly to the North American Company from the British Purchasing Commission and was ready for flight 102 days afterwards. The Mustang was inferior to the Spitfire at altitudes above 10,000 feet until mated with the Rolls-Royce engine, then there is NO question its wing design and long-range capability made it the finest fighter of the war fielded by any country. More enemy aircraft were shotdown by Mustang pilots than any other allied fighter....the F6F is a close second, then came the p-47...the war could have NOT been won without American involvement, but the US was not the only reason the Allies won the war, all allies giving what the could were the reasons for allied victory...

    3. In practical terms of course, how many planes were shot down is more effected by who they were shooting down than how good they were. The poor old buffalo, which was pretty hopeless, had a very effective rate at shooting down pathetic Russian pilots in theoretically more advanced planes when being used by good Finnish pilots. The oldest German designs had phenomenal success on the Eastern front for the same reason, even though they had failed to break even in the Battle of Britain. Again the issue was bad Russian pilots.

      By 1944 or 1945 German and japanese pilots were being thrown into the air with only a couple of hours of training, so massive kill numbers could probably have still been achieved by Buffalos and Hurricanes and P40's with good pilots. The fact that the Mariana's Turkey Shoot was such a wipeout was due more to pilot skill than plane quality.

      It always helps to have a fancier plane, and in even matches that might be vital. But generally massive kill rates tell you more about the failures of your opponents pilot training, than the superiority of your engineers.

    4. I can totally discount Axis losses as "failures" of their opponents. The US pilots were trained by experienced pilots rotated back to US flight schools for incoming pilots. Its a known fact US pilots were about as or better trained as any. They were trained without fear faraway from either theater.

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  21. I think you are approaching this backwards.

    It isn't that the entry of the US into the war made things take longer than they would have otherwise.

    It is that the entry of Japan into the war made things take longer.

    Why should anyone be surprised that introducing a new enemy and forcing the diversion of resources to fight it should delay the fight against the first enemy?

    1. Correct of course, so I will put it another way.

      The German decision to declare war on Japan was made on teh very god grounds that if the US was only fighting Japan, then the Germans could not try and defeat Britain by Uboat.

      Hitler, possibly correctly given the sinking stats for 42-43, believed that declaring war on the US gave him a better chance of victory.

    2. I'm sure that was Hitler's thinking, because no doubt he knew that the USA wouldn't immediately institute a coastal convoy system, thus giving the Uboats their second happy time. Old Adolf was a natural clairvoyant...just look how it turned out for him.

    3. Well Hitler was pretty good about picking which Western politicians would act stupidly... from 1936-1940 he had 100% success. Pity Stalin wasn't Western...

      In practical terms, having failed to invade Britain, and apparently failed to knock out Russia in a single blow, Hitler needed to get out of a two front war. Given that the WW1 U-boat campaign came close to working, he was not being entirely stupid to throw more eggs into that basket. Seeing the USN had been more and more active against the Germans anyway, he was just taking an opportunity to get in ahead of what seemed inevitable, and get a head start on his own terms.

      And you will note that it almost worked. The only time the U-boat campaign came close to wining was 1942.

      Never underestimate a madman with genuine insight. Alexander the Great, Attila the Hun, and Ghenghis Khan were all madmen who knew how to grab a good opportunity...

  22. You make a good point. I agree that Americans should have just supplied arms and let the "Military Professionals" do all the fighting. Just think of all the debt we could have avoided along with the loss of American lives in WW2.

    1. Well exactly. Britain won the Napoleonic wars by letting Austria and Prussia do most of the dying. Why not US do the same in WW2?

      (Yes that is sarcasm, but yes it is nonetheless a serious point. The economic power often IS better off providing money and shipping materiels to people rich but tech poor nations rather than reducing it's skilled work force to get footsloggers to the front.)

  23. Have on occasion come across and read your various blogs on WW2. Superficially they present as anchored in fact, well versed and of a good hearted yet whimsical flail at contrarianism. Any moderately informed armchair historian could easily offer a line by line refutation of your outrageously conflated statistics regarding US force contributions and consequences/impact of those contributed vis a vis the much sacrificed, ever more impactful efforts of....well, just about everybody else not fighting under the Stars and Stripes.
    You hide something however, much larger and more telling about yourself, behind this fatuous facade of good humored lively debate- "I'm merely a mischievous prodder of innocent debate" is such a coward's cover. Once peeled away, your blogs reveal a grander, more bitter and acerbic little man with penis envy. The little nicks and knocks are anything but. You are simply a man with an inferiority complex; charging gross historiography, you are guilty of just that. Whatever sins the bullies visited upon your youth, you have transferred that anger to a macrohistorical re writing and re visioning of the US as an impotent braggart, the more detached personification of those bullies and that small appendage of yours which causes such angst and resentment.
    Give it a rest, and let go. As the great satirist and wry observer of human nature, the American, Mark Twain once said "Facts are a stubborn thing, but statistics are more pliable" - so apt, yet I fear your coming blog about that dim witted American hack from Missouri. Actually, you'd likely simply say, Mark who?

  24. Dear 'ToddNotGod' (are you sure you have thought that through?)

    If you bother to read much of Mark Twain's analytical stuff (much better than his dreadful boys own fiction, which is about as good as Biggles, but not as good as Enid Blyton) you might note that he was quite good at humorously poking fun at the pompous and self righteous.

    In fact the more outraged and frothing at the mouth they got, the more he enjoyed it.

    But he had little time for people who consider personal abuse the highest form of debate.

    In fact I vaguely remember how much I enjoyed a few of the words he used to describe such people...

    (I only ever delete comments from this blog if they are foul language or generally abusive... Yours are borderline, but I will let them go as simply inane... this time.)

    The point of this post was that the US might have been better off concentrating on production and paying for someone else to do the dying, (rather than killing off productive workers as unskilled conscripts) as Britain had in previous wars.

    Do you have anything useful to contribute?

  25. As a general side point, it is amusing to imagine that everyone should know and value the populist fiction that you were indoctrinated with as a child.

    There are some dreadful Australian children's classics that I would never imagine to have been imposed on children of any other country, but I have noted that many British or American journalists and commentators seem to think that everyone should know their C.S.Lewis or Louisa May Alcott.

    An interesting version of cultural imperialism.

    It makes me reflect on some of the old 1950's and 1960's comedy recordings I enjoy, which simply assume that the audience has a smattering of Latin and Greek, and will automatically get a few references to Machiavelli, Hobbes, Virgil or Plato.

    It is unreasonable to expect that in the modern internet connection age, your audience will automatically understand your cultural references, or be able to adapt them to their culture.

    In some ways it makes such communication more bland, and less nuanced.

    A bit sad really.

  26. Pearls before swine, eh?

    -Anonymous Dave.

  27. I see jingoism is alive and well outside the US borders. :)

    I find it hard to conceive any serious scholar to expect the British Eastern fleet be capable of taking on the IJN as of early to mid 1942. By that point they had lost a fast battleship, a BC, a carrier, and two heavy cruisers while inflicting no loses on the Japanese. Their naval command had retreated from Singapore to Ceylon, but after losing the Andaman Islands and acknowledging they couldn't defend their fleet anchorages they withdrew all the way to east Africa. The Japanese literally chased the British out of the east, and inflicted the largest military defeat by manpower in British history in Singapore.

    The British had a few advantages as cited, including armored decks on their carriers and radar, but were a decade behind the Japanese in air capability. The armored decks made their carriers survivable, but prevented them from operating many planes - the Illustrious class carriers had half the planes of the Kaga/Akagi main fleet carriers of the Japanese. And the Brits were still using biplanes as their main attack plane. Lack of range of both the ships and their planes were a crucial shortcoming in the vast expanses of the Indian and Pacific oceans. The fleet air arm consisted of outdated Albacore torpedo bombers, no dive bombers. They had the Seafire, a good carrier plane, but when Somerville gathered together his two fleet carrier to contend with the Japanese raid on Colombo they had a grand total of 9 of them. His cap was mostly Martlets - the British name for American Wildcats - and the deprecated 2 seat Fulmar.
    And if the Brits encountered the IJN surface fleet they would have faced the Japanese long lance torpedoes, which were the most devastating surface weapon in the naval war, had 3-4 times the range of the British torpedoes and a much larger payload.

    Wherever the Brits went up against the IJN they lost, badly. Unless the Eastern Fleet had a solid land based air umbrella to work under, they were at great risk facing the Japanese carriers. That's probably the single greatest reason that the majority of the Eastern fleet was repurposed in late-42 to mid-44 - it was primarily a convoy patrol force during that time and had no offensive capability to speak of.

