Photo Essay: Singapore

By: Belle Tan


Singapore's timespan in war is from around December of 1941 to February 15, 1942.

After being forced a trade embargo from its Chinese campaigns, Japan had to look for an alternative source of resources for its war against the allies in the Pacific war which resulted in Japan invaded Malaya.

Since the 19th century, Singapore had been a British colony. In July 1941, the Japanese had telegraphed their intentions to take Singapore from the British to its own empire. The Japanese did as telegraphed and on the eve of the Pearl Harbor attack, 24,000 Japanese troops were transported from Indochina to the Malay Peninsula. Japanese fighter pilots also attacked Singapore which resulted in the death of 61 civilians.

On February 8, 5,000 Japanese troops were on Singapore Island. The British were short on manpower and weaponry compared to the Japanese. Later, a few days later, on February 13, Singapore's 15-inch coastal guns which were the island's main defensive weapons were destroyed which led to Singapore surrendering to Japanese Gen. About 62,000 Allied soldiers were taken prisoners.

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First bombing on Singapore from Japan

The Final Stand Begins on Singapore. Digital image. Ww2today. WWII Today, n.d. 3 Dec. 2015. Web. <>.

This picture shows a civilian badly injured from the first bombing from Japan on December 8,1941. It was an extensive three-pronged attack, Japan opens fire with the Allies and their colonies. The first air raid was at 4:15 am on Singapore. The attack on Singapore was assigned to the Genzan Air Group and Mihoro Air Group. Their target were RAF Tengah, RAF Seletar, Sembawang Naval Base and Keppel Harbour. However, bad weather conditions were encountered while traveling over the South China Sea. Niichi Nakanishi called from the team to abort the mission and return to base which reduced the impact of the raid as only seventeen G3M bombers of Mihoro Air Group reached Singapore on schedule.

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Destruction of HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse

Chen, Peter C. HMS Prince of Wales. Digital image. World War II Database. Lava Development, n.d. 3 Dec. 2015. Web. <>.

On December 10, 1941, the British battleship HMS Prince of Wales, pictured above, and the battlecruiser HMS Repulse are sunk by the Japanese bombers. HMS Prince of Wales departed on October 25, 1941 to join Force Z, a British naval detachment, in Singapore. HMS Repulse was assigned in November to Force Z. These sunk ships were the first ships to be sunk through air power on the open sea.

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2nd Air Raid on Singapore

Bright, Shelley. Tengah Airfield. Digital image. RAF TENGAH. N.p., n.d. 3 Dec. 2015. Web. <>.

During the night of December 16, 1941, Japanese navy bombers conducted the second air raid and set RAF Tengah, pictured above, as their target. After being captured by the Japanese, RAF Tengah came under control of the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force while the Imperial Japanese Navy Air took over the other two RAF stations (RAF Sembawang and RAF Seletar). This second air raid was merely a minor attack on RAH Tengah.

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Japanese Propaganda Pamphlets

Friedman, Herbert A. Come Friends. Digital image. JAPANESE PSYOP DURING WWII. N.p., 1 Nov. 2003. 3 Dec. 2015. Web. <>.

On December 25, 1941, a Japanese aircraft drops propaganda pamphlets like the one pictured above on Singapore Island. Its purpose was to push the colony to surrender.

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Overseas Chinese Mobilization Council

Founding Father. Digital image. Xiamen University 90th Celebration. Xiamen University, n.d. 3 Dec. 2015. Web. <>.

On December 30, 1941, The Overseas Chinese Mobilization Council is set up in Singapore by Tan Kah Kee. Bukit Pasoh Road used to be the headquarters of Overseas Chinese Mobilization Council and was used to help SIngapore with its defense against the Japanese in World War 2. Tan helped to raise money to fight the war against Japan and help to assist the manpower mobilization.
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Fall of Kuala Lumpur

Fall of Kuala Lumpur. Digital image. Secondbysecondwolrdwar. Second by Second World War, 9 Jan. 2014. Web. 3 Dec. 2015. <>.

By January 11 of 1941, Kuala Lumpur had fallen to the Japanese. Resistance was present but futile. The Japanese had both technology and numbers on their side.
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Daylight Air Raids on Singapore

Chinese Grandmother Mourns. Digital image. WW2 People's War. BBC, n.d. Web. 3 Dec. 2015.

The picture shows a grandmother mourning the death of her grandson caused by the air raids. The island is bombed every day with the exception of January 19, 1942 up to British surrender.

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Arthur Percival

Rompedas. A E Percival. Digital image. Rompedas. N.p., 5 Dec. 2010. Web. 3 Dec. 2015. <>.

