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"The Most Dangerous Moment of the War": Japan's Attack on the Indian Ocean, 1942 Kindle Edition
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"The kind of story you'd find in illustrated form inone of the 1960s boys' comics such as Warlord, or Commando. Absolutely enthralling."
"John is a professional author and it certainly shows in the book as it covers the whole period from the background to the war in the Far East up to the sinkings and beyond. I found the whole book fascinating as it gave a much wider view of the actions in 1942. I thoroughly recommend it to all those interested in the events of April 1942. "
The HMS Dorsetshire Association
"...provided ample detail explaining the losses and issues associated with the Indian Ocean Campaign for both sides. Included are several personal accounts, interviews and photographs. Unlike many other narratives of this type, he did not dwell on making excuses for the mistakes made by the fleet command nor beat them down for their decisions. He put it out there for the reader to decide. He also interjected the political side as well as Sir Winston Churchill’s concerns throughout the scenario. The book is fairly short and worth reading. -
Naval Historical Foundation
"The British facilities in Ceylon were hit hard in April 1942 by aircraft from five Japanese carriers, which sank two cruisers, an aircraft carrier, two destroyers, a corvette and 24 merchant ships. In “The Most Dangerous Moment of the War,” the author gives a well-detailed account of the raid, which badly stung the Royal Navy but which the Japanese failed to exploit to a strategic advantage."
"...well researched and full of details...details that go far in completing the story of why British leaders acted as they did at the time. The motivations of those leaders are explained without blame or excuse, presenting a balanced view of men acting under the stress of war during a critical time.
"Excellent little book…an important gap in naval history has thus been covered and covered very well."
“I found this book to be a very good read and with all the details of the military actions of April 1942 it was very hard to put down. It is an excellent description of the Japanese raid into the Indian Ocean in 1942 and is recommended to anyone wanting to know more about this operation.”
Model Builder International --This text refers to the hardcover edition.
About the Author
- File Size : 2475 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print Length : 208 pages
- Publisher : Casemate Publishers; Reprint Edition (November 19, 2015)
- Publication Date : November 19, 2015
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B018RG2146
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #942,508 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Dates and time wise I think the book is correct. However, I personally found the book a bit of a let down. To the author’s credit, his father was a survivor from the sinking of the Royal Navy cruiser H.M.S. Cornwall which is part of this story, and the author gives a good account from survivors of the British warships sunk by the Kidō Butai at sea, H.M.S. Dorsetshire, H.M.S. Cornwall and the old aircraft carrier H.M.S. Hermes, whereas on the negative no accounts from survivors of the old Australian destroyer H.M.A.S. Vampire, which was sunk in company with H.M.S. Hermes.
Also to me, the author spends far too much time going over and over again the sinking of Force Z, H.M.S. Repulse and H.M.S. Prince of Wales in the very early days of the Malayan Campaign by land based Imperial Japanese bombers and appears fixed on the possible British idea following the two attacks on Ceylon at the time that Ceylon was to be invaded.
Ceylon was never to be invaded as part of this raid. That was known by the British, Australian and United States Navy code breakers. That information was available to Churchill, Admiral Somerville and Admiral Layton, yet as the author writes, Layton continued to advise the defenders that a Japanese invasion of Ceylon was possibly imminent when he would have known it was part of the British propaganda that followed the raid.
This like Pearl Harbor and Darwin before it, it was a raid. There was no invasion following, and the British Authorities well knew this. There is little mention of the British Commonwealth troops on the ground that would have had to meet an invasion if one was ever to come. The author makes fleeting mention of The 16th and 17th Australian Brigades. However, these troops were like none the Imperial Japanese Marines or Soldiers had met before. The two Australian brigade ‘Battle Groups’ comprised highly experienced troops, many having totally defeated the Italian Colonial Army in Libya, been kicked out of Greece by the German Army, nearly defeated the German Paratroopers on Crete in a very close run thing, and defeated the French in Lebanon the previous year. They were well armed, well equipped, battle hardened and fit, having an Australian 6th Division formed around them during their time, including this episode on Ceylon. When later in the year in New Guinea, both these brigades would meet the Japanese, and the Japanese troops would be totally defeated by them along the Kokoda Track and at Wau.
