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Why the Japanese Lost: The Red Sun's Setting
Why the Japanese Lost: The Red Sun's Setting
by Bryan Perrett
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 13.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Why The Japanese Lost The Red Sun's Setting by Bryan Perrett, 12 July 2014
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I freely admit that this is all my fault, for I did not read the description of this book carefully enough before purchase. I saw the title and was familiar with the author Bryan Perrett from his book `Tank Tracks To Rangoon', and jumped to the conclusion that there might be something in this for me. I was wrong, but perhaps I can stop you from making the same mistake.
The title of this book at least implies some analysis of why the Japanese lost the Second World War, but you will not find that here. What you will get is a fast-paced, competently-written, but very selective, narrative account of Japanese military history. It concentrates on naval actions, such as Tsushima and Leyte Gulf, but it does not even pretend to be an overall or detailed analysis of the causes of Japanese defeat. It perhaps should simply have been titled `The Japanese Lost!' There is little analysis and no new information nor insight to be found here. The text is not troubled with footnotes. There is a very brief bibliography of secondary works which, if you were to read them all, might enable you to write a very similar book to this.
I can see that the author will have profited from this exercise; I am equally sure that the sausage-machine that is Pen & Sword Military will be happy with its product, but I cannot see that this book will be of much use to anyone else. It certainly wasn't to me, and therefore I cannot recommend it in any way.


Chinese Save Brits - in Burma: (Battle of Yenangyaung)
Chinese Save Brits - in Burma: (Battle of Yenangyaung)
by Gerald Fitzpatrick
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Chinese Save Brits - in Burma: (Battle of Yenangyaung) by Gerald Fitzpatrick, 2 Feb 2014
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This is a truly awful book. It is a well produced book, but it shares the faults of many self-published works, being very poorly written and far, far too long. A good editor might have cut it down to a manageable size, but it still wouldn’t really be worth reading. The author is far too pleased with himself and at the same time angry with almost everyone else. If you insist that I make a positive comment, then I would say that I’m impressed that a man of over 90 years of age retains the desire, and ability, to be this upset so long after the events described. His idea of balance seems to be a chip on each shoulder. His main targets are Churchill, Alexander and the British Officer class in general, but few others escape unscathed. These criticisms seem to repeat on almost every page, but none are particularly convincing, or credible. Mountbatten, Wavell, Smyth, Wingate, Calvert, Roosevelt, Americans, etc. all receive the same treatment, and only Slim seems to escape. He was Saint Bill, after all. Nevertheless the author inexplicably picks on Slim’s son, and his recent biographer, Robert Lyman, too, with no justification that I can see.
It would be pointless, and exhausting, to list all of the errors, inaccuracies and plain embarrassments that this book contains; suffice to say that it will be of little value to anyone but the most hardcore of Burma war enthusiasts, who will already have his previous book, anyway. I had hoped that there would be more information on the Chinese Army in Burma, as implied by the awful title, but I’m sorry to say that being associated with this account is unlikely to lead to a re-evaluation of their role in the campaign.
Readers interested in the retreat from Burma have many books from which to choose; Lyall-Grant & Tamayama’s ‘Burma 1942 The Japanese Invasion’ is probably the best. Those seeking a decent memoir of a KOYLI officer during the retreat are strongly advised to seek out Tanner’s excellent ‘Burma 1942 Memories of a Retreat’. There certainly is need for a full-length critical account of Churchill’s role in the war against Japan, but if one exists I am not aware of it. In the interim there is an interesting article ‘Did Winston Matter?’ by Raymond Callahan in ‘The Indian Army, 1939-47 Experience and Development’ by Jeffreys.
It pains me to criticize an old soldier in this manner, but this account should never have been published and I can see no good reason to buy, or read, this book.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 14, 2014 5:07 AM BST


Fighting with the Fourteenth Army in Burma: Original War Summaries of the Battle Against Japan 1943-1945
Fighting with the Fourteenth Army in Burma: Original War Summaries of the Battle Against Japan 1943-1945
by James Luto
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 17.00

