Operation FS: Japan's Final Strike

This clusterfuck makes me wonder what a TL would look like where the army and navy were entirely cooperative. You'd have to probably put that in ASB though to get away with a POD late enough to not butterfly much of WW2 though.
Smaller operations would be conducted first to test amphibious doctrines and new equipment, and to remove the direct Japanese threat to Australia and New Zealand. Fiji’s liberation had protected New Zealand, now Port Moresby would do the same for Australia. Only now, they would call it ‘Drop Bear’.
I saw what you did there BNC. Well played. The Japanese will never figure out the code name for that operation.
This clusterfuck makes me wonder what a TL would look like where the army and navy were entirely cooperative. You'd have to probably put that in ASB though to get away with a POD late enough to not butterfly much of WW2 though.
Honestly it probably isn't too different from OTL - pretty much every important operation (Philippines/DEI, Midway, Solomons and a few late war) saw the two services at least putting up with each other. The greatest improvements that I can think of would come from efficiency (say only one of the Zero and Ki43 in serial production, but that does nothing to fix the pilots or fuel issues) and perhaps a better coordinated defence later on so that a few more islands become bloody messes. Although that could just result in them being bypassed in favour of other targets instead.
The most interesting change I believe would be if the Navy started using the Army's codes - OTL it wasn't until MacArthur captured a whole heap of coding machines and books and stuff in northern New Guinea (early 44) that the Allies could read the Army traffic the same way they had done to the Navy since early 42. But in a cooperative scenario, it is just as likely that the Navy codes get chosen for both services instead, which means bad things for Japan.

I saw what you did there BNC. Well played. The Japanese will never figure out the code name for that operation.
:p I was wondering how long it would take someone to notice that. OTL the 'drop bear' joke appears to have been created in the '60s, but seeing as there are more US soldiers in Australia I can see some Aussie deciding to play a prank and start the thing 25 years early.

How long did the liberation of Fiji take, total? What were allied casualties like overall?
'Hangman' only, about a month all up, somewhere around 1000 Allied losses and 5000 Japanese
The entire Fiji campaign, July 29, 1942 to early May 1943 (or a little over nine months), about 6000* total Allied losses, 8-9000 Japanese

* = including ~2000 dead POWs (most to starvation), but not those who were later liberated.

Why are the people mentioning a civil war? Way I see it, Japan has been really successful here. In the long run, though, the sheer might of the Allies will get them.
How ironic. The Japanese advanced more than OTL but they're probably gonna fall quicker since their military command is so bad that two branches of the Armed Forces are on a literal civil war.
Why are the people mentioning a civil war? Way I see it, Japan has been really successful here. In the long run, though, the sheer might of the Allies will get them.
The Japanese High Command overdosed on victory disease. When the victories stop rolling in, who better to blame for the hangover than the other service that you have hated since forever?

XLII: Hills of Hell (6/43)
XLII: Hills of Hell, June 1943

It would take four days for the bunker line to be cleared. Four days of heavy casualties on both sides as MacArthur’s artillery attempted to silence one emplacement after another. Air support, which was beginning to take the form of the Curtiss SB2C Helldiver, once again proved its usefulness, knocking out some of the strongest Japanese positions. Many bombs however fell into New Guinea’s dense jungles, and it was the infantry that had the hardest job of all. Each Japanese bunker contained anything from a machine gun crew to a mighty six-inch howitzer, and all were well stocked with supplies of rice and ammunition.
MacArthur personally landed on Blue Beach on June 14th, just in time to see his troops clear the last resistance on the landing grounds. While there he decorated an unusually large number of soldiers for bravery and courage in what had become one of the country’s bloodiest fights since the Civil War. At least three thousand of his men had given their lives for this scrap of New Guinea coast, and another 4500 were wounded. Half of those who fell at ‘Gallipoli in the Pacific’ were Australian, the rest Americans. Every Japanese soldier in the area had been killed. Prisoners had been rare in New Caledonia, and now that the news from Fiji and Bataan was out, Allied soldiers were not inclined to take them at all.

