Operation FS: Japan's Final Strike

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by BiteNibbleChomp, Oct 30, 2019.

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  1. Workable Goblin Chronicler of the Pony Wars

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    Something else to note is that the "Fletcher"-class--presumably a rough equivalent to the Forrestal-class of OTL--is not introduced until the 1960s, five or more years after the actual USS Forrestal. So apparently naval aviation is not quite as dominant as IOTL, or perhaps the war is longer and there are more USS Midway equivalents so that the Navy can't get the program started, at least not as quickly as IOTL.
     
  2. Errolwi Well-Known Member

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    I think the ships sunk by German raiders (or their mines) in 1940/41 would be mentioned here - the Hauraki Gulf is immediately outside Auckland's main harbour. And are the Japanese bombardments a deliberate change in contrast to OTL's recon flights? Seems a poor likely damage result for significant risks.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axis_naval_activity_in_New_Zealand_waters

    Nitpicks in an enjoyable thread!
     
  3. BiteNibbleChomp Creator of the Pz VI "Wolf"

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    A slight increase in production of escorts, but the industry is overstretched as it is, so there's a limit on what can be built. Most of the 50k tons of steel and other stuff dedicated to the later Unryus is instead going to a handful of extra tankers.

    The Ibuki class of cruisers is also cancelled, Chuyo and Shin'yo stay as transport ships instead being converted to CVLs. The Chitoses, designed to be one day converted to CVLs, would still be converted late in the war.
    Katsuragi, Amagi and the other Unryus of OTL are also cancelled.

    1944 will look different, but that is for another update. It's always fun to discuss what *AH.com might be doing :)

    The Fletchers take the place of the Kitty Hawk class, not Forrestal. As for the war being longer........ not saying anything there yet ;)

    D'oh! Although considering the TL is more interested in "what bad stuff has Japan been doing" I think you'll forgive me for forgetting about Germany.

    Japanese bombardments are an intentional change - considering the South Pacific is THE major battlefield ITTL I think it makes sense that they would try to disrupt the nearby ports. Plus, there's always the chance that they'll run into one of Fletcher's big ships, which they would be very glad to put a torpedo into.

    Glad you like it :cool:

    - BNC
     
  4. Workable Goblin Chronicler of the Pony Wars

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    Well, when I said "rough equivalent" I was thinking in two respects--first of all, as the first of the supercarriers, since the OTL Forrestal was the first carrier bigger than the Shinano and presumably that would still be the case ITTL (relative, obviously, to the unbuilt conversion) if the Forrestal-class carriers had been built. So if the Fletcher class was bigger instead, that implies that the Forrestal-class hasn't been built. Second, I was also specifically thinking that being built in the 1960s instead of the 1950s meant that they would probably be more similar to the later conventional carriers than the Forrestal--in fact, for some reason the USS John F. Kennedy was going through my mind, and that was a development of the Kitty Hawk-class...
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2019
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  5. Errolwi Well-Known Member

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    While the North Shore (peninsula on the NE side of Auckland) is now firmly part of Auckland, before the Harbour Bridge was built in the 1950's there was very little of worth over there, you need to come into the harbour to hit anything with a deck gun.
    There were searchlights, and guns suitable for dealing with a surfaced submarine (as well as bigger guns on the Gulf Islands and further north to deal with raiders etc.)
    https://sites.google.com/site/nzcoa...utley/north-head-fort-cautley-historic-photos
    https://sites.google.com/site/nzcoastaldefences/auckland-s-coastal-defences/fort-bastion

    The light patch towards the lower edge of the green area at the end of the peninsula is the obsolete Disappearing Gun, there are pilboxes for more modern guns below that.

    [​IMG]North Head by Errol Cavit, on Flickr

    RNZAF Whenuapai and RNZAF Hobsonville are up the harbour to the left.

    I would suggest that once the first searchlight is spotted, Japanese sub captains will try other approaches - like sending a plane over to see if there is anything in harbour worth hanging around for several miles further north. ITTL, possibly not worth announcing yourself with the plane, as there will be more activity in Auckland than OTL.
     
