Japanese victory in the pacific war - is it really ASB?

How would invading Ceylon, which most Indians didn't consider part of their country rally them to the British cause?
Are you seriously asking how Japan taking an island right off the coast of India and using it to attack India and British shipping to India is going to get Indians behind the British war effort?
 
Ok first off we're operating with hindsight knowing Japan is going to lose the war. The IJA wouldn't know the troops they sent would be lost.
Actually, apparently that *was* a concern of the IJA staff in their March 4 meeting with the IJN planners. That even if the conclusion of the war was somehow satisfactory, any force sent to Ceylon would be lost long before then...

Yes it's about 1,500 miles from Singapore, but that's no worse then New Guinea, or anyplace else in the South Pacific.
A little over 1,700 miles, actually...

Compare to:

488 miles from Rabaul to Port Moeresby
655 miles from Rabaul to Guadalcanal

1,200 miles from Truk to Port Moresby
1,300 miles from Truk to Guadalcanal

Rabaul was the logistics base the IJN built up, however, and the one it relied on for the bulk of its operations in New Guinea and the Solomons. And from Truk, they could at least provide some air cover for transport missions to Guadalcanal. That simply won't be an option for supply convoys to Celyon.

When does this happen? My guess would be in the wake of Operation C.
Thanks. That helps narrow it down.

I do think it'd help to look at just what the British had on hand in Ceylon in April. The Wiki page for the Easter Raid has a pretty good breakdown :

British Ground
Ceylonese units

Ceylon Defence Force
Ceylon Garrison Artillery (CGA) (equipped with 6 in (150 mm) and 9.2 in (230 mm) guns)
Ceylon Light Infantry (CLI)
Ceylon Planters Rifle Corps (CPRC)
Colombo Town Guard

Commonwealth units
34th Indian Division.
Australian 16th Brigade (of the 6th Australian Division).
Australian 17th Brigade (of the 6th Australian Division).
24th East African Brigade.

British Air
Royal Air Force

No. 222 Group RAF
No. 11 Squadron RAF (Bristol Blenheims) (Colombo Racecourse)
No. 30 Squadron RAF (Hawker Hurricanes) (RAF Ratmalana, Colombo)
No. 258 Squadron RAF (Hawker Hurricanes) (Colombo Racecourse)
No. 261 Squadron RAF (Hawker Hurricanes) (China Bay, Trincomalee)
No. 273 Squadron RAF (Fairey Fulmars) (China Bay)
No. 202 Squadron RAF (PBY Catalina one aircraft)
No. 204 Squadron RAF (PBY Catalinas)
No. 205 Squadron RAF (one PBY Catalina aircraft)
No. 321 Squadron RAF (PBY Catalinas) (Dutch unit under formation at China Bay)
No. 413 Squadron RCAF (PBY Catalinas)

Fleet Air Arm
788 Naval Air Squadron (Fairey Swordfish)
803 Naval Air Squadron (Fairey Fulmars)
806 Naval Air Squadron (Fairey Fulmars)

British Eastern Fleet
Force A (Fast Force)

VAdm James Sommerville
CV Indomitable, Formidable
BB Warspite
CA Cornwall, Dorsetshire [Sunk in Raid]
CL Emerald, Enterprise
DD Napier(RAN), Nestor(RAN), Paladin, Panther, Hotspur, Foxhound

Force B (Slow Force)
VAdm Willis
BB Resolution, Ramillies, Royal Sovereign, Revenge
CV Hermes [Sunk in Raid]
CL Caledon, Dragon, Jacob Van Heemskerck (KM)
DD Griffin, Norman (RAN), Arrow, Vampire (RAN), Decoy, Fortune, Scout, Isaac Sweers (KM)

So that's basically at least two division equivalents to defend a 25,000sq mi island, right at the outset. Fortifications admittedly are limited and sometimes rather obsolete; but supply, at least, will not be a problem for Adm. Layton's forces. The air defense burden is going to be carried by six squadrons of Hurricanes and Fulmars, which were good enough to give a decent account of themselves against a naval air raid, at any rate. 70-80 fighters might not sound like much, but for the purposes at hand they don't need to be, either.

