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Solomon Islands Campaign

As Navajo towed Chicago at four knots and escorted by six destroyers, 12 torpedo bombers of the same "Betty" type struck at on 30 Jan The few that got through the combat air patrol launched their torpedoes and fatally wounded Chicago. Captain Ralph Davis of Chicago evacuated his ship in about 20 minutes, and a few moments after the last of the 1, survivors left the ship, she sank stern first. The propaganda machine at Tokyo quickly announced this battle as a great victory.

Both William Halsey in the post-battle report and Samuel Eliot Morison in his book blamed Giffen's inexperience in the theater for the loss of Chicago; Giffen had just been transferred to the South Pacific only days before this battle from Casablanca. Under the direction of Japanese war minister Hajime Sugiyama, Japanese troops were sent to seize an airfield near Wau, thirty-two miles from Salamaua. MacArthur's forces were ready for them, routing the Japanese invaders with an Australian brigade. Then Imperial General Headquarters ordered a convoy from Rabaul to land much-needed reinforcements in the Buna-Gona area under the code name of Operation The convoy was consisted of six transports, one old navy supply ship, and one small freighter carrying a total of 6, troops and was escorted by eight destroyers.

The convoy set sail riding on the front of heavy weather to hide their movement, but it was nevertheless discovered hours after their departure from Rabaul, New Britain on 1 Mar Attacks launched on the same day failed to locate the convoy, but in the following two days the Japanese ships were utterly overwhelmed by Allied air power, leading to the sinking of all eight transport ships and four of the eight destroyers by strafing, bombing, and skip-bombing; additionally, eight Zero fighters and seven Ki fighters were shot down.

On 3 Mar , after shooting down US B bomber "Double Trouble", Japanese fighters strafed at the descending parachutes in frustration. Having observed this act, the Americans lowered themselves to the same level during the subsequent attack waves in which they not only dropped bombs on rescuing barges but also machine gunned survivors floating in the water. These attacks on the helpless Japanese survivors would continue through 5 Mar MacArthur, at a press conference that soon followed the Bismarck Sea action, declared that the control of the sea "no longer depends solely or even primarily upon naval power, but upon air power operating from land bases held by ground troops".

This offended members of the US Navy, but even the admirals could not deny that airpower was a decisive factor in the Pacific War.


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To soften up the defenses there before the landing, flights from Henderson bombed New Georgia, resulting in disabling the two before-mentioned airfields Japanese would alternatively use Rabaul and Bougainville as launch points of air missions after these two airfields were destroyed. When Japanese submarine RO spotted Admiral Turner's amphibious force approaching from the south on 30 Jun, the Japanese commanders were taken by surprise, and were not able to react efficiently to the subsequent landing, though two freighters were sunk by submarines off New Georgia.

When the landings took place, a Japanese air raid was launched in attempt to disrupt the landings.


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  • A torpedo damaged later she was abandoned, then sunk in error by American PT boats Turner's flagship, transport McCawley, but the air raid was more or less ineffective in the intended disruption. The Allied landing force faced much difficulties from reefs, mud, and intense bombardment, in addition to strong resistance from Major General Noboru Sasaki's 5, troops. This obscure island took the American troops a significant amount of time to capture: the major airfield, Munda, fell to the Americans on 5 Aug The Americans reversed course and moved to meet them off of Kolombangara.

    First contact was made at by Japanese radar note that the use of radar is rare for the Japanese Navy aboard Niizuki. The Americans enjoyed an advantage in terms of gunfire, and the Japanese had several ships loaded with combat troops, but as usual the Japanese advantage in torpedoes and tactics made up the difference. Being the keen night warriors as they were, the Japanese launched their newest inch torpedoes against the flashing American guns.

    They quickly demolished Niizuki, which drew fire from every American cruiser. Japanese torpedoes were already in the water, however, and at they hit Helena, which lost her bow back to the No. Meanwhile, the Japanese had several vessels damaged and one destroyer sunk killing Admiral Akiyama by gunfire, and Nagatsuki had run aground she was destroyed by bombing runs on the next day.

    Both forces began a general retirement. They hung on to various floating devices, and eventually made their ways to the island of Vella Lavella. They would be aided by local Australian coast watchers and friendly locals. They were rescued by destroyers on 16 Jul. Around Amagiri and Nicholas exchanged torpedoes and then gunfire.

    Amagiri was hit and retired, leaving Niizuki's survivors to their fate. The Americans, by contrast succeeded in rescuing many of Helena's survivors. The final casualty was Nagatsuki; abandoned by her crew in the morning after they failed to get her afloat, she was bombed into a sinking state by US planes. Given the disadvantages the Japanese had labored under, the Americans really ought to have done better. This battle is intriguing, too, for the fact that it was the Japanese who used their search radar effectively.

    However, American radar gunfire control which the Japanese still did not have had allowed them to inflict rapid damage to the opposing force. New Zealand light cruiser Leander and other light cruisers and destroyers were targeted by Japanese torpedoes before they opened gunfire against the Japanese. The Japanese were radar-less, but they were eqiuped with radar direction-finding equipment which aided them greatly, including the early clues of American ship locations that allowed them to fire their torpedoes early.

