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"No nukes in WWII - when and who?" Topic

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953 hits since 21 Sep 2016
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VCarter Supporting Member of TMP21 Sep 2016 1:41 p.m. PST

What if… The U.S. does not drop the atomic bomb(s) on Japan and goes the blockade route instead.

By 1946 Japan starving and in the dark surrendered.

U.S. has the bomb and the Soviets will have it soon.

All other history remains the same.

When will the first a-bomb be used?

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP21 Sep 2016 1:54 p.m. PST

Berlin Crisis. 1948?
Problem is we will have a lot of them, and no "real" experience of the devastation on cities.

vicmagpa Inactive Member21 Sep 2016 2:04 p.m. PST

look at the training videos . how close the troops were in trenches. amazing!

Mako11 Inactive Member21 Sep 2016 2:34 p.m. PST

I'm not so sure they would have surrendered by 1946, without the bomb.

skippy0001 Supporting Member of TMP21 Sep 2016 2:34 p.m. PST

They would be used in Korea.

rmaker21 Sep 2016 3:09 p.m. PST

I agree with Mako. If the A-bombs hadn't been used, it would have been necessary to invade Japan. All four islands. The Japanese defense plans would have ensured a) massive Allied casualties, and b) the near extermination of the Japanese people.

The Ban the Bomb folks seem to be able to keep ignoring the fact that school children were being trained as, in effect, suicide bombers. And even when they admit that, they claimed it wouldn't have really happened at least until the Jihadists began using school kids.

In fact, the highest level of the Operation Olympic plans included the tactical use of nuclear weapons.

Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP21 Sep 2016 3:22 p.m. PST

A bomb over North Korea followed by one over West Berlin?

VCarter Supporting Member of TMP21 Sep 2016 3:36 p.m. PST

I agree Japan would not have surrendered in 1945 or 46 or ever without the bomb.

However, for sake of the "what if" assume they did.

Imagine the bomb is kept secret and we don't want to expose that secret without a major reason.

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member21 Sep 2016 4:02 p.m. PST

I realize this subject is highly debateable and arguiment-provoking, and I'm not a scholar or expert, but isn't there a strong school of thought that has analyzed the evidence and examined the behind-the-secnes negotiations of the time and puts forward a strong case for Japan looking for a way to surrender "with honor" in their eyes by the summer of 1945? American intransigence may have slowed the process (esp. in regard to the fate of the Emperor) but there is still a case to be made for a blockade and negotiation bringing about an end to the war without the compulsion to invade and occupy the home islands OR use the Bomb.

The Soviet invasion of Manchuria only complicated things for American war planners and may have played a part in the decision to use atomic weapons rather than look to the longer term.

Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP21 Sep 2016 4:21 p.m. PST

Counter-factuals are always hard because in the end, we only know what DID happen.

Saying that something WILL always happen or will NEVER happen seems to be the sort of thing where analysis of past events is fitted neatly to present-day political beliefs.

At the time, there was plenty of discussion and plenty of people in high positions in the US government, who were uncertain about the use of the bomb and who believed that Japan could be induced to surrender.

If the men in charge at the time had doubts, I think it's reasonable to have the same doubt today, whatever your beliefs happen to be.

Oberlindes Sol LIC21 Sep 2016 4:28 p.m. PST

An invasion of Japan may not have been required to conquer Japan. The blockade and mining of waterways prevented imports of food and raw materials, and Japan could neither feed itself nor produce enough weapons to continue the war. By 1947 or so, the survivors may not have been physically able to put up substantial resistance to an invasion.

However, in August 1945, Japanese forces were still occupying large areas of China, Southeast Asia, and the Indonesian archipelago. Those forces could rely to some extent on local production for their military needs, and major military operations would have been necessary to end the occupations.

In addition, victory in Europe had freed the Soviet army to traverse Siberia, liberate Sakhalin Island, and then invade Japan. Thus there was a need on the part of the western allies to rush the capitulation, so that Japan would be occupied initially and primarily by American forces.

If we assume no atomic bombing of Japan, the war continues for a while, I think along these lines:

The Soviets mass in Siberia/Kamchatka by September 1945. They probably have to build transport ships for the invasion, which may not be ready until the spring of 1946. Meanwhile, they liberate Manchuria and Korea, which become puppet states of the nascent Soviet bloc.

The Chinese civil war is delayed, as the Kuomintang and Kungchungtang continue to fight the Japanese more than each other. Neither side wants Manchuria to fall to the Soviets, and there is likely to be a major push north to prevent that result.

