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Chapter 6 - 8 December 1941 after 4am, Japanese airplanes flown over Singapore and bombed the city. Soldiers landed in northern Malaya and in less than 70 days, Singapore fell to the Japanese. Efforts made by British to defend Singapore - After WW1, Britain financially drained so cannot maintain strong naval base in Far East. Warships were needed in Europe but empire in Far East needs to be defended because Japan was building powerful navy. - “Main fleet to Singapore” strategy : send ships from Europe if trouble in Asia - To maintain fleet, huge naval base built in Far East and Singapore was chosen. Base constructed complete in 1938. - Defend naval base : 15-inch guns mounted on ships facing the sea to prevent attacks , military airfields built in Tengah and Sembawang , underground bunkers built in Fort Canning , Labrador , Sembawang - Singapore known as “impregnable” fortress of British empire in East due to geography of Malaya as factor of defense , coastal plains with mangrove swamps , mountain range with dense jungles and vast areas unknown , few and heavily guarded roads - Singapore was said to be protected from the north. - 1937, Japan invaded China. Protest against the attack on China was made by USA -they cut off their oil supply to Japan. - Japan wanted South EA with rich oil and many raw materials. - September 1939,War in Europe. - September 1940, Japan sign treaty of friendship with Germany, Italy and called “Axis Powers”. - Germany : master of Europe - Japan: master of Asia and pacific region. - 1941, Indian, British and Australian troops arrived in SG to defend Malaya and SG from Japanese attack. - 2 December 1941, HMS Prince of Wales, HMS Repulse arrived in SG. - No more naval or air reinforcements can be sent by British due to war in Europe and North Africa. - 7 December 1941, Japanese attack Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and destroy American pacific fleet. Japanese start attacking Malaya and other parts of South EA by air, sea and land. - 10 December 1941, HMS Prince of Wales, HMS Repulse sunk off in Kuantan. Why British fail to stop the Japanese? - Japanese intelligence service in Malaya and SG provide info on British defense. 1. Japanese have lands in Johor and SG and observed the construction of naval base and coastal defenses. 2. The Japanese fishing fleet conducted surveys on Malayan coastal areas (provide half of fish supplied to SG).
3. Japanese photographers operated studios in Malayan towns to take pictures of roads, railways, military installations. 4. Japanese military officers operated incognito (false name or wearing disguise). Eg. Army colonel Tsugunori Kadomatsu worked 6 years as waiter in British Officers’ Club.- They planned to defeat British in event of conflict.- The British underestimated the Japanese. 1. British believed that Japan army, air force, navy was inferior but the imperial army had large modern air force and naval fleet. 2. Japan “Zero” fighter planes destroyed half of old and outdated British planes. 3. The Japanese soldiers were better trained in jungle warfare. 4. Besides using tanks, they also used bicycles as transport to move swiftly down Malaya.Battle of Malaya- 8 December 1941 Japanese land in Singora, Patani (Southern Thailand) .They signed treaty of alliance with Thailand. Japanese also landed on Kota Bahru and destroyed British airfields there.- 10 December 1941 The British warships HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse were easily sunk by Japanese planes without support of airpower. Within 2 days, British lost control of the sea. The sinking of the 2 battleships is considered the worst naval disaster for the British.- 11-12 December 1941 British was mistaken that tanks were not suitable for jungle warfare. The Japanese was so fast that British were surprised. British outnumbered Japanese but were not as well-trained.- 17 December 1941 Penang and Ipoh captured.- 7 January 1942 At Slim River (Perak), British lost against Japanese. British tried using anti-tank guns but weapons did not work. Japanese captured large quantities of goods, ammunition and equipment. (Major victory for Japanese)- 31 January 1942
Japanese captured Johor and prepared to invade SG. British withdrew and blew up the Causeway. Battle for SG 1. General Yamashita set up headquarters at Johor Sultan’s palace to get bird eye view of northSingapore. British would not attack despite the palace being easy target because the palace wasJohor Sultan Ibrahim, British’s old friend’s home. 2. Japanese bombed Changi and Pulau Ubin. The British was tricked into moving their defensesfrom northwest to northeast of SG. 3. 8 February, Japanese troops crossed Johor straits using rubber boats and rafts. They headedtowards northwestern of SG. 4. Japanese was repairing causeway for invasion. General Percival ordered troops to withdraw ifnecessary to protect town centre but the troops misunderstood and withdrew before the Japanesearrived. 5. 