21 May, 2019

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The Most Dangerous Moment 

By Jayantha Somasundaram –

Jayantha Somasundaram

“British Prime Minister Winston Churchill considered the most dangerous moment of the Second World War, and the one which caused him the greatest alarm, was when news was received that the Japanese Fleet was heading for Ceylon.” –The Most Dangerous Moment by Michael Tomlinson (1976) William Kimber, London.

This September it will be eighty years since the commencement of the Second World War. For Sri Lanka, with the theatre of war being initially Europe and North Africa, like the Great War before it, this too was a distant war. However with alarming speed, commencing with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941, the defeat of British forces in Malaya in January 1942 and the fall of Singapore in February, World War II entered the Indian Ocean, and its epicentre British Ceylon.

For Britain the fall of Singapore was the turning point in Asia. The Military Chiefs of Staff in London feared that British interests in the Indian Ocean, traditionally a British lake, were now threatened. Once Singapore surrendered, Ceylon another Island Fortress became Britain’s next line of defence in the east. Hence the Royal Navy’s East Indies Station was relocated to Colombo, with headquarters now at shore base HMS Lanka.

If the Japanese gained control of Ceylon, they would be within striking distance of British oil fields in the Persian Gulf and make vulnerable British lines of sea communication with India and Australia. It was therefore necessary to rapidly build Ceylon’s defences. Initially the 16th Brigade of the British 70th Infantry Division in North Africa was deployed to Ceylon. Later the 21st East African Infantry Brigade Group, supported by two batteries of light howitzers, headed for the island. At Prime Minister Churchill’s request Canberra offered to reassign to Ceylon the 16th and 17th Infantry Brigades of the Australian 6th Division which were en route from Libya to defend Australia. 

The Australian troops were under their own commander, Major General Allan  Boase, General Officer Commanding, Australian Imperial Force Ceylon, and were stationed in the island’s south west at Horana, because according to the records of the Australian War Memorial, this part of Ceylon “was considered to be the sector in which the Japanese would be most likely to land.” Anticipating an imminent invasion the Australians rapidly established a Jungle Warfare Training School to train their soldiers for combat in the tropics. They had hitherto only been exposed to action in the desserts of North Africa.

The island now had the equivalent of two army divisions, largely comprising British, Ceylonese and Australian soldiers.  Ashley Jackson, Professor of Imperial and Military History at King’s College London, in his 2009 paper War on the Home Front in Ceylon, writes “Ceylon was transformed from a (military) backwater into a key Allied military base.” 

Meanwhile with British Rangoon falling to the Japanese on 8th March 1942 General Archibald Wavell, Britain’s Commander-in-Chief India, argued that the way was clear for the Imperial Japanese Army to invade Northeast India. He therefore asked that the 16th Brigade be redeployed for the defence of India. The Chiefs of Staff responded by saying that the defence of India depended on control of the Indian Ocean, and this could only be achieved by retaining the naval bases in Colombo and Trincomalee, and therefore by maintaining strong land forces in Ceylon to deter a Japanese invasion of the island. 

The First Sea Lord, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Dudley Pound decided to immediately withdraw the battleship HMS Warspite and the aircraft carrier HMS Formidable which were under the command of Vice-Admiral Sir James Somerville from the Eastern Mediterranean and move them to Ceylon where Somerville would assume command of the Eastern Fleet. They were followed by four Revenge-class battleships and six destroyers. By end March the Eastern Fleet included one light and two fleet carriers, five battleships, seven cruisers, sixteen destroyers and seven submarines. The Eastern Fleet maintained seven shore bases including in India, the Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles. On paper a formidable fleet, but all the Royal Navy carriers together only had as many aircraft as one Japanese carrier; and in any case the Japanese aircraft were superior. Professor Jackson in his 2006 work, The British Empire and the Second World War was unimpressed: “The Eastern Fleet was not only inferior, it was completely unprepared.” 

