Between the Lies by Stan Winer

By Stan Winer

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British public opinion was misled to believe aerial bombardment offered the only means whereby offensive pressure of any kind could be brought to bear against Germany at that juncture of the war. The public generally accepted this official explanation because, in the wake of Coventry, there was a knee-jerk tendency to support retaliation with whatever means available. It would have been a convenient frame of mind for Churchill to exploit, which probably accounts for the new directive that arrived at Bomber Command headquarters on 8 February 1941, the same day that Singapore surrendered.

As with the by now familiar pattern of "intelligence failures" as occurred at Pearl Harbor and at Coventry before, the invasion of Malaya did not come as any bolt from the blue. Churchill and his advisers had for a long time been well appraised of the vulnerability of Singapore, the key naval base at the southern tip of Malaya. Britain's Chief of Imperial General Staff, Field-Marshal Sir John Dill, had warned fully six months earlier that Singapore's defences were considerably below standard. 1 His warning went apparently disregarded while the military leadership at Singapore induced a state of general ill-preparedness and non-resistance.

The Japanese knew perfectly well they had already captured three important RAF airfields in northern Malaya and were currently sweeping southwards toward Singapore. The defenders of Singapore were therefore the only possible targets of Brooke-Popham's lies. Churchill had by this time dispatched to the island his special envoy and close personal friend Duff Cooper who 26 Singapore now became the newly appointed President of the War Council on Singapore. Cooper, a former British Information Minister, had earlier been involved in a tenacious fight to secure control of SO1 — the deception, subversive propaganda and psychological warfare department of the Special Operations Executive (SOE).

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