11 February 1942, Japanese won the battle at Bukit Timah Hill and took control of a reservoirand supplies left by the British. 6. 13 February 1942, fierce fighting in Pasir Panjang and both sides suffered heavy casualties.Most of Percival’s commanders reported that their troops were demoralized and exhausted. 7. Percival cabled his superiors that SG can no longer resist the Japanese for more than 1 day andhe want the discretion to surrender if necessary. The Malay regiment made its last stand at BukitChandu. Surrender to Japanese - 15 February 1942 <CNY>, British had a final conference at Fort canning bunker. - Lieutenant-General Percival wants to discuss ways to counter-attack but commanders were against the idea. - Why against idea: Too many problems and soldiers were tired. More men would be killed if they engaged the Japanese in street fighting. Supplies of food and water were also running out. - To prevent further bloodshed, the British opted for surrender. - On same day, Japanese Lieutenant-Colonel Sugita led Percival and his delegation to Ford Motor Factory to negotiate surrender terms. - Percival VS. Lieutenant General Tomoyuki Yamashita at negotiating table. - British gave in and surrendered unconditionally to Japanese. - Japanese would not enter city till following morning and Percival signed surrender agreement at 6.10pm 15 February 1942. - Yamashita: Japanese attack was a bluff because they were outnumbered with 30,000 men, British have 3 times more. If Japanese fight long with SG, they will lose so surrender had to be at once. Yamashita very frightened that British will notice their numerical weakness and lack of supplies, forcing Japanese into disastrous street fighting.
How did the people of SG react to Japanese attack? - People in SG thought Japanese was remote. Eg. Source (British newspaper) – Japan is hopeless in pacific war. The arrival of an eastern fleet headed by Prince of Wales at Singapore will change the whole Far East situation and Japan has no chance in winning to go against America, Britain, China and Dutch East Indies. - Before first Japanese air raid, war in Europe had little or no effect on SG. There were still social life, food and clothing. There were no black-outs or curfews and nobody took the war seriously, thinking that SG is impregnable fortress. The Japanese, even though they flourished in China, the locals believed that they would lose once they came in contact with Western power. - Before war, life was peaceful and notion of war was vague. Even though locals heard about the critical situation in Pacific , they were not worried for SG’s safety because of Great Britain ‘S bombers, canons, warships to protect SG .The locals thought that Japanese were still far in Annam (modern Vietnam) and they will not reach SG so soon. Japanese occupation’s impact on lives of people in SG - Singapore named “Syonan-to” which means “the light of the South” or “the Radiant South”. - After British surrender, Japanese military police, the “Kempeitai” were sent to restore order in Singapore. - After Japanese military took control of the island, the British, Australians, Allied Europeans including women and child were put in prison or camp (interned). Allied soldiers were forced to march from Padang to Selarang barracks which was 22 km away. European civilians were marched to Katong then to Changi prison. - Using fear to rule :1. Cruelty of Kempeitai kept people in a constant state of anxiety and fear. 2. At the slightest offence, punishment was swift and severe. Anti-Japanese suspects were tortured at Kempeitai centre. 3. Malays and Indians were not considered as threat .To Malays: Japanese persuade them to earn their support and promise to release them from British rule .To Indians: Japanese said they will help free India from British. < However, if the 2 races displeased or disobeyed the Japanese, they will still be punished. Some of the Malays were drafted for forced labor at “Death Railway” camps. 4. Chinese were victims as they were seen as threat. During Japan invasion in China in 1937, there were strong Chinese resistance and before outbreak of war, Chinese community in SG led by tycoon Tan Kah Kee called for a boycott of Japanese goods and contributed funds to anti-Japanese war effort in China. Some even went back to fight. 5. Kempeitai carried out Sook Ching to identify and eliminate suspected Japanese elements among Chinese community. Chinese men from 18 to 50 yrs. old reported at centres like YMCA building at Stamford road and Central police station at South Bridge Road. Informers
