Percival’s Plan Anticipating the Japanese

Arthur Percival
Arthur Percival

A Lieutenant-General

The General Officer commanding British and Allied military forces in the defence of Malaya and Singapore against the Japanese invasion.

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A Lieutenant-General

I am under no illusion about the internal threat that the Japanese represent. They are members of a disciplined nation, who will do desperate things for their fatherland. I have drawn up a plan which details their possible means of attack, what we must do to protect Singapore Naval Base…
Marshall L. Clarke
Marshall L. Clarke

A Royal Navy Commodore

A Commodore in the British Navy, which is a rank that stands above Captain and below Rear Admiral.

A Royal Navy Commodore
Circa 1937
Thank you for sending this to me General Dobbie. This truly is Percival’s swansong. It is a masterly document and I would like to send a copy to the Commander-in-Chief. However, this plan may be an overestimation of the Japanese and I rather feel that the civilian members of the Defence Committee may regard the whole as too pessimistic, and take the line that we are scaremongers.

Percival’s Promotion and Immediate Posting to Singapore

Arthur Percival
Arthur Percival

A Lieutenant-General

The General Officer commanding British and Allied military forces in the defence of Malaya and Singapore against the Japanese invasion.

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A Lieutenant-General

War has been raging in Europe for two years, and it has taken me two weeks to travel to Singapore. Nevertheless, I am eager to assume my new post as General Officer Commanding Malaya. We have much to prepare in the event that war spreads to British interests in the…
Alfred Duff Cooper
Alfred Duff Cooper

Minister of Information

A Conservative British politician who served as Minister of Information under Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and later as ambassador to France.

Minister of Information
2 Dec 1941
The HMS Prince of Wales, aptly nicknamed HMS Unsinkable, and the veteran cruiser HMS Repulse have sailed proudly into Singapore Naval Base. Many air force and naval commanders, as well as Governor Robert Brooke-Popham were present. They arrived punctual to the minute with their escort of four destroyers. Together, the ships confer a sense of complete security.

The Japanese Invasion Begins

Arthur Percival
Arthur Percival

A Lieutenant-General

The General Officer commanding British and Allied military forces in the defence of Malaya and Singapore against the Japanese invasion.

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shared George Rocker's
George Rocker

A Veterinary Officer

He was the Veterinary Officer of Selangor. In 1990, he published an autobiography about his attempts to save his wife and 1,000 cattle during the Japanese invasion of Malaya.

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A Lieutenant-General

Updates on the aggression we’ve faced from Japan.

The Japanese Invasion Begins

George Rocker
George Rocker

A Veterinary Officer

He was the Veterinary Officer of Selangor. In 1990, he published an autobiography about his attempts to save his wife and 1,000 cattle during the Japanese invasion of Malaya.

A Veterinary Officer

Over the wireless to Ipoh and to Kuala Lumpur, to London and to New York, and belting through the whole world, came the outrageous shock from Singapore. Christ! The HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse, both sunk by Japanese airmen! Both? Incredible! The clubs and the hotel bars were…
Masanobu Tsuji
Masanobu Tsuji

Chief Operations Officer

An Imperial Japanese Army military official who planned the Malayan Campaign. He oversaw the capture and killing of thousands of Chinese suspected of being anti-Japanese during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore.

Chief Operations Officer
Dec 1941
To catch a tiger, you must first put your head in the tiger’s den. A frontal assault on Singapore would not be feasible. It has also come to light that the Royal Air Force fleet in Malaya is understrength and obsolete. We will overcome the hardships of jungle warfare with a Kirimomi Sakusen
Kirimomi Sakusen means driving charge. A Japanese battalion commander explained it as, “Don’t stop but charge forward no matter what happens and do not respond to fire from behind.” This tactic was used by the Japanese campaign in Malaya, where they quickly swept the peninsula. The main body of the force comprised disciplined and hardy soldiers from the China campaign. Many were experienced in amphibious warfare. General Yamashita then used his air and sea advantage to infiltrate, envelop and outflank the defenders, compelling them to retreat quickly for fear of being cut off from the rear.
!

