Milne Bay

Discussion in 'War Against Japan' started by Warlord, Oct 17, 2007.

  1. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

    Was Milne Bay the real turning point in the battle for the Southwest Pacific? Or did its importance affect the whole Pacific Theater?
     
  2. A Potts

    A Potts Member

    Was Milne Bay the real turning point in the battle for the Southwest Pacific? Or did its importance affect the whole Pacific Theater?

    It was not the turning point. It is widely believed to be the first time the Japanese were defeated and stopped from gaining their objective.

    It broke the back of the claim of Japanese invincibility.

    For that it was extremely significant.
     
  3. jacobtowne

    jacobtowne Senior Member

    Was Milne Bay the real turning point in the battle for the Southwest Pacific?

    No, Guadalcanal was the great turning point in the war against Japan. That is not to contradict what A. Potts wrote above, BTW.


    Or did its importance affect the whole Pacific Theater?
    Yes, in the sense that after Guadalcanal, the Japanese fought defensively for the rest of the war.
    I do not know whether one could say this for Milne Bay. Perhaps someone who knows more about that battle could chime in here.

    JT
     
  4. A Potts

    A Potts Member

    I believe that the battle of Guadalcanal was EXTREMELY important.

    I feel it is very difficult to pin point a specific land campaign as the turning point; and I think that endless debate surrounds this.

    I believe that the turning point must go to the US Naval campaigns . In particular the Battle of the Coral Sea (with a minor, but significant Australian contribution) and ultimately Midway.

    My opinion anyway.
     
  5. jacobtowne

    jacobtowne Senior Member

    A few thoughts here.

    Midway was certainly a turning point in the Central Pacific. On the other hand, it must be said that it was defensive on the part of the Americans, and was a one-dimensional battle between carrier-based aircraft. Additionally, it neither destroyed Japan's naval power, nor did it affect Japanese southward expansion toward Australia.

    Guadalcanal, however, did halt that expansion, securing vital supply routes between the U.S. and Australia. The campaign was also three-dimensional, involving air, sea, and land battles. Finally, as stated before, Japan was on the defense after the 'Canal for the remainder of the war.

    That is why I consider the Guadalcanal Campaign as turning the tide. Others, of course, hold other viewpoints.

    JT
     
  6. A Potts

    A Potts Member

    A few thoughts here.

    Midway was certainly a turning point in the Central Pacific. On the other hand, it must be said that it was defensive on the part of the Americans, and was a one-dimensional battle between carrier-based aircraft. Additionally, it neither destroyed Japan's naval power, nor did it affect Japanese southward expansion toward Australia.

    Guadalcanal, however, did halt that expansion, securing vital supply routes between the U.S. and Australia. The campaign was also three-dimensional, involving air, sea, and land battles. Finally, as stated before, Japan was on the defense after the 'Canal for the remainder of the war.

    That is why I consider the Guadalcanal Campaign as turning the tide. Others, of course, hold other viewpoints.

    JT


    I appreciate every thing said.

    However, what does the term 'defensive' mean. The Australians had the Japanese retreating on the Kokoda Trail in mid '42 and the Battle of the Beach Heads, 'Buna-Gona-Sanananda' in northern New Guinea, was complete by Jan '43 by Australian and US forces.

    The Battle of Guadalcanal did not end until mid '43.

    The supply chain to Australia was massively aided by stopping the Japanese at Guadalcanal. But there is alot of sea south of the Solomons and I believe that this would have been overcome with some ease.

    Again my opinion and I certainly do not intend to offend.
     
  7. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    I for one have always led to the battle of Milne Bay to have been "decisive".
    This is where, for the first time, the Japanese were repelled by Australian infantry after gaining a beachhead. This is where, in the Pacific, the collective use of Infantry, Artillery (US), Naval and Air Power was coordinated effectively to defeat the Japanese landing and subsequently forced them to retreat.

    As for decisive overall, I do not think this can be claimed however Milne Bay was morale boosting and showed that the invincibility of the Japanese was for the first time, now in question.

    Guadalcanal commenced a month before (August '42) the Milne Bay action.

    This is where the US had drawn the line in the sand as the place where the land battle for the Pacific was to commence. This is where the Japanese were forced to concede that their southerly land conquests of the Pacific had ended.

    There is no doubt in my mind that "winning" Guadalcanal was "the" decisive land battle, although in a most precarious position even as late as December '42.

    Whilst it was claimed secure in February '43 (land) it allowed the planning to retake the Pacific to go ahead.

    The "Battle of the Coral Sea" was decisive inasmuch as not being a win to the allied forces the US learnt many lessons and pointed out many carrier deficiencies as well as denying the Japanese Port Moresby and forced them to try and take it overland.