    The Americans lost a destroyer, Gwin, and sustained heavy damage on light cruisers Honolulu and St. The Japanese landed 1, troops on Kolombangara and withdrew to Buin in Bougainville. This confrontation was another example of Japanese skillfulness with torpedoes; not only that the Japanese torpedoes could travel much further 21 miles! The Americans used the black backdrop of Kolombangara to hide their ships. They also avoided using their guns until their torpedoes were in the water.

    By the time Shigure, which was at the tail end of the Japanese column with Tameichi Hara aboard spotted the Americans at , the American fish were about a minute away from their targets. As Shigure began launching an eight-fish salvo, the three lead Japanese destroyers were hit within moments of each other. Shigure, too, was hit by a dud torpedo as she turned away. The fish punched a hole in her rudder. Practically no resistance came from the crippled Japanese destroyers.

    Shigure had no choice but to run for her life. In all, the Japanese had lost three ships and over 1, men of which were land troops. The Americans suffered not a single casualty, much attributed to the well-drilled American sailors. The Japanese survivors in the water refused rescue from the American destroyers. By being relieved of their normal duties of screening cruisers, and the linear tactics that role had thus far imposed, the American DDs were able to employ innovative torpedo tactics which had worked beautifully.

    The Japanese Navy had been served notice that its reign of nighttime torpedo supremacy was at an end. American troops were by now overpowering the Japanese, totaling 6, men on the island. A Japanese barge convoy, escorted by destroyers, was sent out on 17 Aug to attempt the evacuation mission.

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    An American destroyer force had come north that night to intercept and destroy the barges. The Japanese launched torpedoes at very long range, but the Americans had formed up line abreast and thus combed their wakes. After another series of maneuvers, however, the two destroyer forces found themselves line abreast and within long gunfire range. Both groups hammered away at each other, but were generally ineffective. At around the Isokaze's radar erroneously detected another American force closing from the south, at which point the Japanese retired.

    New Age of Terror - In Zeiten des Terrors

    In the interim, though, most of the Japanese barges had scattered, leaving only two for the Americans to find and sink. The only redeeming feature for the Americans was the fact that with radar controlled gunfire they had at least scored more near-misses and straddles than their enemy.

    The other important thing to note is that, once again, the Americans had demonstrated that their destroyers at least were beginning to learn how to take the sting out of Japanese torpedo tactics. An American destroyer group was dispatched to block this movement. Interestingly, a relatively large task force was sent to rescue less than one battalion, but for once the Japanese would enjoy a numerical advantage as they outnumbered the American destroyers nine to six although three of them were converted to troop carriers. The American counterpart was led by Captain Frank Walker. Walker decided not to join his two groups of three destroyers before approaching the likely scene of battle.

    Thus he would bring his three 'tin cans' up against a much superior force. As luck would have it, their course and speed were such that they stood a good chance of crossing the American 'T'. However, the Japanese commander then engaged his squadron in a complex series of maneuvers which wasted the initial advantage. At , both columns opened up on each other simultaneously. However, American gunfire was simultaneously tearing Yugumo apart. After a brief exchange of further gunnery between Selfridge, Shigure and Samidare, the Japanese retreated the way the came, apparently fearing larger American forces were approaching the area by the time Captain Harold Larson's three destroyers came by, the Japanese were already gone.

    The Japanese barges, however, accomplished their mission and rescued all the remaining Japanese troops on the island. All in all, not an impressive showing for the Americans, who should have waited to join forces before attacking the Japanese. However, at the end of this night action, Japanese presence would be completely withdrawn from the central Solomons region. Nearly the entire mile by mile area was dense jungle, with a exception of a small coastal plain at the southern end. The Japanese Bougainville garrison totalled 60, men, deployed on Bougainville, Shortlands, Buka, and Treasury islands.

    There were a total of five military airfields under Japanese control. Although these bombings confused the Japanese in that they could not determine where the Americans would strike next, the bombings were a bit overrated as over aircraft were still operational for the defenders at the time of the landings. Admiral Koga decided to deploy aircraft, taken away from the precious carriers, to the area in determination to destroy the next wave of American attackers by air power.

    This defense plan was Operation RO. On the main island of Mono, well dug-in machine gun nests were giving Allied troops a difficult time. Captain Robert Briscoe of the light cruiser Denver recalled how the landing troops took care of this obstacle in a brutal and unorthodox manner:. The landing force was counterattacked by two waves of air attacks, but to no significant impact.


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    • The Japanese forces at the particular landing site totaled less than , therefore posing only a small threat despite the carefully laid machine gun cross fire and artillery. Once the forces headed inland, however, the difficulty began. The Marines soon found out that the naval bombardment "had accomplished nothing", as noted in Marine Corps' official history.

      The men faced Japanese defenders well entrenched and well hidden in the dense tropical jungles. Admiral Sentaro Omori sortied from Rabaul at once with a powerful surface force of two heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and six destroyers. Having sent most of their assault transports out of the danger zone before nightfall, Merrill awaited the Japanese with four light cruisers and eight destroyers.

      The advantage in both gunfire and torpedoes clearly lay with the Japanese. Confused by conflicting reports he was receiving from his scout planes as to the composition of the American force to his south, he executed a series of degree turns in pitch blackness which were designed to give his aircraft more time to bring him information.

      Instead, all they did was throw his squadron into disarray, leaving his screening force far out of position, just as the Americans arrived on the scene. The Americans, coming upon the Japanese screen, launched torpedoes first, and then opened with the cruisers' 6-inch guns. The Japanese screening force, upon spotting American destroyers, tried desperately to evade the torpedoes they knew to be in the water, and ended up either colliding with each other or suffering near-misses.

