The Kamikaze Hunters
Fighting for the Pacific, 1945
By Will Iredale
Published by Macmillan
RRP $29.99 in paperback
As ever, when you dip into books you find some fascinating facts. I did not know for instance that there was a British Centre built in Sydney in 1945 from public donations. It operated as a hostel and recreation centre for the crews. At its height 6,000 meals were served daily ….. and it included a dance floor. Sydney had been chosen as the British Pacific Fleet’s main base
As Will Iredale writes in his introduction to this book, in the spring and summer of 1945, Britain was already celebrating victory over Germany, yet 6,000 miles away in the Pacific hundreds of young men, most barely out of their teens, were climbing into their fighters and bombers and taking off from the pitching, rolling decks of Royal Navy aircraft carriers to battle against the Japanese kamikazes.
These were the ‘flyboys’ of the British Pacific fleet, spearheaded by its six principal aircraft carriers, forming the 1st Aircraft Carrier Squadron.
It was a chance meeting with Royal Navy fighter pilot Keith Quilter, who was shot down by anti-aircraft fire in July 1945, that sparked his interest in the topic and this book.
You can see a short video at this link – which includes interviews with survivors and also the author at the book launch in London.