Remember the Texas! The United States in World War II (an alternate history)

Prologue and Chapter One (part one)
  • Prologue
    In June 1941 the separate wars in China and Europe already known as World War II exploded into a truly global struggle as the United States and Soviet Union were both drawn fully into the fray. It is generally known the true consequences of this and the critical miscalculation that Germany made in expanding the struggle. While the German invasion of the Soviet Union was clearly and indeed obviously a fully developed and planned strategy (albeit ill considered), the incident that drew the United States fully into the war was not. Although the Nazis after the event claimed that its warship was acting in self-defense, it has become clear that it was major miscalculation by a commander that triggered the attack. Although in later years there has been revisionist looks that claimed conspiracy on the part of President Roosevelt and his advisors that used American warships as bait to trigger a German attack, this is inconsistent with the wealth of declassified material postwar and later showing that the Neutrality Patrol and indeed American escort of British convoys to the Mid Atlantic (as well as occupation of Iceland) were in part American defensive measures as well as a traditional American (and British) exercise of sea power to influence an advisory short of war. Much like the gunboats and cruisers of an earlier era were.

    Chapter 1
    A rainy day at sea in the mid-Atlantic Ocean in June …..

    On June 19, 1941, the German submarine U-203 stalks the USS Texas near the Mid Ocean Point and edge of the American exclusion zone. Incorrectly identifying the American ship as a British R Class battleship in the poor visibility and high seas over a 20 hour period, the German U-Boat lucks into firing position when the Texas and her escorts zig zag directly into a good firing position. Kapitänleutnant Rolf Mützelburg orders four torpedoes to be launched and three hit, all on the battleship’s starboard side. The spread of the torpedoes results in hits in frames 12 and 128, neither of which are protected by the torpedo belt (which runs frames 15-127) and one torpedo hits her between frames 79 and 80, penetrating the belt and concussion and compression forces a breach into both number 1 and number 2 boiler rooms as fuel oil and water from the fresh water feed tanks are blown into the ship. The aft hit knocks out her propellers and rudder control, as well as causing flooding through the shaft alleys into both engine rooms. The forward hit causes a fire to break out in the paint locker, another fire in the windless room and heat forces an emergency flooding of forward 14 inch and 5 inch powder magazine. In a very few minutes it is clear the ship is doomed as she immediately comes to a halt and seas continue breaking over her already settling bow. Luckily the third boiler room remains in action, and thus power remains and thus communications are available. Captain Clarence N. Hinkamp (ironically a former submariner with the tours while an Ensign) is desperate to save his ship and refuses initially to order her abandoned. He does however call for assistance as there are 1,126 men aboard and evacuation in the current sea state is going to be highly risky. Already there are 140 casualties, including 35 dead. The USS Mayrant, a Benham class destroyer, is ordered to come alongside and begin taking off men and while the destroyers Trippe and Rhind hunt for the enemy and the destroyer Sims is ordered to stand by to evacuate the Texas if needed.

    Meanwhile Mützelburg is doing his best to escape what he thinks are British destroyers after making what he believes is highly successful attack. He fails to spot the flags or other features identifying the ships as American before he fired and for most of the previous 20 hours conditions had prevented him from spotting anything but a faint shadow of the destroyers and partially obscured views of the battleship due to the heavy mist and he has thus made a series of faulty assumptions in his first patrol as a U-boat commander. He also is lucky in that lack of experience and sea conditions prevent the Americans from getting revenge, and his ship and crew will escape to fight another day. It is not until the next day that Mützelburg sends a message reporting attacking and possibly sinking a British R class battleship. By then of course the diplomatic damage to Germany is catastrophic.

    Aboard the Texas, a new problem is developing. The pitching and rolling of the now drifting ship is causing considerable free effect motion of the water that has flooded her, and many of the seals of the watertight doors are beginning to fail because of age and lack of proper replacement during the cash strapped Depression era budget tight fistedness the Navy had to endure. It has been over a decade since her modernization, and her most recent refit installed the CXAM radar and added anti-aircraft guns, but did not see the comprehensive maintenance that would have helped her now. The ship is taking water from her stern, bow and the massive hole amidships, and within 15 minutes, it is clear that the ship cannot be saved. The Greer is now alongside, and she takes off 400 crew, including nearly all of the wounded. The battleship is now sinking quickly as water has reached the second deck and there is no longer time for the approaching Sims to pull alongside, while the Mayrant has had to back off to avoid running over men who are now going over the side into the water.

    Torpedoed at 1631 hours, it has been almost 20 minutes since the Texas has been hit, and now seas are breaking over the main deck as she wallows and founders. The crew is streaming over the side into the heavy swells with many being washed over the side even before they are ready. It is also getting darker, as nautical twilight is only a few more minutes away and the sun is already setting and the gloom that has been present all day is making spotting survivors as they enter the water increasingly difficult. The obvious presence of a Uboat prevents the use of searchlights and only the men who had the presence of mind to grab a battle lantern or flashlight can be readily spotted. The Sims launches both her whale boat and a pair of lifeboats and does her best, and ultimately she picks up another 318 survivors. The Trippe and Rhind between them pick up another 18 that night but the sinking of the USS Texas has cost 460 American lives missing and presumed lost at sea.
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    Track of the USS Texas
  • from historical logs June 1941

    Chapter 2 (part two) A Call to War
  • A call to war
    Word reaches the White House within minutes of the first report of the torpedoing of the Texas and it is a major shock. A mere 3 days ago, President Roosevelt ordered the closing of all German consulates in the United States and expulsion of their German employees no later than July 10, on the grounds of improper activities "inimical to the welfare of this country. The State Department reported just this afternoon that the Italians and Germans have reciprocated as expected. It is beginning to look however that the Germans have effectively declared war, and like their previous invasions of the Low Countries and Scandinavia, without so much as a declaration of war. The British have suffered a recent series of defeats in Greece, North Africa and are even now fighting in French Levant and in Libya, and the issue is in doubt. From the experience of the Great War it is indeed possible that the Germans have decided to attempt to finish the job against the British and further attacks against American shipping is definitely to be expected based on todays events. Indeed it may very well be German retaliation for the American occupation of Greenland and Iceland.

    The German Chargé d'Affaires Hans Thomsen is summoned to a meeting with Secretary of State Cordell Hull, and of course he is completely surprised by the summons, although there are concerns that the Americans are about to escalate the increasing diplomatic tensions. By the time he arrives at 6 PM Eastern time, the White House and Roosevelt have been informed of the loss as has Hull, and anger is in the air. Naturally Thomsen has no idea and is indeed completely shocked by the report of the attack on the Texas and is stunned by the loss. However he is a professional and thus denies that attack was premediated (and indeed hopes he is right). Hull dismisses him, as it is obvious to him if the attack was premediated that the Third Reich neglected to tell their diplomats.

    The Roosevelt Administration is able to keep the news initially quiet but after consulting with the Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn (who is particularly outraged that the ship named after his home state has been sunk and 460 sailors lost with it) and President Pro Tem Pat Harrison (D-Mississippi) that evening the three men believe that they can now get a declaration of war against Germany through Congress. By 8 PM local time, the Press is informed that an important announcement will be made at 9 PM from the Diplomatic Reception room of the White House, the usual location of his Fireside Chats and that the People will be addressed at the same time. His speech would electrify the nation in a way not seen since 1898 when another American battleship was lost.

    “My fellow Americans:
    The Navy Department of the United States has reported to me that this evening, June 19, 1941, while carrying out a routine patrol of waters declared to be in waters the Government of the United States had declared to be waters of self defense, the USS Texas, a battleship, and her escorts where deliberately attacked by a German submarine. The USS Texas was flying an American flag and was sunk by that attack, and over 400 American lives are known to have been lost. I must tell you the blunt fact that the German submarine fired first upon our ship, without warning and with the deliberate design to sink her.”
    excerpt President Roosevelt Fireside Chat June 20, 1941

    In the speech Roosevelt goes on to report the loss of the SS Robin Moore in May, reported attacks on other American and Panamanian merchant ships and claims that the Germans are demonstrating a deliberate attempt to close the Atlantic Ocean to American and other neutral nations.

    Meanwhile in Germany, the urgent cable from Thomsen reaches Berlin at just before the start of the business day (due to the 9 hours time difference) and Hitler is not immediately informed as he does not awaken until three hours later. Hitler is shocked and enraged by what he calls the stupidity of the Kreigsmarine and Admiral Raeder is summoned to explain. The Admiral has of course no idea as standing orders remain to avoid American warships and no word has yet reached command from any U-boat reporting such an attack. But it is clear the Americans are not lying and with only two days and counting before Operation Barbarossa, Hitler decides to stall in hopes the Americans are not yet ready for war. He considers relieving his naval commanders but decides this close to Barbarossa that now is not the time. His main hope is that it is Friday, and the soonest the American government can react will be Monday and the Isolationists in America and its general unpreparedness for war will keep the Americans from reacting effectively beyond words and more support for Britain.

    In any event, Barbarossa is about to begin, and that is the priority. Hitler is certain the Wehrmacht will defeat the Soviets before winter, and the Americans will not be able to do anything to prevent that in any event, and thus the Americans and British can be dealt with after that. He orders Barbarossa preparations to continue and orders the Raeder to order immediately that German warships are not to engage the Americans without orders and to find out what happened as soon as possible.

    It is early evening when the report from the U-203 is received, claiming to have sunk a British battleship, and the German Navy has to report with embarrassment the facts. While the Americans are making political decisions through the weekend, Hitler orders Goebbels to report that the Americans attacked a German warship and it defended itself on the high seas and further American aggression will be defended against.

    This reaches American newspapers by Saturday June 21 and makes headlines and has exactly the opposite effect that Hitler expects. Within 24 hours the massive story of the German invasion of the Soviet Union reaches the papers in the United States and immediately brings in the Far Left in the United States in favor of war with Germany. In a few short days war between the United States and Nazi Germany becomes a certainty.

    On Tuesday, June 24, 1941, President Roosevelt asks for a declaration of war against Germany after calling the attack on the USS Texas a day that will live in infamy. In Congress, strong opponents to Lend Lease such as Hamilton Fish (R-New York) and Dewey Short (R-Missouri) in the House come out in favor of war as the United States was attacked without warning, while in the Senate, the conservative Republican Robert Taft changes his position as well. This leads to a vote in the House where 100% of the Democrats and 50% of the Republicans vote for war (325-100) and in the Senate, more rally behind the President so it passes with only 8 Republicans voting against.

    The United States has entered World War II.
    Chapter Two Political decisions in Berlin and Washington
  • The Axis Response
    Hitler is infuriated when he hears the Americans have declared war, although not particularly surprised. He orders a declaration of war against the United States in return, which is followed by Italy, Rumania, Hungary, and Slovakia. Hitler also orders that the Kriegsmarine begin a full-scale assault with U-Boats against American shipping on its East Coast, so that the Americans can immediately learn the price of attacking Nazi Germany. But most of his attention remains focused on the East, where Barbarossa is already showing astounding results and he moves to the Wolf’s Lair in East Prussia on July 28 (having made a short visit previously) where he will spend most of the war.

    In Japan, the sudden entry of the United States into the war in Europe is viewed as an opportunity and a concern. For now plans continue for a move against the Southern Resource Area but until better information is available on what the Americans will do, and how successful the Germans are against the Soviets, the Japanese decide to be cautious. The major question is what the American Navy sends to the Atlantic, and whether planned reinforcement of the Philippines (of which Japanese Intelligence is well informed regarding) continue or will those resources be sent to fight the Germans, and will the Soviets indeed collapse or will it be a long war between Germany and the Soviet Union. The Japanese Ambassador in Berlin is reporting that the Germans are claiming massive victories already, while in the Kremlin the Japanese diplomats are reporting nothing has been heard from Stalin for some time.

    The Americans go to war

    Roosevelt issues a flurry of executive orders that places the US Economy on a war footing. This is quickly followed by legislation to back it up (some of which sees some considerable resistance in Congress). However the Isolationists can delay legislation but only temporarily and not enough in the long run to matter very much. Roosevelt is forced to keep this pool of anti-war sentiment in mind and this will color some of his actions throughout the next few months. The total American economic mobilization is called the Victory Program, and within weeks the administrative and legislative groundwork has been completed. Now it is up to industry to supply the goods to win the war and determine if the United States will actually be the Arsenal of Democracy.

    The most important thing is to fight the U-Boat menace, help the British and see about helping the Soviets, as both of them are in immediate combat with the Nazis. Churchill and Roosevelt agree to a meeting as soon as possible, with Churchill planning to arrive in the United States aboard the HMS Prince of Wales on August 9.

    The Navy is the only service immediately ready for combat, and the biggest threat is in the Atlantic, although the Japanese bear watching. Roosevelt orders the creation of US Naval Forces Europe, a fleet sized force. He orders Kimmel to bring himself and 9 battleships with supporting cruisers and destroyers, in effect the US Battle Fleet, to the US East Coast, where Kimmel and his fleet will then forward deploy to the British Isles to support the British and allow the British to send forces to the Mediterranean.

    Roosevelt decides to send Admiral King (whose Anglophobic tendencies are well known) to the Pacific to take over for Kimmel, and King will have the Scouting Force (and 3 carriers with supporting cruisers and destroyers) to guard Pearl Harbor and keep an eye on the Japanese. For now the Pacific will have to make do with a handful of battleships for training and the carriers and cruisers for scouting. Frank Knox, the Navy Secretary, and Admiral Stark, Chief of Naval Operations are supportive of Roosevelts decisions although they both add that reinforcing the submarine force in the Pacific should be carried out as well to provide support to King in Hawaii and Hart (commander of the US Asiatic Fleet). They also both urge Roosevelt to allow the Marines and Yangtze Patrol in China to be evacuated, as the Marines can be sent to Hawaii to help out King fortify Midway, Wake and other small islands being considered for bases, while the gunboats are essentially hostages to Japanese attack should relations continue to worsen

    A new commander is needed for the Atlantic Fleet, and Roosevelt reaches down the list of Admirals and picks Chester Nimitz, removing him from his spot at the Bureau of Navigation. Nimitz, an ex-submariner and well regarded by Roosevelt is also well known for his ability to work well with others and Roosevelt thinks a submariner is just the man to fight U-Boats. Nimitz raises his flag aboard the USS Constitution in Boston on July 1, 1941.

    By the end of July the US Navy is carrying out a major shift as Kimmel and his fleet steams east for Panama, American forces are leaving China for the Philippines and Hawaii, Admiral King reaches Hawaii, and American naval staff are flying across the Atlantic to confer with their British brothers in arms while Admiral Hart is in talks with the Dutch and British at Singapore.

    The Army is less ready for war. A massive wargame involving 400,000 troops will be starting in Louisiana in August, but at present no American division is ready for combat. The Army Air Force is in similar shape, just barely into its planned expansion but air units are overwhelmingly in training status and not ready to deploy. There are exceptions and a potential reinforcement of the Philippines with up to 4 bombardment groups and supporting fighters to defend them had been under discussion. Instead, Hap Arnold recommends that 165 B17 heavy bombers, 54 A24 light bombers, and 260 P40 fighters be sent to Europe or Egypt as soon as possible, while General Marshall recommends that a corps of 2 divisions with supporting elements be sent after the things wrap up in Louisiana. Sending troops and aircraft however means sacrificing reinforcement to the Philippines (and MacArthur) Roosevelt is warned, and thus Roosevelt asks what material aid can be sent to Macarthur to assist his efforts to upgrade the Philippine Army. Some help is better than none for the Philippines (and MacArthur) and it will reduce political pressure likely to come from the Republicans. All of this is still being discussed when Churchill arrives in August.

