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Surrender of Singapore

Fiolar 15 Feb 01 - 10:07 AM
sledge 15 Feb 01 - 10:24 AM
Les from Hull 15 Feb 01 - 11:18 AM
Lonesome EJ 15 Feb 01 - 11:54 AM
Blackcatter 15 Feb 01 - 01:24 PM
okthen 15 Feb 01 - 01:27 PM
Fiolar 15 Feb 01 - 01:35 PM
Lonesome EJ 15 Feb 01 - 02:04 PM
beachcomber 15 Feb 01 - 02:28 PM
Mrrzy 15 Feb 01 - 02:30 PM
Lonesome EJ 15 Feb 01 - 02:33 PM
beachcomber 15 Feb 01 - 02:44 PM
Bert 15 Feb 01 - 03:00 PM
Peter K (Fionn) 15 Feb 01 - 03:03 PM
Lonesome EJ 15 Feb 01 - 03:05 PM
Pete M 15 Feb 01 - 05:24 PM
GUEST,colwyn dane 15 Feb 01 - 08:18 PM
GUEST,John Gray / Australia 15 Feb 01 - 09:50 PM
Pete M 15 Feb 01 - 11:29 PM
Peter K (Fionn) 16 Feb 01 - 12:10 AM
Peter K (Fionn) 16 Feb 01 - 12:21 AM
Spud Murphy 16 Feb 01 - 02:07 AM
sledge 16 Feb 01 - 02:48 AM
GMT 16 Feb 01 - 03:27 AM
Wotcha 16 Feb 01 - 03:46 AM
Peter T. 16 Feb 01 - 12:33 PM
Fiolar 16 Feb 01 - 01:35 PM
Peter T. 16 Feb 01 - 03:15 PM
Peter K (Fionn) 16 Feb 01 - 07:56 PM
Lonesome EJ 16 Feb 01 - 08:54 PM
beachcomber 17 Feb 01 - 02:44 PM
Pete M 18 Feb 01 - 08:52 PM
Skeptic 18 Feb 01 - 11:11 PM
Peter K (Fionn) 18 Feb 01 - 11:35 PM
Troll 18 Feb 01 - 11:37 PM
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Subject: Surrender of Singapore
From: Fiolar
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 10:07 AM

On this day (February 15th) in 1942, General Arthur Percival who commanded the British forces at Singapore surrendered to the Japanese. In a delicious irony, because he was one of the English officers whom General Tom Barry fought against during the War of Independence, Barry sent him a telegram of congratulation.


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: sledge
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 10:24 AM

And.....................?


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: Les from Hull
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 11:18 AM

Which War of Independence? I imagine there has been more than one.

If it's the American War of Independence they must have been bloody old 1n 1942.


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 11:54 AM

LOL. Thanks Les!

General Percival goes down as one of the most ill-prepared and incompetent military leaders in history. He refused to take the threat of Japanese invasion seriously until they were bombing the capitol city.


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: Blackcatter
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 01:24 PM

greetings

Ok I'll bite - when is Paul Harvey going to tell us the "rest of the story?"

pax yall


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: okthen
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 01:27 PM

There are several people living near me who were "guests" of the Japanese from 1942 on. One man was ordered (with 400 others) to advance across a golf course, towards the jungle full of snipers, 4 of them made it. Later the same bloke was in a camp with 400 prisoners, Beri-Beri struck and again he was one of 4 left alive.He always rode a motorbike, and when he couldn't find a British bike to buy he was persuaded to try a Japanese one,he was so impressed he wouldn't ride anything else. Another man from this village refused to talk to his son untill he sold the Japanese car he had. Takes all sorts. Some never recovered, some never will.

Shame they didn't even receive their soldiers pay as the government said they should ask the Japanese, now that they are finally getting compensation, one old soldier is using the money to pay for an operation he's had to wait a year for on the NHS.

Shame on shame

cheers

bill


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: Fiolar
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 01:35 PM

Amazing really how silly the military mind can be. All the defences of Singapore were based on the idea that the city would be attacked from the sea. Instead the Japanese came in by the back door using bicycles the noise of whcih were mistaken for hundreds of tanks. As for Percival, he once had a chance to put Tom Barry away for good as is described in the book "Barry's Flying Column" by Ewan Butler but never recognised him although he stood in front of him.


