Striking Force is another men on a mission title from Australian publisher Horwitz. This tale is pretty grim, focusing on the fear of going into battle – and author L.K. Jackson does quite a good job of ratcheting up that tension. Almost too good of a job, because the following action passages don’t manage to live up to the build up.
The book could have done with some hard editing also. There is a lot of repetition, often within the space of a few paragraphs.
As you would expect from a book of this age, the Japanese soldiers portrayed in the story are a bit on the crude side. Not quite out-and-out racism, but certainly negative Japanese stereotypes are used, such as ‘little yellow skin’, and ‘the only good Jap is a dead Jap’ etc. I don’t think I have to elaborate any more.
The story is told from the point of view of an un-named Sergeant. And the mission under the command of Lieutenant Braddock and Captain Mannion, is to follow and meet with General Stilwell. Stilwell ventured into the jungle two months earlier, and nobody has heard from him since.
From the very beginning, the Japs are on the brigade’s trail, and when Mannion foolishly leads them down a river, the unit is set upon from all sides.
The climax, where the brigade, who have been split in two groups, assault a Japanese airbase is rousing, vigorous and well written – and on the tougher side of boys-own-adventure. It is more like Saving Private Ryan than Where Eagles Dare (if that makes sense – it’s more about surviving than blood and bullet heroics). It would not surprise me if I learnt that the author was a vet.
I can find no information on author L.K. Jackson, but it would appear that Striking Force was also released by Trojan Paperbacks (which appear to be a UK company) – but with an American soldier on the cover.
Front: With a burning zeal and blazing barrels the Chindit brigade captured the vital Jap airfield.
Back: Fools or heroes
Lieutenant Braddock’s men were trapped deep in Japanese held territory.
They were sick and tired, hunted like rats in the fetid jungle.
The Sergeant and his gallant six proposed an ingenious rear attack as a last ditch stand.
The Lieutenant considered it absolute suicide.