Please limit each request to three items. Jonathan Heller researched, selected, and arranged the items for this list and wrote these introductory remarks. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing the Declaration of War against Japan , December 8, Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander , at his headquarters in the European theater of operations. He wears the five-star cluster of the newly-created rank of General of the Army.
Messerlin, February 1, June Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Premier Josef Stalin. American generals: seated left to right are William H. Simpson, George S. Patton, Jr. Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, Courtney H. Hodges, and Leonard T. Gerow; standing are Ralph F. Stearley, Hoyt S. Weyland, and Richard E. Remember Dec. Enlist Now. Join the Navy. Go to the nearest recruiting station of the armed service of your choice.
Movie star Rita Hayworth sacrificed her bumpers for the duration.
Besides setting an example by turning in unessential metal car parts, Miss Hayworth has been active in selling war bonds. Sugar rationing. With many parents engaged in war work, children are being taught the facts of point rationing for helping out in family marketing. Howard Miller. Typical are these in the Daytona Beach branch of the Volusia county vocational school. Hollem, April Women workers groom lines of transparent noses for deadly A attack bombers. Riveter at Lockheed Aircraft Corp.
Charles Fenno Jacobs, August Evacuees lived at this center at the former Santa Anita race track before being moved inland to relocation centers. Charles Fenno Jacobs, November Troops shown in the picture are Marines. Don C. Convoy which operates between Chen-Yi and Kweiyang, China , is ascending the famous twenty-one curves at Annan, China. John F. Albert, March 26, Sarno, ca.
Carl Weinke and Pfc. Ernest Marjoram, Signal Corps cameramen , wading through stream while following infantry troops in forward area during invasion at a beach in New Guinea. Ernani D'Emidio, April 22, Reina, st Inf. Kahuku, Oahu. Douglas Lightheart right cradles his cal. Gerald Churchby take time out for a cigarette, while mopping up the enemy on Peleliu Is. Clements, September 14, Thursby, Sr.
Navy pilots in the forward elevator well playing basketball. Attributed to Lt. Victor Jorgensen, ca. Mowday, Admiralty Islands, April 19, Enlisted men's country. Grimm, October 25, Mickey Rooney imitates some Hollywood actors for an audience of Infantrymen of the 44th Division. Rooney is a member of a three-man unit making a jeep tour to entertain the troops.
Louis Weintraub, Kist, Germany, April 13, Wayne Miller, November Medics helping injured soldier , France, Harvey White , after he was wounded by shrapnel, on 9 August in Sicily. Kenneth E. Roberts, May 11, The service was held in memory of brave buddies who lost their lives in the initial landings. Steele, June Lindner reads the benediction held in honor of fellow shipmates killed in the air action off Guam on June 19, Coast Guard Cutter Spencer watch the explosion of a depth charge which blasted a Nazi U-boat's hope of breaking into the center of a large convoy.
WO Jack January, April 17, Torpedoed Japanese destroyer photographed through periscope of U. Wahoo or U. Nautilus , June Sixteen-inch guns of the U. S Iowa firing during battle drill in the Pacific, ca. Alfred N. Cooperman, December 4, Navy aircraft carrier receive last minute instructions before taking off to attack industrial, and military installations in Tokyo.
Rotating with blades, halo moves aft, giving depth and perspective. Horace Bristol, September Coming back, the Germans were up in full force and we lost at least 80 ships men, many of them pals. Edward Steichen, November It set the stage to annex the Czechoslovakian Sudetenland, largely inhabited by a German- speaking population.
By , Japan's naval expenditure had reached nearly 32 percent of the national budget. By , the Imperial Japanese Navy possessed 10 battleships, 10 aircraft carriers, 38 cruisers heavy and light , destroyers, 65 submarines, and various auxiliary ships. Japan continued to solicit foreign expertise in areas such as naval aviation. In , Japan hosted, for a year and a half, the Sempill Mission, a group of British instructors who trained and advised the Imperial Japanese Navy on several new aircraft such as the Gloster Sparrowhawk, and on various techniques such as torpedo bombing and flight control.
