Book Review – ‘‘The Most Dangerous Moment of the War’: Japan’s attack on the Indian Ocean, 1942’ by David Hobbs
In this book, dedicated to the author’s father, a survivor from HMS Cornwall, and a friend who was a survivor from HMS Dorsetshire, the author describes how, having struck the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese entered the Indian Ocean with the intention of destroying the British eastern fleet based at Ceylon in April 1942. He stresses the point in the early chapters that had they invaded Ceylon, and had the Germans overrun Egypt, the British position in the Middle East would have been untenable, and goes on to repeat it several times later in the book.
The book is an uncomplicated introduction to the subject that would be useful for readers who did not want to delve too deeply into the detail of what occurred and why. The strongest part of the book is the chapter describing the loss of Cornwall and Dorsetshire and the subsequent accounts based on the stories of individual survivors. These have not appeared elsewhere they add a human element to the operations described.
However, there are some issues. The book is illustrated with small black-and-white photographs, which have been selected to illustrate the ships and aircraft mentioned in the text but they are not all well chosen …