0

In October 1941 Ford Motor Works moved into new premises in Bukit Timah from Anson Road where its factory was first established in 1926. It was the first motor-car assembly plant in South East Asia.

In the final phase of the Battle for Singapore Lieutenant-General Yamashita moved his headquarters from Johore Bahru Sultan's Palace to Ford Motor Works.

It was here that Lieutenant-General Percival, Commander of the British Force surrendered unconditionally to Yamashita on 15 February 1942. The British delegation led by Lieutenant-General Percival included Brigadier Torrance (General Staff) Brigadier Newbiggings (Chief Administrator), and Major Wilde of 43 Light Infantry (the interpreter).General Yamashita's 25th Army began its invasion of Malaya and Singapore when his forces landed in Kota Bahru (Kelantan, North-East, Malaya), Singora and Patani (South-East of Thailand) in the morning of 8 December 1941. On the same day Singapore was bombed by the Japanese Air Force.

The arrival of two British warships 'HMS Prince of Wales' and 'HMS Repulse' in Singapore on 2 December 1941 boosted the morale of the British forces, the government of Singapore and its people. To intercept the Japanese landings in Singora and Patani 'Prince of Wales and 'Repulse' and their escorting vessels left Singapore on 8 December 1941.In December 1941 the British had about 100,000 troops but no tanks; the Japanese forces numbered only half the British strength but had tanks.

General Percival's plan in February 1942 was to divide the island for its defence into three sectors: the Southern sector, the Northern sector and the Western sector with a Central reserve.

Lieutenant-General Sir Lewis Heath took charge of the Northern sector with 3rd Corps comprising Indian 11th Division, British 18th Division and the Indian 9th Division. General Bennett it became clear would face the initial onslaught of the Japanese forces.

General Percival transferred his headquarters from Fort Canning to Sime Road to be closer to the battle ground.

The General believed that once the Reservoirs were in Japanese hands the British forces would surrender and the task of attacking Singapore Town would not arise.

On 6 February General Yamashita's in his previous headquarters in Khuang had already given his general orders to his generals for the attack on Singapore before moving his headquarters to the Sultan's palace in Bukit Serene.

British intelligence officers returning from Johore reported the concentration of Japanese troops in the North-West and that the invasion of Singapore was imminent from that direction.

The Australians retaliated with artillery fire on the Japanese well camouflaged assembly points in the Skudai and Melayu Rivers, North-West of Singapore. At 8.00 p.m. that night after intensive Japanese artillery fire at the North-West coastline of Singapore, came the first wave of 4,000 Japanese troops in various craft across the Straits of Johore; they were from the 5th and 18th Divisions. Other waves of Japanese troops soon followed. By midnight the Japanese 5th Division had established a wedge between the Australian 27th and 22nd brigades. The Japanese advanced through Choa Chu Kang and Jurong towards Pasir Panjang. The 18th Division occupying Ama Keng Village after bitter street fighting advanced down Lim Chu Kang Road towards Bukit Timah.

At midnight on 9 February General Percival after studying the situation of his forces issued secret instructions to General Bennett, General Simmons and General Heath on their final perimeter in the event this became necessary. General Nishimura, the commander, sought General Yamashita's approval to call off hi regiment's attack in view of the debacle but General Yamashita insisted that his plan should be executed.

The Japanese then moved towards Kranji by Bukit Timah Road and then to Mandai, Bukit Panjang, Ulu Pandan and Farrer Road. The Japanese forces were pleasantly surprised at his move!

General Sir Archibald Wavell, the British Commander-in-Chief, flew into Singapore on 10 February for a meeting with his senior commanders in General Bennett's headquarters in Holland Road. Japanese aircraft made a direct hit on the headquarters; this was an example of the excellent intelligence of Japanese agents in Singapore.

The Japanese troops advancing along Jurong Road reached Bukit Timah Village and the vital British food, fuel and massive ammunition dumps fell into Japanese hands. The 56th regiment of the Japanese 18th Division moved to the Pasir Panjang Ridge on 13 February through the 'Gap' on Buona Vista Road. Below the Ridge the Japanese 14th regiment sent its tanks along Ayer Rajah Road.

General Percival signaled General Wavell (in Java) who replied that the fight should continue.

Then General Percival decided on the inevitable - to surrender. A white flag was flown over the Broadcasting Station at Caldecott Hill and a delegation was sent to General Yamashita's headquarters in Ford Motor Works in Bukit Timah but the Japanse General wanted General Percival to present himself personally. General Percival, two staff officers and an interpreter left the bunkers at Fort Canning and arrived at the Ford Motor Works at 5.15 p.m. The British signed the unconditional surrender document and all hostilities ceased that night.

Getting to Ford Factory (Former), 351 Upper Bukit Timah Road

Click to share this Article »
0
Send this article