Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by BiteNibbleChomp, Oct 30, 2019.
how much better is Japan doing relative to OTL at this point?
Everything they lost at Midway IOTL, they have here - most importantly the four big carriers and a couple of hundred aircraft. About half of the fuel that was used in the Midway operation is also available for use, having been transferred to Truk and Rabaul instead.
They don't have Attu, but Port Moresby more than makes up for it, and the Solomon islands are not being contested either.
China and Burma are progressing as OTL - all the troops I diverted to FS (details in those "Planning" chapters) came from the OTL Guadalcanal and New Guinea operations, or Midway. Those units described as coming from Java were transferred to the Solomons throughout '42.
VII: Efate, July 1942
Efate, one of the largest islands in the New Hebrides, was Japan’s first major target in the FS Operation. Half way between New Caledonia and Fiji, the small base at Port Vila would be a useful jumping off point for further operations in the South Pacific, while the newly-built airfield on the island would allow at least some land-based air cover for the Japanese warships that would soon sail further south and east. Mountainous in the north and wooded in the south, Efate’s geography presented a limited range of landing sites with easy access to Port Vila. Having been warned of the fall of Espiritu Santo the previous day, the defenders of Efate knew that the Japanese were coming, and could predict where they were likely to land. When the Japanese Navy sailed into Meli Bay an hour after dawn, they were ready.
As the troopships filled the bay, bombers launched from the carrier Akagi attacked the defences on the beach, as well as the nearby airfield. Unbeknownest to the Japanese, the hangars were empty, all flyable aircraft having been sent to New Caledonia over the previous few days to prevent their capture, while those that could not fly were destroyed by their crews. The skies above Efate were filled with fire as the few anti-air guns on the island were used in a desperate attempt to keep the bombers away. Four D3As were knocked down, as was an escorting Zero.
The battle for the beaches began with the mid-morning low tide. The few artillery pieces available in the Meli Bay region had survived the Japanese air raids with only light damage, and were now turned against the 4000 soldiers disembarking along a four kilometre stretch of beach. Outnumbered, with only one regiment to cover the whole island, the Americans put up a valiant fight. Nowhere was this better demonstrated than at “the Corner”, an otherwise insignificant point where a relatively straight beach is interrupted by what appears as just a tiny bump on the map.
The Battle of the Corner was a brave defensive action fought by just a company of American soldiers. Armed with two artillery pieces, they fired into a mass of Japanese soldiers attempting to leave their landing ship, scattering an enemy who otherwise had a reputation for being fearless. As the Japanese gradually took control of the other beaches and began advancing east, the soldiers defending the Corner found themselves forced to retreat, and forces on both sides rushed to take control of a small river nearby the Corner. Twenty metres or so of river, and the soldiers manning a hastily formed line behind it, was all that stood between the Japanese and Port Vila and the airfield.
At 1500, the Japanese bombers returned. Unlike the morning raids, this time they had no clear targets. While the Japanese field commanders had informed the Navy that the sector between the hills and the river was under Japanese control, the river was far too small to be seen from the air, while pilots flew past it at close to 200 kilometres an hour. Most bombs were dropped on Port Vila instead, where they disrupted American efforts to bring forces from the other side of the island. An American barracks was hit, as were several other buildings, but the raid is memorable more for its effect on morale than any material damage. The Americans, already feeling abandoned by their senior commanders as they were left behind when the engineers and aircraft were evacuated, now felt as if the entire world was against them.
On the Japanese side, the raids appeared as a symbol of victory. A shallow point in the river having been found, the infantry stormed across, overwhelming the defence that had been set up just hours ago. Efate airfield was taken, and the Japanese rushed into Port Vila from the north. With most of his men still on the river line and sure to be encircled, or too far away to turn the tide, the American commander offered to surrender. The battle had taken just ten hours, but it had cost more than five hundred lives, most of them Japanese.
With news of the surrender of Efate, the troopships that had landed the invasion in the morning now returned in the evening to take the Americans away to a prisoner-of-war camp on New Britain. As would become characteristic of all the landings conducted during FS, supplies of all kinds were simply dumped on the beach, where Japanese soldiers were expected to collect them after a beachhead had been established. Among other things these included rations, which were denied to the Americans as they made their eight-day journey across the Coral Sea. Unlike in the Philippines, it does not appear that the starvation of the prisoners was a deliberate attempt to mistreat them (at least when compared to the other times Japan handled prisoners throughout the war). Rather, it was recognition of the fact that Japan simply could not afford to do anything better. What few supplies could be brought to Efate were needed by the invasion force-turned-garrison.