US, British, and Australian forces get involved in an enormous land war in Asia, stretching from China to New Guinea.

It is in the last context that I think atomic weapons are first used. By 1947 or 1948, they have been tested many times in the American desert, and are reliable enough for battlefield use. The Americans use them against Japanese fortifications in the jungles of Borneo or Java.

Because the locations are remote, information about the effects of atomic weapons circulates only in military intelligence analyses, which are laudatory of the effectiveness of the weapons in eliminating enemy positions.

Forces taking positions cleared by atomic weapons are felled by radiation sickness. A cover-up naturally ensues, and military doctrine is changed to require going around the sites of nuclear explosions.

Rufus T Firefly21 Sep 2016 4:32 p.m. PST

We basically had the Japanese in a blockade for a while. The smallest junk, sampan, fishing boat or freighter was shot up by roving Naval aircraft or subs. True, we could, rather than invade, just sit back and starve them out. But given the known fanatical nature of the Japanese to die literally to the last man, woman, or child it is highly doubtful that mass starvation of the people would have brought the military leaders to the negotiating table. And today we would all be wringing our hands about how could the U.S. have perpetrated such a horrific famine upon the Japanese people, allowing millions to die horrible deaths.

Mako11 Inactive Member21 Sep 2016 5:04 p.m. PST

I'm no expert, but I don't seem to recall any evidence, strong or otherwise, of Japan really seeking to surrender and end the war.

Most of the battle accounts and preparations I've read about and seen photos/newsreels of seem to point to just the opposite, instead.

Oberlindes Sol LIC21 Sep 2016 5:40 p.m. PST

Japan was not seeking to surrender or negotiate an end to the war in 1945. Continued blockade and the attendant starvation might have led to insurrection and overthrow of the military regime -- or quite likely not.

The Soviets would have invaded as soon as they could. My rough estimate is spring 1946. So the western powers would have to invade in the fall of 1945 to obtain a fait accompli.

A Soviet invasion (assuming the western powers didn't invade in 1945) would breach the blockade. Query whether that would have led to open hostilities.

David Manley21 Sep 2016 8:24 p.m. PST

This came up in a discussion elsewhere on the subject which names interesting reading if correct.


Mako11 Inactive Member21 Sep 2016 9:00 p.m. PST

Interesting article.

Funny how the writer twists it around that America was at fault for the Japanese refusing to unconditionally surrender though.

"Their main stumbling block to surrender was the United States' insistence on unconditional surrender".

Of course there was some desire for revenge, after being so brutally attacked on Dec. 7, 1941, and having so many Americans killed, maimed, and wounded.

VVV reply22 Sep 2016 1:15 a.m. PST

In 1945 Japan was already defeated and knew it. They were trying to make peace.

The dropping of nukes on Japan was really a weapons test. After WW2 there were lots more tests against different types of targets.

Let us not forget that Russia attacked Japan (as they had promised to do after Germany was defeated). They slaughtered the Japanese forces.

On June 22, the Emperor summoned the Big Six to a meeting. Unusually, he spoke first: "I desire that concrete plans to end the war, unhampered by existing policy, be speedily studied and that efforts made to implement them."

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP22 Sep 2016 6:28 a.m. PST

Another interesting thing about the article is the comparison of 500 plane B-29 raids versus the lone bombers of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
It mentions at least two raids on Tokyo that killed far more people. Yet it is the atomic bombs that were not necessary. The incendiary raids are those the author claims were the key.
It seems the author would have been sanguine about more of the far more devastating incendiary raids than atomic bombs.
Had Hiroshima or Nagasaki been instead leveled by 300 plane B-29 raids, that would have been acceptable?
I think that those would have been shrugged off as just more body punches. The ability of ONE plane to cause that much damage was the knockout punch.

ThePeninsularWarin15mm22 Sep 2016 2:01 p.m. PST

"The Soviet invasion of Manchuria only complicated things for American war planners and may have played a part in the decision to use atomic weapons rather than look to the longer term."

The Allies didn't have the man power to invade Japan and China (where the Imperial Japanese Army [IJA] was largely at). Japan had a large standing army and the Americans had only really tackled the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN), marines and small elements from the IJA. Overrunning fringe territories would have been possible as the Soviets proved could be done but even they had man power problems. We must remember large occupation forces were necessary for Europe and so you would either need to pull large numbers of troops from that theater or raise new ones.