    (T.A. Gardner has a good post about Coral Sea in a previous thread I will try and find a reference to it)

    Midway in the context of 1942 (without hindsight) was too, I believe a "defensive" operation which abounded in many lucky breaks for the US task force.

    While the battle was truly a glorious result for the US, and hurt the Japanese in carrier losses, the turning points in the naval war did not come until the great sea battles that followed around Guadalcanal.
     
  8. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    SouthWestPacificVet likes this.
  9. SouthWestPacificVet

    SouthWestPacificVet Confirmed Liar

    I was in Milne a few times, I remember coming ashore on a Aussie patrol boat to catch a lift from a C47 at the airfield, it must have been sometime in early or mid '43,
    the Aussies had the old P40's if I remember correctly.

    All the best
    Jack
     
  10. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    I was in Milne a few times, I remember coming ashore on a Aussie patrol boat to catch a lift from a C47 at the airfield, it must have been sometime in early or mid '43,
    the Aussies had the old P40's if I remember correctly.

    All the best
    Jack

    This one Jack?

    gurney airfield Milne Bay.jpg
     
  11. SouthWestPacificVet

    SouthWestPacificVet Confirmed Liar

    Hello Spidge,

    Thank you, but I never had that view of it. I do remember "got a smoke Yank?", they used that like a greeting, and I never met an Aussie that wasn't good at cards.

    All the best
    Jack
     
  12. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    My dad and his mates loved Solo & Euchre.
     
  13. Christos

    Christos Discharged

    The sea battles around Guad were at a time when American and Japanese carrier losses (and the aircraft and pilots) were starting to bite....most actions at sea around Guad were very indecisive, in terms of decision battles....what really sank the Japanese effort in the Solomons was the twin directions of the offensive itself...overstretched as they were, the Japanese tried to both cross the Owen-Stanley's AND take Guad....the Morsesby 'push' was defeated because it was , essentially, unsupported. When the units ran short of ammunition and food, they faced a nightmare retreat that finished most of them as fighting units...the stragglers, plus elements landed fresh, retreated to the twin mission stations on the shore, Buna and Gona...where, dug in, they inflicted far more casualties than had been sustained in the advance to contact....McArthur was suitably shocked and vowed "NO MORE BUNAS."

    GUAD was held principally for three reasons...
    1/...The commander of the first Japanese assault on Henderson, ICHIKI, had counted his chickens before they hatched, ( he was so SURE of victory, that he pre-wrote his diary with the next page saying..."enjoyment of the fruits of victory.") counting on unsupported elements of his unit (which was still filtering in as the battle started)...he counted on the 'elan' of Banzai attacks ( as the Japanese themselves called them),and the sheer ferocity that these these attacks were to be delivered with....
    2/ ....but they had not counted on a very able commander for the Marines "RED" MIKE EDSON, they had not counted on his telepathic like placement of his principle units on the ridge that Ickiki planned to take....Red mike shifted his tired troops, telling them it was a "rest area"..)..(one Marine, digging in at the new position was not fooled.."Rest area my ASS!" he said)...Edson is the man that forced this first and most dangerous of all Japanese attacks back into the Jungle, facing the same kind of retreat back to their assembly areas that was going on in the Owen Stanleys.
    3/...Japanese soldiers got a rude shock in the Solomons, the first of which was MILNE BAY...and other actions, that showed them that this was an enemy to be respected..and feared...

    "The Army had been used to the fighting in China.."



    Churchill wrote of Guadacanal...

    "Long may the tale be told in the great Republic..."
     
  14. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    The US victory at Guadalcanal owed much also to the band of Coastwatchers who passed on vital ship movements to the allied command.

    Australian coastwatchers continued to be an important part of the war effort. On islands dotted around the South West Pacific Area they radioed vital information to the Allied command reporting enemy ship movements. Admiral Nimitz, US Navy Supreme Commander, Pacific Ocean Area, later praised their work in relation to the Solomons Campaign. “The Coastwatchers saved Guadalcanal, and Guadalcanal saved the Pacific.”
     
    Christos likes this.
  15. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    The rest of the story here: Battle for Australia Council


    MILNE BAY

    AUSTRALIAN TROOPS HAD, AT MILNE BAY, INFLICTED ON THE JAPANESE THEIR FIRST UNDOUBTED DEFEAT ON LAND .. SOME OF US MAY FORGET THAT, OF ALL THE ALLIES, IT WAS THE AUSTRALIANS WHO FIRST BROKE THE INVINCIBILITY OF THE JAPANESE ARMY. (FIELD-MARSHAL SIR WILLIAM SLIM, DEFEAT INTO VICTORY) [​IMG]
    Sketch map of Milne BayIn late August, unable to move further down the Kokoda Trail, the Japanese decided to make a second line of attack on Port Moresby. On 25-26 August they landed at Milne Bay on the extreme eastern tip of Papua, about 370 kilometres from Port Moresby. Although under great logistical stress with the fighting on the Kokoda Trail, Allied forces were ready for them. Unlike the protracted Kokoda campaign, the Battle of Milne Bay ended in just over ten days.
     