An advance flotilla of the Japanese Imperial Navy entered the Indian Ocean and occupied the Andaman Islands on 23rd March, shielding their new positions in Malaya, Singapore and Sumatra. This was followed by the occupation of Mergui in Burma and Pukhet in Thailand, ports on the Andaman Sea. This naval force consisted of submarines that remained off the west coast of India and a carrier force under the command of Vice-Admiral Jisaburō Ozawa which included the light carrier Ryujo, five heavy cruisers, a light cruiser and four destroyers. They dropped anchor in the Bay of Bengal awaiting the arrival of the main fleet.

On 26th March Vice-Adm Chūichi Nagumo Commander-in-Chief of the First Air Fleet, the Japanese Imperial Navy’s main aircraft carrier force, sailed out of Kendari in Celebes (now Sulawesi in Indonesia) into the Bay of Bengal. Five Fleet Carriers the Akagi, the Hiryu, the Soryu, the Shokaku and the Zuikaka, along with four battleships the Haruna, the Hiei, the Kirisbima and the Kongo, accompanied by two heavy cruisers and ten destroyers headed for Ceylon. “In striking power” says naval historian H. P Willmott of the US Naval Institute in Empires in the Balance, “virtually the same as the force used against Pearl Harbour.”

Admiral Nagumo’s objective was to replicate the Pearl Harbour victory by catching an unprepared Eastern Fleet in Ceylon’s harbours so as to destroy Britain’s maritime capability in the Indian Ocean. He planned to attack the island on 5th April which was Easter Sunday, when he expected the British to be off their guard. 

Geoffrey Layton

In London the newly appointed Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee General Alan Brooke decided that in Ceylon the Allies should move from a defensive to an offensive strategy. This meant according to his biographer, Arthur Bryant that “the three arms of land, sea and air had to be brought to bear on the enemy as one force…For this there must be unified command.” This principle of single command was unique and unprecedented, and implemented for the first time in Ceylon with the appointment of a Commander-in-Chief for the island in the person of Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton. He was given wide-ranging, almost dictatorial powers that subordinated the civilian authorities.

Another critical appointment with respect to the defence of Ceylon was that of Air Vice-Marshal John D’Albiac as Air Officer Commanding No. 222 Group. In addition, No 803 Naval Air Squadron, a Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm squadron, was re-equipped in March 1942 with Fairey Fulmar II aircraft and posted to HMS Formidable. But not only was Britain’s airpower in the Indian Ocean weak, they had no maritime capability that could halt the advance of the approaching Japanese carrier fleet.

On 28th March the Far East Combined Bureau (FECB), a British code breaking service in Ceylon which operated from HMS Devonshire, intercepted a Japanese signal which identified Colombo as Admiral Nagumo’s objective. Admiral Layton realized that the island’s defences were inadequate in the face of the Japanese threat. So he made improvements to radar facilities and air raid systems and revamped the local civil defence. 

He also ordered the diversion to Ceylon of two squadrons of Hurricane fighters which had been destined for Java. And as described by Prof Jackson, “anti-aircraft guns, barrage balloons, and searchlights appeared around ports and towns, and defensive trenches were dug in case the invader should come; air-raid shelters, first-aid posts, and cleared fields of fire appeared in coastal settlements; harbours were expanded to take more warships, defended by artillery and anti-torpedo booms; flying-boat anchorages were established on inland lagoons; and airstrips and barracks sprouted across the country.”

The commercial sector was also drawn into the war effort. Walker Sons and Company which had produced machinery for the tea and rubber industries in peacetime began undertaking military contracts. During the War its 3,600 workers repaired or refitted almost five hundred warships including the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle. They also converted over sixty merchantmen and passenger liners into troopships, fitting a miniature crow’s nest on the main mast to control a kite which deterred dive bombers from making low attacks. Walkers also made dummy weapons to mislead the enemy, including dummy Hurricanes, Bofors anti-aircraft guns and radar towers.