So what can the Japanese bring to Ceylon at the time of the Easter Raid? The answer is: Options are limited. The IJA had remnants of four divisions in Malaya, parts of which had been yanked out for other assignments, and what remained had suffered very heavily in the Malaya campaign. The three IJA divisions in Java were not in much better shape. 33rd and 55th divisions, along with 18th and 56th divisions (or rather, parts of them) were fully committed to the Burma campaign at this point. Any other units are - at that point in time - either too small, or too far away. So it seems that you do need an earlier POD to make available the forces needed for a Ceylon campaign in April. In which case, as others have said, you must give up some other operation - Burma is the most obvious one, and obviously, that has its own price. There is only so much IJA to go around.

It's stimulating to think about Ceylon as a case for what else the Japanese could have done in 1942 while they still had some kind of opportunity to stage offensive operations. Again, it's not utterly *impossible*. But the disadvantages are tremendous, and the IJA was aware of most of them. Likewise, so are the opportunity costs. Consolidating the imperial perimeter in the Solomons and New Guinea will not be possible at the same time, and if they wait until late in 1942, it's pretty arguably too late.
 
Are you seriously asking how Japan taking an island right off the coast of India and using it to attack India and British shipping to India is going to get Indians behind the British war effort?
I'm very serious. Japan had just taken Burma, which sent a million Indians that had been living there into Assam, as refugees. Hunger was wide spread, and living conditions were deteriorating rapidly, famine set in, and lasted till 1944. The political situation in India was very chaotic during WWII. The groups, and classes that supported British Rule held fast. Most Indian soldiers, and civil servants supported the war effort to make a living, and feed their families. The Business Classes made a lot of money during the war, and supported the war effort. Others wanted the British out, at almost any cost. Some of the educated youth supported Subhas Chandra Bose's pro Axis Indian Nationalist Movement. The majority of Indians had mixed emotions, or were completely indifferent.

The Congress Party leaders were arrested in August 1942, and spent the rest of the war in jail, for demanding the British leave India immediately. Jinnah's All-Indian Muslim League was interested only in an independent Pakistan. When the Japanese invaded India in 1944, there was no mass anti Japanese uprising. Most of the Indian body politic was a huge inert mass. After the war it tore it's self apart, but during the war it was asleep.
 
Actually, apparently that *was* a concern of the IJA staff in their March 4 meeting with the IJN planners. That even if the conclusion of the war was somehow satisfactory, any force sent to Ceylon would be lost long before then...



A little over 1,700 miles, actually...

Compare to:

488 miles from Rabaul to Port Moeresby
655 miles from Rabaul to Guadalcanal

1,200 miles from Truk to Port Moresby
1,300 miles from Truk to Guadalcanal

Rabaul was the logistics base the IJN built up, however, and the one it relied on for the bulk of its operations in New Guinea and the Solomons. And from Truk, they could at least provide some air cover for transport missions to Guadalcanal. That simply won't be an option for supply convoys to Celyon.



Thanks. That helps narrow it down.

I do think it'd help to look at just what the British had on hand in Ceylon in April. The Wiki page for the Easter Raid has a pretty good breakdown :

British Ground
Ceylonese units

Ceylon Defence Force
Ceylon Garrison Artillery (CGA) (equipped with 6 in (150 mm) and 9.2 in (230 mm) guns)
Ceylon Light Infantry (CLI)
Ceylon Planters Rifle Corps (CPRC)
Colombo Town Guard

Commonwealth units
34th Indian Division.
Australian 16th Brigade (of the 6th Australian Division).
Australian 17th Brigade (of the 6th Australian Division).
24th East African Brigade.

British Air
Royal Air Force

No. 222 Group RAF
No. 11 Squadron RAF (Bristol Blenheims) (Colombo Racecourse)
No. 30 Squadron RAF (Hawker Hurricanes) (RAF Ratmalana, Colombo)
No. 258 Squadron RAF (Hawker Hurricanes) (Colombo Racecourse)
No. 261 Squadron RAF (Hawker Hurricanes) (China Bay, Trincomalee)
No. 273 Squadron RAF (Fairey Fulmars) (China Bay)
No. 202 Squadron RAF (PBY Catalina one aircraft)
No. 204 Squadron RAF (PBY Catalinas)
No. 205 Squadron RAF (one PBY Catalina aircraft)
No. 321 Squadron RAF (PBY Catalinas) (Dutch unit under formation at China Bay)
No. 413 Squadron RCAF (PBY Catalinas)

Fleet Air Arm
788 Naval Air Squadron (Fairey Swordfish)
803 Naval Air Squadron (Fairey Fulmars)
806 Naval Air Squadron (Fairey Fulmars)

