THE FALL OF
If you thought British ineptitude is a modern phenomenon
then events surrounding the fall of this 'fortress of the east' will put your
mind at rest. The truth is that Singapore was virtually defenceless, despite
the fact that Churchill was well aware that American blockades on Japanese
trade were intended to goad them into war. Singapore's defences were already
crumbling when the Japanese Army, mostly pedalling their push-bikes cycled
into the city's approaches. They must have thought Christmas had come early.
Despite the fact that the city had been bombed, there was no one on duty to
sound the sirens. The streetlights were still blazing because no one could
find the key to the master switch. Regulations insisted that telephone calls
be limited to three minutes so yes, you guessed it, communications were cut
when the three minutes was up.
A last minute attempt to build defences was delayed for ten days while they
argued over how much the coolies should be paid. The secretary of the golf
club insisted that no guns could be mounted on the links until he had
consulted with the committee. Airfields had been set up without a thought to
their defence. It never occurred to anyone that the army should be consulted.
As a consequence the airfields were abandoned on the run.
British troops retreated from positions that weren't being attacked, they
disobeyed orders to counter- attack, and they failed to follow up advantages
when they presented themselves. As morale collapsed the deserters swarmed into
Singapore and added to the chaos.
On February 14th 1942, the British Army, buckling at the knees with ample
munitions, surrendered to a Japanese force barely one-third of its strength
and down to its last 100 rounds per man.
Just three days before the fall of Singapore the White population still
refused to believe in their imminent fate. 'In front of the Raffles Hotel cars
are depositing patrons to the daily tea dance," wrote Yates McDaniel of the
Associated Press. "Outside the people are queuing to see Joel McCrea and Ellen
Drew in the film 'Reaching for the Sun'. One can only wonder at the irony in
the film's title. It may occur to some that the British head is as firmly
fixed in the sand today as it was all those years ago.
When asked later to explain the debacle to the House of Commons the normally
eloquent Winston Churchill searched uselessly for an answer. Such was the
reprehensible epitaph of the British Empire in the East.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE DESERTERS?
The Empire Star was the largest vessel to flee Singapore before the Japanese
arrival. It was packed with wives, children, and some services personnel like
airmen and sailors who had no contribution to make to the final battle.
Suddenly 140 Australian deserters stormed up the gangway. When Captain
Atkinson, a Royal Navy officer tried to turn them back he was shot dead where
Military Police arrived but by then the deserters were displaying their rifles
and machine guns, with the full intention of using them. Women were milling
about, the MPs dare not attack, and the liner sailed on with the deserters
still on board.
What happened to them is cloaked in mystery. It was said hat one in five were
randomly selected and shot as a reprisal. Other stories suggest that the
figure was 1/10. Nobody will reveal the details.
British eccentricity always seems to compensate for ineptness. Events
surrounding Orde Wingate's Chindits, a special force of 3,000 men, were no
exception. Like his distant relative, Lawrence of Arabia, the commander had
unorthodox views as to how battles should be fought. Early in 1943 he led his
men on a guerrilla-type excursion behind Japanese lines. Three months later
only 2,187 returned. Their condition was so appalling that only 600 were
sufficiently fit for active soldiering again.
The mission had no strategic objective at all and it was afterwards decided
that 'the results achieved were incommensurate with the forces' diverted to
Never mind! From a public relations perspective Wingate was manna from heaven.
This British at a time of constant retreat and military humiliation had shown
some measure of success in combating the Japanese. Wingate became a British
hero overnight, accounts were embellished shamelessly and his exploits were
described as 'the greatest jungle epic of the war.' The bemused Wingate
received the Lawrence of Arabia medal, Churchill had him flown back to Blighty
and then sent on to Canada to meet the American President.
Field-Marshall Sir Bill Slim was of the opinion that the press excitement was
the only justification for this adventure, which had cost the lives of 813 men
and the lifelong health of a further 1587 invalids.
AT LEAST THE JAPANESE TOOK PRISONERS
If you thought the American treatment of enemy combatants in Afghanistan, Iraq
or Guantanomo Bay was bad just see what the Americans were capable of doing in
the war against the Japanese. The bridge builders over the River Kwai and the
inmates of Singapore's Changi Prison might well consider themselves fortunate
These double standards of war are best illustrated by Colonel Charles
Lindbergh's observations made whilst serving in the battle zones of the
American Japanese war. He questioned the American policy of not taking
prisoners. "I felt it was a mistake not to accept surrender whenever it could
be obtained; that by doing so, our advance would be more rapid and many
American lives would be saved. If the Japanese think they will be killed
anyway when they surrender, they, naturally, are going to hold on and fight to
the last – and kill American troops they capture whenever they get the chance.
