World War II

Far East & Pacific Theaters

E - M

Elphick, Peter. The Far Eastern File: The Intelligence War in the Far East, 1930-1945. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1997.

For Best, I&NS 13.2, this book is "interesting [but] contains some deep flaws." The author "has uncovered previously obscure episodes which shed light on the infighting and inefficiency which hampered the [British] intelligence effort in East Asia." Additionally, his "knowledge of the personalities and the degree of detail here is laudable." Nevertheless, Elphick "has only really skimmed the surface of the documentation held at the PRO"; and "there are whole areas of intelligence activity which are largely ignored."

Unsinger, IJI&C 11.2, points out several themes in this work. The first theme concerns "the issue of Japan versus the future Allies in Asia in the pre-World War II years." The second theme focuses on the kind of intelligence, primarily signals intelligence, used by the British and Americans in running the war against Japan. And the third, lesser theme involves the struggle between the Comintern and all the intelligence services in Asia, both Japanese and Allied. For the reviewer, Far Eastern File is not a total success, providing "only a superficial look at the intelligence services' work in the region." Nevertheless, it gives the reader "a quick overview and some interpretation of events as they unfolded. It accomplished that well."

Elphick, Peter.

1. Singapore: The Pregnable Fortress, a Study in Deception, Discord and Desertion. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1995.

Although intelligence is not the focus of this book, Aldrich, I&NS 11.4, finds that Elphick "offers the most detailed account available to date of the work-a-day espionage, security and military intelligence activities by both Allies and Axis, before and during the campaign." The reviewer is clearly impressed by Elphick's presentation on the Malayan campaign ("unlikely to be bettered"). Nevertheless, he is highly critical of the author's discussion of British links in Thailand, specifically his treatment of Sir John Crosby in the absence of any evidence for his speculation.

2. And Michael Smith. Odd Man Out: The Story of the Singapore Traitor. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1993.

Nish, I&NS 9.4: This book focuses on the "existence of a British mole who fed the Japanese with information about RAF deployments which allowed them to knock out aerodromes near the Thai border within the first days of their invasion.... Captain Patrick Heenan ... was detected trying to communicate with the Japanese by two-way radio transmitter.... The story is well told; it is a skillful piece of detection well supported by archival research and by interviews."

Ferris, John. "'Consistent with an Intention': The Far East Combined Bureau and the Outbreak of the Pacific War, 1940-41." Intelligence and National Security 27, no. 1 (Feb. 2012): 5-26.

With the outbreak of war in Europe, British military and naval intelligence agencies "were moved from Hong Kong to Singapore, and joined into an interservice organization, the FECB." Britain "rejected the FECB's assessments of Japanese capabilities, which were accurate enough to enable effective preparation, while accepting views on intentions, which were wrong, and shaped by enemy deception."

Fitzgerald, Stephen K. MAGIC and ULTRA in the China-Burma-India Theater. Carlisle Barracks, PA: Army War College, 1992.

According to Surveillant 3.2/3, this book concerns the "operational use of MAGIC and ULTRA." The author "concludes that neither ULTRA nor MAGIC were able consistently to fathom Japanese intentions in Burma and that the ultimate importance of MAGIC and ULTRA was to confirm intelligence obtained from other sources." Kruh, Cryptologia 18.1, notes that this work "is well documented with 274 foornotes and a comprehensive bibliography which provides opportunities for further reading or research."

Ford, Douglas.

1. Britain's Secret War against Japan, 1937-1945. London: Routledge, 2006.

Callahan, Journal of Military History 72.4 (Oct. 2008) [retrieved 8 Feb. 2013 from Project MUSE database], calls this work "an impressive compilation of material." However, except for Churchill, "the other senior figures" in the author's account "are rather colorless." In addition, "some of the impact of Ford's work is blunted by the opaqueness of much of the writing."