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 02:04 PM

If you study the treatment of British, Dutch, Chinese and American prisoners by the Japanese during World War 2, you can get some inkling why many of the older generation still bear a grudge against them. The attitude of the Japanese toward their prisoners was based on hatred and contempt, as they felt any man who allowed himself to be taken prisoner was an abject coward. The prisoners were routinely crowded into the holds of "Hell Ships", or packed into metal boxcars that baked like ovens in the tropical heat. They were marched hundreds of miles with neither food nor water, the weak and sick shot or bayonetted as they fell by the wayside. Thousands of these men were used to build the Thai-Burmese Railway, by hand, through near-impenetrable jungle, forced to live in camps where they fashioned their shelters from bamboo and palm fronds. These men worked 18 to 20 hours per day, often with no food and no fresh water. Cholera epidemics wiped them out. While Japanese soldiers were given medication for treatment of these diseases, prisoners received none, and burned their dead on piles of bamboo.

I anticipate that someone will answer that "this sort of thing happens in war", or "the allies treated their prisoners cruelly as well", but the fact remains that the casualty rate of Japanese prisoners held in Allied Camps was microscopic in comparison, that Japanese prisoners were treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention, and that Allied Camps were subject to inspection and oversight by Red Cross officials. The question of the atomic bomb may also be introduced as an example of American barbarism, and that is a question well worth consideration, and one that I have no facile answer to.


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: beachcomber
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 02:28 PM

Without wishing to add further fuel to the flames I must add that the victor's version of events after a conflict is usually the first to gain credence. Then, the revisionists ad nauseam and bit by bit the true version emerges. Only trouble is, by the time it does, a lot of entrenchment and bitterness has often become embedded in a nation's psyche.


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: Mrrzy
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 02:30 PM

Read South By Java Head (Alistair McLean). It's set during that week... just reread it the other day... otherwise I would have even less of a clue than I do about what you are all discussing here!


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 02:33 PM

beach...I believe the stories of the men held prisoner by the Japanese, and as for "victors", these men would hardly qualify under most of the standard definitions.


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: beachcomber
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 02:44 PM

Of course not L EJ but you know very well that I,m not merely referring to the prisoners of the Japanese authorities in WW2. Did you ever hear about the American prison camps ? where Japanese people were held . for no other "reason" than that they were what they were?


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: Bert
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 03:00 PM

When I was a kid, there was a Prisoner of War camp on the farm where we lived.

We used to talk to the Germans through the fence. We would go into the village and buy cigarettes for them. They used to earn money and beer by working on the farm. On occasion the guards would look the other way and we were allowed into the camp and the Germans would serve us piping hot black coffee.
One time they asked us to get some yeast for them, but, being kids, we didn't know what that was. So they said 'Ask you Mother, She'll know what it is'. We replied that she wouldn't know either, 'cos we didn't. We were most surprised to find that she DID know. She showed it to us when she got it, and it was the first time we'd seen yeast.
We were playing in the barn one day and were trying to braid the colored string which we had pulled out of some old cabbage sacks. Hans came by and showed us how to braid.
As far as we could see they were treated quite well.
The only thing I saw that I thought was bad, was that they had to line up with their beer mugs to get the beer that they'd earned working on the farm. I thought that that was quite degrading for men to have to do.

Funny the things that stick in your mind.


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 03:03 PM

Good comments LEJ, but of course any army will behave badly in the "right" circumstances. The allies surely had the moral high ground in this case, but it was the British who invented concentration camps (in southern Africa during the Boer Wars) and America has notched up its share o atrocities.

Not sure where the "delicious irony" was in Barry's gesture, Fiolar. What's that all about? Barry had nothing to do with the Singapore fiasco.


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 03:05 PM

Yes, as a matter of fact several relocation camps were here in Colorado. I think we would agree that the imprisonment of Japanese-Americans during World War 2 was a tremendous injustice. This was a misguided attempt at eliminating a percieved "Fifth Column" of potential enemy sympathizers in an area that was felt to be the most vulnerable. It is difficult to resurrect the feelings of paranoia that were prevalent in this country after the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor when many felt an invasion was imminent. That the AlaCan Highway was completed in 4 months in early 1942 to expedite the transportation of troops and supplies as far north as Alaska is some indication of this.

The relocation was a tremendous act of injustice, but is somewhat understandable in the light of the early war paranoia. I don't think it approaches the level of personal violence and inhumanity exhibited in the Japanese POW camps.


