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In trainers. Or maybe that was the stupidest. Genre: Thriller. Please email webmaster fantasticfiction. On 19 June, satisfied at last that he had established adequate communications, he assumed full title and command. On 25 June, he received dispatches telling him of an impending operation, to be mounted from his area and employ his forces.
He was directed to begin planning at once with this in mind. The forces to be employed would be organized by CinCPac, and execution of the plan would be by directive from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
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Two days later he was warned that Army participation in the operation, which had been assumed, might be delayed. Four days later, when General Vandegrift had been told of the plans and directed to make preparation, as will be described below, more definite information came to Ghormley. Letter, Marshall to King, 26 June Letter King to Marshall, 26 June Naval Forces in Europe.
Probably more converant with the European situation than anyone else in the Navy, he was recalled to Washington, given an ominous mission and a hurried briefing, and sent on his way within a fortnight. He was warned by Admiral King that probably in the coming Fall an offensive would be begun from his area, but that it was impossible to give him proper tools for carrying out his mission.
Ghormley was told that he would command the operation, and that the joint forces would be under command of Vice Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher, who would assume command when he reported with Task Force 11 at rendezvous prior to movement to the target area. The Commander, South Pacific Area, was faced with the two-headed problem of mounting an offensive at an almost impossibly early date with a barely adequate force.
A slight amelioration of the time problem was offered when the target date was set back one week see below ; the problem of adequacy of means remained until the operation was well under way. The Joint Chiefs of Staff directive of 2 July, relayed by Nimitz to Ghormley late the same day, set out succinctly the military aims of the moment for the war against Japan in the South Pacific and Southwest Pacific areas. The purpose was, as we have seen, the removal of a serious threat to the lines of communication between the United States and Australia and New Zealand.
The realization of the ultimate goal involved the accomplishment of three tasks. First, it would be necessary to seize and occupy Santa Cruz, Tulagi, and the adjacent areas. Second, the rest of the Solomon Islands would have to be occupied and defended, as would Lae and Salamaua and the vicinity.
Third Rabaul and the surrounding territory would be taken. The general considerations were that the Joint Chiefs would determine the forces, the timing, and the passage of command, that the date for undertaking Task 1 32 would be about 1 August, and that throughout all three tasks, tactical command of the amphibious forces would vest in the Naval Task Force Commander.
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It was assumed that Ghormley would be the Task Force Commander for Task 1, "which he should lead in person in the operating area. The result of the conference, at which MacArthur and the Admiral found themselves in complete agreement, was that a dispatch was sent jointly by them to King and Marshall.
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In essence, the message urged strongly that the proposed operation be postponed until such time as American strength in the South and Southwest Pacific had been built up sufficiently - especially in the matter of air power - to provide adequate support for the assault. The Joint Chiefs of Staff replied to the effect that although all arguments presented by Ghormley and MacArthur were valid, it was imperative that the operation go forward. Additional shipborne aircraft and surface forces would be made available. Thirty-five heavy bombers, presently in Hawaii, would be supplied by the Army, which also planned to "take al the follow-up measures possible in support of the seizure and occupation of the Tulagi Area.
Ghormley, in turn, replied that he considered the forces available--or to be made available in accordance with the Joint Chiefs' assurances - to be adequate for the immediate. Upon receipt of this plea, King wrote Marshall, noting that whereas three weeks before, MacArthur had wanted to move straight to Rabaul, he now objected to an assault upon a much less formidable target.
He pointed out that if the Japanese were permitted to consolidate their holding at Tulagi, they would be in a position to harass the United States base at Efate and lines of communications. Ghormley ms, pp. His reply contained the following prophetic words:. I desire to emphasize that the basic problem of this operation is the protection of surface ships against land based aircraft attack during the approach, the landing, and the unloading. General MacArthur, again seeing eye to eye with Ghormley, requested planes, and more planes for the purpose of supporting the operation.
And so, while King's reiteration of attack, size the initiative, and do it now was beginning to take on the throbbing insistence of a war drum, and while Marshall was temporizing in his replies to him, the plans for the offensive began to be implemented. The advance echelon 37 had arrived on 14 June, and the rear was at sea.
This division, which in fact constituted the major available Marine Corps unit in readiness for employment on short notice 38 was itself understrength by about one-third, one of its rifle regiments, the 7th Marines reinforced , 39 having been temporarily detached on 21 March to become part of the 3d Marine Brigade, on duty in Samoa. Other FMF units were deployed at this time to the maximum capacity of the Marine Corps throughout the Pacific, both within and outside Admiral Ghormley's area. At Palmyra, Johnston, Midway, and the Hawaiian Islands other FMF troops, mainly defense battalions or aviation units, were likewise disposed to form a thin screen of defense for outlying Allied bases and lines of communication.