Despite the double nuclear bombings, unconditional surrender did not really occur. The History Channel may tell you about many "entertaining" matters but as always, do your own research. President Truman wrote Presidential Proclamation 2714 which officially ended hostilities effective December 31, 1946. The war would not end until the signing of the Peace Treaty of San Francisco on September 8, 1951, to be effective on April 28, 1952; the eve of Emperor Hirohito's birthday.

VVV reply22 Sep 2016 2:29 p.m. PST

The ability of ONE plane to cause that much damage was the knockout punch.

And IMHO it was the Soviet invasion of Manchuria that was the deciding factor.

As I already mentioned the Japanese were already seeking peace. Having Russia attack them was the end.

Tsuyoshi Hasegawa's research has led him to conclude that the atomic bombings were not the principal reason for Japan's capitulation. He argues that Japan's leaders were impacted more by the swift and devastating Soviet victories on the mainland in the week following Joseph Stalin's August 8 declaration of war because the Japanese strategy to protect the home islands was designed to fend off a US invasion from the South, and left virtually no spare troops to counter a Soviet threat from the North.

rmaker22 Sep 2016 9:51 p.m. PST

There was no Soviet invasion threat unless you believe that Soviet soldiers were really good at holding their breath so as to walk across the Yellow Sea on the bottom. The Soviet naval presence and maritime troop lift capability in the Far East was miniscule.

Bunkermeister Supporting Member of TMP22 Sep 2016 10:02 p.m. PST

Japanese officers attempted a coup rather than allow the Emperor to surrender, it failed. Atomic bombs were necessary to win the war if you want to avoid an invasion.

Mike Bunkermeister Creek
Bunker Talk blog

VVV reply23 Sep 2016 6:51 a.m. PST

Well the Russians managed to annex the Kuril islands

The Kuril Islands dispute (Russian: Спор о принадлежности Курильских островов Spor o prinadlezhnosti Kuril'skikh ostrovov), also known as the Northern Territories dispute (Japanese: 北方領土問題 Hoppō Ryōdo Mondai?), is a dispute between Japan and Russia and also some individuals of the Ainu people over sovereignty of the South Kuril Islands. The disputed islands, like other islands in the Kuril chain that are not in dispute, were annexed by Soviet forces during the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation at the end of World War II. The disputed islands are under Russian administration as the South Kuril District of the Sakhalin Oblast (Сахалинская область, Sakhalinskaya oblast). They are claimed by Japan, which refers to them as its Northern Territories (北方領土 Hoppō Ryōdo?) or Southern Chishima (南千島 Minami Chishima?), and considers them part of the Nemuro Subprefecture of Hokkaido Prefecture.

The operation took place between August 18 and September 1. The attack was made by the 87th Rifle Corps (Guards Lieutenant General A. S. Ksenofontov) of the 16th Army (Lieutenant General L. G. Cheremisov) from the 2nd Far Eastern Front, and elements of the Kamchatka Defense Area (Major General A. R. Gnechko commanding). Ships and transportation were drawn from the Petropavlovsk military base (Captain D. G. Ponomarev). The 128th Airborne Division also provied support.

The islands were occupied by the Japanese 91st Infantry Division (Shiashkotan, Paramushir, Shumshu, and Onekotan), 42nd Division (Shimushiro), 41st Independent Regiment (Matua Island), 129th Independent Brigade (Urup Island), and 89th Infantry Division (Iturup and Kunashiri). The Japanese commander was Lieutenant General Tsutsumi Fusaki.

Initial reconnaissance was undertaken on 18 August by a detachment of the 113th Separate Rifle Brigade (Captain-Lieutenant G. I. Brunshtein), carried by two mine trawlers (ТЩ-589 and ТЩ-590) to Rubetzu Bay on Iturup island. The landings on Iturup were continued by the 355th Rifle Division, which also landed on the smaller island of Urup.

On August 23, the 20,000-strong Japanese garrisons on the islands were ordered to surrender as part of the general surrender of Japan. However, some of the garrison forces ignored this order and continued to resist Soviet occupation.[2]

From 22 to 28 August, troops of the Kamchatka Defense Area occupied the Kuril Islands from Urup north.

On 1 September, elements of the 87th Rifle Corps were landed by torpedo boats, mine trawlers and transports (departing from Otomari) on Kunashir and Shikotan in the southern Kuril Islands. This was an assault landing against Japanese resistance. On 4 September, 87th Rifle Corps occupied five smaller islands (Sibotzu, Taraku-Shima, Uri-Shima, Akiuri, and Suiseto).[2]

After September 4, Soviet forces occupied the rest of the Kuril Islands without further resistance.

rmaker23 Sep 2016 11:29 a.m. PST

In other words, they managed a very small amphibious operation AFTER the Japanese surrender against no naval or air opposition. This is a far cry from an invasion of the main islands against a still belligerent Japan.

