Naval Warfare by Jeremy Black

Naval Warfare by Jeremy Black

Author:Jeremy Black
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: undefined
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc.
Published: 2012-07-11T16:00:00+00:00

The Japanese Advance, 1941–42

Naval strength was crucial to the Japanese conquest of Southeast Asia, although it was the army which had the key experience, equipment, doctrine, and responsibility for amphibious operations. Fear of Japanese air power and concern about the relative ratio of naval power led the American navy, mindful of the wider strategic position, to fail to provide the support for the Philippines requested by the commander of U.S. forces in the Far East, General Douglas MacArthur, who had failed to take the necessary precautions. A convoy of reinforcements turned back, the navy refused to fly in aircraft, and the submarines were evacuated. This left the defenders in a hopeless position. Superiority in the air (over the poorly prepared American local air force component) and at sea enabled the Japanese to land where they pleased. The main force landed in Lingayen Gulf in northwest Luzon, with supporting units landing in south Luzon at Legaspi and Lamon Bay, threatening Manila with a pincer attack.

Further east, American islands in the western Pacific were captured. Guam fell on December 10, 1941, to an expedition from the Mariana Islands and was placed under the administration of the Japanese navy. Wake Island was attacked on December 12, but the marine garrison drove off the attack, sinking two destroyers. An American failure to relieve the island ensured, however, that on December 23 a second attack, supported by carriers from the Pearl Harbor operation, was successful, although only after heavy casualties.

The successful Japanese attack on Hong Kong benefited from air support in order to block interference from British motor torpedo boats there. The Japanese invasion of Malaya was an amphibious assault. A powerful (by prewar standards) British squadron was sent to threaten Japanese landings on the coast of Malaya, but on December 10, 1941, eighty-five land-based naval bombers sank the battleship Prince of Wales and the battle cruiser Repulse. Based at Saigon in French Indochina, these bombers showed that, in a sense, when France fell, Malaya fell. When sunk, the Prince of Wales had the best radar suite of any operational warship in the world, including close-in radar for her antiaircraft guns as well as radar for her main guns. A modern ship, she had good compartmentalization.[25] The sinking reflected the extent to which, although the success of high-level bombers was mixed, torpedo bombers could be deadly. Japanese tactics were impressive. On the British side, there was inadequate antiaircraft armament and gunnery, but a lack of land-based air cover to compensate for the absence of a carrier was crucial. This arose primarily from the mistakes of the force commander, Admiral Sir Tom Phillips. His poorly conceived and executed plan reflected both a serious personal misreading of the situation but also wider problems: a lack of strategic foresight about what the ships could achieve and operational weaknesses, including the problems of air-sea coordination. Churchill had mistakenly thought that Japan could be deterred, and there was no proper contingency plan for the British force. In addition, the hope


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