Contents - Hirohito's War
14 Battles of the Kokoda Trail: Aussies Triumphant
[June 1942–September 1942]
[Maps: 14.1, 14.2, 14.3]
Admiral Inoue and Strategies of the South Pacific (p 406) Admiral King and the Defense of Australia (p 409) Operation MO (Port Moresby) and the First Battle of Kokoda (p 413) The Second Battle of Kokoda (p 416) Potts’ Fighting Withdrawal: The Battles of Isurava, Brigade Hill, Ioribaiwa and Imita Ridge (p 419) Asaku Koryu versus ‘K’ Rations versus Starvation (p 425) Horii’s Retreat: Cannibalism and Destruction (p 428) The Battle of Milne Bay (p 430) Reflections on the Importance of the Battles of the Kokoda Trail (p 433)
Admiral Inoue and Strategies of the South Pacific: [Map: 14.1] “We’ve got to go to Europe and fight,” wrote Eisenhower, “We’ve got to quit wasting resources all over the world—and still worse—wasting time.”1 General Marshall, soon to be Chief of Staff, was clear, from a strategic point of view, that Europe should be the absolute priority for the United States. England and the Soviet Union had to be kept in the war. In essence his thinking ran along the lines of RAIN BOW-5—a plan that had been developed after the realization, following the Anschluss and Munich Agreements, and the Ribbentrop- Molotov Pact in the late 1930s, that America might have to face multilateral enemies on different continents.
War Plan RAIN BOW-5 in effect superseded Plan ORAN GE, conceived before World War I but formally adopted by the Army Navy Board in 1924 to deal with commencement of war with Japan alone. While Plan ORAN GE range remained alive as a means of rescuing the Philippines by a thrust through the Marshall and Caroline Islands in mid- Pacific by the US Navy, it would now have to be subservient in timescale to the global requirements of RAIN BOW-5.
At the First Washington Conference meeting between Churchill and Roosevelt and their military and naval chiefs, code-named ARCADIA , held from 22 December 1941 to 14 January 1942, RAIN BOW-5, with its emphasis on European prioritization, was confirmed, much to Churchill’s relief, as the principal strategic platform from which the war would be fought. The Army in particular, as evinced by Marshall and Eisenhower, was adamant that, for the time being the Pacific should be little more than a holding operation. It was based on the correct assumption that Japan did not have the resources to attack America. If necessary, Army logic ran, even Australia was expendable. While they met in Washington however, circumstances were leading to a nuanced change to the balance envisaged by the Army.
In large part the nuanced changes reflected a response to Japan’s own strategic thrusts. At the start of the war Japan’s main targets had been the neutralization of the US Navy in Hawaii, wresting US control of the Philippines, as well as British control of Malaya and Singapore, and South Burma, all leading to Japan’s ultimate strategic objective, the acquisition of the oil fields of British controlled Borneo and the Dutch East Indies. These goals encompassed the strategic aims set out for the First Operational Stage of the war devised by Imperial General Headquarters. The Second Operational