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THIS has been a year of hope deferred, of tragedy, of the most acute danger this nation has ever faced, a year of great defeats and great victories, a year in which the United States has found its soul, mustered its strength, organized its armies, and commenced its long, hard forward march to victory. It has been a year of crisis, but of crisis met, endured and passed. It has seen, probably, the turning point of the war.
This can be said because during the past summer and fall the enemy was held in check within the bounds of Europe and within the limits of the Western Pacific. As Churchill wisely warned, the American offensive in the Solomons and the Anglo-American campaigns in North Africa are not the beginning of the end; but they may mark, as he said, "the end of the beginning." Slowly but surely the strategic initiative is shifting to the United Nations. The future will depend more upon what we do than upon what the enemy does. We can still lose the war, but if we do so it will be because of our own mistakes and weaknesses, not primarily because of the enemy's strength. For the strength of the Axis is commencing to be outmatched and the inestimable advantages of the initiative are passing to our side.
The year began in disaster. The Japanese "sneak" attack on Pearl Harbor did much more damage than was admitted at the time. The Navy's report published a year later showed that eight battleships, ten other men-of-war, a floating drydock, and some 250 Army and Navy planes, were destroyed or damaged by the Japanese carrier-based air attack. Five of the battleships, the Arizona, Oklahoma, California, Nevada and West Virginia, were sunk or beached; three other battleships, the Pennsylvania, Maryland and Tennessee, and three cruisers, the Helena, Honolulu and Raleigh, were damaged. The Arizona blew up and was a total loss; the Oklahoma and the old target ship Utah capsized and still lie keels-up in their berths near Ford Island; the destroyers Cassin and Downes blew up. But all the other ships, even including the minelayer Oglala which capsized, have been raised and have been or will be repaired. Plane losses and the small damages to installations have been made good long ago, and today "Pearl Harbor" is but an awful memory.
For six months after December 7, 1941, we went from bad to worse. But now at the year's end we have progressed to a position where we can undertake strategic offensives in both hemispheres. The size of the American Army and Navy has been more than doubled. Our global lines of communication have been maintained and strengthened and guarded by garrisons at strategic points. Close to a million Americans have been transported overseas. In this same year a number of important strategic areas have been lost by the Allies -- Singapore, Burma, the Dutch East Indies, the "Donbas," part of the Caucasus. But others, the vital ones, have been held -- the Middle East, India, China, Moscow, the bulk of the Caucasus oil areas, Britain, Alaska-Aleutians, Hawaii. Today, the United Nations are far stronger in numbers of men, ships and planes, in resolution, military leadership, organization and purpose, than they were a year ago. The enemy has been checked, even though not completely halted. With our allies we have commenced the long and sanguinary process of reconquering what was lost.
With this change in the strategic picture has gone a profound change in the art of war. Tactically, the defense has overcome many of the advantages enjoyed initially by the offense. What started in 1939 as a limited war became in 1942 a global one. Space, time and distance factors have intervened in the affairs of nations, and those which at first were amateurs in the art of war -- the United Nations -- are becoming professionals. Attrition practised by our side has replaced Blitzkrieg on the Axis side. On land and at sea the defense is catching up with the offense. The quick victories of the past will no longer be possible for the Axis. The converse is also true, however. We must remember now when we are assuming the offensive that we cannot expect rapid triumphs over a defensive that has gained new strength.
It was the second six months of the American participation in the war that witnessed the shift from the defensive to the offensive by the United Nations.[i] The summer of 1942 had long been looked forward to as the great time of crisis. These were the months in which Hitler had been expected to make his supreme effort to eliminate Russia and in which it had been thought that Japan would try to burst the bounds of the Western Pacific by pushing further southward or by invading India or Siberia.
These attempts were made; the summer of 1942 was a time of crisis. That the attempts were repulsed, that the Axis did not conquer areas which if taken would have made victory for the United Nations virtually impossible, was of course due only in part to the United States. We bore the main brunt of the Pacific fighting; our defeat of the Japanese at the Coral Sea and Midway saved Hawaii and may have saved Australia. American and British lease-lend aid to Russia and American and British psychological support were undoubtedly important factors in the Russian summer campaign. The United States and Britain together sent Russia 3,052 planes, 4,048 tanks and vast amounts of other equipment. But Russia saved herself chiefly by her own efforts. The present more favorable strategic complexion of the war is mainly due to the fact that Russia is still fighting.
