The Marines had personally "combat loaded" their ships (because the N.Z. stevedores would only work a 5 day week, and that was Wednesday to Sunday to get double time for weekends.) Combat loading is prioritizing, putting ammo on top, typewriters below. However, the ships that sailed directly from the States to Guadalcanal were not combat loaded.2. A marine ranted that not even all the troops were landed.
Sorry, but these were the floating reserve, and not needed during the uncontested landing on Guadalcanal, and were then tasked to occupy Ndeni Island on the third day. This was canceled when occupied by seaplane tender USS McFarland (AVD-14).3. Another said the Navy fights safely from afar, not like brave marines, and did not even lose a destroyer.
Gross error -- Guadalcanal was a battle at sea. More sailors were killed in the first two days defending the beachhead than marines in the entire 6-month battle. While 1,592 US marines and army died on land, 48 warships went down – half ours, half enemy : 3 carriers, 2 battleships, 12 cruisers, 25 destroyers, 6 subs. The total lives lost at sea remains unknown (to me). We do know 1,270 Allied sailors died in only the first of six great sea battles at Guadalcanal.4. And another said Fletcher was not the only "fighting admiral".
"There were other fighting admirals during these painful times – Adm Pye had to refloat his battleships ; VAdm Brown had to retreat from Rabaul, attacked New Guinea with Fletcher, no kills ; RAdm Fitch, Fletcher's air advisor at Coral Sea, lost Lexington ; VAdm Halsey, in hospital during this period. RAdm Kinkaid, new boy under Fletcher in Solomons, no kills. RAdm Mitscher, sent ashore for poor handling of Hornet, no kills ; RAdm Murray, promoted, aggressive, lost Hornet no kills ; RAdm Spruance, with Halsey's staff, was under Fletcher at Midway, (Note, the win belongs to the man in charge and giving the orders -- To Spruance, 0607 : "Proceed southwesterly and attack enemy carriers as soon as definitely located.") RAdm Noyes, arrived and lost Wasp in ten weeks with no kills ; VAdm Fletcher, Coral Sea, Midway, Eastern Solomons, lost Yorktown, six kills. Would you say he did an admirable job? Perhaps with a near perfect balance of aggression and caution? Others performed well during this difficult period, but this is Fletcher's page, and he was the most successful." -- I will hear about this paragraph.5. And lastly, Somebody objected to my use of the words "rampaging enemy".
"During the first months of WW2, when we were losing the war, the Japanese Combined Fleet had defeated the U.S. Battle Feet, U.S. Asiatic Fleet, British Far East Fleet, and Netherlands East Indies Fleet in attacks from Hawaii to India, from Alaska to Austraila without loss of any ship larger than a submarine or auxiliary destroyer. What other word would be used other than to say this was a rampaging enemy? They were later defeated by overwhelming American industrial might ; we built 119 carriers during the war ; the Axis built ten. That story of the later victories can be read on other pages. But, with the remnants of a depression era fleet, Fletcher was the most successful of our Admirals in stopping them -- three times, always with a smaller force. These successes allowed the U.S. to mobilize." "The Japanese rampaged through the Pacific until they met Fletcher." -- The Days of Fletcher, ISBN 978-987-05-3967-46 . Oh, yea. Some idiot challenged that we were really outnumbered in the Pacific.
The ship names on December 8th were :7 . Another one. A fellow complained that Fletcher violated orders and only came within 260 miles of Midway when ordered to 200 miles.
Carriers (10) : Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, Hiryu, Shokaku, Zuikaku, Hosho, Ryujo, Zuiho, Taiyo.
Battleships (10): Kongo, Hiei, Kirishima, Haruna, Fuso, Yamashiro, Ise, Hyuga, Nagato, Mutsu.
Yamato, world's largest battleship, commissioned later in the month.
Musashi, sister ship, christened a year earlier, commissioned Aug'42.
American, British, Dutch, and Australian :
Carriers (3) : Lexington, Saratoga , Enterprise.
There are four USN carriers in the Atlantic - Ranger, Yorktown, Wasp, Hornet.
British HMS Hermes was in the Indian Ocean.
Battleships (0) : US -- none ; RN -- 2
USS Colorado (BB-45) was in overhaul. There were eight in the Atlantic on "neutrality patrol against the Nazi."
HMS Prince of Wales and battle cruiser HMS Repulse were sunk on the tenth.