      Sendai nearly hit Shigure, and Samidare sideswiped Shiratsuyu, staving in her hull and putting her out of the fight. Sendai was then buried in 6-inch gunfire. This only succeeded in causing further collisions, as Myoko tore Hatsukaze's bow off, and Haguro nearly hit two other destroyers. A brief, inconclusive fight followed between the two Japanese heavies and the four American lights. Although the Japanese launched a large salvo of torpedoes, they were ineffective.

      The Americans achieved several gunfire straddles, but failed to hit their targets. At Omori ordered a general withdrawal. The Americans found the hapless Hatsukaze Myoko was still wearing her bow when she returned to Rabaul and sank her with gunfire. The invasion of Bougainville would not be stopped this night. For his defeat, Omori was relieved of his command upon returning to Rabaul. The aircraft Koga ordered to reinforce the area were sent on air raids to disrupt American operations, but no little effect, while wearing away irreplaceable Japanese pilots.

      However, the usual practice of exaggerating damange reports led to Koga's declaration of Operation RO a success, and received a personal word of thanks from Emperor Showa. American progress on Bougainville slowed during the rest of Nov As a response, a powerful naval force of two heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and six destroyers sailed from Rabaul steamed with air cover under the command of Admiral Sentaro Omori.

      The Americans made radar contact at in the morning of 2 Nov and immediately launched a destroyer torpedo attack. The Japanese fleet dodged the torpedo run, but in turn the formation was scattered. At , American cruisers opened fire, quickly disabling cruiser Sendai. A series of Japanese mis-maneuvers led to two collisions; it was not until that the Japanese fleet pulled together and began firing on the American ships.

      The battle did not last long after that point as the American ships turned and withdrew from the battle. While the battle was rather inconclusive, the Americans achieved their goal in preventing Japanese interference with the operation. George 26 Nov On November 25, they put together yet another 'Tokyo Express' of five destroyers, three of them laden with troops, and sent them out of Rabaul. This force was commanded by Captain Kiyoto Kagawa. Waiting for them were six American destroyers.

      The Japanese succeeded in dropping off their loads at Buka, but trouble began on the way back home. Both of the Japanese screening destroyers were hit, sinking the Onami and crippling the Makinami. The Americans then closed in on the destroyer-transports, who scattered and ran for it. Yugiri didn't make it, being pounded by several opponents. The crippled Makinami was also sunk. The American forces tried a stern chase of the other two fleeing Japanese destroyers, but were unable to catch them.

      Freed from screening duties, US destroyers had again held their own against their vaunted Japanese adversaries. There would be no more major naval battles until the invasion of Saipan in the Mariana Islands. Did you enjoy this article? Please consider supporting us on Patreon. Thank you. RSS Feeds. Show older comments. The type of records is exemplified by the records of the 2d Coast Artillery District and the successor New York-Philadelphia Sector; these records consist of general files, a wartime history of the organization, and several series of orders, memoranda, and instructions.

      The records of the Southwestern Sector are interfiled with records of the predecessor Southern Defense Command, described below. Also at St. Louis are the general files of the Antiaircraft Artillery Command, The records of the Eastern Military Area have not been identified as a separate body of records. Some records of the subordinate military area organization at Richmond, Va. Records Center, AGO. Base Commands in the North Atlantic [] As the war progressed, the Eastern Defense Command's jurisdiction was extended to include the Army's several island base commands in the North Atlantic.

      These commands served as way stations along the sea and air lanes to Europe, provided base facilities for antisubmarine operations in the North Atlantic, and stood by to undertake defensive operations against enemy attack. The Newfoundland Base Command was established in December , and its ground, air, and service troop units were placed under the Eastern Defense Command in December The Bermuda Base Command, established in January , was transferred to the administrative control of the Eastern Defense Command in December , but tactically its ground troops were under the Atlantic Fleet for most of the war.

      The organization in Iceland originated in July , by an agreement between the Governments of Iceland, the United States, and the United Kingdom; it consisted at first of Marine Corps troop units from the Atlantic Fleet; later it was supplemented by Army air and ground units; and in September it was designated the Iceland Base Command. In Greenland the first garrison, established in July , consisted of Engineer troop units for building air bases and other military installations there and of Coast Artillery troops for defense. Later, Army Air Forces units and other troops were assigned to the area for operational duty, and in August the force was designated the Greenland Base Command.

      It was placed under the Eastern Defense Command in In the base commands were discontinued, and their postwar functions were taken over by the Air Transport Command, chiefly by its Atlantic Division.

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      Other records of the commands are, however, in the Center at St. Louis, including the records of troop units serving under the commands, ; orders of the Iceland Base Command's Tactical School, ; and case files on claims by Icelanders against the Army, , which were handled by Foreign Claims Commission No. Records relating to each of the base commands are among the records of Headquarters Eastern Defense Command.

      In the central records of the War Department, in the AGO, are project files for each of these base commands. Central Defense Command [] This Command, established in March , was headed at first by the commander of the Second Army, with the headquarters of both at Memphis, Tenn. It engaged in a variety of defense-planning activities, civilian-defense activities, and special protective activities, such as guarding the Sault Ste. Marie locks and other important facilities. The Second Army conducted training maneuvers. Louis, interfiled among the records of Headquarters Second Army, They include central files; records of the Judge Advocate General, Signal, Quartermaster, and Medical Sections; records of the Maneuver Director and of the Ranger School; and several series of orders, memoranda, circulars, and bulletins.

