Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Fall of Singapore at 75

Singapore Surrenders - ‘Worst disaster in British history’

The British troops in Singapore surrendered unconditionally to the Japanese forces on February 15, 1942, seven days after the Nippon troops first stormed the island.

The capitulation came only two weeks after the Japanese onslaught on the Malay Peninsula forced the British troops to withdraw to the island, the BBC reported. UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill described the fall of Singapore as “the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history”.

32,000 Indian soldiers, 16,000 British troops and 14,000 Australian soldiers were captured by the Japanese. The high number of prisoners was not surprising as the troops had been ordered to defend Singapore until the last moment.

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Japanese envoy joins officials at ceremony marking Fall of Singapore
Japan’s Ambassador to S'pore, Mr Kenji Shinoda, (3rd from right) attended the commemoration ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of the Fall of Singapore at Kranji War Cemetery. foto: Koh Mui Fong

75 years after the fall of S'pore, a Japanese government official on Wed (Feb 15) attended a ceremony for the 1st time to honour those who died defending S'pore & Malaya during World War II.

Japan’s Ambassador to Singapore, Mr Kenji Shinoda, laid a wreath in a commemoration ceremony at the Kranji War Cemetery. “I bow my head deeply before the souls of all those who perished and fell victims to the battles and hardships here 75 years ago. We must never repeat the horrors of war again,” he said in a statement.

The recommendation to include Japan in the committee for the 75th anniversary of the fall of Si'pore was mooted by committee chairman Jeya Ayadurai, director of The Battlebox and The Changi Museum. He wanted to recognise that “all nations have suffered in World War II”, and that “former enemies have (moved), and are moving into the future as firm partners in peace”.

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Service to commemorate fall of Singapore

Today marks 75 years since the fall of Singapore, one of the most humiliating defeats of the Second World War for allied forces.

Around 80,000 British, Indian and Australian troops surrendered as Japanese forces took the British colony in a battle lasting between the 8th and 15th of February, 1942.

Soldiers and civilians on the island were taken prisoner by the Japanese, with many held for years at the infamous Changi prison.

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Fall Of Singapore

Remembering the occupation: The Fall of Singapore had a major military and tactical effect on Australia’s experience of WWII in the Pacific, and we commemorate the sacrifices made by Australian soldiers and civilians.

But what of the many local people left behind in Malaysia and Singapore when the British retreated? In Malaysia, civilians lived under a hostile Japanese military occupation, whilst in Singapore tens of thousands of Chinese Singaporeans were rounded up and murdered. Somehow, local people survived these dreadful years until Japanese surrender in 1945, but their lives were irrevocably changed.

Today, emigrants from Malaysia and Singapore live in Australia - they, their children and grandchildren are Australians, and their stories are also a part of our story of war in the Pacific.

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Never forget fall of Singapore

A federal Nationals MP wants Australian politicians to pause and reflect on the 75th anniversary of one of the most humiliating defeats for allied forces in World War II.

Andrew Broad's rural Victorian seat of Mallee was first held by Winton Turnbull, a survivor of the fall of Singapore, who was held as a prisoner of war at Changi for more than three years before returning to Australia and entering politics.

"That is the character of the people we had in our parliament," Mr Broad said on Wednesday.

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Lessons for today from the fall of Singapore

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the fall of Singapore.

On December 5, 1941, as Japanese forces prepared to attack Pearl Harbor, Hong Kong and multiple targets in Southeast Asia, including Singapore, Adolf Hitler’s most talented Panzer commander, General Heinz Guderian, was forced to halt his assault on Moscow just 18 kilometres from the gates of the Kremlin. Over the previous four months, British Royal Navy convoys had evaded German naval patrols in treacherous Arctic waters to transport vital tanks and Hurricane Hawk aircraft to Murmansk to help the Soviet Union resist the German onslaught.

In the 12 months prior to Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union, the people of the British Commonwealth had stood alone in an existential struggle against the forces of fascism in Europe. The inevitable consequence was that the men and equipment, in particular air cover, needed for the defence of Southeast Asia just were not available.

