Thursday, June 19, 2008

Leyte Gulf

Beyond a doubt, one of the coolest games in my collection is the Leyte Gulf edition of the Second World War at Sea series.

It contains two of the most massive naval battles of history, the Philippine Sea and Leyte Gulf.

An interesting aspect of the Pacific War was the continuing faith of the Japanese that it would be decided by a Decisive Battle which would bring them victory. Indeed, their naval strategy was geared around bringing about such a Decisive Battle.

Ironically, they succeeded! As a matter of fact, they brought about Three Decisive Battles: Midway, Philippine Sea and Leyte. They simply refused to accept the verdict!

The flaw in their reasoning was an apparent belief that only the (weak) Americans would be affected by losing a Decisive Battle and would sue for peace. In the actual event, I rather doubt the U.S. could have been defeated by a Decisive Battle. We'll never know, because the Americans in fact WON all three Decisive Battles. This despite the fact that in all three battles the Japanese did actually arrange the battle largely as they had planned beforehand.

I can understand how the Japanese fought on after Midway, even though it was truly decisive in hindsight. At the time it must have seemed like a fluke. But the Philippine Sea clearly showed that victory was not possible for Japan and the rational course of action would have been to sue for peace. Leyte merely ratified that outcome.

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