      Southern Defense Command [] Established in March , this Command was headed at first by the commanding general of the Third Army, with the headquarters of both at San Antonio, Tex. Its jurisdiction extended in general over the areas of the United States adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico. Its special programs included liaison and collaboration with the headquarters of the Mexican Army and with Mexican tactical commands stationed across.

      They include several series of general files; a number of series of orders, bulletins, and circulars; and a copy of the Command's unpublished history. The new Command provided unified Army control over the ground and air tactical forces in the Panama Canal Department and the Puerto Rican Department later the Antilles Department , and over the island commands that were then being established in Trinidad, Jamaica, the Bahamas, and elsewhere in the Caribbean area.

      The tactical jurisdiction of the Command also extended to Army forces in the French and Dutch colonial possessions in this area and in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and the republics of Central America. This extensive area was divided, for purposes of future ground operations, ground training and supply services, and intelligence and other services common to ground and air forces, into three Sectors: The Panama Sector, roughly the area served by the Panama Canal Department; the Puerto Rican Sector, the area served by the Puerto Rican Department; and the Trinidad Sector, the area of Trinidad, neighboring islands, Venezuela, and the Guianas.

      On December 1, , the Caribbean Defense Command, which had been responsible to the War Plans Division, War Department General Staff, for both tactical and administrative matters, was transferred to the jurisdiction of the General Headquarters United States Army; and in March , when that Headquarters was discontinued, general administrative control passed to the Operations Division, War Department General Staff. Tactical or operational control over antisubmarine and other defense operations was a responsibility of unified Army-Navy commands in the Caribbean.

      The Caribbean Defense Command remained, however, administratively. After May the Caribbean Defense Command became a major training and staging command for the retraining and redeployment of Army troop units released from Europe for combat duty in the Pacific. In September it was renamed the Caribbean Command, and after September , when the Army Air Forces was separated from the Army, the ground and service organization in the Caribbean was renamed the United States Army, Caribbean. The wartime records of the major subordinate commands of the Caribbean Defense Command are separately described below.

      Copies of many of the Command's monthly "Operations Reports," Sept. The location of the records of the Sixth Air Force is unknown. Correspondence and reports of its headquarters, including operational and intelligence reports, are in the records of Headquarters Army Air Forces; histories of the Air Force and its subordinate commands are in the Air Historical Group. They include central files, , and orders and memoranda. It had tactical responsibilities for air and ground defense of both the Atlantic and Pacific approaches to the Canal.

      In May it was made one of three regional commands under the newly established Caribbean Defense Command, and the area of its tactical operations was called the Panama Sector. After December 17, , the Panama Canal Department had. The Panama Canal Department, besides being responsible for defense operations, participated during the war in some of the Caribbean Defense Command's nontactical programs, including the construction of air bases, the military training of Latin-American nationals, the training of United States troops for warfare in the jungle, and the redeployment training and staging of United States troop units en route from Europe to the Pacific in July and August The Panama Canal Department's historical unit prepared monographs on wartime organizational problems 1 vol.

      Antilles Department [] The Puerto Rican Department was established by the War Department in May to assume the responsibility, previously that of the Second Corps Area, for the defense of the Puerto Rico area and for conducting Corps Area administrative, intelligence, training, supply, and other Army services, including the administration of National Guard affairs, in Puerto Rico. In May the Department was made a regional defense command under the newly established Caribbean Defense Command, and for tactical purposes its territory was regarded as the Puerto Rican Sector.

      Army forces in the Department were under the operational control of the Navy's Caribbean Sea Frontier. In October the AAC withdrew from tactical operations and became essentially an air training command. Outside of Puerto Rico, the Antilles Department's major forces at. These forces were under the general regional supervision of the Trinidad Sector and Base Command, known as the Trinidad Base Command after May 1, By October combat operations in the Antilles area came to a successful close, and the Antilles Department's activities during the remainder of the war were redirected toward tactical air and ground training.

      The central records of the War Department, in the AGO, contain some correspondence on the island forces and base commands mentioned above; see the project files for each of them. Unpublished historical reports prepared in the Antilles Department include the following: Monographs on the Department's organization, 1 vol. The Command had jurisdiction over Army tactical units along the Pacific coast and eastward as far as Utah, Idaho, and Montana.

      From November until March , when it was discontinued, the Western Defense Command continued to function as one of the two major continental defense commands of the Army. Louis, Kansas City, and Washington. Other records of the Command are in the Kansas City Mo. They include policy and procedural files, sets of exclusion orders, correspondence about individual exclusion hearing boards, transcripts of hearings, selected case files for individuals excluded, and personnel records for individual military and civilian employees engaged in the exclusion program.

      Copies of reports that were assembled as the final signed report cited below of the commanding general of the Western Defense Command and the Fourth Army on the evacuation of Japanese-Americans from the west coast and of exhibits accompanying the report, 5 feet , are in the National Archives. Each Sector was responsible for the Army-ground, air, and service troop units assigned to it, for the support of the forces of the Naval Districts operating adjacent to or within its area; and for the internal security of important industrial, military, and other installations in the area.