During the years before World War II, military strategists debated whether the Navy should be organized around powerful battleships that would ultimately be able to defeat American battleships in Japanese waters, or around aircraft carriers. Neither concept prevailed, and both lines of ships were developed. A consistent weakness of Japanese warship development was the tendency to incorporate too much armament, and too much engine power, relative to ship size a side-effect of the Washington Treaty , to the detriment of stability, protection, and structural strength.
In order to match the numerical superiority of the American navy, the Imperial Japanese Navy had devoted considerable resources to creating a force superior in quality to any navy at the time. At the beginning of World War II, the Japanese navy was the third largest, and probably the most sophisticated, in the world.
Particularly under-invested in antisubmarine warfare both escort ships and escort aircraft carriers , and in the specialized training and organization to support it, Japan never managed to adequately protect her long shipping lines against enemy submarines. During the first part of the hostilities, the Imperial Japanese Navy enjoyed resounding success.
American forces ultimately gained the upper hand through technological upgrades to air and naval forces, and a vastly stronger industrial output. Japan's reluctance to use its submarine fleet for raiding commercial shipping lines, and failure to secure its communications, hastened defeat. During the last phase of the war, the Imperial Japanese Navy resorted to a series of desperate measures, including the Special Attack Units popularly known as kamikaze.
Yamato , the largest and most heavily-armed battleship in history, was launched in The last battleship duels occurred during the second half of World War II. The battle off Samar on October 25, , the central action of the Battle of Leyte Gulf demonstrated that battleships could still be useful. The development of air power ended the sovereignty of the battleship.
Battleships in the Pacific primarily performed shore bombardment and anti-aircraft defense for the carriers. Yamato and Musashi were sunk by air attacks long before coming in gun range of the American fleet. As a result, plans for even larger battleships, such as the Japanese Super Yamato class, were canceled.
In the s, the Kaga originally designed as a battleship and a similar ship, the Akagi originally designed as a battlecruiser were converted to aircraft carriers to satisfy the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty. From , Akagi and Kaga received extensive rebuilds to improve their aircraft handling capacity.
Japan put particular emphasis on aircraft carriers. The Imperial Japanese Navy started the Pacific War with 10 aircraft carriers, the largest and most modern carrier fleet in the world at that time. At the beginning of hostilities, only three of the seven American aircraft carriers were operating in the Pacific; and of eight British aircraft carriers, only one operated in the Indian Ocean.
The Japanese aircraft carrier Shinano was a conversion of an incomplete Yamato -class super battleship, and became the largest-displacement carrier of World War II. Japan began World War II with a highly competent naval air force, designed around some of the best airplanes in the world: the Zero was considered the best carrier aircraft at the beginning of the war, the Mitsubishi G3M bomber was remarkable for its range and speed, and the Kawanishi H8K was world's best flying boat. As the war dragged on, the Allies found weaknesses in Japanese naval aviation.
Though most Japanese aircraft were characterized by great operating ranges, they had little defensive armament and armor. The more numerous, heavily armed and armored American aircraft developed techniques that minimized the advantages of the Japanese aircraft. Although there were delays in engine development, several new competitive designs were developed during the war, but industrial weaknesses, lack of raw materials, and disorganization due to Allied bombing raids, hampered their mass-production.
The Imperial Japanese Navy did not have an efficient process for rapid training of aviators; two years of training were usually considered necessary for a carrier flyer. Following their initial successes in the Pacific campaign, the Japanese were forced to replace the seasoned pilots lost through attrition with young, inexperienced flyers. The inexperience of later Imperial Japanese Navy pilots was especially evident during the Battle of the Philippine Sea, when their aircraft were shot down in droves by the American naval pilots in what the Americans later called the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot.
