A vital location controlling the shipping lanes between India and the Far East, it was heavily defended at the outbreak of the Second World War. Unfortunately the Japanese didn't invade from the sea but from the North after taking Malaya and all the defences were facing the wrong way.
There is much debate as to whether the (eventual) British surrender was justified. Whilst a more tenacious defence would likely have resulted in victory, it would have been short term. A subsequent blockade would've prevented any reinforcement - even if the resources for such a venture were available.
The Empire's mighty forces had their bluff called and it was found wanting - as the Royal Navy's Force Z found out much to their cost with the loss of HMS Repulse and Prince of Wales. The RAF fared little better, with obsolete types falling easily to Japanese guns despite a spirited defence.
The surrender saw much brutality: hospital patients being bayoneted in their beds and their nurses being marched in to the sea before being shot or bayoneted. The island was then turned into a massive prisoner camp under the brutal regime of the Japanese and many British, Australian and Indian troops lost their lives in captivity.
Post war, Singapore has had a complicated political history, initially becoming a Crown Colony before independence in 1963. Today it is a modern nation and is a shining example of post-colonial success. There is little (if any) crime and the standard of living is well above average.
Things you won't find in Singapore:
- Rubbish-strewn streets
- A knackered public transport network
- Street beggars
- Vauxhall Novas
The last point is noteworthy. The first thing you see at the airport (apart from the spaniel sniffing your luggage) is a large sign that states drug smuggling is punishable by... death! No fucking about, no ASBOs, no slaps on the wrist etc. No sunshine. If Bowser finds any white stuff in your washbag matey, you'll be dancing on the end of a rope. Period!
This is the way to run a clean, prosperous country, and if we really want to be serious about the 'War on Drugs' then we could do little better than adopt Singapore's stance on... pretty much everything really. Mind how you go!
By the way also more of a Nanny State than Mary Poppins' 'People's Republic' somewhere in South America.