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Hostages to Fortune: Winston Churchill and the Loss of the Prince of Wales and Repulse
When the British battleship HMS Prince of Wales and the battle-cruiser HMS Repulse were sunk by Japanese bombers, in what the Japanese call the 'Battle off Malaya' on 10 December 1941, Winston Churchill recalled: 'In all the war I never received a more direct shock.' The Prince of Wales and Repulse were the heart of Force Z, a powerful yet unbalanced and...
When the British battleship HMS Prince of Wales and the battle-cruiser HMS Repulse were sunk by Japanese bombers, in what the Japanese call the 'Battle off Malaya' on 10 December 1941, Winston Churchill recalled: 'In all the war I never received a more direct shock.' The Prince of Wales and Repulse were the heart of Force Z, a powerful yet unbalanced and vulnerable force sent to the Far East at the insistence of Churchill. Sent first to deter and then to stop the expansion of the Japanese Empire, the ships became 'hostages to fortune'. Their loss is an important part of the story of the fall of Singapore to the Japanese and the end of British supremacy in the Far East until 1945. Arthur Nicholson offers a succinct history of the events leading up to the dispatch of the Prince of Wales and Repulse to Singapore, the Battle off Malaya itself, and its aftermath. He analyses the important decisions that led up to the battle, with an emphasis on Churchill's part in the decisions to send the Prince of Wales and Repulse to Singapore and then to attack the Japanese, and on Admiral Tom Phillips's decision not to break radio silence and how it compared to Royal Navy tactical doctrine of the time.
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