Unlike on Espiritu Santo, the occupation of Efate was one of great activity. The ineffective bombardment of the island had left most important installations intact, including a small coral-surfaced runway and a few small fuel storage tanks (the larger ones had been sabotaged by the Americans in days past). The port facilities were still operable, the American demolition units given too little time between the landings and the surrender to destroy them (while they had been used in the evacuation of the island before that). For the soldiers left behind on the island as the IJN departed, the occupation was a straightforward case of taking over the American base and filling it with their own soldiers. All of them knew that one day in the near future, the Navy would return to collect them, ready to take them to a target further south.
Efate’s true value to the Japanese came from its position. Just 500 kilometres to the south lay the Allied base at New Caledonia, well within the Zero’s combat range. Focused on the efforts to take Fiji and Samoa, the Japanese squandered the opportunity of the first days after the landing to move fighters there, and before long the Americans were sending B-17s over to bombard the base. Instead they followed their plans, almost religiously, and completed a near-useless airfield at Guadalcanal throughout early August before sending the construction teams to Efate. When the Japanese did feel ready to use Efate, the airfield was wrecked. Japan’s overworked carrier fleet would have to shoulder another heavy burden.
Being very much an amateur in matters regarding naval warfare in the WW2 (though greatly interested in the topic), why was MI chosen IOTL over FS? On paper, it sounds a very enticing plan by combining the idea of decisive battle with an actual huge strategic benefit of potentially isolating Australia from North America. Compared to that, it seems much more unclear what Japan would have gained even if they had won at Midway. I do see though that just the amount of resources FS needs might have seemed daunting to Japanese naval planners.
Always wanted to do an Operation FS timeline, never had the time to research it properly. Subscribed.
Short answer is Yamamoto recognized the USN was undefeated. He hoped to achieve a grand decisive battle, that would force the US to negotiate peace on Japan's terms.
Beyond that he felt the FS operation was risky with the US fleet undefeated, and unecessary after the big victory. By striking near Hawaii he expected the Americans to rush west into a ambush. Something he did not think would happen in the S Pacific.
They didn't "choose" MI over FS - all of the plans for FS, as late as the 'final' version written on May 18th, called for FS to be conducted only after Midway was captured and the USN destroyed. Even after Midway, the first reaction in Tokyo was to postpone FS (which was at that time marked to begin on July 8th) by a couple of months.
The idea of only one operation being considered possible by the Japanese is my creation, although had the Japanese actually bothered to work out how much oil they needed for a proper effort in the South Pacific, they would have come to that conclusion, at least considering any attempt beginning before the end of August. Midway cost the Japanese around 200-300kt of oil for the ships (I haven't bothered calculating the figures for aviation fuel or other types of POL, but that would probably make up 5-10% of the total) - this is a month's worth of the entire production available to Japan (for the entire navy, not just the big stuff sent to Midway... all those little tankers, minesweepers, cargo ships &c need oil too). Truk is almost the same distance from Tokyo as Midway is, and if we take out allowances for combat, they're still going to need a good third of that 200-300kt, just to get to FS' launch point. Japan had the reserves to do that sort of mass movement once, and even then only barely (hence why they didn't really do anything big between MI and the beginning of Watchtower).
That leaves Japan with two choices: cancel MI, or do FS later (no earlier than September). A September FS is a terrible idea - by then the islands they wanted to attack would be too strongly defended. While they may have attempted it had they "won" Midway (meaning 'sink the carriers', not so much take the islands), it makes a terrible TL. Espiritu Santo might still have been possible by that point. Efate and Fiji certainly weren't.
Thus, to write the TL, I had to cancel Midway, and the best way to do that was to move the 'decisive battle' to the South Pacific - this was never a part of the original plans (either the March ones or the May 18 version). The Japanese intelligence consistently underestimated the number of active American carriers, so a massive win at Coral Sea might have convinced them that Midway was unnecessary.
Let me know if you ever need anything!