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fighting with the Fourteenth Army in Burma: Original War Summaries of the Battle Against Japan 1943-1945 by James Luto, 11 Dec 2013
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"After the defeat of the Japanese these divisions compiled a summary of its actions and it is these unique documents that form the basis of this new book. Presented here together then for the first time is the story of war against the Japanese as told by each of the divisions that fought in that bitter conflict - the original and authentic accounts untouched by the pens of historians."
This is a very disappointing book. Having read the above pre-publication blurb I was anticipating a detailed and comprehensive account of the 14 Army's campaigns, based on previously unpublished documents. This is nothing of the sort. The bulk of the book is nothing more than a compilation of a series of post-war booklets published by the Public Relations Directorate G.H.Q. India and PR Services (West Africa). These account for ten of the thirteen chapters of this book, and are reprinted without comment. They are indeed `untouched by the pens of historians'. Despite the fact that the author/compiler describes these as `almost unobtainable', they are not in fact that rare. The original booklets, which are certainly worth seeking out, are of a quite charming format, crowded as they are with photographs, drawings and maps. Here all of that is stripped away, and we are left with the brief and selective PR text. Had they decided to publish the entire series as a facsimile reprint, thus retaining some of the charm of the originals, it might have had some justification, but I can find none here.
There are no equivalent booklets for the British and East African divisions of 14 Army, and that gave the author/compiler a problem. 36 Division has been accounted for by utilizing the text, without any acknowledgement that I can see, of another, slightly more substantial, book, but that account concentrates on their North Burma campaign, and makes no mention of their time in the Arakan. The Kohima Museum has provided a very brief account of 2 British Division's activities and the author/compiler states that the 11 East African Division's chapter has been compiled from 33 Corps summaries. I presume that is why it is virtually unreadable.
There is no mention of other formations such as Special Force, admittedly over-exposed in recent publications anyway, nor those that fought in Burma before the formation of 14 Army. This means that the book cannot even serve as a potted history of the war in Burma.
The book is rounded out with a reasonable photographic section and two appendices. The first is an Order of Battle, which confusingly includes formations not mentioned in the body of the text, such as Eastern Army and 14 Indian Division. It also includes the usual number of errors; 1 Hyderabad Regiment (for 1 Hyderabad Lancers), 12 Frontier Force Rifles MG battalion (no such unit, actually 12 Frontier Force Regiment MG Battalion), 14 Frontier Force Rifles in 88 Indian Brigade (they were actually in 100 Indian Brigade, this should be 14/12 Frontier Force Regiment), 8 Rajput in 55 Indian Brigade (they were converted to a Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment in 1942, 8/6 Rajputana Rifles is meant), etc. That is just the first page. I have to question whether someone who clearly cannot differentiate between the Frontier Force Regiment and the Frontier Force Rifles, and confuses the Rajput Regiment with the Rajputana Rifles should really be compiling an Indian Army order of battle.
Appendix II `Fourteenth Army Victoria Crosses' seems equally redundant, since all of these citations are easily available online or in print.
It is difficult to discern this book's target readership. It might be of some use to those new to the subject, hence the two-stars rather than one, although I would strongly advise such readers to try a general history of the war in Burma first, since I feel that this book, on it's own, might provide a distorted view.
Confirmed Burma enthusiasts will already have most of this information, in far better formats. I'm certainly not happy about paying 16.25 for something I have already read. To be honest, it all feels a bit shoddy and I consider that I have been mislead by the publisher and author/compiler.


Tactics of the Imperial Japanese Army
Tactics of the Imperial Japanese Army
by Bob Carruthers
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Tactics of the Imperial Japanese Army by Bob Carruthers, 8 Dec 2013
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Despite the title, this is definitely not a history of Imperial Japanese Army tactics. It is merely a compilation of selected articles from the US official publication `Tactical and Technical Trends', which were originally issued between 1942 and 1943. All of these articles are easily available online in pdf format, and therefore, for most people, there is absolutely no reason to purchase this book.


The Kokoda Campaign 1942: Myth and Reality (Australian Army History Series)
The Kokoda Campaign 1942: Myth and Reality (Australian Army History Series)
by Dr Peter Williams
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 28.16

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE KOKODA CAMPAIGN 1942 MYTH AND REALITY by PETER WILLIAMS, 28 July 2013
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This is an excellent book, certainly worthy of a five-star review, in common with most of the superlative series to which it belongs.

