Hamish Brown “The fall of Singapore”

Been a funny old day and no mistake – the plumber arrived with a snagging list and spend a lot of time in my bathroom – still not sure what he did for I still do not have a control valve on my radiator so it is still going full bore at present. I had to leave him to it as this was Probus Club day – Hamish Brown “The fall of Singapore” – actually had little to do with the fall of Singapore.

His father was a Banker and travelled out to Japan – where Hamish was born. Then Hamish, along with his mother and baby sister, (leaving about two months before the fall of Singapore) travelled down from Japan. The boat called in at Shanghai, Singapore, the Philippines, and Kuala Lumpur before heading for South Africa (where they had relations) then back to Scotland, their father left much later and was always just one jump ahead of the posy.

He clearly had a varied upbringing and spent time at some of the prestigious schools across the world, so well educated. But I have to say it was all a bit disjointed. He would keep coming up with little anecdotes, mostly having nothing to do with the story.

I first became interested in what was going on in the Far East at the time of his telling but I really knew nothing. I had read The Forgotten Highlander by Alistair Urquhart, a book not written by an officer as so many were, but by a serving soldier. When the British Empire armies surrendered to a rag-tag-and-bobtail Japanese army that was on its last legs, out of food, ammunition and riding on bikes with no tyres or tubes – it was the end of the British Empire, it collapsed came like dominos, following that fiasco.

Urquhart worked on the Burma railway (his account of the conditions, you would not believe, sleeping on top of corpses to keep himself out of the mud and water he was saved by falling ill and ending up in a hospital where the better conditions (under a British army doctor) saved his life. As the Japanese came under pressure they were evacuated by ship to Japan – his boat was sunk, before its arrival, however, Urquhart managed to survive, ending up in a prisoner of war camp just outside Hiroshima, and you know what happened there.

Urquhart was scathing about their treatment at the end of the war in the Far East, the Americans did not want them to go home and to tell tales out of school, about the suffering that had been handed out by the Japanese, the Americans wanted it to all go away, then they could get on with the business of making money in conjunction with the Japanese – they had the cheap labour we had the cotton, oil and steel. The prisoners were now a liability – no cheers and bunting for their homecoming – they were shipped off to America and six-month of recuperation – but only after they had to sign a paper, to say nothing about what had happened to them under the Japanese.

Now having read about the Soong dynasty, and how they used their wealth and power to gain control of the Chinese government, then asset stripping it, filling up their bankbooks in American, and European banks, and buying property in the most expensive part of New York, Paris and London. T.V would then set up a lobbying (propaganda) company in the swankiest part of New York to push the idea (through their mouthpiece Mayling and her husband Chang Kai-Shek) that China was reforming into a Christian and Americanised country. Mayling had the ear of President Roosevelt, (a man that spouted bile at the peasant Chinese and their peasant army. He gave away Korea to the Japanese believing the Japanese were the saviours of the Far East, who would win the heathens for America. And when Japan invaded Mongolia – he turned a blind eye – the Japanese buy half our cotton and our oils and steel, and that is what sets the bar.

Because of America’s poor (nil) knowledge of China, millions of Chinese, Japanese and others died. And when they decided to sanction Japanese goods and money (much like they are doing over Russians) so Japan attacked Pearl Harbour – how many lives were lost following Perle Harbour?

Millions would be alive today if it had not been for America’s ignorance of Chinese affairs and bad foreign policymaking.

I have just finished the chapter on Mao and his peasant army – the Americans branded him a puppet of the Russian Communists – but he was far from being a communist – he was a socialist. His army did not get paid, what they did receive was land – their land that they had worked then only to hand over at least 50% of their crop to the greedy landlord.  –They all wore the same uniform, and they communicated like family rather than an army – although like any family it still retained a leader (head of the family). Mao led them into the far north (on the long march) around six thousand miles – Mao was near death once or twice and his wife carried shrapnel in her leg. They crossed some of the biggest rivers and highest mountain passes in China. They were marching at an incredible 24 miles a day. Arriving at the town of Yan’an a sun-drenched, dusty region of loess soil, years of dust storms in the region had piled layer upon layer of this loess making it easy to dig into, and that is what his army did, they dug out caves, warm in winter, cool in summer. They carved out school rooms, recreation halls, and a university of military studies.

The soldiers were not allowed to smoke opium and the army did not tolerate the camp follower, women that serviced all big armies. What Mao set out to do is build a self-sufficient economy, like a latter-day Robin Hood; he took from the rich and gave to the poor, and that is why his army grow in size and strength – unlike Chang’s army of conscripts that had to be tied by the neck – one behind the other, and stripped of clothing at night so that they would not abscond at the first opportunity. Moe’s army was a long way from communise thinking. For the first time in Chinese history, an army was fighting for their independence.  

Last but by no means least; I finished the story about dad’s time at sea. Not a biography but taking the stories he told me and putting some meat on the bones – so giving it a posh name, historically novel. I have put it on Amazon – so it can be downloaded (if you are interested $0.99 on Kindle) and it is called Magic of the Sea.

Time to put on the dinner – mince and tatties – it’s gid tell yir ma’

Stay safe.    


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