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Savlon Inactive Member19 Apr 2012 2:42 p.m. PST

Can anyone point me in the direction of resources to explore Operation Downfall, the planned inasion of Japan?

I am particularly interested in the British and Commonwealth contribution.

Thank you.

Timbo W19 Apr 2012 3:29 p.m. PST

Not a bad wiki article here link

Commonwealth forces would be
British Pacific Fleet (operating as part of Third Fleet): link The fleet included 17 aircraft carriers (with 300 aircraft), four battleships, 10 cruisers, 40 destroyers, 18 sloops, 13 frigates, 35 minesweepers, other kinds of fighting ships, and many support vessels.

Tiger Force (detached from RAF Bomber Command): link 480580 Avro Lancaster bombers (about half to be used as air-to-air refuelling tankers)

Australian First Tactical Air Force 20 fighter/attack squadrons from the Royal Australian Air Force link

Commonwealth land forces weren't supposed to be involved in the initial landing, Olympic, but although it was not finally decided upon, there was a Commonwealth Corps planned for Coronet in 1946 link

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member19 Apr 2012 4:17 p.m. PST

As Timbo says, Commonwealth land forces weren't to be involved until Operation Coronet. I've got a projected orbat here somewhere.

There was some political wrangling, as the USA didn't want Indian forces involved – they'd probably been listening too much to Wingate. Nevertheless, the 44th Indian Airborne Division was nominated for the operation and the joint British-Indian 'BrinDiv' formed part of the post-war occupation forces.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP19 Apr 2012 4:46 p.m. PST

The American command was not crazy about using British/Commonwealth troops but did agree – as noted, following the initial landing

I know that about 60 of the ships in the planned British/Commonwealth fleet were from the Royal Canadian Navy, and that there were 80,000 volunteers for service – I think that 6th Canadian division was the unit designated to follow up the US landings

Lion in the Stars19 Apr 2012 9:01 p.m. PST

And just to make you cringe a little about how bad the Americans expected that landing to be: the US has not had any Purple Heart medals made since 1945. Every single Purple Heart medal awarded since the end of WW2 has been surplus from those ordered in advance of Operation Olympic. And there are still so many in inventory that each Army battalion can keep some on-hand to award pretty much as soon as a soldier arrives at the Battalion Aid Station.

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member19 Apr 2012 10:03 p.m. PST

Made me remember this article about the Government having to contract for some more Purple Hearts back in 1976 and 1999. Robert

Monday, December 15, 2003 – 22:57
Are New Purple Hearts Being Manufactured to Meet the Demand?

D.M Giangreco and Kathryn Moore
Mr. Giangreco is the author of War in Korea: 1950-1953. He and Kathryn Moore are co-authors of Dear Harry . . . Truman's Mailroom, 1945-1953: The Truman Administration through Correspondence with "Everyday Americans" and the upcoming Eyewitness D-Day.
In 2000, for the first time in years, the government ordered a new supply of Purple Hearts. The old supply, manufactured in anticipation of the invasion of the home islands of Japan during World War II, had begun to run low.

The decoration, which goes to American troops wounded in battle and the families of those killed in action, had been only one of countless thousands of supplies produced for the planned 1945 invasion of Japan, which military leaders believed would last until almost 1947.

Fortunately, the invasion never took place. All the other implements of that war -- tanks and LSTs, bullets and K-rations -- have long since been sold, scrapped or used up, but these medals, struck for their grandfathers, are still being pinned on the chests of young soldiers.

Remarkably, some 120,000 Purple Hearts are still in the hands of the Armed Services and are not only stocked at military supply depots, but also kept with major combat units and at field hospitals so they can be awarded without delay.

But although great numbers of the World War II stock are still ready for use, the recent production of 9,000 new copies was ordered for the most simple of bureaucratic reasons. So many medals had been transferred to the Armed Services that the government organization responsible for supplying them had to replenish its own inventory.

In all, approximately 1,506,000 Purple Hearts were produced for the war effort with production reaching its peak as the Armed Services geared up for the invasion of Japan. Despite wastage, pilfering and items that were simply lost, the number of decorations was approximately 495,000 after the war.

By 1976, roughly 370,000 Purple Hearts had been earned by servicemen and women who fought in America's Asian wars, as well as trouble spots in the Middle East and Europe. This total included a significant number issued to World War II and even World War I veterans whose paperwork had finally caught up with them or who filed for replacement of missing awards.