      Each Sector also participated in the exclusion program on the west coast. It provided escorts for enemy-alien evacuees from prohibited military areas, supervised the security measures of Assembly Centers, helped to enforce proclamations and restrictive orders issued by the Civil Affairs Division of the Western Defense Command, and conducted removals of Japanese and Japanese-Americans to War Relocation Centers. In January , after the threat of war on the west coast had receded, the Sectors were given jurisdiction over the Army components of the three Joint Operations Centers, which had been established in December at Seattle, San Francisco, and San Diego to provide joint "command posts" for the Army's Western Defense Command and the Navy's Western and Northwestern Sea Frontiers.

      After January these Centers became Joint Information Centers, which were used for exchanging intelligence information among the ground, naval, and air forces and for coordinating joint training exercises and maneuvers. Also in that Center are records of the Harbor Defenses and of the Army troop units that served under the Sectors. The records of the Alaska Sector headquarters are described below as records of the Alaska Defense Command.

      Wartime Civil Control Administration [] This agency of the Western Defense Command was established on March 11, , to provide for the immediate evacuation and temporary resettlement of Japanese and Japanese-Americans from the strategic areas on the Pacific coast. The Administration determined requirements for the evacuation and resettlement project; generally supervised all aspects of the evacuation operations, including property protection, social service, and medical care for evacuees; enforced the Western Defense Command's orders and instructions relating to evacuation; supervised the several Civil Control Stations and Assembly Centers, to which evacuees were first removed; supervised the site selection and construction of facilities that were later used.

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      They include general files, , weekly and daily intelligence reports of the G-2 Section, , and several series of orders and other directives. A considerable quantity of records selected by its Historical Section is in the Air Historical Group; and correspondence of its headquarters is in the central records of Headquarters. This command, which was classified by the War Department as a "theater of operations" for administrative purposes, included Army air installations in the provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario, the district of Keewatin, and the areas directly north as far as the North Pole.

      On October 1, , the command was discontinued. Bajkov," containing translations of Russian studies on the Arctic , and extensive transcripts of telephone conversations between United States and Canadian military and civil officials at the headquarters at Winnipeg and Churchill, Manitoba, Louis, are series of administrative orders; blueprints of airfields in central Canada; and records of the Transportation, Engineer, Chemical Warfare, Ordnance, Signal, Medical, Quartermaster, Judge Advocate, and other Sections of Headquarters. United States Army Forces in the South Atlantic [] This command, known also as USAFSA, was established in November , with headquarters at Recife, Brazil, as a non-combat command for conducting programs of construction, mapping, intelligence, and training in South America, some of which had been handled since.

      It carried on Army Air Forces photo-mapping projects in the same area. In its intelligence activities it took over the work of the American Intelligence Command in August and continued the program of compiling and transmitting to Washington information about enemy espionage and pro-Axis political activities in Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay.

      It also provided a defense force for Ascension Island. They include central files, ; the command's "Final Report" with 25 annexes , Nov. The records of the following other staff sections were transferred to other custody in October Sea Frontiers [] As early as the Navy's plans for the coastal defense of the United States and its Territories and possessions provided for the establishment of Naval Coastal Frontiers that would be larger operational commands than the individual Naval Districts. Each Frontier was a geographic area, usually comprising a number of Naval Districts but including in addition the outer shipping lanes in its sea area.

      The land areas of the Frontiers corresponded roughly to the Army's Defense Commands, but the boundaries were not identical. The chief responsibilities of the Sea Frontiers during World War II were operational; Frontier forces engaged actively in scouting for enemy forces, particularly submarines, and in attack on any enemy units within their boundaries.

      Toward the end of the war the Frontiers were assigned administrative and logistic functions in addition to their operational responsibilities. The Sea Frontiers were organized into sectors, each of which as a rule corresponded to a Naval District and was a subcommand under the Frontier commander. Frontier bases, most of which had formerly been Naval District bases, furnished logistic support to the Frontier forces and to units of the fleet within Frontier waters. In such centers the current position of friendly and enemy warships, aircraft, submarines, and merchantmen in Frontier waters was shown on magnetic or graphic-display boards, with Army and Navy officers in constant attendance to evaluate such intelligence, report it to the proper quarters, and coordinate action for any emergency.

      The naval operating forces of the Frontier included the Sea Frontier Forces, which consisted of ships and aircraft allocated by the Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, directly to the Frontier Commander, and the local defense forces of the Naval Districts, which were allocated by the Chief of Naval Operations to the Naval Districts and which after June were put under the Frontier Commander.

      As commanding officer of the Sea Frontier Forces the Frontier Commander served as a task-group commander of the fleet that operated in the waters adjacent to his Frontier, and he was thus responsible both to the commander in chief of that fleet and the Commander in Chief, United States Fleet. The Naval District Commandants, who were in immediate command of their local defense forces, became in June task-force commanders under the operational command of the Sea Frontier Commanders. In April , during the period of intense antisubmarine operations in the Atlantic, the Frontier Commanders and District.

      The Sea Frontiers within the American Theater are separately discussed below. Those Frontiers that were not within that Theater are described under the appropriate theaters.

      The makeup of the Sea Frontier Forces and the local defense forces and the command relationships of the Frontier Commander with his superiors and with the Naval District Commandants are not, however, recapitulated for each Sea Frontier. Most of these records have been transferred to naval records management centers. Naval Districts [] On May 7, , several Naval Districts were established for the purpose of providing both regional administration of the naval shore establishments and naval defense of the continental United States. Besides an assigned land area, each District included coastal waters and the coastwise shipping lanes.

