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Pacific Blitzkrieg

World War II in the Central Pacific

Sharon Tosi Lacey

Publication Year: 2013

Pacific Blitzkrieg closely examines the planning, preparation, and execution of ground operations for five major invasions in the Central Pacific (Guadalcanal, Tarawa, the Marshalls, Saipan, and Okinawa). The commanders on the ground had to integrate the U.S. Army and Marine Corps into a single striking force, something that would have been difficult in peacetime, but in the midst of a great global war, it was a monumental task. Yet, ultimate success in the Pacific rested on this crucial, if somewhat strained, partnership and its accomplishments. Despite the thousands of works covering almost every aspect of World War II in the Pacific, until now no one has examined the detailed mechanics behind this transformation at the corps and division level. Sharon Tosi Lacey makes extensive use of previously untapped primary research material to re-examine the development of joint ground operations, the rapid transformation of tactics and equipment, and the evolution of command relationships between army and marine leadership. This joint venture was the result of difficult and patient work by commanders and evolving staffs who acted upon the lessons of each engagement with remarkable speed. For every brilliant strategic and operational decision of the war, there were thousands of minute actions and adaptations that made such brilliance possible. Lacey examines the Smith vs. Smith controversy during the Saipan invasion using newly discovered primary source material. Saipan was not the first time General “Howlin’ Mad” Smith had created friction. Lacey reveals how Smith’s blatant partisanship and inability to get along with others nearly brought the American march across the Pacific to a halt. Pacific Blitzkrieg explores the combat in each invasion to show how the battles were planned, how raw recruits were turned into efficient combat forces, how battle doctrine was created on the fly, and how every service remade itself as new and more deadly weapons continuously changed the character of the war. This book will be a must read for anyone who wants to get behind-the-scenes story of the victory.

Published by: University of North Texas Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

List of illustrations and maps

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

No book is possible alone. As this book began life as a dissertation, my first thanks have to go to Dr. Williamson Murray, Dr. John Gooch, Dr. Holger Afflerbach, and Dr. Robert Foley who guided me through the research and writing. Without their honest criticism and willingness to share their years of experience, I never would have gotten past the first chapter. ...

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pp. xiii-xviii

From the distance of seventy years, it is tempting to look back on World War II and proclaim that the Allied victory was inevitable. In the Pacific theater, historians gifted with perfect hindsight point to Japan’s lack of natural resources, its inferior industrial capacity and the suicidal Bushido code, as factors that combined to make that nation’s defeat a certainty. ...

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Chapter 1. Guadalcanal: The Ad Hoc Operation

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pp. 1-45

No one predicted that the first ground offensive of either theater of the war would occur on an unknown speck of an island in the Southwest Pacific. After all, announced Allied strategy specified the defeat of Germany was the first priority. In the Pacific, the military expected only limited offensive efforts for at least the first years of the war. ...

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Chapter 2. The Gilberts: Parallel Operations (A Tale of Three Smiths)

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pp. 46-90

As the Americans prepared the Gilbert Islands assault, Guadalcanal’s lessons were foremost in the planners’ minds. Although American forces were ultimately victorious, many felt that inadequate training and poor intelligence had caused a needless waste of lives. To a large degree planners took the lessons learned on Guadalcanal ...

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Chapter 3. The Marshalls: The Perfect Operation

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pp. 91-125

With victories on Guadalcanal and the Gilberts, the Americans not only succeeded in wresting valuable territory from the Japanese, they also verified the basic soundness of U. S. amphibious doctrine and equipment. However, both operations also revealed a distressing number of weaknesses. ...

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Chapter 4. Saipan: Smith Versus Smith

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pp. 126-165

After the relative ease of the Marshall operations, army and marine leaders believed they had mastered the technical details of amphibious landing operations. Armed with battle-tested equipment and battle-hardened troops, they collectively believed they were ready to tackle the key strategic element laid out in the 1943 Cairo Conference— ...

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Chapter 5. Okinawa: The Final Victory

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pp. 166-208

After the victory at Saipan, American forces continued their steady progress across the Pacific, tightening the noose around the Japanese homeland. By early April 1945, U.S. forces were poised to launch the largest amphibious operation of the war, aimed, for the first time, directly at one of the Japanese prefectures—Okinawa. ...

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pp. 209-214

In August 1942, all that stood between the Japanese and total domination of the Western Pacific was a near-starving, pitifully small band of marines, lining a few miserable ridges on Guadalcanal. Supporting them was a naval force that was nearly wrecked at Pearl Harbor and further depleted by a disastrous engagement off Savo Island. ...


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pp. 234-253


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pp. 215-250


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pp. 251-268


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pp. 269-282

E-ISBN-13: 9781574415414
Print-ISBN-13: 9781574415254

Page Count: 336
Illustrations: 35 b&w illus. 5 maps.
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 861200312
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Pacific Blitzkrieg

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Pacific Area -- History, Military -- 20th century.
  • United States -- Armed Forces -- History -- World War, 1939-1945.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Campaigns -- Pacific Area.
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