BOUNTIES FOR LIVE POWs
Take the 41st, for example; they just don't take prisoners. The men boast
about it. The officers wanted some prisoners to question but they couldn't get
any until they were offered two weeks leave in Sydney for each one turned in.
Then the got more than they could handle. But when they cut out giving leave,
the prisoners stopped coming in. The boys just said they couldn't catch any.
"The Aussies are still worse. You remember the time they had to take these
prisoners south by plane? One of the pilots told me they just pushed them out
over the mountains and reported that the Japs committed hara-kiri on the way."
He recounted how 'our troops captured that Japanese hospital? There wasn't
anyone alive in it when they got through."'
Lindbergh also described his concern over 'our lack of respect for even the
admirable characteristics of our enemy – for courage, for suffering, for death,
for his willingness to die for his beliefs, for his companies and squadrons
which go forth, one after another, to annihilation. What is courage for us is
fanaticism for him. We hold his examples of atrocity screamingly to the
heavens while we cover up our own.
"A Japanese soldier who cuts off an American's head is an Oriental barbarian.
An American, who slits a Japanese throat, 'did it only because he knew that
the Japs had done it to his buddies.'
On another occasion he described his feelings when, "I stand looking at that
patch of scorched jungle, in the dark spots in the cliffs where the Japanese
troops had taken cover. In that burned area, hidden under the surface of the
ground, is the utmost suffering – hunger, despair, men dead and dying of
wounds, carrying on for a country they love and for a cause in which they
believe, not daring to surrender even if they wished to, because they know
only too well that our soldiers will shoot them on sight even if they came out
with the hands above their heads.
"But I would have more respect for the character of our people if we would
give them a decent burial instead of kicking in the teeth of their corpses,
and pushing their bodies into hollows in the ground, scooped out and covered
"I am shocked by the attitude of our American troops. They have no respect for
death, the courage of an enemy soldier, or many of the ordinary decencies of
life. They think nothing whatever of robbing the body of a dead Jap and
calling him a 'son of a bitch' while they do so.
AMERICAN TORTURE AND EXECUTIONS
I said during a discussion that regardless of what the Japs did, I did not see
how we could gain anything or claim that we represented a civilised stare if
we killed them by torture.
"Well, some of our boys do kick their teeth in, but they usually kill them
first," one of the officers said in half apology.
"It was freely admitted that some of our soldiers tortured Jap prisoners and
were as cruel and barbaric at times as the Japs themselves. Our men think
nothing of shooting a Jap prisoner or a soldier attempting to surrender. They
treat the Jap with less respect than they would an animal, and these acts are
condoned by almost everyone.
We claim to be fighting for civilisation, but the more I see of the war in the
Pacific the less right I think we have to claim to be civilised. In fact, I am
not sure that our record in this respect stands so very much higher than the
Lindbergh also described how Japanese bodies were bulldozed over as 'a number
of our Marines went in among them, searching through the pockets and prodding
around in their mouths for gold-filled teeth. Some of the Marines had a sack
in which they collected teeth with gold fillings.
SLICING OFF BODY PARTS
An officer said he had seen a number of Japanese bodies from which an ear or a
nose had been cut off. "Our boys cut them off to show their friends for fun,
or to dry to take back to the States. We found one Marine with a Japanese
head. He was trying to get the ants to clean the flesh off the skull, but the
odour got so bad we had to take it away from him."
Pretty rich behaviour and double standards coming from a nation which, like
Britain, made sixty years of propaganda out of the untrue story that Germans
had boiled bodies to make soap, and used skin to make light shades.
THE BRITISH CASTE SYSTEM LIVES ON IN SINGAPORE
Even after the disgraceful surrender of Singapore, routed by a far inferior
force, the British Army's class-based system remained as inflexible as ever.
The British contingent insisted on distinctions of rank. General Arthur
Percival and his senior offices actually strutted about calling themselves the
Various office blocks were marked 'Out of Bounds' or 'Officers only'. Captain
Stanley Pavillard was deeply ashamed of officers' attitudes: 'they played
bridge, they ran sly rackets for food, and then lit fires to cook little meals,
and they cared damn all about the welfare of new men arriving at the camp or
of the helpless sick.
