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Singapore in World War II

The British Command had little use for the massive ground forces that would play a major part in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. In general, British strategy consisted of: victory with minimal risk and minimal losses; superior naval might; and avoidance of large-scale continental operations (Morton 87-88). Such strategies would be sorely tested in the war to come.

Singapore was centrally located at the crossroads of British Empire trade routes in the 19th century. During that time, Singapore prospered as a port providing work for Chinese, Indians Australians and British. As a Crown colony, Singapore's decidedly undemocratic government maintained a modest role in imperial defense (McIntyre 9).

Following World War One, the only rival navies were allies, the United States and Japan. Without a base east of Malta, Britain found itself in the awkward position of matching the naval strength of its two major partners. For this reason, British focus shifted to Singapore and the distant Pacific Ocean (McIntyre 19-21).

First proposed in 1919, initial plans called for construction of a naval base in preparation for hypothetical wars with the U.S. at Pearl Harbor and the Japanese home bases (McIntyre 2). Singapore was chosen since, although the area was too far for an easy attack on or by Japan, it could protect both the cri


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