Prelude to the Monsoon

Prelude to the Monsoon

Assignment in Sumatra

Anniversary Collection

by G. F. Jacobs

Introduction by D. Clayton James

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.

280 pages, 0.00 x 0.00 x 0.00

  • ISBN: 9781512802856
  • Published: November 2016



"When Major Gideon Francois Jacobs of the British Royal Marines parachuted into the jungle of north Sumatra in the summer of 1945, he entered a world little known to Westerners. . . . It seemed to be a wild, primitive island where little of historical significance had happened or was likely to happen." So begins the Introduction to one of the most remarkable memoirs of World War II. The drama it captures is one that has been scarcely recognized in the West. Beginning with Japanese surrender to the Allies on Sumatra, the narrative details the welter of international forces that struggled for dominance on the island until native uprisings forced the establishment of the new Indonesian republic. The story is told by the very man whose assignment it was to take control of Sumatra from 80,000 vanquished Japanese troops and to oversee the liberation of all prisoner-of-war camps: G. F. Jacobs, a twenty-­three-year-old major in the Royal Marines.

Through the eyes of young Major Jacobs, a full view emerges of the "boiling cauldron" that was Sumatra in 1945. In spite of the official Allied victory, Jacobs had to attempt to rule Sumatra using the existing Japanese military structure until British relief arrived. He describes his dealings with the Japanese, who were reluctant to admit defeat, and his relations with other elements of the ravaged Sumatran population, which included Europeans such as the Dutch, British, and Swiss. Indonesian insurgents lurk on the horizon as the internal movement for independence begins. Jacobs's cast of characters reflects the tensions and interests of their own nations, and he must grapple with their values and attitudes along with his own.

Jacobs's personal eyewitness account of the developments in Sumatra immediately after the Japanese surrender in August of 1945 combines the excitement and adventure of a fast-paced novel with a valuable record of a lost portion of history. Eclipsed by events in other parts of the world, the drives for power that surged through Indonesia after the war have never been recounted fully.

This book is a historical document of a period that has left an indelible imprint upon the history of modern Asia. An introduction by the noted American military historian D. Clayton James provides a historical and political context for Jacobs's exciting story.