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  6. Threadmarks: XVI: Out of the Mountains (9/42)

    BiteNibbleChomp Creator of the Pz VI "Wolf"

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    XVI: Out of the Mountains, September 1942

    Operating so far from their major bases, the Japanese in Fiji could not hope to be fully supplied with everything that an army needed at all times. Cargo ships, often forced to choose between carrying food, ammunition, fuel and other supplies, were ordered to focus on delivering those items that could not be easily found on captured islands: while soldiers could carry some rations on the voyage from Rabaul, they would be expected to get their food from the Fijians. Sometimes this meant paying the Fijians with yen and other occupation currencies, other times the army would resort to theft. As long as the Navy could keep the guns firing, Imperial Headquarters would be satisfied.
    The capture of Allied supply dumps at Suva thus proved incredibly important to the Japanese war effort. Their takeover of the southern coast had yielded only a small amount of farmland, hardly sufficient to support the 20,000 or so soldiers, and for much of the campaign the Japanese had been close to starvation. Suva changed that: equipped with enough rations to keep a division fed for more than three months, and with plentiful farmland just to the east of the town, the base could keep the Japanese fed when their own Navy could not.

    Leaving some men behind to defend the newly-captured Suva, the rest of General Yi’s army headed west, following the coast road once again in order to take over Nandi and Lautoka. While General Mead had destroyed thousands of documents before his surrender, enough of them had survived to alert the Japanese to the presence of the greater part of the US 37th Infantry Division. Having overcome the New Zealanders, Yi was unconcerned.
    Until the Navy returned however, Yi would have to wait. While his ammunition stocks were large enough to keep the Fijian guerillas at bay, he would need bullets from Rabaul to fight the Ohio National Guard. On the night of September 13th, a small convoy of ships arrived at the original landing site on the southwestern coast of Viti Levu, delivering everything from rifle rounds to spare parts for the handful of tanks that could still be operated on the island. The convoy had maintained a higher speed throughout much of its journey, burning more fuel than normal in an effort to finally finish the conquest of Fiji as quickly as possible. Arriving a week earlier than the Americans predicted, it avoided any significant American attack.
    The Imperial Navy did not stay around Fiji long this time. So soon after the defeat off Samoa, the admirals were wary of leaving a carrier, and more importantly the cargo ships, exposed to enemy attack. Their forces were also split as another detachment patrolled the waters around Efate as that base was readied for use in the New Caledonia operation. Two airstrikes were launched against Nandi and Lautoka, leaving the Allies with few serviceable aircraft still able to operate from Fiji. The final battle of Viti Levu would be fought without airpower: victory there would have to be written in the blood of the infantry.

    Once resupplied, General Yi moved quickly to cross the mountains that effectively divided the island into Japanese and American zones. Still several dozen kilometres from the American Defence Zone, the movement occurred without incident, and scouts were sent forward to locate the enemy positions. Now using captured maps of Fiji taken from the New Zealanders at Suva, Yi knew that a second, smaller range of hills lay between him and the Americans, and beyond that the landscape opened out into a flat plain with Nandi almost at its centre. At this point, the coastal road turns inland to cross the hills, and Yi suspected that the enemy defences would be strongest there: he had followed that road for the entire campaign so far. His tanks would have no choice but to stay on the road, but his infantry were not so limited. He ordered them into the hills.
    General Beightler was sure that the Japanese attack would come within a matter of days of the third supply run, and had his forces on high alert from the moment that convoy was spotted. Deployed in accordance with standard US Army doctrine, the 37th Division was concentrated around several strongpoints, most notably the coastal village of Momi just behind the hills. Between those points, the landscape had been mapped out, with artillery crews ready to bombard the likely Japanese routes of advance. His own artillery was far superior to the Japanese artillery, equipped with heavier 105mm guns instead of the Japanese 75mms, and far better supplied: able to unload both shells and the guns themselves at a port instead of a beach in darkness.
    Yi had also realised that Momi would be an important objective: it was far enough west of the coastal road that any large defences on the road could be avoided, while its capture would allow him to outflank the hills through which the road passed, giving the Japanese a straight path into Nandi. Furthermore, while the inland hills had hosted numerous native Fijian guerillas, a persistent source of trouble for the IJA, they would be less likely to threaten him nearer the coast, where the Navy could bring destroyers in to provide naval support if that proved necessary. While those destroyers were at Efate or even further away right now, the mere threat of them could be used to the Japanese advantage.

