The British military failure against the Japanese invasion of Singapore in 1942 is a well-documented and closely examined episode. But far less attention has been paid to the role of the colonial governor and his staff during this period, an oversight Ronald McCrum corrects with this insightful history. As McCrum shows, the failure of the civil authorities in conjunction with the military to fully prepare the country for the possibility of war was a key factor in the defeat.
In The Men Who Lost Singapore, McCrum closely examines the role and responsibilities of the colonial authorities before and during the war. He argues that the poor and occasionally hostile relations that developed between the local government and the British military hierarchy prevented the development and implementation of a strategic and unified plan of defense against the growing threat of the Japanese. Consequently, this indecisive and ineffective leadership led to significant losses and civilian casualties that could have been prevented.
Ronald McCrum is a retired British army colonel who served in Malaya and Singapore. He served over two years as the Defence Attache in the High Commission in Singapore and as Defence Attache in Israel at the beginning of the Palestinian intifada.