Operation Downfall – part one

Plans for Japan – click to enlarge

The original idea for the invasion of Japan was approved in July 1944 and received constant, precise detailing up until the actual signing of the surrender. Operation Downfall was broken into two separate plans, Operation Olympic which would be followed by Operation Coronet.

With all the devastation already incurred on Japan, a forceful occupation would still be very costly. The Japanese Army controlled the government and their wish was a fight down to the last man, woman and child. Later on, members of that army stated that it would have been an all out suicide effort of every person in Japan to fight to the death.

Women pose for propaganda poster as “beachfront kamikazes”

Operation Olympic, which included 750,000 troops were to land on Southern Kyushi 1 November 1945. In the first wave, Army, Navy and Marine personnel – 436,486; the second wave to hold 356,902. (How they managed to be so specific is way over my head.) The air support would total 22,160. The D-Day Operation Overlord would have paled in comparison and this led the Joint Chiefs of Staff to agree that this rendered Russia’s involvement unnecessary.

MacArthur’s estimations of casualties and wounded that he sent to Washington were judged by the invasion of Luzon. Gen. “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell sent his report based on the Okinawa battles; these were much higher.

While Europe’s “Overlord” had beach codes such as: Omaha, Utah, Sword and Gold, “Olympic” had a variety of automobiles for the beaches that were then grouped by type. Gen. Krueger’s Sixth Army, that included the 11th Airborne Division, was scheduled to land at Miyazaki, the eastern prefecture of Kyushu, the third largest island of Japan. The forty-mile long shallow beach areas were coded as ‘Chevrolet’, ‘Chrysler’ and ‘Cord.’ (Highlighted sections on map above.) At the time, there were approximately 126,000 Japanese troops in that zone. Even after both atomic bombs were dropped, the Sixth Army was expected to have 15,000 casualties.

MacArthur had wanted to keep Gen. Eichelberger close to him and direct the operations since his record with the 11th A/B on Luzon was so efficient. As had been mentioned previously, the five-star general felt that Gen. Krueger had led a rather undistinguished campaign thus far.

Jeep stockpile

The itemized tons of materiel listed in the plans grew beyond comprehension. P-51 Mustang fighters were shipped to Guam still in their crates. Stocking grew on Tinian, Saipan, Samar, Luzon, Hawaii, the Marianas, the Carolines and the west coast of the U.S. (just to name a few). The logistics could only be explained by experts.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Lawrence D, Adkisson – Wichita, KS; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Maude Bourassa – Durand, IL; Civilian, WWII, Chevrolet Tank Plant

John Collier (102) – Newberry, SC; USMC, WWII, PTO, Sgt, Major, POW / Korea (Chosin Few)

Richard Friday – Washington DC; US Army, WWII, ETO,Co. H/398/100th Division, Silver Star, Purple Heart

Robert Harrell – Morristown, TN; US Army, WWII, Signal Corps

Louis Iauco (101) – Syracuse, NY; US Army, WWII

John Karakiozis – Clarksburg, WV; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

John Caldwell McLean – Port Elgin, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, ETO, gunner, Halifax bomber “Willie the Wolf”, Swordfish Sq. 415

John Pluhacek – Omaha, NE; US Army, WWII

Eunice Salmon (102) – Clinton, MA; US Navy WAVE, WWII, nurse

Jane Winstone – Whanganui, NZ; British ATA, WWII, pilot, KIA (1944)

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About GP

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GP is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on August 29, 2022, in SMITTY, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 112 Comments.

  1. I am glad there was no full scale invasion of Japan. The losses to both sides would have been something I do not want to contemplate.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fortunately, the war ended then because the human toll had been very high, but everyone who had survived would have also been killed. Yet I am not at ease after Putin’s threats. We are not that far from Russia. One ill-considered push of a button and we’re in a new world war.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I understand. But I think he knows, if he were to push that button, him and his empire would be doomed. As much as he wants his legacy to be a re-united Soviet Socialist Republic, I highly doubt his insanity will stretch that far. God help us all if he feels otherwise.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on History and Hobby and commented:
    My father was being trained for the Invasion of Japan. He was drafted in 1945 as soon as he turned 18. He was told right from the start where he would go since the war in Europe had ended.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Oh my goodness, thank goodness the Japanese backed away before such a mass loss of life. I read an article last week that discussed tiny like helicopter drone bombs the size of your hand were being sent to the Ukraine to help them repel the Russian troops and just thought oh goodness this just isn’t going to end anytime soon.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Russia is warning us about getting too involved in the Ukraine. I hate to even imagine what would be left if there was another world war. Just pushing a button in today’s technology would be a disaster! I hate to think it will become another 20-year war like Afghanistan too. We avoided a lot of casualties by not having to go thru Operation Downfall, lets hope we can do that again.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Your work is very good; I really enjoy all that you do. Also, thanks for your like of post on Matt 5:1-16 ,

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I still can’t get my head wrapped around how difficult planning the logistics would be. It takes a brilliant mind with common sense and an understanding. That’s a needle in a haystack.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lookie what I got to see today! I snagged a quick ride out to the ship channel — so great.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Amy invasion of Japan would have been incredibly costly and bloody to both sides. You can ask guess at the horrific casualties it would have created.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m always amazed at the magnitude of military operations during WWII and feel fortunate to have happened upon your blog where you inform us so well. Thanks, GP. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The preparations were truly mind boggling!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. My brain cannot wrap my mind around how many troops were being utilized. Just for this one in two waves almost a million men. That’s just crazy when you think about it.

