Eisenhower in the Pacific: Part 1 The Shoestring Warriors of Luzon

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by galveston bay, Feb 7, 2017.

  1. galveston bay Donor

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    Prologue and Introduction
    Eisenhower in the Pacific
    Shoe String Warriors of Luzon 1935-1941
    “There is one line, and one only, at which the defending force will enjoy a tremendous advantage over any attack by land. The line is the beach.... The enemy must be repulsed at the beach.”

    Dwight Eisenhower in a strategic appraisal to President Quezon, December 1940

    Prologue

    In December 1941 the American and Filipino soldiers and airmen led by General Walter Krueger fought an inspired and hard fought battle against the Japanese invasion of Luzon. Most historians now credit the fine performance of the US Army Far East in what would ultimately be a hopeless stand to the fine work of Eisenhower in creating and developing the Filipino forces that fought so well alongside the American forces and inflicted an embarrassing and serious check on the Japanese during the early days of war in the Pacific.

    Although some historians think that General Douglas Macarthur, who briefly served as Field Marshall of the Philippine Army and who had much grander plans for the Philippine Army would have done better, his tragic death in an auto accident while visiting New York City soon after his wedding on May 1, 1937 to his wife Jean makes that a 'might have been'. This historian believes that his genius, if any, will remain unproven and his ideas of making the Philippines into the “Switzerland of the Pacific” and the ambitious plan to create a 300,000 army for the Republic of the Philippines unrealistic. Considering the financial constraints of the Philippine government (which was hard pressed to maintain a $12 million a year defense budget during the years leading up to 1941) could never have created such a thing.
     
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  2. galveston bay Donor

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    authors note
    Eisenhower actually said this to Quezon, from the book "MacArthur and the Defeat in the Philippines"
    from Chapter 10, page 184

    MacArthur's death in 1937 is the primary point of departure from OTL for this timeline, as well as for the associated story "Battle at Dawn" which you can find here. It sets the stage for substantial differences for the Philippine Army, the US reinforcement schedule to the Philippines pre December 1941, the commanders who will be present and indeed the forces that will be present as well.

    link to A Rising Sun in a Tropical Seas (the Dutch East Indies campaign)
    https://www.alternatehistory.com/fo...al-seas-a-story-from-a-battle-at-dawn.412552/

    link to Battle at Dawn
    https://www.alternatehistory.com/fo...d-states-and-japan-december-7-10-1941.404816/

    Eisenhower's actual military career
    https://www.nps.gov/features/eise/jrranger/chronomil1.htm

    what Macarthur thought he could build
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_Army#Commonwealth_Period_.281935-1946.29

    US forces in OTL November 1941
    www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/5-2/5-2_3.#p49

    (page 42 of the US Forces has a useful comparison of OTL aircraft in Hawaii and the Philippines)

    There will be substantial deviations to the US and Philippine Army based on what I think Eisenhower would have done (Quezon almost certainly would have kept him on as he got along very well with Ike, much better than either did with Macarthur) and because I think it would be interesting there will be some other variations as well.

    This is not meant to be an American Wank or Japanese screw. The Japanese position vs American forces in the Philippines is one of overwhelming advantage. But most certainly the US could have done better. But I don't think they could have with Macarthur in command due to his specific weaknesses and failures in OTL, the most serious of which was a critical and severe misunderstanding of the power of the Japanese military.

    Here is my take on how they could have done better and indeed how the US could have done a better job preparing the Philippines for war......

    wikipedia link to American/Filipino forces in the Philippines leading up to December 1941. It will serve until I find a better link that works

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_Department
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2017
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  3. galveston bay Donor

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    additional authors note: This will be the first of three stories about the role of General Eisenhower in the Pacific War before his departure in late 1943 to take command of Allied Forces Europe. An alternate path but one I think his unique personality and abilities would have placed him. He was simply better than anyone in World War II at forming disparate national military forces into a team and his selection in my opinion was the best decision Marshall ever made.
     
