Thursday, 11 September 2014

War Plan Red: Part 3

The British Plan
...or at least, the US planners' assessment of the likely British plan...

The War in the Atlantic
This was assessed to be the dominant, but not only, theatre of maritime operations.  The RN would initially seize control of the North Atlantic by combining their Home and Mediterranean Fleets and operating from a forward base at Bermuda.  British cruiser and submarine forces would try to cut US Atlantic lines of communications from bases in Halifax and Jamaica.  The Royal Navy would blockade the East Coast of the US, disrupt commerce, harass coastal areas with bombardment, and conduct Air and Amphibious raids to further degrade the economy and, ultimately, popular will of the US people for the war.

The British would expect the US to immediately redeploy the bulk of their Pacific Feet to the Atlantic via the Panama canal, and generate a Fleet in being with which to contest this blockade.  If this was achieved, no decisive engagement would be sought initially as both sides were well balanced and the result could go either way.

Accordingly, the US Navy would remain in a defensive posture concentrated in the Western North Atlantic, threaten British lines of communication, wear down Royal Naval strength and await  favourable opportunity for Fleet Action.  Of course, if the Panama Canal could be disrupted or sabotaged, this would be a different story...
Panama Cana - a vital Strategic link
The War in the Pacific
The British Asiatic Fleet would be concentrated at Singapore with only light, inshore forces remaining at Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.  Indian troops would muster and link up wight he Fleet before for assaulting the Philippines to neutralise the US naval facilities holdings in Manilla.   This would safeguard threats to British trade and commercial interests and subsequently, the Asiatic Fleet would be utilised to destroy any residual US Naval island holdings throughout the Pacific.

With the bulk of Empire assets investing the US East Coast, Hawaii was expected to remain a safe bastion and while it might be attacked to disrupt and commerce raiders operating from there, no invasion or landing was expected.

Alaska was expected to be raided from Canada, but only lightly and this was seen as acceptable.

Landings by ANZAC and Indian troops on the West Coast of the US where seen as acceptable risks
The Land War
The pivotal US territory was seen to be the industrial North East region of continental US.  Possible landings by ANZAC and Indian focus on the West Coast or striking south from Canada could and would be tolerated in order to maintain a strong defensive perimeter to safeguard the industrial heartland of the USA.

Should the Royal Navy manage to defeat the US Atlantic Fleet and establish sea control (either though battle or should the Panama Canal be disputed and the Pacific Fleet trapped) it was expected that invasion would come via sea with amphibious landings in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  These forces would then strike westward through Connecticut, disrupt the region generally and threaten New York.  This would greatly shorten the period of conflict and try to overcome the US mobilisation effort while also degrading industrial capacity.

War planners concluded that the British Empire could achieve this outcome, the US choice would be reduced to what kind of terms to ask for in their surrender...


Stu Rat said...

The emptiest part of Canada was going to attack the emptiest part of the US? That's like ten figures a side at 1:1 figure ratio.

Re-enactment units would be over strength.

Anonymous said...

I guess it depends on the year, but Japan and Britain had previously been staunch allies up to 1923. Britain wanted closer ties to the U.S. so cancelled the alliance in the belief that war between Japan and the U.S. was inevitable.

Is it possible that Britain might have tried to renew that alliance in this scenario? Germany was still involved with the Chinese until 1936, so up until then the Japanese were somewhat friendless and may have jumped at the chance.

Paul oftheManCave said...

Stu - a British Amphibious Task Force was going to do the landings using troops from the UK, and staging through Canada. They targeted MA and RI as there are good harbours there and the smaller population densities would make the landings easier to consolidate. At least that was the thinking back in the day

Paul oftheManCave said...

Jim - contingencies for a Japanese alliance with Great Britain were definitely considered.

The overall conclusion was that Japan would just strengthen the British Fleet and make the Pacific conquest quicker. They intended to leave that problem for later and focus on the critical Atlantic theatre

Shelldrake said...

This is very interesting indeed, and jolly tempting to war game... oh the possibilities!

Michael Peterson said...

More good stuff. It's hard to imagine that any decisive ANZAC troop strength would have been available since it was not in the Dominion's fiscal interests to maintain standing armies after the Armistice. I don't know much about Aus/NZ in the interwar period but I do know that my country essentially disbanded the Canadian Expeditionary Force by 1919 and found it very hard to send willing troops to Siberia during the RCW. Whereas in 1941/42 the Japanese had a large conscript army to overrun the Philippines. It's unlikely that the Empire would have had enough troops to successfully invade and hold any populous regions of the continental US.

Stu Rat said...

Paul-I was actually referring to the raids on Alaska out of the Yukon.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the Commonwealth nations, it's not a certainty that they would go to war. They had a degree of self determination, depending on the nation in question.

I recall one of them stating it would not go to war over the re-militarisation of the Rhineland when the question was posed and of course South Africa had a considerable 'no' minority as regards declaring war on Germany in 1939.

This is quite an interesting scenario regardless though and of course a great discussion!

Paul oftheManCave said...

Stu rat - I understand now, yes indeed!

Michael - I don't think that permanent invasion was envisioned. More like raids and harassment intended short term occupation intended to provoke a response and thus draw troop away from the more critical NE region. Thats my reading of it with hindsight anyway.

Jim - I am pretty sure that if the dominions perceived there was a threat to England as the mother country, Australia and NZ would be on board. Though there would be reservations so soon after WW1 about the level of commitment.

An exploration of debauchery, vice and other reasons to be a man!

An exploration of debauchery, vice and other reasons to be a man!