Sunday, 24 October 2010

End of the British Empire

Dr Duncan Anderson talks about how he fall of Singapore was disasterous for British prestige in the Far East and represented the end of the British Empire. Source History Channel

Prof Richard Overy on the fall of Singapore

Prof Richard Overy talks about how the rapid Japanese conquests in early 1942 were in part made possible because European powers were preoccupied with the war against Germany. Source : History Channel

After the Surrender 1942

Interview with Lance-Corporal John Wyatt on his internment after the Singapore surrender. Interesting footage of 1000s of POWs in a large group just after the surrender.

Singapore Evacuation Video Footage

Interesting footage found on the History Channel that shows some of the orderly evacuation of civilians I am guessing approximately one month before Singapore fell. These scenes are in stark contrast to the chaos and mayhem that met the evacueese in the final two weeks before the surrender.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Footage of the attack on Malaya

This footage shows interesting scenes of some of the civilians evacuated from Malaya and also footage of Japanese air raids and a downed Japanese aircraft. It appears to have been produced not long before the actual fall of Singapore.

Old Ford Factory display of the surrender room

The original table where Percival signed the Singapore surrender documents with Yamashita now sits in the AWM Canberra (refer post below) but the original room remains in what is now a museum display and well worth a visit. This is how the original room now looks today as part of the display housed in the old Ford factory on Bukit Timah road.

15th February 1942 Surrender Table

The original table that was used at the Singapore Ford factory for the Feb 1942 surrender meeting is now located in the Australian War Memorial (AWM) Canberra. The Ford Factory that is now an interesting museum has some of the chairs that were used in their display. I have a friend in Singapore who also has one of the original chairs as his old office was in the Ford Factory post war. On this table the British Empire's worst ever defeat was sealed in writing.

Sinking of the Empress of Asia

The Empress of Asia was requisitioned by the British Admiralty in January 1941, and sailed for Liverpool via the Panama Canal to the River Clyde for refitting as a troopship. For armament she received a 6 inch gun, a 3 inch gun HA, 6 20 mm Oerlikons, 8 Hotchkiss, Bofors guns, 4 PAC rockets and depth charges. In September 1941, the Empress of Asia sailed with the first convoy from North America to England which was escorted by ships of the United States Navy. The final voyage of the Empress of Asia began in November 1941, when she sailed from Liverpool carrying troops and supplies bound for Africa, Bombay and Singapore. She was one of five CPR ships that were taking men and materiel to reinforce Singapore in the face of the Japanese advance. On 5 February 1942, the convoy in which the Empress of Asia was sailing encountered Japanese air attacks near Singapore. Nine Japanese dive bombers focused their attack on the ship and she was extensively damaged and sank near the island of Sultan Shoal in the Western Anchorage of Singapore about 8 kilometres (5 miles) south of the western tip of Singapore Island. Escort vessels HMAS Wollongong, HMS Dana, HMIS Sutlej stood by while the bow of HMAS Yarra was positioned alongside the liner's stern and took off 1804 survivors. There were 16 deaths. Despite rescue efforts organized by Robert Rankin, and in another blow to the island defenders all the military equipment and other supplies were lost. Singapore would fall to the Japanese only ten days later (15 February 1942), which makes it hard to speculate about what difference it could have made if the Empress of Asia had not been sunk. The last convoy of evacuees leaving Singapore included the SS Sing Kheng Seng of the Straits Shipping Company, carrying 45 crewmen from the Empress of Asia along with an unknown number of other. Source - Wikipedia

Friday, 22 October 2010

First bombing raids on Singapore

Some amazing video footage of the early bombing raids on Singapore and in particular footage from Raffles Place. Video also shows Japanese nationals being interned after the initial attacks on Malaya. The voiceover is from a time well past.

Australian troops arriving in Singapore

Original footage of Australian troops arriving in Singapore pre war complete with a Kangaroo mascot. Looks like an exciting adventure under the facade of Singapore invincibility at the time

Malayan police in Singapore engage in military practise

I came across this interesting video on the history channel website that shows some footage of the Malayan police in pre war drills and some footage of Bennett and Australian troops

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The Tiger of Malaya General Yamashita

From a military point of view the "tiger of Malaya" General Yamashita waged a very aggressive effective, sometimes risky but well planned and ultimately successful invasion campaign achieving the ultimate goal of capturing Singapore. After the war he was hung as part of the war crime tribunals. I recently came across this photograph that reputedly shows him somewhere in Malaya during the invasion campaign.

