The Surrender Of Singapore Three Years of Hell 1942-45

Author Rating:
  • Author:
    Stephen Wynn
    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.

    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.

Alacrity and Gout Man like this.

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  1. Alacrity
    They've also just reopened the "Old Ford Factory" (name explains what it was) - but it's where Percival signed the documents of surrender. It's recently been revamped and re-opened and called the Syonan Gallery. Syonan was the Japanese name for Singapore between 1942-5, when they were having their fun here (the civilian population didn't have a great time either). Anyway, two days after the opening of the Syonan-Gallery and lots of "Really?" someone from a branding agency at the very least lost their job and it was renamed Surviving the Japanese Occupation: Wars and its Legacies” - I still haven't checked it out, but report to follow.
      MoleBath and Auld-Yin like this.
  2. Alacrity
    I'll put this on the purchase list - £15 in hardback including free P&P to South East Asian City State with (google it) Book Depository....

    For visitors to SG who are interested, I've found the best route to guide the visitor is first the Battle box (Fort Canning Park - check tour times as it can get hot up there - blissfully cool in the bunker though) - it's a WW2 bunker and the main HQ. It can feel a bit school trippish with the guide asking the group (8-14 people in my experience) simple questions about "what do you think this is for?" but it's a good set up and in the centre of town, so easy to reach - for the typical visitor, this can be enough. The Changi prison museum/rebuilt chapel etc is a bit sobering - the piles of books of names of all the prisoners with lines crossing them out. Don't go by a tour. I did that once, and the only interesting point was the opening lines: "Do we have any Japanese guests today? No? Excellent!" The rest was a regurgitation of the info you'd heard the day before (and you can pick up the few interesting pieces from other tour guides (take an MRT/light train from the centre of town to Tampines East Station and grab one of the waiting taxis there (Taxi will cost about £3-4).

    I finish at the Kranji War Memorial It's about 300m from the Kranji MRT station (North South tube line). A splendid war cemetery - 4,458 Allied servicemen in marked graves, a wall of 24,000 with no known resting place. It's architecturally beautiful. It's also 34°C and 80% humidity at 11am if you intend to visit on Remembrance Day. Take fluids.

    You'll find at all these places being British (or Australian/Kiwi), you will be accorded a great welcome - especially if you've got any military connection.
      MoleBath and Auld-Yin like this.