    Like most of the fighting in Fiji, the Battle of Momi was extremely bloody: two Japanese regiments each lost a whole battalion to the National Guard’s artillery and machine gun fire before the village’s defenders were cut down by rifle fire and officers’ katanas. Japanese infiltration tactics, having worked to such deadly effect in Malaya and many other places across the Pacific, once again tore up another Allied strongpoint, and once Momi fell the rest of the Japanese army stormed through the gap left behind. The feared Allied position on ‘Road Hill’ proved much weaker than expected, and collapsed in face of a pincer attack striking from north and south. Beightler’s force, outnumbered from the beginning, saw their ranks dwindling as the western half of the Defence Zone was overrun, and the general ordered those units still in the hills to fall back on Lautoka.
    The Japanese would meet the retreating Americans somewhere just south of Nandi, where a four day long battle erupted, now known simply as the Battle of Nandi. Although the Americans managed to break in to the Japanese lines on the second day, the arrival of more Japanese forces, fresh from their victory at Road Hill on the third meant that Beightler was eventually overwhelmed. The fall of Nandi and the Lautoka soon followed.
    Beightler was not prepared to surrender to the Japanese however, and ordered his force to continue retreating. With the help of local guides, survivors of Nandi would trek towards the northern village of Tavua. Fletcher, now in command of three carriers after the arrival of the Enterprise, finally felt that he had enough resources to attempt an evacuation, intelligence indicating that the IJN was not near Fiji in strength. With the carriers sent to suppress the Japanese position on Vanua Levu, Fletcher’s smaller ships collected nearly 5000 American soldiers from the beaches near Tavua. They would bring back invaluable combat experience, and a determination to one day return to liberate Fiji.

    - BNC
     
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  7. Athelstane Anglo-Saxon Troublemaker

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    Just some general observations so far...

    On the one hand, I simply can't buy an Operation FS that gets this far, even with most American fleet carriers reduced to coral reefs. The IJN did not have the logistics, nor the men, to take the major Melanesian islands (New Caledonia, Fiji, and Samoa) - even by the end of spring, their garrisons were simply too strong, and the Japanese had too little intelligence on just how strong they *were*. And when you add in the difficult terrain problems (massive coral reefs at distance around New Cal and Fiji, for example), and Japan's virtually nonexistent amphibious doctrine and vehicles posed against defended littorals, it's a recipe for disaster.

    On other hand, you are on the right track pushing FS over MI in late spring - the longer Yamamoto waits to go south, the worse it will be for him; and at least the Coral Sea offers *some* possibility of limited land-based air support and reconnaissance (unlike Midway). Indeed, you could push this line of thinking even further back: as others have pointed out, using the Kido Butai to secure Moresby and the rest of the Solomons would have been a much smarter move than the Indian Ocean Raid in early April. There would be less in the way of Allied garrisons in these places at that point.

    Also, your writing is an easy and comprehensible read.

    And since this is the first Operation FS timeline I can recall here, I continue to read with interest.
     
  8. Dorknought Well-Known Member

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    I early 1942, one of the big IJN subs cruises down the Australian coast flying a plane over Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart. She moved on to NZ where the plane was lost over Auckland but the airport thought the plane was in trouble so turned on their lights and the pilot was able to regain his bearings and fly back to the sub.
     
  9. BiteNibbleChomp Creator of the Pz VI "Wolf"

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    You're not wrong, but at the same time no-one would have believed that the fall of Singapore could happen in a TL where it didn't. This scenario has been intended as a near-best-case for Japan, and under that assumption I don't see the fall of one significant base as too unreasonable (the Guadalcanal force outnumbered the garrisons on each of the three individually in summer 1942, though not all three taken together). If the invasions were storming the defended beaches of Suva bay then the story would be different.

    Of course, if I write the TL where Japan follows their original plan to the letter (and sends barely 9k men off for FS) then they get a bloody nose either at Efate or whatever target is chosen to immediately follow, which means that the campaign is over super quickly (so the TL is shorter as well - Efate was update 7 while I'm now working on update 19), and I don't really get the chance to explore what a somewhat successful FS would actually mean for those involved - which is ultimately THE really interesting thing about AH.