A few sources I've found very useful include:
https://pwencycl.kgbudge.com/Table_Of_Contents.htm - has a huge amount of detail about pretty much everything that happened in the Pacific
https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/Building_Bases/bases-24.html - covers the various Allied defences on most of the islands.
https://www.academia.edu/8041840/TH...BATTLE_THAT_REQUIRED_EVERY_CONCEIVABLE_WEAPON - this is about the Tokyo Express (DD supply runs to Guadalcanal), rather than FS, but I found it very helpful when working out the Japanese supply situation.
http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-WH2Paci.html - NZ's official histories, Chapter 2 covers the Fiji garrison in great detail.
http://www.combinedfleet.com/guadoil1.htm - this is how I obtained the 200-300kt figure for MI
Also the book Japanese Army Operations in the South Pacific Area: New Britain and Papua campaigns 1942-43, translated by Steven Bullard has a chapter devoted to the Japanese planning of FS, probably the most useful source I have found for the topic. Can be downloaded for free from the Australian War Memorial page here: http://ajrp.awm.gov.au/AJRP/AJRP2.n...6f4f00126373/1fcb61d633972daaca257291000abf44
VIII: The Longest Night, July 1942
As dusk began to fall over Fiji on the night of the 29th of July, Admiral Yamaguchi ordered his ships to begin unloading the troops. His task force was built around the carriers Soryu and Hiryu, the latter serving as his flagship. Two heavy cruisers, one light cruiser and fifteen destroyers were also tasked with escorting the nineteen troopships (the entire allocation for FS save those sent to the New Hebrides) and the handful of smaller vessels accompanying them. 12,000 Army soldiers were to be landed on the island of Viti Levu. A quarter of them would be delivered to the island by destroyer – an innovative way to stretch Japan’s limited resources.
A night landing, typically considered a hazardous operation, was Yamaguchi’s idea. Japanese intelligence knew that Viti Levu was heavily defended, and with half of his forces still waiting in Rabaul, Yamaguchi knew that storming a defended beach as had been done at Port Moresby and Efate would too greatly weaken his force before he could support it with the second wave. The choice of location, 75 kilometres west of Suva, was also unconventional: a short beach with many steep hills not too far behind. Had it been defended, the area would have resembled Gallipoli. Yamaguchi was gambling that it wasn’t. In another stroke of fortune, he could count on a full moon to help the sailors find their way*.
The landings began well, as the soldiers were dropped on the beach, along with what heavy equipment was considered important enough for the first wave. This included several light artillery pieces, which would be invaluable in setting up a defensive perimeter on the western flank of the landing site. Taking positions in the mountains, the battalion ordered to hold the line would have the most important job of the entire force: if the Allies could break through there before the Japanese could take Suva, the operation would have to be called off. But the Allies did not discover the landing efforts, and by 0400 all of the troops had landed. Yamaguchi had hoped to get the equipment ashore as well, but with dawn only three hours away, he decided it more important to keep the secrecy of the operation intact, and withdrew the ships from the coast. They could return and finish the job the following evening.
When the Allies sent up reconnaissance aircraft the following morning, they found the Japanese fleet south of the small island of Mbengga. Yamaguchi redirected some of his own fighters, attempting to destroy them before they could be used to find the Army, although this effort was unsuccessful and the Zeros soon prepared for the Americans to attempt a strike against the carriers. A squadron of B-26s was sent from Fiji with orders to sink the carriers, although this action too appears to have had only a minor impact, with only a few planes destroyed on each side, and no ships sunk. The Americans did hit the heavy cruiser Mogami with one torpedo, damaging the ship but not crippling it. Only when the ship returned to base was it found that a second torpedo had struck the ship. A defective Mark 13 model, the torpedo had failed to explode.
Despite his best efforts however, Yamaguchi could not keep his army hidden forever, and by 1200 a RNZAF Hudson had confirmed the landing site, first located by local coastwatchers earlier that morning. When the report was sent back to headquarters, the Americans were left confused. At Espiritu Santo and Efate, the Japanese Navy had rushed back to base as soon as they had unloaded the infantry, and Fiji was even further from Truk or Rabaul. Some believed that the landing, in difficult terrain far from any likely objective, was just a diversion, and that the cargo ships that had been spotted with the carriers still held another army, soon to be landed in Lauthala Bay. Forces on the ground were ordered to prepare for another landing, while Admiral Ghormley ordered the naval forces in the area to assemble east of Suva. To avoid Japanese bombers, which were now bombing several locations across Viti Levu, Ghormley would seek a night battle.
