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  #1  
Old 25-06-2012, 08:25
jainso31 jainso31 is offline
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Default Japanese Raid Into The Indian Ocean-1942

Text by courtesy of Wikipedia

The Indian Ocean raid (known in Japan as Operation C)[2] was a naval sortie by the Fast Carrier Strike Force of the Imperial Japanese Navy from 31 March-10 April 1942 against Allied shipping and bases in the Indian Ocean. It was an early engagement of the Pacific campaign of World War II. The Japanese under Chuichi Nagumo compelled the Allied (largely Royal Navy) forces to retreat to East Africa, leaving the Japanese unopposed in the Indian Ocean.

Following the destruction of the American-British-Dutch-Australian Command forces in the battles around Java in February and March, the Japanese sortied into the Indian Ocean to destroy British seapower there and support the invasion of Burma. The Japanese force, commanded by Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, had six carriers: Akagi.Ryujo,Hiryu,Soryu,Shokaku and Zuikaku This powerful force left Staring Bay, Celebes on 26 March 1942.
Signal decrypts provided the British commander of the Eastern Fleet, Vice Admiral Sir James Somerville with warning of the Japanese sortie, and he retreated to Addu Atoll in the Maldive Islands, expecting an attack on 1 or 2 April.
The first raids were against shipping in the Bay of Bengal by the carrier Ryūjō and six cruisers under the command of Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa. They sank 23 ships. Five more were sunk by submarines off India's west coast.
When the expected attack on Ceylon failed to take place, Somerville sent the slow carrier HMS Hermes back to Trincomalee for repairs, escorted by the heavy cruisers HMS Cornwall and Dorsetshire, and the Australian destroyer HMAS Vampire.

On the evening of 4 April, the Japanese fleet was detected 400 mi (350 nmi; 640 km) south of Ceylon by a PBY Catalina flown by Squadron Leader Leonard Birchall of 413 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force. The location of the fleet was transmitted before the Catalina was shot down by a A6M2 Zero fighter from Hiryū
On 5 April 1942, the Japanese struck with a force of 125 aircraft, made up of 36 Aichi D3A2 dive bombers and 53 Nakajima B5N2 torpedo bombers, with 36 Zero fighters as escort. The aircraft, under the command of Commander Mitsuo Fuchida of Akagi—who had led the attack on Pearl Harbor—made landfall near Galle. They flew up the coast for half an hour in full view of everybody, but no one informed the RAF at Ratmalana, whose aircraft were still on the ground as the Japanese flew overhead.
The Japanese attacked the naval base at Colombo, Ceylon, sinking the auxiliary cruiser, HMS Hector and the old destroyer HMS Tenedos in the harbour, but losing a claimed 18 planes to heavy flak (the Japanese only admitted to five, three of them over land—as only three destroyed planes were discovered on land). The RAF lost at least 27 planes. Then Japanese search planes discovered Cornwall and Dorsetshire—commanded by Captain Augustus Agar—200 mi (170 nmi; 320 km) southwest of Ceylon and a second attack wave sank them, killing 424 men. In the late afternoon, just before sunset, at 16:55 and again at 18:00, on April 05 1942, two RN Albacores operating from the RN aircraft carriers made contact with the IJN carriers. One Albacore was shot down and the other damaged before an accurate sighting report could be made, frustrating Admiral Somerville's plans for a retaliatory night strike by his ASV radar equipped Albacore strike bombers. Somerville continued to probe for the IJN carriers on the night of April 05, 1942 but they failed to find the IJN ships, and the RN's only opportunity to launch a strike against enemy aircraft carriers faded away.
On 6 April heavy cruisers Kumano and Suzuya with destroyer Shirakumo sank the British Steamships Silksworth, Autolycus, Malda and Shinkuang and the American Steamship Exmoor. Also on 6 April, the Indian sloop HMIS Indus was sunk by air attack off the coast of Burma, off Ak

