Great Britain: Foreign Policy and the Span of Empire, 1689-1971: A Documentary History - Vol. 4

By Joel H. Wiener | Go to book overview

THE END OF EMPIRE

Communications between Prime Minister Winston Churchill, General Wavell, and General Percival on the Fall of Singapore, 10~13 February 1942* [Singapore surrendered to the Japanese on 15 February 1942.]


Prime Minister to General Wavell
10 Feb. 42

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-contested 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 of 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.


General Wavell to General Percival
13 Feb. 42

You must all fight it out to the end as you are doing. But when everything humanly possible has been done, some bold and determined personnel may be able to escape by small craft and find their way south to Sumatra through the islands. Any such small craft with sandbag protection and mounting an automatic or small gun such as two-pounder would be valuable also in defending Sumatra rivers.

*Churchill, The Hinge of Fate, 100, 104.

-3199-

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Great Britain: Foreign Policy and the Span of Empire, 1689-1971: A Documentary History - Vol. 4
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 2721
  • Contents 2723
  • Involvement in Asia and the near East 2729
  • Governor Eyre Controversy 2781
  • Developing Self-Government and the Definition of Imperial Ties 2791
  • Expansion into Africa 2857
  • Dissolution of the Empire 1914 - Present 2917
  • Dissolution of the Empire 1914 - Present 2919
  • Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire 2922
  • Formation of the British Commonwealth of Nations 2938
  • Movement toward Indian Independence 3014
  • Conflict in the Middle East 3103
  • The End of Empire 3199
  • Postwar Commonwealth Problems 3300
  • Principal Officials 3363
  • Bibliography 3373
  • Acknowledgment 3382
  • Index 3383
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