The *ultimate* BENSON/GLEAVES class U.S. destroyer??

January 2nd, 2009

From Mon Dec 29 21:29:41 1997
>Date: Mon, 29 Dec 1997 23:26:21 -0500 (EST)
>X-Mailer: Windows Eudora Version 1.4.4
>From: (Eric Bergerud)
>Subject: Re: The *ultimate* BENSON/GLEAVES class U.S. destroyer??
>Precendence: bulk
> >The New Georgia had interesting support: SARATOGA and VICTORIOUS,
> > airpower was pretty well exhausted, though, of course … and Adm.
> > Yamamoto had been gunned down in April, further paralyzing the IJN.
> >
> >Lou
> > Coatney,,
>Interesting post….Roskill on Leander? Learn something every day . I do
>want to take exception with Lou on IJN’s air strength at the time of New
>Georgia. Halsey was rightly worried that Combined Fleet might engage with
>their carriers. What we did NOT know was the degree to which Japanese naval
>aviation had been hurt by the Guadalcanal / New Guinea campaign. The
>Japanese numbers certainly looked ugly from our point of view. Prior to New
>Georgia it dawned on Tokyo what the twin catastrophe at
>Guadalcanal/Buna-Gona meant to Rabaul and their entire position in the
>SOPAC. Consequently, the IJA sent substantial reinforcements to the area,
>(mostly NGuinea) and the IJAAF set up shop at Wewak. Rabaul and its
>surrounding complex was, on paper, greatly strengthened in every category,
>including air strength. Naturally our recon was picking this up. Now
>Combined Fleet had decided to avoid general engagement and ready for the
>”Decisive Battle” in the Central Pacific. (This became the “Turkey Shoot” in
>mid-44). Several new Japanese carriers were getting ready for fray along
>with new air groups. So the POSSIBILITY of a carrier battle was there as
>Halsey knew. As it was, several Japanese carrier fighter groups were
>dispatched to Rabaul to fight from land in the summer of 43. They were
>smashed – making our later job at the Mariannas much easier. As it was, the
>IJNAF contested New Georgia fiercely. It was air fighting in 1943, not 42,
>that cut the heart out of the Japanese air arm.
>Halsey’s staff, when they began planning for New Georgia shortly after
>Guadalcanal, were still understandably suffering from the stinging naval
>battles around Guadalcanal. (Even our victories were costly.) New Georgia
>was actually a very conservative move that made sense only if one assumed
>that the Japanese had a lot of fight left in them. What we did do was
>underestimate the ability of the Japanese Army to make life hell on earth
>for us. The resulting battle for Munda etc did serious damage to the 43d,
>37th and 25th Divisions. Disease was the big culprit – predictable after the
>Guadalcanal experience – but the Japanese did not cooperate by launching any
>idiot banzai charges. So close to Kolumbungara, the Japanese garrison was
>hard to starve out. So we ended up losing more men on New Georgia than
>Guadalcanal (and a FAR worse “kill ratio” despite all of our firepower). And
>the whole thing might have been unnecessary. The southeastern portion of New
>Georgia was controlled by friendly natives and that little corner connects
>to rest of the island via a narrow bridge of land. This corner, called Segi
>Point, proved a good place for a fighter strip and was ours for the taking –
>not a Japanese soldier within miles. With Segi in our pocket, Halsey could
>have jumped to Vella Lavella and forced the Japanese to evacuate the central
>Solomons – exactly what he decided to do in August. I am NOT being critical
>of Halsey. He responded reasonably given the knowledge he had. Unfortunately
>he did not properly understand the “sea change” that was taking place in the
>balance of forces between Japan and the US. Halsey was thinking of late 1942
>when, in retrospect, he should have been thinking of mid-44. Because of this
>thousands of GIs were treated to a violent campaign in some of the ugliest
>terrain on the planet.
>Eric Bergerud, 531 Kains Ave, Albany CA 94706, 510-525-0930

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