    When planning this out, that never crossed my mind! An FS in May/June would be a very different beast to one beginning in late July.
    Then again... I don't get to use that cool "some fool actually remembers to pass on the recon report" POD if I just kill the Indian Ocean op.

    Thanks mate :)

    - BNC
     
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  10. Athelstane Anglo-Saxon Troublemaker

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    Thanks for the kind reply.

    I do think that an Operation FS ATL which ends in bloody disaster *could* be quite compelling, if well written. But perhaps not as interesting as one where some form of it succeeds...

    at the same time no-one would have believed that the fall of Singapore could happen in a TL where it didn't. This is certainly true. In fact, Malaya underlines better than any other campaign in those first six months the pixie dust quality of Japan's initial successes in the war. It's like they rolled sixes every time, and the Allies kept rolling snake eyes (Wake Island notwithstanding). If you wrote it as an ATL, it would get drilled for being a Japan-wank. Which, of course, it *was*.

    But then it also underlines how difficult it would be to sustain that kind of success. Follow-on campaigns are no longer going to have the luck of being up against an Arthur Percival (or, well, Tom Phillips), or such a woefully unready army. The Allies have had time to respond, reflect, and adjust, and deploy their varsity - and, of course, to start benefiting from code-breaking efforts, too. Even June is fairly certainly too late for any effort aimed at New Caledonia (23,000+ men including the Americal Division), Fiji (15,000+), and Samoa (12,000+, I think) - all with substantial air groups by that point, too, I might add - though it has a chance at Efate and Espiritu Santo, perhaps, if the entire Kido Butai is used and brings a robustly-sized ground force. Conversely, Malaya was still well within the bounds of Japan's logistic reach; most of Melanesia simply is not, or at least, not against the kind of forces Roosevelt was frantically standing up down there through the winter and early spring of 1942, at any rate....

    If I had to do an Operation FS timeline and wanted to max out Japan's potential I really do think I would substitute it for the Indian Ocean Raid in early April: Something triggers Yamamoto into a full appreciation that the British are no longer a threat in the near term, but the United States still is, and that the buildup in Melanesia and Polynesia has to be countered immediately and not at summer's end, to push Nimitz's starting point back as far as possible; Phase I would in this scheme end up being a more robust and earlier Operation MO, with Moresby and Guadalcanal/Tulagi secured, and if the resulting carrier battle (fought with the full Kido Butai rather than just CarDiv 1 and 2) still leaves something to work with, pretty decent odds at an immediate follow-on Phase II aimed at the Santa Cruz Islands, Espiritu Santo and possibly Efate before the American buildup on the latter two is underway in earnest. Even at that point it can't go any further, even if they sink a few of Nimitz's carriers in the process; but it would certainly leave Japan with a considerably more promising perimeter to defend (albeit a nightmare to supply). Nimitz simply couldn't ignore such a presence in the New Hebrides and wait to start the Central Pacific drive in 1943; the Solomons could be ignored but the New Hebrides would have to be cleared out ASAP, thanks to the panicked screams in Canberra and Wellington. Likewise, fighting your way into New Guinea is considerably harder for MacArthur and Blamey than having a foothold to fight from, but Curtin will demand it, just the same.

    But of course, you are not at all obligated to write the timeline I would write. Carry on as you were.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2019 at 6:28 PM
  11. Threadmarks: XVII: Occupation (10/42)

    BiteNibbleChomp Creator of the Pz VI "Wolf"

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    XVII: Occupation, October 1942

