Monday, 23 July 2007

Chasing the Tiger's Tail

Authors Peter Thompson and Robert Macklin comment on the arduous process of researching Kill the Tiger: Operation Rimau and the Battle for Southeast Asia.

DURING OUR collaboration on The Battle of Brisbane we became thoroughly familiar with the war in the Pacific up to the end of 1942. This formed the background to the drama detailed in that book. We also learned of some of the behind-the-lines activities of the Allied Special Forces.

We knew, for example, of the adventures of the Krait when a commando team sailed the old scow from Australia far into hostile territory to attack Singapore Harbour in 1943. But the Rimau Raid of 1944—in which many of the same personnel participated—first came to our attention when Peter received a letter from his friend John Parker, chronicler of the Special Boat Service. It contained some intriguing research material—compiled by an enthusiastic amateur—and John suggested there was a cracking story to be told. Peter brought it to Australia from his London base during the launch of The Battle of Brisbane. And since there was a rare chance for us to work in physical proximity—Robert being based in Canberra—we made a number of forays at the Australian War Memorial. We were soon chasing a range of fascinating leads.

Rimau had a publishing history. Some excellent groundwork had been done, particularly by Tom Hall of Sydney, to retrace the steps of the raiders. But we were utterly unprepared for the new material that we were able to uncover as gradually we found ourselves dealing with the most ambitious and heroic commando operation of the Pacific War.

Moreover, at a crucial point in our investigation we lucked upon a document which laid bare the determination of the highest levels of the British Establishment to develop and deploy Operation Rimau at all cost. Suddenly much of the obfuscation which for half a century had puzzled and frustrated researchers was swept away.

And as we followed the brave men of Rimau on their extraordinary mission we became ever more conscious of the dark and terrible forces drawn into the unfolding saga. We were also extraordinarily fortunate to discover two people for whom the events of Rimau in 1944 and 1945 still reverberate— Clive Lyon in England and Roma Page in Australia. They became our guides and our companions as we strove to lay bare the story beneath the story.
We, like all who have been touched by this heroic episode amid the horror of war, are greatly in their debt.

Peter Thompson & Robert Macklin

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This book should be made into a film! Eoin