    Quite frankly, your assessment of a possible British-Japanese fight in the eastern Indian ocean is based on wishful thinking and the same kind of underestimation that caused the real fleet to be humiliated.

    1. Dear Christian,

      an interesting mix of good points and bad.

      Yes the Allies had been 'chased out' of SE Asia. The American empire losing far more - in territory and population and ships and planes and Philippino divisions - than the British or Dutch in the process.

      Yes the RN and US both retreated their slower battleships to Africa and California respectively.

      Yes both relied on small mobile carrier strike forces, and for a while were heavily outnumbered. (Particularly when the British redeployed their Indian Ocean carriers to invade Madagascar, North Africa, or NEW GEORGIA!)

      No there were no Seafires at Ceylon, you are probably thinking of SeaHurricanes! (The Martlet/Wildcat being a better long range interceptor than the Sea Hurricnae which was decidedly short range.)

      Who deprecates the Fulmar? It was an early strike fighter rather than an interceptor, but its record in combat is actually excellent. Many RN pilots made Ace on this aircraft, and against Nazis, not just Eyties and Japs!

      The Albacore was quite a good dive bomber.

      My amusing point here, is that the RN at Ceylon, like the USN at Midway, probably should have lost had the Japs done everything right.

      The USN won at Midway a bit because of intelligence (which the RN had at Ceylon), a bit because of better admirals (Somerville TWICE got his fast carriers into ambush position for night attacks, and twice got them out of range for day attacks), a bit because of radar (but the RN had far better use of it at that time), and despite the Jap superiority in combat experience and planes...

      It was largely LUCK that let the USN win... which is my point... the RN had more things going to support their 'luck' at Ceylon, than the USN did at Midway.

      I don't hunk you can say either battle was an inevitable victory either way...

      But that's just me being logical...

    2. Thanks for responding! Fun talking about, even if we don't agree. And yes, I still don't agree with much of that. :)

      I'll have to take this in chunks, my apologies, as there are limits to post size here.

      The American empire losing far more? The Philippines were already on their way to freedom at that point. 16K Americans were in the Philippines. here were 12K well trained Philippine Scouts who were also American Army troops, and their loss was significant. What US armor that existed there came from national guard units, not regular army. A significant investment, to be sure, but the vast majority of troops in the Philippines were natives, and of the 130,000 combined troops in that campaign 100K were filipino reservists who were just called up and had little training. The call for mobilization of the reserves was 2 months prior to the attack, and many hadn't even finished basic training yet. It is unlikely that these troops would have played any role other than garrison duty if the Philipines hadn't been attacked. Certainly it would have been a matter of at least a year to make them combat ready.

      The UK and commonwealth in turn lost 135,000 troops in the Malay war and the Fall of Singapore, including the Australian 8th Infantry division who were veterans of North Africa and the 18th British Infantry Division from East Anglia. They lost huge natural resource reserves which were indeed the point of the Pacific war. Rubber and tin from Malaysia were essential to the war effort. The Americans lost no significant strategic resources in the fall of the Philippines. As tragic as it was, the Philipines were of use as a strategic base, not as an actual component of the war effort. The same can't be said of the resources of the British Empire in SE asia.

      Of Naval loses the British lost far more significantly, with the destruction of Force Z, a WWI battlecruiser the Renown that was heavily modernized and one of their few modern battleships, the Prince of Wales. The one US cruiser in the Philippines was the Houston. One of McArthur's largest greivances with US command was the retreat of the Navy from the Phillipnes. The Houston along with the 23 front line submarines were recalled to Australia. The Houston died with an ABDA task force protecting Java, but that force was predominantly UK and Commonwealth.

      But then, the point of attacking Pearl Harbor and the Philippines was to get access to Malaysia and the Dutch East Indies (which was under UK protection as previously noted).

    3. Part 2: Here's the entry for the reason for the Indonesian campain in wiki, which is one of my greater points here. The US was protecting British interests:

      The East Indies was determined to be one of Japan's primary targets if and when it went to war because the colony possessed abundant valuable resources, the most important of which were its rubber plantations and oil fields;[10][11] the colony was the fourth-largest exporter of oil in the world, behind the U.S., Iran, and Romania.[11][A 1] The oil made the islands enormously important to the Japanese (see below), so they sought to secure the supply for themselves. They sent four fleet carriers and a light carrier along with the four fast battleships of the Kongō class, 13 heavy cruisers and many light cruisers and destroyers to support their amphibious assaults in addition to conducting raids on cities, naval units and shipping in both that area and around the Indian Ocean.[12]

      Access to oil was one of the linchpins of the Japanese war effort, as Japan has no native source of oil;[13] it could not even produce enough to meet even 10% of its needs,[11] even with the extraction of oil shale in Manchuria using the Fushun process.[14] Japan quickly lost 93 percent of its oil supply after President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order on 26 July 1941 which froze all of Japan's U.S. assets and embargoed all oil exports to Japan.[15] In addition, the Dutch government in exile, after the urging of the Allies and with the support of Queen Wilhelmina, broke its economic treaty with Japan and joined with the embargo in August.[13] Japan's military and economic reserves included only a year and a half's worth of oil.[11] As a U.S. declaration of war against Japan was feared if the latter took the East Indies, the Japanese planned to eliminate the U.S. Pacific Fleet, allowing them to overtake the islands; this led to the attack on Pearl Harbor.[16][17]

    4. As for the rest - yes, I conflated the Sea Hurricaines and Seafires. Thanks for the correction. But honestly, that just reinforces the point - the Hurricaine was less capable than the Seafire. The Fulmar was a strike escort craft constantly pressed into service as a CAP plane. It was useful at low altitudes, and was consistently given this role as an interceptor with Martlets and Hurricaines flying at higher altitudes. It had an uneven record in battle, and thankfully was used correctly by the FAA as it would have faired terribly if misused. It just didn't have the climbing ability or agilty to deal with mainline fighters like the Zero or Bf109. It did have good range and was excellent in reconnaissance. The Albacore wasn't a particularly good anything from what I read. The Devastator and the Albacore were comparable, the Albacore having a longer range, the Devastator 50 mph faster. The Albacore had very poor handling capabilities, and the British aviators actually preferred the older and slower Swordfish because they felt they at least had a fighting chance to disengage once their torpedoes were released. It was a competent but uninspiring torpedo plane and wasn't the equal of the Avenger that came into production a year after it. In comparison the Devastators were 3 years earlier and already obselescent by the time the war started.

      Honestly, its commendable what the FAA achieved with marginal aircraft in the early war years. As you rightly pointed out radar was a huge advantage, especially airborne radar. British doctrine and leadership was excellent. But materially the FAA was deficient because of lack of prioritization in the early years of the war. Even at the end of the war, there were just as many Corsairs and Avengers in the British Pacific Fleet as there were Seafires and Barracudas.

    5. Finally, as far as Midway being merely luck... LOL. Well, the primary difference between the 3 British carriers that faced the Kido Butai in early April and the 3 American carriers that faced them two months later in early June is the size of their strike teams. Illustrious and Formidable had 45 Albacores between them. Even assuming a third Illustrious ship present, the total of 68 strike craft were a far cry from the US fleet's tally of 151 Dauntlesses (107) and Devastators (44). Even assuming everything went perfect it is unlikely that the British fleet could have achieved the level of success the US did, lacking any dedicated dive bombers. The chance of engaging in a night torpedo attack in the pacific were less than in the Med, largely due to the more limited range of the planes compared to the huge expanse of ocean in the Pacific.

      The US also had substantially more search capabilty at Midway, with 22 Catalinas vs the 6 at Ceylon.

      Was the US victory at Midway inevitable? Certainly not, and granted luck played a roll, as it almost always does in any military conflict. But the US was in better position to exploit its luck with a larger fleet air wing and more resources to help the fleet at Midway. British code breaking lessons were definitely a big reason it happened. British intelligence was the best in the war and a huge advantage for the Allies.

      But the US had far better odds than the Brits during the Indian Ocean raid, helped in large part to the US damaging two fleet carriers and sinking a light carrier at Coral Sea the month before. The Devastators put 7 torpedoes into Shoho there.

      And of course the US fleet had tactical coordination. The British fleet in the Indian Ocean raid had barely trained together. It would have been unfortunate if they had exchanged air attacks with a much larger air wing of the Japanese who had superior airplanes for carrier operations.

      I think the advantage the US had was their carriers were fighting in an environ they were specifically tailored for. The armored decks of the British Carriers were an excellent development for the type of fighting they saw in the North Atlantic and Med, and later on proved to make the ships very survivable against the kamikazes. I certainly agree that most Americans aren't aware of the resources the British fleet put into the Pacific in 1945. But a large part of that is because the Japanese Navy was gone by then.