    In planning the FS operation, the Japanese had made few official plans for the occupation and administration of the islands they sought to control. The final draft of the plan stated that the occupiers would use yen in any dealings with the native populations of most islands, the exception being New Caledonia where occupation currency was to be used instead. Even this very basic plan was only rarely enforced: in Fiji, yen, pounds and dollars were all circulated during those times when the occupation force bothered to pay at all.
    Only in early September, after the fall of Suva, did any clear Japanese occupation policy emerge. On Tokyo’s orders, the islands were to be administered in a manner similar to that occurring on Guam and other islands taken from the Americans in the early days of the war. The Fijians were to be more or less ignored except when they would prove either useful or dangerous. The population was allowed to trade for what it needed, although food was officially rationed (although rarely enforced in the villages) and the few radios on the islands were taken by the Japanese. Schools were required to begin teaching Japanese customs, most importantly bowing to the occupation troops, and occasionally the Japanese would conscript the locals to do manual labour. Many disappeared into the hills, joining a resistance movement that would give the Japanese many troubles. Those unfortunate enough to be captured from the resistance were treated as prisoners. Japan having never signed the Geneva Convention, that could mean anything from months in a poorly built prison camp with appalling conditions, to a bullet in the back of the head.
    Unfortunately, even as the Japanese began withdrawing their forces from Fiji in early October, General Takeo Ito was left behind. A brute of a man, he had been merciless to prisoners in China and again in the East Indies. Officially, he was following orders from Tokyo at all times, but when junior officers acted contrary to that policy he was more than willing to look the other way.

    Manpower for the occupation would prove to be an issue from the very beginning of the campaign. From early October, the Japanese began pulling troops out of Fiji to use them in the upcoming invasion of New Caledonia, leaving Ito with just 3000 troops to control a population of a quarter of a million. His ranks would be gradually boosted as wounded men left to recover in Fiji were able to return to duty, but even at its strongest point the occupation could never really control anything too far from Suva, Nandi or Savusavu. The jungle belonged to the resistance.
    While the resistance could not hope to throw the Japanese out by itself, the Allies still intended to make the occupation efforts as difficult as possible. As Japanese attention shifted to New Caledonia, Admiral Fletcher ordered his B-17s to drop supplies to the resistance fighters. While many of these efforts resulted in crates of weapons landing in the jungle, those that reached the Fijians proved a considerable nuisance for General Ito. As word was sent back to Rabaul and then Tokyo, Ito’s call for reinforcements went unheeded. Every available man would be needed at New Caledonia, which was intended to be used as a base from which Australia and New Zealand could be placed under siege. Fiji’s use to Japan was seen primarily in their ability to deny it to the Allies: as long as Ito could keep hold of the major ports, Tokyo would not see reinforcement as necessary.

    Tokyo did present a potential solution to Ito’s problems however, in its announcement of the formation of a Fiji Battalion for the Indian National Army.
    Beginning in the 1870s, the British had transported thousands of Indians to Fiji, where they served as indentured labourers, working on the sugar cane fields in the north and west of the islands. When their terms were finished, many stayed behind, and by 1939 they represented around three eighths of Fiji’s population. The British however continued to treat them as lower class citizens than the native Fijians, paying them only two shillings per day when a Fijian would receive four, before banning them from military service in 1940. These actions caused considerable resentment and division in Fiji, and the situation was far from resolved when the Japanese took over.
    The Japanese leadership had already decided that Indian people were an important part of their ‘Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere’ by the fall of Singapore, with Hideki Tojo making several references to Indian independence in his speeches to the Diet. Fiji’s place in the Sphere was much less well defined, but the fierce resistance shown by native Fijians from the early days of the invasion convinced the Japanese that they would not prove to be loyal allies. Knowing of the divided state of Fiji’s population, Japan decided to attempt to side with the Indians. So far, the Indians had shown much less opposition to Japan’s efforts than the native Fijians had, and few joined the resistance movement. They were rewarded with preferential treatment by the occupation forces.
    The Fiji Battalion, nominally a unit of the Indian National Army but in practice a separate force altogether, was the result of Japanese attempts to further turn the Indians against their former masters. Equipped largely with weapons taken from the New Zealanders, this all-volunteer force served as both a propaganda tool and an additional occupation force for the Japanese. Posted in Suva, the site of the British administration of Fiji, they often antagonised those who had recently treated them as second class citizens, and among the volunteers a desire for revenge more often than not dominated any sense of nationalism, Indian or Fijian. Japan had made no promises of independence, and often proved remarkably short-sighted in their policies and actions in Fiji, content to stir up trouble while holding the islands as a bargaining chip, ready to give the British even more trouble once a satisfactory peace had been made.
    Like the Indian National Army, the Fiji Battalion did not live up to the great expectations of its masters. Even with preferential treatment, barely half a battalion’s worth of volunteers actually joined the force, far from the massive wave of support that the Japanese had hoped for. Most Indians in Fiji recognised that while the Japanese controlled the islands in a different way to the British, they were still substituting one colonial overlord for another. Matters were not helped by the effective disbanding of the INA itself as 1942 drew to a close, although the Fiji Battalion would be maintained until the end of the Japanese occupation.