    The First Washington Conference
    Churchill is nearly bubbling with joy when news of the Soviet and American entry into the war against Nazi Germany is digested. Lend Lease is certain, the US Navy will take on a more active role against the U-Boat threat and even if the Soviets collapse (which is viewed as highly likely) by the time the Germans can deploy those forces the Allies should be able to end the threat in the Middle East and Atlantic. It is a matter of time that ultimate victory will be achieved. The meeting in Washington is thus highly productive. The Anglo-Americans agree to the terms of the Atlantic Charter which would in later years lead to the formation of the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. It would also have a powerful positive effect on public opinion in Britain and the United States, as it makes clear for American domestic politics that the United States was not seeking empire, and the self determination clause makes it clear the United States was not fighting to preserve European colonial empires.

    The other major accomplishments were the creation of the Combined Chiefs of Staff (to be based in Washington), and the Germany First strategy which meant that even if Japan entered the war, the priority would remain the defeat of Germany and secondary resources to be devoted to deterring or fighting Japan. The conference also selected a site for the main American naval base for the soon to be arriving American battlefleet to be at Belfast, with battleships to be assigned to support the British Home Fleet as well as covering convoys and ultimately to form the basis of a fleet to invade Europe at a future date. Churchill and Roosevelt come to an agreement to send an American Expeditionary Force to Egypt consisting of armored and infantry divisions to assist the British 8th Army, as well as the necessary air power to assist it. The exact size and commander are still to be determined, but the air component will begin deploying in October 1941 via the air route through South American, the South Atlantic and then across Africa and up the Nile to Egypt.

    Another result of the First Atlantic Conference is that the British and Americans request a meeting with the Soviets to expand on the Anglo Soviet agreement of July 12 where both nations agreed not to make a seperate peace with Germany. As part of the agreement even as the Washington Conference is underway, British and Soviet forces occupy Iran. The Americans agree at the Atlantic Conference to offer the Soviets and Chinese Lend Lease Aid, as well as extending it to the British Commonwealth as a whole.

    During this same time period, the US Army Far East is established in the Philippines and Major General Macarthur is promoted to Lieutenant General and given command of the federalized Philippine Army, as well as existing US and Philippine Scout units already present. He is promised artillery, anti aircraft guns, anti tank guns and small arms to equip his forces to their tables of organization, and in 1942 when Army Air Force units become available, will then receive sufficient aircraft to form a Far East Air Force. Otherwise the priority will be the defense of Panama, Hawaii and Alaska. There are no offers of additional ground troops however aside from a handful of engineer units so that airfields can be constructed in 1941 so that the Far East Air Force will have airfields when it is created. Expecting far less, MacArthur is pleased to see the promises of largess. He uses his connections with the Republican Party to make sure that pressure is placed on the Roosevelt Administration to live up to those promises.

    Meanwhile Roosevelt considers sending a high ranking officer with strong knowledge of the Far East to China to oversee Lend Lease and in the event of Japanese entry into the war, as a representive to China and future commander of American forces that might be sent there. The American Volunteer Group is already forming and is indeed already heading to China via Rangoon, but in the future a more open arrangement may be possible or indeed might be urgently needed. Roosevelt casts his eye toward Manila and considers the possibilities.
    US Navy October 15, 1941
  • Deployment United States Navy August 15, 1941
    As the US Navy is a strong believer in Mahan, the battleships are concentrated in one Ocean to fight the main enemy. The carriers and cruisers are considered scouting and 'show the flag' ships and thus are split more equally but the operational fleet submarines, indeed all that are not obsolete, obsolescent, training ships or working up, are all being sent to the Pacific as are some additional S class boats to provide protection to the Philippines (their short range is a less of a handicap there)

    Many of the warships below are still in transit to their new stations or deployment areas, and a number are under refit

    US Navy Forces Europe (Admiral Husband Kimmel) HQ Belfast, Northern Ireland
    Primary mission: Guard the United Kingdom and local waters Secondary mission (late 1941), escort convoys to Murmansk along with British Home Fleet units
    Fleet flagship CL Philadelphia
    Battle Force (V Admiral Pye) BB West Virginia (Battle Force flag), Maryland, Colorado*(at Bremerton), Tennessee, California, New Mexico, Mississippi, Idaho, Pennsylvania*(at Philadelphia) Arizona* (at Boston) 4 BB attached to British Home Fleet, remainder escorting convoys in Western Approaches
    Cruiser Division 9 (Rear Admiral Kent Hewitt) CL St Louis, Helena, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Phoenix
    Destroyer Flotilla One (Rear Admiral Theobald) CL Phoenix (flag)
    Tenders Dobbin, Whitney|
    DesRon 1 (Phelps, Dewey, Hull, MacDonough, Worden, Aylwin, Dale, Farragut, Monaghan)
    DesRon 5 (Porter, Drayton, Flusser, Lamson, Mahan, Cushing, Perkins, Preston, Smith)
    Total force: 10 BB (including 1 still on West Coast refitting, 2 still on East Coast refitting), 5 CL (2 refitting US West Coast), 18 DD (6 refitting US East Coast)

    Atlantic Fleet (Admiral Chester Nimitz) HQ Boston, Massachusetts
    Fleet flag CA Augusta (alt flag is sailing frigate Constitution)
    Mission: Defend convoys and eliminate surface raiders in Western North Atlantic, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, also provide cover to troop convoys to South America, Africa and the Middle East and includes subsidiary South Atlantic and Caribbean commands
    Heavy Escort Force: RAdm Lebreton, BB Nevada, Oklahoma, New York (flag), Arkansas covering convoys to UK and Iceland
    The battleships are organized into task forces based out of Norfolk, Philadelphia, New York and Boston and escort troop convoys. They are however mostly acting as training ships at present and their destroyers are escorting convoys instead

    Aircraft Atlantic Fleet (RAdm Arthur Cooke) CV Ranger, CV Wasp, CV Yorktown, CVE Long Island (working up), CV Hornet ( commissioned Oct 12, available after February 1942)
    Atlantic Fleet carriers sent their most modern fighters, dive bombers, and torpedo planes to Marine and Navy squadrons that would remain in the Pacific but due to proximity to home, will be the first to receive newer aircraft as they become available. Thus in 1941 there are a number of Brewster Buffalos and Vought Vindicator Dive bombers equipping their squadrons along with Douglas Devastator torpedo bombers
    All Carriers are based out of Norfolk, along with their escorts and are organized into Task Forces

    Cruiser Division 7 (RAdm Robert Giffen) CA Wichita (flag), Quincy, Tuscaloosa, Vincennes, Augusta,
    Cruiser Division 4 (RAdm John Newton) CA Chicago, Louisville, Portland, Indianapolis
    Destroyer Flotilla 3 (Captain Alan Kirk)
    DesRon 7 (DD Plunkett, Niblack, Benson, Gleaves, Maya, Madison, Lansdale, Hilary Jones, Charles Hughes)
    DesRon 27 (DD Decatur, Herbert, Jacob Jones, Roper, Dickerson, Badger, Babbitt, Leary, Schenck)
    DesRon 9 (DD McDougal, Winslow, Moffett, Sampson, Davis, Jouett, Somers, Warrington)

    Cruisers and destroyers are assigned to the battleship and carrier task forces, with 1 BB, 4 BB or CV, 2 CA, 4 DD or 1 CVE, 4 DD each group
    (total force 4 BB, 3 CV, 1 CVE, 9 CA, 26 DD) (1 BB, 1 CV, 2 CA, 6 DD on US East Coast refitting)

    US Convoy Escort pool (RAdm Reichmuth) (US East Coast Ports for convoys across Atlantic)
    Destroyer Flotilla Four
    DesRon 2 (DD Morris, Anderson, Hamman, Hughes, Sims, Mustin, Russell, O’Brien, Walke)
    DesRon 8 (DD Wainwright, Lang, Stack, Sterrett, Wilson, Mayrant, Trippe, Rhind, Rowan)
    DesRon 10 (DD Hambleton, Rodman, Emmons, McComb, Forrest, Fitch, Corry, Hobson) (these ships are working up and not combat ready)
    Destroyer Flotilla Eight
    DesRon 30 and DesRon 31 (18 Wickes/Clemson class 4 stack destroyers)
    Total force: 36 destroyers plus 9 fitting out or training plus 18 more nearly complete and will be combat ready within 12 months) plus supplimental destroyers from DesROn 27 when they are not escorting the battleships

    US Eastern Sea Frontier Command
    120 Catalina Flying Boats
    All US Coast Guard Forces on Eastern Seaboard
    Minecraft US Battle Force (USS Oglala flag) R Admin Furlong
    Mine Squadron One (8 Wickes/Clemson class 4 stack destroyer minesweeper/minelayers, 4 remained at Pearl Harbor)
    Mine Squadrons Seven (12 Wickes/Clemson class 4 stack destroyer minesweeper/minelayers)
    Mines Squadrons Eight, Nine, Ten (56 mine sweepers of various types)(26 are assigned to Gulf (16) and Caribbean (10) Sea Frontiers

    Caribbean/Gulf of Mexico/South Atlantic Forces (R Adm Jonas Ingram)
    12 Catalina Flying Boats plus various BLIMPS and smaller patrol aircraft
    Cruiser Division Two (CL Memphis, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Omaha) plus CA Chester
    DesRon 33 (9 Wilkes/Clemson class DD)
    All US Coast Guard forces Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico (plus 26 minesweepers above) plus various patrol craft Balboa and San Juan bases
    DesRon 29 (12 Wilkes/Clemson class DD taken from Asiatic Fleet)

    Special note
    The BB North Carolina and BB Washington as well as CLAA Atlanta are undergoing modification due to propeller problems and excessive vibration. None of these ships will be ready until early 1942. BB South Dakota has been launched but is still being completed and will be ready late summer 1942

    The Pacific and Asiatic Fleets have both undergone substantial reorganization as the bulk of their battleships and destroyers and many of their cruisers have been sent to the Atlantic (along with a considerable amount of their minewarfare ships).

    Asiatic Fleet (Admiral Thomas Hart)
    21 Catalina Flying Boats
    31 Submarines (mix of S type and fleet submarines) plus 17 S type en route from Atlantic
    CA Houston (flag)
    Cruiser Division 3 (RAdm Thomas Bidwell) CL Marblehead, Trenton, Richmond, Concord, CA Houston,
    Destroyer Division 7 (DD Henley, Blue, Bagley, Helm)
    Plus various patrol and support ships based in the Philippines
    plus gunboats of Yangtze Patrol being moved to Philippines in September 1941

    In the event of a war with Japan, the cruisers and submarines of the Asiatic Fleet will do as much damage as possible to Japanese warships and shipping before falling back to new bases

    Pacific Fleet (Admiral Ernest King)
    66 Catalina Flying Boats
    22 Fleet submarines
    Aviation Pacific Fleet (V Adm Bill Halsey)
    CV Lexington, Saratoga, Enterprise (see above, but now all 3 ships have Wildcat fighters instead of Buffalos)
    Cruiser Division 5 (R Adm Raymond Spruance) CA Northampton, Pensacola, Salt Lake City
    Cruiser Division 6 (R Adm Frank Fletcher) CA Minnapolis, Astoria, New Orleans, San Francisco, CL Honolulu, Boise
    Destroyer Squadron 6 (DD Selfridge, Mugford, Jarvis, Patterson, Ralph Talbot, Balch, Gridley, Maury, Craven, McCall, Dunlap, Ellet, Fanning, Benham

    Aleutians Patrol (part of Pacific Fleet)
    CL Raleigh plus 4 Wilkes/Clemson class destroyers plus various Coast Guard vessels

    plus various craft and ships assigned to Western Sea Frontier
    Chapter Two Japan decides and the War against Germany Summer-Fall 1941
  • Japan and the Allies Summer-Fall 1941
    The Japanese had invaded northern French Indochina in 1940 to cut off supplies to China from that source but this had triggered a host of economic sanctions by the US and Britain against Japan. Negotiations to improve relations had gotten nowhere in the last year, and as addition to the seizure of northern Indochina and ongoing war in China, the Japanese had signed a formal alliance with Italy and Germany that same year known as the Tripartite Pact. The German claim that the Americans attacked them first further worsens relations as the Japanese are forced to seriously consider immediate action to honor their alliance. A series of messages using the Purple Code from the Japanese Ambassador in Berlin relaying German requests for the Japanese to honor the pact which are subject to American monitoring due to successful code breaking, further make it clear to the United States that the Japanese almost certainly will act at some point.

    The Japanese Army, once it becomes clear becomes clear that the bulk of the United States Navy is leaving the Pacific for Europe, decides to seize the remainder of French Indochina on July 24, 1941. The Army is encouraged by reports of massive German victories in the Soviet Union that continue to pour in. The pro-war elements of the Navy, led by the Naval Minister, firmly believe the Americans and British have the bulk of their navy unavailable for at least a year or more and it will be at least that time before the American Two Ocean Navy Act bears fruit. To the Army and prowar faction in the Navy, there is a narrow window to act to seize the Southern Resource Area and secure the Outer Perimeter against any American counterattack, and if the Germans continue to win, and knock the Soviet Union out, the Anglo-Americans will take years to defeat Germany, and might not even be able to launch that counterattack. Facing a bloody and expensive fight to bash through the proposed outer perimeter of island chains, the Americans will be already war weary when the Navy defeats them in a decisive Tsushima like clash somewhere near the Philippines or Marianas Islands, and thus having lost their fleet, the Americans will make peace.

    This of course was magical thinking at the highest level but like so much of the Axis thinking in World War II was the basis for which plans were made and decisions acted on.

    Meanwhile in the Washington Conference, in addition to discussing plans against Germany, Roosevelt and Churchill discuss what to do about the Japanese. Roosevelt makes it clear that while the Americans can fight to defend the Philippines and act alongside the British, his Administration cannot be seen as going to war with Japan to defend the British Empire. Thus Churchill will have to find forces to deter Japan that presumably will be available as the US Navy is heading to Britain to defend the British Isles against the Germans. The two men learned about the Japanese move into southern Indochina and have been waiting to discuss the matter jointly. On August 12, 1941, the United States, Britain, and the Free Dutch government announce an embargo on oil and gasoline exports to Japan, and in addition, the government of Britain and the United States freeze Japanese assets. With the press focusing on the War in Europe, this initially gains little notice although within a few days a few opponents in Congress ask questions about the increased sanctions but overall the general opinion in both American political parties is that even the reduced US Navy can handle anything the Japanese will throw at them and the Europeans can easily defend their empires against the second rate Japanese who have not even been able to defeat the Chinese yet. Indeed racist views of alleged Western superiority color Anglo-American thinking at every level and are at root to much of the early problems Allied forces had fighting the Japanese.

    By September the Japanese Army is pressing for war and by October Hideki Tojo and Osami Nagano (Army and Navy Minister respectively) have forced the Prime Minister Konoe to resign and Tojo shortly after becomes Prime Minister. Even the faction of the Navy that is against war with the United States has accepted the inevitability and plans are now well advanced toward fighting that war. Although negotiations continue, they are clearly getting nowhere by November and it is clear that war has become inevitable. It is only a matter of time.

    That time will end on December 8, 1941 (local time) in the Far East.

    The War in the Atlantic and Europe
    Meanwhile, the Soviets are suffering one massive disaster after another throughout July-September 1941, and the Western Allies are struggling to find a way to help them. The first convoy to Archanglesk (Operation Dervish) sails from Liverpool on August 21, and is not subject to German attention going or returning. Operations Gauntlet and Strength follow, evacuating Spitzbergen of civilians and carrying an RAF fighter group to help defend Murmansk, again with German interference. Several other convoys follow through the Fall of 1941, none of which receive enemy attention and the first US escorts are involved in November (PQ5). Indeed through the end of the year it looks like this route is surprisingly low risk.