It was at this point that the Defense Supply Center in Philadelphia (DSCP) found that its decades-old stock of Purple Hearts had dwindled to the point that it had to be replenished.

The organization ordered a small number of medals in 1976 to bolster the "shelf worn" portions of the earlier production still retained by the Armed Services at scattered locations around the globe. It wasn't long, however, before an untouched warehouse load of the medal was rediscovered after falling off the books. The DSCP suddenly found themselves in possession of nearly 125,000 more Purple Hearts.

Increasing terrorist activity in the late 1970s and '80s resulted in mounting casualties among service personnel and a decision was made to inspect and refurbish all of the remaining stock. Fully 4,576 of the 124,588 medals stored in the Pennsylvania warehouse were deemed to be too costly to bring up to standards and were labeled "unsalvageable." The remaining decorations were refurbished and repackaged between 1985 and 1991.

Demand for the item was high. By the end of 1999, most of the refurbished medals had been shipped to other government customers and the DSCP entered into contracts for the first large-scale production of Purple Hearts since World War II.

Veterans of World War II were keenly interested in the new development, particularly those who had worked with the Smithsonian Institution on the 50th Anniversary display of the Enola Gay, the B-29 bomber that dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima. Controversy had erupted over the Smithsonian's presentation at the National Air and Space Museum, when veterans protested that the multimedia display and exhibit script was crafted in a way that portrayed the Japanese as victims, and not instigators, of the war.

The veterans were heavily criticized in some academic circles for their insistence that the dropping of the atom bomb had ended the war quickly and ultimately saved countless thousands of American -- and Japanese -- lives during an invasion.

When hearing of the new production, Jim Pattillo, then president of the 20th Air Force Association stated that, "detailed information on the kind of casualties expected would have been a big help in demonstrating to modern Americans that those were very different times."

Medical and training information in "arcanely worded military documents can be confusing," said Pattillo, "but everyone understands a half-million Purple Hearts."

Gary Hoebecke is one of the soldiers who received Purple Hearts during service in Vietnam for wounds suffered in 1965, 1968 and 1969. The retired lieutenant colonel was amazed that the decades-old medals are still being used.

"With all the waste and screw-ups," said Hoebecke, "it's quite remarkable that they have kept track of that stock and are still using them."

When told that 125,000 had effectively been lost until after the Vietnam War, Hoebecke laughed. "Now that's the Army I know!" he said, adding, "I'm glad we didn't have to use them."

But perhaps the most poignant appreciation came from a fellow Vietnam vet who learned for the first time that he had received a medal minted for the grandfathers of he and his buddies. "I will never look at my Purple Heart the same way again," he said.

This article draws on material first published by the authors in a piece written for American Heritage,"Half a Million Purple Hearts."

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP20 Apr 2012 4:30 a.m. PST

All the twits who rant about the US dropping the A-Bombs should take a closer look at the Downfall operations. The bombs saved countless lives both Allied and Japanese.

The thing the critics don't realize is that huge military operations like this have a momentum of their own. Operation Olympic was already in motion and was going to take place on November 1, 1945. Period. The only thing--the ONLY THING-- that could have stopped that was Japan surrendering. We can all be glad that Japan did.

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member20 Apr 2012 8:15 a.m. PST

The known Commonwealth forces known to be slated for Operation 'Coronet' (which was pencilled in for March 1946)were:

British X Corps (to be renamed 'Commonwealth Corps'):
3rd British Infantry Division
6th Canadian Infantry Division
10th Australian Infantry Division

Proposed Indian Airborne Corps:
6th British Airborne Division
2nd (renumbered from 44th) Indian Airborne Division

Royal Marine 'Division' (administrative HQ only):
1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th Commando Bdes
116th & 117th Royal Marine Infantry Brigades (acting as Beach Groups)
34th Amphibious Support Regiment RM (2x Batteries LVT(A)-4, 1x Battery LVT(R) & 1x Battery LVT-4(F) Sea Serpent)

Armoured component:
1st Royal Gloucestershire Hussars (Churchill VII & VIII)
8th RTR (Churchill Crocodile)
4th RTR (LVT-2 & LVT-4 Buffalo)
At least two other armoured regiments

There would obviously be masses of RA & RE support for a force of this size, including armoured engineering assets in large quantities.

Follow-up forces would probably consist of an Indian Corps, freed up following the pacification of Burma. XXXIV Indian Corps was slated for Operation 'Zipper' the invasion of Malaya, which left IV, XV and XXXIII Indian Corps in Burma. One of these corps would undoubtedly be needed for follow-up operations in Malaya, leaving one corps to mop up in Burma and one spare corps of 2-3 infantry divisions, 1-2 tank brigades and 1-2 AGRAs to send to Japan.