    - BNC
     
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  12. BlackDragon98 Large Flying Kugelpanzer Ausf. X

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    The INA was even more useless than the Indian Legion operated by the Germans, at least that unit didn't fall apart as soon as there was enemy contact
     
  13. Logan2879 Logan2879

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    So when does this starts to turnover?
     
  14. BiteNibbleChomp Creator of the Pz VI "Wolf"

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    No-one said the Fiji Battalion had to be any good ;)

    The balance started to shift at Samoa, but Japan's offensive still has a bit of steam left in it. But surely you don't want me to give everything away now?
    OTL Japan was still throwing punches in October, and they started this operation in much better shape than they were after Midway. So not yet time to say "here's where they stop". Soon though, it will be.

    - BNC
     
  15. BlackDragon98 Large Flying Kugelpanzer Ausf. X

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    Does OP Vengeance happen ITTL?
    If so, does Yamamoto die?
     
  16. BiteNibbleChomp Creator of the Pz VI "Wolf"

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    Vengeance, in the form of "find his plane and shoot him down", doesn't happen ITTL.
    I have bigger plans for Yamamoto...

    - BNC
     
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  17. Threadmarks: XVIII: Turning South (10/42)

    BiteNibbleChomp Creator of the Pz VI "Wolf"

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    XVIII: Turning South, October 1942

    Operation NK, the invasion of New Caledonia, was the final stage in Japan’s plan to control the South Pacific. Half way between Fiji and Brisbane, the island was perfectly positioned to control the sea lanes between Rabaul and Japan’s recent conquests, and between Australia and the United States. Japan wanted the island to protect the flank of those vital routes that would allow it to defend its recent conquests; the Allies knew that a fallen New Caledonia would be a dagger aimed at the heart of Australia. The location of the island alone was enough to know that this would be the site of a fierce battle.
    Like the rest of the FS Operation, the planning for NK was in chaos months before the operation began. Yamamoto’s grand vision of the South Pacific offensive had declared that Fiji would fall with the arrival of the second wave, and the conquest would take just three weeks. Instead, it had taken two months, and cost a third of Japan’s effective strength in the area. With disturbing reports of an entire US Division on New Caledonia and a detailed map of the island’s vast coral reefs among the documents captured at Suva, Yamamoto had felt himself forced to call upon the Army to transfer the 48th Infantry Division, the last readily available reserve, to the operation. The request was resented among the Army’s higher command, but New Caledonia was too important to not invade, and in early September they released the division for the 17th Army’s use. Timor, the 48th Division’s previous basing, would gradually fall under the effective control of Australian commandos, reinforced by MacArthur once the weakness of the remaining garrison was realised.
    With a series of hurried and complicated manoeuvres throughout the South Pacific, Yamamoto was also able to transfer almost 15,000 troops out of Fiji, deploying them on Efate before returning the fleet to Truk for urgent refuelling. Efate, less than forty-eight hours from New Caledonia, would be a vital staging point for the invasion: the fleet could be stationed around New Caledonia for a little over a week, enough time to land two or possibly even three waves of troops if they were only coming from Port Vila. Most of the reserves were still only in Rabaul by this time, and would have to be deployed later. Yamamoto would deal with that when he had to, but NK needed to begin as soon as possible: the invasion had been marked for early September, but it was already the middle of October.