Towards the end of the conflict, several effective new planes were designed, such as the Shiden, but the planes were produced too late and in insufficient numbers units for the Shiden to affect the outcome of the war. Radical new designs were also developed, such as the canard design Shinden, and especially jet-powered aircraft such as the Nakajima Kikka and the rocket-propelled Mitsubishi J8M. These jet designs were partially based on technology received from Nazi Germany, usually in the form of a few drawings Kikka was based on the Messerschmitt Me and the J8M on the Messerschmitt Me , so that Japanese manufacturers had to carry out the final engineering.
These new developments occurred too late to influence the outcome of the war; the Kikka only flew once before the end of World War II. Japan had by far the most varied fleet of submarines of World War II, including manned torpedoes Kaiten , midget submarines Ko-hyoteki, Kairyu , medium-range submarines, purpose-built supply submarines many for use by the Army , long-range fleet submarines many of which carried an aircraft , submarines with the highest submerged speeds of the conflict Senkou I , and submarines that could carry multiple bombers World War II's largest submarine, the Sentoku I These submarines were also equipped with the most advanced torpedo of World War II, the Type 95 torpedo, a 21" mm version of the famous 24" 61cm Type A plane from one such long-range fleet submarine, I, conducted the only aerial bombing attack in history on the continental United States, when Warrant Flying Officer Nobuo Fujita attempted to start massive forest fires in the Pacific Northwest outside the town of Brookings, Oregon on September 9, Other submarines such as the I, I-8, I, I, and I, undertook trans-oceanic missions to German-occupied Europe, in one case flying a Japanese seaplane over France in a propaganda coup.
Despite their technical refinements, Japanese submarines were relatively unsuccessful. They were often used in offensive roles against warships which were fast, maneuverable and well-defended compared to merchant ships. In , Japanese submarines sank two fleet carriers, one cruiser, and a few destroyers and other warships, and damaged several others. They were not able to sustain these results afterwards, when Allied fleets were reinforced and began using more effective anti-submarine tactics. By the end of the war, submarines were often used to transport supplies to island garrisons.
During the war, Japan sank about one million tons of merchant shipping ships , compared to 1. Early models were not easily maneuverable under water, could not dive very deep, and lacked radar. Later in the war, units fitted with radar were, in some instances, sunk when U. After the end of the conflict, several of Japan's most original submarines were sent to Hawaii for inspection in "Operation Road's End" I, I, I, and I before being scuttled by the U. Navy in when the oviets demanded equal access to the submarines.
These units included Kamikaze "Divine Wind" bombers, Shinyo "Sea Quake" suicide boats, Kairyu "Sea Dragon" suicide midget submarines, Kaiten "Turn of Heaven" suicide torpedoes, and Fukuryu "Crouching Dragon" suicide scuba divers, who would swim under boats and use explosives mounted on bamboo poles to destroy both the boat and themselves. Kamikaze planes were particularly effective during the defense of Okinawa , in which 1, planes were expended to damage around American warships.
A considerable number of Special Attack Units, with the potential to destroy or damage thousands of enemy warships, were prepared and stored in coastal hideouts for the last defense of the home islands. Following Japan's surrender to the Allies at the conclusion of World War II , and Japan's subsequent occupation, Japan's entire imperial military was dissolved in the new constitution which states, "The Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes.
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To cite this article click here for a list of acceptable citing formats. The history of earlier contributions by wikipedians is accessible to researchers here:. Note: Some restrictions may apply to use of individual images which are separately licensed. Imperial Japanese Navy. Previous Imperial Examinations Keju. The U. Navy would be there, ready and waiting. Nimitz wasted no time in using Rochefort's information, which proved to be the single most valuable intelligence contribution to the entire Pacific war. A descendant of German colonists who had settled the west-Texas Pedernales River country early in the nineteenth century, Nimitz was a quiet, scholarly man, fluent in his ancestral tongue.
He sought relaxation by firing his pistol on a target range. He had arrived in Hawaii to take up the position of commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet on Christmas morning, The whaleboat ferrying him from his seaplane to shore had passed the devastated hulks along Battleship Row and threaded through small craft that were still retrieving surfacing bodies from the sunken ships. As much as any man in the Navy, Nimitz burned to retaliate for December 7. But in what his naval-academy class book described as his "calm and steady Dutch way," he was determined to do it methodically, with a minimum of risk and more than a fair chance of success.