    In the Atlantic, the first German U-Boats arrive in July and find that while at war, the American coastal cities are still acting like peacetime. Air cover and convoys are still being organized and the first 21 Uboat patrols in July and August are wildly successful, sinking 45 ships, including 30 tankers in two months, and forcing the Canadians and British to send ships and aircraft to help, while Admiral Nimitz is finally able to get coastal convoys and naval air cover organized. He also presses for Army Air Force help and goes straight to Roosevelt asking for it. The President orders that 35 B17 C/Ds be transferred from the Army to the Navy, and while Hap Arnold grumbles, he does not fight too hard as those aircraft are viewed as stop gaps until the new B17E comes along. Better to lose aircraft to the Navy then squadrons and groups being diverted to a Navy mission. Another 60 B18 Bolo bombers are also transferred to the Navy in exchange for avoiding that mission in the future, and this nearly doubles the size of the Naval air strength available. Nimitz also orders 3 Navy dive bomber squadrons detached from the Fleet Carriers to assist while the Army planes are being transferred (and crews trained), while also some additional Catalina Flying Boats and eventually help from the Civil Air Patrol later in the year as it forms. With these efforts the initial slaughter is ended, and he is able to shift forces to the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico when the Germans shift their efforts south as well. But the first six months after the US entry costs the Allies 2 million tons of shipping and the Germans only lose 22 U-Boats in return. The Uboat arm will call this the “Second Happy Time”.

    It is not until late in the Fall that American coastal cities begin full scale black outs, and for a time American civilians are treated to burning ships on the horizon, oil slicks on the beaches and bodies and wreckage floating ashore. For the first time Americans realize that war is upon them in earnest. However there is a bright spot. The first Liberty Ship, the SS Patrick Henry, is launched on September 27 and many more will follow. The Americans also seize the French Liner Normandie, which is soon converted into an American troop ship (by the end of the year) while pressuring the Vichy government in the Caribbean to change sides to Free French, which gives the Americans access to the French carrier Bearn which is rapidly converted into an aircraft ferry.

    In the Mediterranean, British warships fight their way to Malta on numerous occasions, reinforcing that beleaguered island, while the British complete their campaigns in East Africa and the Levant, securing their rear in Egypt. The US 24th Pursuit Group arrives in Egypt in October, with 90 P40C fighter aircraft, and is soon followed by 47th Bomb Group (A20) and 22nd Bomb Group (B26) in November. In October General Brereton forms the American Desert Air Force to work alongside the British Desert Air Force and begins flying sorties in November.
    The British lose the carrier HMS Eagle in November near Gibraltar and soon after the battleship HMS Barham is also lost from German Uboats, but the demands of operations in the Atlantic prevent a more serious U-Boat deployment into the Mediterranean Sea. However this is offset by the British continuing to hold Tobruk and Malta, and a sharp rebuff to Rommel in the Western Desert, forcing him to retreat to El Agheila.

    The biggest Anglo American effort however is Operation Chariot in November 1941.
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    Operation Chariot (part one)
  • Operation Chariot
    July-September 1941
    Admiral Kimmel arrives in London in early July and begins talks with the British Admiralty. After a couple of weeks of evaluating British actions to date, reviewing German dispositions and those of the British, and dealing with important administrative matters, he brings in Admiral Pye when he arrives with the US battle fleet. The most pressing surface threats the British face are the battleship Tirpitz and a pair of pocket battleships and a cruiser in the Baltic that can potentially move to Norway and threaten the convoys to the Soviet Union, and the 3 German heavy ships currently at Brest.

    The Germans in the Baltic are out of reach except for air attack, and the British RAF does not seem to be interested, as (in his view) is wasting time trying to bomb German cities. The ships in Brest however are within reach. Intelligence reports that 65% of the Luftwaffe is facing the Russians, including the bulk of their bomber force. Another 20% is deployed in the Mediterranean and Balkans, with 10% (mostly fighters plus the training establishment) is in Germany. That leaves only about 5% of the Luftwaffe in France, and according to intelligence, that amounts to 150 long range bombers and recce aircraft supporting the Uboat arm, another 150 fighters spread across France and the Low Countries, and only around 30 or so Stuka divebombers and a similar number of He111 torpedo bombers. Intelligence also shows that the heaviest guns defending Brest or St Nazaire (site of the Normandie dock) are 280 or 220 mm guns, which reach out to around 20,000 yards. The most serious threat on the coast of France are minefields and the Royal Navy has a large number of vessels available to deal with those.

    Admiral Kimmel is well aware that there is a serious threat of war in the Pacific, and he knows that once a war starts, there is a high likelihood his fleet and indeed some of the carriers belonging to Nimitz will be transferred to fight the Japanese. There is a narrow window of opportunity available. He is determined to seize it. A plan is sent to Admiral Stark and Admiral Pound requesting assets from the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and US Atlantic Fleet in mid September. That plan is that presented to the Combined Chiefs of Staff. Although viewed as risky, and Roosevelt is nervous about those risks, Winston Churchill is enthusiastic. Roosevelt signs off on it at the end of the month and preparations soon begin.

    September 1941
    British RAF aircraft begin frequent photo reconnaissance missions over the German held French ports, while RAF bombers and fighters begin hitting German airfields throughout France, even conducting night attacks using Bomber Command which is temporarily pulled from missions to German for this purpose. The Luftwaffe fights back as well as ever, and losses are heavy on both sides, but numerous German bases are severely battered and losses to Luftwaffe ground personnel and infrastructure begin to mount. Periodic missions by Bomber Command into Germany also occur to prevent the Luftwaffe from shifting forces from the homeland, while the pace of fighting in the Mediterranean, North Africa and Russia prevent reinforcements from that quarter. By the end of the month, Operation Indra has managed to whittle down the Luftwaffe in France by 50% in terms of operational and serviceable aircraft and the bombers in particular have been pulled back out of fighter range of England.

    Meanwhile, the Americans and British have formed W and Y forces, consisting of two groups of carriers and their escorts. Two American (Wasp and Yorktown) and two British (Ark Royal and Victorious) are the heart of the two groups (each consisting of a British and American carrier) along with the needed cruisers and destroyers to escort them, and are exercising together east of Bermuda well away from trade routes and likely Uboats. Meanwhile the Americans have formed their battleships into two task groups, and the British add in the Ramillies, Resolution (fresh out of refit in the United States), and Revenge, giving the Anglo Americans a total of 10 battleships plus escorting destroyers to form X and Z forces. Combined Operations proposes a commando raid to support Operation Chariot but Kimmel feels it adds too much complexity to an already risky operation and persuades Admiral Pound to veto it. In addition to the 4 main forces to be involved, the Home Fleet also prepares to provide support should the Germans sortie into the North Sea or make a run for the Atlantic, while Force H cancels a proposed run to Malta in October to provide back up if the there is a run toward the Bay of Biscay and Atlantic.

    The objective is simple in spite of the complexity of the many pieces. The Allies will wreck the German naval bases at St Nazaire and Brest, and eliminate as many German warships as possible while they are in harbor or attempting to escape. The British Royal Air Force and Anglo American carriers will provide air cover while also attacking those same bases. Although the massive submarine pens will likely survive, the base infrastructure that supports them will be destroyed or massively damaged and thus reduce the effectiveness of the German UBoat offensive to a measurable degree. If complete success is achieved, then the Kriegsmarine will lose half of its heavy surface warships and the ability to support them from France, providing substantially less flexibility (and threat) from them, and at the same time freeing up numerous Allied heavy ships for other missions. In the worst case, the Allies might lose one or more battleships and fail to achieve this mission. However it strikes Churchill as exactly the daring plan that Nelson and Fisher would admire and push for, and he persuades Roosevelt that it is worth the risk.

    The stage is set for the first Anglo American offensive of World War II.
    Operation Chariot (part two)
  • Germany prepares
    Sadly for the Allies, the Germans are reading the American codes, specifically some of the naval codes, which has helped them so far in the tonnage war and now gives them ample warning of the build up of American ships and even likely objectives. The British air attacks on the Luftwaffe bases provides some confirmation. Fleigerkorps X is ordered to send 60 JU88 dive bombers, 20 Fokker TVIII torpedo bombers (floatplanes) and 20 He111 torpedo bombers from Greece and Sicily to northern Italy where they are prepared to move into range to strike Allied warships near France within 24 hours of a warning order. The Kreigsmarine also sorties several Uboats which are diverted from their tonnage war mission to positions allowing them to strike at enemy warships when a code word is issued and in the meantime act as scouts.

    The surface fleet is also prepared for battle. Admiral Otto Ciliax has the Scharnhorst (his flag), Gneisenau, Prinz Eugen, 5 destroyers and 4 torpedo boats (small destroyers) pus a dozen E boats available to him. There is already a proposal to move the fleet from France to Norway, and he presses for a movement sooner and indeed plans are already in the works. General Adolph Galland of the Luftwaffe is ordered to hurry together a plan to cover that movement, and another 150 fighters are prepared. Operation Cerberus is set in motion, with a departure date of November 11, which will be a quarter moon and while no moon will be ideal, it is already clear that the Allies are preparing to move on November 15.

    This turns out to be a critical miscalculation regarding the Allied date, which was originally set for that day but moved up two days as Stark and Roosevelt order that the carrier Yorktown and its escorts be sent to the Pacific no later than November 30 due to pressure from King and nervous politicians on the West Coast worried about the Japanese. Meanwhile the originally planned date for the German Channel Dash is postponed by a week due to difficulties in getting all the needed fighter cover into position.

    German forces Operation Chariot/Cerebus
    Local defenses
    Coast artillery - Brest
    Goulet Mound
    4 x 150 mm (bunkers), 4 x 280 mm (bunkers), 2 x 220 mm (bunkers) maximum range 20,000 yards
    (US 14/45 range is 23,000 yards) plus Flak and anti boat defenses

    Coast artillery – St Nazaire
    4 x 280 mm (bunkers) various anti boat and antiaircraft batteries

    at Brest BC Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, CA Prinz Eugen, destroyers: Z5 Paul Jacobi, Z8 Bruno Heinemann, Z14 Friedrich Ihn, Z15 Erih Steinbrinck, Z23, TB Mowe, Gref, Seeadler, Iltis

    3 with 5 U-Boats each (western Bay of Biscay within a few hours steaming time (surface) a bit longer underwater (15 total)

    Luftwaffe forces
    Channel Coast
    150 fighters, 40 various reconnaissance aircraft,
    Within 4 hour reach of Atlantic coast airfields
    120 fighters, 20 night fighters, 30 Stuka divebombers, 16 Me110 night fighters (flak suppression), 40 He111 (torpedo bombers), 30 FW200 (maritime patrol)
    within 8 hours reach of Atlantic coast airfields
    60 JU88 dive bombers, 20 Fokker TVIII torpedo bombers (floatplanes) and 20 He111 torpedo
    Operation Chariot (part three)
  • Allied Forces Operation Chariot
    Force Z Admiral Kimmel commanding (destination Bretagne coast near Brest)
    BB West Virginia (Adm Kimmel), Maryland, New Mexico, Mississippi, California, Nevada, (R Adm Bagley), CL Philadelphia (R Adm Theobold screen commander), DD Phelps, Worden, Aylwin, Dale, Farragut, Monaghan
    Plus 12 RN MTB

    Force Y Admiral Pye commanding (destination approaches to St Nazaire)
    BB Idaho (Adm Pye), Oklahoma, RN BB Revenge (R Adm Stuart Bonham Carter), Ramilies, Resolution, CL Phoenix (R Adm Hewitt, screen commander), Porter, Drayton, Flusser, Lamson, Mahan, Cushing,
    Plus 12 RN MTB

    Force M (minesweeping force) (Brest approaches)
    8 RN minesweepers, covered by 4 RN L class destroyers, CL Dido

    Force N (minesweeping force)
    (St Nazaire approaches)
    8 RN minesweepers, covered by 4 RN L/M class destroyers, CL Scylla

    Force W Vice Admiral Aubrey Fitch (carrier force)(150 miles west of Brittany in Celtic Sea)
    CV Yorktown, RN CV Victorious, RN CL Charybis, USN CL Helena, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Phoenix USN CA Wichita (R Adm Giffen screen commander)
    DD McDougal, Winslow, Moffett, Sampson, Davis, Jouett, Somers, Warrington

    Available aircraft: 27 F4F-3 Wildcat, 18 TBD, 36 SBD Dauntless, 30 Fulmar, 6 Albacore plus 10 SOC floatplanes aboard USN cruisers

    Force Y (carrier force) V Adm Neville Seyfriet commanding (also commands Force W) (150 miles west of St Nazaire in Bay of Biscay)

    CV Wasp (R Adm Cooke USN commanding air), RN CV Ark Royal, RN BC Renown, RN CL Nigeria, Kenya, Manchester, USN CA Quincy, Tuscaloosa, RN DD Ashanti, Intrepid, Icarus, Foresight , Fury, Derwent, Bramham, Bicester, Ledbury, Pathfinder, Penn (RN ships drawn from Force H) (R Adm Burrough RN commanding screen)

    Available aircraft: 27 F2A Buffalo, 18 TBD, 18 USMC F4F-3 Wildcat, 18 Devastator VB, 18 Fulmar, 36 Swordfish

    Additional support: 4 sloops, 2 ocean going tugs near Penzance

    Fighter cover: 120 RAF fighters (able to reach Force W, and the tugs, but nothing else)

    Coastal Command strike force:
    (from RAF Coastal Command) 60 Beaufort, 40 Beaufighter, 40 Blenheim fighters (also provides cover to Force Y) also 20 Hudson for ASW patrol and reconnaissance
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    Operation Chariot (part four)
  • The opening moves November 12, 1941
    The Allied naval forces are all approaching and some are within range of long range Luftwaffe patrol planes as of midday. The Allied surface groups are all steaming at 15 knots and the minesweeping groups are the closest to the French coast. All of the Allied naval task forces have air and surface search radar and patrols consisting of a RAF Coastal Command Hudson and pair of Beaufighters which have the new Mk VII air search radar, while the Hudson’s have Mk II Air to surface vessel radars and several have been issued large numbers of flares at the cost of reduced bomb load to illuminate surfaced Uboats detected at night. The carriers also have much of their bomber force up conducting sweeps looking for surfaced Uboats. Patrolling over Force X and Z, at least until that evening, are standing patrols of RAF Spitfires as the Allied ships have not yet steamed out of fighter cover range as they exist the Irish Sea and begin their approach into the Bay of Biscay. .

    First blood is drawn that day as a squadron of Dauntless dive bombers from the Yorktown spot and attack the U-208 which is part of a wolfpack patrolling the approaches of the Irish Sea, while other aircraft force the remaining 4 U-boats of this group to dive and stay below the surface, preventing them from intercepting the Allied ships passing within detection range of them, or surfacing to send a radio message until darkness. Fighters from the Ark Royal shoot down in two different encounters FW200 Condors that were patrolling within radar range of Force Y, but one manages to get a contact report that it is being attacked by carrier aircraft and the Kriegsmarine radios instructions to a second wolf pack to move into that area to look for the enemy. However heavy air patrols keep that group submerged until nightfall soon after they receive their orders.

    The Germans do however pick up the increased aerial chatter over the Bay of Biscay and Irish Sea, and while still well out of radar range, this chatter and the loss of at least one patrol aircraft to naval fighters indicates that the Allied operation is in its early stages. Admiral Ciliax at Brest is worried that the Allies are coming earlier than expected, and requests permission to launch Operation Cerebus that night, instead of waiting even if the Luftwaffe is not yet ready. Ciliax makes the point to Admiral Schultze, commander of the Kriegsmarine in France, that better now than to wait in port if the Allies are coming. Schultze, widely respected and although old, a highly decorated war hero (including holding the Pour le Merite) is listened to when he sends a message and then makes a call to Raeder, who after consulting with Hitler, orders the operation to begin as soon as the ships can make steam and leave port. By the time communications times allow reports and orders to be transmitted, the German fleet is making steam and will be ready to leave port at 2003 hours, an hour after nautical twilight and at ebbing high tide.