In the winter and spring of 1942, the Axis guerre de course had been so successful -- particularly along the American coasts -- that there seemed a likelihood that the German submarine might win the war. The first and most fundamental job facing our armed forces was to meet this menace. We had to secure our transoceanic supply routes by: (1) anti-submarine measures; (2) the construction of additional ships and cargo planes; (3) the development and garrisoning of new naval and air bases; and (4) the establishment of new air ferry and cargo-carrying routes.
The first and most important anti-submarine measure undertaken by the United States was the establishment of an adequate coastal defense organization to supplement the transoceanic convoy system. Various "sea frontiers" were organized -- along the East Coast, in the Caribbean, on the Gulf Coast, and on the West and Northwest Coasts. By May 14, 1942, the first coastwise convoy system was started, so that ships could move under escort from Maine to Florida, many of them stopping overnight in harbors or in mined and protected anchorages along the coast. On July 1 the convoy system was extended to the Caribbean and the Gulf areas, and since then it has been speeded up, perfected and extended. As a result, coastwise submarine sinkings have showed a marked decline. Along the East Coast, sinkings have been negligible since May 14; and even the world figures showed that July, August, September and October were relatively better months for the United Nations than many previous months of 1942. Army and Navy and civilian aircraft and Navy and Coast Guard ships and small boats, all operating under naval command, have been responsible for this improvement.
But though conditions have improved along our coasts, the ship sinkings have continued at a high rate on the Murmansk convoy route, and there also have been heavy losses on the transatlantic routes. The Nazi submarines, forced seaward as our coastal defenses improved, shifted southward to the Trinidad area, the eastern coast of South America, the West Coast of Africa and the region of the Cape of Good Hope. In the North Atlantic, they reinstituted the tactics of the "wolf pack" and on the Murmansk route they were aided by planes.
Fortunately, Japanese submarines have done comparatively little commerce raiding, and what they have done has been rather ineffective. There have been five or six "scares" along the West Coast and for a time there was a small Japanese submarine concentration in the Gulf of Alaska, but none of it accomplished much.
In the meantime, while our anti-submarine measures were reducing ship losses we were increasing the rate of ship construction. As these lines are being written, American shipyards are turning out an average of more than three ships a day. During the summer the rate of construction passed the rate of destruction, and by the end of the year the United States will have accomplished its objective of building eight million deadweight tons of new shipping in 1942.
Simultaneously the program of building cargo planes on a large scale was commencing to yield results. Many B-24 Consolidated bombers were converted for freight and military passenger transport, and this plane and the C-54 (Douglas DC-4) proved to be perhaps the finest cargo planes of the year. But these planes carried only a tiny fraction of the tonnage transported by ships; their value lay chiefly in the speed with which they could rush important air express items to distant destinations.
One of the things we had to do to make our transoceanic supply lines secure was to develop and garrison new bases. The Hawaiian Islands -- kingpin in the whole structure of our Pacific strategy -- were greatly strengthened, and bases along the connecting air and sea links to Australia were developed and garrisoned. As the first year of our part in the war came to an end, it was announced that American forces were holding Palmyra and Canton Islands, and, of course, Samoa, the Fijis and New Caledonia; while American troops were also stationed in New Zealand, Australia, the New Hebrides and other Pacific points. Other American forces garrisoned bases in the Caribbean-Panama area, and in South America, East and West Africa, and the Middle East. American troops were in India and China, and others were in Canada and Newfoundland, as well as in Labrador, Greenland and Iceland, and, of course, in Alaska and the Aleutians. The strength of all these garrisons, both land and air, was built up during the year, with the result that all bases exposed to possible enemy attack are now strongly protected. This naturally has resulted in a dispersion of our forces, but it provided much-needed security for our supply lines to the theaters of action.
The development of air ferry and transport routes across the oceans also helped to solve the problem of supply. Bombers were literally delivered around the world. In the case of fighter planes, the bulk of the deliveries was made by ship, but some were flown to Russia and across the Atlantic and Pacific. The war gave a terrific impetus to the blazing of new air trails, and before the year ended Atlantic and Pacific air crossings were so numerous and so frequent as to be a commonplace.
Despite the increased effectiveness of our anti-submarine measures, the German submarine campaign still offered a serious threat, as the year ended, to our global lines of communication and supply. Between 250 and 400 Nazi submarines are believed to be in commission; new ones are being constructed at the rate of more than twenty a month -- faster, that is, than we are sinking them. Unless we increase the rate of destruction, we shall not be able to send overseas all our present or future strength.
