A 70th anniversary television event, Singapore 1942 – End of Empire tells the story of those early shocking days of the Pacific War when belief in security and comfort from empire collapsed. For the first time this momentous twentieth-century battle, and its equally dramatic aftermath, is told from a multi-national perspective, revealing new and challenging insights into a battle that turned our world upside down. Whilst the Japanese victory confirmed how useless it was for Australians to rely on Britain for their defence, post-war Australians looked to another great protective power – the United States – to align itself with. And Asian nations would rapidly determine their own destiny and seek a tumultuous independence.
In 1941, the Japanese Imperial Army invades Malaya. The battle-hardened Japanese forces quickly push Commonwealth troops – English, Indians, Australians, Scots, Chinese and Malays – south towards the key British trading port of Singapore. General Yamashita prepares to assault the so-called 'impregnable fortress', igniting already simmering ethnic and political tensions in the colony. Australia, for the first time, finds itself directly threatened.
Japanese Imperial Army soldiers pour onto Singapore Island under the skilful command of General Yamashita. They quickly break through a flimsy line of raw Australian troops, outmanoeuvre General Percival and drive his combined Commonwealth forces back to the Singapore city. Indian soldiers, seeking independence, join the Japanese and fire on their former masters. Australians leave their posts while Malays and Chinese divide along political and ethnic lines. The British finally begin evacuating Singapore but priority is given to the safety of whites. A tipping point is reached – the fall of all the colonial empires throughout the region is now inevitable. Australia is dragged kicking and screaming to the Asian table.
Duration: 2 x 52 minutes
- Nominated for Best Documentary Series, AACTA Awards 2013
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