Many of us have been brainwashed by the shear weight of American self absorption into believing that the Second World War in the Pacific theatre began with the Japanese air attack on the US fleet at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on Dec 7 1941. Not so. Several hours before that the Japanese shot down an RAF flying boat which was shadowing the invasion fleet heading for the Malayan Peninsular. It's a mystery as to whether the plane from 205 Squadron failed to get off a radio message before it was blown apart, or whether the message was not received, or whether it was simply ignored; because the crew were all killed. Certainly, RAF and Australian air force planes had been aware of the invasion fleet since December 6th, though no-one knew where it was headed at that point. When the Catalina flying boat was was first raked by Japanese machine gun fire the fleet was only 150 miles from the invasion beaches. Actually, perhaps few people are aware that the first Allied casualties of the war in the Pacific were flying with an RAF squadron rather than Americans at Pearl Harbor because the incident raises too many questions about British military ineptitude.