View Full Version : One of the Greatest Debates in US Navy History!
I love seeing the polls that occasionally pop up on the forum so I thought I would create one!
One of my favorite points of contention in World War II is the battles of the Phillipine Sea and Leyte Gulf where essentially the same possiblities came up and two admirals chose two very different solutions.
Of Course at Phillipine Sea Admiral Spruance chose to cover the beachhead and his landing operations, and not chase after the Japanese mobile fleet with the end result of destroying over 400 Japanese aircraft.
At Leyete Gulf Halsey chose the opposite path and went after the IJN Carriers sinking them, but placing the entire Leyte landing in danger in the process resulting in the Battle of Samar.
Who made the right choice in the your opinions?
Spruance's caution...Or Halsey's aggressiveness?
IMHO Spruance made the far wiser choice! And even though Halsey seemed to have far better intel!
I couldn't agree with you more.Spruance had shrewd brain and was able to see beyond his present situation, whatever the circumstances.
Halsey was also shrewd but impetuous-hence his grave error at Leyte.:(
Spruance made the better choice. Halsey only looked at the immediate situation, not the longer, wider, view.
Spruance was "castigated" by armchair Admirals and others for not loosing the carriers from covering the Saipan invasion. As it turned out, the carrier forces were able to totally defeat the Japanese aircraft attacks, but the carriers, due to range and time, failed to slaughter the remaining Japanese carriers. Spruance, despite his accolades from Midway, was still a black-shoe Admiral, and did not understand the potential of the carrier force he had on hand, nor the fact that the Japanese pulling off any kind of "end-around" was nearly impossible with the American carriers on hand. This, however, is a fairly minor error of tactics in the overall picture, since he succeeded in accomplishing the objective of taking Saipan with minimal at-sea losses and prevented the large Japanese Task Force from doing anything but run for it.
At Leyte Gulf, on the other hand, Halsey (and his staff) made a major error in not covering San Bernardino Strait while charging up north in the hopes of destroying what was thought to be a fully loaded carrier task force with heavy escorts. Nothing he did redeemed the initial error, his reputation was saved by the thinnest of margins by a very courageous group of escort carriers, destroyers, and destroyer escorts, supplemented by the usual poor Japanese planning and execution of a sea battle and, as Sprague said, "..the definite partiality of Almighty God.)
Halsey's decision was by far the worst. Had Kurita pressed on, he would have been destroyed anyway, but Halsey's days at sea would have been over.
was still a black-shoe Admiral
Interesting description Don! What does it mean?
A "brown shoe" admiral was one with aviation training and was thus allowed to captain carriers. A "black shoe" admiral had only traditional battleline training and was thus prohibited from captaining carriers. The aviation training meant that they had to go to flight school so you had the unusual situation of naval officers in their fifties learning to fly. Spruance was unusual. He as a black shoe that wasn't allowed to command a carrier itself but did command carrier task forces.
sorry, qpr -- my turn to use Yank-speak!
Naval line officers wore black shoes. Naval aviation officers wear brown shoes -- and I see Keith beat me to it!
Halsey's was by far the more egregious error. I have heard the argument that if Spruance had gone after the carriers then Halsey would not have had the chance to chase after Ozawa. I do not buy this.
Halsey may have had the order that read "if the opportunity can be created", but this is not a good argument in light of the fact that Nimitz had sent a message to Halsey that his main objective was to protect the beach head. It was disregarded and a great many good men were killed as a result.
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