There are many accounts of the Kokoda track fighting available, so you may ask; why bother with this one? The book's subtitle provides the answer - `Myth and Reality'. Controversially, the author has identified what he considers to be a series of myths about the Kokoda campaign. He then proceeds with a detailed examination of each myth within his overall chronological account of the campaign. Unsurprisingly, this has proven contentious given the importance that Australians attach to the achievements of their forces - usually presented as a vastly outnumbered Australian force, inflicting more casualties than they received, and stopping the Japanese in their determined Port Moresby thrust, thereby saving Australia.
The author has re-examined all of these themes in great detail, making use of previously unused sources, especially Japanese, in order to make his case. He has been, for the most part, successful and any future works on this campaign will have to incorporate, or at least consider, his conclusions. This is especially true of his re-examination of the dynamics of Japanese operational planning. His detailed analysis of the troop numbers engaged on both sides is most impressive. There is much else here that is worthy of praise. For example, I greatly appreciated his discussion of the maps available to both armies; indeed, I now think every work of military history should include such a discussion. His chapter on Japanese artillery was equally eye opening, this arm perhaps providing the Japanese with a decisive advantage in the earlier battles. I was also surprised at the complete lack of Japanese mortars at this stage of the fighting, contradicting traditional accounts.

After reading the book, I was somewhat disappointed to find so little reaction to it. What is the point of iconoclasm if no one objects? Fortunately, James Bowen has obliged with a one-star review (How Peter Williams gets Kokoda wrong) in which he espouses some of the traditionalist views challenged by this book. He limits himself to two main criticisms; Japanese strategic and operational planning and the relative numbers engaged in the early battles.
On the first issue he seems to have read the book, but missed the point. No-one doubts that the capture of Port Moresby was one of the initial objectives of the Japanese campaign, but Williams clearly demonstrates that the change in Japanese priorities brought about by the US counter-offensive in the Solomons postponed, and eventually cancelled, the overland thrust towards Moresby. Bowen uses extensive quotes from the official histories to support his position without noticing that they all date from before the Guadalcanal landings. The dynamics of the situation seem to have escaped him.
He adopts a traditionalist position on the question of troop numbers engaged too, preferring to rely on older sources. Williams approach to this question seems painstaking and really quite impressive. His conclusions are that the Australian forces were rarely outnumbered in the Kokoda track fighting.
Many of Bowen's other criticisms just do not hold water. To describe this book as "...undermined by inadequate and/or very selective research, obscure references..." is laughable. Bowen's statement that "It is difficult to avoid an inference that his purpose appears to be to diminish the achievement and heroism of Australian soldiers..." is offensive. I certainly did not draw that inference, nor will any fair-minded reader.

This book is not just another narrative regurgitation of familiar events, but is an important work that challenges the reader to re-examine the issues. It is strongly recommended for that reason.
Buy the book, read it and make up your own mind.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 12, 2013 11:21 PM BST


Chindit Affair: A Memoir of the War in Burma
Chindit Affair: A Memoir of the War in Burma
by Frank Baines
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 25.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars CHINDIT AFFAIR by FRANK BAINES, 12 Jan 2012
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This is the memoir of a junior officer of 111 Indian Brigade headquarters, during the Chindit campaign of 1944. Unpublished at the author's death in 1987, it is well written, if slightly florid in style at times, and is extremely outspoken in both tone and content. This you may find challenging. I must admit my initial misgivings when I realised the significance of the double meaning of the title `Chindit Affair'. My doubts seem justified in the early chapters -- training in India -- when we learn that the author had fallen in love with his Gurkha orderly. Indeed, these early chapters do have a slight flavour of `It Ain't Half Hot Mum'. However, I am forced to admit that I was wrong. Baines' relationship with his orderly, or at least his version of their relationship, is absolutely central to this memoir. Once the brigade is behind enemy lines things begin to get a lot more serious. Initially Baines, in his somewhat privileged position as HQ defence platoon commander, retains his upbeat mood, but this begins to change once contact with the enemy is established. By the time we get to the Blackpool disaster, in which he was not directly involved, the full horror of the brigade's situation becomes clear. His own low point comes during the fighting for Point 2171, and it is here that we appreciate the true significance of his relationship with his orderly. What emerges is a heartbreaking and remarkably honest story.
A particularly interesting aspect of this memoir is the author's relationship with the Gurkhas of the brigade HQ defence platoons. He makes us vividly aware of the difficulties facing a lone British officer, commanding a group of men of whom he knows little. In many British officer's memoirs Indian and Gurkha troops appear almost as automatons, but here they appear as real people with their own very real problems.
His observations on the British officers of 111 Indian Brigade are equally interesting, particularly his description of Lentaigne's `breakdown'. Masters, with one significant exception, comes across as a somewhat stern and remote, headmaster-like, figure. This provides an interesting counterpoint to Master's own account `The Road Past Mandalay'. Richard Rhodes-James, whose own memoir `Chindit' is equally strongly recommended, provides the foreword to this book. In it he concludes by saying "Share my delight that war has so many faces" a sentiment that I can only echo. This is certainly not a conventional military memoir, but an important one nevertheless, and it is strongly recommended.