      It was responsible for defending its section of the coast with local defense forces assigned by the Chief of Naval Operations and for coordinating the shore establishments within its area. Their local defense forces were augmented by other naval vessels and aircraft and by Coast Guard units. Local defense forces consisted of such units as the offshore patrol, the inshore patrol, harbor-entrance control posts operated in conjunction with the Army , short-range air patrols, beach patrols, coastal pickets or coastal lookouts, shipping-control units, mine and bomb disposal units, and net and mine defense units.

      Because of his dual role as an operational commander under the Frontier commander and as commander of the naval personnel in shore facilities and coordinator of the facilities within his District, the District Commandant usually delegated his operational functions to an officer called by some such title as Assistant Commandant Operations or District Operations Officer; his logistic functions were carried out through the Assistant Commandant Logistics , a position established in several Districts early in the war and made uniform throughout the Districts in Although throughout the war the Naval District Commandants had command authority over the shore establishments in their Districts and in this respect were not responsible to the Sea Frontier Commanders, the Naval Districts are identified in this volume under the Sea Frontiers of which they were a part.

      The Second. Among the most important records are the correspondence files of the Commandant; records of the Assistant Commandant Logistics , the War Plans Office, the Operations Office, the Intelligence Office, and the Public Works Office; and war diaries of District headquarters and of subordinate command units, such as inshore patrol section bases. The location of specific records is given in the separate entries below. The administrative history of the Naval Districts and the wartime command relationships between them and the Sea Frontiers are discussed in Office of Naval History, "The Development of the Naval Districts, " September This District, with headquarters at Great Lakes, Ill.

      It was important in the procurement and training of officers and men, the provision of naval material, and the construction and delivery of vessels. His correspondence, , is in the National Archives. As originally established, it extended from the Canadian border to the southern extreme of Hatteras Inlet. In the Frontier was enlarged by the transfer to it of the Sixth Naval District, and its southern boundary was thus extended to include the Jacksonville area of Florida. C; and Jacksonville. The Frontier was concerned chiefly with the control and protection of merchant shipping within its area of responsibility, the security of its ports from enemy minelaying and submarine attacks, the defense of the Atlantic Coast, and the support of the Atlantic Fleet.

      The Frontier controlled and routed. Other activities of the Frontier were surface and air patrol of the shipping lanes; attack on enemy forces within the Frontier, in cooperation with the Atlantic Fleet and the forces of allied powers; air-sea rescue; maintenance of the Lighthouse Service and coastal lookout stations within its area; and support of the Army's Eastern Defense Command. He commanded the task forces under the Naval District Commandants; each of these forces was divided into the ship-lane patrol, the air patrol, and the local defense force. The general correspondence of the Commandant, , is in the National Archives.

      Records of the Third Naval District, , including the Commandant's files, historical narratives of the organization and operations of the District, and administrative records of its headquarters offices, are in the Center at Garden City. The general correspondence of its Commandant, , is in the National Archives. The general correspondence of the Commandant Fifth Naval District for is in the National Archives, and that for is in the Center at Mechanicsburg.

      The Command was a geographic and command unit within the Eastern Sea Frontier. Its operations were much like those of the Naval Districts except that it had no responsibility for coastal defense. It was responsible for the internal security and passive defense of the area and the control of its waterways. The Command's local defense forces, under the Commandant, consisted of certain Coast Guard patrol boats, which operated as the Potomac River Patrol, the antiaircraft batteries of any ships that might be in port, and a provisional battalion of Marines from the base at Quantico, Va.

      The Army and Navy commands in the area maintained close liaison in intelligence, joint discipline, ceremonies, and other matters. It was responsible for the active and passive defense of its area and for protection of the naval activities in it from sabotage, espionage, and other subversive action. Its local defense forces consisted chiefly of the midshipmen and a Marine detachment. As first established, the Frontier stretched from the neighborhood of Cape Hatteras, N. C, to the western border of Texas.

      The offshore limits of the Gulf Sea Frontier extended to certain defined points in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico and included the outer shipping lanes. On October 18, , the Frontier was disestablished as a separate command and jurisdiction over it was transferred to the Commander Eastern Sea Frontier.

      The primary task of the Frontier was to protect United States and friendly shipping in the Gulf of Mexico. Its greatest activity was in the antisubmarine warfare during , when both German and Italian undersea craft operated in the Gulf. The Frontier was responsible for the control and routing of shipping in its area, surface and air patrol of the sea lanes,. In this position he was a task-force commander of the Tenth Fleet, exercised command over Army and Navy antisubmarine operations in the Gulf, and was subject to orders from the Commander in Chief, United States Fleet.

      He also served as a task-group commander of the Atlantic Fleet. The local defense forces of the two Districts under his command were organized in the surface escort group, the surface striking group, and the naval air group. Another group under his operational control was the Army air task group, which patrolled shipping lanes and provided special escort, search, and striking forces. In June the Commandant of the Seventh Naval District was assigned administrative control over the advance bases within the limits of the Gulf Sea Frontier.

      Julian, and Camaguey in Cuba. Dispatch files, , are in the Center at Mechanicsburg, Pa. Records of the Sixth Naval District are discussed in entry Records of the advance bases mentioned above and the central files of the Commandant of the Eighth Naval District, , are also in that Center. Its headquarters was at San Juan, P. Its Commander throughout the war was also Commandant Tenth Naval District, which had been established in January The land areas of the District and Frontier were identical.