Lieutenant-General Arthur Percival was the commander of the Malaya troops, but his miscalculation was large. He tried to prevent the Japanese from landing by concentrating troops east of the Causeway, but they attacked from the Northwest, taking Bukit Panjang and eventually the island.
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Malaya's Fall

Cattum, Cave. Singapore Causeway Blown Up. Digital image. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 11 Aug. 2006. Web. 3 Dec. 2015. <>.

January 31, 1942, Malaya falls to the Japanese and the British blow up the Causeway in order to delay Japan's advancement to Singapore. The picture above was taken by the British military after the blowing up of the causeway between Singapore and Malaysia. It delays the Japanese attack by nine days.

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Tomoyuki Yamashita

Monarchist, Mad. Tomoyuki Yamashita. Digital image. Mad Monarchist. N.p., 14 Aug. 2013. Web. 3 Dec. 2015. <>.

The Lieutenant-General of the Japanese forces was a shrewd fearsome man. After the original invasion, he commanded his troops to again invade from the south, so the British/Indian/Malaya Regiments would be hard-pressed.

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Battle of Sarimbun Beach

Gorbi. Sarimbun Battle. Digital image. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 28 Mar. 2010. Web. 3 Dec. 2015. <>.

The picture above shows the positions of Allied forces in the Sarimbun Beach on February 8, 1942 at 10pm. The arrows represent the attacks by Japanese forces. The battle took place February 8 to 9, 1942. It was also the first stage of the Japanese assault on Singapore during World War 2. Due the fact the allies were outnumbered (the ratio of allied forces to Japanese forces was 3:10) the Japanese scored a victory.

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15-inch Coastal Defense Guns

Coastal Defence Gun. Digital image. Imperial War Museums. IWM, n.d. Web. 3 Dec. 2015. <>.

The picture above shows one of Singapore's 15 inch coastal defense guns which were elevated for firing. These defense guns were important as they were the main form of protection for Singapore Island. It is said that these guns were all destroyed on February 13, 1942 except one at Buona Vista.

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Battle of Kranji

Peter Thompson. The Battle For Singapore. Portraits Books. 2005. 3 Dec 2015. <>

The picture above shows the attacks by the Japanese forces which are represented by the arrows. The Battle of Kranji which happened on February 9 to February 10,1942 and was the second stage of the Empire of Japan's plan for the invasion of Singapore. The main objective of the Japanese was to capture Kranji village which would allow them to repair the demolished Causeway in order to maintain an easy flow of troops and supplies. The battle resulted in a Japanese victory.

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Battle of Bukit Timah

Light Tanks in Bukit Timah. Digital image. Bukitbrown. Bukit Brown: World Monuments Watch, 12 Feb. 2014. Web. 3 Dec. 2015. <>.

The picture above shows the Japanese troops at Bukit Timah, part of the final stage of the Empire of Japan's invasion of Singapore occurred February 10 to 12, 1942. Further troops had been landed, followed by heavy fighting which pushed the Australian defenders from their positions on the coast. The Japanese occupied Bukit Timah easily as the British and Chinese had poor equipment
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Battle of Pasir Panjang

Saravanan97. Pasir Panjang Battle. Digital image. Glogster. Glogster, n.d. Web. 3 Dec. 2015. <>.

The battle of Pasir Panjang lasted from February 13, 1942 to February 14 1942. Indian, British, and Malay Regiments could not deter the Japanese very long. An all out assault won them the battle after a few hours of regular warfare.
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Alexandra Hospital Massacre

The Japanese indiscriminately marched into a hospital and murdered people on the day of Singapore's surrender as final details were being worked out. Although the building was clearly marked with a red cross, the Japanese threw a bomb inside and later corralled the patients and staff to bayonet them. About 300 people were killed in this war crime.
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The Fall of Singapore

Trueman, C. N. The Fall of Singapore. Digital image. History Learning Site. History Learning Site, 19 May 2015. Web. 3 Dec. 2015. <>.

On February 15, 1942, Singapore finally fell to the Japanese. The result was not unexpected, but the English and Malay had been destroyed, with several thousands in casualties. The Japanese onslaught had been brutal and very quick, showing the power of the Japanese imperial machine.
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Sook Ching

Rand, Yeoman. Sook Ching. Digital image. The Medusa Fora. Yeoman Rand, 15 Feb. 2013. Web. 3 Dec. 2015. <>.

Following the surrender, the Japanese went on a round of extermination in the Chinese population. Similar to ethnic cleansing, the Japanese searched the population for undesirables, such as Chinese Nationalist sympathizers, communists, those with tattoos, etc. Many, many innocent men (women and children to a lesser degree) were rounded up and killed.