The Defence and Fall of Singapore

Brian P. Farrell

In 1921 the British settled on the “Singapore strategy” to defend the Far East against Japanese attacks. (p 18).

The strategy envisaged building a naval base large enough to support a main fleet arriving from UK to attack the Imperial Japanese navy. It was deemed too prohibitive to maintain a battlefleet in Singapore.

Sadly, it was all a nod and wink. The size of the base was pared down. It was built wrongly in Sembawang on the northern coast fronting Johore and not a site next to the commercial harbour on the south coast.

Churchill was responsible for the budget cuts in 1924 (p 24). Yet later he made a hue and cry about the Fall of Singapore and issued his infamous order- “the battle must be fought to the bitter end…Commanders and senior officers should die with their troops…” (p 333 and 406).

The Singapore Strategy was doomed from the start. But from the time France fell (June 1940) to the Japanese invasion of Malaya and Singapore (Dec 1941), the British had a full 18 months to make Malaya and Singapore more defensible.

Was nothing done? These are some of the grand themes explored by Brian Farrell in this updated 2015 edition.

This edition has improved maps, and a useful Note on Sources though rambling and to an extent incoherent.

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