Repulse and Prince of Wales

Repulse and Prince of Wales

Sinking of the Repulse and Prince of Wales


English Forces

Force Z

1 battleship – Prince of Wales

1 battlecruiser – Repulse

4 destroyers


Casualities / Loses

1 battleship

1 battlecruiser

840 killed


Commanders

Sir Tom Phillips KIA

John Leach KIA

William Tennat


Japanese Forces

Genzan Air Group

Kanoya Air Group – Primarily responsible for sinking of the two capital ships

Mihoro Air Group

Total 88 aircraft (34 torpedo, 51 level bombers, 3 scout planes)


Casualities / Loses

3 aircraft destroyed / 28 damaged 18 killed


Commanders

Niichi Nakanishi

Shichizo Miyauchi

Hachiro Shoji

November 1, 1941

Aircraft Carrier Indomitable

Ordered to Singapore

November 1, 1941
November 3, 1941

Aircraft Carrier Indomitable

Stuck on Sandbar in Carribean, results in missing the battle.

November 3, 1941
November 3, 1941

Destroyers Encounter and Jupiter

Dispatched from Mediterranean Fleet to Singapore (both ships were suffering ongoing mechanical issues)

November 3, 1941
December 10, 1941

Force Z sets sail without air cover

Destroyers Encounter and Jupiter are not able to sail with Force Z due to mechanical troubles.

December 10, 1941
December 10, 1941

Japanese Subs

Force Z is shadowed by japanese subs almost from the moment they set sail

December 10, 1941
December 10, 1941

Japanese Bombers

Japanese aircraft take off 11 AM to attack Force Z.

December 10, 1941
December 10, 1941

Repulse Sinks

12:33 Pm

December 10, 1941
December 10, 1941

Prince of Wales Sinks

1:15 Pm

December 10, 1941

The sinking of the Prince of Wales and Repulse was another sad day of defeat for England and another day of celebration for Japan.  The evening of 10 December 1941 there were great parties and celebration at Japanese airfields near Saigon and in Singapore and England a day of remorse and pain.  The Repulse sank with 513 men lost and the Prince of Wales sank with a loss of 327 men. The main driving Japanese force to sink the two ships was surely the Bettys of Kanoya Air Corps squadron. This squadron scored nine torpedo hits on the two ships within three minutes of attacking at a loss to themself of two Bettys shot down.

Before World War 2 began, the British navy view Singapore as a strong base out of which Naval Groups would sail out and defend commerce in the South Pacific. It was believed that the English navy was far superior to any other navy and that even a moderate sized naval force based in Singapore would be enough to detere Japanese agression in the area.

The British airforce believed that the could and would provide local air superiority. Sadly, this belief was never to match with reality.  The most modern fighter based in Singapore right up to the start of the war was the F2A Buffalo (far inferior to modern Japanese fighters). Shortly before the actual Japanese attacks some new fighters were delivered, but these were not in enough numbers and there was not enough time to transition pilots into new planes and get them trained.

The British eventually came to realize fully that Singapore was vulnerable to an attack by land from the north.  Most of the fixed defenses faced the sea.  The very real need by Japan for the Dutch East Indies made their conquest of Singapore vital.  The British seemed to be aware of this on paper, but in reality moved slowly if at all to face this almost certain future attack.  Plans were made for a better land defence, a stronger air force and a greater naval presense in Singapore, yet all these plans moved with what seems the slowest of speed.

The British navy was seemingly paralized by German capital ships.  There existed an unwillingness to reduce the number of ship facing off against possible future German naval excursions.  In short, a handful of German ships like the Tirpitz held most of the English navy in place by the threat of what they might do in the future.  Ultimately it was decided that the Repulse, Prince of Wales, a handful of destroyers and the aircraft carrier Indomitable would be sent to hold of the Japanese until the issue with the German ships could be resolved or as new ships came out of the shipyards.  The Indomitable ran aground in the Carribean and was delayed with repairs and 2 of the destroyers sent to Singapore were older and had ongoing mechanical difficulties, preventing them from sailing out on the day the two might ships were sank.

As the Japanese attacked on land heading towards Singapore it became clear that the British army was going to have a difficult time holding off the enemy.  While recognizing their land defense was rather poor, the British were either unable or unwilling to strength this land defense.  Therefore Admiral Sir Tom Phillips sailed out of Singapore with Force Z (HMS Repulse, HMS Prince of Wales and a handful of destroyers, minus the 2 destroyers that had mechnical issues)  The idea was do intercept Japanese shipping of supplies and troops to the mainland and use the ships speed, radar and excellent guns to provide relief to the army and by them time.

Japanese submarines and reconnaissance planes tracked and shadowed Force Z almost the entire time it was at sea.

The HMS Repulse sank at 12:33 PM December 10, 1941 after repeatidly being struck by air launched torpedos and HMS Prince of Wales sank at approximately 1:15 Pm December 10, 1941 also after being struck by multiple torpedos.

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