Rochefort's cryptanalysts had now handed this careful, deliberate man a priceless opportunity. Nimitz reinforced Midway with planes, troops, and anti-aircraft batteries.
The Yorktown limped into Pearl Harbor on May 27, trailing a long, glistening oil slick as she nosed into a giant dry dock. A hip-booted Nimitz was sloshing about at her keel inspecting the damage even before the dry dock had fully drained. Told that repairs would take weeks, a reasonable estimate, Nimitz curtly announced that he must have the ship made seaworthy in three days. The dry dock instantly became a human anthill.
Hundreds of workers swarmed over the Yorktown, amid showers of sparks and clouds of smoke from the acetylene torches cutting away and replacing her damaged hull plates. The Yorktown refloated on May The next day, accompanied by her support ships in Task Force 17, as the ship's band incongruously played "California, Here I Come," she headed toward the rendezvous point—hopefully dubbed "Point Luck"—with Task Force 16, commanded by Rear Admiral Raymond A.
Fletcher, aboard the Yorktown, was in overall command of the task forces. While the three American carriers stealthily moved to their stations northeast of Midway, Nagumo approached from the northwest. The Japanese commander had good reason to assume that only the Enterprise and the Hornet remained afloat in the U. Pacific fleet, and he believed them to be in the South Pacific, where they had been spotted on May As dawn approached on June 4, Nagumo had no inkling that Fletcher and Spruance awaited him beyond Midway, over the eastern horizon.
All his attention focused on Midway Island, from which Bs and Catalina flying boats had ineffectually bombed his troop transports during the preceding afternoon and night. At A. They dropped their ordnance—high-explosive fragmentation bombs designed for ground targets—according to plan. But the commander asked for a second strike to finish the reduction of Midway's defenses.
His message arrived just as Nagumo's carriers were coming under attack from Midway-based aircraft. Not a single American bomb touched his ships, but the very appearance of the American planes was enough to persuade Nagumo to accede to the request for a second strike on Midway.
On the Akagi and the Kaga, Nagumo had been holding some ninety-three aircraft loaded with armor-piercing anti-ship ordnance, against the possibility that he might engage elements of the U. But at , increasingly confident that he had little to fear from American ships, he gave the order to rearm those aircraft with fragmentation bombs for a second assault against Midway. The refitting operation would take about an hour.
Even as Nagumo's perspiring sailors set about their task, Spruance, still to the northeast of Midway, was ordering full deckloads of bombers and torpedo planes on the Enterprise and the Hornet to lift off and strike the Japanese carriers. Nagumo's seamen toiled about the decks of his giant carriers, shuffling bomb-racks and hurriedly stacking torpedoes. Then, in the midst of the complicated rearmament operation, the Japanese cruiser Tone 's scout plane reported at that ten enemy ships were in sight.
Their position was within range of carrier-based aircraft, but the initial report did not identify the types of ships. Nagumo nevertheless decided as a precaution to halt the rearmament process. Meanwhile, he implored the reconnaissance plane to ascertain the ship types. Nagumo's skull must have throbbed with the agonies of decision and command. He was still under attack from Midway-based aircraft; his own returning assault planes were beginning to appear overhead; his decks were stacked with bombs of all types; and an unexpected American fleet had been spotted.
Ominously, the Tone 's patrol plane next radioed that the enemy flotilla was turning into the wind—the position from which carriers launch their aircraft.
The naval campaigns for New Guinea
Apprehension gripped the surprised Japanese, only to be allayed moments later by a report that the enemy flotilla consisted of five cruisers and five destroyers—and then to be revived by a message minutes afterward that the rising dawn had revealed a carrier in the rear of the American formation. This news was alarming but not catastrophic.