Unknown to the Japanese, the Royal Navy had developed a secret base on Addu Atoll in the Maldive Islands. Once the JIN’s presence in the Indian Ocean was known, Admiral Somerville retreated to Addu Atoll in order to avoid the Japanese during the day; but he would attempt to track and engage them in the night when under cover of darkness the Eastern Fleet’s superiority in gun power would give him an advantage. 

Admiral Somerville had divided his fleet into two components. Force A was led by the battleship HMS Warspite, while Force B comprised four vintage battleships. Based on FECB’s signals intelligence Admiral Somerville expected to intercept the Japanese on April 1st, but after three days of fruitless search, the Eastern Fleet returned to Addu Atoll to refuel. 

Vice Admiral Chūichi Nagumo

Squadron Leader Leonard Birchall of the Royal Canadian Air Force was attached to No 413 Squadron which had transferred to Ceylon on April 2nd. Two days later while flying out of Koggala on a reconnaissance mission in a Consolidated PBY Catalina seaplane, his crew sighted the approaching Japanese fleet. Before they were shot down by Mitsubishi “Zero” long-range fighter aircraft and taken prisoner, Birchall and his crew managed to radio a warning to Colombo. 

The Japanese had counted on their mere presence in strength in the Ocean surrounding Ceylon to result in the capitulation of the island and even to the collapse of British rule in India, given that there was widespread Indian resistance to the British. 

At eight on the morning of Sunday 5th April Japanese aircraft attacked Colombo. Half the armada targeted infrastructure, particularly the port, while the other half went for shipping. When the Japanese struck 34 merchant ships were still in Colombo harbour. The Japanese sank an auxiliary cruiser, a submarine depot ship and a destroyer as well as a merchantman, while the harbour and shore installations were badly damaged. Admiral Layton’s early warning system had failed at Ratmalana where aircraft remained on the ground when the Japanese were attacking.

While Admiral Nagumo had over 300 carrier-based aircraft, Air Vice-Marshal D’Albiac had only fifty Hurricanes, fourteen Blenheims, six Catalinas and a few squadrons of Fulmars. The raid lasted half an hour after which the Japanese planes returned to their carriers. After refuelling fifty-three bombers took off again, and responding to a reconnaissance report located the heavy cruisers the HMS Cornwall and HMS Dorsetshire speeding away from Ceylon about 300km south of the Island. They were attacked and sunk in minutes. Naval historian H. P Willmott approvingly records that “in terms of technique, these sinking’s have been recognised as among the most professional operations carried out by carrier aircraft during the whole war.” 

While Colombo was being bombed by Admiral Nagumo’s aircraft, Admiral Ozawa’s force in the Bay of Bengal began to attack merchant shipping off the east coast of India, sinking 23 vessels. The Japanese submarine fleet that had also been lying dormant in the Bay of Bengal torpedoed a further 32,000 tons of shipping.

On the 8th when Royal Air Force (RAF) reconnaissance aircraft sighted the Japanese fleet 400 miles east of Ceylon, ships in Ceylon harbours were once more ordered to leave and when radar detected an incoming party of raiders, 17 Hurricanes and eight Fulmars were scrambled to meet them. The RAF lost 11 aircraft and the Japanese lost 24 in the subsequent engagement. 

After the Easter Sunday raid on Colombo, Admiral Nagumo unaware that the RN Eastern Fleet was sheltering at Adu Attol, scoured the Bay of Bengal for the enemy. Giving up the fruitless search, he returned on the 9th to mount one final attack on the Island, this time targeting Trincomalee. The RAF’s remaining Hurricanes and Fulmer fighters took on more than a hundred attacking Japanese planes. While Trincomalee was under attack nine Bristol Blenheim light bombers attacked the Japanese fleet, targeting Admiral Nagumo’s flagship the carrier Akagi. The RAF suffered heavy casualties with only four Blenheims returning from the mission. 

