15th Feb 1942 and end of WW2 15th August 1945.
R&R in Singapore and standing by for TLRH coming to Perth soon. February 15th, 1942 just over 74 years ago one of the biggest military defeats in British history occurred at the battle and fall of Singapore. Australia along with British and Indian forces fighting to resist the Japanese advance down the Malaysia peninsula suffered big losses, either killed, wounded or captured.
My father Pte. William Sams (2/26 Infantry Battalion 8 Division) and uncle Pte. John Butt (2/30 Infantry Battalion) were unfortunate to be captured along with many others, interned in Changi Prison and later sent north to the infamous Thai Burma Death Railway in 1942. Later released at the end of the war 15th August 1945 (end of WW2 in the Pacific) and returned to Australia in January of 1946 after suffering for almost 5 years in captivity. It was interesting to read my father's and uncle's military discharge certificate in recent days, but most interestingly, to read in the medical section of their discharge certificates - "No visible scars." My father did suffer from the scars of war until he died in 1963. My uncle became a recluse but came out of his shell to revisit Singapore on a tour with Dr. Weary Dunlop in 1991 but sadly died not long after his return.
Wikipedia - The Battle of Singapore, also known as the Fall of Singapore, was fought in the South-East Asian theatre of World War II when the Empire of Japan invaded the British stronghold of Singapore—nicknamed the "Gibraltar of the East". Singapore was the major British military base in South-East Asia and was the keystone of British imperial interwar defence planning for South-East Asia as well as the South-West Pacific. The fighting in Singapore lasted from 8 to 15 February 1942 although this was preceded by two months of British resistance as Japanese forces advanced down the Malaya peninsula.
It resulted in the capture of Singapore by the Japanese and the largest surrender of British-led military personnel in history. About 80,000 British, Indian and Australian troops became prisoners of war, joining 50,000 taken by the Japanese in the earlier Malayan Campaign. The British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, called the ignominious fall of Singapore to the Japanese the "worst disaster" and "largest capitulation" in British military history.
During 1940 and 1941, the Allies had imposed a trade embargo on Japan in response to its continued campaigns in China and its occupation of French Indochina. As Japan's oil reserves were rapidly depleted by the ongoing military operations in China as well as industrial consumption, in the latter half of 1941, the Japanese began preparing a military response to secure vital resources if diplomatic efforts to resolve the situation failed. As a part of this process, the Japanese planners determined a broad scheme of manoeuvre that incorporated simultaneous attacks on the British and the United States. This would see landings in Malaya and Hong Kong as part of a general move south to secure Singapore, which was connected to Malaya by the Johor–Singapore Causeway, and then an invasion of the oil-rich area of Borneo and Java in the Dutch East Indies. In addition, strikes would be made against the United States naval fleet at Pearl Harbor, as well as landings in the Philippines, and attacks on Guam, Wake Island and the Gilbert Islands. Following these attacks, a period of consolidation was planned, after which the Japanese planners intended to build up the defences of the territory that had been captured by establishing a strong perimeter around it stretching from the India–Burma frontier through to Wake Island, and traversing Malaya, the Dutch East Indies, New Guinea and New Britain, the Bismarck Archipelago, and the Marshall and Gilbert Islands. With this perimeter, it was intended to block Allied attempts to regain the lost territory and defeat their will to fight.
The Japanese 25th Army invaded from Indochina, moving into northern Malaya and Thailand by amphibious assault on 8 December 1941. This was virtually simultaneous with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor which precipitated the United States entry in to the war. Thailand initially resisted, but soon had to yield. The Japanese then proceeded overland across the Thai–Malayan border to attack Malaya. At this time, the Japanese began bombing strategic sites in Singapore.
The Japanese 25th Army was resisted in northern Malaya by III Corps of the British Indian Army. Although the 25th Army was outnumbered by Allied forces in Malaya and Singapore, Japanese commanders concentrated their forces. The Japanese were superior in close air support, armour, coordination, tactics and experience. While conventional British military thinking characterised the Malayan jungles as "impassable", the Japanese were repeatedly able to use it to their advantage to outflank hastily established defensive lines. Prior to the Battle of Singapore the most resistance was met at the Battle of Muar, which involved the Australian 8th Division and the Indian 45th Brigade.
At the start of the campaign, the Allied forces had only 164 first-line aircraft on hand in Malaya and Singapore, and the only fighter was the obsolete Brewster F2A Buffalo. These aircraft were operated by two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), two Royal Air Force (RAF), and one Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) squadron. Major shortcomings included a slow rate of climb and the aircraft's fuel system which required the pilot to hand pump fuel if flying above 6,000 feet (1,800 m). In contrast, the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force was more numerous, and better trained than the second-hand assortment of untrained pilots and inferior allied equipment remaining in Malaya, Borneo and Singapore. Their fighter aircraft were superior to the Allied fighters, which helped the Japanese to gain air supremacy. Although outnumbered and outclassed, the Buffalos were able to provide some resistance, with RAAF pilots alone managing to shoot down at least 20 Japanese aircraft before the few that survived were withdrawn.
Force Z, consisting of the battleship HMS Prince of Wales, the battlecruiser HMS Repulse and four destroyers, sailed north out of Singapore on 8 December to oppose expected Japanese landings along the coast of Malaya. Japanese land based aircraft found and sank the two capital ships on 10 December, leaving the east coast of the Malayan peninsula exposed and allowing the Japanese to continue their amphibious landings. Japanese forces quickly isolated, surrounded, and forced the surrender of Indian units defending the coast. They advanced down the Malayan peninsula overwhelming the defences, despite their numerical inferiority. The Japanese forces also used bicycle infantry and light tanks, allowing swift movement through the jungle. The Allies, however, having thought the terrain made them impractical, had no tanks, and only a few armoured vehicles, which put them at a severe disadvantage.
Although more Allied units—including some from the Australian 8th Division joined the campaign, the Japanese prevented the Allied forces from regrouping. They also overran cities and advanced toward Singapore. The city was an anchor for the operations of the American-British-Dutch-Australian Command the first Allied joint command of the Second World War. Singapore controlled the main shipping channel between the Indian and the Pacific Oceans. An effective ambush was carried out by the 2/30th Battalion on the main road at the Gemenceh River near Gemas on 14 January causing heavy Japanese casualties.
At Bakri, from 18 to 22 January, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Anderson's 2/19th Battalion repeatedly fought through Japanese positions before running out of ammunition near Parit Sulong. Anderson's battalion was forced to leave behind about 110 Australian and 40 Indian wounded, these were later massacred by the Japanese. For his leadership, in the fighting withdrawal, Anderson was awarded the Victoria Cross. A determined counterattack from Lieutenant-Colonel John Parkin's 5/11th Sikh Regiment in the area of Niyor, near Kluang, on 25 January, and a successful ambush around the Nithsdale Estate by the 2/18th Battalion on 26/27 January,bought valuable time and permitted Brigadier Harold Taylor's Eastforce—based on the 22nd Brigade—to withdraw from eastern Jahore.
On 31 January, the last Allied forces left Malaya and Allied engineers blew a hole in the causeway linking Johor and Singapore.
The end of World War II in Asia occurred on 14 and 15 August 1945, when armed forces of the Empire of Japan surrendered to the forces of the Allied Powers. The surrender came just over three months after the surrender of the Axis forces in Europe.
On the long ride home, resting in Singapore
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