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Taiwan, 1944 And Beyond - A What If


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#1 Corinthian

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Posted 03 October 2016 - 2351 PM

Dugout Doug was all ready to argue for a liberation of the Philippines, wanting to fulfill his personal promise of returning, when he suddenly choked and died. The nation mourns, Tokyo Rose makes condescending remarks, the war continues.

 

With Big Mac out of the picture, Nimitz has his way and it was decided that Taiwan would be the next target for US forces towards VJ-Day. And so in October 1944, the US Navy lands Marines and Army forces on Formosa. The Japanese retalliate with kamikaze strikes etc. The battle was hard, but eventually the US secures Formosa and prepares for Operation Downfall. The A-bombs fall, the USSR invades Manchuria, and Japan surrenders.

 

Peace was declared and US forces started withdrawing en masse to the USA. However, seeing that Chiang Kai Shek wasn't exactly doing well in the Chinese Civil War, the USA decides to keep significant forces on Taiwan.

 

Was it possible for US forces to intervene for the Chinese Nationalists and defeat Mao in China leading to a non-commie China? Could the nationalists at least hold the coastal regions while the commies have the interior with Soviet support?


Edited by Corinthian, 03 October 2016 - 2354 PM.

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#2 Corinthian

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Posted 04 October 2016 - 0001 AM

Alternative to the alternative: Big Mac lives but doesn't get wot he wants. Philippines rendered into a sideshow (i.e., a diversionary action, also partly to give MacArthur some face) and Formosa is invaded by US forces. Same as above thereafter.

 

Would a living Big Mac be more keen in intervening in China on the side of the nationalists?


Edited by Corinthian, 04 October 2016 - 0001 AM.

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#3 JasonJ

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Posted 04 October 2016 - 0010 AM

I doubt defeat would have been possible. Too much interior depth to retreat and relocate. The commies already became experienced in guerrilla warfare against Imperial Japan. Any thrust would have sides to attack into. To cover all exposures would require lots of men. Direct US military involvement could perhaps hold some coastal areas like Shanghai, Xiamen, Hong Kong, and Hainan. That would ensure a long confrontation with the Chinese communists well into the future though. I don't think the US would have the stomach for it. Nukes might be quite tempting to use again assuming before SU tested their own in 1949.
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#4 Markus Becker

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Posted 04 October 2016 - 0110 AM

"Peace was declared and US forces started withdrawing en masse to the USA. However, seeing that Chiang Kai Shek wasn't exactly doing well in the Chinese Civil War, the USA decides to keep significant forces on Taiwan."

I read the US military was very disappointed with him because of his unkept promises during the war. Post war many wrote him off as a looser and a corrupt one too.

I think it would have helped him if he'd managed to avoid making such a bad impression.
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#5 JasonJ

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Posted 04 October 2016 - 0309 AM

Chiang Kai shek was involved in the Chinese civil war for a long time and then by 7 years of war fighting Japan until the WW2 finally ended. And even towards the end of WW2, the IJA was still able to make some successes against against the nationalists Chinese. Maybe Chiang Kai shek could have done better, one arguable mistake on his part was sending too many of his best soldiers to make a stand at Shanghai in 1937 where the argument is that it would have been better to preserve them in a long drawn out fight in the interior of China. So while resistance was stronger than expected, the most of those good units got wiped out. But with that said, by the time WW2 ended, the nationalists were just beaten up so much.
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#6 Ken Estes

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Posted 04 October 2016 - 0531 AM

Demobilization, 1945–1950.
                                   1945            1950
Navy personnel             3,400,000    380,000
Marine Corps personnel    475,000      75,000
Major warships                 1,200+        237

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#7 Corinthian

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Posted 08 October 2016 - 0655 AM

See: http://www.history.a...oks/70-7_21.htm

 

Apparently, one of the plans was not just to invade Formosa, but also the south China coast. If this pushed through, would the US have some forces remaining in the Chinese coast and Formosa, seeing the ongoing Chinese Civil War?


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#8 Markus Becker

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Posted 08 October 2016 - 0947 AM

See: http://www.history.a...oks/70-7_21.htm
 
Apparently, one of the plans was not just to invade Formosa, but also the south China coast. If this pushed through, would the US have some forces remaining in the Chinese coast and Formosa, seeing the ongoing Chinese Civil War?


If that  happened, if! But why would the Americans do something decades of war planning had ignored or outright rejected?

I think that brings us back to the performance of the NRA. Not what you think, the National Revolution Army of the KMT . If they had done much better I can the the US coming to their support.
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#9 JasonJ

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Posted 08 October 2016 - 1131 AM

 

See: http://www.history.a...oks/70-7_21.htm
 
Apparently, one of the plans was not just to invade Formosa, but also the south China coast. If this pushed through, would the US have some forces remaining in the Chinese coast and Formosa, seeing the ongoing Chinese Civil War?


