Why Britain Lost the Battle of Singapore

MatthewA By MatthewA, 30th Oct 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3uld92v1/
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The Battle of Singapore, in 1942, was one in which the Japanese army emerged victorious. This despite having a smaller number of troops for the battle, as well as ammunition and supply shortages which were transpiring before a Japanese troop had set foot on Singapore. Yet they won the battle and occupied 'fortress Singapore.'

Why Britain Lost the Battle of Singapore

Japan's victory might have seemed unlikely, but in actual fact they had a number of advantages going into the battle. First and foremost was that they possessed air superiority. During the Malaya Campaign, the Japanese air force had pounded RAF airfields on the ground, and with the A6M Zero they had the better of aerial skirmishes during the battle. With heavy losses, the RAF withdrew remaining aircraft to the Dutch East Indies, thus leaving the air dominated by Japanese aircraft until the final surrender. Japanese aircraft bombarded Royal Navy naval bases at Singapore, which also ensured the withdrawal of Royal Navy warships.

Another big advantage that the Japanese had for the battle was that of tanks. Before the battle the Allies blew up the causeway which was the only crossing point for tanks, but it was later fixed by engineering teams. This left the way clear for light Japanese tanks to roll into Singapore. Britain did not have any tanks to support their infantry divisions in Singapore. Japanese tanks ensured the fall of Bukit Timah.

As the Japanese advanced beyond Bukit Timah, they were able to reach Singapore's remaining water reservoirs. These were the Allies only water supplies which were lost during the battle. This ensured that the Allied water supply began to run out, and without an adequate supply they could not keep the battle going.

That perhaps ensured Britain's defeat, but their troops were also dispersed. Whilst they may have had more of them, they were scattered out all around Singapore, leaving some divisions that were actually engaging the Japanese army with little support. At the beginning of the battle, Japan sent a diversionary division which landed in eastern Singapore, and that further ensured that Britain detached thousands of troops away from the actual Japanese landing point along western Singapore.

With British and Commonwealth divisions spread out, without any air or tank support and with water supplies falling short, Japanese troops were able to swiftly advance towards the city. Their own ammunition supplies were also running low, but the British weren't aware that the Japanese were beginning to overstretch their own supply line. As such, with Singapore City surrounded they surrendered. The Battle of Singapore ended with 60,000 British and Commonwealth troops captured. Singapore briefly became a part of the Japanese Empire until Japanese troops withdrew in 1945.

Tags

Battle Of Singapore, Pacific War, Singapore

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author avatar MatthewA
Matthew is the author of the book Battles of the Pacific War 1941 - 1945. You can find further details at http://battlesofthepacificwar.blogspot.co.uk/.

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Comments

author avatar Retired
31st Oct 2015 (#)

The story I had heard was that the British were expecting a sea-based attack and had their artillery positioned with that in mind. It proved impossible to bring their guns to bear on invaders from the landward side.

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author avatar MatthewA
1st Nov 2015 (#)

Japan's general played a trick with a diversionary landing that convinced Britain to divert more divisions away from the western side where they landed at.

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