Out at sea, seeking to distance themselves from Ceylon, the Royal Navy (RN)  carrier HMS Hermes, her escort destroyer HMS Vampire and the corvette HMS Hollyhock were located and sunk by Japanese aircraft. In addition to sinking ships in port and damaging harbour installations in Ceylon, the Japanese sank the only RN carrier sunk during the war. In Ceylon nearly a hundred civilians were killed and a thousand servicemen had died, the majority on board the sunken RN vessels. Meanwhile the submarines and the flotilla under Admiral Ozawa by sinking merchantmen had crippled and paralysed the movement of British shipping in the Bay of Bengal.

However unlike in their previous encounters with the Allies, the Japanese sustained enemy fire from modern fighter aircraft.  In the Battle for Ceylon the Japanese carrier fleet for the first time had encountered aerial resistance and been bombed. In total RAF fighter planes and the anti aircraft defences succeeded in bringing down 70 Japanese raiders in the Ceylon theatre of operations. The losses suffered by them resulted in three of Admiral Nagumo’s five carriers returning to Japan.

The Japanese were surprised that unlike in Pearl Harbour the RN’s Eastern Fleet was not available in port for a surprise attack which would have decimated British maritime capability in the Indian Ocean. Their pilots were also impressed by the accurate anti-aircraft gunfire that they had to contend with. Within a week of the initial raids the Japanese Fleet had returned to Singapore.

Admiral Nagumo’s attack on Ceylon in April 1942 though failing to totally cripple the Royal Navy’s Eastern Fleet, did result in severe losses which compelled it to retreat to the Kenyan coast and take shelter in the inland Kilindi Harbour. 

Sir Arthur Bryant in his history of the War The Turn of the Tide 1939-1943 summed up what happened in Ceylon: “On Easter morning 50 Japanese bombers, escorted by an equal number of Zero fighters roared in from the South expecting another Pearl Harbour…the attackers returned to their carriers with their mission unaccomplished…For the first time since the start of the Japanese war a major assault by the rising sun had been repulsed.”  

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Latest comments

  • 8
    0

    Jayant has Somasundaram,

    Thanks for the history behind the unsuccessful “second” Pearl Harbor attack on the Royal Navy Fleet and Ceylon. Ceylon was indeed very lucky to have repulsed the Japanese, and prevented a future Japanese invasion, which pulp have resulted in thousands of deaths, similar to what happened in the Philippines.

    Those who defended were heroes, and should be remembered as such.

    Notwithstanding the the Most Dangerous Moment for Ceylon, and the other dangerous moments of World War II, the Second Imperialist Colonial War, it should be remembered that, the War was about Imperialism, Colonialism and invasions.

    When WW I ended, WW II started, the two colonial Wars. Today’s world is the decolonized lands of these Imperial Powers.

    If not for these two Colonial Power Struggle Wars, decolonization in the second half of the 20th Century would not have accelerated. Churchill did not want to give up India, and he wanted to occupy Turkey during the ‘Great (Colonial) War’.

    Have you heard about the Great Game of the 19th Century between Britain and Russia?

    • 4
      0

      “The Japanese had counted on their mere presence in strength in the Ocean surrounding Ceylon to result in the capitulation of the island and even to the collapse of British rule in India, given that there was widespread Indian resistance to the British. “
      This is indeed the crux of the matter. The Indians were struggling against British rule and could not be trusted. In 1945, there were outright mutinies by the Indian Army and Navy. In addition, thousands of Indian soldiers had gone over to the Japanese. Nowadays it is fashionable to portray the Japanese as totally evil, but they were only basically doing the same thing the Europeans had been doing for centuries , which is pillaging their colonies. Not that they were angels , they were brutal in the occupied countries. But they did support Indonesian independence , supplying arms to foil a Dutch return. In Burma , Suu Kyi’s father was groomed by the Japanese before switching sides . It is rumoured that JR in Ceylon was suspected of being ready to welcome a
      Japanese landing.

