Why was the fall of Singapore such a shock?

Extract from a report by an officer who escaped the fall of Singapore 1942

Catalogue ref: WO 106/2579B

Extract a

A few General Remarks Bearing on the Campaign

Civil Incompetence. Administration broke down. No plan for or system of evacuation of the population had been arranged (this in spite lessons from other theatres.) This enabled the Japs to mingle with the local population and made the job of fifth columnists [undercover agents working for the Japanese] a sinecure [an easy job]. The Police, in almost all cases disappeared.

Intelligence Poor. Underestimated Jap strength and intentions before the war - overestimated it during the war.

Staff Work Must have left much to be desired when one considers the number of changes made during the short campaign. Were there too many cooks? War House, C-in-C Far East, G.O.C. in C, Corps, divs etc.
Sometimes orders came direct from div [division]; bde [brigade] uninformed. Conflicting orders; often late and sometimes none. Were HQs too far back and were they usually out of the picture or out of date?

InformationThe lack of it was deplorable. We got little or none and rarely even knew what was happening in other formation in Malaya.

Promised air parity [enough aircraft to match the Japanese] in January! Continual vague talk of counter -offensive which never happened, presumably because the Japs retained the initiative and we continued to conform to his movements.

Defence of SingaporeWhy were beach defences not prepared? They may have been in some parts; there certainly was not as much as a strand of wire or a trench on the North East. There were some R.A. [Royal Artillery - heavy guns] positions.

Extract b

Offensive spiritNot enough offensive spirit was shown. A sort of passive defence was a common attitude. This is partly to be explained by the fact that the majority of troops experienced only delaying defensive actions followed by long withdrawals in MT. The thought was bound to be uppermost in their minds when in action shall be withdrawn tonight.

There was no offence in the defence. The psychological advantage of having fought offensively was a tremendous asset to us but all concerned are to be blamed for not having fostered a greater fighting spirit.

Control in withdrawals was bad and many men were captured through being separated from their units. Maps and compasses were short.