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From uninterrupted defeat to nearly unbroken good fortune: a yr whilst Rommel is steadily thrown again in North Africa, and within the Pacific the tide turns.

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Eastern expeditions, borne and sustained by means of overwhelming sea- and air-power, had engulfed the full island barrier of the Dutch East Indies, including Siam and all British Malaya. they'd occupied Southern Burma and the Andaman Islands, and now menaced India itself. The coasts of India and Ceylon, and, farther west, the important sea path wherein on my own we sustained the armies within the center East, lay open to raids at the greatest scale. Madagascar, the place it appeared the Vichy French will surely yield as that they had performed previous in Indo-China, used to be already a reason for deep anxiousness. It grew to become our first responsibility to enhance India with a substantial military and to safe the naval command of the Indian Ocean and especially of the Bay of Bengal. * the one tremendous base for the japanese Fleet which we have been forming was once Ceylon, with its harbours of Colombo and Trincomalee. full of life and nearly frantic efforts have been made through us to obtain a enough strength of fighter plane for the island ahead of the predicted eastern assault. The service Indomitable, rather than getting used at this juncture as a struggling with send, was once made just to visit and fro at complete velocity ferrying airplane and their apparatus. The Australian govt agreed to permit in their brigade teams, returning to their nation from the wasteland, to wreck their voyage and support to garrison Ceylon throughout the difficulty until eventually British forces may perhaps arrive. This used to be a welcome stop-gap. mystery and secluded anchorages within the Indian Ocean for our Fleet in the course of a struggle with Japan had lengthy been studied through the Admiralty. Addu Atoll, a hoop of coral islands surrounding a deep-water lagoon on the southern finish of the Maldive Islands, approximately 600 miles south-west of Ceylon, was once a makeshift substitute to Colombo. the following, distant from the entire major delivery routes, and approachable through an enemy in simple terms after an extended ocean passage, our Fleet may possibly locate defend, gas, and shops inside of awesome variety of Colombo. The lagoon is as huge as Scapa movement, and is entered via 4 deep channels within the barrier reef. Batteries and searchlights have been erected at the surrounding jungle-clad islands. shop ships and health center ships have been collected inside of. An airfield and a flying-boat base have been being supplied. All this remained for your time unknown to the enemy. This harbour, which we known as Port T, performed a worthwhile half within the technique of the Indian Ocean. because the starting of the 12 months our naval attempt were to accumulate within the Indian Ocean a strength able to protecting our pursuits there. Admiral Somerville, who had acquitted himself so good in charge of the recognized strength H at Gibraltar, were chosen to command in succession to the ill-fated Tom Phillips. On March 24 he arrived at Colombo within the service ambitious. On assuming command he had at his disposal the battleship Warspite, which had simply arrived from the United States through Australia after finishing maintenance to break inflicted within the conflict of Crete ten months earlier than, the 4 outdated battleships of the “R. ” classification, 3 aircraft-carriers, together with the sunshine service Hermes, seven cruisers, together with the Dutch Heemskerck, and 16 destroyers.

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