    While the Kriegsmarine is making its preparations the Luftwaffe is ordered to move its aircraft from northern Italy to bases around Lorient by midafternoon, and most take off within an hour of that message, reaching their new forward bases just as the sun is going down in most cases. Mechanical problems reduce the Fliegerkorps X strike group to 45 JU88 dive bombers, 12 Fokker TVIII torpedo bombers (floatplanes) and 15 He111 torpedo bombers as a number of aircraft are forced to abort during their ferry flight or before take off from their bases around Genoa. At the same time, Luftwaffe squadrons in France prepare for a surge the next day and fighters patrol heavily over Brest until nightfall.

    Night November 12
    The German fleet leaves port escorted by Eboats and covered by 5 Uboats just at the edge of the minefields. The sea state is choppy, with 2 meter wave heights, and there is a 1.5 meter swell so that there are up to 4 meters between crest and trough further offshore. This is rough weather for the Eboats, which are rapidly forced to break off, and the Uboats find that between the sea state and mist from the clouds, as well as 25 knot wind gusts, their visibility is essentially negligible. The Allies also find the weather difficult but the forecast is for it to calm before dawn, with winds dropping to 10 knots and the sea state dropping by roughly half. While not ideal conditions for minesweeping this is adequate enough. Ashore in France, as night falls the weather closes in with rain and low clouds preventing flying before morning while conditions are better in southern England, where it is partly cloudy at present as the weather system in the Bay of Biscay has deflected south by a high pressure area. The Germans are moving at 10 knots initially as they carefully stay in the cleared area off the port of Brest as there are serious concerns that the British have recently mined the area. This uses up almost 3 hours in all, placing the Germans about 10 miles northwest of the island of Quessant at 2300 hours.

    The two Allied carrier forces turn west as night falls, moving off at 20 knots to leave the relatively close confines of the Bay of Biscay behind them and plan to return to launch position 150 miles west of the surface groups they are supporting just after dawn. This leaves the two Uboat wolf packs far behind who never sight the two carrier forces in the seas. The Bay of Biscay, well known for some of the heaviest seas in the entire Atlantic basin, is a difficult place to fight in the late Fall through early Spring as in the Atlantic send in large waves and frequent follow right behind. The other Uboat Wolf pack is deployed within 50 miles of Brest and the sea state makes operating on the surface difficult for them as well. The Uboats also lack radar and will not have it until the next year, making their role as picket ships problematic to begin with. The Germans assumed that the Allies would only come in decent weather, and in the near gale conditions present are forced to operate with what is on hand.

    The closest forces to the German fleet are Force M, which is at 50 miles and closing, and has shifted track due to drifting off course slightly due to high seas, and Force Z, which is 30 miles behind Force M, and thus 80 miles from the German fleet. If both sides had kept to their planned courses they would have missed each other in the darkness and poor weather. However, the German fleet commander decides to swing a little wider from the dangerous ground near Ushant (Ouessant) and with the weather being poorer than expected, the dangerous ground near the Channel Islands as well. Thus Allied Force M and the German Fleet are on a collision course, with the minesweeping group steaming at 15 knots, and the Germans have now accelerated to 20 knots as they are well clear of coastal minefields and no longer have to worry about the Eboats which were struggling in the heavy seas.

    (orange- Uboat wolf packs, Red- German fleet, Blue- minesweeping forces, Green- battleship forces, light green- carrier forces)


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    Operation Chariot (part five)
  • Contact Night November 12/13 Battle of Ushant
    It is 2315 hours when radar operators aboard the HMS Dido detect several unknown ships at a range of 50 miles with the Type 281 radar. The bogies are immediately reclassified as targets as it becomes clear that all of the minesweepers and sloops it is escorting are accounted for and their bearing and range makes it clear they have only recently left the Brittany coast. They cannot be anything else but the German fleet. A flash message is immediately sent to Kimmel and to the Admiralty reporting the German fleet is out. The Germans pick up the sudden signal activity, but their source is still well outside the 10 mile optimal range of their Seetakt radar (and the current actual range of 6 miles because of sea conditions). This alarms Admiral Ciliax who orders the planned turn north to commence immediately. As the small ships of Force M are hurriedly changing course to avoid the nearby German fleet, the Dido moves into position to shadow the enemy as standing orders make the German fleet the mission priority above all others.

    Kimmel upon learning that the enemy is out is concerned his powerful but relatively slow battleships will never catch the Germans if they return to port. He is also concerned that the Germans might be breaking for the Atlantic, it never occurring to him that the Germans would steam up the Channel which the Royal Navy has so securely locked down. Force Z thus turns toward the reported position of the enemy, while Admiral Theobold is ordered to accelerate to intercept the enemy and provide assistance to the Dido with his cruiser the Philadelphia, as well as destroyers Farragut and Monaghan. Within 5 minutes of contact, 3 American ships are steaming toward the enemy at 28 knots (best speed for the sea state) while the rest of the American battleship force is following behind at their best speed of 20 knots. The Germans are still at 20 knots but are turning north, which takes them several more miles to the west before their turn is completed.

    At this point the bulk of Force M is heading northwest at their best speed to get away from the German fleet, the Dido is maintaining a distance that keeps the enemy in radar range while staying out of German radar range, an American task force is steaming hurriedly toward the Dido, and the American battleships are steaming at their best speed southeast as well. The American battleships will be in detection range before the Germans can get out of the way and the Germans are as yet unaware of the American battleships. Thus, at just after midnight, the American cruiser and its pair of destroyers move in to attack. The American battleships and cruisers have SC surface search radar but none yet have gunnery radar installed but can detect (based on mast height) enemy vessels at 5 and 3 miles respectively due to conditions. The Germans are surprised when the 3 big ships report targets approaching at 30 knots from the southwest at a range of 6 miles. Even more surprising is the sudden barrage of star shells from the Dido as she reaches firing range at about the same time. Ciliax orders his torpedo boats to engage the enemy, while the 3 capital ships and heavier destroyers break north and accelerate at full speed (to around 30 knots due to sea state). The German torpedo boats soon launch torpedoes, forcing the American ships to dodge while the Americans return the favor and neither side gains any torpedo hits. However, the illuminated German torpedo boats are good targets for the American cruiser, which smothers the Mowe under a barrage of 6 inch shells before then shifting and meting out the same punishment to the Grief. Both German ships are set completely ablaze and both sink soon after. The remaining pair of German torpedo boats engage in a close duel with the American destroyers and are outclassed. Both American ships are damaged, but not seriously, while both German torpedo boats are forced to break off as their weapons and upper works are wrecked by a barrage of 5-inch shells from the heavier and more powerful American destroyers.

    While all this is going on, Admiral Ciliax sends a contact report to base, and the Uboats 50 miles west of Brest (and near the fight) are vectored toward the enemy to cover his escape further. By chance, the U552 (KaptainLeutenant Erich Topp) manages to spot at a mere 2 miles the approaching American battleships. Moving at their best speed, and having detached the 2 destroyers that were in the lead, the American fleet has its remaining destroyers on the flanks and rear, and while they are struggling to get into position in the lead, they are not yet in that position when he spots the USS Mississippi which is fourth in line and fires off all four torpedoes in his bow tubes before hurriedly sending a contact report. He is barely able to submerge as the American destroyer Dale rushes up on him, firing star shells in his general vicinity. The torpedo attack scores one hit on the American battleship just after of her number 2 turret, ripping a 40-foot gash in her outer torpedo belt but not penetrating the interior torpedo bulkhead. However, the ship is forced to pull out of line and is ordered by Kimmel to head back home, escorted by the destroyer Alywin. Meanwhile the Dale continues to aggressively hunt for the U552 which eventually manages to escape. None of the other Uboats are able to get into attack position before the American fleet finishes racing by.

    The obvious presence of enemy Uboats is a concern but Kimmel presses on and thus is able to open fire briefly on the escaping German fleet at nearly 9 miles with a barrage of shells from the West Virginia, Maryland, New Mexico, California and Nevada. American accuracy is poor as night combat training was limited in the peace time US Navy, and without radar guidance the Americans are firing in the general direction of the reports provided by the Dido. The American shooting does manage a near miss from the West Virginia that causes leaks in the Gneisenau while a incredibly lucky hit from the California manages to detonate the magazine of the German destroyer Z28 which disappears in a magnificent (and to everyone watching, terrifying) flash. The Germans flee north and reports from the Dido and American ships report that they are heading for the English Channel. In all nearly 200 rounds of 14 and 16 inch shells were fired in a 15 minute encounter, the first heavy caliber rounds fired by the US Navy in combat since the Spanish American War.

    Kimmel orders his task force to follow, with the Dido to retain its shadow of the Germans. However, the Germans are soon well on their way north. Meanwhile the German and British commands are hurriedly reacting to the news that the Operation Cerebus has lost surprise and that the Germans have entered the English Channel at high speed. By 0400 the Germans are well out of reach of Force Z, and Kimmel orders his force to remain in the waters west of Brest to keep them from returning home or breaking out into the Atlantic. Kimmel also orders the two carrier groups to support Force Y which as yet seems undetected and sends Force M (less the Dido which is still shadowing the German fleet) to support the other minesweeping group at St Nazaire.

    As news from the Bay of Biscay reaches commanders and is relayed to forces, the Luftwaffe prepares its strike aircraft and fighters attack the American fleet off Brittany and to provide cover to the German Fleet racing north through the English Channel, while the RAF and carrier groups prepare their aircraft to strike the German fleet and continue to support the Allied surface forces. Force W however is ordered to move north and away from the Bay of Biscay so that some of its strike aircraft can stage to English bases and attack the German fleet to provide additional weight to Coastal Command.

    As dawn approaches, aircraft engines are starting in France, England and at sea aboard 4 aircraft carriers….
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    Operation Chariot (part six)
  • Locations of various forces Nautical Twilight through Dawn November 13

    (sorry if its hard to read but had to shrink the picture down to a size that would fit)


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    Operation Chariot (part seven)
  • Morning November 13 Force Z, the Channel Dash and the Raid on St Nazaire
    The various naval forces now face a new day and the weather is changing. A Cold Front has come down off the North Atlantic and is already clearing away clouds and dropping temperatures over Britain, northern France and the English Channel. The leading edge which passed over night has mostly cleared all but the eastern edge of the Bay of Biscay, and seas are starting to moderate there and in the Channel, dropping from 4 meter seas down to a 2 meter seas. As dawn breaks, the skies have cleared from heavy clouds to partly cloudy conditions everywhere but along the French coast south of Lorient. These clouds are still hiding Force Y and its supporting minesweepers as well as the two southern U Boat groups. All of the other naval forces and the airfields that will impact them now have good weather.

    The first to launch aircraft are the Allied carriers, which send 35 TBD and 36 SBD to ferry to the RAF Coastal Command base at Manston while the British carriers launch 36 American fighters to provide a combat air patrol over Force Z. The carriers follow with a launch of 12 Swordfish, 6 Albacore, 6 Fulmer fighters, and 30 SBD which begin providing Combat Air Patrol, ASW and Air Search patrols around the carrier force and for the American aircraft, longer range scouting patrols as the carriers complete their air operations at 0700 hours and turn to the southwest to move into position to provide cover for Force Y. Additional Fulmer fighters are launched every hour thereafter (at variable intervals) which forces the carriers to turn north each time to launch into the wind and recover aircraft. This will slow the advance of the fleet. The carrier fleet makes its turn just 30 miles from the southern Scilly Islands and are churning through the seas at 25 knots, the best speed for the USS Wasp. At the same time, Coastal Command Beaufighters take off from southern England with 16 heading for Force Y and the remainder escorting Hudson patrol bombers over the Bay of Biscay to look for the German Uboats that might threaten the battleship groups, while the RAF Coastal Command strike force from Southern England takes off with 56 Beaufort torpedo bombers and 36 Bleinheim fighters. RAF Fighter Command launches 36 Spitfires to link up and provide fighter cover for this force. Another 36 torpedo armed Swordfish are preparing for operations at Manston, and 48 Spitfires are assigned to provide them cover when they and the American strike aircraft are ready to attack in the late morning.

    The Royal Navy is also hurriedly preparing. Admiral Ramsey has 32 torpedo boats in position to attack when the Germans reach Dover, and in addition he has 6 destroyers of the Harwich Force in position to support that attack. His plan is to launch a combined assault with boats, destroyers and strike aircraft when the Germans reach Dover. Further north, Admiral Tovey has the Home Fleet and he orders the King George V, the Prince of Wales, Duke of York and Renown, along with cruisers and destroyers to steam on an intercept course at their best speed of 28 knots. This is a calculated risk as there is some change the Germans will send the Tirpitz and the 2 pocket battleships out but after discussion in the wee hours, Churchill, Pound and Tovey determine that this is an acceptable one as PQ 3 is already in Russian waters, while PQ 4 has not yet completed assembling at Iceland.

    The Germans are also launching their aircraft and preparing for battle. First to leave are 8 Eboats out of Cherbourg and Le Havre to provide additional support to the German fleet. As dawn breaks, the Luftwaffe aircraft along the Channel Coast take off, with 16 fighters moving into position over the German fleet, while 30 dive bombers with 32 fighters fly toward the American Force Z. A second group of 25 He111s with torpedoes along with 28 fighters has some problems assembling but is soon on its way, about 30 minutes behind the first group. Weather in Lorient initially prevents the take off of the float plane torpedo bombers, but the dive bombers, consisting of 2 groups of 27 JU88s, along with 16 Me110s takes off at around the same time and also heads toward Force Z, with the 12 torpedo bombers finally getting up about an hour later and in the poorer weather conditions over that part of France their assigned escort of 24 fighters fails to locate them in the low clouds and decides to fly out to the American fleet in hopes of meeting them at that point.

    It is not until nearly 0800 that a patrol plane spots the Allied minesweepers and then the battleships approaching St Nazaire, and by that point the bulk of the German air strikes have already left for their missions. The Allied carriers do not launch again until 0930 hours, when they turn into the wind and send out 12 Buffaloes, 12 Wildcats and 12 Fulmers to provide cover for Force Y.

    Air attacks on Force Z
    The American force consists of 5 battleships, 1 light cruiser and 4 destroyers and has 36 USN/USMC fighters overhead when the first German air attack, consisting of dive bombers and fighters arrives. The German FW190 fighters have even odds, and engage the American fighters to keep them from intervering with the bombers. However some American fighters manage to break through and interfere with the German attack. In the mass dogfight that follows, the Germans lose 3 fighters and 6 bombers, while the American Buffalo fighters are particularly savaged, with 6 going down, while the Wildcats lose 3. This fight exhausts the fuel and ammunition of the American fighters who are forced to land in England to refuel before returning to their carriers later in the day to rearm.

    The American ships are seriously deficient in light antiaircraft guns, as planned installation of 1.1 inch guns mounts was delayed due to the rush to get the fleet to Britain early in the Fall. However the 5 inch guns of the American ships are powerful and effective weapons, while the American heavy machine guns are able to engage the Germans as they pull out of their dives. In all the German Stukas are savaged, with 4 more splashed by antniaircraft, and another 8 are damaged. However the pilots are dedicated, experienced veterans and many took part in antishipping strikes during the Battle of France a year ago, and operations in Crete and Greece earlier this year. They concentrate on the biggest battleship, which is the lead ship West Virginia, which is also the fleet flag. Of the 30 Stukas, 19 managed to drop their 500 KG high explosive bombs, and they manage to hit 25% of the time. Thus 4 bombs and a near miss rock the West Virginia.

