The Empire Strikes South...

...Japan's Air War Against Northern Australia 1942-45, from Avonmore Books via Casemate UK

Title:  The Empire Strikes South

Author: Dr Tom Lewis OAM

Publisher:  Avonmore Books

ISBN:  978-0-64806659-3-9

Another excellent title from Avonmore Books, clearly echoing a well known film, with stories which I had been really unaware of from air combat over Northern Australia during WW2. The Japanese, especially the Imperial Japanese Navy, moved south across the Pacific after their attack on Pearly Harbour. As they got ever close to mainland Australia, so they carried out a significant number of attacks against targets in the northern states of Australia. I for one didn't realise the extent of these attacks, so lots to learn. Apparently first published in 2017, but this new 2020 edition also has updated information.
The story is spread across 8 chapters. The background starts with the note that the first raids came just 74 days after Pearl Harbour, along with a map which will be helpful to provide the context of the area these attacks covered. It starts with the early attacks on Darwin and a piece on the realities of air combat. Then it goes on to cover Northern Australian Defences - a Fused Picture; Darwin and the Interior Parts 1 & 2: Off the Northern Territory's Coast; Western Australia; and Queensland. It is completed by a chapter on 'Japanese Burials in the Top End'. It cost the lives of 186 Japanese aircrew across the campaign. Amongst the various stories I was particularly struck by the wife of one downed airmen requested her ashes be scattered on the waters off Darwin when she died in 2015, to be reunited with her husband. A useful reminder that whichever side they are on, casualties leave their families at home.
The main text is accompanied by archive photos and some fine colour artwork, accounts of Warhawks and Spitfires against Zeroes and 'Bettys' among others. Two appendices provide tables of missions involving aircraft losses, the second of which identifies fatalities, and names them individually.
An excellent reference for those interested in the Pacific Theatre of Operations, for modellers and historians.

 

Published by Avonmore Books and distributed by Casemate, who kindly provided my review copy.

Robin