Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Differences between the ETO and the PTO

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by LG'96, Mar 2, 2014.

Tags:
  1. Takao

    Takao Ace

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Messages:
    9,706
    Likes Received:
    2,349
    Location:
    Reading, PA
    Could you narrow that down a bit. That's going to be a long list.
     
  2. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2013
    Messages:
    1,741
    Likes Received:
    533
    Location:
    London UK
    Well that shows how parochial some colonials can be ;)

    The CBI and PTO are the Eastern and Western edges of the conflict that was might be better described as "the SW Pacific".or "SE Asia" - the area defined by the Japanese as their "SA Asian Co-prosperity sphere." Most of the fighting was over in a matter of months from the Solomon islands to the Indian Border. But the theatre of operations, the Japanese lines of communications, subjected races and targets for allied naval and air operations was the whole area occupied by the Japanese. .
     
  3. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,515
    Likes Received:
    1,176
    I am sorry Sheldrake, normally I am in lock step with your observations, but here I must disagree. To say the war in the Pacific area was fundamentally about China would be the same as saying the European war was fundamentally about Poland. In truth both served simply as catalysts that ignited the deep existing tinder that had little or nothing to do with either China or Poland per se. Further both became largely irrelevant to the course of the war there after.

    The US and Japan had viewed each other with a jaundiced eye from the time Togo sailed into port after Tsushima and from this point saw one another as their primary nemesis over control over the Pacific. More to the crux of the matter, the US had its focus on Europe and the war that broke out there. FDR profoundly wanted to intervene but was held up by public sentiment. One area where he had some leeway was in the Pacific.

    The sanctions served two purposes. It kept strategic materials safe for use in the European war and it placed Japan in a no win proposition. Back down, become a second rate power, thereby rendering them a non threat to the US, or force them to take the first shot in a war that would free FDR's hands to pursue his primary goal, defeat Germany.

    Make no mistake, FDR knew he was backing Japan into a corner from which war in the near term was the almost inevitable result. I am sure on some level he felt for the plight of China, but would he have pursued the same course if Hitler was not the apparent master of Europe? Doubtful in my mind as I have seen little desire for American parents at the time to send their children off to war to save China. If so why did it take so long to bring about the embargo in 1940. And why only after the occupation of Indochina?

    Much is made of the number of Japanese troops tied up by China, but in real terms I am not convinced that it made as great a contribution to Japans final defeat as some believe.

    Consider what difference would have occurred had Japan not been mired in China. In theory more ground troops and army aviation would have been available to fight the west. In practice however this very doubtful because of Japan's greatest weakness, logistics. It is all well and good to say more troops are available to slow the Marines in the Central Pacific, the Diggers in the SW Pacific and the Anglo-Indians in Burma but how does the already strained naval logistics transport and feed all these troops? In 1944 it took everything Japan had to barely support a 3 and a half division offensive in Burma/India. Most of these islands could not support adequately the troops they historically had, more would only strain the system beyond the breaking point.

    Deployment in China, while not entirely cost effective, at least solved for these troops one of the most basic fundamentals in a large army. Feeding the troops.

    Japanese Army Aviation could have prolonged the struggle in the Solomon's or perhaps in Burma, but the vast amount of aid wasted on China could offset this and rendering this a moot point.

    By contrast do the same factoring out of the US Pacific Fleet and USMC. Their drive across the Central Pacific brought the war to Japan's doorstep in a way that any conflict in the CBI could never do. Wars are won by imposing your will upon your enemy by forcing them to accept the notion that they no longer can or want to fight any longer.

    With all do respect both to China and the forgotten army of Burma (who deserve better) they never could or would have forced Japan to their knees.
     
    USMCPrice and Slipdigit like this.
  4. LG'96

    LG'96 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2013
    Messages:
    66
    Likes Received:
    7
    You have not really answer my PMs.
     
  5. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,515
    Likes Received:
    1,176
    I think what Takao is getting at is what areas are you looking for? General overview, naval battles, ground battles, first person accounts, strategy and tactics etc.

    Check out the review sub forum on the PTO/CBI.
     
  6. Takao

    Takao Ace

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Messages:
    9,706
    Likes Received:
    2,349
    Location:
    Reading, PA
    Sorry about that, it was my fault. Work was absolute Hell then, and is not much better now, and it had completely slipped my mind.

