Churchill's description of the fall of Singapore on 15 February 1942, after Lt-Gen Percival's surrender led to over 100,000 British, Australian and Indian troops falling into the hands of the Japanese, was no wartime exaggeration. The Japanese had promised that there would be no Dunkirk in Singapore, and its fall led to imprisonment, torture and death for thousands of allied men and women.
With much new material from British, Australian, Indian and Japanese sources, Colin Smith has woven together the full and terrifying story of the fall of Singapore and its aftermath. Here, alongside cowardice and incompetence, are forgotten acts of enormous heroism; treachery yet heart-rending loyalty; Japanese compassion as well as brutality from the bravest and most capricious enemy the British ever had to face.
Singapore in World War II...
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- 18 Feb 41: Elements of the Australian 8th Division arrive in Singapore.
- 18 Mar 41: Grand Admiral Erich Raeder urges Hitler to convince Japan to attack Singapore.
- 28 Apr 41: Churchill issues a directive stating that at the present time there is no need to make provisions for the defense of Malaya and Singapore.
- 19 Jan 42: Day 43 of 55 of the Battle of British Malaya. General Wavell warns Churchill that Singapore cannot be held but Churchill replies that Singapore must be defended and that no question of surrender be entertained.
- 22 Jan 42: Day 46 of 55 of the Battle of British Malaya. Reinforcements reach Singapore with an Indian Brigade landing.
- 24 Jan 42: Day 48 of 55 of the Battle of British Malaya. British 18th Division arrives at Singapore as reinforcements to boost its defenses.
- 30 Jan 42: Day 54 of 55 of the Battle of British Malaya. British troops withdraw into Singapore.
- 30 Jan 42: Day 1 of 17 of the Battle of Singapore. The Japanese siege of British troops in Singapore begins.
- 14 Feb 42: Day 16 of 17 of the Battle of Singapore. Japanese soldiers advance towards the Alexandra Barracks Hospital. A British lieutenant, acting as an envoy with a white flag, approaches the Japanese forces but is killed with a bayonet. The Japanese troops enter the hospital and kill a number of patients, including those undergoing surgery at the time, along with doctors and members of the nursing staff.
- 15 Feb 42: Day 17 of 17 of the Battle of Singapore. 9,000 British and Australian troops have been killed, and the remaining 80,000 are taken prisoner as Japanese troops take the city, joining 50,000 taken in the earlier Malayan Campaign to be worked as slaves. It remains the largest surrender of British-led forces in history.
- 16 Feb 42: Australia's Prime Minister Curtin, calls the surrender of Singapore "Australia's Dunkirk."
- 04 Mar 42: The Australian sloop HMAS YARRA is sunk by Japanese cruisers while attempting to protect a convoy of vessels withdrawing from Singapore to Australia.
- 05 Sep 45: Following Japan's surrender, British land in Singapore.
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