Postmortem on Malaya

Postmortem on Malaya

Postmortem on Malaya

Postmortem on Malaya

Excerpt

The fall of Malaya had an effect upon world opinion which will prove perhaps more serious and lasting than its effect upon the course of the war. It came as a shock because it revealed unexpected weaknesses in British military preparations and unexpected capacity in Japanese powers of attack. But it did more than this, for it raised doubts in many minds, and particularly those of Asiatic peoples, as to the solidity of the whole British colonial structure and its prospects of survival. The circumstances accompanying the military disaster -- notably the apparent inability of the civil administration to cope with the emergencies of war, and the negative attitude of the civil population as a whole -- seemed to point to some fundamental defect which local and temporary inferiority in men and machines did not suffice to explain.

In the last days of Singapore, and after its tragic fall, many explanations were offered. Some of them were merely contemptible, as when the troops from Great Britain were accused of slacking behind their gallant Australian and Indian comrades. That base slander is amply disproved by the truly appalling losses suffered in action by famous English and Scottish regiments. More plausible were charges of incompetence against the military commanders. The fact of their defeat raises a presumption that their plan was mistaken or its execution faulty. But they are now for the most part either dead or imprisoned, and it would be better to reserve judgment on the purely military question until the survivors can speak for themselves and explain what parts in the disaster were played respectively by military shortcomings, and by other than military circumstances over which they had no control.

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