The Largest Planned Amphibious Invasion in History

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The initial Allied invasion of Japan was named Operation Olympic and was scheduled to begin on November 1, 1945.  It was to have been the largest amphibious invasion in history including 42 aircraft carriers, 24 battleships and 400 destroyers and destroyer escorts.  Fourteen US divisions were scheduled to take part in the initial landings.  Using Okinawa as the main staging base, the objective of the invasion was to seize the southern portion of Kyushu as the first major step of conquering the Japanese mainland.  The numbers shown here substantially exceed the numbers of D-Day.

D-Day in Normandy involved 5,000 naval vessels manned by 195,000 naval personnel to land and help defend 160,000 soldiers on the first day.  Consequently it can be safely assumed that if Operation Olympic was to be the largest amphibious invasion in history, the total number of vessels involved in Operation Olympic would have exceeded the D-Day number by hundreds, if not thousands.

Also it can be safely assumed that tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of more American personnel would have been present or near Okinawa on October 9, 1945 when Typhoon Louise made such a mess out of the remaining United State Naval vessels that were there awaiting orders to go home.  As it was, not a single one of the hundreds of capital ships mentioned above were present.  While hundreds of the smaller ships were still remaining at Okinawa, hundreds more, if not thousands more, would have been nearby had the war not already ended.  The typhoon struck just three weeks before the invasion was planned to commence.  Most anything that was supposed to have been there for the invasion would have been there already.

How many more American lives might Typhoon Louise have taken had Operation Olympic been underway?  How many more ships would have been sunk?  How many more would have been damaged?  How long would have Operation Olympic been delayed?  As it was, 36 Americans were killed, 47 missing, and 100 seriously injured by Typhoon Louise. Over two hundred ships were damaged, sunk, or beached.  Twelve were sunk.  Roughly sixty were considered damaged beyond repair.

How many American children and grandchildren are alive today that owe their lives to the results that the war ended when it did?  While my father survived the typhoon through good fortune, had the war not ended, he may have been part of Operation Olympic in some capacity.  PCs were used during D-Day in 1944 to mark the boundaries of invasion channels that amphibious landing craft followed to land on a planned section of beach.  PCs also provided close to shore fire support.  A PC was the first American ship sunk on D-Day from German shore fire.

The potential loss of American lives from Typhoon Louise may have been in the hundreds or thousands had the war not ended abruptly.  The mere fact that I exist at all to write this book and update my blog may be directly related to the fact that Lt. Paul W. Neidhardt came home safe and sound because Operation Olympic never had to take place.  There are also thousands of Americans just like me that may have never been born otherwise.  However, many of those thousands may not know to what they owe their lives.  In the end, that applies to many thousands, if not hundreds of thousands or more, of Japanese as well.

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