    6. Dear Christian
      Lots of points, again, some good, some inaccurate.
      Your 1 - the US the Brits and the Dutch, all lost about 130-150,000 troops each during initial Jap advance. (Mostly unskilled new recruits - which, by the way, includes the Australian 8th, which had never been to the Middle East.)
      The Japs were after resources which they needed in Japan. Which meant moving them to Japan. Capturing Malaya or East indies without eliminating the USN naval bases on Philippines was completely pointless. Philippines had to be conquered to make the rest work.
      The RN lost 2 battleships/battlecruisers, an old aircraft carrier, several cruisers, and lots of smaller ships, in the first 6 months fighting against against the Japs. But the USN also lost a bit more than the Houston. (See Pearl Harbor.)
      Correct on both RN and USN having inadequate planes. Though you miss the point that if your Albacores are useless in daylight, you should use them at night, whereas if your Devestators are useless in daylight, you are only using them as targets to draw away air cover...
      Finally, my point about 'luck' is that a combination of good intel, good planning, and good luck, will give you victory, even against the odds.
      I am mostly amused that - all other things being equal - we tend to assume it in one place and not the other.
      Be real. The Japs should have been able to win in both places, except their admirals weren't very good. The British had just as much going for them - admittedly different things like radar and night air attacks rather than numbers of suicide targets to clear the way for the dozen planes that actually won the victory - for a possible upset victory at Ceylon, as the USN did at Midway.
      In fact the key element is the the RN and the USN had better intel, radar, aircraft control, and better admirals: than the Japs, who consistently - throughout the war - failed to make correct use of their aircrafts numbers or range superiority through terrible tactics.
      By the way, both USN and RN followed the same tactics against Japan throughout the war.
      1. attempt to assemble big enough fleets to face Japs head on. (Didn't work for USN at Pearl harbour or for RN at Ceylon).
      2. Leave Fast Carrier Task forces at India and Hawaii, while withdrawing older slower battleships to Africa/US West Coast for middle part of the war.
      3. Small invasion efforts to block Jap advances. (RN at Madagascar in May 1942, USN at Gaudalcanal August 1942.)
      4. Lots of submarine work for most of war . (Though the dozens of RN and Dutch subs were restricted by Allied agreements to West of the Malay barrier, so had little to shoot at for most of the war).
      5. Lots of small carrier raids to degrade Japs war fighting (USN starting 1943, RN starting 1944).
      6. Assemble traditional large combined fleets later to take important places back from the Japs... (The USN invasion of the Philippines October 1944, the RN invasion of Burma April 1945.)
      7. Overwhelming fleets capable of dominating everything by 1945.
      8. Invasion of Japan planned for late 1945.
      Finally, yes efforts to stop Jap advance in 1942 vital. Two years of grinding them down - mostly USN at sea and British/Indian/Australian/Chinese troops on land - then proper major counter offensives by US and British in 1944, and Russians in 1945.

    7. @Christain...

      Luck?....LUCK?...I am so sick of hearing that the US defeated the Japs at Midway. First off the US intelligence had this fight nearly won before the first TBD took off, I'm sure the ALWAYS right Mr Davies will tell you that. The US command had quite the knack for being able to adapt, and that goes for about any theater with a few notable exceptions, I'm sure Mr Davies will be glad to point them out for you. I will agree with you Christian about the search capability the US had out looking for the Japanese fleet at the time played another role in the US's DECISIVE victory (I'll bet that hurts Mr Davies to even think such a thought). When the Catalina finally found the Japanese carriers and communicated their position, the woefully underpowered and already obsolete TBD's took off in search of the Kaga. The Wildcats and SBD's were in the air shortly afterwards. The TBD's made their attacks and as we all know, were torn from the skies. When the TBD's were being shot down, the Japanese fighter cover was brought down to sea level ( something I have tried but in vain to find out if that was the US purpose in sending the TBD's when they were sent), allowing the follow-up SBD's a virtually clear path to their targets, the Kaga was hit first, squarely amidship. The rest of the Japanese carriers were sunk in turn, was it luck the US SBD pilots hit their targets?...was it luck the US had the superior intelligence? Was it bad luck that the US lost their carrier? Some have said that when the US made their attacks that it was sheer luck the Japanese crew was fueling and rearming their aircraft at the time of the attack. In my opinion it sure helped the US cause, but even if the Japanese planes weren't on deck and in their condition at the time, the US still had to attack and it may have taken another few hits but given all that said, the US still would have had their successes. Also Christian, if you'll look thru all of Mr Davies entries in his "blog" you will see a common theme that anything and everything the US did, or did not do was always wrong, the US ships, planes, tanks, artillery and the soldiers, sailors and airmen themselves were horrible. The US was constantly out-fought and out-commanded. I haven't been back to this "blog" in quite sometime (which I'm sure Mr. Davies is glad of) because of his terrible objectivity. I've said before, the US's march across the was haphazard and fraught with every mistake an Army could make in regards to anything and everything the US did during the war and that the British Commonwealth could have defeated the Japanese IJN by themselves. I only have to present Okinawa as one example because the RN could NEVER have taken on the never ending waves of the kamikaze attacks, they simply didn't have the shipping or the supply train supporting them as the US did. The Commonwealth never had the mobility nor the force projection the US seemed to have a natural flair for, and that goes on land as well as the water. The 79 amphibious landings made by the US, the use of combined arms. The US artillery arms was newest and best and was able "mass fire" when in action. Many believe the Marines played no part of the campaign in the Philippines but when the landings at Leyte island came, a Marine artillery battalion was summoned because of the shortage of army artillery because of the operation in the Marianas. The Marine artillery devastated the Japanese whole point to this response is that Mr Davies says he's a college professor, I find his credibility to be highly susupect, his objectivity completely non-existent given how badly he dismisses anything and everything the US did or had a hand in....his entire blog is juvenile in maybe in another year, I'll tear your objectivity/credibilty down again a notch or two...

    8. Mr Davies, ref your 1:17 am post, you seem to ignore the minor fact that on December 7th, 1941, the US was at peace. Yes the forces in Hawaii were caught off guard, they no more expected an attack than the British expected an attack by the Germans in 1935. As for comparing losses, the US lost 2 BBs and three DDs at Pearl Harbor, the CA Houston and a couple of DDs in the East Indies and that was that for over four months. During that four months the handful of CAs,CL and DDs damaged at Pearl were all fully repaired and operational. The RN subs in the Pacific were all restricted by their short endurance and for the most part weren't any more fit for hot weather combat than the US WWI vintage S boats. By the time the RN started it's carrier raids, the USN had already gutted the IJN and emasculated the air wings of the Japanese carriers several times over.

  28. Here's a good take on the Colombo raid from a Canadian source:

    Admiral Nagumo then headed for Japan as soon as he recovered the aircraft from the Hermes strike. During Operation C, he had destroyed an aircraft carrier, two heavy cruisers, two destroyers, one corvette, and five other vessels, and had shot down 45 aircraft. A separate squadron, with the light carrier Ryujo and several cruisers, sank 21 merchant ships during a concurrent foray into the Bay of Bengal, and the six submarines deployed for the operation sank five more.45 The Japanese lost just 17 aircraft, and no Japanese ship was even damaged.


    Admiral Somerville continued to search for Nagumo to the southwest of Ceylon until he re-entered Addu Atoll on 8 April. After a conference there with his senior officers, among them the rescued captains of Cornwall and Dorsetshire, Somerville finally realized how seriously outmatched he was. It was now clear that his fighters would not be able to ward off large-scale attacks like the one that sank his heavy cruisers, that the R-class battleships were liabilities, and that Colombo, Trincomalee, and Addu Atoll were not secure bases. He therefore sent Force B to the east coast of Africa, where it could protect the sea route to the Middle East, and personally led Force A to Bombay.40 The Eastern Fleet did not move back to Ceylon until September 1943.

    1. Correct. The 'Fleet in Being' tactic was the way NOT to lose the war. It had been very risky going for a victory without waiting for all the necessary reinforcements of more modern ships (or indeed with a third of the carriers planes assigned to land based ops...)

      Somerville's attempt at a night ambush may have worked, or may have been disastrous. (Or may, much more likely, have been as indecisive as Coral Sea).

      Also correct that force A stayed at Bombay, as the remaining US carriers stayed at Hawaii...

      Bot before, and particularly after, Midway, almost all the British carriers were withdrawn completely to serve offensive operations. Madagascar, North Africa, and New Georgia!

      Until resources for a sea invasion of Burma or Malaya could be made available, what else was there for the Eastern Fleet to do apart form protect convoys? Allied map divisions kept the large British/Dutch submarine fleet restricted to the WEST of Malaya until the war was over, so they had virtually nothing to do. Even the operations against the Dutch East Indies in 1944 had to get permission to be in the American operational areas.