The US wanted no participation by Indian troops and also wanted all Commonwealth forces to be organised, trained and equipped along US lines. However, when one looks at the projected casualty figures (an estimated 800,000 Allied fatalities, plus another million or so wounded), would they really have refused the offer of battle-hardened Indian formations?

I would also tentatively add a New Zealand Infantry Division to this list. They certainly formed part of the postwar occupation.

Savlon Inactive Member20 Apr 2012 12:21 p.m. PST

Thanks chaps. I had read The wikipedia article and (apart from confirming what a looney McArthur was)felt it had too much US bias.

ScottWashurn – agree completely (don't tell my CND mates!)

R Mark Davies – excellent stuff

But where is a resource I can research for myself ? I really want to put on a game where late war tanks get to roll over medieval Japanese buildings.

Skarper20 Apr 2012 3:58 p.m. PST

I hope this doesn't run on and on…

Japan would have capitulated without the need for an invasion if offered the terms they eventually got.

But – people making the decisions at the time couldn't have known that for sure…so maybe they were justified.

There is a strong case that it was a cynical experiment on a lesser race that would also frighten the Soviets.

Timbo W20 Apr 2012 4:45 p.m. PST

iirc the Japanese ruling group were split 50-50 on whether to fight on, and in the end the Emperor cast the deciding vote to accept surrender.

This, however, was after both Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

But lets not draw this into the same old bomb/no bomb dispute.

Lion in the Stars20 Apr 2012 5:46 p.m. PST

With all the strategic firebombing going on, the only city that was really still standing more-or-less untouched at the end of WW2 was Kyoto.

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member20 Apr 2012 6:13 p.m. PST

Would any of these be helpful Savlon?

PDF link
PDF link

And over on the Axis History forum is quite a bit of information and document sources,
There is also the Osprey Book on the subject IIRC. Robert

Skarper20 Apr 2012 6:52 p.m. PST

I agree with you Timbo.

There is evidence that the Japanese might have surrendered as early as Spring 1945 if the 'unconditional' clause had been dropped.

But there is no guarantee of course. Elements in the Japanese military wanted to fight on after the bombs fell!

The people making the decisions at the time had to weigh in the risk of another half million allied casualties expected in Operation Olympic. So I can see some justification.

That they didn't follow up the peace feelers is IMO very wrong. It doesn't matter how evil the Japanese Empire was – the victims of the A-bombs and the firebombing were mostly totally innocent.

I think it's clear that certain powers wanted to use the bomb on a real target – for test purposes. So an unconditional surrender after the fall of Okinawa would have really frustrated them!

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP21 Apr 2012 4:11 a.m. PST

On the evening of 14-15 August 1945, after both bombs had been dropped AND the emperor had decided on surrender a coup attempt in Tokyo was narrowly averted/put down. And this wasnt the only attempt nor the only coup during the war.

Even if the allies had followed up on various secret negotiations, or offered terms which were eventually implemented, there was no guarantee they could have been implemented, especially if the bombs had not been used or the emperor convinced to cast the deciding vote. Would the emperor have decided the way he did minus the use of the atomic bombs? We dont know for sure and certainly at the time the decision makers didnt either.

A review of Japanese plans to counter an invasion certainly shows the death toll, among military and civilians, would far outstrip the number lost due to the use of the atomic bomb.

Cyclops Inactive Member21 Apr 2012 8:29 a.m. PST

Why were the US against the use of Commonwealth troops, Indians in particular? They were fighting alongside Commonwealth troops in Europe with no insurmountable problems despite differing weapons and tactics.
I can see racism might play a part re the Indians but what about the Brits and Anzacs?

Lion in the Stars21 Apr 2012 10:27 a.m. PST

Deleted by Moderator American troops being unable to tell the difference between one yellow-skinned dude and another, probably.

The Navajo code talkers suffered a lot of the same problems, and they wore the exact same uniforms as the guys trying to 'shoot the Jap!'

Timbo W21 Apr 2012 10:49 a.m. PST

Agent B,

I get the impression that the high-ranking US leaders were, by this stage, actively trying to avoid the British / Commonwealth forces gaining a clear victory in the East. Presumably to weaken the Empire post-war?

To their credit middle and lower ranking US commanders did their very best to help out Commonwealth forces (eg with access to supplies etc).