    These bombs inflict fail to penetrate the deck armor but all do extensive damage to the upper works, especially 2 that hit near the bridge area. Casualties are serious but the most notable one is the death of the ships captain and Admiral Kimmel as fragments sweep the exposed bridge area. An African American mess attendant, Doris Miller, will win the Navy Cross for his efforts to save his captain and then manning a heavy machine gun after its crew were killed. Admiral Bagley aboard the Nevada orders the fleet to make full speed toward Plymouth so that it can more rapidly reach British fighter recover and support is asked for. The RAF responds with 36 Spitfires which arrive just as the second Luftwaffe attack force of torpedo bombers and fighters arrives. This force is successfully engaged (6 RAF fighters, 3 Luftwaffe fighters and 8 torpedo bombers shot down) and the American antiaircraft is far more successful against the torpedo bombers, splashing another 4 and damaging most of the rest. German accuracy is excellent considering the opposition however, and 2 torpedoes hit the California which rapidly takes on a dangerous list and slows as due to a freak of luck, the first blast blows a hole in her armored belt and a second hits close enough for the force of the explosion to break through the interior bulkheads and flood 2 boiler rooms and several nearby compartments. The striken ship is slowed to 9 knots and Admiral Bagley orders the fleet to steam for Plymouth at that speed to keep her in formation.

    The final German attack by Ju88 dive bombers, and again the timely arrival of RAF fighters is critical. The JU88s are able to only dive at 45 degree angles and are much easier for the American ships to engage. The first formation arrives 5 minutes before the second and attacks the main fleet, and is badly shot up, with 6 shot down, 9 more damaged and only limited success with their bombing, scoring a bomb hit each on the Maryland and New Mexico. These bombs are a mix of high explosive and armor piercing (in equal portions) and the Maryland takes an armored piercing hit that knocks her number 4 turret out of line and creates a fire that forces the flooding of that magazine. The New Mexico takes an high explosive hit that obliterates her aircraft hanger and starts a major fire that takes hours to extingush. The second formation notices the listing California and concentrates on her, and this formation is entirely armed with armor piercing weapons. They manage to get 3 hits as they arrive while the defending fighters are still dealing with the previous formation and its escorts, and have the initial advantage of the American antiaircraft fire concentrating on the first formation. These three bombs are disastrous as one bomber manages to get 2 amidships and they knock out the remaining boilers and knock out her power as well as starting fires in her aircraft and boat service areas that spread blazing oil and gasoline throughout her amidships area.. The other bomb penetrates sick bay and wipes out it and a nearby damage control party. Burning fiercely and now coasting to a stop, the California begins to sink as her pumps are gone, her damage control teams lack effective coordination as the ship has no internal communications and with sadness Admiral Bagley orders her abandoned and her crew taken off. She will go down soon after, just before noon while the remainder of the fleet enters the appoaches to Plymouth harbor.

    In all Force Z as lost one battleship sunk (California), 2 battleships seriously damaged to the point of requiring lengthly months long yard time (Maryland and Mississippi) and 2 more are damaged and will require significant repair (West Virginia and New Mexico). Only the Nevada has escaped damage and it is the oldest of the group. The Germans have achieved a costly victory as three groups of bombers have been badly shot up but in achieving it they have been diverted from Force Y. That force is now in position at 0900 hours and is about to open fire on St Nazaire and its important Normandie dock.

    The RAF is not idle while this is going on. In addition to fighter support for the badly mangled Force Z, the first attack on the German Fleet is launched at the same time. The 92 RAF aircraft reach the German fleet at 0915 hours, and while the standing patrol of Fw190 fighters wrecks the Bleinheim fighters (shooting down 12 of them, and badly damaging nearly all the rest) they are distracted and caught by surprise when the late arriving Spitfire escort arrives and jumps them The British torpedo bombers are unopposed by fighters and able to make effective attacks. Both of the German battle cruisers take a hit each, although their torpedo belt prevents serious damage, but the cruiser Prinz Eugen is singled out and is smothered by 8 torpedoes and rolls over and sinks with most of her crew by 0937. The belated arrive of addiitional Spitfires provides cover for the torpedo bombers to escape (having lost 6 of their number to antiaircraft fire) and the surviving Blenheims and holds off the second wave of German Me109s that had arrived to reinforce the FW190s. The Germans lose 6 fighters, the RAF another 4 (plus 12 Blenheims and 6 Beauforts), and for a brief time Admiral Ciriax is able to mourn his lost cruiser and her crew. One result of this attack is greater urgency by Coastal Command to replace the Blenheim with the new marks of the Mosquito which is already in the works.

    Further to the south and west, near the entrance of the Irish Sea, the USS Mississippi and her destroyer escort are met by a flotilla of British destroyers out of Liverpool and Sloops from Bristol, which engage and sink the U131 and U574 which were nearly in attack position on the US battleship. By 1100 hours the American ship is steaming north toward Belfast so that she can begin repairs.

    The attack on St Nazaire.
    The Germans are manning their 4-280 mm guns and ready when the Allied battleships steam within range at 0915 hours, although they are facing an unequal struggle. The Allies have 24-15 inch guns and 18 -14 inch guns and due to aerial reconnaissance and human intelligence work know exactly where the German guns, the critically important drydock and the construction site for the new submarine pens are located. The British ships concentrate on the drydock (Revenge and Ramilies) and the construction site (Resolution) while the American ships keep the German heavy guns under fire. Although the Germans score 2 hits on the Idaho and 4 on the Oklahoma, they and the other targets are smothered by a total of 1500 shells which convert the target areas into a moonscape over the course of 3 hours before the ships turn and run for home. Although the Germans have inflicted casualties and some damage to the American ships, they failed to achieve serious results and the 100 American dead are well worth the cost as the Normandie dock is effectively knocked out. Although the dock is later determined to be repairable, the Germans never bother as there is no urgency to use it.

    Meanwhile Allied carrier aircraft and RAF Coastal Command have forced the two groups of German Uboats in the area to remain submerged and even as the weather clears at noon and the Allies are steaming away the Uboats are out of position and unable to interfere. The Allies have achieved one of their major objectives and Admiral Pye is pleased.
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    Operation Chariot (finale )
  • Afternoon November 13
    In London, Berlin and Paris, commanders as well as Churchill and Hitler wait tensely for reports to come in. The first reports out of the Channel please none of them, as Churchill has to call Roosevelt on the phone and inform him of the death of Kimmel and the frightful damage inflicted on the American battleships, while Hitler is angry that Cerebus has already cost the Kriegsmarine a heavy cruiser and several destroyers. His anger is partly offset that the Luftwaffe seems to have sunk two battleships (as reports are that only 4 of the American group of 6 made port) and orders Goebbels to trumpet that news to the world. By noon the report that St Nazaire is being levelled reaches Berlin and Hitler orders that every available bomber be sent after the Americans there to destroy the other half of their navy. He also insists that every available fighter be allocated to make sure that his ships are not sunk the same way, although he seems confident that likely the British will do the same to his ships that the Luftwaffe has done to the Americans. It is clear to him, and indeed he announces it loudly that battleships are obsolete in the face of bombers. His surface fleet is good only for coast defense only as far as he is concerned. A debate will continue between him and Admiral Raeder for some weeks to come that ultimately saves the rest of the German surface fleet from being scrapped but only at the cost of very serious restrictions being placed on their use. For the rest of the war the German heavy ships will be a very powerful Baltic Fleet and remain there.

    At sea the battle continues. The Fokker torpedo planes and their escort reach the site of the sinking USS California and decide not to attack. They return to base and refuel as reports of the attack on St Nazaire are received and orders from Berlin reach the Luftwaffe in France of their new mission. Meanwhile the German Fleet has now approaching the Straits of Dover, while Allied Force Y is leaving the approaches of St Nazaire and steaming due west at its best speed of 20 knots. The Allied carriers meanwhile have again turned into the wind to launch more fighters and recover returning ones. The Uboats are now hopelessly out of position to reach the carriers but a handful are almost in position to get a chance at the retiring Force Y.

    German attacks on Force Z
    The morning battles have been costly although from the standpoint of the bomber crews highly successful. However the Luftwaffe has somewhat diminished forces to attack with. Only 9 He111 torpedo bombers and 11 Fokker floatplane torpedo bombers are available after battle damage and mechanical issues, while the Stukas lack the range to immediately attack and will have to stage from their bases around Calais to bases in Brittany, which will use up much of the afternoon, and so only 50 JU88 dive bombers are available. The bombers will have only two staffel of Me110 night fighters to help them as every available Fw190 and Me109 have been ordered north to support the German fleet. A hurriedly cobbled together strike with 15 FW200 Conders s is ordered against the Allied minesweepers, which have only a single light cruiser protecting them.

    The first to reach their targets are the Conders, which manage several hits although many of the aircraft are damaged and 2 are splashed by British gunners. They succeed in sinking 1 sloop and 3 minesweepers and damaging nearly all of the others to various degrees but the attack has knocked the German bombers out of the battle as they are ill suited to attacking warships. The thin skinned and relatively small British sloops and minesweepers are vulnerable to even a single high explosive bomb and thus even near misses inflict serious damage. The light cruiser Scylla is undamaged by this attack but once again amateur ship identification results in the leading force of 24 JU88s incorrectly identifying her as a battleship and an attack on her results in 3 hits and major damage and numerous near misses. She and the remainder of her charges continue west before turning north for the Irish Sea as darkness falls. There is later serious criticism of the failure of that force to link up (and gain the protection of) Force Y which left them behind due to their slightly greater speed.

    The next force of 26 Ju88s manages to find the Allied fleet and concentrates on the trailing ship, the USS Oklahoma. Again they are facing a heavy antiaircraft barrage and the British gunners that make up most of the somewhat larger screen than Force Z had are much better at their job due to their extensive (and recent) experience. . Only 3 hits are scored although casualties are serious aboard the American ship. As this attack is occurring the Fokker torpedo bombers and their 8 escorting Me110s are pounced on by 6 British and 12 American carrier fighters and suffer terribly. The carrier pilots conduct a more careful battle, with the British holding off the German fighters while the Americans pounce on the lumbering torpedo bombers. None of those survive, and only3 of the German fighters escape. Only 1 Buffalo and 1 Fulmer are lost in the air battle. But distracted, the gunners and fighter pilots miss the arrival of the 9 He111s who pick on the Oklahoma which has fires aboard her and make their attack. They manage a single hit but while attempting to exit all but one are shot up so severely that only one manages to return to base and three more ditch near the coast. The Oklahoma takes that torpedo hit aft, which knocks out her rudder control and damages all but one screw. Admiral Pye orders most of her crew taken off as she seems helpless and unlikely to make port, with only a pair of British destroyers remaining with her as she trails behind the rest of the fleet heading west. Barely making 7 knots, she is found and sunk just before dusk by a spread of 4 torpedoes from the U-43 (Wolfgang Luth commanding). A total of 353 American and 431 British sailors are lost from Force Y, while German deaths ashore and in the air number around 600.

    Prime Minister Churchill is forced to make another unpleasant phone call to President Roosevelt. Admiral Pye will recieve harsh internal criticism for the loss of the Oklahoma and for his failure to protect the minesweepers and most historians believe that is why Admiral Pye never had a sea command for the remainder of the war.

    Death of the German Fleet
    Meanwhile the two German battlecruisers, with only 4 destroyers and 8 Eboats as their escort and covered by 32 fighters overheard are approaching the Straits of Dover and Admiral Ramsey’s waiting forces. American and British strike aircraft are also waiting, having assembled over Kent with their substantial fighter escort. The result is nothing short of murder. The British MTB’s charge in, distracting the German gunners, while the British destroyers wait just outside of the range of German guns in Calais and north of the strait. While the torpedo boats charge, the American and British torpedo planes go in at low altitude while the American dive bombers plunge from overhead and 60 British fighters tangle with the German fighters and reinforcements that join them. The German gunners are overwhelmed but still manage to take a toll, downing 4 American and 3 British torpedo planes and a pair of dive bombers as well as sinking 2 MTBs and damaging most of the others to varying degrees. The British MTBs however sink 2 Eboats, drive off the rest and force the German destroyers to engage them which leaves plenty of openings for the strike aircraft to smother the German heavy ships. The Scharnhorst takes 3 bomb and 6 torpedo hits, the Gneisenau takes 2 bomb and 5 torpedo hits and both ships are soon listing and burning. Neither survives long past dusk and the British destroyers dash in and finish both with torpedo attacks. A total of 2,000 German sailors are lost from the fleet, and all of the German ships that survive limp into Le Havre with various degrees of damage. It is a glorious Allied victory and although nearly 30 Allied aircraft (7 American, the rest British) are lost to a similar number of German aircraft, it would appear that the Allies have proven Hitler’s point. Admiral Ramsey’s reputation, already high after Dunkirk, rises yet again. Admiral Ciliax manages to survive the loss of his ships, and spends the remainder of the war as a naval attache to Brazil.

    Admiral Kimmel has achieved his goals. The German fleet has been destroyed, St Nazaire is no longer capable of repairing the Tirpitz, and most of his ships survived. He and two battleships, the Oklahoma and California have not however, and the battleships West Virginia, Maryland, New Mexico and Mississippi will spend nearly the entirety of 1942 in dock being repaired and modernized. Although nearly 3,000 British and American sailors have died or are missing or crippled, it is a great victory as far as Roosevelt and Churchill are concerned in public. Hitler is angered by the defeat, which is but the first of the bad news that will face him in November and December 1941 as Barbarrosa fails to take Moscow and Leningrad. The German surface fleet will spend the remainder of the war in the Baltic Sea, only seeing useful service late in the war supporting German forces along the Baltic coast. The modern North Carolina and South Dakota class will never see service in the Atlantic or European theater.
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    The US Navy at War October-December 1941
  • Battle of the Atlantic October-December 1941
    Nimitz, commanding Atlantic Fleet, is a persuasive and charismatic man, and has an easier time with Roosevelt and the Army than his predecessor King had. By October he has managed to trade the Army Air Force access to long range bombers immediately for the Air Force getting out of the ASW mission,, and that has netted him 30 B17s (plus 9 more transferred back from the British), plus Army Air Force strips the 6th, 43rd and 30th Bomb Groups of their LB30/B24s (nearly 100 in all) for the Navy to use, and by late November sufficient air crew have been trained in their use for some of them to begin patrols in the Caribbean and near Iceland. Another 200 B18 Bolos leave the Army and although initially using borrowed Army crews, can begin local patrols off the Atlantic Coast right way. Another 300 of the Martin Baltimore which had been slated for Lend Lease are transferred to the Navy for ASW work, along with the entire production run planned for the PV2 Harpoon. Most of these aircraft will not be available before 1942, and indeed another 1,000 B24s will join the Navy as well, but most will not show up before late 1942 and early 1943. But by the end of December, over 400 aircraft are available to patrol American coastal and regional waters and provide some support into the Atlantic. The Army even gives the Navy the B18s currently in Hawaii for local patrols. Most of the Army personnel will go to other groups working up, are reequipped with medium bombers as they become available. Hap Arnold is relieved to be able to concentrate on what he thinks is important, the eventual strategic bombing offensive against Germany.

    The US Navy has other forces available as well. The US Coast Guard provides 21 cutters (basically equal to a British corvette or sloop depending on size), and 61 submarine chasers (useful for inshore patrol and rescue work), with 6 more cutters commissioning or working up and 30 armed yachts fitting out and working up (which adds another 36 sloop types). Additional yachts are being acquired, and the Coast Guard has plans to lay down additional (and more modern) cutters as well. This provides 82 escort ships for Iceland, the Eastern Sea Frontier plus the already 41 obsolete but useful Wilkes/Clemson class and 56 minesweepers already assigned to those areas (although 4 of the destroyers are usually patrolling the Pacific side of Panama) plus the 4 light cruisers patrolling the Pacific side and 4 additional old destroyers that escort them. By December Nimitz has managed to end attacks on US coastal shipping in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean is only seeing sporadic attacks. After November and the end of Operation Chariot, an additional 9 destroyers joins the Atlantic Fleet from US Forces Europe, and he has all but relegated the old battleships New York and Arkansas to training ships in Chesapeake Bay to free up large numbers of useful experienced personnel. Both of his carriers have been sent to US Navy Europe, along with their escorts, and he has to say good bye to the Yorktown and its escorts in December when it is sent to the West Coast. However that still gives him around 45 destroyers for Atlantic duty of which 30 are usually available (the rest refitting). German Uboats sink only 90 ships (around 500,000 tons total) during the Fall, in part due to poor weather but also because of the distraction of Operation Chariot and improved American defenses.

