Lee Kuan Yew remembered hearing the explosion set off by Indian Army engineers blowing a hole in the causeway, as Allied troops retreated onto Singapore Island on the morning of 31 January 1942. The most common observation regarding the failure of those troops to defend the island against the Japanese invasion was that the humiliating defeat signalled “the end of the British Empire”. Whatever anyone thinks of that conclusion, it certainly describes the longer-term, post-war consequences, especially political, of the Fall of Singapore in February 1942. Less common is a critical understanding of just how that Japanese victory affected the course of the wider war, which continued for another 42 months before Japan surrendered.
But so what? The Second World War and, within that struggle, the Pacific War were military conflicts fought to settle the future course of world and Asian history. How exactly did the Allied defeat in Singapore affect those conflicts? In what ways, and to what ends? And why should anyone care about any of that? These are the questions this talk will address.
About the speaker
Brian P. Farrell is Professor of Military History at the National University of Singapore, where he has been teaching since 1993. His main research area is the military history of the British Empire, and he has published more words about the Malayan Campaign and the Fall of Singapore than anyone else.
Free admission to this lecture. Seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis. No registration is required.
Pre-lecture refreshments served at 6:30 pm. Lecture starts promptly at 7 pm.
This lecture is jointly organised by the Asian Civilisations Museum and the Friends of the Museums (FOM)
Image caption: General Douglas MacArthur signing Japanese Instrument of Surrender on behalf of the Allied Powers, aboard USS Missouri, 2 September 1945. Collection of the US National Archives and Records Administration.