On 9 April, the Japanese attacked the harbor at Trincomalee at 07:00. The British again had warning of the attack, and the carrier Hermes and her escorts had left the night before. They were returning to port when they were discovered at 08:55. Hermes had no aircraft on board, and so was defenceless when 70 bombers attacked her at 10:35 off Batticaloa. Hit 40 times, Hermes sank with the loss of 307 men. The destroyer HMAS Vampire and the corvette HMS Hollyhock were also sunk.
The hospital ship Vita later picked up 590 survivors. The RAF lost at least eight Hawker Hurricanes and the Fleet Air Arm one Fairey Fulmar. The Japanese lost five bombers and six fighters, one in a suicide attack on the Trincomalee fuel tanks.
During the day, nine of the Royal Air Force’s No. 11 Squadron Bristol Blenheim bombers made the first ever Allied air attack against Nagumo's Carrier Force. Bombing from 11,000 ft (3300 m) they scored no hits while losing five of their number to the Striking Force's Combat Air Patrol A6M2 Zeroes, four over the IJN Carriers and one due to an encounter with IJN aircraft returning from the Hermes raid, but in return shot down one Zero.

The sortie demonstrated Japanese superiority in carrier operations, and exposed the unprofessional manner in which the RAF was run in the East, but it did not destroy British naval power in the Indian Ocean. It is arguable that, by making full use of signal intercepts, decryption, reconnaissance and superior radar, Somerville was able to save his fast carriers HMS Indomitable and Formidable to fight another day. However, it might equally be said that the blunders made by the Royal Navy meant that the main fleet from Addu was not able to make contact with Nagumo's force as it intended.
An invasion was feared by the British, who interpreted the Japanese failure to do so as due to heavy losses over Ceylon—and hence led to claims of a British victory. However, in reality the Japanese did not have the men, shipping or land based air power to spare for an invasion and occupation and were not even in a position to make a temporary occupation as a raid. The island did not face a real threat of invasion at any point during the war.I do not wholly agree with this Para
The island of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) was strategically important, since it commanded the Indian Ocean. Thus it controlled access to India, the vital Allied shipping routes to the Middle East and the oilfields of the Persian Gulf. Ceylon held most of the British Empire's resources of rubber. An important harbor and naval base, Trincomalee, was located on the island’s eastern coast. Japanese propaganda had an effect on many of the Sinhalese population, who now awaited their arrival.
The raid had allowed the Imperial Japanese Navy to demonstrate their mastery of the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal and their ability to seize territory by capturing the Andaman Islands. Despite losses, the British fleet escaped conflict by retiring; in view of the overwhelming superiority of the Japanese, particularly in carrier operations, this seems to have been a wise decision by Admiral Somerville. Japanese plans were already made for a submarine base on the island of Madagascar to attack Allied shipping routes; now a weakened Ceylon invited invasion, possibly with limited objectives, like the taking of Trincomalee, a more convenient base.
That the British expected invasion—from their mastery of Japanese codes and other sources—is borne out by a speech, the C. in C. of Ceylon, Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton, made in mid-April, to personnel of the damaged airfield, at China Bay in Trincomalee Harbor. He warned them, ‘The Japanese Fleet has retired to Singapore, to refuel and rearm, and to organise an invasion force, which we think is coming back to attack us.’ He ended by saying, ‘He was going for re-enforcements, while you men here, must be prepared to fight to the last man to stop the Japanese.' The Admiral’s speech had a negative effect on personnel, particularly his reference to leaving the island for re-enforcements; afterwards he became known as ‘Runaway Layton’.
However, the expected Japanese invasion of Ceylon never took place; the First Carrier Striking Force was recalled to Japan, due to events far away in the Pacific.