Japan's Last Bid for Victory: The Invasion of India, 1944
Japan's Last Bid for Victory: The Invasion of India, 1944
by Robert Lyman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 17.00

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars JAPAN'S LAST BID FOR VICTORY THE INVASION OF INDIA IN 1944 BY ROBERT LYMAN, 26 Dec 2011
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JAPAN'S LAST BID FOR VICTORY THE INVASION OF INDIA IN 1944 BY ROBERT LYMAN

This book is not an attempt at a blow-by-blow account of the campaign. For one thing, it is too short, attempting to cover the entire Imphal-Kohima campaign in 265 pages. The last two major accounts of the battle of Kohima, alone, are more than twice this size. What you get is a well-written narrative of the major events and a synthesis of the available accounts of the campaign. The book is well structured and this is an achievement in itself, since the peculiar nature of the campaign works against a coherent narrative. The author has wisely used each chapter to concentrate on a specific area and time period. The chapter `War Comes to the Nagas' is perhaps the best, since it contains interesting accounts that throw a new light on the fighting around Kohima. A 25-page chapter might seem too much to devote to the activities of 23 Brigade, and, like many other books, may demonstrate an unfortunate, if understandable, tendency to concentrate on the British experience. In contrast, the heavy fighting of the predominantly Indian formations around Imphal may seem less significant.
For readers familiar with previous accounts of these battles there is not that much new material to be found here, but the book can be recommended as a starting point for anyone with a serious interest in this campaign.

It is a well-produced book, but not without its many errors. Japanese names are often inverted, and Japanese unit designations are often wrong. The author has also adopted the confusing practice of referring to Japanese battalions as, for example, III/214th Infantry Regiment, rather than III/214th Infantry Battalion.
The main text is not footnoted, nor end-noted, which makes it difficult to discern which account the author is following at some points.
The maps are particularly useless, but that seems to be the current trend. For example, the map of Imphal has no roads on it, which is a bit of an oversight given the importance of the roads in this campaign. The map of Kohima doesn't even name the features mentioned in the text.
The photographs are adequate, but represent a somewhat familiar selection, especially if you have read the author's previous book on Kohima. The exception is the excellent picture of Lancelot Perowne, which is almost worth the price of the book in itself.
The order of battle, Appendix 3, suffers from exactly the same carelessness that marked that in the author's previous book on Kohima. For example, 7th Indian Division is still missing. The Japanese OB is even worse, with all the infantry regiments of 15th and 33rd Divisions stripped of their third battalions for some reason. It would have been better to use the OB from the official history, which at least gives the composition of the attacking columns.

Not that bad, so far, but the real problems arise with the author's analysis of the campaign. Much of it can be agreed with, when it finally arrives in the penultimate chapter, but I believe this delay to be a mistake in itself. Much more needed to be said about the planning of the campaign, from both sides, at an earlier stage in the narrative. It is not made clear what the Japanese objectives really were. This might allow the reader to believe that the capture of Dimapur was part of the agreed plan of campaign. This leads to confusion when we reach the point where Sato's 31st Division fails to push on to Dimapur. Worse still, the author allows the reader to believe that this was indeed meant as an all-out invasion of India. Whatever the Japanese may have promised Bose and the I.N.A., they never had any intention of moving beyond Imphal and Kohima. There was never any prospect of a real invasion of India and the idea of the starving peasantry of Bengal rising in support of such an invasion is pure fantasy.

