Percival had to decide what to do if the Japanese broke through to Bukit Timah, at a meeting with Heath and Simmons (Commanding Southern Area) at midnight on the 9th February, told them a parameter defines of Singapore City would be put into operation.

There then developed another lack of communication, Bennett issued orders to his brigadiers telling them their positions in the parameter defences, Brigadier Maxwell and Brigadier Taylor thought these orders were to be carried out immediately and withdrew from their strong positions on the Kranji to Jurong Line, this gave the Japanese a clear run towards Singapore City with only Bukit Timah in its way.

On the 10th February Churchill wrote to Wavell:

"I think you ought to realise the way we view the situation in Singapore. It was reported to the cabinet by the C.I.G.S. that Percival has over 100,000 men, of whom 33,000 are British and 17,000 Australian. It is doubtful whether the Japanese have as many in the whole Malay Peninsula, namely, five divisions forward and a sixth coming up. In these circumstances the defenders must greatly outnumber Japanese forces who have crossed the straits, and in a well-constructed battle they should destroy them. There must at this stage be no thought of saving the troops or sparing the population. The battle must be fought to the bitter end at all costs. The 18th Division has a chance to make its name in history.

Commanders and senior officers should die with their troops. The honour of the British Empire and the British Army is at stake. I rely on you to show no mercy to weakness in any form. With the Russians fighting as they are and the Americans so stubborn at Luzon, the whole reputation of our country and our race is involved. It is expected that every unit will be brought into close contact with the enemy and fight it out. I feel sure these words express your own feeling, and only send them to you in order to share your burdens"

Wavell visited the Island on the 10th and seeing the blunder ordered an immediate counterattack by Bennett.

Wavell informed Churchill:

‘Battle for Singapore is not going well. Japanese with their usual infiltration tactics are getting on much more rapidly than they should in the west of Island. Morale of some troops is not good and none is high as I should like to see. The chief troubles are a lack of sufficient training in some of the reinforcing troops and an inferiority complex which bold and skilful Japanese tactics and their command of the air have caused. Everything possible is being done to produce more offensive spirit and optimistic outlook. But I cannot pretend that these efforts have been entirely successful up to date. I have given the most categorical orders that there is to be no thought of surrender and that all troops are to continue fighting to the end.’

By the 11th February, the Japanese had repaired the causeway, this enabled the Japanese to speed up the attack by getting more tanks and troops onto Singapore Island and the road from the causeway ran directly to Bukit Timah.

The Malaya Command defending Kranji were pushed back by sheer numbers and with a lack of communication confusion and panic set in. The 27th Australian Brigade, 8th and 12th Indian Brigades tried to counterattack but could not stop the Japanese advances from the west and north.

Bukit_Timah_TanksBy the afternoon Japanese tanks began to arrive and quickly scattered the Indian troops on the hills at Bukit Timah leaving the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders to defend the supply dumps at Bukit Timah. A road block was quickly thrown up and they knocked out the leading tank. At 1600 hours, Percival ordered the fuel depots east of Bukit Timah to be destroyed as the numbers of tanks and troops were increasing. A company of British and Special Reserve troops, numbering 1,500 men, engaged the Japanese on the Jurong Road at about 1930 hours and counterattacked, fierce hand to hand fighting developed, the Japanese were forced back and the British commander Brigadier Coates then realised they had been cut off. Coates then divided his troops into three columns (British, Australian and Indian) and headed south. They were caught in the open while crossing Sleepy Valley and suffered very heavy casualties, only 400 men reached the 22nd Australian defensive lines. By 2230 hours the Japanese were pushing the defences back to the east of the main road, this then gave the Japanese control of the major road junction in the centre of the Island, cutting off any communication between north and south.


Next Page

Final Assault



[Malaya] [Cause] [Japs Prepare] [British Prepare] [Malaya Attack] [Singapore] [Siege Begins] [Yamashitas Bluff] [Attacked] [Bukit Timah] [Final Assault] [Surrender] [Chronology]

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