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The 70th anniversary of the fall of Singapore will be marked with a wreath-laying ceremony at the National War Memorial on Wednesday 15 February. The ceremony will be attended by His Excellency Mr Justice (ret.) M.P.H. Rubin, High Commissioner for the Republic of Singapore, the Hon. Nathan Guy, Minister of Veterans Affairs’ and Rear Admiral Jack Steer, the Vice Chief of Defence Force.
Ninety-year old veterans of the battle Clem Randall of Nelson and Hugh Nelson of Paraparaumu are also attending.
What: Wreath-laying ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the fall of Singapore
Where: National War Memorial, Buckle Street, Wellington
When: 11.00am, Wednesday 15 February.
Veterans that fought in the Battle of Singapore will be available for interview after the ceremony.
New Zealand will also be represented at a ceremony in Singapore at Kranji War Cemetery, by veterans Bill Mitchell of Oamaru, and Ted West from the North Shore, both aged in their nineties; the Chief of Air Force Air Vice-Marshal Peter Stockwell and the New Zealand Defence Attache in Singapore, Group Captain Tim Walshe.
Battle of Singapore background
After the attack on Pearl Harbour, Japanese aircraft arrived over Singapore where the British had a major military base. At the same time, Japanese troops moved south down the Malayan peninsula. The Japanese forces had Singapore under siege by the end of January 1942, and it fell on 15 February 1942. This was the greatest military defeat for the British in 150 years. Over 80,000 British, Indian and Australian troops became prisoners of war, joining 50,000 taken by the Japanese in the Malayan Campaign. Four days later the first of the bombing raids on Darwin occurred, bringing the war very close to New Zealand.
During the conflict 35 New Zealand airmen lost their lives, along with 40 naval officers who died in operations either in Malayan waters or in Hong Kong, which had fallen to the Japanese on Christmas Day 1941. The land campaign claimed the lives of a few New Zealanders serving with the local colonial forces. Roughly 100 New Zealand servicemen and several hundred civilians became prisoners of war in the Pacific. Most POWs were in camps in Singapore, where they endured harsh treatment, and many suffered from malnutrition and disease. Those who were fortunate not to be killed or captured were eventually safely evacuated to Australia.
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