In the last analysis the security of our transoceanic supply routes depended in the year just ended upon the security of the bases we had established and our maintenance of naval superiority in those areas of the ocean which our supply lines traversed. This was particularly true in the Pacific, where we were fighting a great sea Power. That is why the Battle of Midway was so important. Had we lost it, the entire Pacific campaign would have been jeopardized.
The Battle of Midway was prefaced by a series of actions which sprawled across the great distances of the South Pacific and culminated in the Battle of the Coral Sea. During April, Japanese concentrations of men-of-war and transports at Lae and Salamaua in New Guinea and at Rabaul had been reported. Early in May the enemy started to push to the south. One group of considerable strength steamed to Tulagi, the best harbor of the southern Solomons; another moved down into the Louisiade Archipelago. On May 4 a task force of the Lexington and Yorktown, escorted by cruisers and destroyers and commanded by Vice Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher, steamed to within bombing distance of Tulagi, and planes from the two carriers attacked the Japanese ships. Some were sunk, others were damaged and the Solomons wing of the Japanese southern offensive was stalled.
After the Tulagi raid, Admiral Fletcher moved into the Coral Sea to intercept the other wing of the enemy push. On May 6, planes from the Lexington caught a Japanese carrier, believed to be the new carrier Ryukaku, just as she was launching planes and after a heavy and well-delivered attack sent back the jubilant report, "Scratch one flat-top." The following day, in a continuation of the action, the Lexington and Yorktown squadrons smashed at two more Japanese carriers, and severely damaged vessels believed to be the Shokaku and Zuikaku. But this was not accomplished without loss. The Lexington took at least two torpedoes and several bombs and the Yorktown received some light bomb damage. The Japanese were turned back and the action broken off -- an engagement unique in naval history in that there was no contact between opposing surface units. The bomb and the torpedo, carried by planes, took the place of the shell as the principal naval weapon. The damaged Lexington, burning furiously, pulled many miles away from the battle area. In the end, the heroic fight to save her was vain; internal explosions caused by gasoline vapors made her abandonment necessary and she received the coup de grâce from American torpedoes.
There was no interlude. The actions in the Coral Sea may well have been intended by the Japanese as a deliberate strategic feint; in any case, long before the battle of the Coral Sea was fought there was evidence that the enemy was building up a large striking force in the central Pacific. Hastily, all possible American forces were mobilized to meet it. The sea-weary and damaged Yorktown steamed swiftly north to Pearl Harbor and after a hasty dry-docking steamed westward toward Midway with the largest carrier striking force we had yet assembled to meet the foe.
The situation was tense. Japan still had naval superiority in the Pacific. A week before the battle, the people of Hawaii knew it was coming; part of Honolulu was evacuated.
Ensign Jack Reid in a PBY "opened the ball" on June 3 when he sighted a great armada of enemy ships headed eastward for Midway. There followed three days of sporadic action -- a battle of planes against planes, of carriers against carriers. Flying Fortresses of the Army, flown from Hawaii to Midway, pounded at the enemy; B-26 medium bombers were used for the first time as torpedo planes; and even the lumbering PBY's of the Navy carried torpedoes. But at Midway the Japs were turned back by our carrier squadrons; dive bombers and torpedo planes from the carriers blasted at a threat which plainly was directed not only against Midway but also against the Hawaiian Islands. It was, in fact, the most serious threat of the war.
The Japanese made one air attack on Midway; they never got close enough to attempt surface bombardment or troop landings. Their air attack was heavy and accurate, and Marine fighters -- mostly obsolescent Brewsters -- suffered heavy losses, though not without exacting a major toll from the enemy. In the meantime our carrier-based planes had hit the enemy. The two biggest carriers of the Japanese, the Kaga and Akagi, were knocked out, and a third, the Soryu, was damaged. Our own air losses were heavy, and a Japanese air striking force hit the Yorktown with two torpedoes and a number of bombs. But the Hiryu, another Japanese carrier, was then knocked out, and later one of our submarines got the crippled Soryu. The Yorktown was taken in tow for Pearl Harbor; but a Japanese submarine got her and the destroyer Hammann two days later.
The fact was, however, that the Japanese Fleet had been shattered. Four carriers -- Kaga and Akagi, Soryu and Hiryu -- had been sunk, as evidenced by the fact that prisoners were taken; at least two battleships had been damaged; the cruiser Mikuma (an eight-inch-gunned ship, not a light six-inch gun cruiser, as reported) had been sunk; her sister the Mogami had been badly damaged; and transports, destroyers or other vessels had been sunk or damaged.