  29. The single weakest point and substantial issue with your argument is the entire reason the US joined the war is it was protecting the British Empire.

    The US was attacked, and indeed the Pacific Fleet was moved from San Diego to Pearl Harbor in the first place, because it was putting significant diplomatic pressure on Japan not to seize the weakly defended British and Dutch colonial possessions in Malaysia and Indonesia. These can be viewed as one by that point, because with the fall of the Netherlands the Dutch possessions had become a British protectorate. Queen Wilhelmenia had dismissed her PM de Geer who wished to work with the Nazis as the Vichy french officials did, and the Dutch government in exile in London completely joined its fate to the British war effort. By this time Dutch naval assets in the East Indies were already acting with the British fleet. The oil fields in Kuala Lampur and the rest of that territory were the 3rd largest producing oil fields in the world at that time, and that bounty was sent directly to the British war effort. Malaysia had 60% of the world's rubber and 40% of the world's tin. Japan wanted these incredible resources to become self-sufficient in order to be able to prosecute whatever wars it wished. All of these resources were larger single sources than any that existed elsewhere in the British Empire.

    The US was offering this protection not only because it wished to check Japanese Asian hegemony for its own reasons but to ensure these vital resources weren't lost in the war against Hitler. And of course when war came where did the US first check Japanese aggression? Against the British commonwealth country of Australia at Coral Sea. Where was the US first amphibious attack? Guadalcanal, again protecting Australia. Where was the US army deployed? New Guinea to push back the Japanese advance toward Australia...

    Add to that the biggest proponnent of the US entry into the war was Churchill. Indeed, according to his son Randolph he put the successful prosecution of the war on it. To this extent Churchill operated a spy network in the US in order to engage in propaganda to get the US into the war, including such notables as Ian Fleming and Roald Dahl. Dahl supposedly seduced several prominent US women, including the heir of the Standard Oil Fortune and the wife of the publisher of Time and Life. The Tizard mission which shared British technological secrets on the magnetron, early atomic research, enigma secrets shared by the Brits via the Poles, and other major innovations occurred in 1940. It was one of the many ways the Brits tried to gain support from the US and access the US industrial capacity, part of their larger goal of gaining US support and entry into the war. There have been very few bribes as significant as the Tizard mission in history.

    Most of the rest of your assertions are equally as one sided. 75% of the allied merchant loses weren't in the Western atlantic - they were in the central atlantic where air coverage was incomplete for most of the war. The US certainly did horrifically in the opening months of their entry into the war concerning the Battle of the Atlantic, but you could just as easily pen the reason why the Battle for the Atlantic was so dire was the fall of France and the opening of the French coastline as bases. This was the direct cause of the first 'Happy Time' for the U-boat commanders, and could be pinned on the lack of British readiness and support for France a year after they themselves had started the war. You could indeed argue it was British military weakness, but that would be just as unfair as trying to blame it on US entry into the war when it entered due to a surprise attack and was scrambling to defend its western coast after the destruction of the Pacific fleet.

    1. I like to think some nations entered the war to fight evil!

      Certainly there was no other reason for Britain, and definitely not the Dominions like Canada and Australia, to go to war to defend an already collapsing neutral...

      But if you like to believe that the US – which was kicked into the war by Japan, and then attacked by Germany - entered the war to defend the British Empire... good luck to you.

    2. I don't like to believe it. It's well known history. It came about due to a disagreement over whether or not the US would support the British colonies in the Japanese annual operation plans after the start of the war in Europe. The IJA wanted a Southern strategy, the IJN said that they couldn't support the seizure of the Dutch East Indies and British Malaysia without eliminating the American ability to intervene.

      The IJA initially prevailed politically, and seized French Indo China from Vichy with the nominal support of Germany. The US reaction to this was harsh, cutting off all oil, and they managed to get Britain to convince Queen Wilhelmenia to do the same. This would have crippled not only the Japanese military in its war against China but the Japanese economy itself in short order. This mandated that the Japanese seize the Dutch and British possessions or capitulate completely.

      This is what lead to Pearl Harbor. But the goal was always the strategic resources of the European colonies in order to make the Empire independent.

      See here:

  30. In addition to that, of course, was the fact that the US didn't declare war on Germany -
    Germany declared war on the US. Why? Because according to the Germans, and IMO they are factually correct, the US had already ceased being a non-combatant, and history shows that the Americans had already taken their first casualties in WWII before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

    The German declaration of war:


    The Government of the United States having violated in the most flagrant manner and in ever increasing measure all rules of neutrality in favor of the adversaries of Germany and having continually been guilty of the most severe provocations toward Germany ever since the outbreak of the European war, provoked by the British declaration of war against Germany on September 3, 1939, has finally resorted to open military acts of aggression.

    On September 11, 1941, the President of the United States publicly declared that he had ordered the American Navy and Air Force to shoot on sight at any German war vessel. In his speech of October 27, 1941, he once more expressly affirmed that this order was in force. Acting under this order, vessels of the American Navy, since early September 1941, have systematically attacked German naval forces. Thus, American destroyers, as for instance the Greer, the Kearney and the Reuben James, have opened fire on German submarines according to plan. The Secretary of the American Navy, Mr. Knox, himself confirmed that-American destroyers attacked German submarines.

    Furthermore, the naval forces of the United States, under order of their Government and contrary to international law have treated and seized German merchant vessels on the high seas as enemy ships.

    The German Government therefore establishes the following facts:

    Although Germany on her part has strictly adhered to the rules of international law in her relations with the United States during every period of the present war, the Government of the United States from initial violations of neutrality has finally proceeded to open acts of war against Germany. The Government of the United States has thereby virtually created a state of war.

    The German Government, consequently, discontinues diplomatic relations with the United States of America and declares that under these circumstances brought about by President Roosevelt Germany too, as from today, considers herself as being in a state of war with the United States of America.

    Accept, Mr. Charge d'Affaires, the expression of my high consideration.

    December 11, 1941.


    The USS Reuben James was sunk by U-boat attack in October of 1941. The US had military cooperation with the British with the expansion of the pan-american security zone, and actually replaced invading British forces as the garrison of Iceland. The German's weren't wrong - FDR was doing everything he could to bring a recalcitrant US into the war. The US would be entering the war by one means or the other.

    As far as a possible British 'Midway' near Ceylon, that's just pure fantasy. Somerville knew better and retreated to keep his force in play, taking the same 'fleet in being' when faced with a superior force that the Germans did in WWI and WWII. No respectable historian or military strategist believes that the Brits were a match for the Kido Butai. Somerville didn't, nor did his superiors. He was granted the leeway to withdraw, which he did, citing he could 'only create diversions and false scents, as I am now the poor fox.' This from p 299 of 'The British Empire and the Second World War' by Ashley Jackson. Somehow I think the Admiralty and one of the foremost commanders had a better sense of the strategic situation then the author of this blog.

  31. The more I look into this the more ridiculous these assertions seem. Blaming Roosevelt for Operation Torch? That's absurd. Churchill and his staff planners won that discussion, bringing Roosevelt to their side. The US wanted a direct conflict with Germany ASAP. Marshall and Eisenhower both supported Bolero-Roundup, which would have put US boots on the ground in Western Europe in 1943. In the end it was limited by avalaible landing craft, which almost all of which were provided by the US. But Roosevelt initially went into the Arcadia conference neutral on the subject, it was the Brits who wanted a periphery strategy of embargo, attrition, and avoiding direct confrontation on the Continent. What would become Torch was put forward by Churchill at Arcadia and in the June 42 meeting as Operation Gymnast. This stemmed from their traditional approach to the continent back to the Napoleonic Wars, and their reversals in direct combat with the Wehrmacht in France the year before.

    Every source on Arcadia I find shows that as the way it played out. So you are blaming Roosevelt for acquiescing to British designs in the Med as a reason that the UK and allies would have been better off if the US stayed out of the war?

    Do you have any credible source to back the fact that Roosevelt, not Churchill, was the ongoing advocate of Torch?

    The hyperwar page seems to be lifted directly from here:

    US Army in WW2: War Department Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare, p10-17. I read the same thing in Ambrose books on Eisenhower. The minutes of the Arcadia conference were declassified in 1973 and are available as:
    ARCADIA: Washington, D.C., 24 December 1941-14 January 1942 (World War II Inter-Allied Conferences series

    The Marshall Foundation has a summary here:

    1. Dear Christian,

      you are correct of course that it was Churchill's mad idea to invade North Africa.

