May 15, 1941 – Reinforcements Arrive In Singapore
May 15, 1941 – News report direct from Singapore – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
May 15, 1941. As the world became engulfed in war and as new fronts opened up, troops from Britain and the Commonwealth arrived in Singapore to bolster defenses in Southeast Asia after the threat of Japanese invasion loomed.
Singapore, known as The Gibralter Of The East was a key stronghold and major military base of the British and its defense was crucial if the allies were to maintain their presence in Southeast Asia.
Japan had broken Britain’s military codes in January 1941 and had intercepted a message from the Military Command at Singapore, complaining over the weak state of their defenses and were worried that a Japanese invasion of Malaya could be disastrous. The message contained considerable detail over the weaknesses and at first the Japanese Intelligence unit thought it was a British plant and that no officer would transmit such precise information. However, it was confirmed and cross-referenced from information Japan had received from Germany via the capture of the British Steamer Automedon in the Indian Ocean only weeks earlier. On board the captured ship were papers pertaining to the situation in Singapore and the weakness of the British base there. The information was then relayed to the Japanese Military High Command who were already in the process of formulating an invasion plan of Malaya.
British, Indian and Australian troops arrived and preparations were begun to counter any invasion the Japanese were planning. However, the invasion was some months off and Britain was confident any attack from Japan would be thwarted.
On the morning of May 15th reinforcements landed, and this eyewitness report was delivered via shortwave, describing the landing and the morale of the troops and what lay ahead.
At the time, there was no way of knowing what the outcome would be, or how the coming battle would end up. And that was how it went, on May 15, 1941 as reported by correspondent Harrison Foreman to NBC in New York.