It was a defensive victory and an incomplete victory but a great victory. Had we been able to follow it up and wipe out the remnants of the Japanese Fleet by surface ship action it might have been one of the decisive victories in the history of the world. As it was, it saved Hawaii and tended more nearly to equalize the strengths of the two fleets in the Pacific.
As the Japanese Fleet advanced toward Midway a northern wing attacked Dutch Harbor and landed troops in the Rat Islands, the outermost of the Aleutians. Early in June, while the Midway battle was being fought, the enemy established bases on Kiska, Attu and Agattu, but this move was plainly made to secure flank protection for the Japanese main effort in the central Pacific. Had the Japanese won Midway and established themselves in the Hawaiian chain, their operations in the Aleutians would unquestionably have become dangerous; Alaska might have been invaded and eventually the West Coast. As it was, the Aleutian operations were never more than a secondary front, and an annoyance. But our moves to counter the enemy there were prompt and vigorous. Alaska and the Aleutians were heavily reenforced, and in late summer the forces of the United States began an amphibious move westward. We occupied the Andreanoff group of the Aleutians, and established an airfield within some 125 to 175 miles of Kiska. This enabled us to send fighter planes over the Japanese bases, and a summer-long campaign of longrange bombardment was succeeded by an intensive program of short-range bombardment. Our submarines also commenced to harry the Japanese line of supplies, and before autumn the enemy had apparently abandoned Attu and Agattu and had concentrated his forces on Kiska.[ii] We had not conquered Kiska -- nothing short of an outright assault is likely to do that -- but we had effectively neutralized it as an offensive or defensive base by air bombardment and by our submarine operations.
After Midway the Japanese reorganized, and later in the summer they again began to threaten in the South Pacific. Their jungle troops broke over the serrated crest of the Owen Stanley Mountains in New Guinea and began a push toward Port Moresby. They also sent forces to occupy some of the Gilbert Islands, reconnoitered some of the Ellice Islands, and commenced to build an airfield on Guadalcanal in the southern Solomons.
Suddenly, on August 7, the whole complexion of the Pacific warfare changed. American task forces covering a large group of transports steamed northward from New Caledonia towards the Solomons and a Marine division, supported by attached battalions of "shock troops," seized the small islands of Tulagi, Gavutu and Tanombogo, commanding Tulagi harbor, as well as a beachhead which included the almost-completed Japanese airfield on Guadalcanal. This operation was first described as a limited offensive, intended to protect our supply lines to Australia, toward which the Japs had been slowly inching. But it quickly developed into more than that.
The general expectation had been that the Japanese would cross the Amur River and attack Vladivostok in August. Apparently the Solomons offensive was intended to relieve Russian Siberia of the threat of this Japanese attack. But in many respects it actually is the first step in a strategic offensive which eventually should carry to the doorstep of Tokyo.
The offensive against the Solomons was hastily planned and in many ways was hung "on a shoestring." Vice Admiral Robert Ghormley, who commanded in the South Pacific, under Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, was under constant pressure to hasten the initial landings, and the forces under his command were inferior to those which the Japanese might muster and were inadequate to the task of starting a major strategic offensive. We appear to have underestimated the strength of the Japanese reaction.
However, the Japanese were taken by surprise and the initial landings were made successfully with relatively small casualties. But on the night of August 8-9, while the American transports and cargo vessels were still being unloaded, a Japanese cruiser division, accompanied by destroyers, made a night raid upon our northern cruiser screen which was patrolling in the channel between Guadalcanal and Tulagi islands. This Japanese squadron caught our ships by surprise and sank the heavy cruisers Astoria, Quincy and Vincennes and the Australian cruiser Canberra. The Japanese escaped with little damage. This was one of the worst defeats in our history. But there were more to come.
The supply problem for the Marines who had been landed in the southern Solomons rapidly became acute. The Japanese, operating from Rabaul and bases in the northern Solomons, bombed them by day and shelled them from surface ships and submarines by night. On August 24 there was a clash between task forces of the two fleets, and a Japanese carrier, probably the small Ryuzo, was damaged or perhaps sunk. In this action the antiaircraft defenses and fighter interception of American ships proved exceedingly strong. The defense at sea was catching up with the offense.
