- Letter Writer
- WWII operations, Letter to the Editor
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- March 2000 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Almost as sensational as “OPERATION DOWNFALL” – the top-secret plan for the invasion of Japan as detailed in the last issue of Naval Historical Review (Vol. 20, No. 4) – is the amazing sequel to it all with its mindboggling ramifications.
The enormity of the planned invasion to bring Japan to unconditional surrender and end WW2 was summarised from thousands of dusty yellowing pages buried in secrecy deep in the US National Archives in Washington.
In unearthing them and summarising the sheer immensity of the plan. James Martin Davis also took the lid off “What Might Have Been” and the dreadful aftermath that could have occurred had not the two atomic bombs nullified the need for invasion of the Japanese homeland.
With November 1 1945 scheduled for the first of the massive invasion attacks, an enormous build-up of men and material was taking place on Okinawa as a major launching platform for the final onslaughts against the Japanese.
In October Bruckner Bay on the east coast of Okinawa was jammed with a massive array of ships. On the island itself almost 200,000 soldiers lived under canvas in tent cities and all over the island hundreds of tons of food, equipment and war supplies were stacked in immense piles laid out in the open.
During, the early part of October, to the south-west of Okinawa the seas were rising and winds beginning to howl. On the evening of October 8 the storm changed direction.
Winds rising to 80 miles an hour caused vessels in Bruckner Bay to drag their anchors. As the storm unleashed its fun it became a scene of devastation.
By mid-afternoon on that day the typhoon had reached its raging peak.
Blowing at 150 miles an hour, ships initially grounded by the fury were blown back off the reefs and back across the bay with disastrous results.
Gigantic waves swamped vessels; Liberty ships lost their propellers; men in transports, destroyers and Victory ships were swept off the decks by 60 ft waves that reached the tops of masts.
After the typhoon roared out into the Sea of Japan, bodies began to wash ashore. The toll of ships was also staggering for 270 vessels were sunk, grounded or damaged beyond repair.
Fifty-three ships, too badly damaged, were decommissioned.
Hundreds of Americans were killed, drowned, injured or declared missing.
The island of Okinawa was a scene of incredible havoc.
According to documentation, it was the most furious typhoon and lethal storm ever encountered by the United States Navy.
All at a time when the massive invasion armada of a thousand ships, big and small, planes, landing craft and a half a million men would have been assembling in that area ready for departure for the scheduled November 1 onslaught against Japan.
The effect of it all upon the invasion of Japan at that so crucial stage is mind-boggling to contemplate.
History could well have taken a different path indeed.
Max Thomson (Member)