The Man Who Took The Rap, Sir Robert Brooke-Popham and the Fall of Singapore

The major failure of a battle or campaign inevitably results in a search for a scape goat, sometimes necessary and well deserved, but sometimes not. The Fall of Singapore was a huge shock to the British, but it should not have been. The British author provides a well-researched account of the events and consequences. – Much Recommended

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NAME: The Man Who Took The Rap, Sir Robert Brooke-Popham and the Fall of 
Singapore
FILE: R2766
AUTHOR: Peter Dye
PUBLISHER: US Naval Institute Press
BINDING: hard back 
PAGES: 410
PRICE: US$44.95
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War II, World War 2, Second World War, Malaysian 
Campaign, British Forces, Commonwealth Forces, Japanese Forces, Fall of 
Singapore

ISBN: 978-1-68247-358-0

IMAGE: B2766.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/y8dg3fwa
LINKS:  
DESCRIPTION:  The major failure of a battle or campaign inevitably results 
in a search for a scape goat, sometimes necessary and well deserved, but 
sometimes not.  The Fall of Singapore was a huge shock to the British, but it 
should not have been. The British author provides a well-researched account 
of the events and consequences. -  Much Recommended

The Great War had left Britain apparently untouched in Empire, but already suffering the joint 
threats of the loss of a generation of future leaders and serious debt run up to pay for WWI. The 
cracks in Empire were there, they just were not that visible because no one, certainly no Briton, 
wished to look. All of the trappings of Empire were there. The private school system, Prep School 
and Public School, continued unchanged, churning out future soldiers, sailors, airmen, administrators 
and diplomats. The Royal Navy still maintained an impressive Fleet and the last huzzar for the 
battleship was to trundle round the far flung ports to impress. After 1918, politicians had done their 
best to spend the 'peace dividend' and little was being done to replace obsolescent equipment, develop 
new tactics and prepare for future wars. There was just no appetite after the brutal cost of the 1914-1918 
War and a failure to understand the threat already being posed by Germany. In the Far East things 
looked rosy and there was a complete failure to understand how US foreign policy, in constricting Japan 
economically, was turning Britain's WWI Ally into an implacable foe.

Singapore looked impressive with its harbour filled with RN warships and its coastal artillery presenting
 a formidable defence against any frontal assault. However, on one exercise, just before WWII began in 
Europe, a senior Petty Officer leading a mixed group of sailors and Indian Army troops ignored the cosy 
rules and came up with his own attack plan that demonstrated exactly where the vulnerabilities lay, in an 
attack that was almost identical to the eventual Japanese attack with a much larger force. Needless to say,
 the Petty Officer was admonished for failing to play the game and told not to do it again. It is perhaps
interesting to note that the exercise was conducted at a time when Singapore had a much stronger garrison 
and fleet at anchor.

When the Japanese were coming down the coast to invest Singapore, the war in Europe had seen the Far 
East denuded of military assets and denied advanced new equipment in the interests of fighting the 
Germans. Commonwealth troops had been drawn West to Egypt for the North African campaigns, those 
first line warships not held in British ports were largely collected at Alexandria with India and the Far 
East left with a small collection of obsolescent and obsolete biplanes for reconnaissance and attack, little 
armour existed and that mainly in the form of light tanks and carriers, and the ports were almost empty of 
warships. The speed of the Japanese assault through Indo China had taken everyone by surprise and 
Singapore was a long way away from potential reinforcements. In the event the elderly HMS Repulse 
and the brand new HMS Prince of Wales were sent out but without the air cover necessary to provide 
vital protection . As a result the two battleships were rapid casualties for no return.

Sir Robert Brooke-Popham was the Right Person, in the Right Place, but at the Wrong Time. He was a 
forward thinker in air warfare and would have been the ideal person as C-in-C, had he been adequately 
supported with equipment and supplies. He has been smeared and neglected by historians happy to take 
the easy route of regurgitating the scape-goating of a man who did everything he could, and more, in the 
face of an organized enemy and without the tools to attack them effectively.

The author has provided the first fair review of this warrior and has done him credit. The able text is 
supported by illustration in the form of maps through the text and a modest, but informative, photo-plate 
section.