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Well said! n/t
"I had worked out a plan with the liason officer on the 'Prince of Wales', by which I could keep six aircraft over him during daylight hours within 60 miles of the east coast to a point north of Kota Bharu. This plan was turned down...had I been allowed to put it into effect, I am sure the ships would not have been sunk."
Flt Lt Tim Vigors had taken temporary command of 453 Sqn RAAF and with 487 RNZAF had worked out a defensive plan to protect the capital ships as they sortied up the east coast. Vigors was a BoB vet with eight kills and his Buffalo squadrons included Doug Vanderfield, Alf Clare and Geoff Fisken, all three to become aces (Clare to be the very first Buffalo ace) and to survive not only Malaya but the entire war. There are at least a dozen more Commonwealth pilots who were successful in destroying a large number of Japanese a/c in aerial combat flying B-339E's during that campaign.
To suppose that Force Z was doomed from the start, or to fall back on its lack of an aircraft carrier which otherwise would have made all the difference, is nothing more than a poor defence of Tom Phillips' incompetence. Like the two other British commanders in theatre Percival and Brooke-Popham, these men were completely out of their depth and that is the most contributary reason Britain realised its worst military defeat in history.
Not quite that simple: Air cover was requested over the beachhead, and it was pointed out that this was not possible. No further enquiry was made, as to just where air cover could have been provided, and no communication was made as to where Phillips was going nor where he was at the time he was first detected and shadowed. Had such information been made available then fighter cover could have been available.
The RAF did not protect Force Z. Its protection was offered but ignored.
Let's not forget - and most importantly - Force Z was not lost because it had no aircraft carrier accompaniment, it was lost because of the refusal or unwillingness of its commander to accept air cover from Singapore and Malaya's land based fighter a/c. No air cover was asked to screen it when it sortied to its destruction, even though two Buffalo Sqn's were at a moment's notice and would have annihilated those unprotected Nell's.
There is no doubt if this was not the case, Force Z would not have been destroyed on the day.
A complimentary strategic study, which speaks to the grand strategy. Convincingly argues that the Indian Ocean was second only to the Atlantic in importance to the war effort.
Leaves the directly operational details to other studies--once Force Z sorties from Singapore, we read only of its loss.
But puts paid to the story of Indomitable meant to accompany them. That was Ark Royal ; when she was lost, they sailed without a carrier. The RAF would protect them until the fleet carriers arrived in 1942, as they did.
Extremely well sourced-lots of cues available in the notes and bibliography for further reading.
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