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75 years after Singapore's fall, we must think seriously about the region again
The lessons of Singapore's fall 75 years ago appear anachronistic but are not as dryly historical as you might think

Wednesday marks 75 years since the British surrender at Singapore, a calamity that Winston Churchill pronounced as the "the greatest disaster in British arms which our history records". Eighty-five thousand British, Indian and Australian servicemen instantly became prisoners-of-war, added to those already captured or killed in Japan's 70-day blitzkrieg along the length of the Malay peninsula.

If the historical controversy between Australia and Britain over responsibility for the fall of Singapore has slowly ebbed, February 15, 1942 still stands out as an inflexion point of strategic significance. The United States has been Australia's chief protector and ally ever since.

Singapore's defenders outnumbered their attackers more than 2:1. But once Japan had established superiority at sea and in the air, sinking HMS Repulse and Prince of Wales in the South China Sea, the fate of Britain's Far Eastern bastion was sealed. Retired Rear Admiral Guy Griffiths of the Royal Australian Navy is a survivor of the Repulse – these events remain within living memory.

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The fall of Singapore: 75 years on

It was one of the darkest days of World War II – and Scots were among those who suffered the worst privations after the fall of Singapore 75 years ago this week.

The collapse happened on February 15, 1942, when more than 130,000 Allied troops, from Britain, Australia and India, were captured by Japanese forces.

The many Scottish soldiers with the 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders, were not committed to the battle until it was too late and 40% of their number subsequently died in prison camps: victims of often inhumane treatment at the hands of captors who did not observe the Geneva convention.

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Fall of Singapore: Australian POWs' oral history charts memories of defeat and imprisonment
Allied soldiers are captured by the Japanese Imperial Army in Singapore in 1942. (Credit: ABC licensed)

More than 30 years after the end of WWII, Australian prisoners of war really began to tell the stories of what happened in the wake of the fall of Singapore.

It was more than 30 years after the end of World War II before Australian prisoners of war really began to tell the stories of what happened in the wake of the fall of Singapore.

Some had not ever told their families about the terrible things that happened to them. Many — quite wrongly, of course — felt slightly ashamed about being POWs.

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Fall of Singapore at 75: Australian Malays, Singaporeans remember the occupation

The people left behind in Singapore and Malaysia upon the fall of Singapore and the British retreat 75 years ago today saw their lives irrevocably change.

Today, emigrants from Malaysia (then Malaya) and Singapore are themselves and their extended families Australian, and their stories are part of a larger story of war in the Asia-Pacific.

Ginny Costin is 77 years old and lives in south-west Sydney, but in late 1941 she was a little girl growing up with her Chinese family in Penang. Ms Costin remembers the first bombs that were dropped as the Japanese imperial forces advanced.

related:
Remembering the fall of Singapore
How the fall of Singapore changed Australia
Bangka Island massacre victims remembered 75 years on

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To survive WWII, he was dressed up as a girl

Today is the 75th anniversary of the fall of S'pore.

A survivor remembers Mr Tommy Wong was only 3 years old when the Japanese invaded Singapore in 1942, during World War II.

During the 3 years and 8 months of the Japanese Occupation, his family took desperate measures to survive.

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Remembering terror of S'pore's past

The Japanese invasion of S'pore on this day in 1942 & the occupation that followed remain an incomparable moment of anguish in the nation's history. The invasion destroyed the myth of perpetual security under the protection of a major power. Colonial rule turned the island into what the British proudly called the "Gibraltar of the East", an impregnable military fortress. Just as the British-held Rock, strategically located at the entrance of the Mediterranean, had withstood sieges in the past, people believed S'pore would never fall. Yet ultimately, it took just 15 minutes for British commanders to realise they had no choice but to surrender to the "Tiger of Malaya", Japan's Lieutenant-General Tomoyuki Yamashita.