British Eastern Fleet
Force A (Fast Force)

VAdm James Sommerville
CV Indomitable, Formidable
BB Warspite
CA Cornwall, Dorsetshire [Sunk in Raid]
CL Emerald, Enterprise
DD Napier(RAN), Nestor(RAN), Paladin, Panther, Hotspur, Foxhound

Force B (Slow Force)
VAdm Willis
BB Resolution, Ramillies, Royal Sovereign, Revenge
CV Hermes [Sunk in Raid]
CL Caledon, Dragon, Jacob Van Heemskerck (KM)
DD Griffin, Norman (RAN), Arrow, Vampire (RAN), Decoy, Fortune, Scout, Isaac Sweers (KM)

So that's basically at least two division equivalents to defend a 25,000sq mi island, right at the outset. Fortifications admittedly are limited and sometimes rather obsolete; but supply, at least, will not be a problem for Adm. Layton's forces. The air defense burden is going to be carried by six squadrons of Hurricanes and Fulmars, which were good enough to give a decent account of themselves against a naval air raid, at any rate. 70-80 fighters might not sound like much, but for the purposes at hand they don't need to be, either.

So what can the Japanese bring to Ceylon at the time of the Easter Raid? The answer is: Options are limited. The IJA had remnants of four divisions in Malaya, parts of which had been yanked out for other assignments, and what remained had suffered very heavily in the Malaya campaign. The three IJA divisions in Java were not in much better shape. 33rd and 55th divisions, along with 18th and 56th divisions (or rather, parts of them) were fully committed to the Burma campaign at this point. Any other units are - at that point in time - either too small, or too far away. So it seems that you do need an earlier POD to make available the forces needed for a Ceylon campaign in April. In which case, as others have said, you must give up some other operation - Burma is the most obvious one, and obviously, that has its own price. There is only so much IJA to go around.

It's stimulating to think about Ceylon as a case for what else the Japanese could have done in 1942 while they still had some kind of opportunity to stage offensive operations. Again, it's not utterly *impossible*. But the disadvantages are tremendous, and the IJA was aware of most of them. Likewise, so are the opportunity costs. Consolidating the imperial perimeter in the Solomons and New Guinea will not be possible at the same time, and if they wait until late in 1942, it's pretty arguably too late.
Ok as I said assume the Japanese pull 2 Divisions out of Manchuria, say we convince the IJA the Russians aren't coming till 1945. The British Eastern Fleet needs to run away, or die. They have about a 5% chance of survival in a carrier battle with Nagumo. Swordfish, and Fulmars will die twice as fast a Devastators, and Wildcats. Formidable, and Indomitable have very weak Combat Air Patrols, and AAA isn't much better. Steel Flight Decks won't save them from torpedo attacks, or more then a few bombs. Running is their only chance. The Battleships would be target practice.

The air raid was a disaster for the RAF. 3 Squadrons of Hurricanes are going to die very fast, against Zero fighters. So on the 3rd day the Japanese hit Trincomalee, and land near the city the next day. So we don't have a detailed order of battle, showing what Allied Units are around Trincomalee, lets just say 1 Australian Brigade, and 2 Indian. Do you want to fight for the Port, and Naval Base? The Japanese hope so. They'll move to envelop the area, and after a few days they accept the surrender of the Empire forces. At that point most of the fleet leaves, and the first land based aircraft fly into the captured airfields, from the Andaman Islands.

So now the IJA forms a perimeter to defend the base, and the Naval Air Force starts it's work. The British can't use the Bay of Bengal, Assam starves, Calcutta has food riots, aid to China is slowed, and the rubber crisis gets worse. The Allies hold the Second Washington Conference in June. Because there's no battle of Midway, and with the Indian Ocean Crisis Gymnast/Torch is postponed, and operations to recapture Ceylon receive priority. Churchill agrees to fly to Moscow to break the bad news to Marshal Stalin personally.

Without Midway there is no Operation Watchtower. The Japanese complete the air field on Guadalcanal, and begin to operate aircraft out of it on August 19th. Without the airlift to the Tunisian Airhead the Luftwaffe is better able to support the Stalingrad airlift. The 10th Panzer, and 334th Infantry Divisions are committed to Von Manstein's Panzer Group, attempting to relieve the 6th Army. (They still lose.)

