Problem was of course it wasn't just down to money. In the cash starved inter-war years the money wasn't there. There was still time to make good the difference later, but by then Britain was fighting for her very survival and so the Far East was third choice of three in terms of where to send resources as the threat of UK invasion receded and the need to hold the Middle East became paramount.
Promised aircraft for the Far East was slow coming off the assembly lines, and fighter aircraft was shipped to the Soviet Union and Egypt. The sad thing from an Allied perspective was that had the Japanese waited 3-4 months, they may well have missed the bus.....
I don't say that because what the British and Americans would have had guarding the Malay barrier and the Philippines by then was going to necessarily defeat the Japanese, but the conquest of those territories and the NEI was likely going to be a lot more painful, take longer, and with no guarantee of success... The march back to Tokyo would have been a lot easier.
I know the US could have put that extra time to very good use by completing the bulk of their reinforcement program that was already underway when war
broke out but what exactly were the reinforcements for that period that the British were so committed to that Churchill couldn't have found excuses to
further delay? Was he going to resist the temptation of reinforcing the 8th Army just when Operation Crusader's expensive "success" may have opened the
door for the conquest of Libya and more? Surely the Far East could wait a bit longer, just as it had for most of 1941.
Possibly. As I said, there are lots of mights and maybes there and put it this way; I would not bet significant money on a significantly different outcome! - not least because we cannot be certain what extra would have been delivered in that time or what extra training, of units that had formed, would mean for performance - but I would certainly make a wager!
The thinking is straightforward though. We know from what happened that the Japanese attacks on Malaya/Singapore/Burma, NEI and the Philippines were incredibly successful and wrapped up within 6 months.
However we also know that the attacks were conducted like stepping stones and for example, the NEI could not be taken (or would be much more difficult) without PI and/or Singapore taken. Momentum was vital for the Japanese in those early months, momentum that enabled them to claim the oil of the NEI.
We also know that the Japanese were running out of supplies when Singapore finally surrendered.
My understanding is that only two of the five Buffalo squadrons in Malaya were worked up in December 1941. It is unclear to me how much more of the promised aircraft from the US and Beauforts from Australia would have been available in that time if any. But for those units already there - more time, more training.
We know that whatever the British, Dutch and the US lost in those early months was replaceable - particularly ships. But for the Japanese, such losses would not be so easily replaced if at all.
We also know that Admiral Phillips came close to finding the Japanese convoys heading for Thailand/Malaya. If a carrier had been available - perhaps with Exeter and Mauritius joining too, the chances of loss were high - but so too were the chances of the RN finding - and inflicting damage - on those convoys. From what we know the Japanese invasion troops and supply lines could ill-afford any such losses, while the loss of Indomitable, Mauritius and Exeter (in addition to PoW and Repulse) would not have made one jot of difference to Japanese prospects. Indeed Exeter was soon to be lost anyway, while the loss of Indomitable or Mauritius from the RN order of battle would not have been something that would have radically affected later operations (the BPF being the most obvious example, but as said, this is not going to make any real difference to the Pacific War).
You will know more than I about the PI, but the same principles apply here too in terms of damage capable of being inflicted, and what that does to Japanese timetables.
Momentum was everything. The knock-on effect of losses here, delays there, could have been vital given what we know of Japanese reserves and supply lines. Does anyone know the effect of Japan not conquering the NEI in terms of oil?
From all we know would Churchill have sanctioned wholesale reinforcement of the Far East at the expense of the Middle East? No of course not, as has been covered in the recent thread on the RM, the Mediterranean had priority over the Far East. But additional units would have been available (US aircraft and British ships at a minimum together with that all important commodity - time) - its just tantalising to wonder what might have been. Indeed one of the tantalising things is what the Japanese do with the KB? If fighting was prolonged in Malaya and PI, do the Japanese bring the KB into the restricted waters of the South China Sea?......
< Message edited by warspite1 -- 5/24/2017 7:04:10 AM >
England expects that every man will do his duty. Horatio Nelson October 1805