2. "British Intelligence on Japanese Army Morale During the Pacific War: Logical Analysis or Racial Stereotyping?" Journal of Military History 69, no. 2 (Apr. 2005): 439-474.

From abstract: "The British army's image of the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) during the Pacific War (1941-45) was shaped by a logical analysis of the intelligence obtained through combat experience" and was not based on preconceived notions.

3. "'A Conquerable Yet Resilient Foe': British Perceptions of the Imperial Japanese Army's Tactics on the India-Burma Front, September 1942 to Summer 1944." Intelligence and National Security 18, no. 1 (Spring 2003): 65-90.

"[I]ntelligence played a vital role in enabling Fourteenth Army to employ its scarce resources effectively, by building a strategy whereby further setbacks could be avoided and wartime objectives attained in an economical manner."

4. "Planning for an Unpredictable War: British Intelligence Assessments and the War Against Japan, 1937-45." Journal of Strategic Studies 27, no. 1 (2004): 136-167 .

From abstract: ""The intelligence pointing to the unpredictability of Japan's strategy and the disparity between the opposing forces in the Far East ... played a crucial role in shaping the evolution of a strategy that was within Britain's capacity to implement."

5. "Strategic Culture, Intelligence Assessment, and the Conduct of the Pacific War: The British-Indian and Imperial Japanese Armies in Comparison, 1941-1945." War in History 14, no. 1 (2007): 63-95.

Gilchrist, Andrew. Bangkok Top Secret: Being the Experiences of a British Officer in the Siam Country Section of Force 136. London: Hutchinson, 1970.

Gough, Richard. SOE Singapore 1941-1942. London: Kimber, 1985. Singapore: SNP Editions, 1987.

From publisher: "A true story by a veteran of WWII in Singapore."

Hall, Suzanne. "The Politics of Prisoner of War Recovery: SOE and the Burma-Thailand Railway during World War II." Intelligence and National Security 17, no. 2 (Summer 2002): 51-80.

SOE's involvement in this effort "saved many of the prisoners from almost certain death."

Hembry, Boris. Malayan Spymaster: Memoirs of a Rubber Planter, Bandit Fighter and Spy. Singapore: Monsoon Books, 2011.

According to Peake, Studies 56.3 (Sep. 2012), this is the memoir of a person who fought with a stay-behind unit after the Japanese invaded Malaya, joined the British V-Force in India, and then joined MI6 through the end of the war. He again served British and local governments during the Malayan insurgency. "The counterinsurgency methods Hembry describes are instructive.... Malayan Spymaster reveals a different kind of intelligence experience in a little-known part of the Pacific war." King, NIPQ 29.1 (Jan. 2013), sees this as "a real-life spy thriller, simply and elegantly told with a large helping of information and detail gleaned from his experiences."

Mains, A. A. "Intelligence in India, 1930-47." Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research 79, no. 317 (2001): 63-82.

Melinsky, Hugh. A Code-Breaker's Tale. Norfolk, UK: Larks Press, 1998.

Kruh, Cryptologia 25.1, notes that this is the "fascinating story" of a young man's wartime experiences from learning Japanese and codebreaking at the Inter-Services Special Intelligence School to service with MacArthur's Central Bureau in Wireless Units throughout the South West Pacific.

Moynahan, Brian. Jungle Soldier: The True Story of Freddy Spencer Chapman. London: Quercus, 2009.

From publisher: Chapman was an "SOE-trained guerrilla soldier" who was "dispatched to Singapore [in 1941] to train British guerrillas for the coming war with Japan. Setting out from Kuala Lumpur on 7 January 1942 on a mission to sabotage Japanese supply lines, he became a veritable one-man army.... Following Japan's invasion of Malaya and the fall of Singapore in February 1942, Chapman found himself stranded." He was finally "rescued and evacuated to Ceylon on 13 May 1945. Chapman returned to Malaya by parachute in August to take the Japanese surrender at Penang." See also, Chapman, The Jungle Is Neutral (1949).

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