With the South Pacific relatively quiet the Japanese dispatch 2 more divisions to Ceylon to capture the rest of the Island. The coastal areas of Ceylon are secured around the end of August, and the IJN now has about 100 aircraft based on Ceylon, with about 45,000 IJA Troops. On the July 30th the first I Class Submarines start to use the Naval Base at Trincomalee, extending their patrol areas to Cape Town, the Gulf of Aden, and Perth Australia. On September 5th the first German Type 14 Milch Cow U-Boat arrives with 2 Type 9C U-boats, to begin combined operations.

So now you can tell me this is a fantasy. Ceylon is too far away. The Australians are just too tough for the Japanese. There's no way this could end up like Malaya for any number of reasons. The 34th Indian Division was a green unit formed in March 1942, as a garrison unit. I can find no reference for the 24th East African Brigade, can you fill us in on this unit? The Ceylonese units have some issues of political reliability, and training. That leaves the 2 Australian Brigades. The ground defense doesn't seem that formidable. The Japanese might just pull this off. You can say this is just impossible, but then the whole Japanese Campaign in SEA also seemed fantastic at the time.
 
Yes the way for Japan to do better is to Attack more places, farther away from Japan/closer to enemy string holds/territory and commit more atrocities to US and British personnel/citizens/Allies.
This sounds like a BRILLIANT idea.......
 
Ok as I said assume the Japanese pull 2 Divisions out of Manchuria, say we convince the IJA the Russians aren't coming till 1945. The British Eastern Fleet needs to run away, or die. They have about a 5% chance of survival in a carrier battle with Nagumo. Swordfish, and Fulmars will die twice as fast a Devastators, and Wildcats. Formidable, and Indomitable have very weak Combat Air Patrols, and AAA isn't much better. Steel Flight Decks won't save them from torpedo attacks, or more then a few bombs. Running is their only chance. The Battleships would be target practice.

The air raid was a disaster for the RAF. 3 Squadrons of Hurricanes are going to die very fast, against Zero fighters. So on the 3rd day the Japanese hit Trincomalee, and land near the city the next day. So we don't have a detailed order of battle, showing what Allied Units are around Trincomalee, lets just say 1 Australian Brigade, and 2 Indian. Do you want to fight for the Port, and Naval Base? The Japanese hope so. They'll move to envelop the area, and after a few days they accept the surrender of the Empire forces. At that point most of the fleet leaves, and the first land based aircraft fly into the captured airfields, from the Andaman Islands.

So now the IJA forms a perimeter to defend the base, and the Naval Air Force starts it's work. The British can't use the Bay of Bengal, Assam starves, Calcutta has food riots, aid to China is slowed, and the rubber crisis gets worse. The Allies hold the Second Washington Conference in June. Because there's no battle of Midway, and with the Indian Ocean Crisis Gymnast/Torch is postponed, and operations to recapture Ceylon receive priority. Churchill agrees to fly to Moscow to break the bad news to Marshal Stalin personally.

Without Midway there is no Operation Watchtower. The Japanese complete the air field on Guadalcanal, and begin to operate aircraft out of it on August 19th. Without the airlift to the Tunisian Airhead the Luftwaffe is better able to support the Stalingrad airlift. The 10th Panzer, and 334th Infantry Divisions are committed to Von Manstein's Panzer Group, attempting to relieve the 6th Army. (They still lose.)

With the South Pacific relatively quiet the Japanese dispatch 2 more divisions to Ceylon to capture the rest of the Island. The coastal areas of Ceylon are secured around the end of August, and the IJN now has about 100 aircraft based on Ceylon, with about 45,000 IJA Troops. On the July 30th the first I Class Submarines start to use the Naval Base at Trincomalee, extending their patrol areas to Cape Town, the Gulf of Aden, and Perth Australia. On September 5th the first German Type 14 Milch Cow U-Boat arrives with 2 Type 9C U-boats, to begin combined operations.

