Singapore and World War II: Part I

I admit that my knowledge of the events that led up to and took place during World War II is incomplete at best.

My school books described, at length, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Normandy landings, the unconditional surrender of Germany, the two atomic bombings that leveled the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, peppered with sidebars about the Blitz, the Holocaust, and Stalin. We learned little of what happened in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

What I do know now of the Great War comes from years of reading great books. Most recently, I read Forgotten Armies: The Fall of British Asia, 1941-1945 by Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper. This spectacular book details the last days of the British Empire in Asia through the experiences of soldiers, laborers, guerrilla fighters, political activists, and refugees—the forgotten armies—in India, Burma, Malaysia, and Singapore.

o o o o o

Dates to know: The Battle of Singapore resulted in the fall of Singapore to the Japanese. The fighting lasted from January, 31 1942 to February 15, 1942. The Japanese occupation lasted until September 12, 1945, when the island was returned to British colonial rule.

There are a number of monuments and sites that mark important events, people, and places of these tumultuous years, including the Battle Box, which I visited earlier today with fellow blogger, Flora. This air-raid shelter is the site where General Arthur Ernest Percival decided to surrender to the Japanese.

This eerie, unusual, and informative museum recreates the morning of February 15, 1942 through audio, video, and life-size, wax animatronics designed and clothed by artists from Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum in London. The bunker also has a number of original artifacts—typewriters, wind-up telephones, Morse code transmitters—and prints of World War II-era propaganda posters. (My favorite to the left!)

o o o o o

I will revisit World War II history as I discover more sites and, more importantly, figure out how to get to them. I hope you enjoy my quest to fill in gaps in my knowledge as much as I enjoy sharing this information with you.