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Spruance or Halsey?

Discussion in 'Naval Warfare in the Pacific' started by Watson, Aug 29, 2010.

  1. ULITHI

    ULITHI Ace

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    Well, he did act like a blowhard at times, and he did love the reporters. Although, he did like to give credit to the men who he fought with (unlike MacAurthor for example).

    I think one of Halsey's greatest achievements was taking over during the Guadalcanal campaign and helping turn the tide there with his agressiveness.

    He definately seemed to have a bad hatred for the Japanese. So did Mitscher I think, but he did not show it as much.
     
  2. ULITHI

    ULITHI Ace

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    Well, we should let the big boys chime in here as well. I posted something wrong on this same thread the other day and had to be corrected (about an Admiral)!
     
  3. Gebirgsjaeger

    Gebirgsjaeger Ace

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    Than lets wait and see.

    Regards

    Ulrich
     
  4. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Gebirgsjaeger,

    ULITHI is correct, it was Rear Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf and his battleships(5 of the 6 battleships were at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941) & cruisers who "crossed the T" against Nishimura. Not only that, but US destroyers were on both of Nishimura flanks firing their torpedoes and guns.

    Map of the battle: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/e2/Surigao_straight.jpg
     
  5. Coyote850

    Coyote850 recruit

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    No doubt I would take Ray Spruance as a CO. Halsey was too concerned with the one big battle he wanted to win. He gambled with too many lives and could have cost us dearly. I wonder how Midway might have turned out if Halsey was in command.
     
  6. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Good discussion, Gentlemen.

    Someone mentioned the book America's Fighting Admirals above. I had read it a couple of years ago and had to dig it out and read over it again. While the author does not indict Halsey, he does provide good evidence against Halsey to consider, much of it based on his impetuousness. There are several quotes provided that are attributed to subordinate TF and ship commanders comparing Halsey & Spruance that were not supportive of Halsey's command style nor his staff's work. The provided quotes indicated that the commanders were often left in the dark about Halsey's intentions.
     
  7. Gebirgsjaeger

    Gebirgsjaeger Ace

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    Thank you much Takao! I didn´t know exactly who it was and thought it was Halsey.

    Regards

    Ulrich
     
  8. mikebatzel

    mikebatzel Dreadnaught

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    Gentlemen, I don't have my books at hand so I'm gonna try this without much double checking so please forgive me now for any minor errors.

    While criticism of Halsey is rightly justified for his decision to turn his task group north, I would like to point out that not everything was known at that time. On 24 October 1944 there is no reason to suspect that Japan has no aircraft for it's remaining carriers. Halsey had taken his fleet on a series of raids against Japanese Airfields just two weeks prior culminating in the Formosa air battle. An estimated 600 Japanese aircraft had been destroyed there, a few months earlier 600 Japanese planes were destroyed in the Philippine Sea, and about 150 aircraft (including some carrier based planes) had attacked the carriers earlier that day, causing the loss of the Princeton. There was simply nothing to indicate that Ozawa's Northern Force was a toothless tiger. The original plan never called for Ozawa to be a decoy. As I remember the need of his aircraft slated for Sho 1 at Formosa is what necessitated that he could not contribute as planned.

    As a side note, I find it contradictory that so much of the critism is based, largely, on his agressiveness. His agressivness caused the situation we critisize, when so many comanders in the war where releaved for a lack of agressivness.
     
  9. ULITHI

    ULITHI Ace

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    Would you suggest that much of Halsey's criticism is based on hindsight?

    He can be blamed by being too gung-ho for wanting to sink something himself, but like you stated, how was anyone to know that most of the planes were destroyed in the "turkey shoot"?

    After the Leyte battle, how long was it until it was actually known that the carriers were mostly "toothless tigers"? Or was this known soon enough from Halsey's relatively easy attacks on them?
     
  10. drogon

    drogon Member

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    Halsey was rightly aggressive -> but being aggressive in his search to anihilate the enemy doesn't excuse his wrong view of the situation.


    Ozawa: Had rightly to be the prime target.
    But total disregard for information coming from trusted and reliable subordinates about Kurita's fleet having turned around and heading for the strait is not something a CO can do.

    Especially when one has so many forces at his disposal, sending some (4?) battleships with Lee in command + escorting forces wouldn't have been a real loss of power and even in case of a night surface battle with Ozawa's forces, Halsey would still have had at least 2 battleships with his carriers.

    Meanwhile, the TF 34 (let's say 4 battleships) wouldn't have been left unprotected at all if the Taffys had been given the order to provide them with an air cover.