The Doolittle Raid of 18 April 1942 was the first air raid by the U.S. on the Japanese home islands during World War II. The totally unexpected raid on Tokyo, the capital and home of the Emperor, caused little damage, but had strong effects in the Japanese High Command. U.S. bombers had flown near the Imperial Palace, insulting their Emperor; more important was their realization that the home islands were now vulnerable to U.S. air attack. The Imperial Japanese Navy had responsibility for securing the ‘Pacific Frontier’, thus would have to fix the problem.
Their Commander in Chief—Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto—now took charge of a complex operation, which would involve the taking of Midway Island, with the luring of U.S. Navy aircraft carriers into a fatal battle. Instead, in June 1942, the U.S. Navy would turn the tables and all four aircraft carriers of the First Striking Force would be sunk at the Battle of Midway, thus depriving the IJN of the ability to conduct long range strategic attacks.
Three British army divisions came to strengthen Ceylon’s defences against a possible internal anti-British uprising; also measures to improve morale ensued, such as ensuring Sinhalese food rations were increased. Several minor mutinies against the British by native soldiers were quickly put down. Admiral Sir G. Layton remained in Ceylon for most of the war. Later, Ceylon would become an important base for the planned retaking of Malaya and Singapore.
The main question about this Japanese action is-WHY DID THEY NOT RETURN AND FINISH THE TASK BY INVASION???
jainso31

Last edited by jainso31 : 25-06-2012 at 13:31.
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  #2  
Old 25-06-2012, 10:57
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Default Re: Japanese Raid Into The Indian Ocean-1942

Jim: As a side note ton your reference to Squadron Leader Leonard Birchall, this gentleman went on to retire from the RCAF as an Air Commodore and remained active in military affairs. Number 413 Squadron remains active today as 413 (Transport and Rescue) Squadron based at CFB Greenwood, Nova Scotia. This is one of two rescue squadrons in Atlantic Canada and it is equipped with CC130H Hercules and CH 149 Cormorant (EH101) helicopters.
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Old 25-06-2012, 11:04
jainso31 jainso31 is offline
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Default Re: Japanese Raid Into The Indian Ocean-1942

Good morning Brian-re Birchall thank you for the snippet-all I can say is "You guys are everywhere".Regarding 413 Squadron it certainly has lasted a lot longer than some our once famous RAF Squadrons.

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Old 25-06-2012, 11:32
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Default Re: Japanese Raid Into The Indian Ocean-1942

But Jim you have answered your own question:

Quote:
The Doolittle Raid of 18 April 1942 was the first air raid by the U.S. on the Japanese home islands during World War II. The totally unexpected raid on Tokyo, the capital and home of the Emperor, caused little damage, but had strong effects in the Japanese High Command. U.S. bombers had flown near the Imperial Palace, insulting their Emperor; more important was their realization that the home islands were now vulnerable to U.S. air attack. The Imperial Japanese Navy had responsibility for securing the ‘Pacific Frontier’, thus would have to fix the problem.
So they were diverted by more important issues!

It seems to me that the Japanese did not intend to invade immediately (if at all), just to eliminate Allied naval power which they failed to do thanks to timing and Somerville's prudence.

It would have been very interesting had the Albacores been able to make their night attack - at the time I believe only the RN had experience with night attacks (e.g. Taranto), but in this case it was ships at sea. I suspect they would not have scored any hits, but it might have been somewhat disconcerting for the Japanese! No doubt it would have caused an all out hunt for the British carriers, which if found would certainly have been doomed.
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Old 25-06-2012, 11:47
David Verghese David Verghese is offline
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Default Re: Japanese Raid Into The Indian Ocean-1942

"The main question about this Japanese action is-WHY DID THEY NOT RETURN AND FINISH THE TASK BY INVASION???
jainso31"

The question posed is loosely but reasonably answered within the text of the article copied in post#1, namely:

"However, in reality the Japanese did not have the men, shipping or land based air power to spare for an invasion and occupation and were not even in a position to make a temporary occupation as a raid. The island did not face a real threat of invasion at any point during the war."

This raid I see as a fairly improvised/somewhat exploratory but somewhat punitive excursion into the Indian Ocean. Burma was a key strategic objective for Japan in terms of occupying the countries in its 'Co-prosperity sphere'. By seeing off the British naval and air capability around Ceylon and the Bay of Bengal this would provide a protective western buffer for their intended conquest of Burma. Thus it was 'job done' with respect to the raid into the Indian Ocean, and a follow up invasion would have divided forces and resources unnecessarily.