So now you can tell me this is a fantasy. Ceylon is too far away. The Australians are just too tough for the Japanese. There's no way this could end up like Malaya for any number of reasons. The 34th Indian Division was a green unit formed in March 1942, as a garrison unit. I can find no reference for the 24th East African Brigade, can you fill us in on this unit? The Ceylonese units have some issues of political reliability, and training. That leaves the 2 Australian Brigades. The ground defense doesn't seem that formidable. The Japanese might just pull this off. You can say this is just impossible, but then the whole Japanese Campaign in SEA also seemed fantastic at the time.
Any invasion of Cleylon would be a Japanese Sealion. Cleylon is even more far than Australia and even the IJA admitted it can’t invade Australia. Allied submarines are a threat. The British units may be lower quality but so what? The home guard was also largely unequipped and low quality and even the Germans can’t invade Britain
 
Last edited:
Any assets devoted to Ceylon will be at least a couple of thousand miles away from the probable site of the Kantai Kessen somewhere to the east / south-east of the home islands. And they hardly hold down as diversionary tactics Allied assets in the Indian Ocean. Even holding Ceylon the RN didn't really do much until 1944.

The East African Brigades I know of were the 21st, 25th & 26th which formed 11th (East Africa) Division, and the independent 22nd & 28th brigades. All fought in SE Asia with good records. Check the history of the King's African Rifles.
 
he British Eastern Fleet needs to run away, or die. They have about a 5% chance of survival in a carrier battle with Nagumo. Swordfish, and Fulmars will die twice as fast a Devastators, and Wildcats. Formidable, and Indomitable have very weak Combat Air Patrols, and AAA isn't much better. Steel Flight Decks won't save them from torpedo attacks, or more then a few bombs. Running is their only chance. The Battleships would be target practice.
And Somerville *will* run away, as he did in OTL, because he's not stupid. He doesn't have the firepower to go toe to toe with the Kido Butai.

But the thing is, the Kido Butai can't stick around. They don't have the fuel, even if they want to. They were a raiding force, and that's how they were always employed.

So Somerville and the hurricanes can wait until Nagumo has to return back to Singapore. Sure, he'll leave behind some kind of surface units, maybe even Ryujo, to help cover the supply ships. But now the British have a force they can actually face on reasonable terms.

I have more thoughts, but I'll leave it there for the moment.
 
Yes the way for Japan to do better is to Attack more places, farther away from Japan/closer to enemy string holds/territory and commit more atrocities to US and British personnel/citizens/Allies.
This sounds like a BRILLIANT idea.......
Yes, the way the Japanese can do better it to attack places that will do strategic damage to the Allies. The problem with the strategic defense inside the Pacific perimeter is it leaves the Allies with the global initiative. Japan is left passively waiting for the Allies to defeat Germany, and build up forces to attack them, at a time of their own choosing. The IJA strategy was to conserve strength, and hope that the Americans wouldn't be willing to pay the cost in blood, and treasure to crush them. That is a strategy of hopeless desperation. The IJN was looking for ways to maintain the initiative, and put pressure on the enemy.

The problem with the Midway operation was it was based on the theory that the enemy would react in a predictable way. If they didn't they would be springing an empty trap. The dispersion of forces, in an overly complex deployment unexpectedly gave the Americans the chance to spring their own trap. Taking Midway Island wouldn't put the United States under serious strategic pressure. Taking Ceylon would disrupt Allied Global Strategy.

Operation C caused serious disruptions, and losses to allied shipping, and strategic naval deployments, but only temporally. Taking Ceylon would have caused much more long lasting damage. A boxer can't win a match without throwing any punches. After Midway the IJN could only throw jabs. In April 1942 Japan still had the power to deliver serious blows. Out of the box operations like a Seaplane raid on Panama could have paid big dividends, by disrupting Allied Shipping, and diverting forces. The Allies did many similar operations, like the Doolittle Raid, or the Dam Busters. Keeping the enemy off balance is always preferable to remaining in a strictly defense posture.
 
Any invasion of Cleylon would be a Japanese Sealion. Cleylon is even more far than Australia and even the IJA admitted it can’t invade Australia. Allies submarines are a threat. The British units may be lower quality but so what? The home guard was also largely unequipped and low quality and even the Germans can’t invade Britain
There is no comparison to invading Britain, or Australia, and invading Ceylon. The Germans would have been trying to cross the English Channel in river barges, escorted by armed tug boats, in the face of destroyers. Invading Australia would have required 100,000 troops, 1,000,000 tons of shipping, and hundreds of aircraft over a period of many months. The Australians, and their American Allies had large ground, and air forces to oppose the Japanese, and if worst came to worst could fall back into the vast Australian Interior.

Ceylon is 1,700 miles from Singapore, but shipping requirements are about 1/10 what Australia would require. The Japanese would have naval, air, and ground superiority. Ceylon is a much more limited objective, requiring far fewer resources to occupy, and defend. It can be accomplished with an economy of force that Japan could afford. Later in the war the IJA committed larger forces to the defense of less strategically valuable islands in the Solomon's.
 
