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Shar2

Heaven High, Ocean Deep. 9781612007557

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Heaven High, Ocean Deep

Naval Fighter Wing At War

Casemate Publishers. 9781612007557

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After several limited deployments by individual ships, sailing with the US task forces and with the naval task winding down throughout the European Theatre the Royal Navy started to focus on the Pacific from around the August 1943 Quebec conference of Allied leaders. It wasn’t until the second Quebec conference the following year that Britain voiced its intent on playing a part in direct operations against Japan. Formed on the 22nd November 1944, the British Pacific Fleet became the largest and most powerful deployed force in the history of the Royal Navy. The US Admirals were against such a forces expressing that they could not supply the BPF with the supply train it would need, so the RN ensured that, apart from fuel oil, which became a shared resource, the fleet was totally self sufficient. The core of the fleet was built around the six Illustrious Class armoured carriers, ensuring that four would be on task at any one time.

 

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This book takes the story of one of these carriers, namely HMS Indomitable, and the 5th Fighter Wing from April 1944 to the end of the war in August 1945. While the book gives a more personal account of why the author came to write the story of his father’s part in the BPF, being that of a Hellcat pilot with 1844 squadron. The story is interposed with anecdotes and excerpts from letters from the men who flew and maintained the aircraft from Indomitable’s deck. It does take a bit of concentration when reading though, as you don’t want to miss anything of the rather ad hoc training regime to the almost blow by blow account of the battles the FAA had with the Japanese. It’s  words from the men though really brings it all to life, along with the fantastic collection of period photographs some this reviewer has seen before, but the majority are new. Actually seeing the faces of the young men sent to fight for King and Country makes you feel proud, but tinged with sadness that so many never made it back home.

 

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Conclusion

As with the Far East campaign on land and in the air, the Pacific Fleet appears to have been forgotten by all except the families whose parents and Grand -parents fought in the theatre, or those with a keen military interest. This book will hopefully address this, which even if in a small way to show what the RN accomplished in such a short time, and to keep those who fought and died in our thoughts, never to be forgotten as they continue to serve, on their never ending patrol.   

 

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