    All of these extra ships and aircraft make the creation of coastal convoys practical and routine by October and losses plummet as targets have been hardened in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and American Atlantic Coast. Once again the convoy shows its value.

    On December 1, 1941, Admiral Nimitz is promoted out of his job as commander of Atlantic Fleet and made Chief of Naval Operations and Commander in Chief US Fleet after Admiral Stark is sent to replace Admiral Kimmel in Britain and Admiral Pye is given command of Battle Force Atlantic, which has only 6 battleships (all under repair or refitting) and responsibility for overseeing their modernization. The first thing Nimitz does is request Admiral Thomas Hart as Commander, US Submarine Forces and have him sent to Washington to take charge of this critical arm. The previous commander retires and is placed on the Navy Board.

    The Pacific Fleet Fall 1941
    Admiral King is gravely alarmed at the weak state of the US Navy in the Pacific but is careful in his criticism and requests. He does manage to get the carrier Yorktown along with Admiral Newton and 4 cruisers and 9 destroyers sent to the Pacific, as well as 18 newly completed, commissioned and worked up destroyers as they become available October-December 1941 (although several arrive in January 1942) and every available fleet oiler. His biggest coup however is the disestablishment of the Asiatic Fleet, and creation of US Naval Forces Far East which is a much smaller in size and authority, and which also falls under his operational command. He immediately orders 23 Fleet submarines to Pearl Harbor as he feels Cavite is hopeless to defend in the event of war, and also orders the CA Houston and 4 light cruisers back to Pearl Harbor, along with their 4 destroyers. Along with them 2 tankers and 2 gunboats (both of those are sent to Samoa), and the remaining 21 S Boat submarines are placed under the command of RAdm Thomas Rivers (who supercedes Captains John Wilkes who is slated to take over Submarine squadron 20). This leaves only the heavy cruiser Chester in the far Pacific, and it is operating with the British out of Singapore. He also ruthlessly strips the Philippines of trained personnel (reducing the gunboat crews to less than half strength or less) as well as the 4th Marine Regiment which he sends to Samoa. Admiral Hart is initially angered by this move but his new job overseeing the entire US Navy Submarine Force is a more than a token and he rapidly dives into the role, making his first visit to Pearl Harbor on December 5, 1941.

    Vice Admiral Robert Ghormley is made commander US Naval Forces Far East, and also given the principal job of coordinating between the US Pacific Fleet and British and Dutch naval forces in the Far East. Commander of the 16th Naval District, RAdm Thomas Rockwell remains in tactical command of the forces directly assigned to defend the Philippines (gunboats, minesweepers and PT Boats), while a new commander of the submarines based at Pearl is plucked from his job as naval attache in London and RAdm Charles Lockwood arrives in Pearl Harbor with his boss Admiral Hart on December 5. Hart withholds appointing a new ComSubPac for now, letting the current officer, R Adm Henry English keep his job which is to organize and plan a submarine campaign against Japan when war comes as Hart and King feel certain will be at any moment.

    The other problem King has is aircraft. He has only around 40 aircraft available for the Philippines, and only (including newly transferred Army bombers) around 100 for Pearl Harbor to conduct patrols with. No more are likely to be forthcoming at present as the Atlantic Fleet has first call until more units are trained up and equipped. However with 4 carriers he is much more confidant about defending the Hawaiian Islands, Alaska and approaches to Panama and feels reasonably certain he can defend the sea lanes to Australia if war breaks out. He is also promised all of the new fleet carriers and new battleships as they are worked up, and indeed within 14 months he will have 6 carriers and 6 fast battleships, enough to fight the Japanese with and even conduct an offensive. King continues to ruthlessly train his ships and crews who spend weeks at a time at sea (mostly in the waters between Hawaii and California) and conducts a fleet problem in late November near Panama. He is still reviewing the initial report of Operation Chariot when the Japanese launch their massive carrier air strike on Wake Island on December 8, 1941.
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    Chapter Three The Allies establish new Commands
  • Churchill juggles his generals
    Winston Churchill in June 1941 sees the pressure of the British Empire fighting Germany alone ease dramatically when the United States and Soviet Union enter the war, but his problems now simply take on a new direction. He has little faith in this top two Generals and decides to shake up who is fighting the war. To start with John Dill, the Imperial Chief of Staff, has been disappointedly pessimistic for some time, and indeed seems to have undercut Churchill privately with General Wavell. However, Dill gets along very well with the Americans during the first meeting in July 1941, and when the decision is made to create a Combined Chiefs of Staff, Churchill with some alacrity posts Dill to Washington as the permanent British representative in Washington. A Royal Navy representative is also needed, and Vice Admiral Tom Philips who Churchill has come to trust, is also sent to Washington.

    That will leave vacant the post of Imperial Chief of Staff. Needing someone he can trust, Churchill picks General “Pug” Ismay although he is loath to part with his military secretary he needs someone he can absolutely trust in the position after Ironside and Dill have (in Churchill’s mind) failed him. Initially he considers General Alan Brooke for the role, but after the failure of Battleaxe in North Africa, changes his mind and instead sends Brooke to take over with responsibility for the Levant, Palestine, Jordan, and North Africa. A commander is also needed for the new 8th Army, and Churchill lets Brooke pick his own who decides that the difficult but highly effective General Bernard Montgomery is the man for the job. Monty (as he is known) is a prima donna and can be exceptionally irritating, but he is an outstanding trainer of troops, fought very well in France and has done an excellent job preparing his forces in southern England over the last year. Brooke keeps “Jumbo” Wilson, who is the middle of a fight already in Levant and is doing well. The responsibility for East Africa, Iraq and Persia are permanently handed over to General Auchinleck, who is also responsible for India and Malaya as well. General Wavell, who does remain a superb strategic thinker and who does have daring, a trait Churchill admires, and more importantly several victories in addition to his defeats, is selected for a new job.

    Tensions with Japan are growing steadily worse, and with the Japanese seizure of southern French Indochina, as well as the oil embargo by the Allies in response to that, as well as needing someone to keep the Australians and New Zealanders happy, Churchill creates a new command. General Wavell is ordered to Singapore to take command of Imperial Forces in Southeast Asia and Australia, and with him, once the fight in Vichy Syria is completed, he will get 2 Australian divisions plus the New Zealanders. However those troops will not immediately be available, as the New Zealanders and Australians will have part of each of their divisions sent home to provide cadre for new units, and it will take time for the 3 divisions to absorb and train new drafts of men to replace them. By the end of October the Australian 7th and 9th AIF, and the 2nd New Zealand Division, are en route to Ceylon to absorb replacements and to rest, while the men sent home are already at home by early December. This leaves only 1 Australian Division (the 6th) in the Middle East and for now it is garrisoning Cyprus. To replace these troops in North Africa, the 2nd Canadian and 1st South African Divisions are sent to Levant to train and get used to conditions, while 3 British divisions (2nd, 18th Infantry Divisions, 10th Armored Division) are ordered to North Africa, arriving in September and October. Auchinleck also requests the return of the 4th and 5th Indian Divisions, whose experienced officers and men are needed to help train the Indian Army, which has 2 experienced, 3 trained and 5 raw divisions currently and one of the raw divisions (the 11th) is in Singapore and inadequately equipped in the bargain. Alan Brooke is furious about losing all these troops, which is only partly made up by 3 divisions from Britain and promises that the American Expeditionary Force will eventually arrive to assist him in North Africa. Brooke is not particularly impressed by that promise so another division (the 11th Armored) is promised him but will not reach him before the planned date of Operation Crusader.

    The Australians and New Zealanders are pleased by the choice of Wavell, who when disaster threatened managed to get their troops out of Greece and Crete and who has won some victories, although not against the Germans. But if he can handle the Italians and Vichy French, surely he can handle the Japanese.

    The US Army prepares for war
    Meanwhile Roosevelt has his own problems with his army. The Army spent a very lean Great Depression but the officer corps seems to be handling mobilization and expansion very well. Roosevelt also has his strategic choices to make. The focus of the Navy is on the Battle of the Atlantic and defense of the Panama Canal and Hawaii, and when war comes with Japan (which is now looking inevitable) holding off the Japanese until War Plan Orange has the forces necessary to march across the Pacific. This leaves the Philippines and Alaska as Army problems, plus the need to put together a force to fight the Germans with (and sooner rather than later) and eventually build the needed army to drive into Europe. Plus the new Soviet ally needs secure Lend Lease routes, and the Army will need to send troops to Persia to build one there, as well as garrison the various Atlantic bases and also now it seems bases to secure the sea line of communication between Hawaii and Australia. This leaves the Philippines far down the list in priorities, and there seems little that can be done. The problem however is that the Republicans consider General Macarthur one of their darlings, and they are also pressing for assistance to China.

    Roosevelt hits upon an elegant solution to solve what is in part a major political problem for him. Who better to send to China to show that America is serious about helping it than a distinguished and prestigious military man who has ties to the Republican Party and thus ready made friends in court in Chungking. Who as it happens has been called up on active duty effective June 24, 1941 than Lieutenant General Douglas Macarthur. The President summons Macarthur home, gives him a fourth star, and arranges for the General, his family and a staff he picks to travel to China to become Chief of Staff of the Chinese Army as well as head of the Military Mission in China and thus supplier of all things Lend Lease to the Nationalist Chinese. He even allows Macarthur to have input on his replacement, and the General makes clear that the current head of the Philippine Department is not up to the task. General Marshall however knows just the man, who is currently in Hawaii, and offers the job the General Walter Short, who to everyone’s surprise, decides that he is too near retirement to entire likely certain Japanese captivity as he has reviewed War Plan Orange. Thus General Short is retired, and General Walter Krueger, who has done reasonably well in the Louisiana Maneuvers is made commanding General US Army Pacific (based out of Oahu) and Major General Joseph Stillwell is given his 3rd star (to Lieutenant General) and given command of US Army Forces Philippines on July 11, 1941.
    By the end of July Krueger and Stillwell are both in their new jobs and Macarthur arrives in China in October 1941 after taking home leave (which he uses to solidify help from the Republicans and deal with financial issues, some of which come to the private attention of Roosevelt) and the lengthy travel time by ship from the United States to Burma and then overland to China. Macarthur and Chiang Kai-Shek will not have a happy relationship over the next 4 years. Privately General Marshall plans to get Stillwell out when the time comes when it the situation warrants it in the Philippines as he has other uses for the General.

    The next commander needed is for the proposed American Expeditionary Force to be deployed to fight the Germans and Italians in North Africa. It will be months at least before anything can be attempted anywhere else, but the Americans must show they are pulling their weight. This job requires someone trained and knowledgeable in mobile mechanized operations who can also get along with the British. General Eisenhower has shown he can do that after a superb job in Louisiana which got him a spot on Marshal’s staff, and in the meetings in December in Washington the British were impressed with Eisenhower and Marshal also was pleased by how well he did. Thus Eisenhower is promoted to Lieutenant General and given responsibility for assembling and then commanding the USAEF when it goes to Egypt, which at this point appears likely to be in May 1942. He gets Omar Bradley as his Chief of Staff, and George Patton as his armored force commander. He will also get 4 divisions and some separate brigades which will eventually form the basis of the US 1st Army. For the next few months Eisenhower and his troops spend their time training strenuously in the California and Arizona desert, while observers are sent to Egypt to see how the British are doing things beginning in October 1941.

    This leaves the need for reinforcements in the Pacific. Garrisons are needed for the islands between Australia and Hawaii and Admiral King is begging for troops. Marshal orders 2 National Guard regiments to Hawaii to fill out the Hawaiian Division (which become the X Corps with the 24th and 25th Infantry Divisions), while 4 more separate National Guard Infantry Regiments and both African American Infantry Regiments are prepared for deployment to Fiji, New Caledonia, Samoa and the big island of Hawaii. Alaska is sent an infantry division (the 6th) consisting of 1 Regular and 2 National Guard Infantry Regiments (from Minnesota and the Dakotas) while a National Guard Division (30th) from the Carolinas is sent to the Panama Canal Zone. However, he does offer General Stilwell a National Guard Division (the 31st, from the Deep South). Stillwell cheerfully accepts the offer, even though it will not arrive until late November, and manages to get needed small arms, light artillery and a host of other needs promised him, although much of that will not arrive until October. However, the fact that the Philippine Army has been federalized since June 24 is a major help, as it will need months of training to be fully combat ready, which seems likely to be sometime in January 1942. Stilwell also gets the needed authority to send a lot of the old soldiers home from the Philippines, some of whom have served 25 or more years in the Army as enlisted men in China and the Philippines and whose skills are needed at home but whose health is unlikely to survive a lengthy campaign (or almost certain imprisonment). Indeed, the first step Stilwell takes when he arrives is to order the dependents home.

    Much to his regret Marshal has little airpower he can send. The American Volunteer Group will be helpful to Macarthur once it is combat ready, but for the Philippines only he can only arrange for 2 squadrons of P36 fighters to be transferred from Hawaii to Clark Field (arriving by special dispatch and courtesy of Admiral King and a special trip by the Saratoga in September before it heads to Bremerton and refit) and for General Krueger he manages to get the 1st Pursuit Group (with 32 P38s and 20 P43s) to Hawaii to replace the departing P36s. But Hap Arnold has little else to send, as the planned American Desert Air Force is still training up and equipping with P40s and B17Es and will not be ready to go overseas until February, while the nearly everything else Hap Arnold has is training, conducting coast defense missions (while the Navy takes over) or is forming and aircraft are in very short supply.

