Still in the Pacific:
Hobbs produced a solid read based on years of collecting material and photographs. His fundamental conclusion seems to be that the BPF just barely worked because the hoses available for refuelling were rubbish. The point becomes clear when you imagine transferring fuel oil in a heavy sea with a hose which bursts if you look at it, when you only have a day to resupply the fleet and get back on station for the next bombing strike and not get egg on your face in front of a lot of American admirals. I simplify; there were plenty of other dicky issues. Hobbs will provide the numbers if you consult him. Some of them are horrifying.
He also shares some enjoyable details. For example, when air strips were required at short notice in Australia, they might be constructed by driving large numbers of sheep up and down until the ground was level and compacted (obviously far more sheep in Aus than there was heavy machinery). I hadn’t thought about the water problem for a large fleet operating in mid-ocean – turns out there were specialist ships in the supply fleet to distill fresh water from sea water. This being the Royal Navy, one of them was called Bacchus. And it seems the Americans didn’t like Admiral Vian either.
Sakishima is also the result of a personal project, but far more limited in scope and less professionally edited. There may be a slight question mark over the accuracy too, if some testy marginalia are to be believed. But it does give some idea of what a single in-for-the-duration experience might be like. (Oh and guess what – Eadon couldn’t resist a quick swipe at Vian …)
Finally I thought I would even things up with something emphasizing the ground battles rather than the naval war, since this audio book was in the local library. The experiences of five US servicemen are taken as the lens through which to see the Pacific campaign. As you would expect, parts of it made sad and painful listening. Admiral Vian, however, didn’t turn up, which was a relief in a way, as he seemed to be turning into King Charles’ head. I listened to it all, but perhaps it takes a marine to love a marine.
While all this was going on, the cuttings in the jamjar were gradually looking more and more poxed and repellent.