Nagumo still believed that his force was far superior in numbers, technology, and skill to anything the Americans could throw against him. Indeed, even while anxiously awaiting word from the Tone scout plane, the First Air Fleet's ships and fighters had badly mauled the Midway-based attackers, not one of which had yet managed to score a hit. Mitsuo Fuchida, the Pearl Harbor veteran serving as the Akagi 's flight leader, later wrote, "We had by this time undergone every kind of air attack by shore-based planes—torpedo, level bombing, dive-bombing—but were still unscathed.
Frankly, it was my judgment that the enemy fliers were not displaying a very high level of ability. Emboldened by such thoughts, the Japanese now saw the American carrier less as a threat than as an opportunity for inflicting additional punishment on the inept Americans. The battle thus far had emphatically confirmed Japanese combat superiority. Apprehension gave way to resolve—and to a fatal relaxation of the sense of urgency. Nagumo, confident that he held the upper hand, calmly waited to recover all his Midway bombers and fighters before magisterially turning to meet the American flotilla, still believing that only a single carrier confronted him.
Meanwhile, he reversed his earlier rearmament order and directed his planes to be fitted with anti-ship weapons once again, adding to the confusion and the piles of explosive ordnance strewn about his flight decks. Shortly after A. Nagumo executed his change of course to close with the American fleet, perhaps even to force the decisive battle that was the stuff of the Japanese navy's dreams.
What followed was decisive, all right, but for Japan and the imperial navy it was a nightmare. Nagumo's several armament changes and his delay in seizing the initiative contributed powerfully to his undoing, but for the moment his change of course proved advantageous. Many of the American planes launched from the Hornet and the Enterprise, along with some from the Yorktown, which had put its airmen aloft at around , never found him.
Flying at the limits of their operational range, they arrived at the sector where the Japanese were supposed to be, only to look out over empty seas. Many wandering American aircraft fell from the sky for want of fuel. Those who did locate the Japanese fleet tried in vain to penetrate the curtain of anti-aircraft fire and the swarming Zeros to reach the Japanese carriers. By Nagumo appeared to have beaten off the last of the attacks.
His proud fleet was still unscratched and was poised to loft a counterattack against the American fleet. For a brief moment Japan seemed to have won the Battle of Midway, and perhaps the war. One American flier scanning the scene from above was on the verge of coming to just that conclusion when suddenly he saw "a beautiful silver waterfall" of "Dauntless" dive bombers cascading down on the Japanese carriers. Navigating by guess and by God, Lieutenant Commander Wade McCluskey, from the Enterprise, and Lieutenant Commander Maxwell Leslie, from the Yorktown, had managed to arrive above the Japanese fleet at the precise moment its combat air patrol of Zeros had been drawn down to the deck to repel the Yorktown 's torpedo bombers, and at the moment of the First Air Fleet's maximum vulnerability.
With the dread Zeros too low to be effective, the Dauntlesses poured down through the miraculously open sky to unload their bombs on the Japanese carriers, their flight decks cluttered with confused ranks of recovered and warming-up aircraft, snaking fuel hoses, and stacks of munitions from the various rearmament operations. In five minutes the dive bombers, no less miraculously scoring the first American hits of the day, mortally wounded three Japanese carriers. Roaring gasoline-fed fires raged through all three ships.
The Kaga and the Soryu sank before sunset. The Akagi was scuttled during the night.
VJ Day: Surviving the horrors of Japan's WW2 camps
Of the First Air Fleet's magnificent flotilla of carriers, only the Hiryu remained to strike a counterblow against Fletcher's flagship, the battered Yorktown, which the sea enveloped at last at dawn on June 7. The Hiryu itself was overtaken by American fliers in the afternoon of June 4, and sank the next morning. Nagumo had lost four of the six carriers with which he had attacked Pearl Harbor just half a year earlier.
Spruance wisely refrained from pursuing the remaining Japanese vessels, which were retreating to the west, where he would have collided with Yamamoto's battleships—swift, powerful, night-trained, and thirsty for vengeance—just as darkness fell. At Midway the Americans turned the trick of surprise back upon the Japanese and at least partially avenged Pearl Harbor.