  16. Christos

    Christos Discharged

    Coastwatchers pulled off some great intelligence coups....they even warned the allied fleet just before SAVO ISLAND....but the Navy (both US and Australian) ignored them...

    When the Japanese ships barrelled down the 'slot', they were protected by the 'cone' of radar 'blindness' that Savo provided..(land masses in the backgound used to 'fudge' early US radar sets...the Japnese relied on LOOKOUTS using the old reliable 'eyeball MkI')
     
  17. Christos

    Christos Discharged

    I believe the fighting around Milne Bay was SAVAGE...Japanese hid in trees, some Australians had a tough time spotting these snipers, and when they did, they showed them no mercy....a lot of the treetop Japanese had fought for many years in China...coming up against a foe that did NOT break and run at the first opportunity was a complete NOVELTY for them....taking NOTHING away from the hard work that Aussie troops put in at Milne....I have no casualty figures, but I do know that, by the standards of the day, Milne was a very hard fight for both sides....and WE BEATEM'! (yay for Oz!)
     
  18. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    taking NOTHING away from the hard work that Aussie troops put in at Milne....I have no casualty figures, but I do know that, by the standards of the day, Milne was a very hard fight for both sides....and WE BEATEM'! (yay for Oz!)

    550 Allied dead - 1,000 Japanese dead

    Japanese landed tanks, the allies had none.

    From Wiki:Battle of Milne Bay - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Japanese troops were the in fact the elite Japanese marines, known as Kaigun Rikusentai (Special Naval Landing Forces), rather than the Imperial Japanese Army who attacked the Allied forces at Milne Bay. The Japanese high command committed approximately 2400 marines from the 5th Kure Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF), the 5th Sasebo SNLF and (non-combat) personnel from the 16th Naval Construction Unit. The Japanese force was led initially by Commander Shojiro Hayashi.
     
  19. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    I believe the fighting around Milne Bay was SAVAGE...Japanese hid in trees, some Australians had a tough time spotting these snipers, and when they did, they showed them no mercy....a lot of the treetop Japanese had fought for many years in China...coming up against a foe that did NOT break and run at the first opportunity was a complete NOVELTY for them....taking NOTHING away from the hard work that Aussie troops put in at Milne....I have no casualty figures, but I do know that, by the standards of the day, Milne was a very hard fight for both sides....and WE BEATEM'! (yay for Oz!)

    This one was hiding in a tree.......for a little while.

    http://ajrp.awm.gov.au/ajrp/ajrp2.nsf/9a9d87a3b3b2fa7bca256f56008330df/883ba42eefb9119aca256946001ef8ae/Essay_Text/26.2BE8?OpenElement&FieldElemFormat=gif
    [FONT=MS ゴシック]AWM [/FONT][FONT=MS ゴシック]013952[/FONT]
    http://ajrp.awm.gov.au/ajrp/ajrp2.nsf/9a9d87a3b3b2fa7bca256f56008330df/883ba42eefb9119aca256946001ef8ae/Essay_Text/27.2564?OpenElement&FieldElemFormat=gif
    [FONT=MS ゴシック]AWM [/FONT][FONT=MS ゴシック]013965[/FONT]
    http://ajrp.awm.gov.au/ajrp/ajrp2.nsf/9a9d87a3b3b2fa7bca256f56008330df/883ba42eefb9119aca256946001ef8ae/Essay_Text/28.2558?OpenElement&FieldElemFormat=gif
    [FONT=MS ゴシック]AWM [/FONT][FONT=MS ゴシック]0139637[/FONT]Buna, Papua, 28 December 1942: These three photographs show an Australian Bren gunner firing at a Japanese sniper position in a palm tree, the palm tree after it had been fired upon, and the body of the Japanese sniper at the base of the palm tree. The Bren gunner’s technique was to fire several bursts at a point six feet from the top of the tree, so weakening its trunk. The weight of the sniper then caused the tree to break and he was killed when he hit the ground 60 feet below.

    From: Australia-Japan Research Project
     
  20. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Chritos,
    You say you have no battlefields near you in Australia.
    What is travel like between Oz & PNG?
    Is there much to see up there regards a battlefield tour?
    Geoff,
    You've been up there haven't you?
     

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