Japanese attack on MalayaInstead of attacking from the seas as the British thought theJapanese would, the Japanese attacked Singapore fromMalaya. The British felt that the geography of Malaya wouldstop the Japanese from attacking through Malaya as thecoastal plains were about 15 miles wide and filled withmangrove swamps and the mountain range, which runs fromthe north to the south is covered with jungles and would nothave been easily captured by the Japanese. However, theJapanese were more trained at jungle warfare than theBritish soldiers. They came in bikes which was anefficient method of transport through the jungles and they also used thanks which had taken the British aback during the battle of Jitra as it move Image acquired at: very quickly. http://sipseystreetirregulars.blogspot.sg/2009/07/praxis -bicycle-infantry.html Return to Room
Domination of the air and seasThe Japanese dominated the air and the seas. The Britishhad underestimated the Japanese and believed that the navyand air force of the Japanese were inferior. However, theJapanese’s ‘Zero’ fighter were modern and swift, whichdestroyed half of the British planes, which were old andoutdated. The HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse, theonly 2 warships that the British had, were sunk easily 60miles of the coast of Kuantan on the 10th of December 1941due to the lack of air support. Ergo, the Japanese were ableto seize control of the air and the seas. Return to Room
General Percival – a bad leaderGeneral Percival was not very effective at leading thesoldiers into war. When the Japanese were preparing toinvade, General Percival ordered his troops to withdraw ifnecessary to protect the town centre, but the troopsmisunderstood him and withdrew even before the Japanesearrived. This was a huge blunder that was a contributingfactor in why the Japanese managed to capture Singapore ina mere 2 weeks. General Percival was also very indecisive.At one point in time, he was thinking of how to counter theJapanese, but he took back his ideas as the rest of thepeople did not agree with him. His indecisiveness causedSingapore to lose the war. Image acquired at: http://flaggedrevs.labs.wikimedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Ern est_Percival Return to Room
Yamashita– an effective leaderYamashita, on the other hand was a very good leader. Hewas a good strategist and had decision quickly. For example,he decided to set up his base at the Johor Sultan’s palace ashe knew the British will not attack it and he bombed Changiand Pulau Ubin to trick the British into thinking that he wouldbe attacking from the northeast, when he actually attackedfrom the northwest.. “My attack on Singapore was a bluff – a bluff that worked. I had 30,000 men and was outnumbered more than three to one. I knew if I had to fight long for Singapore I would be beaten. That is why the surrender had to be at once. I was Image acquired at: frightened all the time that the British would discover our http://flaggedrevs.labs.wikimedia.org/wiki/Tomoyuki_ Yamashital numerical weakness and lack of supplies and force me into disastrous street fighting.” Return to Room
British surrenderThe British were running out of water and food. The soldierswere also too tired to fight anymore. Morale was low andmany men were already killed in the war. Therefore, theBritish decided to surrender to the Japanese. The surrendertook place at the Ford Motor Factory.The Japanese asked for an unconditional surrender as intruth, the attack on Singapore was actually a bluff and if theJapanese continued fighting, they would be outnumberedmore than 3 to 1. The Japanese also lacked supplies andwanted to end the war as quickly as possible. Image acquired at: http://singaporesojourn.blogspot.sg/2009_12_27_archi ve.html Return to Room
Syonan-toOn 15 February 1942, Singapore fell into the hands of theJapanese. Singapore was renamed Syonan-to, which means‘the Radiant South’.Life under the Japanese was tumultuous and people lived inconstant fear. The Japanese handed out harsh punishmentfor even the smallest crime, like not bowing to a Japanese.The Japanese would torture or kill anyone suspected ofbeing anti-Japanese. Crime rate then was surprisingly low asdespite the lack of food. This just shows how brutal and cruelthe Japanese were at that time. Image acquired at: http://sgforums.com/forums/8/topics/199261 Return to Room
Treatment of the citizens of Singapore The Japanese were not so harsh on the Malays and Indians as they were not seen as a treat. However, the Malays or Indians who disobeyed the Japanese were sent to build the ‘Death railway’. Eurasians were under the close eye of the Kempeitai. Those suspected to be pro-British were executed.The Chinese had the worst treatment of allthe races as they put up a strong resistancewhen the Japanese attacked China. AllChinese men between 18 and 50 were to besent for ‘Sook Ching’ which was to identifyany anti-Japanese Chinese. Those identifiedas anti-Japanese would be killed by theJapanese.
RationingDue to the severe food shortages during the Japaneseoccupation, food rationing was introduced to control the salesof essential food items such as rice, salt and sugar. Therationed foodstuff was not enough for the people and manylived in poverty and suffered from malnutrition and diseases.Black markets were opened and foodstuff were sold at highprices there.The situation worsened when the Japanese introducedBanana notes, which had no serial number so the Japanesecould print as much as they want for themselves. As therewere a lot of such banana notes, the prices of foodstuffincreased dramatically. Image acquired at: http://www.psywar.org/malaya.php Return to Room
Anti-Japanese groupsThe people of Singapore resented the rule of the Japaneserule. Anti-Japanese groups were formed to fight against theJapanese. For example the Malayan Communist Partyformed the Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army of MPAJAto fight against the Japanese in the Malayan jungles.Another group formed was Force 136. The British set us thissecret organization to gather information about the Japaneseand organize sabotage activities. The artifact at the sideshows the members of Force 136. Image acquired at: wolfpackclan.blogspot.com Return to Room Image acquired at: http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/about_us/history/w orld_war2/v09n06_history.html
U.S. Bombing of Japan- HiroshimaOn 6 August 1945, the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb (code-named “Little Boy”) over the Japanese city of Hiroshima insouthwest Honshū. Hours later, a broadcast from the U.S.President Harry Truman was received: “We are now prepared to obliterate more rapidly and completely every productive enterprise the Japanese have above ground in any city. We shall destroy their docks, their factories, and their communications. Let there be no mistake; we shall completely destroy Japans power to make war. It was to spare the Japanese people from utter Image acquired at: destruction that the ultimatum of July historywarsweapons.com 26 was issued at Potsdam. Their leaders promptly rejected that ultimatum. If they do not now accept Return to Room our terms they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth ...”
