BRITAIN'S OWN PEARL HARBOUR ? - Page 3




 
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December 12th, 2011  
42RM
 
The Singapore naval base was built and supplied to sustain a siege long enough to enable Britain's European-based fleet to reach the area. By 1940, however, it was clear that the British fleet and armed forces were fully committed in Europe and the Middle East and could not be spared to deal with a potential threat in Asia.

On December 8, 1941, the Japanese troops of two large convoys, which had sailed from bases in Hainan and southern Indochina, landed at Singora and Patani in southern Thailand and Kota Baharu in northern Malaya. One of Japan's top generals and some of its best trained and most experienced troops were assigned to the Malaya campaign. By the evening of December 8, 27,000 Japanese troops under the command of General Yamashita Tomoyuki had established a foothold on the peninsula and taken the British air base at Kota Baharu. Meanwhile, Japanese airplanes had begun bombing Singapore. Hoping to intercept any further landings by the Japanese fleet, the Prince of Wales and the Repulse headed north, unaware that all British airbases in northern Malaya were now in Japanese hands. Without air support, the British ships were easy targets for the Japanese air force, which sunk them both on December 10.

The main Japanese force moved quickly to the western side of the peninsula and began sweeping down the single north-south road. The Japanese divisions were equipped with about 18,000 bicycles. Whenever the invaders encountered resistance, they detoured through the forests on bicycles or took to the sea in collapsible boats to outflank the British troops, encircle them, and cut their supply lines. Penang fell on December 18, Kuala Lumpur on January 11, 1942, and Malacca on January 15. The Japanese occupied Johore Baharu on January 31, and the last of the British troops crossed to Singapore, blowing a fifty-meter gap in the causeway behind them.

Singapore faced Japanese air raids almost daily in the latter half of January 1942. Fleeing refugees from the peninsula had doubled the 550,000 population of the beleaguered city. More British and Commonwealth of nations fleets and armed foces were brought to Singapore during January, but most were poorly trained raw recruits from Australia and India and inexperienced British troops diverted from the war in the Middle East. Singapore's Chinese population, which had heard rumors of the treatment of the Malayan Chinese by the invading Japanese, flocked to volunteer to help repel the impending invasion. Brought together by the common enemy, Guomindang and communist groups banded together to volunteer their services to Governor Shenton Thomas. The governor authorized the formation of the Chung Kuo Council (China National Council), headed by Tan Kah Kee, under which thousands volunteered to construct defense works and to perform other essential services. The colonial government also reluctantly agreed to the formation of a Singapore Chinese Anti-Japanese Volunteer Battalion, known as Dalforce for its commander, Lieutenant Colonel John Dalley of the Federated Malay States police force. Dalley put his volunteers through a ten-day crash training course and armed them with basic weapons, including shotguns, knives, and grenades.

From January 1-8, 1942, the two armies faced each other across the Johore Strait. The Japanese stepped up their air raids, bombing the airfields, naval base, and harbor area. Bombs also fell in the commercial and residential sections of the city, causing great destruction and killing and wounding many civilians. With their mastery of the skies, the Japanese could choose the time and place for invasion and maintain an element of surprise. Yamashita, however, had only 30,000 troops and limited ammunition available to launch against a British force of about 70,000 armed personnel. As the General Officer Commanding Malaya, Lieutenant General Arthur E. Percival commanded the defense of Singapore under the direction of General Archibald Wavell, the newly appointed commander in chief Far East, who was headquartered in Java. Percival's orders from British prime minister Winston Churchill through Wavell called for defending the city to the death, while executing a scorched-earth policy: "No surrender can be contemplated . . . . every inch of ground . . . defended, every scrap of material or defences . . . blown to pieces to prevent capture by the enemy . . . ." Accordingly, the troops set about the task of destroying the naval base, now useless without ships, and building defense works along the northern coast, which lay totally unprotected.

