(RAF, RNZAF and NEI fighters in action against the Japanese
over the Island and the Netherlands East Indies, 1942)
by Brian Cull with Paul Sortehaug
Published by Grub Street 2004.
274 pages hardcover, B/W photographs, maps.
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.