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: Pete M
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 05:24 PM

Not sure what Fiolar is on about in the original post but without denying the capacity of 'military mind' to get things wrong, much the same as the rest of us; the snapshot of these events is a bit simplistic and unfair. The fighting retreat down the Malaya peninsular by poorly equipped troops with virtualy no air cover (the 11th division and Gordon Bennetts' Austarlians were particulaly successful)held up the Japanese advance for two months, enraging Yamashita.

EJ's summary is pretty spot on, but is anyone has any lingering doubts, try reading "'Knights of Bushido'a short history of Japanese war crimes' by Lord Russell of Liverpool

Pete M


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: GUEST,colwyn dane
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 08:18 PM

Hi,

I have read that the average American during WW2, in the main, treated honourably the Germans and Italians they fought against.
The Japanese enemy was thought of in a different way; in some cases, if not all, with hatred and contempt. An ex-RN aircraft-carrier crew member said "I didn't feel any compassion for the Japanese.";
an ex-US Marine said "We thought of the Japanesese as being sub-human.";
yet another ex-Marine candidly reported that he used to carry 2 water-canteens on his belt,
one for water and in the other he used to put the gold teeth he extracted from dead Japanese,
he then went on to describe how he extracted them; another ex-Marine told how a telephone line-laying team
had taken a Japanese prisoner and brought him back to HQ, their CO blew his stack and told them,
"You have spoiled our record, we never take prisoners. Now take this Jap back to rear HQ,
and you've got 15 minutes to get there and back." Now the round trip was about 60 minutes.
So they figured they were being told to use their imagination and to kill the prisoner, which they did.
A popular song of the period, 'We are going to slap that Jap' was played, no doubt to re-inforce, to the viewer, Joe Public's feeling towards the Japanese enemy.

Of course on the other side of the coin we were informed of how in Borneo over a thousand malnourished Australian prisoners had been marched, through the jungle, to another location 250 Kilometers away
Prisoners who were could not walk were shot - march or die. The march route was through virgin jungle
crawling with crocodiles, snakes and other wild life, and many of the prisoners had no boots.
Rations were less than minimal. The march took nearly a year to complete.
Only one prisoner survived the march (6 prisoner escaped en-route and hid in the jungle until liberated)
only to be decapitated for having the audacity to display such an example of human endeavour.

A good read about the fall of Malaya and Singapore is "The Naked Island" by Russell Braddon (1921-1995),
who was a young Australian soldier in Malaya and captive of the Japanese in Singapore.

"I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine...War is hell."
---W.T. Sherman.---

Cheers,
Colwyn.


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: GUEST,John Gray / Australia
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 09:50 PM

Yes Pete M, the Australians troops did do okay on the Malay Peninsula but when they pulled back into Singapore they, and poor old Percival, weren't helped by the fact that our general, Gordon Bennett, opted out and left his men in the field. He fled back to Aust. and when our gov't asked him why, he gave the weak excuse that he had to bring back knowledge of Japanese fighting tactics. He was never given a field command again. A good percentage of the leaderless men he left behind pulled out of the front line and looted and boozed in Singapore City. My uncle was captured in Malaya and spent the next 3 years on the Burma Railway. Whilst Percival may not have been the ablest of generals I don't think the loss of Singapore can be laid at his door. At least he stayed with his men, and went into captivity with them. He wasn't a Bennett or a McArthur.

JG. F.M.E.


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: Pete M
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 11:29 PM

Hi John, yes, I would agree that the worst that can be fairly said about Percival is that his generalship was pedantic and unimaginative (and occasionaly downright stupid - like not commencing work on defences because it would be 'Bad for morale'), and that Bennett's flight was at best ill advised, but that shouldn't detract from eithers achievments or their mens' performance. It's interesting to speculate what might have been if Wavell had been given overall command earlier. As so often in these situations it seems as if a main contributory factor in a military disaster was the political infighting within the army to discredit men like Wavell and Auchinleck who had the temerity to win battles by abandoning the 'approved' structural approach.

Pete M


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 16 Feb 01 - 12:10 AM

Thanks for the informative posts. I'll go looking for that book by Lord Russell, Pete M. If it's anything like the rest of his stuff - eg Scourge of the Swastika; and Deadman's Hill (about the A6/Hanratty murder case in Britain) - it will be well worth reading.

Don't know much about how McArthur acquitted himself - except that I believe he took a fairly constructive/conciliatory line towards the Japanese once they had surrendered?


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 16 Feb 01 - 12:21 AM

Forget to say. LEJ, I was thinking more of American behaviour elsewhere - Vietnam, Sudan, Tripoli etc, or the present bombing campaign in southern Iraq, in which they are aided and abetted by the UK.

