Brought to life by the personal accounts of six Navy pilots and one British POW, this is the history of the U.S. Navy airstrikes on Japanese-held Hong Kong. Commander John Lamade started the war in 1941 a nervous pilot of an antiquated biplane. Just over three years later he was in the cockpit of a cutting-edge Hellcat about to lead a strike force of 80 aircraft through the turbulent skies above the South China Sea. His target: Hong Kong. As a storm of antiaircraft fire darkened the sky, watching from below was POW Ray Jones. For three long years he and his fellow prisoners had endured near starvation conditions in a Japanese internment camp. Did these American aircraft, he wondered, herald freedom?
Trawling through historic records, Steven K. Bailey discovered that the story of the U.S. Navy airstrikes on Japanese-held Hong Kong during the final year of World War II had never been told. Operation Gratitude involved nearly 100 U.S. Navy warships and close to a thousand planes. Target Hong Kong brings this massive operation down to a human scale by recounting the air raids through the experiences of seven men whose lives intersected at Hong Kong in January 1945: Commander John D. Lamade, five of his fellow U.S. Navy pilots and the POW Ray Jones. Drawing upon oral histories, diary transcripts, and U.S. Navy documents, this book expertly narrates the intertwined experiences of these servicemen to bring the history to life.
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Table of Contents
Acronyms Place Names List of Illustrations Maps 1. January 1945 2. December 1941 3. We Are Now Prisoners of War 4. Boxing Day, 1941 5. Training Days 6. Little Jack and the Big John 7. Manila Bay 8. Convoy Hi-87 9. Crew Two 10. Hot, Straight, and Normal 11. Shootin' Star 12. The Most Frightening Thing 13. Blanket Missions 14. A Complete Failure 15. Target 8 16. Fifteen to Twenty Seconds of Flotation 17. Intense to Unbelievable 18. Three Planes Down 19. Triple X 20. The Man in the Harris Tweed 21. The Bombing of Bungalow C 22. The Results Were Not Commensurate with the Losses 23. The Navy Department Deeply Regrets to Inform You 24. Houseguests 25. Eager Beavers 26. Courts of Inquiry 27. Killed on a Sunday 28. Ten Centuries 29. The Bombing of Bungalow A 30. On the Beach 31. Forever and a Day 32. Reparations, Reassignments, and Record Jackets 33. Ninety-four Pounds 34. Hungjao Road 35. Unknowns Epilogue Acknowledgments Endnotes Bibliography Index