    Like

  12. I was amazed at all the equipment that was being stockpiled to be ready for an invasion. Lucky the war was ended before they had to attack as that avoided so many more deaths on both sides.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. A tremendous amount of hard work and thought went into those plans. I’m glad they didn’t have to use them. I’m sure they also had backups. I believe there is a saying something to the effect that ‘no plan survives contact with the enemy.’

    The name of Landing Beach Cord caught my eye. I visited the Auburn, Cord & Duesenberg Museum in Auburn, IN a few weeks ago. Those were fine automobiles. Many probably have never heard of these makes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think any plan, no matter how well thought out, survives being put into action.
      I remember all the names of the cars. It would be great to go through that museum.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I can only imagine how complicated the logistics are for waging battle campaigns. I’ve been reading War and Peace for the first time, and I’m struck by Tolstoy’s portrayal of war as a confusing affair conducted by inept leaders who don’t even know where their own troops are. Some of the scenes cross into Keystone Kops territory.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thank you for the detail on the invasion plans…I imagined that there must have been plans but had never come across information on them. Loved the Tour de France…

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Again, another part of history that I knew next to nothing about, thank you for educating me –

    Liked by 1 person

  17. How they get such precise numbers is amazing to me, GP. All I know, is my father was very glad not to have to be involved in that operation.

    I love that Tour de France cartoon.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. This operation never happened, or am Imistaken?

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Good article. Great humor. Spot on.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Considering the tremendous potential cost of lives during a full-scale invasion, one is inclined to agree with the decision to use the atomic attack that ended the war.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it was something that had to be done, but even Smitty thought that the Emperor should have been given more time to realize what the Hiroshima bomb had done before they went and dropped on Nagasaki.
      Thank you, Peter.

      Like

  21. So this didn’t have to happen because the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the war? I must admit I knew nothing about these plans before I read this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Planning for the invasion of Japan had been going on for quite a while. Remember, they did have personal laptops to figure the logistics, so careful calculations had to be done and redone as time went by.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Quite the amazing photo of the women. I had no idea (of course).

    Liked by 1 person

  23. The cartoon about the first winners of the Tour de France had me laughing, GP. Good one!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. The number of troops is staggering if you think the population at that time was not as many as today. I wonder if they can get the same ratio of men in today’s population if we get involved in a significant world conflict.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. After reading a biography of General Curtis LeMay, I was stunned that Japan would keep fighting in spite of losing large cities to all the fire-bombing.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. What an operation, GP. MacArthur was notorious for downplaying the risks and up playing the results. Good thing Joe was on duty. Love that Tour de France cartoon.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. An assault plan that never took place…thanks goodness. The death toll on both sides would have by far exceeded the toll from the A bombs.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Thank you, GP, for the interesting facts!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  29. I do believe that I have complained about this before. Your posts show on my email page as spread across the whole space, so that I have to reduce it down to about 33% to get it to fit in my space, and then it is unreadable. What gives with this? ________________________________

    Liked by 1 person

  30. I can only imagine the carnage that would have followed landings on the Japanese mainland and islands. I am sure that possible casualties were vastly underestimated, and would have been much higher. Plus the deaths on the Japanese side could have run into the millions. It is a blessing that it was never necessary.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. I had never read any specifics about the proposed landing in Japan, other than it was expected to be very deadly. Wonderfully informative post. I love how people like to make fun of the logistics or (in the Navy) Supply Corps officers, but when you look at these statistics, I think people don’t understand the logistical requirements to mount a large multi-site invasion across thousands of miles (whether oceans or landmass). Glad they were wise enough to keep the Soviets out of this since the Soviets did not get into the Pacific side of things until very late in the war.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. While doing a bit of research on the Lambeth Walk for my blog, I came across a youtube video, from the British Ministry of Information during WW2, that I thought you might find funny. https://youtu.be/gYdmk3GP3iM

    Like

  33. The names chosen for various operations or locations often puzzle me. I suppose ‘Operation Downfall’ was meant to refer to the downfall of Japan, but it still strikes me as an odd choice. I puzzled over ‘Cord,’ too. Chrysler and Chevrolet obviously fit together, but when I read ‘cord,’ I think about cords of wood. A little research set me straight. The Cord not only was a car, it was a darned good-looking one.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Thank goodness it didn’t come to that

    Liked by 2 people

  35. One can see how many resources can be mobilized for wars. If one would do it for preventing wars, there always no money is available.;-) Thanks, GP! Have a good week! xx Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  36. One of the wisest decisions was to prevent Soviet involvement in any proposed invasion of Japan. Late 20th century history would have been more complicated and violent if any invasion scenario including Russia would have occured.

    Liked by 3 people

  37. Thank you, Ned.

    Like

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