|"THE MOST DANGEROUS MOMENT"
It was Sir Winston Churchill, who described the attack on Sri Lanka , by the Japanese during 5 th and 9 th of April 1942, as the "most dangerous moment". It is also during this attack that the British aircraft carrier HMS Hermes and its accompanying Australian destroyer HMAS Vampire were sunk off the East Coast of the Island.
On the 9 th April of this year, during the attack on Colombo and Trincomalee, 70 Japanese bombers attacked these two ships. The HMS Hermes who received 40 direct hits, split in two and went down within 10 minutes. The HMAS Vampire who failed to counter attack, slipped away went down in an unknown location and is yet to be located. The aircraft carrier Hermes that was located in Batticaloa earlier now has to be relocated. The diving expeditions have shown that the Hermes is not where the admiralty charts indicate.
It is interesting to find out why Sir Winston Churchill considered this attack on Ceylon, the "most dangerous moment" of the Second World War for the British. During the first half in this year, Germany and Japan were making steady gains in North Africa, Caucasus and the Indian Ocean. Loss of Ceylon in this war would have meant the loss of control of the Indian Ocean resulting in the loss of control of India. Considering this fact and the fact that Ceylon was the weakest point in the defense perimeter gave rise to this thought.
The importance of this "dangerous" moment in the recent history and the significance of these shipwrecks that have so far eluded the discovery have given material for the making of an interesting documentary film. To enhance the importance and beauty of this film, the makers of the documentary - 'The Battle of Ceylon' for the series 'Shipwreck Detectives', have joined up with four war veterans two of whom have been in the Hermes and other two in the Vampire. These four veterans who have returned to Sri Lanka after 63 years have added immense value to this film.