Point Luck meeting point on June 2 was 325 miles NE of Midway. Fletcher moved the fleet to 260 miles north of Midway on June 3rd and to 200 miles N for the dawn of June 4th. This plan was discussed back at Pearl before departing. Ships cannot sit at a point, they operated in a block cruising at about twice the speed of a submerged submarine. Ships try never to reverse coarse in case they run into just such a chasing submarine, but move laterally in a rough box. TF-16 operated, 15 miles south of TF-17. In fact Spruance was heading NW within the waiting area (away from Midway) when he received Fletcher's order to proceed southwesterly. The Japanese fleet was proceeding diagonally towards Midway and was a little south when first sighted. Fletcher's forces were moving west and a bit south to intercept. If one gets out a chart and plots latitude and longitudes, one finds interesting things. Spruance launched from 173 miles from Midway and Fletcher was further north. The whole battle took place about 200 miles north of Midway and the distance from Midway is not particularly relevant, rather ship to ship distance is. Virtually all drawings of the Midway operations use a square of equal degrees E-W and N-S. At that location on the globe, 20 deg N-S is equal to the distance of 15deg E-W. By showing on an equal scale graph, thus elongating N-S distances, it looks on paper as if the fight was much more on a diagonal then it really was, flights were essentially east-west. Texts then follow that wrong impression given by the drawings. "Nagumo changed course NE, (070 degrees)". We nautical types know that NE is 045deg, not 070 deg. He turned East and less than 2 points from due East, (using the 32 compass points that WW2 sailors were taught) : or just over one point north, East by North (now 78.5 deg ) and less than two points of East Northeast (now 66.5 deg). In fact, most authors use words taken from the graphs. Perhaps it is just a literary simplification to call things northeast and southwest to indicate just a little bit north or south of a due East-West lline. Hint, pay attention to the numbers, not the words.WHICH ADMIRAL WON MIDWAY?.
There were four American admirals involved with the Battle of Midway. Chester Nimitz was CINCPAC, commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet. He took the great risk of sending his whole fleet in an attempt to ambush the enemy. Frank Jack Fletcher was his commander of two task forces sent to wait at Midway. Raymond Spruance headed one task force, TF-16, wirh two fleet carriers, Enterprise and Hornet. These had been under the command of Vice Admiral Halsey, who was hospitalized on his return from the Doolittle raid on Tokyo. Spruance had been selected to become the next Chief of Staff for Nimitz. He was next in line for command and he needed combat experience to help him in the Staff job. Although he had no carrier experience, it was thought that Halsey’s staff would serve him well. That didn’t turn out so well. The captain of Hornet, Marc Mitscher, had just been promoted to Rear Admiral. Fletcher wore two hats, one as commander of Task Force 17 with Yorktown, and as Officer in Tactical Command of the combined Task Forces with Spruance reporting to Fletcher and Mitscher reporting to Spruance.BUT HISTORY BOOKS SAY FLETCHER TURNED OVER COMMAND TO SPRUANCE.
For completeness, each cruiser/destroyer screen was headed by an Admiral.
Spruance went on to become Chief of Staff of the Pacific fleet under Nimitz. He is said to have had great intellectual capacity and was needed in that capacity to plan the American return to the Pacific and then was given command of the Fifth Fleet to carry out that plan. His biographers went back to the first time he appeared on the world stage, which was at Midway and self-servingly attributed the victory there to him. After all, his task force had Halsey’s two carriers and Fletcher only had one. But it was the same one with which Fletcher had stopped the enemy at Coral Sea and Fletcher was the combined task forces commander. It was he who on hearing scouting reports of the sighting of two carriers and a battleship -- when four or five carriers were expected -- that ordered Spruance "to proceed southwesterly and attack the carriers as soon as the location is definitely known." It was Fletcher that held Yorktown in reserve to attack with his one carrier, the other two or three carriers that were expected -- location unknown. Halsey’s staff was excited to attack and they attacked prematurely, without following Fletcher experienced advice to know the location the enemy. (1) Enterprise's bomb laden planes flew to the general area then spent over an hour searching empty sea before finding the enemy. Hornet's two bomber squadrons never did locate them. The flights were disorganized and the torpedo bombers went in alone, to the well known tragic results in which 37 of 41 were slaughtered without one hit upon the enemy. The full scale bomber attack by Enterprise planes saw Bombing 6 attack Akagi, while Scouting 6 attacked Kaga Meanwhile, during this hour (90 minutes) that TF-16 planes were trying to find an enemy fleet in the open sea, Army and Marine planes from Midway attacking more than two enemy carriers, It is a scandle that land plane radio was not intercepted by the carriers. In a use'em or lose'm situation, Fletcher decided to commit half of his reserve to the known two targets. They flew directly to the enemy, attacked Soryu, arriving at the same time as the two previously lost Enterprise squadrons, and returned. Many Hornet and Enterprise planes ditched for lack of fuel.