Skarper21 Apr 2012 11:04 a.m. PST

I accept that they didn't 'know'it would succeed.

But they could have tried to negotiate an end to the war in Spring 1945 before unleashing the A-bombs. Maybe there was only a 10% chance of success but they should have tried anyway. Knowing they had the bomb up their sleeves there isn't even the 'daren't look weak' argument. If Japanese command somehow gets the idea that the US is close to breaking point and resolves to hold out even longer in the hope of a morale failure, then they still have the bomb to finish it all anyway.

They didn't try to negotiate and the people who made the decisions bear that guilt.

The general public and rank and file in the military at the time and since have been sold this 'countless lives saved' line for over half a century!

But they didn't even have to attack Japan with ground troops. Bombing and a blockade had neutralised any significant exteranl threat Japan posed. I know that's an untidy end to the job and sympathise with people's desire to see it 'over with'. But Operation Olympic was not '100% necessary' either.

A test on a small Japanese held island with limited civilian casualties might also have worked. Some say they needed the surprise factor so a single bomber at normal altitude could conduct the attack without risk of interception, but if so why was Nagasaki not intercepted? I think the chance of intercepting a single aircraft was negligible anyway when set against the risk of a technical problem.

Fact is – the US wanted to use the bomb, and Japan was the last chance to do so.

11th ACR21 Apr 2012 11:19 a.m. PST

"Deleted by Moderator American troops being unable to tell the difference between one yellow-skinned dude and another, probably."

You're not even worth a Doghouse!

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP21 Apr 2012 11:36 a.m. PST

I prefer to use Occam's Razor on this one. The Americans had been bombing Japan for many months, killing far more people and destroying far more property that the A-Bombs did. And yet Japan had not surrendered. We drop the bombs and they surrender. Seems pretty straightforward.

However, now I'm going to turn completely around and say that while the decision to use the bombs was completely justifiable, the MANNER in which the decision was made is rather scary. President Truman gave the okay to use the bombs. Note that he did not specifically okay the use against any specific target nor did he actually authorize the Nagasaki bomb. By the summer of 1945 the US Army Air Forces had created an incredible machine for delivering bombs to targets. Bombs and bombers were built in factories, they were shipped to the front and the bombs were dropped on their targets. The machine had become so efficient that no one ever questioned whether what it was doing was helping to win the war. It dropped bombs. That's what it did.

And so when the A-Bombs were ready the generals went to Truman and said: "Sir, the new bombs are ready. Can we use them?" Truman thought about it and gave the okay. From that point on the process was automatic. The A-Bombs were fed into one end of the machine and they came out the other end over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We had two A-Bombs so we dropped them on two targets. If we'd had ten A-Bombs we would have dropped them on ten targets. If we'd still been at war with Germany we would have dropped them on German targets. The whole thing was on auto-pilot and that's kind of scary.

Timbo W21 Apr 2012 2:47 p.m. PST

Also its worth remembering that the decisions were made in the aftermath of the very bloody battle of Okinawa. In effect a trial run for the invasion of Japan, scaling it up wasn't looking pretty.

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP21 Apr 2012 3:38 p.m. PST

But there was NO chance. The peace party was weak and the politicians who advocated peace were many times assassinated. The kempeitai's reign of terror made even secret negotiations futile.

The talk of blockade was equally futile. The Japanese civilians would bear the brunt of such effort and disease and famine would have run rampant.

As to a test that wouldnt have made any difference and the problem was lack of weapons. After the two that were used the US had components for a 3rd bomb but it wasnt ready and a fourth was months away.

I can find no credible proof in historical records that the bombs were merely used because the US military wanted a test subject.

The bomb was seen as the last possible chance to avoid invasion. Invasions such as Olympic and Coronet were planned well in advance and steps to carry them out already underway. Had the bombs failed, or not been used, then invasion was inevitable.

Gary Kennedy Inactive Member05 May 2012 11:44 a.m. PST

Going back to the original question re Br/CW participation, I've been able to get hold of a few more 'Light' WE tables issued in 1945. That for the Tank Bn (Light) shows one third flame tanks, but one per Troop rather than one full Sqn. I also found a ref in 34 Armd Bdes online history to their having five Regts, including 49 APC Regt, and there is a 'Light' table for that I might add.

One that's thrown me somewhat is the Armd Regt (Special), (Light), which turned out to be a CDL Bn! Was there any possibility this was the fifth Regt due to go ooverseas as part of 34 Armd Bde I wonder?


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