February 17, 1942 – Radio Tokyo – news in English – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
February 17, 1942 – News for this day in 1942 had to do with the fall of Singapore and its occupation by Japanese forces.
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 defense 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.
The battle of Singapore campaign, including the final battle, was a decisive Japanese victory, resulting in the Japanese capture of Singapore and the largest British surrender in its history. About 80,000 British, Indian, Australian and Malayan troops in Singapore became prisoners of war, joining 50,000 taken by the Japanese in the earlier Malayan Campaign. Famously, about 40,000 mostly Indian soldiers would join the Indian National Army and fight alongside the Japanese.
Allied losses during the fighting for Singapore were heavy, with a total of nearly 85,000 personnel captured, in addition to losses during the earlier fighting in Malaya. About 5,000 were killed or wounded, of which Australians made up the majority. Japanese casualties during the fighting in Singapore amounted to 1,714 killed and 3,378 wounded. Throughout the entire 70-day campaign in Malaya and Singapore, total Allied casualties amounted to 8,708 killed or wounded and 130,000 captured, while Japanese losses during this period amounted to 9,824 battle casualties. During this time the Japanese had advanced a total of 650 miles (1,050 km) from Singora, Thailand, to the southern coast of Singapore at an average of 9 miles (14 km) a day.
While impressed with Japan’s quick succession of victories, Adolf Hitler reportedly had mixed views regarding Singapore’s fall, seeing it as a setback for the “white race”, but ultimately something that was in Germany’s military interests. Hitler reportedly forbade Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop from issuing a congratulatory communique.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called the fall of Singapore to the Japanese “the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history”.
Here is an English language broadcast from Radio Tokyo from February 17, 1942 – not heard outside those who had Shortwave radios and abilities to record them. It is obviously another side of World War 2 not generally known about, but is of inestimable value from a historic standpoint. Like most all shortwave broadcasts at the time, it is difficult to hear in places because the nature of the technology, and the propaganda is heavy-handed, but this was also what World War 2 sounded like.