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Saturday, February 15: Day 299 – Little Red Dot

Little Red Dot is a nickname often used in the media, and in casual conversation, as a reference to Singapore. It refers to how the nation is depicted on many maps of the world and of Asia. Singaporeans have proudly embraced the little red dot moniker.

We went to the Battlebox Museum which is located at Fort Canning.

This was command central during The Battle of Singapore during WWII.

Our guide, Horus, explained how things happened during the battle. He told us that we weren’t allowed to take pictures or record or even take notes during the tour. That’s a first. When I inquired about it, he said something about copyright???

Well, anyway, this is what I remembered and pieced together.

Japan attacked Pearl Harbor as a preventive action to keep the United States Pacific Fleet from interfering with its planned military actions in Southeast Asia. Over the course of seven hours, in addition to Pearl Harbor, there were coordinated Japanese attacks on the Philippines, Guam, Wake Island, Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong. (As an American, I was not aware of other countries being attacked. Additionally, the attack on Pearl Harbor was classified as a war crime as we were not at war.) Japan’s declaration of war against the United States came a day later.

To defend Singapore, England had two ships and 181 outdated airplanes. These were destroyed that day. They did not have any anti-aircraft artillery. The only thing that they had was 120,000 men. There were only 50,000 Japanese but they were fast (on bicycles), strategic and had battle experience.

The Japanese had taken over Malaya in just 45 days and Singapore was surrounded. Drinking water was growing short. Surrender was debated. Churchill said to fight til the last man. Percival wanted to obey that directive, but the other 11 commanders thought it best to surrender. To add insult to injury, all of the British men were lined-up as the Japanese general surveyed the long columns of prisoners of war.

It was the largest surrender in British history. (Ironically, Percival was on board the USS Missouri when the Japanese signed surrender documents. Surely, there was a smirk on his face as the tables had turned.)

Many of these prisoners of war were sent to forced labor camps where conditions were appalling. We visited the camp where forced labor was used to build the Burma Railway and the River Kwai Bridge.

There was extreme brutality toward the civilians in Singapore. The Japanese killed many people, mostly Chinese, during the three-year Japanese occupation.

It was ironic that we were in Singapore on the anniversary of the surrender which took place on February 17, 1942.

At one point, Horus bumped into a wax figure and said, “Excuse me.” So polite.

I want to learn more and he recommended The Defense and Fall of Singapore by Brian Farrell.

Rob saw an interesting book that he would like to have someday but not today. It is large and heavy and will cost about half price if purchased at home through Amazon. It sounds like a good Christmas present to me.

World War II Infographics

We were at the book store and ran into a physician who was to serve as a historical lecturer on a cruise ship. The cruise had been canceled so he and his wife were spending a few days in Singapore.

He recommended seeing the BBC story of the History Channel’s presentation of The True Story of the Bridge over River Kwai.

One of the regiments was Scottish Highlanders and their bagpipers played “Hielan’ Laddie” as they marched across the river.

Next we had lunch at a miniature golf course called Holey Moley. Their slogan is: Like Golf, But Fun.

Over one of the golf carts, it read,”Who’s Your Caddy?” Ha!

Here is Rob in the Flintstones footmobile. Of course, we sang the familiar theme song called “Meet the Flintstones”. The melody is derived from part of the ‘B’ section of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 17 Movement 2, composed in 1801/02. Who knew??

Score Card

Maybe I should point out who won, but I also want you to see the clever names of each hole.

We returned to the hotel for a refreshing swim on the rooftop pool. Later we did large loads of laundry since the hotel had washers and dryers.

I turned on the TV. These women are being buried in the sand to remove toxins. People are so gullible. We do this at the beach for fun and no charge!! Also, we are smiling.

In keeping with the sand theme, these men are playing soccer in a shortened sand field. It looked much harder!!

While watching TV, we heard a siren go off. Today is called Total Defence Day. Public Warning System (PWS) uses this day to have an All Call in case of a national emergency. This day for them is like 9/11 for Americans. This is a small island country/city of 5.8 million people so they understand that they are vulnerable to invasion and attack from their bigger neighbors. They are in constant preparation. We should be as well.

Quote of the Day:

This quote came from a woman trying to decide what to wear and came up with this profound statement:

Aren’t we just strangers traveling in a strange land (earth) for a short time anyway?

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