The Al-Can should certainly rank as one of the outstanding engineering achievements of the 20th century. I believe the Japanese did actually get troops on to the Aleutian islands - hence the terrific rush to lay a land route.


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: Spud Murphy
Date: 16 Feb 01 - 02:07 AM

I can't sspeak to the disaster of Singapore or the valiant efforts of the Australians on the Malay Peninsula or even the death march of Bataan. I wasn't there. But I was on Guadalcanal, involved in something that history has recorded as 'The Long Patrol': a thirty day patrol behind japanese lines from Aola Bay to Mt. Austen to the Marine perimeter defending Henderson Field. I saw the butchery of the Japanese at first hand: wounded Marines slaughtered, their corpses profaned and desecrated for no human reason. Later it was our turn and the closest we came to committing an atrocity (if war itself is not enough of an atrocity) was to kill the patients of a field hospital attached to a supply depot. Men on a battlefield who see their comrades die are not civilized men, free to invoke the high moral principles that are often the subject of philosophical debate. The only civilized men on a battlefield are those who are dead.

As to the atom bombs, had they not been dropped the ultimate loss of JAPANESE life during the inevitable invasion of japan would have mounted into the hundreds of thousands. (Many more than were killed at Hiroshimaa and Nagasaki) And an invasion would have cost uncountable Allied losses as well. War is hell, as the general said, and unless you have participated in it, don't moralize too much about it. The important thing to recognize is that our official language is still english and a lot of good men and more than a few women of different nationalities died to keep it that way.

Spud


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: sledge
Date: 16 Feb 01 - 02:48 AM

From todays Daily Telegraph.

DOZENS of former Japanese PoWs marked the 59th anniversary of the fall of Singapore yesterday by opening a museum that they hope will serve as a lasting reminder of the horrors they endured. The old soldiers, most in their 70s and 80s, travelled to Singapore from Britain, Australia and New Zealand to meet at the museum at Changi, site of one of the most infamous Japanese prison camps.

The museum is a fresh attempt to assemble accounts from those who suffered under Japan's imperial army between 1942 and 1945. It displays hundreds of photographs and personal items such as diaries, letters and drawings that show life in the camps and the dignity people managed to retain. It was from Changi that Japan shipped many prisoners to work on the Burma-Thailand Railway, known as the "Death Railway".

I feel that Fiolars Initial post was rooted in the Irish posts and threads that seem to have sprung up recently debating the good and bad on both sides, this time, however well meant his comment there is no humour there that I can see, though possibly some of the may thousands who died in captivity of starvation, disease and execution thought it funny.

Having agreed at length that the killing of civillians on Bloddy Sunday was very wrong, lets now think what it must have been like to have your friends used as bayonet practice, again I see no humour here.

Stuart


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: GMT
Date: 16 Feb 01 - 03:27 AM

As a child living in Singapore in the 60's I spent some time in the British Military Hospital. There were still bullet holes in the walls from where the Japanese had walked along the line of beds and shot dead all the patients.
A good book I read later was 'You'll Die in Singapore' written I seem to remember by an Australian soldier who lived through the invasion.
Fiolar, you're right about the expectation of a seabourne invasion. We were looking the wrong way. The big gun implacements I visited as a child were all facing out to sea.
Gary


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: Wotcha
Date: 16 Feb 01 - 03:46 AM

Don't apologize for the Iraqis ... they still "hold" over 600 Kuwaiti women and children ... guess the Press glosses over that fact ... our troops (US and the UK) are still in the area owing to this forgotten aspect of the conflict (it's not just oil folks) ...
and I won't apologize for my late father's WWII service in the Pacific either ... the Japanese would rather we forget it without even an apology (go ask a Korean how they feel) ...


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: Peter T.
Date: 16 Feb 01 - 12:33 PM

Could somebody explain the first contribution to this thread. It makes absolutely no sense.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: Fiolar
Date: 16 Feb 01 - 01:35 PM

To Peter T. Percival was the major who commanded the Essex Regiment which were pretty busy around West Cork in the Irish War of Independence in the early 1920s. His opposite number in the IRA was Tom Barry who describes in his book "Guerrilla Days in Ireland" his plans to kill Percival, but which failed. Percival and a detachment of the Essex regiment once apprehended Barry, but failed to recognise him and let go. As I mentioned earlier, on learning of the surrender of Singapore, Tom Barry sent a telegram to Percival. Incidentally the house in which Michael Collins (not the astronaut - the chap who was played by Liam Neeson)was born was burned down on the orders of Major Percival leaving the family to sleep in the barn.