The author has written two previous books on Bill Slim. I am prepared to accept that Slim was the greatest British general of the Second World War, but, if so, this reputation must largely rest on his campaign for the reconquest of Burma in 1945. His performance in the campaign under discussion is certainly open to criticism. Not enough of it is to be found here. Responsibility for the near disaster that was 17th Indian Division's retreat from Tiddim to Imphal is not properly discussed. Neither is due consideration given to the failure to make adequate plans for the defence of Kohima and Dimapur. Slim himself admitted that this error was based on an expectation that only one Japanese regiment would attack Kohima. It is not made clear how Slim came to make such an error, but, even so, it is disingenuous to suggest that the last minute defences that were cobbled together would have been capable of defending against even a Japanese regiment. We are told that `Elephant Bill' was advised of the imminent Japanese offensive in early March, but that a commander for what is disparagingly referred to as an `odds and sods' garrison at Kohima was not appointed until the 22nd of March. Why was this? The gallantry of the Kohima Garrison, together with that of the parachute brigade at Sangshak, have caused us to overlook, and perhaps forgive, what amounts to a serious operational error on Slim's part. It might have been a decisive error. The author has mentioned, but not thoroughly examined, the question of the timing of the Japanese offensive. Had 15th Army's offensive commenced on time - while the Arakan offensive was still at its height - things might have been very different. There would have been no parachute brigade at Sangshak and no 5th Indian Division reinforcements to save Kohima. Under those circumstances, could Sato have been persuaded to push on to Dimapur? Would Kawabe have been happy? This is certainly what the British feared most, yet seemingly did so little to defend against. Much of this is not explained. Why, for example, was it possible to rush a division to defend Dimapur in early April, but not in early March?
Lastly, I must disagree with the author's final conclusion. In his last chapter, `Epilogue', he asserts that the Imphal-Kohima campaign stands alongside Stalingrad, Midway, and El Alamein, as one of the four greatest battles of the Second World War. Here I think he overestimates the strategic importance of this battle and he ultimately fails to make his case. This was not really intended as a true invasion of India, nor as a last bid for victory, but more as desperate bid to stave off defeat in Burma, which, for the Japanese, was far from a decisive theatre at this stage of the war. This is not to underestimate the importance of these battles to the British Commonwealth forces. This hard-fought campaign, and that which preceded it in the Arakan, were the turning points of the British war against Japan. Yet another defeat would have brought disaster, but these victories were to provide the stepping-stones to Slim's greatest victory - the reconquest of Burma in 1945, a victory that had hardly been conceivable before the Japanese had crossed the Chindwin.
Comment Comments (10) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 18, 2012 1:52 PM BST


To Salamaua (Australian Army History Series)
To Salamaua (Australian Army History Series)
by Phillip Bradley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 31.21

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TO SALAMAUA by Phillip Bradley, 21 May 2011
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This is a further volume in the uniformly excellent Cambridge University Press Australian Army History Series. If you have read either of Phillip Bradley's two previous, and equally highly recommended, volumes in the series `On Shaggy Ridge' and `The Battle for Wau', you will know what to expect.
Bradley deals with the broader strategic picture, clearly placing the operations against Salamaua, with which this book is concerned, within the larger context of the war in New Guinea, specifically the immediate prize - the capture of Lae.
That said, the real joy of the book is it's description of jungle warfare. It was an infantryman's war, there was little artillery, no armour and limited air support. The narrative concentrates on the platoon and company actions, the patrols, and the ambushes that demonstrate the true nature of jungle warfare. The author has neatly blended the official history with extensive accounts by those who were there. He does not neglect the Japanese perspective either, making good use of the available sources.
He has also made excellent use of photographs, both wartime from the AWM collection and modern photographs. The latter certainly help the reader get a feel for the terrain, and demonstrate that the author has seen the ground for himself. There are also plenty of maps, equally essential when describing actions which, in the hands of a lesser author, could be quite confusing.
This is a really excellent book, and a fine example of how military history should be written. It can be strongly recommended to all readers with an interest in the Commonwealth infantryman's war against the Japanese.


Born in the Jungles of Burma: Behind Enemy Lines in the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations
Born in the Jungles of Burma: Behind Enemy Lines in the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations
by Andrew Wax
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 33.61