    In addition, the taffys wouldn't have been left unprotected, nor the beachheads, furthermore, if Lee/Halsey had been cautious, they could have used both the Taffys and the TF34 as a joint strike force.
    The taffys aircraft attacking and sinking most of Kurita's fleet (at least the escorting cruisers + destroyers) and TF34 would have served as cover for the Taffys and as the finishing blow against the remaining IJN battleships.

    All this without really dividing your forces and allowing Halsey to go North after the IJN carriers with all his forces and at no disadvantages during a night battle.

    Final note:
    Halsey having first not divided his forces (or at least detached 4 battleships) -> later put his forces in arms way (Admiral DuBose ships) when they were detached to pursue the 'remaining IJN forces in the north'
    -> putting the cruisers and destroyers against incoming IJN battleships....

    Spruance would probably never have done such multiple wrong calculations....
     
  11. mikebatzel

    mikebatzel Dreadnaught

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    Yes and no. Criticism of Halsey's actions began the moment 18 inch shells began landing within Taffy 3. Hindsight only strengthened the criticism to epic proportions. When you take out some of the info we have that Halsey did not have, I can certainly see the reasoning for doing so. Personally, I think MacArthur being caught with his pants down early in the war was an even larger mistake, but History remembers him as a great general. He had a whole war to vindicate himself, Halsey did not.
    Based on the horrible performance of Japanese pilots in the Formosa battle, many had begun to speculate that the Japanese were running out of pilots and rushing them through training, but I have not seen anything to indicate we knew they were running out of either. No matter how bad the performance was, they still managed to put up large numbers of aircraft.

    Despited the fact that it was not true, Halsey was under the impression that it was a carrier aircraft that had sunk the Princeton. This alone significantly increases the threat the northern force poses.
     
  12. SymphonicPoet

    SymphonicPoet Member

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    Drogon, I don't think a coordinated effort between Halsey's battle line (TF 34) and Kinkaid's three CVE task units (7.4.1, 7.4.2, and 7.4.3, or "Taffy" 1, 2, and 3) was ever really a possibility. The two were in separate fleets under entirely different commands. TF 34 was a part of 3rd Fleet under Halsey, who was himself operating under Nimitz as CinCPac. The taffies were a part of Kinkaid's 7th fleet, otherwise known as "MacArthur's Navy." Kinkaid reported directly to Douglas MacA in his capacity as CinCSoWesPac.

    Because MacArthur was so jealous of his resources Kinkaid and Halsey weren't even supposed to communicate directly. All communiques had to go through a relay station halfway across the Pacific and come back through MacArthur's office before they were official. Commanders regularly listened in on the intra fleet chatter that went out over the "Talk By Ship" or TBS system, so they usually had some idea what was going on, but coordination was nearly impossible. (Almost by design.)

    I suppose it's possible that Halsey could have detached TF 34 from 3rd Fleet and temporarily assigned it to 7th Fleet, but he would have needed Nimitz's approval for such a move, which I doubt he would have gotten. MacArtrhur wasn't good at returning assets once he had control of them. Not that Halsey would have been so foolish anyway.

    As a matter of fact, this very divided command structure is often cited as the big US mistake in the Pacific. It certainly helped contribute to the chaos that was Leyte Gulf. Had Kinkaid been aware the straits weren't guarded it's altogether probable he could have moved his aviation assets back a safe distance and handled the problem himself. 7th Fleet was surely sufficient to the task.
     
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  13. mikebatzel

    mikebatzel Dreadnaught

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    Not a total disregard, but a calculated decision. He had no way of knowing that Kinkaid had read his message regarding TF 34. When he did inform Kinkaid he was heading north, he assumed the Seventh Fleet would cover the straight and could handle anything that tried to transit it. Halsey had believed that a great blow had already been delivered on the Center Force, and even if they could still float, many of the guns they carried must be destroyed by the tremendous topside damage. Why he believed the reports from his pilot's were so accurate we may never really know. IIRC, Halsey would later write that he believed at the time the only thing that could explain the Center Force's turn back toward the strait was that a message from god had assured victory. How close that turned out to be! Hindsight reveals many thing's and we are all right to be critical of Halsey's decisions, but I can certainly see why and how he came to those he made.

    Spruance was a far more cautious person, and with two strong surface forces infront of him, and air attacks coming from Luzon, would Spruance have been willing to launch as extensive a search as Halsey? Halsey found the Northern Force because he was obsessed with sinking the Japanese carriers.
     