There were now much more important strategic operations for consideration and execution by Japan's military and naval planners.

The Imperial Japanese fleets were called back to prepare for offensive operations to occupy the Port Moresby/New Guinea area (what would become the Battle of the Coral Sea) and to then, most importantly, neutralise the Pacfic Fleet of the US Navy (their attempt would become Midway).

A small nucleus of Forum Members has discussed the details of Operation C (Sakusen C) into the Indian Ocean, namely at:

http://www.worldnavalships.com/forum...hlight=Sakusen

David
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  #6  
Old 25-06-2012, 11:52
jainso31 jainso31 is offline
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Default Re: Japanese Raid Into The Indian Ocean-1942

Notwithstanding the Doolittle Raid and it's effect on the IJA high Command
I was trying to produce a "How can the Japanese do better" thread rather than a "How can the British do worse" thread.

Historically, the IJA was interested in cutting off supplies from India to China and some officers were interested in developing the Indian National Army. However, this wasn't something that they were willing to make a serious effort over.
My view is that the IJA decides that these are important and that the IJN realises that the British will soon be able to launch carrier attacks against Sumatra unless they are pushed further away
However, the critical step would be to land some INA troops ASAP. Even if the INA troops are poorly equipped and trained for battle, they could be sent to carry out sabotage deep behind British lines.
I am guessing that initial success would lead to a complete collapse of British India and thus that the British would eventually be faced with a hostile India under Bose when Japan surrenders.

Remember the POW and Repulse were sunk in December 1941 and by April 1942 and the IJA had started, what was to be longest retreat for the British Army,an advance up through Burma.
I have looked at the possible Albacore attack but did not give it a great deal of credence for the reasons that you have put forward.

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Old 25-06-2012, 12:11
jainso31 jainso31 is offline
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David -thank you for giving this a look-I have to agree that the text does state categorically:-
"However, in reality the Japanese did not have the men, shipping or land based air power to spare for an invasion and occupation and were not even in a position to make a temporary occupation as a raid. The island did not face a real threat of invasion at any point during the war."
My own view is that the Japanese failed to strike while the iron was hot ,as it were but where would the men come from???
A force similar in size to the Java invasion force, approximately two divisions, would be landed to take a port on the East Coast somewhere South of Calcutta. Either Kakinada, or Visakhapatnam seem to be the obvious objectives. Those ports are at the edge of the radius of action for Zeroes from Southern Burma, so some carriers are needed to support the landing.
Clearly Japan had far more than two divisions available from Manchuria if from nowhere else. There were also the divisions used on Java although those were also needed on New Guinea.

The Japanese Planning Board would be screaming that the transports were needed for normal imports; but the possibility of China collapsing trumps that worry!
Also in 1942 in preparation for a possible Japanese invasion of India, the British began improvements to the Kodaikanal-Munnar Road to facilitate its use as an evacuation route from Kodaikanal along the southern crest of the Palani Hills to Top Station. Existing roads then continued to Munnar and down to Cochin where British ships would be available for evacuation out of India.
I appreciate that this all pure supposition; but without my making a case for the possibility of a land invasion of India-I would have to agree there is not a real purpose to this thread.

jainso31

Last edited by jainso31 : 25-06-2012 at 12:39.
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Old 25-06-2012, 23:12
jainso31 jainso31 is offline
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Default Re: Japanese Raid Into The Indian Ocean-1942

I don't know if the invasion will succeed but it is certainly well within Japan's capacity to put two divisions ashore with supplies (essentially a repeat of the Java invasion). There were at least 12 divisions in Manchuria at the start of the war although some may have moved during early 1942. There were at least 5 others in Korea and Japan. I am assuming that they decide that the British Indian Army will mutiny and join them. They would have some evidence on their side as 40,000 out of 55,000 Indian prisoners in Malaya had joined the INA..


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Old 26-06-2012, 04:30
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Default Re: Japanese Raid Into The Indian Ocean-1942

The answer lies as normal : What was their mission ? Did they achieve it ?

IMO the mission was to remove the Royal Navy from the eastern side of the Indian Ocean. They did it very well and returned home.