    Still, my previous answer is the same...
    air wars: Sino-Japanese air battles prior to December 7, 1941, The early part of the Pacific War with the Japanese and ABDA(American, British, Dutch, & Australian), 5th Air Force in the Solomons, Flying Tigers/14th Air Force in China, the aircraft carrier battles, B-29s of the 20th Air Force, Imperial Japanese Naval Air Force, Imperial Japanese Army Air Force, specific battles/targets, etc.

    British - Early Pacific War and the defeats, Mid-war with the defense of India and limited offensives, late-war defenses and final offensive.

    USMC - Specific units, persons, battles/campaigns.
     
  7. Takao

    Takao Ace

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Messages:
    9,706
    Likes Received:
    2,349
    Location:
    Reading, PA
    It has nothing to do with being "parochial". The PTO is a fairly specific acronym, as opposed to your more broad interpretation, which most would construe as "the Pacific War".

    Further, I would hardly say that the retaking of the Solomon Islands was "over in a matter of months." Unless, your "matter of months" is equal to a year and a half.
     
  8. green slime

    green slime Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2010
    Messages:
    3,150
    Likes Received:
    582
    One oft overlooked difference, in the ETO vs the CBI/PTO, is the commonly shattered health of the service men in the fighting in the tropics. They came home suffering from Malaria, Dengue Fever, Ulcers, and other nasty crap. Taking years, if ever, to recover.
     
    urqh likes this.
  9. LG'96

    LG'96 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2013
    Messages:
    66
    Likes Received:
    7
    Sorry about me being rude. I just want to get some stuff answered. Like: Why is the PTO (at least with Marine culture) associated with Savagery and last man fighting (were the Japanese more fanatical than the Waffen SS or Wermacht?) Why is it more associated with PTSD? (Does anybody have suffering rates among MTO, PTO, ETO, CBI?) Was it viewed as successful or victorious as the other campaigns(to me, it was always a prelude to Korean and Vietnam? Because of the huge 2-3:1 death rates during the island hopping) I'm also looking for books on the British during MTO and ETO but thats for later. So, the books i am looking for are: 14th Army (who really should be given the BoB treatment and Naval Battles. I'm also looking for books on Coming back home, ww2 medicine (PTSD) and sociological effects.
     
  10. LG'96

    LG'96 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2013
    Messages:
    66
    Likes Received:
    7
    When did the servicemen start coming back?
     
  11. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2008
    Messages:
    1,599
    Likes Received:
    230
    Given the terrain and ideological context, it is not surprising that the Americans considered PTO to be more savage than ETO or MTO.

    Jungle combat at close range, low mobility and poor visibility encouraged defenders to make die hard last stands. The same conditions were horrible for morale and increased the risk of PTSD. In the Pacific, Burma and China fronts, there was also a stronger current of racism on both sides. The Japanese despised westerners as arrogant imperialists, while the British and the Americans saw the Japanese as representative of savage Asiatic hordes threatening western civilization. Each combatant regarded the other as racially inferior and pernicious. Prisoners were rarely taken.

    Those were the same factors that made Stalingrad, Budapest and Berlin very cruel battles.
     
  12. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2013
    Messages:
    1,741
    Likes Received:
    533
    Location:
    London UK
    Hmmm

    Both the CBI and PTO were US definitions for their own administrative convenience. They also tend to be shorthand for the War against Germany and the War against Japan - much wider areas. The war against the Germans and their European allies includes the MTO and the Eastern front whihc was the largest land theatre in that war.

    From the Japanese Point of view the centre of the theatre of operations is "SE Asia." and the PTO merely one flank. The fighting in the Solomons went on for a long time. But that was on the very edge of the densely populated and resource rich regions of SE Asia conquered by the Japanese in six months, with its Southern boundary through New Guinea and tyhe Java sea and the West on the Burma/India border, extending NW into China. These were part of the same conflict.

    If the OP is only interested in the difference between the US experiences in the US defined regions of the ETO - i.e. North West Europe v the PTO = the pacific islands campaigns then "Parochial" seems a fair description..
     