New Guinea, MacArthur decided, needed to be the birthplace of America’s amphibious doctrine. Although several landings had been conducted in the past, most had been either unopposed or only against token resistance. In drafting a report for the Joint Chiefs and other commanders, MacArthur’s first recommendation was to seek an unopposed landing if at all possible. Doing so had served the Japanese very well numerous times, especially at Fiji and New Caledonia where an opposed landing would very quickly have disrupted their plans to a catastrophic degree. The same had held true for American efforts as well, although not as dramatically as what the Japanese had pulled off. Above all, unopposed landings saved casualties, always a good thing.
Unopposed landings would not always be possible however. Captured Japanese documents would soon reveal that the end of Horii’s defences had been only a dozen kilometres west of Red Beach, so a better handling of New Guinea might have improved that operation. However, several Micronesian atolls that Nimitz and the rest of the Navy were intending to capture in 1944 were too small to simply land on in a location far from the enemy – if they were defended at all, and some surely would be, the defences would have to be taken head-on. In Europe, Hitler’s Atlantic Wall was beginning to take shape, and any French beach chosen for the long-awaited ‘second front’ would be as full of bunkers and heavy defences as anything in New Guinea. Possibly more, for while New Guinea was a distant Japanese outpost, the Pas-de-Calais was in Hitler’s backyard.
MacArthur laid out several recommendations in his report of the battle, with strong naval and air support at the top of the list. Four battleships and their escorts bombarding the beaches for half a day had done some damage to the Japanese defences, but more could clearly have been done (especially now that the Iowa-class was being commissioned). Japan’s air force looked to be a beaten foe, but Germany’s certainly wasn’t. Clearing the skies would also have to be an important part of following amphibious operations.
One thing that MacArthur neglected to mention was the possibility of an enemy navy interfering with the operation. Yamamoto had been told of MacArthur’s landing almost as soon as it happened, but as the Navy was not yet deemed ready for the decisive battle he decided not to do anything about it. The Kriegsmarine was too small to be any effective threat and MacArthur’s report would come too late to change anything in Operation ‘Husky’, the landing in Sicily, which began just a few weeks after ‘Drop Bear’. But as long as the Axis had a significant naval presence, they could still pose a serious threat.

Beyond the landing grounds lay a further thirty kilometres of hills that would need to be crossed before Port Moresby could be taken. MacArthur had hoped to sweep through them in a couple of days, but the Japanese coastal bunkers had put an end to dreams of a quick offensive. Like the fight for New Caledonia, this was destined to be a slow and painful battle.
By June 15th, General Horii had managed to push disputes with the Navy off to his superior, General Hyakutake, allowing him to focus his attention to the battle at hand. All the information he had available was suggesting that MacArthur had no second invasion force after all (MacArthur had wanted a second force, but the Joint Chiefs wanted the shipping moved to the Central Pacific as quickly as possible). The 55th Division was still mostly intact after the battles on the beaches, and half of its manpower was in the process of being moved west. The fight for Port Moresby would not be made in the town, where Allied battleships could provide gunfire support. The hills, where Japanese soldiers could be at least somewhat safe from Allied air superiority, would be a much better battlefield.
What became a two-week battle began on the night of the 15th, when an Australian patrol met one of Horii’s battalions sent to throw the Allies back into the sea. The danger of that had now passed, with Allied strength on the island approaching 50,000. A lack of infrastructure on New Guinea posed problems for both forces, as everything from weapons and equipment to crates of rations had to be moved manually. The hills greatly restricted where MacArthur’s vehicles could operate, and he soon decided to use aircraft to send the majority of his army’s food and ammunition. The Japanese, who had virtually no surviving air presence over Port Moresby, conscripted natives to carry their supplies for them, at gunpoint if necessary.
MacArthur’s larger force soon secured the upper hand while the Japanese position deteriorated. The Imperial Army had been bloodied in China and the Navy’s troops were leaving New Guinea as arguments raged in Tokyo about what to do with them. Horii was left with little hope of reinforcement, while MacArthur was getting stronger by the day. On the 26th, the airfield nearest Port Moresby fell, ending the Japanese threat to Australia for good, and two days later the Allies were at the edge of the town. Losses had been much lighter than on the beaches, and many Japanese had fled into the jungles to prepare for a counterattack that would never come. Many months would pass before the last of them would be cleared out, but MacArthur’s priority was never a handful of riflemen that could be a minor nuisance to airfield guards. The town that had started the whole mess in the South Pacific was ripe for the taking.
Yet Horii, who still had two-thirds of his division, was not ready to surrender. The hills now in Allied hands, New Guinea was about to become an even bloodier battlefield.

