Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Quiz with Chamara Sumanapala. Part 12: The Fall of Singapore

After the Pearl Harbor Attack on December 7, 1941, the Japanese forces swept through East Asia and South East Asia with surprising speed. They already had a foothold in Indochina after the fall of France in 1940. Immediately after Pearl Harbor, Japanese troops landed in Malaya, then a British colony. With alarming speed the Japanese swept through the peninsular and January 31, 1942, the conquest of Malaya was complete. The remaining British troops withdrew to Singapore.

The first Japanese air strike on Singapore had occurred in late December 1941. They launched their amphibious invasion on February 8, 1942. At the time Singapore had 85,000 British troops. But, it did not help. By February 15, the British were forced to surrender. The “Gibraltar of the East” was lost.

Remake of the British surrender, Fort Siloso, Singapore (Pic. Chamara Sumanapala)
1. The British Prime Minister at the time of the surrender of Singapore said that the fall of Singapore was the “largest capitulation” in British military history. Who was this famous Prime Minister?

2. During the Battles of Malaya and Singapore, the British forces were commanded by a veteran of World War I. After he surrendered Singapore, he spent more than three years as a Prisoner of War (POW) till almost the end of the war. Along with General Jonathan Wainwright of USA who was also a former POW, he stood behind General MacArthur at the official surrender of the Japanese on Sep 2, 1945. On the same day he and Gen. Wainwright went to the Philippines to oversee the surrender of the Japanese forces there. In a strange twist of turn, the Japanese forces in Philippines were commanded by General Tomoyuki Yamashita, to whom he had surrendered at Singapore three and a half years ago. This British Officer died in 1966, aged 78. Who is he?

3. In 1942, Singapore Island was connected to Malaya by a causeway which was opened in 1923. It was blown up by the British, which postponed the invasion of Singapore by about a week in early February. The Japanese had it repaired. Until 1998, it was the only land link between Singapore and Malaysia. It links the city of Johor Bahru in Malaysia to the town of Woodlands in Singapore across the Straits of Johor. What is the present name of this causeway?

4. Many POWs in Singapore were sent elsewhere for hard labor in railway tracks, factories and other constructions. However, some of the POWs remained in Singapore. In 1944, Australian POWs constructed a chapel, which was later shifted to Duntroon, Canberra in Australia. In 1988, a replica was built in the site of the old chapel in Singapore. This was relocated to a new site 1km away and a museum was also opened on February 15, 2001. What is the name of this chapel?

5. On September 12, 1945, the Japanese troops in Singapore formerly surrendered to the Allies. The surrender instrument was signed in the Municipal Building, known as City Hall today. The Supreme Allied Commander of the South East Asia Command signed it on behalf of the allies. Later, he was the last Viceroy of India. Who was he?

Answers for Quiz 11

1. Crete
2. Baltic Sea
3. Carl Gustav Mannerheim
4. Tanya Savicheva
5. Road of life

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