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Would Halsey have been fired? (alternate Leyte Gulf scenario)

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  • Would Halsey have been fired? (alternate Leyte Gulf scenario)

    Halsey apparently escaped censure for his failure in Leyte Gulf to leave a force covering the landing because of his reputation at home and the Japanese failure there, but what if Admiral Kurita had (unwisely in my opinion) stayed somewhat longer, polished off the taffys, and done some mischief attacking the landed forces and (I belive) largely empty transports at the landing. The extra time s[ent there, even if Oldendorf's southern force had not managed to come north to tangle with Kurita, and a Kurita retreat route back the way he'd come (would?) have given Halsey's fleet time to come far enough south to practically annihilate Kuritas lads. How would this have been viewed by the U.S. navy, Roosevelt, and the American public.
    On the one hand the Leyte invasion forces would have been disrupted (I don't think an hour or two shelling would have destroyed it- given there was no effective Japanese land/air forces nearby to follow up) but significant casualties plus the Japanese decoy carrier force escaping are two big black marks against Halsey. Does he go, or for morale purposes is his mauling of the retreating Kurita navy emphasized?

  • #2
    Halsey didn't leave a force in front of Kurita because he took everything with him to destroy the Japanese carrier force. That will still happen in your scenario.

    Anything I've ever seen says that had Kurita made it into the landing zones the damage would have been minimal. Most of the troops would have been ashore and many of the transports empty or could have scattered.

    You have mentioned Oldendorf's force, which may have been able to intercept. If not, there is a chance that his movement into the area may have forced Kurita to retreat. This would be especially true if he'd had a chance at the amphibious forces (successful or not) as he'd cut his wins or losses and run.

    There was also the possibility of some or all of Halsey's force interceting the Japanese heavies as they retreat.

    Destroying the Japanese carrier force and any combination of forcing a retreat of or destroying Kurita would have left Halsey's overall reputation intact.

    In other words, no possible realistic outcome of Kurita continuing his advance will have any affect
    Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

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    • #3
      Actually, I still see Halsey having to turn back before reaching the decoy carriers.

      It could well be he'd escape censure, but...if
      1) the carrier force still gets away
      2) there are some thousands of the landing force killed or wounded
      3) Kurita does escape with some of his force (esp. the super battleship)
      4) the taffys are destroyed

      it could be a tough spin to keep his reputation intact.

      And just looking at a map (which granted is rather simplistic) and taking into account some descriptions of Oldendorf being low in ammunition (and fuel?) it still seems like he could have intervened. And a contest between those two fleets would have been "interesting". Did the pt-boats have the ability to get to Leyte Gulf in time?

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      • #4
        The key day for this is the 25th of October.

        Historically Halsey spent that day destroying the Japanese Carrier force while Kurita spent the day messing about with the Taffy groups.

        When Halsey got word of the crisis he delayed making a decision to help for a variety of reasons. None the less, around noon he ordered his battlships (Task Force 34) to head to the scene of action. No one ever seriously considered sending the fleet carriers. Even the famous The World Wonders signal from Nimitz only asked about TF 34 (the battleships).

        So whether your Alternate Timeline posits that Halsey sends his rescue force early (i.e. no 3+ hour delay) or not at all, the Japanese carriers still die.

        In fact, historically he had sent TF 34 ahead of his carriers in an attempt to make contact with the Japanese Carrier group. Had he kept them, a resulting surface action would likely have pulverized the few survivors of the airstrikes.
        Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Roadkiller View Post
          You have mentioned Oldendorf's force, which may have been able to intercept. If not, there is a chance that his movement into the area may have forced Kurita to retreat. This would be especially true if he'd had a chance at the amphibious forces (successful or not) as he'd cut his wins or losses and run.

          Those transports ... could all of them have really emptied all their stores in 4 days? There were hundreds of them, and Leyte has no major port that I know of.

          Oldenburg's BBs are indeed in the vicinity, chasing the last of the ships they have defeated the night before. They were way out of position to save the transports, unless the transports had had started running to him the moment they heard about Kurita.
          If they could have, with steam up and all ready to roll.

          And those BBs that has slaughtered the Southern force the night before; they were almost empty, of ammunition.
          4 days of shore bombardment and the night battle had used up almost all of the heavy shells and the Destroyers had fired off an awful lot of torpedoes, if not all of them.

          So, if Kurita had fought his way through, the situation would have been dicey, to say the least.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Exorcist View Post
            Those transports ... could all of them have really emptied all their stores in 4 days? There were hundreds of them, ...
            It has been a long time since I have studied Leyte in any depth, so I am certainly open to learning more.

            Here is a list of every ship could reasonably be considered as having been part of the battle:

            http://www.battle-of-leyte-gulf.com/...ips/ships.html

            One of the lists is of the ships that took part in the "Landing" battle.
            By my count:
            Warships:
            CL - 1
            DD - 47
            Frigate - 11
            Minelayer - 1
            Minesweeper - 20

            Total - 80

            Auxiliaries, transports and support ships:
            Amphibious command ships - 3
            Ammunition ship - 3
            Attack Cargo - 10
            Attack Transport - 39
            Cargo - 3
            Destroyer Transport - 14
            Fleet Tug - 3
            Hospital - 2
            LSD - 10
            LSI - 3
            LSV - 1
            MTB Tender - 1
            Net Tender - 4
            Provision - 9
            Repair - 3
            Seaplane Tender - 2
            Tanker - 7
            Transport - 12
            Water Tender - 1

            Total: 130

            USS HONOLULU (the light cruiser listed above) and all those destroyers show that the landing force itself was not as defenceless as popular history would have us believe. Yes, they are spread around, but that is a double edged sword, finding all these forces and cornering them is that much harder for the Japanese.
            Last edited by Roadkiller; 05 May 12, 21:16.
            Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

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            • #7
              Another consideration, given that from some accounts Kurita was
              virtually emotionally and physically exhausted (I think that's the view in
              the Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors) just the rumor of Oldendorf's force approaching might have been enough to cause him to a panicky retreat without Oldendorf's lads having to actually have much in the way of shells. And there's the instances of planes from the Traffys just buzzing the Japanese when they didn't have any bombs to distract the Japanese vessels.

              At any rate it seems to me Kurita accidentally made the right decision- not opting for a bushido-like prolonged (suicidal) series of attacks on the landing force, then Oldendorf, then Halsey.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Exorcist View Post
                Those transports ... could all of them have really emptied all their stores in 4 days? There were hundreds of them, and Leyte has no major port that I know of.
                .
                It took about three days to fully unload a WWII era transport, using landing craft, so I would imagine the majority of them were mostly empty of their combat cargoes, should the Japanese task force came calling.
                "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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