  4. NHBL Member

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    I look forwards to reading this--you write great stuff.
     
  5. Unknown Member

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    So do I.

    On a side note, have you been to the Pacific War Museum (aka the Nimitz Museum) in Fredericksburg, Texas? It's fairly interesting...
     
  6. galveston bay Donor

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    the one and only time I ever got to it was to stop briefly across the street and look at it longingly as I was driving a uhaul truck / trailer combination and had many more miles I had to cover that day

    I was heartbroken

    It is very high on my list of reasons I have to get back to Texas for a visit before too much longer
     
  7. EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

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    Killing MacArthur is always a good way to do a time line. Loved your last one, sincerely looking forward to this one!
     
  8. sloreck Grunt Bear

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    IMHO MacArthur managed to take a bad hand in the PI and make it much worse. His prewar planning, and then his actions after PH were, bad to say the least. There are lots of choices that can be made with what was on hand that makes things much worse for the Japanese.
     
  9. galveston bay Donor

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    a quick note on planned stories (so far)
    Eisenhower in the Pacific (Luzon, Bismark Barrier and North Australia campaigns) (3 in all)
    Carrier Battles (3 in all, covering 1942-44)
    and more after that to the end of the war...
     
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  10. StephenColbert27 Seditious Subject of His Sovereign Maj. Michael I

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    Love the idea of Ike in command in the Philippines. It will be interesting to see him in Army Command, something he never really had the opportunity to do in OTL-he basically jumped past that. Here he will get hands on experience, and I imagine what he does here will hopefully give him valuable insight that will help him with ITTL Torch.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2017
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  11. galveston bay Donor

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    It is a very important note that he is Chief of Staff to Krueger during the Louisiana Maneuvers and got moved to War Plans after the war started because of his knowledge of the Philippines (and Douglas). He was also the one, along with James Ord, who did all the actual writing and planning for the Philippine Army prewar at the direction of Macarthur and they did all of the staff work that made it happen.

    I love the quote I started with... clearly Eisenhower thought about amphibious landings a long time before either Torch or Overlord. It is almost an exact match to Rommel's quote too.

    "This invasion, gentlemen, wherever and whenever it may come, there! - right at the water's edge - right there I will break it up! Believe me, gentlemen, the first twenty-four hours of the invasion will be decisive! For the Allies, but also for the Germans, it will be the longest day ... the longest day."
    (from the book and movie of the same name)
     
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  12. Usili One, Two, Three

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    ... Huh. I was admittedly thinking with Ike in the Pacific, you'd likely butterfly away Frank M. Andrew's crash in Hot Stuff (the first bomber to finish 25 mission over Europe) and have him wind up eventually in charge as SHAEF instead.
     
  13. Donald Reaver Still alive Donor

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    Great to see this started, your first one in this serious was fantastic, I can not doubt your talent to do the same for this one.
     
  14. NORGCO Well-Known Member

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    What about all those comments in Pacific War threads saying that MacArthur deciding to defend the Beaches was stupid and doomed? The phrasing varies but the united view has seemed to be that trying to stop the Japanese army at the beaches was suicidal.

    I have not actually seen that view challenged before.

    So why is Eisenhower deciding to defend the beaches different enough so that no one is arguing about it? It isn't just respect for Ike, is it?
     
  15. zert Casual Reader, Interested Follower

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    Very happy to see your return. With the POD with Mac dead and Ike in charge of the Philippines, things will be quite 'interesting' there. You do a great job with links for background and exploring the decisions some of these commanders do.

    Just so you know, www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/5-2/5-2_3.#p49 does not work. Says file not found.
     