On the night of February 8, using collapsible boats, the Japanese landed under cover of darkness on the northwest coast of Singapore. By dawn, despite determined fighting by Australian troops, they had two divisions with their artillery established on the island. By the next day the Japanese had seized Tengah Airfield and gained control of the causeway, which they repaired in four days. The British forces were plagued by poor communication and coordination, and, despite strong resistance by Commonwealth troops aided by Dalforce and other Chinese irregulars, the Japanese took Bukit Timah--the highest point on the island--on February 11. The British forces fell back to a final perimeter around the city, stretching from Pasir Panjang to Kallang, as Yamashita issued an invitation to the British to surrender. On February 13, the Japanese broke through the final perimeter at Pasir Panjang, putting the whole city within range of their artillery. As many as 2,000 civilians were killed daily as the Japanese continued to bomb the city by day and shell it at night. Governor Thomas cabled London that "there are now one million people within radius of three miles. Many dead lying in the streets and burial impossible. We are faced with total deprivation of water, which must result in pestilence...." On February 13, Percival cabled Wavell for permission to surrender, hoping to avoid the destruction and carnage that would result from a house-to-house defense of the city. Churchill relented and on February 14 gave permission to surrender. On the evening of February 15, at the Japanese headquarters at the Ford factory in Bukit Timah, Yamashita accepted Percival's unconditional surrender.

The backdoor to Singapore could only be bolted by holding the hinterland ... by in-depth defence of Johor and the Malay Peninsula.
December 12th, 2011  
Del Boy
 
Well - I invited comments and info, and I got just that. Thank you, greatly appreciated. I wasn't ever familiar with the narrative, but I worked closely from time to time with army survivors of the Japanese, as I did with survivors of Gallipoli. The Japanese POW survivors never spoke of their experience, but if the subject came up their silence was based on extreme bitterness. One of these was my boss, an immaculate soldier and the most highly-rated MAN in the Regiment, Bn. ORQMS, 5 year prisoner.(I knew these fellows 1945 - 1965 period.)

Thanks again.
December 13th, 2011  
George
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Del Boy
Well - I invited comments and info, and I got just that. Thank you, greatly appreciated. I wasn't ever familiar with the narrative, but I worked closely from time to time with army survivors of the Japanese, as I did with survivors of Gallipoli. The Japanese POW survivors never spoke of their experience, but if the subject came up their silence was based on extreme bitterness. One of these was my boss, an immaculate soldier and the most highly-rated MAN in the Regiment, Bn. ORQMS, 5 year prisoner.(I knew these fellows 1945 - 1965 period.)

Thanks again.
Yeah, read what they did to POWs, Nurses in Hong Kong, Chinese. Bio-war expierements, Burma R.R., ect. Ranks right up there with Mengele.
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December 13th, 2011  
BritinBritain
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by George
Yeah, read what they did to POWs, Nurses in Hong Kong, Chinese. Bio-war expierements, Burma R.R., ect. Ranks right up there with Mengele.
Not to mention the British nurses who were forced into the sea and machine gunned. Brave bastards those Japs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Del Boy
Well - I invited comments and info, and I got just that. Thank you, greatly appreciated. I wasn't ever familiar with the narrative, but I worked closely from time to time with army survivors of the Japanese, as I did with survivors of Gallipoli. The Japanese POW survivors never spoke of their experience, but if the subject came up their silence was based on extreme bitterness. One of these was my boss, an immaculate soldier and the most highly-rated MAN in the Regiment, Bn. ORQMS, 5 year prisoner.(I knew these fellows 1945 - 1965 period.)

Thanks again.
I mentioned before about a chap I worked with who was an ex Jap POW, the poor bugger was always off sick and died well before his time.

