History of war: 1942 – February – Malaya and Singapore

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1942 February

Japanese incursions into the Philippines continued, activity in Malaya and Singapore continued with the Island now under siege. At this stage the Singapore Garrison had not enough Artillery or ammunition to effectively spot the Japanese.

On 4 February the Japanese demanded the surrender of all forces on Singapore Island. This was refused and so started an intense Artillery attack by the Japanese that lasted four days. On 8 Feb the Japanese crossed the strip of water separating Singapore and the Malay Peninsular on lighters and rubber boats landing on the North West Coast of the Island. A stout defence put up by the British was not enough to stop the Japanese securing a bridgehead on the island and advancing toward Tengah Airfield. Over the next few days the British defensive perimeter got smaller and smaller. The need for ammunition, rations and reinforcements was imperative, but not forthcoming. On the night of the 13th of February all ships left Singapore Harbour and the Coastal Guns were destroyed, without a shot being fired. The defenders of Singapore were in dire straits with food, water and ammunition becoming exhausted.

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At 1950hrs on 15 February General Percival signs a document of unconditional surrender of the City and Garrison to Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita. The surrender took effect immediately. The Japanese take 70,000 British, Indian and Australian prisoners.

While this was going on the Japanese continued their attacks in the Philippines, landed at Palembang on Sumatra, bombed Port Moresby, causing problems in Burma, bombed Mandalay, captured the large Dutch Naval base at Ambonia in the East Indies, landed in Timor and on Bali. To top this off they even bombed Darwin, Australia. Everything seemed to be going the way of the Japanese.

The War was still going on in other parts of the world. The British and the Germans and Italians were still fighting in North Africa, the Germans and the Russians fighting each other in Russia.