The Battle of Singapore, Day 2: The capture of Kranji Village

Having successfully overrun Sarimbun Beach, thereby beating back any potential enemy forces near the south, the Japanese launched their next major offensive. This time the target was Kranji Village.

There were two reasons for this.

First, the Japanese needed a crack force to take over Kranji so as to be able to safely build the causeway that was blown up by the British after their final retreat from Malaya.

Second, they needed a beachhead to land more forces on the island to breach the Jurong Kranji defence line that was standing between them and the city in the south.

Kranji was defended by another group of Australian soldiers, the 27th Brigade led by Brigadier General Duncan Maxwell. Supporting them were a company of soldiers from Dalforce, a group of locals put togethere by the British Lt General John Dalley to assist the British in the defence of the island. They would be attacked by the Imperial Guards, one of the elite forces in the Imperial Japanese Army (but also one of the mot brutal), their leader Takuma Nishimura, the man who orchestrated Sook Ching massacre in Singpaore and the Parit Sulong massacre in Johor.

This was to prove a tough defence to breach and the Japanese suffered numerous losses. Their victory would come not as a result of greater military valour but due to miscommunication between the Allied forces.

Kranji was mainly mangrove and swamp land intersected by streams and inlets. And visible from the Istana Bukit Serene of the Sultan of Johor, then the headquarters of the Japanese general Tomoyuki Yamashita.

Istana Bukit SereneSource

Amazingly, despite knowing that Yamashita could see everything from the Istana, the British did nothing to destroy the building as they were afraid that it would affect Britain-Johor ties.

8.30pm, 9th February.

The Japanese Imperial Guard crossed from Johor in special armoured landing-crafts, collapsible boats and by swimming.

On 10th February, the Japanese forces faced heavy fire from Australian forces, the defenders smartly drew the Japanese into oil slicks near woodlands and then set them alight, burning many Japanese invaders alive. The heavily decimated Japanese forces beg Yamashita to order a retreat, but Yamashita refused.

By then the Japanese managed to destroy communication between the defenders and their HQ, by shelling the British communications systems. Maxwell, who was cut off from his HQ, was afraid that the Australian 22nd and 27th would be isolated and ordered his winning side to withdraw from the seafront. This cleared the way for the Japanese to regroup and land in larger numbers at Kranji.

Kranji Village was captured and the causeway was repaired without any sort of British retaliation.

The Jurong-Kranji line was the next to be crushed.

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