Of a total strength of ,, the Marine Corps had 56, officers and men serving overseas at the time. When decision to strike was reached, the 1st Marine Division was in process of moving from the United States to New Zealand, for what General Vandegrift thought was to be several months of training.
Ghormley ms, p. Final Report, Phase I, p. The advance echelon consisted of the 5th Marines reinforced , Division Headquarters, and certain division troops, and was embarked in the Elektra, Del Brazil, and Wakefield. The rear echelon, consisting of the 1st Marines reinforced and the rest of the division troops was on board the Lipscomb Lykes, Alcyone, Libra, Alchiba, Mizar, Ericcson, Elliot, and Barnett.
The ships were not combat loaded. The 2d Division was at Camp Elliott, California, being whipped into shape after losing many of its experienced officers and men to newly formed regiments. One of its rifle regiments, the 8th Marines reinforced was also in Samoa, having departed the United States in January, Another, the 6th Marines, had recently returned from seven months in Iceland.
The use of odd numbers for all components of the Division bears explanation here. Current practice made all components of the East Coast unit odd numbered, while the corresponding components of the West Coast division bore even numbers. This practice was in process of disappearing at the time--the 9th Marines, for example, was formed at Camp Elliott from a cadre supplied by the 2d Division and received its preliminary training with that division.
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General Vandegrift was under the impression that his division would not be called upon for combat prior to the early part of Phase I Hereinafter Final Report. Vandegrift was not at this time aware of tentative plans for the fall of They second echelon was at sea, likewise in organizationally-loaded vessels, and was not expected to arrive until 11 July, less than three weeks before the target date.
To supplement the Marine Forces enroute to, or already on duty in the South Pacific, Army ground and service troops were not to be found at New Caledonia, 41 the Fiji Islands where they had been sent to replace a New Zealand Division withdrawn for defense of New Zealand , Tongatabu, and the New Hebrides. These forces, together with Army air units within the area, initially were controlled directly by Ghormley. Harmon, in turn, would be under Ghormley's command and responsible directly to him. Within the naval structure of the Pacific Ocean Areas, Ghormley, as we have seen, occupied the position, under Admiral Nimitz, of a major subordinate of limited autonomy.
Specifically, his powers were as follows:. Nimitz from time to time would order Task Force Commanders to report to Ghormley for duty, with missions already assigned. Ghormley, in turn, would direct such commanders to carry out their assigned missions as given them by Nimitz. The naval strength that could be called upon to operate in support of Ghormley's offensive was small in point of number of ships, albeit included in that number there was considerable power.
Three aircraft carriers, with a strength of about planes, were available, as were a number of light and heavy cruisers, two new battleships, and the requisite screening vessels and auxiliary craft. Transports and cargo vessels were at a premium, and would continue so for several months.
In air strength, an indispensable adjunct to modern amphibious operations, the picture was by no means as bright. This total of aircraft was under the command of Rear Admiral John S.
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Taken all in all, therefore, Ghormley could rely on the services of a small, highly trained striking force of ground troops, consisting of less than one Marine division with its supporting organic units, surface forces of fluctuating and never overwhelming power which nevertheless represented the maximum which Admiral Nimitz could spare and an extremely scanty array of land based aircraft. He had no assurances of reserve ground troops for the coming operation although plans were under way to release both the 7th and 8th Marines from their Samoan defense missions 45 and he had been advised that garrison forces would have to come from.
The division served throughout the war without a numerical designation under the name which was formed by combining syllables of American and New Caledonia. Ghormley confesses to an initial dislike of the idea. He later came to look upon Harmon as one of the finest administrators and coordinators he had ever met.
Information given in interview in January, The general structure organized to employ these resources against the Japanese was laid down in Nimitz' order to Ghormley of 9 July, and Ghormley's Operation Plan of 17 July It would include three carriers - Saratoga, Enterprise, and Wasp - the fast new battleship North Carolina, five heavy cruisers, one so-called antiaircraft cruiser, and 16 destroyers.
Turner, USN, included the FMF Landing Force, 48 six heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, 15 destroyers, 13 attack transports, six attack cargo ships, four destroyer transports, and five minesweepers. Complicating the foregoing symmetrical structure was the presence of Vice Admiral Fletcher as tactical commander of the joint attack and support forces.
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See footnote on Nimitz' Operation Order No. Fletcher was already familiar to the Marines as a result of his role in the attempt to relieve Wake Island. Ghormley also announced that there would be a rehearsal in the Fiji area prior to departure for the assault and directed that all task force commanders arrange to hold a conference near the rehearsal area. He himself would move to Noumea about 1 August in order to comply with his orders to exercise strategic command within the operating area. By this time the planning and the resultant orders had taken final form.
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