Map Courtesy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
I have always enjoyed history, and also delving into “what if’s” how history would have changed but for something in the time line.
It is May, 1945 and the Nazis have surrendered. That same month, the Joint Chiefs met for approval for the plans , overall called Operation Downfall, to invade Japan. It was to start on the island of Kyushu. There were a lot of GIs in the ETO wondering if they were going to be able go home or head to the Pacific and fight Japanese. It all depended on how many points you had accrued during your service.
Imagine WW2 ending not in 1945, but as late as November 1948. Along with the 1000s of dead on beaches named Omaha and Utah, add landing sites named after cars, Cadillac, Buick and Packard with even higher casualties.
It’s a part of history that never came to be, thanks to the bombing of first, Hiroshima and then, after the Japanese still refused to surrender, Nagasaki.
Even after Nagasaki then the Japanese Supreme Council was evenly divided as to unconditional surrender, and it took the personal intervention of Emperor Hirohito to end the war.
Based on the loses at Okinawa, the JCS felt that in invasion would have cost would cost 1.7-4 million American casualties, including 400,000-800,000 fatalities, and five to ten million Japanese deaths . *
A fact that our President, in declaring the bombing to be “evil”, seems to have ignored.
I am sure there were more than a few soldiers, sailors and Marines who would disagree with that assessment.
** 05-25-18 Link updated (Forbes Magazine link gone) – BB
update: 05-25-18 Subsequent to my posting this awhile back, I am currently reading an excellent book on that time, place and era. As to why some think the Japanese were trying to surrender, the Cliff Notes version is that we had decrypted both the Japanese Diplomatic and Military cables, but only the Diplomatic was made public. The Japanese military, under the code name Ketsu-Go, intended to fight and make the American attrition so costly as to force them to make “an honorable peace”.
Read the American anticipated casualty projections just for the invasion of Kyushu.
An example of the military’s thinking: (Page 108) “On May 6, Portuguese Minister Fernandes advised his government that “the fortification of mountains and coasts continues, giving the impression that this country, like Germany, is disposed to prosecute this war to its end without the least probability of victory”
Another startling statistic: The casualties to the invasion of Okinawa was 17% of the entire Pacific war.