I had an uncle who was a POW at Sandekan, he died on the Sandekan Death March on 26th March 1945 aged 22 years. The Japs said he died from Malaria, they forgot to mention the brutal treatment, starvation diet and no medical facilities or treatment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VDKMS
I disagree that Singapore couldn't be defended. If I'm not mistaken the small attacking Japanese force was exhausted and afraid they couldn't achieve victory in the specified time, that's why their commander started negotiations and bluffed his way in. If Percival would have known this he wouldn't have surrendered.
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Sorry mate, your wrong. Albeit the British forces was considerably larger then the Japanese, the Island was running out of water. The water from the Malay mainland had been cut, and the pumping stations at the reservoirs were destroyed, along with no air cover whatsoever, it was only a matter of time before Percival would have been forced to surrender.
December 15th, 2011  
Del Boy
 
BritinAfrica - yes, same with our ORQMS; he always looked immaculate and was very much on the ball, but he was permanently ailing in reality, the only man in the Bn excused duties. So when we had parades, he became offcial photographer.
December 16th, 2011  
BritinBritain
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Del Boy
BritinAfrica - yes, same with our ORQMS; he always looked immaculate and was very much on the ball, but he was permanently ailing in reality, the only man in the Bn excused duties. So when we had parades, he became offcial photographer.
If you get a few minutes Del Boy, read a couple of the sites regarding the Sandekan Death March. I did and felt sick to my stomach. I can never forgive the Japanese for that they did.
December 16th, 2011  
Del Boy
 
Thanks BritinAfrica, will do. I remember the survivors return and the stories that unfolded then.
1959, Factory Xmas celebrations in the Pub. I was 24, and as the boss, holding up the bar to spread joy and goodwill. Somehow the subject cropped up, and I found myself locked in conversation with a grizzled middle-aged foreman, tough disciplinarian. Turned out he had been a prisoner of the Japs. Try as I might, I could not get the slighest degree of compromise from him; he held the opinion you express, and would have no truck with my young man's nonsense regarding forgiveness, boss or not.

Our relationship was never the same again, and in all of that, he still never talked of his experiences, just his absolute hatred.
December 16th, 2011  
George
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Del Boy
Thanks BritinAfrica, will do. I remember the survivors return and the stories that unfolded then.
1959, Factory Xmas celebrations in the Pub. I was 24, and as the boss, holding up the bar to spread joy and goodwill. Somehow the subject cropped up, and I found myself locked in conversation with a grizzled middle-aged foreman, tough disciplinarian. Turned out he had been a prisoner of the Japs. Try as I might, I could not get the slighest degree of compromise from him; he held the opinion you express, and would have no truck with my young man's nonsense regarding forgiveness, boss or not.

Our relationship was never the same again, and in all of that, he still never talked of his experiences, just his absolute hatred.
Florida issues Pearl Harbor Survivor licence plates, they look odd on Toyotas, Nissans, ect.
December 17th, 2011  
BritinBritain
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Del Boy
Thanks BritinAfrica, will do. I remember the survivors return and the stories that unfolded then.
1959, Factory Xmas celebrations in the Pub. I was 24, and as the boss, holding up the bar to spread joy and goodwill. Somehow the subject cropped up, and I found myself locked in conversation with a grizzled middle-aged foreman, tough disciplinarian. Turned out he had been a prisoner of the Japs. Try as I might, I could not get the slighest degree of compromise from him; he held the opinion you express, and would have no truck with my young man's nonsense regarding forgiveness, boss or not.

Our relationship was never the same again, and in all of that, he still never talked of his experiences, just his absolute hatred.
My family never knew what had happened to my uncle John, they didn't know if he was alive or dead, they even hoped that he had lost his memory and was living in Australia. My grandmother kept a light burning in her window until the day she died. It was only when I was posted to Singapore and found his name on the memorial wall at Kranji, that my family finally realised he was dead.

Quote:
Originally Posted by George
Florida issues Pearl Harbor Survivor licence plates, they look odd on Toyotas, Nissans, ect.
Well, at least the guys get some recognition which they richly deserve.
December 17th, 2011  
Del Boy
 
BritinAfrica and George - I guess it is good to recall and consider again these lessons of history and I feel that the more elderly citizens among us ( I refer to myself) have some sort of duty to pass on the experiences we have gathered. Some would call it baggage, I think it the passing of the torch. I feel like a chronicle of the 20th Century that needs to be unloaded.lol.

So it's is good to be able to pass the time of day with you all.
 


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