The Japanese now undertook a campaign of attrition against our footholds in the southern Solomons, landing men at night on Guadalcanal, outside the Marine lines, and attempting to harry and wear down our forces. The carrier Wasp, which in earlier months of the war had ferried British fighter planes to indomitable Malta in the Mediterranean, was sunk by a concentration of Japanese submarines lurking in the southern Solomons; and other important vessels were damaged in a continuing campaign in which American task forces were too often handled in a defensive fashion. The position of the Marines became serious in September when the Japanese launched a large attack by land, sea and air, and this crisis passed only to be followed by another and more severe one in October. The October fighting resulted, however, in losses for the Japanese. Two of their carriers were damaged at the cost of one of our own, and Japanese cruisers and destroyers, engaged in landing men at night on Guadalcanal, were intercepted and sunk or damaged by an American cruiser task force led by the cruiser Boise.
In November the Solomons experienced still a third and major crisis. But meanwhile many of our damaged ships had been repaired, the strength of our fleet had been increased by additions from the shipyards, the supply problem, if not solved, had at least been simplified, Army and Marine reënforcements and replacements had landed, the beachhead on Guadalcanal had been extended, and large air reënforcements were on their way.
Between November 12 and 15 one of the largest naval actions of the war -- probably the largest between surface ships, if we except the battle of Cape Matapan -- was fought off the Solomons. It was precipitated by a strong Japanese attempt to reconquer our beachhead on Guadalcanal. A large Japanese fleet of transports, preceded and protected by several battleships and a screen of cruisers and destroyers, steamed southward from the Shortland area. Strong reënforcements for our land troops on Guadalcanal had just been landed, and the American cruiser and destroyer screen that covered the landing was manœuvred to intercept the Japanese battleship-cruiser spearhead which was moving into position to bombard our Guadalcanal beachhead. The resulting action took place at night off Savo Island, between Guadalcanal and Florida. Gallantly and with great intrepidity the American force, led by Rear Admiral Daniel J. Callaghan and Rear Admiral Norman Scott (who the previous month had intercepted the Japanese cruisers off Guadalcanal), moved between two enemy formations. Our cruisers and destroyers attacked the Japanese battleships of the Kongo class at point blank range. Admirals Callaghan and Scott were killed, but the Japanese formation was disrupted and much damage was done.
The following night, after a day in which American planes based on Guadalcanal, Australia and New Guinea hammered the Japanese armada, another clash took place between surface ships. Two American battleships, apparently of the new North Carolina and South Dakota classes, participated either in this action or a later one. Sporadic but fierce fighting, with surface and air clashes, occurred for some days. When the smoke of battle cleared away the Japanese had received a decisive repulse. One or two battleships were sunk -- the first the enemy has lost in the Pacific War -- together with numerous cruisers, destroyers and many fully-loaded transports. Our losses were two light cruisers and seven destroyers. The enemy had been turned back in his greatest bid to retake the southern Solomons; our foothold there seemed to be assured; the Solomons campaign had become one of attrition which could turn only to our advantage; and it seemed probable that we would soon be ready to take another step northward.
Our losses in August and September in the Solomons had resulted in considerable public criticism. Admiral Ghormley was relieved by Vice Admiral William Halsey, who was in command in the South Pacific during the October and November victories. Several task force commanders who had served under Admiral Ghormley and who were in direct command of some of the ships which had been lost or damaged came ashore, but their names were not released by the Navy Department. Some public dissatisfaction was also expressed with the division of the Pacific into two strategic areas. The limits of Admiral Nimitz's command at first followed the 160th degree of east longitude to the Equator, and thus passed squarely through Guadalcanal. For the purpose of the campaign, and to permit the Navy to have full control, this boundary was moved westward. It still, however, passes through the northern Solomons. Another complication is that Rabaul, the important Japanese base in New Britain and the logical objective of the Navy's Solomon push, is in General Douglas MacArthur's command, which also includes New Guinea, the Dutch East Indies and the Philippines. Despite this division of authority, General MacArthur's bombers based on Australia and New Guinea strongly supported the Solomons offensive; and in September the Allied troops in New Guinea undertook a counterattack of their own.
The Japanese advance across the Owen Stanley ridge had surged southward through the jungle to within 31 miles of Port Moresby, the Allied foothold on the south Papuan coast. Here the enemy advance was dramatically turned into a precipitate retreat. Fighting through some of the worst country in the world -- country unknown to white men, and so thickly jungled that great areas of earth have never seen the light of the sun -- the "Aussies" drove back against the enemy. A full explanation of the Japanese reversal of fortunes has never been made public, but the Allied bombing of Japanese supply lines, particularly effective under the new leadership of Lieutenant-General George C. Kenney, was one factor, and perhaps the Japanese reversals in the Solomons were another. Also, some American ground troops were hastily flown to New Guinea, and apparently these played an important outflanking rôle. No announcement that American ground troops were in action in New Guinea was made until November, however, when the Japanese had been driven back to the northern down-slope of the Owen Stanley range and were fighting desperately to hold their foothold near Buna on the north coast.