      He had similar mad ideas to invade somewhere every couple of months... Norway, Greece, Yugoslavia, Sumatra, Burma, Malaya, Taiwan... The difference is that the British Chiefs of Staff, sometimes supported by the US Chiefs of Staff, managed to talk him out of it.

      He got away with North Africa only because Roosevelt wanted it.

      I can't imagine Stalin was interested in such a 'second front'...

      It was possibly a good thing in the end, because it probably stopped Marshall insisting on the suicidal slaughter of unprepared American and outnumbered British troops in 1942 and 1943 in France. Kasserine certainly convinced the more sensible that the US army wasn't fit to face German veterans yet.

      But who, apart from Roosevelt, actually wanted to invade North Africa in 1942? Marshall? Brooke? Stalin???

      Most of Churchill's lunacies were shot down, as were some of Roosevelt's. But when the two of them co-operated against the wishes of their military advisers... anything was possible.

      So yes, I blame Roosevelt for letting one of Churchill's stupid ideas happen for his own political interests (and to pretend to satisfy Stalin... which it didn't...)

  32. And lastly the it seems highly implausible to think that the Axis could have been defeated on anywhere near the same time scale without the US industrial output being geared on a war time footing. For example, US production of warplanes went from 6,000 in 1940 to 96,000 in 1944 - nearly equaling German airplane production for the entire war (~114K). To do this the US government took over control of the US economy in a way unprecedent before or since. Wages and prices were controlled, driving for pleasure was outlawed, civilian production of automobiles was stopped and the factories commandeered. Complete coordination on war materials, munitions, food and raw materials was engaged in with the UK and Canada, something that wouldn't have been possible politically if the US wasn't at war.

    Those trucks that provided the logistics for the Soviet advances in 1944 and 1945 wouldn't have been produced in any where near the numbers without the US going to a war time footing. Neither would the 90% of all Soviet radios that were US made, nor the 2,000 locomotives and 10,000 railway cars. The US simply wouldn't have gone to an economy where 40-50% of the resources were devoted to military and export use as opposed to civilian, because the US populace would never have allowed it.

    Anyway, interesting excercise, even if most of your points are a stretch at best. But I'd do better research before posting something like this next time if you want to be considered remotely credible instead of just intending to piss of Americans by wildly embelishing UK superiority and US inferiority during the time period. There's a reason that the US came out of WWII as a superpower and the days of the British Empire were largely over. The 'plucky little island' facing back the waves of huns was always mythology - the British Empire was the largest in the world at the time, and the Commonwealth Nations were strong allies. It just wasn't sufficient to face the Germans, Italians, and Japanese by itelf, and thankfully didn't have to.

    1. I will return to my first point in response to your comments.

      Britain became the world's number one industrial power by providing munitions to allow OTHERS to fight Napoleon in the 19th century. (British public debt in 1815 was higher than at any time before or since...)

      The US did the same 20th century. In fact Lend Lease was exactly that... (and FYI Britain and Russia already much outproduced the Axis, even without the US, and much US produce was wasted or too late... my contention is that more supplied to Allies in 1942 would have required less overall in 1944...)

      Britain provided a large navy during the Napoleonic wars, but only a small land army... others did most of the land fighting.

      Given that this is an EXACT description of what actually happened on the Eastern Front, and the Asian mainland, why couldn't it apply on the Western Front?

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  36. I am all for challenging lies in history as there are so many to chose from, however your knowledge of this period is very dubious to say the least There are many distortions in what you say. I could spend many hours pointing them out. Lets start with Roosevelt, one of the few great presidents in american history. He began sending significant aid to England long before America entered the war and before the doing of this was politically expedient in any conceivable way. He also pushed the English into accepting the invasion of Western Europe which without him and American man power would never Have happened. No one person shortened the war more with the exceptions of perhaps Allen Turing and Joseph Stalin.
    The american soldiers that you so disdainfully dismiss, after some initial trouble in North Africa due to inexperience, were able to adapt and become the most aggressive and effective fighting force in the western theater, destroying more of the Germans military fighting capacity then any other western nation, ( not to discount England's very substantial contributions). In the pacific theater there was no other nation that could have possibly defeated the Japanese naval forces. The american navy was the only power to defeat the Japanese navy at the height of its power. The battle of Midway, a great turning point in the war, was not luck but great skill in so many different ways. Where was the Australian navy? Without Americas entry into the pacific war, the great nation of Australia would have become a back water colony of Imperial Japan instead of a relatively free nation. I will never say that America is the best country, with the exceptions of making weapons and incarcerations perhaps. There are many others that are probably better, Canada and New Zealand come to mind. There are a few things that we got right and There are so many good reasons to disparage America that it is not necessary to distort history to due so.. Perhaps it would be better to start a little closer to home and tell the story of the Australian Aboriginal people as it relates to European Australians.

  37. Allow me to cover just the points that haven't yet already received a fulsome rebuttal.

    You seem to consistently deem 1942 as the critical year of the war, where--if not for America's entry--Britain and co. would have swiftly handed not only Germany but, in good time, Japan as well their collective backsides for breakfast. Let's first make clear what a side show Britain had become by 1942 in the eyes of both Germany and Japan. After being soundly trounced in Singapore, Malaysia and Burma she was now huddled up in her last great colony of the East, with eyes diverted behind checking to see if she was about to be fed to the Japanese wolves by the citizens of her very own commonwealth. As had been previously covered, the British navy had fared no better. Britain’s other front in North Africa was such small potatoes (despite the heroic romanticism British history attributes it) that Germany’s commitment was limited at it’s height before America’s entry to a single tank division, about 50,000 soldiers and 24 88 mm artillery pieces. Meanwhile the Eastern Front was hosting millions of soldiers and scores upon scores of tank divisions. And this is the Britain that was about to unleash Hell’s fury on the Axis powers if only the US had sent some more supplies?

    This takes us to your first point that has yet to be fully plumbed by other commentators: the Atlantic war in 1942. According to you, it was America’s diversion of its naval escorts to the Pacific, escort aircraft carriers to Africa, and the training of its fighting men combined with (later under your point 2.) the idiocy of Admiral King for not protecting it’s shipping on the US eastern seaboard that created inordinate merchant ship sinkings by u-boats leading to this inexcusable neglect of the potential British war juggernaut.

    First, at the outset of America’s entry into the war the US navy contained a grand total of around 90 destroyers (there were no destroyer escorts at the time), which weren’t many more than Germany had u-boats but were tasked with covering two thirds of the Earth’s surface. Even if the US had pulled every last destroyer out of the Pacific and sold Australia and New Zealand out to share in the delights of the East Asian Co-prosperity Sphere, she would still have not had sufficient means to protect merchant shipping across half the Atlantic (let alone all along the east coast, Caribbean, and South America). Now, let’s take a look at Germany’s u-boat production by year:

    1935 (14)
    1936 (21)
    1937 (1)
    1938 (9)
    1939 (18)
    1940 (50)
    1941 (199)
    1942 (238)
    1943 (286)
    1944 (229)
    1945 (91)


    1. As you can see, it was only in 1941 that u-boat production really hit its stride. And those boats didn’t roll down the factory ramps, submerge and start sinking ships. From the time of manufacture to transportation-to-site, crew training, sea trials, commission and first patrol could be anywhere from six months to a full year. This means that most of those 199 boats produced in 1941 only began to see combat in 1942 right at the time of America’s entry. And it was this sudden spike in u-boats entering the war combined with new u-boat pens now located on the Atlantic coast in France that caused most of the spike in sinkings. That, along with the fact that the US simply didn’t have the destroyers but was now fair game. Admiral King knew there weren’t sufficient destroyers to shepherd all merchant ships around in convoys outside of the direct America-Britain supply line. He felt that the ships In the far-away waters of the Americas were better off sailing alone than in large unescorted groups that he believed could more easily be spotted, hunted down and sunk in detail. In fact it was a combination of America’s increased production of escort ships combined with Doenitz’s realization that his u-boats and supply ships were spending too much time en route across the full breadth of the Atlantic Ocean that ended the u-boat scourge in the west and not the sudden realization by the silly Americans that their ships could use an escort (unlike what the popular British documentaries we’ve all seen suggest).

      As for the many escort carriers you claim the US was so negligent in allowing Churchill to convince them to send to his North Africa side show, well that would be . . . uh, exactly one? In fact other than the Sagamon the only US escort carriers sailing at the time of Operation Torch were the Long Island and the Bogue. The Long Island was a little busy being used as the only source for shuttling aircraft in and out of Guadalcanal (which was in a bit of a pinch at the time) and the Bogue was being used as a training ship. With the exception of these three carrier escorts, all other escorts produced up to the time had been transferred to the British navy. The Altamaha was the next escort after the Bogue to be commissioned into the US navy but only in September of 1942, too late for the North Africa invasion.