If that  happened, if! But why would the Americans do something decades of war planning had ignored or outright rejected?

I think that brings us back to the performance of the NRA. Not what you think, the National Revolution Army of the KMT . If they had done much better I can the the US coming to their support.

 

 

But the opponent of the KMT were the communists. The US was very anti-communists. Maybe one can point to the SU being an ally during WW2 and so soon afterwards, perhaps it can be said that the US wouldn't go on anti-communism so soon. Pardon my preemptive, but I would respond to that with Korea. The US did not tolerate any communists in taking up positions in post-war and liberated Korea. One would thing that the Korean fighters against Imperial Japan would be suitable for taking some of the positions, but they were communists and the US opposed it, so much that the US put in Koreans that worked along with former enemy Imperial Japan instead of communists filling up positions. This resulted in the communists gathering together in the northern part in the late 40s.

 

So with anti-communist policy evident this early, I would think that even if the KMT were bad, the US would still support them as there was no one else to oppose the Chinese communists. With that said, it would be other factors such as demobilization, post-war agreements made during the war, the location of US forces throughout the West Pacific in the immediate post-war, etc.


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#10 Ken Estes

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Posted 09 October 2016 - 0109 AM

Post hostilities moves by the US in the Far East were indeed aimed at curbing the Communists and assisting CKS's forces in occupying areas where the JA had been dominant. There re limits however, and demobilization ran its course, with the 7th Fleet abandoning its China bases in 1949, as Chang was routed.

 

Immediate postwar missions for the Navy and Marine Corps centered upon the occupation of Japan, supporting the Nationalist Chinese, and repatriating Japanese forces and Korean laborers to their homelands. Both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets participated in Operation Magic Carpet (October 1945–September 1946), the return of demobilized US forces from overseas to the United States. Although the transport services initially carried the bulk of the troops, and in some cases dependents, the Navy augmented its own transports with aircraft carriers, battleships, and cruisers to return home over 2 million persons. At the same time the tedious but deadly business of sweeping mines scattered across the shipping lanes and coastlines would occupy all naval forces for another year.

 

Operation Blacklist, the occupation of Japan, was initially assigned to the Army; however, the rapid decision of Japan to surrender found only elements of the US Third Fleet and 6th Marine Division available for the immediate task of securing the Tokyo Bay area. The occupation soon changed into an all-Army mission, except for naval facilities taken over by the Navy, and the 2nd and 5th Marine Divisions departed Japan by mid-1946. Almost simultaneously with the occupation of Japan, the Seventh Fleet transported army troops of the XXIV Corps from Okinawa to Korea in order to secure and disarm the Japanese forces in the southern half of the peninsula.

 

More complex were the activities of the fleet with regard to China. The movements of Chinese troops to the north and Japanese troops to their homeland stalled because of the presence of the communist Chinese forces under Mao Zedong in Manchuria and parts of North China. Under Operation Beleaguer, units of the Seventh Fleet landed the 6th Marine Division at Shanghai and 1st Marine Division at Tientsin to secure Peking as well as other ports and the all-important rail lines. In contrast with the situation in Japan, where the Marine divisions quickly terminated their occupation duties, the deployments in China dragged on into early 1947, with a reprise into 1949 as the Chinese communists triumphed in the civil war. The last major Marine Corps combat units departed China by June 1947, and the remaining battalions and companies tasked with safeguarding ports and evacuating civilians operated under an ad hoc command, Fleet Marine Force, Western Pacific, initially operating out of Tsingtao and later Guam, where several battalions and aircraft squadrons remained as a reinforcement for the final evacuation operations of 1948. The Seventh Fleet departed Tsingtao, its homeport since 1946, on May 25, 1949.

 

--- James C. Bradford (ed)America, Sea Power, and the World (2016), 260

 

 


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#11 Markus Becker

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Posted 09 October 2016 - 0537 AM

"So with anti-communist policy evident this early, I would think that even if the KMT were bad, the US would still support them as there was no one else to oppose the Chinese communists."

The US did support the KMT. They got the 1.6 billon worth in 1940s value if Wiki is right. And what did they give the Allies in return? General Stillwell was probably the harshest critic of Chiang but I bet plenty of others also got the impression that the Chinese did not want to fight the Japanese.
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#12 JasonJ

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Posted 09 October 2016 - 0800 AM

"So with anti-communist policy evident this early, I would think that even if the KMT were bad, the US would still support them as there was no one else to oppose the Chinese communists."

The US did support the KMT. They got the 1.6 billon worth in 1940s value if Wiki is right. And what did they give the Allies in return? General Stillwell was probably the harshest critic of Chiang but I bet plenty of others also got the impression that the Chinese did not want to fight the Japanese.

