Another addition to the excellent range of primary source information drawn from a careful selection of despatches. The text is very well supported by an interesting photo plate section and the authors/editors are to be commended for producing a work that provides a direct insight into the thoughts, fears, beliefs and actions of senior commanders in what was a very important theatre of operations. Once again this author/editor teaming has delivered an excellent and very well researched work.
NAME: Despatches From The Front, Far East Air Operations 1942-1945
AUTHOR: John Grehan, Martin Mace
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, Second World War, Far East Theatre, air operations, fight back, defeating Japan, PoW relief, Battle of Imphal, Battle for Rangoon, air power, primary sources
DESCRIPTION: Another addition to the excellent range of primary source information drawn from a careful selection of despatches. The text is very well supported by an interesting photo plate section and the authors/editors are to be commended for producing a work that provides a direct insight into the thoughts, fears, beliefs and actions of senior commanders in what was a very important theatre of operations. Once again this author/editor teaming has delivered an excellent and very well researched work.
For the European nations with colonies and dependencies in the Far East, the Japanese threat was difficult to address. France and the Netherlands were occupied by the Germans and the British Empire was standing alone until the Japanese obligingly attacked the US at Pearl Harbour.
Britain was ill-equipped in terms of both troops and equipment, priority being given to the defence of the British Isles, and then the defence of the Suez Canal. That meant that the British Empire had sent personnel to the British Isles and to North Africa, further reducing the assets available to challenge the Japanese expansion. Where the North African campaign was receiving older equipment, some of which was still capable and not yet obsolescent, the Far East was receiving virtually nothing and having to maintain very old aircraft, some being ex-naval biplanes that were little faster then WWI aircraft.
When the US came into the war, it saw the Pacific as its own sphere of influence and was initially little better prepared than the British Empire. This allowed the Japanese to expand very rapidly, even threatening India and Australia. The start of 1942 saw little difference, with the Allies continuing to fall back. However, as 1942 moved on, newer and more capable equipment began to reach the beleaguered Allied Forces. Much more capable aircraft were transferred and the air operations were able to develop with aircraft that were on equal terms with Japanese aircraft. The tide slowly began to turn and the pace picked up as the victory in North Africa freed troops and aircraft for deployment to the Far East. Into 1945 and the Victory in Europe allowed Britain to begin transferring warships and aircraft to the Far East, and to send out heavier equipment and troops to the land war.
One considerable advance was provided by the Task Force of RN warships sent East, including battle-tested carriers that were far more resistant to suicide attack than the US carriers, and equipped with the latest carrier aircraft. This Fleet was incorporated into the US Pacific Fleet as a Task Force and began operations by halting the production and transport of fuel from the Indo-China oil fields. Air power was also critical to the operation of very large Special Forces units operating deep behind Japanese lines.
This book provides a unique set of views from the commanders involved in the Air War in the Far East. Essential reading for military history enthusiasts, but also a fascinatingly different set of insights for those wishing to develop their knowledge and appreciation of WWII.