      Finally, you bring up how much in resources the US devoted to training its armies when the effort could have been spent in production. I believe I pretty much covered a full rebuttal of that claim under your article "Whose Troops Actually Did the Fighting in World War II" but would like to add that you’ve never established to what extent—if any—the training of soldiers would have interfered in the production of war material. This is a unique claim (which I respect, unique claims that is) but think it should be incumbent on the idea’s originator to supply some sort of evidence that would support this new idea. As far as merchant ship production goes, I think the US—despite all that “unnecessary” training—did pretty well:

      US merchant ship production in tons by year


      As I mentioned before, the US was able to increase production of war material from its entry into the war to its end by a factor of twenty-six. And if merchant ship production data has any bearing on other war materials (which I believe it does), that stuff didn’t happen to just plunk down in June of ’44.
      And as I mentioned in your other article, while the commonwealth may have had manpower, that manpower was mostly illiterate and uninterested in their British overlord’s war. They were neither motivated nor were they equipped with the education necessary to keep the machinery of a modern army running. What was it? The US alone fielded around 450,000 pilots. Good luck with that, commonwealth.


    2. Now on to Roosevelt’s dastardly “unconditional surrender” proposals, which according to you had a long term effect on the length of the war as “absolutely indescribable." Although not clearly understood at the time he insisted on it, his intention was for an unconditional surrender of all military forces. Not that the country would be subjected to slavery or annihilation at the whim of the victorious allies. In fact soon after the bluster began by its critics and only a month after the declaration Roosevelt publicly addressed it on radio stating, "we mean no harm to the common people of the Axis nations. But we do mean to impose punishment and retribution upon their guilty, barbaric leaders.” Now if this isn’t a clarification, I don’t know what is. You can only hold Roosevelt just so responsible for making a statement that may have deserved clarification but then promptly providing one. Nor can you blame him for the German propaganda ministry lying to its own people that that clarification was never made. And yet people continue making hay about it. By the time the Potsdam Declaration was made, its wording was actually enlightened and—If I were on the receiving end—quite hopeful. Heck, I would have surrendered to it.

      Oddly enough after arm chairing the war deep into unchartered waters while saving your most biting criticism for the United States (don’t worry, we’re used to it), somehow you left out the number one screw up of the allies' war supply effort—and perhaps their greatest screw up of the entire war—perpetrated by your beloved British, which was . . . and I’ll quote an article in The Independent here:

      "The Americans warned Rear Admiral John Godfrey, the head of Naval Intelligence, in 1941 that British codes were insecure. By August 1942 Bletchley had discovered that Naval Cipher 3, which was set aside for Anglo-American use, had been penetrated. But the Admiralty did not change the cipher until the following June, leading to thousands of deaths at sea."

      Long term effect on the length of the war (and I’ll use your own descriptors here) "incalculable, vast AND absolutely indescribable.”

    3. Again, no response from Nigel. Again, telling.

    4. Well Lex let me keep it simple. How do you explain the fact that 60% of the movement of allied material was don in British Commonwealth Ships if Britain was so inept?

  38. Oops. There were 170 US destroyers at the start of the war. Didn't count the WWI four-pipers.

  39. I found another 9 'whoops' in your inaccuracies, but I like your passion...

  40. This is very interesting discussion but I think that your assertion that direct American military intervention was not a factor in deciding the war in Europe and even the Pacific is fundamentally flawed. There was simply no way that the UK and its colonial and commonwealth forces could have initiated a second front in Western Europe. If anything, Churchill has been more of a liability to the Allied war effort than FDR have been when the Allies gained the initiative and was going on the strategic offensive in the ETO. Including his flawed advocation of concentrating the main effort from the Mediterranean, the so-called "Soft Underbelly". Which he wanted because of experience with heavy casualties of prolonged war on the Western Front even though Italy is a skinny peninsula with one of the best defensive natural terrains in the world racked with rugged mountains; taking away the Allied advantages in mobility and firepower and causing more attrition.

    Without major US military intervention, the UK and commonwealth forces simply could not mount a second front. During WWI, British and commonwealth forces simply were not decisive, including Indian troops. Same could be said in even trying to open a Second Front through a major amphibious landing in WWII. Let alone have the mobility, firepower, and logistics US forces had to carry the war through across Western Europe. Also, many of the British commonwealth and colonial troops were either unwilling to fight in the ETO as Australia as a contingent pulled out of N. Africa or the non-US allies simply didn't have the means to transport than many troops to the ETO including the UK itself to engage in a Second Front as the US have been doing transporting millions of personnel across the pond. Furthermore, Indian "volunteers" were questionable as many sided with the Axis and much more were less willing to fight for the British in WWII than in earlier conflicts. A sentiment that was widely expressed once the war was over. Nor could they have been trained over time as US troops have been with the firepower and mobility as an industrial power can produce in that capacity. Not to mention the fact that British and Indian troops on the SE Asian and South Asian front cannot in any way carry the war to the Japanese homelands themselves as mainly the US forces have done across the Pacific. Those Allied troops were doing more to simply holding off Japan from invading South Asia while Japanese forces were overstretched themselves with the bulk of their forces esp. naval and air assets confronting the American offensive across the Pacific.

    1. 'Not trained with the firepower and mobility?' Boy, that's comprehensively racist. FYI Indian troops can be quite good as troops, including armoured and airborne troops, and were in fact doing both quite well even before America entered the war. And India has quite a big population you know... there were 10 volunteers available for every one who fought (and 20 for every one who was protesting, and 50 for every one hoping to be 'liberated' by the Japs... which was only the extremely stupid... those odds are actually better than Americans who were still isolationist by the way).

      My statement is that Britain had traditionally done better concentrating on producing money and equipment to subsidise continental coalitions. This was why she was supplying people like the Russians, Yugoslavs, Free French, Free Poles, etc.

      I think that the US was in a good position to try the same approach, and the world might have been better off if it did.

      By the way, the Australian troops were left out of the later part of the war by MacArthur. General Blamey tried, belatedly, to work with Churchill to get a Commonwealth advance through Indonesia and Malaya as an alternative to MacArthurs island hopping. (Look up 'the Middle Way'.) Several good Australian divisions sat out most of the second half of the war because MacArthur refused to use them, AND because Australian shipping and food and ammo resources were propping up MacArthur's troops. NOT because they were lazy, disinterested, or unwilling to fight.

    2. Racist? Not really. The German and Japanese armed forces didn't have same degree with the mobility and firepower as the US forces have had. The Germans were still using horse transport. Indian troops were even less able to adapt to mobile warfare on such a scale. US troops were better adapted for this kind of mobile warfare in Europe because it had the industrial background for it more than any other country at that time.

      Britain have done better concentrating on producing money and equipment to subsidise its wars on the European continent because it never had the manpower to go it alone or even as a biggest player on any side. It always had to rely on other powers, whether it was Russia, Prussia, or even France in an alliance. The US didn't have that problem. There were simply no way that the UK could have continued or reopened a second front alone or even with other troops such as Canadian or otherwise. Again, as in the First World War, these troops were not decisive.

      Furthermore, I wasn't talking about Australian troop presence in the Pacific. I was talking about the fact that the UK and its commonwealth forces could not win the war alone either in Europe or the Pacific.

  41. This comment has been removed by the author.

  42. Also, one has to remember that the 21st Army Group was so short of "native" troops that the US 9th Army often was put under its disposal to keep its momentum going. At the beginning of 1945, there were 73 Allied divisions. 49 of these divisions were American, 12 British, 8 French, 3 Canadian and 1 Polish. Despite the fact that the 6th Army Group composed of French troops as well, there were a significant number of US troops there as well as in Italy, a front which was not much of a factor in ending the war with Germany. Simply put, those 24 non-US divisions could not drive into Germany alone. Nor could they have driven back the German forces across Western Europe to get German border in the first place even with equipment and supplies from the US "arsenal of democracy". The American troops that started off in Normandy as half of the Allied ground force gradually took a greater part of the Western Front as months passed by and the sector became more of a German-American conflict.

    1. You still miss the point. Think about what you just said about 'more in Italy'. The American troops in Italy were a small fraction of the Allied troops in Italy.
      In fact the American troops in Europe were never more than half of Allied troops until the very end of fighting.
      My point being that there were many trained but unequipped or un-transportable troops sitting around in Africa or Asia. (And don't give me that crap about Indian troops being too 'inferior' to fight in France. Only Americans fell for that sort of racist crap about heir black troops. Indian troops fought very well in France in World War I, as did French North African troops in WWII.)
      My basic comment is that it might have been better to keep more American (and British) technically skilled men working in factories and supplying more Free Poles, Goumiers, Sikhs (and Russians of course) in battle.

