#OnThisDay (15 Feb 1942) Singapore fell
📷: Victorious Japanese troops marching into Fullerton Square on 16 February 1942. The British had surrendered the previous day and Singapore would be renamed Syonan-to (“Light of the South”) by its new masters. (Biblioasia, NLB)
#OnThisDay (15 Feb 1942), Singapore fell to the Japanese during World War II and became known as Syonan-to (“Light of the South”).
The Battle for Singapore was short and swift.
The first Japanese invaders had landed on 7 Feb 1942, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had given his troops the order to fight the Japanese till the very end. But by the morning of 15 Feb 1942, just a week after the first invasion, our food, water and ammunition supplies were about to collapse. Any counterattack would fail, and there was no choice but to surrender.
Still, the British wanted to discuss the surrender terms. So, that evening, at 5.15pm, Lieutenant-General Arthur E. Percival of the British forces and his delegation of senior officers left for the headquarters of the Japanese at Ford Motor Factory on Upper Bukit Timah Road (today’s Former Ford Factory).
Negotiation was not an option. Japanese Lieutenant General Tomoyuki Yamashita, Commander of the Japanese 25th Army, demanded an immediate, unconditional surrender, and threatened to launch a devastating attack on the city at night. Faced with this ultimatum, Percival signed the surrender document that night.
With the signing of surrender document, 15 Feb 1942, which was supposedly celebratory being the first day of Chinese New Year, was also the pivotal day that Singapore fell and stepped into a long and dark period of sufferings for three years and eight months under the Japanese Occupation.
“The rice ration we get from our shop was hardly sufficient for our requirement… We chopped the tapioca into small pieces, combined it with the rice and used it as rice… We all were thin, skinny, sickly… 𝐕𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐝 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞. 𝐈 𝐭𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐡𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐥𝐲, 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐡 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐝𝐮𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐉𝐚𝐩𝐚𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐞 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞. 𝐁𝐞𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐨 𝐝𝐢𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐞. Another year… if the Japanese were here, I think a lot of people would have died from malnutrition.” – oral history account from Mr Ismail bin Zain who went through the Japanese Occupation, extracted from the National Archives of Singapore’s Japanese Occupation of Singapore Oral History Collection.
This is why we mark Total Defence Day on 15 Feb annually – as a reminder that the Occupation brought great hardship to our people, that we can depend on no one, but ourselves, to protect our country. And that together, we keep Singapore strong.
#WeAreTotalDefence #TogetherWeKeepSingaporeStrong #TotalDefence #StrongerTogether #NeverAgainSG #Singapore We Are Total Defence
🔗: Read the oral history account from Mr Ismail bin Zain who went through the Japanese Occupation at https://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/Flipviewer/publish/f/f6367b5a-115d-11e3-83d5-0050568939ad-OHC000601002/web/html5/index.html?launchlogo=tablet%2FOralHistoryInterviews_brandingLogo.png&pn=11&fbclid=IwAR0RlE8n1G2IKG6Il_KV7M9T6B4ZnxAoSdHPTGeVHWfajCOs5X8Z4Y00MEo