Percival, Lieutenant General Arthur, 1887-1966

Percival was GOC (General Officer Commanding) Malaya when the Japanese invaded on 8 December 1941. After serving in France under General DILL, Percival was sent to Malaya in July 1941. British defense of the area depended on command of sea and air, yet Percival had insufficient aircraft and on 10 December 1941 lost his entire fleet, Force Z. On the other hand Singapore was protected by its big guns, which were effective against sea attack but not against land attack. Unfortunately Japan invaded by land from the north. Percival had been aware of these problems when he had served in Malaya in 1936-38 but nothing had been done since to rectify the problem as the European fronts had top priority. Furthermore Percival’s troops were ill-trained and badly led, and their defense in North Malaya was simply a series of retreats. By 27 January Percival ordered a general withdrawal to Singapore Island and on 8 February the Japanese landings began. CHURCHILL ordered Percival to fight to the death, but Singapore was rapidly running out of water supplies, had no hope of reinforcements or air support and the troops were quite demoralized. Percival and 85,000 men surrendered to General YAMASHITA on 15 February 1942 in what was considered the most shameful blow to English arms in history. Percival was interned in Manchuria throughout the war but was flown in to be present at the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945.

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