U.S. Bombing of Japan- NagasakiOn 9 August, a second atomic bomb, “Fat Man”, wasdropped on Nagasaki, on the west coast of Kyūshū. Thisbomb was supposed to be more powerful than “Little Boy”,but it exploded in a valley, thus causing about the sameamount of destruction. Image acquired at: Place URL here Return to Room
Soviet Invasion of ManchuriaOn 9 August, the Soviet Union broke the Neutrality Pact,declared war on Japan, and launched an invasion ofManchuria.The Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact, more extensivelyknown as the Japanese-Soviet Non-aggression Pact, was apact between Japan and the Soviet Union signed on April 13,1941, 2 years after the brief Soviet-Japanese Border War.Along with the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, thisinvasion forced the Japanese to surrender and to end thewar at once. Image acquired at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Soviet_Japanese_Neu trality_Pact_13_April_1941.jpg Return to Room
The Japanese SurrenderOn 15 August 1945, the Japanese Emperor, in a special radio broadcast, informed the people of the surrender tothe Allied Forces. They were warned that they had to “bear the unbearable” and “endure the unendurable”. Theformal surrender occurred September 2, 1945, aboard the USS Missouri. Representatives from Japan signed theJapanese Instrument of Surrender, with Shigemitsu signing for the civil government, and Gen. Umezu signing forthe military. “... Des pite the best that has been done by everyone— the gallant fighting of the military and naval forces, the diligence and assiduity of Our servants of the State, and the devoted service of Our one hundred million people—the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japans advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest. Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, not only would it result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization. Such being the case, how are We to save the millions of Our subjects, or to atone Ourselves before the hallowed spirits of Our Imperial Ancestors? This is the reason why We have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the Joint Declaration of the Powers. The hardships and sufferings to which Our nation is to be subjected hereafter will be certainly great. We are keenly aware of the inmost feelings of all of you, Return to Room Our subjects. However, it is according to the dictates of time and fate that We have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is
Post-War SingaporeThe British were cheered when they returned to Singapore inSeptember 1945.Singapore was ruled by the British Military Administration(BMA) between September 1945 and March 1946. It alsoserved as the headquarters of the British governor-generalfor Southeast Asia.However, much of the infrastructure, including electricity andwater supply systems and the facilities at the Port ofSingapore, have been destroyed. Many problems arised,including food shortage, malnutrition, disease and rampantcrimes and violence. Unemployment, high food prices, and Image acquired at:workers discontent. http://breathehistory2.wikispaces.com/How+did+the+ Local+People+Respond+to+British+Rule+After+Worl d+War+II%3FFurthermore, the failure of the British to defend Singaporehas destroyed their credibility as ‘infallible rulers’. The trustand respect for the British was not as strong as before. Return to Room
Responses to the British after World War IIThe locals had many reactions to the return of the British: As can be seen, the response from“We never thought the British would surrender so easily. We thought at least the locals were mostly negative.Singapore could hold. When the Repulse and the Prince of Wales came, andthen the Hurricane fighter planes were sent to protect Singapore, we thought Faith in the British have been lostthat the Japanese bombers would be shot down. But in a matter of weeks, the and yearn for independence hasJapanese just wiped them out. Soon the British surrendered. We had lost ourfaith in them.” developed.-A trader living in Singapore“Here are rows and rows of back-to-back houses crammed to the physical limit.Conditions are bad. Rooms contain several separate families. Those who cannotshare rooms live underneath stairways or in cubicles which are in completedarkness at all hours of the day and without direct contact with sunlight. Manyhouses have but one water-tap for the whole house and all the inmates shareone bucket-type latrine. The dirt and stench are appalling.”- A Malay living in Singapore“The students showed anti-British sentiments in their daily speeches. They felt Image acquired at:that there was no freedom in speech or meetings. Many countries around the Place URL hereworld had gained independence and they felt that Singapore should stand upto fight against the British.”- An English educated student Return to Room
Road to IndependenceThe failure of the British and a few other factors led to the locals wanting independence for their country.However, it was not without a struggle. The timeline below will illustrate the important historical events on theroad to independence. 1946 - Singapore becomes separate crown colony. 1948 - First elections held 1959 - Self-government attained with Lee Kuan Yew as prime minister. 1963 - Singapore joins the Federation of Malaya, Sabah (North Borneo), and Sarawak in the Federation of Malaysia. 1965 - Singapore pulls out of the Federation of Malaysia, at Malaysias invitation, amid political and ethnic tensions. The territory becomes an independent republic and joins the United Nations. Return to Room 1971 - Last British military forces withdrawn.