During these dramatic developments in the Pacific, American troopships were steadily plying to the British Isles and American cargo ships were steaming eastward to Murmansk and the Middle East. All during the summer the striking power of the United Nations in the Middle East was increasing. New British divisions, trained in Britain's "battle school," were sent there, as well as hundreds of American tanks and self-propelled guns.
The Ninth U. S. Air Force, under Major-General Lewis H. Brereton, who was transferred from India, was organized in the desert, and a great stream of American bombers was sent eastward across the Atlantic and Africa to Egypt. Air power, both British and American, was an important factor in stopping Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's spring and early summer drive toward the Valley of the Nile. And in the late summer and fall, British and American air power, greatly strengthened, dried up Rommel's sources and lines of supply and prepared the way for one of the greatest land defeats the Nazis have yet suffered in this war.
During the summer it became evident that a dramatic change in strategic emphasis had occurred. Until July, Britain obviously was to be the main base and Germany was to be attacked by air, and possibly by land, in a cross-Channel invasion. But suddenly the emphasis shifted. By September and October our new plans had become more or less of an open secret.
Early on November 8, American troops began landing from a mighty fleet of transports at selected points in North and West Africa. More than 500 vessels were employed, protected by 350 men-of-war. Following hard upon Rommel's defeat in Egypt, the landings in Algiers and Morocco were plainly designed to catch the North African forces of the Axis in a pincer and to bring the entire south shore of the Mediterranean under our control. The American spearheads were followed by British troops, but the entire expedition was under command of Lieutenant-General Dwight Eisenhower, formerly commander of our forces in Britain. The British troops, and many of the American ones, came from Britain; other American troops were transported directly to the scene from the United States. They were well equipped, had heavy American and R.A.F. air support, and were protected by British and American naval units.
The way had been thoroughly prepared, and the "conquest" of North Africa represented a political and psychological Blitzkrieg, not a military one. There was some naval and coastal battery opposition, particularly around Casablanca, but on the whole there was relatively very little fighting. The other landings were at Fedhala and Port Lyautey, on the Atlantic, and on the Mediterranean at Oran and Algiers and later at Bône and Philippeville. Our total initial casualties were under 2,000. The Navy's first announcement of ship losses admitted the destruction of five transports. First, General Henri Honoré Giraud, and then Admiral François Darlan, rallied with many French troops to our banner, and soon all of North Africa was under our control. As these lines are written Dakar too has "come over," and the campaign for Tunis is under way. The campaign for Libya remains to be completed, but the defeat of Rommel in Egypt and the Anglo-American landings in the Western Mediterranean have provided a tremendous psychological and moral "lift" to the United Nations and have given a material advantage to Russia by forcing the diversion of German planes from the eastern front.
We must remember that the North African expedition, a preface to the eventual establishment of a land front in Europe, has necessitated a dispersion of our forces. Britain was stripped of many American troops and many British and American planes were withdrawn to support the landings. The bombing raids on Germany, which incidentally never reached the four-figure frequency predicted last spring, are bound to decline for a time in magnitude. This will also be true of our bombing efforts against German-occupied Europe. The American raids, patterned on a carefully planned program of day bombing, commenced to take form and weight in early August. American Flying Fortresses and Consolidated B-24's undertook daylight raids against European ports and objectives in German-occupied France situated within range of British fighter bases. The big bombers suffered light losses. But it must be remembered that they have not yet bombed the interior of Germany in daylight and have nearly always operated with fighter protection. Moreover, the fact that Germany's submarine production and synthetic oil production are both rising shows that any vital impairment of German productive capacity by bombing alone is a long way off indeed.
The fact remains that the United Nations still are attacking in the air in Western Europe; Germany has been hammered and hurt; above all, we are on the move in North Africa and the Pacific. These are prefatory moves. Victory is a long way off. Yet the summer and fall of 1942 have seen a profound change in the complexion of the war. "The end of the beginning" is in sight.
[i] Editor's Note: For preceding articles in this series by Mr. Baldwin see "America at War: Three Bad Months," FOREIGN AFFAIRS, April 1942, and "America at War: The Second Quarter," FOREIGN AFFAIRS, July 1942.
[ii] Early in the winter the Japanese apparently reëstablished small forces on Attu.