The Battle for Singapore

Arthur Percival
Arthur Percival

A Lieutenant-General

The General Officer commanding British and Allied military forces in the defence of Malaya and Singapore against the Japanese invasion.

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A Lieutenant-General

The Japanese have crossed the Straits of Johor and landed in the northwest of Singapore, east of the Kranji River. However, I will not be committing my reserve force to meet this threat—basic soldiering dictates that you should never commit your reserves until you are quite certain of what you…
An Australian Soldier
8 Feb 1942
The Japanese artillery barrage severed our field telephone lines. Therefore, we didn’t turn on our searchlights, because we couldn’t get orders to do so. I fired many flares into the night sky but there was no support. I was told the artillery observers failed to spot this as they were too far away. We trained and practiced for years but now that we’re fighting against an actual threat, we don’t have the support we need. What a mess!

Assessing the British and Japanese Forces

Arthur Percival
Arthur Percival

A Lieutenant-General

The General Officer commanding British and Allied military forces in the defence of Malaya and Singapore against the Japanese invasion.

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A Lieutenant-General

By the time the crisis came to the Far East last year, it was too late to put things right. We were engaged in a life and death struggle in the West, so war resources which might have saved Singapore were instead sent to Russia and the Middle East.
A British Commando
Circa 1942
We should not have underestimated the Japanese. Our propaganda painted a picture of an invincible British Empire against simple-minded enemies. This was a terrible idea.

Many of our troops bought into our propaganda, thinking that the Japanese were unable to shoot properly, had malfunctioning equipment and shoddy aircraft. It was almost as if we were helping the Japanese invasion, and our scorched-earth policy
This policy is a military strategy that aims to eliminate whatever might be useful to the enemy while it is advancing to or withdrawing from a location. Assets such as food, water supplies, transportation, communications and industrial resources are destroyed.
completely failed.

The Final Decision

Arthur Percival
Arthur Percival

A Lieutenant-General

The General Officer commanding British and Allied military forces in the defence of Malaya and Singapore against the Japanese invasion.

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A Lieutenant-General

I have received a letter from General Tomuyuki Yamashita
General Tomuyuki Yamashita was the Army Commander of the 25th Army that captured Malaya and Singapore during World War II. Yamashita became known as the ‘Tiger of Malaya’ during World War II for his swift and successful attacks. He surrendered in the Philippines after the war ended, where he was tried for war crimes by the Allied Forces. He was hanged as a war criminal at 3.02 am on 23 February 1946 on Luzon Island, Manila, and buried in a Japanese cemetery at Los Banos, a prisoner-of-war camp in the Philippines.
calling for our surrender. After convening our war council meeting, I have decided that we will not surrender. I have my honour to consider and there is also the question of how history will remember us if we surrender this large…
Lewis Heath
Lewis Heath

A Lieutenant-General

A British Lieutenant-General, who was given command of III Indian Corps on 11 April 1941, when he was part of the Malaya Command.

A Lieutenant-General
13 Feb 1942
You need not bother about your honour. You lost that a long time ago up in the north of Malaya. The only possible solution is to surrender immediately.

The Surrender of Singapore to the Japanese

A War Correspondent

Truly a dark day in our history. As of 6.20pm, 15 February 1942, the General Officer Commanding Malaya, Arthur Percival, has surrendered Malaya and Singapore to General Tomoyuki Yamashita of Japan. The battle of Singapore was over in just eight days. The capitulation of the British truly hits home upon…
A School Teacher
Mar 1942
It is such a frightening time for myself and thousands of other girls, as we fear being raped by the Japanese. We always wear the most unflattering black clothes. We never comb our hair or use any makeup. We try to be as ugly as possible.
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