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Born in the Jungles of Burma by Andrew Wax, 23 Mar 2011
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This is a very poor book, expensive, yet shoddily produced, and very badly written.
The author's style of writing is choppy at best and incoherent at worst, by turns repetitive and then contradictory. He seems incapable of producing a coherent and readable narrative. This is a shame, because there are a few interesting ideas in the early chapters. The question might be posed as; If 1st Air Commando's participation in Wingate's Operation Thursday was the end result, what technological, organizational and doctrinal developments were required by US forces to reach that point? Unfortunately these ideas are not adequately developed. By the time the author moves on to his account of Operation Thursday itself we are totally lost, since his grasp of these events is shaky at best. To say that this book is riddled with factual errors, misapprehensions and spelling mistakes would be an understatement.
Examples abound. "Air drops to General Bernard Ferguson in the "Admin Box" in early 1944 were at best haphazard ..." probably because Brigadier Fergusson was not there, being otherwise engaged, leading his brigade into Burma on Wingate's expedition. I was also surprised to learn of the significance of the loss of the airstrip at Kohima, since it has never even been mentioned in any other account of the battle!
A more worrying example of his poor scholarship is his extensive quotations from Thompson's appendix to Wingate's report. He proceeds in complete ignorance of the fact that this report covers the 1943 campaign. Wingate was hardly in a position to produce such a report in 1944! The author should at least have spotted that the text he quotes contradicts much that had gone before. These quotations are also sloppily end-noted with the incorrect dates. Sadly this is not untypical.
His broader analysis is equally faulty. In order to vindicate the Air Commando concept the author has chosen to swallow the Wingate myth whole. This leads him to make laughable statements like this;
"Though an unlikely military strategist, Wingate developed the highly successful strategy which led at the Allies to military victory in the CBI."
Operation Thursday was, it seems, "... the spearhead for the ground offensive that ultimately pushed the Japanese out of Burma."
In his final, perfunctory, chapter the author asserts that, as he phrases it, "There was undoubtedly a linear connection between the jungles of Burma and the jungles of Vietnam", but he does nothing to explain, let alone prove, his assertion.
The book is also poorly produced, seeming more like a cheap print-on-demand paperback than a hardback that cost in excess of 30.
This book cannot be recommended on any level.
Fortunately there are many other books that cover this territory. Try `Air Commandos Against Japan: Allied Special Operations in World War II Burma' by William T. Y'Blood which is a much better book.


Kohima 1944 (Campaign)
Kohima 1944 (Campaign)
by Robert Lyman
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars KOHIMA 1944 by Robert Lyman, 8 Jan 2011
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This review is from: Kohima 1944 (Campaign) (Paperback)
KOHIMA 1944 by Robert Lyman

This is a good Osprey book. Not surprising since Robert Lyman's previous books on the war in the Far East, `Slim; Master of War' and `The Generals' are excellent. This account of the battle of Kohima is concise and well written and it provides a useful introduction to this important battle. Most of it's limitations are those imposed by the Osprey format itself, chiefly it's length. Fortunately the author's full scale study of the Imphal and Kohima battles is due to be published next year, and from that we can expect more detail and analysis than the space here allows.

The book is not without fault. Tim Hope-Thomson received little enough recognition for his brigade's stand at Sangshak, so we might at least spell his name correctly. Referring to Capt. H. Swinson of the 7th Worcesters is also unforgivable; Arthur Swinson was 5 Brigade's Staff Captain and author of one of the best books on Kohima. Unfortunately his book is not included in the `Further Reading' list.

The order of battle has several errors, but then OBs almost always do! For example; 20 Indian Mountain Battery and 2 Indian Field Company do not appear in the order of battle, although they are both mentioned in the text (albeit as `odds and sods' - they were actually elements of 5 Indian Division that arrived with 161 Indian Brigade). For some reason 6 Brigade has been transferred to 5 Indian Division, which wasn't present at Kohima. 7 Indian Division has no Field Park Company. The non-existent 50 Indian LAA Regiment is mentioned. The Wimpey squadrons, 99 and 215, are listed as part of Troop Carrier Command. And so on.

The maps are particularly disappointing. The one appearing on page 26 has omitted the Dimapur-Imphal road, perhaps the area's single most important feature, but it does include the non-existent 19 Indian Brigade! There are several relief maps which would have been more impressive had they been confined to single pages; as they stand, each spread over two pages, much of the detail is lost down the book's binding. The captions on these maps are largely pointless repetitions of information found in the main body of the text. The maps have also inverted the colours red and blue for own and enemy troops - very annoying - but a common practice nowadays.

There is also a pointless `Chronology' which wastes three precious pages.

The illustrations, although of a high-quality within the conventions of the genre, are disappointing in detail. The illustrator and/or author have chosen to illustrate members of both 4 RWK and 2 British Division wearing khaki serge battledress blouses in battle. I believe this to be a serious error. This is doubly unfortunate since the opportunity to explain from where this information was derived has been missed too; once again the captions contain no new information and simply regurgitate elements of the text.

The photographs are excellent. The author has included several aerial photographs, and these are essential if the reader is to understand the complicated geography of this battlefield. Also included are several excellent stills from the IWM film collection, many of them never before seen. We could do with more photographs and fewer drawings, but then this is an Osprey book, isn't it!

I would recommend this book as a short introduction to the battle of Kohima, and it will serve the interested reader as a basis for further study of the battle.

The text and photographs are good, however the disappointing maps and illustrations do let the book down somewhat, so only four stars, I'm afraid.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 27, 2011 5:13 PM BST


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