Any assets devoted to Ceylon will be at least a couple of thousand miles away from the probable site of the Kantai Kessen somewhere to the east / south-east of the home islands. And they hardly hold down as diversionary tactics Allied assets in the Indian Ocean. Even holding Ceylon the RN didn't really do much until 1944.

The East African Brigades I know of were the 21st, 25th & 26th which formed 11th (East Africa) Division, and the independent 22nd & 28th brigades. All fought in SE Asia with good records. Check the history of the King's African Rifles.
Again people are thinking with hindsight, that Japan is going to lose the war in 1945. The Decisive Naval Battle wasn't going to happen till 1944, when the Big Blue Fleet was ready to come after them, in the Marianas. We're talking about what the Japanese should do in 1942, while they still hold the strategic initiative. I found the same information you did. I can't find anything about the 24th East African Brigade. I don't know where he got that from. It might have been a typo he read, or he made one, or for some reason it's not easily found on the net, I don't know. But I failed to note the British 16th Brigade, a very good unit, with a lot of combat experience, was attached to the Green 34th Indian Division. Along with the 16th, and 17th Australian Brigades they would have formed the backbone of the defense of Ceylon.
 
A few more thoughts as I do another driveby....

Because there's no battle of Midway, and with the Indian Ocean Crisis Gymnast/Torch is postponed, and operations to recapture Ceylon receive priority. Churchill agrees to fly to Moscow to break the bad news to Marshal Stalin personally.
GYMNAST/TORCH is going to be nearly impossible to cancel - unless you're replacing it with SLEDGEHAMMER - or maybe, in just the right way, with ROUNDUP in early 1943. FDR was adamant that the U.S. had to be in action in the European theater by the end of the year (preferably before the November elections); and Marshall was fully prepared to reopen the whole question of Germany First if there were any more delays or cancellations. A Japanese invasion of Ceylon is not going to be acceptable to either of them as a reason to Do Nothing in the ETO. I just can't see how you can delay it, unless you're "upgrading" it - which is rather unlikely given the enormous difficulties that would have attended SLEDGEHAMMER.

Churchill, of course, was painfully aware of all this by spring of 1942. He knew he could not afford to lose Roosevelt's happy support.

And it is here that Somerville's argument to London that it would be better to sacrifice Ceylon than any other top Allied priorities would almost certainly win the day.

Without Midway there is no Operation Watchtower. The Japanese complete the air field on Guadalcanal, and begin to operate aircraft out of it on August 19th. Without the airlift to the Tunisian Airhead the Luftwaffe is better able to support the Stalingrad airlift. The 10th Panzer, and 334th Infantry Divisions are committed to Von Manstein's Panzer Group, attempting to relieve the 6th Army. (They still lose.)
The loss of multiple U.S. fleet carriers at Coral Sea, Midway, or any other major fleet battle in spring of 1942 pretty likely butterflies WATCHTOWER, and I think there's a lot of consensus around here on that. But in a scenario where the U.S. still has at least six carriers, I think the odds improve for WATCHTOWER, even if the Kido Butai is still at large. It might, however, be modestly delayed.

More likely, thanks to the delays posed by the Ceylon operation, Yamamoto likely shifts his big move to bring out the U.S. carrier forces down to the South Pacific, and you get the big battle there instead.

Of course, even a butterflied Solomons Campaign doesn't help Japan all that much, and it might not even lengthen the war. It just means that huge attrition it took there happens in the Marshall and Gilberts (and New Guinea) in 1943 instead. The Solomons had little strategic significance in themselves; what they were was a way to wage an attrition battle against a power (Japan) that could not afford it.
 
And Somerville *will* run away, as he did in OTL, because he's not stupid. He doesn't have the firepower to go toe to toe with the Kido Butai.

But the thing is, the Kido Butai can't stick around. They don't have the fuel, even if they want to. They were a raiding force, and that's how they were always employed.

So Somerville and the hurricanes can wait until Nagumo has to return back to Singapore. Sure, he'll leave behind some kind of surface units, maybe even Ryujo, to help cover the supply ships. But now the British have a force they can actually face on reasonable terms.