  16. Alamo Well-Known Member

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    I recently just finished reading a book on the Philippine Commonwealth Army during the pre-war period, so I'm going to be looking on this with rapt attention. So many points of the chaotic history of the PCA just make you want to throw the text against a wall because of all the lost opportunities, and the completely aimless and ever shifting policies of the US and Commonwealth governments wasting precious time. You have things like Quezon bouncing back and forth between advocating a strong defense, to preparing to abolish the Army after the fall of France and cozying up to the Japanese economically, to desperately rushing to the Americans and declaring military defense to be solely their responsibility, all within a period of five years. You have the US dithering as to whether or not arms should be supplied to Philippine troops, refusing to mobilize the PCA along with the National Guard in 1940 out of fear it might provoke Japan, and steadfastly rejecting Commonwealth appeals to tap into the close to $300 million in excise tax revenue (that was supposed to be used to prepare the Philippines for independence) for military purposes.

    I'm curious about that as well. Most of what I've read about the MacArthur defense plan damns him for broadly dispersing his troops to try and defend every potential landing zone, instead of concentrating all 11 divisions at his disposal in defense of the Manila Bay-Bataan area as was advocated in War Plan Orange.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2017
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  17. galveston bay Donor

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    well damn I will see if I can find a better link
     
  18. galveston bay Donor

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    I just learned of that excise tax money fairly recently myself, and what is particularly damning was that while FDR wanted that money released for defense, Congress demanded that it not be until AFTER THE DAMN WAR STARTED!!!!

    When it was entirely pointless

    two recent reads, "Macarthur and the Defeat in the Philippines" and "Guardians of Empire" (which discusses US defense policy regarding Hawaii and the Philippines from acquisition to World War II) both talk at length about various plans floated about. Grunnert, commander of the Philippines Department, wanted to defend on the beaches and counterattack vigorously with his regulars (the entire Philippine Division, focused on Lingayen Gulf, which was the obvious point) to buy time for the Philippine Army to train and mobilize and for supplies to be moved to Bataan. He figured the only chance of victory at all was to crush the initial invasion attempt to buy that time (although he and Ike were both realistic and assumed another one would come eventually).

    Considering the record the Japanese had of success when landing at defended beaches they would have certainly had some serious problem. That records includes the landing at Malaya against the 11th Indian Division being a costly success, Wake being initially a failure and second landing extremely costly success, and Milne Bay being a disaster. For that matter landings during the Bataan Campaign were far from successful and the landing at Corregidor was a near disaster too.

    The Americans in OTL had two tank battalions, an extremely well trained cavalry regiment, and 2 very good Philippine Scout regiments plus the US 31st Infantry available to counterattack with, plus the Marines were available and should have been used for a counterattack. No counterattack took place at all but even so the Filipino troops fought reasonably bravely enough until ammunition was exhausted for the very few weapons they had. The Japanese had problems (some units landing in the wrong place), and only landed about 4 regiments of troops initially.

    Everyone knew that retreating to Bataan was ultimately going to result in defeat. Grunnert might have been right in his plan. But he got fired basically for threatening to eclipse the star of the show, Douglas. Although since he got to spend the war in the US being useful instead of as a POW that probably worked out for him.

    For that matter, the Navy should have mined Lingayen Gulf to reduce the options the Japanese had for landing sites. This was not even attempted. Never mind the failure of the submarines and their torpedoes. Did no one even consider stockpiling some mines to place as defensive minefields someplace aside from Manila Bay?
     
  19. galveston bay Donor

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    that is pretty much it for me tonight... I plan on doing most of the writing of the 1939-40 period this weekend, perhaps more if time allows. My wife is in poor health again so writing between work, taking care of the home, and hospital visits.

    It takes my mind off things.
     
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  20. StephenColbert27 Seditious Subject of His Sovereign Maj. Michael I

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    Very sorry to hear this. Wish her the best. Make sure you bring her plenty of food from outside the hospital, if her condition permits. As someone who has been in and out of hospitals for most of my life, a break from the drudgery that is consuming hospital food is a godsend.
     
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