Oh boy....

How much does this formalization of amphibious doctrine differ from OTL, and what impact might it have on Normandy?
Pretty much just the name 'Douglas MacArthur' at the top. I based the first part of the New Guinea fight off Tarawa, and there will be other fights on the atolls before D-day (not to mention MacArthur did a ton of landings IOTL), so the overall result won't be too different.

XLIII: Port Moresby (6/43)
XLIII: Port Moresby, June 1943

Urban warfare is much more commonly associated with the massive battles that took place in Europe: Stalingrad, Warsaw, Budapest and Berlin were just a few of the great cities that became the graves for hundreds of thousands in the war’s later days. By contrast, most Pacific islands had no true ‘cities’, and even large settlements such as Noumea and Suva would have been at best towns had they been on a continent instead of an island. The opportunities for urban battles had been scarce: MacArthur had declared Manila an open city in 1941 and the three battles for Suva took place on the town’s outskirts.
When General Horii declared his intention to turn Port Moresby into an “urban fortress” in the days after MacArthur’s invasion, few in the Imperial Army believed he could make good on the promise. Port Moresby had been a mere village in the days before the war, and Japan’s capture of it just five months later had interrupted Australian efforts to build it up before they really got going. The presence of a Japanese garrison and the need to house officers made sure that the village grew, but if Horii wanted to make a Pacific Stalingrad, he would not find it in New Guinea.
Contrary to the Army command, Horii did not feel that he needed to. MacArthur’s divisions were nothing compared to the Sixth Army, and his own men would never be able to rival what the apparently infinite manpower of the Soviet Union. Yet Port Moresby offered the 8000 Japanese now in the town every advantage that the Soviets had: the built up environment, the cover from air attack, the many opportunities for heavy casualties. Most importantly, a bloody fight in Port Moresby would give Horii, and the rest of the Japanese, time. Almost a hundred thousand soldiers were stationed on Rabaul, and once the transport could be worked out they could be sent to New Guinea. If MacArthur was held down in Port Moresby, he would be exposed when those soldiers were sent to attack.

MacArthur struck on June 28th, before the Japanese defence was fully prepared. He had hoped to secure the town with a minimum of bloodshed, intending to use the naval base as a starting point for further offensives in the region. Instead, when his troops had secured a mere quarter of the town, the Japanese attacked from the east. This attack, consisting of troops Horii had stripped from another line of coastal bunkers on a beach that would never be attacked, was poorly planned as Japanese communications fell apart. The Japanese were individually brave, and tied up two American regiments that should have been securing Port Moresby. When the attack was defeated, the Japanese retreated not east, as most had expected, but south into the city.
They joined the rest of the Japanese New Guinea garrison that was still operating south of the Owen Stanley mountains. Horii had given few orders to his junior commanders, and was more interested in arguing with the Navy in the hopes of getting reinforcements across the Bismarck Sea than in fighting the battle unfolding barely a kilometre from his headquarters. The infantry needed no orders telling them to fortify the town: when word came back that MacArthur had taken a beach east of Port Moresby and cut the town off from the rest of Japanese-held New Guinea, there was now nowhere to retreat.

The battle for Port Moresby began in earnest as July dawned. Surrounded by land and sea, the Japanese fought to the death for every inch of ground. Native huts and more recent Japanese and Australian constructions had been turned into fortified strongpoints of every description. Some housed groups of riflemen, others machine gun crews. Many more appeared abandoned, with dead natives or even Japanese. Even the dead were dangerous however, as several unfortunate Allied soldiers found out as the bodies turned out to be loaded with traps. It was like the fight for the bunkers all over again, only this time there was no hope of air support (the risk of friendly fire being much too great), and there was no space between each enemy position.
Despite outnumbering his enemy more than six to one, MacArthur could not take full advantage of his greater forces. The tiny peninsula on which Port Moresby lay did not have space for all of his troops, and those that did end up in the fight soon found that they had been drawn into a meat grinder. Only after five days, and another 4000 Allied casualties, could Port Moresby be declared captured. MacArthur’s troops left behind them a town that had seen seventy percent of its structures heavily damaged or outright destroyed. ‘Drop Bear’ was not yet complete however, for one last objective lay beyond the ruins of Port Moresby

