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HURRICANES OVER SINGAPORE

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Hurricanes over Singapore

by Brian Cull with Paul Sortehaug

274 pages hardcover, B/W photographs, maps. RRP $69.95. Published by Grub Street 2004. ISBN 1 904010 80 6

Reviewed by Paul Harrison

This volume continues the unsuccessful allied air warfare against the invading Japanese forces, this time through the actions of the Hurricane fighters, which arrived in Singapore – “too few and too late”

As the reader delves into the stories it becomes very apparent that despite the heroics of the young fighter pilots, many who had never flown Hurricanes until the day they converted and were thrown into combat, the use of the aircraft was defeated by the chaos of command, lack of experience, and the state of the improvised airfields the allies were forced to use, specifically in Sumatra and Java.

It is the failure of command that is the biggest example of the shambles that was the defence of the area managed by senior officers who were still in the pre-war mode!. A wonderful quote from the book from one of the “groundies” LAC Max Boyd

“Why can’t we have men of ability running our forces, instead of moneyed socialites who have intermarried for so long, so as to hang on to their money and social position, so that they are now no longer intelligent human beings.”

Many harrowing stories of self-sacrifice are printed within these covers. The book is a worthy companion to “Buffaloes Over Singapore” and should be read by all who want to understand what went wrong in those short few months from December 1941 – March 1942.

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