Yamaguchi never found out that his landing site had been discovered, but his bomber crews reported that the Allied navies were operating in the area. Some bombers had even attacked the destroyers in Suva harbour instead of installations on land, with no apparent effect, but as sunset approached it would be too late to order a full strike against the destroyers. Unwilling to compromise the landing effort, and also seeking a battle with the Americans, he split his forces in two. All of the cargo ships, the damaged Mogami and five destroyers would return to the landing site to deliver the tanks, armoured cars and supplies to the army. The rest of his navy: two cruisers (one heavy) and ten destroyers, would stay in the Kandavu Passage. The carriers, positioned somewhere between the two groups, were ordered to have the bombers ready to strike at dawn, to finish off the Allied navy if the surface fleet could not.
Commander Stephen Roskill, captain of the HMNZS Leander and the senior Allied officer in the Battle of the Kandavu Passage, very quickly realised that Ghormley had ordered him into a trap. His force was almost the equal of Yamaguchi’s detachment, with New Zealand’s two light cruisers and six US destroyers, and he was operating in friendly waters. While his stock of torpedoes was virtually worthless, regular gunnery should have been sufficient to battle the Japanese to a draw. But the Japanese had trained their sailors specifically to fight night actions. The Allies had not, and the difference soon showed.
Roskill’s battle plan was fairly straightforward, having only had a matter of hours to plan it out. The other Japanese heavy cruiser, Kumano, was to be targeted if at all possible, and his destroyers would attempt to keep the Japanese destroyers away. No attempt was made to control the sea specifically: if Efate was any example to go by, the Japanese Navy would leave Fiji before too long anyway. Yamaguchi had similar intentions – the destruction of Roskill’s cruisers, although he was determined to maintain control of the Kandavu Passage for the night, so that his subordinates could finish unloading on the beaches.
As the Allied ships closed in for a gunnery duel, the Japanese destroyers launched a swarm of torpedoes into the Allied force. The dreaded Type 93 ‘Long Lance’ torpedo had sunk six ships at the Battle of the Java Sea, and in Fiji they proved just as deadly. Two destroyers and both light cruisers were sunk by the Long Lances, and another destroyer was sunk by Japanese gunfire. Yamaguchi lost just one destroyer, and decided not to pursue his defeated foes. Had he done so, it is very likely the other three destroyers would have been sunk as well, but with the landing effort completed he recognised the need to get the Navy out of Fiji as quickly as possible. The Americans would surely be back, and the Japanese had neither the fuel nor the ships to fight a decisive battle in the Kandavu Passage. When the sun rose on the 31st, Yamaguchi ordered his strike aircraft to attack suspected Allied positions as the army began to move. Once the bombers returned, the Navy headed for Rabaul.
* = This was a genuine moment of good fortune for the Japanese here, not just me declaring them lucky: I planned the Japanese timetable out and only afterwards looked up the lunar cycle for the relevant dates. Turned out there was a full moon on July 28th 1942!
Okay so now when dos this starts to go wrong for the Japanese...
Supplies won't last forever, and it's a 20-day round trip back to Rabaul.
I don't want to say too much about it yet (it's worth at least another 4 chapters), but Fiji is going to be a bloody mess.
(For those comparing to OTL, the USN is in about the same position as it was post-Midway. Kandavu is arguably a better outcome than Savo Island was: two light cruisers instead of three heavies.)
Oh goodie,a new BiteNibbleChomp timeline! And I get to view it in progress!
You rarely see detailed TLs that have the Japanese do any better than OTL. Though from the title, I'm guessing that when Japan loses this they will lose HARD.
Glad to see the excitement
OTL was a massive Japan-wank in '41/42, and pretty much everything they could reach they managed to take. Stretch it much further and the cries of 'ASB' come in. As it is I'm pretty sure this TL will fill in most of that gap.
One could argue that Guadalcanal (or more specifically, the October offensive to take Henderson Field) was their "final strike" IOTL, except for like Leyte Gulf and other actions that didn't accomplish anything. FS, in a lot of ways, is like moving Guadalcanal south a couple of thousand kms. And the only realistic Pacific War is one where Japan loses HARD - just a matter of how and when.
IX: The Road to Suva, August 1942
Lieutenant General Yi Un, once the Crown Prince of Korea, was now the senior Japanese commander on the Fijian Islands. Just over half of his force had been landed by the Navy, and the rest would not be able to be landed for at least another couple of weeks. Japanese intelligence believed that the first wave outnumbered the defenders of Viti Levu, although only slightly, and General Yi was under pressure to begin the attack as quickly as possible: the troops would be needed elsewhere before too long. When the landings were completed and a perimeter established, Yi ordered the drive east to begin. What supplies he did have would not last forever, so a quick victory was going to be vital.