That last target was Paga Point, a 110-metre tall hill home to a massive strongpoint on the southern tip of the Port Miresby peninsula. Overlooking Port Moresby harbour, Paga Point had to be taken before the naval base could be used by the Allies. Two six-inch guns had been set up by the Australians before the war, as had some of the bunkers and other concrete emplacements. The Japanese had since improved the defences, adding another four large guns of their own as well as a garrison of estimated battalion strength. Some of those guns had been fired into Port Moresby without regard as to whose troops they killed, now they bore down on the infantry sent to disable them for good.
MacArthur decided against storming Paga Point immediately, sure that such an assault would cause more casualties than it was worth. Instead he gave orders to place the hill under siege, as supplies inside could not last forever. Meanwhile, artillery from the ground and Helldivers from the air pounded away at the Japanese, disabling several guns in the massive bunker and overwhelming the defenders inside. A considerable part of the bunker’s roof collapsed, rendering all but one of the artillery pieces unusable. The surviving gun was pointed out to sea.
After two days, the order to take the ruins of Paga Point was given. Despite the furious bombardment, the surviving Japanese fought furiously, refusing to surrender and all too willing to die for the Emperor. Their shattered battalion had no hope against one of MacArthur’s regiments, and within hours the fight for Paga Point was over. The bodies of the Japanese were searched in the hopes of finding General Horii, but he was nowhere to be seen. Some believe that he slipped out of Port Moresby at the last minute to hide out in the jungle, more likely he was crushed to death by the collapsing walls of the Paga Point bunker.
MacArthur had already written one report to Washington warning them of the strong defences likely to be encountered in future amphibious operations. After Port Moresby, he drafted another about the fanaticism of the inland defence. Along with details from the ground, he added his own opinion of the fighting: “as we get nearer Japan, such operations will become more costly. New Guinea was of marginal value to the average Japanese soldier, and the results are as detailed. When their homes are under threat, we can only expect an even grimmer determination by our enemy.”

XLIII: Port Moresby, June 1943

After Port Moresby, he drafted another about the fanaticism of the inland defence. Along with details from the ground, he added his own opinion of the fighting: “as we get nearer Japan, such operations will become more costly. New Guinea was of marginal value to the average Japanese soldier, and the results are as detailed. When their homes are under threat, we can only expect an even grimmer determination by our enemy.”

Big Mac is 100% correct here, let's just hope that the hate boner the JCOS have for MacArthur dosent get in the way of his very sound advice.
Sounds like Japan didn't get enough time to move troops out of rabaul?

And man, TTL's pacific war is no less intense on land than OTL.
Say what you will about Douglas MacArthur being a glory hound (a lot of the time) and such, but he's actually right here...
XLIV: TImor (7/43)
XLIV: Timor, July 1942

In his post-war memoirs, General MacArthur would lament several times that no major ground offensive was made under his command throughout 1943 or early 1944. Port Moresby had been a small although bloody step, contributing very little towards actually ending the war or MacArthur’s ultimate goal of liberating the Philippines. At a time when the Japanese high command spent as much time arguing amongst itself as it did fighting the war, and before hundreds of thousands of Japanese reinforcements would flow into the islands within MacArthur’s command area, an opportunity appears to have been missed. “We took the first step,” MacArthur wrote, “before the attention and resources were sent to the Marines in Micronesia and the chance for a great victory slipped from our grasp.”
That first step was Operation Culverin, the recapture of Timor.

