A VIVID NARRATIVE . . . A splendid first-person account of the costly campaign that enabled Allied forces to wrest Guadalcanal from the Japanese in World War II's Pacific theater. Kirkus ReviewsBy reading and studying No Bended Knee, the military professional can gain an appreciation for war at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. Twining writes as he served his corps boldly and straightforwardly, with impeccable detail and superb understanding of things strategic. Airpower JournalA VIEW FROM THE NERVE CENTER COMPLETE WITH TELLING PERSONAL ANECDOTES. Journal Inquirer (Manchester, CT)Twining adds notably to the literature on Guadalcanal and provides one of the best accounts of war as seen from the perspective of the often maligned yet absolutely indispensable headquarters staff. Booklist CANDID AND REVEALING. Publishers WeeklyFrom the Paperback edition.
The author of this candid and revealing memoir served as the 1st Marine Division's operations officer during the 1942 battle for Guadalcanal, one of the major campaigns of WWII. The literature of the campaign is based largely on his after-action report, which, as he now discloses, was written under severe handicaps, including malaria and the lack of an operations log. Setting straight the historical record, Twining here reveals that the division's commanding officer, Maj. Gen. A.A. Vandergrift, ordered the log to be burned when he thought the unit was going to be forced into the island's interior for a last-ditch stand. Twining expresses resentment over the faintheartedness of the operation's overall commander, Vice Adm. Frank Jack Fletcher, for his decision to withdraw the fleet only two days after the Marines' amphibious landing, leaving them stranded and taking with him a large part of their supplies and equipment. He also discusses the inept interference of Rear Adm. Kelly Turner, commander of the amphibious forces, and the bone-deep hostility toward the Marines by Army authorities who later campaigned to abolish the corps. Twining retired in 1959 with the rank of general. Illustrations.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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Excerpt from No Bended Knee by Merrill B. Twining
Major General J. F. C. Fuller, a distinguished historian of World War II, was of the opinion that "in all probability amphibious operations were the most far-reaching tactical innovation of the War." They were more than far reaching. They were decisive. Most certainly they were not "innovations." The Siege of Troy, the first battle of any sort in recorded history (1194-1184 b.c.), was a majestic example of the amphibious assault involving 1,000 ships and ten years of bitter warfare on the mainland of Asia Minor. Thereafter the Persians made frequent use of amphibious operations during their centuries of unrelenting effort to destroy the civilization of the Greeks.
In 55 b.c. Julius Caesar displayed a surprising grasp of the art of amphibious warfare in his conquest of Britain. He sent an advance man to examine beaches secretly along the British coast to determine their suitability for landing. During the landing itself Caesar used his warships to provide a rudimentary form of naval gunfire support, protecting the unarmed transports with great flights of arrows and projectiles, the latter hurled ashore by catapults mounted on the warships' decks. However, he or his advance man made a mistake destined to be repeated by army generals worldwide over the ensuing centuries--he chose a gently shelving beach instead of one steep-to beach. As all Marines and sailors would have known, this caused his transports to ground at a considerable distance
From the beach itself, requiring the troops to struggle ashore, almost helpless under constant attack by Britons driving their chariots through the surf. Nevertheless, the valor of the 10th Legion eventually prevailed, the landing succeeded, and Britain became Roman.
An embarked landing force possesses unlimited mobility, dependable logistics, and, above all, the ability to achieve surprise in overwhelming strength. No one as yet has found a sure way to oppose this form of attack. In 490 b.c. Miltiades allowed the Persians to land unopposed on the beaches at Marathon before he destroyed them. A century later SunTzu wrote in his The Art of War, "When an advancing enemy crosses water do not meet him at the water's edge. It is advantageous to allow half his force to cross and then strike."
The argument has continued over the intervening centuries. In World War II the Japanese employed a water's-edge defense at Tarawa but allowed our forces to land unopposed on Okinawa. The Japanese lost both these islands, although Tarawa was a close call. The Marines were employing the water's-edge defense effectively at both Wake Island and Corregidor before they unwillingly surrendered by the express direction of higher authority.
At the instigation of Marine Corps Commandant John A. Lejeune during the period between the world wars, the Marine Corps made a major effort to develop the doctrine, techniques, and equipment required for the successful conduct of amphibious warfare and to design a method of defense against it. The reasons were twofold. First and foremost was the realization that the British reverse at Gallipoli, with its attendant heavy losses, was largely due to a series of avoidable mistakes arising from a total lack of expertise and doctrine covering the planning and execution of this most difficult of all military operations. Second was the realization that the Orange Plan against Japan would in all probability require the successive seizure of a series of islands extending across the Pacific from Hawaii to Japan, including Guam and the Philippines.
(For ease of conversational reference and informal communications, families of plans were designated by a color. Plans against Japan were named "orange." However, each war plan developed over the years was assigned a separate number for use in formal communications. For example, the ALNAV [All Navy] message mentioned elsewhere in this book mandated execution of one of the series of orange plans in effect on 7 December 1941.)
The requirements of the Orange Plan were clearly envisioned in Marine Corps Operations Plan 712, Advanced Base Operations in Micronesia, of 1921. This remarkable document was the work of Lt. Col. Earl H. "Pete" Ellis, USMC, a skilled and experienced war planner. In it he predicted, with uncanny accuracy, the objectives we would need for a successful return to the Western Pacific and, in some cases, precisely the size of the force that would be required. He also forecast the overall nature of future oceanic combat, including the use of carrier aviation as a major weapon. Unfortunately, Ellis did not live to see the enactment of his plan. He died in 1923 under mysterious circumstances while on an intelligence mission in the Japanese-mandated Palau Islands. In a very real sense he was the first casualty of World War II.