The island of Viti Levu is dominated by a series of large mountains occupying much of the island’s centre, at times taller than a kilometre above sea level. The heavily forested interior is only sparsely populated, with most villages located on or near the coast. The most significant installations on the island were located near Suva, on the south east coast, and near Nandi and Lautoka in the west. Suva, the older and more developed port, was to be the first Japanese target, while a battalion in the mountains would protect the Japanese landing beaches until the main army could swing back to take the west part of the island too. Only one significant road, a dirt track running parallel to the coastline around the entire island, connected the ports: it would be along here that most of the fighting would take place.
The defence of Viti Levu was divided between the New Zealand 8th and 14th Brigades and the US 37th Infantry Division. The New Zealanders, under the command of Major General Owen Mead, had taken over the defence of Fiji from the British in 1940, and were deployed to what was considered an unlikely target for enemy attack, allowing the British to commit more resources to the fight in Europe. They were due to be pulled from Fiji, probably to garrison Tonga, when news of the imminent Japanese attack came out. The Americans would have replaced them, but Ghormley decided both forces would be needed, especially in light of the fact that the 37th Infantry was a green unit which was still undergoing training in early August. Against experienced veterans of the Java campaign, it would be an uphill battle.
By sending his army east, General Yi would fight the New Zealanders first, and almost immediately, the plan began to fall apart. The strike against the Fijian airfields, ordered just hours before the carriers left, had failed to knock the bases out of action, and only a few planes were destroyed. The Japanese carriers could not maintain a presence around the islands for lack of fuel, leaving Yi with no air cover. His only way to strike back at the Allied bombers was with a small anti-air “battalion”, which had only a handful of guns and a desperate lack of ammunition. While the Fijian jungle sheltered his troops, repeated Allied bombing raids damaged the already poor-quality road, and there were no spare parts for any vehicles that broke down. Only the fact that the Allies had just a few bombers kept the damage from being worse than it was.
Major General Robert Beightler, of the 37th Infantry Division, decided against a quick movement against the Japanese within a couple of days of the landings. Most of his force was deployed near the base at Nandi, and was tasked with the expansion of that base and a new airfield nearby. Starting almost from scratch, the construction work was a big ask by itself, and the division still needed to complete its training. Beightler also lacked detailed intelligence regarding the exact strength of the Japanese positions in the mountains, and estimated that a third or even half of their 10,000 or so soldiers were there, all of them sure to be among the Emperor’s best. Despite his knowledge of the Japanese landing, Beightler stuck to the pre-war plans calling for strong defences only in the areas closest to the vital ports, and sent only a small reconnaissance party to the south, ready to warn him if the Japanese crossed the mountains. The Japanese were still completely unaware of the Americans’ presence on the island.
After five days of marching, the Japanese reached the village of Navua, two thirds of the way to Suva. Situated on the eastern bank of a small river, with perhaps ten square kilometres of flat land surrounding it, the village could have served as the focal point of a defensive line. The New Zealanders, during their two years on the island, had dismissed any thought of major operations away from Suva or the Nandi-Lautoka region, although the plain was considered as a possible Japanese landing site. However, the New Zealanders were not the only ones to decide how the islands of Fiji would be defended.
From the very beginning of the war, the local Fijian population had been enthusiastic in their efforts to help the Allies defend their islands. Several thousand of them had worked for the New Zealanders, helping to construct airfields, hospitals and even barracks designed to look like native villages. Some had even volunteered to serve with the Allied armies, where their knowledge of the land had proved invaluable. Many of these Fijians, equipped with American or New Zealand rifles, had acted as guerillas, harassing the Japanese invasion column as it moved east and retreating into the hills any time the Japanese attempted to destroy them. Unburdened by heavy equipment, they could traverse the land much more quickly than the occupiers.
With the invasion came a desire to evict the Japanese from the islands as quickly as possible. While the New Zealanders may not have been concerned with anything outside of the “defence zones” surrounding the three ports, the Fijians knew that several villages lay behind enemy lines (the Japanese had seen those villages as unimportant, ignoring them or occasionally buying food from anyone willing to accept yen). Several days after the invasion, a group of Fijian leaders eventually convinced General Mead to allow them to send forces to fight the Japanese. It was these forces that would present the first significant resistance to the Japanese column.
