With Michael Arnold, author of “The Sacrifice of Singapore”
After the fall of Singapore in the spring of 1942 and under the orders of Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, the Japanese decided to build a memorial to all those of their men who had died in the Battles for Malaya, Singapore and Sumatra. The project was announced in the Syonan Times on May 8th 1942. It was to be located on top of Bukit Batok Hill and built by the captured allied POWs. A grand staircase leading up the hill was first constructed and then a Shinto Shrine and the memorial monument called the Chureito was erected.
British and Australian POWs from the various camps around Singapore were pressed into service building the roadway, staircase and memorial which was completed and dedicated in September 1942. More than 10,000 boxes of ashes of the Japanese dead were stored inside the Shinto Shrine memorial.
Following the construction of the Japanese Memorial the POWs asked if they could build a memorial to their dead and permission was given and a lovely cement cross was erected behind the Japanese monument.
Shortly before Singapore fell in 1945, the shrine and pagoda were destroyed by the Japanese and the ashes were moved to their present location in the JAPANESE CEMETERY on Chuan Hoe Avenue, Hougang, Singapore where they were placed in a huge metal container underneath a simple concrete obelisk.
JAPANESE MILITARY MONUMENT - SINGAPORE
The English translation of the Inscription on the front and back of this Monument reads:
“HERE LIE ENTOMBED OVER 10,000.
A MONUMENT TO THE FAITHFUL WHO DIED IN BATTLE”
So now further regarding the issue of the numbers of Japanese vs. the allies in Malaya and Singapore - by applying comparative combat fatality rates it is possible to use these 'over 10,000' ashes to calculate the approximate size of the Japanese forces involved in the Malayan campaign of 1941-42. Sumatra involved only the very brief battle for the Dutch oil refinery at Palembang where overall Japanese casualties were very low.
Also bearing in mind the difficult jungle terrain in which much of the fighting took place, it is likely the bodies of many of the Japanese war dead were never found and therefore the figure of 10,000 is a minimum of only those casualties that were recovered.
Locations during World War Two where some of the fighting was at its fiercest, were Omaha Beach on D-Day and the campaigns in the Pacific for Iwo Jima and Okinawa. The American combat fatality rate at Omaha Beach was in the order of 4-5% while at Iwo Jima and Okinawa it was 6%.
It is known that the allied opposition faced by the Japanese in Malaya was fairly weak, but if even the highest rate of 6% is applied, which is most unlikely, then by extrapolation - if 10,000 represents 6% of their army, the Japanese forces would have numbered over 160,000. Since the combat fatality rate was almost certainly lower than that, it seems probable that the Japanese forces which attacked Malaya in 1941 were much larger than has previously been estimated.
In his confidential dispatch to London shortly before the surrender, and also later in his own book, General Percival estimated the Japanese forces at about 150,000, and some Japanese reports suggest much higher figures than this. He was ridiculed at the time, but he has now been proven to have been correct.
It is amazing really that with today's vast storehouse of information and knowledge, that this memorial in Singapore with its 10,000 dead has not been considered by those so-called historians when trying to take into account the truth about the numbers in Malaya and Singapore, but yet they still continue to perpetuate the myth that the British were defeated by a Japanese force 1/3 their size.
The Monument is still there and can be seen today. Copies of the Syonan Times can be obtained through the Singapore Government.