  14. drogon

    drogon Member

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    mikebatzel, interesting post.
    You do believe it was a calculated decision?
    I agree that going after the IJN carriers was a rightful and logical decision.
    But how can a CO in his right mind and with his experience make such a decision:
    . He knows (like all carrier TF of either side since the begining of the war) that pilots always make huge claims
    . Knowing fully well, that very few weapons can really disable Japanese battleships and only after repeated heavy air attacks can they really sink battleships
    . Knowing that Kurita's force has turned back at high speed + the Palawan's strait lights are on

    I wonder why he didn't listen to other opinions, but I do admit his general staff also bears a huge responsability for not passing other commanders comments, questions, observations.

    I agree with you about Spruance being somewhat more cautious, but in this case it might have been a good thing to do so
     
  15. mikebatzel

    mikebatzel Dreadnaught

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    I believe that Halsey knew that the Center Force had turned back towards the strait, and that he knowingly left it open, with the belief that Kinkaid would cover. Most likely the most driving factor in the decision was that he was present to hear the real time criticism of Spruance at the "turkey shoot". After the war Halsey would write that if he could do things all over again, the only thing he would change was turning his ships back toward Leyte after he received the message from Nimitz.

    This is what baffles me. For some reason I remember reading that Halsey had used a "rule of three" meaning he would divide all pilot's claims by three to get a more accurate picture of the situation (Perhaps that was in Sea of Thunder?). Why he did not do so here, I think is something we may never know.
    Not at all true. The best weapon against battleships were a torpedo, which could be launched from destroyers as well. They can be particularly effective too, Yamato's run north to flee from torpedoes the next morning shows that even without a hit, they were able to effectively remove the biggest guns from the battle. Halsey also did not learn of Oldendorf's ammunition situation until the battle had been ragging for a couple hours, and came as a complete shock. He was not aware that the OBB's had cut short there supply of AP rounds, for additional rounds better suited for shore bombardment. Even then I consider this highly misleading as Pennsylvania had not fired, and Maryland(?) had only fired a single salvo. this was mostly because of a combination of Nighttime, old radar that did not work very well. In daylight, those six OBB's could still have done considerable damage had the Center Force pushed toward the gulf as opposed to their historic retreat, but that is a discussion for another day.
    Fully agree here, though, mistakes were made by a great many people, Halsey's were more visible because of what happened off Samar. As Thomas Cutler wrote, Friction was abundant, and the fog of war was particularly thick (paraphrasing).
     
  16. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    Besides the Battle of Bull's Run, Halsey was famous for not listening to advice that didn't fit in with his plans. Typhoon Cobra for example. Ships from all over the rim of the 3rd Fleet were calling in saying it was a full blown Typhoon, and not until it was too late for many, did Halsey release ships form station keeping.

    Halsey didn't like to listen to the commander on the scene, if it conflicted with his desires.
     
  17. mac_bolan00

    mac_bolan00 Member

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    arleigh "thirty one knot" burke would have said 'halsey.'
     
  18. caryn

    caryn recruit

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    Spruance. Halsey made too many blunders. It is telling that the Japanese plan counted on Halsey's rashness, and that he did as they expected. Problems with Fleet command are a non-issue; Halsey had the specific responsibility to prevent exactly what happened from happening, and he had commensurate authority to do so---he could have detached portions of his Task Groups without turning them over to anyone but their normal Task group OTC. In fact, some of his TGs were already detached for routine operations like refueling and taking on spares. He failed to guard the straights, he failed to exercise the diligence expected of a Fleet Commander, which is why Nimitz took him down a peg in public for it.
     
  19. ULITHI

    ULITHI Ace

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    Besides "Bull's Run" at Leyte, what were some of the other blunders caused by Halsey other than the typhoons? Being too personal with MacArthur which helped Scew Nimitz's plans?
     
  20. skhan

    skhan recruit

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    I think that halsey had indeed blundered (or intentionally ignored the true situation) with his bull run. can't exactly recall where i read it but Admirals Lee and Bogan did try to contact and seek Halsey to reconsider his charge up north but were ignored by either Halsey or his staff. Coupled with the reports that Kurita is turning back towards Samar, it could not be said that Halsey was not put on notice or aware of the true scenario.

    I believe that Spruance is a better fleet commander. It is stated somewhere in the book "Nimitz & his Admirals: How they won the Pacific War" that a task group commander (not sure Reeves or Montgomery) did remark that orders given by Spruance are clear, precise and to the point whilst with Halsey, the orders are inconsistent and susceptible to frequent changes to the extent one has no idea what is required by the commander.

    I agree with the abovementioned book's conclusions - Halsey is the guy to go to for winning battles, and Spruance to win campaigns.

    Have a nice day.
     

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