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Politic-Economic-Society-Tech

WWII veterans remember fall of Singapore

Australian World War II veterans are today marking the anniversary of the fall of Singapore at the Kranji War Cemetery on the island state, to remember their fallen comrades.

Sixty years ago today, allied troops in Singapore surrendered to the invading Japanese Army.

It was the military debacle which set the Japanese on a firm course for Australia, the fall of Singapore, when an allied force of more than 100,000 surrendered to a Japanese force of just 30,000.

Britain's then prime minister, Winston Churchill, had ordered troops to fight to the death, while diverting re-enforcements and equipment to other theatres of war deemed more needy.

In the end, poor command and confusion meant Singapore was lost after 1,800 Australians lost their lives.

Many more spent the rest of the war in forced labour camps.

Today the fallen are being remembered 60 years on with a commemorative ceremony at the Kranji War Cemetery.

The RSL says Australians need to remember and treasure veterans who fought during the fall of Singapore.

RSL deputy president Derek Roylance says the campaign was a disaster.

"I would remind people that they should remember the sacrifice of the veterans and they should also remember that the veterans we are particularly thinking about today and who survived the war, are also now quite old," he said.

"Most of them would be around 80, and a lot of them are in war veterans' homes."


Debate

A conference will be held in Singapore to debate the reasons behind the fall of Singapore, one of the greatest defeats in allied military history.

Some historians attending the unique conference beginning today believe much could still be gained by a formal inquiry into why Singapore was surrendered to a Japanese force one-quarter the strength of the allied defence.

Such an inquiry has never been held.

The key controversies remain the failure of what has become known as the Singapore strategy and the question of deserters.

Some British historians still allege that untrained Australian troops were the first to desert.


source: ABC News Online, 15/02/
2002


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