    2. And again, the Italian campaign was at best a minor factor in contributing to defeat of Germany. Almost all of those 49 US divisions at the beginning of 1945 had already arrived in the latter half of 1944. Furthermore, I was not questioning the quality of Indian or any other troops. I am simply stating that non-US troops in Europe alone cannot defeat Germany without direct US military intervention including boots on the ground. Including the fact that US troops were better equipped and more adaptable to mobile warfare and firepower more than any other troops in the war including Germans. That is not being racist. Indian troops in WWI fought just as bravely as in the last war. But many did also join the Axis with a number of them in mutiny during even WWI. Tens of thousands of troops served with the Indian National Army. As a whole, not as reliable to be on the side of the Allies.

      Even so, again the large number of Indian troops or any other from the British Empire and Britain combined could not defeat the Axis regardless of how much support they get from the US without direct military intervention. Which was the whole point.

    3. By the way, those 49 US divisions mentioned were in Western Europe. Doesn't include the ones in Italy. In other words, the Allies would not have sustained a second front if weren't for the American troops on the ground and in the air. Again, without those US divisions that joined the fight in 1944 that eventually made up most of the Allied ground force was the factor that got the second front started and moving towards the German border. Simply no way that those 24 other Allied divisions could have done it alone.

    4. Again, most of the Allied troops on the Western Front that pushed the Germans back to their border by the fall of 1944 were American. Why would the Allies go through the cost of shipping millions of Indian troops half way across the world when the US with its resources were right across "the pond"? Especially when a good number of those troops may even question if they are fighting on the right side as seen with tens of thousands of Indians that fought for the Axis.

      This is the same reason why this didn't happen during WWI. Again, 49 American divisions out of 73 Allied divisions during the latter half of 1944 is nearly 70% and clearly a huge factor in driving the Germans on the Western Front. The Allies simply could not make that difference with any other troops for various reasons. And no other troops could not match the mobility, firepower, support, and logistics as the US had in supporting its forces overseas.

    5. Nigel, you state:

      "The American troops in Italy were a small fraction of the Allied troops in Italy.”

      Couldn’t find exact numbers on all soldiers by nationality other than US and British nationals:

      US 179,312 Effective Strength; 144,879 Replacements
      Britain 48,818 Effective Strength; 67,451 Replacements.

      Difficult to say how many other soldiers fought. If you have any stats, would like to hear them; but if British troops made up only one third of US troops in the campaign, that’s a long stretch to arrive at a conclusion that American troops made up a small fraction of total allied forces. But if so, that would make the British contribution in Italy pretty much a footnote.

      You then state:

      "And India has quite a big population you know... there were 10 volunteers available for every one who fought . . . .”

      By the end of WWII, the literacy rate in India was 12%. Not much a modern army can do with soldiers who can’t read a manual, let alone a map. And when a country has so few educated, those who are are all the more in demand just to keep the country itself running. Any surplus would be hard to come by. Pulling a person out of a different era and making them fight effectively in a modern scenario creates a host of problems for those attempting to do so. Just ask the Americans how well training efforts went with the Iraqis, let alone the Afghans. And for a person so quick to play the race card, I could only imagine what you would be saying if the Brits were sending half-trained “people of color" into the meat grinder while they sipped their gin tonics.

      You also claimed that there were only one in 50 Indians that were looking for the Japanese to save them from British rule and that those who did were “extremely stupid." Well . . . let’s put that to the test shall we? According to Wikipedia:

      "From a total of about 55,000 Indians taken prisoner in Malaya and Singapore in February 1942, about 30,000 joined the INA (Japanese army).”

      So we can assume by what you said that you consider every three out of 5.5 Indian soldiers as “extremely stupid.” Now who’s calling whom a racist? Could you imagine if that were to be expected from British, Australian or American troops? What the Indians were actually thinking can only be guessed at by the fact that only two years after the war, they had forced their own independence from Britain. And these are the soldiers you are relying on to have carried the Union Jack into the heart of Japan itself?

      Would be interested to hear why you think MacArthur “refused to use” those "several good Australian divisions." After reading countless books on the Pacific War, I can tell you that American commanders—generals and admirals alike—were deeply questioning Australia’s commitment to the war after Australia’s professional soldiers (admirably) finished their work on the Huon peninsula. The talk amongst the Americans was that Australia was in the middle of social upheaval: After Huon, their new troops and commanders being not of the same caliber nor as dedicated as her prior professional cadre. And even if utilized, they had to be incorporated into near-entirely American run operations with entirely separate sets of instruction, methods, signals, procedures, etc.

      You might want to look back at what was going on in Australia in those days. I can’t tell you how many times American commanders squealed about work stoppages in Australia undermining the war effort, of US soldiers forced to do loading and unloading of equipment that had been contracted to Australian work forces. In fact the very first American troops to arrive in Australia ended up spending most of their time performing these supposedly contracted duties instead receiving the jungle training they were promised. These troops were the first to land on Guadalcanal and could have used it.

  43. As for the unconditional surrender demand, for Germany it was signal that the Allies were winning the war and had every confidence that it would. I think that had more of demoralizing factor on German morale than those who were more determined to fight on on the perceived notion of getting a raw deal "when" defeat does come. This was seen by the fact that millions of German civilians and military personnel struggled to reach Western Allied lines to get away from the Soviet troops during the last months of the war.

    1. That is possible I suppose. But I would go with the German generals who felt that it was the worst thing preventing them from getting other officers on side in overthrowing Hitler and ending the war.

  44. You know, we've been talking about who fought when and in what number for quite some time now with few solid statistics. So I figured it was about time somebody swallowed hard and looked into it. (Obviously I've got a lot of free time on my hands.)

    I had made some quick searches before but came up with nothing much on the topic. But I now managed to find a site that lists which US combat army infantry divisions were fed into the conflict and at what time.

    By using divisions, however, we can't make a direct count of total soldiers in combat but might be able to make an assumption that infantry division sizes were somewhat uniform between allied nations. (Though I would quickly defer to whomever can give me a plausible argument to the contrary.)

    Now in order to simplify things and to be sure we are comparing "apples-to-apples" in our statistics, I suggest we not include armored divisions, airborne, mountain or cavalry divisions, which could contain any number of actual troops. Or if that information becomes available for other allied powers, it can then later be added in.

    However, to begin with I counted just the number of Army combat infantry divisions and excluded Marine divisions, Army Air Force and naval personnel. It should be noted that these are COMBAT divisions. In order to get an idea of total infantry divisions--including supply and support--you would need to add the total combat divisions to itself times 1.5 in order to arrive at that total number. Ie. 60% of all infantry divisions are supply and support, 40% combat.

    What is extremely helpful in answering our question about how many soldiers actually did the fighting and when, the information includes the date that division first saw actual combat. So any idea that any given division was never deployed, never fought, only fought in closing days of war etc. can be put to rest.

    With that said here are the numbers supplied by The Army Almanac: A Book of Facts Concerning the Army of the United States; Order of Battle, U.S. Army, World War II and reposted on this website:

    Total number of US combat infantry divisions that had fought or were currently fighting in both Atlantic and Pacific Theaters throughout war by year and then by month after May 1944.

    through May 1944--19
    June 1944--30
    January, 1945--59

    As a note, if you wish to compare forces by theater of combat, these army divisions are listed as to where they fought.

    I'll leave the providing of info on British or commonwealth divisional contributions to you, Nigel (or to whomever wishes to look into it).

    (But I would like to point out that any commonwealth troops should be measured by subtracting the total number of months that division was fighting for us from how many months it was fighting against us.)

    1. Did I do that math right? Well . . . you'll figure it out.

  45. Up to a point

    Did you miss the thread

    which goes into some detail on this point.

    Some points to consider:
    December 1941 - those 3 are the Philippine division, plus 24th and 25th in Hawaii. If you count the divisions in Hawaii in combat, do you also consider ALL the UK and Canadian divisions in the UK as also in combat?
    1942 - I'm not sure how you get to 9, it should probably be more, depending on the definition you use. However actual divisions in combat are limited to New Guinea, Guadalcanal, and Operation Torch; in total maybe 3 division months of combat?

    Other units may be in combat theatres but not in direct contact with the enemy

    1. Actually, I didn't make any analysis of the divisions. I merely went through each division listed and added them up per month they entered combat. And I really don't have any idea how other countries' supply and support troops are tallied. Was hoping for someone else to chime in.

      Just to clarify, if you take those nine combat divisions you mentioned entering the fight in June '42, we can assume there would be 13-14 supply and support divisions behind them. That would add up to 22-23 total divisions committed to task for whatever duty they had been assigned.

