Where to find out about the loss of Prince of Wales and Repulse

On 8 December 1941, Japan raided Singapore from the air. Their bombers were engaged by the new British battleship Prince of Wales and the elderly battlecruiser Repulse, which were in the naval base at Sembawang on the northern side of the island.

Prince of Wales leaving Singapore on 8 December, 1941. Public domain, via Wikipedia.

What isn’t usually realised is that this basically happened at the same time as the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, where – on the other side of the international date line – it was still 7 December. Nor is the story of the Prince of Wales and Repulse‘s adventures over the next two days – where they ended up on the bottom of the South China Sea with tragic loss of life – as well known as it could be. Luckily there’s quite a bit of material available on them, some of it written by me. I’ve covered the story of that Japanese attack on Singapore and the fortunes of the British heavy ships in an article series I’ve written for the Navy General Board website. Go check it out here:


and here:


Pacific War 200pxA third article is to be published next week.

Meanwhile, for the story of the Pacific war in general from New Zealand’s perspective, jump across to Amazon and check out my book Pacific Waravailable now in second-edition print, and for the first time in any sort of print since 2003. It takes you from that attack on Singapore through the islands campaign and through to the ultimate end of the war in 1945 – where Kiwi naval forces joined the British Pacific Fleet off the coasts of Japan. All is told through the voices of some of those who participated, including the letters of my grandfather whose unit, as it happens, served on Green Island alongside a US unit led by an officer named Richard Milhous Nixon. Yes, that Richard Milhous Nixon.

Last Battleships 2 200 px
Click to buy

And if you’re really in to battleship engineering and the economics of building them, there’s also my short book Britain’s Last Battleships. Click, once again, to buy.

I’ve written quite a bit of other stuff on the way the Pacific war unfolded, all of which is out there, mostly on Amazon these days, but that’s probably enough to point out for now. The thing to remember is that the story, ultimately, is all about people – even the engineering bits where, for the British at least, the words ‘eccentric’ and ‘boffin’ sum it all up quite nicely. (‘I say Mountbatten, Pyke here. Have you ever considered the possibility of walloping the Nazis with a two million ton aircraft carrier made out of ice and wood pulp? What? Yes, of course it will work. We tested it thoroughly in Smithfield Meat Market, hidden behind a lot of animal carcases.’)

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2018