World War II

Far East & Pacific Theaters

N - Z

O'Brien, Terence. The Moonlight War: The Story of Clandestine Operations in Southeast Asia, 1944-45. London: Collins, 1987.

Erskine, IJI&C 4.1: O'Brien expresses his "anger at ISLD's [Inter-Services Liaison Department, the codename for the British Secret Service in India] inefficiency." The "principal enemy was ... weather and the fiendishly difficult terrain." O'Brien is a gifted writer" and his book is "full of detailed insights on British clandestine operations."

Reynolds, E. Bruce. Thailand's Secret War: OSS, SOE and the Free Thai Underground during World War II. New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

For Sacquety, Studies 50.1 (Mar. 2006), the author shows that once OSS and its Free Thai group "overcame various obstacles in their path, they proved very effective in Thailand, in contrast to the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) and its smaller group of Free Thai.... Initial attempts to operate from China proved disastrous for the fledgling OSS Free Thai group. Only by eventually basing the group with OSS Detachment 404 in Sri Lanka did Washington succeed in finding a location from which the Free Thai could successfully operate." With this work, "Reynolds proves that he is a dean among scholars of intelligence in the Far East during the Second World War. His exhaustive archival research and exploitation of untapped sources have produced a landmark work."

Ridderhof, H-War, H-Net Reviews [http://www.h-net.org], May 2008, says that this work "is well researched: a review of the sources indicates that Reynolds accessed both U.S. and British official sources, many western and Thai secondary sources, and has interviewed an impressive number of American, British and Thai participants. It is also a well-written book. Reynolds did an outstanding job in providing a clear narrative of what could be a very confusing story." Yu Shen, I&NS 20.3 (Sep 2005), also finds this to be "an excellent book" that "is well-researched." The author unfolds this "intricately complicated" story "with great sensitivity and objectivity."

Ride, Edwin. British Army Aid Group (BAAG): Hong Kong Resistance, 1942-45. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 1981.

Founded by Col. Lindsay Ride after he escaped from Japanese-occupied Hong Kong. the British Army Aid Group "helped the prisoners-of-war in Hong Kong to escape from Japanese captivity, and successfully organised a network of agents to collect military intelligence that contributed much to the final victory of the Allied Powers." See "Press Release: Exhibition Introduces British Army Aid Group Drawings," at: http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/201009/22/P201009220201.htm.

Rooney, David. Mad Mike: A Life of Michael Calvert. London: Leo Cooper, 1997.

Foot, I&NS 13.4, notes that this is the biography of "a soldier ... who excelled at irregular warfare, and was one of the British Army's leading exponents of covert action against the Japanese in 1941-45." The author "writes clearly and understands his subject-matter well."

Scott, Norman. "Solving Japanese Naval Ciphers." Cryptologia 21, no. 2 (Apr. 1997): 149-157.

The author describes his experience and some operational procedures in solving Japanese ciphers at Bletchley Park and Anderson station, Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

Sheenan, Margaret. Our Man in Malaya: John Davis, CBE, DSO, SOE Force 136 and Postwar Counter-insurgency. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2009.

From publisher: When the Japanese invaded Malaya, "Davis switched from the Federated Malay States Police to the intelligence world, where he planned the infiltration of Chinese intelligence agents and British officers into the Malayan peninsula." He also "became an iconic figure in Malaya's colonial history when during the Communist Emergency he confronted Chin Peng, leader of the Communist Party."

Smith, Michael. The Emperor's Codes: The Role of Bletchley Park in Breaking Japan's Secret Ciphers. London: Bantam, 2001. New York: Penguin, 2002. [pb]

Jacobsen, intelforum, 17 Jun. 2001, says that "[t]his book grossly exaggerates the British and Dominion cryptologic successes against the Japanese navy during and preceding WWII. It is an Anglophilean attack against well established American successes.... Smith's failure to list page number citations makes it difficult or often impossible to verify his sources. He 'cherrypicks' many of his sources to support his more outrageous allegations when a thorough review of the same sources shows the opposite viewpoint."

According to Kruh, Cryptologia 25.1, this "excellent book" highlights the work of John Tiltman and Eric Nave in breaking Japanese codes. The author will "raise the ire of the U.S. Navy with his claim that the vast majority of Japanese codes and ciphers were broken ... by British and Australian cryptanalysts." Bath, NIPQ, Summer 2001, finds this to be "an interesting book ... [that] has something for everyone with an interest [i]n the subject or the times." After dismissing some of the more outrageous claims for this book, Mercado, I&NS 16.2, finds that "Smith offers in greater detail than ever before the story of British code breakers working against Japan."

Straczek, Jozef. "The Empire Is Listening: Naval Signals Intelligence in the Far East to 1942." Journal of the Australian War Memorial 35 (2002), at: https://www.awm.gov.au/journal/j35/straczek.asp.

"The size and effort that the [Royal Navy] put into signals intelligence in the Far East during the Second World War ... belies the [dismissal] of it by Hinsley and others." In 1924, "a Naval Section was added to the GC&CS and naval interception stations were established to complement the existing direction-finding (DF) capability. The development of this signals intelligence network, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, is one of the lesser known aspects of Britain's imperial naval history and co-operation."

Stripp, Alan. "Breaking Japanese Codes." Intelligence and National Security 2, no. 4 (Oct. 1987): 135-150.

The author describes his work on Japanese codes at Bletchley Park and in New Delhi. He later worked on Farsi at Abbottabad, and passed briefly through Singapore. At the end of the article, Stripp illustrates "a typical Japanese code system."

Stripp, Alan. Codebreaker in the Far East. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. [pb] 2002.

Alan Stripp died on 18 February 2009 at the age of 84. See Telegraph (London), 20 Mar. 2009.

McGinnis, Cryptolog, Summer 1996, notes that this work includes the author's account of how he was recruited into the Comint business, learned the Japanese language, worked at Bletchley Park, and then worked at various sites in the Far East. "This is not the world's greatest book about Comint. A newcomer might find some of the anecdotal material interesting."

According to Sexton, the author "provides an overview of the ways in which ULTRA contributed to Allied operations in Burma and discusses the intricacies of breaking Japanese codes and ciphers." Kruh, Cryptologia 28.1, calls this "a fascinating first-hand account by a codebreaker and an important contribution to our understanding of British signals intelligence and training." See also Allen, I&NS 5.3, for a lengthy look at some of the details in Stripp's book, as well as a brief reply from Stripp.

Trenowden, Ian. Operations Most Secret: SOE, The Malayan Theatre. London: Kimber, 1978. Rev. Ed. Manchester: Crécy, 1994.

Wilford, Timothy. "Watching the North Pacific: British and Commonwealth Intelligence before Pearl Harbor." Intelligence and National Security 17, no. 4 (Winter 2002): 131-164.

"Throughout 1941, British Intelligence pointed to a war with Japan in South-East Asia.... British Intelligence, according to some sources, also suspected that a Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was imminent, an assessment shared with the United States."

Bath, NIPQ 19.3, notes Wilford's thesis that the Japanese fleet may have used low power, low-frequency ship-to-ship communications that allowed British DF stations to locate the ships advancing on Pearl Harbor. That information may have been passed to the U.S. authorities. The reviewer comments: "Much conjecture, little new, hard evidence."

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