Headlines related to the fall of Singapore

I have come across some interesting newspapers of the day related to the fall of Singapore and I will share some of the headlines as another way creating a picture of how some of the news was being reported at the time. In many cases the press outside of Singapore was far more accurate re the status of the invasion then the Singapore press that was subject to heavy censorship at the time. In many cases creating a very real false sense of security that Singapore would never fall! Would the evacuation been better managed and more lives saved if the civilian population knew the truth of progress and speed of the Japanese invasion down Malaya?

Final Invasion of Singapore Island

This diagram by Cl M Tsuji of the IJA shows the key points of attack on the besieged island of Singapore. The brunt of the attacks came on the North West Coast of Singapore island

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Allen Delf, RNR

His Daughter writes - My father, Allen Delf, skipper lieutenant RNR, wrote a brief journal of his experiences in the war and described his arrival at Singapore in September 1939 where his first job was in command of HMS Ludgate. By the 7th December 1941 he was 1st lieutenant of HMS Barricade but for the evacuation of civilians out of Singapore he was transferred to the command of HMS Barlane. He was slow getting up steam and when he reached the straits the other ships had been bombed by Japanese aircraft which were then forced to give up flying because of a sudden mist that fell. He picked up survivors and took them all safely to Batavia in Java.

Jim Hutton PWD on the Kuala

Major Andrew Duncan, late 2nd KEO Gurkha Rifles writes....

My grandfather, A. J. S. "Jim" Hutton was Chief Architect with the PWD in Singapore at the time of the Japanese invasion of WWII. He lived with my grandmother and their three daughters, Barbara, the eldest (my mother) Joan and Marigold at No. 160 Mt. Pleasant Road. My grandfather had seen action in the trenches in France during the First World War as an officer (Captain) of the Royal Engineers. His civilian occupation as an architect led, after the war was over, to his appointment to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to design cemeteries and memorials in France. It was whilst he was living there at Longuenesse, Pas de Calais, that my mother was born.

After a spell with the PWD in Kenya he was posted to Singapore. When the Japanese invasion was imminent his previous military experience led to an Emergency Commission in the army as Lieutenant Colonel. It was his job to organise the civilian evacuation. He sent his family to safety in Australia on one of the early boats to depart Singapore. There my mother joined the WAAAF with who she served as a radio operator, leaving at the end of the war as a Corporal.

My grandfather stayed tio the bitter end, finally boarding the S.S. Kuala on 14 February 1942. Following the sinking of Kuala and with the permission of the other survivors, he and a couple of companions made for Sumatra. Landing on the East coast, they made their way through the jungle, avoiding the advancing Japanese to the West coast of the island where they acquired a fishing boat from a local kampong, planning to sail to Australia. After 3 days at sea they were fortunate to be picked up by an Australian Navy Destroyer and taken to Ceylon. From there my grandfather was at last able to inform his family that he was still alive and had successfully escaped from Singapore.

His adventures did not end there, nor was he able to travel to Australia to rejoin the family. Instead he was ordered to England where he underwent Special Operations training prior to being parachuted into Malaya behind Japanese lines to join Force 136. He was on hand to re-start the civilian government of Singapore after the Japanese surrender and must have been one of the first members of the Singapore government to report for work after the Japanese surrender.

I hope to be in further contact with Andrew in relation to this background and please do contact me directly at Thank you

Singapore 1942 on Twitter

Firstly thank you for taking time to view this research website and thank you for the many emails letters and contributions that I have received on the topic from around the globe. As of October 2010 this site has had over 18,000 hits so it highlights the interest about this incredible time in history. I apologise to many of you who have sent me emails of which many I am behind in my follow up due to the shear volume of mail that I have received in relation to Singapore Evacuation 1942 and the fact that despite my interest I am very much a part time historian. In order to support communication and collaboration on the topic I have set up a twitter account so as to help facilitate and share information and updates on the the topic of the fall of Singapore. Twitter is a useful medium for short information 'tweets' and for quick sharing with a broader group of 'followers' and in this regards I encourage you to take a look at the site and if interested in receiving updates then become a 'follower'. Hopefully this will help speed up the sharing of information. Thank you ....@singapore1942