I have more thoughts, but I'll leave it there for the moment.
Your correct about the way the Kido Butai was typically used. However given the task of supporting an invasion tactics would be deferent. They'd need 1, or 2 more tankers to refuel the destroyers, and keep the carrier group in the area for at least a whole week. In the raids on Ceylon the RAF lost 1/3 of their fighters, and almost all their attack aircraft. After several more days of hitting airfields, and air combat over the beachheads there's not going to be many Hurricane's left. After the Carriers leave land based aircraft would fly in from the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Sommerville coming back with the Indomitable & Formidable would be would be a risk, against Japanese land based bombers. Sending Fulmars, and Swordfish into airspace defended by Zero's is suicidal.
 
Your correct about the way the Kido Butai was typically used. However given the task of supporting an invasion tactics would be deferent. They'd need 1, or 2 more tankers to refuel the destroyers, and keep the carrier group in the area for at least a whole week. In the raids on Ceylon the RAF lost 1/3 of their fighters, and almost all their attack aircraft. After several more days of hitting airfields, and air combat over the beachheads there's not going to be many Hurricane's left. After the Carriers leave land based aircraft would fly in from the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Sommerville coming back with the Indomitable & Formidable would be would be a risk, against Japanese land based bombers. Sending Fulmars, and Swordfish into airspace defended by Zero's is suicidal.
At this time, does Japan have the extra tankers and fuel to supply the troopships, supply ships and keep Kido Butai in operation for the weeks needed to ensure that Ceylon is securely held? For that matter, can the IJA fly in.and maintain a force of fighters and bombers able to fight off the Eastern Fleet when the IJN withdraws?

Unless you intend to keep Kido Butai there indefinitely, Ceylon will be recaptured within weeks of its departure. With two IJA Divisions and support forces sacrificed.

And if course, when the cat is away, the mice do play. What will the USN be doing in the South Pacific while the core of the IJN is tied down thousands of miles away?
 
Last edited:
A few more thoughts as I do another driveby....



GYMNAST/TORCH is going to be nearly impossible to cancel - unless you're replacing it with SLEDGEHAMMER - or maybe, in just the right way, with ROUNDUP in early 1943. FDR was adamant that the U.S. had to be in action in the European theater by the end of the year (preferably before the November elections); and Marshall was fully prepared to reopen the whole question of Germany First if there were any more delays or cancellations. A Japanese invasion of Ceylon is not going to be acceptable to either of them as a reason to Do Nothing in the ETO. I just can't see how you can delay it, unless you're "upgrading" it - which is rather unlikely given the enormous difficulties that would have attended SLEDGEHAMMER.

Churchill, of course, was painfully aware of all this by spring of 1942. He knew he could not afford to lose Roosevelt's happy support.

And it is here that Somerville's argument to London that it would be better to sacrifice Ceylon than any other top Allied priorities would almost certainly win the day.



The loss of multiple U.S. fleet carriers at Coral Sea, Midway, or any other major fleet battle in spring of 1942 pretty likely butterflies WATCHTOWER, and I think there's a lot of consensus around here on that. But in a scenario where the U.S. still has at least six carriers, I think the odds improve for WATCHTOWER, even if the Kido Butai is still at large. It might, however, be modestly delayed.

More likely, thanks to the delays posed by the Ceylon operation, Yamamoto likely shifts his big move to bring out the U.S. carrier forces down to the South Pacific, and you get the big battle there instead.

Of course, even a butterflied Solomons Campaign doesn't help Japan all that much, and it might not even lengthen the war. It just means that huge attrition it took there happens in the Marshall and Gilberts (and New Guinea) in 1943 instead. The Solomons had little strategic significance in themselves; what they were was a way to wage an attrition battle against a power (Japan) that could not afford it.
Let me do a counter drive by. Gymnast/Torch was predicated on Midway. Until the Japanese offensive was halted there was a continuing drain on U.S. Forces to the Pacific. The JCS wanted to limit reinforcements to the Pacific, to keep their commitment to the 80/20 Europe First Strategy, circumstances were forcing them into a 50/50 split. Rommel's victory at Gazala, and the drive into Egypt forced a reallocation of resources. The U.S. 2nd Armored Division had it's new Sherman Tanks shipped to Egypt, to reequip British Units, and air reinforcements that eventually became the U.S. 9th Air Force were also sent.