When the chaos of combat had subsided, the essential truth of Midway stood revealed: in just five minutes of incredible, gratuitous favor from the gods of battle, McCluskey's and Leslie's dive bombers had done nothing less than turn the tide of the Pacific war. Before Midway the Japanese had six large fleet-class carriers afloat in the Pacific, and the Americans three four with the Saratoga, which was returning from repairs on the West Coast at the time of the battle at Midway. With the loss of just one American and four Japanese carriers, including their complements of aircraft and many of their superbly trained fliers, Midway inverted the carrier ratio and put the Japanese navy at a disadvantage from which it never recovered.
In the two years following Midway, Japanese shipyards managed to splash only six additional fleet carriers. The United States in the same period added seventeen, along with ten medium carriers and eighty-six escort carriers. Such numbers, to be repeated in myriad categories of war materiel, spelled certain doom for Japan, though it was still a long and harrowing distance in the future.
The Battle of the Atlantic, which had pitted Britain against Germany since , was a contest for supremacy on the ocean highway across which all American supplies and troops must flow to Europe. Everything depended on keeping that highway open. Dwight Eisenhower, newly promoted to brigadier general and freshly installed as chief of the Army's War Plans Division, submitted a penetrating assessment of the importance of the North Atlantic sea-lanes to George Marshall on February 28, Shipping, he presciently added, "will remain the bottleneck of our effective effort," a statement that echoed repeated pronouncements by both Churchill and Roosevelt that the struggle with Hitler would be won or lost at sea.
It looked at first more likely to be lost. When he declared war on the United States, shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack, Hitler untethered the German submarine service from the restraints against which it had long chafed. Additional boats soon followed, their operational range and ability to remain on battle station enhanced by submarine tankers, or Milchkuhen milk cows , that refueled the U-boats at sea. The prize targets were tankers lumbering up from Caribbean and Gulf Coast oil ports to northeastern refineries and storage depots. Without shipping the [English] sally-port cannot be used for an attack on Europe.
Still imagining the war to be far away, and fearing to cramp the tourist trade, seaboard cities like New York, Atlantic City, and Miami refused to enforce blackouts. The backdrop of their bright lights, visible up to ten miles from shore, created a neon shooting gallery in which the U-boats nightly lay in wait on the seaward side of the shipping lanes and picked off their sharply silhouetted victims at will. U-boats prowling the Atlantic coast in January sank eight ships, including three tankers, in just twelve hours.
Only eleven of its crew members survived. On the evening of April 10 a surfaced U-boat used its deck gun to scuttle the Gulfamerica off Jacksonville Beach, Florida. The flaming tanker went down so close to shore that the departing U-boat commander gazed in fascination through his binoculars as thousands of tourists, their faces bathed in the red glow of the ship's fire, poured out of their hotels and restaurants to gape at the spectacle.
By July of , 4. Tanker sinkings were consuming 3. King had recently confined all tankers to port for two weeks. To counter the U-boat menace King could at first do little. In Roosevelt's quaint phrase, there was simply a "lack of naval butter to cover the bread. Atlantic Fleet was already hard pressed to shoulder its modest share of the burden of escorting North Atlantic convoys, and the sudden flaring of the Pacific war consumed virtually all new naval construction. The entire anti-submarine force available to the Eastern Sea Frontier command when the German sub offensive began consisted of three foot wooden sub-chasers, two foot patrol craft, a handful of First World War-vintage picket ships and Coast Guard cutters, and antiquated short-range aircraft, almost none of them equipped with submarine-seeking radar.
For a time this puny fleet was supplemented by the Coastal Picket Patrol, or "Hooligan Navy," a motley flotilla organized by private yachtsmen including a pistol-and-grenade-toting Ernest Hemingway at the helm of his sport-fishing boat Pilar. They formed a swashbuckling but decidedly amateurish patrol line some fifty miles offshore, reporting countless false submarine sightings that caused further dissipation of the Eastern Sea Frontier's desperately scant resources. In an ironic reversal of the Lend-Lease help that America had extended to Britain a year earlier, the Royal Navy transferred ten escort vessels and two dozen anti-submarine trawlers to the Americans for coastal defense, along with two squadrons of aircraft.