Located 650 kilometres northwest of Darwin, the small island of Timor is well positioned to act as a forward base for further operations into the East Indies. B-17s operating from the airfield at Penfui had much of eastern Java, Celebes and even parts of western New Guinea within range, and the base had been used as a stopover point for flights to the Philippines during MacArthur’s command there. The Japanese had taken the island around the time that Java fell, and the Australians had been fighting the Japanese garrison in the island’s mountains ever since.
For months it had looked as though Timor would be another dead-end fight, draining Japanese manpower but otherwise leading nowhere. In June, MacArthur had agreed with Australian General Blamey that Timor should continue to be contested but the fight in that region expanded no further. The rationale at the time was that efforts into New Guinea or the Solomons should receive priority of resources, and the Japanese garrison, the 48th Division, was large enough that any serious effort to dislodge it would require a sizeable part of those resources. It took a year for two factors to change MacArthur’s mind.
The first was the Joint Chiefs refusing MacArthur permission to carry on further offensives into New Guinea as they transferred the bulk of their naval assets to Nimitz in preparation for the drive into Micronesia. Although he had not yet realised it, this ended up being to the benefit of MacArthur’s soldiers, who were suffering from malaria and other tropical diseases after the Port Moresby campaign, and would be largely unfit for heavy action until the proper medical supplies could be sent and time given to recover. The other factor had occurred the previous September, when most of the 48th Division was withdrawn from Timor so that they could be used in New Caledonia (although few ever made it there). Intelligence had noticed mention of this transfer but had been unable to confirm it, and it was only when Australian forces on Timor noticed a much weaker enemy presence that the rumours were seriously believed.

In early July, as the fight for Port Moresby was reaching its climax, MacArthur gave the order to reinforce Timor. Australian troops already on the island were ordered to secure a sector of the island’s southern coast (much of which had been under Allied control since early 1942). At the same time, the 7th Australian Division was to be transported to the island, before the two forces would link up and drive the remnant Japanese garrison out of the island for good. The operation could be conducted entirely under the air cover of P-38 Lightnings based out of Darwin, but if it drew Yamamoto’s navy out of its bases in Japan and away from Nimitz’s upcoming offensives, that would be for the better. If things went to plan, the whole island would be taken before any carriers coming out of Japan could even make it to Timor.
Compared to the brutal slog of Port Moresby, the Timor campaign moved rather more swiftly. Yamamoto made no effort to move so much as a destroyer to the East Indies, as events within Tokyo took his attention in a way they had not for nearly two years. Although they had not yet realised it, the Australians already on Timor had been on the verge of finishing the Japanese presence there for good, and the extra division increased their numbers more than tenfold. The airfield at Penfui, where MacArthur had anticipated a major clash, was taken bloodlessly. Any prestige he had lost at Port Moresby was regained, and those few Japanese not wrapped up in the ever worsening inter-service disputes believed that MacArthur was set to advance on Java and the oilfields.

MacArthur would have liked to do just that, but planning for Operation Cleaver, the first of Nimitz’ Micronesian offensives, was too far advanced at this stage to be quickly cancelled. If the strategic focus was to be shifted once again, it would very likely be no earlier than January, by which point any momentum ‘Culverin’ had generated would be lost. Micronesia being the favoured goal in Washington, MacArthur was so sure that further requests for offensives in the Southwest Pacific would be denied that he did not even bother sending a recommendation for an offensive to directly follow Culverin.
Amphibious offensives may have been out of the question, but he was confident that bombers would not be. Penfui airfield was rebuilt and expanded by the end of July, and it would be an ideal place to disrupt the Japanese war effort from. MacArthur sent a request to Washington for more heavy bombers to be sent to his command. His existing B-17s and B-24s were already committed to suppressing Rabaul and other major Japanese bases in the Solomons, so if the Java Sea was to be mined or New Guinea put out of action for good, more would be needed. B-17s could not be operated by carriers, so they would not be needed by Nimitz, and Europe already had so many that a few squadrons would not be missed. Washington agreed with MacArthur’s assessment, and sent six B-17 squadrons to Darwin (two of which were promptly moved to Timor).
When MacArthur received the message giving him control of the B-17s, he promptly forgot about the bombers. At the end of the telegram was something that he perceived to be of far greater importance. “Consideration for an offensive into the Philippines following the conclusion of the Micronesian campaign is now underway by the Joint Chiefs”.

The Army-Navy rivalry is only escalating I see.

I wonder if a direct attack on the Java oil fields would actually be faster at cutting off Japan's oil given the situation....
The Army-Navy rivalry is only escalating I see.

I wonder if a direct attack on the Java oil fields would actually be faster at cutting off Japan's oil given the situation....
Yeah, I hate to say it but I am with MacArthur on this one. Go to Java and take the oil fields. They are far more important than Micronesia.