      However the more I look into this, the more complicated it gets. The Army Almanac referred to these behind-the-lines troops as "supply and support divisions." However, I've also seen them mentioned as simply "service troops" attached to whatever division as needed at any given point in time. While the Almanac estimated 1.5 supply and support divisions per combat division, I've read anywhere from 1:1 to 3 service troops to every 1 combatant "tail to tooth" in US army divisions during WWII. And certainly some divisions would require more support than others.

      What further complicates things is that divisions were in a constant state of adding or shedding battalion, brigades or other elements throughout their lifetime making one division potentially far larger than others.

      Also, to count troops by how many divisions an army is fielding doesn't take into account how many troops have become casualties and needed to be replaced. The First Army Division for example ended up suffering 29,000 casualties for all reasons but would only by tallied by our accounting method here for a total standard division size of, say, 14,000 troops. For such an instrumental division, I assume they normally fielded well over 14,000 troops. Add in casualties that had to be replaced and the total number of troops serving in the First Division could have been anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 or more.

      As an aside I would think that since the US aided in supplying all of their allies in WWII, total service troops would be far higher than whatever figure is arrived at when only tallying them when they were connected to US divisions.

    2. Dear Aber,
      thanks for trying, but I don't think he's very interested in reality. HIs own interpretations of the figures, based on his beliefs about what MUST be real, seems to do him fine.

  46. The Soviet Union would have won without the Allies . . . eventually. Maybe in late '46 or '47. They clearly were NEVER going to give up fighting the Nazis and they had more than enough resources for the job. And don't forget, NOBODY was helping them in the first year of the Eastern War and aside from US made Studebaker trucks and a few hundred Valentine tanks, they thought Allied material sucked. Or so they said.

    1. Dear Paul,
      A few points.
      The Germans would have won in Russia if they weren't fighting a two front war.
      Those 'few' Valentines were 40% of the heavy armour available for the defence of Moscow. They (and about 3000 Hurricane fighter aircraft) in December 1941 were POSSIBLY all that made the difference to Russian survival.. (You can look up all the other seemingly unimportant but actually vital stuff provided to the Soviets in 1941... right down to 2,000,000 pairs of boots!)
      The Soviets, on principle, never thanked anyone for anything, just kept demanding more. (Well, the only positive comment ever was that the Valentine was good, could they have more of those?)
      Yes, they would not give up, but without huge Allied support (including almost half the food their population was eating by 1945), the Soviets would still be fighting in the ruins of their own cities.
      The Soviets could not win without Allied support (just like the British could not win without allied support, and the Americans could not win without allied support!)

    2. The Germans would have won in Russia if they weren't fighting a two front war.

      Absolutely, the red army would never have arrived in Berlin in 1945 without the western allies destroying almost 90 % of the Luftwaffe in the West.Germans were fighting a technological war against western allies which required enourmous efforts in terms of planning production and deployment .

  47. British Empire has surrendered in Singapore.. Without the Americans stopping the japanese at Guadal Canal, Australia and New Zeeland would have been invaded in a matter of weeks.
    Its insane even to suggest that British could have beaten Japan in the Pacific without Americans and Britain could have survived the war without North Atlantic convoys !!! they supplied 25 million tons of material ( originally 40 million mines 15 million sunk by German U-Boots ) to the British which saved them from starvation
    People always try to write their own version of the history which makes them feel comfortable !

  48. { The Japanese battlecruisers are far faster, but show the fatal tendency to blow up when facing battleships (or even American 8 inch cruisers of Guadalcanal) }

    Being slowed down by cruisers and sunk later by air attack is not "blowing up"

    Kirishima was also the only capital ship sunk by another capital ship to inflict any meaningful damage in it's final fight before going under.

    { They had to rush back to try again against the Americans, only to see their weakened and increasingly exhausted units lose consecutive rounds at Coral Sea and Midway. }

    You give the US too much credit, Coral Sea was really a draw. But it wasn't because the Indian Ocean adventure wore Japan out. Good use of Fabian tactics by the RN, but it hardly follows from that they could have beaten Kido Butai in a straight up fight. Their BBs were just a larger version Force Z but with less mobility. The pilot training was drastically different in terms of ability to make pinpoint attacks on ships (the Japanese land-based air that sunk Force Z was less well trained in this regard that the pilots of at least Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, and Hiryu were).

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  52. I understand your arguments here and do think the war would eventually be won if the US fully committed itself to supplying Allied forces rather than developing an army, but it's foolish to even think that the war would have been quicker. You're completely discounting the effectiveness of the Japanese. The Fall of Singapore and even the Indian Ocean Raid you brought up show that the balance was anything but in Britain's favor. They would have to commit fully to an entirely new front. Let's just admit that the US won the Pacific War. Yes, most of the fighting took place in China and Southeast Asia but a lot of that intermittent and the Japanese forces, with some exceptions, were largely stationary after 1942. The bombing campaign, destruction of the IJN, isolation of Pacific garrisons, and US blockade were the key factors in defeating Japan. I am positive that the British could not take on Japan to that extent, invade Europe through whichever means they could and maintain naval supremacy in the Atlantic and Pacific. I seriously doubt British and Commonwealth forces could invade France with the same efficacy the combined Allies did in 1944. It would have been slow going. Furthermore, the US bombing campaign in Germany was very important in tying down German resources, if not actually disrupting production. The British could not have maintained that kind of aerial attack throughout the war. The Soviets probably would have prevailed but what if Mussolini's Italy was never defeated? I put it at 50/50 without the US, there's so much you're overlooking and I know this is tongue in cheek but your points are not all-encompassing and you vastly overrate the resources of the British Empire.

    This isn't really part of it, but imagine a post-war Europe if the United States wasn't there with the most powerful military in the world to counter the Soviets. That would be really interesting. Even you must admit mid to late 1940s Britain was in no place to do anything other than appease the Soviets in a post-Nazi neutral US world.

  53. Considering the battlefield landscape entered the new-age era where technology outweighed soldiers with the US development of the A-bomb, I could make a stronger case the Allies would have eventually won the war without the entry of the Soviets by end-1945. Little boy and Fat man would have been Tokyo/Belin instead of Hiroshima/Nagasaki. Imagine that...hypothetically. However, I would never attempt to construct an argument that would act as no more than a dis-service to the memories of the millions who fought and died in the great pursuit of removing a necessary evil from this world. A consideration this Nigles poster ignores.

    1. Eric...

      Nigel does it on purpose and hides behind this “socratic” methods, he calls himself a college instructor but he will downplay ANYTHING the US did during the war. I have said more than once, just read my comments from quite awhile ago above and you’ll see. He refuses to see the RN in the Pacific was almost wholly dependent on US supplies and ship repair facilities. Now I don’t downplay the RN’s effort and role in the Pacific or any of the commonwealth effort for that matter. He just can’t give the US Navy, Army and Marine Corps their due credit for their 79 amphibious landings in their bloody march across the Pacific. It’s hard to say if he just does it to piss people off or truly believes his dubious at best responses and thoughts...

  54. After getting a headache considering the silly premise made in the beginning, and all the what-ifs that followed, I have skipped to the end to point out what should have been obvious in the first place:

    The original premise made was "Would the Allies have won the war better if the Americans had been contributing as an 'arsenal of democracy' but NOT involved in the fighting? Probably yes."

    May I point out that the premise could only ALWAYS be fictional, because the US never "entered" the war, it was THROWN into the war. The Japanese body-slammed the US at Pearl Harbor, producing a national blood-rage, and four days later Germany declared war on the US. End of story! How in the world can anyone play "what if?" mind games about the US sitting back to play banker and arms-maker, when the our enemies attacked on both sides and our armies, navies and air forces were being mauled? It's about as sane as home-invaders mauling your family and your decision is to pay your taxes to support the police to come and rescue you. It's a nonsensical premise to begin with!

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  56. This is true if America had the choice they would have refrained from aggressive action against all axis countries however the Japanese comprehensively pulled their pants down.

    And I have gone through this whole conversation/ argument and whilst it seems that numbers were contributed to armed combat no one has actually stated the calibre of these troops?

    I'm just saying....

  57. Oh boy, where to begin. Item 1 first. No the Battle of the Atlantic wasn't "well on it's way to being won" before American involvement, it was well on it's way to being lost. British and Commonwealth shipyards couldn't come close to replacing the merchant and warship losses to the U Boats. That's why FDR twisted the neutrality laws into pretzels in order to allow the USN to escort British convoys halfway across the Atlantic. He also violated them by selling munitions, equipment, merchant ships and warships to England while refusing to do the same for Germany. Then take Lend-Lease, another violation of international law. How would England have felt if the neutral nations of Europe were giving the same level of support to Germany?