In a compound irony, the planes had originally been built in the United States. But even as the Eastern Sea Frontier began to accumulate the rudiments of an anti-submarine force, King persisted in deploying it badly. Contrary to all the hard-won lessons of the North Atlantic naval war, King clung to the belief that inadequately escorted convoys were worse than none, because they made for concentrated targets, only thinly protected. In consequence, merchant ships continued to sail independently, making easy prey for single submarines, while the handful of vessels that the Eastern Sea Frontier could muster to protect coastal shipping were dispatched together in futile pursuit of frequently phantom sightings.
Journal of the Australian War Memorial | The Australian War Memorial
King's stubbornness infuriated his colleagues. King was "the antithesis of cooperation, a deliberately rude person When King finally relented and in May organized a convoy system along the Atlantic coast, the results were dramatic. Just fourteen ships went down in the Eastern Sea Frontier that month, a sharp decline from the winter's disastrous rates of loss. Paukenschlag was ended. It had dealt a grievous blow to American shipping and measurably slowed American mobilization, not to mention wounding the pride of the U.
Navy, but it had been stopped short of catastrophe. The Eastern Sea Frontier was secure. German boatyards were adding at least fifteen new submarines to his fleet every month. If he could sink , tons of Allied merchant shipping a month, he calculated, victory would be his: Britain would face starvation, Russia defeat, and America permanent isolation on the far side of the Atlantic.
By mid success seemed to be at hand, as worldwide Allied shipping losses exceeded , tons a month. Despite frantic round-the-clock construction in both British and American shipyards, new Allied shipbuilding could not offset deficits on that scale. For as a whole, the Germans sank more than eight million tons of U.
Cruising in packs of a dozen or more, the U-boats inflicted damage that only grew more costly as unfolded. The Allied convoys were typically composed of ten columns totaling about sixty vessels, mostly American merchantmen carrying mostly American cargoes. They slogged eastward at eight or nine knots, loosely jacketed by as many as a dozen warships, almost all of them British or Canadian, weaving warily around their flanks.
Navy provided just two percent of the escorts in the North Atlantic. When aided by aerial reconnaissance, the escorts had a fighting chance of harassing the U-boats away from the convoy's path. But once a submerged wolf pack had closed undetected to torpedo range, it could wreak wholesale destruction on convoy and escorts alike.
The U-boats naturally concentrated, therefore, in those ocean areas out of range of Allied aircraft. There they could steam with impunity on the surface, diving only for the final attack. They especially favored two locations: the Norwegian Sea, the far northern passage to the Russian ports of Murmansk and Archangel; and the "air gap" southeast of Greenland, through which all convoys to both Britain and Russia had to pass.
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One combined surface, undersea, and air attack on the Russia-bound convoy PQ17 in the Norwegian Sea in July forced the escorting warships to separate from the convoy, and then scattered and sank twenty-two of the thirty-three merchantmen, an especially large loss. In August and September, U-boats attacked seven convoys in the Greenland air gap and sank forty-three ships.
In November total Allied losses again topped , tons, , of which fell to the U-boats. Nature added to the Allies' woes in the man-and-ship-eating North Atlantic. Blast-force winds, towering green seas, snow squalls, and ice storms claimed nearly a hundred ships during the winter of In March of a screaming gale slammed two convoys together, chaotically scrambling their sailing columns and wreaking wild confusion among their escorts. At a cost of just one U-boat lost, twenty-two merchantmen were sunk out of the ninety that had set sail from New York a few days earlier, along with one of the escort vessels.
At these rates of loss the Atlantic lifeline might soon have been permanently severed. In fact, the disaster of PQ17 contributed to the Western Allies' decision to suspend all North Atlantic convoys to the Russians for the remainder of , triggering bitter complaints from Stalin. The alternate but much-lower-capacity supply route to Russia, through the Persian Gulf and overland from Iran, remained open.
