Monday, August 31, 2015

Book review - "Killing the Tiger: The Truth About Operation Rimau" by Peter Thompson and Robert Mackie (2001)

Operation Rimau is one of the true epics of Australia's Pacific War - I've become a little obsessed with it lately. It was a famous failure, yet it involved such courage: 23 men on a mission to attack Singapore Harbour, a sequel to Operation Jaywick; it's rarely a good idea to do a sequel for a top secret mission, though things needn't have turned out as badly as they did. Admittedly the team were busted by a patrol boat shortly before the actual assault was to begin - this sort of risk was unavoidable - but they managed to get to the harbour and sink some shipping, and most of the team made it back to the rendezvous at Merapas Island. The real stuff up came when the commander of the sub sent to pick them up decided to go hunting vessels to sink instead and didn't follow their orders to wait around. You can make an arguable case for the sub commander but still... it was a bit rough, men died (although some made it as far as Timor before being captured).

This is a solid account of the mission. It's put in context of the whole Pacific War, including a reprise of the fall of Singapore and Operation Jaywick. I admit I was hoping to have more on the mission - descriptions of the islands, conditions, personalities and fire fights involved. Still, it's a good read and got the blood stirring.

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