The final approval for Torch didn't come till the Second Washington Meeting in June 1942. If the Japanese had taken Ceylon in April, and the British were even harder pressed in Egypt it would have been a very different conference. An alternative being thought of was shipping the 2nd Armored Division to Egypt. Other American Divisions, that later were assigned to Torch might have also been sent. The introduction of American Troops into combat against Germany might have in Egypt. Protection of convoys around the Cape of Good Hope to Suez was critical. A Japanese Submarine Offensive in the Indian Ocean, in the late Spring, and Summer would weaken the defense of Egypt, at a critical time.

With hindsight everything seems clearly ordained, that the Allies would win the war, and that operations would move on, step by step. The path ahead didn't seem so clear in the first half of 1942. Torch was no more set in stone, then Olympic was in 1945. The Axis still held the initiative, accept in Russia, where a new German Offensive was expected in the late Spring. The Allies were still trying to contain the Axis Offensives, and gain the initiative for themselves. Midway was the first decisive defeat for the Axis, and lost them the strategic initiative, in the Pacific. Watchtower was out of the question before Midway, especially if the airfield on Guadalcanal was operational, and more ground troops had been moved in.

One last point. Sledgehammer was a complete none starter. All the ground forces would have been British, and they were totally apposed to it. It would have lacked all of the requisites for success, that we learned we needed, in later operations. The British could hardly have afforded to lose 50,000 men, in the Fall of 1942. On top of setbacks in the Indian Ocean, and Mediterranean it would have set the Allied Cause back by many months. In the long run it would have made the British even more gun shy about the eventual Operation Overlord.
 
At this time, does Japan have the extra tankers and fuel to supply the troops hips, supply ships and keep Kido Butai in operation for the weeks needed to ensure that Ceylon is securely held? Fir that matter, can the IJA fly in.and maintain a force of fighters and bombers able to fight off the Eastern Fleet when the IJN withdraws?

Unless you intend to keep Kido Butai there indefinitely, Ceylon will be recaptured within weeks of its departure. With two IJA Divisions and support forces sacrificed.

And if course, when the cat is away, the mice do play. What will the USN be doing in the South Pacific while the core of the IJN is tied down thousands of miles away?
They don't need to stay for weeks, only about one week longer then the OTL Operation C. Yes they can, the Andaman & Nicobar Islands are about 850 miles from Ceylon. Zero's, Kates, Vals, and of course Betty, and Nell bombers would have no great difficulty with that kind of shuttle distances, they did it all though the war. They'd be moving into captured RAF Air Fields. The bombers can also act as transports, and merchant ships can bring cargo right into the port at Trincomalee. What the USN did while Operation C was on was the Doolittle Raid. The Eastern Fleet would be at great risk approaching Ceylon, with land based torpedo bombers there. How would the Eastern Fleet recapture the Island, without bringing an army with them?
 
They don't need to stay for weeks, only about one week longer then the OTL Operation C. Yes they can, the Andaman & Nicobar Islands are about 850 miles from Ceylon. Zero's, Kates, Vals, and of course Betty, and Nell bombers would have no great difficulty with that kind of shuttle distances, they did it all though the war. They'd be moving into captured RAF Air Fields. The bombers can also act as transports, and merchant ships can bring cargo right into the port at Trincomalee. What the USN did while Operation C was on was the Doolittle Raid. The Eastern Fleet would be at great risk approaching Ceylon, with land based torpedo bombers there. How would the Eastern Fleet recapture the Island, without bringing an army with them?
a
And once these Nells and Betty's are attrited? Natural wastage plus being death traps when not escorted by the fighters Kido Butai is taking away? Or is

What's the fuel cost for an invasion force, supply and troop ships? Not to mention supplying the bomber force and leaving fighters behind.

The Japanese might be able to take the island . It might take a month or two for the RAF securely based in India to render its air defences and strike force ineffective. But ar some point it will become impossible for Japan to supply its forces there with POL and ammunition.

And then they are as doomed as the forces on Guadalcanal or other Pacific islands.
 
Imperial Japan in 1942 in the real world - as opposed to some 'Admiral's Edition: War in the Pacific' computer game - needs the Solomons (to enhance its security perimeter and press communication between North America and Australia more severely) more than it needs Ceylon.
And if the Imperial Japanese Carrier fleet is in the Solomons, instead of swanning around the Indian Ocean getting some of its elite pilots lost for little purpose over Ceylon, it either gets the Solomons, and/or it gets a 'decisive battle' at favourable odds with enemy fleets and (assuming it manages to win that) it gets the Solomons too.
 
Top