 

I was speaking in context of the topic, as in, supporting them on the mainland post-WW2 against Chinese communists. Of course the US sent supplies over the hump, the Flying Tigers, and in 1949, safe guarded the KMT in their retreat location of Taiwan.

 

Could you elaborate on "that the Chinese did not want to fight the Japanese."? Does it mean that they didn't want to fight because they were completely exhausted? Were there opinions among the KMT that they wanted to side with the Japanese or just make a truce with the Japanese with the boundary status que of the time?


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#13 Ken Estes

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Posted 09 October 2016 - 1108 AM

To the Chinese, it was clear that the Allies, esp. the USA, would have to defeat the Japanese, regardless of any local outcomes in China. Therefore, it became a matter of course that Mao and Chang were both withholding significant resources for the postwar settling of accounts, vice seeking every opportunity for battle with the JA.

 

If China was too expansive for the JA to conquer, it was equally so that the JA was too powerful to be defeated by Chinese forces, no matter what the level of US aid, outside of providing the US Sixth and Eighth Armies, plus equivalent air and naval support.


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#14 JasonJ

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Posted 09 October 2016 - 1218 PM

To the Chinese, it was clear that the Allies, esp. the USA, would have to defeat the Japanese, regardless of any local outcomes in China. Therefore, it became a matter of course that Mao and Chang were both withholding significant resources for the postwar settling of accounts, vice seeking every opportunity for battle with the JA.

 

If China was too expansive for the JA to conquer, it was equally so that the JA was too powerful to be defeated by Chinese forces, no matter what the level of US aid, outside of providing the US Sixth and Eighth Armies, plus equivalent air and naval support.

 

Makes sense for both sides of the Chinese to want to hold onto their strength until Japan was defeated by the US. With that said, were US military leaders such as General Stillwell aware that the KMT wanted to reserve strength when making criticism of Chang Kai-shek?

 

Maybe there were some US military leaders saw it better for KMT to be as ready as possible to fight the Chinese communists. Or maybe US military leaders underestimated the strength of the communists and just wanted KMT to apply as much pressure as possible on Japan so that Japan would fall faster and with perhaps a little less pain from US forces.


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#15 Ken Estes

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Posted 09 October 2016 - 1543 PM

In almost every decision point, the US has traded allied casualties for our own, where it was feasible. This hit me hard when I studied the Korean War.


Edited by Ken Estes, 10 October 2016 - 0136 AM.

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#16 JasonJ

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Posted 10 October 2016 - 0024 AM

That's a tough pill to swallow, thanks Ken.
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#17 Markus Becker

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Posted 10 October 2016 - 0802 AM

Back at an actual keyboard, so I can type my thoughts on the KMT.

 

They did not have much fight left at the end of 1941 but that was because of all the hard fighting they had done in the previous years. Their war began in 1937, it started bad and only went worse. By the time of PH the Japanese had so much more firepower and better logistics that they could win any battle the KMT was foolish enough to enter. So one can’t balme them for being cautious.

 

Correct me if I’m wrong but it is my impression that the USA didn’t realize how bad their situation was and that they didn’t correct the USA’s wrong impression.

 

 

Now to something I know more about, the BCI. It was a bit of a backwater but reopeneing the Burma road had a high priority. And you’d imagine that the KMT would enthusiastically support that! Yes, it would cot them some men and equipment in the short run but once open every weapon lost would be replaced several times over. The KMT would benefit immensely from it.

 

The American GOC in the BCI was Stilwell. He needed the participation of NRA units to open the road. Chiang again and again promised the NRA’s support but the NRA almost always arrived not at all or late or fought most cautiously. Why? Because Chiang went behind Stillwell’s back and countermanded the original orders. Stillwell figured that out quickly and you can guess what kind of impression he got about the KMT in general and Chiang in particular. And I guess by 1944 plenty of other US military leaders had also realized that the US could not expect much from the KMT. So why do even more for them?

 

 

With Mac Arthur and the invasion of the PI out of the picture the US could have concentrated on the Central Pacific. On the other hand, they already had taken the Marianas by the summer of 1944 but could they have let the significant SWPA forces sit around doing next to nothing while the war was still going on? Probably not, so let’s say they decide to invade Formosa close in on Japan from the south too.

 

Wold that have helped the KMT during the war? And to what degree could the US have supported the KMT from Formosa after the war? Until the end of the war there would have been a very strong US presence on Formosa. AFAIK when the demobilisation began a lot of weapons and equipment were not brought back to the USA. The KMT could have gotten its hands on much of that I guess.

 

But how much would that have helped?


