Operation Kingfisher

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Peter H
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Operation Kingfisher

Post by Peter H » 27 Oct 2009 05:45

The proposed plan to save the POWs held at Sandakan.

http://www.awm.gov.au/journal/j37/borneo.asp
KINGFISHER: SRD bungle or American reluctance?

...If the AGAS report is to be believed, and there is no apparent reason to doubt its veracity, why then was no attempt been made to effect the planned rescue of the Sandakan POWs – that is, implement Operation KINGFISHER? KINGFISHER, conceived sometime in mid-1944, proposed a rescue plan of POWs in Sandakan by a paratroop unit.The probable reason for aborting KINGFISHER has been hotly debated, with arguments ranging from a conspiratorial cover-up that implicated Australia's military elite to MacArthur's non-cooperation in providing vital support for the operation.

Blamey's speech at the Second Annual Conference of the Australian Armoured Corps Association in Melbourne on 19 November 1947 apparently "let the cat out of the bag". Lieutenant Colonel (later Sir) John Overall's 800-strong paratroop battalion which had been training at the Atherton Tableland for a covert operation that never came through knew nothing of the details of their mission until Blamey's address.

"We had complete plans for them [paratroopers]. Our spies [AGAS and its local agents] were in Japanese-held territory. We had established the necessary contacts with prisoners at Sandakan, and our parachute troops were going to relieve them. ... But at the moment we wanted to act, we couldn't get the necessary aircraft to take them in [emphasis added]. The operation would certainly have saved that death march of Sandakan."

... Lynette Ramsay Silver argued that Blamey blamed MacArthur as an excuse to cover-up an SRD bungle in the gathering of accurate intelligence.The Blamey-MacArthur relationship had never been cosy, each accusing the other of attempting to undermine his authority. Blamey, she claimed, told Air Vice-Marshal George Jones, the Chief of the Air Staff, that "while he [Blamey] had not submitted his rescue plan to the Australian government or other authorities, he had raised it with MacArthur, 'who did not favour it'".

Silver denounced Blamey's claim about "getting the necessary aircraft" as utter nonsense which was not supported by evidence. First, she said, it was absurd to blame MacArthur and the American reluctance to supply the necessary air transport. No such request was made to MacArthur, who evidently then had at his disposal 600 C-47s. If the Americans were reluctant as was claimed, the RAAF had in its own pool of 71 C-47s. According to KINGFISHER, only 34 aircraft were required. Secondly, and more conclusively, there was no need of American planes or that of the RAAF, as SRD itself had its own exclusive Air Section, codenamed 200 Flight, which had been established in February 1945.

....Although Silver argued rather convincingly that there was a cover-up of SRD failings (translated into Blamey's blunder) and putting the blame on the Americans, it is difficult to dismiss the evidence from the AGAS operational report of February-May 1945. From my own research I tend to agree with Powell that the rescue of POWs was low in the priority of the AIF. Preparations were in earnest for the launching of the OBOE operations, and it would have been a diversion of effort to mount a rescue attempt in the midst of the overall invasion plan. Furthermore, as pointed out, there was a genuine fear that an attempted rescue operation might effectively sign the death warrant for all POWs and civilian internees. History, however, did not witness a Japanese massacre of POWs but during the momentous months prior to the landings, a Japanese vindictive backlash was a real possibility. "The bitter irony of this concern," Powell pointed out, "is that when some might have been saved, all were left to die."

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Peter H
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Re: Operation Kingfisher

Post by Peter H » 27 Oct 2009 09:47

http://members.iinet.net.au/~gduncan/ma ... cific.html
OPERATION 'KINGFISHER'

The code name for the rescue operation planned to liberate the Australian and British prisoners of war confined at Sandakan. In the planning stage for months under the direction of Australian General Sir Thomas Blamey and the Special Reconnaissance Department (SRD) the operation was bungled from the start owing to ineptitude, incompetence, petty jealousies and lack of decision making. The egosticistical US General Douglas MacArthur (not very popular in Australia) nevertheless gave it his unqualified support, but history has wrongly blamed MacArthur who became the scapegoat for Kingfisher's failure. Blamey stated that aircraft and ships were not available for the rescue operation, that MacArthur needed them for 'other purposes' (no doubt, the proposed invasion of Japan). After thirty years the Kingfisher files were released for public access. They show that the RAAF had a pool of around 40 Dakota DC-3s and B24 Liberators in hand and that only 30 were needed for the paratroop assault on Sandakan for which 800 paratroops had trained in the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland. (although they were never told for what purpose) After months of planning, the rescue operation never took place and so, 2,428 Australian and British POWs...died.
Map of the Sandakan Death March,west to Ranau fron Wartime,AWM,Issue 30 2005,Article by Peter Stanley "Sandakan:The Greatest Atrocity".
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hoot72
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Re: Operation Kingfisher

Post by hoot72 » 28 Jan 2020 07:33

The mission was never taken seriously and never left the planning stage or desk. There was never a rescue plan until late July/Early August 1945.
And even that mission was cancelled the day before the rescue once they found out the prisoners were gone and there was nobody left in the camp.
Whever we went, whatever we did, we quoted the songs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgUhjWJVVCQ&t=199s

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