The Navua skirmish saw barely one thousand Fijians clash with the Japanese. Greatly outnumbered, the native fighters confirmed the sense of General Mead’s decision to concentrate forces around the “defence zones”, as they had no hope of fighting the Japanese tanks and machine guns without their own artillery. Faced with impossible odds, the Fijians fought bravely, earning the respect of their opponents and adding a modern chapter to the land’s fierce history. The skirmish ended in the Fijians retreating into the jungle, while the Japanese attempt at pursuit proved fruitless, but it held up the Japanese for the better part of a day. Under pressure from General Hyakutake in Rabaul to defeat Suva as quickly as possible, General Yi urged his men to continue the march long into the night.
Yi’s demanding orders got him results: by nightfall on August 7th, the Japanese could see Suva on the horizon. Both sides knew that a great battle was about to begin.
And things begin going wrong...
Is the support of the Fijians for the war an OTL phenomenon? What caused it?
OTL saw a Fijian unit acquire a fearsome reputation, both for their knowledge of jungle fighting and for their bravery, during the Solomons campaign. The islands also raised around 8000 men for the Fijian Defence Force, out of a non-Indian-heritage* population of about 125k, which is quite a large commitment in a territory where colonial policy had previously been "don't disrupt the locals too much". I haven't found a lot of information specifically stating what the Fijian attitude toward the war was, but between what did happen IOTL and the fact that they would be defending their own homes, I think it reasonable to expect considerable native resistance in Fiji.
*Fijians of Indian heritage at this time were about 3/8 of the islands' population and were excluded from military service after a pay dispute (which comes down to 'the British think Europeans are deserving of higher pay than Indians'), and there was considerable political tension surrounding this. However, most Indo-Fijians (at least now, and I'm guessing even moreso in 1942) lived in the sugar belt on the north and west coasts of the two larger islands, while so far the Japanese have been invading along the south coast. The fierce resistance seen in the south is, I believe, unlikely to be true in the west (of course subject to Japan's handling of their occupation efforts), but this issue really deserves a proper update once I'm further into the battle for Fiji.
I'm wondering about the incomplete training of the 37th Inf Div. That was a National Guard unit activated in the autumn of 1940. Despite tasks such as the construction of barracks and training facilities, and two reorganizations into the triangular formation, and the 1942 organization it had completed a full training cycle & then some. While there had been problems with the NG divisions, eliminating 'social club members' and political officers most of that had been accomplished by the end of 1941. The 37th and 41st ID were picked for early overseas service specifically because they were judged further along in combat readiness than the others. Not saying these were elite units, and training is 'continuous' not halting at some point on a checklist.
One advantage the 37th would have would be as with the Marines on Guadalcanal. The basic US artillery doctrine was already in place meaning the ability to rapidly mass battalion & regiment concentrations on a specific target. The 37th had a further advantage over the Marines, having mostly 105mm howitzers in the division artillery group, vs the 75mm pack howitzers of the Marines of 1942. These massed artillery fires had much to do with breaking up the major attacks on the central ridges and western perimeter around Henderson field. The remaining question I'd have is if the division or battalion commanders go with existing US Army doctrine and place their companies in a strong point defense, vs line. On Guadacanal Vandigrift modified the interwar doctrine & linked the infantry positions on the Tenaru River, Bloody Ridge, Edisons Ridge, & the western flank of the peremiter into a linear defense. That made the traditional Japanese infiltration or 'Bamboo Spear tactics much more difficult. They first had to break openings in the linear defense to gain infiltration routes. Which proved a bloody business. In the final November attack only 300 Japanese infiltrators reached the airfield. Another similar group made it through a gap, but became lost and were gunned down in a exposed swamp after daylight. What the NG might choose in this or other tactical choices is a open question.
i met a few Fijian & Samoan Marines. Both cultures had a strong warrior tradition. They had a reputation among the Viet Nam veterans who knew them, and they were skilled and vicious in bar fights. Most were good boxers.
Per the US Army's records: https://history.army.mil/html/forcestruc/cbtchron/cc/037id.htm
The fact that this was mentioned in a paragraph-long summary covering the divisions service over the entire war indicates to me that someone in the US command believed that the division specifically needed the extra training (if it was just the usual drills that every unit goes through when not actively fighting, a record that short probably would just assume that anyone reading would know that stuff goes on). I'm not dismissing the unit as bad men or anything, but in this case at least it was a consideration that Allied planners would have been looking at.
37th was Ohio NG right? Could be as simple as tropical / jungle training that they didn’t get stateside.
Fair point, but by early August they've still only been in Fiji for a bit more than a month. Compared to the Japanese, who have spent the last eight months operating almost exclusively in a jungle environment, they will still be at a bit of a disadvantage.
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