      Lucia, and Great Exuma and in British Guiana. The primary duty of the Frontier was to protect shipping within its area; its chief objective was to seek out and destroy enemy submarines. Its other operations included escort of merchantmen, patrol of the sea lanes, and air-sea rescue. One of these was the Antilles Air Task Force, which hunted out enemy submarines and did escort, patrol, and rescue work. They include headquarters central correspondence and war diaries, dispatch files of the Joint Operations Center, war diaries of Sector commands and other subordinate commands, a history of Fleet Air Wing Eleven, organization manuals, and maps, charts, and other records relating to antisubmarine warfare.

      Records of a few naval air facilities in the Frontier are in the National Archives. Records of the Tenth Naval District, also in the Center at New Orleans, include general correspondence of its Commandant, , wartime records of the Caribbean Patrol and of Headquarters Inshore Patrol, and records of the Caribbean bases. Under this command, with headquarters at Willemstadt, the Dutch forces in the area operated under Dutch commanders and United States forces under United States officers.

      The command was responsible to the Commander Caribbean Sea Frontier. It also included the waters within these areas and the sea lanes outside but near its western and southern boundaries. On November 5, , the Frontier was disestablished. The duties of the Frontier were to defend its area against enemy attack or penetration; destroy enemy forces or communications within and near it; protect, control, and route shipping; establish and maintain strategic air facilities; give operational support to the Atlantic Fleet and the Panama Canal Department of the Army's Caribbean Defense Command; and furnish air-sea rescue service.

      In accordance with a decision of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on December 17, , unified command in this area was vested in the commanding general of the Army's Panama Canal Department. He served as a task-group commander of the Atlantic Fleet and a task-force commander of the United States Fleet. The Sea Frontier Forces were divided into the sea forces, naval air forces, and local defense forces.

      The Frontier's western boundary was some miles offshore in the Pacific Ocean. The Commander Western Sea Frontier, who was also Commandant of the Twelfth Naval District for most of the war period, was responsible for the defense of the Frontier; patrol and action against enemy submarines; and the servicing of units of the Pacific Fleet coming into the Frontier ports. As Principal Shipping Control Officer, he had supervisory control of coastal and overseas shipping leaving west coast ports.

      The Sea Frontier Forces under his command consisted of a surface task group and an air task group for. As the character of the war in the Pacific changed and the danger of attack on the Frontier lessened, the patrol and defense functions of the Frontier diminished and its logistic activities in support of the Pacific Fleet became more important. In November authority over all west-coast shore activities of the Navy was given to the Commander Western Sea Frontier. In the National Archives are records of the Commandant of the Eleventh Naval District, , including general correspondence, legal correspondence, and a diary of transactions; and records of the Commandant of the Thirteenth Naval District, , including correspondence, registers of letters received and sent, logbooks, and a diary of transactions.

      Its Commander was also Commandant of the Thirteenth Naval District, and its land area coincided with that of the District, which until April For administrative and operational purposes the Frontier was divided into the Northwestern and the Alaskan Sectors. The Frontier Commander was responsible for the naval defense of the Frontier, the protection of merchant shipping and the detection and destruction of enemy forces operating within the Frontier waters, the security of harbors within its area, and the routing and control of convoys originating within the Frontier and of shipping moving through Frontier waters.

      In and the Frontier, particularly its Alaskan Sector, participated with Army units in the campaign to drive Japanese forces from Attu and Kiska. For these and other operations involving coordination or cooperation between the Sea Frontier Forces and Pacific Fleet units the Frontier Commander was responsible to the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet. Wartime records of the Thirteenth Naval District are discussed immediately above; those of the Seventeenth Naval District are discussed below. After the establishment of the Army's Alaska Defense Command close liaison was maintained between it and the Alaskan Sector.

      This Center, controlled operationally by the Commander North Pacific Force, Pacific Fleet, gathered and disseminated information on the movements of surface vessels and aircraft, coordinated intelligence reports, interpreted photographic intelligence, and handled captured enemy documents. The Alaskan Sea Frontier was established on April 15, The land area of the Frontier consisted of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands and corresponded to the area of the Seventeenth Naval District, which was established at the same time.

      Headquarters of both the Frontier and the District were at Adak. The Frontier Commander was responsible for the defense of the Frontier, the detection and destruction of enemy forces operating in its waters, the security of its harbors, support of the North Pacific Force, and the routing and control of shipping within the Frontier.

      He directed the Sea Frontier Forces and the District local defense forces, which were under the immediate command of the District Commandant. Atlantic Fleet [] After existing intermittently since , the Atlantic Fleet was reconstituted by a general order of February 1, , and replaced the former Patrol Force.

      Wartime command of the Atlantic Fleet was held successively. King, Vice Admiral Royal E. Ingersoll, and Admiral Jonas H. The responsibilities of the Atlantic Fleet included patrol of the shipping lanes and protection of shipping within those lanes; control and protection of the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, the Panama Canal Zone, and western Atlantic waters; and readiness to control and cover the exits from the Mediterranean. The intercontinental nature of these responsibilities resulted in operations by units of the Atlantic Fleet in the Mediterranean and European Theaters of Operations.