wore hoods or masks and pointed at people as anti-Japanese elements. These people were taken in Lorries to Changi and beaches of east coast. Lucky ones unidentified were given the paper “examined” and allowed to go home. For informers, families will be protected and spared. Eg. Source from people taken in Lorries (anti-Japanese suspect): The suspects were told to move off towards sea and when everyone was in water, the machine guns opened fire. After that, the solders knife the suspects with their bayonets then they drove the Lorries off. 6. Japanese punished Chinese by taking money from them for Japan’s war effort. Chinese community was forced to collect and pay japan $50 million. 7. Japanese paid Chinese rickshaw puller little for their work and when they ask for more money, they were attacked with judo. The Chinese landed flat on his face and quickly left with his rickshaw. Japanese was heartless and ruthless to the people. - Using propaganda to rule :1. Propaganda campaigns were carried out to influence minds of people to be loyal to Japan. Propaganda poster urged people to cooperate with Japanese. 2. Japan controlled newspaper. Propaganda on headlines: “Nippon will treat east Asia people as brothers, sisters” 3. Removing western influence, Japanese promoted Japanese spirit (Nippon Seishin).Every school, company, government building began with morning assembly facing direction of Japan and singing Japan national anthem (Kimigayo). Taisho or mass frills were compulsory for teachers, staff, students, companies and governments. Teachers were taught Japanese few times a week and students have daily Japanese lessons through school broadcasting service. 4. Radio stations were controlled and people can only listen to local broadcasts. Those caught tuning into foreign broadcast stations were severely punished or killed. In cinemas, only Japanese movies or propaganda films were shown. Before movie, they have propaganda film “Asia for Asians” to show Japanese military action and them winning everywhere. Then, the film shows friendliness between military and civilians. Finally, the main picture. - Food supplies and rationing 1. People in SG face food shortage because entrepot trade was disrupted and all resources were used to support Japan’s war effort in other parts of Asia. 2. Rationing conducted to control sales of rice, salt, sugar (essential items). Each household given “Peace Living certificate” which gave them ration cards to purchase goods. Once a month, people line up at Kumiai shop (distribution association) for hours to purchase rations.
- Financial and health 1. People lived in poverty and suffered from malnutrition and disease. Essential food items were sold at high prices in black markets. 2. The Japanese printed “banana notes” whenever they need money. The notes were inferior quality paper with no serial number and easily forged. The currency became useless as the value kept dropping and leading to soaring prices (inflation). 3. People made items they need from plants, Lalang, bamboos and pineapple fibre. The quality of food was bad and made out of bad ingredients. - Anti-Japanese groups 1. People resented the Japanese rule so anti-Japanese groups were formed to fight against them. Eg. Malayan Communist Party formed Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA) to fight against Japanese in the Jungle. The members carried out sudden attacks on Japanese military whenever they had a chance. Eg. Force 136 aimed to help British capture Malaya and SG from Japanese. The British set up Secret organization to gather info about the Japanese and organize sabotage activities. Members were trained in India and sent secretly to Malaya to help MPAJA to fight Jap.Life after the return of British and end of Japanese Occupation - 6 and 9 August 1945, atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively. - The Japanese surrendered and the British returned to SG on 5 September 1945. - 12 September 1945, huge crowds gathered at Padang to cheer for the return of British. - At Municipal building (City Hall), Japanese leaders signed military surrender document accepted by Supreme Allied Commander for South EA, Lord Louis Mountbatten. - The British set up provisional government “British Military Administration” to take charge of governing SG till 1 April 1946. It faced difficulties of rebuilding country and maintains law and order. - Problems faced by people after war : overcrowded living conditions, poor sanitation, lack of health services , unemployment , shortage of food, lack of housing , lack of water and electricity, disruption in telephone services - Streets were filthy, unlit and unsafe especially at night. - Japanese POW worked to restore electricity, gas and repair water mains. - To solve food shortage, British cleared harbor so ships transporting food can enter port. They removed shipwrecks and mines lay in the sea by Japanese. Dock was repaired and new warehouses built to store commodities brought in the port. British ration food to every person and People’s Restaurant was opened to sell food at reasonable price. Food supplies increased and trades links were reestablished. - War destroyed many house so many homeless. Rent very high so people who cannot afford high rent live in small, overcrowded cubicles or squatters. A law on rent control was passed to stop landlords from raising house rents and forcing tenants out. Flats were also constructed to improve the situation.