Unfortunately, Spruance had not the experience to pass judgment on the excitable planning of his inherited staff, and history suggests that only the strength of Halsey could have controlled that bunch. Hornet’s two bomber squadrons totally missed the battle. Because of this Hiryu was not attacked. She was ready with torpedo planes which followed the American squadrons back to their ships. Yorktown was spotted and attacked. Yorktown planes landed on the less then full decks of Enterprise and Hornet. Captain Buckmaster had Yorktown sound and carrying on flight operations by the time a second wave of Japanese bombers arrived and ended her operations for the day. But Fletcher as commander was searching for the fourth and fifth enemy carriers and had already sent out scouts and urged Midway to extend their search, too. Hiryu was found by the Yorktown scouts and ten bombers from Enterprise and fourteen from Yorktownwere launched and sank the fourth enemy carrier. But with Yorktown listing badly, abandon ship was ordered and Fletcher transferred to Astoria and became engaged in saving the crews. At this point he approached Enterprise and released TF-16 to continue the battle for the next day. It was dusk and lights had to be put on the land the returning bombers. Fletcher proceeded east and Spruance followed when the returning bombers were landed, so as to prepare for his operations of tomorrow.
We can see that Spruance succeeded in attacking the Japanese as ordered, thou not as successfully as if he had more closely followed Fletcher's instructions. In fact, this directly led to the enemy being able to launch the attack on Yorktown. Fletcher commanded the battle : assigning, finding and attacking in turn, until his flagship was badly damaged.
Spruance returned to the mutual protection of Midway aircraft the next morning, delayed by a submarine scare ; assured himself that the invasion had been called off and went in search of the retiring Japanese combined fleet. They were out of range and nothing of importance happened that day. The third day he attacked two cruisers that had collided avoiding US submarine Tambor (SS-198). One of the cruisers was sunk and Spruance withdrew his task force to refuel. The battle was over.
(1) Mistakes made by Halsey's staff that Spruance had not the experience to recognize were wrong.
Look, Fletcher fought three of the five great carrier battles in all of history. Let’s look at his performance in each. At Coral Sea he gave up part of his own defenses by sending Crace's cruisers to stop the enemy invasion transports. Fletcher then turned on two enemy carriers and succeeded in turning back both the transports and the carriers, sinking one. At Midway, Fletcher sent Spruance with two carriers to attack two enemy carriers, Meanwhile Fletcher reserved the task for himself to handle the two or three other carriers(2) expected with only his one carrier. He sank four carriers. At Eastern Solomons, Fletcher attacked a force double his size and did not wait for reinforcements from his own units refueling nearby. He turned back a force twice his size and sank a carrier. In eight months he sank six enemy carriers and lost two. Wouldn’t you say that was courageous? Fletcher reserved the biggest tasks for himself. If there was any shyness, it was on the part of the Japanese who were defeated or ran away from the smaller forces of Fletcher.BUT I KEEP READING THAT FLETCHER TURNED OVER COMMAND TO SPRUANCE.
(2) There could have been as many as seven other enemy carriers out there at Midway. Soryu and Hiryu had not been sighted in the original PBY report. Only one of two carriers had succeeded in attacking Dutch Harbor (Ryujo), on the initial day, so the location of Junyo was unknown. Zuikaku had her flight crews replaced from Coral Sea and showed up late at Midway and was sent to Alaska to ambush the US force. Shokaku was badly damaged at Coral Sea, but so had been Yorktown and she made it to the battle. Zuiho was with the transport convoy and approaching Alaska. Hosho and Yukaze were with Yamamoto's Main Body. Was Fletcher brave or dumb? Actually he was following the highest traditions of duty to attack superior enemy forces, just as the torpedo plane pilots attacked against almost certain death.
Why does everybody say he turned over tactical command of the battle to Spruance? AFTER the enemy was destroyed!!!!!, Fletcher released Spruance's TF-16 to continue the battle the next day while Fletcher salvaged TF-17. On his own for the next two days Spruance only sank a damaged cruiser. Fletcher had a 4 : 0 ballgame going at the time he released Spruance -- nobody attributes the game to the relief pitcher.FLETCHER WAS WRITING THE BOOK ON CARRIER WARFARE.
