Saturday, September 26, 2009

WW2..genuine front page of 9 Feb 1942 Oregon Newspaper

This are scanned images from one of my oldest complete 4 page spread of a foreign newspaper. The "Oregonian" was a daily paper that existed back in the 1940's in the USA west coast.
The date of this news spread... 9 February 1942.

What is so significant about that date or rather the day before that...the 8 of February 1942 in Singapore's history?

I'm certain many Singaporeans would not know or, if they had lived through the War may not have remembered. More about the details of that date later in this post.

But the question would be how I came to be in possession of this original newspaper, a genuine collectors' item?
My late father in law was a shipping clerk before the war. When hostilities began, he donned his uniform to defend Singapore. Yes, he was in one of the civilian volunteers unit involved in defending our city against the Japanese attacks. The aerial bombardment started in December 1941 and continued to early 1942. Until 8 February 1942, not a single invader had landed on our shores. He managed to keep copies of the old newspapers and other stuff hidden when the Japanese troops entered Singapore. By the time of the Surrender of British forces on 15 February 1942, those serving in volunteers' units had discarded their uniforms and melted away as ordinary civilians...for to be caught would mean certain death.
During our courting days when I visited D2's home in Ban Guan Park, I enjoyed the conversations and discussions that I had with her father, the late Mr Tan W S. Besides his love for music, his favourite subject was WW2, especially the Japanese invasion of Singapore, life under captivity and the War in the Pacific theatre. He could go on for hours regaling me with tales of the war and he made it more interesting by showing me the stuff he had carefully kept all those years...such as this "Oregon" newspaper, other news clippings, war books and magazines and finally his proudest possession of all...the MEDAL that he was bestowed with for assisting in the defence of Singapore.
Long before he passed away, he proudly gave me all the things mentioned, including his precious Defence MEDAL saying, he somehow knew I would treasure them always.
And as you can see, unk Dicko has not disappointed. He must be smiling peacefully, somewhere.

Initial land attack of Singapore
The Imperial Japanese army had taken Malaya in a little over 2 months. On arriving in Johore, they made their HQrs at the Sultan's Istana in JB. On the night of 7 February 1942, they landed at Pulau Ubin where the British did not defend strongly and by early the next morning the invaders had captured it.They installed their big artillery guns and began firing at the Changi bases and aerodrome.
So...the first landing of Japanese troops on our soil was at Pulau Ubin.

The main attack began on the 8 February 1942 all along the north and western part of our island. That attack on Pulau Ubin, unknown to the British, was a diversionary one to draw resources and manpower away from the main assault.
The successful capture of Malaya and the so-called impenetrable fortress of Singapore took only 70 days...a feat unsurpassed in military history of warfare.
It was Japan's greatest victory.
It was Britain's worst defeat.
Yes...70 days was all it took. Over the years since, untold number of war historians, generals and war correspondents have written insightful accounts of how Malaya was lost, the ignomy of defeat, the shameful capitulation and surrender of Singapore.
Unk Dicko has read many of these.
But there is only one book written in Japanese and translated into English that tells the story of not how Malaya was lost but how it was won.
It tells the whole story of how the campaign was planned in great detail a year before the invasion. No speculation, no theories ...pure facts.
The title of the book, written in 1951, a decade after the invasion....? SINGAPORE - The Japanese Version.
The author?
None other than the Chief of Operations and Planning Staff, 25th Japanese Army, Malaya.
His name.... Colonel Masanobu Tsuji who was working directly under General Yamashita.

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