The author does mention at the same time as five of the fleet carriers of The 1st, 2nd and 5th Carrier Divisions of The Imperial Japanese Navy carried out this Indian Ocean Raid, another force built around the Imperial Japanese aircraft carrier H.I.J.M.S. Ryujo was blasting its way around the south-western Burmese coast and eastern Indian coast attacking shore installation and sinking vast quantities of Allied shipping, including on 6 April 1942, sank 19 Allied merchant ships, the highest number of Allied shipping sunk in one day in a similar area and period of the war by the Axis forces.
Also, the author fails to mention that inland from the eastern coast of The Bay of Bengal, the 1942 Battle for Burma was raging. In this battle up until 7 March 1942, when the British escaped from Rangoon the Allied fighter aircraft of the A.V.G. and R.N.Z.A.F., quickly supported by R.A.F. Hurricane fighter aircraft had badly shaken the attacking I.J.A.A.F. bomber and fighter formations. The arrival of the I.J.N.A.S. aircraft over Burma following the Fall of Singapore finally gave the attackers an advantage over the small Allied air force, and by April the British, Indian, Burmese and Chinese Forces were in a bitter struggle for central Burma. The R.A.F. operating out of Magwe, and fighting for the Yenangyaung oil fields. This is not that far from Trincomalee in northern Ceylon.
Was the raid to really bring the British Eastern Fleet to battle, or to destroy as many R.A.F. Hurricane fighter aircraft and their ground crews defending Ceylon, to prevent them fighting in Burma. Surely for the British, the two armoured decked aircraft carriers H.M.S. Formidable and H.M.S. Indomitable were far too valuable to be wasted in a battle with the Imperial Japanese Navy at this time in the war as the events in the northern Western Pacific of 1945 were to prove.
Following their hurried, but secret move from Singapore, on their arrival in Colombo the British F.E.C.B. Y Section set themselves up in Pembroke College, what had been a high school for Indian boys. From Colombo F.E.C.B. continued to listen to, intercept and translate JN-25 MK II signals. On 11 March 1942, the F.E.C.B. interception station in Colombo picked up IJN JN-25 MK II radio traffic indicating a Japanese carrier raiding force was being assembled in Starling Bay in the Celebes with the intent of action in the Bay of Bengal. This was confirmed on 26 March 1942.
Also, in early March 1942, Commander Joe Rochefort's HYPO Station in Hawaii, and the Australian Navy Station in Melbourne listening to JN-25 MK II traffic picked up references to an Operation MO. More and more IJN JN-25 MK II radio traffic mentioned Operation MO. Additional IJN JN-25 MK II radio traffic also mentioned what appeared to be a major multiple operation, mentioning Operation MI with targets AL and AF.
Then in early, March 1942, HYPO, the Australian Navy Station in Melbourne and F.E.C.B. in Colombo intercepted IJN JN-25 MK II radio traffic indicating Japanese aircraft carriers were about to enter the Indian Ocean and attack DG. HYPO forwarded the information to F.E.C.B. in Colombo. F.E.C.B. were aware that the IJN were about to mount an operation in area D, the Indian Ocean, but were unsure whether DG was India or Ceylon. F.E.C.B. then intercepted another IJN JN-25 MK II signal indicating DG would be subject to an air raid on 1 or 2 April 1942. Then on 28 March 1942, a Japanese operator referred to DG as Colombo. This signal was picked up by HYPO, the Australian Navy Station in Melbourne and F.E.C.B..
This information, as mentioned in the book was passed to Admiral Somerville, however when the Kidō Butai didn’t attack Colombo on 1 or 2 April 1942, Admiral Somerville acted in the way he did.
