The Singapore strategy was a naval defence policy of the British Empire. It aimed to deter aggression by the Empire of Japan by providing for a base for a fleet of the Royal Navy in the Far East. A combination of financial, political and practical difficulties ensured that it could not be successfully implemented. The strategy ultimately led to the despatch of Force Z to Singapore and the sinking of the Prince of Wales and Repulse by Japanese air attack on 10 December 1941.
About Singapore strategy in brief
The Singapore strategy was a naval defence policy of the British Empire that evolved in a series of war plans from 1919 to 1941. It aimed to deter aggression by the Empire of Japan by providing for a base for a fleet of the Royal Navy in the Far East. The planners envisaged that a war with Japan would have three phases: while the garrison of Singapore defended the fortress, the fleet would make its way from home waters to Singapore, sally to relieve or recapture Hong Kong, and blockade the Japanese home islands. A combination of financial, political and practical difficulties ensured that it could not be successfully implemented. The strategy ultimately led to the despatch of Force Z to Singapore and the sinking of the Prince of Wales and Repulse by Japanese air attack on 10 December 1941. The subsequent ignominious fall of Singapore was described by Winston Churchill as \”the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history\”. The strategy was used as an excuse for parsimonious defence policies in the 1920s and 1930s, particularly in Australia, where the policy was used to justify parsimony in defence spending. It was the cornerstone of British Imperial defence policy in theFar East during the1920s and 30s. After the First World War, the Imperial German Navy’s High Seas Fleet was scuttled in Scapa Flow. The Royal Navy was already facing serious challenges to its position as the world’s most powerful fleet from the United States Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy. The United States’ determination to create what Admiral of the Navy George Dewey called \”a navy second to none\” presaged a new maritime arms race. In 1920, the First Lord of the Admiralty Sir Walter Long announced a policy of maintaining a navy not inferior in strength to the Navy of any other power.
The Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 reinforced this policy. As a result, no decision to renew the Anglo-Japanese Alliance was reached, and the Treaty was allowed to expire in 1922 on the grounds that the alliance would adversely affect the relationship with the U.S. Canada, which depended on the alliance for its security, was also opposed to renewing it. The policy was to maintain a navy that was strong enough to take on any two other powers. In 1909, this was scaled back to 60% superiority in dreadnoughts. The U. S. Navy’s building program led to heated arguments between the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Rosslyn Wemyss and the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral William S. Benson in March and April 1919, although, as far back as 1909, the government directed that theUnited States was not to be regarded as a potential enemy. The decision was reaffirmed by Cabinet in August 1919 in order to preclude the U-S. Navy’s building program from becoming a justification for the Admirality initiating one of its own. In 1919, the United Kingdom and the Dominions met at the 1921 Imperial Conference to determine a unified international policy. The most urgent issue was that of whether or not to renewThe most important issue for the UK was whether to renew its alliance with Japan. On one side were the Prime Ministers of Australia Billy Hughes and New Zealand Bill Massey, who strongly favoured its renewal. Neither wanted their countries to be caught up in a war between the United United States and Japan.