World War II Singapore: Japanese Conquest--Assessment

Figure 1.--The fall of Singapore (February 1942) was a shock because it was the one place in the Pacific other than Pearl Harbor that Pear Harbor that has actually been strongly fortified. This is one of the last images from Singapore before the Japanese victory. The image shows a scene at the Quayside as civilians were being evacuated as the Japanese closed in on Singapore. The press caption read, "Hurrying to Leave Before Japs Came: Here is a scene at a Singapore quayside as women and children boarded a waiting transport that removed them to safer location before the Japanese captured this former British base." Unfortunately safer locations were not found. The final civilian transports from Songapore wer mostly sunk, including this one. We have details on the photographer. "Less than 10 days ago, from Padang on Sumatra's western coast, associated press photographer Frank Noel reported his own rescue from a torpedoed ship in the Indian Ocean. Today two of Noel's pictures taken prior to his departuyre from Singapore were transmitted by radio from London to New York--showing victims of Japanese bombing raids in Singapore. The pictures immediately were re-transmittef from coast to coast by wirephoto, While his poictures were en route by air to London, Noel himself, suffered leg injuries and sunburn after days in a life boat, was losing no time in attaining his next objective despite war time travel difficulties. Less than a week after his lifeboat arrival in Padang [Sumatra] Noel had managed to bridge the 1,500-mile gap from that point to Calcutta, where he is now headquartering--ready for more action." The note was dated January 28, 1942..

Japan took the large well-supplied British garison at Singapore with shocking ease. The British garrison outnumbered the attacking Japanese force. British General Percival has been sharply criticized. The defense of Singapore was badly planned. The Japanese offensive drive down the Malay Peninsula was briliantly executed. The key factors were that the Japanese were able to achieve aerial and naval mastery that was never anticipated in British defense planning combined with the surprising mobility of Japanese ground forces, in part achived by bicycles. The British 8th Division, badly needed in the Middle East, had been rushed to Singapore after it was already too late. The fall of Singapore was a military catastrophy of emense proportions. This was part of the 6-moths following Pearl Harbor of unrelenting Japanese victories (December 1941-May 1942). Japanese forces moved through Burma to the border of India in the West (April 1942). Their seizure of north eastern New Guina in the south (March 1942). The Pilippins fell (May 1942). Then the Japanese victories stopped ourside of China. What had occured was the British had defeated poorly armed and trained colonial forces. Begininging in New Guinea and the Solomons, the Japanese would face well-armed and trained combat units supported by air and naval forces. Australian troops had garisoned Singapore, after previously sending forces to North Africa, this left the country virtually undefended. Only the intervention of American carriers in the Coral Sea blocked Japanese expansion further south (May 1942). The Japanese conquest of Malaya also presented the Allies with a critical problem. The world's rubber production was centered on the Malay Peninsula. And rubber was a vital war material. Allied victoriea first occurred at sea -- Midway (June 1942). This meant that America men a material could flow to the Pacific. Singapore's fall would have consequences after the War. The prestige of the British Empire has been irreperably damaged.


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Created: 2:18 PM 7/19/2018
Last updated: 2:18 PM 7/19/2018