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Key Factor at Singapore

From ROHAN RIVETT, "The Argus" Special Correspondent in Singapore


All observers agree that the dominance of the Japanese

in air remains the key factor in the situation on   the island. The enemy is maintaining a heavy numerical preponderance over the combat zone.

Nevertheless British Imperial     troops are displaying the greatest   attack against constant bombing and machinegun attacks

I interviewed Maj-Gen. Gordon   n meit at Australian field head quarters yesterday morning De-        

scribing the Japanese landing on the previous night, he said that there   had been considerable enemy shelling   on our forward positions during the         morning and afternoon Japanese   aircraft were constantly overhead re- conoitring our forward positions and   outposts. Firing grew heavier as evening approached and a tremen dous artillery duel developed at     nightfall between guns on both sides   of hore Strait

Japanese gunners, aided by aerial observations destroyed some of our     searchlights and forward posts, and it soon became evident that enemy troops were crossing the strait in force. On one occasion our lights revealed that many craft of all types were crossing the narrow strip of


A landing was effected only against a storm of fire from heavy guns and machine gun posts. A series of fierce   fights occurred round our forward posts some of which successfully withdrew to a stronger line. Our guns must have taken heavy toll of

the enemy

Ian Fitchett, official Australian   war correspondent, says in a message   dated yesterday that the military   situation on the island late yester day afternoon could only be de- scribed as serious. The enemy land-     ings followed a smashing barrage     which grew to a crescendo from 8       oclock the previous night following an afternoon of destructive shelling   and mortar fire , After our search lights had been destroyed on Sun- day night we had no means of ob-   servation until the moon rose at lam   on Monday. Our strongest-held posi

tions on the coast west of Kranji estuary were left comparatively un-

molested but on either flank the fire

was poured in, making the approach   of troops holding those areas diffi

cult. Towards 11pm the enemy   started to get ashore. No sooner had the first Japanese to land been engaged than enemy troops started to pour in in hordes

Our artillery and machine gunners were sweeping the strait with fire all this time and concentrating on the beach opposite but the enemy seemed to be crossing in strength Meanwhile his gunfire was crashing Into our positions. It was a solid drumfire that went on for some hours without ceasing The colonel of a West Australian machinegun battalion told me that he thought the enemy was using steel troop landing boats because he had re- ceived report after report from his gunners that they had seen their bullets striking flashes of flame as     they hit, the steel sides of the vessels How the enemy got them down the peninsula can be only conjectured Possibly he embarked his troops from a point farther north on the mainland and sailed down the coast after dark

The landings soon had our forward troops in trouble, and they had to fall back to a level line in desperate early morning fighting party after party found its way out cut off, and   infantry gunners and anti-tank men Joining together to get themselves and their guns out Reinforcements   of Indians as well as Australians were rushed to the area but dawn provided light for enemy bombers again They kept at it all day long

Our fighters made a gallant effort to help the troops but it was the old story. So it went on all day with very little definite information becoming available beyond confused tales of desperate fighting