As for Britain, the sinkings in the Atlantic had by year's end cut its civilian oil reserves to a three-month supply, and imports of all kinds had withered to two thirds of pre-war levels. WHEN Churchill and Roosevelt met at Casablanca in mid-January of to discuss the war's progress, they were given a spectacular reminder of the continuing importance and unrelieved vulnerability of the Atlantic lifeline.
Just days before the two statesmen greeted each other in the Moroccan city, U-boats off the West African coast had attacked a special convoy ferrying precious oil from Trinidad to support the North African campaign. Just as the Casablanca conference opened, the convoy's few survivors reached Gibraltar, directly across the mouth of the Mediterranean from Morocco, telling harrowing tales of the shattering losses they had witnessed: seven of nine tankers sunk, 55, tons of shipping and more than , tons of fuel gone.
It was one of the most devastating U-boat attacks of the war. That sorry spectacle surely reinforced Churchill's and Roosevelt's determination to gain the upper hand in the Atlantic. But though even greater losses lay ahead, in fact the Battle of the Atlantic was already turning in the Allies' favor, and with astonishing swiftness. Most important, the arrival from American shipyards of additional escort vessels—particularly the new escort carriers, or "baby flat-tops," that were built on merchant hulls, carried about two dozen aircraft, and were designed principally for ferrying aircraft, anti-submarine patrol, and close-in tactical air support for beach assaults—at last gave the Allies an insuperable advantage.
The U-boats of this era were in fact not true submarines at all but submersible torpedo boats that could dive for brief periods before, during, and after an attack. They were unable to remain submerged for long, and were not designed for high-speed running under water. To reach their attack stations, to overtake prey, or to replenish their air supply, they were obliged to steam on the surface, where they were especially vulnerable to being sighted and assaulted from the air.
Now it was the German submariners' turn to quail. Aided by aerial reconnaissance along with improved shipborne radar and sonar, the naval escorts began to scour the submarines from the sea. Forty-three died in May of alone—nearly twice the rate at which they could be replaced. In the Happy Time of a U-boat had enjoyed an operational life of more than a year.
Now the average U-boat survived less than three months. Overall, the German submarine service lost more than 25, crew members to death and another 5, to capture: a 75 percent casualty rate that exceeded the losses of any other service arm in any nation. In the next four months sixty-two convoys comprising 3, merchant vessels crossed the Atlantic without the loss of a single ship.
BY the enormous productive apparatus of the U. The abundance of resources made possible not only the invasion of Europe on D-Day, June 6, but two distinct offensives against Japan: an assault by MacArthur in the southwestern Pacific, up the northern New Guinea shore toward the Philippines, and a thrust by Nimitz across the Central Pacific, through the Gilberts, the Marshalls, the Carolines, and the Marianas. To that end the Navy assembled a stupendous flotilla whose fighting heart was composed of fourteen or more "Essex-class" carriers, each of them a nearly foot-long floating airfield with a 3,man crew and embarking up to a hundred aircraft.
Known to American fliers and sailors as "The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot," the battle cost the Japanese three fleet carriers, nearly aircraft, and hundreds of irreplaceable pilots. Nevertheless, some senior U. Navy commanders criticized Spruance for letting Ozawa escape with as many ships as he did, denying Spruance the right to claim that he had indeed fought the legendary decisive battle.
The unsated yearning of both navies to fight that battle would have telling consequences four months later, as the Southwest Pacific and Central Pacific campaigns converged for the invasion of the Philippine Islands. On October 20, , the invasion convoys began unloading on the lightly defended beach at Leyte Gulf, in the Philippines. In a carefully arranged ritual, MacArthur walked down the ramp of a landing craft and waded ashore through the shallow surf, a moment captured in one of the war's most famous photographs.
The hour of your redemption is here Rally to me. What little there was reached Japan from the Dutch East Indies behind a screen of islands that ran from the Philippines through Formosa and the Ryukyus. Japan had to defend the Philippines or risk seeing its lifeline to the south completely severed.