      • 4
        0

        OC
        I agree with you that that the article gives an objective account.
        *
        But I have a somewhat different perception from yours about Imperial Japan.
        The Chinese and Koreans have volumes to narrate about Japanese occupation.
        So do others unde Japanese occupation.
        Aung San like Subash Chandra Bose was tempted by the Japanese, but realized what Japanese presence would mean for Burma and stepped aside. Bose was unwise and extended his support to the Nazis as well.
        The Indonesian elite were attracted to the Japanese who exploited local resentment of the Dutch to capture the archipelago. But occupation was far from gentle.The Dutch returned after the war, but it was easier to be rid of a weak Netherlands than say the French in Indochina or the British in India.
        *
        Bitterness tempts people to seek evil allies. Had Bose (who was virtually driven out of the Congress by Gandhi) mobilized the masses to fight the British without seeking support from a fascist (and racist) imperial power, we may have a far better India today.
        But the US has long since surpassed the Japanese in cruelty.
        *
        Knowing JR, anything is possible.
        However, it was under JRJ that Japan placed its footprint in Sri Lanka, to become the country’s biggest direct lender, besides its role in ADB.

        • 2
          0

          S.J
          The Japanese were great at imitating the West . They industrialised very fast , gave the Russians a beating by 1904 , and started on imperial expansion, just like the West . The mistake they made was in taking on the US. Also they mixed their mediaeval culture with modern industry , ( like ourselves in fact).

          • 1
            0

            Old codger

            “Also they mixed their mediaeval culture with modern industry , ( like ourselves in fact).”

            Of course they converted to Christianity and in order to maintain cultural parity they also ate beef and bacon. Nevertheless according to one count they had 12,000 students studying in Europe and USA by 1900. In fact most were Industrial spies.

            • 1
              0

              Native,
              No that is one thing they didn’t take to, Christianity.

          • 2
            0

            OC
            Thanks.
            As for medieval culture, the Brits are still unable to shake off their monarchy.
            The Japanese I agree are socially feudalistic.The cunningly used the idea of family loyalty to achieve industrial discipline by presenting the company as family. It worked for a long while.
            Confucian thought has things that suit a modern disciplined society far better than other religions.
            Japan’s advantage was that unlike South Asia it moved to capitalism on its own terms.

      • 3
        0

        Old codger

        “It is rumoured that JR in Ceylon was suspected of being ready to welcome a
        Japanese landing.”

        The public racist Aryan Anagarika Homeless Dharmapala admired the Japs for being Japs, including their brand of colonialism and fascism.

        Where does Gota get his inspiration to build brand new fascist state in this island? Do you think its home grown one?

        • 1
          0

          Native,
          Yes, the Homeless One did send people to Japan for industrial training, in one of his better moments. But he got his Aryan ideas from Hitler , who considered the Japanese to be “honorary Aryans” .

        • 1
          0

          Native,
          Have you noticed that the idiotic article about the Ravana satellite has disappeared? Was CT hacked?

          • 1
            0

            Old codger

            Yes it has.
            In 2012 there was a move on the part of the clan and Manivannan to launch a series of satellites in collaboration with China.
            That was the last time I heard anything about homemade satellite.
            Was it like illicit homemade Galkatas (locally-manufactured guns)?

            • 0
              0

              Malivannan’s satellite was a nameplate job made in China. Ravana is very cheap , tiny and real. But not very useful. More like a flying smartphone.

  • 4
    0

    Spared the tender mercies of the Imperial Japanese military, we still do not appreciate how fortunate Sri Lanka has been. Our wealth and resources are still looted and wasted by our corrupt leaders.

    Some people think that the Japanese would have treated a Buddhist country well. How did Japan treat other Buddhist nations that it occupied? Here are some examples.