That is it in a nutshell.

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Old 26-06-2012, 06:50
jainso31 jainso31 is offline
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Thank you for your usual succinct reply Brian but I must point out that my question about this action was-Should the Japanese have made an attempt to invade India;and because they did not -why not???

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Old 26-06-2012, 11:07
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jainso31 View Post
Thank you for your usual succinct reply Brian but I must point out that my question about this action was-Should the Japanese have made an attempt to invade India;and because they did not -why not???

jainso31
Oops ! Jim, I will leave that to members far more knowlegeable than myself who have commented in this thread and the one on Operation C (Sakusen C). I am an old ship driver , hypothetical invasion by armies is not an area I follow..

Brian
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Old 26-06-2012, 11:17
jainso31 jainso31 is offline
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Default Re: Japanese Raid Into The Indian Ocean-1942

Nevertheless Brian-I do appreciate your interest and I can well understand your stance.
Kia Kaha

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Old 26-06-2012, 18:05
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Default Re: Japanese Raid Into The Indian Ocean-1942

I would think that an invasion of India at that stage would have been a logistical nightmare for the Japanese - streching their resources, already heavily committed in China and the rest of south-east Asia taking the fight to the Allied forces, to the limit.

At the time they needed to consolidate their gains and eliminate Allied ability to counter-attack. As far as maintaining their seized territories, Australia was a far more important country to subdue than India. As it were their advance towards Australia was stopped at the Coral Sea battle and the tide began to turn against them anyway.

Had they been successful at defeating the US at Coral Sea and Midway and the isolating Australia, I suspect India would eventually have been in their sights.

Does that make sense or am I out to lunch?
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Old 26-06-2012, 18:39
jainso31 jainso31 is offline
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Default Re: Japanese Raid Into The Indian Ocean-1942

No Paul-that makes perfect sense-I was only playing devil's advocate in an attempt to get answers as to why, when they seemingly were on a roll;the Japanese did not attempt to get some sort of foothold in India at that time.
I saw the argument elsewhere, regarding the plan and where the resources would come from- NB. Yamashita took Malaya and Singapore with only four Infantry Divisions.His losses were 10000 against 138000 (10 Divisions) Allied Forces, when Singapore fell on 15th Feb.1942 and this was two months before the IJN foray into the Indian Ocean.
After this the British expected invasion and Nippon was in the ascendency -there was a case for them to invade and ease the the long Burma campaign.

jainso31

Last edited by jainso31 : 26-06-2012 at 19:19.
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Old 26-06-2012, 19:20
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Originally Posted by Paul C. View Post
It would have been very interesting had the Albacores been able to make their night attack - at the time I believe only the RN had experience with night attacks (e.g. Taranto), but in this case it was ships at sea. I suspect they would not have scored any hits, but it might have been somewhat disconcerting for the Japanese! No doubt it would have caused an all out hunt for the British carriers, which if found would certainly have been doomed.
This might not be relevant, but since you mentioned Taranto it might be of interest that Cunningham was quite critical of the early far eastern fleet, especially of the Admirality who chose to deploy PoW, but also in general. He felt that they didn't have the experience in fighting against airpower that the Mediterranean Fleet had. Many of the ships and crews were redeployed Home Fleet ships used to the Atlantic, therefore not used to operating against airpower.

I'm writing this on my iPad, so I won't be able to elaborate much on this for now. I just thought it might be interesting to consider. Cunningham could be too opinionated, but it might be that the standard in British ships was not uniform across fleets.

Other than that you pose a very interesting point Paul, unaware of british night capacity and without CAP, the Japaneese might have gotten an unwelcome surprise, but I'm not qualified to guess at an outcome.

Other than that, I think you are correct in your assessment in your later post about India. If they hadn't subdued Australia India would have been a nightmare, especially if insurrections and fighting where still going on in China
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Last edited by Werlin : 26-06-2012 at 19:22. Reason: Its easy to make typos on an iPad
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Old 26-06-2012, 19:30
jainso31 jainso31 is offline
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Default Re: Japanese Raid Into The Indian Ocean-1942

Just to chip in about India again-Chandra Bhose and his INA could well have caused much havoc in their own country BECAUSE he wanted the British and their Raj out- once and for all!!
Yes a successful Albacore could have made a difference IF they could find the IJN warships.

