It is interesting to visit William Shockley again (after having seen his work on the economics of the atomic bomb here), this time weighing in on the prospects of an atomic bomb-less WWII Pacific endgame. The results are not pretty, and weigh the number of casualties as seen in past invasions of widely-interpreted type. Shockley describes his work in a letter (21 July 1945, "Proposal for Increasing the Scope of Casualties Studies") to Edward L. Bowles, an MIT Radlab guy who was brought to D.C. in 1942 to help develop RADAR. The content is summarized in the following three paragraphs taken in their entirety from CASUALTY PROJECTIONS FOR THE U.S. INVASIONS OF JAPAN, 1945-1946: PLANNING AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS by D. M. Giangreco in the Journal of Military History, 61 (July 1997). pages 521-82
“As for Dr. Shockley's initial report to Dr. Bowles, it was not submitted
until after Stimson had left for
"If the study shows that the behavior of nations in all historical cases comparable to Japan's has in fact been invariably consistent with the behavior of the troops in battle, then it means that the Japanese dead and ineffectives at the time of the defeat will exceed the corresponding number for the Germans. In other words, we shall probably have to kill at least 5 to 10 million Japanese. This might cost us between 1.7 and 4 million casualties including [between] 400,000 and 800,000 killed."
“W. B. Shockley to Edward L. Bowles, 21 July 1945,
"Proposal for Increasing the Scope of Casualties Studies," Edward L.
Bowles Papers, box 34, Library of Congress. Attached: "Historical Study of
The War Department was very busy trying to figure out the
American casualties for the final invasion of Japan
“In an apparent effort to close or narrow the gap between
presenting no casualty figures at all and presenting numbers that the Joint
Planning Staff was unwilling to use with the President, the Army's Director of
Operations, Maj. Gen. J. E. Hull, asked his staff for casualty figures for
operations on Okinawa, Iwo Jima, Leyte and Luzon (both in the Philippines), and
"overall figures on MacArthur's operations to date." He said these
could be used as background at the upcoming meeting with the President, whom Hull
Islands Invaded Earlier US
(Not including wounded) Ratio (US to Japanese)
Leyte 17,000 78,000 1:4.6
Luzon 31,000 156,000 1:5
Iwo Jima 20,000 25,000 1:1.25
And so what on earth are we left with, really? 200,000+ American and 2 million Japanese casualties, plus untold destruction, in an atom bombless attack on the Empire. This is not part of an argument about using the bomb--there wasn't an argument to be made at virtually any high-level command structure about not using the bomb militarily...it just wasn't on the table. (There were people who--like Eisenhower--were appalled with the military use of the weapon, but they weren't part of the groups whose charge was to figure out the bomb's deployment.) I'm just trying to illustrate the effects of war had there been no bomb at all, or if the impossible decision was made not to use it. As it was, the bomb existed, it was used with virtually no hesitation, twice, and it brought the war to a close. It must be remembered that even after Nagasaki, it still took the Japanese command three more days to decide to surrender, with the final acceptance occuring three days after that, on 15 August.