    In that he is not alone, as Churchill has very little of the RAF he can spare either. Indeed, there are only 4 squadrons of Buffalo fighters for Malaya, a single squadron of Buffalos in Burma, and everything in India or Australia or New Zealand is either training or forming and lack aircraft or combat ready aircraft. Only the Desert Air Force, with over 1,000 aircraft including 9 squadrons of fighters and 6 bomber squadrons is really at reasonable levels of combat effectiveness, and of course the RAF Fighter Command is at full strength. The Royal Navy however is pointing fingers at the RAF Bomber Command and is desperate for long range aircraft. The Butt Report, in October, shows that only one in three RAF bombers was even finding its target and the waste of resources has become irresponsible. Churchill is sure he has found a man to fix that, but Air Marshal Arthur Harris is killed in a crash in late November when fog closes in unexpectedly on his way back from inspecting RAF Bomber Command bases. Churchill and Air Marshal Portal are still debating what to do with RAF Bomber Command when the Japanese enter the war.
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    US Army and Marine Corps Forces overseas December 7, 1941
  • Overseas deployment and planned deployments of US Army Forces December 7, 1941

    American Expeditionary Force Mideast (Lieutenant General Dwight Eisenhower)
    Chief of Staff, Major General Omar Bradley
    Liaison with British Brigadier General Mark Clark
    USAAF Mideast (Major General Lewis Brereton) (later redesignated US 12th and 15th Air Forces)
    2nd Bomb Group (B17E), 3rd Bomb Group (A20C), 4th Fighter Group (drawn from Eagle Squadrons in RAF, equipped with Spitfire MkV), 7th Bomb Group (B17E), 8th Fighter Group (P39D), 19th Bomb Group (B17E) 22nd Bomb Group (B26)
    US III Corps Major General George S Patton

    1st Armored Division (MGen Bruce Magruder), 2nd Armored Division (MGen Ernest Harmon), 4th Motorized Division (MGen Raymond Barton)
    , III Corps Artillery, III Engineer command, 3rd Cavalry Regiment (mechanized),
    additional forces still being designated. All ground and air units are training in the desert areas of Arizona, New Mexico, California, Utah and Colorado with logistics and heavy air units operating out of peacetime bases while fighter, attack and medium bombers and army ground units are operating in field conditions. Expecting to deploy in March 1942 to Iraq/Palestine/Jordan and then to Egypt

    Tanks are M3 Lees (and exports to Soviet Union cancelled in favor of M3 Stuarts) and M3 Stuarts, tank destroyers for division anti tank units are M3 Motor Carriage and towed 37 mm guns. Division artillery is still towed (w 105 and 155mm guns) but the divisions are first in line for the M7 SP 105 when it becomes available as they are still in development

    American Expeditionary Force British Isles (Lieutenant General Hugh Drum)
    V Corps Major General Lloyd Fredenhall
    27th Infantry Division (NY NG, BGen Pennell) Iceland, 28th Infantry Division (PA NG, MGen Ord) Belfast, 29th Infantry Division (VA/MD NG, MGen Gerow) Britain (assigned to British defenses), II Corps Artillery (w 29th Division),

    The AEF British Isles arrives over the course of October-November, with the 27th arriving at Iceland in September
    the 8th Air Force is being created but its air units are in the forming or early training status with their aircraft and none are expected to arrive until late 1942

    Alaskan Defense Command (M General Simon Buckner)
    6th Infantry Division (B Gen Uhl) Anchorage/Ft Richardson, 34th Infantry Division (Dakota/Minnesota NG, M Gen Hartle) Juneau/Skagway/Valdez/Kodiak, this is still a 4 regiment, 2 brigade division)
    IV Corps Headquarters - Fairbanks, lacks artillery, but overstrength in engineers, attached is Alaskan Scouts providing coastal and isolated area patrols
    Alaskan/Canadian Highway construction approved June 25, 1941, first construction began August 1941, expected completion September 1942
    in addition to above, the Coast Artillery is hurriedly forming coast artillery and coast artillery antiaircraft units, as is the Artillery branch (antiaircraft) but none are expected to arrive before summer 1942 to reinforce existing forces.
    Coast Artillery: 250th CA Regiment (155 mm guns), 215 CA Regiment (3 inch AA) (Both Fort Richardson), 75 CA Regiment (3 inch AA, Fort Greeley),

    Alaskan Air Force has no combat aircraft yet assigned but does have some liaison and transport aircraft and has contracted with the Civil Air Patrol (which includes a large number of Bush planes) to provide some support. It will be designated the 11th Air Force in 1942

    The Navy and Coast Guard has several patrol vessels and some PBYs and smaller aircraft to provide coastal patrol and surveillance operating out of Kodiak Island and various small ports on the Alaskan coast as well as a seaplane tender at Dutch Harbor. The Marine 4th Defense Battalion is at Kodiak Island, while the 5th Defense Battalion just arrived from Iceland at Dutch Harbor

    Hawaiian Defense Command (Lieutenant General Walter Krueger)
    Commands X Corps and Hawaiian Harbor and Air Defense Commands
    Coast Artillery Command
    15th CA (heavy seacoast guns) Fort Kamehameha/Pearl Harbor , 16th CA (heavy seacoast guns) Honolulu, 53rd, 64th, 97th, 98th, 211th CA (3 inch AA) have been moved to wartime positions covering airfields and the navy base at Pearl Harbor.

    X Corps (M Gen Keyton Joyce)
    24th Infantry Division, 25th Infantry Division (each has 2 Regular Army regiments plus attached NG regiments from Hawaiian NG), engineer brigade, The Corps has an attached tank battalion of M2 tanks, but lacks mobile artillery for the VI Corps Artillery
    25th Infantry Regiment (Colored) recently arrived and stationed on the big island of Hawaii

    Hawaiian Air Force (M Gen Frederick Martin) (redesignated 7th Air Force in 1942)
    1st Fighter Group (14 P43, 24 P38E, 32 P40C additional P38E expected), 15th Fighter Group (60 P40C) also administrative support for Army crews assigned to 33 B18 Bolos, 13 A20s assigned to the Navy, plus the Hawaiian Air Force has an assortment of transport and light observation aircraft
    27th Bombardment Group (52 A24 Dauntless Dive bombers, as yet untrained in naval strike missions)

    in addition to Hawaii, there are ground forces defending 3 important islands in the Pacific that are under Naval Command
    Maui (Hawaii) 4th Marine Regiment, plus 6th Marine Defense Battalion
    Midway Island Marine Air Group 21 (forward) w 24 Wildcat, 18 Dauntless, plus 6 PBY, 2nd Marine Defense battalion (full strength)
    Wake Island: 1st Marine Defense battalion (elements) w 400 infantry, has not yet been assigned a Naval officer commanding and planned deployment of Marine air group has not yet occurred (and that MAG is still on the West Coast)
    Guam: 547 US Marines and National Guard troops, no heavy weapons, 2 old patrol boats, 1 old minesweeper, 1 freighter
    American Samoa: 7th Marine Defense Battalion, Samoan Home Guard (battalion)

    En route
    HQ 6th Army (moving from San Francisco to Hawaii)
    24th Infantry Regiment (Colored) en route to Fiji
    132nd Infantry Regiment (IL NG) en route to Samoa
    164th Infantry Regiment (ND NG), 182nd Infantry Regiment (MA NG) en route to New Caledonia
    (none of the above have yet left the West Coast but preparing to ship)

    US Army Forces Far East (USAFFE) (Lt Gen Joseph Stillwell)
    Deputy Commander M General George Grunert
    consists of Manila Bay Coast Defense Command, I Corps, II Corps
    HQ USAFFE, 14th Engineer Regiment – Fort Stotsenburg

    Manila Bay Command (B Gen George Moore)
    59th, 91st, 92nd CA Regiments (heavy guns), 60th CA Regiment (155 semi mobile), 200th CA Regiment (3 inch AA), 124th Infantry Regiment (FL NG)
    garrison of Forts Hughes, Fort Drum, Fort Frank, and Corregidor itself

    I Corps (M Gen Jonathan Wainwright (Luzon Force)
    12th Infantry Division (former Philippine Division, w 31st, 123rd (AL NG), 45th Infantry (PS) , 1st Field Artillery Group (old 105 and 155 guns) (PS)
    31st Infantry Division w 155th Infantry Regiment (MS NG) 167th Infantry Regiment (AL NG), 57th Infantry (PS), 31st Field Artillery group (75 and 105 mm guns) (M Gen John Persons commanding)
    26th Cavalry Regiment (PS)
    Although tanks have been requested they have not arrived, however sufficient M3 motor carriages have arrived to give the 26th Cav a self propelled anti tank company
    41st Philippine Army Division (8,000 men, M Gen Lim commanding, well trained compared to other units, full table of organization in equipment, has a full battalion of 75 mm field guns)
    Coast defense forces: MGen George Parker
    11th Philippine Army Division (6,000 men, 22 mixed 75 and 2.95 inch guns) Lingayen Gulf
    21st Philippine Army Division (6,000 men) 24 mixed 75 and 2.95 inch guns) Balayan Bay
    31st Philippine Army Division (7,000 men) 36 mixed 75 x 2.95 inch guns) Subic Bay
    stay behind forces: (garrison until ordered to run for the hills)
    51st Philippine Army Division (7,000 men, no artillery) B Gen Albert Jones
    71st Philippine Army Division (8,000 men, no artillery) B Gen Clyde Selleck

    II Corps (BGen William Sharp)(Visayan / MIndanao force)
    81st Philippine Army Division (Mindanao island) (8,000 men, 12 2.95 inch guns, 24 3 inch mortars) B Gen Guy Fort (defending Davao)
    43rd Infantry Regiment (PS) reinforced with 24 x 3 inch mortars, and 1 troop 26th Cavalry (Dole Plantation), 803rd Aviation Engineer battalion (US), elements of 20th Airbase force (from Clark Field)
    101st Philippine Army Division (6,000 men, no artillery) Mindanao (stay behind unit)
    91st Philippine Army Division (7,000 men, no artillery) Samar/Mindoro islands (stay behind unit)
    61st Philippine Army Division (Panay/Leyte/Cebu islands) (8,000 men, no artillery) B Gen Bradford Chynoweth (stay behind unit)

    Far East Air Force (M Gen George Brett)
    4th Composite Group (includes Philippine Army Air Corps) 12 P26, 3 B10, 2 Beech18D, 12 Steerman, 3 C33 transport, 3 C45 transport
    18th Fighter Group (B Gen Henry Clagett) 18 P35, 40 P36, 12 P26, 4 C45 transport, fighter direction center and radar Nicholas Field, support facilities are Clark Field, auxiliary airfields at Dole Plantation (Mindanao) w 12 fighters (from above) rotating in and out
    assigned but still en route 35th Fighter Group (P39), 12 more P36 (to reinforce 18th Fighter Group), and 24 Lockheed Hudson, due to arrive December 20, 1941

    American Military Mission to China (Lt General Douglas MacArthur) with assorted staff (500 people)
    American Volunteer Group (Claire Chennault, with 12 P40 Rangoon, 36 P40 Kunming) (completing training)
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    Operation Crusader
  • Fall 1941 The new British Generals
    In August 1941 General Alan Brooke arrives in Egypt to take control over the situation. The costly (in terms of assets committed) sideshows in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Italian East Africa have been won by Wavell, who was also blamed by Churchill for the failure of the embarrassing debacle of Operation Battle Axe in June. With Brooke is his pick to take over the newly formed 8th Army, Bernard Montgomery, who has done wonders in turning morale and training around for the Southeastern Command in Britain, the vital army level command that would have been responsible for dealing with Operation Sealion had it occurred during the summer. The German turn to the east and invasion of the Soviet Union, and the American entry into the war has made a German invasion of England a dead letter. Monty, as he is soon known, thus not only has experience commanding an army, but soon to be joining him are 3 divisions from Britain, which arrive on monthly intervals beginning September 1941. The first is the 10th Armored Division which is equipped with the American M3 Stuart for both of its armored brigades although it lacks a separate motorized infantry brigade. Previously the British 1st Cavalry Division, the formation only becomes the 10th Armored Division in November, just before the start of Crusader. Although consisting of prewar Regulars and Yeomanry, the division is still highly inexperienced in armored warfare. It is transferred from Palestine in September. Its arrival however spells the departure of the 7th Australian Division which is sent to Ceylon (in part) and home to Australia to provide cadre for the Australian Militia Divisions.

    The next to arrive is the British 2nd Infantry Division, another pre-war division that performed sterling work in France, but only 2,500 of its 13,000 men managed to make it home. Among those killed were several dozen massacred by the SS and the survivors have a bone to pick with the Germans, which they have transferred to the recruits that have been trained since. Major General John Grover, its commander, is a favorite of Brooke’s who has high expectations for the Division and its commander. Shortly after, in the middle of October is the British 18th Infantry Division, a Yeomanry unit which has thus far been untested but has been training for some time for desert combat. By October 29, the Australian 9th Division and the 2nd New Zealand Division have also left for Ceylon (with parts going home) where General Freyburg is made commander of the Ceylon garrison as senior officer present. All 3 ANZAC divisions are at half strength when they arrive on Ceylon but are training replacement drafts by the start of December. The sole remaining ANZAC division in the Middle East is the 6th Australian, which is also absorbing replacements and is garrisoning Cyprus. Just as painful for Brooke in losing these near elite quality troops is the return of the 4th and 5th Indian Divisions to India and which are needed as their experienced professional cadre is desperately needed to train the Indian Army However Brooke also loses responsibility for Iraq, the Persian Gulf and Persia, which now fall under the authority of New Delhi and thus are no longer his problem.

    This leave the 8th Army with the following forces as of November 1, 1941
    Tobruk Fortress: MGen Ronald Scobie w 70th Infantry Division under his personal command and attached to his division is the Polish Carpathian Rifle brigade (which includes a Czech battalion) and the 32nd Tank Brigade (Matilda II tanks).
    XVIII Corps MGen Goodwin-Austen
    2nd Infantry Division w 1st Army Tank Brigade (Matilda II/Valentine II/IV) attached
    1st South African Division w 4th Armored Brigade (Crusader tanks) attached
    XXX Corps ( Lt General Vyvyan Pope)
    10th Armored Division (with 9th Armored Brigade detached and attachment of 22nd Guards Motorized Infantry Brigade)
    18th Infantry Division with 7th Armored Brigade (A10 Cruiser/A13 Cruiser/Crusader Cruiser) attached
    Army level reserves
    7th Armored Division (MGen Gott) w 4th Armored Brigade (M3 Stuarts), 22nd Armored Brigade (Crusaders) and 9th Armored Brigade (M3 Stuart) plus 7th Support Group (3 artillery, 2 infantry battalions) and 29th Indian Infantry Brigade attached (only remaining Indian Army unit remaining in Mideast)

    General Norrie is given command of the nascent 9th Army which has the Cyprus garrison as well as the 2nd South African Division (in Palestine) and newly arrived 1st Armored Division (Egypt and in training) and 56th London Infantry Division (Syria with the Arab Legion) and 8th Armored Division which is a depot division at this point having been raided for its combat troops, tanks and transport to fill out other units.

    Thus Montgomery has 4 divisions to launch his attack, plus a reinforced division in reserve and another reinforced division in Tobruk. Monty orders his troops to train relentlessly, and having read over the lessons of Battleaxe and earlier, orders that the tanks assigned to the infantry are not to run off and leave their support, as artillery and infantry can kill antitank guns that can kill his tanks. By pleading the case that the shuffling of forces and the arrival of so many units new to the Mideast make it necessary, General Alan Brooke persuades Churchill to reign in his impatience until the new target date of December 1, which also means that a new rail and fuel pipeline is completed from the Nile Delta to the Egyptian / Libyan Border.

    Facing him is Panzergruppe Afrika with the 15th and 21st Panzer Divisions (with 260 tanks including 69 Mark II, 76 Mark III w 37 mm guns, 60 Mark III w 50 mm short barrel guns, 31 Panzer IV w 75 short barrel guns) stationed between Bardia and Tobruk, the 90th Light Division (renamed only recently) near Tobruk, and the mostly motorized Italian 55th Division Savona (which is a brigade in size). Also attached is Italian Division Pavia manning the border fortifications along the Egyptian/Libyan border, while the Italian XX Mobile Corps with the Italian Ariete Armored Division and Trieste Motorized Division (with 189 tanks between them) and the Italian XXI Corps with Divisions Brescia, Trento and Bologna (all three are 2 brigade divisions) which are manning the perimeter opposite of Tobruk and are preparing for an offensive on December 4.

    In the air, the British have 616 serviceable aircraft, the German/Italians have 342 serviceable). Both sides have airfields near enough to the front to be a serious nuisance to one another and the opposing ground troops. The two sides each have 120,000 men available for the battle.

    Operation Crusader
    The British begin on December 1, just after midnight, with a massive artillery barrage aimed at the border defenses which are then attacked by the 1st South African and 18th British along with their supporting armor just before dawn. The Italian infantry are badly handled and many become casualties or are routed and two large holes are made in the border defenses and their minefields are soon being cleared by attached Royal Engineers. General Rommel is initially surprised as he was not expecting a British attack until later in the month, and had planned his own assault to wrong foot them. A recent change in American codes brought about after a review of Operation Chariot robbed him of information he had been getting from Cairo through intercepts of the American Brown Code, and tight British security and some misdirection had robbed his signals intelligence people their usual fount of information. Rommel had been discussing the proposed assault on Tobruk with the commanders of the Italian XX and XXI Corps and thus takes some time to reach his forward headquarters. By that point the 90th Light Division and Division Savonia have been rushed to establish a line from Bardia south.