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Old 26-06-2012, 20:15
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The Japanese had been exceptionally successful in their operations up to Coral Sea and they definitely had planning eyeballs on Australia and further operations regarding India. However, in a rare slip into reality, the Imperial Japanese Army recognized their limitations, based on the sea-borne logistical support and manpower available, and they realized they had stretched their leash as far as it would go as far as land operations in SE Asia were concerned. In order to maintain pressure on the "China Incident" as they called it, keep forces available to keep Russia at bay if necessary and consolidate their gains in SE Asia and the Pacific they simply did not have the manpower and resources to mess with India AT THAT TIME. Even had the Imperial Navy pulled out victories at Coral Sea and Midway the Army's logictical and manpower situation wouldn't have improved any in the southern areas in time to do them any good in regard to either India or Australia.

While the Japanese navy could certainly strike at Australia, the odds of an Army-Navy combined op to invade Australia was not in the cards for the same reasons. Also, the logic of their "cut off Australia" plans was seriously flawed because no capture of surrounding territory to the north or east would "cut off" Australia -- Allied forces would simply have had to move their supply lines farther south in the Pacific, and of course the approaches from the southwest (Indian Ocean) couldn't be "cut off" either. Time and distance would have been the only effect on Allied supply of Australia.

Of course at the time, both American planners and the Australians "feared" having Australia cut off, and these fears feature large in post war histories without much analysis applied to whether the fears were actually justified under the circumstances -- i.e., the possibility was beyond remote.

Time was against the Japanese from May of 1942 on -- they should have concentrated on consolidating the gains they had, started seriously stripping the resources available to them, and then thought about "what next". As it turned out, the Imperial navy overstretched themselves at Midway and the whole house of cards fell apart soon after because the navy lost the one weapon they had that could "cover" the Army's ambitions for further conquests with a reasonable expectation of success. The Imperial navy's further move into Tulagi and then Guadalcanal (a move they failed to tell the Army about at first) precipitated the one type of action neither force could cope with -- a long, drawn out war of attrition at the very end of the logistical tether in an area they didnt' really need to be in. Guadalcanal killed Japan's chances in New Guinea and once that action began, Australia and India were essentially safe from the machinations of the Japanese, which is not to say that Chandra and his boys couldn't have caused further problems for the British, but he wasn't necessarily popular with the Indian population at large either, so he would probably have failed at any in-country endeavour he attempted, backed by the Japanese or not. The British could have cut his political throat by the simple expedient of telling the Indian people that as soon as the war was over, the reigns of government would pass to the Indians. Bose's support would have evaporated in the political jockeying that would have occurred among the Indian advocates for independence because there were far better candidates to run a new Indian government than him.

An, in support of Post #15, Admiral Cunningham was opinionated, but then he was also by far the most competent sea-going Admiral around and had earned his stripes the hard way in WWI and the peacetime inter-war navy. He could afford to be opinionated. Most of his opinions were quite valid, particularly his comments regarding air defense skills of the fleet units sent to the Far East. But then the RN as a whole had hard lessons to learn in that regard, as did the US navy and everybody else. Old ABC happened to be in a location where air defense school was in session 24/7, and he knew what worked and what didn't from very harsh expeience. Cunningham was of course a product of his age, and a bit stiff and conservative in some regards, but he was quite correct in his summation of air defense. He didn't get to be an Admiral of the Fleet for nothing. Not providing serious air cover for Prince of Wales and Repulse was a serious error, but considering the state of the available airpower in the area, it might not have helped anway.
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Last edited by Don Boyer : 26-06-2012 at 20:35.
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Old 26-06-2012, 22:07
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Thank you for a very good and informative post Don Boyer. Impressive, and I do believe you are "spot on"
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Old 26-06-2012, 23:08
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An excellent summation DB,which we all have come to expect of you;I have to say however,that my attempt at Devil's Advocate in this particular case was of course doomed-I knew that the Japanese could not go the extra mile whether they wanted to or not-and not, was the more than likely scenario,as ensuing actions proved.
Coming to ABC-I have a great admiration for him-he was our Nelson in WW2,he had the courage of his own convictions to stand up to those who would undo him.He had an extremely hard time in the Mediterranean; but took the blows and did things his way.
Looking back at the catalogue of disasters which overtook the Allied Forces in the Far Eastern Fleet area from the DEI to Malaya/Singapore and thence into the Indian Ocean demonstrated just how weak we were in every sense-from High Command of all Armed Forces down to the tools of the trade-it is a wonder to me how we survived.It was the US in the Pacific who bore the brunt,took the strain and allowed us to recuperate.

