Allied Air Transport Operations South West Pacific Area
in World War Two Vol-2
Year of expansion and
order form for Robert H. Kelly's Allied Air Transport Operations South
West Pacific Area in WWII - Volume II, 1943 - Year of expansion and
Robert Kelly's Allied Air Transport Operations, Volume 2 , is very
impressive indeed. In this volume, one in a series projected to span the
years of the Pacific war, Kelly offers a chronicle of a single year of
Allied military transportation.
Good reference material – volumes which provide information in an accessible
form – is extremely valuable to military historians, particularly amateur
military historians. When I first opened Robert Kelly's volume, I was
expecting to find a work similar in scope and detail to Martin Middlebrook's
commendable Bomber Command War Diaries , which I keep close to hand
on my shelves, and consult with some regularity. Quite frankly, Kelly's
volume surpassed my expectations.
Allied Air Transport Operations focuses on 1943, as the full title suggests.
It provides not a chronicle of transport operations for the year, but a
less-than-brief presentation of each of the major Transportation Groups or
Wings providing support services for the Allied troops engaged against the
Japanese. In effect, Mr Kelly is providing the story behind the story of the
Pacific War. He does it very well indeed.
What can one find in this volume? I started making a list, and stopped
before I was overwhelmed by the variety of data Mr Kelly offers. Location
and capacity of airfields: covered. Tonnages: covered. Aircraft types and
numbers: covered. Flying personnel: largely covered, particularly when
dealing with losses of personnel. Orders and operations memoranda: provided
as appropriate. Division of cargo transport v. troop carriage: largely
provided. Anecdotal stories: inserted as appropriate. Air base layouts:
provided as necessary. Maps: provided (but, truthfully, not as fully as I
would have liked). Photos: included, but in insufficient quantity for my
taste. In truth, this is an exhaustive study of a very specific, very
important part of the war against Japan.
It is possible to study this volume – I won't say read, though that too
might apply – independently, because it has its own story to tell, and it
tells it well. Personally, however, I see Robert Kelly's book as a reference
volume for those who want to understand how and why the Allies were able to
maintain supply as they consolidated their offensive abilities in the middle
year of the Pacific campaigns.
There are other features of this volume which should be mentioned, because
they indicate the meticulousness of Robert Kelly's effort. The volume is,
for instance, hard-bound: it is a volume that is designed for frequent
usage. It is beautifully and strongly bound; the signatures stand out when
the volume is opened. There is a "silk" page marker – something I haven't
seen for years in a working volume. Mr Kelly has provided a book which is
physically substantial: he is assuming that his volumes will be used on a
regular basis, and has given them the strength to withstand the usage. These
are not, I admit, indications of the quality of the information found in
Kelly's book. But they are indications of Mr Kelly's desire to offer a
volume which can stand up to excessive and prolonged use.
There are, I admit, certain qualities I would like to see changed in the
next volume of the series, but I'm splitting hairs by raising them and there
are only three. From a purely cosmetic point-of-view, I would love to see a
dust-jacket carrying the photos now on the hard cover. A dust jacket would
protect the volume from the frequent use I would expect it to receive. I
would like to see the volume printed on matte, rather than "satin" finish
paper; the paper for volume 2 does not take either pen or pencil annotations
well, and I found myself wanting to make my personal annotations on the
page. Third – and this is a minor point indeed – I was torn between thinking
the photos included were simply badly reproduced and hoping that their
quality was designed to suggest the temporary status of the bases,
activities and personnel included in the book.
Not everyone can afford to have Mr Kelly's volumes in his personal library.
But I have trouble in believing that any library, and in particular any
library accessed by military personnel or military historians – professional
or amateur – could afford to be without the series he is creating. Mr Kelly
is providing a massive amount of information which explains how the Allies
were able to conclude the Pacific War so quickly and effectively.
Because of the complexity of this volume of Robert Kelly's series, a full
evaluation of Allied Air Transport Operation SWP will not be
possible for some time: reference books gain respectability only by
continued reference by scholars and interested parties. I feel confident,
however, that this series of reference volumes will prove to be of immense
importance to those who wish a full understanding of how the battles of the
Pacific theatre were fought and won.
Book order form for Robert H. Kelly's Allied Air Transport Operations
South West Pacific Area in WWII - Volume II, 1943 - Year of expansion and