Letter: Wartime truth hidden in the US
Sunday 08 March 1998
Rusbridger found that essential documents, embargoed here, were available in Washington under US freedom of information law. These proved that in August 1940 our chiefs of staff presented an 86-paragraph document to Winston Churchill, stating that Singapore was clearly undefendable. Churchill sent a copy to British officials in Australia and New Zealand, but ordered that their governments were not to be told.
The ship carrying these papers was sunk by a German surface raider in the Indian ocean, the documents ending up in Berlin, where Hitler described them as of "great value" and to be shown to the Japanese government - more than a year before Japan entered the war.
In the meantime, New Zealand and Australia were being assured by Britain that Singapore was an "impregnable fortress".
So Alan Matthews and his father are right. Britain's important battleships Repulse and Prince of Wales were sacrificed for no good reason. And Tony Blair's promises about a genuine freedom of information Act still haven't been kept, otherwise Mr Matthews, too, wouldn't have had to ask America for facts.
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