Sunday 18 June 2017

Guest Review: The Kamikaze Hunters-Fighting For The Pacific 1945 by Will Iredale

I've got a new series of reviews coming up on the blog over the next few weeks. These reviews will be on historical or sporting non-fiction reads. This isn't something I would necessarily read myself but something my Dad is really into and so he has reviewed some of his recent reads for the blog in case we have any readers with a keen interest in either of these areas. This is the first review and look out for weekend posts coming up with a similar theme. Enjoy!

In May 1945, with victory in Europe established, the war was all but over. But on the other side of the world, the Allies were still engaged in a bitter struggle to control the Pacific. And it was then that the Japanese unleashed a terrible new form of warfare: the suicide pilots, or Kamikaze.
Drawing on meticulous research and unique personal access to the remaining survivors, Will Iredale follows a group of young men from the moment they joined up through their initial training to the terrifying reality of fighting against pilots who, in the cruel last summer of the war, chose death rather than risk their country's dishonourable defeat and deliberately flew their planes into Allied aircraft carriers. A story of courage, valour and dogged determination, The Kamikaze Hunters is a gripping account of how a few brave young men helped to ensure lasting peace.

The Kamikaze Hunters: Fighting for the Pacific, 1945 by [Iredale, Will]  

Review: This book is a factual account of the little-known exploits of the airmen of the Fleet Air Arm who flew with the British Pacific Fleet during 1945 until the end of hostilities in August of that year.

I was drawn to the book because my father served as a radar officer on an escort carrier in the British Pacific Fleet. It is an insightful addition to the bibliography of a relatively little-known aspect of the war in the Pacific. In fact, so few people are aware of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth's contribution to the naval war in the Far East that the British Pacific Fleet is often dubbed the "Forgotten Fleet".

Although the title suggests the main focus is on the Pacific campaign, the history of naval aviation together with the recruitment and training of the aircrew who fought in the skies over the Pacific and Japan are covered. Indeed, it is not until nearly halfway through the book that the creation and embarkation of the British Pacific Fleet is described.

The author, Will Iredale is a former journalist and the book is written in a journalistic language. Although not suitable for all of the sections, the style does lend extra drama to the accounts of the air strikes carried out by the young aircrew of the British Pacific Fleet and the deadly kamikaze attacks launched against the fleet's ships, in which the Japanese pilots dived their aircraft directly into the ships.

The book is based largely on interviews with survivors of the conflict and personal letters and diaries, together with research of official archives. As such, the account concentrates rather narrowly on a relatively small group of individuals and, in my view, would have benefited from a broader approach. Hence, the book focuses almost exclusively on the larger fleet aircraft carriers and it is not until the final chapter that that the smaller escort carriers are mentioned, and then none by name. In addition, I cannot agree with Will Iredale's description of First Sea Lord Sir Andrew Cunningham as a "pen pusher in London" when the latter had served in the front line during the First World War as a destroyer captain and, for much of the Second World War, was Commander-In-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet. In this capacity, he had ordered the strike against the Italian fleet at Taranto, the first all-aircraft naval attack in history, which is mentioned in some of the early chapters of the book.

However, these are minor detractions and for the most part, I found the book an enjoyable and gripping read and an important contribution to the limited bibliography about the "Forgotten Fleet".

To order your copy now, just click the link! UK or US 

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