It was painful to consider that the nation which could produce the world’s greatest battleships was unable under pressure to produce a single satisfactory torpedo boat.
These are the memoirs of the only Imperial Japanese Navy destroyer captain at the start of World War II to survive the entire war. Tameichi Hara presents his memoirs, with the help of journalist Fred Saito and translator Roger Pineau.
The book focuses on the navy battles of the Pacific in 1942 and 1943 while captain Hara was fighting the US Navy in Guadalcanal and the Philippines, being involved in over a dozen major actions.
The stories are an unique view of the Imperial Japanese Navy, their tactics, problems, morale and weaponry. The writing is engaging, and the pace is surprisingly good for a memoirs book.
Captain Hara is not just as simple captain. He wrote the Japanese manual for torpedo tactics, the most advanced in the world at the time. He managed to keep his ship intact with no crew loses, in several military engagements, when Japanese destroyers where sunk or damaged at a high rate.
The book practically shows how the power of air took over the power of navy, how warplanes gradually got the upper hand over warships.
Towards the end of the war, he accepted a suicide mission, as captain of the light cruiser Yahagi, accompanying battleship Yamato in its last attack.
What logic can make a human being to accept almost certain death, when everything else is lost? Captain Hara beautifully describes the situation and the facts with great precision.
The book is superbly researched, the Japanese actions being verified with accounts from the Allies. Those are some great memoirs, on par with the ones of Heinz Guderian, another great innovative mind. While Hara was the master of torpedo, Guderian was master of tanks, both ending on the same during and after the war.