    British casualties are relatively light and by the next day the British 2nd Infantry and 10th Armored Divisions have leap frogged through the South African and British initial assault forces and are bearing down on Sidi Omar and Maddalena. On December 2, the Afrika Korps (both panzer divisions) attacks the flank and front of the 10th Armored Division, wrecking 8th Armored Brigade which in its inexperience manages to get separated from its supporting infantry and the Guards Brigade is soon fighting a desperate defensive battle. Monty however has been expecting this, and orders the 18th British Division to maintain contact and prevent any flanking assault and Monty commits the 7th Armored Division to a counterattack of the Africa Corps.

    Over the next three days of swirling and confusing combat, the Germans lose 120 tanks, the British 240, but neither side is able to break the other. This allows the XVIII Corps and General Goodwin Austin to continue the drive on Copuzzo, taking it on December 6, and forcing the Italians to commit their XX Motor Corps to prevent Bardia from being cut off. The Italians suffer severe losses as the British tank brigades remain close at hand to assist their infantry and 104 Italian tanks are lost to only 50 British tanks. The Italians are forced to retreat to El Adem on December 9, and this now threatens the rear of the Afrika Korps. General Rommel is now in crisis, as his flanks are seriously threatened and his tank losses have been heavy, as have losses in everything else. Only the determined efforts by the wrecked XX Italian Corps and the 90th Light Division (and survivors of Division Savonia) are holding the British to a slow pace, but it has become a steady one. He has had to pull his armor back as the first attempts to flank the British have failed.

    Monty meanwhile is pleased but has had to pull the 10th Armored out of the fight to regroup and it remains in reserve while the 18th Infantry and 7th Armored Division are essentially firmly committed as flank guard while the entire XVIII Corps pushes slowly but relentlessly toward Tobruk. Brooke meanwhile decides to gamble and commits the 1st Armored to the 8th Army has a new reserve and sends it by train and transport truck to Mersa Motruh on December 10. Rommel is running out of options and it is becoming increasingly clear that the British will achieve a link up with Tobruk within days unless he tries something desperate. On December 11 he does just that, breaking clear of the XXX Corps and making a dash for the wire with his two panzer divisions, while pulling the 90th Light Division away from XVIII Corps to delay any XXX Corps advance. The 10th Armored is alerted to the move and shifts to meet it but blunders into the German advance and its armored regiments, already at seriously reduced strength, are slaughtered one by one and the 22nd Guards Infantry and much of the division support group is badly mangled and forced west away from the attacking Germans. However the Germans still suffer some losses themselves, and the timely arrival of the 1st Armored Division, even though ineptly fought, is just enough to reduce Rommel to barely 25 operational tanks. His infantry strength of his two panzer divisions has fallen to around 40% and ammunition and fuel shortages are critical. He has no choice but to retreat the way he came, brushing aside a counterattack by the 22nd Armored Brigade that attempts to cut him off and returning to his starting point near Gabr Saleh on December 14. That same day, the Carpathian Brigade and British tanks attack and wreck half of the Italian Bolgona division, threatening the rear of the Italian XX Corps which is forced to retreat to Bir el Haiad. With the British 1st Armored Division in close pursuit, the XXX Corps threatening to overwhelm the 90th Light Division, and the XVIII Corps having now isolated Bardia (and the rest of the Bologna Division and remnants of the Italian Pavia Division, and his German troops at 30% strength (and falling), the Italian divisions that have fought thus far in similar shape, and no hope of immediate reinforcement, Rommel is forced to order a retreat on December 16.

    Gradually falling back, with scratch forces fighting delaying actions all the way, the Germans and Italian XX Corps falls back toward El Agheila, while the Italian XXI Corps retreats to Benghazi. With one armored division wrecked and out of action (the 10th), both other armored divisions at seriously reduced strength (50% tank strength), and his infantry having suffered 30% casualties in infantry and tanks, Montgomery advances carefully and mindful of his flanks. The 1st South Africans, with naval and air support, takes Bardia (and 2,000 German and 6,000 Italian prisoners, including the wreckage of Divisions Pavia and Bologna) on December 22, while the 2nd British and 70th British link up on December 19.

    Happy to have achieved the victory he has one, Montgomery ceases the battle on December 22, and orders his men to dig in along the Gazala line running from Gazala to Bir Hakeim. Montgomery also requests every available land mine and as many replacements as he can get and begins shifting his logistics and RAF airfields closer to the new front. Rommel meanwhile waits for reinforcements and replacements at El Agheila, while the Italians send reinforcements and replacements to Benghazi.

    The British 8th Army and General Montgomery have won a costly but important victory at the cost of 20,000 casuaties and 400 tanks versus Axis losses of 40,000 men and 300 tanks. For the remainder of the year the two forces remain at rest as they recover from the fierce three week battle which allows their troops to enjoy a Christmas meal in a base camp instead of on the march.
    Chapter Four Pacific Onslaught
  • The Pacific Onslaught December 1941

    The Japanese move south
    The Pacific War begins between the Japanese Empire and the United States, British Empire and Dutch Empire at 00:30 hours on December 8 when Japanese landing forces from the Takumi Detachment begin landing covered by artillery support from the Japanese fleet at Kota Bharu on the eastern shore of the Malayan peninsula. It is but the first of the Japanese assaults that day. The Japanese attack Guam, Hong Kong, Luzon, Mindanao, and Wake Island, while more troops and ships move south toward British Borneo and into Thailand. These blows are powerful and well-orchestrated and only the first steps of what will be called the Japanese Centrifugal Offensive in later years by American military historians.

    Wake Island and Guam
    The first blows fall in Malaya, but as dawn breaks over the Pacific, the Kido Butai, with six fleet carriers escorted by fast battleships, cruisers and destroyers launches a massive strike at Wake Island, where intelligence had reported an operational airfield and Marine fighter squadron. The intelligence is wrong in part, as the airfield is indeed operational but the Marine squadron has not yet arrived, indeed is at Midway instead, and the American defenders find themselves under the brunt of a massive airstrike by nearly 300 strike aircraft and fighters which inflicts massive casualties on the civilians who have but tents and sand dunes to hide behind, the Marines who have but some slit trenches and a few completed bunkers, and completely wreck every significant gun positions, the water supply, electrical supply and nearly every structure. The Pan Am Philippine Clipper narrowly escapes as it has just left before the strike (and indeed sees the initial force coming in the distance and provides a little warning). The island falls on December 11 after additional harassment bombing from Japanese medium bombers operating from the Marshall Islands and a brief naval bombardment. Of the 400 Marines and 1200 American civilians on the island, only 150 Marines and 700 civilians survive to enter captivity and another 30% of both die in captivity. Only a handful of American officers survive, with First Lieutenant Woodrow Kessler (in spite of severe wounds) forced to surrender to the Japanese as everyone above him was already dead. The Marines on Guam surrendered the day before, facing odds equally overpowering (although fortunately with far fewer casualties). The Japanese carrier force meanwhile steams south to refuel before moving on Midway on December 13.

    The Philippines
    The Japanese begin airstrikes on the Philippines on December 8, hammering American airfields into wreckage and in spite of a gallant defense by the outmoded and compared to the Japanese Zero fighter, obsolete P35 and P36 fighters of the American Far East Air Force, only 24 of the 58 American fighters remain operational at the end of the day, and 12 of those survive by the happening to be at Dole Field instead of Clark Field. Further Japanese air strikes on December 10 level the American naval yard at Cavite while sinking a pair of American S type submarines that were under refit, as well as numerous other craft and several merchant ships in Manila Bay and General Stilwell is already moving his troops into position to institute his modifications to War Plan Orange and when merchant shipping flees the Philippines over the next few days he sends over 6,000 American and other Allied civilians with them (and 95% make it out successfully), as well as several thousand Filipino civilian government employees and every American sailor not assigned to a ship except for the Marine Barracks Detachment and the Radio Intercept unit at Corregidor. They, along with a handful of support ships, gunboats, minesweepers and PT boats will stay to the end, while prepositioned torpedo and fuel stocks scattered among the various islands in the central Philippines will keep the submarines operating in the forward area as long as possible. The rest of the US Navy retires to the Dutch East Indies. The Japanese begin landing in force on December 10 at Legaspi, and their main landing begins at Lingayen Bay on December 22. By that point the remains of the USAAFFE is limited to scouting and courier missions.

    Meanwhile the entry of Japan into the war causes a major command change in the Pacific. General Krueger in Hawaii is made commander of all US Army Forces in the Pacific Ocean Area, which is subordinate to Admiral King who is Commander in Chief American Forces Pacific Theater, and Lieutenant General Millard Harmon is assigned command of US Army Air Forces Pacific Ocean Area. This puts Lieutenant General Stillwell and his command in the Philippines directly under Krueger and unifies the command for the entire theater. King is ordered to pursue War Plan Orange, while the United States Navy orders unrestricted submarine warfare to begin against Japan on December 8 shortly before midnight. Among the first orders to Stillwell from Hawaii is that he is to ensure that he is not trapped on Corregidor and he is to move himself and his headquarters to a position to coordinate and lead the planned stay behind campaign from among the islands as long as possible. The Manila Bay Command is placed under General Wainwright (consisting of I Corps and Harbor Defense Command) while II Corps under Sharp operates in the southern islands. By December 9 a full scale movement of food supplies, fuel, spares (that can be obtained) and support units is underway to Bataan, while civilians are being evacuated out of the region. By the time the Japanese make their landings they face only token resistance from Philippine National Army units which then flee into the hills per their prewar orders. The Japanese reach Manila on Christmas Day to find it empty of American forces and practically everything that could have been moved. The campaign for the conquest of the Philippines has many months to go.

    Admiral King finds that he is completely unready for an immediate battle. Of his four carriers, the Saratoga is in Bremerton completing refit, the Lexington is at San Diego picking up a Marine Air Group (which was destined for Wake Island), the Yorktown is still at Panama, and the Enterprise is escorting a convoy (and carrying an Army Fighter Group) to Samoa. The only combat forces in the Hawaiian area are 8 fleet submarines (as the rest are west of the dateline or undergoing training or refit on the West Coast) plus a handful of submarines, cruisers and destroyers patrolling the Hawaiian Islands. He does have a Marine Air Group at Midway, another at Ewa Field, plus patrol aircraft and a of course the Army Air Force Fighter Wing to defend his base. On December 14, patrol planes out of Midway pick up the Japanese fleet approaching from the west (clearly coming from the Mandates), and he can only hope the fighter pilots at Hawaii and Midway can defend their bases. He orders his submarines to engage as they can, but King refuses to order his carriers to expedite their current missions and return to Hawaii. Instead, he orders them to assemble off San Diego and places Admiral Halsey in command with orders to steam west as a unified force once the Japanese objective is clear.

    Over the last few months, King has exercised his carriers extensively including a full fleet problem near Panama, and he has studied the lessons of Operation Chariot over the last two weeks. Already the US Navy has discovered that 2 carriers operating together are far more than the sum of their parts, and the old prewar idea of single carriers operating separately is discredited in his eyes. Chariot showed that four carriers provide greater advantages still, and it is clear to him that the Japanese find that 6 carriers is well worth the concentration of force. He will not throw his fighting units against the Japanese piecemeal.

    Yamamoto, commander of the Japanese Combined Fleet, is to be disappointed in his hopes. A gambler, he had hoped that the destruction of Wake Island and obvious threat to Midway would cause the Americans to commit the 3 carriers he knows they have to battle near Hawaii to defend their base. With six of his own, and in personal command himself, he hoped to destroy them and cripple the US Navy for many months to come. He is forced to instead settle for the First Air Fleet inflicting massive damage to the installations and Marine Air Group at Midway, where for the loss of 21 aircraft the Japanese flatten every structure, badly crater the airfield, and shoot down or destroy on the ground all but a handful of aircraft by sheer weight of numbers and the US Marine Corps having a tactics disadvantage in the first meeting of the Wildcat vs the Zero. The US Navy and Marine Corps would soon learn to adjust their tactics but the initial lesson is a costly one. The Japanese leave the area unscathed aside from their aircraft losses as none of the American submarines successfully intercepts the enemy or in the case of 2 of the fleet boats, manages to score a successful hit.

    This problem with the American Fleet Submarines at Midway is but the first of the many issues that would plague this arm of the fleet for some time to come. Problems are also noted in the Philippines, where several commanders are relieved, while the conditions in Lingayen Gulf make successful attacks difficult and 5 of the S Boats are lost in the first month of the war. It has become painfully clear that the submarine is no coast defense weapon and King orders his submarines to concentrate on enemy merchant shipping henceforth except for while scouting or other vital missions for the fleet. King would become incensed when the first results of the Fleet Submarine patrols come in with pitiful results in spite of an acceptable number of torpedoes fired. By the end of January 1942 he orders a full scale investigation into what seems to him a failure of his submarine arm and possibly its weapons.

    The American carrier fleet reaches Hawaii at the end of December and finds the Japanese have long gone. A long war has only just begun.

    Field Marshal Wavell arrives in Singapore on December 1 to find that his command has very limited forces. A situation he has become sadly familiar with over the course of his war so far. He has 2 divisions of the III Corps (Heath) in Malaya. The 11th Indian and 8th Australian are both only partially trained, and of course are raw. A few other battalions are available for the defense of Singapore himself, and his local commander, General Percival seems questionable to him almost immediately. For an air force he has only 4 squadrons of fighters, 4 squadrons of bombers, 2 of torpedo bombers and some patrol aircraft. None of his aircraft would be considered first line in Europe or North Africa, and a significant number of the RAF airfields are essentially indefensible and only one on Singapore Island itself has close to adequate air defense artillery. The Royal Navy is similarly limited in size and capabilities. No capital ships are available, only a few cruisers and an inadequate number of submarines and destroyers. Plus of course some essentially helpless gunboats and a few antisubmarine warfare sloops. The Navy has promised a fleet, and indeed one is heading toward the Indian Ocean. However that fleet is currently at Capetown and still assembling when the war begins on December 8.

    Within a week of the beginning of the war he has seen most of his air force wiped out, the city of Singapore (and its important naval base) is under frequent air attack and the 11th Indian Division has been wrecked and reduced to remnants. He relieves General Percival and sends him to India for Auchinleck to find a job for, and appoints Health local commander and asks Churchill for any help that can be sent. But nothing will come until January at the earliest. For now he orders the Australians to fight a delaying action as best they can while Heath tries to rebuild the 11th Indian into some kind of combat effectiveness using local garrison battalions and survivors of its wrecked battalions. Wavell has found that the Japanese are far more potent than prewar intelligence or his own belief had led him to expect and once again he is facing debacle just as in Greece a few months before.

    Burma and India
    Auchinleck, commander of British Imperial Forces covering an area from the Persian Gulf to Persia to India to Burma has an equally challenging job as Wavell. However he has a bit more to work with. In India he has a capable commander in the General Hutton but initially the Burma Corps has the inadequately trained 17th Indian and 1st Burma Divisions, and neither is able to stop the Japanese drive. Auchenleck orders the 9th Indian Division to expedite its movement from Persia to India and to instead be sent to Rangoon, while the stripping Persia and Iraq of every aircraft that can be found that is serviceable. General Alexander arrives in January, and Auchinleck puts him to work assembling units that arrive from Persia into a fighting force as they arrive while ordering Hutton to hold as long as he can.

    Meanwhile the Chinese and General Macarthur as well are keenly worried about the Japanese threat to the Burma road and assemble a field army (which is corps sized) to move south to defend it. The American general takes the field himself with his staff and flies to Mandalay to take personal command, which annoys General Luo_Zhuoying (who helped win the victory at Changsha last year) immensely. By the end of December the stage has been set for a major fight in Burma.

    However in China the news that the United States is at war with Japan is met with considerable relief and not a little amount of joy.
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