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I survived school history despite the best efforts of the education system to bore me to death. Many years later, I discovered Treaties, dates, the movement of nations, are mere context. The fascination is in the details.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

From 'Flames in the Sky' by Pierre Clostermann, D.S.O., D.F.C. (1953)

The tragedy of France and the Low Countries, the result of our superiority complex, improvisation, complacency, administrative chaos and improvidence, was to be repeated for the Americans when the Japanese attacked on 7th December 1941.
There, too, cheese-paring while the spectre of war loomed large on the horizon, the hope of a problematical appeasement by dint of concessions, outworn tactical and strategical ideas, were to exact a heavy price in unneccessary sacrifices and lost lives. ....
A few hours after the blow at Pearl Harbour, at the other end of the Pacific, the Japanese hurled themselves with irresistible ferocity on the Philippines and Singapore. There, too, they had calmly gone ahead with their preparations amid the general somnolence.
Twice, on 24th and 25th November, brazenly and in broad daylight, two Japanese reconaissance planes had photographed from a height of 23,000 feet every American airfield in the Philippines.
The interpretation of the photos revealed the presence of scarcely 300 American aircraft, instead of the 900 the Japanese were expecting. This considerably relieved Admiral Tsukahara, in command of the 11th Imperial Air Fleet, which was earmarked for these operations. And if he had known what aircraft they were - and in what state - he would have gone into the attack with a song in his heart.

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