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Ceylon at War 1939-1945

Series : War & Military Culture in South Asia 1757-1947 #9

Author : Ashley Jackson

Ceylon at War 1939-1945


General - Pages : 240

Hardback - Date of Publication : November 2018 | Size : 234mm x 156mm | ISBN : 9781912390656 | Helion Book Code : HEL0958

Ceylon became a vital Allied and imperial bastion following the fall of Singapore. Forces were rushed to its defence in the dark days of 1942, because if the Japanese had managed to take the island, the sea lanes of the Indian Ocean, vital to imperial and Allied communications, would have been threatened. Furthermore, as traditional sources were lost to the Japanese, Ceylon became the Allies’ main source of rubber, an essential material of war. Ceylon at War explains why the British War Cabinet considered the island to be strategically vital as it became a surrogate Singapore following Japan’s dramatic conquest of South-east Asia and Burma. It documents the measures taken to defend the island and the flight of thousands of civilians and service personnel to its harbours as they fled in the face of Japanese forces fanning out across South-east Asia and the Dutch East Indies. The April 1942 Japanese raids on Colombo and Trincomalee, described by Churchill as ‘the most dangerous moment of the war’, are described, as are the concurrent naval manoeuvres off Ceylon’s coast as the same Japanese fleet that had devastated Pearl Harbor sought to extinguish the Royal Navy in eastern waters. Ceylon’s role as a base for imperial and Allied forces and headquarters of Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten’s South East Asia Command is explained, along with the transformations brought to the island by the war.


“…indirectly, Allied control of these territories and sea lanes exerted a powerful influence on the conduct of distant campaigns and the outcome of the global war. Jackson endeavours to scrutinize a huge chunk of the planet, explain the vital role of these remote places, and fit them into the context of the wider conflict...readers should also consider learning more about these less-familiar pillars of the Allied war effort.” Stone & Stone

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