British soldiers were dismayed at the small wage paid for their labours by
their captors; but enraged when the officers not only got paid for not working
but were actually received four times as much. Ordinary soldiers received 25
cents a day; officers a dollar a day.
One officer complained, 'I shall have to dismiss my batman (who got and
prepared his food, cleaned his dishes, washed his clothes and fetched his bath
water) as I cannot possibly afford to pay him 1p a day.'
Hardly the stuff of the movie Bridge on the River Kwai, officers also took
advantage of their first claim to clothing. While their men had to make do
with a single pair of shorts, the officers were allowed three pairs of shorts,
two pairs of pants, two pairs of boots, a pair of shoes, and four pairs of
Private Jack Chalker described an incident when a soldier, almost dead on his
feet, was trying to raw water from the river when a newly arrived brigadier
arrived and yelled at them to stand to attention in his presence. "
"…… this was the kind of lunacy we had to stomach from these idiots and we
wanted nothing whatsoever to o with them." At another camp the men were being
fed on broken rice infested with dead maggots and dirt. They took a sample of
it to the senior British officer in his 'private quarters.' They described how
he looked at it without speaking. Then turning away he brought out a tin of
pilchards in tomato sauce and said: "I'm not complaining. I'm eating well
The death toll tells its own story. Along the worst stretches of the Death
Railway the death toll among 'other ranks' was 37 per cent; among the officers
just 6 per cent.
LAMPSHADES AND TOILET SOAP
The allegation that the Germans made lampshades and soap has long been exposed
as a hoax. But it is true that Australian servicemen serving in New Guinea
sliced off an traded human ears. These were usually preserved in bottles of
spirits, as souvenirs for American troops. Americans knocked gold teeth out of
dead and the not so dead Japanese, in the mistaken belief that they were
valuable and could be sold on.
President Roosevelt politely refused the gift of a paper knife fashioned from
the bone of a slain Japanese soldier.
General Douglas MacArthur's intelligence staff used File 384 to document
allied war crimes. These included cases of American and Australian acts of
One of MacArthur's officers told Phillip Knightley that whilst the Japanese
resorted to cannibalism by necessity the Australians and the Americans usually
did so for a bet or a dare.
Much was made of the Japanese sinking of the Australian hospital ship Centaur
but less was said of the military acceptance that this was in direct
retaliation for the destruction of a Japanese field hospital, while the
wounded were still in it, by Australian troops.
ALLIED TREATMENT OF THE JAPANESE
Not surprisingly much has been said and written about Japanese atrocities.
Unsurprising very little is said about allied atrocities which invariably
exceeded those of the Japanese. Indeed, there was little more than lip service
paid to the taking of prisoners. The Ghurkha Regiments wouldn't countenance
such limp-wrist squeamishness.
Their captives had their throats slit or were bayoneted where they stood. It
was then common practice to dissemble the victim's physique to a condition in
which it could neatly be buried in a bucket-sized hole in the ground. A blind
eye was turned when Ghurkha troops carried out disgusting ritual practices on
the bodies of dead enemy soldiers.
In both world wars the British armed forces used primitive tribesmen and
openly condoned native cannibalism. The Cambridge University magazine 'Cam'
revealed their use; "These tribes had the resulting ritual practice of
severing parts of their murdered prisoners, cooking and then eating them.
Beri Beri and the trots in a Japanese POW camp, building a railway with at
least some chance of survival, might by some be considered a reasonable
As a matter of policy American ships sank all Japanese ships on sight,
irrespective of whether they were carrying passengers or war materials. Such
was their enthusiasm that when they sank a freighter filled with American POWs
there was no change in policy.
With shades of Iraq and Afghanistan official communiqués laid claim that only
military objectives in Japanese cities were bombed 'with pinpoint accuracy.'
In fact the fire raid bombings, as on Germany, were wholly indiscriminate and
caused more casualties than did the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan's only
two Christian cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Over 250,000 lost their lives during the fire raids on Tokyo, and eight
million were made homeless. One raid alone on March 10 1945 killed 140,000
people and left 1 million homeless.
The west has never been slow to make a fast buck out of recounting tales of
Japanese atrocities but the Japanese themselves, for cultural reasons, have
never spoken of their own ordeals at the hands of the allies. They see such
account as a national humiliation. Even when during a POW riot at a camp in
Australia, 221 Japanese prisoners-of-war were either gunned down or took their
own lives, no mention was made of it. For the Japanese there are no films
entitled 'The Great Escape.'