    Myanmar https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arakan_massacres_in_1942
    China https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanjing_Massacre
    Korea https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comfort_women#Legacy_in_South_Korea
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_war_crimes

  • 1
    0

    “The Japanese had counted on their mere presence in strength in the Ocean surrounding Ceylon to result in the capitulation of the island and even to the collapse of British rule in India, given that there was widespread Indian resistance to the British. “
    This is indeed the crux of the matter. The Indians were struggling against British rule and could not be trusted. In 1945, there were outright mutinies by the Indian Army and Navy. In addition, thousands of Indian soldiers had gone over to the Japanese. Nowadays it is fashionable to portray the Japanese as totally evil, but they were only basically doing the same thing the Europeans had been doing for centuries , which is pillaging their colonies. Not that they were angels , they were brutal in the occupied countries. But they did support Indonesian independence , supplying arms to foil a Dutch return. In Burma , Suu Kyi’s father was groomed by the Japanese before switching sides . It is rumoured that JR in Ceylon was suspected of being ready to welcome a successful Japanese landing

  • 4
    0

    Thank you for the wonderful history lesson. Enjoyed reading it. If I am not mistaken, Mountbatten (Lord to Brits) was residing in the mountains in Pallakele area in a historic Tea estate bungalow for security which became a Tea Plantation corporation managed asset later. My parents used to talk about foreign troops even being in Kandy and how girls were told not to go out because it wasn’t safe. Were there American troops and troops some referred to as “kaaperi” meaning black or African colonial troops too? I used to remember this word in reference to foreign troops on Ceylonese soil during WW II. Any idea?

    • 2
      0

      Mano,
      The “Kaapiris’ were East African troops from what is now Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Idi Amin too joined up, post-war . Some US fliers operated from Trincomalee. Watch “A soldier’s film journal of Ceylon ” on YouTube. A rare insight on the country pre- independence.

  • 2
    0

    Again, this is a wonderful non-political narration. If my memory serves right, the Brits were totally humiliated when Singapore fell. The arrogance or stupidity of the Brits serving the Malayan peninsula was stupendous. The colorless, lackluster personality General Percival commanded the biggest surrender of British troops to the Japs was an embarrassment. Wasn’t it after that the Royal fleet moved to Ceylon?
    The British thought(like the French at Ardennes who were overrun by the blitzkrieg; French thought the Maginot line would stop the Germans; they came through the Ardennes instead) the Japos will only attack from the sea and had most of their guns pointed out to the ocean. Japs used brilliant guerilla tactics to come barging through the Malayan peninsula in under 2 months. They used bicycles like how the Vietnamese used them later. Same tactics.
    General Yamashita’s boys attacked Singapore and took it over in less than 8 days! But Lt. Gen Percival the colorless drab failure of a general perhaps took the safer option and surrendered and fell for the Japanese bluff in the rush.. He was not getting any Air support so he had possibly runout of options to fight and did not want Singapore to suffer. The poor Colonial troops including Indian, Australian troops were treated poorly by the Japs.
    The surrender of 80,000 plus itself was amazing because Percival was clueless when he met General Yamashita. Percival the Lt. General, wanted conditions for his surrender but Yamashita had none of it and demanded and got unconditional surrender. It was to this date the largest ever surrender of British forces ever in history. Churchill viewed the fall of Singapore to be “the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history.”
    Thanks for a fascinating article. Wonder what the world would have been like if Asia was ruled by the Japanese if they won?

    • 5
      1

      Mano Ratwatte

      “Churchill viewed the fall of Singapore to be “the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history.”

      Actually Churchill himself was the worst disaster ever to happen to British and the world while the public racists Aryan Anagarika Homeless Dharmapala was the worst disaster that ever happened to this island.

  • 4
    0

    Yes, Japanese Imperial cruelty towards other Asians is well documented. From massacre at Nanking to Comfort women in Korea, to treating them far worse than how British treated them is very well documented. Japanese were a Xenophobic racist nation.

