The author has covered a broad topic with an introduction of the events leading up to the fall of Singapore , the occupation and subsequent events after liberation.
- Stephen Wynn
The book does not flow readily but feels more like a series of linked essays , some very well written. The first seven pages set the scene which then switches to the fate of Force Z, the naval reinforcement from the UK where Repulse and Prince Of Wales met their fate. Other chapters deal with 4 massacres, including the infamous Bangka Island episode where the Japanese machine gunned a group of Australian nurses in the sea. The command pressures on Percival are touched upon in chapter 8, visitors to Singapore might care to include the HQ on their to do list in between shopping and Singapore slings.
Welfare efforts by the ICRC are discussed as well as the well travelled area of treatment of POWs. The most ironic note on treatment of POWs is on page 139 where in 1945 a captured Japanese Major General grumbles to the ICRC about the quality of his rations!
There is also coverage of the inquest into fault finding after the war together with trials of some Japanese commanders. Finally there are some good vignettes of individual soldiers and their tales.
The book is a compact 209 pages with a brief list of sources and a short index. In covering a broad spectrum within a short work, the author is probably aiming at the generalist reader .A little more in depth analysis of some of the areas would go a long way. The fate of Force Z is covered in under 3 pages but the loss of 2 major naval units was a huge power shift as well as a body blow to morale. The advances in Japanese torpedo technology was a game changer, as until then no capital ship under way had been sunk by aerial torpedo. Similarly the failure to update IPB (intelligence preparation of the battlefield) on the Malaysian Peninsula was a huge blunder.
The description of Kranji war cemetery is poignant and a useful note for any visitor considering a trip.
Other works by Stephen Wynn include Two Sons In A War Zone and Afghanistan; The True Story Of A Father's Conflict.
Pen and sword have ,as ever, produced a good quality hardback with photographs on gloss paper.
The book is priced at £19.99 and in kindle format at £14.39.There are a few (new) copies on Amazon a bit cheaper.