  13. LG'96

    LG'96 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2013
    Messages:
    66
    Likes Received:
    7
    while the US is my base, i would like to know more than that. The Commonwealth, Japanese and natives are all nice as well to statistics like PTSD rates/
     
  14. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    3,223
    Likes Received:
    452
    The Apennines, even in winter, are a rather forgiving environment especially as the fighting very seldom went above 600m which qualifies a "hills" not "mountains" around here, the Germans just didn't have enough troops to risk them in mountaintop strongpoints that could be encircled and the allies (with the exception of the French colonials) preferred the lower altitudes where they could benefit from better mechanization. As an example the Abbey of Montecassino is at 520m above sea level, below 600m temperatures in winter go well below zero but are not impossible to withstand or work in given even moderate quality gear.
    Russia's winters are a quite different story. The PTO islands had different challenges, like malaria, but in a sense resembled the desert fighting where soldiers slugged it out in an environment almost devoid of civilian population, for US forces the battle of Manila was the exception to the rule. China and Buma often had very densely populated battlegrounds. I believe the racist undertones in the Pacific and Eastern fronts was the big differentiator, the fighting in Western Europe and North Africa never reached the level of savagery that was normal there, IMO the worst place to be in WW2 was a German infantry division on the Eastern Front, these were practically never rotated out of the line, undersupplied and often stripped of the best elements to reinforce the "main efforts".
     
  15. green slime

    green slime Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2010
    Messages:
    3,150
    Likes Received:
    582
    The tales from the IJA of units turning to cannibalism I find rather harrowing.
     
  16. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    3,223
    Likes Received:
    452
    Wasn't aware of that but not that surprised, if you look at late war IJA units they appear to lack almost everything.
     
  17. LG'96

    LG'96 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2013
    Messages:
    66
    Likes Received:
    7
    The Fact that IJA soldiers were able to kill so many USMC and Army troops for those little islands is staggering. As the war dragged on, the marines began to act and fight as savagely as the japanese. How did a powerful army that took guam, philippines and the solomans begin to lose by Midway?
     
  18. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,515
    Likes Received:
    1,176
    It is not so much a case that Japanese land forces were all that 'powerful' but that in comparison to the largely scattered, inadequately trained and usually small allied garrisons they faced during the first 6 months of the Pacific war, they were well trained and equipped for swift attacks against such. In the case of Guam they attacked a isolated garrison of about 550 with nearly 6,000 troops. In the open terrain of the Philippines they often out maneuvered the US-Filipino defenders, but when faced with the defense line on Bataan, they took considerable casualties and nearly got their commander sacked due to the fierceness of the defense.

    By Guadalcanal Marine, and later Army troops, fought them with equal skill but better command co-ordination and ever improving logistics. Japanese Army and Naval Infantry, with their relatively light crew served support weapons and logistics, were well suited to a form of 'jungle blitzkrieg', but at a distinct disadvantage to western troops with a fully stocked table of organization and troops trained to fully integrate all 'the cards in their deck'.

    In the later ground engagements Japan came to terms with the fact that they could could not face allied forces out in the open, but could extract maximum damage to the US/Allied ground forces by making them come to them in fortified and interlocking defensive positions. This surrendered all initiative and in the end still could not inflict enough casualties to stop, or even meaningfully slow, the Allied advance, but it was all they could do. Of course having troops content to die at their positions no matter what didn't hurt.

    By the way, Midway was a sea-air battle, not a ground battle.
     
  19. Takao

    Takao Ace

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Messages:
    9,706
    Likes Received:
    2,349
    Location:
    Reading, PA
    The Japanese landings

    I believe that the Japanese failed to out maneuver the Americans and thus were unable to prevent the withdrawl to Bataan from being successfully completed. Japanese attempts to crack the defensive lines of Bataan were not helped by the fact that the crack 48th Division had been replaced with the intended garrison unit, the 65th Brigade. Thus, it was mostly left to this ill-trained, ill-equipped outfit to complete what was the toughest task of the Philippine invasion.

    What do you mean "nearly"? The considerable Japanese casualties, and the overly long time it took to conquer the Philippines(the Japanese had only allowed for some 50 days to be taken for investing the Philippines), were the two driving factors in Homma's sacking. He remained in nominal command of the Philippines until late-summer '42, when he was effectively cashiered.
     
  20. green slime

    green slime Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2010
    Messages:
    3,150
    Likes Received:
    582
    Astoundingly, it wasn't just units that were low on food that resorted to cannibalism, and it was occurring already in '42...

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/japanese-troops-ate-flesh-of-enemies-and-civilians-1539816.html

    Paul Ham has more in "Kokoda", and also quotes the order on 10th December 1944 by the Eighteenth Army '.... those who have consumed human flesh - EXCLUDING THAT OF THE ENEMY - will be sentenced to death for committing the worst possible crime against humanity' "

    Ham also gives references for cannibalism taking place in units with food supplies. It cannot then be seen as an act of necessity, but of barbarity.
     

Share This Page