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member23 Sep 2016 1:50 p.m. PST

I am aware of the plans, already well advanced, for Operations Olympic and Cornet, the invasions by the Anglo-Allies of first Kyushu and then Honshu in autumn 1945 and spring 1946. I don't believe the Soviets could have done anything to block or pre-empt these, not with their limited ability to launch a major amphibious invasion in the east.

If we assume this would have been fought conventionally (say the Bomb didn't work and more tinkering was necessary) the Americans and British would have taken severe casualties along with the Japanese military and civilians. Just reading detailed accounts of Okinawa demonstrates how extremely bloody an invasion of Japan would have been for all involved. It's true the Bomb saved lives in the long run, at the cost of the unfortunate victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We can't know if a blockade and negotiations -- and there *were* peace feelers being put out by the Japanese via neutral nations, and a significant number of Japanese leaders who wanted to end the war and not commit the nation to sepeku -- I could dig out references in books if I had the time to poke around in my library more -- might have alleviated the need for either of those two alternatives. I remember reading that even some American military leaders (unaware of the atomic program) at the time favored a blockade over invasion, and weren't some of them ambivalent to the use of the Bomb afterward?

It was a very complicated time.

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member23 Sep 2016 1:53 p.m. PST

Ah, yes, I remember that link (above) now, I read it at the time, along with other commentary.

It's worth reviewing:


Mark Plant23 Sep 2016 3:45 p.m. PST

puts forward a strong case for Japan looking for a way to surrender "with honor" in their eyes by the summer of 1945?

Where "with honour" meant that they suffered no full occupation and no acceptance of any responsibility.

The Allies had tried that in 1918. It was an experiment that was not going to be repeated.

Cicero Inactive Member21 Dec 2016 1:43 p.m. PST

Okinawa proved that an invasion of the home islands where going to be a blood soaked mess. There was a strong faction in the Japanese government, including the Emperor, who where looking for a way out. Oh, and the Soviets where looking to invade.
The A-bomb was what everyone needed – except the Soviets.

Murvihill23 Dec 2016 8:59 a.m. PST

Regarding a blockade, the population of Japan before it opened itself to the west was ~33 million. by 1945 the population was 75 million. Assuming that the country could feed say 40 million without imports, is it unreasonable to assume the Japanese would accept a 50% population loss if it were blockaded? Is it possible that the blockade would simply drive Japan back into the Meiji era?

Bindon Blood24 Dec 2016 9:54 a.m. PST

Also, would even the USA want/afford to keep and army and navy sitting off the coast of Japan doing basically nothing?

All those voters wanting to go home as soon as possible, but being kept under arms. Hmmn, not sure how well that would have gone down in 1945.

rdg1125 Inactive Member24 Jan 2017 8:19 p.m. PST

I just wonder if a blockading force would just be sitting off the coast with nothing to do. If the blockade started to hurt, the Japanese has resources available to try and break the blockade. There were 5,000 aircraft assigned as kamikazes plus another 5,000 which would be available. That plus over 200 midget submarines, 1,000 kaiten and 800 suicide boats.

The kamikazes did serious damage to the fleet off Okinawa; Then the fleet had a good deal of warning before the kamikazes hit. A fleet blockading Japan would have had less time to react. Fleet losses could have been a lot worse. Such losses to the fleet could tip American opinion in favor of some sort of negotiated peace.

As a side note: my father was in the 2nd Marine Division which was scheduled to land in the Kushikino area of Japan. He would have been in the first wave. At the time it was predicted that the units in initial wave would have experienced 100% casualties by the end of the campaign. Needless to say my father (and mother) were relieved to see the bombs dropped.

rdg1125 Inactive Member26 Jan 2017 11:36 p.m. PST

A question concerning the use of veteran ETO units in the invasion of Japan. A number of them were scheduled to redeploy to the Pacific. I have yet to find anything written which states which ETO divisions were exempt (if any) from service in the Pacific after VE Day. I know some remained in Germany as occupation forces.

Also, I have seen in various sources that the divisions which served in the ETO were not happy with being sent to the Pacific (obviously). Has there ever been a study as to the effect redeployment to the Pacific would have had on morale and efficiency of those divisions? I know that such a study would include some speculation on the part of any one who wrote such a study. But there are indicators which could tell just what shape a division would be in.

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