CAPTIVITY COULD BE SUCH FUN
When at the end of the war evidence was produced that not all allied POWs
suffered abuse, this was ignored. Much to his credit Britain's General
Percival, captured in Singapore, wrote in 1949 an objective account of his
experiences and that of fellow officers, during their internment.
He recalled sharing a bottle of whisky with the camp commandment, travelled in
the First Officer's cabin on the ship bound for Japan, because he wasn't
feeling well. He had received Red Cross stores on arrival at the camp where
they were taken, and in 1943 was moved to a camp near the capital of Formosa.
Not quite the Raffles Hotel and tea dances were a rarity but each officer did
have a room to himself, a library of English and American books, table tennis
to keep them amused, and a gramophone with a good supply of records which they
could buy locally.
The prisoners received letters though they did take rather a long time in
transit, and were allowed to write one letter a month. For a period at least
they received a choice of two English language newspapers, and each had their
own radio set. When they were moved to Manchuria they were given extra warm
clothing and were housed believe it or not in centrally heated barracks.
THE JAPANESE BOMB AMERICA
No kidding! U.S. censorship put a big blue pencil through what was the very
first inter-continental airborne missile attack. It was probably the most
bizarre weapon ever used into the bargain.
The ever resourceful Japanese manufactured 9,300 paper balloons and released
them into the trade winds blowing east to west across the Pacific. Each was
thirty-eight feet in diameter and carried an anti-personnel bomb weighing
They landed right across the western seaboard of America from Alaska to
Mexico, A few even reached Iowa.
The military results were woefully insignificant, but they did kill six people.
Their strongest claim to fame was the anxiety they caused, and their presence
did tie up considerable numbers of men, radar, and fighter aircraft. They were
'stood down' only when U.S. bombing raids deprived the Japanese of the
essential hydrogen gas needed. The full story had to wait until 1973 before it
THE TRUE HEROES OF THE BATTLE FOR IWO JIMA
One of America's most famous military icons is that of the six servicemen who
participated in the theatrical raising of Old Glory, the Stars and Strips atop
Mount Suribachi during the storming of Iwo Jima.
This was in fact a second take of an earlier incident which had gone
un-photographed. The indomitable flag raisers were five Marines and a U.S.
Navy corpsman. Three of these men were subsequently killed in this same action
that cost the lives of 22,000 American servicemen, more victims of Roosevelt's
'We shall not send your sons abroad' scam. One of these flag raisers was Ira
Hayes, a U.S. Marine of the Red Indian Pima tribe.
In those politically correct times (yes, then too) Ira Hayes was ordered home
to do a War Bond tour. Sadly this shy introvert not only hated his celebrity
status but also felt overwhelming guilt that the Marines, who had first raised
the flag on the mount, whilst under fire, were never recognised. Hayes brooded
on being one of only five survivors from a platoon of 45 men. Being feted at
the White House only served to exacerbate his decline into alcoholism and his
health spiralled downwards until he died on January 24th, 1955.
He passed away on the Gila River Indian Reservation in Arizona where he had
been born. In apartheid South Africa they called their reservations 'townships'.
Yet the Second World War is still sold to the gullible as primarily a war
against racism. Pass the bucket!
|"Japan was provoked into attacking the United
States at Pearl Harbor. It is a travesty of history ever to say that
America was forced into war." - Oliver Lyttleton, British Minister of
Production to the American Chamber of Commerce, London, June 20th 1944.
" . . . the President (Roosevelt) will force us into war by actions and
incidents which will make it unavoidable. He is in a position where he can
force war on us whether we want it or not." – Charles A. Lindbergh October 4
"The pressure for war is high and mounting. The people are opposed to it, but
the administration seems to have the bit in its teeth and is hell-bent on its
way to war. Most of the Jewish interests in this country are behind war, and
they control a huge part of our press and radio and most of our motion
pictures." – Charles A. Lindbergh, American flying ace.
"When hostilities began in September, 1939, the Gallup Poll showed 94% of the
American people against involvement in war. The figure rose to 96.5% in
December, 1939. On June, 3rd, 1941, 83% of the American population was against
entering the war."
"Active intervention of the U.S. in the war was only possible for F.D.R
(Roosevelt) if the USA were attacked. This was the only way to win the
American people for a war and to silence the isolationists. The way out of
this dilemma could only be Japan. The problem was, therefore, to so provoke
the Japanese that they would fire the first shot." - Muncher Merkur,
December, 7th, 196