Reflecting on the news that we are going to give a quarter of our pilots under training in the RAF the chop, I'm reminded of the last time we attempted to defend an island without adequate air support, (pre Falklands).
Then, a Mr Edgar Granville stood up in the House in a debate about air support for Singapore and said, "I have given you notice, Mr. Speaker, that I would ask leave to move the Adjournment of House of Commons on a matter of definite and urgent public importance, namely, the sending of adequate air reinforcements for the defence of Singapore, and for the purpose of obtaining assurances from His Majesty's Government to the people of this country, Australia and the British Empire that this is being done."
The aircraft were never sent. What we had were largely destroyed on the ground and after Repulse and the Prince of Wales were sunk momentum lay with the Japanese. With a remarkable and well honed sense of bad timing, Uncle Jack arrived from England on his first posting at the age of 19 just in time for a bit of a scrap before being captured. He then spent the next three and a half years facilitating railway transportation in Burma.
Uncle Jack was one of the lucky ones; he made it home, unlike 9,000 of his comrades who were captured at Singapore and who were murdered on the Railway.
Uncle Jack never really forgave the Japs. He said to me not long before he died, "A lot of good men died.... the best. Bastards; I won't forgive them, coming back at the age of 24 and still a virgin is more than any man should have to bear.........."