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#18 JasonJ

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Posted 10 October 2016 - 1207 PM

There are certainly some fair points in there. I vaguely recall something about Chiang not liking something about the US. It might have been Stilwill. But one other thing ISTR is that Chiang hated the communists. He really hated them, possibly even more than the Japanese.


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#19 swerve

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Posted 11 October 2016 - 0726 AM

Back at an actual keyboard, so I can type my thoughts on the KMT.

 

They did not have much fight left at the end of 1941 but that was because of all the hard fighting they had done in the previous years. Their war began in 1937, it started bad and only went worse. By the time of PH the Japanese had so much more firepower and better logistics that they could win any battle the KMT was foolish enough to enter. So one can’t balme them for being cautious.

 

Correct me if I’m wrong but it is my impression that the USA didn’t realize how bad their situation was and that they didn’t correct the USA’s wrong impression.

 

 

Now to something I know more about, the BCI. It was a bit of a backwater but reopeneing the Burma road had a high priority. And you’d imagine that the KMT would enthusiastically support that! Yes, it would cot them some men and equipment in the short run but once open every weapon lost would be replaced several times over. The KMT would benefit immensely from it.

 

The American GOC in the BCI was Stilwell. He needed the participation of NRA units to open the road. Chiang again and again promised the NRA’s support but the NRA almost always arrived not at all or late or fought most cautiously. 

The Burma road couldn't be opened until a new road (the Ledo road) was built to connect it to India, or all of Burma down to Rangoon was recaptured.  Rangoon wasn't captured until May 1945, so that was no use. It had to be the Ledo road.

 

Apart from X force (Chinese units which had retreated into Assam after fighting the invading Japanese in Burma in early 1942), the Chinese couldn't work on the Ledo road until the route from Assam through Myitkyina & Bhamo was captured - & X force was fighting the Japanese, clearing the route. They couldn't be withdrawn by Chiang on the quiet because they were cut off from China by the IJA. Some of the Chinese troops advancing from the other direction were withdrawn in late 1944 - flown out by the USA to defend the other end of the road, which was under threat from a Japanese offensive in China. That illustrates the problem. The need to fight the IJA in China limited Chiang's ability to attack into Burma. Yeah, he was a duplicitous bastard, but he had a real dilemma. Defend against Japanese attacks from the east, or attack to the SW? Too much concentration on the SW left him vulnerable to the east. Too much concentration on the east & the Japanese attacked from Burma, as they did in May-June 1944.

 

It's interesting to speculate on whether, & how, the Ledo road could have been opened earlier, & thus the Burma road been reopened earlier, but one can't just say 'it was because Chiang'. The Japanese had a lot to do with it, as did the limited capacity of the transport links leading to it through remote corners of NE India. Both Churchill & Slim were skeptical of its value, Slim saying that to be really effective its feeder railway should have started from Rangoon. I think it may have received so much US attention not because of its inherent value, but because it was an American project. It can be - & widely has been - argued that it was a waste of effort, & the thousands of mostly black US soldiers who laboured on it could have been better used.

 

Don't forget that supplies to the Indian end had to come along the same routes as those supplying Imphal & Kohima, & the airfields from which supplies were being flown to China. Defence of Imphal & Kohima had to be given priority. Failure there in May-July 1944 would have cut off Stilwell's force & rendered everything he was doing irrelevant - but not vice-versa.


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#20 Richard Lindquist

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Posted 11 October 2016 - 1201 PM

 

To the Chinese, it was clear that the Allies, esp. the USA, would have to defeat the Japanese, regardless of any local outcomes in China. Therefore, it became a matter of course that Mao and Chang were both withholding significant resources for the postwar settling of accounts, vice seeking every opportunity for battle with the JA.

 

If China was too expansive for the JA to conquer, it was equally so that the JA was too powerful to be defeated by Chinese forces, no matter what the level of US aid, outside of providing the US Sixth and Eighth Armies, plus equivalent air and naval support.

 

Makes sense for both sides of the Chinese to want to hold onto their strength until Japan was defeated by the US. With that said, were US military leaders such as General Stillwell aware that the KMT wanted to reserve strength when making criticism of Chang Kai-shek?

 

Maybe there were some US military leaders saw it better for KMT to be as ready as possible to fight the Chinese communists. Or maybe US military leaders underestimated the strength of the communists and just wanted KMT to apply as much pressure as possible on Japan so that Japan would fall faster and with perhaps a little less pain from US forces.

 

Stillwell kept trying to get CKS to move on the Japanese and was so insistent on it that CKS forced the recall of Stillwell.  The funny thing is that "Vinegar Joe" go on very well with both Marshall and Big Mac.  Marshall thought the world of Stillwell and would have given him the Morocco invasion if FDR hadn't sent Stillwell to China.  MacArthur gave him Tenth Army for the projected 1946 Japan invasion.


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