Another WWII Question

Germany unconditionally surrendered on May 7, 1945, but WWII was not over yet. The Japanese agreed to an unconditionally surrender on August 14, 1945. Between these two dates the allies prepared for an full assault on Japan, however when two atomic bombs were dropped on Japan the war was soon over.

My question is were the other allies, I’m thinking here of Russia, Britain and France, prepared to storm the Japanese beaches with us or were they too depleted, in terms of men and material, to be of much help at that point?

France was not yet an independent military power and had no troops to commit to an invasion of Japan ( obviously the previous legal government, the continuation of the Third Republic in Vichy — recognised as such by America, but not Britain — as ally to Nazi Germany never declared war on Japan ). Britain would have supported America with any troops and ships in the east, but probably couldn’t afford it.

The USSR though had opportunistically declared war on Japan on the 8th August ( just after the first atomic bombing ) and invaded Manchuria with 1.5 million men and won several stunning and brilliant offensives. This was, as much as the bombings, the reason for Japan’s swift collapse.

The Russians were mentioned in the previous post.

The Australians retook Borneo and other islands in the Dutch East Indies during June and July of 1945 with U.S. naval support.

The British were finishing up their campaign in Burma in the summer of 1945, capturing Rangoon in early June. They were also actively planning “Operation Zipper,” the invasion of the Malay peninsula. In June, Lord Mountabatten set the date of invasion as September 9.

Then of course there is the famous Task Force 57 (when attached to the Fifth Fleet)/Task Force 37 (when attached to the Third Fleet). This was a multinational (almost entirely Commonwealth) force that included heavy representation from the RN that was active in 1945, including operations off the Japanese home islands during the summer, and would have participated in operations during the invasion of Japan.

The armoured flght decks of the British carriers proved their worth against kamikaze attacks off Okinawa and Japan.

According to Wikipedia, the last time a British battleship fired its guns in anger was when* King George V* bombarded the Japanese town of Hamamatsu.

This summary is not all inclusive, but at least should give a clear idea that the British and other allies were not waiting idly while the U.S. finished up the war alone.

This was in accordance with their agreement with the Allies to go to war against Japan three months after the conclusion of the war with Germany.

Wow. Stuff you don’t learn in high school history class! Great answers. Thanks everyone.

My father was on the invasion force for Japan. When we visited the Hiroshima Peace Park in the 1990’s, his takeaway was “fat boy” saved my life.

The overall invasion plan was Operation Downfall. The first part was Operation Olympic, which was an invasion of the island of Kyushu scheduled for October 1945. Kyushu would be used as a base to launch Operation Coronet, which was an invasion of the island Honshu near Tokyo scheduled for March 1946. Olympic was going to use only American ground forces, Coronet was going to also include Australian, British, and Canadian ground troops. The naval forces were American, Australian, and British.

The Soviets were also planning an invasion of Japan, although their plans did not reach the same stage of development as the American plans. They were planning on invading the island of Hokkaido but they had not set a date.

In Quartered Safe Out Here, an excellent account by George MacDonald Fraser, creator of the Flashman series, of his personal participation in Burma in the British military, recounts at the end how his unit was in the process of preparing to leave Burma to invade Japan when news came over the wireless of some sort of new “super bomb.”

And in the air, there was Tiger Force.

Some have argued that the prospect of the Soviets participating in the invasion was a factor in favor of using the A-bombs on cities. If the war hadn’t been brought to a quick close and the Soviets had regrouped and mounted their own invasion, the end result would have very likely been a partitioned state like Germany.

Same with my Dad, after a slog up the Ruhr valley, they shipped the lot of them to California, then they dropped the bomb. Turned around and shipped him back to Germany for occupational force fun.

The invasion of Kyūshū would have involved 14 US Army and Marine divisions and a couple of additional regiments, together with three fleets and five air forces. Britain and Australia were to contribute ships and aircraft (Wikipedia mentions six British carriers, around 500 RAF bombers and 20 RAAF squadrons).

The invasion of Honshū would have involved 28 US Army and Marine divisions (including follow-on reserves), plus a corps with one division each from Britain, Canada and Australia.

So the US would have borne the overwhelming brunt of the fighting, but not without some assistance.

In Germany and Italy the allies had captured and occupied most of the land involved in the conflict.

Not so with Japan. The allies had aimed a dagger at the heart of Japan, the home islands, but there were still vast areas nominally under Japanese control like China and southeast Asia. The other allies would have been working on liberating these areas, with an eye toward recovering some of their colonial lands (in the case of Britain and France) or capturing new lands (the Soviet Union in Manchuria.) It could be argued that the A-bomb was dropped partly to prevent the other major powers from grabbing those lands.

In the grand tradition of minor nitpicks on the SDMB, “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima and “Fat Man” was dropped on Nagasaki. (Now watch me turn out to have that backwards or something.)

I highly recommend Hell to Pay: Operation Downfall and the Invasion of Japan, 1945-1947 by D.M. Giangreco for a very detailed, interesting account of the planning for an invasion of Japan.

In a nutshell: Japanese civilian society was highly militarized by mid-1945, with even schoolchildren being trained to use sharpened bamboo spears against the invaders. The Japanese military stockpiled ammo and gas for a new wave of kamikaze attacks, and correctly predicted that the Allies planned to come ashore in the southern islands, which were then heavily reinforced in the months before Aug. 1945. Considering the losses on Okinawa and Iwo Jima, a conventional invasion of Japan would have been very, very costly in both Allied and Japanese lives.

Pretty much what my father told me. He readily agreed his chances of coming home from Japan were about nil.

No, despite another grand tradition, your correction is perfectly right. :cool:

New Zealand had a division fighting in the Pacific in '43 and early '44 (NZ 3rd Div) but it was disbanded due to manpower shortages with some of its members transfered to the NZ 2nd Division in Italy and others returned to civilian work.

The wiki article indicates that there was a choice as to which Division to disband and the 3rd was selected after discussion with Britain and the US – it was felt that the 2nd in Italy was more essential than the 3rd in the Pacific.

I haven’t read that book, but everything which I have agrees with that assessment. I have read somewhere that one tactic they were teaching kids was to arm a grenade and then run under the coming tank. Even if that particular thing wasn’t true, it still was going to be a really ugly even.

Discussing the kamikaze, even with air superiority, the US forces were unable to take out the small airfields in Kyushu which were used for to launch the attacks.

Mine too. He was in training in the states when the bomb was dropped. His DIs were telling him that they would be in the first wave. I did read latter that the plan was to have mostly green troops in the first wave with veteran leadership. The thought was that new troops would be scared of the danger. Those that had been through it before would realize that reality was a lot worse and might not be able to storm the beach. Wish I could remember where I saw that.