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: Peter T.
Date: 16 Feb 01 - 03:15 PM

Sorry, North Americans (even Canadians) think only of the U.S. when they see "The War of Independence". I admit that it doesn't seem like "delicious irony" to me, but I guess you had to be there. Thanks.
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 16 Feb 01 - 07:56 PM

That was Barry for you Fiolar. I think we can be sure Collins would never have sent an adversary such a message in similar circumstances.

Spud you couldn't have put that across better. I'm still not sure about the bomb though. I read John Hersey's profoundly distressing account of it (now published as "Hiroshima" but originally run in the New Yorker, cover to cover across a single issue) and if those bombs really were the lesser of two evils, it must have been a close call.


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 16 Feb 01 - 08:54 PM

My father was a WW2 soldier, and he used to say "I agreed with the dropping of the bomb, but I wish it had been done in a remote area of Japan, with plenty of advance warning. Those people were certainly not expecting anything like that, and a demonstration of the power of the bomb might have prevented the death and destruction."

I tend to agree.


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: beachcomber
Date: 17 Feb 01 - 02:44 PM

Yes EJ an excellent posting , even though it was your Dad's . Was he involved in the European war theatre? Still I wonder would things have happened as he hoped? I think it might have depended on how close the Japanese militarists were to developing their own "superweapon". I have read that Germany was pretty close. What a disaster that the philosophy of "Conscientious objection" did'nt have greater currency so that ordinary people would not be required to kill each other for reasons they seldom fully understand since they are rarely fully informed.


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: Pete M
Date: 18 Feb 01 - 08:52 PM

Hi Fionn, just to pick up a point in your 1210 post of 16 Feb, the way in which the established power structure (this is not an area I'm familiar with but from memory there were /are five major industrial/ power consortia including what is now Mitsubishi) in Japan was supported by America after the war is an object lesson in the real politik that underlies and will instantly replace, the nationalistic propoganda that all nations are fed in 'time of crisis'. Again from memory, MacArthur to his credit opposed this policy and advocated the breakup of all these organisations, but was overrulled by Washington who needed a quickly rebuilt economy to act as a barrier against their personal bete noir, communism. Essentially the same argument that it appears was the deciding factor in the decision to drop the atom bombs.

Pete M


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: Skeptic
Date: 18 Feb 01 - 11:11 PM

Beachcomber,

I'd read that the German's weren't really all that close to the Bomb since their premiere physicist (Heisenberg) had declared it an impossibility. (He either deliberaly miscalculated the quantity of Plutonium needed or made a mistake in the calculation, so the stories go). I've never seen anything about Japan even working on one.

My father was in the India Burma campaign. Growing up, wherever one of us kids started to cry, he'd get very upset and have to leave.Later he told me it was because of what he'd seen in the war. Villages filled with crying children because the Japanese had killed all the men and women. Supposedly as a way of slowing down the Allies.

Pete M,

MacArthur probably deserves more credit for what he did as Military Governor of Japan than for anything in his military career. (Though he didn't think so). He was responsible for bringing Deming to Japan to implement his SQC management ideas. Interesting anecdote (and maybe even true) was that Deming's ideas were all theory and no one in this country had ever implemented them.

And back on subject, didn't Churchill argue against mounting the guns so they permanatly faced seaward?

Regards

John


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 18 Feb 01 - 11:35 PM

Skeptic, I think Beachcomber might have in mind the V3 super-rocket. Certainly neither Germany nor Japan were close to any nuclear option. Even the Soviet Union was unable to do any convincing demo until 1949, and that was based on American technology acquired from their deep penetration of US security during and after the war (they penetrated UK security on the same scale but there were no big secrets to be found in that direction).

Good points, Peter M - thanks.


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Subject: RE: Surrender of Singapore
From: Troll
Date: 18 Feb 01 - 11:37 PM

My father was in Merrills Mauraders in Burma and I don't think he ever lost his hatred for the Japanese based on what he saw.
He spent two years in a VA hospital after the war for "battle fatigue" which we now call post traumatic stress syndrome.
He had recurring nightmares where he would see his best friend, body held up by bamboo stakes, holding his decapitated head in his hands, standing at the foot of the bed. They had found the body in a trail in the jungle where the Japs had left it. It had been badly mutilated.

troll


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