Japanese troops advancing on bicycles
Added by C. Peter Chen at

Military victories have parents galore, some of them self-proclaimed and undeserving. Military defeats on the other hand are orphans, deprived waifs of no acknowledged paternity.
(“Cover-ups and the Singapore Traitor Affair”, Viewpoint: Peter Elphick, 28 November 2001 at

Lieutenant-General A E Percival, 1941 (L)
Gen. Douglas MacArthur GOC Malaya(C)
Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright (R)
From img210.imageshack.u


The Tiger of Malaya
Japanese Imperial Army General Tomoyuki Yamashita

When the Japanese forces invaded Malaya on December 8, 1942, Lieutenant-General Arthur Percival, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) Malaya in charge of Malaya Command faced the Twenty Fifth Army of the Imperial Japanese Army under the command of General Tomoyuki Yamashita.
Years before the invasion, Japanese secret agents were already stationed in Malaya carrying out subversion and providing intelligence information, troops and war material. These Japanese immigrants, or first generation descendants of Japanese born in Malaya, were considered doho, or compatriots by Japanese traditions and law. The doho in Malaya included the Japanese Editor of a local journal, a Japanese diplomat (arrested for espionage), thousands of Japanese prostitutes, businessmen, dentists, photographers and barbers. The prostitutes passed on pillow talk, and the businessmen, dentists, photographers and barbers were all well-placed to collect intelligence, take photos and glean intelligence while hearing the chatter of their customers and social contacts.
The Japanese attack was launched two hours ahead of the Pearl Harbour attack, when they began shelling shore defences at Kota Bahru soon after midnight on 8 December.
Later reports stated that large Japanese forces were also landing at Singora and Patani in Thailand, in the southern part of the Kra Isthmus. Very soon after these reports reached Singapore, the first Japanese air-raid on the city was made; the results achieved were small, but it was the first indication to most of the citizens that war had begun. At almost the same time, the Japanese attacks on Hong Kong, Pearl Harbor and the Philippines had been launched.
(The Campaign in Malaya at
The defenses in Malaya and Singapore were equally unprepared for war. Coordination between the ground troops and the small Royal Air Force contingent in the region was poor, while the ground troops, particularly conscripts from India, lacked training and were not properly equipped. High ranking British officers, too, lacked training in jungle warfare. In fact, some of them were not even considering that they needed to know how to conduct a war in the Malayan jungles, as indicated by some of their frustrated complaints that there was no room for them to conduct training maneuvers because the jungle was in the way.
The Japanese were relentless, nothing could stop them advancing through the steamy jungle – a jungle the British military had called ‘impenetrable’. They captured Penang and took dozens of small craft from the harbor, which enabled them to come down the rivers and coast, landing on unprotected beaches. They cycled down the long straight roads direct for Singapore and then made use of abandoned British trucks to speed their advance. When the heavy bombing of airfields commenced, including Alor Star, the Royal Air Force withdrew, leaving everything behind. The advancing Japanese must have had a field day when they found large stores of bombs, ammunition, food and spirits. As the RAF pulled back so did the Army and the retreat down Malaya began.
Many Allied soldiers were separated from their leaders and regiments in the steamy dripping jungle. Their superiors were thrown into an equal chaos, still staggering from the overwhelming force of the invasion. The Japanese had been moving for seven weeks through Malaya, but no fortifications were in place further south. No trenches had been dug. Civilian women and children should have been ordered away well in time, but nobody saw it as their responsibility. After the initial invasion there would have been time to build strong strategic holding points, but nothing was done.
For the Japanese, the victory of Slim River was the greatest victory of the Malaya campaign up to that point, but this was solely due to the utter weariness of the Allied troops who had been fighting both day and night for over a month, without proper rest and with no relief from air or sea cover.
Disaster had also befallen the Navy. The new Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Fleet, Admiral Sir Thomas Phillips, had left Singapore with the battleships Prince of Wales and Repulse and four destroyers. Both the capital ships were sunk by Japanese torpedo-bombers. The Commander-in-Chief and the Captain of the Prince of Wales both went down. This, following upon the Pearl Harbor attack, gave the Japanese undisputed command of Far Eastern Waters.
(The Campaign in Malaya at
Singapore was not prepared for an invasion. For one thing the Royal Air Force’s Brewster Buffalo fighter planes were slow and obsolete—RAF Fighter Command, in fact, had given up on them before the Battle of Britain a year and a half earlier. Yet all of the RAF’s Spitfire units, which were a match for the Japanese and their vaunted Zero fighters, were either allocated against the Germans in North Africa or were in Britain to defend the homeland. But that was not the worst of it.
The British had no tanks at all in Malaya; that all of Singapore’s renowned coastal artillery pointed out to sea, with no guns defending the landward side of the island; and that none of the British troops in Malaya had any training in jungle warfare. Great Britain was now at war with Japan, but the defenders of British Malaya and its trading capital, Singapore, were totally unprepared.
On 14 Feb, 1942, Japanese troops closed into Singapore, and atrocities ensued. Lt. Western, a British medical officer, surrendered with a white flag but was bayoneted to death. Then, the Japanese troops entered the Alexandra Hospital, killing over 300 doctors, nurses, and patients, most by bayonets. When Yamashita heard about the incident, he had the Japanese soldiers responsible for the attack executed at the hospital.
At 14:00 hours on Sunday, 15 Feb, Percival decided that he only had enough supplies for two more days of fighting, and surrendered. Yamashita asked Percival, who wore the baggy British tropical uniform shorts that date, “do you wish to surrender unconditionally?”, and Percival answered “Yes we do”, and that marked the fall of the “Impregnable Fortress” of Singapore to Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita. Yamashita’s troops had only enough ammunition to fight a few more days, but Percival did not have that intelligence. Singapore, the Gibraltar of the East, would remain under Japanese control until the end of the war. Until the last moment of battle, the British shore batteries of 15″ and 19″ guns pointed southward, waiting for the naval assault expected but never came.
On 6 and 9 August 1945, U.S. B -29 bombers dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the Japanese occupation of Southeast Asia. By then, the Japanese allowed the Allies to send in forces and food supplies. Prisoners-of-war were checked by medical officers and arrangements were made to send them home.
On 15 August, 1945, Japan announced its surrender. The formal signing of the surrender instrument was held at City Hall, Singapore, then known as “Municipal Hall”, on 12 September. This was followed by a celebration at the Padang, which included a victory parade. Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander of Southeast Asia Command, came to Singapore to receive the formal surrender of the Japanese forces in the region from General Itagaki Seishiro on behalf of General Hisaichi Terauchi.
General Tomoyuki Yamashita was put on trial in Manila as a war criminal on October 29th, 1945, two months after the Japanese surrendered to the Allies. He was found guilty of war crimes and executed. Yamashita was hung at 03.27am on the morning of 23rd February 1946 at Manila Luzon Island.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s