The rampant Japanese forces who had marched down the Malayan peninsula put paid to that great folly & to many of those who had believed in it. The invaders replaced the colonial myth with an imperial lie of their own - namely, that they had arrived in Singapore to liberate it from colonialism. In reality, the Japanese sought to replace unwanted British rule with theirs. In the process, the Japanese broke down many of the structures of a society created by British colonialism. Consequently, all suffered: coolies, rickshaw-pullers, traders and property owners. They learnt the hard way that the Japanese were no liberators, as underscored by the egregiously barbaric Sook Ching massacre, which targeted the Chinese.

By the time the Japanese departed in 1945, they had left Singapore a far more ethnically polarised society than even British divide-and-rule policies had been able to devise or achieve in more than a century. This is a period of the nation's past that should not be forgotten.

related: '2 bitter but valuable lessons' from Japanese Occupation

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8 Ways to Remember the Fall of Singapore's 75th Anniversary with the Kids

8 February 1942 nightfall marked the moment when Japanese forces began the invasion of Singapore. By 15 February, it was all over when the British officially surrendered Singapore to the Japanese.

This year is a significant year because not only does it mark the 75th anniversary of the Fall of Singapore, it is also the 50th year of National Service (NS50).

The Fall of Singapore is considered one of the darkest moments in Singapore's short history where for the next 3 years and 7 months, life in Singapore was a period of constant fear and hardship. Which is why come every 15 February (also known as Total Defence Day), we remember the sufferings of our forefathers during the Japanese Occupation, and remind ourselves that NEVER AGAIN shall Singapore fall. We can only trust ourselves to defend Singapore and protect all that we hold dear.

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Full Coverage:
Statement on Indulgence: 75th Anniversary of the Fall of Singapore
75 years on: The Fall of Singapore and its mark on East Anglia's soldiers
Family of Townsville prisoner of war share memories at 75th anniversary
Fall of S'pore anniversary: Praise for Australia's 'magnificent' POWs'
Fall of Singapore at 75: Three prisoners of war share their stories
The fall of Singapore: 75 years on
Never forget fall of Singapore: Broad
Fall of S'pore: Veterans and POW commemorated on 75th anniversary
75 yrs after Singapore's fall, we must think seriously about the region again
Lessons for today from the fall of Singapore
Service commemorates fall of Singapore
Tribute to sacrifices during service to mark 75th anniversary of Fall of S'pore
Haunting images from a dark chapter of WWII: Australian POW's sketches'
Australia commemorates 75th ani of fight against Japan invading S'pore
Fall of S'pore anniversary: How a military defeat changed Australia
Fall of S'pore at 75: Australian Malays, S'poreans remember the occupation
Tributes to mark 75th anniversary of Fall of Singapore
Fall Of Singapore
Singapore Surrenders
Solemn tributes to WWII victims at memorial services
Japanese envoy joins officials at ceremony marking Fall of Singapore
Allied nations jointly mark 75th anniversary of the fall of S'pore in ceremony
Remembering terror of S'pore's past
Memorial ceremony marks fall of Singapore to Japanese troops

The Syonan Gallery Flap

War and Its Legacies is a permanent World War Two exhibition presented by the National Archives of Singapore at the historic Former Ford Factory. This was the place where the British forces surrendered unconditionally to the Imperial Japanese Army on 15 February 1942. The exhibition presents the events and memories surrounding the British surrender, the Japanese Occupation of Singapore, and the legacies of the war.  Through oral history accounts, archival records and published materials, the exhibition highlights the diverse experiences of people in Singapore during this crucial time in our history.

BECOMING SYONAN - After the British surrender, Singapore was renamed Syonan-to, or 'Light of the South'. The Japanese Occupation was a period of suffering and unfulfilled promises. Through the personal items and oral history recollections on display, find out about the diverse wartime experiences and the different ways people responded to these challenges.

SOOK CHING - Three days after the British surrender of Singapore, the Japanese carried out a mass screening of the Chinese community to sieve out suspected anti-Japanese elements, marking the beginning of a fearful period of state-sanctioned violence. Through oral history accounts, learn about the harrowing experiences of those who were screened and escaped the killings.

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