    Empelor Hirohitho should have been impaled for his war climes but because the Emperor is viewed as a God, the US used him to control Japan after they were defeated. The Imperial Japanese surrendered because otherwise they would got another healthy dose of American Atomic power. The only reason those fanatic Banzai sword waving, suicide by disemboweling mad men surrendered was because we used Atomic bombs. Otherwise fighting would have resulted in tens of thousands more Allied casualties. Hirohitho was a dimunitive war criminal used by the US. Hundreds of their soldiers committed suicide like Tamil Tigers. and women and children jumped off cliffs in Okinawa, and other islands when US was advancing on them. Glad the US used Atomic power on this mad nation that was ready to destroy everyone for a mono-ethnic Xenophobic empire. To this date, Japan is one of them most racially pure nations on earth; that is because they treat everyone else as a gaijin. Racism is still widely prevalent, specially when Japanese women marry or cohabit with blacks and brown people. The tennis star herself will attest to that racism. All their polite bowing is for each other. Deep inside they are a closed doors community. Naomi Osaka lives in USA for a reason. Her father is of negroid Haitian stock. Japanese will not accept her. They can scream Banzai! Banzai! and pretend to be Buddhist, Shinto ancient civilization, but you know they are not who they portray to be.

    • 2
      0

      There is something in what you say, Joanna. However, I have heard it said that the war had already been won by the Allies by the time the bomb was dropped, just to see how effective it was.
      .
      In any case, why was a second bomb dropped? One would definitely have achieved the desired effect.
      .
      Thanks, Jayantha Somasundaram for a wonderful narrative, a very fair one.
      .

      • 3
        0

        Sinhala Man,

        The invasion of Okinawa, took many thousands of American lives. The invasion of the Japanese mainland would have taken more. The two atomic bombs were powerful enough to convince the Japanese, that they cannot win the war, and cannot defend as well. Germany had already surrendered by then.

        Now, compare the deaths by the two atomic bombs, with the millions massacred by the Japanese in Korea, China and Philippines. Besides, the Japanese stacked Pearl Harbor, unprovoked, and attacked Ceylon 4 months later. More than 90 percent of The massacred were Buddhists, and the Japanese were Buddhist as well.

        Some of the idiotic Para-Sinhala Para ‘Buddhists’ were willing to accept the Japanese, because they were ‘Buddhists’. No wonder, their mean IQ is 79.

  • 4
    3

    Imperial Japanese nationalism has remarkable similarities with LTTE and Tamil nationalism. While I am glad Ceylon did not fall into Japanese hands I am glad and extremely grateful for the Lankan forces for saving this country from a similar kind of facist nationalism in 2009.

    • 1
      2

      Soma,
      Using 300000 personnel with modern tanks ,planes, and a large navy to beat
      a ragtag collection of 30000 mostly schoolboys (and taking 30 years to do it) is hardly a great victory. I wouldn’t talk about it if I was in your place.

      • 4
        0

        Raman, was this the same ragtag collection of schoolboys who boasted of beating the fourth largest army in the world?

        • 1
          0

          Paul
          No that was done single handed by a Lieutenant Colonel called Nandasena.

  • 0
    0

    {“…However with alarming speed, commencing with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941, the defeat of British forces in Malaya in January 1942 and the fall of Singapore in February, World War II entered the Indian Ocean, and its epicentre British Ceylon…”}
    Fall of Malaya was significant for Imperial Britain but not the fall of then Singapore.
    Modern Singapore is quite different to the then Singapore. They have through effort, industry and commitment come to share the top slot in the world.
    .
    Imperial Britain was worried about losing India. Some eminent freedom fighters openly sought Japan’s help to push Britain out.
    At that time in Ceylon, independence was not an issue. No wonder Imperial Britain felt that Ceylon was important. When the war ended, Ceylon was the envy of South East Asia.
    .
    Rest is history.

  • 2
    0

    Thank you Mr somasundaram for recounting an episode which Sri Lankan school children are never taught about. China’s naval planners probably keep replaying every move of this battle in anticipation of future wars to cut crucial supply lines of petroleum and African minerals. Hence a new rivalry between China in gwadar, Iran, htota, hulumale while India/US hog the chagos archipelago. The great pity was the alacrity with which swrd chased the brits out of trinco in 56 which not only caused the 58 riots but also caused decades of unionised unrest in Colombo harbour which neutered Ceylon’s future maritime and economic potential. Let’s await history rhyming again…

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