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Old 27-06-2012, 00:37
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Default Re: Japanese Raid Into The Indian Ocean-1942

Thanks Don for your excellent post #17, a fine summation.

A long time admirer of Cunningham, I must agree with his comments on the Eastern Fleet. The ships were not practiced nor experienced in coping with the sheer number of attacking aircraft. With the RN Fleet in different groups it was easy for the Japanese to pick them off at will. With no air cover of their own, disaster was inevitable. Why was Hermes with the fleet but not carrying aircraft ? Prince of Wales and Repulse all over again. remembering that Cunningham was not responsible for their demise.

Brian
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Old 27-06-2012, 03:45
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Default Re: Japanese Raid Into The Indian Ocean-1942

All I can say is as usual, when Don Boyer speaks, clarity flows! But thanks to all for the "vindication"!

But here's a look from another perspective - someone who was there. Hugh Popham in his book "Sea Flight" details the sheer frustration of the pilots on Indomitable - from the time the Albacores were ranged on deck for the night attack, to fighter pilots strapped into their cockpits at instant readiness the following morning, rearing to go after the Japanese, blissfully unaware of what they were up against and aghast with incredulity when hearing that Cornwall and Dorsetshire were under attack, and still they were not in the air.

Can't type out everything but here are some excerpts:

Quote:
A W/T message was received from Dorsetshire and Cornwall...."we are being attacked by enemt dive bombers."

The why weren't we airborne and on our way? For Christ's sake why?

A last message from the two cruisers as they went down and we raged and blasphemed with frustration. Commander Flying was bombarded with the demand, and could only answer: the Admiral says no.

All day it was the same: the sour anger of enforced inaction, of a sapping impotence.

On April 8th we returned to Addu Atoll; and the following day the Japs attacked Trinco and sank Hermes and....Vampire..... These disasters did not improve our frame of mind.

It was natural enough that we should be angry at seeing our first chance of action in six months go by default; it was natural that we should see it as an unintelligible decision by Admiral Somerville. It was his decision, of course, but it was not unintelligible, and it must have been a bitter one to make. While we were at Addu Atoll for the first time, he learnt - as we did not - that the Japanese force consisted of five aircraft carriers and four fast battleships, besides cruisers and destroyers.....that would almost certainly have made any battle a foregone conclusion. For the second time in six months, our Eastern Fleet might have suffered obliteration.....

....As it was, the Battle of the Indian Ocean was never fought. Instead there was a small and terrible butchering of one old carrier, two lightly armoured County Class cruisers, a destroyer and 100,000 tons of merchant shipping while we lurked beyond the horizon and chewed our nails and followed the tracks of the dive bombers on our radar screens. It was from the logic of our unpreparedness that this should happen; but it was none the less disheartening for that.
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Old 27-06-2012, 06:42
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Default Re: Japanese Raid Into The Indian Ocean-1942

Paul, Brian, Jim and William, those are mighty fine comments, and much appreciated --- thank you!

As it happened, this week I was re-reading one of Morison's volumes on WWII actions in SE Asia so Jim's post was "timely". My father, age 88, is now very interested in the Pacific war after years as a respected western historian and writer, and since he is no longer capable of using a computer due to mild dementia, I have been putting materials together for him to read, which is where most of that post came from.

