VOLUME I: THE LOSS OF SINGAPORE:
The first of five volumes of the 18-volume official British History of the Second World War dealing with the war against Japan; this book describes the fall of Britain’s Far Eastern territories: Hong Kong, Borneo, Malaya, and finally the fortress island of Singapore – perhaps the greatest single British disaster of the entire war. The authors pin the blame for the loss of Britain’s Asian empire on the neglect of its defences between the wars, and on the Government’s preoccupation with saving Britain itself in 1940. In the authors’ opinion, ‘the campaign in Malaya was lost beofre it begun’, at least partly because of the ineptitude of the authorities on the spot. The book describes Japan’s plans for imperial aggrandisement at the expense of vulnerable British and Dutch colonies in the region, and the rapid collapse of the European empires before the lightning Japanese advance. The loss of the British warships ‘Prince of Wales’ and ‘Repulse’, complementing the disasters onshore, and the disappearance of so many men – British, Australian and other Commonwealth nations – into the horrors of Japanese captivity, complete the sad story of one of Britain’s lowest points in the Second World War. With 27 appendices illustrating the strength and structure of the forces engaged, the book is generously illustrated with 28 maps and sketches and 26 photographs.
WAR AGAINST JAPAN VOLUME II: INDIA’S MOST DANGEROUS HOUR:
This, the second of the five books in the 18-volume official British History of the Second World War dealing with the war against Japan, examines the high tide of Japan’s success, when her all-conquering armies threatened India itself – the jewel in the crown of the British Empire. The book opens with the British scrambling to defend Burma, gateway to India, after Japan’s onslaught on Hong Kong, Borneo, Malaya and Singapore. Within weeks of Japan attacking Burma in December 1941, its capital, Rangoon, was lost and Britain was forced to look to India’s defences. Despite a punishing monsoon climate and inhospitable jungle terrain, the British grimly held on to north-east India after the loss of Burma, and even made plans to hit back. The book looks at the controversial early campaigns of the Chindits, the guerrilla force conceived by the maverick and eccentric General Orde Wingate, a favourite oif Churchill’s, and features two more conventional Generals who fell foul of the Prime Minister – Archibald Wavell and Claude Auchinleck. Supported by 33 appendices, 15 main maps and 20 sketch maps; the book is illustrated by 35 photographs.
WAR AGAINST JAPAN VOLUME III; The Decisive Battles
This third volume in the series of five in the 18-volume official British History of the Second World War which recount the war against Japan, has, in the words of its authors ‘ a brighter tale to tell’ than the previous two – which narrated the disastrous losses of Hong Kong, Borneo, Malaya, Singapore and Burma. By late 1943 the tide of war in the Far East was turning, and the Allied High Command in the theatre under Lord Louis Mountbatten, began detailed plans to reverse Japan’s conquests. At sea, from bases in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) the Royal Navy mounted raids on Java and Sumatra. In the air, flying from bases in India, the RAF challenged Japan’s air supremacy. Above all, on the ground Allied armies stemmed Japan’s attacks on Arakan and Assam, and decisively defeated them at the battles of Kohima and Imphal. The conventional Allied armies were supported by the celebrated ‘Chindit’ special forces trained by the colourful General Orde Wingate to operate behind Japanese lines, though the authors play down their achievement and criticise their campaigns as ‘wasteful’. The book also describes parallel military developments in China and the Pacific which affected the campaigns in India and Burma. There are 30 appendices with details of the forces and logistics involved, and the book is illustrated with 15 main maps, 20 sketch maps, and 57 photographs.
WAR AGAINST JAPAN VOLUME IV; The Reconquest of Burma
This, the penultimate book in the series of five in the 18-volume official History of the Second World War that deal with the war against Japan, is primarily the story of ‘the forgotten army’. The 14th Anglo-Indian army, commanded by Lt. Gen. Sir William ‘Bill’ Slim, was the force that wrested Burma from the harsh hands of its Japanese conquerors in a hard-fought campaign from August 1944 to May 1945. Japan had overreached itself earlier in 1944 when the Allies had defeated its attempt to capture Imphal. Without giving the enemy time to recover, Slim, supported by the RAF, advanced deep into Burma, braving the monsoon season, covering 600 miles from Imphal, and crossing the Chindwin and Irrawaddy rivers to reach the gates of Burma’s capital, Rangoon. It is, as the authors proudly say, ‘an epic story’; a victory made possible by careful planning, flexibility, foresight, improvisation and the command of the skies established by the RAF. The authors describe both the jungle fighting, and detail the daunting problems of supply and logistics which were triumphantly overcome by the campaign’s planners. They also describe the political problems faced by the Supreme Allied Commander in South-East Asia, Lord Louis Mountbatten, in fending off attempts by his American and Chinese allies to bleed away the 14th Army’s support and supplies for their own use. The text is supported by 27 appendices on logistics, and fully illustrated by 13 main maps, 21 sketch maps, and 92 photographs.
WAR AGAINST JAPAN VOLUME V: THE SURRENDER OF JAPAN:
The last of the five books in the 18-volume official British History of the Second World War describing the war against Japan. This covers the final, victorious campaigns in the South-East Asian theatre from the re-occupation of Burma’s capital, Rangoon, in May 1945, to the Japanese surrender after the dropping of the two Atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 15th August 1945. As well as detailing the liberation of Burma by the Anglo-Indian 14th Army, the book describes the war in the Pacific, largely waged by American forces, including the bloody battle for Okinawa island and the deadly operations of Japan’s ‘Kamikazi’ suicide squadrons. There are also chapters on planned campaigns which were never fought – for the liberation of Malaya, and for the invasion of Japan itself – which students of counter-factual ‘what if’ history will find fascinating. Other chapters cover political developments, including the disputes between Japan’s ‘war’ and ‘peace’ parties, and the Potsdam conference’s deliberations on how to treat post-war Japan. The book’s final sections deal with post-war problems in South-East Asia, including the rescue of surviving Allied Prisoners of War and detainees from hellish Japanese camps and the administration of areas liberated from Japanese occupation. The book has 32 appendices of background documents, and is illustrated by 16 main maps, 17 sketch maps and 35 photographs.
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