    The impending invasion was no secret to the Allies, who had been rushing reinforcements to the island while also building up the base at Noumea. The 23rd “Americal” Division, under the command of Major General Alexander Patch, had been stationed on the island for several months, and they were expected to be joined by the newly-formed 3rd Marine Division before the end of the year. Two airfields were also operational on the island: Magenta just outside Noumea, and Tontouta fifty kilometres to the west. Both were equipped with radar sets, and a continuous air patrol was maintained around the island whenever conditions allowed.
    Noumea harbour had also seen a huge amount of activity, with everything from underwater defences to fuel being delivered in a desperate effort to expand and fortify the base. So much shipping was flowing into the harbour that congestion became a serious problem, made more difficult by occasional Japanese air raids out of Efate or aircraft carriers in the region, and the ever-present threat of submarines added yet another level of danger. Fletcher’s naval forces were rushed to the island’s surrounding waters as soon as the evacuation of Fiji was completed, arriving little more than a week ahead of the first Japanese landing ships. As the threat to New Caledonia became urgent, Fletcher also secured control of several submarines that until now had been under MacArthur’s command.

    Yamamoto and General Hyakutake were still debating the plan for seizing New Caledonia itself well into early October. Early drafts of FS had planned for the landing to take place near Noumea itself, on the south-eastern coast, and until well into the Fiji campaign this remained the intention. All of Japan’s objectives: both airfields, the port and the huge nickel mines, were located at the southeast of the island, and the coral reefs would pose a considerable obstacle no matter where on New Caledonia the landing took place.
    Noumea however was sure to be heavily defended. Owing to shipping constraints, the first wave of the invasion could not be larger than 10,000 men, too small to overpower an entire division, while the second wave, even from Efate, could not be landed for at least another three days following the first. The battle of Savusavu had also reinforced the lesson learned at Port Moresby, that an opposed landing was sure to be costly, and general and admiral both decided that attempting Savusavu on a much larger scale at Noumea would likely end in an expensive defeat.
    If Noumea was considered a bad landing site, New Caledonia had a noticeable lack of good ones. The closest location to Noumea that saw considerable attention was a flat area just south of the Tontouta airfield, barely forty kilometres away. The open landscape there was a rare sight on the mountainous island, and would be an ideal beachhead if the US Army wasn’t using it as an encampment (what the Americans were doing there was unknown to the Japanese). A short march from Tontouta, it would allow for the airfield to be taken in a couple of days, which would make the rest of the campaign much easier. However, several islands close to shore would make an organised landing more difficult, and moving around the islands would expose the vulnerable landing ships to air attacks for several more hours than an open beach would. After much discussion, the Tontouta site was shelved.
    The site eventually chosen had much more in common with its counterpart on Viti Levu than any of those initially planned on New Caledonia. Near the village of Thio on the northern coast, 75 kilometres from Noumea as the crow flies, or 100 by a more practical route, the beaches were far enough from Noumea that the Japanese expected only minimal defences, while also being close enough to their objectives that a ground offensive would not require an unsustainable amount of supplies. Being on the northern coast, the area could be more easily covered by aircraft flying from Efate, and Japanese ships would not need to sail around New Caledonia to support the invasion, saving fuel and time. With a gap in the mountains not far from the village that opened the way to the south, the site was as well positioned for an offensive aimed at Noumea as anywhere on the northern coast could be. A choice made only days before NK began, it was not discovered by the Allied codebreakers until it was too late.

    - BNC
     
    Zagan, savemase, Whiteshore and 15 others like this.
  18. Athelstane Anglo-Saxon Troublemaker

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2011
    The beaches might not be well defended, but how will they get the landing craft through the reefs four miles off shore?
     
  19. BiteNibbleChomp Creator of the Pz VI "Wolf"

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2016
    Location:
    21st Century A.D.
    nk.JPG
    Yellow represents the reefs, blue being the landing beaches.

    While carriers probably don't fit through that corridor, smaller cargo ships and landing craft should do alright, as long as the men guiding the ships don't decide to ram straight into the coral. I wouldn't want to try landing 50,000 at once there, but there's enough space for 10,000 assuming the Japanese aren't being stupid. Most of the men involved in NK have also been a part of the Fiji operation, which had smaller but still notable reefs to consider (though not immediately at the landing site), so I think it is reasonable to say that most would handle it alright.

    But unlike Fiji, this landing won't go perfectly. More on that next update.

    - BNC
     
  20. Changundramon Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2015
    Typical Tokyo, leaving a butcher on occupation duty, when gaining the favor of the natives was possible with a moderate policy. I didn't fully grasp it from the update, but was it Yi or Ito who had the most impact on Japanese successes?
     
    TimTurner likes this.
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