February 9, 1942 – News From Radio Chungking – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
February 9, 1942 – With distant and crackling sound, fading in and out, Radio Chungking reported that Japanese forces had landed at Singapore.
One of many events taking place that day. Asia was wrapped up in war, but so was the Middle East and battles were taking shape seemingly everywhere.
The Battle of Singapore, also known as the Fall of Singapore, was fought in the South–East Asian theatre of the Pacific War when the Empire of Japan invaded the British stronghold of Singapore—nicknamed the “Gibraltar of the East”. Prior to the invasion, Singapore was a major British military base and economic trading port in South–East Asia and was the key to British imperial interwar defence planning for South-East Asia and the South-West Pacific, then known as the “Far East”. The fighting in Singapore lasted for about a week from 8 to 15 February 1942, after the two months during which Japanese forces advanced down the Malayan Peninsula.
Over a period of 15 hours, starting at 23:00 on 8 February 1942, Yamashita’s heavy guns laid down a barrage of 88,000 shells (200 rounds per tube along the entire length of the straits, cutting telephone lines and effectively isolating forward units from rear areas. Even at this stage, a counter artillery barrage as a response could have been mounted by the British on the coastline opposite the Australians that would have caused casualties and disruption among the Japanese assault troops. But the bombardment of the Australians was not seen as a prelude to imminent attack—Malaya Command believed that it would last several days and would later switch its focus to the north-east, despite its ferocity exceeding anything the Allies had experienced thus far in the campaign; consequently, no order was passed to
the Allied artillery units to begin targeting possible Japanese assembly areas.
Shortly before 20:30 on 8 February, the first wave of Japanese troops from the 5th and 18th Divisions began crossing the Johor Strait. The main weight of the Japanese force, representing a total of about 13,000 men across 16 assault battalions, with five in reserve, was focused on assaulting Taylor’s Australian 22nd Brigade, which totaled just three battalions. The assault would be concentrated on the 2/18th and 2/20th Battalions; with each division allocated 150 barges and collapsible boats, the Japanese could move approximately 4,000 men across the strait at any one time. In total, 13,000 Japanese troops landed throughout the first night; they were followed by another 10,000 after first light. Against this the defenders numbered just 3,000 men and lacked any significant reserve.
There was much more going on this day, and Radio Chungking gives the Singapore news not much airtime, focusing rather on the situation in the Middle East and the continued attacks by German planes on British Merchant shipping and the goings on with Admiral Darlan in occupied France.
This was what was happening and being reported via Shortwave for this February 9th, 1942. Hard to listen to in spots because of the nature of shortwave broadcasting, but history is unfolding nevertheless.