Japan Triumphant The Far East Campaign 1941-1942...

 

...from Pen and Sword

 

Title: Japan Triumphant The Far East Campaign 1941-1942

Author: Philip Jowett

Publisher: Pen and Sword

ISBN: 978-1-52673-435-8

The Images of War continues to expand at a fair rate, and this one is interesting for tackling the period that are often overshadowed by the story of the later period of the war. The story of the Pacific Theatre of Operations (PTO) started with a series of Japanese assaults to expand their field of influence and a number of successes which added to the woes of the UK and the Netherlands in particular, at a period when the war in Europe was equally not going well for them. They were also keen to secure their fuel supply by the capture of the oil fields of the Netherlands East Indies.

The book is split across 14 chapters, each one starting with some text pages that gives the background to each topic and then a collection of archive photos, with more detail given in the captioning. It kicks off with Japan's preparations for war in 1940-41 and looks at the preparations being made in the British territories in the Far East. In a similar way, the US was preparing the Philippines while the army of the Netherlands East Indies were ill prepared to face an invasion. The photos in these early sections are focussed more on the troops and equipment that would be facing the Japanese assault, and the collection showing the uniforms and equipment of such as the BFF (British Frontier Force) and the Netherlands East Indies army (KNIL) I had not seen before. Facing up to the inevitably of 

confronting the USA, there was the infamous assault on Pearl Harbour in December 1941. This is included but it doesn't overshadow the other elements of the story. Then more bad news for Britain, as the famous Far East ports of Hong Kong and following the Japanese advances in Malaya, Singapore, also fell to Japanese forces, with large numbers of troops forced to surrender.

The bad news didn't end there as the US suffered the loss of the Philippines and then Japanese success in Burma demonstrated their ability in Jungle warfare and they began to threaten India itself. This is followed by more bad news, with the campaign at sea, especially the loss of the two Royal Navy battleships, the Prince of Wales and the Repulse. They continued to spread their control with the conquest of the Netherlands East Indies in 1942, before the final chapter, Japan's Spreading Tentacles 1941-42. Their expansion had been very successful but their resources were not spread too thinly and despite their pictures of smiling, flag holding soldiers, this was the height of their success, things were set to change from then on.

A fascinating collection of archive images, the bulk of which I had not seen before, and they illustrate how the ground troops worked with equipment that was not up to the quality being used in Europe, though the Japanese Aircraft and Naval units were well equipped. Plenty of reference information for historians and modellers alike, with some light tanks and artillery that might inspire some dioramas thanks to the Dutch and Commonwealth units as well as the Japanese.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.

Robin