Forgot to ask, but have you ever read "South to Java" by William Mack? It's a novel concerning a fictious four stacker in the Asiatic Fleet. The author was an officer aboard the USS John D. Ford during Java Sea, and I enjoyed it throughly. Do you know of any novels written from an Australian POV for that time?
I know I'm beating a dead bush, but I do hold Exeter to be one of my favorite ships of the war. She was not the best heavy cruiser, but she led a colorful life. I'm also trying to see if there were any other options for the Allied naval forces following Java, rather than being picked off piecemeal.
I know the Dutch wanted to defend Java to the last, but I seriously can't see Exeter and her group inflicting damage on the invasion convoy, even with inflated enemy losses. I know Bali Strait is not an option for Exeter, and the possibility of making it through the Malay Barrier into the Indian ocean is slim. Still, if she could by some chance make it, I do believe she had a good chance to making to Australia(or Ceylon). The Kido Butai was busy on March 1st, sinking the Langley, Pecos, Edsall, and a few other ships. There's always the chance Exeter could be spotted, and KB taking pursuit, but I'm just speculating now.
Thanks for your input, it makes sense that the common belief was that the Japanese suffered more losses than reality, given the limited intelligence available. Still, and I'm probably speaking from hindsight, but I think Helfrich knew this at the time:
1. ABDA had suffered a great defeat at Java Sea, with Doorman dead and the invasion only postponed.
2.He only had three ships left on the north coast(barring the mystery of Houson and Perth). One battle damaged cruiser with no replenishment of shells, one modern DD and one DD old enough to vote.
I'm sorry if this seems odd, but I'm a little confused with the Second Battle of the Java Sea. I've read a lot recently concerning the naval battles of Java, but I'm wondering if things could have been different with Exeter. I know Adm. Helfrich ordered the group to head west towards Sunda Strait, but Houston and Perth had already been sunk there. Did Helfrich not know that? I read from James Hornfischers "Ship of Ghosts" that Capt. Rooks was able to send a radio message about engaging the enemy. Was that radio signal not picked up? Could Capt. Gordon on Exeter say to hell with orders and sail east. I'm unsure if they would survive, but to me its sounds better than heading west when IJN naval forces were known to be present. I can only speculate that communications were so bad on Java that the right hand knew nothing of what the left hand was doing.
Any help on this matter would be greatly appreciated.
Michael - all is well. I got a ride in an F-16 at Davic Monthan AFB in October... flew the A-10C simulator and we had a great time hosted by the 355th FW for our 68th anniversary. Our multi generation 355th Fighter Group Association is doing well with a great influx of Takhli/Vietnam War and Iraq/Afghanistan veterans joining us.
I do love the 'we were overwhelmed' discussions simply because the LuftFlotte Reich (Germany) never had less than 450 operational s/e fighters - and the target escorts never achieved that level of operational strength until late summer 1944. So if ALL the P-51s and P-38s concentrated around one bomb wing and the LW sent in a Gruppe to attack that area - it would be overwhelmed. But when 9 long range escort groups put up 50+ per group, and covered three Bomb wings bombing say nine target areas combined, there were rarely more than two Fighter groups to repel however many fighters the LW cared to concentrate in that volume of space.
It'll as hard as getting an even break for the Merlin lol.
I enjoy your posts about the FAA, its an area that needs discussion to show our achievements.
Have you been to the FAA museum at Yeovil?