I rember as a lad listening to my dad's tales of the old west and learning about American history, and now I guess it's my turn!
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Old 27-06-2012, 08:28
jainso31 jainso31 is offline
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Default Re: Japanese Raid Into The Indian Ocean-1942

Don -your work is always very much appreciated-so it is a big Thank You from all of us who participated in this somewhat perplexing thread.
As a parting footnote- a quote from Captain Russell Grenfell's "Main Fleet to Singapore":-
"Thus was once again exposed,as history has often recorded before,the futility of a "fleet in being" theory.An inferior fleet in being might conceivably have a certain value in a very special circumstances,but hardly in "open sea warfare".In the ordinary way ,an inferior fleet cannot interfere with the operations of a superior without becoming liable to destruction.For general purposes ,there is no escape from the old rule of "superiority at the decisive point"This rule had stood the British Navy in good stead in past times,and the present endeavour to ignore it had been swiftly disillusioning.The great question remained ,what would they do next?Would they return?Would there be a seizure of Ceylon?which was now clear could not be prevented"
The last sentence was written in 1951


jainso31

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  #24  
Old 27-06-2012, 16:45
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Default Re: Japanese Raid Into The Indian Ocean-1942

One has to agree the "fleet in being" concept is fraught with peril. One notes the power of prevention of the fleet in being of the US Navy at Pearl Harbor on December 6, 1941 compared to its power the following morning, and this was a somewhat more powerful collection of units than those available to the British in the Indian Ocean.

One has to admit that the worries and concerns that Australia, India, Ceylon and other areas were totally vulnerable and thus on the chopping block was perfectly legitimate at the time, based on what had just happened to Allied forces in SE Asia in general by May of 1942.

The concerns were overblown, but that's after-the-fact information not available at the time of the raid into the Indian Ocean. At the time Japan appeared an unstoppable juggernaut, no one had valid statistics and proof of Japanese logistical capabilities, availability of additional Army units for future invasion, or the status of the Imperial Navy's vessels capable of striking further into the Indian Ocean areas. All they had was proof of what had just occurred -- loss of huge amounts of Dutch and British territory in a short time to a nation most thought militarily inept.

My problem with this whole thing is the post-war devotion of reams of paper projecting "what could have happened" based on wartime comments of doom and gloom, not upon the post war availability of information on the logistical realities facing Japan, which clearly show they were in a very tight spot by May of 1942 and probably unable to proceed further than they did unless everything else going on (Port Moresby, Midway, expansion to islands east of the Solomons, victory in China, et al) went all Japan's way.

During this early part of the war, pessimism as to survival was rampant, and based on real events that had just occurred. Wartime military planning and operations had to be based on the realities of the situation, of course, particularly worst-case scenarios and this is reflected in British actions of the time and the feeling that it was entirely possible that Japanese forces could show up in northern Australia, the shores of Ceylon and in the streets of Durban. The fact that such events were most unlikely only became apparent much later. It's the old conundrum of wading through what was thought to be the truth of the situation at the time, compared to what the situation actually was based on better information available later. Those of us on the forum who delve into these things deal with this all the time and it makes for some painful analysis! As always, your posts are thought-provoking, Jim, and form the basis for lively discussion and historical discovery which we all enjoy!

Regards,
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  #25  
Old 27-06-2012, 17:08
jainso31 jainso31 is offline
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Default Re: Japanese Raid Into The Indian Ocean-1942

Thank you for kind words at the end of your post Don. As you say,the reality of any issue is what did,in point of fact,happen and there's an end to it-I know that.

It is always difficult in any historical debate to steer clear of the "what ifs"-I remember clearly arguing about the loss of USS Chicago and what should have happened set against what did happen-the ship was lost.

Historical debate is far from being a popular subject here; and trying to whip up interest is becoming singularly difficult. So to engender interest(or outrage) has to be considered.It is my sincere hope that this Forum can survive; but it will only do so, whilst you Don and the few others like you ,make post here.So haste ye back and I'll play you a tune-even though it's out of key.

jainso31

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