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Re: Dutch perception of Admiral Helfrich

May 31 2010 at 3:42 PM
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Nelson  (no login)


Response to Re: Dutch perception of Admiral Helfrich

 
> Not necessarily by everybody. There's questions about his conduct of the defense of the Philippines in 1941 - 1942 as described in William Bartsch's "December 8, 1941: MacArthur's Pearl Harbor" and in Ronald Spector's "Eagle Against the Sun (The American War with Japan)" and elsewhere. >

And Bartsch and Spector are entirely correct....but so am I. Instead of an immediate and determined response to a war everyone in uniform long knew was coming, Mac was guilty of initial dithering, indecisiveness, and doubtless fearful handwringing. With the kind of warning he had of the Pearl Harbor attack, he certainly should have had his bombing force on the way to Formosa tout de suite, no argument from me. H.P. Willmott (1982), EMPIRES IN THE BALANCE: JAPANESE AND ALLIED PACIFIC STRATEGIES TO APRIL 1942, reminds the reader that in some armies, a general guilty of behavior so dilatory that it caused a disaster of such proportions would have been stood against a wall and shot (many would exclaim rightly so). From his tunnel on Corregidor, he emerged only once, and but briefly, to visit his beleaguered boys on Bataan, and at least in its perception by those left behind, the unseemly manner in which Mac slunk out of the P.I. in the dark of night invited a new and second definition of "Dugout Doug". But...BIG BUT...it was the esteem in which he was otherwise held that ensured both his professional survival and the logistical support necessary for his SoWesPac campaign. Sure, he had his Buna, but Nimitz had his Tarawa and Pelelieu (the latter made even worse by whether it was necessary). The Aussies may have tired of his supercilious ways, but they were damned glad to see him in March 1942, given the reality that Oz had all but been cut loose by Mother England (whether this American patrician was much better is arguable). Mac performed superbly in Korea, with hubris, insubordination, and the fact that Truman didn't like him finally doing him in, with his subsequent presidential bid going nowhere. That, I argue, is NOT the question with Admiral Helfrich, who like MacArthur was snotty and difficult, but who seems to have been utterly ineffectual in garnering the confidence of Allied naval leaders to boot. I concede your implicit point, in that during this period of time, facing the relentless tide of a Japanese offense both aggressive and brilliant, neither man was at the top of his game. Just maybe Helfrich could have turned his fortunes around as well, who knows? Anyway, Tom's question invites serious discussion on Helfrich in this forum. [We've hashed over Mac more than once already.]

Nelson

 
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  • Re: Dutch perception of Admiral Helfrich - Melmoth the Waggish on May 31, 2010, 7:28 PM
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  • Re: Dutch perception of Admiral Helfrich - Fred Leander on Nov 1, 2013, 3:34 PM
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