Friday, March 20, 2009

That reminds me

To hear, as I did on the news the other night, that the
New Zealand Government plans to pump millions into
roading projects is to be irresistibly reminded of the
British fortress of Singapore before the Second World
War, which, with all its big guns facing seawards,
whence any serious attack was supposed to come, was
considered impregnable (in 1942 Japanese forces
swept down the Malayan peninsula from the north and
conquered Singapore with ease while the guns, in their
fixed positions pointing south, stood idle). I think also
of American farmers stripping and tilling the Midwest
soil so intensively that they turned the land, their own
livelihood, into a giant dustbowl; and of palaces built
overlooking slums. These, however, are probably just
idle fancies, the products of an over-active imagination.
Memo to self: must get out more. In the car, every time.

1 comment:

Sanctuary said...

It is complete rubbish that the guns at Singapore "pointed the wrong way".

Singapore's defences were never designed to deal with a land based attack from the north.

The entire reason the Singapore Naval base was built in the first place was for it to receive a Royal Navy fleet in good time to defeat an attack on Malaysia. The defences of the base were therefore designed to repel a surprise naval attack before reinforcements arrived, not defend the fortress from a prolonged siege.

In terms of an invasion of Malaysia from the north, it was always the case that the army should repulse such an attack far to the north of Singapore, and preparations to that effect were made in the 1930's.

Singapore was not able to be defended from land based attack for a variety of military reasons. Once the Japanese arrived opposite the naval base, no matter which way the guns "pointed" the base was bound to fall.

Singapore's fall was the result of astonishing racist hubris on the part of the British Empire, astonishing military incompetence in preparation on the part of the British (For example, the airfields in the north were built by the RAF without asking the army as to whether or not they were defensible - and of course they were not), and the fact that the British Empire was in an advanced state of decay.

Sorry to rant, but the myth of the "guns pointing of the other way" is just that - a myth.