      These commands are discussed under the Mediterranean and European Theaters of Operations. In addition to commanding the forces afloat in that part of the Atlantic Ocean that was within the American Theater, the Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet, had over-all command of the Naval Operating Bases established in Newfoundland, Greenland, Iceland, and Bermuda.

      The subordinate units of the Atlantic Fleet that operated in the American Theater are discussed below. They are divided among these repositories according to their character. See Marshall W. The task-force organization, into which vessels of different types were grouped for the purpose of carrying out specific operational objectives, provided maximum tactical control. The many operational task forces of the Atlantic Fleet are not discussed in this section. Most of the type commands consisted of vessels of a special type and were.

      For convenience in communications, type commands were also designated as task forces, even though some of them had no operational functions. The type command called Destroyers, Atlantic Fleet, established in April , was responsible for the administrative control and material upkeep of destroyers; trained destroyer personnel for antisubmarine warfare and escort service; provided destroyers to maintain patrol and task groups; and trained the personnel and maintained the vessels of the Support Force, discussed below.

      The type commands called Cruisers and Battleships, which were combined in into the single command Battleships-Cruisers, Atlantic Fleet, performed similar functions of training and administration for those two types of vessel. The Fleet Operational Training Command, Atlantic Fleet, established in March , scheduled and supervised the operational training of officers and men to be attached to newly commissioned ships, directed their "shakedown" training, and provided refresher training for the forces afloat.

      In May , when the Amphibious Training Command, discussed below, was disestablished, the Fleet Operational Training Command took over its functions and facilities. This command administered the procurement and training of personnel for submarine vessels and bases and assisted in training surface-ship and aircraft personnel for antisubmarine warfare. It also furnished submarine patrols and service for antisubmarine operations of the Atlantic Fleet.

      Units of the submarine command operating in the American Theater consisted of three Submarine Squadrons. A three-volume unpublished history of the command, which includes a history of Submarines, Pacific Fleet, is in the Division of Naval Records and History. Holland M. Smith, U. The Amphibious Force was both a force preparing for aggressive operations and an organization that trained Army, Navy, and Marine units for amphibious landings.

      Its command staff was divided into the forward echelon, which has occasional operational duties, and the rear echelon, which directed amphibious training. The forward echelon, operating as Task Force 34, conducted the amphibious landings at Dakar in October Suddenly the Germans are vulnerable. And this is the message that goes round the world. The Germans had fought nearly a thousand miles across the Soviet Union to get to Stalingrad. But this was as far as they would reach into the territory of their enemy. They would spend the next 27 months making a fighting retreat all the way back to the center of Berlin.

      What Was the Turning Point of World War II?

      So, quite literally, this was a turning point. But almost more importantly, the Soviet offensive at Stalingrad marked the moment when Stalin stopped believing he always knew better than his generals. The victory had been possible only because the soviet leader had allowed two of his best commanders, Georgi Zhukov and Aleksandr Vasilevsky, time and space in the autumn of to plan the vast encirclement, Operation Uranus, that was to trap the German Sixth Army in Stalingrad. A million Red Army soldiers took part in Operation Uranus, which was launched at 6 a.

      Just four days later, on November 23, units of the Red Army met up at Kalach, west of Stalingrad, and the encirclement of the Germans was complete. Hitchcock of Temple University told me. Other experts I talked to, like the acclaimed British military historian Antony Beevor, agreed that Stalingrad was the turning point of the war because of this combination of military, political, and psychological reasons. Three historians picked December 7 as the war's turning point, after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor propelled America into the conflict. B ut does it? Certainly not in the view of the brilliant German historian Norbert Frei, whom I interviewed when he was a visiting fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

      He maintained that it was the Allied decision not to bomb Auschwitz that was the key turning point. The reality was that by it was only a matter of time before the Nazis were beaten. Rather a more conventional turning point was chosen by several other historians I interviewed. They picked, as the most decisive moment of the war, the largest single land invasion in the history of the world—Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, launched on June 22, It is also the beginning of mass genocide. Of mass killing on a totally unprecedented scale.

      Nothing like that had happened even in Poland. David Reynolds, professor of international history at the University of Cambridge, agrees. If the Russians could hold on it was going to completely change the character of the war. I think that [Barbarossa] would not have happened in but for the really heady sense of victory that was generated by the events of , the fall of France and so on, that gave the sense that the Wehrmacht was invincible and that Hitler was a great leader.

      Other historians argue that the trouble with picking Barbarossa as the turning point of the war is that implicit in the choice is the judgment that defeat was inevitable for Hitler and the Nazis from that moment onwards. But, they maintain, this was not necessarily so. The majority of the historians I talked to—including American, British, German, and Japanese academics—agreed that the turning point of the war was to be found within the conflict in the Soviet Union. They just disagreed about when this moment occurred. Many felt that Stalingrad was too late as the instant when the course of the war in the east fundamentally changed, and that the launching of Operation Barbarossa was too early.

      But it is significant that despite the chauvinistic interest in individual events in this history that exists in popular culture—like the British fascination with the Battle of Britain and the American focus on D-Day—so many of these professional historians see the war on the Eastern Front as inevitably providing the turning point of the whole conflict.

      There have been no blockbuster Hollywood films on Barbarossa or Stalingrad, but nonetheless that is the arena in which most of the scholars I talked to think the war was ultimately decided. In terms of numbers alone the scale of the war in the Soviet Union was staggering.