At Coral Sea, Lexington was damaged to an extent that should have been salvageable later in the war. Fletcher introduced flushing empty fuel lines with nitrogen to prevent explosions of "empty" lines. At Midway, his pilots were ordered with magnetic "vectors", whereas the rest of the Navy spent a lot of effort to teach sailors how to calculate "arrow" headings from true north. Pilots had magnetic compasses. Didn't it make since to avoid making pilots do calculations while trying to navigate a fighter or bomber on a mission? Peacetime doctrine launched bombers first so as to reach altitude while torpedo planes and fighters were launched and all proceeded together. Fletcher launched by flight speed -- first the slow torpedo planes, then the bombers that were faster even when climbing, lastly the short legged, fast fighters which allowed all to catch up to make a combined attack on the target. Point Option was known to all who were concerned with returning aircraft. Fletcher practiced it when others had to learn it. Fletcher wanted a flag officer on each carrier. Ship's captains had enough on their minds without having to coordinate with the evolving battle. He liked two-carrier task forces with each carrier operating separately when under attack to beiable to freely maneuver, but close enough to support each other with fighters. At Midway and Guadalcanal, he further separated his 3rd carrier to similar effect and to make it less likely for attackers to find both task forces.MYTHS OF MIDWAY
- The idea of ambushing of the Japanese carriers was a spark of genius. It was also a spark of desperation. Given the conditions, it was the best that could be hoped for. We were losing the war, Washington was all over Nimitz. He had some secret information of Japanese plans, so he risked all. There was no legitimate expectation that Japanese could not find out that two task forces were at sea -- only because the Jap subs were late, their seaplanes could not land at French Frigate Shoals, the Hawaiian spys, and Tone’s catapult malfunction all went awry. That is too thin to be in a realistic plan. We should have lost at Midway. Nimitz was either more of a genius than I can understand, or crazy/bedeviled by higher management to do something, anything -- like a man in debt seeking salvation in a casino. Later activity proves he was not crazy, but was surely lucky.
- The thought that Spruance was the victor because he was the admiral with the most carriers. He followed orders as part of his learning curve for higher command. He had Halsey's staff. He could never have been blamed for a defeat, that would fall on Nimitz and Fletcher, thus he is not blamed for errors; we blame Halsey's staff instead. He was just too inexperienced to recognize the many errors they made.
- The idea that Spruance had the foresight to turn away at night and brilliantly escaped Yamamoto's battleship trap. Carriers are defenseless and unable to attack at night. There made no sense to advance in darkness when there were battleships with Nagumo and who knew how many surviving and other carriers? Nobody knew Yamamoto was coming with additional battleships and carriers. It didn't matter. The US carriers could not risk confronting those already known about. To advance into the dark would have been foolish and Spruance might be inexperienced, but he was not a fool. He followed Fletcher away for the night, turned around at midnight to arrive back to the battle zone by first light.
- That the Japanese carriers were sunk while Spruance was operatiing independently. Fact, the Japanese carriers sank the next day. But they were attacked, hit, and put out of commission the first day by Fletcher. Even famous historians make this error.
Draft comments, this and following notes are to be expanded.
MYTHS OF WAKE ISLAND
MYTHS OF GUADALCANAL
MYTHS OF EASTERN SOLOMONS
A good example for people to be able to understand Morison's errors that might be used is from an example by Morison himself. In Book III, Page 159, he humorously has a long paragraph of Army Air Force claiming the victory at Midway "with hits on 3 carriers, 1 cruiser, 1 battleship, 1 destroyer and 1 large transport." This was printed in all the press and the public thought airpower was grand against warships The public had to gradually be disabused of this error. Horizontal bombers never hit ,let alone sank, a moving warship. Likewise, Morison's venomous errors against Fletcher must be gradually corrected. This is a "Morison errors" paragraph that may well become its own web page; the final straw to me was him having Fitch aboard Sara during Midway.
Other topics -- Morison says Fletcher's missed Wake because he stopped to refuel. In fact, he was ordered to wait in place for another carrier to join up with him and made a good use of this time by refueling. Then Morison said he should have done it the previous day when the weather was better; how stupid, the wait order had not been issued then. Fuel consumption errors, Morison doesn't seem to know that fuel usage goes up exponentially with speed -- he uses convoy consumption in his calculaitons when battle speed uses multiple times more fuel. He suggests that a low fuel state to be allowed by destroyers ; more stupidity. (German destoyers ran out of fuel at Norway and were helplessly sunk by the Royal Navy. Even British battleships had to withdraw from the chase of the Bismarck for want of fuel.) Then he suggests that cruisers could refuel destroyers while within range of enemy bombers. He was against Fletcher's rotating refueling at Eastern Solomons. By keeping two carriers on station, Fletcher was able to repulse the enemy. If all were refueled at the same time, Murphy's Law says the enemy could have taken an undefended Guadalcanal.
[ "The Days of Fletcher" has a full chapter on Morison errors.] Very bad, of course, is publishing "Two Ocean Navy" long after he knew Fletcher had been ordered to wait for Lexington (VAdm Brown) reinforcement at Wake and refueling was just Fletcher's good use of waiting time, but did not revise the text. And the greatest sin is in allowing pique at Fletcher's refusal to come out of retirement to help write Morison's book is allowed to color his portrayal in that book and subsequent ones.
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