There was no mention in any of the IJN radio traffic that I have seen reference to giving information to an invasion.
On 10 April 1942, both IJN carrier attack fleets turned south east and left the Bay of Bengal, and headed back towards the Pacific. Japanese Naval radio traffic was still very heavy with JN-25 MK II reference to Operation MO, when on 5 April 1942, the U.S. Pearl Harbor HYPO Station intercepted a message directing a carrier and other large warships to move into the southern area of operations. With the Bay of Bengal raid over on 13 April 1942, the British F.E.C.B. Station at Colombo deciphered an IJN message informing Vice-Admiral Inoue that the Fifth Carrier Division, consisting of the fleet carriers H.I.J.M.S. Shokaku and H.I.J.M.S. Zuikahu, was en-route to his command from Formosa via the main IJN base at Truk. The British passed the message to the Americans, along with their conclusion that Port Moresby was the likely target for MO.
With two IJN fleet carriers moving into the southern area, with the possibility that the sea route between the U.S.A. and Australia could be disrupted by Japanese occupation of New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and Central Pacific Area, trusted Commander Rochefort's information and committed U.S. Navy fleet carrier forces into the S.W.P.A., specifically the Coral Sea.
In amongst the IJN JN-25 MK II radio traffic in relation to Operation MO was reference to RZP, and both the U.S. Navy HYPO Station and the Australian Navy Station in Melbourne were aware RZP was Port Moresby.
The major success of the code breakers in the Indian Ocean Raid was that they warned the Royal Navy authorities that the IJN carrier attack forces were coming in their direction. In Colombo at that time were approximately 100 Allied merchant ships, many loaded with troops and refugees. This included the very majority of the 7th Australian Infantry Division, which Churchill tried unsuccessfully to send to Burma. The Australians were in a mixture of nationality vessels, mostly big liners and cargo ships. However, they were not tactically loaded. The Royal Navy with command of the wider oceans was able to successfully disperse the very majority of these 100 ships out of harms way. A number in fast convoys to Fremantle in Western Australia, then Adelaide brought The 7th Division back to Australia to fight the Japanese. Others went to the western side of India and South Africa, as well as Australia with refugees from Malaya – Singapore, Rangoon and the Netherlands East Indies. The WS Convoy ships were able to move up to Suez, while the remainder possibly headed for the Atlantic. As mentioned, when the carrier attack bombers of the Kidō Butai arrived over Colombo on Easter Sunday 5 April 1942, the harbour was virtually empty of shipping.
The escape of the merchant shipping and the detailed work of the code breakers from Britain, Australia and the United States is barely mentioned that I could find in the book by the author.
From what happened this definitely wasn’t "The Most Dangerous Moment of the War"
The weird thing is how this is organized. It is as though the chapters are not aware of previous chapters, and sometimes paragraphs are not aware of previous paragraphs. Topics or items are introduced, and then discussed again as though not already introduced. Timeframes skip around in ways not common even in historical analysis.
And yes, maybe this is the result of a shortage of material to otherwise fill the book. Definitely repetitive. A little like a conversation with grandpa.
Top reviews from other countries
Clancy's book is interesting for it's coverage of the events that took place, something that it's hard to find coverage of elsewhere. It is coloured a little, and perhaps exagerrated in significance, by the fact that his father was one of the sailors on one of the sunken British cruisers. And this is the books weakness. It is written by an enthusiast rather than by a historian, and lacks depth. I also found his writing style to be quite weak.
The sinking of the Cornwall, Dorsetshire and Hermes are covered almost in haste with anecdotal stories from survivors presented separately rather than being woven into the narrative.
Although Churchill may have uttered the words of the title that in his opinion this raid was 'The most dangerous Moment of the War' I suspect most historians would take issue with the statement. There were probably far more serious issues ongoing in early 1942.
A decent book that could have been so very much better.
THE BOOK IS NOT VERY THICK AND COULD HAVE BEEN MORE DETAILED BUT IT GETS THE IDEA ACROSS NICELY.