Operation Lentil (Sumatra)

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Grumman Avenger torpedo bombers from HMS Indefatigable forming up for a raid on a Japanese oil refinery at Pangkalan Brandan during Lentil.

Operation Lentil was an air raid by British carrier-based aircraft on oil installations at Pangkalan Brandan, an important centre for Indonesian oil production on Sumatra on 4 January 1945. It was part of the larger Operation Outflank, and its aim was to disrupt fuel supplies to Japanese forces in the Pacific.

Attacking force[edit]

Three aircraft carriers, HMS Indomitable HMS Indefatigable and HMS Victorious, were escorted by four cruisers (HMS Suffolk, Ceylon, Argonaut and Black Prince) and eight destroyers, which included the 25th Flotilla (Grenville (leader), Ursa, Undaunted, Undine) and the 27th Flotilla (Kempenfelt (leader), Whelp, and Wager). In terms of aircraft numbers, it was the Royal Navy's heaviest assault on the Japanese to date, with the three carriers embarking a total of 88 fighter planes.[1]

Despite the lack of discipline from some of the fighter pilots, who abandoned their main mission of protecting the bombers to engage in dogfights with the enemy,[1] the attack was pronounced a moderate success and gave way to follow-up attacks on Japanese oil production in Sumatra, under the codename Operation Meridian.[2]

The attack was done under the command of then rear-admiral Philip Vian, who was in charge of the British Pacific Fleet's air operations.[3] A high proportion of the pilots were New Zealanders.[4]

Further reading[edit]

  • A detailed account of the operations of the Royal Navy in the Pacific in 1944–1945 was published in 1969 as "Task Force 57" by Peter C Smith. Republished by Crecy Publishing Manchester third edition 2001. ISBN 0 947554 85 8
  • John Winton, The Forgotten Fleet:The British Navy in the Pacific 1944–1945, Coward McCann, 1970
  • Jurgen Rohwer, Chronology of the War at Sea 1939–1945, Naval institute press, 2005, ISBN 1-59114-119-2 

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Gray, Edwyn (1990). Operation Pacific: The Royal Navy's War against Japan 1941 – 1945. London: Pen and Sword. p. 178. ISBN 9780850522648.
  2. ^ Guinn, Gilbert S.; Bennet, G. H. (2007). British Naval Aviation in World War II: The US Navy and Anglo-American Relations. London, New York: Tauris Academic Studies. p. 144. ISBN 9780857711120.
  3. ^ "Lentil | Operations & Codenames of WWII". codenames.info. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  4. ^ Thomson, Patrick Jeremy Lyon (2012). "Kiwi 'drivers' and 'lookers' : an analysis and examination of the significant contribution of New Zealand Fleet Air Arm Aircrew, of the British Pacific Fleet, to Allied Naval Operations 1944–1945" (PDF). Massey University Theses and Dissertations: 82.